For most of her life, Carolynne has consistently struggled with chronic bronchitis. Unlike acute bronchitis, which usually develops from a respiratory infection, like a cold, and goes away in a week or two, chronic bronchitis is a more serious condition that develops over time and never truly goes away. It was not until later that she would be diagnosed with COPD and in 2010, Carolyn noted that her children could tell her symptoms were worsening as they expressed concern. She admits that although she did not necessarily see it at the time, things were getting a bit harder for her with increased breathlessness, fatigue, and worsening of her symptoms. In 2015 Carolyn’s healthcare provider had her start using supplemental oxygen, just at night at first. After several years, she needed to increase her supplemental oxygen use to 24/7.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term lung disease that gets worse over time. To be diagnosed, your healthcare provider will take your medical history, do a physical examination and perform a pulmonary function test.

In November 2022, Carolynne was hospitalized due to a severe COPD exacerbation. Though she had been hospitalized for pneumonia in the past, this time her healthcare team was especially concerned about her future. So, a hospital social worker sat down with Carolynne and explained some of the benefits of hospice with a recommendation to begin receiving care. Carolynne’s initial reaction was shock, as she previously thought hospice to only be for those who were on the brink of death. “I’m not dead yet,” she exclaimed to the social worker. But the more she listened she began to understand that hospice provides more than end of life care, it also encompasses other types of supportive in-home care that could help prevent Carolynne from having to return to the hospital if she had another COPD flare-up. “I had never heard anything about this type of support through hospice,” Carolynne said.

Once she was released, Carolynne was determined to avoid returning to the hospital, so she decided to give hospice a try. Upon her arrival home, her hospice provider had set up a more accessible bed that would allow her to improve her ability to breathe because it included a feature that could adjust her head position in the middle of the night. Carolynne had no intention of being bedridden, but this change gave her the option to help her breathing when she was in bed when needed.

Carolynne has a loving family who are very supportive of her decision to start hospice services. Though her family assists Carolynne with some chores and provides emotional support, everyone agrees that the additional support provided by hospice care has made a difference. For instance, hospice can assist Carolynne with showers, ensure she is taking the correct medications, provides weekly nurse check-ins, and chaplain visits. Her hospice team makes her life easier by meeting all her healthcare needs at home so that she doesn’t have to travel to numerous medical appointments. As Carolynne puts it, “With hospice, I know that if I need something, I can call them, and they will help me.”

Having this type of medical support allows Carolynne to focus her time and energy on other things, like her family. She has also been able to continue with her favorite hobby, baking. She once again has the energy to bake muffins for her family, and as her symptoms continue to improve, she hopes to soon be back to baking her famous cookies, which require a little more energy, this spring. “I am living at home, and I can do as I please and they (hospice) are helping me do it,” Carolynne says happily. “It is just a different style of living; you are living with help.”

With the additional support hospice provides, Carolynne can live her life to the fullest and continue to make decisions that other patients may not be able to make at this stage of her illness. When asked what she would tell others who are in a situation similar to hers, Carolynne proclaimed without hesitation, “If you are considering hospice services, do it, you won’t regret it.”

To learn more about what kind of care may be right for you, take our four-question online survey. You can also read about other supportive care services by visiting our website.

This blog was developed in partnership with Embassy Healthcare

Freedom From Smoking Clinic
, | May 29, 2024
Freedom From Smoking Clinic
Detroit, MI | May 29, 2024