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COPD, Professor William MacNee Clicked for this COPDer


Ref:  Early detection public COPD Spirometry,  World Spirometry Day and World COPD Day

I called our health district yesterday and spoke with  Cris Craig, Kitsap County Health District Public Information Officer.  She couldn’t answer my question about the health department offering free spirometry to the public.  She did say in a cheerful voice she would call in about three weeks with a response.  THAT is good news and she didn’t ask what COPD was – even better..  A hopeful sign and may mean that Spirometry will be offered and made available to the public.  I believe in miracles.

Professor William MacNee and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Scotland, UK website has superb graphics – the best explanation of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) I’ve seen in one place.  His ‘The Latest Trends in COPD Research’ graphically shows why early detection Spirometry is important.

For many of us COPD is an ongoing magnet for other disease, including some really difficult stuff.  COPD and lung disease can be the beginning of a long list of personal medical challenges expanding the patient’s medical disease library.  Whatever needs to happen to avoid COPD in your life get tested for early detection and do whatever is needed to get it done.

My son, Al and I were visiting family in Northern Norway  in1997.  I didn’t know then my 40 year smoking habit was almost over.  And so was I.   I was beginning to feel sick.  The day after this picture was taken, I had to see a Norwegian doctor.  She examined me and prescribed medications for Pleurisy and Chronic Bronchitis.  The medication worked, the pain receded and we were back on schedule.   Within a couple weeks after this picture was taken and five days after returning home, I was in the hospital.

Life as I’d known it was over.

COPD is a friendly disease.  For me, once Emphysema (COPD) got settled in my lungs and got comfortable, she began to invite her Other Stuff Disease buddies for a sleep over.  Trouble is, they stayed over and didn’t go home.  They joined COPD trying to play Havoc with my health and life.

Following COPD was an open lung biopsy and Sarcoidosis – Sleep Apnea – RLS – Psoriasis – Venous Stasis Dermatitis  – Cellulitis – High Blood Pressure – Lymphedema – and  bone-on-bone Arthritis, left hip followed – to name a few.

Early detection Spirometry can stop COPD early – before it’s too late.  Ask your doctor.

This is where it gets tricky.  Health care is a huge problem.  COPD generally  takes twenty years developing before a person mentions symptoms to the doctor and by then about fifty percent of the lungs are destroyed….leading the patient to a long slow smother and the taxpayer choking form the cost.

Offering free Spirometry testing for early COPD detection gives the individual  warning.  If the problem is not genetic, it can be turned around. Telling isn’t enough – SHOW people what COPD can do to them and their families.  Let them meet willing patients who can show and tell… a real reality show.

Exercise works and muscle utilizes oxygen better than flab.  We can breathe better and move easier.  Exercise and understanding COPD gives us a quality of life back – to be the best we can be.  The recumbent trike takes us places we couldn’t easily go without one – fun stuff,  building muscle at the same time. We must keep moving … ask your doctor.

I did not qualify for lung reduction surgery or I would have opted to get it ..not enough good lung and I heard rave reviews from patients who had had one.  One COPDer told me the lung reduction surgery restored his life back to ‘normal’ and lasted about five years before time and COPD danced ahead.  Ask your doctor about it.

Pursed lip breathing training is a must for COPDers – it keeps us out of the panic mode and out of the hospital.  It has for me…and I tested it with my oximeter.Talk to your doctor about pulmonary rehab.  It is never too late to get better through our own efforts…what does your doctor say?

Photo taken by the photographer who traveled with the Trek.  This photo shows me on my recumbent trike flying the  COPD/EFFORTS safety flag and pedaling over Deception Pass with the American Lung Association of Washington’s three day bike ride – the Trek Tri Island.

It was the first time I had been away overnight from my house in seven years – since Harrison Hospital in 1997.  A slow trike rider, it is thanks to the wonderful volunteers who hop scotched me and my trike ahead of the other 200 plus bike riders time after time that enabled me to pedal 50 miles of the 137 mile trip. I felt free again.

Key motivators were the Shortness of Breath Study at the University of Washington Medical Center that I was lucky enough to qualify for and my online support group, EFFORTS.  Proof to me that  educating COPD patients work.

Stroke patient, Mary Griffith and her butterfly and gold star fingernails caught my eye the other day – more about Mary and husband, Doug later)

Kitsap County Health District … Will you be the first county health district in the nation to see the fiscal benefit of early detection Spirometry to protect citizens of ALL ethnic background.

The Kitsap County taxpayer and COPD future could rest in your hands.

