As you know, on Wednesday, May 21, I was doing better. By the evening of Thursday, May 22, I had had a bronchoscopy (my 18th) and was back in the VA hospital.
By Memorial Day, I was a step away from the abyss. I was on 100% oxygen on a BiPAP, with no reserves, barely holding at the 90% oxygen saturation safe level, and nothing they could do if I took another step down. Plus you cannot stay on 100% O2 long, as it damages the body. They asked if I wanted to be intubated with a ventilator (breathing tube); but that I should know that I might never come off it. I threw the dice and said yes, went under knowing I might not wake up, as some people do badly and are sedated until they die. Fought through it and yesterday they took the breathing tube out. Now holding in 93-96% range on 40% O2.
The doctor said he had intubated 100s of patients on breathing tubes over the years, and I tolerated it better than anyone he had ever seen before.
I’m still not eating. That is because it is the weekend. They have to do a swallowing test before I can eat. The test is done by Speech Therapy. They don’t work weekends unless it’s an emergency. (“Give me the guy’s name and address and I’ll send Bonnie over—it’ll be an emergency!” I said.) So I’m swallowing fine, but they said if I did aspirate some food in to the lung, it could be serious.
The custom stent they ordered comes from France. One nurse said they are handmade and the last one took four weeks. But another said the last one she knew of came fast. So I’ll know more when the docs are in Monday morning. I hope they make them near Bella Wood, and they know it’s for a Marine.
Meantime, the slough is, they said, gone. If so, the problem now is the collapse in the airways, which they hope the stent and using a BiPAP or CPAP at night & a lot during the day will help fix. So they stopped talking about extending the lung’s life and are back to talking about fixing it. But I won’t get a good read until Monday, so maybe I’m reading too much into it. I wanted to send this while I had Bonnie’s computer here.
Meantime, the list of folks I’m taking calls from, and visits from, is very limited.
In hospital, dignity is the first casualty. Once a cute, 20-year-old CNA has wiped your butt, you pretty much get on to worrying about other things.
Woman posted on my blog that her husband got a lung on Christmas & has died. Gary in Florida on my list got a lung 3 years ago, but died May 3 this year. And Bryan, an Army Ranger/paratrooper buddy down the hall got a lung for IPF after John & I, but is having trouble with it and with his kidneys. So a lot of folks fighting this disease. Lungs seem to be harder than heart transplants.
I feel like Gulliver. 5 wires for heart monitor leads. Two tubes to BiPAP. One wire to O2 monitor. Cath tube for pee. One or two IVs running antibiotics. Need nurse to move from bed to chair. But the breathing tube is out, I can talk, and I survived it.
Maggie’s Drawers again to you, Death! Oh, I know some day you get everyone, but you’ve been missing me since 1967!
Semper Fidelis. ~Bob