Forgive me because I don't know where to begin this blog entry that I've put off for as long as I possibly can.
The last update left off just after I was discharged from the hospital with another week of IV Meropenem to finish up at home. 5 days after I was done with the IV antibiotic I had a CF clinic appointment in which I brought Benito with me and was preparing to have a serious talk with my doctors about how much I want to be more aggressive toward finding out what's going on with my liver and the trouble I've been having with my stenosis getting worse. What I wasn't expecting was the talk my doctor was planning on having with me.
I was happy to see the younger CF doctor that day because I've been butting heads with my other doctor lately and there was so much that needed to be said, by both sides, to get caught up in disagreements.
As always, I did my PFTs first and was shocked to see that they were down from my baseline of 34% to 26%. When my doctor made is way in to see me, he acknowledged that the large drop in my PFTs was very worrisome and that he was also concerned with the amount of pain I was in with pretty much no relief with my pain medication. He then went on to tell me that he knew I wasn't stupid, and we all know that my disease is progressing and that now is the time to get in touch with UCSF again if I intended to get back on the transplant list for a second lung transplant. He decided that the best option was to go ahead and admit me that day and while I was in the hospital we could have the Palliative Care team consult and see if they can come up with a way to control my pain. I'll also get started back on IV meropenem and once I've been on the antibiotic for a few days then I'd get a bronch to open up my stenosis again (even though the last bronch was only 2 weeks prior). We were all hoping that we could blame at least some of the lost lung function on my stenosis being closed off again.
I had my bronch 3 days later and was very surprised to find out that my stenosis was wide open, in fact it looked as well as it did when they finished the last bronch. So what that told us is that I'm definitely losing lung function to rejection again. I have a feeling the complete closure of my stenosis and my right lung not getting any air to it for a good week a few weeks prior is what shocked my immune system into rejecting again. What's done is done though. 9 days after my PFTs in clinic I did another set in the hospital and I was down to 22%. I was discharged the next day with plans to get over to UCSF as soon as I can.
As far as the pain management goes, the Palliative Care team in the hospital was very nice and tried very hard to help my pain. We attempted a nerve block first with them injecting lidocaine on and around the area that I have the chronic lung pain, but the injections really only caused more pain. They put me on a PCA (pain med delivered directly through my IV each time I press a button) after my bronch - the day before discharge in hopes of it bringing my pain to a level I can live with before relying only on oral medication. The PCA and oral med combo helped, but I was so sleepy and out of it. They sent me home on my old pain med at a 3x dose along with Oxycontin to give me more of a long term relief so I wouldn't have to take my other med as often. Unfortunately my insurance refused to cover the Oxycontin at discharge, so the discharge planner managed to get me 3 days worth that "should" last until the insurance issue got smoothed out. Three days later we heard back from my insurance and they declined coverage, so I was back to only my old med by that Tuesday (1 week ago now). It took me about 4-5 days, but I've been weaning myself back to my old dose of my old pain med because it really doesn't help, no matter the dose, so I'd rather take less (just to keep from withdrawl, really). I can't believe how sleepy and foggy I was for the past 2 weeks on the Oxycontin. I'm still finding out things I've seen (tv shows), said, or did while I was so dopey and can't remember doing them! I am grateful for the time my pain was lessened, but I REALLY don't like living in such a fog and would rather not. I [think] I was supposed to get in touch with the pain management team once I was discharged, but I can't remember who exactly I was supposed to contact. I'm hoping they can eventually find a medication that will both help my pain and Not make me feel like I'm drugged up and forgetful. The pain I have is in my right lung, so God willing, this pain will not be an issue once I get new lungs.
I got a phone call the Monday following discharge from the Pre Lung Transplant Coordinator checking in with me and letting me know that they are waiting for some test results to be sent over from UCD before they schedule a clinic visit/consult with one of their doctors. Yesterday I got a phone call scheduling the consult visit for March 6th @9am with one of the doctors I'm familiar with already. Today I got a chest CT with contrast done that UCSF is requiring me to bring a copy of to my visit. I went ahead and purchased a personal pulse oximeter that tells me my oxygen saturation whenever I need to know (it's super small and I can keep it handy in my purse for whenever I need to check my o2 sats). Today while I was walking from the hospital's parking garage to the radiology department I was getting especially short of breath and dizzy so I put the sat monitor on and was surprised to see my oxygen saturation down to 85%. Once I sat down and rested for even 30 seconds my sats came back up to 97-98% on their own, so that's good news, but the desatting is definitely upsetting. I'm not ready to admit to myself that I am as sick as I really am right now. I prefer denial to be honest because every time I allow myself to think about it, I panic and get very scared that I either won't be accepted as a lung transplant candidate again, or I will just run out of time waiting for the eval and listing to be done. I'm trying my best to stay positive, but it's not always easy when I feel so helpless just waiting around doing nothing to speed things along.
So Benito and I wanted to let our family know about my need for another transplant before I made it public on here or Facebook and they found out via social media. Now that our families know what's going on I wanted to share the news with you all and ask for your positive thoughts, prayers, and whatever else you feel can help me get the lungs I need before it's too late. My first transplant was scary, but this need for a second puts a whole new level to "scary". This decline is so much more sudden and it has shaken myself and my family to the core.
I'll update again as I hear more. I'm not sure I'll have any news to share until after my appointment on the 6th, so don't get worried if you don't hear from me before then. I'll update after that consult though... I promise!
Lots of love to you all. And a big THANK YOU for all the support and love you've shown me and continue to give. I couldn't do any of this without the strength I get through your love!