Jane’s Digest—Bronchiectasis: I’m Still Here

March 30th, 2012 | Author: COPD

This is the third part in a series. It was written by Jon Haas, who lost his wife Jane March 26, 2009 to Bronchiectasis.

The start of Jane’s final battle began in 2007. She was hospitalized twice at two different hospitals. In September of 2007, Jane and I seemed at odds with everyone at the medical center. Her disease process had become worse, although I suspect we didn’t realize that her condition was more critical than anyone wanted to let on.

In November of 2007 a pulmonologist performed a bronchoscopy as an outpatient procedure.  The prognosis was poor.  The elasticity of Jane’s bronchioles was gone and she could no longer move mucus through them and they were no longer retaining their resiliency as part of the advancing disease process.

Jane (center, back) with her mother Mary (front, right), granddaughter Jenna and daughter Amy, 2002

In 2007, a group of new infectious disease specialists were called in. They were somewhat perplexed by the reactions they had from Jane who took things in stride. Jane was, with no doubt suffering from major complications from her slowly deteriorating condition.  The process was very slow and the changes so fine that it was hard to see exactly what was going on to gain perspective.

By the beginning of 2008, things were ominous at best—my work schedule did not create the most secure environment for Jane since I had to be gone for 4 hours on the road each day. Jane was extremely short of breath and had episodes where she could barely get to the kitchen sink a few feet away and back to her favorite rocking chair (one her father, a furniture consultant had in the house for years).  She was hospitalized throughout late January into February for a couple weeks with severe Bronchiectasis.

In February of that year, Jane and I both got the flu from others at the hospital. Eventually, Jane recovered enough to come home.  In March 2008 I was laid off from my job, and we had to get on COBRA.  Jane was scared and very worried but at least I was home with her and that helped both of us.  We had been through these “home infusion battles” before but had always won or at least stabilized her condition.  The PICC lines; first in her right arm—then left lasted only a few short days.  She was in excruciating pain from one and I called the doctor to send a nurse to remove it immediately.

In April, Jane was admitted to a hospital and had all the usual—fever, chills, extreme weakness, tiredness and slept most of the day, wearing off the anesthetic. Her primary pulmonologist had called four months before and said, “there is nothing else I can do for Jane”.  These were just small samples of what can happen when a declining circumstance can snowball and create even more problems later on.

Jane was on therapy for a couple more weeks and had to be admitted again on Monday May 12, 2008.  The was the beginning of the end for it truly represented the last time Jane would ever get up on her own without being tied to a machine or mechanical meanings of sustaining herself.  It permanently signaled the start of a living hell that would take us up to the time of her untimely but ultimate demise with only the promise of release and peace at the very end.  She and I had wondered when she was going home and how long she would be in here.

In June, I visited Jane at the hospital and found Jane half unconscious; she could hear me but was unresponsive. Jane had a respiratory failure or close to it and was semi-conscious.  Jane had been in the ICU one night as a “test” to see if she could be on a CPAP/BIPAP machine—the air pressure was too great for her and she could not get the air out.  Jane’s problem was that she would retain CO2 from the disease process and could not clear her lungs fully.  She was simply poisoning herself from the retention of CO2.

Jane had everything and everybody working against her for almost two years as her condition steadily worsened.  Despite all the bad news and doctors not wanting to get involved since they knew the outcome would not be good; Jane pressed on and said, “No, I’m still here and I’m not going anywhere until it’s time”.

To be continued next Friday…

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