Monday 29th March started like any normal transplant clinic visit. About 10.30am I heard the words you never really want to hear from a techie doing your lung function:
“It’s gone down a bit.”
Sure, ‘a bit’ isn’t the most worrisome of phrases, but after over two years of steadily increasing function, hugely increased physical capability and a life coming together and wandering off into new & exciting worlds, it’s not what you want to hear. Then again, neither is that horribly mixed and mangled metaphor in the previous sentence…
Regardless, I hung around to chat to my docs in the afternoon, as is their wont. The system at Harefield works by running you through a battery of tests in the mornings, then shipping all the results to the docs for the afternoon session where they can get them instantly and take action.
The action my doctor took was to go and talk to another doctor. Never an encouraging sign. When he returned, HeadDoc MC had decreed (he doesn’t decide, he decrees, he’s that kind of fella) that I should come in the following morning for a bronchoscopy – otherwise known outside the medical world as shoving a camera down your throat to have a look at what’s in your lungs.
It seems that over the last few months, although my lung function hadn’t been dropping alarmingly my mid-expiratory flow (the amount of air I’m pushing out in the middle of my breathing test) has been slowly decreasing and was now starting to fall to a point that raises alarm bells.
The following morning, after a rather rude 5.55am alarm call, I rocked up onto the ward for my bronch and got myself all gowned up. About 10.30 I was whisked (well, leisurely wheeled) to theatre and knocked out. Thankfully with a nice little cocktail of drugs and not something hard and blunt.
When I woke up my throat hurt and I couldn’t see straight. I remembered hurriedly that that was OK and not the repercussions of a heavy Monday night out. Throughout the rest of the day I laid in bed and felt awful. And tired. Then awful again for a bit. Then threw up. Twice.
In the middle of all of this as I became more conscious, I noticed that I was having trouble swallowing, talking and breathing (the latter only a little, thankfully), due to an inflamed uvula at the back of my throat. It’s that dangly bit you can see when you look into someone’s mouth that people always think is the tonsils. It was inflamed and enlarged and causing all kinds of problems, bouncing against my gag reflex and trying to pull the roof of my mouth off every time I swallowed. Not pleasant.
The docs shot me up with a barrage o drugs – hydrocortisone being the most exciting – to try to bring the swelling down, but they eventually gave up after nothing made it better and it wasn’t getting worse. Most popular diagnosis on the ward was “trauma” which is doctor-speak for “we must have battered it with the ‘scope when we were fishing in your lungs”.
Encouragingly, though, they told me I could go home on Wednesday. Which I did.
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- Nope, we got nada!