We started this blog so that we can keep the many people who love our Dad up to date on his condition and for them to know how to pray. Our Dad is affectionately known as Donnie by his siblings and many close friends which is why we chose that as our blog address. The past two months have been hard but we are believing for a miracle. We are going to give a timeline of the past two months to catch everyone up on his diagnosis and hospital stays.
9/14/11- Dad went to the doctor because he had been tired and had a slight cough. She gave him Z-pack antibiotics and he got his blood taken. They called that same day to tell him that he was extremely anemic. (8.3...Men are supposed to be 15) She scheduled a colonoscopy for the next week.
9/19/11-Dad called the doctor's office to tell him he still had the cough. The doctor sent him in for a chest x-ray to make sure he didn't have pneumonia.
9/20/11-He had the chest x-ray done. A few hours after that the doctor called to tell my Dad that they found 7 or 8 tumors in his lungs. She said the pattern did not look good. She kept saying how sorry she was for him. It was a very hard day!
9/21/11-He had the colonoscopy done and everything looked fine there.
9/22/11- He had a CAT scan done and they found a 15 centimeter tumor on his right Kidney, a tumor on his adrenal gland and some cancerous lymph nodes. At this time they believed it to be Kidney cancer that had spread to the lungs.
9/23/11- He went to a Urologist, who told us by the scans that it was Renal Cell cancer, also called Kidney Cancer. He did not give us a great report about this particular cancer which left us feeling discouraged.
9/26/11- He had a biopsy taken from the tumor in his kidney to be tested.
10/5/11- He had his first oncology appointment with Dr. Joyce. The biopsy came back and they confirmed that the type of kidney cancer he has is Clear Cell, the most common form. He is presumed to be in the 4th stage because of the fact it has metastasized to the lungs. Chemo and radiation does not commonly work for this type of cancer so Dr. J wanted to start him on a drug called Sutent as soon as possible. Without this drug, he only gave my Dad about 4 months. With this drug, 50% of the people make it to 6 months and about 50% make it to a year. (We, of course are praying and believing for many years) He said my Dad's profile was good and was glad to hear that he was still working and was strong. All good signs!!
10/12/11- He was taken to the hospital by ambulance for chest pains. The EKG they did turned out fine. At the hospital they found out that his Iron was even lower then before. (6.9) They attributed the chest pains to being anemic and sent him home after they got his pain under control.
10/13/11- He went back to the hospital for a blood transfusion where he received 2 units of blood.
10/14/11- He had an upper GI done to check for ulcers or anything that would be causing blood loss. Everything turned out fine there and they believed it was the cancer causing the anemia.
10/19/11- He had an appointment with Dr. Joyce. He was disappointed to see the medicine hadn't arrived yet and fixed that problem.
10/25/11- He had to go to the ER because he was having trouble breathing. They attributed it to anemia again and gave him Lasix to get rid of the fluid. They sent him home.
10/27/11- He had another blood transfusion and received 2 more units. He continued to have trouble breathing but maintained it at home.
11/1/11- He started taking Sutent and was able to work at the Cornerstone till this date.
11/2/11- He had to go to the ER again for breathing issues and was hospitalized.
11/4/11- He continued to get worse and they figured out that fluid was building up around his lungs. Lasix was helping but it was not enough. They drained fluid from around his right lung. The procedure is called a Tap. They drained about 33oz or 1 liter.
11/7/11- They drained his left lung and took out 48oz or 1.5liters. Draining his lungs always brought immediate relief.
11/8/11- He was released from the hospital with oxygen.
11/9/11- He had a great day and was able to get around fine.
11/11/11- He started having breathing issues again and went to a walk-in clinic. They did an x-ray and said it was fluid again around his lungs but said he would need to go to the ER. He had an appointment with a pulmonologist in a few days to drain the other lung in the office but we knew we couldn't wait that long.
11/12/11-He was taken by ambulance to the ER. They gave him lasix and got him stable and sent him home to wait.
11/13/11- He continued to struggle that night and by morning we knew he needed to go to the hospital. We started on our way to the car and he couldn't do it. We had to call 911 again and they took him to the hospital, where they hospitalized him. They drained his right lung and took out 2.5 liters of fluid.
11/14/11- The doctors began to talk to us about more invasive procedures to stop this fluid from building back up. They also talked to us about the seriousness of the whole situation. The buildup of fluid is called a Pleural Effusion.
11/15/11- He woke up that morning in the hospital with major breathing issues again. They decided to do surgery that day on his left lung. They did a procedure called pleurodesis. Basically, they make an incision in his chest and put a tube in there. After the initial fluid is drained, they rough up the lung with sponge that has a rough edges. They then put Talc (Talcum Powder) in that space and it creates a reaction that makes the lung adhere to the side, so fluid can no longer build up there. Essentially, gluing the two spaces together. The tube stays in for a few days to allow it to drain properly. They pulled out 3.5 liters of fluid from his left lung during this procedure. (No wonder he couldn't breath) They could only do one lung at a time and they wanted to make sure he healed from this first one before they started the second one. He did have a problem with the sedation later that night and they had to give him Narcon to reverse all pain meds. The rapid response team had to come and they got him stable again.
11/18/11- He started having more breathing issues again and they had to Tap his right lung. They took out 1.5 liters. Mom and Dad also celebrated their 32nd anniversary in the hospital.
11/20/11- He still was having problems breathing and they took out another liter of fluid from his right lung.
11/21/11- He had the pleurodesis surgery on his right lung. They took about 1 liter of fluid. At this point, he had a chest tube on both sides and was obviously still in the hospital.
11/24/11- We celebrated Thanksgiving with Dad in the hospital. He did not eat much but at least we all got to see him! Late that night, he was moved to the cardiac floor because of a heart arrhythmia problem. They corrected quickly but kept him there for precautionary reasons. They had to stop the lasix because it was causing an electrolyte problem which most likely caused the heart issue.
11/26/11-They moved him back to the Oncology Floor (4th). The nurses and staff have been wonderful here! They also took out his left chest tube.
11/27/11- Mom called us all to the hospital because Dad was having problems breathing. He was on 100% oxygen and was still having problems. He had oxygen through a nose cannula and a mask over that. He was also pretty out of it. After a while, they gave him Narcon to wake his system up a bit and that helped alot but he was still having problems. They took x-rays and found out that he had pneumonia in his right lung. They talked to us about a DNR and it was a pretty scary day. They started giving him lasix again to help with the swelling and fluid. All these things started to make him feel a little better but he was still on 15 liters of oxygen.
11/28/11- He slept most of this day and he is on two different antibiotics as they are treating him for pneumonia. He woke up around dinnertime and actually ate some food. He also sat in the chair which was great!
11/29/11- He's ate pretty good that day and was able to sit in the chair again. The doctor was pleased with those things. He also got the final chest tube out. Dad's not super confident that he's getting better but we all see him improving. He's still is short of breath and is on 9 liters of oxygen. He's also having trouble hearing which is hard on him.