My Dear Wife and I are learning from experience what we already knew from seven plus decades (each) of living---to wit---things
have a way of not always working out exactly "right." This is proving true of medical diagnosis, treatment, and
First, her initial tests showed that her condition was pretty much routine. Then, it looked like a bit more
testing was required. That led to a biopsy, which indicated uterine cancer, but nothing that a routine hysterectomy would
not solve. Then further biopsy pathology indicated there was a good chance of ex-uterine cancer cells. This led the oncological
gynecologist to decide against robotic surgery in favor of open surgery. Open gave him more tactile sensors, and he would
be able to remove metastatic cells. Which he did, but those cells proved to be what the pathology suspected: UPSC, or uterine
papillary serous carcinoma, which, because it appeared ex-uterine, is defined as Stage IV---not the best stage of cancer to
This situation calls for more therapy, at least in the opinion of the oncologist, who is highly respected,
and highly aggressive. He says that although there is no further evidence of cancer cells, the UPSC is akin to ovarian cancers,
and hence likely to recur. He recommends chemotherapy, and, in concert with a radiologist, perhaps radiation as well. Hence,
he called for a "port" to be installed. For the uninitiated, this means a semi-permanent implant, just under the
skin, in the upper chest, with lines, sub-cutaneously leading into a large vein where the chemo-toxins will be introduced
where they can be quickly diluted in a large conduit. Introduction through an arm IV connection is said to be very corrosive
to those veins.
The port was installed two days after surgery, and seemed to be quite satisfactory, with a minimum of
discomfort. The entry point was almost indistinguishable, and to my eye, looked unimposing. My Dear Wife was not visibly concerned
with it, and we relaxed a bit, awaiting the time when post-operatiive recovery would allow for the onset of chemotherapy,
usually four to six weeks post-op.
Until Friday last, that is. At that point, she began to experience some discomfort,
then pain in her neck at the site of the line's entry into her jugular. On Saturday, she was worse, with some slight swelling,
so she called the physician. He was out of town on vacation, and the standby doctor said she may have developed a blood clot,
and that she should go to Emergency at the hospital for possible removal of the port.
We arrived at the hospital at
1450, were hustled right into a consultation setting, and proceeded to receive some caring and positive attention. The ER
doctor said he was concerned also about possible blood clot, but he thought the removal could wait, as long as the results
of a CAT-scan were negative. Said CS was conducted, and the results showed no blood clots in the lungs, which merited a ticket
home, to return the following day for removal of the port. Then, one last taking of vital signs---Whoops! Her heart rate spiked
to something over 150! It came back down as rapidly as it went up, but the attending ER physician as well as the Hospitalist
were agreed that she should remain in the hospital in the event that things went South during the night (the spike in heart
rate may have been the result of a small clot entering the lungs. This forces the heart-pump to work faster). They were reluctant
to remove the port that evening, as it depended somewhat on the counsel of the Oncologist on call---he may have wished to
hold off, etc., etc. So, she spent the night in the hospital.
Sunday AM arrived with still no definitive answer. Finally
word came down: take it out. She went in at about 1200 Hours, and was back in her room by 1330, ready to be released around
1400. We got her sprung at 1500, but not after a short course in administering self-injections of blood thinner (twice a day).
to say she is not feeling top-notch, and her attitude has taken a hit. We are learning what oh, so many others have learned
during their own ordeals---life in the medical realm ain't alway a breeze. We outsiders, which we are rapidly un-becoming,
have this vague idea that people with illnesses are diagnosed, then treated, and that things go according to what we hope
for. Those who have been there know better, and we are on a learning curve. At best, we can only hope for two steps forward,
and only one step back. It is better than the converse...