I (38/m) was recently diagnosed with emphysema. I have not taken any PFTs, so I do not know the extent. The original (ER) doctor told me to quit smoking to stay off oxygen when I'm 80, and a general practitioner said I am 'more moderate than mild'. I was diagnosed with an x-ray and verified with CT.
I live at altitude, and I weight lift (heavy) every other day and do cardio on rest days; I suppose I get winded, but who doesn't when bodybuilding? I requested a rescue inhaler for 'just in case' purposes, but I have not used it and have never felt a need to use it. I think that the options of moving to a lower altitude (i.e., increasing oxygen 20%) and using bronchiodilators, combined with my current ease of breathing and COPD normalization upon smoking cessation, I have many years. I hope so, anyway.
I have also done everything I can think of to slow progression. I quit the moment I found out, and I already got a flu jab. I started taking so many supplements (turmeric, anthocyanins, quercetin...about 20 supplements correlated with slower progression) that I gave myself caretonemia. I bought a little breathing exerciser to build my intercostals. I can breathe great, I'm in better physical shape than I have been in 10 years, but I could use some help with my mind.
Like many newly diagnosed, I read about the five-year mortality and flipped my stuffing. Luckily, I researched for months and learned that 97% of people with emphysema make it to 64. Those statistics were compiled before the Zephyr valves which may add years, and it is likely that there will be many advances in COPD before I turn 64. The threat of emphysema no longer has the sense of immediacy, but I am still worried about comorbidities to the extent of hypochondria.
Some of the comorbidities, including the one who shall not be named, cause almost instantaneous...non-livingness. While most of the cases for the comobidity I'm most concerned with occur after the age of 64, 10% do not. Further, 1% of COPD patients get that comorbidity every year. There is a correlation between severity of COPD and the comorbidity, but that correlation is not enough for me to let my guard down and live my life, if that makes sense.
I am having a hard time planning anything, and I check my fingernails daily. I get these day-long panic attacks like I have never encountered, and I need reassuring statistics to ease my mind. Does anybody have any kind of statistic that suggests I should not be as worried as I am? I'm still in my 30's and terrified because I have two preschool-aged children.
How was I ever so bold as to smoke knowing about that one particular comorbidity, was I really that stupid? I guess I thought every case of that comorbidity occurred after 64. I thought I might shave off the last 10 years of a lifespan, not 40 years.
In some ways, it seems as though this diagnosis is a way for the universe to force me to accept my mortality. I think to myself that, even if I can assure myself of safety with regard to comorbidities, I could still have an aneurysm. In a way, being forced to accept mortality is a good thing; that is, as long as I get to live awhile longer to accomplish life goals. I appreciate all who read this lengthy post, I'm just looking for some factual reassurance that I probably have a bit longer to finish my masters, write that book, raise my children, and so on...