Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is you is or is you ain't my VCD?

Wednesday morning was still very rough on me, but I was starting to perk up by the end of yesterday afternoon, and I'm generally better today. I managed to get some food in, which helped a lot; while I am not one to complain about losing five pounds, I don't recommend doing it in five days. I am still tiring very easily, but I definitely have more energy, and I'm starting to be hopeful that a few more days of rest will make a difference.

However, after spending literally all day at various doctors', we're still not sure what exactly is the problem. Clearly, there still is one, because I become distinctly squeaky after just a few hours without albuterol, and eventually lose the ability to push enough air out to talk above a whisper. A breathing treatment reverses this nearly instantly, which is a definitive sign of asthma... except that my lung function tests say otherwise.

My pulmonologist this morning was absolutely convinced that it could not be anything other than vocal cord dysfunction. The ENTs tested me for this before I left the hospital, and didn't find any evidence of it, but the symptoms I have, and the lung function symptoms I don't have, all fit in with that diagnosis. The pulmo kicked me back anyway to an allergenist/immunologist for another look at it, on the chance that the last one had been done too close to a breathing treatment.

So I got to have a second tube stuck up my nose and down my throat, which is just about as much fun as it sounds like, and the allergist found... nothing. My throat, larynx, and vocal cords are not irritated, inflamed, swollen, or sore in any way. It's absolutely clear that I do NOT have VCD. He thought he might have seen some swelling farther down my trachea, which might have been bronchitis except that I'm not coughing, and he decided to repeat the lung function tests again.

The lung function tests are the very weirdest part of this whole affair. The tests I had done in April showed mild obstructive lung disease, about 80% of the lung capacity a woman my age, height, and weight should have. The ones from Tuesday and today showed my lung capacity at about 150% of predicted. This isn't just unexpected, it is absolutely illogical, any way you look at it. If you assume the 150% value is inaccurate, why was it repeatable? I seriously wondered if it was a measurement error, until I duplicated it again today.

Alternately, if that is the accurate value, my lung function back in April was only half of what it should have been, and I should have been gasping for breath in the ER instead of running around after my babies. If your lung function is at 50% of your personal best, you are in *trouble* -- yet it's now that I can't walk down a hall without panting, with a lung capacity one-and-a-half times what I should have?

In the end, the allergenist called the pulmo back, and they even consulted the lung-function-test PhD again. Collectively, they threw their hands up and said to stay on the albuterol for now, because it "works". I think they're hoping it's just some really weird virus thing, and that the albuterol will see me through until it passes on its own. If that's the case, fine, great -- I certainly don't *want* there to be anything wrong with me. But if there is, I'd like to know what it is and how to fix it, instead of having the dubious satisfaction of stumping the doctors yet again.


Stacey said...

My sister had VCD and had to learn a new way to talk. Given the sound of your voice that'd KINDA make sense, but it wouldn't exactly explain the sudden onset of the wheezes.

Nico said...

That is just all so strange! I hope they can figure it out sooner rather than later.

I'm assuming since you haven't announced anything, that the crimson bitch has showed up? Or are you just being shy so you don't have to give up your infertile card???

Emma B. said...

Nope, not pregnant, Nico, which is actually kind of a relief in the circumstances. I need to be healthy first, y'know?

Stacey, unfortunately, they're sure it's not VCD -- my vocal cords don't do the thing that defines VCD. So frustrating.

Eva said...

Yikes, I'm sorry it's still a mystery. The 150% is REALLY strange. What did Dr. Google say? Don't even try to tell me you haven't checked, I wouldn't believe you =)

Emma B. said...

Dr. Google said Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Eva. You know it's bizarre when even the Big G MD can't help you out!