Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Seriously? A Blood Clot?

"Welcome to the unexpected in life, I am learning to bend with grace."

Just when I think I am coming out of the fog of Chemo Round 2A,  I am side-swiped unexpectedly. I was asked to return on Tuesday for a follow-up ultrasound to check in on the superficial clots around my picc line. My arm was the one part of my body that had been feeling better, there was no more swelling, the pain had pretty much gone. I expected a routine ultrasound, no big deal. It was the same ultrasound technician as last week and the first thing she said was, "You still have a picc line in?" Hmm, that doesn't sound good. It soon became apparent during the ultrasound that things were not going all that well. I was asked, "Do you have an appointment at the cancer centre today?" No. Then she had to leave the room and said she would be right back. Ok, freaking out a little bit here!! She returned and had gone to speak to the Radiologist. Not so good news. She let me know that I had a clot in the vein of my Picc line that has now travelled up towards my shoulder. I had no symptoms of this, no pain, no swelling, no redness. They asked me to go over to the Cancer Centre to see Dr. Stevens and he would need to decide what to do. They would send over the report right away. Heart pounding, I text Jason (who is in the parking lot so we don't have to pay for parking) and off we go to the Cancer Centre again.

Once again, how thankful am I that I can walk ten steps and arrive at my oncologist office?

Off we go, "We're back!" I arrive at Clinic B and it wasn't long before one of the nurses is looking at me, she's on the phone to the ultrasound radiologist and I am back in an examining room. It was about an hour and Dr Stevens is with me and we are coming up with a plan. So blood clot in the picc line vein, "not a good thing." We ran through some options, all not real viable. He consulted with another blood cancer doctor and a decision was made based on the following:
- the Picc line is working for me and the clot was blocking about one-third of the vein right now
- I need the Picc line for my chemotherapy treatments, it is part of saving me
-if they take out this Picc line and put another one in chances are, that there will be another clot - something that is not entirely uncommon with Hodgkins and blood cancers
- the same thing could happen with a Port-o-Cath - and you can't see the signs as easily
- since I had no symptoms, it was caught early - a good thing

Starting immediately (yesterday), I am now going to need to have a Low Molecular Heparin injection in my stomach, once a day. This is a blood thinner that will work to prevent more clots, help break up this one and prevent this one from moving anywhere dangerous. They gave me my first shot at the hospital and within 30 minutes, CCAC is there setting up a home care nurse to come today to teach me how to give myself the injections. Can you say overwhelming? We went down the pharmacy to fill the prescription. My bathroom is really beginning to look like a pharmacy. We have hazardous waste containers, syringes, medications. The heparin shots are also very expensive. Once again, how grateful are we to live in a country and have a career with such amazing benefit coverage. We are truly blessed.

So here I am. Coming out of the haze of my last chemotherapy treatment. Finally starting to feel somewhat myself. Dealing with a few residual side effects. And now, I am faced with this next hurdle. I will need the injections for the remainder of my treatment. But think. There are many people facing diabetes who live with his for a lifetime. It is just something I am going to have to do.

I am thankful today for a beautiful sunny day and the opportunity for both Jason and I to watch Jordan at her Divisional Track and Field Meet. The smile on her face and wave when she saw that we came is worth all of the hardships I face. I do this for my kids. Jordan placed first place in high jump, third place in standing long jump and was on the 2nd place Tug of War team. She goes to the Country Finals next week for High Jump! We are incredibly proud!

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