Sunday, April 26, 2009


So far my Shingles only feel like a sunburn combined with occasional sore muscle. I understand it can be much worse and even in places far more uncomfortable than the shoulder. So far, the shoulder and chest is all I have to show for. The steroids (methylprednisolone) and the anti-viral (famciclovir) I'm taking have me feeling a bit off, but they don't even compare to the experience I had a while back with the antibiotics Cipro and Flagyl.

I haven't written much lately because I recently found out that my friend John may have advanced stage Pancreatic Cancer. It's kind of hard to consider my most recent health issues any kind of a problem when he and his loved ones are possibly facing a far worse problem than I ever had. We have been praying for him and will continue to as he receives more tests this coming week.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Fun Still Isn't Over

So, just when I thought it couldn't get any better...I now have SHINGLES!!!

WHI-HEW!!!!!!!! And yes, it is a result of chemotherapy treatments because chemo is an immuno suppressant treatment, which gave the virus the opportunity to find its way out. Good times. And I thought the embolism was as fun as it could get.

Well, I am alive and cancer-free and that's a good thing. It just all a bit insane if you ask me. Sure as heck hope it doesn't get too painful. Apparently, the pain factor can vary. We shall see.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

No PET Scan Reults Yet...

It's now 7 PM and I have not recived my PET scan results.

This morning I met with my doctor (Dr. Sciortino) and he told me the CT scan revealed no new embolisms. That is good news. He will keep me on the anti-coagulants for 6 months as long as I have no more problems between now and then.

The PET scans were not available by my appointment time, so Dr. Sciortino told me he would call once he received them. The Radiology Department said the results may not be available for as long as 48-hours after the scan was done. Since the scan was done on Wednesday, it is likely I will receive the results on Friday. Sciortino is relatively new to Guthrie and I have a feeling he just didn't know it could take so long to receive PET scan results.

Fortunately, my trip to Guthrie this morning was not a total loss, since Dr. Sciortino needed to do a physical examination and review my blood work anyway. Also, he told me it is highly likely there has been no recurrence. However, I will be listening keenly for the phone on Friday.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

All Scans Are Complete

All scans are complete. Late Thursday morning, I should have my test results. It will be a relief to know what's next - one way or the other.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Short Walk

I took the dog for a short walk this afternoon. I walked about 1/4 mile up the road and back again, then down to the waterfall and back. I was amazed at how slowly I had to walk to avoid losing my breath. I sure as hell hope the chest CT reveals some shrinkage of the embolism because this is getting old. Will I do what I have to and is this better than cancer? Of course. But it is getting a bit old.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pretty Low Energy Lately

I've been pretty low energy lately. Or should I say, as soon as I move at a pace faster than slow I become short of breath. It is a bit anti-climactic to have this embolism slowing me down just as I'm about to have my most important scans. But then again, one consistent theme in this entire dignosis has been the constant reminder for me to slow down. A healthy choice considering it has never really been my way of doing things - at least until I was diagnosed.

Other than that, not much to report. I did have an opportunity to try a new food product designed for people receiving chemotherapy or radiation. I'll post an entry about that sometime very soon. I think it's something worth sharing.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Feeling a Bit Strange (and Uncertain)

I was discharged from the hospital this afternoon. My doctor said he is certain I have a Pulmonary Embolism and not a tumor. He also told me to TAKE IT EASY. At the most, I have his permission to take one 10 minute walk a day - or should I say strolls. He believes my symptoms on Monday were likely a result of doing too much on the days between Saturday (my previous discharge day) and Monday (the second time I was admitted). And I wasn't doing much, so I am really taking it easy this time.

The image on the right is my MRI. The black crescent-like shapes are my lungs and the white areas within the lungs is the blood made visible with contrast. As you can see, there is not nearly as much blood going into the right lung as there is in the left.

And it has been one hell of a week. I am feeling a bit strange. Strangely relaxed about the whole thing. At one point on Tuesday, when I thought I may have cancer again and considered I might need another round of radiation and chemotherapy, I found myself surprisingly calm about the whole thing. Up until this point, it seemed any more chemo or radiation would be maddening or an absolute nightmare. But at that point on Tuesday when I believed chemo & radiation were a possibility, I was actually happy to get the ball rolling. Whatever it takes, I want to stick around. Fortunately, I have yet to have to face such a decision.

What's even stranger is as I think about it and reflect upon what went through my mind on Tuesday, it seems my relief in response to the possibility of doing another regimen of chemo & radiation was it's familiarity. That may sound crazy to you, but it's a strange experience to be out of work for just five weeks short of two years. My treatment and intention to heal has been what drives me. And I have gotten quite good at being the patient. I experience comfort and ease whether I am inpatient or out-. And I have learned how to manage the burden of the side-effects and still stay positive in the face of difficult circumstances. Yet I have no familiarity with a return to a "normal life" after all I have been through and all the time has passed.

So, would I rather receive more chemo & radiation therapy instead of finding my way back to "normalcy"? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I haven't lost my mind. But as I process all that has made up this emotional roller coaster ride, logic is not what comes to mind. Hell, I don't think emotions are ever logic based. I think they just seem that way when we agree with them or when they work in what we believe to be our favor. My emotions have been blowing my mind from the very beginning of this diagnosis. But they are not necessarily the source of my decisions. At least not when fear is at the forefront of my mind. I very much look forward to being done with all of this. No question. And come mid-April, the scan results just may have it be that way.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Very Good News

My doctor has seen me and discharged me. He has confirmed that the embolism diagnosis is correct. I am good to go and will have a CT & PET scan mid-April. I feel very positive about the whole thing.

Very Positive Projection

I just spoke with two of the Resident doctors here and asked about the possibility of cancer metastasis within my Pulmonary Artery. The senior resident explained that an embolism in the Pulmonary Artery is uncommon. For that reason, the radiologist wanted to rule out the possibility of a cancerous tumor.

The residents also let me know that the odds of cancer in the Pulmonary Artery are extremely low. And then even lower than that. They recommended I not worry about it being anything other than an PE.

Yes, I am delivering this to you with a degree of uncertainty, but I thought it worth it mentioning considering how scary the possibility of metastasis is.