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Ronald McKenzie (Old Crankie)

Joined 14 months ago from Airdrie, Alberta, Canada

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Hi. My name is Ronald, but you can call me Ron. I was born in a small village in northern Ontario in the summer of 1951. My Dad, worked for the railroad as a fireman/brakeman and with a forestry company as a driver. Near the end of 1953, Dad had to find another job as the steam engine was being replaced with diesel locomotives, and as he was low man on the pole, was let go first. He went and joined the army and in 1954 we became a military family and lived that life for 27 years. I joined the air force at age 17 and spent another 15 years of my own in the military. I was married then divorced and married again and have 4 beautiful, now fully grown children who have families of their own. So, I am a Grandpa and I love it. In my early 30s I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylites, a form of arthritis. It first showed up in my right elbow and wrist. My family doctor tried a variety of medications known to have been effective at the time, but they failed to work or I became intollerant to these meds. So the disease grew and spread through my joints attacking my hands and my hips. It was painful. I could barely move most days and it took me forever to get out of bed. I was sent to a rheumatologist, who attacked the disease with some of the strongest medications available at the time. Again, I became intollerant to some of them and we switched regularly. Over the years, (more than 30 to be correct), I have been subjected to many home remedies to help me make it throught each day. My favourite home remedy is WD40 rubbed into the joints. Don't laugh. Some people believe in this very strongly and state rather emphatically that it relieves the pain and swelling. But, it didn't for me. Another one is the copper bracelet. Again, it did not work for me. Anyway, about 5 years ago,I found it was getting very difficult to breath. I was constantly short of breath and extremely tired. My chest felt extremely heavy and it rattled when I breathed in and out. I went to my family doctor who sent me to a respirologist.  After several xrays and a CT scan, the doctor found the pluera sac surrounding my lungs was full of liquid. Both lungs. This was putting pressure on the lung itself and squeezing them. He explained to me what the problem was and quite likely how it occured. He felt that i had damaged my lung in some way and I was scheduled for surgery to have the fluid drained from the pluera sac. Now, to do that, he inserted a needle with a tube attached to it into my back to gain access to the sac around the lung. Of course he gave me a local aneasthetic so I wouldn't feel it. I sat like that for about 30 minutes and he did the other side the same. Altogether he drained about a pint of fluid that appeared to be blood coloured from both sides of my lungs. I felt better and a whole lot lighter. I could breath again without difficulty. It was great. But it was short lived. 3 weeks later I was back again for the same treatment. Again, I felt great  and again it was short lived. I was sent to the hospital where I was admitted. I was scheduled for major surgery where I was to be knocked out completely. I awoke with 3/4 inch tubes trailing from my back, one from each side. Thes hoses were attached at the other end to glass bottles with what I thought were suction machines. Again dark fluid was being drained from my back into these bottles. And it appeared there was quite a bit. No one at this point knew what it was and what was causing the build-up of fluid. My surgeon called my respirologist and my family doctor, who called my rheumatologist and the 4 of them conversed for what seemed an eternity. Finally, the decision was that I had rheumatoid lung disease caused, of course, by my rheumatoid arthritis. Now isn't that special. Anyway, after a week in the hospital I was sent home. I felt better but my breathing was difficult. About 2 months later I was back in the hospital again to have the lungs drained.  I now, after 5 years, have to use a oxygen concentrator to assist me in breathing because it is extremely difficult to "catch my breath" without it. I have learned that other than the fact my lungs have lost some capacity to hold oxygen, they are quite healthy. There is no sign of anything else untoward wrong with my lungs. And, as it happens, because I take an anti-coagulant, (I had heart surgery 7 years ago and had a metal valve installed), they cannot do anything more. So, I live with the problem. I have slowed down and have attempted to find my niche in life.

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