Sorry for the lack of update, but here’s the short version:
I get the x-ray. Doc calls me up the next day and says he sees “interstatial nodules” and he’d like to get a CT scan of my lungs before he makes a diagnosis. He says he doesn’t see anything cancerous, so it’s not that (thank God).
I get the CT. Doc calls me back and says he’s referring me to a pulmonary specialist. That and I need to get some blood work done. OK, I’m getting worried.
That same day, the office of the pulmonary specialist calls. They have me scheduled for a breathing test that Friday. Great, they are on the ball so maybe we can get some answers.
I go in early Friday to my primary doc’s office to get the blood drawn for the blood work. The nurse was a very good vampire, and four vials and a bandage later I’m off to the breathing test.
I’m taken to a room with what I would call a plexiglass closet with tubes on one side. The technician starts me off with a “blow” test: I take a deep breath in, then blow as hard as I can through this tube that measures the volume of air I can exhale, then how fast I inhale afterwards. I do this four times.
The next test is the “pant” test: I’m enclosed in the room, then start breathing normal, then breath faster. Sometime while I’m breathing fast, a valve shuts and I’m supposed to keep trying to breathe as I was before. This measures the pressure that my diaphram exerts on the closed valve under “normal” breathing.
The third test measured my lung’s ability to absorb oxygen, though they used a partial mixture of carbon monoxide (0.2%) to do so. I’m enclosed again, then I take a deep breath of the air mixture, then exhale it. I do this four times.
Finally, we go back to the first test, only this time I’m given albuterol to open up my air ways (if there’s inflammation). We wait 15 minutes for the albuterol to take effect, then do four runs again. From what I could tell, my lung capacity didn’t change from the first runs.
Testing’s over, so I go home. The following Monday, I come back to the pulmonologist’s office, this time with my mom in tow b/c my wife is out of town. The doc comes in and promptly says “You’re in bad shape, man.” He then tells me he believes it’s the birds (dust from cleaning cages) and I’ll probably have to get rid of them. He says my lungs are at 40% capacity, and my pulse oxygen is only 88%, adding “You’re only 3 points away from me putting you on oxygen.” I ask him various questions about what it could be, he gives various things it could be, but he keeps coming back to the birds. Says it’s all over the house, and nothing short of getting either me or the birds out of the house will help me get better. Otherwise, I could die from this.
I now wish I hadn’t brought my mother. She’s hated those birds since we got the first one.
So, doc schedules a Bronchoscopy for the following Tuesday, then tells me to get some HEPA filters as a start. However he still says “remove the exposure, or else.”
So I get a couple of HEPA filters at Wal-Mart, deal with a mother who is trying very hard not to say “I told you so,” and get home.
I unpack the HEPA filters, setting the big one up in the bird room, and the small one beside my bed. Then I promptly get one of my birds, sit down in my recliner, and cry.