So, wow, it’s been an interesting week.
Over the weekend I started to notice a niggling chest pain - nothing major, just a little spasm when I rolled over in bed. I had my MRI progress scan on Monday morning and the pain was enough to cause me some issues holding my breath during the MRI (more on those results later) - but still nothing I'd call alarming.
After MRI I came home and got right into the bath (because so far in my treatment a hot bath has been a magical cure, or at least a great calming agent, for many of my ailments). I sat in that bath for 8 hours because every time the water cooled down my chest hurt a little bit more. When Madé checked on me in the evening she threatened to call an ambulance - maybe it was the combination of shallow breathing...and needing hot water to not be in real pain. I resisted going but she may well have saved my life by forcing me - like literally (I was proposing to sleep in the bath that night).
I should say that at this point I REALLY didn’t want to go to emergency, partly because of all the tests I knew they’d run (i.e needles) but mainly because I’d convinced myself that what I was experiencing was because my lungs were full of cancer and we were going to rock up at ER and they were going to tell me it’s all over.
Anyway...we we drove to the nearest ER (San - local private hospital). Despite saying it wouldn't be a problem I couldn't even walk from the car to the entrance - Madé had to wheelchair me in. To cut a long story short (bloodwork, X-Rays, CTs etc) it turned out I have two clots - one in each lung. Otherwise known as pulmonary embolisms. I’m told people die from these regularly. Apparently having Cancer makes you high risk for these because Cancer actually makes your blood clot more. Who knew Cancer came with all these "add on" benefits ? I’d also been fairly immobile a couple of weeks prior because of my chemo side effect feet issue (burning so much I couldn't walk - you should see how gross it looks now) and not moving much can also spur clots - hence the inflight warnings to passengers.
Next day I was transferred to Macquarie - my primary treatment hospital - by ambulance (kind of embarrassing but they needed to be able to deliver pain killers because at that point it was so painful to breath) ….and I’ve been there ever since, and I’m not sure how long I’ll be here for.
They are injecting me twice daily in my stomach with a powerful blood thinner (oh and I have to learn to inject this myself before I can leave as I’ll need to do this for several months - I have no f@^#n idea how I’m going to do this). It gets better. While this shouldn’t affect my surgery dates I’ll probably need to have a “filter” installed in my Vena Cava - the main vein linking your torso to you lower body, to catch any other clots during surgery as a precaution, because obviously you can’t be on blood thinners when you’re operated on. Apparently it looks like a Shuttlecock, and I have to be awake during the procedure to place it. Yes...I am crapping myself about this. My lungs are also both partially collapsed - just a small area at the bottom - but this is high risk for infection so I’m on IV antibiotics (took them 5 goes to get that needle in a couple of hours ago).
I’ve also learned a bit more about my liver surgery. Sounding more likely that this will be separate to the colon surgery in November and will be open, not laparoscopic like the planned colon surgery (although there is still a scenario where that might change too). They need to make a large incision to actually turn the liver over so they can get at one of the two tumours which is more internal to the liver and in an awkward position - the other one is pretty accessible and could have been done laparoscopically if it was the only one.
So yeah, it’s been a tough week and it’s not quite over yet. My room in the ward also happens to be a few doors away from a woman in her final hours / days of life and no matter how hard I try, I can’t tune out of all conservations between relatives happening loudly and passionately in the corridor (although some interesting insights for my own Track 2 planning).
One piece of positive news is that my primary and secondary tumors appear to be responding to the radiation and chemotherapy. Long story but the official report from the scan on Monday still isn’t out but all my surgeons have looked at the images and tell me it looks good. So, woohooo, on one important front - although again, the OFFICIAL report isn't done yet.
It still seems so totally surreal that this is all happening to me. From the guy that was almost never sick (and had no major illnesses ever), I’ve become a walking list of numerous co-morbidities (the medical term used to describe all the things you’re suffering from that could potentially kill you). When I used to fill out medical waiting room forms I just used to skim all the "do you have a history of..." questions and tick no on absolutely everything. Now I have to read them very carefully because much of the stuff on the list applies to me, all in the space of 3 months !
On the logistical front I still get a lot of pings on FB messenger & Hangouts, emails etc etc asking me for the latest news and I think it’s because I’m not a very prolific blog poster (it takes some effort which I don’t always have the energy for, or I just can't think of enough to fill a whole blog post). That means friends and family are in the dark. So, I’m caving and setting up a private, moderated FB group - only for people I know i.e. friends, family, colleagues - where it will be easier to post small updates from my mobile etc. When I do have something chunky to say I’ll continue to post it on my blog.