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Just found this site, and I am hoping for advice from the experts...
My husband (62) was diagnosed with Stage 4 COPD in 2004. He quit smoking cigarettes a year later, and quit all forms of smoking in 2009. He was on oxygen from 2009 to 2012, but his lung function improved to the point that he came off the oxygen, and for several years he was walking up to 5 miles a day, with a little difficulty.
In March of this year, the pulmonologist sent him to pulmonary rehab. He was excited and doing well up to the last two weeks. Something changed during those last two weeks in April, and he began coughing and clearing his throat all the time, and his O2 sats were dropping into the mid-80s (he'd been maintaining 94-94 on room air for 4 years).
Long story short - he spend two weeks (one in June, one in July) in the hospital this summer, numerous tests, many of which showed little change in his lung function, and he is back on oxygen, and still struggling to breathe. He describes it as smothering to death all the time. He is furious about being back on oxygen, and angry about the whole situation.
The doctors can only say that this must be a COPD exacerbation. (Cardiac stress test did show he'd had a heart attack at some point, but we're still waiting for the followup appt).
My question is this: how do I help him get through this? From reading the posts on this site, exacerbations do END, and people get back to something approaching "normal" for them, yes? So how long does that take, and what can I do to help? He won't/can't exercise - right now he can't walk 20 feet, even on O2, without his sats dropping to 82 or below. They tried to give him a 6 minute walk test in the pulmonologists office two weeks ago - lasted less than a minute, he hit 74 and they sat him down. Good thing is it always rebounds right back to 94 or so, but it has to be damaging his heart!
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It is not our intention to serve as a substitute for medical advice and any content posted should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. While we encourage individuals to share their personal experiences with COPD, please consult a physician before making changes to your own COPD management plan.