|Bunny has been a long time
advocate for COPD, paving the way for many to follow. From
talking in schools about smoking to traveling to Washington DC to
lobby about COPD issues, she has been an active voice for us. In a
note to me, she closed with a statement that best reflects her
outlook: "I'll do anything I can to help the cause of people
with lung disease!"
I was moving right along in life,
just as I had before. Having my sickarettes next to me when I fell
asleep, so they'd be there upon my awakening. I was working as a real
estate rental agent in New York City. Sometimes walking up and down six
flights of stairs with no problem. On the subway going to work one
morning I began to see large, white spots and my ears were ringing. I
felt light headed but I slowly made it to my office.
I laid down on the carpet in my boss's office, hoping it would go away.
But when it didn't they drove me to the hospital. While in the ER they
gave me some kind of smoking pipe to breathe through. Then when I felt
better they released me. But on the way out I was told I had COPD. I
said thank you and couldn't wait to get outside to have a sickarette. A
few weeks later it happened again and I had the same response. I had no
idea what COPD was, even though they said it meant Chronic Obstructive
Pulmonary Disease. I still had no clue! What a dummy.
The third time was the charm. This time they admitted me to the
hospital, where I spent 8 days on oxygen and getting breathing
treatments. Of course they had to give me nicotine patches because I was
panicking without a sickarette. That is when this disease was explained
to me. All they had to say was "emphysema" and I knew. It took 4 months'
of nicotine patches to quit smoking altogether. And a year later I was
put on oxygen 24/7. I was very weak because I still couldn't breathe. I
was sent to pulmonary rehab to get some of my strength back. I heard
about lung volume reduction surgery and switched hospitals so I could
see if I qualified for it. I am happy to say I was a good candidate.
So on March 3, 2004, I was scheduled for my LVRS. The hospital was only
20 blocks from my apartment and I had to be there at 6:30 a.m. I
remember getting a gown on, getting a shot, and walking into the OR,
where I sat on a table. They said they were putting a needle in my back
for pain . . . and that's all I remember. I was in ICU for 6 days
because I guess I didn't want to wake up. But that's fine with me
because I didn't have to deal with the breathing problems after surgery.
I stayed in the hospital for 10 more days. Unfortunately I happened to
be one of those people whose lungs were so bad she never got off oxygen.
But it sure gave me a much better quality of life.
It is now 2011 and I just passed the 7th anniversary of my surgery. I
still attend pulmonary rehab twice a week on a maintenance program. And
I think I'm still doing quite well because of it. I was given another
chance at life and thank God all the time for still being alive and
mobile. Today the smell of tobacco nauseates me. I try to show people
what they're headed for when they continue to smoke. Most of the time it
falls on deaf ears. But there have been times that I've gotten through,
and that makes me very glad.
March 22, 2011
Today I am 67 years old. Quit smoking while you're ahead.