The Birth Of A Book – “Breathing Is Good”

Brian HaydenThese next few posts marks a turning point in my writing. No longer am I simply writing random thoughts and memories. These are the first posts where I write information that just might be useful to someone else.

It was two and a half years since emerging from hospice. All of the drugs used during that period are long since out of both mind and body. I was looking at the world differently now. I was alive. I was alive and had no intention of lying down and giving up -EVER!

The notion of turning this blog into a book is still months away. I do, however have a need to share my story and maybe – just maybe help someone along the way. I begin sharing medical terms and information so that the things I talk about may be clearly understood by the reader. I wanted the readers to grasp what it is  I am talking about, so definitions begin showing up.

While I was getting comfortable talking to a small, but loyal audience on the blog, it still hadn’t occurred to me to check spelling and in some instances, grammar. Nevertheless, today’s installment of “Birth Of A Book” does hint at the notion that a book my one day arise from these posts like a Phoenix arise from the ash.

Note:  Though my enthusiasm for living and sharing information grows in these months of 2010, I am by all definitions getting sicker.

If only I could breathe a sigh of relief

April 15, 2010 by brha99

For the next couple of years my heart problems seemed to settle down. I mean I still had the periodic chest pain, and the odd run of v-tac, however the pacing therapy in my defibrillator has worked beautifully. No shocks. So while my heart problems are simmering on the back burner, lets see if we can’t draw a nice deep breath of fresh air……………….no……not yet…….oh forget it. I did tell you I have COPD, didn’t I? Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. What exactly does that mean? For accuracy sake, I offer the definition as provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute which says:

COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary (PULL-mun-ary) disease, is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. “Progressive” means the disease gets worse over time. COPD can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus (a slimy substance), wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms.Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke. Long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust, also may contribute to COPD

Oh and did I tell you I am a smoker? That’s right. Despite all the heart problems I have talked with you about, I still smoke. (not now, but I did) We’ll get into that later today or tomorrow. In the mean time, I can’t breathe. I go to the emergency room where they ask me whats wrong. I cough, spit up, gag, wheeze, can’t catch my breath, cough some more, get light headed and almost pass out right in front of them, when I hear myself mumble…”can’t breathe”. “OOhhh” they mutter. Well come right this way. Nebulizer treatments helped, but my O2 levels in my blood were still only about 80.That being said, they admitted me into the hospital.

I puff and I puff..awe hell gimme a cig

April 16, 2010 by brha99 

While I am in the hospital in 1999 for COPD, I think this is a perfect time to discuss smoking. I was born in 1954. BY 1963 I was smoking a little. By 1967 I was a full time smoker. My parents smoked My grandparents smoked. Nearly every adult I knew smoked cigarettes. I grew up with them and cigarettes were ingrained into my everyday life as deeply as anything that defines me. I would be in the hospital for a heart, or lung thing. While I was in the hospital, I did fine without a smoke. The second I hit that exit door after discharge I needed to light up. I used all sorts of stuff to help me quit. I mean everything. I was dying and still I smoked. It angered my son a lot. The rest of my family too. I didn’t actually quit for good until just last August. Please keep that in mind as we go through more of the trials and tribulations of me: a really sick guy.

Back to this hospitalization in 1999 for COPD. The doctors ran lots of tests. I didn’t have emphysema. Not yet. My lung function was, however about half of an active, healthy adult. Sick lungs and a bad heart is a bad combination. For now though, I feel pretty good. Lots of nebulizer treatments and meds to take at home and I am out the door and back to the rat race. I think the late, great George Carlin summed it up best when he said (and I am paraphrasing) cigarettes are the only product that if used as directed will kill you.

Exacerbations are exasperating

April 16, 2010 by brha99 

Over the next year or two, my health kept steadily worsening. I would have the occasional emergency room visits to deal with either a COPD exacerbation or a heart failure exacerbation. All these exacerbation are, I am afraid to say exasperating. Really! In loose terms, an exacerbation is a flare up of your symptoms. With COPD it made it difficult to breathe. With heart failure, I gained weight, got tired, swelled up and generally felt like I didn’t have the strength to lift my arm. I couldn’t walk 50 feet. I am sorry to report that having exacerbation will play a leading role in my health problems in the coming years. A day or two ago I mentioned that my lung function was around 50%. Not too bad yet. When it comes to hearts however, the numbers tell the tale well. There are lots of ways doctors use to measure heart function. One of the best and most common ways is to measure something they call “ejection fraction”. Remember now, I am explaining it as I understand it. I am not a doctor. If there is a health care professional out there that wants to chime in, please do. Back to point, the ejection fraction (EF) can be 60% to 80% in healthy normal non-athletetic adults. The Social security administration declares an EF of 30% or less grounds for labeling the patient 100% disabled. In the year 2000 to 2001 my EF was about 25%. I get along ok, but I tire easily and can no longer do the things I could do just a few years ago. My loss of functionality is a prime source for frustration, anger and eventually depression. If you live or are dealing with a sick or elderly person who can no longer do the things they used to do, be patient with them. Frustration, anger, impatience and depression are all common denominators for people like us. Be careful though! Resentment, anger, frustration and depression for the care giver will inevitably ensue if you (the wife, husband, son, daughter and friend) don’t understand this fundemental truth. Being sick sucks.


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