3 years later.
I lost my dad to COPD on May 29,2011. He was 64 years old. I was 23.
My dad was the hardest working man I knew. He was really intelligent and creative. He had a great sense of humor and everyone who met him, loved him.
I've been working as a nurse's assistant since I was 20. Working with the elderly, I am familiar with the process of dying.
2 years before he passed away, my dad was diagnosed with COPD. He had already lost 70% of his lung function. He was on a slew of inhalers and oxygen 24/7. He was forced to retire early. For a year after he retired, he would still go up to his shop to help out. Stubborn:)
He was admitted to the hospital and put on a ventilator 3 times over course of those 2 years. I watched him suffer. Cough. Struggle for air. The strongest man I knew, looked terrified.
The 3rd time he was admitted, he never came home. He was put on a ventilator. 3 days later a hospice nurse came in to speak with us. She said my dads lungs were not able to function on their own anymore. There was nothing else they could do for him. My dad was placed on hospice and the decision to remove the ventilator was made 2 days later. The nurse said that it would be quick after the ventilator was removed. She was wrong. My dad was strong, and a fighter. We watched him struggle for 23 hours after that vent was removed. Holding his hand, and him squeezing and looking us in the eye assuring us it would be okay.(he was able to speak) He didn't want to be kept alive by machines. After 23 long, horrendous hours my dad took his last breath. I have never had such a feeling of hollow, deep, sadness.
3 years later, I am still struggling. It has gotten easier, but not much. I feel like I can barely remember the sound of his voice anymore...and that's the hardest part.