granyoung Asked January 2017

What is my husband's life expectancy if he has COPD with emphysema?

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My husband has COPD with emphysema, bullous, lung fibrosis and had a heart attack and 3 stints in last 6 months. The Dr has not told us what stage he is in. He tires easily. He still smokes and drinks beer everyday. He cries a lot and tells me he knows he is dying. What can I do to help him?

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Moosie2012 Dec 3, 2017
I don’t know any answers, I’m 59 yrs young and my husband is 65 in beginning stages of COPD. His younger brother by one year just passed a month ago from COPD. His whole family smoked, his father passed at young age of 63 from emphysema. I’ve seen 2 family members on my side pass from effects of smoking. Seeing as how his quality of life has changed so drastically in the past year is sad. He was vibrant, active, healthy person. Camped, fished, hunted, very good provider for his family. Depression overcomes at times, I’m at a loss as to what to do most times. I’m thankful for this forum as I can see we are not alone. I feel I have someone shoulder to lean on, thank you and bless you all.
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His pulmonologist should have an idea of his life expectancy due to the destruction of his lungs from nicotine, unless he deceases of alcohol poisoning first-point blank.
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Your husband could also develop CO2 retention along with COPD my mom did and it's devastating to watch. You should have the doctor check his blood gas levels ASAP my mom only had 2 years after she started with CO2 retention. I'm sorry to hear he still smokes and drinks with all that is going on. You must be exhausted watching it and not being able to do anything.
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Mjlarkan Feb 2017
One of the many things I've learned in the last couple of years is that WE DO NOT KNOW THE FUTURE. We can predict. We can plan. We can listen to the doctors. We can see what's happened in other's lives, but we do not know what will happen. I wish you luck. I hope your husband quits smoking.
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WannaBaNana Feb 2017
I am an RN and patient so I thought I'd pipe in. I know COPD is irreversible but there is now research showing that stopping smoking may not stop the progression of this terrible disease. That said, it is a terrible feeling-being 58 and realizing you can't make it through Walmart anymore. I still smoke a few cigarettes a day but I also suffer from a number of other conditions including Chronic pain so I also smoke or vape Cannabis and have for years. So I'm a 2fer. Quit smoking tobacco and I still need the Cannabis to get out of bed and throughout the day. My state is behind the rest of the country. I dream of cannabis gummies, lol. As far as your husband goes, yes, antidepressants and therapy do help but it sounds like he might have other issues only you would know. Oregon and now Washington state have made physician assisted suicide legal. This is not Kevorkian, its simply having a lethal dose of a medication legally prescribed under very stringent conditions. The other 48 states just have to suffer it out or take matters into their own hands. As a nurse, I'm not riding this COPD thing to the end. My physicians and family are aware of my wishes however none will be involved. There are many accidental overdoses amongst respiratory patients. All of the suggestions from the others are spot on, but start thinking of your future, also because it's inevitable you will have change coming and it doesn't sound as if your husband is able to help you do it. Sorry if some feel this is blunt but these are all things to be considered. Thanks
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AliBoBali Feb 2017
Granyoung, you asked about Life Expectancy. My 78 yo dad is a lifetime smoker with COPD. He also won't use his inhalers. I still think my dad could live another 10 years. COPD/emphysema aren't quick moving killers. Mostly what happens is the person who suffers the condition feels poorly when they try to do any activity that exerts their breathing and then they end up resting most of the time due to feeling poorly.

This is why hospice likely may not be an option for many years yet, if ever, but you don't need hospice to ask the doc for Rx for an anti anxiety medication that will help hubs to not have as strong of cravings, and also relieve some anxiety. He may live for many years. (((hugs)))
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AliBoBali Feb 2017
Granyoung, let him smoke and drink beer. It won't hurt him now. The damage is done. All you can do is comfort him when he gets upset at how he feels, and the prospect of dying soon.

If there are any people of faith around you, perhaps someone to comfort him about Life and Death process would be helpful. Perhaps calling in a local pastor (one who is very kind and understanding) may help to calm his fears.

