Holding Steady... Mostly
On Friday, October 9, I had my third scan to monitor the amount of spread (if any) of cancer. If you saw previous notes, you may remember that I had some small amount of cells in my stomach, a shadowy presence in one lung but overall, very little cancer, considering I have, you know, cancer.
I wasn’t given the results of the scan until Monday, October 12, but surprisingly, I didn’t fret over it on the weekend. I’ve mostly felt pretty good if you don’t count the fatigue and extreme shortness of breath limiting my activities. The oncologist was very happy with the results; almost everything read the same as last time - with one notable exception.
The shadowy presence in the lung is showing trace amount of cancer cells. Not a huge problem right now. BUT. (There’s always a but.) The scan did detect a “moderate” amount of fluid in the pleura surrounding that lung and it was suggested that I have that drained. Like the next day.
The fluid has been compressing my left lung, preventing functioning at full capacity, likely contributing to my shortness of breath. The thinking is that once the fluid is gone, the lung can return to normal.
So on Tuesday (yesterday), I took myself down to Medical Imaging at Centennial Hospital where one of the worst days I’ve ever had commenced. The procedure itself was not really all that bad - the lidocaine kept me from feeling anything relating to the drain itself. Without trying to gross anyone out, I will reveal that 1.3 liters of fluid was taken out. That’s a lot, as the doctor said, for “such a tiny person.” I looked around the room to see who he meant. Me... he said I’m tiny. Okay!
To get to the really awful part: it’s when the lung is trying to re-expand. They told me I would feel this or that, which I did and no big deal. They told me I would cough. Oh. My. Lord. I coughed so long and so hard and it was incredibly painful. My nose was running; I was crying; I banged my hand on the table; it was awful. That was followed by an x-ray after which I was told I could leave. I may have mentioned going to the Starbucks in the lobby (okay, I did mention that).
After securing a victory Iced Chai Latte, I was on my way out when the nurse tracked me down and told me to come back. Upon a closer look at my x-ray, the doctor saw an air pocket that concerned him. I had to lie on a gurney for an hour before a second x-ray was done. Still, the air pocket. Lie on the gurney for another two hours, this time with oxygen and attempting deep breathing. I could only get to an inhale of a count to three. So painful.
I asked what if the air pocket was still there after the next x-ray. The doctor said I would have to be admitted to the hospital. Trust me, I was willing that air to be gone! And after the third x-ray, it was determined that I could - for real this time - go home.
Once home, I still felt pretty bad. My poor dogs had been in their crate all day so we just sat on the couch until it was time for bed. I was hungry but didn’t feel like making food; I was cold but didn’t want to get off the couch to do anything about it. Bedtime came at about 8:00.
I slept well and kept breathing all night long! Good, right? This morning, my lung is feeling a bit bruised which is okay and I still can’t take a very deep breath but I’m working on that.
That is one day of my life that is over with and hopefully, will not need to be repeated. So I should close by saying again that scan results showed most everything holding steady. And I’m grateful for that.
Next scan is in nine weeks. Facebook is ending NOTES on October 31 so I’m not sure what format these updates will take but as long as you all keep reading, I will keep posting.
Much love to everyone and thank you all for your support.