Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Doctor roulette anyone?

My general health and well being isn't the only interesting thing that's been going on lately. The kids also seem to provide an endless source of amusement. In the last three weeks we’ve visited the ER twice and been to the doctor’s office an additional 5 times. This is all above and beyond the normal expected pre-chemo visits that I go in for. The fun and joy is that each time that you go to the ER or have to go to the doctor’s office on short notice you end up explaining things to people who don’t have any history with you.

Katarina has been to the doctor three times for an ear infection that just won’t go away. This last time she was finally prescribed a stronger antibiotic and she is feeling much better. Next time I’m going to insist on the stronger dose at the start.

Sebastian, aka monkey boy, fell off his chair and the resulting profusive bleeding of the head wound prompted an ER visit where they superglued his hair like a twist-tie to close the wound. Then he got an ear infection. We opted NOT to take him to the doctor when he subsequently got a fever of 102 and then broke out in a rash. Good thing we didn’t waste another trip (and another co-pay) because we found out the next Monday roseola was going around at the daycare. He’s also much better now.

Then on Friday I volunteered to pull weeds for my company’s volunteer day. Aside from getting smacked in the face several times (once by myself) I came home and my left leg was significantly swollen. Since it hadn’t resolved itself by the next morning (which happened to be one of the first nice and sunny Saturday’s this year) I called the on-call doctor. She insisted that I take the precaution and go to the ER for an ultrasound to make sure it wasn’t a blood clot. I was very sad to spend the morning in the windowless room for two hours until the ultrasound tech was able to confirm that I did not have a clot. But that left the question of what was going on. Now that could be for many reasons including the most likely which is that I have Lymphedema. This is a condition where the lymph nodes aren’t able to can’t get rid of extra fluid (if you wiki it, I’m giving you fair warning there are some gross pictures). This can easily happen given the fact that I am only 10 weeks post surgery where I had 16 lymph nodes removed, it is a known possible side effect of chemo treatment, I have a sore throat that is transforming into a cough which also taxes the lymph system, and I have a general reduced ability to fight infections. So really, I shouldn’t be worried. But alas, I had also noticed a lump and the ultrasound tech checked it out. Looks like there are some lymph nodes that appeared to be large (i.e. 1.8 cm and 1.4 cm). Again, this could totally relate to the fact that I’m kind of sick right now with some pesky cold/cough thing. However, I am a little more active in managing my health and correlated this finding to my PET scan that had some slightly hypermetabolic ill-defined soft tissue that was classified as likely post-operative but that should be monitored to make sure it’s not a lymph node. For high clarity: There’s some tiny chance that these lymph nodes were large (and growing) because they were cancerous. So, when Monday rolled around and my leg was still swollen I called the doctor’s office again. They scheduled me for an appointment on Tuesday morning with the Physician’s Assistant. She was awesome, but in an effort to be conservative, wanted to confer with my oncologist on the most appropriate course of action. I was probably secretly hoping for her to dismiss my concerns as overzealous. But alas, they took me seriously. Today she called back to tell me that during my regularly scheduled appointment on Friday they will stick a big needle in me to try and extract some cells from the lymph nodes for analysis. The results of that lab-work will likely take a week, so until then I can keep biting my nails and stress eating. Need I mention that I downed a ½ a bag of tortilla chips, a can of Pringles, and a ½ a can of nuts today? Delicious and maybe the salt will help bring back the swelling, because by now that’s completely resolved itself and the only proof is a picture I took with my cell phone. But since you’re my friend’s I’ll spare you the visual!

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