[Latest update was posted on Saturday July 04, 2015]
COPD - sounds dreadful and it is not a good condition to have - it stands for "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease" and I've had it for the last 35 years or so, primarily as a result of nearly twenty-five years of smoking two packs a day. I don't know if I would have taken a different path if I had known the consequences, but I wish I had known more about the dangers of smoking.
Now I'm not sitting here dying, in fact as you can tell from these web pages, I'm still a pretty active person. I hadn't mentioned this little health problem until now because I feel it's kind of boring to talk about one's health to others. But in September 2001 I became involved in a clinical trial on the "Effects of Tiotropium on Exercise in Patients with COPD" at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Tiotropium Bromide (to be marketed as Spiriva©©®) is a new inhaled bronchodilator which is supposed to increase exercise tolerance in patients like myself and my particular participation came about thanks to my daughter who works for Texas Health Resources. She forwarded me an email about the trial in August and I contacted the RN mentioned in the e-mail and who sent me the initial info packet. Lots of details and of course all the disclaimers you would expect. She had me drop my Servent inhaler at this point about three weeks before the trial began. Then a couple of weeks later Brenda Wyrick, the RN, called to say it looked like I would be a suitable subject for the program. Thus begins this fascinating journey of experimental medicine.
5th September 2001: It all begins with an initial visit to the Exercise and Environmental Sciences Lab of Presbyterian where the testing is done. Brenda Wyrick, the RN assigned to the study took me to visit the pulmonologist assigned to the study. He spent a short time talking to me and pronounced me to be a suitable subject for the study. My final instructions for the day were to take no medications at the normal morning time, except for an emergency albuterol inhaler if necessary and nothing to eat after midnight.
6th September, 2001: Brenda and Paul welcomed me to the lab and I gave up a blood sample, had an EKG etc. and then they ran what seemed like dozens of breathing tests on me using a body plethysmograph. If you're not familiar with that tongue twister, it a big box that looks like the cab of a tractor (see picture below). Following that set of torture tests run by one Paul Chase, a very critical taskmaster, ( one of which I simply couldn't do on that visit) they put be on a stationary bicycle hooked up to a bunch of computers and put a breathing tube in my mouth and started me off pedaling. I was told I did great managing about 12 minutes, but in my opinion it was a pretty feeble effort, but it established the base line for future cycling.
Visits two and three the following week were more breathing tests and the bicycle again each time. Did a little better on the bicycle on visit 2 but by visit 3 I was so depressed because of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington that I feel that it impaired my effort. Being off my normal medications for two weeks (over a month for Serevent) probably had some effect also. I was also introduced to the Handihaler which is the dispensing unit for the drug (or placebo) and made a few practice runs with dummy materials. The staff seemed satisfied with my performance of six minutes. Now I'll be either on the placebo or the drug come Monday the 17th and visit 4.
Monday, Sept 17, 2001: I arrived at the lab on time and we did the usual - EKG, Blood pressure, etc. then Paul put me in the box for the usual breathing tests which were about the same. I was finally able to do the DLCL test which is about the hardest one of all. Thank goodness we got that done before Paul had me stoned to death. Then Brenda brought out the Handihaler and the drug (the real thing or a placebo?) and I took my first dose. There was to be an hour and a half wait before the testing resumed, then about 45 minutes into the book I was reading I decided to go to the bathroom. What a revelation that little trip was. Previously I had returned completely out of breath, but this time it was more like I hadn't gone anywhere. I knew then and there that I had gotten the study drug and not the placebo. I felt like my lungs had been relined with Teflon the air was flowing so freely. The only other alternative was one of the greatest psychosomatic placebo induced improvements in history. Back in the testing box and I knew for absolutely sure that it was the drug for the simple reason that I finished each trial still breathing and only slightly winded. After that we went to the bicycle and went through the usual resting routine and then I started pedaling. Where I had made it only to six minutes the previous Thursday, I kept pedaling and pedaling and wasn't running out of breath at all. My legs hurt and that bicycle seat was awfully hard on the rear end and I finally stopped because the legs were simply giving out on me - no wonder, I had been pedaling for forty-six (46) minutes and wasn't even out of breath. Praise God that I found out about this study program. This is the first inhaled drug I've ever used that had such a beneficial and immediate impact on my breathing and feeling of well being. Got all my supplies together, picked up my unused Helios oxygen system and went to the car. Sitting down in the car is normally the occasion of an SOB episode but this time I sat down in the drivers seat able to breath. This is going to be I wonderful. For those of you who don't have COPD you'll never understand the feelings I was experiencing. It was as if my life had turned back at least ten years and I was nearly whole again. When I got back to Cleburne and our store and went inside (without using oxygen or an emergency inhaler) I was so excited that when I tried to tell Judy about it I broke down and cried. Helped Doug on some stereo installations without needing oxygen and did lots of things just to test out my "new" lungs. Got home without needing anything too.
Tuesday, Sept 18, 2001: The effect of the drug lasted through the night and I really slept great. Of course some ibuprofen helped the legs not hurt as much, my only side effect so far. Used the Handihaler at breakfast for my second dose. Didn't get SOB getting dressed and ready for work, no oxygen, no albuterol. This is awe inspiring. At work I found I was able to go upstairs to get a radio without having to stop and breath oxygen after getting back down. Everything was easier. I can breathe and I'm already beginning to move faster.
Wednesday, Sept 19, 2001: It's all the same, I can breathe, I can breathe, I can breathe. Looked at quite a few web sites yesterday about this drug Tiotropium Bromide ( to be marketed as Spiriva©) and found that it won't hit the European market till mid-2002. Now that is depressing news. I'll be on a letter writing campaign to everyone who might listen to speed up the approval of this absolute wonder drug. I do know that Boehringer-Ingleheim has chosen Pfizer to market the drug as Spiriva©. My breathing is so good that I'm really looking forward to our cruise next week on Royal Caribbean Lines from Miami to the Bahamas and Key West. You can read about that experience on other pages of this site.
October 23, 2001: It really works. The second visit had me pedaling for 57 minutes to everyone's surprise. Feeling great, breathing great and the end is only a week away now. The last visit will be an all day affair on Halloween day and I'll have to bicycle twice, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. Then off the study drug and back to the normal routine. We'll just have to see how that works out. I'll keep you posted.
October 31, 2001: Well the last day of the clinical trial arrived. Took my last dose of Tiotropium about 8:00 am and rode the bike for another 57 minutes two hours later. Then Brenda and Paul, from the staff, took me to lunch and we spent the rest of the afternoon waiting for 4:30 to arrive for the second exercise test of the day. Only made 36 minutes this time and boy did my legs let me know they were tired of this exercise stuff. Back to the regular inhaler routine tomorrow and that is going to be a big drag. Maybe my e-mail to Boehringer-Ingleheim will reach a sympathetic ear and they'll supply me with the drug until it is approved and released in this country. I have found out that it has been approved for use in New Zealand and the Netherlands. Perhaps a trip to the world of the Dutch is not far off for me.
November 1, 2001: Boy what a start on the old stuff. My mother-in-law was admitted to the hospital last night after falling in her apartment and we are running in circles. Back on the four nebulizer treatments each day with albuterol and ipaproprium. I did switch to Advair from the separate Flovent and Servent and it is much easier to take.
November 8, 2001: Saw Dr. Gates, my primary physician, for a regular checkup and shared the Tiotropium study with him. He's excited too and says it bears out what he learned at a symposium last year. This first week has been kind of hard, lots of edgy nerves from all the medication and kind of shaky. Breathing is still pretty good, but using the oxygen much more and the old body wants me to slow down a little. I'm trying hard not to do that though. Haven't been able to get back on the treadmill yet, because of the mother-in-law situation. She has gone to a rest home now and is slowly recovering. I think the Advair works a little better than the separate drugs, Flovent and Serevent, did. Not like the Spiriva® but better than before.
November 15, 2001: Final visit to the exercise lab for a follow up. Everything checks out fine. Apparently the Advair does a great job because my FEV and FEV1 are better than any time during the trial and better than they have been for twenty years. Still have SOB when doing too much too fast, but that's okay. Strangely enough despite the better spirometry results I still don't think it approaches the feeling I got with the Spiriva©. Breathing was just easier then and I expect it will be again when I get my hands on this wonder drug. Of course the lab people like to tease me that I am really going to be surprised when I find out I was on the placebo. That's okay - give me the placebo then.
November 22, 2001: A wonderful Thanksgiving day with family and friends. I've been working hard to keep my pace up even though it takes a little more oxygen to do it. Prior to the study I hadn't realized how much I had slowed down, but am determined to keep my eyes on it now and keep up the pace. Got an e-mail back late in the day from a pharmacy in the Netherlands which told me I could get the drug from the (when it actually becomes available in January) with a prescription from my doctor here. The only problem is the FDA/Customs thing but they have suggested several things to do in that department. Believe me, I'll do them just like they recommend. Come on New Year - I can hardly wait.
November 30, 2001: Okay I've been off what I believe to be Tiotropium for a full month now and I'm still doing pretty good. Of all the effects of the study drug I miss the most is the absence of SOB ( that stands for "Shortness Of Breath" ) or dyspnea. During the month and half on the drug I can only remember a couple of SOB situations and they were relatively minor. Using the Borg scale for intensity they were about a 3 or 4 at the most. Now on my regular regimen I have episodes of a 4 or 5 intensity on a fairly regular basis and wear my oxygen most of the time when walking around and working. Walking on the treadmill is definitely more of an effort but still has to be done. I wear the oxygen if I'm kind of tired from work when it is time to walk and that makes it a little easier. Life goes on and so do I. Getting ready for Christmas and expecting it to be a great one.
December 11, 2001: What a great experience I had visiting my pulmonologist for a regular checkup this morning. The nurse did the usual spirometry and walking oxymetry stuff and put it on the chart. Dr. Razack came in the room asked how I was and as usual studied the numbers on the chart. Then he looked up at me and said "What in the world is going on here?" with complete amazement. I told him about the clinical trial of Spiriva© (which he still feigns ignorance about) and that I thought it had helped me improve that much. Needless to day he immediately disagreed and said it couldn't possibly have that lasting an effect. Patients are so dumb aren't they, never knowing how they really feel and what works for them. His final conclusion, since it is winter time, the asthma component of my COPD is on the down side. I don't even think I have an asthma component. Just wait till spring and he finds out I'm still this way. My FEV1 is better than it has ever been since the COPD was first diagnosed. I really believe it's at least partially due to the Spiriva© opening me up so much that the replacement drugs can get in better and do more good. Perhaps some of it can be attributed to the Advair as I've read some pretty good reports on it as compared to the separate Flovent and Serevent inhalers. Whatever I like it this way. Still use my oxygen when I'm going to be fairly active and take all my inhalers like I'm supposed to. Dr. Razack did say I could probably cut back on the nebulizer medications and see what happens. No news on Spiriva©, but hope springs eternal and I'm just biding my time till I can get it somewhere. Then I can show Dr. Razack what a wonder drug it is for me and I hope for many others as well.
January 8, 2002: A new year and the second year of the new millennium. Time is just passing by too fast. As you can tell from my hit counter below, this page has been viewed a bunch of times lately. I've been getting e-mails from all over the country with wonderful comments about this little project of mind and a lot of questions about the availability of Spiriva©, so I thought an update might be appreciated. First of all, I am not an expert on this drug or the FDA approval process, but I do know from first hand experience just how good it was for me. Understand please that the clinical trial program itself doesn't know whether I had a placebo or the drug, but I'll wager whatever anyone wants that it was Spiriva©. There is simply no other explanation for the 25% increase in FEV1 that I have experienced since September. I firmly believe that Spiriva© made that possible.
I don't want anyone to think that I have no breathing problems, but compared to before September 17th, I am a new person. I still use my oxygen when I get very busy or active and at night. I still take my Advair morning and evening, but I'm only doing my albuterol/ipaproprium nebulizer twice a day instead of four times. That's improvement in my book. I've also managed to keep moving a little faster and that's significant to me.
Now to Spiriva© itself. I understand the Boehringer-Ingleheim has presented data to the FDA for approval. Anyone who knows about that process knows that it takes time, much time, too much time, but time that must be spent before a drug is declared safe. It's easy for those of us anxiously awaiting the drug to say, "but we know it's okay" while the FDA, by law, has to consider all the information presented by the manufacturer, evaluate the tests and make that final determination to allow the drug on the market. As mentioned above Spiriva© is already approved in the Netherlands and New Zealand, but unfortunately isn't actually available there yet. My contact with the Meerburg Pharmacy in Holland has promised to alert me when it actually becomes available in the next few months. Their email contact address is mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org and I hope they don't hate me for passing that on to everyone, but it's not a secret. They also have a link to a customs site http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/travel/med.htm with lots of information about getting a trial drug through customs, a daunting process.
March 25, 2002: I've had so many emails and comments in the guestbook that it looks like I should post my "numbers" here on this page for everyone to peruse. I haven't been hiding them, in fact I just didn't consider them that important to the story. But for those of you who might be interested here they are (pink background is pre-Spiriva© and green is post-Spiriva©):
So there they are, and I might add the FEV1 was even higher when I visited my pulmonologist in December as I reported above. The latest word I have is that Spiriva© will be available in the Netherlands in July.
