As I explain in my book, bronchoscopies are part of the regular rhythm of ongoing treatment in healing from my lung transplant. In the almost 2 1/2 years since my transplant I have had 40+ and counting. I keep trying to convince my doctors to go to a frequent user card system. For every 10 bronchs, I would get one free. They are beginning to at least be amused by my idea… which means I may be in line for my own Cleveland Clinic t-shirt in the future.
The bronchoscopies are needed to inspect the ongoing condition of my lungs and to clean or replace the four stents located in different problem areas of my airways. A skilled doctor is guiding a tiny light, camera and instruments through the main airways of both lungs. Usually, within a couple days, I am breathing much easier and smoother, and can go several more weeks until things start clogging up… which means time for another bronch. It is amazing what medical technology can do!
My last procedure was Tuesday, September 18. It is normal for the doctor to stop by and give an update to my wife as I recover from the anesthesia. Thankfully my wife is the one fully alert to hear the report, …usually a review of what they saw, and what they did, and “see you in 10 or 11 weeks.” This time was different. What the doctor said to us quickly cleared my “mental fog” remaining from the sedation.
“I removed one of your stents.” She continued her report by summarizing, “It looked like it was causing more problems than it was solving.” The last time I had heard those words had resulted in an emergency room visit within 48 hours…to put the stent back in and keep my lungs from collapsing. That was November of 2016…almost two years earlier! I had resigned myself to many more visits with updates on how my 4 stents were doing. My goal is 0 stents, and 3 is one step closer to my goal. Why was I so anxious about my doctor’s report?
I realized I have serious trust issues. A life-saving lung transplant is both a medical marvel and a grace of God miracle. It is a constant learning process as I trust the love and care of both my skilled physicians and all-knowing God. I am thankful that so far my lungs apparently don’t miss the stent this time. Better yet, my faith is strengthened for many more bronchoscopies. I’m hoping for a new set of steak knives.