Here we go again? I had been short of breath for a couple of days. Important to note that it became increasingly worse over a weeks time. I thought it was the loss of endurance from not working out, but it was obvious that something else was brewing. I had a bunch of appointments scheduled on Friday the 17th at Penn for radiation simulation, a PET-CT, etc. so I called Dr. G. and he suggested because of the shortness of breath that I check in Thursday, get admitted and have it checked out. This was also a great advantage since I could start my radiation as an inpatient which means preferred treatment AND they could radiate over the weekend so I could bang out more treatment in a shorter period of time. All sounds good.
The problem is that once you are in the hospital it is tough to get back out. It is like jail. I am constantly hooked into some IV. Constantly monitored, constantly harassed by constant tests, constant vital sign checks and NO SLEEP!
The good news is that when Helene dropped me off at admissions I literally could NOT breath from the walk to the doorway to the admission desk. So we did the right thing. By the time I walked to the desk, I was so short of breath I couldn’t talk to them for at least 3 minutes. My oxygen intake was running at about 79%. They gave me oxygen and I was back to 99-100% but that was a scary episode.
After the PET-CT and further scans, it was discovered that the plasmacytoma on my chest was causing a partial lung impairment which was causing the difficulty breathing because of a back up of fluid in the pleural space between the lung and the chest wall. We did a procedure on Sunday called a Thoracentisis, which is when a doctor puts a needle/catheter into your back and removes the fluid to ease the breathing. It gave me a lot of relief. I had my best night sleep in weeks afterwards.
They estimated that I had about two liters of fluid in there (a lot) and they got out 880 ml. Almost half. They couldn’t get it all out because it was too thick for the catheter and kept clogging up the line. This is probably because it was fluid from the plasmacytoma and not regular pneumonia like fluid. They took the fluid for tests and I should have the results back of what it is and how to remedy this today. We are 99.9% sure it is the plasmacytoma and radiation treatment should reduce the tumor burden and open up the lung further. They may want to do another thoracentisis but that hasn’t been determined. Chest X-rays afterward showed a worsening of fluid in the right pleural space but that is pneumonia related and can be taken care of with home antibiotic so not to worry on that one so much. Also, every nurse/doctor who has listened to my lungs since then has remarked on how clear they sound.
Hopefully I can get out of here today or Tuesday latest. I feel strong as an ox. I am ready to hit the gym again. I asked Dr. G. why I can’t put on any weight. I am eating like food is the scarcest commodity on Earth yet I can’t put the weight back on. He said I have NO IDEA how much energy I am (was) expending and how many calories I am (was) burning just to BREATHE! When the breathing improves the weight will come back. So now is the time to create the right habits – as long as I have the energy.
That is all on the medical front. I thank my great visitors over the weekend. Now that I look a little less like Skeletor, I don’t mind having visitors. So thank you to Helene (as always) my rock, my love and my life. Thank you to Carolyn and Jeff – especially for bringing me the cheesesteak from Abner’s. That rocked my world. And special thanks to my brother Craig. He drove down yesterday from Westchester to visit. He also brought roast beef, cereal and a mediterranean salad for dinner. I had him go to the ATM for me. I don’t really need money here but I thought i should have a little change in my pocket. I told him take out $100 if there is no fee but if there is a fee take out $300. Now I am sitting with $300 …. in TENS! The ATM spits out TENS! What am I going to do with that. The pile is too thick. Good thing I am not as fat as I once was otherwise it wouldn’t fit in my pants pocket. 30 tens! C’mon man!
It is a great day to fight Cancer. It is a greater day to fight Pneumonia. And it is an even better day to get out of this jail … er … hospital.