Friday, December 24, 2010

On Christmas Eve

Life has gotten the better of me lately. Hence, I haven't posted here. It's not that I've been lazy or anything — well, not more than usual — but circumstances have changed, and it has left me dry and tired.

Several months ago, maybe as much as a half a year a year ago, Shelley was walking the dog every day and most days if not every day exercising on the elliptical, also. Her routine, however, slowed over time, as some inner process apparently started to take malicious effect. She began losing her breath. After a time, it was too difficult to exercise and walk the dog both on the same day, so getting on the elliptical took a backseat to walking Asia, the greyhound. Then, even walking the dog became taxing. The hills would take Shelley's breath away and she would come home exhausted. About that time, I became ill, some sort of influenza manifested by shortness of breath, nausea without vomiting, diarrhea, a bad cough, a headache, and general achiness. Soon thereafter, Shelley manifested some of the very same symptoms. After a week or ten days, I began feeling better. After two weeks, Shelley didn't feel any better. She did with respect, perhaps, to the achiness, diarrhea and such, but not with respect to the shortness of breath. It was worse than ever; so was her cough.

We took her to the doctor. He checked her over, didn't find anything specific that he found of major concern, and made some general recommendations, particularly, because neither one of us — Shelley or I — have been much on doctors or getting regular checkups and shots and the like. So the general checks were overdue. You would think we would be better, especially Shelley, given her track record, but there you go, we are fallible human beings. One thing the doctor wanted to do, among other medical tests, was a chest x-ray. He planned on just having as yet the next word getting these particular tests done and then giving us a call about the results. However, after the x-ray was completed, Shelley knew something was wrong because of the technician's reaction: he called the doctor right away. The technician let Shelley know that the doctor wanted to see us before we left. So we rode the elevator back up to the doctor's office and learned from him that the x-ray showed Shelley had a pleural effusion. That is, she had a collection of fluid in the pleura, a sack like structure that envelops each lung. Her particular effusion was on the right side. It seemed to have collapsed up to three force of her lung on that side.

Shelley was sent to see a pulmonologist. We went to McKay-Dee to do that, and after visiting with the pulmonologist, we were told told to go to the radiology department to have the fluid drained from the pleura. After they completed the drain — they drained about a liter and a half of fluid —, they discovered pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) in Shelley's left lung and had her admitted to the hospital. She spent some five or six days there while they were trying to figure out what was going on. Meanwhile, the pulmonologist had the drained fluid analyzed. The analysis was inconclusive; however, it did show some abnormal cells and help rule out various things that could've caused both the effusion and the embolisms. The pulmonologist's best guess was that cancer was causing the problem. There were a host of other things that could have done it, however. The most hopeful was that there were some bacteria causing problem. That would've been easily treatable and eradicated.

In the hospital, they started Shelley on a regimen of medicine — Coumadin — to thin her blood to try to eradicate the blood clots in her lungs. Just before they discharged Shelley from the hospital, the pulmonologist conducted another fluid drain, again taking out just over one point five liters of fluid. He ordered more tests, this time more complete testing. Also, upon discharge, she was told to stay on oxygen 24/7 at two liters.

Shelley was sent to see a gastroenterologist. He told her he needed to conduct a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. Shelley was to prep and they gave her the kit to do so, but she had an impossible time with it: it made her throw up more than voiding out the other end. Hence, by the time the doctor wanted to conduct a colonoscopy, she was not ready. Since they do the two procedures in tandem, neither was completed, and she was told to go home and prep again. They gave her a different kind of prep kit, and we went home to try it. By this time, she was exhausted. She, however, successfully completed the prep. The doctor was able to proceed. However, the large: was twisted and kinked and because of her Coumadin level it was too dangerous to proceed. Therefore, the doctor was only able to check out about a third of the large colon. Everything he saw looked okay, but he wasn't satisfied that he had seen. Furthermore, relative to the endoscopy, the opening was too constricted, and for similar reasons — the level of her Coumadin — it was too dangerous to force his way through.

The doctor recommended that she have another procedure — since she had already prepped — and sent her to another facility to have a virtual colonoscopy. She was too weak and unable to complete that procedure, however.

Well, it's getting late, the story is a long one, convoluted and, perhaps, I will get it all down and perhaps not. But for tonight, that's enough said.

All I can say is that I am prayerful. Our family and friends have been very helpful and kind, very loving.

This is not the kind of Christmas Eve anybody wants to spend, worried about the person they love most in all the world.