Monday, November 10, 2008

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1083 - H is for...


Take your pick:

  • Hospital
  • Health Care
  • Happiness
  • Hell
  • Hard Times
  • Hope

...even all the above.

The surprises continue, I'm afraid. I write this entry from the comfort of a hospital bed on the 6th floor of the Grand River Hospital in the in-patient oncology unit. My wife and son have just left for the evening, and I'm getting ready for what I hope to be a peaceful and uneventful night. When I awake it will be Remembrance Day in Canada and I'll take some time to watch Schindler's List, one of my annual video tributes. Sometime during the day, I'll be transported back down into digital imaging for yet another CT scan, this time of my abdomen.

So, "whaaaaa happened?"

I awoke early this morning, did some reading, took my medication and otherwise prepared for the CCAC nurse to remove my catheter, followed by a consultation with my medical oncologist, followed by my twice postponed 2nd chemotherapy treatment. But shortly after 8:00 am, I noticed that my left leg had swollen dramatically and that I could barely stand, much less walk anywhere. When the CCAC nurse arrived, we went ahead and removed the catheter, and I conveyed my anxiety and dismay about yet another set back. The truth is that I was very emotional, right on the edge, intensely worried and finding it hard to remain positive.

When we arrived at the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre, we met with my oncologist who immediately did a physical, ordered more blood work, another deep vein thrombosis ultrasound, and a tentative abdominal CT scan (do I need to say that the chemotherapy was postponed yet again?).

When the ultrasound came back positive for a blood clot in the left leg, I was immediately admitted to the in-patient oncology department where they began treating me with blood thinners to dissipate the blood clot in the hopes of reducing my tree-trunk-size left leg (the weigh scales also showed that I had gained about 10 lbs in a little over a week; more evidence, if it was needed, that I was retaining fluids in the lower half of my body).

On the other hand, during the day, I began voiding naturally again, thereby avoiding replacing the Foley tube. The nurse also re-dressed my PICC line using a steroid puffer to treat the inflamed area around the crook of the elbow with the whole area then covered with a clear adhesive and dated (thus making it possible again to see the insertion point and the inflammation area directly whenever we wish instead of once every three days when the CCAC nurse comes to my house to change the gauze, etc). We also applied a hydrocortisone cream to the outlying areas of the arm.

One of the cooler moments was informing the attending physician and nurse of my medical history only to have them both remark how they have never heard anyone so well informed about his/her condition. The truth is that my wife had to keep reminding me what year specific treatments were given.

So the next goal is to stay in hospital and get rid of both the blood clot and the swelling in the legs. After that, we need to get me mobile so it won't happen again. Then we can talk about resuming chemotherapy in better shape.

Am I really happy to be hospitalized again? No. But if that is what it takes to get this under control, then so be it.


Brie said...

H is also for "hello" (from me) and "Hooey" (i.e. that really bites that you're back in and that your chemo was postponed again). I have no doubt that you are being dazzled by my truly extensive vocabulary (eg. it really bites) ... Hey, I spend my days with 13 and 14 year olds. What can I say? :-)

After reading your blogs, and being very impressed ('though not surprised!)by how well informed you are, and by your command of the English language,it occurs to me that you should write a book. Maybe it could be something along the lines of "Being a Smart Cancer Patient for Dummies". By passing on all of the knowledge and wisdom you have acquired in your journey, along with your understanding of the emotional aspects, I'm sure you would be helping an awful lot of people .... and maybe you could get rich at the same time! :-)

Remembrance Day seems to have so much more meaning for me every year. Do you find this true for you, or is it just me? A function of my age, perhaps?

How was Schindler's List?

Thinking of you.


Don Spencer said...


Didn't get to Schindler's List after all.

Remembrance Day is right at the top of my special days each year. It seems that there is so much to be learned from those who fought for our country, even those who did so reluctantly.

Schindler's List is another example of fighting the good fight in the most desperate of circumstances.

I don't know if a book is something that I could manage, but a project like that does interest me. A spiritual care provider here at the hospital who suggested I blog about my experiences with cancer has just brought in some examples of books whose format might trigger some ideas for me. We'll see. Thanks for the encouragement.