Recently I posted that apparently much of my shortness of breath was attributable to a heart issue (an atrial shunt) that might be fixable. In the words of a famous (“I am not a crook”) crook, that statement is now inoperative. Well, not actually a lie. But further testing has persuaded my docs at Brigham Hospital that the shunt, while present, is not a significant enough factor to warrant the risks of heart surgery. Which puts us right back where we started: my lung issues are, in fact, lung issues and not something else masquerading as lung issues. In other words… never mind. This is a little discouraging, but at least I seem to be stable, and with the new exercises I’ve added to my morning regimen, I am oddly, in some ways, in better shape than I’ve been in years.
It turns out, by the way, that I may not have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) per se, but rather hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), which is similar but different. Both involve fibrotic scarring of the lungs, but with different patterns visible on CT scans, possibly different causes, and maybe slightly different prognoses. I don’t really understand all the technical details, but HP may be produced by an inflammatory process, possibly with identifiable causes. The treatment is the same either way, and my doctors don’t consider it worth an invasive biopsy to nail it down. However…
A little while back, we had a professional air-quality scan done in our house. One finding was high levels of particulates in the air on the third floor where my office is located. The offending pollutants were identified as fiberglass particles and cellulose particles. Guess what kinds of insulation we have in the attic space directly next to my office. Right, cellulose and fiberglass. Could this be a factor in my problems? Maybe. To address it, we now have two HEPA filters running 24/7 in my office. We have plans to better enclose the insulation with Tyvec-style house wrap. (A similar condition exists in our basement. Hong, who often does work for us, has already started putting up the house wrap over the fiberglass insulation in the basement ceiling. Bottom line is, if we can remove air pollution that may be aggravating (perhaps even causing) my lung disease, it can only help.
All of this coincides with ongoing downsizing efforts in the attic and library and office, preparatory to moving down to the first floor apartment later this year. More on that next time.