June 7, 2002: I received an email from Meerburg Pharmacy that they had Spiriva© in stock and were taking orders. They have a dedicated web page for the order with very complete instructions on what you need to do to get the order placed. Naturally I was on the phone to my regular doctor in minutes and faxed a copy of the instructions to him. He wrote the prescription as requested but was a little hesitant on some of the statements they said were needed. He finally at least added the fact that Spiriva© was not an approved drug on the prescription statement. It's a shame that our propensity for suing doctors has caused doctors to be afraid to do anything except by the book. We all suffer for that I assure you. Anyway I faxed the prescription and my statement about it being for my personal use only and that I understood it was not FDA approved. Then I entered my order and credit card info on their website and sat back to wait.
June 8, 2002: Received an email from the pharmacy acknowledging the order.
June 10, 2002: I am on pins and needles waiting to hear something. About 5:00 o'clock this afternoon I got an e-mail notification from the pharmacy that my Spiriva© order had shipped FedEx this afternoon from Rotterdam. A quick check of the tracking number told me that the package has made it to Paris already. Now all I have to do is pray that it gets through US Customs without a problem. I'll keep you informed.
June 11, 2002: A quick check of the FedEx site showed that the package had arrived in Memphis TN about 6:25 in the morning. The notation said that it was in "Regulatory Agency Clearance Delay", in other words Customs. Naturally that was expected, but later in the afternoon I received a call from a Fed Ex agent in Memphis who asked for more information on the package because Customs wasn't quite sure what they had in their hands. I gave him the information he requested and sat back to wait. By midnight there was no change in status.
June 12, 2002: Still in "Regulatory Agency Clearance Delay" - all day long.
June 13, 2002: Still in "Regulatory Agency Clearance Delay" and no call from FedEx about anything. I'm beginning to get a little nervous about the whole thing. Needless to say my wife and I are praying that this little package find favor and get through customs.
June 14, 2002: The day started off with the usual "Regulatory Agency Clearance Delay" at the FedEx site. I'm trying to come down with a cold and coughing like mad. My back hurts from some kind of strain and have the additional burden of worrying about a silly drug languishing in Memphis while some low level government operative plays games. I'm gearing my mind up to start writing letters to both of my Senators and my US Representative on Monday, then about 1:45 this afternoon I happened to glance at my laptop and was astounded to see "Released from Customs" screaming out from the screen. My Spiriva© is on the way and I am ecstatic. Of course they released it on Friday afternoon so it will probably be Monday before it actually gets delivered to me. I can hardly wait and this weekend is going to be misery. Stay tuned for Monday and we'll find out if Spiriva© works like I think it does even though thinking about it I won't get to take the first dose until Tuesday morning. Oh well, what's one more day after waiting 7-1/2 months for it.
June 17, 2002: FedEx Tracking told me that the package had left Fort Worth this morning and was headed for Cleburne. About 9:30 I got a call from my friendly neighborhood pharmacist Royce that FedEx had delivered a package with my name (Roy) on it and he didn't notice till the driver had left. Needless to say I rushed right down the street and got the long awaited package. Had to give Royce a demonstration of the Handihaler and we talked about US drug policy - a policy by the way which is doing it's best to force knowledgeable, independent pharmacists out of business. Ooops, sorry about jumping up on my soapbox there but at my age I jump when I can. Anyway I was going to wait till tomorrow to start since I had already done my nebulizer treatment and taken the Advair for the morning. But the desire to see if I was correct in the effects of Spiriva© overcame that and I have just taken my first dose. There's probably something in those Dutch instructions making dire warnings about such things, but I don't read Dutch.
I waited about 15 minutes after the dose, actually I started feeling like my breathing was deeper nearly immediately, and then took a two minute walk around the store - result - fairly easy breathing for what would have been an SOB situation an hour before. I've had a bad cough the last few days and I can feel the air moving out with more force already. It still works and I'm ecstatic. Now the only problem is I won't get any work done trying different things to see what's happened to my breathing. I guess since I own the company that won't make too much difference in my next paycheck. Basically I'm satisfied that this is a real effect and better days are ahead. I'll do some self testing with various tasks and my SpO2 meter and let you know the results. All I can say right now is that I definitely am breathing deeper and easier. Hallelujah!!
June 21, 2002: On his first day of summer and suffering from the worst case of bronchitis I've ever had I am totally convinced of the power of Spiriva© for me. Even after a hacking coughing fit my SpO2 recovers to 93-94% in just moments, and without oxygen or pursed lip breathing. Now to me that is really some improvement. This is all happening with me dropping all my other inhalants, much to my doctors dismay. How else will I know what it can do though. So I'll just plug on, trusting my own instincts to know whether I should add anything back in. I can imagine my pulmonologist's reaction when I tell him what I've done.
You will note that I added a cautionary note to the top of the page. My experience is mine alone and while I hope it reflects the good Spiriva© may do for everyone there are no guarantees and I make no representations to that effect.
I also want to give recognition to my friend Léon and his staff at Meerburg Pharmacy. These are some of the greatest people in the world and they truly care about us a patients as well as customers. I know many US pharmacies which could take lessons and come out ahead in this area. And thanks to all who have left such wonderful messages in my guestbook. If I've missed responding to someone I'm very sorry. I'll keep updating once in a while and would love to hear from those who have gone on Spiriva©.
July 3, 2002: Hey everyone!. I've been getting emails wondering how I am doing and obviously I'm still alive and kicking. The bronchitis is still present and can't get rid of the cough, but life with Spiriva© is definitely preferred to the alternative. I am convinced that my coughing spells would result in SOB requiring oxygen, but with Spiriva© I just get a little winded (not SOB, that's different) and recover in just a minute or so. My internist had me start taking the albuterol/ipaproprium by nebulizer four times a day to help break up the congestion. Seems to work since I really cough up a lot of stuff over a days time.
I've gotten a few emails and have read a few logs on the web from people who have gotten their Spiriva© and it seems that my experiences weren't completely unique. I am so thrilled that others have seen some of the same effects as I have both during the trial and now that I'm on a regular dose. I just happened to put the SpO2 meter on my finger the other afternoon while sitting at my desk and it read 97%. Wow!
Well that's enough for today. I love hearing from all of you and encourage you all to keep up hope that we'll have this drug approved in the US without undue delay. The wheels of the FDA run slowly, but surely. If anyone comes on any information on how we can input into the approval process, let's make sure everyone knows about it. Writing congressmen, senators, etc. can surely make the FDA aware that there is interest, but I'm more concerned with public input and comment that they might accept. Then there is that age old remedy called prayer that we should all continue on a daily basis. It does work.
Happy Birthday and God Bless America!!
July 10, 2002: What a wonderful holiday the 4th is for those of use born some years ago. I don't guess I'll ever be able to watch a flag ceremony without some tears for all it means to me. Thanks to those idiot judges in California it was even more emotional this year when added to the 9/11 experience.
But you didn't log on the hear about my patriotism, you want to hear how I am doing and that is basically - pretty good. The bronchitis cough is gradually getting weaker and my breathing better. The amazing thing to me is that some of those monster cough events didn't cause SOB. We'll just see what the next week brings.
For those of you following myself and others as Spiriva© becomes part of our lives you know that most are having a good experience with it, but I have had emails from a couple of people who haven't had that sort of thing happen. That's very sad, but I guess it is inevitable. I am also saddened to hear from one who cannot afford the cost as it stands right now. Ironically I would think that it is going to be even more expensive when it is released on the US market. Well enough of that. We'll get a conversation going which probably really doesn't have an answer or real solution in our lifetimes.
JULY 17, 2002: I really don't have anything new to report. I remain convinced that this drug is doing a better job than all the other things I was taking - albuterol, ipatroprium, servent and flovent - and best of all it's just a once a day dose. My bronchitis has pretty well subsided now, with only occasional coughing. I notice the same sort of effects of Spiriva© in my life now as I did during the trial. I walk faster on a consistent basis, talk louder and just generally feel like I breathe more normally. That's the hardest part to explain but it simply just feels like the air is moving into and out of the lungs more freely. I call it the teflon effect - since the air just since to slip in and out very easily. Just so no one gets the wrong idea this didn't cure me it simply makes life a little easier. I still sleep with oxygen and use it sometimes during the day if I get busy and have lots of ups and downs, but I seldom really feel like I need it or have to have it. So that sums up the week. With the bronchitis pretty much gone I'm going to be trying to push things a little more and see what happens. Stay tuned.
July 28, 2002: Isn't it great to be alive. It's 97 degrees here in Texas this afternoon and not exactly the kind of weather that makes you want to go out and work in the yard. I did my flower bed watering this morning while it was still cool. Just a little cough left from the bronchitis and I'm feeling pretty good. I'm doing more reps on the Bowflex with a little heavier weights and believe I am progressing nicely on turning some fat into muscle. I have no trouble breathing when exercising though I am obviously expending energy. I really hate to admit it, but I sleep best after doing exercises so it's obviously good for me. Isn't it strange that the experts in body building use pursed lip breathing when they work out - did they steal that technique from us or vice versa? I was going to do a little checking on o2 saturation while on the treadmill this past week, but kept forgetting my meter at work. Need to do it though and will remember to bring it home this week I hope.
August 18, 2002: The time does fly when you get busy. I've been tied up in the organization of a new club the past few weeks and just didn't even think about updating this page. I guess it isn't obvious that I'm doing fine if I don't say anything about it, so my apologies to all who read this page for keeping you in the dark. My experience with Spiriva©© continues to be great and at just about my expectation level. In fact I've got to get my doctor to give me another three month prescription when I see him this week as I am into my lasts package of 30 doses. I've continued to do my workouts on the Bowflex and that is a job in itself. It brings my pulse rate up to about a hundred by the time I finish and my breathing is good. I usually put my oxygen on before I start and my O2 saturation remains in the mid 90% range. Now I know you are wondering why I am using oxygen when I say this medicine does such a great job. Well basically I've never said Spiriva©© cured me of COPD and I am a nut about keeping my oxygen saturation up as high as possible all the time. My pulmonologists, despite all the things they never really told me about this disease, did make a strong case for oxygen not as a medicine but as a life extending agent. With plenty of oxygen cells live but without it they die. So my attitude is why waste any of them? I judge the effectiveness of anything I take more on lines of what I can do at work. I'm at a point now where I can walk from the install area, up the stairs and get a piece of equipment and back to the work area without SOB...quite a change from being completely SOB after just going up and down the stairs.
I've thoroughly enjoy the emails I get from others of you who are having a good experience too. I really think that once our medical community becomes aware of the benefits of a drug like this we will see some real improvement in the lives of many COPD sufferers. Now all we need are for those bureaucrats in Washington (or wherever the FDA offices are) to approve it for the American market. Until then I guess our friends at Meerburg Pharmacy will reap the benefits of being our source of supply. Good health to all. Don't let the SOB get you down.
September 6, 2002: I haven't been ignoring this project but simply wanted to wait until I had visited a new pulmonologist who came highly recommended by another reader of this journal. That happened this morning and I am extremely pleased with him. I actually think he listened to what I was saying about my experience and he is well aware of Spiriva©. He gave me a pretty close examination but no spirometry. I had some recent x-rays from that bronchitis attack in June and with that and listening to my breathing he seemed to be satisfied. So friends, I don't have any numbers to share with you at this point in time. He did recommend that I add Foradil to my drug stable and gave me some samples to try plus a coupon for a free months worth from a pharmacy. So I'll try that starting tomorrow morning. He says why not try to get maximum impact and I really don't have any grounds to dispute him on that so will follow doctors orders. We've had so many red and orange ozone alert days around here that there are times that breathing is a little difficult, not SOB type problems, but just some uncomfortable pressures. Kind of difficult to describe - but basically just don't feel like I'm breathing like I should. So I just drag out the Helios and a few minutes of O2 seems to make it okay. I think I'll take that 9 days supply of foradil and get my friends at Rhema to run a spirometry on me just to see where I am at that point. Should be interesting. I'll let you know how it goes. The new doctor (Dr. David Ostransky) is completely comfortable with my using my internist Dr. Gates as my real primary and only call on him when there is a major problem. Dr. Razack the old wouldn't listen to that at all. Perhaps he liked the billings best-that's unkind but I don't have to go back to him either. Boy us old guys can be cantankerous can't we? By the way my second order of Spiriva© from Meerburg got through customs in one day. Guess they are getting used to it. Take care now and take care of yourselves.
September 22, 2002: I think the most amazing thing about my experience lately is that there really isn't anything of interest to report about my lungs. I've been feeling great, working hard and breathing good. The combination of Spriva and Foradil seems to be a good one, at least for me. I've experimented a little with dosing and am currently taking the Foradil first and then the Spiriva© a half hour or forty-five minutes later. No concrete measurements being made but watching how I feel and breathe. Later I'll try just the opposite and see what happens there. Maybe I should get a spirometry done and find out something specific, but time doesn't always allow that. It's far more important to me to be able to breathe and work than to see numbers on a piece of paper. I continue to get emails from individuals and if there is one common experience we all are having it is the delight of working with Leon at Meerburg Pharmacy. Those people are simply wonderful and never fail to get back to you right away when you send them an email asking a question. A lot of American firms could learn from them I do believe. Till the next entry then friends good breathing.
