Yesterday afternoon found me back at the Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital for a follow-up visit to get the results of my two CT exams (chest and abdomen) and my PFT (pulmonary function test). This was my fourth visit to the base hospital and also the fourth different doctor I’ve seen there. Not getting to see the same doctor twice is a function of being in the Space A (space available) category. Soldiers and their families come first, as it should be, and us civilians are at the bottom of the pecking order. So, I call in and get assigned to any doctor with an open spot. Honestly, each of the docs have been excellent. They actually come and spend some quality time having a conversation about my health issues and there is never a rush or a sense that they have better things to do. A much more satisfactory experience than anything I’ve encountered in the Korean hospitals, and truthfully, better than any care I received back in the USA as well.
I had the chest CT a couple of weeks ago. A nurse called me and said my lungs looked pretty good considering the abuse I’ve put them through (25 years of smoking). There was a small nodule on the left lung that might be nothing, but she advised I needed to have another CT in a year just to be sure. She told me the doctor wanted me to do an abdomen CT, so I got that done on Tuesday.
During the CT the fire alarms went off which was a little disconcerting. They finished the test though, then escorted me out of the hospital. I’m pretty sure it was just a drill.
Anyway, my physician yesterday was a young Army Captain. Even though Dr. Pence had not ordered the tests, he had obviously reviewed the results before he sat down with me. He said the lung nodule was 3 mm in size and could be from previous damage or could be a precursor to lung cancer. So yeah, I’ll get that checked next year for sure.
The abdomen CT was clear. Woot! What about the PFT? Well, it confirmed the COPD diagnosis and revealed that my lung function is at Stage 2 (moderate) of the disease. COPD is progressive and irreversible. All that can be done is to take steps to slow its progress and delay reaching “end stage” for as long as possible. So, that’s my plan. I figure on dragging it out for 20 years or so.
I told Dr. Pence that I planned to move to the Philippines in a few months and asked him if the hot and humid weather would cause me any problems. He said that on the contrary, those conditions would be much better for my condition than the cold and polluted environment of Seoul. So, there you have it. I’m going to live in the PI because it is what the doctor ordered!
Anyway, I’ve not had the shortness of breath issues that led me to the ER last month. I have a chronic cough that wakes me up at night and I’m still hocking up sputum. I’ve been using albuterol in my nebulizer and through my inhaler. Dr. Pence noted that during during my PFT the albuterol had limited effect. So he prescribed two additional meds to be inhaled. Both are in a powder form, sorta like cocaine I suppose.
That’s the story of my health. Long may I live!
In other news…
Hope springs eternal.