Registered Nurse and mom of four who loves spending time and having adventures with her 12 grandchildren!
Age at Treatment: 63
Hospital: El Camino Hospital, CA
Date of Procedure: April 2019
Life Before Zephyr® Valves:
Before emphysema, my life was full and wonderful. I was a registered nurse for over 30 years, raised four great kids, and now have 12 beautiful grandchildren who are truly my world.
I likely had been developing emphysema for over 20 years. For many years, I was treated by my primary care doctor. I quit smoking in 2010 but in 2011, at age 55, my breathing problems increased. That was when I first met with a pulmonologist and that meeting did not go well. My prognosis was very bleak.
This disease impacted every aspect of my life. I tried to continue working but I had to use FMLA leave often and finally had to go out on disability. Soon even the simplest tasks, like vacuuming, would completely wipe me out. If I cooked, I would be too tired to eat the meal.
I remember the first time I had to call the ambulance. I had spent a weekend with the grandkids at a waterpark and when I came home it felt like my breathing was just not working. A few years later the ambulance became a regular thing. Some of the paramedics knew me so well that they would start the protocol right in my living room. By last year I was on oxygen 24/7.
The mental toll of the disease was tough. My independence was slipping away. My daughter wanted to go to the State Fair and I had to rent an electric scooter. At the fair my oxygen ran low and things quickly progressed to panic mode. The ambulance came and my grandkids were so scared. It was just the last place in my life I ever wanted to be. I remember asking an ER doctor “Is this it for me? Is this the best my life will ever be now?”
About a year ago, my doctor said it was time to look at a lung transplant. As a nurse, I’d taken care of post-transplant patients and that is not a life I wanted to live. My respiratory therapist gave me an article on the Zephyr Valves and I brought it to my doctor. This disease was taking my life from me and I was desperate to find something, other than major surgery, to help me get it back.
Life After Zephyr® Valves:
The procedure went very smoothly and within days I was feeling a big difference. My daughter and granddaughter came with me to California, and on the way back to Oregon we stopped for a “swim with the dolphins” adventure. This was a dream for my granddaughter, and just 4 days after having the valves, I was able to get in the water and experience this with her without needing my oxygen. It felt amazing!
It has only been a couple of months, but I can already say that having the Zephyr Valves was life changing for me. Before the valves, I was thinking in terms of “when will I need a caregiver” and I was sure that I would never work again. Now I am looking forward to getting back to work and very confident that I can take care of myself for years to come.
I still have emphysema and take my medications, but I am getting back to the land of the living. I went to my granddaughter’s basketball game and I climbed up in the bleachers and didn’t have my oxygen. When the game was over she came over and said “well look at you!”
I feel like my future is looking brighter. I am excited about where this is taking me in my own life. I see myself going back to socializing, taking trips, and going back to work within a year.
I am sharing my story because as a patient and a nurse I am so excited about this treatment. I want others to know that major surgery or suffering are not the only options anymore!