911 and COPD

911 and COPD

By Victor Montour

My sound sleep was abruptly disturbed by my phone ringing in the middle of the night. Knowing my friends and family very well, none of them would call me in the middle of the night unless there was a major problem. It’s my mother on the phone calling to tell me she has called 911 because grandma can’t breathe.

I race to the local emergency room and find my mother waiting in the waiting room, almost in tears. After waiting the longest 5 minutes of our life a young nurse comes out and informs us that my grandmother has made it to the emergency room. The nurse then offers to take us to her room.

My grandmother is sitting up in the hospital gurney with a nebulizer mask over her nose and mouth. Her eyes are as big as fifty cent pieces and she is working really hard to breath. The nurse informs my mom and I that she is giving my grandmother a breathing treatment to try and open up her air way.

After 24 hours in the hospital and a multitude of tests the doctor returns and tells us my grandmother has COPD. Not sure what that means I did a little research of my own and this is what I found out.

What is COPD? Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) refers to a group of lung diseases that block airflow and makes breathing difficult. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common conditions that make up COPD. Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. Emphysema occurs when the air sacs (alveoli) at the end of the smallest air passages (bronchioles) in the lungs are gradually destroyed.

Damage to your lungs from COPD can’t be reversed, but treatment can help control symptoms and minimize further damage. Symptoms of COPD often don’t appear until significant lung damage has occurred, and they usually worsen over time.

People with COPD are also likely to experience episodes called exacerbations, during which their symptoms become worse and persist for days or longer.

In the vast majority of cases, the lung damage that leads to COPD is caused by long-term cigarette smoking. But there are likely other factors at play in the development of COPD, such as a genetic susceptibility to the disease, because only about 20 percent of smokers develop COPD.

Other irritants can cause COPD, including cigar smoke, secondhand smoke, pipe smoke, air pollution and workplace exposure to dust, smoke or fumes.

As I continue to research COPD I found that a number of skilled nursing facilities, hospices and home care agencies have developed specialty programs that focus on the care and symptom management of COPD. These specialty programs are being developed to provide specially trained nurses and other care givers on the best clinical methods for treating the symptoms of COPD. Finding a hospice or home care agency with these specialty programs will improve your chances of getting the best symptom management for your COPD.

My grandmother lived 9 years with her COPD. In and out of hospitals, nursing homes even homecare for a while. In the end my grandmother was tired of spending her time in the hospital away from her family. She chose to have hospice come in and care for her at home. Hospice was able to treat her symptoms and make her comfortable while allowing her to remain in her home till she passed.

If you would like more information about Front Range Hospice and our COPD program call 303-957-3101 or 970-776-8080 or email us at info@frhospice.com

Watch out for our next blog Started Hospice at Home Today – I’m Scared!


About Front Range Hospice- Legendary Care

Front Range Hospice is a center for excellence in providing end-of-life care and we continue to strive to keep our company achieving distinction. Visit us at www.frhospice.com.
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