June 29 – Health Update (Summary)

A note from Kent: Many of you have kept up with me in recent weeks through our blog or through friends and family.   This update will be a brief summary of the last five weeks for those of you who prefer a summary and an update in one place.  I sent this last week to those of you who are on my regular prayer list or on my monthly widow letter.  For you web friendly folks, there is a list of search items for you at the bottom of this update.

Kent’s Health Update Summary – June 29th, 2010

On May 24th we went to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland,   to meet with specialists and to get a stent put into the airways of my lungs.  We met with the Pulmonologist (Dr. David Feller-Kopman) on the 25th, and he did a “flexible bronchoscopy” on the 26th to examine my lungs. At that time we found that my lungs were 90% to 95% blocked on expiration.  On the next day he went into my lungs and placed an upside down Y STENT into my bronchial tubes (rigid bronc). The following day he did another flexible bronc to make sure everything was OK.  We also met with a leading Rheumatologist (Dr. David Hellman) about treating the basic Relapsing Polychondritis disease. He has seen 30 of the 600 cases reported.  The above two physicians are the BEST along with the three physicians on our OKC team.  I have five physicians that God is using to get me the right treatment.  On the 29th (Saturday) we flew home.  That night I was feeling so good that we packed up and drove to our lake house to be with our family.  We planned to stay there and rest for the next few weeks and most of the summer.

The following morning, Sunday (30th), I awoke with much difficulty in breathing due to (we later found out) all the stuff that had been in the bottom of my lungs.   As I had lost breathing capacity in the prior weeks, these fluids and slick gels were being stirred up and blocking my airways.  Davidene drove me back to the hospital emergency room in OKC. (She has been under great stress 24/7 and been a warrior.  Without her support and encouragement, and being very strong with me when needed, then I would NOT be here). They worked on me for five hours and determined that I was headed down hill.  So, they recommended the ventilator to stabilize me.  I said OK, even though I had heard all the stories about vents, but I had no choice.  On the Vent for three days (Sunday through Wednesday), it appeared that my body was making little progress. By Tuesday evening, (they told me later) it appeared that I was probably not going to make it off the vent alive. Those days were very difficult on Davidene and our family. I made a comeback and woke up on Wednesday afternoon. I do not remember any the experience as they give you a drug to do that.

I spent six more days in ICU and was sent home the following Wednesday (June 9th). I was able to get my treatments for my lungs at home from Davidene.  I did OK for three days, then regressed, and had to return to the emergency room and later ICU on Sunday (13th).  Again the issue was how do we clear the lungs, keep them from producing excess liquids, and be able to cough to keep the lungs clear? While the stents keep the airways open, they keep them from closing, therefore, coughing is difficult.  The doctors were running out of options.  Then we found and tried a miracle drug that would do the two things that we needed to do. (It is a vapor that I put into my lungs through a nebulizer like some other treatments I take several times a day.) It is very expensive. We are trying to work with our insurance firm on getting them to pay for at least part of the costs.  It worked really well! Now I am reducing that treatment from 3 to 2 to 1 time per day.  So, I came home on Thursday (17th) and am better and just trying to build back my strength so that I can walk and do little things without stressing my lungs. I had my best walk yesterday by walking around the pond near our home.  Today (29th) I have been at home for 12 days and gaining strength each day.  However, the doctor was concerned about my output after a breathing test, so on Friday the 25th he did an outpatient bronc on me. (These take about 30 minutes, and I was “out” while they put the scope down my throat into my lungs.) He looked around and found that my lungs were clear. Two of the three parts of the stent are clearly in place and one is a little loose, but over-all everything looks great.

I am taking four to eight breathing sessions a day of vapor for my lungs at home.  I just need to make slow steps of progress.  I can sleep at night in a chair and walk around the house and take very short walks at the moment.  I went to the office for four hours last week for the first time in 5 weeks.  I went out to eat.  And I even went to Sunday School.  I am making good progress, but I have to deal with a couple of coughing sessions daily to keep the fluid out of my lungs. Over the next few months we will be able to determine what my new lifestyle will become.  Right now I am a walking miracle coming from 10% breathing capacity to be able to function again. I am taking a cancer medicine to hopefully replace the steroids over time and have raised the dose from 50mg to 200mg a day over the last month. This will keep me from crowds and flying for the time being.  We hope to see the results gradually of it controlling the basic RP disease, so it will stop damaging my lungs.

