Patient Story – Graham

Graham, 66 lives in Elland near Halifax and is a retired plumber. He is a widower and lives with his two dogs. His late wife was an auxiliary nurse working on a respiratory ward, and he credits her with giving him strength and support when he was diagnosed with COPD.

Having had undiagnosed sleep apnoea for many years, Graham was diagnosed with COPD after collapsing without warning, struggling for breath. He was admitted to hospital where he was put onto a ventilator and given oxygen therapy.

Too much oxygen can be dangerous for COPD patients, particularly those at risk of hypercapnia, which is the build-up of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. In Graham’s case, he was unable to expel carbon dioxide and as a result, he had to be put into an induced coma for 48 hours.

When he was put onto the ventilator in hospital, Graham struggled with the full mask to begin with – he felt as though he was suffocating and kept ripping it off. So when HMV was suggested, he was initially given a nasal mask. However, he decided to give the full-face mask another go and found it much more effective than the nasal version.

It took him a while to get used to the machine. He said: “At first I panicked and fought against it but you have to let the machine breathe for you.

“I had to wipe my brain clear and let go but it wasn’t easy to begin with. Now I can’t sleep without the machine and average 9.2 hours every night!”

As well as using HMV, Graham has an inhaler and also uses Carbocisteine which is a mucolytic that helps him cough up phlegm and therefore helps to keep his lungs clear.

Since starting on NIV, Graham has not used his emergency kit and hasn’t had any major attacks or significantly any COPD-related hospital admissions.

Graham also has diabetes which has led to a loss of feeling in his feet which means he’s unstable and his hands are starting to go the same way which means he’s not very agile.

As a result, he’s not able to move around very easily but has lost weight which has helped. He was 21 stone but has lost 2.5 stone. His hobby is fishing, and he is still able to get out to do this providing someone is with him. But he feels that diabetes is more debilitating than COPD in his case.

Graham concluded:

“I would not be here if it wasn’t for home HMV (and my wife’s support). I’ve had 100% benefit of using the machine. It’s given me a better quality of life and I’m able to enjoy my fishing again. I’ve even met someone on-line, although Covid has meant that we haven’t been able to meet yet. But it’s good to feel that I’ve got a life worth living. My wife used to say that we live as long as we can and we die when we can’t live any longer. Thanks to my machine, I feel I still have a life to live.”