Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Give Me an N....

Then give me an e..x..a..v..a..r..  What does that spell?? It spells Hope !

Dr. Ruch called early this morning to tell me that my tumor marker is too high and he is prescribing Nexavar (sorafenib) to put the brakes on the tumor.  This is a powerful chemo drug with various side effects which vary from patient to patient.  He recommends this as the logical next treatment for my HCC, and I'm willing to give it a try.  He now thinks that my ascites is caused by the cancer and not by the cirrhosis.  This is an expensive drug, and I'm counting on it being really worth it :)

How Nexavar Works on Tumors
By slowing tumor growth and reducing the blood supply to the tumor, Nexavar may prevent the growth and spread of cancer. These processes can also be important to normal cells, so therapies like Nexavar may affect some normal cells as well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Farewell Dr. Kevin and Dr. Pat

Went to have my teeth cleaned this morning.  My hygienist is the same, but our dentists have both retired.  It makes me a little nostalgic.  My new dentist is Dr. Kevin's niece Christina.  She was very personable and thorough.  But still.

Afterwards we had breakfast at Sparky's - blueberry pancakes.  Yum.  Then home to advance the laundry.

Off to town again to donate another box of books to the library, mail some stuff, and shop for a popcorn popper and some popcorn.  We had success at K Mart.

Dr. Barnes office went above and beyond the call of duty and gave me an appointment this coming Friday with his PA Kathy.  I'm thrilled and relieved.  We need to begin treating cirrhosis.  I understand that it can be treated successfully over a long period of time.

Dick spoke to Bill and Jan about our upcoming trip downstate during the first week of May.  We plan to visit Doug in Rochester and then go on to Belleville for old home week :)

Traverse Dental Associates

Welcome! For over 70 years, Traverse Dental Associates, P.C. has been working with patients to provide the best dental care in the Traverse City area. Dr. David Swan, Dr. Macare Lumbrezer, Dr. Chris Mazzola, Dr. Josh Van Horn, and Dr. Christina Mazzola are all graduates of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Third Time Was Not The Charm...

Fourth paracentesis this morning.  Fourth overall, first at Munson.  Munson is more casual, and faster, with more attention from the M.D.  In at 10, out at 11.  We were both surprised.

Main differences - no blood draw with an hour's wait,  no blood pressure taken at any time, 10 minutes with Doctor, as opposed to a minute and a half,  and a different tap site.  Generally got the same results, only faster.

As I left, the ultrasound tech said, "see you in a month."  Gee - the way things have been going, she's probably right!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter 2014

Brunch at Harrington's by the Bay.

 Delightful in every way.

The only things missing were blue skies, blue bay and sailboats.

Happy Easter!  Laurie's comment was that even bunnies have an Uncle Tom :)

Friday, April 18, 2014


I just visited Esmertina and after a few days of not seeing her, the difference was quite something, for the better, though she still has some pain. She walked down the hall, which is great. And, things seem to be moving towards better. --Observations of Sarah

Thursday, April 17, 2014

IV Forever

Wendy's "Jana update" for today:

I stopped by the hospital this morning for rounds. The abscess has virtually completely disappeared in scans and the drain has been removed.  Unfortunately, the process of removing the drain created a hematoma in the abdomen wall which is causing still more pain in a new location.  

Jana did have the fistula exam, and the result of that suggests that the final answer is that the abscess was tubular ovarian (that might not be the strict medical term) and not caused by a diverticuli.  

There are not any immediate next steps except for continuing days in the hospital with IV antibiotics and monitoring.  I do think I am observing Jana getting incrementally better, but there is still so much pain and discomfort it is difficult to evaluate.

 We spoke to J. this morning.  She is feeling a lot of pain.  She's receiving the IV antibiotics and some pain meds, but basically she is miserable.  Here at home, I have no pain as such, just some discomfort.  The ascites is getting worse, and it does grotesque things to your body.  We had planned to return to the Vital Step gym this morning, but I begged off because I don't think my "water balloon" would allow me to pedal, etc.  I see the oncologist tomorrow, and I'm hoping he can arrange for paracentesis ASAP.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Barb's Birthday

Palm Sunday began in a very ordinary way.  Grocery list, bills to mail, recycling, library.  The best part was in the evening - dinner at Shelly's - a birthday dinner for Barb!

