Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bloglines - An Unwanted Journey: Day 0150 - Serious Complications

Bloglines user PeterDawson ( has sent this item to you, with the following personal message:

I only met Don once, when we had the Shel / Shoeless joe event. but from that day (mar/6th) I began takin his feeds and I find myself humbled by the strength that he has !!

I sincerly wish that he slowly recovers.

An Unwanted Journey: Don Spencer's Battle with Cancer
Although my blog started without a specific theme, this has changed dramatically. I was diagnosed with rectal cancer in November 2005. My blog is now dedicated primarily to lessons learned about battling cancer.

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0150 - Serious Complications

By Don Spencer

This entry will be short.

First, thanks to Ian for filling in for me when the most I could do was breathe. Second, thanks for family and friends for visiting and taking care of me as I suffered through more complications arising from surgery.

My brother died of a massive coronary almost four years ago. It now appears that was almost my fate. Tuesday morning, I collapsed at home. After being admitted first to emergency, then to the cardiac care unit, and just today into a standard medical ward, I have run through many tests.

The most important was the lung scan which shows multiple clots (pulmonary embolisms). The next most important was the ultrasound showing possible renal failure and bladder spasms.

What evidently happened was that a clot travelled to my heart, broke up in the heart and then shot out multiple minor clots to the lungs. This elevated by pulse rate and left me short of breath and in danger of a heart attack similar to what killed my brother.

I am now on heparin to thin the blood and dissipate the clots. But I have also had to catheterize again (removing 2-3 litres of urine and blood each day). In addition, I am starting an antibiotic to fight an infection which is probably in the bladder. I still can't move much at all. In fact, I am most comfortable when I don't move at all, simply letting sleep and drugs work their wonders.

I have had a blood tranfusion, iron pills, multivitamins, aspirin, pentaloc (for the bloody ulcer), Tylenol to fight the fever, etc. I've almost lost track of everything I take.

One good thing is that I have regained a minimal appetite, colour in the cheeks, and some coherency in speech again. My haemoglobin levels are rebounding and I do not have the C-Difficile infection that the intensivist first thought might be the case. The precaution was to put me into contact isolation in the cardiac care unit. This meant everyone who came into my room had to gown and wear gloves. Now that the infection has been ruled out, we're back to monitoring the blood thinners and emptying the bladder through the catheter.

I don't know when I'll be home again. I also don't know when I'll be able to walk further than a few feet to the washroom. Maybe soon. Early next week, there will be further tests, including more ultrasounds and lung scans to see the effect of the treatment. In the meantime, I'm just doing what I'm told to do, eating when I can, resting as much as possible, and dreaming of being at home with my family again.

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