Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lung Follow-Up

Kenyon and (Joliet) Jake in my hospital room on June 11

Hello, and my apologies for keeping you in suspense for a month and a half, but it has taken a long time to solve the mystery of what caused my lung (choose your favorite word: infiltrate, nodule, mass, granuloma) _________.  I suppose now we can add "infection" to the list of choices, because the infectious disease (ID) docs have determined that that is what caused the mass to form.  By the time it was taken out, it was a bacterial infection surrounded by scar tissue and inflammation.  It took weeks to grow cultures from the tissue samples and identify the culprit - which is mycobacterium avium complex, or MAC.
The quick facts on this bacteria are that it is found everywhere and most of us carry it;  that only immuno-suppressed people like cancer, transplant, and HIV patients develop disease from it;  that it is in the tuberculosis family but is not contagious;  that it attacks the lungs by forming nodules;  that it is not easy to get rid of;  that it is curable in about 70% of patients;  that those who are cured relapse at about a 50% rate;  and that the development of nodules and other symptoms (bronchitis, shortness of breath, etc.) varies a lot from patient to patient.
The treatment is a very lengthy course of a 3-antibiotic combination which I will start soon.  When I say lengthy, think 1 to 1.5 years.  I think Dr. Kritz put the whole thing in perspective very well:  "THIS IS GOOD.  It's not cancer.  It's not tuberculosis or some other contagious disease.  It's not a particularly virulent disease.  And it's curable."
Since my surgery I have returned to my maximum intensity workouts on the Stairmaster and I am up to a 50 mile bike ride, so my health continues to be good despite all this, for which I am grateful to the Lord, from whom all blessings flow.  And you know, whatever our health situation, the Lord holds our futures - tomorrow, next year, eternity - in His hands - yours and mine.  That gives me peace - and not like the peace the world gives.