Husband, father, and grandfather who enjoys gardening, biking, and the great outdoors
Age at Treatment: 65
Hospital: Providence Hospital, Portland
Date of Procedure: May 2020
Life Before Zephyr® Valves:
I was diagnosed with COPD about 15 years ago. After my dad passed away from Alpha-1 emphysema, I was tested and was negative for Alpha-1, but still had COPD and early-stage emphysema at that point. I smoked for 30 years and was finally able to quit eight years ago.
My COPD has had a huge downhill impact on our lifestyle. Essentially I went from being an active outdoor person, to being stuck at home. We had a house on Lake Michigan, and I loved to kayak, camp, and bike. I hunted for 30 years, spending the whole day in the woods. As the disease progressed, I couldn’t do much anymore. Life became very limited. I even had to retire early from my career as a general manager.
My doctor put me on Spiriva® and ADVAIR DISKUS® 500/50, and in the early years the medication helped to manage it. As time went on, the medications were less effective, and I had several ER trips because my oxygen levels dropped. I ended up with pneumonia twice and had to be put on steroids and oxygen. As the disease progressed, I needed oxygen regularly, and eventually I couldn’t get by without it. I was on 4 liters of oxygen 24/7 for two years.
I was seeing a holistic doctor (who was also my neighbor). She had read an article about Zephyr Valves and she recommended I look into it. My regular pulmonary doctor did not agree that the valves were an option for me, so I called Henry Ford directly, had all the testing done, and qualified. I’m on social media and I always tell others with this disease, “Don’t take what your current doctor says…you have to see someone who does the valves to be properly evaluated.” It makes me crazy that my treating doctors didn’t bring this to my attention and maybe I suffered longer than I had to.
Then came the battle with insurance. I had to fight for coverage with Anthem Blue Cross, and the Pulmonx Reimbursement Team submitted appeals on my behalf. It took eight months, but I got coverage for my valves.
Life After Zephyr Valves:
The procedure went well and frankly was much easier than the huge surgery I had been preparing for before the valves were an option. When your only other options are major surgeries, having the valves done just via a bronchoscopy, it was a no-brainer in my mind. I felt the difference immediately in the hospital and was on less oxygen right away.
My life has changed quite a bit in a short period of time. We’ve been hiking in Washington. We were at the coast over the weekend, walking up hilly roads. We walk the neighborhood all the time and it is no problem, even when the weather is hot. I only turn my oxygen on for sleeping now.
My wife and son are so happy. When we first moved here, they would hike without me. Now we can do what we want, when we want. I am back to living life. We don’t eat meat and grow all our own food. Now I work in my garden five to six hours a day.
About six weeks after having my Zephyr Valves, I had my “ah-ha” moment and knew that this worked for me when I was able to play badminton in the yard with my granddaughter on the 4th of July without oxygen.