I’m on my bike again riding along the seawall, going to the gym. It’s an amazing experience because I haven’t been able to ride in months. Indeed, I haven’t been able to do much of anything. I couldn’t walk, write or, to be honest, think clearly.
January was my last blog post. There’s a reason for that. I developed a cough in the winter and didn’t think much of it because everyone around me had the same thing. It was a particularly pernicious flu season. But the coughing wouldn’t go away. By March/April my friends were better but I was getting worse. Several bouts of antibiotics did nothing. By May a walk down the street left me breathless. X-rays showed nothing. An MRI of the sinus areas suggested lots of mucous. A visit to an ENT was recommended. When given an appointment eight months out something snapped in me. I couldn’t manage another eight months like this. I have a great doctor. She has been our family GP for over twenty years and has served us really well. But an eight month wait in the system was not going to happen. I sought out my own ENT and had an appointment almost immediately.
The ENT examined me with a scope that went into the sinuses and down my throat. Yes, there was a mountain of mucous down there and in the sinuses. She diagnosed me with silent reflux (it has a much longer medical term). I was given a pill and pointed to a series of web sites re: diet. My eating habits needed to change dramatically I was told. So, I followed instructions. I learned everything there was to know about silent reflux and started to change my eating habits. It involved several stages. I stopped eating a long list of triggering foods and drinks. It involved a lot of food preparation. I spent hours everyday shopping for food and doing prep. In those days I realized that while I love food, I found preparation was an intrusion into my busy, important life. Suddenly, I was confronted with a dysfunctional lifestyle that needed to change. It was good to stop the crazy pace and rebuild my life around presence in the ordinary, in the preparation of food and all the slowing down it required. Being local was less and less a great idea or new tactic to try on in the midst of a busy life. It was becoming a way of life I was entering in ways I had never imagined.
But all that attention to place and food didn’t change the problems I was facing. The coughing got worse. I was declining physically and heard the concerns of my family. They pressed my to stop, to rest and let my body heal itself. I did stop but the healing didn’t happen. By June I was unable to walk more than a quarter mile. On one trip to the GP I had to call my daughter for help, she needed to pick me up because I couldn’t catch my breath. At that point the doctor scheduled an MRI but, again, I was no longer prepared to wait. I went to a private clinic and had one right away. It found issues in my lungs and bronchial tubes. There was an infection but we needed to discover if it was bacterial, viral or fungal. By the end of June things were moving forward at a quicker pace. In July I had a bronchoscope into the lungs that took samples for culture. A diagnosis finally coming.
It wasn’t what I wanted! I expected there would be an identification of the infection followed by a course of drugs to fix everything. That illusion was not to be. Apparently, my lungs have developed an allergic reaction to a fungus that is ubiquitous. There is no “cure”. That was hard to receive. There are, however, treatments. I’ve been given a steroid puffer which I take twice a day. It’s made all the different in the world. I can breath again. I am biking, hiking, and turning up at the gym – it is all an amazing gift. I know I’m not “cured”. I can feel the issues still there and I don’t know what it all means down the road but others have been here and I’m OK.
I wanted to share this because I have been out of touch with many of you for some time now. I’ve felt badly about that but haven’t had the energy to connect or engage until just the last few weeks. Thanks for your patience and, I hope, understanding. More than anything else I want to thank the people God has given to me who have loved me and stuck close. Jane has been particularly fantastic – patient, caring and long suffering through nights of coughing fits that would last several hours. Sara Jane, John and Mark have been close, caring and super important through all of this. I look forward to reconnecting even as I am enjoying the biking, walking and gym again. God is good! Thanks!