"I was retired medically from the Air Force in 1993 because of emphysema and the fact that I was no longer fit for world wide duty. (The disease).... I had quit smoking prior to that time, but the disease had basically taken its toll. I was on heavy medication, using inhalers and tablet forms of medication as well. I had a real problem with any kind of colds going into my lungs and causing a lot of problems. I ended up in the hospital three different times, each one progressively worse. The last time in the hospital was about December of....1995....no, it would've been '97......'97. [I] came out of there and I was on oxygen 24 hours a day at that point....not a very good situation.
A friend of my wife's found out about the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine on the Internet, and one thing led to another. I met with Theresa Boley, and Dr. Hazelrigg, and decided to do the surgery which was lung volume reduction surgery; both lungs, 30 percent off the top of each lung.....apparently, I was an excellent candidate for this type of surgery. Hospital stay was very good. I would say that there was a minimum amount of pain involved in it as far as I was concerned. I had the surgery done through the sides of my lung without breaking open the chest....I felt that that might be a little less invasive than going through the center. I came out of surgery, I had a drain on each side; those they use to tell when the lungs had healed up and there was no air leakage. I was up walking within two days after surgery, and everything progressed excellently from there on. I went home, very briefly, with one drain still in one side...came back the following Monday and had it removed, and everything just blossomed.
It didn't take long for me to reach what I would consider a peak....probably in about a year....well, six months to a year, I peaked out, I think. Now, it's kind of leveled off as far as what my capabilities are. As you can see, obviously, I am no longer on oxygen; I went off of oxygen about.....oh, three to four weeks after I had the surgery, and I have not been back on it since; that was two years ago in June.
If anybody has a problem like this, if it is at all possible, I would highly recommend it. The quality of life for me has definitely improved beyond my wildest expectations. It's just unreal, and I hope, based on how I feel now, that this is going to continue for....I don't know....however long it goes. I understand, emphysema is not curable at this point in time, and I will get progressively worse as time goes on. I just feel that it's going to be....my life has been extended.....a minimum of five years....and who knows beyond that. God willing, and everything else going, we'll be okay."
For additional information, please contact
Theresa M. Boley, R.N., M.S.N., FNP-CS
Stephen R. Hazelrigg, M.D
Professor and Chair
Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery
SIU School of Medicine