Let’s talk about the four stages of COPD and what it means for you. Here are three simple steps that anybody who has heard these dreaded words – and anybody with chronic lung disease for that matter – should follow.
1.) Get the Facts Straight.
When somebody, anybody, tells you you’re at a certain stage of a disease, ask questions.
2.) Know and Understand Your Numbers.
If your doctor gives you a number from the result of your pulmonary function test, or spirometry, he or she will probably tell you a percentage. For instance, “You have 50% of your lung function left.” Some patients come into our program thinking that if they have been told they have 50% lung function, it means they have one good lung and one bad lung. Not so.
3.) Don’t Give Up!
Before you phone your local monument company to have them carve today’s date on your gravestone, know that with proper care and treatment you can live for years with very limited lung function! The term “end-stage” is just a term, based on the perspective of who you’re talking to. For example, a respiratory therapist who works with severe but stable COPD patients in pulmonary rehabilitation has a different take on your prognosis than a doctor or a nurse who sees patients only when they are sick.
Watch for my next post when we’ll talk about where you can go for help and what you can do to stay healthy and how to make the most of day-to-day life with severe (end-stage) COPD.