Monday, December 28, 2009

The Air I Breathe

For the last year, I have experienced recurring infections in my lungs. Each one progressively worse than the last. Finally in November, exactly one year after my first infection, I was able to see a specialist. I was referred to a wonderful pulmonologist, Dr. Dixie Harris, who is has been an incredible blessing. She diagnosed me with Asthma and it was totally and completely out of control. She also said that I had acid reflux (great!). I felt a great sense of relief when I learned what plagued my body. My next step was to get it under control.

I was not ready for what came next. To get my asthma under control, Dr. Harris, turned me into a walking pharmacy. I had two separate inhalers, an oral medication to help clear out my lungs and an antacid. She wanted to see me back in two weeks.

Two weeks passed and the only thing that changed was my weight. I had gained 12 pounds in two weeks!!!! My breathing had not changed, I was still having chest pains and the antacid she had put me on was too much for my stomach to handle. Because of the weight I had gained, none of my pants fit me. I even ripped my fat pants!!!!( At work no less!) I went to buy a new pair and the sweet sales clerk helped me find some pants and was honest with me when she said that I should go up a size because they would look better. I was grateful for the honesty but a part of me (and that part of every woman) wanted the sales clerk to lie and tell me go down a size.

When I went to see Dr. Harris for my two week follow up..... well, she was just as plagued as I was. Nothing had changed except my weight. Dr. Harris at that time withdrew her diagnosis of asthma. Our next step was a chest CT, a Bronchoscopy and also a Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). I do get frequent heart burn and stomach aches which can cause problems with breathing. Plus, I eat tums like candy (I ain't gettin osteoporosis, that's for sure!). All of this led Dr. Harris to the acid reflux diagnosis and the need for an EGD. With the bronchoscope she wanted rule out an infection in my lungs that did not respond to antibiotics.

On December 1st, I went in for both procedures. Both procedures went well and Dr. Harris also did a lung biopsy. Before I went in for the EGD, I began to reevaluate my stomach problems. In my brief meeting with Dr. Wynn Hemmert, the gastroenterologist, before my EGD he suggested that I see my regular physician about my gallbladder.

Both procedures came back NORMAL!
In the last year, I have had 1 MRI, 3 CT's, one EKG, 6 Chest X-rays, two ultrasounds and I cannot begin to count the number of times my blood has been drawn and tested. Just about $10,000 in medical bills later, all (except my chest X-Rays) have come back normal!

I started to blog about how I felt: For the second time in 6 weeks, I returned to the gym tonight. My body remembered the routine, my feet could move, my legs could jump and my arms could press. My hips could still move to music in Zumba as we did the Calypso. I could still laugh at myself. Each moment reburnt back into my body. But my lungs.... nothing remembered. I am twentymufflemuffle years old and I have been diagnosed with asthma.

I could handle the diagnosis of asthma. At least I knew but when I was facing an unknown diagnosis I did not know how to handle that. I broke down on the phone with Hotstuff one day. I am twentymufflemuffle years old and I felt like I was falling apart. I felt like I was fighting a battle that I could win and no matter how hard I fought, I was still losing. Then my wonderful husband quietly reminded me: "At least you are still fighting."

I had to wait almost three weeks for my follow up visit with my pulmonologist. So while I waited, I went to see my regular doc about my gallbladder. NORMAL test results! I was praying at this point for an abnormal test result. But then something changed.... I had an asthma attack.

Saturday, December 19th; I was coming home from Ogden, driving south on I-15 on a Red Air Day and I couldn't breath. I had my rescue inhaler but that did not work. I took myself into the urgent care for help. I thought maybe a breathing treatment would help. I had Miss May with me and 20 minutes into the treatment I almost passed out. My brave little girl went to get the doctor for help. I had to put on my fake mommy face and lie to her but she did a big thing for such a little girl.

The urgent care doctor sent me to the hospital for a CT angiogram. While I was waiting for the CT tech to come get me, I had a gallbladder attack. Dr. Shelton, one of the ER doc's that I am friends with, came by and I asked for help. The pain I was going through at that time is comparable to child birth; if not a close second. They did the CT angiogram, took some blood and gave me some pain killers. Everything came back (in Dr. Sheltons words) "disgustingly normal." He was confused as to what was wrong. I was sent home very drugged!

Monday, December 21st; I was still not feeling well, still having chest pain and I couldn't get the air in. The only reasons I was at work were: 1. I had not PTO left and 2. I did not have a fever. I walked over to my pulmonologist office which is just across the hall from my office to talk with the nurse, Rachel. I needed help, I was in pain and couldn't breath. Rachel walked me over to the ER. I saw a great (looking! might I just add) doctor, Dr. Leblanc. My diagnosis was abdominal pain. Dr. Leblanc felt my problems were caused by my gallbladder. He scheduled me for a HIDA scan the next day. This was the Monday I was to follow up with my pulmonologist. I missed the appointment but Dr. Harris knew of me being in the ER and told me that I could just be squeezed in the next day.

Tuesday, December 22nd; at 6:30 am, I went in for my HIDA scan. I saw Dr. Harris at 1 o'clock. She had the results of my HIDA scan... it was my gallbladder! The ejection fraction was 28%; meaning my gallbladder wasn't functioning correctly and I had gallbladder disease. The pain and problems my gallbladder were causing in my body were also causing some of the problems with my lungs. I couldn't get the air in fully because of the pain and discomfort from my gallbladder caused my lungs when I tried to do so. My pain did not manifest itself in my abdomen but in my chest, confusing many of us as to the nature of my chest pain/problems. Dr. Harris called the on-call surgeon during my appointment and he told me to go over to his office at three. Dr. Harris gave me a final diagnosis of Asthma, told me she didn't want to see me back for another six months and kindly kicked me out of her office!
I saw Dr. Peugh at three o'clock. I talked with him for a few minutes and before he had even met me he had me scheduled for surgery the next day.

Wednesday, December 23rd; I became the proud parent of a bouncing baby gallbladder!

Christmas Day, I took my first full deep breath filling my lungs completely with out any pain for the first time in 13 months. I found myself lying in the HIDA scan machine that Tuesday morning saying a new prayer. I no longer prayed for an abnormal test or the answer of what was wrong with me.... I prayed to be healed. I told my loving Father in Heaven I have the faith that he could he heal me and I ask to be healed.

The joy I felt that Christmas Day as I took in that wonderful breath is a testimony of the power of prayer. It is a testimony of my Heavenly Father, who knows what is best. He knows of what I need in my life to make me better and stronger. It is a testimony of his love. It is a testimony that when we have faith, we can be healed. That is the Air I breathe.

1 comment:

Sam said...

ew, gallbladder issues are nasty... I think worse than unmedicated labor/delivery, personaly.

Glad they figured out what was going on... now you can join the 'no gallbladder club' =o) it's super cool