Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fluid on the lungs

In mid-September, around 2 weeks after the bronchoscopy (which had shown nothing other than fibroids in my lungs) I started to experience chest pains and breathing difficulties.   Assuming (incorrectly) that this was something to do with the sclerosis, I tried (unsuccessfully to get an earlier appointment with Dr G.  After a few more weeks of increasing pain (controlled somewhat by Paracetamol and Ibuprofen) and breathlessness I went to the GP again who diagnosed a chest infection, put me on a course of antibiotics (and wrote to Dr G asking for an earlier appointment).  The antibiotics had no impact on the symptoms and so I was given a stronger brand.  This also had no impact and I was finding it more and more difficult to breathe so went back to the GP who sent me for another X-ray.

The radiologist told me immediately that there was fluid on my lungs and that the X-ray would be sent on to Dr W who would call me in, but that if my breathlessness got worse I should check into Casualty.  This made me realise that it was serious and so I immediately fixed an appointment with Dr W (rather than wait for MRI’s internal information dissemination process).  I phoned the GP to update him and he suggested taking an overnight bag with me for the appointment in case they could admit me that day.  The appointment was for 7 days after the X-ray and by this time I could only sleep propped upright with cushions and was finding breathing really difficult.   

I was admitted to MRI that day (10th November) and the following day had a ‘drain’ tube fitted.  Over the next few days 2.2 litres of fluid was drained from my left pleural cavity (no wonder I couldn’t breathe) and I had another CT scan.  As there are lots of causes for ‘pleural effusion’ tests had to be done to see where it was coming from.

Towards the end of my 9 day stay in MRI, Dr W told me they had found cancer cells in the fluid, but at that stage they thought it was treatable (possibly even with tablets) and needed to do further tests.  He said it wasn’t a tumour but was diffuse nodules on the pleural membrane called ‘non small cell adenocarcinoma’.  I was discharged from MRI on Friday 19th November and an appointment was made with an Oncologist (Dr B) for Friday 3rd December.  2 weeks to wait for further information.  

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