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!


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