Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Precarious Waiting Game

Wednesday began a series of long days for Mom, as her headache began then. By Friday, she called Dr. Dy (her oncologist) to see if it could be a side-effect of her chemo regimen. He told her that because her headache was so sharp, he didn’t think it was associated with her cancer; call her general practitioner. She called Dr. Houston, who was out of town, so she scheduled an appointment for Saturday morning with a nurse practitioner in town.
By Saturday morning her headache was worse. Mom went to her appointment where the NP told her that it was “probably your sinuses”, gave Mom antibiotics, and sent her home. By Sunday, she was in too much pain to move and could barely talk. Monday morning, Pat and Jenn took her to the Emergency Department at RMH in Olney. Dr. Paulsha was the ER doc on call. He was fabulous. They immediately started a morphine drip to ease Mom’s pain, and after she was feeling a bit better, she was taken down for a MRI.

About ten minutes later, Dr. Paulsha came in while mom was sleeping and asked to talk to Pat and I. His first words were, “You should know: it’s bad.” He read the report which basically said that mom has a 1” x 1” mass in the right cerebellum that had hemorrhaged and was bleeding in a 2” x 2” area. He asked us which neurologist we would like to life-flight her to. We have had no experience with neurologists. Dr. Paulsha said there were reputable neurologists in St. Louis, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Springfield.

 We chose Springfield because of the fantastic experience Mom had at Prairie Heart Institute in June.  The weather was bad, so she was taken to St. John’s by ambulance. Lisa Stoltz-Syfert (Mom’s sister) left Effingham when the ambulance left Olney so she was waiting in St. John’s ER when Mom got there. Leslie, Samantha, and Jenn went home to pack a bag, while Pat went home to meet Bill Weiler for the drive up to Springfield. Amy (being 38 weeks pregnant) decided to stay home.
St. John’s Emergency Department is a Trauma 1 ER right now, so it was overwhelming and hectic. Mom waited 45 minutes for a room, and, even then, we were watching gun-shot wounds and craziness around us. Dr. Maragaret McGregor (neurologist) was called in and read Mom’s CT Scan from RMH. She showed the scan photos to us, pointing out the mass and subsequent bleeding. She decided to transfer mom to Memorial Hospital, because St. John’s didn’t have any ICU beds available, and, as she said, “the quality of care at St. John’s, when it’s this crazy, is not something I’m comfortable leaving you in. Your condition is too serious.”

While they were waiting to transfer Mom, the nurse started her on Mannitol - a drug to decrease the swelling and fluid in her brain. She had a slight reaction to the drug, but a new IV and a filter later, and she was back on track. Unfortunately, St. John’s was so crazy that her pain medication was less of a priority, so she was in quite a bit of pain until they got her to Memorial.
Mom’s room at Memorial is in Surgical Intensive Care. They performed at MRI around 11 p.m. Dr. McGregor visited this morning to discuss the results. She does not think it is metastases of Mom’s cholangiocarcincoma, though it is hard to tell. It may be a blood vessel that burst and then bled. McGregor made sure to emphasize last night and this morning how serious Mom’s situation is. There aren’t many medical scenarios more serious than hemorrhage in her brain. At this point, Mom is getting Mannitol and another anti-inflammatory drug to continue decreasing the pressure in her brain. If it is determined that the suspicious spot in her brain is not cancerous, the course of treatment will be very different than if it is determined that it is cancerous.  

Even if the doctors decide that the spot is not cancerous, the risk for Mom is still far from over. The possibility of brain surgery has not been eliminated, though at this point, we’re hoping that the medication and her body will reabsorb the clot and the residual blood. If the spot continues to raise suspicion, Mom may undergo ten rounds of radiation to (hopefully) eliminate any cancer cells. There have been many other hiccups since Friday, but this is the notable stuff.
Much is unknown right now. Mom will have an MRV to assess the flow in her veins later today. Hopefully, a course of treatment will be better known tomorrow. For now, it’s a waiting game.

Please pray that the swelling decreases and the blood and clot/mass are absorbed.  Pray for the doctors to use their knowledge to discern what course of treatment to use. Pray for the nurses to have patience with our highly involved and worried family. And pray for those who couldn’t come up to Springfield that they will be comforted being so far away in such a worried time.
Thank you for all the prayers you’ve already sent. Mom needs them.

Thank you, Bill Weiler, for driving up with Pat last night, and thank you, Lisa for being here when Mom got here. Mom is blessed with great friends and family.

Written/posted by Jennifer, Samantha, & Leslie in Springfield                                                                                                                      

1 comment:

  1. And we pray that the nurses and doctors are on their 'A-game' and get the process rolling of what to do! And that the nurses sleep really well tonight and are more friendly and on top of things for the days to come. (I'm not there..luckily..or I'd have had this kid from all the stress of the unfriendly nurses..and waiting :) this is all speculation of what I've been told by my sisters)

    Hang in there momma!! We all know you're a fighter and this is just another small bump in the road to recovery from this stupid battle with cancer!

    Love you!!