Updated 12 April 2017

My cancer diary – part 10

Difficulty breathing, a late night ambulance, and Lynn is back in the ICU. Andre keeps us updated.

With things looking up for Lynn, she suddenly has trouble breathing and after a late-night ambulance ride she is back in the ICU.

Andre sent the following email to keep us in the loop. (Click here for Lynn's last message.)

Subject: Lynn's anatomy - Potholes and machines that go beep

You know those potholes you only really find in the more northerly areas of Africa? The ones you can’t really see in the otherwise decent-looking road, but then suddenly there they are and they are big enough to swallow your whole car.

Well, we found one of these on Sunday evening in the form of a pulmonary embolism. It sounds more impressive than it is, but, in retrospect, is quite a scary thing. It’s basically a blood clot in the lung and can be quite nasty. Our little pothole was luckily still just a student at nasty school, however, it did cause quite a stir.

Lynn was doing really well, walking about, climbing stairs (almost) and we even made it to a friend’s (amazing) wedding out in Darling, no less.

She could hardly breathe
Then, in the evening she got up from the couch to head to the loo (always a bit of an occasion in our house with a couple of stairs in the way) when all of a sudden, and I do mean sudden, she could hardly breathe.

We connected up little Darth Vader (he’s the oxygen concentrator we have at home and he really does sound like Darth Vader breathing), and Lynn sort of managed to catch her breath after about 20 minutes. This excitement was followed by some rather odd and, in retrospect amusing, activities involving chairs, blankets, extension cords and lots of huffing and puffing. After an hour we had Lynn back in bed via the loo.

Around 10pm things had not really got any better, and little Darth’s puffing away was just not making enough oxygen to have any real effect, so it was time to call in the big guns.

Now, I’ve never been in an ambulance and nor has Lynn, but as with many things in this journey of ours, there have been quite a few firsts. Netcare 911 was excellent, arriving within 10 minutes of the call and three really nice guys made sure our first ambulance trip was quite un-traumatic (big thanks to Steve and his team!).

I’ll leave the finer details of all this for Lynn to tell you about, but thank the Lord my parents were staying over that night and this did not happen in Darling or somewhere else. The kids also slept through the whole thing and were even a bit miffed to have missed the ambulance. Life is full of small (and not so small) miracles!

Most likely a clot
Anyway, once Lynn was put on high volume oxygen her sats picked up nicely and she was able to get some sleep. The next morning the doctors came around, asked a couple of questions, nodded sagely at the answers and declared the most likely prognosis being a clot. A CT was scheduled, drugs were administered and we settled down to another long wait (you do lots of waiting in hospitals, guess that’s why they call those rooms “waiting rooms”!).

Eventually we went down for the CT and Lynn started to feel a bit better as the blood-thinning meds started to kick in.

Roughly 30 minutes after the CT, while we were trying to have lunch, Dr Wilson and Dr Rogers (the lung guy) came to visit showing a rather uncommon sense of urgency, and announced the discovery of a large clot in Lynn’s right lung. You would swear they had found oil in the parking lot. The standard practice for treatment includes a visit to the ICU since, as the ever witty Dr Rogers said, they like to keep all the clots in the same ward where they can watch them.

Back in ICU
Now, we have been in ICU before (the brain surgery, teletubbie aerial etc) and you really want to be unconscious if you are in ICU – it’s noisy, bright and full of really ill people. Still the care is much more, how shall we say, focussed which I, for one, was quite keen on.

And that’s where we are at the moment. Lynn’s doing much better, sporting a pair of passion killer knee-high stockings to limit the possibility of DVT, and sitting on the coolest electric bed you can ever imagine with lots of machines that go beep around her.

So, we are slowly filling in this little pothole and doing some panel beating to the car. Once we are back on the tar and have the oil thinned out enough we should be ready to hit the increasingly badly named finishing straight.

We really appreciate all the support and prayer and ask you to please keep them up. Hopefully this will be the last episode in Lynn’s quest to experience all of the most unlikely side effects of cancer. I think the doctors are seriously thinking about writing a paper on her as a side-effect case study or something!

If all goes well she could be home by Friday which will be really nice because things are a bit dull at home without her!

So long

- (Andre Ferreira, April 1, 2008)

Read more:
My cancer diary - part 1
My cancer diary - part 2
My cancer diary - part 3
My cancer diary - part 4
My cancer diary - part 5
My cancer diary - part 6
My cancer diary - part 7
My cancer diary - part 8
My cancer diary - part 9
My cancer diary - part 10
My cancer diary - part 11
My cancer diary - part 12
My cancer diary - part 13
My cancer diary - part 14
My cancer diary - part 15

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