Canadian Lung Association Blog

Larry’s New Lungs: Down to 17% lung capacity

Larry exercising

 

In 2011, all I tried to do was to eat right and stay in shape and keep a daily routine. That was very important so none of my other organs would be affected by my oxygen levels. I didn’t want any wear and tear on my heart, especially after all my good test results from the fall. I still went to the Pulmonary Maintenance Program at the Lung Association everyday day for the exercise and support.

However, unfortunately I caught a lung infection in the Fall of 2011 and had to be admitted to the General Hospital for 2 weeks. I was coughing and my blood oxygen saturations were really low even though I was taking antibiotics and prednisone along with increasing my 3 inhaler dosages. When my Respirologist heard my voice on the phone, he said to go to emergency right away, so I had a neighbour drive me. I kinda left it a little late. I thought I could take care of myself at home and was being a little stubborn. The ER doctor said I wasn’t moving any air.

I’m glad I woke up and listened, however after the 2 week stay in the General my lung capacity went down to 17 % lung capacity and it was getting more difficult to breathe so I had to increase my oxygen to a 2-litre flow rate from 1 and 1 and a half.

It was getting more and more difficult to sleep at night too and I was getting weaker as well. I didn’t rebound as quickly as other times after an exacerbation.

Rosario Holmes, the Respiratory Therapist at the Lung Association’s Pulmonary Maintenance Program mentioned that I should have a sleep test, so I arranged an appointment with my respirologist and he set an overnight sleep test with Medigas, my oxygen supplier.

The results were that I was breathing very shallow during REM sleep early in the morning so arrangements were made that I was too use a BiPAP machine as a ventilator to sleep. I don’t know if anyone of you have seen these, but I was not too impressed and a little concerned about using one.

Medigas was great! They were very patient and fitted the full face mask correctly and show me how to work the machine and then I was starting to feel comfortable. The first few nights were a little tricky getting used to forced air being delivered on each inhalation, but I then became more relaxed using it and now had a full night’s sleep. I also started getting back in shape and back to a regular routine.

This went on for months and I was then going to Montreal every 3 months for pre-op clinic to see if, I still stable and in good health and to check to see, if I needed to be on an emergency list. In fact at this time there was no emergency list, but they were in discussions about having one.

So 2011, then went by uneventful after that and 2012 went by slowly at the beginning and I was then noticing by the Summer that my breathing was getting more difficult so my oxygen was then raised to 2 and a half on exertion and sometimes a 3-litre flow rate.

Then in August of 2012, Rosario Holmes came to Montreal with Larry Mayville and I. Larry M. was also going for a transplant in Montreal and was in our Maintenance Exercise Program. Rosario, got to see firsthand all the tests we had to do in our pre-op clinics. First was blood work, a chest x-ray then go upstairs to the 7th floor and wait to see the Respiratory Therapist for a spirometry test, see the nurse, physiotherapist, nutritionist and then the surgeon. That was quite the day!

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Larry Graham

On October 21, 2012 I received a double lung transplant in Montreal after four years of being on supplemental oxygen and being on the transplant waiting list for 22 months. I still say it's a miracle and am trying to repay that miraculous gift everyday by paying it forward and telling my story to help other people waiting for organ transplants.

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