Knowledge Is Power: A Recipe for Healthier Days

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by Ann Reynoso |

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I am finally on the road to a better understanding of my disease, lymphocytic interstitial pneumonia (LIP), and the course it’s taken throughout my life. In my previous column, I mentioned that I would soon have my second visit with my new pulmonologist.

During this visit, I finally got a handle on things. It felt like a revelation. My disease is still rare, and there is no known cure; however, I now have the power of knowledge on my side. I understand more about how this disease may progress and what treatments I should pursue.

Knowledge / Pulmonary Fibrosis News / Photo of a chair in a small, single-person waiting room at the doctor's office.

The small waiting room my doctor’s office put me in due to COVID-19 and social distancing. (Photo by Ann Reynoso)

According to my physician, my disease is autoimmune. An autoimmune disease occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain and damage throughout the body.

RA may be a culprit in my development of LIP. I have learned that LIP is an inflammation of the lungs that can, and in my case, has caused scarring, also known as pulmonary fibrosis. It’s possible that the development of RA triggered my lung inflammation and scarring.

I also have small lumps on my lungs known as lung nodules. RA has been linked to the formation of these lumps in the lungs as well as other parts of the body. The Mayo Clinic notes that, “Lung nodules usually cause no signs or symptoms, and they don’t pose a risk of lung cancer. In some cases, however, a nodule can rupture and cause a collapsed lung.”

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The real concern is the pulmonary fibrosis that I have developed over several years.

After having a transthoracic echocardiogram, my medical team discovered possible congenital heart disease. I might have mild mitral regurgitation (when blood flows back through the mitral valve) and mild tricuspid regurgitation (when blood flows back through the triscuspid valve). Valves allow blood to flow properly through the four chambers of your heart. If these issues aren’t controlled medically, fluid can start to back up in the lungs.

Because my situation is mild, it doesn’t seem to be dangerous for now. My next stop is a cardiologist.

Knowledge / Pulmonary Fibrosis News / Photo of the machines conducting a transthoracic echocardiogram in a doctor's office.

My transthoracic echocardiogram. (Photo by Ann Reynoso)

I’m glad to have more insight and a better perspective on my disease. Still, with rare diseases, you can never leave any stone unturned. There is so much more to learn.

After talking to my sister and other family members, especially on the maternal side, I have found that RA is genetic. My LIP, however, is not. It only makes me more determined to stay in this fight.

I believe the best way to manage any illness is by listening to your body. Pay attention to symptoms that aren’t normal for you. You know when something isn’t right. Don’t be afraid to seek medical attention just because you are afraid of the outcome. This could be detrimental to your life span.

I’ve never been more determined to live a healthy life. I must admit that my weakness with food will be hard to overcome. I just need to make better choices. I’ve done well keeping my mental state healthy and working on my physical well-being. My faith and persistence keep me going.

I also remember that everything I do is not only for me, but for my family as well. They are in this fight with me. It is easy to become selfish when you are the one with the disease. Keeping my head on straight, fighting this battle with everything I’ve got, and staying positive allows for healthier days.

I have to return to my motto, “Stay strong and never hide your illness.” This remains true to this day. I feel confident with my new knowledge about this disease. It’s no longer a mystery to me.

The way I see it, mysteries are meant to be solved.

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Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.

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