Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Momma's Medical Musings Part III

Okay, I've been lax in my updates from my mother so I am going to post two different emails I have received recently from her. Thank you again for the prayers you have been lifting up to our gracious Father on behalf of her! She, I , we are so very grateful!

Judy's posts...

My hand....‏

I wanted to update you on a serious situation with regards to my hand and the redness which began last Saturday. I went through the weekend watching it closely to see if there were signs that the streaks were progressing up my arm. Other than the redness deepening, it didn't appear to get worse.

On Monday morning I called the oncologist center where I receive my treatments and talked with a nurse. After going over my regimen since my last chemo on the 27th, we were finally able to arrive at a cause for my present problem. When I had my treatment on February 27th I told you the procedure was completely different. It involved a much more detailed and lengthy time and I was consigned to a bed throughout. Sometime after 1:00 p.m. my male nurse, Mark, announced that he would be leaving for lunch and that while he was gone another nurse would check my IV's and when the bag was empty she would flush out my lines (a 30 minute procedure) before sending me home. Everyone there at the time remembers his explanation because he wasn't sure he would be back by the time I would be dismissed to go home.

Sure enough, when the bag emptied a nurse came over and instead of starting the flush, she began to disconnect all the lines. I told her that I needed to be flushed first. She responded that I had already been flushed out. I told her that I hadn't and that Mark had made it very clear I should be before I left. She looked at my records and said that I had previously been flushed and there was no need to do it again.

What was I to do? Defy authority? Ask for another nurse? Ask for a doctor? Hind sight now indicates I should have done all three. Even my new chemo mate, Lorrie was upset. So I gathered my things together and the last thing I said to Lorrie was that I would appreciate it if she would tell Mark when he returned from lunch. When I got to the elevator Mark was getting off. I stopped him and told him that I suspected I had not had my lines flushed out. He said that he would check with the nurse when he got to the treatment room. He did not ask me to go with him or to stay until he could either confirm or deny what had happened.

All was fine until a week later when I went in for my regular blood work. Normally I get a little pin prick on a finger but this time the tech indicated I needed to have blood drawn from my hand since he had to retrieve several vials. Saturday my hand started to redden and by Saturday night it looked like I had a severe burn with the red streaks beginning to form. I really had no idea if this event had anything to do with my sore hand but when the nurse heard this she knew and confirmed that by not having the flush, the toxitier remained in my veins and this was a normal side effect.

They scheduled me to come in first thing this morning. I certainly received the red carpet treatment. Even my oncologist came out to render an opinion. Pictures were taken of my hand. They have upped my dosage of antibiotics and over the next three days I have to go in for shots to boost my immune system. I've been told that if the lines progress further up my arm, I am to call them immediately and report to the emergency room.

One concern is that this will develop into cellulitis. The other problem with this hand situation is that the previously scheduled repositioning of my port (for tomorrow) had to be cancelled. That makes three times now that the procedure, which would have prevented all this from happening in the first place, has been delayed. I ask that you pray for healing of this hand, for wisdom from the doctors in my treatment and that I will be more bold in the future when faced with conflicting situations. Below is the definition of cellulitis:

Cellulitis (sel-u-LI-tis) is a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection. Cellulitis appears as a swollen, red area of skin that feels hot and tender, and it may spread rapidly.
Skin on lower legs is most commonly affected, though cellulitis can occur anywhere on your body or face. Infections on the face are more common in children and older adults. Cellulitis may affect only your skin's surface — or, cellulitis may also affect tissues underlying your skin and can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream. Left untreated, the spreading infection may rapidly turn life-threatening. That's why it's important to seek immediate medical attention if cellulitis symptoms occur.


Second Email...

Port Day‏

Yesterday was PORT DAY...finally! I was so excited that I would have it repositioned and working for my next treatment this coming Friday. But, there was a problem. Wouldn't you know it? It took over an hour, five nurses and one doctor to get an IV line into me. At first, my main nurse, Peggy tried. She stuck me three times. First in the underside of my wrist, and then twice up at the bend of my elbow. When she was unsuccessful, she called for help. A gal named Brenda came in and three other nurses who were nearby and idle at the time decided to give both her and me moral support, holding my hand, offering encouragement.

Brenda's first attempt was a disaster. She went in somewhere between my wrist and the bend in my elbow. She thought she had it and so they started the IV fluids only to have me start writhing in pain. Swelling was instantaneous and they pulled out the needle, pronto! Apologies were coming from everyone. So she tried two more times on the under side of my arm, once toward the outside and the last time way over to the outside near my elbow. It was agonizing. Pure pain.

In the middle of all this I asked them to call Tom out in the waiting room to tell him to pray and to call for prayer. They did and he did. They kept saying to me, "Girl, do you ever need a working port!" No joke! Finally, they had exhausted all their options and they called the anesthesiologist from the OR.

Dr. Yates had been out to talk to me earlier. She looked at my bruised, bleeding, swollen left arm and quickly decided there were no more options there. She announced that the only remaining site would be the right side of my neck. Yes, you read that correctly! I cringed. "Will this hurt?" "Yes", they replied. It did. I came so close to crying. But I didn't. The Lord was with me and once it was in I felt no pain. Mainly because they started filling me with the most luscious relaxing meds they had on hand. (Smile.)

Once Dr. Hoagland got into the port site he soon realized that the port wasn't fit to be repositioned. It was a dud. So I got a brand new one. Donna Gunnoe brought me home so Tom could zip over to his office and tidy up some things. It wasn't long before he joined me at home.

As I was preparing to retire for the night I glanced at myself in the bathroom mirror and horrors! The left side of my lower face was swollen from my chin to my ear. What now? I had a restful sleep with the help of some pain medication and when I awoke this morning I could see that the swelling had not subsided. If anything, it had gotten worse. I called the doctor and we discussed what might be causing this. He thinks it is due to the port site and that he implanted the port deeper in the tissue than last time. Well, isn't that special?

Other than that, I am doing well today and haven't had to take anymore pain medication. I plan on going back to work tomorrow and Thursday. Friday I will have treatment #6. I can see a light at the end of my tunnel. PTL!