Medical Update…

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Many have inquired concerning my health following my medical evacuation from Iraq last September (2008). We appreciate your concern, care and prayers.

Bottom line: They have found that I have irreversible lung damage. I have lost over half of my respiratory capabilities. It is believed to be in the class of diseases known as Bronchiolitis (a disease affecting primarily the really small part of the airway). All attempts at treatment to manage and reverse the obstruction in my airways has failed.

What is the prognoses?

Uncertain. Similar diseases in the civilian population are rare and mostly limited to certain industries with exposure to chemicals or dusts known to cause similar lung problems. For the civilian population, with known exposures, it is usually considered terminal. Much depends on how rapidly it progresses. The disease progression is not well understood. Initial damage, the substance(s) that caused the damage, genetics, other lung diseases all likely impact the progression and outcome.

Less then 40 Soldiers who have served in Iraq have been identified to have this type of problem. About 65 percent had a known exposure to a substance that causes damage to the bronchiols. The rest have all served in Iraq in different locations and at different times.

It is not expected to get better. It may not get worse. However, it looks to be progressing (that is getting worse). But only time will tell how fast it will progress or if it will progress in stages with stable periods in between progressions.

How does this affect day-to-day life?

I am often short of breath. I have had to make adjustments to “normal” daily activities. For example, walking slower, sleeping on my side, limiting conversation have all been part of adjusting. I have also had to learn some different breathing techniques in order to maximize my capabilities. Sustained running, carrying heavy objects or climbing are no longer possible. In other words, anything that requires heavy exertion is out. Activities requiring moderate exertion are limited—depending on the type, duration and ability to modify the activity.

What does this mean for continued service as an Army Chaplain?

Uncertain. They are taking a wait and see approach. How fast will this progress? How does it impact my ability to perform my duties? What can I do to accommodate these physiological changes in order to maintain and expand my physical capabilities?

All these are unknown. Every few months for the next year or so I will have my respiratory function tested. In between test I am attempting to maximize my health. I am also continuing to serve as a Chaplain. I have been working on a special project developing something call the Spiritual Fitness Center. An Army pilot program taking place here on Fort Hood, TX. Soon, however, I expect to be place in a unit here on Fort Hood were I will once again pastor Soldiers and their families. This will provide a better opportunity to assess the affect of this disease on my ability to perform as a chaplain and officer in the Army.

Thank you for praying for us as we continue on the difficult journey.

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About padredavidfell

Priest in the ICCEC. Retired Army Chaplain
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2 Responses to Medical Update…

  1. melysa moran says:

    thank you for keeping in touch and giving us an update. however god chooses to work in your life regarding your health, he is the same yesterday, today and forever. good to hear that you are still pushing forward with ministry despite trials. god bless you-

  2. Pat Fell says:

    David
    Read your blog. My prayers are with you. Hope a miracle is in order. It doesn’t sound like much has changed since I last spoke to you. We can only hope is does change for the better and they find some way of treating this. Take care and hope to see you, Renata and Ben in the spring or summer. Your Cleveland family.

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