Thursday, October 13, 2011

Our Little Scare

Wednesday morning Steve had an ultrasound of his thyroid to confirm the presence of various nodules that showed up in his PET scan.  The technician could not say much, but did confirm the existence of several nodules in the center of Steve's throat.  She explained the thyroid to be like a saddle that goes directly across your throat.  In the center is the  saddle and on the left and right are the saddle bags. Steve has some nodules in the saddle, the center of his thyroid.  She took measurements so that we know the current size of the nodules.  At this point, we are simply praying and believing that Steve's cancer has not spread to his neck.  Dr. Liao has ordered a biopsy of Steve's thyroid, so we should get that scheduled for next week.

After work on Wednesday, Steve came home feeling quite ill.  He apparently became sick to his stomach after eating lunch.  From there, he went downhill.  I got home around 6:30 from work only to find him in bed, under several layers of blankets shivering, feverish, and uncommonly sick.  He showed me the seroma that had been growing on his leg and was now the size of his fist. Something had changed.  The skin around his seroma had gotten quite red and was really warm to the touch.  I took his temperature and it measured 99.9 degrees.  I called Dr. Liao and he said it was probably infected and that he would call in a prescription of antibiotics to the pharmacy.  It wasn't but a few minutes after our phone call that Steve started to shake uncontrollably.  No amount of blankets or heat would stop this reaction. I called the doctor back and he advised us to go to the emergency room.  He said Steve would need to be put on IV antibiotics and his seroma should be drained.  I called our surgeon's answering service (Dr. Kim) and left a message for the surgeon on call.  Dr. Petty returned my call, agreed with Dr. Liao and said he would meet us at the hospital.

We got into the emergency room quickly and the nurse on duty took one look at Steve's seroma and said we would probably be admitted.  He started an IV and drew a couple vials of blood to be tested.  The ER doctor came in a bit later and said that he would need to be started on IV antibiotics.  The ER doctor called Dr. Petty, who came to meet us a while later.

Dr. Petty took one look at the seroma and agreed it needed to be drained.  He also agreed with the administration of antibiotics.  A while later the white blood count came back.  It was normal.  It did not appear Steve had an infection, but based on everything we were seeing, that really didn't make much sense.  After draining about 12 ounces from the seroma, we were discharged and sent home.  The doctor did not see much sense in staying overnight.  After all, what could they do for Steve that would be better than being at home where I could take care of him?  Below is a picture of Steve in the ER.  After pumping him with some good narcotic drugs, he was able to conjure up a smile and thumbs up for the camera!

This morning Steve work up, still feeling pretty bad, but thank the Lord, the shaking and shivering had stopped.  He slept until almost noon, feeling exhausted and achy.  I called Dr. Liao to give him an update.  He said he wanted Steve to come in for another round of IV antibiotics. 

When we arrived at Partner Oncology, we were brought back to a room in the back that housed 12 reclining leather chairs, called Chemo chairs.  There were IV poles and nice flat screen televisions.  This is the room where Steve will go for his Chemotherapy.  A friendly nurse put in his IV and started his bag of antibiotics.  When he was about 2/3 of the way through the IV bag, another nurse came to get us for our Chemo Teaching.  She brought us into a patient room and proceeded to tell us all about the side effects of receiving Chemotherapy. 

It took about an hour for the nurse to tell us all about the side effects of chemo.  How could a person walk away from that without experiencing some anxiety and duress?  The list of side effects was daunting:  vomiting, nausea, decrease in appetite, hair loss, diarrhea, low red blood cell counts, fatigue, shortness of breath, anemia, low white blood cell counts (neutropenia), mouth sores, and numbness/tingling of the extremities (peripheral neuropathy) to name a few.

After we finished our Chemo Teaching, Dr. Liao came in to see Steve.  He took one look at his leg, shook his head, and said, "No, that is definitely infected."  He knew right away this was not good.  He told Steve to go ahead with his Port Installation surgery tomorrow morning with Dr. Kim but has decided to wait until the infection clears up before starting chemotherapy.  The risk of waiting to start chemo is definitely real, but the risk of dying from infection is greater.  The chemotherapy would lower his white blood cell count and if someone has an infection, he could end up getting MRSA and dying from the infection.  Dr. Liao gave Steve a prescription for 2000 mg/day of Cephalexin and said that he will recheck him next Thursday to see if he could possibly be ready for chemotherapy next Friday. 

Thanks again for all you are doing to support us in this difficult time. Four o'clock a.m will come quickly! I better get to bed!

Prayer requests for Steve
  • that his infection would clear up quickly
  • that the lymph fluid would find a new path and not build up any longer
  • that his port installation would go well (it would be placed properly in his vein) tomorrow
  • that he would have no further infections
  • and of course, that he would be completely and 100% cancer free! 

1 comment:

  1. Wow. That is a lot for one day. I remember when Ren and I went through all of that and we just blindly headed down the path, like sheep headed to slaughter. But God met us and ministered through us and sustained us when it got to be too much. Remember Jennifer's graduation party? Ren looked so bad, but she still smiled. Amazing grace. Rest well and pace yourselves. Draw close to each other and be blessed by others. You are now in an elite group of survivors. You will find comfort that you in turn will be able to comfort others with. And who knows, you might even find yourselves doing ministry in Hawaii with us one day! God always wins! Praying by the hour for you, Darrel and Ren