October 13, 2002: It's been a while since I updated, mainly because nothing significant has happened or changed. My breathing remains good, perhaps a little better with the addition of the Foradil by Dr. Ostransky. It's really hard for me to tell what actual difference it makes. I'm really pleased with my overall condition though and that is the main thing. Considering the stress I've been under the last few months because of the drastic downturn in business I think I'm doing well. I think we all know that at least a portion of how we do each day is mental, so stress can cause a significant downturn in breathing if we let it. So I try to workout on the Bowflex (I've been missing too many days of exercise recently because of other things I had to do) and walk on the treadmill when I can. Perhaps after the elections are over I'll get back into a good routine again. In fact I'm making myself a promise right here to do just that. I'll check back in later friends, have a great week and good breathing to all.
October 23, 2002: I had occasion to visit the exercise lab where I did the drug trial and Paul Chase was kind enough to run a spirometry on me. Not much change in anything from the end of the test and nowadays on Spiriva© full time. That pretty much goes along with the way I feel and the way I breathe nowadays. It works for me and after a year since the trial I haven't lost anything or gone downhill. I think that is important. Here are the results this afternoon (about 6 hours after my morning dose of Spiriva©).
November 9, 2002: Does anyone out there have any idea how it is now November? Here we are with nearly the third year of the 21st century complete and 2003 just a little over a month away. Thanksgiving is only a matter of weeks off and I've already seen some Christmas commercials on television. My goodness I'm going to be sixty-eight in just 3 days and don't even feel like it. I've had this years flu shot (with no complications) and haven't had a cold in absolutely ages. January will see the third year in which I haven't had to go to the hospital with pneumonia, etc. and I'm beginning to think that life is pretty good. Spiriva© bears a great deal of responsibility for that feeling of course because it lets me do more at a faster pace than the four drugs it replaced. I stopped using the Foradil that Dr. Ostransky started, simply because I can't see where it does any good. Guess we'll have to see what Dr. Gates says about that at our next meeting. I've heard from others who have gotten onto Spiriva© and in nearly every case they are seeing the same kind of reaction that I have and that's wonderful. I know there are some who don't respond, but that is going to be true for every single drug on the market. If they really knew a whole lot about our diseases (those which make up COPD) I'm sure they could come up with something that would be miraculous for everyone. In the meantime, just keep on hoping and praying and don't let the SOB get you down.
December 14, 2002: Over a month since I've let anyone know if I'm alive or not. Needless to say the holidays have kept me pretty busy. Our youngest son and his fiancée decided they would come back to Texas during Thanksgiving week and get married here on the Tuesday before Turkey Day. So with a business to run, a wedding to help plan and carry out, extra people in the house and Thanksgiving itself I was pretty well covered up. But you know what, I didn't have a single SOB problem the whole time. Of course I used my oxygen when I was going to be running a lot, but everything went well, despite the Justice of the Peace being missing for 40 minutes when she should have been at the Country Club. There are a few pictures posted on Mark's page in the family section of this website. The guests were well behaved and everyone enjoyed the ceremony if it was delayed a little. I had my regular appointment with Dr. Gates that morning and he found everything to be in decent shape. A little wheezing (I think that comes from the post nasal drip I've been having) so he didn't throw any fits about my self medication routine. I think he trusts me to do what is best for my own well being. For instance last week for a couple of days I had some congestion building up so I used the Albuterol nebulizer for a couple of mornings before the Spiriva© and it seemed to make everything work better. I've even had a couple of days where I simply forgot to take my morning dose of Spiriva© and didn't suffer any real effects. I think I might have noticed a little slowdown late in the evening those two days, but nothing major. Now my biggest problem is getting back into an exercise routine. With houseguest (we had my son, his fiancée, her mother and dog for a week) the house got rearranged and the treadmill is out in the hall and the Bowflex was simply in the way. I'll wait till after Christmas day and then put it all back where it belongs. Amazing how much more prone we are to use something when it is sitting right in front of us. If it is of interest to you, my refill of Spiriva© from Meerburg only languished one day in customs in Memphis and that was because I'm sure they were shut down Thanksgiving day. As usual the people at Meerburg let me know it had shipped and then emailed me that they saw it had been delivered. They are really an amazing bunch of people.
To all my friends, and there seem to be many of you, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas, a prosperous and healthy New Year and all the best as we work through the travails of COPD in its many forms. Pray for those in need, those in government who make the decisions and God Bless you all and God Bless America!
January 15, 2003: Well Happy New Year to all. Yes I'm still alive and kicking. I remain amazed that so many people follow my life on this page, having no idea what is so interesting about what I see as a fairly mundane life. But it seems too late to stop now so here's some of what is going on in my life. First I'm still taking Spiriva© full time and despite one guestbook entry suggesting there could be dire problems with it, I have no side effects whatsoever, unless you consider being able to breathe well a side effect. I will have to admit that I've used my albuterol in the nebulizer a few times over the last month when I had some distress due to very high mountain cedar levels in our atmosphere.. Lots of postnasal drip and even some lung congestion, but that has passed now and I'm feeling fine. I do still use oxygen when very busy and exercising, but that is simply because everything I read about my condition harps on keeping your O2 levels above 90% and that I try to do.
One of the expected improvements in lifestyle predicted for Spiriva© was a reduction in hospitalization for upper respiratory problems. I know that I watch my physical condition much closer these days, but I am convinced that the improvement in my breathing due to Spiriva© is helping me stay well. I think that coming through the congestion problem without it proceeding any further is ample evidence of that fact. Now if I can just get back to regular and thorough exercise I'll be even better off.
I have to admit that I put on a few pounds over the holidays and it's time to get that back under control. I believe that any of you with COPD and related diseases will agree that carry extra weight is definitely one of the things that creates discomfort. So it's time to move the treadmill back into the living room and to stop walking by the Bowflex like it didn't exist. Procrastination is such a simple thing to do isn't it? Well now that you know I'm a professional procrastinator that will of course explain why I update this page so infrequently. Shame on me. Well check back in a couple of weeks and we'll see if I've lost any weight and started exercising again. I think I might just do something right now - besides go into the kitchen for a snack. Take care everyone and love one another - we don't have a long enough time on this earth to do that effectively sometimes.
February 16, 2003: I'm not sure that it is possible for a month to have passed since I last updated this page. At this rate it will be Christmas and a New Year in about six more weeks. I don't know if time passes as fast for others, but for me it seems to be accelerating all the time. I asked you to check back on the weight loss a month ago and sad to say I've lost at most a pound and exercise is still way to random to be really effective. There just seem to be so many other things going on. I've got to learn to set some priorities, and then when they are set, stick to them. My breathing is still good and I have pretty much made it through the winter without a major cold. Wow! It's seem impossible but I just ordered my fourth order of Spiriva© from Meerburg Pharmacy yesterday. I still haven't heard anything about FDA approval, but I do understand it should be available in Canada and Mexico in a fairly short time. This is short, but why drag something out when there is really nothing new to share? God bless you all and I ask you to join me in praying daily for our leaders and our world.
March 5, 2003: Good grief, can it really be the sixth of March already? Wasn't New Years day just a couple of weeks ago? At least I'm still breathing and that's good I do believe. It seems like this last three weeks were about the worst of the winter for those of us here in North Texas. The two inches of sleet last week had just about the same effect of movement around these parts as those huge snowstorms in the northeast. It seems like we went at least two weeks without seeing the sun and it was just plain depressing. Even my breathing became worse the longer that weather held on. Now that the sun is back out I'm already feeling better. Even used my albuterol nebulizer dosing for about a week to help out a little, and it did seem to help. My last Spiriva© shipment too forever to get through the customs process, apparently because of ineptitude on the part of FedEx people. My dear friends at Meerburg Pharmacy actually called me to tell me there was a hold up and the reasons behind it. They had to fax my original prescriptions to FedEX in Memphis because they were supposedly missisng from the package. I seriously doubt that, but Meerburg too care of it and I finally got the packager after about ten days. Glad I ordered as soon as I did. I'll never be able to adequately express my appreciation to Leon and his staff at Meerburg Pharmacy. They are great and caring beyond belief. So until next time good breathing and God Bless America.
May 14, 2003: Can anyone explain to me how it can possible be the middle of May already and New Years day was just a week or so ago? Seriously folks I've just gotten left behind - the War, business and family just has taken all my time and now I must try to make up for it. Unfortunately I discovered "blogs" during that little ware and have been reading so much really, really good stuff on the internet that my brain is filled to the brim. Naturally, being a conservative at heart, I've pretty much concentrated on like thinking but haven't excluded information from the "other" side. It's great and makes me think a lot.
I haven't changed my regimen on medications and oxygen at all, even though with all the Mexican smoke we have been experiencing here in North Texas there have been some days when it started to get me down a little. So far though no really negative effect, just a little harder to breath at times. We had about three days of cloudy, rainy weather which cleared it up, but they say it will be back again (the smoke that is)
Nothing of much interest on the Spiriva© front. It is now available in Canada (as low as about $55 a month) from one pharmacy. I think I'll switch and start buying all my prescriptions from there now. I'm still a little ticked at the Canadians over the Iraq deal, but I think that was more government functionaries than anything. So we'll see how this works out. I'll write a little not about the experience in a few weeks and let you know how it goes. There is still no credible word on when the FDA might finally approve it for sale in the US.
I've heard from quite a few people in the past couple of months asking whether Spiriva© will work for them or a loved one. I have to say it again. I'm am not a doctor or medical profession. All I know is that Spiriva© works for me and works well. Whether it might work for someone else is either up to their pulmonologist or trying it themselves to see if it helps. I wish it were the wonder drug that many think it might be, but a number of people have written me saying it didn't work at all. Why not? I have no idea except to say that this disease is simply not the same in all of us and what works for one may not work for another. I really wish it weren't that way.
Wow I really rambled on there didn't It? Here's to good health, keep on trucking friends and don't let the SOB get you down.
Saturday, June 7, 2003: Nearly a month since my last update, but things were just going along great and there simply was nothing to write about, at least until a week ago Wednesday. I had my regular quarterly appointment with Dr. Gates and the general consensus was that I was doing marvelously well. Everything seem to be working as well as can be expected. That is until that night anyway. About one a.m. I woke up with some pain in my left chest (pleurisy type under the ribs) and cold. Turned the electric blanket on low and managed to get through the night with just fitful little thirty minute sleep segments. When the alarm went off I started to get out of bed and was just simply weak kneed. Managed to finally get up and made it to the living room and crashed in my recliner. Boy did I feel bad and was very short of breath (with 2 liters of oxygen flowing) and that's the way my wife found me about a half hour later. She wanted to go to the emergency room but we finally opted on waiting and seeing if we couldn't see Dr. Gates in his office first. That worked out and off we went. One look, a few abdominal crushes, temperature 101, etc. and he said "I'm admitting you and we'll also get a surgeon to consult since I don't really hear anything bad in the lungs."
So off we go to have fun. I really like the surgeon we called in and he immediately scheduled a CT Scan of the chest/abdominal area. Remember now, I have a history of diverticulitis which can cause abdominal swelling which impairs breathing badly. Anyway the CT scan showed nothing wrong abdominally but I had definite pneumonia in the left lower lung. It didn't really show up on the chest Xray that they also took but with my old lungs that's not too surprising. So with a diagnosis (a great relief to me of course) we began the long process of IV antibiotics, etc. I went up and down for a couple of days, getting breathing treatments, etc and finally when we resumed the lasix on Sunday morning I managed to remove 7 quarts of water by bedtime and the breathing became just about normal. So Monday I got to come home, and back to work on Tuesday. Still kind of weak and just starting to walk again to build up my stamina.
I don't think I've ever had anything hit me as quick as this spell did. I was feeling absolutely great when bang the bottom fell out. What a come down, but I'll be back to the old level soon. I kept on taking my Spiriva©, even in the hospital and am convinced that it helped tremendously. Apparently the hospital pharmacists never noticed it on the list of drugs I was taking and made no protest at all. Normally they would throw a fit about an unapproved drug being administered in the hospital. As Dr. Gates says that wouldn't be compassionate though. I'll try to update next week after I have a follow up with Dr. Gates. As far as I know we don't even know what kind of pneumonia it was because I think all the cultures were negative. All I know is it hit fast and it hit hard. Don't want to do that again.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003: Well I'm still alive and feeling good again. Dr. Gates says the chest X-ray last week still showed some involvement in the lower left lobe, but everything sounded good to him. Will see him again in a month as a follow up. I'm back to just Spiriva© again after adding the albuterol inhaler for the first week out of the hospital. It helped then, but doesn't seem to make any difference now, so why use it? I'm walking when I get a chance and gradually getting my stamina back up to where it was before the hospital stay. I am still amazed at how much you go down with even a brief stay in bed. I don't have anything earth shaking to add - just plugging along and enjoying life. I'll write again soon.
November 30, 2003: My goodness how time flies. I would never have believed that I had failed to make a new entry here in the last five months, but it's pretty obvious that is what has happened. Perhaps it has something to do with feeling good all the time. Once I got over the June pneumonia episode I have been doing absolutely great. Now don't get over excited about me being cured of something because I obviously still have COPD, still take my Spiriva© and still use oxygen when necessary, but in the general scheme of things I can't really complain that much. I think when you don't have any kind of exacerbations of a disease it tends to kind of fade into the background and that is what I see happening with myself. I know my limitations but don't let them stop me. I've been exercising on the treadmill the past couple of months just like I kept promising myself and generally walk a total of about five miles a week at two miles and hour. I use oxygen when walking to keep the saturation up over 90 but don't really get winded taking those walks.
