I'm a firefighter of 13 years. Every two years we're required to get chest x rays during our physicals. Mine have always been normal until a few weeks ago when mine came back with abnormal swelling to the hilum and perihilar region. They sent me for a second which confirmed it and then back for a CT with contrast.
The results of that CT show pleural plaque in both the right and left lung and coarse pleural thickening of the right lung base. I'm 39 as of this month, which is apparently young for a result of this sort.
What concerns me is that the morning of my physical, prior to being told the results of my x ray, I explained to the doctor that I was having right lower lobe pain upon inspiration and since then have had some pain upon inspiration in the middle of my chest. I also failed the breathing test we're required to do which measures the volume of our respirations.
As the soonest I could be seen by the pulmonologist is the 25th I've got plenty of time to stew, worry and wonder. I don't understand where I was exposed to asbestos. I don't understand why I've got this at a relatively young age. I have no idea whether or not this will progress and make the career of firefighting become an impossibility for me or if I'll be carrying around an oxygen tank in ten years. I have no clue if I have cancerous cells now or how much I have to worry about that in the future. While I'm not a smoker I grew up with parents who smoked several packs a day inside the closed up house and cars with the windows up. I've been around second hand smoke most of my life.
Frankly I'm sort of at a loss for all of it. I would love to tell myself not to be worried but let's be honest, there *is* something to be worried about - the question is what that is, exactly. Really until I see the doctor I'm not going to know.
Are there others on these forums who have been through this? Anyone who knows what these results can mean for the future? I've never even heard of such a thing until now.
Well, firefighters are at risk of asbestos exposure and you have a history of 13 years of exposure. Burning buildings, sheds and other metallic structures often have asbestos products in them. These release fumes on burning which are inhaled by firefighters. Especially buildings that were made in 1990s usually have asbestos in them. Hope this explains to you how you got exposed to asbestos. Take care!
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