This site is for those who are suffering from Lung Disease or those who are caretakers of those with lung disease.

Archive for the ‘Bronchoscopy’ Category

Every Day A New Adventure

During my stay on 9D at Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh I went down to radiology almost every day for a chest x-ray.  They could tell if the lungs were inflating properly and working.

After a couple weeks post-op those of us who have had lung transplants get to have a bronchcoscopy and a biopsy.  These tests do a couple things; the Dr. is able to visualize the lung, they can see if there is any unusual bleeding.  They also do what is called a lavage which sends sterile water into the lung and then they suction that fluid back out to do a culture so as to check for any infections or viruses.  In my experience I was always put under so I wouldn’t have to “watch” them putting that tube down my throat.  As I have mentioned before, I am a bit claustrophobic and afraid of suffocating, so this was a great blessing for me to be asleep while doing the tests.  The Dr. also takes a very small sample of lung tissue to examine to look for any abnormalities.

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I visited a new friend who had a double lung transplant 5 weeks ago.  She is a co-worker of my daughter.  They are both nurses at the local VA Hospital.  She is going through pretty much the same kinds of things I and other lung transplant patients go through.  There are differences because each of us are different and not all lung transplant recoveries are the same.

Michelle for example had her ventilator removed only hours after her transplant only to have it re-inserted after a couple weeks due to breathing problems from an infection.  It does happen and it is dealt with.

This is a really interesting point, Michelle had her transplant on my birthday!  How great is that?  I am a firm believer in connections.  Michelle and I found this connection and it is glorious.  Other friends of mine, two actually, have many connections together.  The 3 of us are connected is so many ways from living in the same area years ago, to working at the same place at different times, to working at a place where my husband worked, etc.  These connections tell me that we were meant to be friends for whatever reason God desired.  I love when that happens.

Michelle may get to leave the hospital in a couple weeks and I will be watching her progress.

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During the course of my first month after transplant I did a lot of walking and healing.  On one of those days when Physical Therapy came to “walk” me I just wanted to rest or sleep. . .but no, today I was going to walk steps.  Great!!!

We walked to the stairs outside the exit door on my floor.  That group of steps looked like Mt. Everest.  Holy Cow!  I had to walk up those steps!  Whew. . .what a project.  For anyone who has been sick for any length of time, just lifting your legs to go upstairs is quite a challenge.  Didn’t know my legs could weigh so much!  My legs felt like lead weights, but I managed to get up I think 6 of those steps while the therapist carried my oxygen tank.  (Yes I was still on a small amount of oxygen for a few weeks post-transplant)  I was happy because I knew my trip back down the steps would be much easier.  That was enough for me for the afternoon.  Makes a person tired.

The days went on and my strength got better.  I was now walking the length of the floor and back.  The first day I made it all the way down the hall to the nurse’s station was a major accomplishment.  I thought I had run a marathon.  In my world at that time, it was.

The day I went home for awhile. . .

To be continued. . .

Sandy Ozanich ~ Copyright 2012

Breathing. . it’s a good thing!!!

Breathing. . .It’s A Good Thing!

(I brought this post from my original Blog – Sandy’s Hopeful Room because I wanted to separate this blog from the Hopeful Room so that I can concentrate on my transplant status and offer helpful information to those who are suffering with lung disease) 

When I first started this blog I mentioned in my profile that I was a double lung transplant recipient.  That’s true!  I have been breathing with new lungs for just over 6 years now.

It’s hard to believe that 7 years ago I was dying.  I was on oxygen 24/7. Living in those days was really not living, it was existing the best way I could.  I was attached to an oxygen concentrator ~ that is a machine that manufacturers oxygen from room air and pumps it through the concentrator to either my tubing and lungs or to my portable oxygen tank so I could leave the house.  This way I could drive, go to pulmonary rehab classes, shopping, etc.  At least I wasn’t completely homebound.  The tubing that attached to the concentrator itself was 50 ft. long and enabled me to move through the house, from the 2nd floor to the basement.  I joked to my family and friends that I had a new “leash on life”, literally!

Living from day to day was difficult.  It took so much energy to just go upstairs to go to the bathroom and taking a shower ~ forget it!!!  I had to wear my oxygen in the shower and move slowly.  I don’t think the average person realizes how much energy it takes to take a shower. . .I was very shocked.

I was suffering from emphysema with an asthma component and my lungs by the time of transplant were only functioning at 20%.  The diagnosis came at a young age in my opinion, I was only 48.

As time goes by I will have much to say about this experience which continues to this day.  Just because I had a transplant does not mean that I no longer have to look after myself, on the contrary, there are many things I have to do in order to stay as healthy as I can.

At the beginning, right after transplant and after I got home (I was home 6 weeks after transplant) I had to come back to the hospital for bloodwork.  This bloodwork was done to keep a check on my “levels”.  Taking the anti-rejection medication Prograf, my Prograf level must stay between 8 – 10, if it goes too high they cut my Prograf dose, if too low they add more.  Every other month I had to have a bronchoscopy to check for infections, rejection and MRSA which I happened to get in my lungs while a patient, proably in ICU.  If they found the MRSA was active I had to have a PICC line installed so I could go home on IV antibotics.  This happened about 6 times over  the first 2 years post-transplant.

I must say how very happy I was and still am to be able to breathe without assistance and to be able to chase my 3 yr old grandson around the dining room table. . .who can measure that delight???

I can virtually walk, talk and chew gum all at the same time!!!  hahaha  BUT, to get serious for a while, I hope that if you are smoking that you will find a way to quit.  I know, I know, I heard it too from so many people but I just wasn’t ready or did not want to just because someone else said I should.  I’m like that.  Tell me to do one thing and I’ll turn around and do the opposite just because.  I didn’t want to quit, I liked smoking too much, but when I couldn’t breathe it became even tougher to quit. . .figure that?

I will never forget my lung dr’s comment about 2 or 3 years before transplant, “Sandy we’ve done everything we can for you.  We’ve maxed you out on your meds, that’s all we have for you.  I believe that if you don’t have a transplant you won’t live to see 60″.  I was in my early 50′s when he said that.  He explained that I wasn’t quite sick enough to consider or work toward transplant but that he would let me know.  How very strange to hear that you won’t live beyond the next decade.  I didn’t cry, I just felt weird. . .I can’t even explain it.  Perhaps I was just numb to the info.

I got the call at the end of 2004, I should contact UPMC Presbyterian about an evaluation for a lung transplant. . .

To be continued. . .

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