Today’s butt-kicking brought to you by the name I shall not speak

There’s nothing like a bad Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) to ruin your day. Or your life. And, as I have internet friends going through hell right now with their results and breathing, I’ll leave my crying for another post.

I fell out of my chair when I saw this t-shirt on I would change "obstructive" and "restrictive" to more adult terms.

But there’s nothing like the feeling when you blow hard and your lungs sound like a they’re a poorly carbureted 67 Camaro. The moment you see the results on the computer screen, your hope, with its eggshell-thick covering, gets crushed.

A surprise punch to the gut. Vertigo-a-gogo. Or what it must feel like when you’re inside an elevator and it breaks away and falls to the bottom floor.

My wife and I went to a New Year’s Eve party. Well, there were only six adults and three kids, but it was fun and I’m defining it as a party. Usually we stay home. So this was pretty darn exciting. Until I saw one of women sniffing with a runny nose, and not looking so good. I knew we were screwed. I washed the top layer of skin off my hands, but my wife was hosed, as women like to hug when they meet.

[Public Service Message: Don’t go to parties when you’re sick. It’s worse than re-gifting a “Seen on TV” present.]

But Monday we felt great as we cleared out the Christmas decorations and I took down the lights. In fact, we had tons of energy – a crazy high level of energy like you get just before a cold but never recognize. Oh, yeah, that one.

Tuesday came and so did the virus.

I maxed out the vitamin C, zinc, Thai food soup, sinus rinse. I didn’t feel too bad, and don’t as of writing this, other than the pounding headache. But at today’s clinic appointment, I failed my PFT, down over 20%. I was on Cipro over the holiday, so now I’m on it longer and have to repeat the PFT next week. Most likely, my eight-month vacation from jail is about to end.

Oh, there was one more punch today. The clot in my neck is still there. The groundhog saw its shadow: two more months of Lovenox shots in the gut.

Here’s one more blow to make it a triple cocktail: I was selected to represent my department at the CES show next week in Vegas. I’ve always wanted to go. Goodbye, dream.

You know what? It’s all good. I’m sending good vibes to those worse off and fighting hard tonight.

As for me, in the immortal words of the Black Knight when his arm was cut off, “Tis but a scratch.”

The Black Knight brought to you by Monty Python

The view from the floor

Days like this make me miss shag carpet

I spent quality time on the floor with my Thumper yesterday, trying to beat my lungs into submission. At least it spared me from searching more “flu or cold” web sites. I’m voting flu, which doesn’t make sense, as I got my flu shot. It must wear off by March because this has happened before.

Either March hates me, or, flu shots don’t work for me.

It’s an odd virus too. I felt well enough to work in the morning and early afternoon. When I had finished, I felt like the elephant minding his own business when a tranquilizer dart zipped out of nowhere and tapped my ass. Timber, down I went for the afternoon. Nausea joined the party last night, limiting dinner to chicken soup and Tylenol.

Worst of all, my wife has it now. She’s still in the bedroom knocked out. I feel terrible I gave it to her.

I did get a burst of energy at midnight and wrote a different blog post, which I didn’t post. Not sure if I will. I always worry when they come too easily.

Battle royale, day six, begins.

Not feeling so hot

Though it’s good that I’m out of the hospital, the bad news is that I don’t feel well. During the hospitalization, I suffered from chills, low-grade fevers and sweats that would leave me soaked like I’d stood in a downpour for 20 minutes. In the afternoons, early evenings I would crash hard, which explains the lack of blog posts during the stay as it’s hard to write when you’re curled up in a ball hoping a bolt of lightning will strike you and end your misery. No such luck.

All of this mystified the doctors and they never really came up with an explanation. When I went off the Tylenol a few days before they kicked me loose, they looked at that as a positive sign. So did I. But they never really asked me how I was feeling when they surprised me Friday and sent me home. They made an executive decision that 20 days of IVs was enough. They must have entered it into their mental program and processed it – Send him home, he should feel better by now. I guess I should, but I don’t.

