Faces of COPD: Stephanie Lebsack says, 'I'm fearless...and will stand up to COPD.'
Posted on November 23, 2017 |
As a 34 year old career woman and mother of two children under the age of 5, life is non-stop. My husband is a middle school teacher and a football and track coach, and I am a full-time college instructor. A few years ago, I noticed that I constantly felt like a book was sitting on my chest, but pressed on, ignored it and attributed it to East Texas pine tree allergies. I didn't even know there was a chronic issue until I went in for a CT scan because of a kidney infection. I'm thankful I did, because the radiologist noticed changes in my lungs over the last year.
The radiologist compared my CT scan to a scan the year previous, and labeled it as "worsening emphysema, potentially COPD." Having never been a smoker, I knew that emphysema wasn't truly the problem. So, my primary care physician assistant referred me for pulmonary testing (which was quite a brutal test by the way) and I was referred to a pulmonolgist. I decided to do some peer-reviewed article research, as I was a 26 week preemie with bronchopulmonary dysplasia. I found some interesting information, and have now found that my doctor believes my condition is likely a result of my prematurity.
I was diagnosed with COPD officially in September of this year; aged 34 and never having been a smoker. My pulmonologist has been excellent and despite that my life now involves multiple inhalers and nebulizers, I am feeling so much better, and my O2 SATs are in the 96-97 range instead of the 83-93 range. I'm so thankful for medical management options.
At my most recent pulmonologist appointment, I was told that my FEV reading is the lowest number it can be to be still Stage 1, one number shy of Stage 2, so I'm riding the fence. He said that we will have to do further pulmonary testing yearly to see at what rate that the COPD is progressing. I am very optimistic, and starting to research cardiopulmonary rehabilitation programs and fitness options. I joined the COPD Foundation community chat forums and have received so much support from not only members of the foundation, but from family and close friends.
I'm fearless, beautifully and wonderfully made, and will stand up to COPD.
In recognition of COPD Awareness Month, the COPD Foundation is featuring a new "Faces of COPD" profile every day in November. The "A New Day, A New Face of COPD" blog series will highlight the stories of those who have been touched by COPD in any capacity. Tell your story by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or commenting below.