Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ode to Lovenox

As a result of blood tests, yesterday and today, my transition from Lovenox to Coumadin is over. I have been given permission to stop the Lovenox completely and simply continue with the Coumadin - an oral anti-coagulent - for a few months or so. No more needles in the abdomen twice a day. And now my blood tests can be done at the Coumadin Clinic with a little finger tester, as opposed to having to drop in to our local Urgent Care Center and wait to be seen for a blood draw (since they don't take appointments). Apparantly, the finger tester at the Coumadin Clinic does not work when a person is on Lovenox.

Maybe I will to write a song about having to say goodbye to Lovenox so I can express the deep sorrow I feel no longer having it as a part of my dailiy life. Farewell needles.

Pulmonary Consult

I had a consult today with my new Pulmonologist, Dr. Norville. Daniela chose to go with me to see Dr. Norville, as she did for my last appointment with Dr. Sciorotino. It definitely makes a positive difference to have her with me - a second mind to process the information.

Dr. Norville said my tests were not indicative of someone with lung problems. However, after review of my Echo Cardiogram in March, she said my heart does seem to expand more slowly than it contracts, which could be from a of thickening of the heart wall, as a result of stress created by the Pulmonary Embolis. She compared it to a body builders inability to do ballet, because a large amount of muscle limit can body movement. The same goes for my heart - possible limited movement from its size. Having a heart that is all buff, apparently would not make me all cool and tough - at best (or more like at worst) it would make me short of breath and fatigued all the time.

So, Dr. Norville ordered a series of tests: an Echo Stress Test (July 8th) to get a closer look at how my heart operates under stress; a Thyroid Function test to determine if my thyroid is the cause for the shortness of breath and fatigue; and a test for Mononucleosis and for Lime Disease, which could also explain the fatigue (Thyroid, Mon & Lime are all done with blood test). Mono or Lime Disease wouldn't explain the shortness of breath, but it could be reason for the fatigue. That being said, there is a possibility I currently have more than one illness. My fatigue and shortness of breath is constant, but the other day when I slowly walked up a hill, my chest began to hurt, I experienced a headache in the back of my head and I got a dizzy. Good times! So, we'll see. There could be more going on then I realize

As you can imagine, this is driving me nutz. I really hope this is something that can be treated and healed so I get back to a normal life. I can't imagine living the rest of my life fatigued and short of breath all day long. Or to experience chest pain and headaches whenever I operate at a normal pace. Or to get tired because I "played cars" for twenty minutes on the floor with my son, which is something I will happily do, but it sure is a bit odd to have rest after rolling Matchbox cars around on the carpet. [I'm actually laughing right now because it just seems so insane.] And should that be the case, to be alive and cancer-free with such a beautiful family is a life I am absolutely thrilled to be living.

As far as cancer-free goes, I have a PET Scan scheduled for July 15th. A recurrence of cancer might explain how I feel, but not let's not drive off of that bridge unless we get to it. I don't think it's a recurrence. Justa gut feeling. Should my scan be negative, I will celebrate my one-year anniversary of being cancer-free. If you just imagined confetti, party hats and those silly noise makers that unroll when you blow through them, we are on the same page. That will be pretty damn awesome.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Update...Long Overdue

I have not posted a health update follwing my most recent round of scans and tests. Speaking to my sister about it last night, I realized I just wanted to be done with all of this. Ya know. No more blog posts. No more of your daily or weekly checkups on the blog. I am SO OVER all of this. And, albeit the cancer is gone, my health issues are not.

So here's the latest:

On Friday June 12th, I called my Nurse Practitioner, Sue Domico, because I - then and now - experience a great deal of fatigue on a daily basis as well as shortness of breath and light-headedness when I walk at a normal pace. Should I actually exert enough energy to participate in a normal days activites - equivilent to any healthy man my age - I am exhausted at the end of and all the day that follows. And in addition to being exhausted the following day, I also don't think completely clearly and have no motivation to the point that I have to force myself to do just about anything. My concern was that I had another Pulmonary Embolism.

So, Sue moved my CT Scan up from Wednesday June 17th to Saturday June 13th. I shared my concern with the CT tech and let her know I was going to wait until my resluts came back from the Radioloist before I did anything. The CT tech wasn't allowed to share the actual results with me, but she had shared my concerns with Radiologist and after reading my scan, he told her to send me home.

