Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Perfect Storm

My visit with my oncologist went as well as could be expected today. His answers to my questions allayed most of my fears. And I got to see my favorite nurse and my nutritionist! But I'll start from the beginning. It's a very good place to start, or so I've heard. Sorry for that ear worm. Actually, I'm not. I think Do Re Mi from The Sound Of Music is a brilliant piece of songwriting. But I digress.

I arrived at Cypress Hematology and Oncology here in Denver this morning. As usual, I took the stairs rather than the elevator. I'm glad I did, because I happened to run into Katie, my nutritionist. I haven't seen her since I gave her some of my ice cream to thank her for helping me get my weight back on track several months ago. I told her I was struggling with my weight again, and have some digestive issues that I think are a consequence of our trip to Mexico. She gave me her card again, but I didn't need it. I made an appointment with her for Monday on my way out.

As I checked in at the front desk, the new girl at reception finally knew me. The last time I was in the office, I had teased her about how famous I am there. So when she simply handed me my badge when I walked in, I said, "See, you know who I am now!" She laughed and agreed. Have I mentioned that I love my team?

I didn't get my usual MA this time, Nikki, but another that I'd seen a few times before, a lady named Leara (pronounced Lair-a). She came in to get my vitals before I saw the doctor. I told her briefly about my "episode" and how one of you had suggested that it may have been a drop in blood pressure that caused it. I asked her to take my blood pressure from a lying down position to a standing position, which she did. My blood pressure lying down was 125/78, and when I stood up, it was 107/78. Pretty strong. So it doesn't appear to have been that, or at least not that alone.

I was very glad I had made this appointment to talk about the onset of osteoporosis with my oncologist. It came at the perfect time after my episode. But when the doctor came in, we talked about the osteoporosis first, since that was the reason for the appointment. I asked him how at risk I am for falling and lifting. He said he's not an expert on osteoporosis, but he thinks I'm okay for normal activity. He wants me to exercise, but not try to lift too much. I can do that. But I need to be careful not to fall. Falling is dangerous, especially for me. So I did the right thing by sitting down immediately when the spell came over me. I guess I should have crawled to the bathroom instead of trying to walk. Then I wouldn't have fallen the way I did. Live and learn.

He also thinks we're being aggressive enough with treatment for it that I can expect my bones to get stronger, not weaker. That's what the monthly Xgeva shots are for.

I have other contributing factors that may be at play in my osteoporosis, like the fact that both my mom and sister have it,  and the mere fact that I'm "a skinny white guy," to use his terminology. Hmmm, Skinny White Boy sounds like a good parody of a certain Foreigner song I know. But who would play it?

Then I told him all about my Scary Episode. I gave him details that I haven't given you yet. The crucial detail I left out of my last post is that my wife and I have both had diarrhea, or soft stools ever since we got back from Mexico. When I described to him what happened last Saturday night, he thought the most likely explanation was a "perfect storm" (his words) of dehydration from diarrhea, maybe some bug I'd picked up south of the border, and perhaps a slight drop in blood pressure.

So my friend Trevor's suggestion that it was some kind of Mexican virus was the closest to the truth. He also had the best advice - stay off Google! Which I did.

It doesn't appear to have been low blood sugar, and it definitely was not a cardiac event, or a heart attack. I feel fine today, and I wouldn't if it had been a cardiac event of some kind. But he did tell me that if it happens again, I should get to the ER fast. Not an Urgent Care unit closer to home, but Porter Hospital, where their offices are located, because all of my records are there. That's good to know in any emergency I may have, not just a recurrence of that dizzy spell. Porter is about 15 minutes away. It's good to live in a big city at times like that.

While I was there, he decided to get my blood drawn for a PSA test, since it's been two months since my last one. I'll post again when I have that number, probably by Monday.

Then my favorite nurse, the famous Melanie came in. She was wearing the cross pendant I gave her. She gave me my Xgeva shot, and made sure my next two appointments for shots were on days that she's working. She called me Honey several times. I love this lady so much. No, you can't have Melanie. She's mine. Unless you go to the same place for cancer care that I go to. If you do, insist on her!

On my way out, as I mentioned earlier, I stopped by my nutritionist's office to make an appointment with her for this Monday. I want to talk to her about my recurring weight issues, and the continuing soft stools that can only be making that worse. I hope she'll be able to recommend something to get this whatever-it-is out of my system.

In Mexico, we didn't stay in an Americanized all-inclusive resort. We stayed in a house, and ate out at local restaurants for almost every meal. So who knows what I may have picked up from a Mexican kitchen, or maybe ice cubes (Do they use purified water?) or the wonderful seafood, which I ate almost every day.

Not that I'm complaining! If you've read my post about our trip, you know what a blessing it was. We just seem to have come back with a touch of Montezuma's Revenge. We're not the first to have that happen.

Some dire choices I might have to make were running through my head before this appointment. Lupron can cause heart problems, though it's rare. It makes sense, since it ruins muscle tone, and the heart is a muscle. If it was cardiac event, would that mean I'd have to choose between staying on Lupron and risking a heart attack, or going off of it and just letting cancer take over? That was just one of the jolly scenarios I was considering. But thankfully, that's not a choice I'll have to make. At least, not yet.

I was overwhelmed and a little amused by the reaction to A Scary Episode. It's now my #2 all-time most viewed post, and was probably only kept from the top spot by the fact that I shared a year old post yesterday, Priorities, which got a lot of attention. I'm incredibly grateful that so many care when I have major news to report. But I couldn't help but be amused that I'd just written what I considered to be this beautiful post about hearing the voice of God in The Sound Of The Surf, and that post barely hit my usual low number of views. But write one about falling into the bathtub, and everybody wants to read it!

It's good to have good news right after some bad news. The good news is, I appear to be fine. Other than cancer and osteoporosis, that is. I got to see my team, and I got to give you some good news. Let's all hope and pray that the news is still good when I get my PSA number. #waroncancer

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