There were so many tests. Tests for blood clots, cancer, tumors, heart disease and other things I’m sure we don’t really understand. Now life is slowly returning to normal after the diagnosis of my husbands breathing issues. His condition is likely to be permanent although some people do recover over several years time. He has what’s known as a paralyzed phrenic nerve.
The phrenic nerve operates the diaphragm which in turn expands the chest cavity helping the lungs to inflate. Everyone has two nerves, one on the left side of the diaphragm and one on the right. My husband has lost usage of one of these nerves meaning his diaphragm only operates on one side. Naturally this causes his lung on the damaged side to not inflate as it should.
Phrenic nerve palsy is typically something that’s encountered at birth in infants who required forceps, in people who have had some sort of trauma like a car accident and in people who have had a breathing tube inserted for surgery. None of these things is the case for Rob. In his case, this seems to have been caused by a virus. There was a cold going around – we all got it and we all recovered in time except my husbands cough didn’t go away, he was in pain and he couldn’t breathe. The virus attacked and killed his nerve function.
Now the focus is on his overall health. He’s treating his sleep apnea so that he awakes as rested as possible. He’s working on eating well and dropping a bit of weight. He’s been told that exercising is not recommended for him beyond walking as much as he feels he can. He continues to have pain days that are good and days that aren’t so good as his body adjusts to the new placement of his lungs.
Next week he will go back to work for a few hours and while we’ve enjoyed having the summer together as we worked things through, it will be nice to be back to some kind of routine come fall. Mostly we’re happy that there is a diagnosis. We know what we’re dealing with and we know it won’t, or shouldn’t, get worse. The largest hurdle to overcome is adjusting to a new normal. This idea of a physical limitation is a new one for him and while many people live day to day with limitations worse than his, it’s still going to take a while to get used to the idea that he’ll never run behind our children as they learn to ride their bikes or ride a bike alongside them or even play a game of soccer in the backyard.
So, there we go. That’s what we’re dealing with. And we are dealing with it as best we can. He’s taken on a positive attitude and isn’t letting this deter him from returning to work and a full life. That’s the best we can ask for right now.