I was realeased from the hospital yesterday. I haven’t been in a hospital overnight since Elizabeth was born over thirty years ago.
Very early Monday morning I decided to call the oncologist about symptoms I was having. I had had chills and some bone pain and had been awake since 3:00 a..m. The real problem was labored breathing and the strangest pain – my throat and the area behind my sternum were sore and felt as if there was pressure from something. Of course my anxiety escalated. I checked temperature – 99 – heart rate – couldn’t get it right – and finally decided I had to make the call. I was told to take tylenol and my lorazepam for my anxiety and if I wasn’t better in half an hour to go to the emergency room. Since the hospital is half an hour away we followed directions, got dressed and headed that way hoping that we would end up going out to breakfast. I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia in my right lung (the cancer is in my left lung). Once again, this was caught really early and I started to respond to antibiotics . . . but more importantly I found out that the pain in my throat was caused by inflammation due to gastric reflux. I have never had problems with indigestion until chemo. Now that I think of it I probably exacerbated it with my use of mint tea and mint cough drops since mint will relax the stomach opening and allow reflux. Damn.
So, I went through the full routine. Compression socks, massaging leg wraps, innumerable “sticks” because my veins are unhappy (can’t use the right hand because of the lumpectomy/lymph nodes and had an infection on the top of my left hand after my last breast cancer chemo) and they could not use the port for eveything. Shots in my stomach to prevent blood clots and i.v. antibiotics daily. 6:30 monday night I suddenly felt okay and at 4 in the morning I got up and cleaned up – had sweated through all the bedding, etc. – and decided if I was going to tidy up I might as well do a good job – and even straightened my room. I figured just as soon as I really hated the food I would be sent home. Bingo! Wednesday morning breakfast was the worst.
Anyway, I do know that I had no blood clots, lesions, nodules, etc in the chest area – just the plain old pneumonia – which was probably bacterial and which might not be that unusual due to my compromised immune system. I have a week’s worth of prescriptions for antibiotics and a month’s prescription for an acid inhibitor so I do not continue to irritate my esophagus. (Do not panic if an ENT says you need to be scoped – piece of cake – I was afraid a camera would be used in my throat and I have a strong gag reflex – a really neat segmented instrument was put through my nasal passage- not painful or uncomfortable except that my eye really teared when it was removed- and I will NEVER worry about that test again.) My chemo has been postponed for one week so that my antibiotics are finished . . .and all the doctors and nurses and aides and technicians at NIMC were phenomenal. I feel a bit weak – but staying in bed for two and a half days sucks . . .and I am sure we’ll get past this too. My room looked like a florist shop and I had visitors and felt very much taken care of. I am indeed fortunate. I just wish I was through . . .