A few months back, I posted here that I was suspected of having contracted sarcoidosis, and that the disease may have been linked to my proximity to Ground Zero on 9/11, and the smoke and debris which persisted for months and years afterwards.
Well, the bad news is that, yes -- I do have sarcoidosis. Confirmed. Nailed down. No question about it.
The really good news is that the contributing factors do not appear to have been exposure to the (worst of) the toxic materials that were released during the collapse and subsequent fires (we're talking really bad stuff, like asbestos, mercury, lead, PCB's, dioxin and shit like that). I've been tested for exposure to those horrors, and thankfully, they don't seem to be much in evidence. However, it is difficult to actually identify what is the cause of this syndrome, and it's generally believed that the hyper auto-immune response which causes sarcoidosis is typically not triggered by exposure to a single source, but by a combination of many sources. It's this sort of uncertainty and the potentially-unlimited number of possibilities that makes sarcoidosis difficult to diagnose.
Fortunately, there are no signs of persistent granulomas (small, fibrous tumors), although my initial chest x-ray did indicate there might be some in the lungs. Whatever that was has pretty much disappeared -- no one knows how or why-- and the doctor is not (at this stage) concerned that the affliction is going to become debilitating, although we'll just have to wait and see if it becomes/remains chronic. So far, the only things we do know is that it seems to become worse with the arrival of spring (it's shown up two consecutive years in a row, now), and tends to tail off when the really hot weather arrives (like today when it hit 96 degrees outside, and all of a sudden, the worst of the tiny little red blotches on my forearms arms seem to have gone completely).
This means, of course, a battery of allergy tests is in the offing. Literally hundreds of them. Starting next week. I'm going to be tested for every pollen, spore, mold and fungus known to mankind, to judge by the Doc's demeanor. He seems genuinely interested in this case, perhaps even genuinely perturbed by the elusive nature of it all. I can't tell if he's just really pissed, taking this inability to give clear and concise answers beyond "maybe", "we're not really sure", and "well, it might be..." as a personal affront to his medical reputation, and personal honor. Whatever; so long as he cares that much, I'm thinking it's a good thing.
It also means someone is coming to my house to vacuum every speck of dust, test every surface, sample the air in the house and in the neighborhood, not to mention check my soap, laundry detergent, deodorants, colognes, and every household cleaner under the sink. No stone is being left unturned.
The other piece of good news is that at least I won't have to take steroids to keep my lung function up. As an aside: the last lung function test I took was damned impressive, considering that I've smoked for 27 years, am a good 50 pounds overweight, and haven't run more than a few hundred feet in years. Not a whiff of cancer or lung damage on the x-rays, either. Fuck You, Tobacco Nazis and Secondhand-Smoke-Kills Pansies! How do you like them apples?