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Ron Cole, Barnesville, Minn., Published November 16 2012

Letter: Try to understand what it’s like to live with respiratory disease

Last spring and summer was very tough on all of us with respiratory problems, in talking with my oxygen supplier and my doctor.

I get so frustrated with the commercials on TV that say take two puffs twice a day and people can do things like they used to. Well, that may be true with mild cases of COPD, not like they show with “an elephant on their chest.” What a joke.

I will tell you what it’s really like when you get bronchitis or pneumonia when you have COPD. Your chest feels like it is being crushed by a boa constrictor. That’s the way I felt on Father’s Day when my wife had to call 911. The ambulance came and took me to the Essentia Health ER. They put me in a room right away and immediately started an IV with antibiotics and other medication. I had to have a nebulizer every four hours or more if needed.

After four days, I was not responding to the treatments and became completely unresponsive. The doctor decided to try a BIPAP machine because I had told them I would never be put on a ventilator again.

While on the BIPAP machine, I opened my eyes and one of my nurses asked me where I was and I responded, “In the garden with God.” It was then they called my family in, and the nurse told them what I had said.

Well, as you can see by this letter, God evidently wanted me to have more time with my family and to impress on all smokers to quit – not only for your health but for your family and everyone else around you.

The nurses and therapists at the hospital, Bethany and Prairieland Home Care were all excellent, and I thank them so much.

I would like to invite any one of you who have questions about what it’s like being on oxygen and having to use a nebulizer 24/7 with only 12 percent of your lung function to ask. I would be happy to tell you what it’s like.

Cole lives in Barnesville, Minn.