Michael Riser was diagnosed with COPD in 1995, and says at the time, it wasn’t his “first round” with lung disease.
In 1980 he had part of his left lung removed after suffering from pneumonia and a subsequent lung collapse.
“I was working 10-12 hours a day while getting nine credits at Ohio State at the time, and I got a bit exhausted,” Riser says. “My lung wouldn’t re-inflate, and they had to take part of it. I’ve been short of breath for quite awhile now.”
Riser was 30 at the time of his surgery, he’s now 60—so being out of breath has literally been something he’s dealt with for half of his life.
When Riser had the surgery, he was working as a field technician for a binding company, but because of health insurance issues, had to take up a new profession—painting houses.
“It was a pretty dirty environment, and I was around dust and [chemicals such as] lacquer all day,” Riser says.
He began smoking when he was 17, gradually working his way up to two packs a day, and when he entered the army, at times he smoked four packs a day.
When he was diagnosed, Riser says his doctor told him if he didn’t quit smoking, in five years he’d be on oxygen. Using the patch, Riser was able to quit.
“I learned real quick that it doesn’t help the wanting of the cigarette, and gradually I tapered down,” he says.
In 1998 Riser was put on oxygen, and now uses it 24/7.
Despite his diagnosis, Riser says he tries to maintain a sense of humor as well as try to help others learn about their COPD and how to treat it. Click here to see Riser’s YouTube channel.
“After I went on oxygen I got online and started searching everything I could. It’s where I learned about pulmonary rehab,” Riser says. “I was looking for anything and everything, but there was nothing on there that was telling anyone how to do something [that you learn in pulmonary rehab] other than how great it was for COPD. So I got the idea to start making videos [that feature COPD educational bits].”
“I’m getting my message across to people and I even had the University of Washington ask me to give a talk online to one of their Master’s Degree programs. It’s had a positive outcome,” Riser says. “My comments come from all over the world, which is amazing because I never thought it would stretch that far.”
“I’m a normal, average guy trying to do what I can to help,” Riser says.