Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 21, 2012 - Health Update

Helloooooo bloggies!

Oh, you would never know by this blog entry the good intentions I had of doing up a blog entry complete with pictures and all kinds of stories about the adventures I've been on over the past month. But nooooo, here it is going on 11pm and I am only just starting it. Ack! You see, I just don't have enough hours in the day... or, enough days in a week!! So, I'm just going to make this one a health update... and hopefully can get a chit chatty entry done soon. A girl can hope :D

So, last week I had the dreaded CAT scan. I say "dreaded" because one is on tender hooks wondering if the results are going to be good, bad or somewhere in-between. I can't remember (chemo-brain) if I mentioned on an earlier blog post about these very annoying "bronchial spasms" I have been suffering with since early December. If I did go on about them, then sorry for repeating myself here. Bronchial spasms are that horrible wheezing people with chronic bronchitis or asthma can get. It's a horrible feeling because as you breathe out, your breath comes out as a wheeze. Clearing your throat doesn't help because the wheeze comes from your inflamed bronchial tubes. Now, I have had chronic bronchitis since I was in my early 20s, but never in my life have I ever had bronchial spasms. The first time I got them it was scary... it was because I was reacting to the chemo I was on (Irinotecan) and when it got really bad was when I ended up having an asthma reaction (along with the bronchial spasms) and I ended up in Emergency at St. Paul's hospital. That was scary but they put me on a nebulizer (sp?) and that really helped. But it meant coming off the chemo because that was too dangerous of a reaction to it... probably meant I was allergic to the chemo.

Well, this past December, I got the bronchial spasms again. That didn't totally surprise me because I had come down with a cold/bronchitis and obviously my bronchial tubes are susceptible to them now. But the cold/bronchitis went away in normal time, but the bronchial spasms never did leave. Breathing has been wheezy since December... and over the last 3-4 weeks, the cough has turned into a real loose, phlegmy cough. It can get so bad that I wake up coughing and it feels like I'm going to drown. Or the wheezing is so bad, I can't catch my breath. And walking? I walked out from the apartment to my car that was parked out in the back lane... so literally up a ever so slight incline the equivalent of walking maybe 3-4 car length... and I ended up wheezing and so out of breath. There have been more than a few times where I've woken up in a panic thinking I can't breathe. I make myself get up, use the puffers (I have three of them) and then make myself walk around the apartment to calm down and completely wake up to prove to myself I can breathe.

I also should add here, the chemo I'm on right now "pantimumab" (and no, I can't pronounce it but another name for it is "Vectibix", is pretty much the last option of chemos I have to try. That is scarier than heck because if it isn't working or it stops working, then I will have run out of chemo options.

So getting the results of this CAT scan was nerve-wracking. Besides checking to see if the tumors in the lungs have shrunk or grown or remained stable, they were also going to check to see if there is anything in/on the bronchial tubes that are causing the breathing problems.

Well, the news is not wonderful but also nothing super bad. As far as the tumors in the lungs... there are two of them plus a lymph node that has grown very little... he said about 1mm. It's so small, that they can't get an accurate reading... keeping in mind it's different radiologists who read these scans, so what one said/saw in Dec, the March one is read/interpreted by a different radiologist. So when talking the growth measurement of 1mm or less, for all I know, there might not have been any growth... it's just the angle might have been different. So, that is the good news... I think. Still, it would be better if there was a noticeable shrinkage and no possible growth at all. The other good news is there is no new tumors or growths... so that is something to be thankful for.

Meanwhile, there was absolutely nothing show up on the scan that would show what is wrong with the bronchial tubes and why I'm having such problems with breathing and a loose cough. Of course, doctors go by what they see/hear and since my chest doesn't sound congested and the scan didn't show anything, I swear they think it must not be as bad as I say it is. I told them it feels infected, that it is so similar to the bronchitis I used to get, minus the tightness in my chest. So my two once finally agreed with me to give me a short round of antibiotics to see if that makes any difference... so I only get 5 days of one pill/day. I don't know how 5 pills is going to clear up almost 4 months of this ongoing bronchial problem. I don't think they believe there's any infection there :/ I think they are thinking the chemo may be irritating the bronchial area... even though I told them this started when I wasn't on chemo. It's all so frustrating when you don't know what's causing a problem, hence no idea how one should treat it.

So, they are referring me to a respirologist and hopefully he/she can figure out what's going on. Meanwhile, they've cancelled my chemo until the respirologist can say the chemo is not the problem (I have no idea how he/she is going to know that). I still had to go to the chemo unit for my 3 hours of IV hydration and magnesium... just no chemo allowed :/

Well, I can't say my fingers and skin won't be glad of the break. The fingers are so sensitive, even though they made it a much smaller dose of chemo starting in January. Hopefully they will be able to heal a little bit while on this break, which I hope is just a break and not the end of getting chemo.

Ok... it's now almost 12:30am... time to go to bed! But, I did want to put an update in one spot because so many of you ask and I'm so grateful that you do and your interested... but I can't be writing these reports out over and over... hence, if I put it here, then everyone will know where to come find it :D

My bed is definitely calling me!! Nighty-nite!!