We always have a good time with Barb and her family.  The kids are so cute, and Shelly, Chris, Adam and Melanie are always fun and interesting.  We had some good conversation with Barb and Jim too.

Happy Birthday Barb!

Jana Update:

Wendy Carter
Apr 13
Dear All --

I stopped by the hospital today and overheard another conversation with another doctor.  White blood cell count is down, but unfortunately not pain.  They were planning another CT scan today and then a different diagnostic test I cannot even begin to spell tomorrow.

I will stop by for morning rounds tomorrow and hear the result of the CT Scan.  The medical mystery now is that the abscess is being resolved, but this has not been accompanied by a lessening of pain.  

I'm afraid this means more time in the hospital and no light at the end of the tunnel yet for poor Jana.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


South Fork High School Prom

As a sophomore, D. was able to go to Prom Saturday night because he volunteered for the clean-up committee  :)

Cottage, Omelette and Caring Bridge

Soon work will begin on our new T.C.  condo, so it's time to think about flooring, countertops, etc.

The Cottage Show seemed like a good place to begin, and we did get some ideas and contacts (and free candy!)

Afterwards we went to the Omelette Shoppe - we haven't been there for literally months!  It was fun and nostalgic.  There were only two or three employees that we recognized - lots of new staff.

Latest Jana updates:

1. From Wendy:
Dear All --

Jana is looking much better today.  She is more mobile, though still in pain.  I listened to a conversation with the head of the internal medicine team which is now responsible for her care. They believe a small diverticuli was responsible for the abscess, and are changing the antibiotics to reflect this.  If the new antibiotics don't lead to reduced white blood cell count and less pain, they will consult with infectious diseases.

Jana will be in the hospital through Sunday and probably through at least Monday.  There was no MRI today and none scheduled. 

Have a great weekend,

2. From Laurie:
Nurse practitioner Cindy visited Jana this afternoon. There is a diagnosis debate among the different medical teams. One side feels Jana has a
Tubo-Ovarian abscess
The other feels it's a
The culture the team took from the aspiration is growing. Nurse Cindy said results may be available tomorrow.
Jana is having a CT scan or a MRI today. The imaging will hopefully allow them to get a good view of the abscess area and help determine the source of infection.
Nurse Cindy flushed the drain and said it will remain in place until less than 20ml drains in 24 hour period.
Jana will have a contrast dye test on Monday. They will put dye in the drainage tube and hope it dead ends. They do not want it to track back to the colon. Nurse Cindy said the name of the test, it was something like a cystilogram, but some people call it an abscessogram. I can't find much about it. During the test an X-ray tech will watch the flow of the contrast.
Jana told me she is going to be handled now be the internal medicine group. They are going to reevaluate all her medicines etc. she is currently on 4 different antibiotics.
Jana will be hospitalized until Monday at least.
That is all for now
3. From Sarah:

Dear Family and Friends,

A CaringBridge Site was created for Esmertina 123. We will use this online space to share health news, and you can write messages of encouragement in return. Please visit often to keep updated and show your support.


Site Name: esmertina123

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Doctor Day

If you're not seeing a doctor today, you are really out of the loop!

Today's Jana update from Laurie:

Jana's doctor checked in this morning at 6:30. Today is drainage/aspiration day. The procedure requires fasting and Jana is an "add on " so she is basically on reserve, if there is an opening it's her time to take the test. The doctor said it will be performed before 5:00 pm. Everything hinges on the aspiration procedure. If there is a lot of fluid, the drain will remain in place and Jana will return to her room to drip dry. If there isn't a lot of fluid they will take what they can get and culture the specimen. The cells and bacteria in the fluid will hopefully determine the source of the infection. The doctor feels the drainage should relieve Jana's pain and discomfort. If that occurs she would be released Saturday. If there is no fluid or the drainage does not relieve the pain......back to the drawing board. That is all for now.

This afternoon, Dick and I went to see Dr. Burke.  We got the official okie dokie that it's OK for the two of us to exercise at the gym.

Lunch at Bubba's.