• Category Archives Cancer
  • Dealing with Cancer V

    01/26/2016~ Jim is home!
    I skipped a day in this blog, so I will catch you up to speed.

    Monday, 01/24/2016, I received a phone call from the cardiologist that I had met on Sunday. He tells me that Jim had two more “episodes,” one during the night and then again the in the morning. He decided it was time to do surgery to implant the Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD).

    What is an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD)?

    An ICD is always checking your heart rate and rhythm. If the ICD detects a life-threatening rapid heart rhythm, it tries to slow the rhythm to get it back to normal. If the dangerous rhythm does not stop, the ICD sends an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. The device then goes back to its watchful mode.

    An ICD also can fix a heart rate that is too fast or too slow. It does so without using a shock. It can send out electrical pulses to speed up a heart rate that is too slow. Or it can slow down a fast heart rate by matching the pace and bringing the heart rate back to normal.
    Whether you get pulses or a shock depends on the type of problem that you have and how the doctor programs the ICD for you.”

    Now, the man that had a very healthy heart has implants to regulate his heart beat, an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD). It will first regulate his heart with the Cardioverter, and if that isn’t enough, the Defibrillator will send a shock to his heart. What happened to cause this heart, which was deemed healthy three weeks before, to give out and cause five heart attacks in one week?
    He is home and he is weaker than ever, five heart attacks will do that to a man. His right hand and arm swelled up in the hospital. They put heat on it and raised it up, then seemed to forget about it because the heat helped the pain. When we got home yesterday he was in a lot of pain, his arm and hand were very swollen and red. Fortunately I had just bought him a heating pad and as he settled in his chair, he was able to prop the arm up on pillows and use the heating pad. Today the swelling is down, but as I read through all of his discharge instructions, the arm and hand are not mentioned.

    I am a little disappointed in Kaiser right now…


  • Dealing with Cancer IV

    IMG_0130 - Copy - Copy
    01/24/2016~ What a difference a day can make!
    I walked up to the door of his intensive care room and took a deep breath before opening it. I stepped in and stared at an empty bed, before I could react I saw movement, and there he was, sitting up in a chair with those sparkling blue eyes that I first fell in love with, smiling in greeting. He was far from out of the woods, but he was in much better spirits today.

    His chest hurt because of the CPR. They think he might have a couple of broken or cracked ribs, but what can one expect after going into cardiac arrest three times and actually dying twice.

    His Cardiologist came in while I was there and told us about his heart problem. They were completely baffled by what was causing these heart attacks, or “episodes,” as they called them. Jim’s arteries were clear, all the tests show no problems, yet he continues to have “episodes” when he is hooked up for dialysis.

    He advised us to talk and do some planning. The prognosis is not good because he has an infection that they don’t understand, but he reminded us that the cancer is in his lymph nodes and that has compromised his immune system. They are trying to stabilize his heart and are pumping him full of antibiotics to combat the infection so he can start cancer treatment again (chemo).

    “I’m not going to make it,” Jim said when the doctor left. I really like this doctor and so does Jim; he is an honest man.

    “We are going to pull through this,” I responded. “You know that attitude is half the battle, and we both have a lot of attitude!”

  • Dealing With Cancer, III

    01/22/2016~ Kaiser rescued Jim from the UC Davis Med Center (UCDMC) last night. He was going crazy there.

    “They keep bringing students over to look at me…” UCDMC is a teaching hospital and this practice is common there, but not everyone brought in by ambulance has consented to the “intrusion” being forced upon them. You feel helpless in the first place and this “guinea pig under a microscope” treatment is an added stress that is not welcome.

    Jim was going to call me today to let me know where he was in Kaiser. I waited and waited… nothing… Nervously, I finally call the main hospital and the phone hangs up on me; I redial and it hangs up again. Great, their phones are down! The final straw was when my phone ran out of juice and needed to be charged before I could call again. I couldn’t take it anymore, it was time to take a drive.

