COPD Progression

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Hi, my mother in law has copd and is now at a stage she needs oxygen 24/7, cant walk far and without oxygen her level drops from 96 to 72 in an hour. She has regular infections and goes on antibiotics ( 4 different types in one case to shift it ) and steroids at these times.

I would be grateful if someone ( although it seems morbid ) could give me some guidance as to how it will progress and timelines? She also has a pain in her left side just under her ribs that makes her less able to do things but nothing comes up on an xray. She feels her life is pretty much over but it would really help to be able to understand what is to come.

Thanks so much for reading this.

Julie

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  • Posted

    I'd reckon her doctors/community or pulmonary nurse would be more able to give you some idea:  has she asked them herself?   From what I've learnt in rehab and on this forum, COPD is very variable.  

    Could the pain under her ribs be from coughing and has she been checked for reflux?  I assume she's had the usual heart checks?

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  • Posted

    It is difficult for her and the family not knowing what the future holds and the fragility of her situation. No one can say how long she has got. If it wasn't for oxygen and antibiotics then she would probably not have survived thus far. People can trundle from one infection to another over months and years before they finally succumb to a more serious or resistant infection. I don't know too much about it but there is a thing called a living will and you or a doctor or nurse trained in such matters can talk through what SHE wants. For example she could specify that no matter what happens she does not want to go on a ventilator. Or she could even refuse antibiotics for the next serious infection. More and more it is being recognised that people with no cancerous problems also need help with 'terminal care'. Ring up your local hospice helpline and see what advice they can give you about accessing their services.
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  • Posted

    Thanks, its complicated but shes now 95% living with us and has just conceded to register with our local doctors so we will only soon be in contact with her health professionals so we havent had the chance to discuss this. Only today she admitted her mortality as she wouldnt talk about it before. She just wants to stay with us till the end but shes not yet at the stage we could discuss a living will as she is sensitive about these things.

    I am just going to highlight her pain in her side to get it examined when she registers but she doesnt want to go into hospital so doesnt want to admit to pain and although she realises she could get treatment for the better, its only when she is really ill she allows us to get her admitted.

    I just wondered if her breathing is likely to deteriorate over time. I have read on here it can go down to 6% and she is 72 without oxygen for an hour so this sounds positive?

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    • Posted

      I have just looked on Age UK web site and they have lots of information about advance decisions. They could,probably help you with advice about how to start the conversation with her.
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  • Posted

    Hi I have copd and am on oxygen 24/7 I need a wheelchair to get around. Maybe your mother in law has cracked a rib through coughing, I have done this many times although I have osteoporosis due to being on steroids so much. Other than my breathing I'm fine, but no quality of life I can't do anything. I used to suffer from constant chest infections and often admitted to hospital but for the past year I haven't been so bad, I have a community matron who keeps an eye on me which is reassuring, she's always on the end of a phone if I need her. I hope the lady isn't suffering too much, not being able to breathe is very frightening. 
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    • Posted

      Thanks Julia. She can still walk to the toilet but hates the doctor so its a stru g ggle to get her pain checked. I hope you stay infection free. She is now scatted to go or in case of infections. It's such a shame. It's such s debilitating illness. Hope you keep well

      julie

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  • Posted

    Hi again Julie , I agree about going into hospital there are so many infections about, I only agree to go when my breathing is so bad I don't have a choice, fortunately it's only maybe 2or3 times a year , I can still walk about my home and to the car but I can't walk about outside, sometimes I can walk about a shop for a little while if I have a trolley. maybe your mother in law will improve just a little, I don't know I don't get so many infection now I'm not doing anything different or taking any different medication but I can go maybe 3-4 months now without an infection and being off steroids most of the time is an added bonus, I hated having to take them. Take care and I hope things don't get too stressful for you. 
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