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Fishing With Emphysema
by Danny Spurrier

     I am Danny from North Carolina, 56 years old with emphysema diagnosed in the winter of 2000.  At the time of my diagnosis, my FEV1 was 49%.  In 2001 my FEV1 was 39%.  In 2002 my FEV1 was 33%.  Currently, my FEV1 is 28%.  I was a smoker for 35 + years at 1 to 1 packs per day.  I also partook of other smokes along the road from healthy all American boy to unhealthy all American man.  I also did not stop smoking until October of 2000, nine months after my diagnosis.

     When you look at the deterioration of my FEV1 numbers, it is correlated directly with smoking and not smoking. 

     If there is one thing I have always liked doing and still like doing, it is fishing.  I have been fishing since I was a very small child.  Started out like most I guess as Dad took me once and my Mom took me several times.  I quickly graduated to fishing with friends who lived nearby.  Rick and I would have his Dad take us to the creek and leave us.  We would stay all night and walk home next day.  It was about 6 miles home.  Wow, if I had to do that now it would take a while!  Well, poor Rick was killed in a work accident while building a nuclear plant at the age of 18.  From that time I began fishing by myself or with other friends or acquaintances. 

     After about 6 or 8 years, I joined a Bass Club at my workplace and have never been the same since.  Our club had tournaments every weekend we were not working and I was hooked.  I won many of the club tournaments and had a closet full of trophies.  After about 5 more years passed, I began entering local and regional Bass Tournaments that were being held on our regional lakes.  The hook went in deeper because I was able to win a few dollars now.  Then came the days of "buddy tournaments" and I found a buddy to fish with (several over the years).  We entered tournaments all over N.C., S.C., and Va. We did pretty well in winnings too.  At least well enough to keep us going back. 

     All this time I continued to smoke and then one day while fishing a tournament in October rain the bottom fell out.  When it came time to get the boat loaded up, I had to take off my rain-suit and go get the truck and trailer.  I was so out of breath after getting my rain-suit off that I thought I wouldn't make it to the truck. I did make it to the truck but had to stop a couple times on the way to rest.  Well, I just thought I had a cold or something so just kept on doing what I had always done.  Over the course of the next few years, things went downhill pretty fast until I was finally diagnosed in 2000.  What a blow!! It was even worse in 2002 when I was put on supplemental oxygen.  I thought my fishing days were over!!

     It is now 2003 and I am still fishing.  Not as much as I used to mind you, but I am still fishing.  I am doing things in a different way now than before in that I now enjoy FISHING and not COMPETING.  The only competition now is with myself.  I do help my son and his friends prepare for tournaments by going with them and trying to find fish for them.  We travel from the Neuse River on the coast of N.C. to as far as lakes in Maryland and Alabama.  I have an oxygen tank (LOX) on my boat and carry my concentrator in the truck when we go on fishing excursions.  I also have a trolling motor that deploys and stows with the push of a button.  I can't tell you how many times I have set the hook on a fish and knocked my Escort over.  Then the noise it made while venting almost caused me to fall in the lake.  Still caught the fish though.  I have also gotten tangled in the nose hose on occasion and have to perform a balancing act to keep from falling out of the boat.  I have a 19 ft Ranger bass boat with a Mercury 175 HP outboard.  I am still able to drive my boat at 70 MPH when needed.  My girlfriend Leslie fishes with me all she can and helps with launching and loading the boat.

     There is a message here for all of us with COPD and that is we can still do many of the things we used to do.  We can still enjoy things we used to.  By adjusting the ways we do things, we can continue doing ALMOST anything we wish to.  Slow down, pace yourself, take your meds, keep a positive attitude, and you could be amazed what it will do for you.

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