COPD: "With time, I got used to the fact that I had to live with this disease."

Published 20 Apr 2022 • By Baptiste Eudes

Antonio17, a member of Carenity Italy, suffers with COPD. He has shared his story about the disease, from diagnosis to current treatments. 

Take a look at what he had to say!


Hello Antonio17, thank you so much for agreeing to share your story with us on Carenity.

First of all, can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Antonio, I am 68 years old and after 45 years of work I have reached the age limit for my well-deserved retirement. Until the age of 35 I was a very active man, I did all kinds of sports, I went to the gym, played five-a-side football, went for long walks and took swimming lessons.

When did the first symptoms of COPD appear?

The years passed and I reached the age of 40, but I noticed that something had changed in my body. It started with a feeling of discomfort in my chest. I felt as if something was weighing upon me. That's when my ordeal started. I began coughing more and more and I even started getting out of breath sometimes, I couldn't run as much as I used to and I started to feel a lot of pain in my back, as if someone was sticking a knife between my ribs.

Was it long before you got diagnosed?

Unfortunately, I was stubborn and did not want to give in immediately. Following my doctor's recommendation, I started taking Ventolin when it was necessary, but he advised me to see a specialist. This went on for a year, with ups and downs.

Can you tell us more about how you were diagnosed? 

I continued like this for a year, with ups and downs, until one day I started having dry cough, more violent than usual, and I really felt I couldn't breathe anymore, so I started breathing like a dog with shorter and more frequent breaths. That's when I made the decision to go to the emergency room, even though I knew I would have to stay there all day before somebody would finally examine me. A doctor opened the door. When he saw my face and saw me breathing with difficulty, he immediately understood my problem and called his colleagues who laid me on a couch and, having measured my oxygenation, they realised that I was below the safe limit, I was hyperventilating. They inserted a needle into my groin, that was connected to an oxygen tube, and told me to stay calm and quiet for a few hours and reassured me that I had arrived in time, before any serious consequences had the time to develop. I was hospitalised for 15 days and had all sorts of tests until finally the head doctor told me I had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

What was your reaction to the diagnosis?

At first I was worried, but with time I got used to the fact that, unfortunately, I had to live with this disease, realising that I wouldn't be able to do what I used to, so I started taking my medication, and relying a lot on my lung specialist who wanted to see me every month for a check-up (during the first year).

What are your treatments?

I continued with sprays and other types of medication, but sometimes, in the middle of a crisis, I had an intramuscular injection of 15 ml of cortisone suspension. Some time later, I decided to seek help at the Maugeri Institute of Pneumology in Tradate, where I started taking special sprays, Spiriva Respimat and Symbicort, and 5 mg tablets of Deltacortene, until the day when the medical staff suggested a special treatment.

Can you please tell us more about this treatment? 

They told me that recent studies had shown that the inflammation in my lungs was due to the progression of eosinophils in my blood and that with the right treatment I could improve my symptoms. I had to undergo monoclonal treatment under the supervision of an anaesthetist, and they had to give me a small puncture under the skin of my arm, first every month, then it should continue over time. So I agreed, not knowing what I was getting into, as there was also a risk of rejection and side effects. Fortunately, everything went well.

How are you feeling today?

This is the eighth puncture I've had since December 2020, but I've noticed that I don't experience shortness of breath anymore, even when I carry heavy weights, whereas before I had to stop several times when going up the stairs. I am very happy with my current state of health. Of course, I won't be able to do big races anymore, but I'm in civil protection and when I must do some special tasks like searching for people in the middle of the woods, I'm always ready to do 20 km in one day, just as it happened a week ago.

Anything else you would like to add?

I hope that my story will be useful to those suffering with COPD.

Many thanks to Antonio17 for having shared his story with us on Carenity!

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Take care! 

avatar Baptiste Eudes

Author: Baptiste Eudes, Health Writer

Baptiste specialises in managing online patient communities. He has a particular interest in the areas of health sports and the digital environment. He has 7 years of experience in these fields. 

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