New research shows a special valve in the lungs can help emphysema patients breathe more easily. Ted Poole, 68, a retired business consultant from North London, had the procedure.
But I was still coughing and spluttering two months later, so I saw a GP. He tested my breathing and said I had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — incurable damage to my lungs due to years of smoking.
I’d smoked up to 40 cigarettes a day since I was 14, and Lynn smoked, too. She was diagnosed with COPD a few weeks later. We both gave up smoking immediately, which helped and the GP also prescribed inhalers.
But the COPD slowed us down. Neither of us could climb stairs or walk far without pausing for breath, and we had to give up our hobby; riding our tandem bike in the New Forest. After a chest infection in 2011, Lynn couldn’t breathe properly and ended up in hospital. She was referred to the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, where she underwent a new procedure to have metal coils inserted into her lungs to help them work better. Apparently the coils would compress the damaged areas so that the healthy parts could work more effectively.
I asked my GP to refer me, too. The doctors at the Royal Brompton said I had emphysema; basically, tiny air sacs in my lungs had become damaged by smoking and I wasn’t exhaling properly, so air was getting trapped. This trapped air was preventing me from breathing more air in. I was told my right lung was worse than my left.
But my lungs were too damaged for me to be suitable for the coils operation. I’d got to the point where I struggled for breath even while talking……read more