to as LVRS. This is the surgery Dennis underwent in 2005 with
such high hopes. The statements below are from my personal experience
watching my husband's struggles.
of all, I want everyone to understand that no one could have foreseen
the problems Dennis had after the surgery. His surgeon is one of
the best thoracic surgeons in the USA and his pulmonoligist is, in our
opinion, the best in the world.
truly believe that the major obstacle for Dennis was his anxiety and
the inability to control it. For the 30+ years we have been married I
have watched as he worried about everything. Not necessarily
things that were critical to our survival but non-important things
like if it was going to rain or not, the temperature during the winter
or summer, and heaven forbid we should decide to take a trip.
Once we decided to go somewhere, it was a constant planning session
until we actually left the driveway. If the trip was going to take
place 6 months later, then we had to work on our plan for 6
I got him a puppy to give him something to do in 2000, he kept the
veterinarian in business with trips if she acted like she didn't feel
good. He worried about her if she coughed or didn't eat as much as he
thought she should and he considered it an emergency if she threw up
(something puppies do quite often). I have raised horses for almost 20
years and even though he had nothing to do with them, they are a
subject of constant worry.
seemed to be handling everything pretty good when he awoke from
surgery, but by the second day he began to show signs of anxiety
because he was being asked to use a Bi-Pap machine. I believe that he
was confused about the piece of equipment and thought he had been put
on a respirator (something our doctor discussed prior to surgery). His
anxiety made it a battle to keep him settled down and using the bi-pap
as ordered. When he developed pneumonia, his anxiety was
uncontrollable. During the month he was in ICU, the doctors tried
every medication available to help with the anxiety problem.
Several attempts to remove him from the respirator resulted in a
tracheotomy being performed to avoid the tube down the throat.
hoped that getting him out of ICU and into a regular room would help
but I was wrong. He was still dependent on a respirator and
would become agitated and over anxious when asked to exert himself in
any way. Dr. Millard contacted a psychiatrist and discussed
possible medications to control the anxiety. After a number of
trial medications, he finally settled on Lexapro which seemed to be
more beneficial with less side effects. This anxiety was
extremely detrimental to Dennis' progress. Even with the
medication there were days when nothing would convince Dennis that he
needed to do his physical therapy so we could go home.
fight this same battle every day at home. To the average person
who goes about their daily activity without a thought, it is
inconceivable that something as simple as standing up and walking to
the bathroom could cause a panic attack but I see Dennis fight his
panic every time he moves. It took a year to convince him that
he could sleep just as well in bed with pillows propping him up as he
could in a recliner.
year after surgery I was still struggling with him over getting a
shower. Even with his medication, he would have to also take a
Xanax to be able to get through a shower. Mind you, he was
sitting on a bench the entire time - no standing up to tire him out
but his heart rate would climb to 130+ and his oxygen saturation would
drop to the low 80s or upper 70s before his shower was finished.
Even today, 3 years later, he will not begin his shower without me
right beside the door in case he needs help and he still takes a Xanax
30 minutes before. The fear is just more than he can handle.
knows that when he becomes anxious and fearful his ability to breathe
is diminished because his airways shut down but he still cannot
control the fear.
understand that the anxiety and fear are part of COPD but I believe
that patients who have a successful LVRS are those that have the
ability to control the stress, anxiety and fear that comes with
shortness of breath and for those patients, this surgery is wonderful.
Site Owner: Ellen Mayo
E-mail:[emayo at mylifewithcopd.com]
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