Treading water

Posted by bernicky - August 28th, 2011

Life is nothing but change. Even when we complain about things being the same they aren’t really. It is we that perceive things as the same. We look at things through our own set of filters and interpret life in that way. It is a necessary thing to do. It is how we set goals, mark time and move forward. Knowing this however doesn’t change the feeling sometimes that you are treading water.

On Friday last we met with the oncologist who was affable as always. The DVT in my wife’s left leg is an ongoing concern as is the brain hemorrhage. The two require completely different approaches one requires the use of anti-coagulant the other requires avoiding anti-coagulant. Woohoo. The upshot on the oncology front though is that my wife is not going to be subjected to any more cancer testing beyond the regular MRI every three months and standard oncology blood tests. The oncologist sees more testing as being unnecessarily intrusive and disruptive and feels that we should focus on comfort.

So there we have it: stay the course. Change will surely come in tiny increments which will go unnoticed until they have compounded enough to be undeniable. We are metaphorically treading water.

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A day in emergency

Posted by bernicky - August 25th, 2011

Yesterday we had an 8:30 appointment with the vascular department for an ultrasound of my wife’s left leg. The leg had swollen to the point of starting to acquiring it’s own gravitational pull and we were happy to be making some progress. The ultrasound showed the leg had two clots. One clot was arterial the other veinous. In other words blocked coming and going. We were sent back to the Neuro to consult with the surgeon who was in surgery. The nurse practitioner however contacted the surgeon who said we needed to go to emergency and get a hemotology consult.

Dutiful patients with loads of patience we headed off for emergency where we cooled our heels for a few hours before seeing a doctor who then called hemotology. We cooled our heels for a little longer and dicussed the obvious: they won’t prescribe blood thinners, they will say to keep the leg elevated and to use antiembolism stockings. When the hemotologist arrived she said that we weren’t going to use blood thinners, we should keep the leg elevated and that we should use antiembolism stockings but she wanted to check with the head of the department before signing off on it. We waited for the head of the department who said we were going to wait on using heparin, we should keep the leg elevated and we should use antiembolism stockings. She also advised that if pain in the leg became severe we were to return to emergency and they would use the heparin in an emergency setting. We were also given a prescription to have some custom made antiembolism stockings.

That’s all folks.

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Shades of white

Posted by bernicky - August 23rd, 2011

It’s not a tumor. Tumors are a different shade of white than things which are not tumors. That is the good news but as we all know there are two sides to every coin.

On Sunday my wife’s left leg (the good one) started to swell. The swelling went down so we didn’t think too much about it. On Monday her leg swelled up again but once again the swelling went down but not as much. Today when my wife got up her leg was still swollen so I emailed the neurosurgeon and the nurse practitioner about it. When we met with the neurosurgeon this morning he checked my wife’s leg immediately and ordered a consult with the Vic vascular department. We have an appointment tomorrow morning to get the leg assessed. The feeling at the moment is that she has a blood clot in the left leg.

Normally a blood clot would not be that big a deal. Put the patient on blood thinners like warfarin or heparin and wait it out. There is always a monkey in the wrench in our lives though and in this case it is the suspected Bing cherry sized tumor I saw on the MRI – surprise it is not a tumor. Yay! It is a brain hemorrhage. Boo! So now we have a problem. Bleeding in the brain contraindicates the use of blood thinners because you don’t want to cause more bleeding in the brain. What are the alternatives? We hope to find out tomorrow.

On the cancer front things seem pretty good. The hemorrhage was caused by a small tumor that hadn’t changed appreciably in size since May. The rest of the cancer map in the brain showed the cancer at either the same size or has shrunk with the exception of the surface tumor on the left side of the brain which has grown but is not a primary concern at the moment. We will be back for another MRI in three months time which in my book means that it is time to start Xmas shopping.

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Reviewing and reviewing

Posted by bernicky - August 21st, 2011

You can only look at MRI results for so long before you start to go a little batty. There are only two days before we get official results so I should probably stop trying to interpret them myself.

My wife has been becoming more verbal in the last week. She still isn’t quite getting words out but is getting very close. On another front while she still has disorientation/confusion she is showing more physical strength than she has in a while. It is hard to decide what all of this means. The seizure a week ago, the increase in strength, the verbal changes the disorientation and the MRI all seem to deliver different messages.

No news is good news – I have news

Posted by bernicky - August 20th, 2011

Let’s start with the good. Summer is almost over. My son’s summer job has finished and he received a positive evaluation and was told he was welcome back to work next summer if he wanted. The job as a summer janitor at the school board is hard but it pays exceptionally well for a student job. My daughter has been more sociable than usual this summer though still not getting out as much as I would like her to and definitely not exercising as much as I would like but there is only so much you can force a teenager to do. On the upside she is drawing and painting quite a bit and producing some nice work.

Yesterday we went to the Montreal Neurological Institute for my wife’s MRI. No matter how many times I warn the technicians that my wife’s veins are deep and hard to tap they still insist on trying multiple times before calling a nurse. Even when the nurse comes it takes multiple tries. Yesterday bordered on the ridiculous when it came to starting a line. The technician missed three times before calling the nurse. The nurse missed an additional four times before deciding to call someone else when the technician stepped in to give it another go on and finally got a very small vein to accept a very slow line. My wife was a trooper through it all but did not enjoy the experience. It is hard for someone who hate needles to have to go through so many sticks before they get it.

