Port O’Connor, Texas
Mom and Grandma of five, who loves hiking, fishing, and gardening
Age at Treatment: 66
Hospital: Methodist Houston
Date of Procedure: January 2017
Life Before Zephyr® Valves:
I had a very full life before COPD and emphysema. I worked full time, raised two sons, and enjoyed the outdoors. Before I was sick I loved to hike, fish, and garden. My husband and I would go to the Colorado mountains several times a year to hike. It was a good life.
My symptoms started in my 50’s but I was officially diagnosed with COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) at 61. My illness impacted all aspects of my life. I went from living a full and active life to being so limited. Simple things like showering, cleaning my home, or walking across a parking lot became real challenges for me. My cough was very extreme and constant. I became very self-conscious about it. I’d cough so hard I would sound like I was choking. I knew it was uncomfortable for people to be around me. Invitations to social events became very scarce.
I tried to cope with medications like Symbicort™, Spiriva™, Mucinex™, albuterol and prednisone but still suffered with major breathing issues. I depended on oxygen at night. I never slept well and often woke up gasping for air. I had to have the rescue inhaler and nebulizer standing by. Even with all that medication, I was still hospitalized several times.
I was diagnosed as very severe and was given a life expectancy of just 2-5 years unless I had a lung transplant. When a doctor tells you what your expiration date is, well, that is very tough to hear. I got very depressed. But after several years of struggling with this physically and mentally, I decided that I was not ready to accept my expiration date.
I knew lung transplants are very expensive and tough to qualify for, so I started doing some research to see if there were other treatment options. That’s when I found out about the tiny Zephyr® Valves. I talked to a woman in an online patient support group and she told me how the valves helped her breathe easy again. She explained how doctors place a few tiny valves in the diseased part of your lung so the healthier parts of your lung can function better. I started to call local doctors right away because I was hoping this could help me too.
Life After Zephyr® Valves:
Having the Zephyr Valves was the best decision I made for my health. The procedure was fairly simple. It was done through a bronchoscopy so no incision or cutting into me. Much easier than having a lung transplant that’s for sure!
I felt immediate relief after the procedure. I could take a deeper breath in right away. Now it’s been almost two years and I can say that having this procedure was a total game changer for me. It has literally given me my life back. I am breathing so much better and back to living my life. I cook, clean, and do the shopping. I do all those little things you take for granted until you’re sick. I even have a small herb garden and flower bed again.
I would get the Zephyr Valves again in a heartbeat! I still take my daily medications, but I haven’t needed steroids in over a year and I only use the albuterol once in a while. I see my pulmonologist just once a year for follow up.
Now I look forward to social occasions because I am not coughing incessantly anymore. I have even been able to do some travel as well. I went to Chesapeake Bay this summer to visit friends. We did a lot of walking and my breathing was just fine. I am looking forward to traveling more now that I am feeling better. My husband and I would love to go back to the mountains.
My poor husband had been doing everything when I was sick. I know he is happy to have me back cooking and taking care of the house, but I think the best part is that he worries less now. He and the kids see me doing everyday things again and not struggling with every breath.
To think I was given only 2-5 years to live. Well, that was 7 years ago and I feel better now than I have in a long time!
Now I am breathing easier and living my life on my terms again. I want to share my story because I don’t want anyone else with COPD/emphysema to feel hopeless or depressed about their options. I want others to know that the Zephyr Valves can give you your life back!