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Why You Don't Want Emphysema

Nothing is Simple Anymore...


Updated February 21, 2007

From your About.com Guide to Smoking Cessation, Terry Martin: Christine Rowley was the Guide here at About.com Smoking Cessation for many years. She helped more people quit and stay that way than we could ever begin to count. Sadly, we lost Christine in July of 2004 when she succumbed to a stroke. I think she'd be pleased to know how much her words continue to help those people working to quit smoking. Thanks, and may you rest in peace, Christine.

When someone in the family trips over your trailing 50 foot air hose in the family room, you know it, even though you are in the computer room, the kitchen, the bedroom, or the bathroom. If you have a lot of slack, you might not feel it. If there's little or no slack, you feel a sharp yank on your ears, like someone trying to pull them both off at once! Your other scare is that someone has not only tripped, but may have lost their balance and may have fallen!


What's it like to live with oxygen in a nose hose 24/7 for the first year? From what I've learned and have been told by others with COPD, that was the beginning of what could be years of living this way.

Your life takes on a whole new direction when you are told you have emphysema. At this point you find that you have quit smoking too late. It has been creeping up on you for years. You've been coughing your "smoker's cough" around the clock without giving it a second thought, or kept your head in the sand and tried to ignore that chronic bronchitis which led to the emphysema.


Although I'd been told I had emphysema (COPD) four years previously, I was shocked when my doctor only just now prescribed around-the-clock oxygen for me. That happened because I'd tried to rake some leaves in my back yard. I couldn't believe how quickly I ran out of steam and could not catch my breath! Plus, I was in what I called a "brain fog" a lot more these days, so my doctor discovered my body's oxygen level was operating on only 74%, where normally 90% + is acceptable. So, it was oxygen tank time for me.


If you've ever wondered what it's like to be "on a leash", you'll wonder no longer as your try to adapt to your new lack of freedom. Wherever you go, there it is. You'll learn to dress without the "nose hose" on after you've found out what happens when you get dressed and find the hose now runs down the inside of your pants, making it difficult to navigate. For us women, you haven't lived until you've trapped the hose on the inside of your bra and not noticed until you tried to leave the room.

Some "leashes" take a curious delight in becoming entrapped when you close the door on your two door style refrigerator, thereby forcing you to open the door once again to duck to get the looping hose out. Mine does this 97% of the time whenever I open the fridge door. Trust me, this is NOT a good way to stay on a diet!


Opening a hot oven becomes an exercise in juggling hot racks, hot food, and keeping your cool oxygen hose off the hot surface! This can be done by tucking the hose between your knees. When you get up from the table, or from any sitting position, be sure you are NOT standing on your hose. Your ears will feel like they're going into outer space if you don't get off it quickly! If your ears are close to your head "before nose hose", you may notice them beginning to flare outward if you step on the hose too much. A bold new style of makeover!


You will soon learn to hold your nose hose with one hand while gallivanting through the house. If you don't, you will experience many backward head jerks due to the hose getting caught around corners, in the corner of appliances (yes, the refrigerator comes to mind again), and under door jambs. The rocking chair is superb at reaching out and snagging it often, and woe is you if one hand has a plate with a sandwich on it, and the other hand has a glass of milk! You have no way of getting free of the snag unless you put something down and yank it out from under the rocker. Passing mates are really handy right about then too.

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