Monday, August 06, 2007

Ozone Orange

August is increasingly the month, where I live, when the ozone alerts are flashing. The message my desk top screams at me is ground level ozone concentrations may reach unhealthy levels. Today we were in the orange for ozone and we also had a heat advisory. Same in place for much of the week. I had an aha moment when I took my trash down to the street this afternoon. I could tell that my breathing was affected as I walked up my driveway. I started thinking about how the scans I've had which have me a little nervous about my lungs were both either in August, or the beginning of September which isn't that different from August here.I wouldn't have thought anything about it if my first PET/CT scan which was done after my melanoma dx had shown junk in my lungs, unless the radiologist had thought it indicated a malignancy. I stopped smoking in 2001 and was diagnosed with melanoma in 2005, but I assumed it would take a while for my lungs to get up to snuff because I smoked a LONG time. However, that first scan in February of 2005 didn't show anything that shouldn't be in my lungs. It wasn't until my PET/CT scan at the end of August 2005 that notations such as "hazy opacification" and tiny lung nodule started cropping up. It bothered me for something new to show up.I asked my oncologist about those notations regarding my lungs and he said it wasn't anything to worry about. That said, the first thing I looked at when I had a full body scan in March of 2006 was to see if anything was noted about my lungs. I was relieved when the lungs weren't mentioned but then the next scan at the end of that summer once again mentioned a lung nodule and a small thorax node lit up. Again, it wasn't anything that concerned my doctor. It did worry me so I was once again relieved by the fact that the March of 2007 scan didn't note anything in my lungs. It wasn't until I was huffing and puffing my driveway today that it occurred to me that the end of summer scans might show these little lungs buggers because of unhealthy ozone levels irritating my lungs. At this point I'm on an annual scan schedule so I won't have another full body PET/CT scan until March of 2008.My aha moment added into my being glad that I won't be getting a six month scan this year. The point is that if the ozone issues aggravate my lungs and cause barnacles to show up at the end of summer, a scan at the end of winter is much better. The scanning issue in general is one that I'm not entirely resolved about. It bothers me that there isn't a standard for Stage III melanoma. Many of the large melanoma clinics handle it differently. A few don't do any asymptomatic scans, some every 3 months, some every 6 months and some like mine once a year. I had more frequent scans initially because of my concerns over the chronic pain I've had since my LND. The problem was that my first scan 6 months after surgery showed a mass in the basin where I had the lymphadectomy and that had to be followed up on with another scan in 3 months. Now things have settled down and I shouldn't need any more scans until March 2008. Tonight that suits me. Who knows what will suit me tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

You are still my hero for being able to quit smoking...I hope you pat yourself on the back for that one every morning!
I like to appreciate good breathing at least a couple of times a day...the thick air makes it difficult and we have all but closed up the screened porch for the month. The EMTs are even carrying special oxygen masks designed for doggie snouts!
(No worries here, thosebeaglez are snoozin' on the family room sofa.)
I remember reading that the Dog Days of Summer have nothing to do with how lazy the houndz get, but we should all take a tip from their behavior and just take it easy when the breathing is hard.
Your 'ahas' are correct, as usual.
Love, K.
(trying to keep Wm.'s words in mind...)

Summer's lease hath all to short a date.
- William Shakespeare

Carver said...

Hi Kim,

You always come up with the best things to say that make me feel good. I appreciate the pats on the back about stopping the cigs. That was the hardest thing I've ever done. I also like the Mr. Bill quote.

Love, Carver