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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Testing, testing, 2 and 3. Four coming up tomorrow.

So I got a couple more elimination tests done, trying to track down the source of my chronic cough.

The first one was a methacholine challenge. It was actually a lot of fun and very interesting. I got a tech that clearly loved his job, and was fantastic about answering questions and explaining the different readings on the screen, which was in full view of where I was sitting.

In this one, I had to breath through a hose into a drum that measured the changed in volume. This involved taking a huge breath in, then punching it out as hard as fast as I could, then keep trying to exhale for as long as possible - or until he told me to stop.

The first few were to establish a base line. I ended up doing 6 of these - about twice what was needed. *L* The interesting thing was seeing the numbers increase slightly each time.

Once that was done, I had to inhale the methacholine in a saline solution through a mask, starting with a low dosage. I'd do a few more puffs into the drum - these ones for only 3 seconds, instead of until I was turning purple. After about 3 of those, I'd get another, stronger, dose of methacholine through the mask, and we'd do it again. I can't remember if it was 3 or 4 stints on the mask.

With people who have respiratory issues, such as asthma, there would be a substantial increase in restriction even with the low dosage. For people without these issues, lung volume does drop, but slowly and not by very much.

Finally, after the methacholine tests were done, I was given two shots on a puffer, the same as what asthmatics would use, given 9 minutes for it to do its work, then tested again.

Although the results were printed out to be sent to the respiratory specialist for analysis, the tech and I could see them and talk about them right then and there. My lung volume turns out to be well within the normal ranges. Even when, near the end, I was starting to cough a bit more (not much, though, thankfully. This wasn't anything at all like the booth tests, though these tests were part of it), my volume remained within normal ranges. There was even one test, after one of the stronger doses of methacholine, where I knew it was weak. It was the first of three puffs after that dose, and I didn't punch it out as hard as I could have. The next two puffs were back on track. Interestingly, the first "weak" puff had a higher volume than the two that followed! So even though I didn't hit is as hard as the others, the result was better.

When it was all done and we were talking about the results, I made a point of asking very specifically about what was being measured, and that yes, my results were within the normal range. Then I told him why. If you've read my post about my visit to the respiratory specialist, you know that we discussed the results from my booth tests, and that the last two had showed I had lower than normal lung volume - and that the specialist blamed it on me being fat, even though I told him that, by the time I was doing those tests, I was having major problems with my coughing.

When I mentioned this to the tech that was doing the methacholine challenge, he was taken aback. Looking again at the results printed out and in his hands, he told me there was NO reason to come to that sort of conclusion. My lung volume - without having all those other tests that were done in the booth first, and without coughing my lungs out in the process - is fine.

I wonder what the respiratory specialist will make of that?

The next test I had done was the home sleep apnea test.

This one was interesting, since our only other experience with sleep apnea testing was with my husband, who'd spent the night in a research lab, hooked up to all sorts of gadgets. Mine wasn't quite that involved. *L*

Because of our above normal awareness of sleep apnea, the tech that gave me the machine didn't have to spend anywhere near as much time with me, explaining about apnea. She just had to tell me how to do the test.

I had three things to attach to my body. The first was an oxygen sensor, taped to one finger, to get my blood oxygen readings while I slept. That was kind of funny. The sensor has a red light and, when the lights were out, the tip of my finger glowed red. All I could think of was the movie, ET, with the phrase "ET phone home!" jumping into my mind whenever I saw it. *L* Also, just to make sure the sensor didn't accidentally get ripped off or something as I moved around, the wire was taped to my wrist.

The second thing to attach was a microphone. This was a thick, flat metal disc that had to be taped into the hollow of my throat, just above where my clavicle meet. This would record my snoring and the volume - as well as any bedtime conversation we had once the machine was turned on.

Finally, I had to attache a hose to my face. In shape, it was a lot like what my husband wears with his CPAP, but tiny. A device with a pair of nozzles went under my nose, with the nozzles inside. They tickled. From each side of the device, a hose ran up, around my ears, then back down under my chin. A slider was used to keep it snug in place. The pair of hoses then joined to a single hose, which then attached to the machine. This measured how much air was (or wasn't) coming out of my nose.

The wires and hose for this were all really long, to give plenty of roll-around room. It made getting into bed a challenge. Dh had to untangle one of them from my leg for me as I tried to get under the covers. I tend to toss and turn a fair amount, and every time I had to roll over, I needed to find the wires and hose and hold them out of my way as I moved. The most disruptive part was in the morning, when I had to go to the bathroom. Since all this stuff is taped to me, I had to unplug the machine from the back, take it to the bathroom with me (while making sure I didn't trip over the wires and hose hanging down), then plug it back in when I got back to bed. Well, it was pretty dark, so I had to turn on a light to plug it back in. I had been told that I wouldn't have to turn the machine back on again, but after a minute or so of watching the screen *not* switch from "not recording" to "recording," I turned it on manually.

Half an hour later, I have up trying to sleep again. All the fussing just woke me up too much. Which means they have, at most, only 4 1/2 hours of test results. According to my husband, I didn't even snore that night. Seeing the results should be interesting.

So those are the latest tests. Tomorrow is the big one. The bronchoscopy. This one will be done in hospital, and they're going to physically look into my bronchial tubes and, if necessary, my lungs.

This is the one I'm pinning my hopes on. If they can't find anything after physically looking into my lungs, I don't know what's left.


  1. Good luck tomorrow, I hope everything goes well!!

  2. Thanks. I think it did. :-)


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