Since the onset of Covid-19, we have all been aware of chest infections. However, it is estimated that at least 400,000 people in Ireland suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), although all of us may experience coughing and breathing problems of varying severity. , Almost half of the numbers indicate moderate or severe symptoms.
60-year-old vonne Conroy is one of many people living in this debilitated state after being diagnosed with progressive lung disease about 15 years ago. She says she is a “non-heavy” smoker and she gave up at the age of 40, five years before her diagnosis.
“I’ve always had a very bad chest infection, and as a result, I’ve always had coughs, sputum, chest tightness, and always feeling sick,” she says. ..
“My doctor prescribed me strong antibiotics and steroids, but if it was a bad episode, I might need a second course, and the oral medication didn’t work. In some cases, he was hospitalized for intravenous administration of antibiotics. “
Yvonne, who has spent most of her life as a beautician, says that the pattern of getting sick and recovering lasted for years without an end. So her doctor arranged a series of tests. She was found to have emphysema and was given medication to ease her breathing.
With this new diagnosis, Yvonne believed that her problem would be minimized. However, instead of improving, each infection appeared to be more serious and longer lasting than last time.
“I didn’t know anything about the illness, so I wasn’t too afraid (when I was first diagnosed),” she says. “But when I read it, I discovered that it was a progressive lung disease — and I was shocked. I was a consultant who took care of me for years. Introduced in, I put me in various inhalers and medicines and found the most effective one.
“But every time I got infected, I noticed that it became more severe and lasted for weeks. It really wiped me out, went to the hospital as an antibiotic, steroid, inhaler and infused for a few days. Nebulizer It didn’t seem to be enough, and I was really scared because I knew the disease was progressing because I didn’t get back to the same level of health each time I got infected. “
In 2018, a Dublin woman suffered from a very severe infection, suffered from pneumonia and spent Christmas and New Year in the hospital. Upon her discharge, she was introduced for further examination, which revealed some very disastrous news.
“I was deeply upset because I thought that episode (at the hospital) would revolve around going to the hospital all the time,” she says. “I returned to the consultant a few weeks later and he organized a lung breathing test with some scans and x-rays.
“Following this, I had Stage 4 COPD and it was confirmed that my lungs were in very poor condition. I was really angry because the news shook me from the ground up, And I got a little depressed because this illness is now depriving me of my life and my ability to do the simplest things I once took for granted.
“I was always proud of my house, but now the simplest tasks like hoovering have become so difficult that I had to sit down for a break after going through one room. It was also very difficult to climb the stairs. When I reached the top, I was completely out of breath and couldn’t control my breathing, so I really panicked.
“I realized I was starting to lose my independence. I needed help to go shopping, but I was very sad because I didn’t have to rely on anyone. This is my There were days when I started affecting my mental health and I didn’t want to get out of bed. Everything was a huge effort, and I didn’t have the energy for anything. “
The four mothers say they were referred to a Mater hospital specialist who said they might be eligible for life-changing treatments, just as they began to lose hope.
“I was very sick and discouraged from living. I told my husband Kevin many times that I wanted to die while I was asleep,” she admits. “This really scared me because I have a wonderfully supportive family and a lot to live, but that was just the way I felt at that time. I feel sorry for myself. I was always fine and happy, not a type, but I was tired of struggling every day. I was tired and not in good mental condition.
“But when I felt that all hope was lost, the consultant introduced me to my alma mater, Professor Karen Redmond. I went to see her in her office, and a long chat. Later, I came out with hope in my heart that she could help me.
“She told me that I was a good candidate for bronchial valve surgery, which was less invasive when she organized numerous scans and various tests and gathered enough information about my condition. I was hospitalized in March 2019 to insert a valve into my lungs because she explained that she would do one lung first. This worked, but for a week or so. I didn’t feel much of a difference, but I gradually realized that I wasn’t too struggling and could walk long distances without breathlessness. “
In the months that followed, Yvonne’s health improved further and she began to feel hope. However, it didn’t take long for things to turn downwards, and it was discovered that the procedure didn’t work as expected — but there was another option.
“I was very happy to be able to go for a walk again (after inserting the valve). Life was beginning to be hopeful for me,” she says. “But unfortunately the valves started causing problems for me and I had to go back to the hospital several times to readjust them and then replace them because they weren’t fully functional. ..
“So when I returned with Professor Redmond, she said she wanted to get rid of them and have lung volume reduction surgery. I was very happy to be able to do this, and in August 2020, I Had robotic surgery on his left lung. I had a lot of pain and medication during the first few weeks, and for a week I had two drains sewn into my lungs to drain them. I had to endure grinning because I had to be there.
“When the drain was removed and the painkillers were removed, I realized I had more energy and felt much better in myself. Then in June 2021, I was 2 I completed the second lung and redone the whole process again before the drain was removed — and I was flying. The surgery brought me back to life. Now it’s rarely infected, I haven’t been in the hospital for more than 2 years, which is amazing.
“I’m independent again and I can go shopping and walk alone. Cleaning the house is now an easy win for me and I can even mow the grass without breathlessness. That’s just great. “
Since the last surgery last summer, Yvonne says he is now living his life well and has a very positive outlook and approach to life. She will encourage others in the same condition to not lose her hope and to know that there are options that can make her life better.
“After this experience, I’ve come out on the other end myself, so I can say that others have hope. And I’m still strong against them and they’re candidates for it. If so, I advise you not to be afraid to have surgery, “she says. “It changed my life better, and it may last longer.”
“After this experience, I’ve come out on the other end myself, so I can say that others have hope. And I’m still strong against them and they’re candidates for it. If so, I advise you not to be afraid to have surgery, “she says. “It changed my life better, and it may last longer.
“Of course, it was a long way, and there was a lot of worries and upsets. But I was blessed with a wonderful family by my side, taking care of me and supporting me all the time. It wasn’t easy to see a loved one with such an illness, so I’m really grateful.
“Hopefully I’ll be here for years to come, because I can’t fall without a good fight, and now I’m optimistic and positive. It’s all devoted to me as a patient. Thanks to the wonderful professor Karen Redmond for that, I am forever grateful. I strongly believe that I would not be here today without her. “
⬤ COPD is a disease that makes it difficult to expel air from the lungs because it narrows the airways and causes airway obstruction. This makes breathing difficult and can cause shortness of breath and fatigue.
⬤ COPD is a term used to include chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or a combination of both conditions.
⬤ Chronic bronchitis is caused by inflammation of the respiratory tract (airways) and increased mucus (sputum), and emphysema is caused by damage to the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs.
⬤ It is estimated that 380,000 people in Ireland have COPD, but only 110,000 have been diagnosed.
⬤ It is especially prevalent in the more vulnerable people of society, including those in areas with high social deprivation.
⬤ Most people with COPD are smokers or have smoked in the past.
⬤ COPD can be caused by working or living for many years in an environment exposed to smoke, dust, or other smoke.
⬤ COPD mainly affects people over the age of 35.
For more information on COPD, please visit copd.ie and hse.ie.