Emphysema . . . How My Husband Almost Had It

It all started in December . . . well . . . actually it started in July.  Eric was in the chicken coop working out there and was overcome with some dizziness and heart palpitations (chicken coops are very dusty, dirty places).  He contracted a cold after that and had a couple other colds from July – December.  He usually never gets colds that often.

From that point he had chest discomfort, but put it aside until he couldn’t take it any longer.  That lasted until November when he had me schedule a doctor appointment for him.  He doesn’t go to the doctor usually, but this chest discomfort was getting to him.

His doctor ran several different tests on him to make sure it wasn’t his heart (heart problems are on both sides of Eric’s family) and those tests were negative.  His doctor likes to cover all the bases, so he had him get a spirometry test done, then an x-ray.  Well, the doctor office called and said “You have early Emphysema.” 

Having heard of the disease, we never really knew what all it involved, so we started surfing the internet.  We learned a lot, but probably learned too much, too.   AAAHHHHH!  Sometimes it’s good not to read all that’s out there.  Trust me.  

I never understood, truly, what it was like to have your loved one (the love of my life) diagnosed with such a serious illness/disease.  My heart is heavy for those that go through this and/or other diagnosis’s.  I truly can relate.  

The tears that were shed filled buckets.  
The panic that sets in is almost overwhelming.
Horrible thoughts overtake you. 
The actual pain in the chest for that one you love so much. 
And yet there was nothing I could do about it.  
Not really.

Of course, there’s prayer.
There’s the Holy Spirit interceding for my groanings.
He prayed the words I could not even utter.
How thankful I am for this.

We decided not to tell anyone we knew.  No nearby family knew and this will probably come as a surprise to those that haven’t heard this story yet.  Of course, I couldn’t bear this pain without sharing with some friends far and wide.  Friends that I knew could and would pray for us and for the doctor’s wisdom.  We are ever so grateful for those that prayed for us.  You can’t know the comfort of those prayers. You know who you are and we thank you!

Christmas came after the diagnosis.  It was hard to be in the Christmas mood this past year.  I tried super hard, even shoving the scary thoughts of this disease aside for a few days.  It was always lurking in the back of my mind though. 

It was very much in the forefront of my husband’s mind.  I still don’t know how he kept going without breaking down, but he is strong like that.  I love him so very much for his strength and courage – he actually comforted me during this time – when I was crying every day for him and for us.   

Sleep for Eric and I was hard to come by.  We really were tormented by this.  We couldn’t even wrap our heads around this diagnosis.  It didn’t make any sense at all.  From what we saw, mostly everyone that has it is a smoker OR they are genetically prone to it.  Eric’s doctor ordered a blood test for him called Alpha 1 – antitrypsin deficiency  and it was negative.  So we were still scratching our heads.

Thankfully Eric got in to see a specialist on Monday, January 16th, 3pm.  We were both very nervous about the appointment.  Who wouldn’t be, right?  We saw a Nurse Practitioner after the nurse left the room.  She asked TONS of questions, going over Eric’s medical history.  Eric and I asked her questions – maybe it wasn’t emphysema, but maybe he had contracted some lung infection from the chicken coop (we asked).  She said since he hadn’t had a CT Scan we wouldn’t know for sure, but did mention that his x-ray and everything looked good.  Both she and the doctor (can’t remember his name now, but he had a bit of an Irish sounding accent) came back in after a while – they were discussing Eric’s information and test results.  Both the NP and Doctor made Eric breath in, and breathe out, and then as hard as he could exhale.  

The doctor was talking to Eric for a bit and then tells him that both he and the NP reviewed his spirometry results and that he DID NOT have emphysema.  We were like – What?  He said that he read the test results and the hospital was wrong with their conclusion.  Eric does not have emphysema.  It was very hard to wrap our heads around this because we were so stuck thinking of emphysema and the death sentence that was to come with it.  It didn’t take me long to get excited about this idea – after recovering from the glorious delightful shock.  They said Eric has perfectly healthy lungs and heart.  

We still were puzzled by the discomfort in Eric’s chest.  Eric asked about this and if could it be related to his c-pap machine (he has sleep apnea).  The doctor thinks the pressure in Eric’s machine is too high and is making his chest stretch a little farther than normal causing the discomfort, so he is going next month for an overnight test to see about lowering the pressure on his machine.  

What lessons did we learn?

Life is so valuable.  
Don’t waste the time you do have.  
All of it is precious.  
Live each day for God – even in the midst of the storm.
Hold onto Him and to the ones you love. 
God IS in control.
Even if you don’t understand what is going on
and why it’s going on.

Sometimes Eric still struggles with doubts over the doctor’s declaration of no emphysema, as he still has disturbing chest discomfort.  I’m praying the overnight test next month proves to be the problem.  If it doesn’t help him, then we’ll probably go back to the doctor and figure it out.  Please pray for him as we get this figured out! 

It has been quite a ride!


7 thoughts on “Emphysema . . . How My Husband Almost Had It

  1. What a roller coaster you have been on! Praise God the specialist saw the truth. I will pray for Eric (and you too) that his C-pap machine is the culprit and all will be fixed soon!


  2. Oh girl, what a path you have been on. I will be praying for comfort, peace, and you two to be advocates for the truth. Doctors need to be pushed sometimes… I've learned that with my Mom.

  3. Oh Emily, I didn't realize this was going on with your husband. My goodness, I can only imagine how you both have felt. I relate to and understand the roller coaster of emotions you expressed. Know I'll be praying for him, you and your family. I read your most recent post about his overnight sleep study. Please keep us posted. Bless you, friend!!

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