Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chutes and Ladders

Tuesday, May 5: Oncology Follow-Up

Remember that game from childhood, Chutes and Ladders? Sometimes you were lucky enough to catch a ladder up, going way ahead. Sometimes you were unlucky enough to ride a chute down, and it could drop you all the way back to the starting point.

I feel like I just got dropped all the way back at the starting point. I climbed two 14ers plus a 9.4k last summer, but I'm as puny as they come right now. I can barely walk and breathe.

I went to see the oncologist following my release from the hospital. He explained what had happened: I'd had pericardial effusion that led to cardiac tamponade, which led to the syncope episode and the subsequent open-heart surgery. Then the general anesthesia had caused the lower lobes of my lungs to collapse, plus I had a bit of fluid in (pneumonia) and around the lungs. Okay, so that's why I'm feeling so tired!

The latest scans show 2 new lesions in the liver, one 1.9 cm and the other 1.8 cm. Damn, that was fast! I knew this cancer pegged out on the aggressive scale; but that's ridiculous!

The oncologist wants me to go see another oncologist for a second opinion, since I've had the cardiopulmonary complications, so he scheduled an appointment for me with one of the best. Normally, one waits ~6 wk after surgery to begin chemotherapy; obviously, we don't want to wait that long. And there are a choice of drugs to use (choose your poison, literally).

We also got an appointment for an echocardiogram for Thursday, as my chest still hurts and I don't want to wait 2 weeks to ensure everything is okay. I need to know if it's safe to push NOW. If it is, I'll start rebuilding.

Thursday, May 7: Cardiology Follow-Up

I saw the cardiologist, and he is thrilled with how well my heart has recovered and is beating. Also, the left ventricle ejection fraction is back to normal. He sent me for one more test, a CT to check for blood clots in my lungs and an angiogram. Either I would pass the test and be able to go hiking next week, or I would not pass and would be admitted into the hospital immediately.

I passed!!! Hallelujah! So the cardiologist cleared me to go back on the drugs as soon as the oncologist wants me to start. And I'm officially under his orders to start pushing myself physically again. He thinks the reason why I am still having trouble is that my body has been through a lot, plus the general anesthesia more deeply affected me this time (I really didn't feel strong enough to survive it, so I can see it leaving me this fatigued).

So nothing left to do but go home and recuperate and rebuild, and see what the oncologists say when I see them next.

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