British Lung Foundation
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Blindsided and Left Hanging…Now What?


My name is Lisa and this is about my husband, Mike.

My husband is 56, an ex-smoker for 12 years, doesn't drink, started eating healthier and has lost 10 pounds in the last 2 months. He was doing well except for shortness of breath but "only" when getting up and down. He was out of breath doing some plumbing under a sink….yet he can walk our mountain hills and steep driveway with no unusual problems.

So…last Wednesday he had an appointment for a yearly check up. All things were going very well until he told the doctor about his breathing when he does up and down work. At that point she sent him for a chest x-ray. We went and the technician said my husband had large lungs.

So down the mountain we went to look for tile to remodel our bathroom(that's what we do…remodel houses). On our way down the doctor calls us. You have a nodule in your lung and emphysema. That's it…she said she would call back later to tell us more. So now we both worried for the rest of the day and not understanding any of it. How can this happen so fast without even realizing it?

Back at home we get a call and my husband, Mike, has been scheduled for a CT scan that afternoon. Off we go to get that done. Next morning we find out there is no nodule:) but they are still saying emphysema and Mike has an appointment in 3 weeks with a pulmonologist. Our regular doctor is out of town for the next two weeks.

This is going to be a very long three weeks. Now Mike and I have both become very aware of things that we normally don't. We need to go up our back hill and cut trees down for firewood. This is normal kind of stuff for us….but now what if he has a breathing issue? What do we do? It's more scary going in blind. I have been trying to find info online…some is good and some is horrifying.

Anyway I know there will be some lifestyle changes and I just want to be more informed.


12 Replies


Until, you get all of your test result there little you can do.

I have stage four Emphsema , if confirmed you may be early stage one, you need a spirometer test to confirm.

The condition is caused by smoking, and air pollution

If confirmed, the condition is incureable , but with change to live style you slow the progress down,

Stop smoking and be aware of any air pollution eg wood burning stoves may effect your breathing.

Exercise is good for you and being short of breath ( with in reason ) will do you no harm, you may have to rest more frequently .

Don' t spend to much time on google .

If and when any lung condition is confirmed , come to the site there is plenty of members who will help you understand and cope with the condition.


Hi Lisa, welcome to the site. Stone has already given you very good advice and as I don't have emphysema I cannot add to it. However, one thing stood out for me: the firewood you are getting are you breathing in the smoke? As Stone said air pollution (including smoke) should be avoided especially if one has a lung sensitivities/conditions. Please remain calm until you have all the facts and have met the specialist. Avoid googling as you may end up worrying about things that are not relevant to you. Let us know how you go? Take care and I wish you wellxxx.

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Hi Lisa welcome, Stone and Jenss have given you some good advise. I would just add I'm severe Emphysema still living and coping well. Slower pace but still in there.

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Thank you all for responding. Thankfully my husband hasn't smoked in over ten years so at least he doesn't have to worry about that.

I think we may be in for some very big lifestyle changes and it won't be easy. We are in the Tennessee mountains in America. Our elevation is about 3500 feet above sea level and we use a woodstove to heat our home although we do have a gas heater we can and may have to use.

I will stay off of Google as much as I can, lol. At least for this.

Thanks again…I will stay in touch as I will be thankful for any support and also advice:) The waiting for answers is the hardest.


Good luck Lisa. You sound as if you will cope splendidly well. Take care xx


Hi Lisa and welcome. You have come to the right place for good advice, honesty and helpfulness and have had some great replies to your post already. My hubby does not have emphysema but his dad did. That was over 20 years ago and medication, tests etc. have all improved over that time. Good luck to your husband and yourself and hope all goes well for you both. xxxxx

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Hi there, do not despair. If you think about it, if mike is bending and twisting to get under the kitchen sink then his lungs get squished up, if there is extra body fat enen more so.

There are several people people on this site who have larger than average lungs, several with long lungs so bending and leaning over is more difficult.

It is absolutely fantastic that he's seeing a specialist AND getting a CT scan so soon ( that doesn't happen her on our NHS ! I had to wait approximately 9 months for mine in London.

It's always good to see your own CT scan so you can see for your self what's going on.

Have a good look through this BLF website, there are very very good explanations of the various lung conditions. Not alarmist, just clear. We tend not to look at US websites as they can be scarey. 56 is the typical age that lung probs show.

He's done the most important thing already by quitting the cigs. Look on YouTube for 'diaphragm breathing, this is really helpful for avoiding SOB (short of breath) and also for getting breathing improved when you have SOB.

Eat healthily, drink plenty of fluids, keep to a healthy weight, avoiding infections, wear a mask for dusty work and exercise are the keys to living a good life. It sounds as though you get plenty of exercise already, keep at it.

Good luck to you both, let us know how he gets on won't you. P


Wow 9 months. That's a long time to wait for a diagnosis and I thought 3 weeks was bad. Mike and I are the type of people who like to get things done and sadly we have no patience, lol.

Thanks…I will make sure the CT scan is explained to us.

Ha, ha…Americans are very dramatic. As my hubby says save the drama for your mama.

Thanks again…lots to learn and so much to think about.


Stone is right, exercises is good, but be aware that strenuous exercise will deplete your oxygen level. it would be a good idea to get some Ventolin to enhance your breathing. Take it easy when say, you are cutting trees. This is a strenuous exercise. Take more time than you would and don't be ashamed to rest when you do feel out of breath.

When yo have all the result from your consultant, he will probably give you some drug to help you breathe. you can ask him anything that worries you, Ask him too, if you could be referred to a pulmonary nurse. the doctor may be more a help for drugs. The pulmonary nurse helps you with the day to day worries, short of breath, how to cope with it. she will tell you to watch for infections,as you may be more vulnerable to it. I find that it is easy to ask a nurse for advice than the consultant who may not be available. Keep your self confidence. By not smoking and doing the exercises you do, you will stay your illness. Take courage.

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I know its difficult, but you can't treat what you don't know. Live life as normal as possible. Take more breaks when needed. Slow everything down and pace yourself. Print up and familiarize yourself with cpr. Don't live in fear. Before you went to the doctor you had made adjustments continue those. Above all remember they are just practicing medicine, they are not God. Once you have a valid diagnosis educate yourself on it. Get a second or even this opinion, and live life like every day is your last, but still plan for tomorrow. God bless.

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Do not let the scare tactics overly alarm you. I am 68 and have had copd for years. key was I quit smoking, started exercising and diet. lost about 45 pounds, In other words I took control over my health and didn't let them scare me to death. Your husband should have many productive years left if he takes care of himself.. You can live and good long life with emphysema, I know i'm doing it and my doctors told me I now should have many good years left.

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Thank you all again. We have three more weeks before we know for "sure". Until then Mike and I are planning and learning.


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