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Old 03-25-2003, 07:14 AM   #1
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Question Emphysema,pulmonary lung nodules...what can I expect

I have had asthma since birth and was recently through a pulmonary function test diagnosed with Emphysema. A chest Xray indicated "scarring" on the lungs and a subsequent cat scan indicated these were pulmonary nodules as well as confirming the emphysema diagnosis. I have been a heavy smoker for over 30 years I've tried unsuccessfully many times to stop. It is a terrible addiction. Additionally 2 years ago I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure based on the results of an echocardiogram and holter monitor study. For this I have taken a lot of medication and a recent echo indicated the CHF is in remission and my ejection fraction is nearly normal. I see a pulmonary Dr and a cardiologist and my inhalers have been replaced with a nebulizer. Last week my cardiologist told me that if I don't stop smoking I would probably not live to see 60 (I am 51 now) but if I did I would probably be on Oxygen and generally in terrible shape. I am somewhat active but tire very easily. Some days are better than others. Sleeping can be a problem and I frequently get hot and cold "flashes" or changes. Has anyone had similiar diagnosis that can comment on what I can expect...I guess I am looking for a timeline or an indication as to the progression of this. My family has a a history of Lung Cancer and Emphysema and I've seen slow to extremely rapid progression. Any honest commentary will be appreciated.
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Old 03-25-2003, 01:06 PM   #2
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Hi, Phil. I wish I had a good answer for you. In the case of someone having several serious health problems, I don't know if quitting smoking is the answer. I have heard that when a peson's situation gets bad, stopping smoking will only prolong their life; possibly mean more years of pain. A friend of my husband's; his father went to the doctor; he hadn't felt well for some time. His doctor diagnosed him with advanced emphysema; but told him not to stop smoking. He said if he quit smoking, he would start to feel pain all lot. Maybe the nicotine kind of numbs a person's senses, in some ways. I guess my best idea to for you to judge for yourself. Maybe quitting will give you several more decent years to live. I just don't know...if smoking makes you feel worse and worse, then do stop. Its your call. I wish you the best. May God bless and keep you in his care....Deb

 
Old 03-25-2003, 06:03 PM   #3
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Thank you for your answer. Right now the most difficult thing is knowing what to do. I have been off work for 4 months on short term disability but have been considering trying to go back in a couple of weeks. I probably could stay out another couple of months which would coincide with the next CT Scan scheduled in June but then would have to make a decision to go on Long term disability or go back. I just want to do what is right for me and for my family. I feel like I could work some but it is difficult to make it through an entire day. It seems like all the Doctors kind of dance around a prognosis and this really complicates the decisions I am facing. It is fortunate that boards such as this exist so that we might be able to help one another. I am not afraid of dying because my faith leads me to realize that dying is part of living, it is just getting there that seems to be the confusing part.

Dale
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Old 03-25-2003, 08:04 PM   #4
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Hi, Dale. Thank you for responding to my post. Boy, this sure is a tough problem. I am going through a serious lung problem myself. I'm not the breadwinner now; thank the Lord I don't have that burden on me. But I am so worried about my future health. I have shortness of breath, and chest and upper back pain. This started about the first of this year....I immediately quit smoking, but it hasn't helped at all I am scheduled to see a Pulmonologist on the 11th of next month....I pray he will take the time to find out what is wrong with me. My husband is so upset by all this. He keeps asking me how I'm feeling. I know he hopes I'll tell him I'm feeling much better. I'd give anything to get better! I exercise, and try to eat a good diet; plus the stop smoking. But I am wondering if sometimes, the damage is too great to "fix" by doing these things. I honestly don't know. My feeling is that a person should not have to suffer terribly when they're ill. Whatever can make them feel better is all right to do. That's why I don't just jump on the "stop smoking" bandwagon. That's plain stupid. I smoked for 28 years: so I guess I should have expected this would happen....I have been praying to God; asking him for strength/support. He knows what I'm going through...and I believe there is more ahead than just this life: thank God! I wonder if my quitting smoking will just draw my own drama out...make me suffer for all lot longer. Truth be told, I'm not crazy about that idea. Why extend life, just to suffer and be disabled? Maybe someone else will have a better point of view....anyway, just know you're not alone. Your creator loves you; cares about you. That's something to be happy about! Deb

 
Old 03-26-2003, 05:04 AM   #5
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Thanks Deb. I am glad to hear that you are going to see a Pulmonologist. I went back and read your other posts and Asthma can definately develop later in life it is all part of that catch all that they call COPD (Asthma, Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, bronchiectasis and Cystic Fibrosis are the most common diseases associated with COPD). The first mention of emphysema came to me from my family Dr. He did a peak flow meter test and the asthma was evident. We treated this alone with a variety of inhalers for some time. But it was getting worse. Primarily, because I was smoking. If I had quit smoking at that time like you have there is a chance that the Emphysema would not have developed. I was told that the Asthma is treatable and improvement can be made. Once it is emphysema it is non cureable and progrssive, stopping smoking and excercise with medication will slow the progression that is all. And obviously that is where you don't want to be. Your Pulmonologist shoud upon arrival at his office do a Peak flow to give him an idea of where you are. The only way to truly diagnose Emphysema though is with a pulmonary function test. It takes about an hour and they will be able to determine whether it is Asthma or worse and most importantly they will have you repeat the test after using a nebulizer. This will tell what effect an inhaler would have. If he doesn't mention this test or order it you should bring it up. I see my Pulmonologist again April 4th and at that time we will make the decision on returning to work. Deb, it sounds like you are making the right moves. At the stage you describe quitting smoking is huge. Good luck with your appointment and keep us posted. Our prayers are with you.

Dale
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Old 03-26-2003, 05:52 PM   #6
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Hi, Dale. In my case, I think my problem isn't asthma...or at least not the majorityof my problem. The last doctor visit I had, my doctor had me breathe into this machine...it took 10 minutes or so to finish. Then they had me wait another 10-15 minutes; then he did that peak flow meter exhulation test on me. I was able to blow it just 10 further points; up to 390. My doctor says I should be at 430 for my age, etc...before I had the exhulation test redone, the nurse said that if that breathing treatment didn't work, then it meant I had a more serious problem. I have kind of come to accept the prognosis. What I don't understand is this: I understand emphysema...its progressive. With some of these other diseases, if a person stops smoking, I've heard that the damage slows down (like you said). But does the damage still prgress, none-the-less? I've noticed that some people with lung diseases get bad real fast...others last for 20 years before they get real sick. I'm just not understanding the difference between just having damaged lungs from years of smoking, and a COPD disease (except for emphysema; that one I understand more about). I notice I have all lot of phlem in my throat; I spit it out as much as I can. I guess this means the cilica is no longer working. I don't have a cough though; or hardly a cough at all. But I have sore upper back and chest region...I am making myself exercise; walk for an hour. I notice I tire faster...its more of a strain than it used to be. If I keep walking, and eating right, I'm still going to do downhill anyway...I just wonder how long it'll take. I'd rather have lung cancer (my dad died of that). As bad as that is, it gets over quick. But I no longer am stressing out over it. What's done is done....I wish you the best too, Dale. Post whenever you feel like it. I'd like to know how you're coming along. I'll do the same; let you know what happened when I see my Pulminologist on the 11th. Good luck at your appointment, too. Lets stay in touch! Deb

 
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