My Experience With Being Intubated
About two months after my COPD diagnosis, I had a sudden cardiac arrest and died at my kitchen table. Not once, but twice.
The stars aligned, and paramedics got to me quickly, thanks to my kids. My lungs were so compromised that it caused my heart to malfunction.
I was intubated for five days. That was the first time, but it would only be the first of many more times.
In denial about my health
I look back to that time in my life and think of how lucky I was to be able to hide my symptoms, all while being in denial. We don’t appreciate those times as we should.
Because COPD is a progressive disease, this stage won’t last forever. After that attack, my symptoms began in earnest. It was time to put all my cards on the table to view. Never easy or tidy, there were lots of opinions that I had to learn to ignore simply.
This was my life-changing moment. I had reached a new stage, and not a good one.
Stage 4 meant no going back, and I needed to learn to live a different life than I had in the past. No more excuses. I had to put the effort in to turn my life around.
I needed to dedicate the rest of my life to caring for myself.
Enrollment in rehab would be the best thing, bar none, that I could do to take care of myself. Finishing my first round of rehab just as spring was breaking.
I worked hard because I was fascinated by the things I could now do that had escaped me for so long. I loved walking, and now I could, and I walked everywhere.
Using my walker to walk as Forest Gump ran, I never wanted to stop. However, a second sudden cardiac arrest would happen within four months. I was once again intubated to save my life.
My health scared me
I was devastated and overwhelmed, thinking that this was going to keep happening over and over again. I was getting little to no information from doctors because they had no idea how to treat me.
Their best guess was to keep me in the hospital. After another month in the hospital, I insisted they release me and let me go home.
Doctors agreed that I would have an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) installed in my heart. They felt that if my heart acted up, the ICD would kick in to save me.
It was a long shot, but I wanted to go home.
January seems to be hard on my COPD. I would be intubated several times for the next three years, mainly in January.
Learning to control my breathing was the most critical thing I could do. How many times can you be intubated with COPD? I have been a total of six times.
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