Okay, Call Off the Dogs

Wow, a month can go by pretty quickly when you’re not paying attention. Let’s see how quickly I can get you folks caught up.

In my last post, I thought I’d be admitted to the hospital later that day. I was right. After a nuclear medicine study of my lungs and an echocardiogram, I was eventually admitted to the hospital. The primary reason for the admission was because SuperCoop wanted to have a CT of my chest done with contrast (aka x-ray dye). This stuff is iodine based and rough on the kidneys, which isn’t good when you’ve recently had renal failure. Thus, he wanted me in the hospital so they could overhydrate me and give me a drug called mucomyst, which helps protect the kidneys.

Long story short, I was in the hospital for six days and all they could come up with was a little pneumonia. In addition to the echo, nuc med and CT studies, I also had an MRI of my C-Spine and T-Spine (neck and upper back). Turns out I have a slipped disk around T-5 T-6 or T-6 T-7. Maybe it was T-7 T-8. Anyways, it was apparently an old injury but interesting to learn. Not quite worth the fifty minutes straight in the MRI tube, however.

Oh, and I got to meet with the radiation therapy folks who did my simulation on Friday (a CT exam that lets them figure out where they’re going to aim the radiation). I then receive three tiny tattoos in the form of black dots.

Immediately upon leaving the hospital that Saturday, Barb took me home so I could shower the hospital off me. Then we went to Moe’s Grill for a burrito and stopped by the movie theater to see Little Miss Sunshine. Great afternoon and the way everyone should get to leave the hospital.

The next week or two I was pretty depressed. Not sad depressed so much, but a combination of blah depressed and “don’t feel like doing anything” depressed. Unfortunately for you folks, that means no web updating.

Two Thursdays ago (9/7), I started developing a pain in my left shoulder. Initially it just felt like I slept on it wrong, but by Sunday it had progressed to an unrelenting stabbing pain down through the top of my shoulder. Put your hand on your shoulder. Not there – more between your shoulder and your neck. You know how you can sort of feel the gap in the bones there? That’s where the pain was.

Last Monday the radiation folks look me over and say it’s not ’cause of them, since this is out of the radiation field. Unfortunately, they don’t have the power to order random x-rays and such over at the hospital, so they recommend I go through the ER. Incidentally, everyone at Yale calls it the “ED,” which I know stands for “Emergency Department” (after having the first person who used this acronym repeat it three or four times), but it’s still wrong. An ER is an ER, not an ED. If anything is an ED, I would say a school is. Especially if it’s special.

Anyway, I go over to the ER and they zip me right in again (let’s hear it for cancer!). They take a chest x-ray and think they see some pneumonia. Guess who’s going back in the hospital. This time I’m in there for four days. This time was quite exciting because the floor just got brand new beds.

It really sucks that I know this.

After I had been there for a couple of hours, SuperCoop comes in the room, eyes all agoggle. “What are you doing here?”

I figure he’s joking and start gushing at length about the cool new bed (it was quite impressive after the clunkers they used to have, believe me) (still depressing). He stops me as I’m showing him how the head of the bed goes up and down silently to say, “No seriously – what are you doing here?”

Turns out the ER folks had been talking to SuperCoop’s fellows, who had neglected to relay to him that his star patient was causing trouble again. He was on the floor making his rounds and just happened to notice that my name was on one of the doors. Comforting.

So after four days and a few more random tests, I leave the hospital minus the shoulder pain and any knowledge as to why it might have occurred. It just stopped around the third day (same day I had a shoulder MRI), so they figured they couldn’t hold me there any longer. Damn straight.

So now I’ve decided that if anything hurts or feels weird I’m not telling anybody. Every time I do, I wind up in the hospital for a week. I’ve also decided that I looooooove dilaudid (aka hydromorphone). Up until this point, I’ve had a lot of different pain meds and I’ve remained puzzled that people get addicted to them. I’ve had morphine, percocet, darvocet and a lot of other pills you hear about suburban wives getting hooked on. As soon as I stopped hurting, I stopped the pills, no problem. No desire whatsoever to continue. After this stuff though, I understand. Aside from twisting my reality a quarter turn and knocking me on my ass, it left a definite impression in my brain that I liked what just transpired and would be quite happy to have it transpire again. Scary stuff.

Skip forward to today. I have four more radiation treatments (out of an original 20) as of today’s treatment – Monday will be my last one. I have a little bit of a sunburn on my chest and back where the radiation shoots through, but my skin’s been holding up pretty well thanks to early glooping of Aquaphor on the affected areas. Internally, I’ve been having some esophagus troubles. Originally, this consisted of a burning feeling right around the esophagus/stomach juncture. Now it’s turned into more of an indigestion feeling which sometimes morphs into… Have you ever swallowed wrong and it feels like your esophagus either gets a knot or swallows backwards? That’s kind of what it feels like. Often. But not enough to really bother me – just annoy me.

I think that does it. Today’s been a better day than usual – I replaced one of the headlights on my truck and got a spare key made for the house after locking myself out this morning. Idiot. That’s been safely hidden (no one looks under mats, right?) and my squirrels have been fed. You think I haven’t written here in a long time – it’s been even longer since I’ve fed my poor little furry buddies. They were going apeshit today over the piles of peanuts that suddenly appeared all over the deck. Eventually I’ll get around to taking some photos.

So, that brings you all up to date. Aside from locking my keys in the house, this has felt like a pretty good day, so hopefully that bodes well for keeping the blog up to date. Hopefully.

3 thoughts on “Okay, Call Off the Dogs

  1. Glad to see you post. We were wondering what happened after you left Kenyon Street. Thought you all might have gotten lost. Anyway, I’m sure you are looking forward to Monday and then forgetting about all this for a while. (Fingers double crossed here.)

    We’re just starting ERATE LOA fun here and it definately made me think of you. It is such a joyous time and I don’t think anyone here is going to be as quiet or gracious about how crappy it is as you were 😉


  2. Well, I got lost for awhile mentally, but I found the breadcrumbs. I was going to thank you for checking in, but then you go and bring up the whole ERate thing, which isn’t the happiest place for me to be returning to in my delicate condition…

    Way to go, Rob. 🙂

  3. Hey Brian,

    So glad to see/hear/whatever from you again, we’ve been missing you on the HD board. About the shoulder thing, I had the same thing in pretty much the same place. After all the poking and prodding and testing by the oncs, the best they could come up with was arthritis. Damn weird place for arthritis to spring up overnight, if you ask me. Mine went up into my neck and all the way down into my elbow, really drove me absolutely nuts for several weeks, and still plays around with me every day or two for a few hours.

    You’ll be glad to know that the whole radiation/esophagus thing improves quickly. That was the first thing that recovered for me. I kept telling people it felt like I sunburned the inside of my esophagus, not like where you get a sore throat, lower, not quite to the tummy. I’d say that within a weed after treatment ended mine was gone, or maybe that’s just because treatment ended.

    I’m so glad to read you’re feeling better, and hope things will keep on getting better and better for you. HUGE congrats on finishing radiation next week.

    Chris Ryan

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