Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Have You Heard of "Splenic Lymphoma?

I was being the responsible, oldest son, making the trip to Sparks, Nevada to visit my father.  My mother passed away in April and my dad has been struggling the last few years with early Parkinson's and some dementia.

On my final day of the trip, my sides were very sore and I was sweating profusely.  Paramedics came and said it wasn't a heart problem, so we went to the emergency room, (which I just found out, didn't accept my insurance), to uncover the problem. After some tests, the emergency room doctor sounded like I was about to be released, but he said he showed some results to another doctor and I was getting a room.  

A real doctor, in scrubs and everything, came to my room and asked me if I was on blood thinners. Due to a bout of Afib in March, I was taking Xarelto.  He told me, that was the problem, that I had developed a contained hematoma on my spleen, full of blood from internal bleeding.  Doctor said my hemoglobin count had dropped to 9.3.  Normal for a man is 14.  They eventually stabilized my hemoglobin, but informed me I should not fly for 5 days.  My 3 day trip had now turned into a 9 day trip after my hospital stay.  

When getting home, I went to my family doctor, explained everything and he didn't think it was the Xarelto.  Back in March, my doctor had seen an increase in the size of my spleen, did a ct scan, and we decided to keep an eye on it for a few months.  In May, we had another ct scan and the spleen had shrunken a bit.  

My wife wasn't satisfied, so we went to a hematologist oncologist.  He agreed, after looking at test results and running blood tests, that it wasn't the Xarelto.  He scheduled me for a pet scan.  During this test, you fast for 12 hours before having radioactive glucose injected into your body.  The bad or weaker blood cells are the hungriest and go after the glucose.  When the doctor told me of my results, he said all the glucose headed for my spleen and it appeared I had lymphoma in my spleen.

Just a quick catch-up, my wife, Pat had ovarian cancer and it was almost exactly two years earlier. She has been in remission for nearly 18 months.  Thank God!  A two car family, a two house family, those are all cool.  A two cancer family...NOT COOL!

After a pity party for several hours, we marched onward.  I had to have a bone marrow biopsy to see if the lymphoma had traveled to my bone marrow.  Results were good!  From what I read, lymphoma that starts in the spleen spreads to your bone marrow.  Nothing in my bone marrow, blood, liver or kidney.  Seems like I have an "indolent", that means slow moving, and rare, form of cancer.  No less serious, but slow moving is good. 

I only have a few side effects from the illness.  I have a cough that I have had for months that apparently is from the spleen putting pressure on my diaphragm. I also have lost 16 pounds, but not how you want to.  Spleen also putting pressure on my stomach not allowing me to eat as much.  Worst side effect, drenching night sweats! Imagine you get out of the shower, don't towel off, and get under the covers...that's what I have been dealing with for the past month. 

So the next step is a splenectomy where a surgeon goes in and removes my spleen.  I had to have several vaccinations, because, even at my advanced age, the spleen still does some things to protect my blood and body.  

My surgery is coming up and means three to ten days in the hospital and likely four weeks of recovery.  After surgery, a pathologist will look at the spleen and we hope most, if not all of the lymphoma is contained within. 

First things first!  Surgery, here we come.

Fred


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