My very first cancer hospital admission!

Woo hoo!  Off on another adventure.  (Stage direction: read that with great irony)  Tuesday morning when I showed up for chemo I asked the nurse to check my oxygen saturation level because I felt really beat and very short of breath again (since Sunday).  It was 89…when 94 & up is what you want to see, and in most healthy folks its 97, 98, 99.

So THAT earned me, instead of chemo, a day in the Albany Med ER, first getting a chest X-ray that showed fluid in my right lung, probably from a pneumonia or other infection that has gotten into my compromised lungs and got to stay because of the steroids that are compromising my immune system. I got put on oxygen to raise my blood oxygen level.  My sinuses are pumping out mucus that I then violently cough up, which was tiring me out entirely.  Finally I was admitted for observation, antibiotics, and continued oxygen, which did eventually help me feel better, once the coughing was under control with Robitussin.  The first night I had a quiet mostly restful time in my single room (infection risk) on the renal transplant unit, where I guess they finally found me a bed at 8 pm.  “Mostly” restful because of the 4 am check of vitals, arm stick for blood samples, and most absurd of all, weighing!  Yes, here is proof of this Pythonesque moment:

SnapChat's timestamp function comes in handy!
SnapChat’s time stamp function comes in handy! 

Wednesday I had many visitors to keep me company, including Gina who brought an amazing, delicious lunch almost entirely in Mason jars.  Tapioca pudding with coconut milk…ah so slimy and good, like eating frog eggs.

That afternoon I moved to the Oncology floor, where I finished out the day with Eric for company, finally felt good enough to take a little walk around the halls, watched some episodes of “Scrubs,” and eventually tried to sleep through many of the usual nocturnal hospital disruptions. Here we are on Thursday and I woke up feeling pretty good–better than lately at home. I’ve been checked on three times by Dr. Shaffer from my oncology practice, who is on call. He’s Jens’s oncologist, and reports that he is very nice are true.

This morning I spent about an hour off the oxygen, what with showering and stuff, and then got my oxygen level checked and it was 94.  On oxygen it’s 96.  So that was very promising when thinking of going home later today. I just did an official walking saturation test to see if I desaturate while walking  I had to walk rather faster than I usually do these days!  I think 91 was how low I got.  So…that was a success.

The plan is that I’ll get a third dose of IV broad-spectrum antibiotics any minute now, then decide whether I’m ready to go home this afternoon or not.  I think I will be.  I’ve got a pill version of the antibiotic waiting at the pharmacy for tomorrow and beyond…probably far beyond, to really knock this thing out.

Nobody wants to be in the hospital, and in fact I’ve been quite proud of staying out of it besides the ER visits in March for the DVT, but it was quite clear to me this week that I needed to be here for a while.  I was willing to give up all those liberties you give up in the hospital, like wearing your own clothes, and getting a decent night’s sleep, because I felt so rotten and I knew just rest wasn’t going to fix it.  (I just didn’t know I had pneumonia.)  Well the sleep thing was certainly true, but not too bad, and I got to keep my clothes instead of a gown the whole time through three different units and a slew of nurses.  Interestingly, I think I had four male and three female nurses all told.  They were all nice.

Next up in our series of educational posts on cancer and its associated problems, lymphedema!

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