Putting Things in a Different Perspective

After my radiation treatment today, I visited a friend who’s in the hospital again after a couple of hospitalizations over the past year.

His first hospitalization came last February after a “routine” colonoscopy that wasn’t routine, after all. During the procedure, the surgeon perforated his bowel. My friend didn’t know anything was wrong until later than night when he felt pain that was anything but normal. Following emergency surgery, he was released a week later and recuperated at home over the course of several weeks.

In December, he was put in the hospital for what the doctors thought was pneumonia. They kept him there through Christmas; he was released, I think, on the 29th. He seemed to be improving over several days, but then had difficulties for several more days. After a period of steady deterioration, he was sent by ambulance back to the hospital on January 25. He doesn’t know how long he’ll be there, but it will be at least several days.

The problem isn’t simply pneumonia. It’s pneumonia resulting from complications with pulmonary fibrosis. That is the scary part. He doesn’t expect to be able to get off of oxygen. He has decided to abandon his plans to build a deck off the back of his house. He just seems really reconciled to the fact that his disease will severely restrict his activities and his comfort going forward. I don’t know enough to argue with him, nor would I even if I did. I don’t know when his pulmonary fibrosis was diagnosed, but I get the impression it was quite some time ago. I think he didn’t believe it would progress by this time.

When I got home from the visit, I looked up the prognosis for pulmonary fibrosis. The “typical” prognosis is that patients live on average of three to five years after diagnosis.

My diagnosis and treatments don’t seem nearly as onerous this afternoon as they did this morning.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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