As a younger man, Eddie* had prided himself on being something of an adventurer. He’d lived and traveled abroad, tried every hobby under the sun and spent countless hours hiking and camping in the Appalachian Mountains, “hunting” birds, rabbits, deer and other creatures with his camera, a perfect snapshot and the clean, fresh air prize enough for him.

These days, though, it seemed all that was behind him. Sure, part of it was getting older – no one would expect an almost 80-year-old man to go tromping through the woods all the time – but it ran deeper than that. Eddie could barely move at all most days, had almost totally lost the will to get out of the house or even his chair.

Eddie had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – better known as COPD – a chronic illness that causes airflow blockages and makes it difficult to breathe. Even with oxygen therapy, this meant the simplest tasks would leave Eddie gasping, clutching a wall or table for support. He’d get winded just going from the living room to the kitchen to make dinner, much less hauling in groceries or going up and down the basement stairs with his laundry.

He lived alone, and though Carlin, his myNurse health advocate, would call to check in on him from time to time and the man from the oxygen tank vendor would visit to drop off Eddie’s supply, he had little contact with the rest of the world. Most days he spent in his armchair, feeling tired, feeling numb, searching the television for something halfway decent to pass the time. 

What’s worse, even the oxygen delivery man had stopped coming lately. It had been weeks since his expected delivery, and though Eddie had called the supplier trying to see what had gone wrong with his reorder, he’d had no luck. He couldn’t get through to anyone who could help him, couldn’t get a call back, and his supply had dwindled. 

As the days stretched on with no word from the supplier, Eddie had all but given up. He didn’t have the energy to keep calling, to keep trying. Depressed, his oxygen tanks and mental energy drained, Eddie used his O2 machine less and less, until he was regularly sleeping without it, risking a health emergency.

Luckily, though, he had Carlin. On his doctor’s recommendation, Eddie had joined myNurse to try to get his high blood pressure under control, and Carlin, a registered nurse, had been keeping an eye on his numbers and offering advice around building better habits and finding care.

When Carlin discussed Eddie’s blood pressure with him – which had started to climb with less and less oxygen therapy – Eddie shared the frustration he’d been experiencing. He was running out of oxygen, he couldn’t get an answer and, really, he asked, what was the point? 

But Carlin wasn’t going to let this roadblock or Eddie’s depression get the best of him. Carlin emphasized the importance of advocating for yourself and assured Eddie that he would help him get back on track with his oxygen therapy.

Where Eddie had found only a maze of phone extensions and dead ends, Carlin was able to make progress. Ever-persistent, Carlin called day after day until he was able to get through to the oxygen vendor and uncover the problem. 

As is too often the case when it comes to healthcare, paperwork and bureaucracy were holding things up. The doctor’s referral paperwork was stuck in limbo and the vendor needed additional documentation before the oxygen deliveries could resume. Carlin was able to sort things out, coordinating with Eddie’s doctor to arrange for a sleep study at Eddie’s home to evaluate his need for oxygen and get the proper forms sent through. 

Within just a few days, the deliveries resumed. Eddie thanked Carlin for getting him back on track, saying his help had given him a new boost of motivation to take charge of his health and follow up with doctors about other issues. In the weeks that followed, Eddie’s blood pressure also leveled off, and with time with more oxygen usage, he’s hopeful he’ll find more restful sleep at night and his blood pressure will keep improving.

While living with high blood pressure and COPD will never be easy, Carlin’s support has helped Eddie find just a bit more room to breathe.

* Member stories are inspired by real interactions between our members and Wellness Coaches, but member names and some other details have been changed to protect privacy

Waleed Mohsen

Author Waleed Mohsen

Waleed Mohsen is the co-founder and CEO of mynurse.ai. He has been named a UCSF Rosenman Innovator and has over 10 years of experience working with leaders of hospitals and medical institutions in his business development roles at Siemens and Cisco.

More posts by Waleed Mohsen