Once the process started there wasn’t anything to do but wait so I retired to the waiting room. There was a woman there who was in a wheelchair and with limited mobility on the left side. We chatted a bit about what was ailing her and as the time approached 40 minutes I excused myself to go see if my wife’s MRI was finished. There was fifteen to twenty minutes left in my wife’s scan when I checked so I returned to the waiting room to find the woman I had been speaking to had tried to make a transfer to a chair and fallen. She was surround by MNI staff and you could tell that the harm was more to pride than to body. I felt for her having seen my wife do the same thing.

After the MRI we went over to the Royal Vic and picked up a copy of the results from the imaging department. While I was cautious when reviewing the results after having come to erroneous conclusions the last time out there was no mistaking the new tumor that has developed. It is the size of a Bing cherry adjacent to the front of where the last one was. To my untrained eye from multiple angles it is unmistakable. We will know for certain on Tuesday but that is what we are seeing at the moment.

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Posted by bernicky - August 14th, 2011

My wife had a seizure tonight. It was a big seizure lasting about two minutes and thirty seconds. It was a complete left side seizure which is a first and not a welcome sign.

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Little irony

Posted by bernicky - August 9th, 2011

In one of those moments which makes you just laugh I had to put the car into the garage yesterday. We haven’t driven it in over a week because the front end was making a horrible racket when we drove it. As it turned out it need new tie rods and calipers. Grr. At least the garage turned it around in a day which was nice. We are hoping that having dropped two weeks salary on car repairs in the last month that perhaps the cars will hold up for the winter with nothing more than a tire change and tune up in November. Probably too much to expect but life is nothing without hope.

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Back to the grind

Posted by bernicky - August 8th, 2011

The two week shut down of the school board is over and I am back at work again. It was an interesting vacation though in all honesty I think I could have done without the drama.

The car is back in the shop today. The tie rod on the passenger side needs replacing – Grr. As Gilda Radner used to say “It’s always something.” At least I had the wisdom not to use it the past two weeks while the garage was closed. We used the van which is more difficult to use with the wheelchair but not impossible. It was a good thing that we got the van fixed up when we did or things would have been very difficult over the last little while. It just goes to prove the old expression “A stitch in time saves nine”.

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Home again

Posted by bernicky - August 7th, 2011

We’re back home today. It was a very long three days but we are home and I am grateful that we are because being in hospital just plain sucks. I got into a disagreement with a nurse yesterday after informing her that I had give my wife her noon meds. The nurse was beside herself telling me that I can’t give medication that it was the nurses job. I pointed out that aside from doing this for some time now I was also the one who gave her, her evening medication the previous night and her morning medication yesterday morning because no nurse took care of it and the same thing applied to her noon medication. So if she wanted to do the job she was more than welcome to but not to tell me not to give the meds when no nurse at the hospital was getting around to it. She asked a “What if?” What if the doctor had said not to give meds? I asked if that were the case and was met with silence. The head nurse came to see me and asked if moving forward we could agree that the nurses on the 6th floor would take care of the meds. I agreed only to discover that instead of receiving 3.5 mg of Decadron 4 times my wife only received 3 doses the first two of which were given by me before foolishly agreeing that the nurse could take care of things. Grr. Still the first real cock up in 8 years of working with nurses so I don’t really have that much to complain about.

If there was a complaint it was the condition in which I found my wife this morning. Instead of going to the hassled of taking my wife to the bathroom at night (the only bathroom close by that could accomodate my wife’s wheelchair was two floors up) they opted for an ill fitted diaper which. The diaper was overloaded and the bed absolutely drenched in urine as was my wife’s hospital gown. Also the pillow that I had positioned to support her paralyzed arm had been taken off of the bed and her arm was folded under her. Seriously! Once out of bed we headed up to the 8th floor to get cleaned up. Once back downstairs I stripped the bed and started to push to see a doctor and get the blood results from the previous night.

When we finally saw the doctor he, the GI specialist who had seen my wife the previous day and the surgery team were all in agreement that my wife did not need surgery or a colonoscopy but that she did need to have her blood monitored if she experienced another bloody stool.

We came home and I think my wife was happy to get back home. I had been promising her a quarter pounder for her first meal home to help her keep motivated through the fast the hospital enforced from Thursday through to the time we left on Saturday. A quarter pounder some pineapple and watermelon were served for lunch and we watched the rest of Weeds Season Six for the afternoon. For my own part I am tired and while looking forward to my 10K race tomorrow morning have ceased expecting much of a result. Still it is good to be home again.

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Long, long day

Posted by bernicky - August 6th, 2011

Thursday my wife had to go to hospital with a suspected upper G.I. bleed. On the way to the hospital I managed to hit a parked Mercedes (left a note – which I hope was legal) and continued on to take my wife to emergency. Today is Friday and I just got home a little after ten this evening. It has been a long, long day.

Understandably the fellow whose car I hit has phoned a few times. I wonder why since all he has to do is give my info to his insurance company – that is what insurance is for. Curiously he hasn’t left his contact info when he has called. I asked our daughter to get his contact info when he calls again tomorrow.

My wife has been a trooper undergoing several exams, multiple blood tests and being moved from one location in the hospital to another over the past 36 hours. After much poking, prodding and blood tests there seems to be consensus that my wife does not have an upper GI bleed but her hemoglobin levels were low so they are going to test them again tomorrow morning to see if they have dropped again. If so then they will do a colonoscopy. If hemoglobin has stabilized she will come home and we will keep an eye out for any signs of bleeding.

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