People from churches and networks and friends and family and work associates and people I do not even know have ALL been praying from around the world.  This is a spiritual battle and your prayers have made the difference.  God is good.  We are taking this one very small step at a time.  I cannot talk a lot due to stressing of the lungs and vocal chords which have been slightly damaged short term.  I cough a lot which is good, and I sound worst than I really am.  My goal is to resume life in a few weeks in a different season, with limited travel (overseas days may be over), and a lot of writing and mentoring and a little business as before. We hope to be able to go to the lake for most of the next two months and just rest, write, and be with our grandchildren.  The doctor is going to allow us to go to Colorado for our postponed family vacation as long as we drive and do not fly.  We have had to cancel some speaking engagements, but will know in a couple of months what my limitations will become.

I value every minute with family and friends.  God had plenty of opportunities to take me home the last month. So, I feel that He still has a few things for me to do.  The grandkids and family may be #1, close friends and other leaders to encourage and model a servant heart #2, and encouraging others in the workplace may be #3. I am a walking miracle. I may have only months to live or a few years, but whatever that is, our goal will be to glorify Him.  Through these weeks of hospital stays I have held onto John 14:27 (His Peace), John 16:31(Peace), James 1: 5 (wisdom for the doctors), and 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5 (in unseen spiritual battle for my life). In order to do these goals above, then I have to keep my lungs clear, exercise and get the lungs to do their own thing, and improve a little each day.  Every hour and day is a battle just to breathe.  I need very small victories and still covet your prayers.  I am undeserved of your prayers and attention but so thankful for them and God’s grace. Please rejoice with me and THANK GOD for His mercy and grace and allowing me to get through this serious situation. I want to get off of the “stage” and being so visible and again just quietly focus on supporting others.  THANKS for your prayers, encouragement, and friendship.

Your brother, Kent

Updates on the blog on our web site at www.lifestyleimpact.com

Do web search on Relapsing Polychondritis, and then RP Airway in Chest Journal, April 8, 2010.  Bronchoscopy.  Dr. Feller – Kopman and Dr. David Hellman. And Nicholas L. Compton on RP on June 13, 2006.


About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

5 Responses to June 29 – Health Update (Summary)

  1. gib Bush says:

    Thank you for the update. It has been a labor of love for us to pray for you. We truly do have an awesome God who allows us to come before the throne of grace on your behalf. We are continuing to pray for daily strengthening for you and Davidene. We love you both!

  2. Carol Mahaffey Bell says:

    Kent and Davidene,

    I think of you both often. It is wonderful what God is doing for the two of you and all you come in contact with…family, friends and those people you don’t even know who are lifting you up. The encouragement given back from the messages you and Davidene send are a blessing to me. God is good!

  3. Laura Manahan says:

    Kent – my prayers have been going up daily for you. You and Davidene are such an inspiration and blessing to me – more than you will probably ever know.
    To see God shining through in even this life changing time is a testament of your strong faith and love for our Lord.
    Please know you are loved and prayers will continue without ceasing.

    Laura Manahan

  4. Kathryn Chopee says:

    Hello Kent
    I came upon your blog tonight. I too am a Christian who is battling Relapsing Polychondritis. My most recent flare put me in hospital with aortitis. When I was diagnosed and presented with the treatment options I immediately searched for natural treatments as the side effects of the drugs scared me more than my prognosis. I found a good Naturopath who immediately put me on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet (and other restrictions but those are the biggies). Also some specific supplements. A few years ago there was a scientific study published on the beneficial effects of a gluten-free vegan diet on autoimmune diseases so this is not quackery!
    Adhering to this regime has allowed me to stay off Prednisone for the most part and totally avoid the steroid sparing agents. When I get sloppy and careless I end up with major flares and back on Pred although since my episode with aortits I am being very very careful of the diet!
    Anyways I thought I would share my story with you in the hopes that you might find some help or new way of dealing with this.
    God bless
    Kathy Chopee

    • Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Kathryn. We, too, are very careful with diet. It makes a huge difference. We will add you to our own prayer list. Davidene

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