Boop, Boop Di Do
I am so over this aging gracelessly crap. I’ve had a six-month mysterious health issue, finally resolved happily, but my PTSD includes flashbacks of a clown making balloon monkeys and my devouring whole packages of Oreos before breakfast.
It started last fall, when a physician’s assistant in a cardiology office told me my heart was operating perfectly but she saw high blood pressure in my lungs. I didn’t even know lungs had blood pressure. She flippantly suggested I might have something called pulmonary hypertension. “Go see a pulmonologist.”
First, of course, I hit Google and nearly lost my cookies. The Internet predicted my fairly quick decline into gasping, panting, oxygen tanks, and bye Felicia. No three-year Amazon Prime subscription for me. Good God.
So I frantically called for an appointment with a pulmonologist. It was October. “We can see a new patient in February.”
“But I may have a fatal disease,” I whined, and besides, “I’ll be hyperventilating in Florida by then.” Nobody cared.
So, I found a hot shot pulmonologist in Annapolis to see me the next week, where I spectacularly flunked my pulmonary function test. The doc asked, “Ever had asthma?”
“Yes, when I was a child.”
And like Groucho Marx he wailed, “Well, you’ve got it again. “
Okay, then. Better news.
So a few weeks later, in sunny Florida, I woke at 3 a.m. with the pain of an object the size of my head trying to pass through my right kidney. At the local ER they shot me full of morphine (lovely, by the way) and took pictures.
“You’ve got a large mass in your right lung.”
Holy crap. Cue the Phantom of the Opera dirge. But the ER doc was great. “You’ll never get a quick appointment here with a specialist, so I’m admitting you. We’ve got to find out what this is!”
So I’m in the Palms of Pasadena mini-hospital, tended by a cadre of wonderful queer nurses, and wondering if I’ll survive till Women’s FEST. Amidst three days of panic and Jell-o®, I had two CT scans, a PET scan, and a needle biopsy, all trying to identify the blurry blob behind my boobs.
One morning I wake up, trying to contain a freak-out, when a frigging clown walks into my room. Could this get any worse? Frankly, he wasn’t dressed unlike some of the old coots you see in the street around here, but the big rubber nose gave him away.
“Hello,” he giggles and proceeds to play a CD wailing Louis Armstrong singing “Hello, Dolly,” while he makes me a balloon animal. If I’ve died and this is hell I am not surprised.
Mercifully, my doc comes in, dismisses the clown, and tells me I’m being sprung to worry at home until we get biopsy results three days later. Swell. We proceed with three days of uncomfortable conversations, talk what ifs, and I promise to write all the passwords down in one place. We eat, drink, and make as merry as possible, watching movies, cuddling with Windsor.
Finally, with ants in our pants, we sit, waiting, in the doc’s exam room. He bursts in the door, grinning, announcing, “You are one lucky woman! I was certain it was a tumor, but you have…wait for it...pneumonia!”
And not just any pneumonia. I have something called BOOP. Seriously, BOOP. Bronchiolitis Obliterans Organizing Pneumonia. Very rare. Nonetheless, the good news is that it’s not going to obliterans me. Nope, it’s just something that’s settled in for a long winter’s nap, and something I need to take disgusting drugs to clear up. Whew!!! I have pneumonia. Yippee!!!!! BOOP BOOP Bi Do!
The fact is this disease is also called iBOOP, idiopathic BOOP, so now, along with my iPhone and iPad I have iBOOP. I’m so connected.
I probably developed it from bronchitis last fall, which that local doc thought was the fatal lung disease, the Annapolis doc thought was asthma, and the clown thought a balloon creature could cure.
So here’s the deal. BOOP is a lot like what they used to call walking pneumonia. For the foreseeable future, I get to swallow a big dose of prednisone and keep getting CT scans to (hopefully) watch the big blob shrink. It’s already down from giant schnauzer to a standard. Hoping for mini by April.
Of course, prednisone makes me pee like a racehorse, suffer hot flashes like I was 50 again, walk and swim like a 30-something (but hurt like a 70-something the next morning), and continuously battle not to eat an entire package of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies.
But what the heck. I have pneumonia! I’m so happy! I hope it’s gone when I get home in a few weeks. But even if not, whatever happens, don’t send in the clowns. Don’t bother, they’re here.
Bibbity Bobbity BOOP. ▼
Fay Jacobs is an author of five published memoirs, among them For Frying Out Loud, and Fried & Convicted: Rehoboth Beach Uncorked. As a humorist, she’s spent the past five years touring with her show Aging Gracelessly: 50 Shades of Fay.