I've also managed to lose a little over ten pounds the last month on the Adkins diet and that is making me feel even better still. I intend to get down at least another five and maybe ten more pounds before I start trying to maintain the new weight.
We had a lovely family oriented Thanksgiving and look forward to the upcoming Christmas season with great anticipation. So just in case I get lazy again - a very, merry Christmas to all and Good Breathing to all.
December 22, 2003: I'm not so lazy after all so will just take a few minutes to say hello and wish you all a
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Despite all the doing and running my breathing remains great. One evening this past week Judy and I went Christmas shopping and after I got home I suddenly realized that I had done the whole bit without oxygen as I had left my Helios at home. Then while eating supper I realized that I hadn't even taken my Spiriva© that morning. I think I will ask Dr. Gates to do a little spirometry on me at my regular visit next month. I just got to thinking that having lost about 15 pounds on my diet over the past two months might also have something to do with oxygen use. Then I've also been trying to walk on the treadmill as often as possible. That's absolutely amazing isn't it - taking care of oneself make you feel better. I won't belabor the point since I'm sure all of are aware of it, but oftentimes putting what you know into practice is the really hard part, especially when you don't feel that good to start with. I seem to remember that being a major portion of quitting the old cigarette habit some twenty plus years ago.
Well I guess that's quite enough soapbox for now, so until 2004, don't let the SOB get you down!
January 31, 2004: Has anyone seen January? I barely got past New Year's Day and here it is about to be February! Needless to say my ideas from last month didn't work out. I was going to ask Dr. Gates to do spirometry and completely forgot it when he said my lungs sounded great. Having lost about three inches of waist on the Atkins diet (and about ten pounds too) my breathing really is better than it has been in some time. I still think Spiriva© is the magic ingredient in my condition and for the life of me don't understand why the FDA won't approve it. I've read in several places that the FDA is slightly prejudiced against German drug makers and that might have something to do with the delays. Dr. Gates says he expects it to be approved this year. What a shame that many have to suffer because the government decided it has to protect us from everything. Oops - sorry I was just about to jump up on the soap box again.
Unlike much of the US we have had a pretty mild winter so far here in Texas. Its been cool, requiring the heaters to be on with the resulting dry air, so those of us with cannulas stuck in our noses sure can go through the Ayr and other nasal moisturizers by the ton. I guess if that is my only complaint about being able to breathe than I shouldn't complain too much.
I've been doing a little bit better on exercise lately and am back up to a full thirty minutes at 2MPH on the treadmill. I've started to put in a little incline for at least part of the walk and that should help develop a little more stamina too. Now all I've got to do is get started on the Bowflex too. Along with the diet that should help me get rid of some more body fat, and body fat certainly doesn't make oxygen consumption go down. I've also read several articles concerning the effect of carbohydrates on breathing which seem to make sense and perhaps that Atkins low-carb diet has the added benefit of making breathing easier. It all has to do with the carbon dioxide levels which seem to increase with carbohydrate diet and that makes oxygen requirements jump up. I remain amazed at the amount of information our there on the internet about lung disease and all the things people do to alleviate its severity. I guess the main thing I garner from all of it is the simple conclusion that we are all different in our makeup and disease and what works for one doesn't work for the other. So if what you are doing right now doesn't give you the quality of life you think you should have then it's time to try something else. Talk to your doctor (and if he won't talk to you find another one) and let him/her know that you are part of the treatment plan and want to have an active part in the process. Anything else does you a disservice.
See how easy I jump up on my soapboxes! Hey everyone, have a great day, and a wonderful new year. Pray for peace, pray for our leaders and our troops around the world. God Bless America!
February 2, 2004: Great news! The FDA has approved Spiriva© for sale in the US. Estimates are for it to be in pharmacies by midsummer. You can read the press release here:
All it takes is lots of patience I guess. Now it's up to our doctors to use it properly and give a whole lot of people a whole lot of help. Hooray!
March 5, 2004: I've had lot's of comments from readers about the Spiriva© approval and it's all be good. Several people have already managed to get their Dr's to cooperate and ordered from Canada and are getting good results also. Nearly makes the wait worthwhile, but I must still express some aggravation about the slow, slow process. I guess it's necessary in many cases, but in the Spiriva© case I think it was pure bureaucratic delay because the manufacturer is a German company. Conspiracy theories?
But the only important thing is that people are going to be helped achieve at least some semblance of normality in their everyday lives, and though not a cure, it sure brings relief. I've been very busy this past couple of months with my son running for county commissioner here in Cleburne TX and that takes a lot of time. I also help all our Republican candidates with their mailing lists, phone lists, etc from the database of voters that I maintain. I love politics and the process it entails and being able to breathe makes it a lot easier.
My last doctor's visit in January didn't reveal anything new, in fact he said the lungs sounded pretty good. I love to hear that kind of comment this time of year. Remember of course that after the last pneumonia episode last year he no longer tells me I'm doing great. I've got one of the world's best doctors (at least I think so) and he always listens and answers my questions fully. I like that.
Until next time, friends, have a great day and don't let the SOB get you down!
April 25, 2004: It seems to really be spring here in Texas and I've made it through the winter without even having a cold and I feel really blessed. I've had a little problem with pollen stuffiness this spring but nothing that a good tissue can't take care of quickly. My recent regular doctors appointment went without a hitch and for the first time Dr. Gates was actually able to give me a legal prescription for Spiriva©. I'm still ordering from Canada of course since it won't be available here in the states till midsummer from the latest I have heard.
My diet is still going well - Adkins - and I've lost about twenty pounds and moved my belt buckle up three notches. Losing that weight helps a lot with the breathing of course but it also just helps me feel better overall. My dear doctor was convinced that the Adkiins way would drive my cholesterol up (it was up a little in January) but the latest test last week has me under the two hundred mark on total cholesterol. I really think some of the stuff I've read about carbohydrates causing some of our breathing difficulties may really have something to it. Whatever, I'm going to keep on till I get down to the weight I want. Then of course I got really lazy on the exercise during the primary elections campaigns (my son ran and won the Republican nomination for County Commissioner) when there seemed to be something going on all the time. It's quited down now till Labor Day, so guess I either have to start again or find another excuse.
It's nearly May, somehow, and I encourage all of you to get out and enjoy God's green earth. Plant a few flowers and watch them grow. Take part in the world and you'll feel better even though it may be a great effort to do those sort of things. Take care and God Bless you all!
June 6, 2004: Did anyone happen to see May as it flew by the window? Seriously my friends, I'm so sorry to be so behind in keeping this page updated, but I have only one excuse. I just didn't do it.
Today is the 60th Anniversary of D-Day. Though I was but ten years old on June 6, 1944 I do remember it from the radio and newspapers of the time and what my family told me. Having had a brother and uncle in the military we kept a close eye on things to do with the Axis and all their despicable minions. Watching the events from France, sharing in the loss of President Reagan have all contributed to making this a very introspective weekend for me. I have shed tears in abundance as I've read stories in the paper and on the world wide web about the contributions that those brave men made so many years ago. I do believe the quote which affected me the most was an editorial cartoon in the paper which made the simple statement: They gave their tomorrows that we might have our todays. I have nothing I can add to that.
I've had a guest sign the guestbook who said that Spiriva© was available in their local pharmacy at long last. I haven't priced it locally yet but will do so in the near future. I am still buying mine from Canada without problem and it cost me about $55 a month after factoring in the exchange rate. Not too bad for something that does me the good it does. It's a wonderful addition to the drug arsenal of those of us suffering from COPD. I know it's not the miracle for everyone that it is for me, but I do believe that holds true for many of the other drugs. Our systems just react differently to the various medications. Some work for me, some work for you. Just keep on trying till you find the right combination. Just don't let the SOB get your down (as I frequently say). See you again soon.
July 4, 2004: Happy 228th Birthday America! Still standing proud, still the best place on earth to live and a country to love. What a monumental gift our founding fathers gave to us.
August 6, 2004: July whizzed by just about as fast as the fireworks exploded and now we are finally beginning to have a little bit of real Texas summer around these parts. It's only officially gone over 100 degrees one day but there were several pushing the mark pretty hard. But then a cool front (lower 90's in these parts) blew in last evening and it is a little bit cooler today. We've had a bunch of so called high ozone days with several red alerts, but it hasn't affected my breathing any that I can tell. Frankly it doesn't seem to make a lot of difference to me (from the weather) except when it gets really cold and then I have a little difficulty handling the cold, cold air.
November 10, 2004: If anyone saw those last three months fly by please let me know. I missed them completely. I had a very busy fall with my son running for County Commissioner here in Johnson County. He lost the race but put up a grand campaign, run cleanly and fairly. Too many people just don't vote for the best man though, but that my friends is life.
December 21, 2004: It's nearly Christmas and already the first day of Winter. I'm still alive and kicking, breathing relatively well despite continuing high levels of pollen and stuff in the air. We're supposed to get a really hard freeze this weekend so may there is some relief in sight. Considering the stress level I'm incurring right about now I think I'm doing really great. The stress is coming from having to shut down my business after twenty-three years. We really never economically recovered from the 9/11 attacks and just finally had to give up. It's been a wonderful time and a great trip doing business with my oldest son. I wish it had turned out differently but wouldn't give up a minute of it for anything. I'm probably feeling right now about like I did when I first found out that I had COPD, and you know what something (Spiriva©) came along to make it all better. That's how God works in my life and I trust him completely.
Everyone, please have a Merry Christmas, love your families, care for your friends and don't let the SOB get you down.
January 15, 2005: We've made it to another year and nearly half the decade is gone. I hope you have all had a wonderful season of family, friends and fellowship. As for myself I think I've just gone through one of the toughest periods of my life and survived still breathing. Two weeks before Christmas my son and I looked at where we were in our business and made the decision that the time had come to shut it down. The big box stores, the Wal-Marts and Circuit City's and Best Buy's have eroded our sales over the years since 9/11 and we just couldn't go any further. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for sympathy, I just want you to know that even when things go in a direction that looks like the end of the world, our God still has his hand in it all and makes things work out right. He has certainly done that for me and I rejoice in His love. The pressure, the worries and the hours spent shutting down and getting rid of everything should have put me in a really bad way as far as breathing goes, but I only had to use a nebulizer full of albuterol once in the past month and I think that is wonderful, at least from my standpoint. The efficacy of Spiriva© for my particular condition is just too good to believe sometimes. So now that there are just a few things to move into a home office, I find myself umemployed and still able to work. I don't know what I will do, but after the past three weeks I know Judy and I are going to just goof off for a while. She has been moving her Mother into an assisted living center and that took a bunch of work too. Amazing how everything comes together at one time.
Well, again dear friends, a Happy New Year and don't let the SOB get you down.
February 16, 2005: It would seem that I am falling into this semi-retirement situation pretty easily. I do find that there are still not enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do, but with persistence perhaps I can get a few things done. We had a long cool and damp spell here the last couple of weeks but spring is trying very hard to break through. We already have some of our beautiful yellow iris blooming, well one is completely open and several others are going to be that way tomorrow. Hope we don't have a freeze on the way, it still being February.
I had my annual physical last week and Dr. Gates says I'm doing fine, except for cholesterol. He ran a PFT on me and the results were about what I would expect. I didn't take down all the numbers but they indicated about a 5% drop in lung function from the last ones done back in 2002. About normal degradation in lung function and certainly no indication of a rapidly worsening condition at all. He was especially impressed with the improvement after using the nebulizer. I guess that is a good sign that medication works or something to that effect. He says just stay on the Spiriva© and didn't even prescribe anything else. I don't even carry an emergency inhaler anymore. As I've mentioned in a recent post I sometimes will use a single albuterol treatment with the nebulizer if I feel a little winded in the evening. My wife commented tonight that I don't even have the coughing that I used to have all the time. Perhaps this 25 years of not smoking has finally cleared my lungs of that awful stuff that 25 years of smoking put in them.
Let's get ready for spring, clean out the flower beds and start growing this years beautiful crop of flowers or whatever you like to grow. While you're digging away remember that exercise is good for you and don't let the SOB get you down!
April 11, 2005: Well if time isn't flying by I don't know what else to say about it. I've been telling myself I had best check my COPD page and finally got around to it today and see that it has been nearly two months since I last added anything. That must mean I've been doing fine or you would think I would look for sympathy on this page. It's true, except a little sniffling from all the newfound pollen in the air, I've been feeling really good, enjoying life and busy as can be in my second full month of retirement. I've found that there are a million things I can do that I've been putting off for years and I am in fact doing a few of them. I've probably got several hundred emails concerning my efforts in family genealogy that need to be answered and if I manage a couple a week it feels like I'm doing something about it.
Probably the most maddening thing is not being able to do a little more. Judy and I wanted to do some day traveling, oxygen being the limiting factor, but it seems like every time we get ready to go another cold front comes in and it starts to rain again. Perhaps that will change in the near future and we can do a little driving. I especially want to get out and get some pictures of bluebonnets this year. They should be great with all the rain and coolness we've had so far this spring.
