Sunday, March 25, 2012

Two and a half weeks later...


So I know I said I would update after the brachytherapy, but I was expecting to be doing this sooner than 2 and a half weeks after the fact... Sorry about that! I'm sure you can tell that I'm awful about getting on here and updating, so I'm sure you are not too surprised to see that I wasn't on here updating as soon as the treatment ended.

Well, the brachytherapy procedure itself went really well. I was there for about 7 hours, but most of that time was recovery time and visiting with the EXCELLENT nursing staff in between CT scans and threading attempts. They ended up using a "good sized" amount of radiation in a total of 3 whole minutes. Kind of a blast of radiation in a short amount of time. The idea is that it would be enough to not need to have to go back and do it again at a later date... Hopefully all the stenosis will be radiated and break down. So far so good! Don't get me wrong, I had a very rough 10 days or so after the brachytherapy. I don't know if it was coincidental that I caught some awful stomach bug the evening of the treatment, or my body had some strange reaction to the radiation, but I spent nearly 12 hours being horribly nauseous and vomiting what seemed like continuously. I was discharged from the recovery with instructions to take my oral pain med and my anti-nausea med (Phenergan) once I got home; yeah, that didn't happen. I couldn't keep anything down, so 3 hours of continuous vomiting later Benito drove me back to the hospital so I can be seen in the ER in hopes of them starting an IV and giving me something through that to stop the vomiting and control my pain. Everyone knows that being post transplant you expect to be high priority when visiting the ER and should be taken straight back to avoid all the sickies. We post transplantees avoid the ER at all costs, so it's a big deal if we are seen in one. Well, after 4 hours sitting in the ER waiting room being told "you're next" and watching my blood pressure rise by the hour (surely because of my pain increasing w/out being treated) we decided to just go home and hope that the nausea lets up enough to where I can deal with it myself. It ended up letting up enough later to where I could hold down the Phenergan and later on I attempted and succeeded to hold down my pain medicine. It's really too bad it got that bad though and without the help I needed. (It is NOT fun to vomit continuously for almost 12 hours! Talk about a migraine!!)

So here I am about 2 and a half weeks later and I THINK so far my airway is staying pretty much open. I still get wheezy, but my breathing is overall staying okay. When I go outside in the cold air I can still feel my airway tightening, but I started taking an allergy medication that may help with the asthma as well, so fingers crossed that helps that problem.

I had a full set of PFTs done on Wednesday of last week and my fev1 (lung capacity) is up to 35%, with my FEF 25-75 (small airways) at 10%!! That's about a 2% increase, so yay!! My PFTs have honestly not been this high in over a year, so this is really good news.

On Thursday of last week I had a Dermatology skin screening. Since I'm on immunosuppressant’s every day of my life and now that I'm doing the Photopheresis treatments my risk for skin cancers are much higher than a "normie" (non-transplantees). I've had a few suspicious spots on my hands and arm that a Dr froze with a liquid nitrogen gun a few months ago, but it was definitely time to get a full body scan done by a "professional". They went ahead and froze a spot on top of my right hand that has been problematic for a while, a spot on my chest that showed up about 3 months ago, and a spot on my right cheek (sideburn area if I were a man) that just popped up about 2 weeks ago and has since doubled in size. They called these Pre-cancerous Squamous Cell spots. If the spots come back I'm supposed to let them know and we'll try freezing AGAIN. Otherwise they saw a dark freckle on the bottom of my left foot (in the arch area, so luckily I'm not putting pressure on it) and decided to go ahead and biopsy and remove it right there in clinic, no warning whatsoever. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. As it turned out the only part that hurt was the lidocaine shot they gave me to numb the area first. Then they scraped away the freckle and put it into a little specimen cup and followed up by cauterizing the hole in my foot. I should get the results to the biopsy within the next week or so. Attached is the rad photo of what it looked like the next day when we put a fresh band aid on it. Cool, huh? ;)

On a side note, the excellent nurse who was in charge of my care at the Radiation Oncology dept during my brachytherapy treatment called me two days after the treatment to follow up and see how I was doing. He said that he saw that I had been waiting since September for a referral to go through and have an appointment made for the pain management clinic. So after about 6 months waiting (and 3 referrals put in by 2 different doctors) this nurse who barely knew me was able to call on my behalf and get them to set me up with an appointment! I got a phone call the following day from the pain management clinic ready to set up an appointment! The soonest they can get me in is mid-April, but I'm still so happy to have an appointment! Jean (my rad-onc nurse) is going to get a giant Thank You card when I go back in for a follow-up appointment! He did the impossible for me and I'm so extremely grateful. I'm so so SO tired of being on pain medication that only works about half the time; I'm really hoping that these doctors can help come up with an idea on how to treat my chronic pain w/out medication. My goal is to eventually wean off of the medication and NOT need it, so wish me luck! I'm kinda interested in accupuncture, so we'll see what these drs have to say about it.

That's about it! I'll update when / if anything new comes up!

Meanwhile, be nice and don't do anything I would do! :D

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