Southern gentleman who is back to doing what he loves, spending time with family and a sweet dog.
Age at Treatment: 72
Hospital: Houston Methodist
Date of Procedure: September 2020
Life Before Zephyr® Valves:
There are many things I love about the life we’ve made in Louisiana — my wife, my daughter, my two grandchildren, and my dog, to name just a few. However, the one piece of my life that I didn’t love was a diagnosis I received nearly 20 years ago — COPD. Over the years, my breathing became worse, the list of medications I was taking kept growing, and my quality of life began to decline. Eventually I needed oxygen day and night and was forced to retire.
I lived an active lifestyle before my emphysema became severe. I loved keeping up with yard work, tasks around the house, and visiting with our beloved grandchildren and sweet dog, Chisel. But as my breathing began to worsen, those things became less and less. I am not a person who quits easily. Whenever they came out with a new inhaler, if it was covered by insurance, I would try it. But as it became nearly impossible to walk across a room, I knew I needed to get help.
When my pulmonologist, Dr. Ronald Hammett, brought up the Zephyr Valve procedure, I was all ears. Although I had only been seeing Dr. Hammett for a short time, I trusted him. It’s not often you find a doctor that truly cares like he does, and what I appreciated the most was that he prayed with me. After doing some research online, I decided I wanted to take the proper steps to see if I was a candidate for the valves, and when I got the call saying that I was, I hoped my prayers were answered.
The closest doctor that is trained in the Zephyr Valve procedure is in Houston — about eight hours away by car — but that wasn’t going to stop me! As soon as I met with Dr. Connolly at Houston Methodist, I knew he was going to take care of me. He didn’t promise me the moon, he kept it very honest and real.
Life After Zephyr Valves:
The procedure went well! Thankfully, I didn’t have any complications or complaints, except the lack of good Louisiana cooking on the hospital menu! I spent the standard three days for observation and to make sure the valves that were placed were working properly. After I got home, I was still a little weak. But about 10 days later, I woke up around 2 o’clock in the morning. It wasn’t me trying to catch my breath that woke me up, it was the fact that I was taking a full breath, and the best part was I kept doing it! I swear it was like I grew another lung!
As the days, weeks, and months continued, I just kept improving and I spent much less time attached to my oxygen tank. I now only use one inhaler, oxygen, and a BiPAP machine at night.
The whole family notices a difference. When I talk to my daughter on the phone, she says she can hear how much better I am breathing. I no longer struggle to breathe and talk. When my daughter and grandchildren visit, I am able to enjoy telling them long tales of yore and am back doing some yard work and taking Chisel for long rides. I forget to pace myself sometimes because I am breathing so well now. My wife will tell me “now you’re running everywhere you go!”
When I hear about someone who has COPD or emphysema, I just pray for them and hope they are able to be a candidate for the Zephyr Valves. Yes, there are tests, pulmonary rehab, and other hoops to jump through, but in the end, it is all worth it. Even with a global pandemic, I would do it all again, and sooner!
These valves certainly changed my life for the better and I just want to help spread the word so others can have hope too.