Thank you Professor William MacNee for a great COPD informational website and allowing me to use it here. pdf

More later… Sharon O’Hara

Part 4 of 4

7 thoughts on “COPD, Professor William MacNee Clicked for this COPDer

    1. Thank you, Julie….

      I’ve said it before, the people I’ve met since I’ve been on the other side of wellness must have a special spot in Heaven reserved for them. Without exception, the ones I’ve met are remarkable in their dedication to understand, then fight disease. Their kindness to accept the disease and relate to the patient as a person is extraordinary. Whatever they’re paid – it isn’t enough.

      What is the pay scale for kindness? Ask anyone who has ever signed up for Teaching Hospital Medical Study what they think of the medical people they meet. Awesome. The kindness is beyond my ability to express.
      Thank you…

  1. Sharon please let me know if you get an answer from cris. The VA said I had a white spot on my lung and they thought It was COPD. My personal doctor took another chest x-ray and group health said nothing was wrong and not to worry about it. I would like be be tested to see who is right.

    1. Suquamish … I’m sorry I’m not a medical person – only a patient. You ask a good question. I hope someone will offer suggestions for you….though for COPD diagnosis it takes more than an x-ray spot on the lung, I think. The VA is a great place to go …you must have gotten Pulmonary Function tests as well as an x-ray – what did the numbers indicate to the doctor?
      I can tell you what happened to me and how I found medical solutions. My mother nagged when my breathing all of a sudden took a turn for the worse. The pulmo I was seeing at the time simply handed me a steroid inhaler and said I needed to start taking it.
      Well. My mother was the mom of all time for nagging for a cause involving her kids and people she loved. What she said made sense…I like to know the why of things too.
      Eventually it mattered enough that I chose to run myself through the University of Washington Medical Center for an answer. Mom’s suggestion was the U or Mayo Clinic and the U is way closer.
      That is when I met Dr. Wonderful, Dr. Raghu.and the super enthusiastic guy Dr. Raghu called “Super Fellow” Christopher Goss. I fell in love with them and began to believe my life might not be over. They didn’t act like it was over but beginning a new adventure of Find That Disease. They were right.
      My mom’s nagging and meeting Dr. Raghu and then, Super Fellow Goss at the University of Washington Medical Center gave me hope again. Remember I was a person who lived a physically active and healthy life. I knew nothing of serious sickness, disease or the people who had them.
      As a patient, in my opinion, I am suggesting to you the same as my nagging mom did for me…find out what you need to do to get answers. My primary doctor and the University of Washington Medical Center Teaching Hospital did it for me.
      What does Group Health have to do with the VA?
      Thanks for asking … get that third opinion… keep us posted, please.. Sharon

  2. Suquamish – I misunderstood which ‘Cris’ you meant, sorry.

    For the Spirometry test you shouldn’t have to wait three weeks for Cris at the KCHD to let us know what the health department is going to do.
    Under the circumstances, I’ll bet I can find someone to pay for you to get a Spirometry test right away.

    Ask your primary doctor first and if your primary doesn’t offer it, ask her/him who does offer it and call them.

    If that is not satisfactory begin calling around and make Harrison Medical Center your next call. Ask what they charge for giving the Spirometry test… the spot you already have on your lung should be reason enough for the test.. seems to me.
    Call Eric Anderson at Harrison 360-792-6686
    Let us know what it takes to get your Spirometry test.

    Communication and education is key .. we’ll find the answers together and get it done.

  3. Perhaps I can try to answer Suquamish’s question 🙂

    A white spot on your lung can be anything or nothing, really. If you’re worried, there are a couple of tests that can be done. Spirometry, as Sharon pointed out, is essentially diagnostic for COPD (especially when combined with a ‘bronchodilator response test’… basically, if you have a really good response to one of those inhaled medications, you’ve probably got asthma instead of COPD).

    To check for emphysema, you could ask your doctor whether you might have CT scan done (it’s that machine which looks like a white tunnel) as well as a ‘gas transfer’ test to measure how effective your lungs are at getting air into your body.

    Finally, I honestly don’t see any reason why spirometry can’t be offered to everyone for free. It’s a very simple test that would probably cost the health service no more than a few pennies per patient.

    Wish you all the best in your campaign and your battle against COPD!!

    P.S. I am fortunate enough to be a student of Professor MacNee at the University of Edinburgh. In fact, that’s how I came across this article – by searching for my prof! I can attest to the fact that he’s a great teacher, a wonderful person and a fantastic physician, one of the best in Scotland and perhaps the whole world 🙂

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