I continue to hear from people in the guestbook who are trying my friend Spriva and for the most part most seem to follow my experience. That's wonderful and I certainly appreciate the kind comments about my part in your treatment, even though that simply isn't necessary. I started this page because I wanted a record of what my life was like living with COPD and the drug study just made it come to pass. It's amazing what four years can bring in one's life and I certainly consider myself blessed by the work of the drug companies to help those of us with COPD. Considering that it is moving in the next to the top spot on the number one killer list that is of course appropriate but I like to believe that they also care about us as individuals also.
I've finally managed to get some strawberry plants for the strawberry jar planter I bought three years ago and they are really flourishing. Actually had to ripe strawberries the other day and Judy and I got to share one each. Wow how fresh and tasty they were. We have a bunch more in process and maybe enough to make a bowl full before long. Since the threat of a freeze is over and Judy's birthday is upon us, we will get into planting some flowers in the beds in the next week or so and everything should start looking really nice in the front of the house.
I'm rambling, aren't I? Perhaps though it shows that I follow my own advice and don't let the SOB get me down. Life's just too precious to waste on feeling sorry for me, let's just get it on. Baseball season started here in Texas today and even though our Rangers couldn't come away with a win I'm happy because we have six months of baseball ahead of us. Have a great day my worldwide friends and don't let the SOB get you down!!!
May 3rd, 2005: What a pollen filled spring this is turning out to be here in Texas. Post nasal drip and lots of congestion to the point where I am even having a few little SOB times. Went to the Dr. Tuesday on a regular appointment and he threw a little fit about the wheezing in my lungs. Added Singular and Advair to my regimen (luckily they are samples so I'm not spending more money right now) and they seem to be helping a little. He's got me coming back in three weeks to see if it is all clearing up and if not will do the old steroids routine for a week or ten days. It's absolutely amazing how fast you can go from everything just find to problems in a matter of weeks or days. I'm feeling fine, but I guess the stethoscope says a lot more to the Dr. than I can detect with my own ears. Of course we had a little talk about exercise too, and diet and all that stuff. I promised that I would try to do better from now on, and I will if I can just get started on doing things right. I know that no one else has that problem though :-).
I'll let you know if the new things work on this little problem. Meanwhile don't let the SOB get you down.
May 23, 2005: Had a good visit with Dr. Gates as a follow up, especially after I realized that the congestion and wheezing were my fault. There was nothing organically happening, it just was the result of working in a cleanup day at our Republican Headquarters and I probably inhaled five tons of dust. Stupid me I think. Next time I won't be so cavalier when someone mentions that maybe I shouldn't be in that environment and I reply that it doesn't bother me. Obviously those of us with COPD should be careful of being immersed in dust. Anyway the lungs sounded much better, the Advair stopped the SOB completely and I'm wheezing less all the time. I'll confess that I was a little worried about the deterioration but glad to find out that it was something I did and not something sneaking up on me. Live and learn. Now if I can just get the exercise regime in action things will be all better. See you later- and don't let the SOB get you down.
July 10, 2005: No excuses, just haven't gotten around to updating my life. Perhaps because it is going by much faster than I can type, but still no excuse for not sharing it with you. Wow, it's finally really summer around North Texas and we have already broken the 100 degree mark a couple of times. The weather reports keep telling me that the pollution levels are high but quite frankly I haven't noticed any degradation in my breathing. I think a lot of that has to do with the Spiriva© and the calming effect it seems to have on COPD. I've even been pretty good on the treadmill the past month, getting up to over 30 minutes at a time and walking a little faster than 2 miles and hour. I'm going to keep pushing it and see where I can end up, either in better shape aerobically or lying on the floor trying to get my breath back. For those of you who have used my guestbook, and I appreciate your comments by the way, it was being inundated with spam messages which certainly detracted from the purpose. So I updated the software and now you have to answer a question to get your message on the guestbook. "What color is the sky" should be easy for everyone unless they happen to live somewhere where the sky is not blue. For everyone else that shouldn't be a problem.
I haven't seem any reports on the subject, but I am guessing that Spiriva® has become the drug of choice for most patients with COPD. Obviously there are many others which achieve approximately the same results, but required multiple dosing during each 24 hours and in most cases multiple medicines too. I am still using the Advair® inhaler at least through my next visit with Dr. Gates just to make sure I've gotten past the effects of that dust situation I reported on last month. Better safe than sorry and I can afford one three month cycle of the stuff added to my medical bills. Considering the importance of being able to move air in and out of the lungs I think it is probably worth it. Someone, somewhere along the line, told me that if I don't breathe there may be some serious consequences for the human body.
Hope you all had a marvelous and Happy 4th of July. It has to be one of my favorite holidays and this year I rode in three separate parades in local communities in the Republican party entry. Hot but fun waving and talking to people along the route. I recommend it highly to anyone who wants to do something uplifting on our nation's birthday. God be with you all and don't let the SOB get you down!
August 15, 2005: If anyone out there can explain to me how this can possible be the middle of August, I would sure love to find out the answer. The days just fly by and there just doesn't seem to be enough time in a day to do the things I want to do. My health is really on the up-side right now, despite days of heat and high ozone levels in the DFW metroplex. I'm not sure that ozone has ever bothered me, but it sure seems to get all the pulmonologists (?) up in arms about the dangers to those of us with lung disease. So just in case I don't go out any more than I have to on those days when the level gets highest.
Perhaps one of the best things going on for me now is the simple fact that I have gotten back into regular exercise (could there be a relationship between that and my feeling great?) five days a week. I'm on the treadmill for 30 to 40 minutes M-W-F and workout on my Bowflex on Tuesday and Thursday. Believe me it is making a big difference. Just on the treadmill I've managed to up my walk to 2.2 mph on a 1.5 degree incline and slowly increase the time. Obviously I walk and exercise using my oxygen, but I consider that precautionary as much as anything. I probably would get into an SOB situation without it, but why stress things any further than they have to be.
Along with the exercise I'm limiting my diet to about 1700 calories a day, increasing the amount of fruits and losing some weight too. It kind of fluctuates but there is a definite trend towards my goal of 155 pounds. I'm using a program called DietPro to tract all this stuff and I think it helps make everything a little bit more mandatory for me. I find myself feeling kind of guilty if I don't exercise and have a hole in the data. Amazing how we find the things that motivate us and its to each his own.
Well just wanted to let you all know that I'm alive and well. Don't let the SOB get you down!
September 29, 2005: Perhaps summer just ended here in North Texas. Yesterday afternoon, just about the time I had to pick up grandkids from school, the temperature reached the 104 degree mark and believe me it was hot. Now this morning after a cold front blew in late yesterday evening it is a very pleasant 70 degrees. I have to admit that these over 100 degree days do get me down a little and I find it just a little harder to breathe well, so I am pleased with this sudden drop in temperature. Enough about the weather.
Breathing, breathing, breathing - that seems to be a fact that those of us with lung diseases seem to be preoccupied with the status of our breathing. Mine is fine at this point in life, at least for a person with COPD. The combination of Spiriva and Advair seems to be the right thing for me (even though I frequently forget the evening dose of Advair) and I'm really feeling great. Walking on the treadmill three times a week for at least 30 minutes at a speed just over 2 miles an hour. Then I work out on my Bowflex at least two days (and sometimes three) for at least half an hour. All in all, combined with my low fat diet, I really believe my overall health is improving. Of course that's what all the doctors say should happen, so once again those "know it alls" seem to be right. I've even reached a point after a little over two months of this regimen that I might be starting to look forward to doing it, and that my friends has never happened to me before. I've always kind of hated exercise but this time I'm ready every morning to get going again. Perhaps it has something to do with age and wanting to do whatever is best to keep on going for a few more years.]
So with the advent of fall and October soon upon us Judy and I are starting to gear ourselves up for a cruise in the Western Caribbean at the end of October. My oxygen supplier, Rhema Medical, is arranging for liquid oxygen to be delivered to the ship in Galveston. Since we will be driving down there I won't have to worry about the hassles of oxygen and airline travel. Both Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Rhema Medical seem to be doing everything possible to make this a hassle free vacation. I'll tell you more when we get back.
Well, I think that is enough stuff for one day, so dear friends and readers don't let the SOB get you down. Happy fall to all..
November 23, 2005: See what happens when you don't pay attention. It's been nearly two months since I last updated this page and that is far too long for those following the life and times of me! It has been a busy and even hectic couple of months. Of course Judy and I went on the cruise the end of October / first of November so that takes up one week. The rest of the time I've just been tied up getting ready for the cruise and now that I'm back home, I'm working a part time job to give me something to do.
I need to make public my thanks to the wonderful folks at Rhema Medical here in Cleburne for all the help they gave me in making the cruise possible. The outfitted me with a travel liquid oxygen tank which fit in the back seat of our Sable, so I didn't have to mess with those old green tanks and then the full size cylinder, freshly filled, was in our stateroom when we boarded the ship. That's service above and beyond in my opinion and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Great people in my estimation. The cruise was wonderful and we enjoyed the getaway very much. Ate too much, but managed to control weight gain a little too. So I have to rate it a successful venture.
I got the first regular head cold I've had in a number of years, probably from people on the cruise, when I got back and it is slowly but surely goin away without any complications. I saw Dr. Gates for a regular appointment this morning and he gave me an antibiotic to take since he heard a little wheezing. He worry's about things like that, and I don't because I can't hear myself wheeze. Guess I need a stethoscope to listen to my lungs, but since I have no idea what they should sound like it probably wouldn't give me much info. I'll just let the doctor take care of things like that. Dr. Gates say I am his poster child (71 years old poster child?) for Spiriva and again I just have to say that for me, and I hope for many others it is indeed a wonder drug and makes my life so much more livable.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving day, which we will spend with out children at the oldest son's home. Judy had hand surgery last week and wouldn't be able to cook so the invitation to come to someone else's home was very welcome. We'll all be together except for the middle son. He and his wife and our grand-daughter Hannah are in Michigan picking up my two newest grandsons Gary and Nicholas. Right now they are waiting on some paperwork from the state pronouncing them fit to adopt before they can go before a judge and then head home. Hopefully that won't take much longer and we'll soon welcome our newest grandchildren into the fold. We indeed have much to be thankful for, family, friends and even those who read this rambling post. Happy Thanksgiving to all and may God continue to bless you and yours, this nation and all our troops so far from home.
December 17, 2005: A quick look at the calendar has put me in "frenzy mode" for Christmas is just one week away. That very simply means that I only have six days left before I start my Christmas shopping. Okay, that's a little bit of an exaggeration because I have already done some of it, but in reality I usually do wait until just about the last day to finish up. That stems in part from the somewhat curious nature of our kids when they were little and I didn't want them to find anything before the big day. Worked too.
As on of the millions of Americans who live with some sort of chronic disease I continue to be amazed by those who go on and those who simply give up. I'm not a give up person by nature, and I'm not trying to put myself on a higher plane, and I don't understand those who do just kind of lay down when the gauntlet appears. An in-law of mine has lung problems similar to mine and basically just stays home nowadays. I just don't understand sitting down and waiting to die. I'm anxiously awaiting our new grandsons arrival in Texas, working a lot in my so called part-time job and enjoying the Christmas season and the chance to be with family and friends. I think that is called life and I intend to live it as fully as I possibly can. It bothers me not in the least when kids stare at me because of the oxygen cannula in my nose, it just offers an opportunity to tell them not to smoke. Of course I do that with older people who try to pretend they don't notice, everyone gets my little mini-lecture.
Wow I got off on a tangent there my friends. Maybe I need to turn this into a blog where I can rant and rave all the time. I'll have to give that some thought as a new project for next year. Wow, two weeks to think!
So with that little update, let me wish you all the merriest of Christmas's and a wonderful and prosperous New Years. You'll also notice that I am not politically correct in my terminology, but there simply is no way to change 70 years of greetings into happy holidays. I hope no one is offended because there is no intent to do so. I respect everyone's religion, whether I subscribe to it or not, and would greet you accordingly should the situation arise. It all come downs to this - I love you all and pray that the message of Christmas would be engraved in all your hearts.
See you next year, and don't let the SOB get you down!
January 17, 2006: Well that was just about the fastest month of my life. Between all the holiday festivities, working and enjoying the warmest winter I can ever recall, we were blessed with twin grandsons on November 19th. Our son David and his wife adopted twin boys who were born on November 19th. They went to Michigan the next day to get them and managed to return to Cleburne on Christmas eve about 11:00 p.m. The wheels of the adoption process run slowly, but they are home now, thriving and bring our grandchild count to nine in one fell swoop. Needless to say this hectic time has worn me out but not put me down. I've been really lax about my exercising and am beginning to feel some of the effects of not walking regularly so that will probably be enough incentive to get me back on the treadmill. Between family, holidays, my "part-time" job and a very hectic primary election season I haven't had time to update here, but just in case you were wondering, yes I'm still alive and kicking.
Of course the major topic for many of us "old folk" has been Medicare Part D. I took the easy way and had my insurance agent do the hard work and selected a policy which I believe will work best for me since it include the so called Tier 3 drugs at an affordable price. The plan is a little pricier but looks like it will save me about fifty dollars every three months, so that's nothing to sneeze at. I can understand all the confusion because I consider myself to be pretty well educated, but the machinations of figuring this thing out are pretty stupendous. That's why I let the experts handle it. Of course the main thing a person must do in selecting a plan is to get your drug list down so you'll know if they pay for what you use. With drugs like Spiriva and Advair (both considered Tier 2 drugs) the lesser plans simply aren't going to do you any good. I chose an even more expensive plan because I figure anything new that comes along will probably fall into that Tier 3 range, at least at first. I don't want to miss out on anything that might help.
