Saturday, February 19, 2011

Three Months After Surgery

Surgery Plus Three Months
Everything is healed now. The new bladder seems to be working. I have good control during the day (one of the 90% according to my surgeon). I am really not sure about the nights because the night sweats have been waking me up so often and I just go while I'm up.
Basically, I'm feeling good and I've started walking to build up my endurance and strength. I still don't feel back to normal and it hurts to ride in the car (bumps and cracks in the road).

I have seen my doctor - and he has seen me. 

After my Oncologist gave me a clean bill of health (cancer-wise), I returned to my regular doctor's office to talk about my remaining problems: night sweats, fevers, and fatigue.

He is very concerned about the fevers which are now spiking (between 99 and 102) every day around dinner time. He walked into the exam room and the first thing he said - after 'hello' - was 'you look anemic'. We then proceded to talk about the blood tests (including blood culture) and the CT scan results. He said there was a slight swelling in one kidney and this was a good candidate for causing the fever. All the blood tests were negative except for a borderline hemoglobin and slightly reduced kidney function.

He put me on a 10 - day course of Cipro antibiotic and started me on Iron pills and One-a-day vitamins. Hopefully this will knock out the fevers and give me some more pep.

He's not so concerned about the night sweats and says that they can be caused by just about anything. I assume he means, let's clear up this infection and then worry about the lesser problems.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You give me fever.

Last night's fever of 100.0 doesn't seem like much but I'd already taken two ibuprofen for a headache (crick in the neck) that I seem to be getting more often now too. 

For the past two weeks I have been geting a low grade fever (99 - 102) every evening around supper time. I take two ibuprofen and it goes away in about 15 minutes, not to recure again until the next evening.  I've learned that two aspirine have no effect (because I tried it one night and I had to wait four hours - with the fever - to take two ibuprofen.)

My doctors are a bit more concerned about this than they are about the night sweats but they still don't seem to know what to do with it. They keep taking blood cultures (that come back negative) and the latest was to send me back to my Oncologist (who just sent me back to my doctors saying my cancer was cured and the fever must be a blood infection).

I had thought the fever may follow agititation of my lower abdomen (riding in cars or walking tends to irritate whatever is down there). Now that I'm trying to walk at least a mile a day (to get back in shape for baseball) I figured the fever would start spiking every day as well. And it has. But now it even spikes on the days I don't walk.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oh, for a dry night (not what you think).

Last night I woke up about an hour after I went to bed and I was soaked with sweat. My shirt and pajama pants were soaked as were my sheets and blankets. My hair was dripping wet and there was water running off my face. This was a night sweat and it's been happening to me at least once every night since I had my surgery (there have been a few dry exceptions). Most are not this bad. Most only wet my shirt, the sheets, and the pillow and I can change them and get back into a fairly dry bed.

But this is getting pretty old now and I can't imagine that it's normal post-surgery. For a while I thought it was my subconscious re-living the surgery or some residual effect of the anesthesia, but it's going on three months and nobody I've talked to has had this coming out of surgery.

I've seen (and been seen by ) a lot of different doctors since the surgery and I've told every one of them about these sweats. They type it in their notes and go on with the examination (listen to my lungs and heart and press around my abdomen and ask if it hurts). Then they send me on my way.

This never happens when I take a nap during the day (some are 2-3 hours these days). Nor does it happen when I get up at night and fall asleep on the couch (because the bed's too wet).

It doesn't matter whether I'm warm or cold. I can be under all our blankets (we keep our bedroom cold) or just a single sheet.

I'm told it sounds a lot like hot flashes - but this doesn't have the 'hot'. I don't get hot - I just sweat.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Something's happening here...

... What it is, ain't exactly clear.

Things have been going along pretty smoothly with the recovery but a couple weeks ago I was having more problems with endurance and energy. I could go for a few hours but then it was like hitting a wall and I had to stop for a nap. I brought this up at my two-month meeting with my surgeon and he said I should see my regular doctor about this one. My doctor was booked up so I got appointment with the on-call doctor. One thing lead to another and before I new it I was headed for the ER to check for blood clot or heart attack.

The ER doctor couldn't find any evidence of heart attack or blood clot from either the EKG, x-ray, CT scan or blood tests - but he wanted to admit me anyway.  I should have said, "NO". But I didn't and I spent the next three days in the cardio ward of the hospital; feeling totally silly and very, VERY healthy.

While I was there, they ran every test they could think of: Stress test with pre and post scans. Heart ultrasound. It seemed like everyone on the hospital listened to my chest and heart. They kept a heart monitor on me 24/7 and every now and then brought in stacks of printout showing; ".. nothing unusual". They brought in specialists and scheduled consults and in the end all they had was something called a Sed Rate (ESR) that was too high. So they reluctantly sent me home. The good part is that now I know my heart and lungs are in tip top shape. Not a bad thing to know.

A high Sed Rate is a non-specific indication of inflamation somewhere in the body. Antibodies attach to the red blood cells causing them to clump and when the blood is placed in a tube, these clumps of blood cells  settle out faster than individuals.

I have seen my regular doctor again and been tested again. The ESR has come down but is still above normal. I have also been having occasional bouts with chills and fever (99 - 101 range) that worries him and has led to more blood and urine tests along with a full abdomal CT scan (first since surgery). AND a follow-up visit with my Oncologist (this was supposed to happen about now anyway so I'm not too worried by it).

MY concern is still almost nightly night sweats - sometimes 3 or 4 times a night. These are really a pain but they don't seem to concern the doctors. Another one of my theories that hasn't gotten much traction with doctors is that all these problems seemed to follow the removal of that second catheter. I worked as a microbiology tech for many years and think I understand sterile technique. Removing that catheter amounted to pulling a rubber tube that had been inside my bladder, through my gut space and out the hole in my side. Who knows what intestinal organisms might have stuck to it from those still lurking around in my neo-bladder. Who knows what it might have inoculated as it passed through.  Well, I'm not a doctor.

But I really can't worry too much about this. I've decided that my job is to get myself back in shape by starting to do the things I would normally do. Like splitting wood, clearing snow, walking, bowling, and exercising. Maybe umping a game or two at our indoor baseball park. After all, I have less than two months before I need to be in shape to outrun a 14 year-old from first to third base on a tripple.