Last week was a difficult week. After I lost consciousness on Monday, I came home Monday evening. I was still a little shaky and didn’t feel completely right, but after a 10 day stay at Spectrum I was happy I didn’t have to stay in the hospital. If you want to know why I lost consciousness, read on. If you don’t, skip to the next paragraph.
I have always had low blood pressure. Before cancer, before kids, since I can remember I’ve had low blood pressure. When I was in Spectrum for 10 days, the nurse would come in my room to take my vitals and dispense my medicine. After taking my vitals, they would always comment on how low my BP was and ask me if that was normal to which I would say yes. They would say “then I’m not giving you this drug”. It turns out “this drug” was Propranolol and it lowers your BP. Day after day, nurse after nurse, this drug was held back because of my low BP. However, this was not properly communicated so when they sent me home Sunday afternoon, with a list of discharge instructions and prescriptions Propranolol was on the list. Like a good patient, I took the medication Sunday night and again Monday morning. Monday afternoon I was feeling so strange that I laid down to take a nap. I woke up to my muscles being very tense and I knew immediately something was wrong. Thankfully Dusty was home. He came inside. Tried walking me to the couch and that’s all I remember. I woke up on the floor. He was on the phone with 911. I spent a few hours in Holland Hospital’s ED where Dr. Loos figured out that it was indeed the Propranolol I should not be taking. Thank you to EVERYONE in Holland Hospital’s ED.
Tuesday was spent resting.
Wednesday I had my second round of chemo.
Thursday was spent resting.
Friday I woke up at 4 a.m. in a good amount of pain and a hard time breathing. I got up, took a Vicodin and tried to go back to sleep. Vicodin did nothing for the pain. Dusty went to work. Jana picked up the kids and took them to her house and as the morning went on, it quickly got worse and I noticed the only way to breathe well was to lay down on my side. I called Dr. VanderWoude’s office, and was eventually advised to go to the ER. My parents, who were already at the house with me, drove me to the ER. Sitting in a reclined position in the minivan was hard to breathe. We pulled up to the ER entrance. My dad grabbed a wheel chair, I got in it and the more I sat upright, the shorter and shorter breaths I took. I eventually felt like I was going to faint. Needless to say, when I told them I can breathe better when I lay down. They took me back to a room, put me on a bed and laid me flat. Within a few minutes I was able to breathe better and come back, so to speak.
It was frustrating because my oxygen looked good, BP was good, heart rate was good, labs looked good, EKG was good, X-ray was good, but I knew something was wrong. It turns out the CT Scan showed I’m collecting fluid in my right pleura or lung area. It also showed the pericardium is inflamed. I now of Pericarditis with Pleural Effusion. Pericarditis, as Dr. Sak explained has a respiratory element to it. When the lining is inflamed, it feels like sandpaper rubbing the lining of my lungs. That’s why I couldn’t take deep breaths and was breathing so shallow.
So the window they put in at Spectrum is working. I, because of the cancer and inflamed pericardium, am producing too much fluid that it is dumping out into my lung causing an effusion in my pleura.
I was admitted to Holland Hospital Friday morning and was kept for two nights while they ran an anti inflammatory drip, kept my pain under control so I could breathe and debated amongst themselves whether to stick a needle in my pleura and aspirate the fluid.
Sunday morning I had another x-ray and Dr. Sak (who is a gem of a doctor), determined that due to the anti inflammatory drip, and comparing the most recent x-ray to the CT scan my fluid had already decreased. There was also an argument that the fluid was sitting so low in the lung that they ran the risk for puncturing my liver. Well, NO THANK YOU. I have had enough for a few weeks. Where should I sign to get my belongings back?
My life right now is pain pills, anti inflammatories, chemo, lots of rest and so much confusion from what has happened over the last few weeks. Overwhelmed is an understatement.
My husband should wear a Superman cape. I honestly don’t know how he did it, is doing it and will do it going forward. Herman Miller has been so kind and compassionate. We are so thankful for that. A big hug to Dusty’s boss Bryan, Sharon and the rest of his team for being so supportive.
Not to sound too cliche, but this has been an emotional roller-coaster. I could not have done this without my husband, parents, Jill, Dani and Jen.