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Friday, August 22, 2008

My visit with Dr. Z

I had an appointment with Dr. Z today, four months past the last stop in August.

He kind of explained my sudden weight gain, and it's pretty much what I thought. Since the endoscopy three weeks ago (has it been that long?) I've actually been digesting my food better, thus taking in more calories and nutrition.

Who'd have thunk it?

I told him I am feeling good, lifting weights despite some post-op pain, and eating more, though I still cough in the mornings. He seemed to agree with me that it's probably still residual from either the surgery or rads. I haven't been experiencing reflux so it's unlikely to be anything from my stomach making its way to my lungs.

He said I'm looking good and he seemed pleased with my progress, overall.

After business, we talked pleasure. As in his new iPhone G3. I was going to ask, but he gladly showed it off before I had a chance. He loves it, as I thought he would.

(By the way, the photo is an old one with his original iPhone. But he was just as happy today.)

I also reiterated that I would be happy to continue chatting with other patients as needed, to offer encouragement and whatever insights I can pass along. He said I'm already on his list.

I'll see him again in December, which will be nearly a year post-op.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

That voice -- again

I had a pleasant surprise yesterday, a call from Nurse Brenda.

Brenda, you might recall, is the heartbeat of the Thoractic Cancer unit at the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute. She keeps the place running smoothly. For a while during my cancer treatments and surgery and all the confusion they generate, she made sure I was where I was when I was supposed to be there.

So when Brenda calls, I answer. With pleasure.

She said she had another patient going through what I did and he'd like to speak with someone who has been through it. I won't mention his name because that is his business, not mine. But of course I told Brenda I'd be happy to speak with him whenever he'd like. I also reminded her to point him to this blog.

(Shameless plug here: I reminded her to click on as many ads as possible because the money generated from Google will become a charitable gift to the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute. At that time the total generated was about $22. Not much since September. But after reminding Brenda that Google won't cut a check until I raise $100 or more, she agreed to click on some ads now and again. So, yesterday more than $3 was raised, bringing me one-fourth of the way toward that elusive check. So folks, click away!)

I won't say when or if I hear from this person unless I gain his permission, because it is personal. I decided at the start to be very open -- some say too open (see photo posted yesterday, for example) -- but others may have different ideas.

So, Brenda, it was great to hear from you and you'll always have whatever help I can provide.

Thanks for everything!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The scopes

Well, it took pretty much all weekend to get me motivated to scan this in. The three images below are from Friday's endoscopic exam.

At left is the balloon at the end of the scope dilating my esophagus.

In the center is a look at all the gunk in my stomach that wasn't being digested, and at right is what it looks like after being suctioned.

I wasn't aware of it at the time, but Dr. Levine soon after intubated me to ensure that the contents of my stomach wouldn't come back to haunt my lungs. Once I got the all clear he woke me up and talked to Catherine about my condition. At one point, he told her I was going to be hospitalized. But I guess he did such a good job I didn't need it.

Good thing.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Back home and awake

Apparently there was some excitement in the Center for Digestive Endoscopy this morning. Just I don't remember it.

Seems I was out cold. But it turns out I didn't have a stricture in my manmade esophagus. Rather, it seems my stomach isn't digesting food properly. It's called gastroparesis, meaning the stomach is not passing the food along to the small intestines properly.

Here's a summary from the Natioanl Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Web site:

Normally, the stomach contracts to move food down into the small intestine for digestion. The vagus nerve controls the movement of food from the stomach through the digestive tract. Gastroparesis occurs when the vagus nerve is damaged and the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally.

In my case, the vagus nerve was damaged when the stomach was reconstructed to replace a majoroty of my esophagus.

The excitement this morning included Dr. Levine discovering the (mmm mmm good) undigested food in my stomach, suctioning it out, then intubating me to keep me from choking on my stomach contents.

I am OK now, save a sore throat and headache.

I don't remember any of this because I was on some happy drugs via an IV. Good thing because it doesn't sound fun.

So now I'm going to take yet another med, the generic version of Reglan. I am not thrilled because it might have odd side effects.

So, if you see me twitching or drooling, if I have hallucinations, anxiety, agitation, spasms or other uncontrollable movements of the mouth, face or hands, please forgive me. I'll only be on this stuff a few weeks to a couple months.