Enough of that drivel. Here in Texas we've only had a couple of really cold days, most have been nearly spring like. In fact I was talking to a nursery owner last night and he said he's beginning to see bud growth on his plants. That's not good because our coldest weather here in Texas has always come about the end of January, first of February period. Coupled with our prolonged drought that spells trouble. These dry conditions help my lungs in some ways, but all the dust and stuff in the air really causes a lot of drainage and subsequent coughing. There seem to be upsides and downsides to everything. Well I count it as a blessing when I wake up breathing every morning so guess I'll just accept what the good Lord has to offer on the weather front.
Enough for now. Best wishes for the New Year and don't let the SOB get you down!
April 23, 2006: Yes I'm still kicking, but we have been burdened down by some unfortunate events in our family which have caused much disruption and concern. I'm not going to go into our trials and tribulations in this forum but just wanted you all to know that I continue to thrive and stay busy just about all the time. My part time job sometimes seems more like full time when everything comes together in one week, but it's a blast getting out and being involved in something besides myself and computer games all the time. My breathing continues to be good and Dr. Gates thinks I am pretty stable. I need to get back to exercising again but it's so easy to put off when I can't get into a consistent routine because fo the part time job thing. That at least sounds like a good excuse, to me anyway. The worst part of not exercising is the absolute fact that I know I feel better and breathe better when I do something besides sit on my rear end. Perhaps putting this in writing for all the world to see will give me a little encouragement to get started... in fact I'll get on the treadmill when I finish writing and posting this little blurb.
Our part of the hemisphere has had some strange weather this spring. It broke the 100 degree barrier for the first time this year on Easter Sunday. I think that broke some records too. Air quality seems to be fairly good however and I didn't notice any ill effects on my breathing. Had a wonderful time with all the kids and grandkids around, so that made it somewhat wonderful. We had a strange Easter dinner since Judy and I had bought a new outdoor gas grill the day before. I don't think too many people have hamburgers, hot dogs and potato salad for their Easter fare, but we did and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps make a change from the standards once in a while is good.
As we head into summer and all the joys that the additional pollen brings to our lives, just remember that the one thing we have to do is to not give up. Suck in those inhalers and attack the world with a vengeance. It's waiting for us to give up but we have a motto and won't let the SOB get us down. Take care all and happy Spring.
September 6, 2006: How did this happen? Just a few weeks ago it was spring and now it's fall. Perhaps having had a very busy spring, summer and now fall will help explain my lack of posting here for such a long time. I'm feeling well - Spiriva continues to do it's miraculous work - and doing something most of the time these days. A long and very hot summer did crimp my style a little this year. I noticed especially on high ozone days that a little shortness of breath came after mild exertion when outside in the heat. The secret was staying out of it and today's modern cars and building certainly help us escape the heat.
As I grow older, and more curmudgeonly of course, I find myself lecturing more and more people about the evils of smoking. It's amazing that they can stand there and see the cannula in my nostrils and the Helios hanging by my side and convince themselves that they will never get to that point. Have they ever got a surprise coming to them one of these days. The statistics are hard on the health threat from cigarette smoking, but so many continue to puff away with abandon. Well not exactly abandon because a single cigarette costs them somewhere around twenty-five cents each. Great use of money isn't it? I know it's a waste of time in most cases, but if just one person hears the message it makes my effort worthwhile. I try no to be too preachy but I think the message I have to give is pretty strong and I hope they do listen just a little.
I have no idea where that last paragraph came from in my subconscious or wherever. Perhaps its just trying to say something when there really isn't a great deal to talk about. I continue to read as much as I can about this COPD and the one thing I run into all the time is Spiriva. I get one doctor's type web page that sends me an email when there are new studies on various treatments for our little disease, and invariably no matter that they do Spiriva always comes through as the best choice and most effective treatment with few side effects and about the simplest to administer. At least that's true for me and I hope for many, many others. If it's this good then there must be something coming down the road in a few more years that will be another step in better breathing technology. That would of course result in another grand hooray from me.
It's getting late and I have to go to work tomorrow so I had best get this finished and uploaded. Take care of yourselves, and if you want to, leave me a message in the guestbook and let me know how you are doing. In the meantime don't let the SOB get you down.
November 26, 2006: Yes, I'm still alive and kicking, though a little sluggishly after eating way to much on Thanksgiving day and the days that followed. I just went overboard this year and it really wasn't worth it. Oh the food was great but the overload sure makes life more difficult when you have trouble getting air into and out of you lungs. My lungs bitterly resented losing some of their space to food and I was left kinda breathless a few times. It's all smoothing out now though so perhaps I have learned my lesson, at least until Christmas day gets here and all that great food gets spread out on the table again.
Medically, I am doing great. My only gripe is that my good doctor has suddenly decided to shut down his practice and take a teaching job in Corpus Christi, TX. Whatever happened to the Hippocratic Oath? Surely there is something beside "do no harm", in fact this move may in fact be harmful to me. Despite my COPD and with Dr. Gates and Spiriva I've managed to stay out of the hospital for over three years now and really haven't even had a bad cold in that time. Perhaps the pneumonia shot and yearly flu shots help out on that score too. I do still have a problem with my lack of exercise. For some reason I just can't seem to get myself motivated in to walking or working out on the Bowflex. The absolutely dumb think about that attitude is that I know how much better I feel and perform when I push myself. I've just got to figure out some what to get my rear end up out of the chair and do what needs to be done. You would think that make a public confession of one's weakness would help them overcome it, but in my case I just seem to be too bullheaded or something. I promise I'll work on it though and maybe I can find the "ON" button soon.
With Christmas on the immediate horizon, it's time to think about gift shopping. That is a project I really dislike since I've had COPD. I really don't like being in crowds where everyone is sneezing and sniffling like mad. I actually follow advice on that score and wash my hands thoroughly after being out with groups like that. It's not that I don't like buying for others, it's just that I don't like the exposure it forces me to endure. I'm absolutely amazed at the number of people who we either never taught or never caught on the covering the faces when the cough or sneeze in public. I don't need their germs and don't expect them to share them with me. Wasn't that a Christmassy little rant? Perhaps it's just getting older and more curmudgeonly each day.
My friends, sorry I've been so lack in posting to this journal, but I didn't and that's that. Let's all celebrate the birth of our Savior, Redeemer and Healer with joy in this wonderful month of December. Best regards and a Very Merry Christmas to you all. Don't let the SOB get you down.
Sunday, February 5, 2007: It's Super Bowl Sunday and I guess much of the world will be following that extravaganza. Judy and I will probably watch a movie. Our preferred game is baseball and the one saving grace of having Super Bowl Sunday arrive is that only weeks remain until spring training begin. Hooray!
I'm hoping that most of you had a wonderful Christmas season and have come into this year of 2007 still plugging along. I'm doing pretty well myself. Still haven't gotten myself back into a good exercise pattern and I pay for that with some minor SOB events. I jut can't seem to find a way to get myself into the right groove. Perhaps when we get past our next hurdle this month, I can settle down and find the will power to do what I know I have to do - walk and exercise. I'd like to lay it all on suffering from a bit of depression from our family situation, but that's sort of a cop out I think. I've just got to do it or else I'll just lose more and more of the vitality that Spiriva gave me some six years ago now. Now that should be incentive enough on it's own. We'll see.
Every once in a while I go back through my guestbook and read your stories too. I get to say lots of prayers for all of you, and sometimes I think that does me as much good as anything else. We aren't alone in this struggle for as normal a life as we can have, and having that contact means a great deal to me. I just found out that an acquaintance of mine has been diagnosed with our disease. He's been in a pulmonary rehab facility for a couple of weeks. To the best of my knowledge there was no such thing 27 years ago when I was diagnosed as having bronchial atshma and a little bit of emphysema. I don't know when the term COPD was first used, but none of my doctors used it for years. I often wonder if it would have made any difference for me in particular, the rehab thing I mean. I gradually learned most of the tricks like pursed lip breathing, etc. from individual doctors, nurses and other COPD patients and lots of reading on the internet.
Now I've got a question which puzzles me. I know two men who were diagnosed with COPD and put on oxygen. Neither one of them wants to go out in public wearing oxygen. The first on live in the country so he can get outside and get some exercise instead of staying cooped up in the house all the time. The other simply sat down in a chair in the living room and within six months was dead. Am I just too aloof to worry about what others think about the cannula stuck in my nose? Actually I use it all the time to preach the dangers of smoking cigarettes. When I catch little kids looking at my face intently I gently tell them that cigarettes hurt my lungs and I have to wear oxygen now. The older folks, I simply tell them they will have the same contraption as part of the outfits if they don't put those cigarettes away for good. Very few listen, but once in a while I'll get feedback from someone that they quit because of me. That's a good feeling.
My goodness, I'm blathering this afternoon. Perhaps I'd better save something for another day. Hopefully not waiting three months between entries. My love and prayers go out to all of you fellow COPDers. Spring is coming and don't let the SOB get your down.
Saturday, April 14, 2007: It seems as if I am always apologizing for lack of writing here, but my life has been so full of stuff the last two months that I simply couldn't get to this website. Everything is beginning to return to some semblance of sanity now though, so perhaps I can continue to regale you with my life and times with COPD.
Let's complain about doctors first. You will remember that my favorite Doc in all the world gave up his private practice and went back into teaching in Corpus Christi. The lady doctor he sold his practice to has another office in a town north of here, couldn't see me for about ten days when I had a little problem going which worried me, so I took the quick way out and started going to my wife's doctor, whose office is about ten feet from our house. I signed a permission slip to Dr. Ekadi for my records to be transferred to Dr. Herr. Simple task really since I had never seem the new doc for anything. Next thing I know I get a letter saying that they were going to charge me $50.00 to transfer a copy of the records, which they claim is their right under Texas law. They even provided printouts of the pertinent laws. So I went by the office, explained that I was not her patient and never had been her patient - and lo and behold the nice receptionist said no problem they would send my file to Dr. Herr. Silly me, I believe her. A week or so later I get a letter from Dr. Ekadi's business manager, her husband by the way, who says I will have to pay. So I wrote him a letter and haven't heard back. I have a feeling that I am out the $50.00, but am still going to file a claim with the medical board and he'll have to spend time to resond to that. Sometimes I wonder if someone who designs words really picked "patient" as out appellation when dealing with doctors because he/she knew what the future held.
The weather is playing havoc with my breathing. Just as soon as my body starts to acclimate to a little warmer spring weather, here comes another cold front and snow on April 7th. I don't know whether its age, or a new turn for the COPD, but too cool days really make my breathing a lot more difficult. I found the same thing with the super hot days last summer. I guess it is just the additional strain of the body trying to regulate its own temperature. Anyway I don't like the cold at all and stay in as much as possible when it gets in the 40's and below. I have found that my albuterol emergency inhaler helps some what on these days, but often am standing there out of breath when I remember it's in my pocket.
My oxygen supplier has started getting the new Marathon Helios systems and I got one right away. The five to six hours I get on the regular unit just won't let Judy and I make the trip to Abilene and back so I was very excited about the new unit. It's bigger and heavier of course, about twice the size of the normal Helios unit, but should give about 12 hours at 2.5l demand. We had tickets to the Texas Rangers exhibition game on the Friday when I got the new unit. I filled it up and off we went to the game. Everything seemed fine. We got some food and found out seats and sat down. As we were fairly early to the game it was reasonably quiet in the ballpark and I could hear the familiar ticking sound of the unit working. After a short time, approximately 1-1/2 hours after leaving home with a full unit, I noticed there was no sound. I checked the settings and everything was okay. The problem. Very simple it was empty after the1-1/2 hours since I filled it. Turns out it simply wouldn't hold oxygen. Had to take it back and they are ordering another unit for me. Hope I get it back soon as we will have to make the Abilene trip on a regular basis and trying to make the little one last the trip is a major pain and leaves me without oxygen part of the time.
Well that brings you up to date on me. Now how are all of you doing? No one has visited the guestbook in a long time so I don't know if anyone is reading what I have to say or not. Guess it's not too important because I intend to write anyway. Have a great spring friends and don;t let the SOB get you down!
Sunday, August 25, 2007: I'm still alive, though you might be wondering why I haven't written in over four months. I can explain it away easily, I'm just lazy and didn't think about it. That is not an excuse, simply the truth. I'm well and making it through this Texas summer with relative ease. We only had about three days of 100 plus temperatures with the accompanying high ozone levels. I just kind of lay low when it gets really bad like that and seem to weather those periods well. Basically I just keep any outside time to a minimum, house to car, house to mailbox, etc. But this has been a wonderful wet spring and summer and while it gets up to the low nineties with relative ease it doesn't beat you down.
Spiriva is still keeping me on the go. I've always kind of wondered it my body would finally adjust to it and require something else, but that doesn't seem to be a factor. I took my first hits in 2001 during the drug study then had to wait until 2002 to actually get it, which makes it five full years without a waning of its effect on my breathing. Considering all the other inhalers the doctors tried, most in multiples, and including nebulizer treatments three or four times a day, the one little blue capsule is simply a miracle. Now if I could just my lazy rear out of the chair and on the treadmill and Bowflex I would really be feeling better.
