Friday, November 30, 2007

Another Day...Yet Another Test

"Pant...in, out, in, out, in out."

"Take a deep breath. Hold it, hold it. Blow hard."

Sounds like a script from a porno flick, eh? Ha, ha! Nope, it was just some of the instructions I was given during my pulmonary function test.

Earlier in the week I had an appointment with a specialist at The Center for Pulmonary Care in New Hyde Park. Since no one ever came up with a solution to my chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing and cough, it was suggested that I see another lung specialist. It seems that my latest CT scan showed more nodes on my lungs, so we need to find out what exactly is going on.

Interstitial lung disease is a scarey possibility, but Dr. Karpel is pretty optimistic that it can be ruled out. You see, a lot of patients with polymyositis have lung involvement which can cause difficulty with breathing.

Pulmonary fibrosis--more specifically--is another possibility, as it causes scarring of the lung. It appears to be an autoimmune disorder, or the after effects of a viral infection. Possibly a genetic predisposition. In this case, there is no known cure.

Dr. Karpel is reviewing all of my recent tests (endoscopy, CT scans, stress test, echo, etc.) and then will review today's PFT.

My technician in the pulmonary function lab was a sweetheart. She explained every single test and why it was being performed. I laughed to myself many times, in between each test, because of her instructions. She was literally screaming so that I could hear her over the breathing exercises. At one point I was fully enveloped in a plastic booth while taking one of the breathing tests. I felt extremely claustrophobic.

Pulmonary Function Testing/Lung Function Tests, in essence, evaluate how well your lungs work. The tests determine how much air your lungs can hold, how quickly you can move air in and out of your lungs, and how well your lungs put oxygen into and remove carbon dioxide from your blood. The tests can diagnose lung diseases, measure the severity of lung problems, and check to see how well treatment for a lung disease is working.

The most uncomfortable part of the test, besides the claustrophobia, was the side-effects of the albuterol inhaler. I had the shakes for over an hour.

The tech felt that my tests, before and after albuterol, truly didn't show anything specific, so she is recommending another PFT called the Methacholine Challenge Test. It is all up to Dr. Karpel if I have to go back for the test to see how sensitive airways in the lungs are to materials that may cause narrowing or contriction.

The purpose of the inhaled bronchial challenge test using methacholine is to determine how responsive (or irritable) your airways are and to determine the severity of any asthma. The test, according to some of the literature, is considered safe with a low complication rate. Hmmm.

Let's wait and see how the doc wants to proceed. A step at a time!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Home Run!

I received more great news today! My best friend, Dawn, is cancer free! She had another colon cancer scare recently, but her doc assured her that she is fine. She is home recuperating from her surgery, but she will be dancing at our wedding in April!

And a longtime friend, Linda, called me to say her Mom's lung surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering also showed no signs of cancer.

Whatever a person must go through...whether it be an illness, a loss or a traumatic event...one must maintain a positive attitude.

The power of God within each person is greater than any outside force...in my case...pain and weakness of the illness within me. Or with my friends, the fear of cancer.

Each day you must yield your mind and body to the God-power within. This power can bring peace, power and healing to one's body and mind.

Always give thanks to the God-power of one's mind for giving yourself self-mastery.

For God is truly good!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Amazing News!

"You are in remission!"

Those four words came straight out of Dr. Harry Spiera's mouth on Thursday at my check-up in New York City. Mom and I looked at each other in disbelief. Was he talking about ME??? Yep, he was!

As soon as we got into the waiting room, we exchanged the biggest hug and I proceeded to send a text message to everyone I could think of!

Since my bloodwork has been consistently good for the last few months, there is no need to think about another Rituxan treatment at this time. If all goes according to plan, I won't need one for at least a year or more. Hallelujah! However, if I start to flair, I need to take care of it as soon as possible.

Some other wonderful news is that the love of my life LEGALLY changed her last name to Boyarsky. So we are officially a family, even though we have been like this for eight years! How lucky can I get?!

On another note, one of my best friends in the world lost her Dad to ALS. What a horrific disease. Joan's dad, Fred Ruprecht, put up such a strong fight until the end. I will always remember how his laughter and smile could light up a room. And if there was music anywhere around him, he'd be the first one on the dance floor.

We saw Mr. Ruprecht this summer at one of Joan's gigs. He was so frail, but as soon as the gig started, he was up on his feet and asking all the ladies in the audience to dance.

Life is so fragile. So many people take it for granted. But I have learned through this terrible illness, and now...most recently through my studies...that we must be thankful for each and every day.

Mr. Ruprecht truly lived life. Each and every day, despite his weak body and obvious pain, he visited the love of his life in the nursing home twice a day. He sang and danced for the other patients, bringing joy to those whose lives were empty of joy.

Through my studies and eventual ordination, I strive to overcome whatever obstacles are in my way...just as I am doing with my disease...and bring joy to others.

I have learned that in order to be successful in life, we must confront the weakness in our lives. We must want to change; want to succeed and be happy. If you truly believe...it will be.