|Last Day of Radiation|
The problem was I just wasn't getting better. I dialed my workouts down even more. No more jogging, only 1 bike commute each week, used fins at the pool but nothing helped. I was tired.
We went to New York to visit family for a long weekend at the end of June. We always hike & explore while we are there but this time I was perfectly content to sit & hang out all weekend. That damn cold was really hanging on. Over 2 weeks since the first symptoms.
|Queensbury, New York - Mom, Grandma, Steven, Jason & me|
|Tybee Island - Me, Nina & Steve|
To my surprise the doctor told me I had pneumonia or possibly radiation induced pneumonitis. Huh? I was stunned. She sent me to have a chest xray to confirm. While waiting, I was googling radiation induced pneumonia. I didn't like what I read at all.
Later that afternoon the doctor called me to confirm that I had pneumonia & that I needed a CT scan. They got that scheduled for Friday morning & she started me on antibiotics. By Monday (7/10) morning I had zero improvement so I called to schedule a follow up with my GP. When she walked in she said they are trying to get me in with a Pulmonary specialist ASAP because my pneumonia was severe. My entire left upper lobe was full of pneumonia. The CT could not determine if it was bacterial or radiation induced. She assumed bacterial so they gave me a shot of antibiotics & a stronger antibiotic prescription. She also told me no work for 2 weeks. I thought she was nuts at the time but believe me I have needed every bit of those 2 weeks off.
I went to the Pulmonary specialist on Tuesday (7/11) morning. He showed me my CT scan & explained how the next couple of weeks were going to go. He re-iterated that they couldn't tell if the pneumonia was bacterial or radiation induced without a lung biopsy. He treatment plans were this: 14 days of strong antibiotics & steroids. If I get better, then it's bacterial. If I am the same in 1 week then we do a lung biopsy. If I get worse, go straight to the ER. No exercise, no work, no being outside in the heat until I start to feel better. Period.
|See all that white? That's pneumonia.|
|That bright white spot is most likely pneumonia on my right lung|
I had such a hard time determining if I was feeling better. The improvements were so minor. I remember telling the doctors that if I stay still & don't move I could convince myself that I am feeling better but as soon I got up it was a completely different story. I was exhausted.
I had my first follow up with the pulmonary doctor on Tuesday (7/18). I had little to go on from my perspective on whether or not I was truly improving. I resorted to my Garmin data & a couple of things others said to me. First, one of my friends said it didn't sound like I was as out of breathe when I spoke. OK, that's good. I still felt like I was out of breathe but that was good feedback. Second, the same pulmonary nurse saw me each week & she said I looked better even though I still felt rough. The rest was on my Garmin data. Yeah, total data nerd.
I looked at Garmin Connect to check my average resting heart rate & sleep trends. My average resting HR on June 4th was 57 bpm. Through the month of June it creeped up to a high of 67 bpm by July 2nd. I started antibiotics on July 5th. By July 9th it was down to 60 bpm & by the 18th it was down to 54 bpm. The antibiotics & the rest were clearly helping even if I didn't feel better.
The next thing I looked at was my deep sleep time. Prior to starting antibiotics my deep sleep was 3-4 hours per night even though my total sleep time was 9-10 hours each night. After two weeks of antibiotics I was sleeping deeply 5-7 hours each night out of the 9-10 hours. I interpreted that as I was breathing better & not coughing nearly as much in the night.
Using this data & feedback from others we decided to delay the lung biopsy which relieved me greatly. This was not something I wanted to do AT ALL. My next follow up is 7/31 & I am optimistic that I will be feeling much better. I still have a few days before going to work but I have gone 2 days without a nap. I have much more mental energy than I did even earlier this week. I am definitely breathing better. I am still very fatigued & don't see myself doing any real workouts for several more weeks.
In addition to my inhaler optri-chamber, I got a breathing apparatus called a flutter valve this week. The way the pulmonary nurse practitioner explained it was it is like doing bicep curls for your lungs. I use it 6 times a day & I noticed right away that it noticeably improved my breathing.
|Sammie - My couch surfing buddy|
Conversely, I am entirely sick of HGTV. I'm so over those shows. I think HGTV will now always remind me of radiation treatment & pneumonia. That channel is always on in the waiting rooms.
I read a few free prime books this month nothing worth noting. Just easy reads. My biggest accomplishment this week was that I finally got our paperwork in order to meet with a financial advisor. I have been putting that off forever.
Tomorrow I go for another craniosacral massage. It helped a lot during radiation treatment so I am hoping it will help a bit with my fatigue since Monday I go back to work. I am hoping that I can make it a full day but we shall see.
Stay healthy, y'all!