A husband who loves fishing, carving and whittling.
Age at Treatment: 77
Hospital: AdventHealth Tampa – Florida Medical Clinic
Date of Procedure: February 2022
Life Before Zephyr® Valves:
COPD took away my ability to live the life I loved. My wife Diana and I were very active people. Losing that ability was tough because I’m a “doer.” Fishing is my number one hobby and I love to work with my hands, carving and whittling.
In my career as a supervisor for construction electricians I was exposed to plenty of filth and concrete dust. I also smoked but quit 17 years ago. For years I was just treated with medication for asthma because my symptoms seemed seasonal in the beginning. Then about 13 years ago, I got really sick with pneumonia. A few years later, I noticed I started running out of steam and had to slow down. That’s really when everything began to change and I was diagnosed with COPD.
Diana and I participated in a lot of activities in our community. We loved to line dance but as my condition worsened, I could only get halfway through a song. Eventually, I felt it was silly to even get up and try. We are the heads of the Entertainment Committee, and I couldn’t even walk to the podium to announce the shows. It got to the point where I didn’t want to do anything.
My wife is amazing. When I would have a bad episode, I’d be purple and gray and she’d ask, “Can I call 9-1-1?” I would tell her no, even though it felt like I’d die before I’d recover. Finally, Diana asked, “Then when can I call 9-1-1?” and I said, “When I can’t tell you not to!” Needless to say, this disease was hard on both of us. My wife worried but was always there to help. If I was having an anxiety attack because I couldn’t breathe, she rubbed my back and that meant the world to me knowing someone was right there with me.
About two years ago, I began needing oxygen. Carrying that canister around wore me out, so I got an air concentrator that’s only half the weight. I took Advair®, Combivent®, Albuterol® when needed, and prednisone as a backup. Over time, I could feel the medications working less and less for my symptoms. I felt myself slowly slipping away. I told my wife we need to get our stuff in order because I don’t feel like I’m going to be here for long.
I heard about the Zephyr Valves from a friend in our park who also heard about them from a friend. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. I was reaching for any straw, so I did my research and found Dr. Do at AdventHealth in Tampa. He was so informative, straight up and honest, and explained all the pros and cons. I completed all of the tests and I was told I was a candidate!
Life After Zephyr Valves:
The procedure went smoothly for me with no complications. After the anesthesia wore off, I tried to take deep breaths and it did hurt. But after the first few days, the difference was amazing — I felt like a new man. To be able to suck in as much air as I can is a blessing. I hadn’t experienced that feeling in five or six years. When Dr. Do came in to see me, of course he was wearing a mask, but my wife said his “eyes were smiling.” You could tell he was so pleased with what he had been able to do for me.
Two days after I got home from the procedure, we went to Disney Springs for my wife’s birthday. It’s our tradition. I walked a long way. Granted I would stop and rest because my muscle tone and balance were not back yet, but I did it. Now, I can do just about anything. I just need to pace myself and know my limitations.
I still have severe COPD/emphysema, but my quality of life is so much better since having these valves. I am back to fishing and recently fished a full day, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Before valves, I could hardly get on the boat, let alone spend that much time out on the water. When my condition got really bad, unfortunately we sold everything that needed attention — our truck, our boat, the dock. Right now, I wish we hadn’t.
I’m back to line dancing and can make it through half a dance now and hopefully soon a full dance. Who knows…one day you might see us on America’s Got Talent!
I just want to get the word out to other people. This has been an absolute life changer for me. If you are struggling, talk to your doctors about the valves.