Throat Radiation After-Effects, Aspiration & Suffocating Mucous
I am a 61-year-old woman that finished the last of 35 radiation treatments last March 2020. Since then, I have had pneumonia and other lung infections which was finally attributed to aspiration of solids and liquids after a barium swallow test. In that regard, I had a feeding tube inserted hoping that would be the beginning of lung healing, although this is not the case. It has been horrible, with shortness of breath, and at times rushing to the ER because I could not catch a breath. All this time I have been on one antibiotic after another, going on 6 months now! The last two months have been Doxycycline 100 mg. twice per day. Obviously the feeding tube has not stopped the feeling of having constant Bronchitis and if I stop taking the Doxycycline, within two days the substance in my lungs begins turning in consistency to that of super-glue. I had a bronchoscopy done 10/2020, which found heavy e-coli in my lungs, and a sputum test revealed "MRSA" and "Stenotrophomonas Maltophilia." The pulmonologist and Infectious Disease doctors have both denied me any more antibiotics, and I understand their concerns, yet, they have no suggestions for me.
As I sit here, it is 3:00 a.m., and I can not sleep due to the gunk in my lungs making it hard to breath. If I quit taking the Doxycycline, I will be hospitalized within 2-days time, or at the Emergency Room again, in terms of not being able to clear the mucous and breathe. I have to go to urgent-care about once-per-month to have the antibiotics, and that doctor feels I should be on them until (if) this subsides.
I feel as if no-one cares about this condition, or, they know what it is but do not want to admit the truth that the radiation caused this. It must be aspiration causing this lung condition, as there was nothing wrong with my lungs before having radiation for cancer of the Pyriform Sinus (part of throat). The cancer is supposedly gone now, and I am thankful for that. I was a fitness nut, that exercised and ate a healthy greens diet, plus a non-smoker.
I asked the pulmonologist nurse before Thanksgiving what I am supposed to do with no antibiotics…"just die?" She laughed at that statement. Yet, they offered no alternative, or help. My ENT Doctor scopes me approximately every 3 months, and claims my throat is still extremely swollen, yet the swelling is subsiding very slowly. For 8 months I could only whisper, but now have my voice back. The ENT said he can finally see my vocal cords, but this thick mucous problem goes on. If you put your fingers on the depressed area of your throat–by the Trachea–that is the area where the mucous seems to be lodged. Again, as long as I am on antibiotics, the thick mucous can be coughed up with the help of a nebulizer of 7% saline. If I am not on antibiotics, the mucous turns into a cement-like substance, whereupon nothing will dislodge it. The hospital gave me IV antibiotics twice, which began clearing it up rather fast.
By the way, I have been to two Pulmonologists, and both are stumped. They both prescribed many different inhalers–Albuterol, Symbicort–others, and if this is any clue, these inhalers make my throat worse. In fact, the last time I used the albuterol was in desperation, and it almost closed up my throat totally. The second-opinion Pulmonologist described that reaction as "very interesting." Currently, not taking solids or liquids by mouth, in hopes this will go away.
Sorry to write all that! This has been submitted hoping someone will instruct me as to where to go from here? Another ENT, or another Pulmonologist?