Last week, mom started becoming a bit, progressively short of breath. Naturally she did or said nothing to anyone.
By Tuesday, she was at work and gasping for breath. Her boss the doctor admitted her to the hospital for testing. Initially, the thought was a blood clot. On Wednesday, as I was arriving to visit her, I found out that she was in surgery. I also learned that when she was admitted, she was looking cyanotic, and had an oxygen blood saturation of about 67% (under 92% is considered abnormal).
When she came out, she was largely under anesthesia with a breathing tube down her throat. The doctor informed me that the surgery (laproscopic) was to get pictures of the lungs,and to get a sample for a biopsy. The doctor acknowledged that cancer was unlikely based on their observations, and noted that it was presenting in both lungs … more like an allergic reaction or hyper sensitivity. He said it would be a few days to get the results. The tube came out Thursday, and by today they had reduced the oxygen they were feeding her by nose. The chest tube came out this morning.
This morning, the doctors finally arrived at a preliminary diagnosis. Usual Interstitial pneumonia (UIP). It is a condition that is a form of fibrosis … scarring of the lung tissue. There are some treatments that have some limited success, and mom will next go on to the University of Chicago for further diagnosis and to investigate potential treatment. However, the condition is chronic. It is unlikely that she will be able to move around without oxygen again. The condition will continue to deteriorate her lungs (which after decades of smoking were not in great condition anyway), and there is a strong chance that this will ultimately kill her in a few years.
I always suspected that it would be unlikely that mom would make it to an age like 80, and even 75 seemed to be pushing it with her health. So, on the one hand, knowing that mom won’t be around in ten years is not as upsetting to me as worrying about how mom will react to this. That will be the next challenge.