Monday, October 20, 2008

Another day older

It was a long and uneventful day. I didn't work today, I spent the morning with Rebecca at the hospital and then went home to sleep for a while before picking up the kids from religious school. I ate with the kids then went back to Kaiser to be with Rebecca for a 'procedure'. Then I came home and snaked the main drain so that we can run the dish washer and shower in the morning. At least I know I can always get a job at roto-rooter.

In order to determine that Rebecca does NOT have TB to the satisfaction of CDC guidelines she has to have three consecutive negative sputum tests. To fail these tests, each morning she has to 'hock a loogie' into a cup. For those of you unfamiliar with this technical term it is the art of getting as much 'gunk' as possible into a glob before spitting into said cup. If she fails to get enough 'stuff' into her loogie they make her breath in an irritant to promote the upward movement of the 'gunk'. The irritant seems to work, judging by how irritated Rebecca gets.

Once she has hocked they send the loogie to the lab where it is examined for signs of the TB bacteria. It takes about 24 hours to get the results back from the lab. SO.... If she fails the first, Sunday morning, loogie test and the consecutive Monday and Tuesday tests she COULD be released on Wednesday morning upon receipt of the negative result. This theory is all great except that we still haven't heard what the results of the first test were. However if the TB test come back negative then we are back trying to work out what IS wrong.

The radiologists report says that there are 'lesions' present in the mediastynum, the pleura, the lungs and nodes on both sides of the neck (and I think a couple of other places too but I forget what they were called). The oncologist says that these might be cancer or they might be due to an infection, you just can't tell. The fact that Rebecca has been running a fever is an indicator towards her having an infection. Just an infection? or cancer and an infection?

The most accessible manifestation of her ill-being is the massive lump above her left clavicle so that is the first place to dig, literally. Tonight she had a needle aspiration of the super-clavicular node. If they find cancer then it means that node has cancer, if they don't find cancer it means there may be cancer there and they missed it with the needle. So next step would be a 'core biopsy', a larger needle that they insert under some radiological imaging device so that they are sure to miss all the vains and nerves that run through the neck. They don't want to do a surgical biopsy because of all the vital stuff that runs up the neck. I asked why they don't just cut of her head and shake to see what falls out; Rebecca laughed, the doctor scowled.

SO... The news that we could get tomorrow is either a positive result of cancer in the super-clavicular node, which wouldn't be good OR a negative result that would send us on to the next test. The other news we could get would be a positive result on the TB (loogie) test, which wouldn't be bad, OR a negative on that would send us to the next test.

One other data point before I go to bed... Rebecca had the BCG vaccine a couple of months ago. She is convinced that the problem is a bad reaction to that vaccine. In her research she found a set of symptoms that match all of her condition fairly closely. Pneumonia, nodes in the neck, low grade blood infection (I don't think I mentioned that they think she might also have a low grade blood infection)... The doctors have all discounted her wikipedia diagnosis, I am going on record saying that I wouldn't be at all surprised if she turned out to be right.

If you want to reach out to Rebecca call her cell phone. If she's not up for talking she will not answer. If you want to visit talk to her about it on the phone and schedule your time.

You know how to reach me.

lots of love,

good night


G'ma G 'n G'pa M said...

Andy - thank you so much for the blog - it really helps to hear your voice and your humour through the pain of the situation; I hope you give Rebbeca a copy! I'll send R a text - keep your spirits up! Much love - Mum & M

Brad Topliff said...

I am thinking of you guys from China. Go Pneumonia!