    “Calm down Eija. You cannot drive anywhere in the shape you are in.”

    I freshened up and changed clothes slowly. By the time I was done I had calmed down sufficiently and could drive. At 9:00 pm I am off to the hospital. He was in room 3009 I am told by admissions. When I get there I realize he is in intensive care; I had to be buzzed in. I found the room and walked in slowly. Nothing prepared me for what I saw when I walked in.

    My sweet husband was laying in bed with a huge breathing contraption stuck in his mouth and I learn it goes down his throat and to the esophagus. He has wires and monitors all over him measuring everything from breathing, heartbeat, pulse, and blood pressure, and he looks absolutely miserable. He couldn’t turn his head toward me, but he reached up for my hand, grasping it as tight as he could. I noticed his hands were swollen, as were his feet. He could not talk and the nurse walked in to make sure he did not try.

    She tells me that he had gone into cardiac arrest again today when they had hooked him up for dialysis to alleviate his swelling, but this time he did not die. She tells me that there might be an electrolyte imbalance causing his heart to contract each time he is hooked up to dialysis because it appears his kidneys are trying to kick in. This could be good news, or not… Jim’s biggest fear was that he would be stuck on dialysis for the rest of his life because the kidneys had not kicked in, yet he was urinating on his own. The problem was he was still swelling because of too much water retention.

    I tried not to cry, then tried very hard so he could not see me cry. I failed miserably and he squeezed my hand to let me know it was okay. He waved his hand to let me know I could go, he could not sleep earlier, knowing I would be frantic. Now that I was there he could hardly keep his eyes open. I told him I loved him, and he gave me the thumbs up sign, his eyes trying to smile. I told him I would be back tomorrow; letting go of his hand was the hardest thing I have ever done.

    I left reluctantly, feeling desolate. Something was wrong, something was different, but what? I did not want to accept the fact that what was wrong was that he had lost his spark, his will to live; he was giving up.



  • Dealing With Cancer II

    01/21/2016~ Jim died twice yesterday, bless those who brought him back both times.
    He was at his dialysis clinic and his session was almost over when several staff members heard him make a noise. They went to check on him and he had no pulse. They immediately started CPR and then used a defibrillator to restart his heart. They had called 911 and the medics took over when they got there.
    My emotional state is off the chart… I cannot share…

  • Dealing With Cancer

    01/20/2016~ Here I sit, feeling alone in a fog. I can’t even begin to imagine what Jim is going through.
    This all started with a stomach ache in October. Jim said it felt like pressure and he was sure his ulcers were acting up and he finally called the doctor in November. Then it was test after test, ultra-sounds, ct scans, blood tests, and finally a liver biopsy. On December 13, the doctor sent my hubby an email advising him that he had B-cell cancer (lymphoma) in his lymph nodes.
    He saw his oncologist on Wednesday, December 16th and was put in the hospital on December 17th, his kidneys had failed. He was released on December 23 and sent home to start dialysis in a clinic. He now has dialysis 3 times a week and has had two rounds of chemo therapy. He is due to start the next round of chemo on Tuesday, 01/26/2016…
    He was unresponsive in dialysis, they called an ambulance, he was taken to the UC Davis Medical Center and is now in intensive care. Our only car was with him today so I will take a taxi to the clinic tomorrow and hopefully find it there. Then I can go see him.
    I got the first call at about 3:00 pm, the second call advised me he was in the UC Davis Emergency room and that he was doing good and responding, but that they were going to admit him. At a little after 10:00 pm I finally managed to get through to the nurses station in ICU Tower six. The gentleman told me they were finally bringing him up from ER and just got him into his bed. He asked if I could call back later. I asked the gentleman to please tell him that I called.
    I am waiting for later but I am now in a quandary. He has been in the ER for seven miserable hours and I know all he wants to do is sleep. He now knows I called, as he has been informed so he can relax… I know him well enough to know that has been central to his thoughts… Oh how I love him…