J: Home again

I returned home on the 27th after two days in hospital.

I am no longer breathless. My lung capacity is reduced. This is normal as the lung has had a bit of a hard time and there can be stickiness against the wall. It seems to be gradually improving.

I have a biopsy scheduled for 10th March in Bath and an alternative one on 11th March in Bristol. This is thanks to Dr. Walters who said he wanted to provision the alternative.

In the meantime, what happens if the fluid returns?

There are no known triggers for the fluid production. I was told to do whatever I felt like doing, though when I suggested running a half marathon (which I certainly don’t feel like) they agreed that kind of thing was not a good idea. Fluid production will return but it cannot be predicted if in weeks or months.

There is no easy way to self-diagnose the fluid production prior to the onset of breathlessness. I am however booked in for an X ray on Friday 6th to check status. On discharge they reckoned about up to a litre remained but the biopsy procedure needs space around the lung for access to the nodules.

Dr Walters advised that he tries to manage fluid-producers as outpatients. He inserts several centimetres of permanent drain into the base of the lung. It is a bit like a sprinkler hose i.e. intermittently perforated. This reduces risk of a blockage. A district nurse can then come along and suck it out. So that is a possibility for me.

My weight on return was 12st 8lbs. Six litres of fluid weighs about a stone, so that was about right – plus, I would have been producing more while draining (you can knock out a litre a day but the self-draining mechanism for the natural lubricant has much less capacity).

Both Dr Walters and the urologist said there was no particular need to alter diet, limit alcohol etc.

I was well treated at Bath. I must have seen about 50 people and all were friendly and helpful, some exceptional. I only saw one example of bad behaviour towards a patient, though a fellow patient had seen several. That is among hundreds (thousands probably in his case). Food was decent and hygiene standards excellent – I think the respiratory ward is subject to extra controls.

My most painful experience was removing the drain bandage from my hairy back. Ouch!

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