Friday, November 07, 2008

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1080 - Long Day's Journey

It started last night at 10:30 with a trip to the ER. I noticed that the increasing tightness in the lower half of my body was now accompanied by swelling in both legs. Since our refrigerator sheet with "things to watch" included inexplicable swelling and shortness of breath (something I have in spades these days whenever I exert myself - even an activity as simple as visiting the washroom), I obeyed my wife and left with her for the emergency department.

Five hours later, we were on our way home again, bilateral edema having been confirmed, 60 mg of Lasix administered through the PICC line with an immediate effect of decreased swelling and a trio of emptied catheter bags within 45 minutes. There was also the inevitable drama of screaming patients, police guarding men with facial lesions garnered from fighting somebody somewhere, and ER nurses whose skill and knowledge always impress me.

The same ER doctor that had visited me a week ago came by again and talked to me about the edema. The blood work suggested my kidneys were functioning well, but that I could do with increased attention to nutrition, especially consuming more protein. I need as well to keep my legs raised as much as possible while getting some activity, such as walking, whenever I can.

Soon enough - far too soon enough - we were heading back to the cancer centre for the already postponed 2nd chemotherapy session. First, we had to do another blood draw to accompany the blood draw done earlier in the morning in ER. And, I felt we had to contact my medical oncologist to let him know what had transpired.

The blood work confirmed that my albumin was low but otherwise in decent shape for the chemotherapy. After sharing the details of my medical experiences last week with the chemo suite nurse, we paged the oncologist who came over and did a quick examination of my legs. He too was concerned about the shortness of breath and the possibility that my IVC filter might be malfunctioning thereby making a pulmonary embolism a dangerous possibility.

He scheduled immediate tests in the medical imaging department of the hospital for a spiral CT scan of the chest and an ultrasound to look for possible deep vein thrombosis. The chemotherapy treatment was postponed until early next week with the balance of the day devoted to the required tests.

By 5:00 pm, we were back in the cancer centre consulting with an oncologist who confirmed that both tests were negative. This means that I am in no immediate danger of pulmonary embolii...some good and welcome news.

I've boosted my oxycodone to two tablets this evening to quell some of the abdominal pain (I probably can decrease pain medication once the edema starts to lessen tomorrow after I start the oral version of the Lasix) and allow me to do some walking around the house. But, of course, the drama and intensity of my dreams has skyrocketed again.

With such a busy day, there wasn't really much time to reflect. But my curiosity was in full force as the new information and tests came at me one after the other. Now, I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend for resting and relaxing and as much walking around inside the house as I can manage.

Is it OK to be hoping for some routine again?

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