Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A New Look Here and A Different Follow Up...

I decided to make some changes to the look of this place. I hope you like it. :)

Today I had a follow up at UCLA. It turned out to be a "not so usual" follow up. If you recall, two weeks ago I had to go to the ER for an asthma attack. As I am a firm believer in not worrying about something until there is something to worry about, I didn't mention to everyone this small little thing they found on my chest x-ray at the ER. A spot or some sort of lesion. I was instructed to follow up with my Pulmonologist, so I called his office to have them check my x-ray online. My Pulmonologist called back and said the spot was not on any of his previous scans. The last time he saw me was a few months prior to my cancer diagnosis. He instructed me to get my records from UCLA, and he wanted a second x-ray. I left a message with UCLA, and didn't think about it again until today.

When I met with the nurse practitioner today at UCLA, she asked me about my ER visit. When I explained to the nurse that my Pulmonologist wanted a second x-ray, she was concerned. She pulled my old records herself, and found that back in June (when I was in the hospital for neutropenic fever) a spot had shown up on my x-ray and CT scan. She dug into my records a little further, and noticed that the spot was also vaguely visible on a CT scan I had done in December 2008. The report said it was scar tissue from a possible pulmonary infection during induction chemo. She told me not to worry that it was most likely scar tissue, and got records and a CD of my scans ready for my Pulmonologist. She did however think his request for another x-ray wasn't enough, and tried to get authorization for an emergency CT scan at UCLA today. Insurance wouldn't approve it, so the best she could do was tomorrow at Hoag. Other than that, everything is good and I am to come back next month.

I decided to swing by my Pulmonologist's office in Huntington Beach on my way back from UCLA. Oddly enough, he had surgery earlier this week, so I knew I wasn't going to have an appointment any time soon. When I walked in, to my surprise my Pulmonologist was in the office wearing a c-spine neck brace. His nurse said she was just as surprised as I was but he apparently wanted to get started seeing patients he had to reschedule. When I gave her the records from UCLA, she asked if I had time as they had a cancellation. I decided it would help me sleep better to get it over, and agreed to read a book for an hour and wait.

Because a lot has changed with my medical history, my Pulmonologist had a lot of catching up to do. I have had two asthma attacks this week, so he decided to put me back on asthma maintenance meds. After the exam, we went into his office to talk. He pulled up my scans from UCLA, and unfortunately did not agree with my oncologist. The scar tissue UCLA had been seeing in their reports was in a different area of my lung. He did not see the new lesion that they found two weeks ago on my old scans. He agreed that I need a CT scan in the next week or so.

When a cancer patient in remission hears things like "spots" and "lesions", it tends to make one worry a little. Even if we have a firm stance on not worrying about things until there is something to worry about. When I told my Pulmonologist that I was concerned, he was a bit more reassuring. He was honest and said he didn't know if it was cancer or not, but even if it was, it isn't something that needs to be immediately treated. He said that one of my chemo drugs, Methotrexate, can offend have the side effect of scar tissue and benign lesions growing on the lungs. That last part is much more reassuring. He also said with my history of cancer, he as well as other doctors are always going to be more cautious. And for some reason, that is a comfort to hear.

Tomorrow I am going to make the appointment for the CT scan, and we should know more in two or three weeks. See, nothing to worry about! ;)

As for Jenelle, she is doing well after her bad seizures last week. The ER called on Sunday and she did have a bladder infection. She has been happy as a clam and is now on antibiotics.

That is all for now. I will keep you posted. Thank you for the continued thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Two ER Trips for April (knock wood)

Well, it's only April 15, and already the Curran girls have had a trip each to the ER. Mine was less dramatic, so I'll get to that in a minute. Unfortunately, Jenelle went to the ER today via ambulance from school because of a status seizure that didn't stop with Diastat. The good news is that we are home now and Jenelle is acting fine and is playing with her toys.

