In a repeat from last November, I appeared at the clinic for my Wednesday chemotherapy infusion last week but when the usual blood tests came back, my red cell count was too low for treatment.
The infusion was canceled and like last time, the tram took me from the waterfront campus to the OHSU hospital up on the hill for an overnight transfusion of blood. Two units this time instead of four.
And because I now have an internal bleed, a whole lot of tests:
- Repeated vitals: blood pressure, temperature, heart rate
- The usual bloodlettings for the lab
- rectal exam
- combined colonoscopy (including the infamous prep)/endoscopy
There were probably other tests I've overlooked. Later, to help combat the anemia, an infusion of liquid iron which, the doctor informed me, looks pretty much like motor oil – and so it does.
I've been home since Friday evening, mostly sleeping due to the truth of the old hospital joke about it being nowhere to get any rest.
As I've mentioned here before, the staff at every level at OHSU is excellent. This time there were more doctors than in the past – maybe eight or ten or more - each with his/her area of expertise in regard to the internal bleed that needs to be dealt with.
All of them and the nurses, the CNAs and everyone else who attends to patients, are smart, knowledgeable in their areas of expertise, kind, caring and just plain nice people.
Next steps are that this week, I have a bunch of medical appointments to see what the decisions or choices may be.
Meanwhile, I have some new medications to take and what an awkward schedule they require. There is one I must take an hour before each meal, another to take 30 minutes before breakfast and dinner but not lunch, a couple that cannot be taken in combination with certain others and so on.
I'm working off a brand-new, home-made chart to keep it all straight.
Remember way back when I said I would not allow myself to become a professional patient? What a crock. The pill schedule alone ensures that I need to be aware of time and medications all day every day.
The doctors tell me the bleed, small that it is, is at the site of a connection between hoses (or whatever other body part) made during the Whipple precedure in June. If my interpretation is correct this is, essentially, a mechanical problem not a cancer issue. I'll know more later this week.
This all came out of nowhere for me. You see, I thought for the time-being, my job was, to the degree possible, to withstand the side effects of chemo until it was done in March.
I didn't count on an all new, out-of-the-blue medical event. There is not much difference at my end (as opposed to the doctors') between this and being hit by a truck in terms of how it interrupts my life.
But that thought also is a reminder that to extent possible, I must go on living as I choose. I can complain about the pill schedule, about being tired too much, about additional medical appointments and about the next unexpected medical intrusion but there is no point in letting them take over my life completely. That would be a terrible mistake.
As far as I know, pancreatic cancer is random. It might have been you, but this time it's me and there is no point in being miserable about something I can't change. Just live. And laugh. And make the best of what I have.
I know that sounds like I've gone all Pollyanna on you but is there another choice? I don't think so.
About two weeks ago here, I told you about a book of essays, No Time to Spare, by Ursula K. Le Guin. A few days later, TGB reader Lynn Lawrence emailed to ask for my snailmail address to send me a book.
It arrived within a couple of days - the Le Guin book. Lynn had missed my posting about it but had read an excerpt somewhere else and thought it was perfect for me. So we decided together via email, that I would offer another book giveaway – just one this time and do thank Lynn for it if you win..
We'll do it the same way as always with giveaways here:
Just tell me in the comments below that, “Yes, I want to win the book.” Or, you could say, “Me, me, me.” or anything else that indicates your interest.
The winner (you can live in any country) is selected by an online random number generator and I will have your email addresses from the comment form. I will then email the winner to get your snailmail addresses to send off the book.
The contest will remain open through 12 midnight Pacific Time on Tuesday 16 January 2018, and the winner will be announced on Friday morning's regular post, 19 January 2018.