Saturday, July 23, 2016

On Second Thought, Don't Do That

A few days after being released from my last hospital stay I had an office visit with a new cardiologist in Gotham City. I haven’t given him a nickname yet, I’ll come up with something after I get to know him a little better. The visit went well and I was satisfied with his understanding of my multiple problems. The following day featured a blood test and an office visit with Dr. Whoosh’s NP, which went well also. I’m now scheduled to resume my frequently postponed chemotherapy on August 1st.

The next afternoon I received a telephone call from one of Dr. Whoosh’s nurses telling me that they had consulted with the new cardiologist and between the two of them had decided to try stopping a couple of my medications due to a high value on my creatinine level on the blood test. Remember that my last hospital visit involved a week of tinkering with my medicines to get me back on my feet. The result of those changes had me feeling much better and I had resumed losing weight. Well, they’re the doctors, so I stopped two of my medications.

Overnight I gained 8.5 pounds and my blood pressure fell into the basement. After playing phone tag with doctors and automated answering machines for a couple of hours, I was told what I sort of knew already. Resume taking the medicines! About 24 hours later, I’m back on track having lost 2.5 of the 8.5 I gained (losing is always harder than gaining). My blood pressure is still a little low but trending upwards towards normal.

Medicine is not an exact science…

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Another Extended Stay

I had another appointment with Dr. Whoosh in Gotham on July 6th.  Following my last hospital visit, my shortness of breath had returned with a vengeance. When he asked me about it, I expressed great concern and explained that I could hardly breathe after only walking a short distance. He put a pulse oximeter on my finger and had a nurse walk me around for a minute or so. My SpO2 level stayed around 95% and when I sat down the nurse quickly took the meter off my finger. I protested and had her put it back on. Immediately the reading dropped to 70% as I started gasping for air. This raised a few eyebrows to say the least. After consulting with Dr. Whoosh, he recommended I go back into the hospital to see what was going on.

After waiting a couple of hours, they found me a bed in New Arkham Hospital. At first glance you’d never guess it was a hospital. It looked more like an airport terminal. A gigantic lobby with comfortable chairs all around, lots of chrome and wood, wide hallways and rooms that (except for a hospital bed and medical equipment sitting around) appeared to be more suited to a four star hotel. I was impressed. The view from the 18th floor was spectacular. The other side of the hospital looked out over Gotham University Stadium. I ended up staying for a week while they tinkered with my medicines. The New Arkham is a teaching hospital, so dozens of doctors trooped in and out of my room with interns and students following them like little ducklings. I felt like I was the guy with the mystery disease in an episode of "House." While there I certainly received the royal treatment. I hate to think what it’s going to cost my insurance company…or what my copay is going to be. In the end they took me off of a couple heart medications and doubled my diuretic. I’ve been peeing like clockwork about every 45 minutes or so and since they admitted me I’ve lost another 22 pounds. It’s helped my breathing dramatically, I can get up and move around much easier, and have stopped using a wheelchair for the time being unless I have to go a long distance. I’m feeling tremendously better and am praying that I don’t have a relapse. I have three followup appointments in Gotham this week, I think we're going to get a hotel room and stay there a couple of days instead of spending four hours a day driving back and forth.

If you’ve ever been admitted to a hospital, they have probably given you an insulated, graduated, plastic mug for your water so they can record your fluid intake. So I got one of those with a plastic lid and a plastic bendy straw sticking out of it. On the outside of the lid was printed “Do Not Twist Lid.” Although there was a little door you could twist to close the drinking holes, I understood that they meant not to try twisting the entire lid to remove it. To remove it you had to pry it loose, which wasn’t easy, it fit very tightly. Upon opening it, I discovered the ubiquitous legal disclaimer printed on the bottom of the lid, “Caution: Contents May Be Hot.” 

Who was the genius that decided that the warning needed to be printed on the INSIDE of the tight fitting lid? Although the mug was being used for ice water, had it contained a hot liquid, I would have likely burnt my fingers removing the lid before ever being able to read the warning. A serious lack of thought going into your design here folks.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

An Insect Jihad

Summer has arrived and with the heat comes a Mongol horde of Musca domestica. Common houseflies intent on making contact with human skin as many times as they can during their pitifully short lifespan. I could be wearing long pants, a long sleeved shirt, gloves, and a Luchador mask that only exposed the tip of my nose and a pester fly would still try to land on my nose at least twice within 30 seconds of being released in the room. In a house with 4 adults and 2 grandkids, keeping the outside doors closed all the time does not appear to be a viable option to stem the tide. The only things I’ve found that makes them disappear reliably are flypaper strips and fly swatters. They won’t go within a 2 foot radius of a flypaper strip. Put a fly swatter in your hand and they head for the hills until you lay it down again. Then they’re back like insane little Kamikaze flying raisins trying to martyr themselves in the belief that they will be met at heaven’s pearly screen door by 72 nubile maggots eager to do unspeakably disgusting things to their proboscis. Is it obvious that I don’t like flies?

On my health issues, I visited Dr. Poirot, my local pulmonologist last week and had another 1.7 liters of fluid drawn off my right lung. I’ve decided to call him Dr. Poirot due to his uncanny resemblance to David Suchet, best known for portraying Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The thoracentesis (lung fluid draining) helped for a few days, but I already seem to be clogging up again and having difficulty breathing. I see Dr. Whoosh, my oncologist in Gotham City, this coming Wednesday and am scheduled to resume the chemotherapy treatments. I keep telling people its immunotherapy, not chemotherapy, but everyone continues to say “chemo,” so I’ve decided to just give up and go along with it. This will be my first treatment since mid-April. The infusion is supposed to be done every two weeks, so it’s been a long dry spell akin to starting from scratch. I’m hoping this time we’ll be able to stay on schedule and it will slow down the cancer growth the way it’s supposed to.

Several kids from church and a few of the deacons showed up a week ago and did a bunch of yard work and completed building the patio that my wife has been diligently working on for about four years. They all deserve a pat on the back, great job! We have no big plans to celebrate on Independence Day since everyone is busy with other things on the 4th. On Friday we grilled some pork chops on the new patio, I think that’s going to be the extent of the festivities.

That’s it until later.