The Birth Of A Book – “When Lungs Fail To Cooperate”.

Brian HaydenAs you can see, our trip toward writing a book is still far off, and the posts still taken from April 2010.

We (Denise and I) spent many hours at the transplant hospital.  We were either at the hospital for a test, an exam, or the emergency room for heart or lung problems. Add to that my growing list of pain medicines, and – well 2006 was a hard year for me. 2006 was a ponderous year for Denise.

I am embarrassed to say, my spelling still has not improved. The one thing about my writing that has improved was my ability to convey a story.

Dr Kwan, part II

April 28, 2010 by brha99

The big smoking question was out there, and fast too! I heard myself utter “yes” as I cowered back from the small doctor. (Excuse me for paraphrasing the following discussion. I couldn’t possibly reenact it accurately) Firmly, a bit angrily  and with a big dose of “how could you?” he said “well, you can’t have a new heart if you smoke. I am not going to give a precious new heart to someone who doesn’t care about his own health. I couldn’t possibly trivialize the great sacrifice a donor family will offer by giving their gift to a smoker”….yada, yada, yada… for at least 5 hours he ranted. Well it seemed like 5 hours. In reality, maybe 15 minutes.  The bottom line with smoking is I must have proof of stopping for 6 months before they’ll list me. He calmed down. “That’s ok”  he said. “You are not in immediate need of a heart, and we have a lot of work to do to prepare”. You might be asking yourself how the doctor can get proof I don’t smoke. Well blood work of course. Nicotine is a chemical. Chemicals can be found in blood. I needed lots of blood tests over an extended period of time to check for nicotine levels. I guess I really am going to have to quit. That’s ok. At this point, I really don’t like smoking anyway. I will get the patches. After we all calmed down about the smoking, he got into the program details.  I would need to see a dietician, a pharmacist, a psychiatrist, a hemotologist, a pulmonologist, an immunologist, the surgeon and the surgeon’s team. Each one would have me for at least an hour. Each one would be scheduled at different times and each one would have their own set of tests they require, also scheduled at different times. We began the ordeal. Three, sometimes four visits to the Transplant hospital every week. Every week, the same  routine. Go through admin. Pay your deductible. ( that’s always first ). Go to the lab. Then go to whichever doctor needed to see you on that day. It was a hectic pace for me, and a hectic, and stressful pace for my wife and kids.  Initial tests revealed I was eligible for a new heart. Time will tell if I will actually get one. In the mean time, my health continues to deteriorate. Will I even live to see the new heart? At this point in time, we didn’t know.

Pleurisy? I get choked up just thinking about it

April 29, 2010 by brha99

Before I get started this morning, let me say this about Dr Kwan: I have never met a more dedicated  and caring doctor. He has his ways, but in the end, he’s usually right. I would trust him with my life.  In fact, for over a year, I did.

The summer of 2006 wained on. Lots of trips back and forth to the hospital. Then one night, after fighting what I thought was a cold, I began having chest pains. Stabbing, intense chest pains. …..What the hell? This isn’t my regular chest pain.  Oh no. I was sick. I thought I probably had pneumonia and heart failure. It was however getting worse, so in the interest of breathing, my wife called the ambulance. Another ambulance ride to BAMC (remember, Brooke Army Medical Center). After a while in the Emergency Room, the doctors declared I had Pleurisy, and, in fact they would go on to say pleural effusion. For all of our sakes, here is a definition of what we are talking about.

The following definition is courtesy of “MedicineNet.Com” Pleurisy: Inflammation of the pleura, the linings surrounding the lungs. There are two layers of pleura; one covering the lung and the other covering the inner wall of the chest. These two layers are lubricated by pleural fluid. Pleurisy is frequently associated with apleural effusion (the accumulation of extra fluid in the space between the two layers of pleura). Pleurisy causes a stabbing pain in the chest aggravated by breathing, chest tenderness, cough, and shortness of breath. Pleurisy can be caused by many conditions including infections, collagen vascular diseases (such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis), cancers (such as metastatic lung cancer or breast cancer), tumors of the pleura, heart failure, lung embolism (blood clot in a vessel to the lungs), obstruction of lymph channels, trauma (rib fractures or injury from instruments in the chest from an operation or car accident), certain drugs (such as Hydralazine, Procan, and Dilantin), abdominal processes (such as pancreatitiscirrhosis of the liver) and lung infarction (lung tissue death due to lack of oxygen from poor blood supply).

Turns out there were several contributing factors. For now though, please just put me in intensive care and help me breathe. Oh yea, that is where I am and that is what they are doing.


Fading away in Oxycontin-ville

April 30, 2010 by brha99

(summer 2006)  I spent a week in the hospital. I had tubes placed where no man should ever have tubes. I coughed a lot. The problem with coughing was two-fold. First, when I breathed, and especially when I coughed it hurt a lot. Not your regular “man up” suck it in hurt. This was worse. Secondly, when I did cough, I often times passed out from insufficient oxygen to my brain. The answer was simple. Morphine. Lots of morphine. But wait.. doesn’t morphine suppress your respiratory system.  Why yes it does. After a couple of days they had to move me to Oxycontin. This was the first time I got this drug. It wouldn’t be my last. After lots of antibiotics, breathing treatment and other things, I was ready to go home. Well I was ready to leave the hospital. This trip to the hospital took a huge toll on my body. I was weak and could barely walk. I was promoted to a wheel chair. I could no longer stand to take a shower, so I needed a bench and safety bars built into the shower. A friend of ours, Tom stepped up and did this. For the next week or so I slept with a huge foam wedge under me to help slant my body while I lie down. I was still coughing and the pain in my lungs was still significant. Doctors agreed that it would take several weeks to heal. When I was in my house, I used my cane, or the walker. Everytime I ventured out though, a wheel chair was the vehicle of choice. This was the beginning of a very hard time for me, and an impossibly difficult time for my wife Denise. She was now responsible for caring for an invalent whose mind is now fast asleep in oxycontin-ville


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