I know, I know - I promised several entries ago to get to work on the physical fitness portion of my life. My main problem is that I am an expert on coming up with reasons and excuses to delay and put off doing something which I know will be good for me. I've put it on my Outlook calendar so I won't forget and simply delete it every time that reminder pops up. I'll probably keep on trying though and maybe one of these days there will be a breakthrough.
This really doesn't seem to be much information, but I am a complete standstill on anything to write about. Guess it's the thought that counts. So this will be all for today. Have a wonderful September and don't let the SOB get you down!
October 4, 2007: Someone, look out your window and see if it's October in your part of the world too. I simply have no idea how we got here this fast. I will have to say that this October got started with a bang with the birth of my 8th grandchild to my son and daughter-in-law who live and work in Georgia. There's a jump of nearly 22 years between the first of them and this latest addition. Makes me feel a little older than I would like in some ways.
This part of Texas is having some of the heaviest ragweed pollen pollution in recent memory and just about everyone is wheezing, sneezing and draining. Luckily it doesn't bother me too much, except perhaps early in the mornings when I wake up kind of congested. Usually works it way clear by mid-day. I wonder if that can be attributed to the Spiriva too?
It has been over six years now that I've been commenting on my life and times with COPD. Lot's of you have signed my guestbook and left messages about your conditions and what different treatments have done for you. That's been on of the really nice benefits of spending a little time on this thing. I guess it's sort of a BLOG when you get down to it, though most people who claim to be part of the part of the internet do a lot more regular posting than I do. The main thing is that together we can help each other through the trials and tribulations of this disease and hopefully give each other encouragement and hope. I think that's a wonderful payback for me. When we have to rely on drugs, a cannula in our nose and the knowledge that we really aren't going to get better, the knowing that others are there with us is a very sustaining and encouraging thought. So with that little bit of philosophy from an old man, I'll say again don't let the SOB get you down. See you again soon.
October 27, 2007: Just returned from a five day trip to San Antonio where I met with fellow USAF Radar Site Veterans in a little bit of a reunion. It had turned cooler here in Cleburne when we left in the rain on Monday morning and was cool in San Antonio for the whole stay. Who would ever think you would need a jacket in San Antonio, Texas this time of year. It was a wonderful trip, lots of memories, and a devastatingly clear picture of just how out of shape I have allowed myself to become. As we visited Lackland AFB, Fort Sam Houston and downtown San Antonio I was constantly reminded of what SOB was and how debilitating it can be. So on my return home one of my first priorities (after slogging through some 700 emails, over 650 of them spam) and doing all the little things that returning from five days away entails, I am going to get the treadmill back into action and put a damper on my appetite. So unless I misread my condition, I promise you that you will soon read of a revitalized Roy. Of course that might not make any difference to you, but I know it will to me. Stay tuned and don't let the SOB get you down.
January 31, 2008. No, the SOB hasn't gotten me down, but it sure puts a damper on things sometimes. We've ended a year and the first month of a new year is already under the belt and basically I haven't changed much since I last wrote in October. I'm still trying to get myself back on the treadmill and using every excuse in the book to no to it. We first cleaned a bunch of stuff off of it, I walked for a couple of days, and then got tied up with the holidays. I know, that's no excuse but it is a pitiful reason anyway. So after New Years I said okay lets go, and we decided to move my mother-in-law in with us so it's covered up with her stuff now. Could this be a message that I'm just supposed to sit on my rear and do nothing?
I'm just kidding. I know I have to do it and i fully intend to within the next week. Maybe if I make that broad a statement now I'll keep to it. Especially after finding out that some of you are actually reading this long and meandering journal of mine. I got a nice email from Brenda Wyrick, my nurse during the Spiriva study six years ago and she gently reminded me of how much exercise and taking care of myself would mean to the future of my health. Don't you just hate it when, things come together like that to put you under the gun. So this afternoon, when I finish this update of course, I'll find a place for all the new junk and get on the treadmill and walk. I promise Brenda.
I haven't shared one thing with all of you that has contributed to my general lack of interest and effort to keep myself healthy, so I guess it's time to do so now. Two years ago next week my middle son was accused of murdering his infant son, was tried a year later and is now serving a life without parole sentence in the Texas Department of Corrections. We believe him to be innocent, but the system felt otherwise, so for the past two years we have had to deal with the legal system, and let me assure you that if there is nothing else in the world to depress you, it's our legal system. For the most part the lawyers are all members of a big club which essentially keeps everyone outside. They don't listen to you, they don't respond to you, they don't do a good job and yet they rake in the money. So what I'm saying is that I simply have had to deal with a bit of depression through this ordeal (and it's not over yet) and that probably has been the biggest stumbling block in worrying about me. Luckily we are able to visit David, so my wife and I take a trip to Abilene once a month for out two hour in person visit with our son. and that both helps and hinders. He has a fantastic attitude about the whole thing and lifts our spirits in his letters and in the face to face visits. I'm not asking for sympathy my friends, but I think those of you fighting the battle of COPD need to have a little understanding of my lack of self preservation efforts. I think just purring this down on the journal is helping a little as I share some of the burden with others. So as my February 1st resolution, I promise that I will begin to work out and improve my breathing, that precious function that we can't life without, I'm only a month late in doing it.
So until next time, please take care of yourselves, and say a prayer for us once in a while. We appreciate them so very much. By for now and don't let the SOB get you down.
July 29, 2008: Well friends, if the old saying is true that "time flies when you're having fun" then I must be having lots of fun. You know what? That's really true. My health is stable, I'm actually walking a mile on the treadmill just about every morning ( I do get lazy once in a while though), working more than I really want to and generally just enjoying life.
Looking back I see that I haven't even mentioned that we now have a practicing pulmonologist here in Cleburne now, and I really like him a lot. I've seen him twice and he has decided once every six months is enough. He was born in Nigeria and everyone calls him Dr. Andrew since they can't pronounce his last name - Anyadiegwu. He's very good, very thorough and obviously very up to date in his chosen field. He added Advair to my Spiriva and I think it might have helped a little bit. The walking helps more though.
In May, my wife, daughter and grand-daughter and I took off for Philadelphia to attend my grandsons graduation from Coast Guard basic training at Cape May NJ. We had a wonderful trip made all the easier by Rotech's new travel office which made all the arrangements, sent me a battery powered concentrator for use on the airlines and generally just took care of all the arrangements. All I had to do was get a certificate from the Dr. about using the concentrator on the plane. No problems anywhere along the line and a remarkably newfound freedom to travel again. I have some pictures of the trip on Flickr and you can see them here http://flickr.com/photos/royg65/ Now my 13 year old grandson and I are traveling to California in two weeks for Brendan's graduation from food service school in Petaluma, California. I'm really looking forward to just us guys having four days together. It's going to be a blast I'm sure and probably not too many more chances for something like this to take place. It isn't often that life's schedules all come together at one place to allow something like this to happen. Especailly as busy as most youngsters are these days. I'm just bless that the graduation conincides with a time that school is out.
I hope I don't depress anyone out there with my exciting adventures. If you've read this long running story you know that I never give up on life and will keep on trucking till the bitter end. There have been lots of hurdles, and many remain, but the only thing we can do it just keep on trucking. If you lay down you'll die and I'm not quite ready for that to happen. So my friends, stretch it out a little. Exercise common sense of course, but don't always take the easiest way just because the hard way leaves you a little out of breath. Every extra step we take makes us a little stronger, or at the very minimum doesn't let us get weaker. Like I always say at the end - have a great day and don't let the SOB get you down. I promise I won't wait so long to write again.
September 2, 2008: See there! It has only been a little over a month and I'm back again just like I threatened. August was a busy month for me highlighted by my trip to California with my 13 year old grandson Tanner. I had decided back in early spring that I would go to California when my grandson Brendan graduated from Food Service School in the Coast Guard in August. My dear wife didn't want to go so I asked my grandson Tanner if he would go with me. (I could probably travel alone, but it's pretty reassuring to have someone along to help, just in case.)
As with my previous trip to Philadelphia in May, Rotech and their travel office made all the necessary arrangements for oxygen for the trip. I was going to fly Frontier Airlines this time and they had the necessary information on their web site, including the form necessary to board the aircraft. So everything was set in place for our departure on September 12th. This was going to be Tanner's airplane flight and he was very excited about the whole deal. He also idolizes his older cousin and was up about the prospect of seeing him too.
So off to DFW Airport we go early that morning. The trip through security was pretty uneventful, even though they still aren't used to handling the portable concentrator. They had me come through without the unit (a few minutes without O2 is okay for me) and then I went through the detector and they physically examined the concentrator on the other side. Everything checked out okay and we proceeded to the boarding gate. The waiting room was packed and we found some seats just around the corner which also had AC outlets so I could plug in the AC charger and keep the batteries charged. Well that seating location turned out to be a bad choice. Tanner said we ought to be going around to get on the plane and we were afforded a view of an empty waiting room. I took our boarding info to the desk and lady said they had been paging us for the last twenty minutes and the flight had already departed for Denver. We had picked the only place in DFW that you don't hear the speakers as our seating choice. The Frontier agent was very helpful though and managed to get us booked on an afternoon flight for a minimal fee. This time we stayed close to the gate and didn't miss our flight. There was a little hassle as far as seating goes. We were assigned the bulkhead row at the front of the plane and that isn't satisfactory because the concentrator has to go under the seat in front of you. Needless to say there wasn't a seat in front. So after everyone was seated then did some exchanges with the people being us and we were finally on our way. Nice flight to Denver and not problem catching the connecting flight. Again a little problem with seating because this stewardess also insisted that I have a window seat, so that took a little changing. My only warning is that you should be prepared to walk long distances at these modern airports. If that's a problem ask for a wheelchair. The flight crews on several flights this time had a wheel chair ready for me when we arrived because they knew there was a big climb up the ramp and long walk to the next gate. Very thoughtful. I very graciously accepted their hospitality. I'm pretty tough but not stupid.
No problems after we got there. Got to see lots of Northern California around Petaluma. Took a day trip up into wine country around Sonoma, which is very beautiful. Spent most of one day driving around San Francisco. A side note here: Tanner never got to see the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was enshrouded in fog the whole day Friday and into our departure day on Saturday. He did get to stick his foot in the very cold Pacific ocean though. For those of you who haven't experienced the portable concentrator's, they are a neat device. A little on the heavy side, but with a car charging cord you are practically unlimited in range. My Helios and liquid oxygen are much more convenient, but banned on the airlines.
Our departure on Saturday was uneventful and we arrived in Denver on time for our connecting flight. I had gotten the cannula hose all caught up under my seat somehow and had a terrible time getting out of my seat. I was pretty SOB by the time I got it done and the flight attendant seeing me laboring for breath called for a wheelchair. I gladly accepted because the ramp was a long, long uphill climb anyway and that isn't my best performance area. Anyway, the nice guy who brought the wheelchair asked to see my ticket (needed to know what gate to go to) and said "Oh, that flights been cancelled". He took us to end of a very long line of people at the customer service counter. After about a half hour and moving about five feet forward they brought a people mover cart by and took me to the front of the terminal to the main check in area. There we were happy to find out that we could get a flight early Sunday morning but would have to stay in Denver overnight. Frontier has an agreement with many of the hotels in Denver for reduced rate rooms and we chose a Renaissance Hotel which was the cheapest one offered. It turned out to be a brand new five star hotel and we had a good night's rest, considering we got there at 9:30 p.m. and had to catch the shuttle bus at 3:30 a.m. to get to our flight on time. We did it though and arrived home safely with no further problems.
As my grandson says, next time we fly we stand by the departure counter if there aren't any seats available. Thirteen year olds are so smart these days. It was good to be home, but the trip was a blast even with all the little trials and tribulations. It gives me a real boost to know that I can still do things like this despite COPD. It's just a simple case of don't let the SOB get you down.
Sunday, November 30, 2008: I don't believe it, November is over and we are going into December at midnight. Since I last regaled you with my trip to California, I celebrated my 74th birthday, Halloween and Thanksgiving. I'm suffering with a cold for the first time in years and it's been a doozy. But it's nearly past now and life goes on. Luckily it doesn't seem to have settled into the lungs and that's a relief.
Sunday, May 16, 2009: Surprise, I'm sill alive and kicking. There have been so many things going on in my life that I just haven't taken the time to update this page. I can also use the excuse of getting a new computer and I just got FrontPage installed on it so I could update. That's as good an excuse as I can think of right now. I think it's good that I stay busy because it keeps me out of trouble most of the time.
I finally broke down this month and saw and ophthalmologist about my cataracts which have been bothering me a little for months and have made it difficult to get a prescription which works well near and far. I had the left eye done two weeks ago and am anxiously awaiting next Tuesday when he does the right eye. According to the good doctor I will be able to go without glass, will need some for reading, for the first time in over 60 years. There are only a few people alive now who ever knew me without glasses and they are family.
Speaking of family, that was one of the low points of the month when my older brother passed away in Harlingen.. He was 87 and had been in failing health for a few years. Unfortunately he died alone since all our family lives elsewhere and we didn't even know he was in the hospital. That really puts a damper on life and probably extended my recovery from an ear infection and they the inevitable movement of congestion into the lungs. A does and prednisone and sulfa seemed to take care of though and I'm breathing well gain now.
