How it all began
I’m John. I live in Milton, Delaware, and I’m as happy as can be. But it wasn’t always this way.
I had lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for years. COPD is a strange disease. You don’t have quality of life. You worry from one minute to the next. Am I going to breathe? Am I parked too far from here? Can I make that distance? You’re constantly worrying about whether you’ve filled your oxygen tank and if you remembered your spare tank. It consumes every thought. That's what it does to you.
But when I fractured my ribs in a car crash, I had trouble doing my breathing exercises. I ended up getting the flu. It was at that point that a pulmonologist told me I should get my affairs in order.
I have a great life with my wife. After 45 years of working in the medical field, I’m retired. I’m close with my granddaughters. I just couldn’t accept that I wouldn’t be able to spend another Christmas with them.
I sought out a second opinion — and this time there was hope. After my exam, my doctor sat down with me and my wife. He said, “Look, Dr. Criner and his team at the Temple Lung Center are doing stuff for people with your problem. I’d like to refer you there.”
And so my wife and I traveled back and forth to Philadelphia, where Dr. Criner’s team told me about a brand-new treatment that may be an option for me.
A procedure that could help me
It wasn’t an immediate decision. My care team explained, “Well, we have these valves.” I didn’t know what they were talking about, so they told me about bronchoscopic lung volume reduction, or BLVR. It’s a procedure that helps you get more air out of your lungs. And that helps relieve your symptoms.
After 2 weeks of tests, they decided I was a candidate. We scheduled the procedure for May 29. I knew all I had to do was make that date.