What To Expect: Lung Biopsy

I wish I had been able to post sooner, but today is the first day in weeks I’ve felt “well” and I am still not one hundred percent.

Last weekend was rough.  The radiation apparently did a number on me in the end and I barely kept any food down.  I dropped about twelve pounds total and lived on crackers, water and bites of grilled chicken.  By Sunday, I was so frustrated and tired of being sick that I was in tears.  I even texted Dr. Brooks and told him I couldn’t wait anymore for Dr. Borad.  I needed help and for things to progress more quickly treatment wise.

Again, I need to be careful what I wish for.

Monday we drove to Mayo to meet Dr. J, the cardiothoracic surgeon that was going to do my lung biopsy.  She was very nice and wanted to get things done for me pronto so the trial could get started.  I agreed and the next thing I know, I am scheduled for surgery on Tuesday morning.

No big deal, right?

I’ve never really had surgery before, except for the port-a-cath placement.  I hadn’t been worried then, but I was this time.  They were going to be doing the liver biopsy (which I have now survived twice) at the same time as the lung biopsy (which freaked me out.)  I mean, what’s not to panic over?  They would be digging tumor out of my lung.  Kinda vital that they not screw up.

We were staying with Deb, a friend of mine in Phoenix, and she calmed me with some reike work.  It did wonders for me and I fully believe alternatives like reike and massage can be useful in treatments along with medicine.  I suggest looking for trustworthy practitioners to help manage anxiety, nausea or pain.

Tuesday morning we went to the hospital and before I knew it I was on a gurney getting an IV, EKG and being prepped for surgery.  They explained the procedure, which involved making three incisions between my ribs –one for the camera and the others for instruments– to get to my left lung and remove a large hunk of tumor.  The device that removed the tumor would place three rows of staples in my lung as it pulled the tumor out.  They would leave a chest tube in to be certain I didn’t end up with a collapsed lung from an air leak.

Once the consents were signed they gave me some versed and wheeled me into the OR, which resembled an alien lab to me, and had me move to the table.  That’s the last thing I remember before waking in post-op.

I had a PCA (pain pump) that contained morphine and vaguely recall telling the nurse I needed Benadryl because I was itching so bad.  I also recall waiting forever for a room, Milo coming to see me, the arterial line in my wrist being removed and lots of sleep and pain.  Pain pumps are great if you are awake to hit the button.

I was nervous about moving until they removed the chest tube.  They pulled it out and closed the sutures on that site (which burns!) On Wednesday morning.  I was tolerating orals, had my foley removed and was peeing and had my pain controlled by Wednesday afternoon.  I was surprised, but happy, when they discharged me that night at dinner time.

The following days were shallow breathing, bad coughs and pain.  I’m finally able to breathe better, lay on my right side (though my left is too sore) and move around.  It was not a pleasant experience and I definitely do not want to do it again.

The good news: this prompted the trial to speed up and we start in June.  I am nervous, but excited, that treatment is coming and I might soon have the chance to be in remission!  I can’t wait.


Bittersweet Birthday Memories

Saturday was my thirty-first birthday.  Normally, I get really excited about my birthday; it’s an excuse for everyone I love to have to celebrate me for the day.  You can be selfish on your birthday and no one can give you any grief.  The day is all about you.  The child in me really enjoys that.

But this year, I felt like my birthday was bitter sweet.  I made it to thirty-one, but would I make it to thirty-two?  What about thirty-five?  How many birthdays did I have left?  How long would I keep the beautiful memories of the day?

To make matters worse, after my radiation treatment on Thursday I became incapable of keeping down anything more than Jell-o, crackers and water.  Everything else would come back up almost the moment I finished eating it.  I was sleeping in between nausea and vomiting, so I was feeling pretty miserable.  In fact, I didn’t get to spend much time with my family that had come in from Utah and New York City.  Instead, I mostly laid around feeling absolutely horrible.

But at least the back pain was going away, right?

The nausea continued all weekend, which put a damper on my party and made my emotions that much more labile.  I would sit around and try to soak in time with people, the sounds and smells, the feeling of a hug from a good friend…I wanted to memorize every moment of everything to get me through the bad times and, if I should fall short of another birthday, to at least remind me what a really great birthday was like.

Depressing, no?

I did soak it up: I had a manicure and pedicure (thanks to my Aunts from NYC), went shopping, had a Karaoke party with my friends and family and had time with the people I loved.  It may not have been perfect (damn nausea!) but it was a good day and it reminded me how loved I am by everyone around me.

Today, I finally started to feel better after my final –yay!– radiation treatment, except for a sore throat I was having.  I tried to ignore it, but it hurt even to move my neck.  When Milo arrived home from work, I actually asked to go to urgent care (if you know me, you know that is a huge deal!) to see someone about the pain.  Good thing I did.  Apparently the vomiting, and perhaps a virus, have caused an ulcer in my throat.  The doctor wrote for some antivirals, told me to skip acids, carbonation and salt and to rest.  So there we have it.  I finally start feeling better only to feel sick.

Here’s to a better birthday next year (because there has to be one, Milo said so.)

The Universe’s Birthday Gifts…

Can I return them?  Seriously.  Last year, I turned thirty just a week before the symptoms of my cancer started showing.  So my gift for turning thirty was cancer.  This year, my gift for turning thirty-one and surviving nearly a year of cancer treatments?  Apparently infertility.

I started the injections for my egg harvest on Saturday, though it wasn’t without issue.  One of the injections was supposed to come with needles for me to draw the medication up.  The pharmacy did not include these syringes, which was an issue.  Holly, Dr. H’s sister and nurse, had given me her cell number if I needed anything.  When I called her, she told me to just add some extra to the other shot and we would make up the two shots I missed at the end when it was more important as it developed the follicles into eggs.

Which, won’t be necessary for me.

After five days of multiple injections into my stomach, which was no easy tasks as I love giving injections but not to myself, I went to Dr. H today all excited.  I made sure that my bowels were empty so they wouldn’t mess with the sonogram, prayed the mass he saw last time wasn’t there this time and that we would see a ton of eggs.  What he found, instead, was still a mass, a thin uterine lining (which should have thickened from the shots) and no ovaries or eggs.  He isn’t sure if the ovaries have been hit by the chemo despite the Lupron or if something else is causing it, but there will be no egg harvest.

Because there are no eggs.

My estrogen levels aren’t even going up because of the shots.

So, no baby.  No harvest.  Heartbreak.

Radiation is still the same: I see and feel no beam of radiation and it’s apparently too early for me to feel a difference.  I will admit, though, that my back felt a little better last night and this morning.  Now if only it would go back to normal…and maybe they’d let me go back to work.

It would distract me from the fact that there may never be a little Elliot…