Bronchiectasis: A Look Back

Thinking reposting the Blog entry below might be timely. Why? Because starting about Thanksgiving I started eating like crap, then starting coughing like a sumbitch, then caught a cold, and then had to go see Dr. Sherman about my lungs, get my antibiotic, and have him yell at me about (a) small portions, (b) no snacking in the evening, (c) no sugar, white flour, and rich fatty meats.

The Blog entry below was written on June 10th, 2010. It was my third day in the hospital. My math tells me my kids were 7, 5, and 3 at the time. I was running triathlons. I was one month away from my 37th birthday. Enjoy.

Published at Don’s Ego Blog on 6/10/2010 on day-3 of my weeklong hospital stay:

What if I offered you a chance to sit around all day doing nothing except reading and watching TV? All while being waited on hand and foot?

 

You’d say, “totally awesome, how can I score a sweet deal like that?”

 

Well, what if I also told you that you can have all this, but you just have to have a physician-baffling bleeding-lung thingy?

 

First, I’m not comfortable with the term “bloody lung”, so I’m going to replace that term with “overflowing pinata.” Much better. In fact, my three days in the hospital have introduced me to all sorts of phrases I’m not fond of . . . “spittum”, “clotting”, and “Salisbury steak” among them.

 

Second, I’m sure some people might find it in poor taste to Blog about my hospital stay and the gruesome details of my overflowing pinata, but I’m alone in a hospital with smelly roommates, and I’m a little scared, so indulge me.

 

There’s so much interesting stuff that happens at a hospital, I don’t even have to write about myself. I’m kinda wondering why there isn’t a “Hospital” section in bookstores with titles as extensive as the “Travelogue” genre. I can only read about the Taramundi people of South America so many times before I start to bore of their barefoot running. My guess is with “Healthlogues” (TM), most people don’t find the humor or the human interest that accompany long hospital stays.

 

This place has been great. My condition is a bit of an oddity, but more than that, I’m an oddity. As “Dr. Chainsaw” pointed out, mostly it’s all the same type of people that check-in for extended stays at hospitals. The regulars are all, typically, sick and old and stuff. But me? I’m young and healthy. And nobody can explain my pesky pinata overflow.

 

I’m treated as some sort of mascot by the entire staff.

 

“Hey …go visit room 5646 …there’s this super-fit (and handsome) young guy in there who won’t yell at you or anything.”

 

I’ve had four roommates in four days. The first was a great dude finishing up his week stint after giving himself a blood-clot. My second roommate, I’ll call Mr. Stench. No offense and I didn’t stick around long enough to find out what he was in for, but when a person such as myself is in for a lung condition and is barely talking in order to control his coughing, the introduction of a bedpan and it’s subsequent odor causes gagging, and gagging leads to coughing jags, and more pinata overflow. I asked to be moved. And though I was totally in my right and the nurses all understood completely, I still felt a bit like a “hospital snob.”

 

“Oh, nurse. Yes. I don’t pay for the premium health care plan at work to have to share a room with a hit and run victim. Can you please put me in with a fellow lungbleeder, blood clotter, or concussion sufferer?”

 

So they moved me in with Hard-of-Hearing-Guy’. We didn’t talk much …and how could we anyway with his TV on full blast? But he went home and now I’ve got Motorcycle- Accident-Guy who seems pretty OK. He’s the spittin’ image of Orsen Welles, that is if you can picture Orsen Welles 40 pounds heavier, flat on his back, hooked up to machines, and with his head wrapped in bandages.

 

topkill_1_main_1As I’m writing this, it’s 10 minutes before midnight and in the morning I’ll be having a “procedure” to try and stop all the candy from dumping out of the pinata. Don’t you dare try to call it “surgery”, because it’s a “procedure”. Seems the terminology is a very big deal – like “soda” versus “pop”, I suppose. Whatever it’s called, there are going to be devices inside of me. I’m fully optimistic I’ll be fine, and even fixed, when it’s all said and done. What they’re doing, in essence, is the medical equivalent of BP’s “top kill” they tried on the Gulf oil spill. Luckily, the doctors have performed a lung “top kill” many times before and unlike BP, they aren’t simply making it up as they go. That said, if this doesn’t work, the next step is diamond bladed underwater robots. Will keep ya posted.

 

Oh, and for those looking for an actual update …I guess I can take a moment for that. Last August (2009), while out running and being awesome, I coughed and my pinata started leaking candy (my lung started bleeding). I went home, went to the ER (that’s what us hospital snobs call the “emergency room”), and nine hours later I was home and nobody could figure anything out. Two months later I was back out being awesome and running many miles each week. In fact, if you’d have asked me 10 days ago how I was doing, I would’ve said, “are you kidding, I’m as fit and healthy as I’ve ever been” and I would’ve talked down to you in a patronizing way because I would secretly know there’s no way you are as motivated, active, and awesome as I am. In fact, I finished 13th out of 80 at a trail run last week, and that was even after getting lost twice. So when suddenly, Monday morning, I re-enacted some scene out of a gruesome horror movie and had to check-in to the hospital, I was kinda surprised. And now that it’s three full days later and I’m coughing up as much candy as I did on Monday, I’m ready for this “procedure.” I’ve had multiple x-rays, a CT scan, a ‘bronk’ (what us hospital fans call “bronchoscopes”), and no less than 12 doctors all weigh in on my best options. Among them a Pulmonologist, a Thoracic Surgeon, and an Interventional Radiologist. All of them believe the Interventional Radiology embolism (“top kill”) procedure might just get this thing fixed. So, I’m hopeful.

 

penumbra-pod

And to all my family, friends, casual acquaintances, co-workers, Facebook friends, relatives, and friends of friends …I can’t tell you how much I’m blown away by the over-the-top support, help, thoughts, prayers, meals, favors, and good deeds you’ve all shown. Whatever happens, I’ve definitely learned I need to be a better person and friend to all of you. I’m overwhelmed by everything. I guess there’s more to being awesome than just looking awesome and doing awesome things …sometimes you gotta treat other people awesome, as well.

 

That’s all I got for now. Next time I’ll tell you briefly about Dr. Stripper and hopefully report on the successful top-kill.

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