Saturday, May 14, 2016

Survival Notes... As It Were

Sometimes I feel like I'm in a strange stringy soup of one health crisis after another. It's a bizarre feeling, especially when I've got friends who insist that if I hadn't drank and smoked and whored around when I was young and believed myself to be invulnerable, I wouldn't be in this condition now.

Well, may-be, but I'm not convinced. It is something that certain preacher-men like to retail to their impressionable flocks, though -- as they drink and smoke and whore around the way they do.

I'm not in as bad shape now as I was a week or so ago, so there's that. I had a CT scan -- without the iodine dye which I'm deathly allergic to -- last Tuesday, and the extensive report came back very quickly:

There are two masses in my right lung that look like "chronic inflammation" and evidence of "moderate emphysema" in both lungs. I knew about the emphysema from a CT scan five years ago when I was suspected of having TB -- because of my pneumonia symptoms and because the flow chart showed I'd been to Mexico (except I hadn't, I'd been to New Mexico). It apparently hasn't gotten worse. Yay. I haven't smoked in almost 20 years, so at least I haven't been adding more tobacco smoke to my lungs. In fact, I can't stand to be around tobacco smoke any more.

I'm somewhat puzzled and intrigued by those "masses" however, It's possible they've been there all those years, too. But as I researched the chronic inflammation aspect, it turned out that that is actually a potential consequence of rheumatoid arthritis and/or other autoimmune conditions, as is indeed pneumonia. Oh.

So it's quite possible that the double whammy -- RA and pneumonia -- that I went through for the past couple of months was all of a piece, not separate illnesses that just happened to strike at the same time. And it's likely I will continue to be vulnerable...

OK. Getting used to this.

Or at least learning. Interestingly, my PCP suggested that the interim treatment for RA (prednisone) was contributing to the persistence of pneumonia as prednisone acts as an immunosuppressant. Interesting because a routine treatment for lung inflammation due to autoimmune conditions is... prednisone.

I guess finding the balance is the issue.

I asked for and received a prescription for "low-dose" prednisone, and it seems to be working out reasonably well. I no longer have pneumonia symptoms (yay!) and whatever pulmonary inflammation there is seems to be under control. The doctor prescribed inhalers -- which are complex to use, whoa -- for breathing difficulties, and now, in addition to follow up with a rheumatologist, I'll be seeing a pulmonolgist, too.

So. Moving right along...

But I loathe being ill.


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