On Tuesday June 16th, Daniela & I met with my oncologist, Dr. Scioritino. He informed me that I did not have lung cancer. I was a bit surprised by his statement. Lung cancer had never even crossed my mind. He also informed me that the embolism had shrunk significantly and was not the reason for my symptoms. After some discussion about the possibility of lung damage - maybe permanent/maybe not - he scheduled me to have a Pulmonary Function test. However, since the CT scan revealed significant shrinkage of the embolism, he also referred me to the local Coumadin Clinic in Ithaca so I can eventually stop the Lovenox and take Coumadin for a few months.

Oh, Lovenox...how I will miss you and the joys of spiking myself in the abdomen with a needle twice a day. Ho-humm.

There is more about this appointment that I feel compelled to share with you, but that will be in the next post, so that I can complete this one regarding my current symptoms and treatment.

The day following my meeting with Sciorotino, I was back in Sayre, PA at my Pulmoary Function Test, sitting in a glass box blowing in and out of a tube.

Interestingly, the tech - who - again - can not provide a diagnosis, said for the most part, I did very well. That made the reason for my symptoms about as clear as mud...??? I have a consult with a Pulmonologist on Monday in Sayre. I hope to know more or schedule more tests at that meeting.

My Coumadin Clinic appointment was the other day - Tuesday June 23rd - and seemed pretty routine. Today is Friday and I have taken 5 mg of Coumadin for the past three nights. I will have my blood drawn early this afternoon, so any necessary adjustments to my Coumadin dosage can be made before my next scheduled dose this evening. Hopefully, all will go well.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Greetings All!

I wanted to share with you all my new business, Insight Coaching, and invite you to take a look at the website...I would value both your feedback as well as your referrals!


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Insight Coaching partners with clients who seek powerful conversations which result in the generation of their extraordinary life.

Insight Coaching assists clients seeking clarity and confidence in the areas of medical decision making, maintaining deep and meaningful relationships, and vital connectedness to their life work and purpose.

My Vision is of a future that includes:

• Health & Life Coaching is made available and accessible to any patient, caregiver, or family member who desires one.
• Partnership with a Health Coach will have both a profound impact on the nature of recovery, quality of life and mortality of those facing illness.
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In Gratiude,

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Company With a Great Commitment

While I was doing chemotherapy, Comfort Care Foods (out of Burlington, Kentucky) offered to send me a number of their products to taste test. After I read about their commitment to manufacturing healthy, delicious food for people on chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments, I decided to take them up in their offer.

I received 2 large jars of soup, 2 loaves of bread and a variety of cookies. I didn't immediately eat the food because I wanted to test it a few days following my next chemotherapy treatment, in order to see if their products actually tasted good when my taste buds were at their worst. I went in for chemotherapy and shortly after my treatment began, I was listening to a fellow patient (and his wife) tell me about how he wasn't eating anything because he had no appetite and nothing tasted good while on radiation treatment. He had lost a lot of weight as a result. I immediately offered him the box of food I had at home and promised to bring it in the next day. The soups had tons of healthy ingredients, including whey protein which I believe to be a very important supplement for people undergoing treatment and struggling to maintain their weight.

I immediately informed the folks at Comfort Care about what I had I had done, and hoped they would understand, and offered to test their food if they were willing to send me another box of samples. They completely understood and were more than happy to send me another box.

The soup is just oustanding. Generally, I use the word pungent to describe smell, but it can be used to describe flavor and in this case, the flavor was quite pungent which is a really good thing. Chemotherapy & radiation seriously dull the taste buds and to eat something that can stimulate my taste buds when it seems nothing else can even come close, is indeed a very good thing.

The Whole Wheat Bread was delicious. The only down side was the use of High-Fructose Corn Syrup in the recipe, which I believe to be taxing on the liver and therefore I would prefer to avoid it, considering my treatments were taxing enough on my liver. However, it was so delicious...I ate it anyway!

The cookies were super sweet. Had I had these cookies around when I was undergoing radiation treatment, I would have been in heaven. Why? Because they were so highly sweetened, the flavor would have definitely broken through my nearly "inoperable" taste buds.

I would have been even happier if their products were organic. Currently they do not have an organic line, but I was happy to eat conventional food considering what a struggle it was at times to keep up my appetite.

So, I give Comfort Care Foods a huge thumbs up!

1) for their commitment to creating delicious foods for those who are receiving chemotherapy and/or radiation, and

2) for succeeding in that commitment and making some deliciously good food. I wish Comfort Care Foods good luck and a successful future.