This is a tough time for you, too. Maybe you could both use some help from your local churches or other local outreach organizations. Is hospice an option? Ask the doctor. Maybe a mild sedative or painkiller would help... but I don't know how it interacts with COPD. As a former smoker, I know that the benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, et al) help to alleviate cravings for smoking...

Ask the doctor about some anti anxiety medication for hubs to make this time easier on both of you. (((hugs)))
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Veronica91 Feb 2017
Lost my answer and I hate retyping so I"ll make it short. I never smoked and I have COPD. I can't use any of the treatments because they are not compatible with the life preserving drugs I must take for my damaged heart. They say I have valvular heart disease due to rheumatic fever. Never knew I had it and certainly did not go out and try to get it. These are just facts of life and we all must deal with them as best we can.
As a young adult smoke was all around us, it was the social norm and no one knew it was going to kill them. Smoke filled rooms were impossible to escape and lighting up in a restaurant or other public place was not frowned on. You could even smoke in your hospital bed as long as you did not set it on fire.
That was in the past so don't try and punish people who are suffering now. Smoking and alcoholism are addictions and you can't cure those just by spanking people or taking away the cigarettes. For one thing the person has to want to overcome this and if it brings comfort at the end of life they are not going to stop and at this point it probably won't improve their prognosis.
As a side note many people with ADHD find that smoking helps calm them. They probably don't know they have ADHD and maybe wouldn't seek treatment and if they did may not be able to afford the inflated prices for the medications. Drug companies have become the evil controllers of peoples' health.
This poor man is suffering at he end of life whether he is responsible for his own misery or not it was probably caused by ignorance and all the good advise and prohibition in the world won't change anything now. He needs compassion not lectures. A good place to start is addressing his depression and supporting him in any way possible and that does not include taking away his props.
That is really the only way his wife can help him, he is beyond changing his ways.
Now if I suggested hospice and morphine to ease his breathing symptoms I know all the anti hospice people would come out of the woodwork and I am just so tired of that. I know people have had bad experiences and I don't doubt the truth of their stories but we all get bad experiences one way or another and healthcare is no exception.
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And that helps how?
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I don't know about the spanking part but yes, it serves him right for smoking at all and bringing himself to this point where he just won't quit despite his condition and still taking breathing treatments that clearly won't help in the end, I'm speaking from my observations and what I noticed and serves all of them right if they continue smoking when they need treatment and still won't quit. The most recent one died in January 2016 shortly after surgery and they told him he needs to quit smoking and he wouldn't quit so yes, it serves even him right when you continue doing what's slowly killing you. You don't have to believe me but look on YouTube and it will tell you time after time after time each person's story of their past when they smoked and each one of them is dying. Yes, they'll tell you smoking did it and some of them will even tell you they continued smoking when they should have quit despite their conditions they continued and yes, they should feel really bad and most of them actually do but only a select few don't. In certain cases where people will quit smoking or drinking when they need to despite their condition, I don't feel a bit sorry for anyone of them if they don't follow doctor's orders and actually quit. If they  continue and afterwords have something bad happen to them, they can blame themselves because it was their choice to put the booze down their throat or light up that smoke. My parents were alcoholics and I didn't feel a bit sorry for them either, I don't feel a bit sorry for anyone who won't take preventative measures when their diagnosed and still continue with what slowly killing them and causing the problem they are having after a doctor has already said this is causing the problem. If you continue smoking or drinking after the warning from a doctor, you won't get sympathy from me if you continue doing what the doctor tells you is killing you. 

You asked a straight question and you're getting a straight answer. When you play with fire, you get burned, so don't play with fire if you don't want to get burned. This is exactly what smoking and drinking does to people in the end, they get burned when they pay for it with their lives after their health has been jeopardized. Of all the people I knew who died from this kind of thing, if they were alive today I would tell each and everyone of them to their face is that it serves them right because all but one of them continued smoking after diagnosis, and that one person had the brains enough to quit when the others didn't. Oh yes, if I were ever in the position of guardianship in one of such of these types of cases, those wards would definitely not have their cake and eat it too, it's pick one or the other but you're not having both
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