Life Happens

I have not gotten to do the writing I’ve wanted to lately.  This last round of chemo didn’t affect me the same as the second round, but I’ve had enough other things happen to keep me busy.

I’m really fortunate to have an extremely smart doctor.  Unfortunately, when you have someone that is highly desirable, there are times when he’s not in the office.  There was a big cancer convention in Chicago that Dr. Sharman had to speak at, so I didn’t get to meet with him like I usually do.  Because of the difficulties in the last round (which should explain some of my lack of blogging) they decided that I might be having some dehydration.  That sounded crazy to me, because I have to drink 64 oz of water every day – as should everyone – but it’s really important when you’re on chemo.  Anyway they decided that I should come back on Monday to get an additional bag of fluids & some more nausea meds.

The chemo went well, except that they had a little difficulty “accessing my port”.  In English, that means not just being able to put fluids in, but they also need to be able to aspirate some blood out of the port.  The reason for this, is so that they know that the catheter part is in the right area, and chemicals are not going into tissues, etc.  If I remember right, they did get some, it was just difficult.

On Monday 6/4, my friend, and fellow cancer survivor Pamela Platt took me to down to Eugene for the fluids – because it was just going to be an “easy” appointment.  Well, one thing that I should learn is that I should never count on any appointment being easy – especially the ones that are supposed to be.  When they went to access the port to give me the fluids they couldn’t aspirate any blood this time, but they sure tried to.  They leaned my chair back, had me lift one arm, then the other, cough, and then even tipped my chair way back past where it can go – she had to hold it to make sure that it didn’t fall over – and still no luck.  They could not get any blood.  Because it was only going to be fluids & not chemo meds, it wasn’t as important if the cath had moved, so they just made sure my shoulder didn’t start swelling, and went ahead & gave me the fluids.

When it was all over, they felt it was important to find out whether the catheter had actually moved, or if a piece of skin (called a sheath) had started growing over the end of the cath.  It’s not uncommon, and you can just about imagine how it would work.  It’s very mechanical, when fluid is introduced through the catheter, it pushes out the flap, but when they try to pull blood out the flap closes.  Kindof like the way the valves work when you inflate an air mattress – the air goes in, but doesn’t escape.

So they arranged for me to get into Oregon Imaging Center around 2:45.  This was definitely going to be a longer day than we planned.  Pamela used to live in the Eugene area, so when they told her where to go for this appointment, she was familiar & knew how to get there.  Thank Goodness!  We eventually found the right parking garage, but we were hungry & had time to go grab some lunch.  We found a little Japanese hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and had teriyaki chicken bowls.  Only one of us was ambitious enough to eat with chopsticks – I won’t say who that was. 🙂

The scan was pretty easy, they used about 10 ml of iodine, inserted it into my port and took an x-ray.  The results were not really bad, but not good either.  It showed that a sheath has indeed started growing over the end of my catheter, but it also showed that the catheter is still in the right place.  The technician that did the scan also does some of the “port revisions” when these issues come up, and he told me that there are a couple of ways to fix this.  One is to go up through a vein in the femoral artery, and try to “snag” the end of the catheter and pull it back into place, and the other is to replace the port.  Neither option sounded great to me.  Once the doctor has a chance to review everything he will let me know how they are going to proceed.  It’s one thing to go into a procedure not knowing what is going to happen, but it’s another to know and dread it.   The Dairy Queen Blizzards on the way home made me feel a little better though. 🙂

I want and try to keep a positive attitude through this, but it’s not easy.  I keep trying to remind myself to pray and turn all my anxieties over to God.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the prayers that are going out for my family & I.

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