Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Tale of the Flesh-Eating Bacteria

Sorry for not posting in a while - it has been a bit of a crazy ride these past few weeks!  I have been helping my parents with spring lambing season, which means everything from pregnancy checking ewes (my "extensive" obstetrics knowledge coming in handy!) to bottle feeding lambs to laying over 1000 square feet of sawdust with a pitchfork to ear-tagging over 300 lambs.  In the midst of all that, I also went to Vermont for a few days to participate in a bakery training course at King Arthur Flour Bakery (and to see a part of the country that is even more rural than Indiana).  

James, meanwhile, has had his own share of crazy.  First, he got the flu.  Then, he started coughing up blood...kinda lots. (But apparently, on a relative scale of "Is it cups?" says the doctor, maybe not so much?!) So, while I was in Vermont, he went to the ER and then stayed in the hospital for 5 days while doctors tried to figure out what on earth he had. He was checked out for TB (we doubt it) and pneumonia (we think so). He was placed on IV antibiotics and responded well to the antibiotic, so the doctors have decided it's pneumonia, despite James's lack of more common symptoms (fatigue and fever).  

Here's where it gets interesting - based on the CT done at the hospital, it looks like James has something called "cavitary pneumonia" which means that the pneumonia is creating cavities (holes) in his lung tissue.  It's also known as "necrotizing pneumonia" which "refers to a pneumonia characterised by the development of the necrosis within infected lung tissue."  That is to say - James has a flesh eating bacteria in his lungs.  Yowza.

We met with the pulmonologist yesterday who has placed James back on antibiotic (he felt his initial course from the hospital was too short) and will follow up with a PET/CT at the beginning of May. He expects the cavities to get bigger before James gets better. After the scan, if James is not better, the pulmonologist will scope to see "what is growing down in there." Other options are - an antibiotic resistant strain of bacteria, tuberculosis, a fungal infection, or squamous cell carcinoma. (Hey! We had that before!)  The pulmonologist was quick to say that he does believe that it is bacterial and that this current round of antibiotics should kick it. 

We were able to discuss the degree to which James's health is cancer-related. The pulmonologist believes that James's illness is related to cancer treatment - radiation knocks you down and makes you susceptible to infection. We were "glad" to hear that he had several other patients (who did not have cancer) with this same type of pneumonia in recent months. ("And one guy was WAY worse than you, James!")  [And in truth - part of the problem with James's diagnosis in the hospital was that he just seemed too healthy to have pneumonia.]

So, to sum up & let you know what's on the horizon for us, here are a few things to pray for 
*Pray that James's lungs respond well to the antibiotic, that it IS a flesh-eating bacteria (because there are things that are actually worse!), and that the health of his lungs would stabilize/continue to improve. 

*Give thanks that James IS getting better! James is still coughing, though he is so much better than just a few weeks ago.  He is regularly sleeping through the night now, is regaining energy, has a normal appetite, and is able to eat without any pain. Huge praises! We are so thankful for God's kindness and healing...

*James will have an upper endoscopy on April 15th. So while you're mailing in your taxes, ask that the doctor would be able to clearly assess damage in James's esophagus. It is possible, due to radiation, that his esophagus will need stretched in order to return to its former (proper) size. Ask that the scope doesn't cause any further damage and that healing will come. 

*Pray that the upcoming PET/CT will be knock-your-socks-off fantabulous. (Is that too much to ask?!) The scan will show the extent of his radiation pneumanitis, the cavities from the flesh eating bacteria (is it better?), and...cancer. Let's hope for nothing new and everything better.  Let's ask for another "unbelievable" scan.  We would like that, anyway.  Pray too that the scan will give the doctors (and us) very clear direction for next steps.  (Like, "You're free and clear, pack your bags!" would be nice...)

Thank you, all, for your continued we continue to persevere through this we are blessed to know that so many of you continue to persevere in prayer on our behalf. If we keep on asking, He will hear and will, at some point, answer (Luke 18).

1 comment:

  1. Ai ya, sounds less than ideal. I hope by this time you have seen much improvement in the symptoms. I can't find your email address so I'll write here.... I got pneumonia pretty much every winter for about five or six years after treatment. I decided that the flu shot was actually making me get the pneumonia. I stopped with the flu shot and also stopped getting pneumonia. Coincidence??

    GERD SOLUTION ON ITS WAY! After my bone marrow transplant I started getting this 'rock' feeling in my chest, like literally a giant rock was lodged in my esophagus and blocking my windpipe. No doctors knew what it was. Finally it was "reflux?" and I read the list of symptoms. Yep. Their solution? Medications which just mask symptoms, like Prilosec, Prevacid. Don't waste your time, or your health.

    Fast-forward to college, a friend of mine works in a health foods drugstore and buys me a bottle of DGL tablets> deglycyrrhizinated licorice. Crazy word, no wonder they abbreviate DGL! Anyway, you chew these tablets 15 minutes before a meal, or whenever you have symptoms. You can eat as many as you want (though they taste absolutely horrible). Symptoms gone within 20 minutes. That was my experience, anyway. I think I went through two big bottles of these, then was completely off my acid reflux medicine, then stopped the DGL tablets, and have been GERD-free for about 10 years now, PTL! I believe the Lord used these tablets to completely heal me of the radiation-induced damage. I've been recommending these to every GERD sufferer I know.