I still work three days a week for the County Treasurer and love doing that. It's probably a good thing health wise too since it gets me up off my rear and do something. I don't know why it's so hard to motivate myself to exercise when I know how much good it does me. Stupid human beings I guess.
I've had the thrill of two granddaughters graduating from College since I last wrote. Faith completed her degree at Texas Wesleyan University in December and Kasey just graduated from Texas A&M. I'm so proud of them both. Luckily I was able to attend both graduations and it really gave a three to see them walk across the stage.
I've got to go now for we have company (in-laws) that I shouldn't shun. I'll make an effort to update once in a while. I guess it's good that nothing momentous is happening and the combination of Spiriva and Advair seem to really be doing the job. They sure aren't the least expensive drugs on the market though. Having to take both of them will put my in the dreaded Medicare D donut hole in the 4th quarter. Oh well, life's too precious to worry about dollars for medicine. In the meantime my friends, don't let the SOB get you down.
Monday, January 11, 2010: Well here it is a New Year and this old codger is still codgering along despite the fact you all probably thought the worst. Surely an update every 8 months is sufficient. 2009 was a good year for me, my health is still pretty good considering the COPD and nothing else has really bothered me. I did finally do something about my failing eyesight. My glasses had gotten nearly a quarter inch thick and the eye doctor said he really couldn't make them better with glasses. So it was time to see the expert and in June I had cataract surgery on both eyes over a two week period. Best thing I ever did. The improvement was dramatic and the process virtually painless. If you need to do this, go ahead, it is well worth the result for 99% of the people who do it.
Later in the spring, June 8th to be exact, we added another grandson to the stable making it an equal number of girls and boys. Noah was born to Lynda and Mark far away in Georgia and I've never seen my grandson in person. The web and video cameras and digital cameras help make up though and we get plenty of those.
Then of course in November, I celebrated my 75th birthday. Somehow I never even dreamed of being that old, but time has a way of tricking us. Guess I'll just stay around now and see if we can make 80, 85 and 90. Who knows? Judith and I also celebrated 50 years of marriage in August, another notch in the belt in my opinion. Life has really been pretty good to me.
Still take the Spiriva and Advair. Actually I don't take Spiriva any longer, but switched to an import from India, thru a Canadian pharmacy, that makes it cost close to 1/6th as much as the local version, and it seems to work fine. That will keep me out of the donut hole this year, and did last year since I bought the last quarters thru the new guys. My pulmonologist was surprised, but seems satisfied that it works correctly.
I've never gotten back into a routine on the treadmill and I can really tell it these days. My boss had a mild stroke last July and I've been working full time ever since. That means ever more sitting on my rear end and not exercising. I'm gonna figure out some way to energize and mobilize this lazy body. I know how much better I feel and how much stronger my breathing is when I've been walking regularly, so you would think that would be enough motivation, but so far it hasn't been.
Life just seem to go on my friends. I prize my relatively good health and though I am a little slower than when I was 60, I'm still determined not to give in to this disease until it just decides to take me down. Life is too much fun, family is too wonderful and it all makes for a truly blessed life for me. Take care my friends and don't let the SOB get you down.
Wednesday, May 20, 2010: Well this has been an eventful week for me. I started feeling kind of drug out a couple of weeks ago and started getting an upper respiratory infection. Went the a walk in type clinic since my Doctor could squeeze me in. They listened, agree and prescribed the usual Prednisone and and antibiotic. Improved a little but seriously struggling from breath most of the time after any activity at all.
Finally, a week ago yesterday I had to go to the eye doctor to have my prescription checked and while there asked my pulmonologist next door if they could squeeze me in that morning. Fine and when I finished with the eyes I walked over, waiting a few minutes and went in. Dr. Anyadiegwu came in the examining room in a few minutes, listened to the lungs, got a serious look on his face and said "I think we need to admit you." Okay, so, into a wheelchair for a ride to over to the hospital and into a room. All the usual hookups, *three tries to get the iv going", Xrays confirmed pneumonia, but they also did a CT scan which really showed the involvement, right lung only luckily. Anyway it finally came under control and I came home yesterday. Dr. says I can't go back to work for a little while. To just rest and try to build up a little stamina. So that I will do.
Take care of yourselves and don't let the SOB get you down.
Saturday, June 26, 2010: Well obviously from the results, I went back to work too soon and for too many hours following the pneumonia episode. So a week ago Tuesday, Dr. Anyadiegwu admitted me to the hospital again with a severe COPD exacerbation. Spent another week week with the solumedrol. levaquin, breathing treatments, Bi-Pap at night, etc. discharged this past Tuesday with explicit orders to rest for two weeks. That's been pretty easy for the first three days home, but I got up this morning feeling much, much better and can see that I am going to get really bored by the time a week from Tuesday rolls around. But I have also realized that all my talk about exercise didn't do a bit of good for me and it's time to get down to work and develop some stamina and breathing good patterns. I've been reviewing a lot of the info on the web sites and have picked up a few pointers that I never knew about. Little things which just help make it a little easier for COPD patients. I've never had a pulmonary rehab session in the thirty years since I was first diagnosed, but the Dr. finally decided that it wasn't worth the time and effort (and expense) that would take. So I'm pretty much on my own here. I know I'll have to get going on the treadmill, that's just a given and it starts today. I also have a Volodyne 5000 to increase peak flow (I think). It actually seems to be working a little bit. Right after a albuterol nebulizer treatment I can usually get it up to about 1000 ml and then it drops off. That's a lot better than the 500 ml I was getting when I got home Tuesday. So I guess that I'm saying here is that the SOB did get me down, but it's time to take control again. So until next time. Have a great day and don't let the SOB get you down!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011: That was an amazingly fast year my friends. Yes, I'm still going strong. I recovered from the two hospital stays and Dr. Andrew says I can't go back for at least ten years. I lost a little ground in the stamina category and as usual am having a devil of a time getting back to some exercise. I'm bound and determined to do it, but so far the results are pretty dismal. I get on the treadmill once a twice a week, but it is kind of meaningless, because I don't go long enough to get any real benefit. I'll get there though. I have managed to lost nearly ten pounds and am back to my 1959 weight when I first got married. That helps some and I expect to drop another ten if I can.
I go to work on a regular basis still with some modifications to my schedule to keep from wearing down so much. It's working out great and our new Country Treasurer is very understanding and supportive. I guess a lot of people look forward to laying down the work gloves and relaxing once they get to be my age, but I simply couldn't stand being without any challenges and anything to do all the time. It helps keep my mind sharp (maybe just not quite a dull) and even gets me a little exercise getting to and from the car. My office is on the third floor of our beautiful courthouse and if the elevator isn't working I really get a workout. It takes me approximately nine (9) minutes from the basement to the third floor and needless to say I make several stops along the way. The only problem with stopping people asking if I'm alright and I can't easily reply when I trying to get my breathing back to normal. I just wave them on with a whisper usually.
So, all in all, life is still good and I hope it continues that way for a long time to come. My boss is going to have to run for office for a full term next year and she has made it clear she wants me to stay on as long as she is in office. I told her I would try, but wouldn't guarantee that far into the future. So dear friends, sorry for the long absence and I will try to better in the future. Take care all and don't let the SOB get you down!
Thursday, September 15, 2011: It's in the 70's here in Texas this morning so perhaps our summer long stretch of 100 degree plus days is over finally. I'll have to admit that as a COPD patient I did suffer a little with the heat. Made it a point to limit my exposure outside though and have come through with no problems. This is my weekly day off and i finally decided it was time to update this page. I wanted to several weeks ago, but was shot down on that when my computer died and I had to replace it. It takes a long time to get all the program reinstalled. luckily all my data (except for some photographs) were backed up on an offsite server service to they could be restored. It's a real pain though, and I daily find something else that I've forgotten.
I've even started trying to exercise - walking on the treadmill and rowing on my Bowflex. That's partially because my boss and coworker are trying to lose weight and are exercising, so they encourage me too. Working so far. Back up to 20 minutes on the treadmill (just 1.2 miles per hour but that will improve) and 7.5 minutes the last time rowing. That along with my decision to stop using sugar and eating foods with sugar added like cookies, cakes, candy and all the other good things in life has helped me lose about ten pounds in a couple of months. The strange thing is that I don't crave the sweet stuff anymore. It's hard to believe that I can pass up a cookie or piece of cake but I've been doing it over and over without having a nervous breakdown. There's really a lot to be said in favor of taking care of ourselves.
The absolute worst thing about this time of year for me is the pending end of the baseball season. As a Texas Ranger's fan it has been a tremendous year and I really think we are going to the World Series again. That remains to be seen of course, but what an exciting season it has been. Judith and I are going to the last home game of the season a week from Sunday. This will be only our second game in person this year, but the extreme heat just dictated that I stay home.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012: That should be a long enough wait for my few faithful readers. No I didn't pass from this earth, I just got extremely and inordinately lazy and hadn't done much of anything for months. All my plans to exercise just lay dormant and the only positive thing going for me was losing weight after cutting out the sugar. I'm actually down to 155 pounds now and haven't weight that little since grade school. "Do you feel better?" you ask. Of course but the lack of exercise and another small exacerbation had left me pretty breathless much of the time.
Dr Andrew orders PFA's on me which showed pretty major deterioration in my lung capacity (here's a PDF of the test for those interested) but having a marvelous pulmonologist in Dr. Andrew he saw right through the problem and decided I needed to finally go through pulmonary rehab. What a rewarding experience this has been. I'm down to my last three classes this week and next and an stronger, breathing better and managing to exercise like I should with walking, weights and all that stuff. I plan to continue in their maintenance program because it is so much easier when you have someone telling you what to do. If you are offered a chance to take part in such a program I can heartily recommend it.
Other than that life just keeps rolling along. We are very exciting about an upcoming out of town trip next week. We'll visit my sister in Sterling City and then drive on to Lubbock on Saturday evening for the graduation ceremony for my granddaughter Kasey as she receives MBA and Juris Doctor degrees from Texas Tech Law School. Needless to say we are very proud of her.
So that's it friends. We just keep rolling along. Don't let the SOB get you down!
Saturday, September 15, 2012: That was a quick summer for this old man. Lots of great 100 degree plus days to make the old lungs really labor, but I managed to get through them all without incident. I finished rehab with no problems and it has made a measurable difference in my stamina and somewhat better breathing. I work on the third floor of the Johnson County Courthouse and since rehab I use the stairs most of time to get to the office. It's a long trip and I usually have to pause a minute or two about halfway up, but the exercise is great. Gets the heart rate up for a little while and makes me focus on breathing properly at the same time. I haven't been doing my exercises like I should, but with cooler weather I've promised myself to get going again before I lose and the toning up that I gained during the program.
I've lost another five pounds since May and now am down to 150. That's about what I weighed in the 7th grade if I remember correctly. Amazing what cutting out sugar has done. I really think I feel better too and certainly get as high and low and I often did when enjoying all those snickers. Worth keeping on I think, but I don't want't to lose any more weight. I think the 150 at 5' 8" is just about right.
Well that's about it for today. You've been bored enough as it is. Take care friends and don't let the SOB get you down.
Saturday, November 16, 2013: I guess that's long enough between updates and obviously I'm still kicking. Let's see what's happened over the last year. Everything was going along well until Christmas Eve of December 2012 when I suddenly had trouble breathing. Into the Emergency Room and spend the night and part of Christmas day in the hospital. Just an exacerbation because there was no pneumonia involved. Kind of set me back though and I had to increase my oxygen flow to 3 liters to feel comfortable. 2013 came in well and the year went well until late October when I got some kind of infection, not pneumonia, and had a five day stay in the hospital. But I survived again and really feel good now. Most of the time on 2 liters of oxygen and no changes in meds. Advair and Spiriva seem to be a good combination for me. Dr. Andrew had me do PFT's in May for the first time in five years. Nothing astounding, but they do show continued degradation as would be expected. For those who might be interested here are the numbers: from 2002 compared to this year:
So that's where we are on this bright sunny day in Texas. I'm still working for the County Treasurer and life continues to treat me well. I wish the same for any you still reading this drivel. Don't let the SOB get you down.
Saturday, July 4, 2015: Nope, I didn't die , just extremely unmotivated since a really bad experience last fall. I went to the ER on September12, 2014 and was finally relapsed from ICU 41 days later. The had done emergency intestinal surgery and my lungs didn't really take to it very well. In fact I guess most of the doctors said I wouldn't make it, but Dr.Anyadiegwo said not true. He did a tracheotomy and I spent weeks on a ventilator. Luckily for me I have no recollection at all of the ordeal until the last five or six days of my state. Between the good Dr, God's blessing, the marvelous staff of nurses in the ICU and my loving family and friends I am back on my feet and going to work again. I did gain some good from the experience however, I am down to 132 pounds and wearing size 32 pants for the first time since the 6th or 7th grade. That's a good thing. So there you have it in a nutshell. Still a live and kicking and asking you to join me in not letting the SOB get you down.
January 2017: Roy ended up in the hospital at the beginning of January. He was released a few days later and sent home on palliative care. He knew his fight against the SOB would soon be over. Roy's last breath was in the early morning of 1/27/2017.
Warning: the information contained on this page relates to my experience with COPD, its treatment and my life in general. I'm not a medical professional and my experience may not apply to anyone else in the whole world. - Roy
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Copyright © 2001-2014 by Roy R Giddens, Jr / This page was last updated on 12/07/14