5 years ago this week my pulmonologist referred me to a thoracic surgeon for a lung biopsy after a high resolution ct scan (HRCT) without contrast showed all kinds of “ground glass” speckles in my lungs. The specks were everywhere, and I remember the doctor scrolling up and down through the image and my lungs looking like a starry sky (where the stars were something that shouldn’t be there 🙂 ) and thinking how strange it was to be looking at all those marks and realizing that was my lung.
They got me into the surgeon two days later, and the surgeon (who was awesome) made a few comments that were memorable… One was that the complications risk were generally low but that I had very sick lungs so it was important to be aware there could be complications from the surgery, and the other was when we asked him if he had any educated guesses as to what I had he looked at the scan, shook his head and said “it could be anything.” Five days later I had the surgery, and I still have the scars (they look like Walt’s scars in breaking bad, and I’m always surprised when I catch an image of them in the mirror at how noticable they are). Those were scary times and I was looking at a very real possiblity of having something fatal.
Fast forward five years and I am remarkably — miraculously — healthy. I still have lung disease and I now have autoimmune disease (which appeared later) and I will never be the same, but I am reasonably fit and look very healthy and – most importantly — am alive and not on an oxygen tank (50-50 chance of dying or having a crippling condition, which when its lungs can mean a lifetime of supplemental oxygen). I was looking at the real possibility of lymphoma, untreatable lung disease or lung cancer and it turned out that my disease responded well to treatment (it is not curable, and was possibly treatable, and it turned it did respond to treatment).
In two words, I feel “incredibly lucky.”