Eeeek! Has it really been over 5 months since I've posted on here?!? I'm SO sorry if I worried anyone. I'm doing okay... I've definitely had less ups than downs in the past 5 months and it's just made me feel like crawling into a cave and hibernating until everything works out on it's own, but of course I can't do that now, can I? ;)
Only 2 weeks after my last post I lost another very close friend to Cystic Fibrosis. Christen and I met at CF camp back in 1990 and have been pen-pals ever since. A few years ago she switched hospitals and started seeing the same doctor I go to, so when she was admitted into the hospital I was able to come visit and see her again after so many years just communicating via email, facebook, or telephone. I was "lucky" enough to be able to spend a few days with Christen prior to her passing away and had some long talks to her and her mom about Christen being ready to leave this world. Although talking about that with her was very difficult (especially after having said goodbye to Kristina only weeks prior), I'm glad I got to have that time with her and it helped me knowing that she was ready. I wish I could say the passing of my two closest CF friends wasn't completely devistating to me, but it was and I'm still grieving over the loss of two such beautiful and loving friends. It breaks my heart knowing that I will not see their smiling faces again until it's my own time to leave this world (which, for the record, is a very long time from now).
So as you can imagine, my holidays were difficult to get through, but they came and went and I turned another year older just before the New Year. I'm so extremely grateful to everyone who has helped me get to this age that I never expected to see. Life really is precious!! After tomorrow I drop down to every 6 weeks for the photopheresis treatments and I'll be completely finished by July! So far it looks like they are keeping the rejection from progressing any more and I haven't lost any significant lung function since last May!! I'm really so happy I finally found a doctor willing to treat me and not tell me retransplant was my only option. Yes, it's nice to know I can get another transplant later down the road when I really need one, but that time is not now, thank God. Besides the rejection at bay, my health has been really rough the past 5 months. The stenosis (narrowing) in my airway has been giving me a lot of problems so I've gone in twice now to have it lasered to open it up more and although I can feel them lasering the airway (burns and I can actually smell my lungs burning), and I feel pretty awful for a good week afterward, I feel like this is the longest periods of relief I've gotten after any intervention with the airway. I still don't have a long time of feeling able to breathe well, but it's better than not lasering. I was referred to a radiation oncology doctor in December and Benito and I both talked with her about a treatment called Brachytherapy. Aparently one doctor says they've done this treatment previously on at least one patient whom had "somewhat" similar circumstances as I, and another doctor is saying no, they've never done this before, but they are willing to try it (in theory it should work). So the brachytherapy machine was down back in December and they said they expect it to be back up and running late January. I haven't heard back from them about scheduling it, but whenever it gets scheduled I am to be scheduled for a bronch and lasering no more than 5 days prior because they want my airway to be at it's most open during the brachytherapy. Now, here is what brachytherapy is as I understand it: Brachytherapy is a form of topical radiation to a specific area, in my case the stenosis in my right main bronchi. They'll go down in my lung with a tube and figure out exactly how far down said tube needs to be in order to be "sitting" on the stenosis. Once it's placed they'll x-ray and double check it's in the correct place and tape it down to my face so it can not move. After the tube is secure they'll thread a wire which has a radioactive tip on it down the tube and have it come out just at the end of the tube so the radioactive tip will be on the stenosis. They will leave the radioactive wire there for however much time they've calculated is enough time to be beneficial, but not enough to do serious damage then pull the wire and tube back out. The idea is that the radiation will break down the cells of the scar tissue that is my stenosis and after a period of time it will have broken all the scar tissue cells down and I'll have an open airway again. The tough part is knowing how much is enough, but not too much to cause the good cells that are my actual airway to break down. Oh, and I have a much higher risk of lung cancer after 10yrs they said if I do this treatment. So, it's something to think about, and it does sound kind of desperate, but I AM desperate. I am so tired of feeling like I'm ready for another transplant when I still have 15% more lung function than I did at the time of my first transplant. This stenosis at it's worse (which is like 90% of the time) feels like an extremely SEVERE asthma attack in which medications do not help. So, I ask you, wouldn't you be desperate too?
I have day 2 of my photo treatments for this month tomorrow and I need to get to bed. They still take a lot out of me and I feel like I could sleep for a few days after each set of treatments. Again, I'm very sorry I took so long to get on here and update you all. I hope you can forgive me... It's just been a very hard year already ;)
This year I'll be leading a Cystic Fibrosis Great Strides walk team again, so if you would be so kind to visit my Great Strides page....