Daisy, I am sorry to hear that you are dealing with this lung stuff now. The one question I have is if the doctors have put you on a DMARD or if they have added another DMARD or changed your DMARD???
Many times it helps to change drugs or add one of the stronger ones so that you get a stronger attack on the autoimmune attack on your body. One shouldn't just sit and watch this happen. Something needs to be changed. I would hope that your prednisone has been increased. Many times methotrexate is changed to something like Imuran or Cellcept. Sometimes cytoxan is even used if the others aren't working well enough.
I would hope that you are able to talk with your docs about the treatment you are receiving. Did they treat your atelectasis with some antibiotic??? I had some in the upper parts of my lung about 5 years ago and they gave me 10 days of antibiotic to help get rid of the infection that often goes with it.
Have they done a sputum culture for acid fast bacteria to check for unusual infections in your lungs. These can often precipitate the atelectasis also. Also, ask for a nebulizer with albuterol and 2 ampules of normal saline to add to the albuterol. My pulmonary ordered this because I asked for it. The albuterol is to help open up the bronchials tubes so that the mucus can move better.
Our mucus is so thick that after a couple weeks of just the albuterol I asked for the normal saline to add to the albuterol. That really made a difference. It helps to moisten the airways as they are being expanded. This helps to thin the mucus enough that is moves better when we cough. Be sure to keep active physically in some way as this helps to expand the airways and keep the mucus moving also.
If we sit around all the time the mucus just sits and stagnates in our lungs and infection sets in more often. I have a Vest which is called a "Airway Clearance Device". Google this phrase and see what you find. This Vest was invented by the U of MN to treat Cystic Fibrosis patients. The vest pounds the chest and rattles it enough to help move the mucus. I do it twice a day or more at the same time I do my vest. It is really strange. Having mucus that is thick and having sjogrens means there isn't all that much mucus.
However, if I miss my vest even one time a day I can tell the difference. My lungs start to feel like they are filling up and I can't breathe as well. These Vests are expensive and mine was paid for by medicare and my secondary insurance. I am forever grateful to the pulmonay PA who advocated by mail with medicarae to get this vest for me. The main reason I got it is because I have myasthenia gravis and low t-cells which makes me at high risk for infection due to weakened muscles and weak immune system.
It might be worth a fight with your insurance company if you are having increased lung issues. Do not hesitate to fight for the opportunity to get help from some of these other medical treatments.
By the way, the albuterol is 3 cc's in an ampule and the sterile normal saline is also 3 cc's per each ampule. Irish