An Irreversible Disease
COPD is “a chronic, irreversible disease,” Pascual said, “so these patients’ objective is to live a useful and full life and they therefore need the necessary funds”.
It’s not only oxygen machines that rack up bills. Pulmonary disease sufferers must carefully regulate their homes’ ambient temperature, which means relying on air conditioning in Spain’s searing summers and central heating in its brisk winters.
“If the weather suddenly changes from good to a rainy day you feel terrible,” Casais said. “The cold affects your breathing.”
Fernando Uceta, 61, who had a double lung transplant in August and also suffers from COPD, says he avoids air conditioning and relies on easier-to-monitor electric heaters to manage his costs.
“There’s an energy poverty that some call the invisible version, which is where people do what I do: put on less heating and not use air conditioning. Or people turn off their oxygen machine and don’t receive the amount they need,” Uceta said.