It's been about 2 months since I've posted my hopeful news about how great my lungs are looking since starting the photopheresis treatments. Now, 2 months later I feel about the same as I did in the last post. The relief I got from opening up my airway via bronch and balloon was short lived. I've been struggling with my breathing feeling really tight again and went to clinic this past Monday (9/12) and spoke to my doctor about going back in and re-opening it. Dr. Morrissey said he has been doing some thinking and discussing with other pulmonary doctors there at UCD about how he could give me longer relief in between these dilations. He suggested freezing away (as you would a wart) one half side of the scar tissue which is the narrowing in the airway and going back in a few weeks later and seeing if it's staying open. If it seems like it's working, he'll go ahead and freeze the other half, but he doesn't want to do the whole thing in case it causes a lot of inflammation and closes off the airway completely. So, I have an appointment for 1pm on Friday for a bronch and to see if they can cryo (freeze) the airway. My doctor did say however that if the airway looks as open as it was after they dilated it back in July (which I highly doubt it will), he will skip the procedure and wait until it's necessary again.
I have a set of photopheresis treatments coming up tomorrow and Wednesday mornings and am looking forward to having lunch with a close friend from the hospital on one of those days. Her name is Kathy Lorenzato and she runs the music therapy program at UC Davis Med Center. I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy on one of my very first admissions to the hospital back when I was 5 years old (23 years ago, wow!). Since then, I've stayed very close to Kathy and have always looked up to her and her big heart. Recently I was emailed by a reporter from the Davis Enterprise about an article they were wanting to write about Kathy, so I got to speak to this reporter about what Kathy has done for me and what a great person she is. The article ran in the Davis Enterprise yesterday and I'm very happy with how it turned out. The link to that article is:
(You may need to copy and paste the above link into your browser in order to go to the site.)
August was a tough month. I lost my closest, longest known CF friend on August 22nd. Kristina was 3 years older than me and had always been a role model to me. We met at the hospital when we were young and instantly became friends. Being a few years older than me, Kristina always went through the scary CF stuff before me and was there to hold my hand when I went through it myself. She had her double lung transplant at the same hospital I had mine, only 1 year earlier. At the time Kristina had her transplant is when I was told I would need to decide whether or not I was willing to be put on the transplant list myself. So Kristina was there to answer all my questions, relieve my fears, and remind me that I can do this too. Her strength gave me strength, her courage gave me courage, and her laugh would without a doubt make me laugh too. I had a very hard time with the passing of Kristina because I no longer have her to hold my hand anymore. I feel so much more alone now, but I'm sure she's up in heaven still rooting me on. I wasn't emotionally "okay" to make it to Kristina's rosary / viewing, but I (along with Benito and my mom) went to the Funeral and I'm very glad I did. Her service was absolutely beautiful, just like her. Her mother sang Amazing Grace and although I was in tears listening, I had to smile because I know Kristina was there in spirit smiling at how beautifully her mom sang the song. At the reception after the service I had the pleasure of finally meeting Kristina's father and her best friend Shannon, whom she used to speak of Every time I talked to her. Just before the reception was over I got the courage up and stood and spoke about Kristina as I knew her. About how strong I know she was and what a wonderful friend she was to me. I've lost more friends to this horrible disease than I care to count, but the loss of Kristina has left me questioning my own fate. You see, Kristina and I were the last two [living] CFers out of our group who grew up together, roaming the halls of the adolescent ward at UCD. Losing Kristina has made me even more determined to fight this disease and not let it win though.
Just a week after Kristina passed away was Benito's birthday and knowing how much we needed some cheering up, I surprised Benito with a trip to Santa Cruz and Monterey. I wanted to keep the destination of the trip a secret, all he knew was we would be gone 1 night and to pack for weather a little cooler than he's used to here. He was determined to do the driving, saying it would be fun to drive somewhere that he doesn't know where he's going, so I let him drive, giving him step by step directions until we pulled up at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We had a great time in Santa Cruz. The day after the boardwalk, we drove the 45 extra minutes to Monterey; somewhere I've always wanted to go (after reading all about Cannery Row in Steinbeck's Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday books). We didn't have much time to spend in Monterey because we had such a long drive home (Roxy was staying with grandma, so we had to pick her up on the way home, which added even more time), but we walked around Cannery Row and found a great place where Benito did some wine tasting. We plan on going back to Monterey when we can spend more time seeing everything because what we saw, we loved!
So that's about it. I'll write again when I have more to share.
Thanks to everyone who checks in on me from time to time!
Love & Hugs,
In only 6 days I'll be celebrating my 7th Breathday (transplant anniversary)! Crazy how fast time flies!! :)
Kristina and I back before either of us had our transplants, May 2002.
Benito and I got our portrait done at the Beach Boardwalk, does it look like us? :D