Ford has spent last Monday through Friday at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City. He has been fighting his third case of pneumonia since February 2013.
He has responded very well to the three antibiotics administered to him. The around-the-clock oxygen was a huge help in breathing. He endured the heparin and lovenox injections (the one instance that he openly admitted that having a little more fat in the stomach area would be advantageous). He has had three IV's in four days due to infiltration. A fourth was attempted but his veins played hide-and-seek by rolling and disappearing. Because he had completed the IV antibiotic treatment and was on oral meds, the tech and the staff agreed to give him a break as long as he didn't develop any fever overnight. An exuberant nurse declared that if needed, they would use an intraosseous infusion (if curious, click the link for a definition, because it is too much for me to describe here w/o getting queasy). She was a new nurse to the week's rotation and made it sound like a threat for lack of willingness to comply (like Ford had a choice if his veins would cooperate or not. Ha). He did okay. Came close in the middle of the night, but made it through. Ford has done well with the incentive spirometer which he calls "the game that sucks" (one of his most favorite puns), and has been diligent with the therapy. While it generates a fair amount of coughing, Ford feels that it has helped increase his lung capacity.
And, Ford also decided that the hospital food was pretty decent. We were told there is a Chef on staff.
The doctors and specialists are working to find out what is behind this unusual pattern of reoccurring illness. He has been seen and examined by Doctors, Residents, Fellows, Assistants, and medical students from Internal Medicine, Hematology, Pulmonology, Oncology, and Infectious Disease (there is probably an -ology for that last one, however, with the continual flood of unfamiliar medical terminology we have experienced this week, what say we just leave it at that). He has been tended to by nurses, CNA's, respiratory therapists, dietitians and everyone's favorite... phlebotomists. There has been quite a variety of people coming and going. We even got visits from a plumber and an electrician (not associated with Ford's illness). (-:
Ford came through a bronchoscopy well. Fluid samples were collected and the area irrigated. The decision was made by the pulmonologist during the procedure not to collect a tissue sample at this time.
Labs (blood tests), specimen, cultures, smears, stains, and the like have all turned up negative, which is good in that he doesn't have any of those infections or diseases. They know a lot of what it isn't. What they freely admit is that they don't know what "it" is.
Is it typical or a-typical, infectious or non-infectious, bacterial vs. fungal vs. viral? Is it cryptogenic organizing pneumonia (COP) or bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia (BOOP)? It responds "here", but isn't following the norms "there." Could the ground-glass opacity indicate a form of hypersensitivity pneumonitis? Is a lung biopsy going to be required to determine a diagnosis?
What we do know:
-We have observed that the pattern for Ford has been illness, treatment, recovery, work, relapse. He has tried to work when possible, a few hours on a few days. He gets to feeling better, gains some energy and stamina. He is able to make it to the office half days and then full days. Within two to three full days of work, he gets slammed with symptoms and diagnosis of pneumonia.
-We know that Ford has had phenomenal care this week. Without exception, the caregivers have been kind, courteous, generous, intelligent, good-natured, and wonderful! Since no one will be working on his case through the weekend and no results from cultures will be back until Monday, Ford was released for "good behavior" to come home and recover (as long as he returns for a followup with the pulmonologists on Monday).
-Ford received instructions to stay away from work (not difficult on a weekend), large gatherings of people, i.e. Church meetings, anyone with any illness, and anyone with compromised immunity.
-We have heard continued doubt expressed that this is being caused by a cancer.
-We learned that the typical time frame for lungs and body to recover from most forms of pneumonia is 6-8 weeks.
-Ford maintains his sense of humor by sharing, "What color does rain make on a hot tin roof?" and "What do we do with chemists when they die?" and "What do you call a fake noodle?" riddles.
And with puns: along with "the game that sucks" mentioned before, he asked the nurse that "if he were to toss me the soap, would he be passing the bar?"
And quips: "The best way to get rid of cancer is to get a second opinion" (referring to when he was initially diagnosed with 3 forms of cancer and ended up with only 2), and "So you are considering, what could be for me, a life-threatening procedure, in order to track down a life-threatening problem?"
-And lastly, if anyone asks Ford how he is doing, the answer is... "TERRIFIC." (of course) :D