November 7, 2007

Finally it seems I’ve turned a corner in my recovery – I’m having very little pain, and although I still tire, it takes longer to hit me, and less time to recover, as well as that I can do more and more before I need a rest. I’ve been able to walk Robin around the 1/4 mile loop without fearing that I won’t be able to make it home, and yesterday, I began working a little bit, starting to go through the 754 e-mails awaiting me at work from the last 5-1/2 weeks! I was only able to focus for 2 hours yesterday, but today I managed a couple different sessions and worked for 5 hours, and actually did some work in addition to clearing emails.

At this point, I plan to continue to do some work from home up until Thanksgiving, and the next week start back in the office for as many as 32 hours per week through the end of the year. How much I’m able to work will depend on how the chemo affects me.

So far this week, it has been a medical comedy of errors.

Tuesday morning we showed up at the hospital for my chemo port installation surgery. Once admitted, they gowned me up, and had just gotten the IV inserted when my surgeon came in to talk to me. After describing what she would do during the surgery, and answering various other questions about it, she headed off to do the surgery ahead of mine. I realized that I had one more question, so Brian managed to find her before she left the pre-surgical ward and brought her back. I told her that I’d been in the hospital over the weekend, and that one of the things they had done was to inject me with a blood-thinner called Lovenox in case I had blood clots. She said “Oh, we have to cancel your surgery today, then.” If the surgery had been one day later, it would have been OK, but apparently the drug is still functioning up to 72 hours after injection (at least at the dose they gave me). The most likely problem would be that, since she was cutting directly into a vein to insert the catheter tube, I would have kept bleeding after she closed the incision, causing a major hematoma which could become infected, and cause the tissue around the chemo port to become infected.

So they removed the IV, let me get dressed, and sent me home. I now have my chemo port installation scheduled for next Tuesday, the 13th.

Then, this past weekend, of course, I was in the hospital having tests, one of which was a thoracic CT scan. Both the doctors at the hospital and the oncologist on duty told me I could cancel my CT scan that was scheduled for later in the week; and when my oncologist’s triage nurse called me Monday morning to find out about my hospital stay, she said that he had also agreed I could cancel the scan. After we hung up, I called and canceled my scan that was set for 2:00 p.m. on the 7th. Half an hour later, she calls back and in a very apologetic voice, asked me if I’d already canceled the scan. Turns out the doctor wanted to have a scan that focused on my thoracic spine, and to have a bone scan in addition. So she scheduled me to have a CT scan on: TA-DA, the 7th! Only this one was for 7:15 a.m., because some lucky sod grabbed my primo 2:00 p.m. spot. Sigh.

This morning, we drag ourselves out of bed, drive over to the hospital, fill out the paperwork, and the tech takes me back to the changing room. I get gowned up, and he comes back to fetch me. He asks if I know what the doctor is looking for, and I tell him that I believe he’s looking specifically for anything that might have caused my chest pain, including metastasized cancer. He says he’s going to go have a chat with the radiologist about it, and will be right back. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, no word. 15 minutes, 20 minutes, I’m drifting off to sleep on the tiny little bench in the changing room, when I hear the door open. Poor guy, he looks like he might be worried that I’ll be pissed – and it was a close thing. Turns out that they had the raw data from my weekend CT scan on their computer (I guess they archive stuff off to storage, but at some point longer than 5 days, anyway), so all they needed to do was refine the image to focus on the spine instead of the general thorax area. So they let me get dressed and sent me home – I thought it was pretty funny, but I felt very sorry for Brian, who’d gotten up very early to take me over. At least we hadn’t progressed to the IV point, or injection point.

Frankly, I’ve been a little concerned at all the toxic stuff that is being done to my body in order to kill a different type of toxic stuff – sometimes the cure is nearly as bad as the disease. X-rays, radioactive gas, radioactive contrasting agents, dyes, chemicals, etc. I’ve committed to getting through this in order to prolong my life, but I do worry that there can be future negatives to all the exposure to nasty stuff.

So I just listen to my guided imagery CD that depicts the chemotherapy drugs as golden healing liquids that burble through my bloodstream like a brook through a forest glade, pure, cleansing fluid that carries away the detritus; and hope that believing can make it so.


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