I brought the low-grade fevers, chills and body temperature swings home with me. What a bonus. Now the question is whether I have to go back to the hospital or not. I lived with them over the weekend hoping they would magically go away. Finally, I emailed my doctor this morning and he replied with a few questions about my stomach, which is fine. Then I didn’t hear back. He must be hoping this will pass, go away without explanation, which is what they all must have been thinking while I was in the hospital. Well, it didn’t go away tonight. And tomorrow I go back to work and I feel tired and 50 percent. It’s going to take everything I can muster to get through the day.

This is the first hospitalization where I feel the decision-making system during my stay failed me. It took them six days to embolize me. I wish I had had the courage to force the decision sooner. I didn’t. But I knew I needed to be embolized from day one. They kept throwing the possible dangers of the procedure at me. Yet, my lungs decayed by not doing treatments. I may never get that lung function back. It’s one thing to be hosed by cystic fibrosis; it’s another to be hosed by the medical process. The latter makes me angrier.

I’ll be tortured about this visit for the rest of my life.

Firing doctors

I wish I could fire my stomach doctor like Donald Trump does rejects on The Apprentice. “You’re fired,” I’d yell, my hair combed over in a giant wave of spun gold, imperious to all but the fiercest of hurricane winds. “You’re fired for not practicing medicine the way I want you to.  When I ask for the good stuff, I want the same medicine celebrities get with fake ID’s and by using five or six different doctors. That’s right. I want the stuff that makes my troubles fall away and the paparazzi feel like a minor annoyance, a piece of yellow tail stuck between my gapped front teeth.”

Unfortunately, I’ve reached the point where my stomach doctor sees the world his way and not mine. Time to toss him. Time to move on. Not to the point that I’d visit him in his office and say exactly what I think, which would go something like this: “how hard would it be for you to order a **&@$& H. pylori test? I’m the one who has to do all the work one morning collecting the sample – the one I eventually have to drive over to the lab where the tech behind the counter will open the bag and gag, then walk it with outstretched hands to the poor tech in back who drew the short straw of work assignments that day. Yes, people in the waiting area, I’m the only one not here for a blood test. And I’ll leave in shame as everyone stares at me like I just delivered a strain of bacteria only found on a planet in our solar system that will go unnamed.”

“You, crappy doctor, only have to lift the pen, and fill in a circle on a lab test like you did your questionable MCAT, as there were rumors you paid the smart kid in your class to take it. That’s all you have to do, then tell your nurse to give me the paraphernalia I need to make this act happen the next day. But no. You can’t do it as you don’t see the need. Well, good sir, I’ve had it with you. I’m not asking for a 10K test here. Or, is it because I might be correct? That might make you feel bad or inferior, as I only have a medical degree from the College of the Internet signed by a man in a country that used to be part of the USSR. I feel it reflects my skills in self diagnosis quite well. Yes I do. Jealousy on your part, no doubt, because I made a correct call.”

Then I’d fire him. And when he started looking at me like “big deal, crazy hypochondriac,” I’d throw him out the window to watch him land on his new Porsche. Perhaps, the soft-top would have been a better choice after all, Doc, I’d yell.

Now if only the Donald threw contestants out of the window after he fired them. That’s a show I’d watch, but only if the Donald fired himself first.

Clostridium difficile, day 16

How’s this for a stupid name for a bacteria: Clostridium difficile. Or C. diff to its friends. I’m on day 16 of this slow-moving nightmare and I can’t wait to wake up. It’s like riding a malfunctioning roller coaster all day long – I go fast. I go slow. I feel good. I feel bad. I can eat. I can’t eat. I don’t have the strength to write. I do. I don’t. I’m hot. I’m cold. I can beat it. I give up.

C. diff is wearing me out. Trying to work with this bacteria with the silly name is a drag, and I need it to clear out of my system asap.

