Medical Update: Happy Day, Columbo!

Today is a big day for us Columbo fans. May the patron saint of the American crime detective drama, Saint Peter Falk, bless you today.  Just one more thing...

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It has been a while since my last .gif-laden update. Since my last post, football season has started [the Chicago Bears and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are both sitting at a paltry 4-2], I celebrated my 32nd birthday last Thursday, and the government, taking a cue from Ross and Rachel, went on a break. It's good to be back. I've missed the caring dozens of you that have read this blog. "hey, how you doing? It's nice to see you."

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To those who have just stumbled across my little section of the internet because someone linked it in your Facebook wall and now believe it was a major mistake to click that link and don't understand or share in my affinity for communicating with moving .gif's, then I only have one thing to say to you. 

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 Welcome to you, too.  I'm sure we'll be friends... eventually.

RECAP

On the last episode of "Nate Has A Case of the Sniffles": 

  1. I got sick. Went to the doctor and they found a 'mass' on my lungs in an MRI. I also had pneumonia. 
  2. The mass looked, talked, and had the same general baditude of lymphoma. Oncologists were convinced it was lymphoma. 
  3. It wasn't lymphoma. It was a very rare congenital disease called bronchopulmonary sequestration (meaning: my lungs never formed correctly) and Graves' disease (meaning: an autoimmune disorder affecting the thyroid).  
  4. All in all, my friends say that I have the sniffles and this was all a ploy to get them to feel sorry for me. Me retort: if I had better friends, I wouldn't need to pull these kinds of stunts to get their attention. This is their fault. I am the victim.

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GRAVES' DISEASE

When I left the hospital, we immediately went to the pharmacist to get enough meds to start a small pharmacy ourselves. When you look at the amount of medicines that I take, coupled with the vitamins and supplements, you'd think I'm putting pills in my mouth all day, every day. You'd be exaggerating. Stop it with the exaggerations, fella. I put them in my mouth three times each day, every day. That's all. When I finally found the right dosage of my thyroid medicine and cocktail of supplements/vitamins, I started feeling pretty well. Last month was the best I've felt in many years (less fatigue, better concentration, less irritability, etc.)

Upon the recommendation of my endocrinologist and radiologists, we decided to opt into radiation therapy to ultimately kill my thyroid. It wasn't the only treatment for Graves' Disease, but we felt most comfortable with it after researching the benefits/downfalls and longterm success. A week and a half ago, I spent some time at Memorial Hospital in South Bend while they monitored my radiation uptake and built me a pill. The typical dose for Graves' Disease is 10-15 millicurie. For thyroid cancer, it's not uncommon to get a dose as high as 100 millicurie. My dosage was 18 millicurie. 

The radiologist recommended that, because I have young children that may be susceptible to radiation, it'd be best to find a place to stay for a few days outside of my house. Fortunately for me, I have good friends and was able to stay with Mark and Julie Secor (and their dog Tucker). It was nice to have a place to go where I didn't have to be alone all the time. It sucked for them as I'm sure I shortened their life with the levels of radiation that I emitted. The cost of friendship! 

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I continue with my thyroid medication [Propylthiouracil] until my thyroid dies a slow and painless death. Eventually [within the next 6 months] my thyroid function will drop to a level that the endocrinologist will prescribe a synthetic thyroid medication. I will be on a synthetic medication for the rest of my life, or until medical advancement supplants current technologies. If all goes as planned, my levels will be balanced within the year, my thyroid will be dead but the function will be synthetically manipulated, and we'll all be happy. 

The game plan now is to work out enough to not gain the requisite weight that many thyroid patients gain when being treated or without thyroid function. In my adult life I've weighed as much as 310ish and have been as little as 185 pounds (after I returned from China).  My family tends to make a sport out of commenting on each other's weight fluctuations. Since the holidays are coming up, my goal is to work out enough to avoid this comment. I like to eat. This is no small task.

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BRONCHOPULMONARY SEQUESTRATION

My other condition is a bit of an anomaly. There's not much written or published about it because of its rarity. UCLA wanted to do a study on it and it took them 17 years to get 10 patients, most of them being babies. It's a congenital issue, meaning that I was born with it. I've never had complete function of my right lung because some of the lung tissue separated from the lung in utero. 

To fix this issue, I will be having a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery in Indianapolis on Friday. My surgical oncologist told me that it's basically just a lung-cancer surgery, but to rest assured that I do not have cancer. Technically, for those medical people that have asked, they'll perform a lobectomy to do a few things (1) remove the sequestration, and (2) remove any of the right lower lobe that has been compromised by the sequestration. 

Video-assisted surgeries are truly the way of the future. They are less invasive leading to a decreased recovery time. I'm glad they can do it in Indy. So, the name of the game is 'survive' and all will be well soon. People have been asking me if I feel nervous about the surgery. I do not... yet. Perhaps there will be a feeling of nervousness the moment prior to getting knocked out for the surgery. But, that won't last long. Literally. I'll be asleep quickly.

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THE FUTURE

Unfortunately, I'm going to be needing some more time off. I'm tired of time off. The worst part about all of this is that it's taking so long for me to get back to my regular routine.  

On Wednesday I will be preaching [via the mysterious power of the video camera] the first week of our "Story According to Coldplay" series. This will be a 5-week sermon series going through the biblical narrative [creation, repentance, redemption, resurrection, and restoration] while also having fun connecting some Coldplay songs to those themes. My plan is to preach the second week of this series live at State Street on November 3rd. If it looks like my recovery is a bit slower (they say to expect a 4-6 week recovery and that will be just two weeks at that point) then I will record another message on video. 

There's a chance that I'm being a bit optimistic about how quick I will be able to return. There's a chance. But, I like my chances. What's the worst that could happen from coming back too quickly? 

 

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Let the Kool-Aid man be a lesson for us all. I feel very fortunate to be a part of a church community that has demonstrated so much love and patience through out my case of the sniffles. I look forward to being back permanently with half the lung, but twice as awesome.

That's all for now. Stay classy, blog readers.