I didn’t expect to be doing any more medical updates and yet here we are once again. Last week I had a decline in my overall energy level and shortness of breath. I assumed the pleural effusion had returned and so I contacted Dr. Vinayak. He said there was nothing wrong with having the lung drained and though I’m now on hospice care. He could also squeeze me in on Friday afternoon at 1:30pm.
Robin and I got down to Georgetown University Hospital Friday afternoon and it was everything I could do to get out of the car, walk into the main entrance, and sit down on a couch just inside the doors. While she went to park the car I sat there, head in chest just trying to pull myself together. Robin grabbed a wheelchair and we made our way to Dr. Vinayak’s office. It was great to see Ajeet again – he’s such a personable gentleman. He was a little taken aback seeing me because of the amount of weight I’ve lost since we had last been together. It didn’t take long to be ushered into an exam room and have him do an ultrasound of both lungs. While there was some fluid in the left lung there was nowhere near enough to warrant draining it. He commented that I looked very pale, then looked under my lower eyelid, and said I looked anemic. He even had Robin come over and showed her what he was looking at. Go look in a mirror and pull down a lower eyelid. The skin should be an overall pink hue with small veins running everywhere. Mine were almost completely white. A quick discussion on what to do next was had and we opted to go downstairs to the ED and have them do a CBC blood test to see what my hemoglobin level was at.
My wife has commented numerous times about being on hospital time. Meaning they tell you it will be an hour and it winds up being two or three. Well there is hospital time and then there is ED time. ED time is like getting pulled into a black hole – time comes to a stop. 6 hours after getting there I finally had the results of the stat (yeah right) blood work. My hemoglobin count came back at 6.3. The doctor told us hospital policy dictated anything below a 7 justified a blood transfusion. With that prognosis I knew I wasn’t going anywhere fast. A transfusion takes around 2 1/2 to 3 hours and then they needed to wait another 3 hours before doing another CBC to see where the numbers went. At that point Robin headed home and I was admitted the hospital for the night. Unfortunately there no beds available and so for the time being I was stuck in the ED.
Thanks to some ear plugs the nurse was able to find for me I was actually able to fall asleep. At 2:00am a room finally became available and I was ushered up to the 4th floor where they did another blood draw. The results came back in the morning showing a good bump in the numbers. The transfusion had helped get the hemoglobin up to a 7 but they wanted to see if it would stay at that level before they would release me. They didn’t do another blood draw until 3:00pm on Saturday. At 4:00pm the results were back showing the count had gone back down to 6. 7. Not good. Another transfusion was ordered and another night at the hospital was had. At least I was in a nice room and the nurses I’d had up to this point were all top notch. Next day results showed the count at 7.4.
So why the anemia? While in the ED I had brought up the tumor in my stomach and the fact I’d seen what I believed to be blood in my stool. A couple of tests later confirmed I was bleeding internally from the tumor in my intestines. In talking with the internal medicine team I explained I wasn’t ready to give up the ship just yet and wanted to know if there was anything we could do to prolong things. They suggested talking to palliative radiology who then setup for me to have a CT scan yesterday afternoon. The results of the scan revealed what everyone suspected but now they could see where the tumor is invading my intestines. I spoke to Dr. Unger today. He’s the radiologist who worked on my shoulder. He suggested 5 rounds of radiation which I can have done up here at Montgomery General Hospital. Montgomery is only 15 minutes from the house so this will be a lot easier to accomplish than going to Georgetown. The intent of the radiation is not to “cure” the cancer but to toughen up the internal lining of my intestines and thereby stop, or at least reduce the bleeding. Tomorrow I’ll contact the radiologist at Montgomery and set up an appointment to have my abdomen mapped for the radiation treatments.
Sorry for the long winded report – it’s been a long 4 days. As always thank you for continuing prayers.