Today, my CF doctor bumped me from 10 days of vanco to 14 and perhaps, if the stomach doctor has his way, up to 28 days. So, I took some measures of my own tonight and bought more probiotics, bringing my bill to $270 plus and counting. I had been taking over 150 billion cells per day. Today, I raised that total to over 430 billion. That’s Billion with a capital “B,” baby. That’s right. I’m the probiotic king.

Back to the name. A bacteria with this kind of bite deserves to be called more than C. diff, which sounds like the name of a rapper. When people ask me what I have, I’d like them to get a quick idea of C. diff’s nastiness instead of a blank look and the “what’s that?” phrase that follows. I need a name that impresses people. Something that creates instant recognition of the havoc C. diff causes.

I thought of a few like gut fire, blowfish tummy, and radioactive belly. But for some crazy reason, I liked King-Maker best. That’s right, King-Maker. It may not be the most frightening of names, but it captures the worst part of having C. diff – spending a good portion of your day sitting on the throne.

Someone shoot me, please.

The Villain Identified

My stomach went south this morning. I felt better yesterday, bad today.

I spoke to my most excellent CF doctor in the morning and he said in a cool way like he was picking a race horse to bet on: I’m leaning toward C-diff now. But I had an appointment with a stomach doctor later, so he wanted to know what that doctor said before placing his final bet.

My regular stomach doctor is on a beach somewhere sipping sweet tea with rum while reading Good Guts Gone Bad Quarterly. So, I got the 123-year-old doctor I can’t stand who should have retired back when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. He placed his hands lightly on my stomach and told me to let him know if it hurt. When I say “lightly,” I mean like he was running his hand over the hood of his Mercedes as not to scratch it, all gentle and kind and loving. I could have had the stomach ache from hell and his light touch wouldn’t have triggered anything.

So, he and I talked. I told my story and how my doc and I were betting on C-Diff. Dr. Gentle Hands told me we were wrong and it was a virus irritating my gut. He handed me a list of foods I should eat and some I should avoid. And an Rx for an anti-spasmodic, which I can’t take because it can dry out secretions.

But what about the fever? I asked. It came back today.

You usually don’t get a fever with C-Diff, he replied.

Hmm, that’s strange, I thought, because the last few times I’ve had C-Diff I got the bonus prize of a fever. Must have been a miracle of science. I’m special and honored to have received such a rare prize.

I didn’t say anything to the animatronic doctor. I know fevers and C-Diff often come as a package, which my CF doc confirmed on the phone later. But at that moment with the stomach doc I knew that I had wasted my time. Why kill any more by arguing.

When I got home, my CF doc and I decided to see how I felt Saturday morning, but I filled the Rx for the Vanco just in case. And it’s a good thing I did because tonight a fever and some nasty stomach gurgling arrived, as did watery you know what.

Hello, C-Diff, it was you all along, you crafty bastard.

Chicken Broth, Gatorade and Jello

See the two pieces of chicken? That's about what you get.

How much chicken does Campbell’s put in a can of chicken noodle soup? Well, in mine they put three tiny pieces.

I’ve been sick all day with a low-grade fever, stomach discomfort with no appetite, and the feeling I was going to burst into flames like a vampire in the sun. Luckily, I had a clinic appointment scheduled so I got to see the doctor. However, my plans for an oral glucose test, bone scan, and 3-hour azithromax study went to hell. My visit transformed from a yearly exam to a sick appointment. Argh.

The doctor thinks I have a virus or C-Diff. I have to suck down Tylenol to knock down the fever and drink and eat clear liquids, hence the chicken noodle soup broth, Gatorade and Jello. If I’m not feeling better by tomorrow, then I go on Vanco for C-diff. And if the Vanco does’t work, it will be the hospital for me.

I knew it was too good to be true on Monday when I wrote that post. Punished for hubris.

Stay well.