Septimana Horribilis

The last sentiment I expressed last week was that I didn’t want to go out drugged up in a hospital bed in Houston. Within three hours of that post going live, that’s exactly where I ended up. Don’t tempt fate boys and girls.  

I was caught off guard, that’s all there is to it. For the past weeks I’ve bounced around the globe, landing in a place long enough to take care of business, then heading off for the next port of call. Last week was another trip to MD Anderson for a couple of procedures necessary to get my new treatment started. I was set for a brain scan and another liver biopsy. I’ve never had a brain MRI, but wasn’t too worried about it. I had a liver biopsy a couple of months ago- it made me sore for a couple of days, but it wasn’t too bad. This appeared to be another in a string of “routine” trips. The plan was to show up, have my procedures in the morning and fly out that night.

As we rolled into Houston, my head was not in the game. I was not mentally prepared. I did not have my game face on. I didn’t even have a playlist prepared. The MRI went off without a hitch. We got to the Mays Clinic early, and the biopsy folks were ready to roll (a minor miracle that provided the promise of a couple hour buffer before the flight). 10am on Monday morning, that’s when the week turned for the worse.

I might have to sue these guys for stealing my line.

As I returned to the land of the lucid after the procedure, my biopsy site was sore- considerably worse than the first go ‘round. In and of itself, this wasn’t a very big deal. The fact that I immediately spiked a temper was much more troubling. I spent the remainder of the three-hour observation period in pain and cold sweats. For the pain there was intravenous painkiller. For the fever, there was no answer. As I was in an outpatient clinic that was about to close, I was treated to a two-block ambulance ride to the Emergency Center for observation. New scene, same result. All of my labs, x-rays and urine analysis were great, yet I still had this phantom fever. The folks at the EC got bored with me, and I spent the rest of the night posted  up in a hospital bed on the observation floor hooked up to an IV.

On Tuesday morning we still didn’t have answers, but they thought I was well enough to go home (which was fine by me). For the next several days, the fever came and went away. What also went away was my IV painkiller. Once we got home, the pain from the biopsy got pretty rough. The medicine I had previously been prescribed wasn’t doing much. Due to the elusive fever, some questions about the pain at the biopsy site, the rise of pain at other sites,  the involvement of my liver, and some stomach issues, selecting new pain medication became a bit of an ordeal. In the end, I went through the whole week (and consequently the weekend) without an effective pain management strategy. It is safe to say that this sucked.

(Before this gets out of hand, ladies, please don’t roll your eyes at me. I am fully aware and in awe of what ya’ll are capable of. What D went through with my boys surely puts my little ouchies to shame. For the purposes of this post, however, let’s assume that I’m writing in reference to the “male scale” of pain tolerance). 

I like to think of myself as a reasonably tough man. I’ve always been pretty good about playing through pain, and not letting minor inconveniences get in the way of performing whatever task lies ahead. What my doctors are trying to pound into my thick skull is that they are not awarding any medals for pain tolerance. I will try to keep that in mind, but I’m still very keen to spend time with the boys and to work. Obviously, those activities require some level of clarity and focus. I guess I'm just not very keen on spending the coming months strung out on pain meds.

Fortunately, we spent the weekend down in Birmingham doing something I love – watching Spencer play in a soccer tournament (he had a few goals, a couple of them were cracking- one in particular was truly special). This also afforded us the opportunity to spend some time with the Chewnings, and My-Man-Fiddy-Grand, Dr. Joe C. Given a couple of days together, we talked through my issues and have developed a strategy we think will work for longer-term pain control. I any event, I was pleased to see the end of this septimana horribilis, and the beginning of a new week full of promise.

24 hours in hospital bed didn't do much for my hair.
Sometimes a cut is just the thing to help with a fresh start.

I came to another set of realizations today. The first is that my pillbox is too small for all of the meds I'm taking. I then realized that I actually have a pillbox. What am I, 90? Apologies to my 90-year-old friends with pillboxes, but I’m not supposed to be with you just yet. (But can you help me find one of those sweet HurryCanes?)

I will leave you with this- several of the pills in my box are designed to counteract the constipation that comes with taking painkillers. Consequently, everyone who has ever claimed that I’m full of “it” is now officially correct. Congratulations.

I love ya'll, have a great week!

Update: I was set to fly to Houston today to start my trial therapy. I got a call this morning, and the trial has been delayed. The slides from the biopsy they sent to the sponsor have too much necrotic material in them. We’re checking to see if MDA took enough of a sample to prep some new slides. If so, we’re good. If not, I get to have another biopsy. It’s tough to be too upset that there is too much necrosis though. Either way, next time they see me, I will have my game face on! 

Soundtrack for starting a new week: Dreams, Wind Up Dream, Dream On, Dreamer.

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