Living Well with a Bad Diagnosis - Lung Disease

Friday, April 22, 2016

PFT Results

I have been having pulmonary function tests at my university medical center lab since 2004. Through the years, relationships formed. At the lab, I have gone through marriages, divorces, birthing of children and departures. The receptionist has become such a good friend that we Facebook each other. It was exciting to learn that she is four months pregnant with her second child. She had told me over a year ago that, if God willing, she so wanted another child. She is forty-two years old. She is also involved in setting up specific tests for prospective lung transplant patients, so we will be seeing a lot of each other!

My current favorite lab person has been working there for only three years. She and her husband have an almost 3-year old and don't own a TV. They play a lot of live music, different genres of recorded music are also featured and, of course, they dance. I try to share with her what I learned about children and music education, what to expose him to and at what age to begin lessons on an instrument. I also get my best numbers when she is working with me.

I was expecting my numbers to have fallen since being so ill but, when compared to previous tests, they were similar. The only change that I noticed was my hemoglobin level was 14 and now it is 16. It shows that I am needing more help with the exchanging of gasses.

It is important for those of us with an interstitial lung disease to keep an eye on two numbers: forced vital capacity and DLCO adjusted for the hemoglobin. Just by watching the numbers during the tests, I can tell how well or how poorly I am doing.

Here are my latest numbers and you might want to get out your report to compare. My age, weight, height and ethnicity are used to predict what a similarly healthy person would test, what I actually did was observed and what was my percentage of predicted:

Predicted          Observed          % Predicted
Forced Vital Capacity           3.22                    1.52                    44%

Diffusing Capacity (adj)     25.06                  11.03                   44%

So there. Not great but not too horrible. At one time, my diffusing capacity (DLCO) was 7.7 observed. That was horrible. Remember that 100 is normal and under 30 is considered severe. 

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