Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Does this look infected to you?

by Robison Wells

Have you ever been home teaching/visiting teaching, and you go to some little old lady's house, and she spends an hour describing her Irritable Bowel Syndrome? If so, did you love that? If so, read on!

I'm still sick.

Recap: Once upon a time, back in January, I started coughing. Of course, being the baby I am, I did a lot of lying around and moaning. And, as everyone knows, moaning only exacerbates a cough so the coughing continued. I coughed and coughed, though other than the coughing I felt pretty good--no fevers, no sinus trouble. Just a cough. I finally quit whining and put up with it. (Well, I never quit whining, but I stopped calling in sick to work.)

Then I went on vacation to sunny California, and whilst enjoying the Happiest Place on Earth, I would occasionally cough until I vomited. This didn't exactly add to the magicalness of the Magic Kingdom, but it did give us something fun to talk about while waiting for the parade.

Upon returning home I went to the doctor, and--as I mentioned in a previous blog--they determined I had asthma.

Well folks, it ain't asthma.

After about six weeks of asthma treatments, very little had changed. Sure, I had some days that were better than others; I'd occasionally go for four or five days where I thought I was doing pretty good, and then it'd all come crashing down again.

So, after trying everything and failing (and seriously, we tried quite a bit. Here's all the medicine I took: Prednisone, Albuterol, QVar, Codeine cough syrup, Advair, Singulair, Protonix, and various other over-the-counters) my doctor finally decided he was in over his head, and he referred me to a pulmonologist.

Before I could see the pulmonologist I had to take a Pulmonary Function Test and a Blood Gas Test. Now first of all, let me just say that I'm petrified of needles. (When I was in high school I had to have surgery on my wrist, and they were going to knock me out for it. While waiting to go into the operating room, I was sitting on a gurney and the anesthesiologist put an IV in my arm. Getting woozy, I told him "Wow, this stuff works really fast." Confused, he replied "I haven't even hooked you up to anything yet." Then I passed out.) May I say that the Blood Gas Test, wherein they draw blood from an artery--not the standard vein--is mucho painful. And the verdict: the oxygen in my blood is low. (Does this mean that not enough is getting to my brain? If so, are you surprised?)

So, after the Blood Gas Test I took the Pulmonary Function Test, and the nurse confidently declared that this would explain why my oxygen levels were low. I took the test, and I breathed into a tube, and I held my breath, and I huffed and puffed--and the tests were perfectly normal. The nurse told me how weird that was, with a kind of "gee-whiz, isn't life crazy?" attitude. He must have forgotten that MY BLOOD DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH OXYGEN.

A couple days later I went to see the pulmonologist. He went over the whole story, and looked at all the tests--I forgot to mention that I'd also had a chest x-ray--and he told me that he thinks it's one of three things: (1) a virus, (2) a blood clot, and (3) occupational asthma, caused by wood dust (because I work in the construction industry). So he's treating me for the virus, and yesterday I had a CT scan for the blood clot (results pending) and if nothing comes of either of those, he'll test me for occupational asthma--that test, he tells me, involves enhaling a big glob of saw dust. I think that he's trying to kill me.

(In fact, I think I'm getting sicker. It used to just be a cough. Now it's a cough and chest pain, and I can't even take out the garbage without getting winded. Doctors are bad for your health.)

What's the point of all this? I don't know. I've shelled out quite a bit of money to these doctors already--I hit my deductible in March--yet they seem to have no idea what's going on. On TV hospital shows, doctors always figure out exactly what's wrong with people, and then those people get better (except the patients who die). I don't think I have EVER gone to a doctor and got a definitive answer. These doctors seem more like weathermen: "Tomorrow there'll be a 30% chance of asthma, with blood clots increasing in the afternoon. Of course, don't quote me on that!"

And, dang it, this has been going on for three months and I've yet to receive a single casserole! Do I have to pass around the meal calendar myself?


At 4/10/2007 1:43 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I sent you a casserole via FedEx. You didn't get it?

At 4/11/2007 12:28 AM, Blogger Josi said...

Maybe we should do a blog-wide fast for you, rob. Oh wait, you WANT food. Never mind.

Are you sure this isn't just so your wife will start taking out the trash?

In all seriousness I wish you luck--my neighbor had a similar thing and they diagnosed it as Farmer's Lung, a kind of developed allergy that caused an enlarged heart and stuff. Not fun, good luck.

At 4/11/2007 12:38 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Aargh, I'm sorry to hear that you still feel lousy and the doctors don't know what the problem is. I'll send you a casserole via e-mail. Or if I can't get that to work, I'll send you a link to

At 4/11/2007 12:43 AM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

You're just faking it to get the drugs, Rob.

At 4/11/2007 11:20 AM, Anonymous Fellfrosch said...

I bought you sukiyaki, you ungrateful twit. Should I have sprinkled crumbled corn flakes on top?

At 4/11/2007 11:22 AM, Blogger robisonwells said...

Fell, The sukiyaki was because it was my birthday, not because I was sick. It doesn't count for both--that's cheating.

Tristi, I would fake it for the drugs if they'd give me something interesting. All I'm on now is a steroid nasal spray and Benadryl.

At 4/11/2007 3:10 PM, Blogger Jon said...

I don't have much to offer, except this:

House MD
P.O. Box 900
Attn: Fox Broadcasting Publicity Dept.
Beverly Hills, CA 90213-0900

I hope it's not a blood clot - those are bad news. =(

At 4/12/2007 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something similar happened to my mom. They told her it was bronchitus then cancer and finally they figured out it was sarcadosis. She still coughs a lot, especially if she over exerts herself. Hope they figure out what is wrong. Sometimes I think it could be a conspiracy- that they really know what's wrong to begin with but make you take expensive tests and see loads of expensive specialists!

At 4/12/2007 1:41 PM, Anonymous robisonwells said...

Jon, I tried it. And House didn't send me a casserole either!

At 4/12/2007 7:27 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

For anonymous - the exact same thing happened with my mom. The doctors couldn't figure out what she had, we went through a cancer scare, and she was eventually diagnosed with sarcoidosis.

At 4/13/2007 1:11 AM, Blogger pwells said...

Rob, there are no casseroles any more. Your sister fell down the stairs from the Relief Society Secretary's door and splatted herself on the landing of the RS second counselor's door. Their husbands' were the ones who scraped her off the ground and into the car for the trip to the ER. She didn't even get a "how-are-you" phone call, let alone a compassionate service casserole. There is no caring left. But I do commiserate with you on the phone!


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