Again, sorry for the long time between updates. Just hard finding time to sit down and type what could be a long story.
My wife kicked me out of the house the weekend after the last diagnosis and completely cleaned out the bird room with the help of our friends Richard, Eric, and Chris. They took every cage and power-washed them, power-washed the blinds, re-painted the walls with a semi-gloss, sealed the floor, and put two filters in the room. Richard was a true trooper and did most of the work. I can’t thank him enough.
My son and my wife now do the changing of the papers in the cages. Though they may not succeed in their goal of doing it daily, it is still getting done much more often than before, and not by me (which is the goal).
I went in for a bronchoscopy on Oct. 6th. I couldn’t eat anything from Midnight on, so I arrived starving. First they started an IV so they can administer the meds, then they come in 10 minutes later with a shot of Atropine that had to go in my butt. Why? It was supposed to calm my heart for the procedure, and if they gave it to me via IV, my heart would have stopped. My wife laughed at me as I exposed my flank for the jab.
Then came the breathing treatment of Albuterol (to open my airways) and Lidocane (to numb my throat). I had an oxygen mask with vapor coming out of it for 5 minutes, told to breathe deeply. My wife laughed at me again and took pictures, saying “Luke, I am your father.”
They say the best way to deal with stress is with humor. That explains my wife laughing at my misfortunes, and me acting like I was driving the bed as they wheeled me to the procedure room. The orderlies laughed, and one visitor stared in confusion… which made me laugh.
I arrived to the room and noticed about four large (yes, LARGE) syringes, and four medium syringes, all full of saline. I also see a small jar with a blue gel inside. The doctor arrives as the assistants start filing in. They get busy real fast. In no time the doc is pouring the blue gel into a tiny cup, then dipping a two 10-inch swabs into it. I notice the writing on the jar: “Cocaine 4%.” He sticks the swab into my left nostril slowly until it reaches the back of my throat. He retracts it, re-coats it with the cocaine, then sticks both swabs in my left nostril and leaves it touching the back of my throat. Now I know how those people who insert nails into their nose do it.
The doc takes the swabs out, then pulls up a tiny aerosol can full of Lidocane, and sprays it in my throat for 3 seconds. Tastes like Chloraseptic times 10. Next, the assistant attaches a syringe to my IV and in goes the Versed (conscious anasthesia, I’ll be awake but won’t remember anything), then the doc shoves a small syringe of clear goop up my nose (lube, whee), and I feel it start to go down my throat. I then see the tip of the scope coming to my left nostril, then black out.
I wake up to a nurse wiping my nose. It seems no time has passed and I’m a bit confused, but not groggy. The whole procedure took 20 minutes. Those large syringes of saline were squirted into my lungs then sucked back out for samples. Glad wasn’t awake for that. I’m wheeled back to the recovery room where my wife and mom are waiting. I then notice something: I came in starving, but now I’m not hungry, and I’m very alert.
“She don’t lie. She don’t lie. She don’t lie… cocaine.”
I’m told not to do anything for the next 24 hours as some of the drugs will still be in my system (whee). Considering my weakened state, I head to my mothers so as not to be exposed to our supposedly contaminated house. Soon as I get to my mom’s, I decide to collapse for a few hours. My wife heads home to continue cleaning in my absence. I wake up around 4pm and force myself to have some chicken soup, even though I’m still not hungry. I head home that night after I get the all-clear from my wife that she’s done.
Two weeks later, I head back to the doctor’s for an update. The summary is that he is 99% sure I have Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, but my blood tests came up positive for “Valley Fever,” a fungus infection that is found mostly in California. He puts me on Prednisone for the inflammation, and Fluconazole for the possibility of Valley Fever.
Since the checkup, I’ve been one week on 60mg of Prednisone a day. While the pills taste awful (orange juice is best for washing them down), I cannot deny their effect. I can now take one flight of stairs at work without gasping like a swimmer who stayed under too long. I can walk without breathing hard, and I’m sleeping like a log again. I went down to 40mg today, and go down to 20mg in two weeks. I see the doctor again in early December for a checkup, and will have another CT scan to see how things are.
I still go in the bird room. I go in the morning to feed them, and occasionally at night to get one out for some personal time. I’ve been more observant about dust and have noticed a fine layer around the cockatiels (expected) and my african grey, Pepper (unexpected). I’m figured I was going to have to say goodbye to the cockatiels, and I’m not worried about them too much as they are “happy-go-lucky” birds who are pretty easy to take care of. Pepper is my bird, though. I don’t know how I can say goodbye to him.
We have eight HEPA filters throughout the house, and mean to add more. We keep working around cleaning where we can, with my wife doing most of the work. I am extremely blessed to have someone who cares for me so much that she’ll put her own health at risk to keep me around. My son is even doing work in the bird room without complaint. It’s incredibly humbling, and I feel like I let them down at times. But I realize it’s not my fault, it’s just my body. Much like my wife’s arthritis is not her fault, it’s jsut something to deal with. I guess it’s my turn to be looked after.