Last Friday, I went to see the oncologist about my sodium dropping for no apparent reason. Those who have been following my blog know that’s how this whole mess started last year. Nobody could figure out why my sodium was dropping until they found a tumor in my trachea. So obviously, I was concerned, as was the oncologist.
She talked about possibly doing a PET scan to see if the cancer had come back, but insurance will only pay for three of those in a lifetime and I’ve already had at least two. I may have had three. So she was thinking we might try a CT scan, but her first concern was to get my sodium back down. It had dropped again to 120 and she was surprised I was still alert and oriented. I guess most people would be disoriented, if not unconscious. My body must be used to it.
The oncologist wanted me to go to the ER in Orlando where she could be in charge of my care and also do the CT scan. I asked her if I could go to one in Melbourne (which is close to where I live) and have my PCP write whatever orders she needed. She called my PCP and they agreed that’s what I would do.
I don’t remember her reasoning, but my oncologist called my pain specialist before I got there to talk to him about the sodium issue (since I was already there and seemed to be doing okay, I decided to keep my appointment with him). When he came in the room, he asked it I knew what was going on with the sodium. In an attempt to find out what the oncologist had told him, I just said, “Most likely, the cancer is back.” He looked relieved and sat down and began talking as though that was the case. My head was reeling and I didn’t hear that much of what he said, but I did hear him say SIADH when he was talking about the whole sodium issue. That pretty much said it all.
After stopping by home to grab a few things, I went to the ER in Melbourne. They checked my sodium yet again. Still 120. They also did a CT scan of my chest, but not my neck. That seemed odd to me since my original tumor was in my trachea. I asked my PCP about it when he came by, but he said he wasn’t the one who ordered it. So it must have been the ER doctor. Since SIADH is most often caused by lung cancer, that would have made sense to him.
They hung some IV fluids to try to get my sodium to go up and admitted me. I wasn’t real confident the fluids would work. They didn’t last year. It was a very long night.
The next day, my sodium was at 119. No big surprise to me. Later that day, the PCP who was filling in for my regular doctor came in and told me my CT scan was normal. I was shocked. So was he. After reading my history, he said he was sure he was going to be coming in that day to tell me I had cancer again. So was I. Welcome to my roller coaster ride. But I still wasn’t feeling real confident. Last year, they missed the cancer the first time around because they scanned my chest, but not my neck. I told him that and he offered to scan my neck, too, so I asked him to go ahead and do it.
The PCP seemed to think there may be another cause for the low sodium and said he was going to run some blood tests. So they did the second CT scan and drew some more blood. They also took away my IV fluids and gave me a pill called Samsca to bring my sodium back up. I call it the “scary pill” because they’re only allowed to give it while you’re in the hospital so you’ll be under supervision. Thankfully, nothing happened. I spent another long night waiting.
The next day, my sodium was at 135 (no surprise; the scary pill always brings it up), which is in the normal range. The CT scan also came back normal. I was definitely relieved, but still a little wary. The PCP said he can’t say for sure the cancer isn’t back, but at least there’s none he can see.
My thyroid level was also up, and that could have caused my sodium to go down. My thyroid medication dosage was adjusted accordingly.
Another thing the PCP said was some people just have low sodium and their bodies adjust to it over time.
This morning, my sodium was at 137. I’ve been on Gatorade since Friday. so I’ll be interested to see what happens when I go back to water. I have to run out and have my blood drawn tomorrow and see my PCP again on Wednesday. I also have an appointment with the kidney doctor tomorrow and with the local ENT on Wednesday. I picked up my records from Orlando Health and am going to see if the ENT here can take over my surgeries (if he even thinks I need any more).
Today, I was released from the hospital. Instead of going right to work as I normally would have done, I went out to lunch at a place that has a nice outdoor patio (lots of fans, of course). It was nice to just be outside for awhile. I don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring, but I do know life is short. So it’s time to stop working seven days a week and start having some fun. The medical bills will just have to wait.