Dad, Grandpa, Great-Grandpa, Retiree, and Self-Proclaimed Golf Addict
Age at Treatment: 76
Doctor: Dr. Gerard Criner
Hospital: Temple Health
Date of Procedure: April 2019
Life Before Zephyr® Valves:
I was first diagnosed with emphysema 10 years ago. The crazy thing is I went through high school, college, and worked for a decade before I even held a cigarette.
Before emphysema I had a full life. We raised a family, traveled, golfed, and I had a full career. In the early stages it was manageable, but as time went on, even with medication therapy, the disease began to impact my quality of life.
I had always been an avid golfer, often hitting the links several days a week. But about three years ago, the emphysema won and I had to stop. In the last few years even small activities like taking the trash out or carrying the groceries from the car were difficult.
Our annual family vacation to Cape Cod became challenging because some days I couldn’t make the 200-yard walk from the house to the water. I would stay back while the family went to the beach. The disease cut short many of our retirement dreams. My wife and I had planned to visit our granddaughter in Italy. We even laid out the itinerary, but my health was too fragile to take the trip.
We’d get invited to parties but standing and talking for long periods would cause me to lose my breath. It was embarrassing. This disease takes a toll on you both physically and mentally. I started playing the blame game. I thought to myself ‘no one did this to me but me.’ I just felt defeated.
There are not enough words to express how grateful I am for all the love and support my wife gave me while I was struggling with COPD. I was unable to do so many tasks around the house, that then became her job. Never did my wife complain, not even once. This disease is terrible for the patient, but makes life very hard for the caregivers too.
My golfing partner is a physician and he first told me about the Zephyr Valves while it was in clinical trial. We followed the progress of the trial and as soon as the valves were FDA approved, I knew I wanted to try them. I was denied twice by insurance, but my pulmonologist office appealed all the way to a third-party reviewer, and I was finally approved.
Life After Zephyr Valves:
The procedure went very smoothly. I had no complications and felt the improvement right away. I remember feeling a difference when they transferred me from the procedure table to my recovery bed.
In just a few months’ time, the difference was dramatic. At my 6-month visit after the valves, I had a complete set of lung function tests done. When you compare those results to my pre-valve testing, it is hard to believe it’s the same person!
Since having the valves I am leading a much more active retirement. Almost every day my wife and I walk a 2.3 mile loop at our local mall. I laugh when I tell people I am a “mall walker” now but it is amazing compared to life before receiving the valves when just a short walk to the mailbox was hard.
I truly feel like this procedure gave me a second lease on life. This summer I was able to get back on the golf course. My wife and I are traveling again. And, we are even starting to think about taking some overseas trips.
I am back to doing the things I enjoy in life, including spending time with family. We have a son and daughter and five grandchildren. We also have one great-grandson who is two years old and we enjoy him so much. The whole family went to Cape Cod again this summer and I had no problem walking to the beach each day. Emphysema is not holding me back anymore.
I was excited to share my story to give others hope and make sure they know that there is another option now that can help you get your life back.