Eric H., Victor Central School
The crowd roared as our football team got closer to the goal. Just then a phone rang in the crowd. It was my mother’s phone. She rarely received phone calls and wondered who could be calling. She noticed the area code was in Maine where she grew up and still had family. She was nervous as she answered the call. It was not a good sign—a doctor was on the other end of the line.
Her mother was aging and dealing with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She had been dealing with what she thought was a cold, but as it turned out, it was pneumonia. She was feeling severely ill and was taken to the hospital. Over the next few hours her condition worsened. It was to the point where the doctors needed to know whether to resuscitate should it be necessary. It was close to becoming necessary. That is when my mother was called. My mother was asked to make the decision on whether or not efforts should be made to resuscitate.
My mother had recently had a discussion with her mother about this exact situation. Based on that discussion she knew that her mother would choose—do not resuscitate. My mother asked the doctor questions about what efforts had been done up to this point and whether there was anything noninvasive that could be done to improve her mother’s chances of surviving. The doctor suggested trying CPAP therapy. He explained this would help open the airway to allow a higher level of oxygen into the bloodstream and perhaps give her a chance to survive. However, he thought perhaps her condition had degraded too far for the therapy to work. He did not give my mother much hope in terms of the outcome.
My mother gave the go ahead to try CPAP therapy. Doctors provided ongoing status calls on whether the CPAP therapy was working. Miraculously, there was a stop to the downward spiral and then small hints of improvement.
My mother attributes her mother’s survival to the CPAP therapy. She thought for sure that her mother would not survive based on the doctor’s description of her condition upon entering the hospital and the rapid decline in her ability to breathe. She thanked the doctor for suggesting the use of CPAP. Continued use of CPAP contributed to improvement that allowed her mother to leave the hospital.
After leaving the hospital, her mother continued to use CPAP therapy at night while she slept to improve her ability to get oxygen to the lungs and ultimately to the bloodstream. While she did not like having a mask over her face, she did find that when she woke in the mornings, she was more rested and felt better than she had before using CPAP. She was willing to put up with a small inconvenience for the benefits CPAP provided her.
I will never forget the day my mother received the call from the hospital. We were very fortunate that CPAP therapy was available and that it was recommended by the doctor. It gave us all more time to spend with someone we all loved very much.