Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hurdles to Jump and Chemotherapy #2A

"True strength is smiling when you want to cry, laughing to hide the pain and going on no matter what."

Over the past week I have been dealing with considerable pain near my Picc line entry point and alongside the Picc line. It was a burning pain, tender to touch, went down my arm and over the weekend it became apparent that it was also becoming a bit swollen. I tried to not complain or really talk about it at first but I realized it wasn't going away. My first instinct is that I don't want to tell them when I go on Tuesday for my treatment. I put a heating pad on it at my parents over the weekend, did research on the internet and decided of course in the end, that I needed to let the nurses know. Advocating and speaking up in regards to my experiences has carried me far. Of course I am worried that this will be a setback with my treatment.

Turns out, the nurse immediately noticed that my arm was swollen, when prompted, I told her that yes I have been in pain, she measured the circumference around my arm and was on the phone to my oncologist to find out how to best proceed. Since she was able to flush out my picc line, it was determined that the suspected clot did not involve that vein. The nurse was able to feel the side of my arm and we could feel a bump which she inferred was a blood clot. This was relayed to the doctor and he gave permission for the chemotherapy treatment to start. My Aunt soon joined us and was great in making sure I was asking all the right questions to find out the next steps. The nurse said they were trying to get me an ultrasound appointment immediately following treatment and I would have to wait until the radiologist interpreted the results. Unfortunately, they radiology department called back and couldn't get me in until today (Wednesday) at 7:45 am. Then they needed to check this out with my oncologist to make sure it was ok for me to go home and come back in the morning, knowing that there was a risk that I did have a blood clot. Thankfully, I was able to go home and returned this morning at 7:30 am for the ultrasound.

The ultrasound went smoothly and we were out in 45 minutes and back home to wait. I quickly realized the anxious feeling that I spent most of the month of March feeling. Worrying about test results, the unknown, anxiety. I was grateful to have visits from two treasured friends today. A former colleague came for a "too short" visit with a wonderful dinner for our family, great magazines to pass the time and a gorgeous flower arrangement, thank you, your friendship is so special to me. My dear friend Lisa also came to join me for lunch. I so appreciate friends taking the time from their busy schedules to comfort and provide me with support. It helped pass the time of waiting throughout the afternoon, which ended in a wonderful nap.

Finally, Dr. Stevens called me at 8:15 pm from the hospital. Apologizing that he was not able to get back to me until then. The ultrasound confirmed that I do have several superficial blood clots, superficial meaning that they are close to the surface of the skin and not "deep vein thrombosis". It is not uncommon to have superficial clots near the Picc line insertion. Mild swelling and discomfort are to be monitored but not as concerning as swelling towards the top of my arm up where there are deeper veins where a clot could potentially travel to my lungs. I do need to begin taking one aspirin a day and have to return to see the oncologist on Friday for my arm to be checked and for Dr Stevens to see my arm for himself and make a decision on whether a different kind of blood thinner may need to be started. This would involved daily injections and support from CCAC.

So another hurdle, another jump over the river of lymphoma treatment and I land relatively unscathed on the other side. I continue to face the side effects of my third chemotherapy treatment. I am well-equipped and have a better plan to come out ahead of some of the more unpleasant annoyances. I do feel fatigued, much like a continuous hangover or flu. But I know what's coming and it is a very predictable pattern thus far.

Michelle 3 Hodgkins 0

No comments:

Post a Comment