DIY: A Pulmonary Hypertension Patient Drains His Lungs at Home

Roger Bliss, 68-year-old pulmonary hypertension (PH) patient, was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small lymphocytic lymphoma. In addition, Roger has celiac disease. He recently interviewed with Pulmonary Hypertension News.

Making Every Moment Count

Roger spends summers in Alaska with his wife Mary Ellen. While he is in Alaska he works at his gravel hauling business. Winters are spent in Arizona. Roger keeps a steady pace, refusing to allow his cancer to interrupt.

When Roger’s cancer was first diagnosed in 2015, his doctors determined that his difficulty in breathing was caused by COPD.

He received treatment for COPD for the next several years until questions arose after a routine electrocardiogram in November 2020. Roger’s doctors were concerned that his windpipe was closing due to expanding lymph nodes.

They conducted a right heart catheterization which is the gold standard test for diagnosing PH. It then became his official diagnosis along with cancer and celiac.

About Pleural Effusion

Pleural effusion is often referred to as ‘water on the lungs.’ The process, thoracentesis, involves the insertion of a needle in the pleural sac to drain the fluid. At the first session, the doctors drained two liters of fluid. According to Roger, his three specialists have thus far been unable to explain the excess fluid.

Roger readily admits that having his lungs drained every month does indeed interfere with his daily activities. He must first have X-rays to monitor fluid levels, then the doctors drain his lungs. After two days of rest, he meets with his doctors for an update on his condition. In two weeks the process begins again.

The draining process continued until Roger was offered an opportunity to carry out the procedure at home. He accepted the offer immediately. Roger had a PleurX catheter inserted into his chest. The fluid accumulates in a sac surrounding his lungs. To date, Mary Ellen has drained the fluid multiple times relying on instructions from a “how-to” video on YouTube.

Looking Ahead

So far the process has been successful with the exception of a temporary infection and learning how to apply bandages to the site. Roger said one of his concerns is whether the pharmacy will always be able to supply him with drainage kits.

But Roger commented that he is still not certain if he will continue the “at-home drainage” even though it is more convenient. He has been able to skip the X-rays for the time being.

Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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