A few days after my last hospitalization, I went in for my 5th surgery to dilate my esophagus so I could get back to eating again. The surgery was painful, but I was glad to get it over with. Although my pain was pretty well controlled, I didn’t feel much like trying to eat anything that day, so I just changed my clothes, brushed my teeth, and crashed on the couch.
The next day I was having trouble staying awake. I did get up and eat a little chicken noodle soup and a few crackers for lunch. Then I went back to sleep. I don’t remember much after that except for my husband trying to get me to wake up and get dressed so he could take me to the hospital. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t leave me alone. I I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I just wanted to sleep. Apparently, I was shivering despite being covered with three warm blankets, but was too stubborn to listen to reason.
Awhile later my husband brought me his phone and told me it was my sister. She said, “I think you need to go to the hospital.” Since it was two against one, I grumbled a bit but got up and got dressed. John had packed me an overnight bag, so off we went.
Not more than a minute after we walked through the hospital doors, I began vomiting (as a side note, throwing up all over yourself is a good way to avoid the wait in the ER). They took me back to a room, started an IV, drew some blood, checked my vitals, and did a chest x-ray. My fever was around 101 and the chest x-ray showed some pneumonia, My blood pressure was also running really low (8os over 40s). I was admitted to the ICU.
I spent about three days in the ICU where they gave me fluids and medications in an attempt to bring up my blood pressure. Then they moved me to the oncology unit. I’ve spent another three days here trying to figure out what I needed to do to get out of here. I was told I could go home once my temperature and blood pressure had stabilized.
Oddly, they stopped doing lab work on me after I had been hospitalized for a couple of days, and I was becoming concerned about my electrolytes, which were out of whack when I first got here. So I asked my PCP if he would write me an order. Those labs were drawn yesterday morning, along with a CBC to see where my blood counts were.
In the meantime, my blood pressure started dropping again. Since I’m already on medication to bring it back up, they decided to just monitor it more frequently for the time being. I also began feeling short of breath, which I didn’t think too much about since I technically have pneumonia, even though I haven’t had any of the classic symptoms. Fatigue also set in, and I was sleeping up to 12 hours a night.
Early yesterday morning, the oncologist who’s been seeing me here since my regular oncologist is in Orlando, came in and told me my hemoglobin was low and he thought I needed a transfusion. Hmmm. Let’s back up a minute. Low hemoglobin can lead to anemia, which can lead to extreme fatigue. Anemia can also cause low blood pressure and shortness of breath. Ding, ding, ding, ding. Seems like things were finally beginning to add up.
The oncologist ordered two pints of blood, which I got yesterday afternoon. My blood pressure, fatigue, and shortness of breath have since substantially improved.
While all this was going on, the oncologist here asked me if I would prefer to do my cancer treatments closer to home. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that because I really like my oncologist in Orlando, but driving there three days a week for chemo every three weeks (plus follow-up scans and appointments) is somewhat of a burden, so we decided to entertain the idea. With my permission, the Melbourne oncologist also talked it over with the Orlando oncologist to see how she felt about it. She called me later in the day to assure me she didn’t mind at all and would be happy to provide input if needed and information about any upcoming clinical trials at the University of Florida or at Moffitt. So we made an appointment to speak to the Melbourne oncologist next week at his office so we can tour the facilities and ask questions about his treatment plan.
Now that we’ve got all that figured out, I’m waiting for my PCP to show up and (hopefully) release me. But first we need to get home health set up to come out over the weekend and show me how to give myself IV antibiotics (I’ve done it before and it’s pretty simple). Since it’s a Friday, we may be stretching it a bit to get home health involved, but I’ve done all I can to try and get the ball rolling.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading my blog. If you’d like to help me with my battle with cancer, please go to https://www.youcaring.com/julie-mears-henry-495041.