Carol: An Update
My wonderful wife Carol has been battered a bit lately by the whimsical nature of our bodies and by modern medical science.
As you may know, she and I had been working out regularly at the Y, five days a week. She did water aerobics three times per week and swam 20+ laps in the pool the other two days. Then, suddenly, she couldn’t make one lap. Her breathing became difficult very quickly.
So, she began undergoing a series of tests—an EKG, a CAT scan, then an exam by a pulmonologist. Finally, she had a bronchoscopy, where they took some tissue for a biopsy and some fluids to examine in the lab. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, she needed oxygen, so they delivered tanks to use both at night, while sleeping and to use at home and when we went out.
Finally, the lab tests came back. It’s complicated they say. Nice!
They tell us that she has moderate, stage two COPD, which she probably has had for some time, and that clearly isn’t the central problem. Mainly, her breathing difficulties stem from inflamed lungs, and the inflamed lungs are a toxic reaction to Methotrexate, which she has been taking for some time to manage her giant cell arteritis.
So, they have stopped the Methotrexate, which seems to be the central culprit in all this. But how to reduce the inflammation? Normally, they would administer a steroid—say prednisone. But the last several times she was administered prednisone, she wound up in the hospital with pancreatitis. So, it remains unclear. One might say, well just stay off the Methotrexate and the lungs will return to normal. Well, maybe, but without the Methotrexate, the giant cell arteritis might return, further damaging her arteries. So, as I say, it’s complicated.
We may get some better answers next week. In the meantime, she will continue monitoring her oxygen level and continue taking oxygen as needed. She will also likely receive some pulmonary rehab, prior to hopefully resuming some regular exercise.
Aging is not for sissies . . .