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my dad is in the hospital with COPD

My dad has been in the hospital for 2 1/2 weeks. He smoked for 40 - 50 years, maybe a pack a day at times at the most. I know I have a lot of questions but I have forgotten to ask the doctor much of them. And all the details seem essential.

He was sent to the emergency room by his doctor at the appointment. He was having a lot of shortness of breath for a few days before that. At this time he told my mom that he had been feeling like this to some extent for the past two months. On this day or a couple of days before you could barely hear him talk. I guess that was because his breathing was so shallow that he couldn't exhale that much air at once? He was diagnosed with respiratory failure and emphysema.

In the hospital, he was intubated for a couple of days. After this it was almost impossible to hear him talk. I wonder if this was partly because of the intubation? It is still like that now so maybe not?

Then there is the BiPAP machine. It seems to cause problems for the most part. He barely eats, partly because he wants to have it on all the time. I guess because otherwise he doesn't feel like he can breathe. Although when he wears the cannula they say his oxygen levels are still normal. So they're pretty sure that part of that is due to anxiety.

Having it on that much has to be drying his mouth out. It is really dry; his lips, inside of his mouth and tongue. Also when he tries to talk it seems like the tip of his tongue isn't hitting the roof of his mouth correctly.

I think they're not giving him that much water. One of the nurses said that there is a risk of aspirating it. Yet they let him have Ensure. My mom has been bringing mouse moisturizing gel and spray for dry mouth, but he was saying sometimes that he doesn't want it that much.

But I'm pretty sure the dry mouth is bothering him because he asked us to bring him a mirror and flashlight yesterday. He also asked me to go bring him some of the gel the morning before the doctor's appointment. He must have been too weak to drive by that point. But he did drive to the doctor's appointment.

He also is barely eating. Maybe he's having trouble swallowing? One day recently, a nurse said he spit the food out.

The doctor's say he isn't really improving at all, and they've given him all the possible treatments. They say the main problem is not being able to get off the bipap more, and eating more.

Several days ago they said that we needed to decide whether or not to have a DNR, and we decided to. One day around then they said they were probably about to put him on a ventilator, but then they didn't. They said if they did he probably wouldn't be able to get off of it.

Then a few days ago we needed to decide between giving him a feeding tube, or not giving him one and doing hospice. They said if we gave him the feeding tube he probably wouldn't be able to get off of it. They said he probably won't be able to ever come back home.

As of yesterday my mom chose hospice. But now we're going to ask the doctor to delay it for awhile. Partly because we haven't made sure that that is what he wants, when yesterday we thought we had. My mom didn't really want to talk to him about it that much that night. So I didn't want to go against her wishes either.

We also want to make sure that there is no chance of him being able to get better on the feeding tube, and then get off of it. But it seems like he'll never be able to get off of the bipap, and then be able to eat.

  1. Sue--I'm with you in prayer--and memory of my hsbd's similar situation; you're doing a great job. We are all fumbling in the dark when it comes to these times; just know we are with you in spirit as a COPD community. Many blessings on your spirit! xoxo

    1. My dad died in his sleep on Saturday November 6th 2021. The nurse said it was probably mainly due to the respiratory failure where he wasn't getting enough oxygen in and enough carbon dioxide out.


      We'll miss him, but I'm glad they said he wasn't suffering at the time.


      Now that I know more about COPD and that it's almost always fatal, I worry about my mom getting it too, because she also smoked for years. And my husband and I smoked for a few years.


      1. Hi again, Sue - I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your beloved Dad. Please accept my condolences at this sad time and extend them to the rest of your family, too.
        If there is anything we can do, please let me or any other moderator / team member know.
        You are always welcome here in our online community.
        Warmly,
        Leon (site moderator COPD.net)

    2. Also, my dad will be 79 in a month.

      1. I am so sorry to hear all of this. I will pray for peace and a guiding hand.


      2. Hi Sue - and thanks so much for candidly sharing this medical history and current information about your dad. This is an extremely challenging part of life for your family to deal with and manage.
        Dad is indeed fortunate to have such a caring, compassionate and loving family (wife and daughter), as you both are.
        I am certain you will make the best choices for your father and even more so, since you are taking his wishes into account and continue to converse with him as this moves forward.
        My heart goes out to you all!
        If there is anything we can do to assist you, please let me or any other moderator / team member know.
        You are always welcome here in our online community.
        Warm regards,
        Leon (site moderator COPD.net)

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