Shortly after she woke up this morning, Jenelle had a couple of big seizures that were a little out of the norm, but not too concerning. By "big" I mean the seizure went for more than a minute - not "big" as in a grand mal. Daycare later told me that she too had noticed that Jenelle had had a couple "big" seizures while being loaded onto her bus. Apparently, Jenelle was fine at school, participated in "square dancing" and had a snack, but then started having some noticeable seizures. The nurse called me around 10:30 to inform me that Jenelle had been curled up on the floor during circle time and was really unresponsive. I asked the nurse if Jenelle had had any noticeable seizures, and she said she had seen some seizures, but wasn't sure if she was still having them. There were no other symptoms like fever or vomiting - just that Jenelle was very lethargic and not really her self. I decided to go pick her up from school. The nurse said she's wait to give her Diastat (valium - Jenelle's emergency seizure medication) until I got there. Luckily, there was no traffic on the 55 and I got there in 15 minutes.

When I saw Jenelle at school, I realized she was seizing and was in status (i.e. she was in a constant seizure state). At this point, Jenelle had been seizing (or having clusters of small seizure) for over an hour. The nurse gave her some Diastat, but she really didn't come out of it like she normally does after Diastat. After a minute, the nurse checked her heart rate and it was dropping after the valium so we called 911.

When the paramedics arrived, they put her on oxygen. After a few minutes, she was still unresponsive and from what I could tell was still seizing. We then took her to the ER by ambulance. I wanted them to transport her to keep an eye on her oxygen and heart rate. Brett met us at the ER.

At the ER they ran blood work, a CT scan and urine culture. Because she was still unresponsive and seizing, they gave her an IV dose of Dilantin. We spoke with the ER doctor, and explained how it is common for Jenelle to go into status, and what her seizures usually look like. Although she looked like she was sleeping, or in a "post ictal" state (i.e. not seizing), we could tell she was still seizing because of subtle jerks in her arms and legs, and because of her eyes were fixed.

About a half an hour after the Dilantin, we could tell that she had stopped seizing, and was finally in a post-ictal state; mostly sleeping. We still did not have a good feeling that she was 100%, so the doctor decided to call UCLA for advice. If we didn't have a positive feeling that she wasn't seizing, we were going to admit her. Finally, just as a nurse from CHOC came in with ID badges for admission, Jenelle woke up, sat up in bed and started acting like her normal self. With that, we felt better about taking her home instead of admitting her. (The photo above is Jenelle just after waking up in the ER.)

Before leaving, the ER doctor had all of the test results back. Her CT was fine as was her blood work. We won't know on cultures for a few more days. She did have some bacteria in her urine, so they gave us a prescription for an anti-biotic, and told us to wait for a call from them confirming a UTI before giving her the anti-biotic.

Like I said, Jenelle is home now and playing with toys. Hopefully things are back to normal for a while.

Now for me... I had an unexpected trip last week to the ER myself. I really didn't want to mention it because I feel really silly for the reason I had to go. Last week, I had an asthma attack at work - the first asthma attack I'd had in over a year and a half. I reached for the inhaler I keep in my purse and took a dose. After a few minutes, and a second dose - I realized it wasn't working and my chest was getting tighter. Then I realized, the inhaler in my purse had expired in March 2009. Oops!

I waited for a few more minutes to see if the expired inhaler would help, but only seemed to be getting worse. Eventually, I got a co-worker to drive me to the ER where they saw me right away. We had a couple of delays at the ER. First, because I was 40, and was having "tightness in my chest", they had to run an EKG to rule out heart attack. Once they determined my heart was fine, they learned that I was a cancer survivor still on maintenance chemo. Because of my chemo, they had to do a blood test to get a platelet count before administering any steroids to help my breathing. Luckily (or unluckily), they were allowed to give me Predisone, and after 30 minutes I began to feel as if I could breathe better. After confirming my platelet count was OK, they gave me two abuterol treatments and I was on my way home in time to get the kids from school.

As I thought about it, I realized that all of last year during my cancer and chemo, we had been so proactive in keeping me inside and away from germs that it probably helped my asthma at the same time. When I was initially diagnosed with Leukemia, they immediately took me off all of my maintenance asthma medications because of the steroids involved. It was like I forgot I had asthma. That attack came out of no where last week, and once again I am reminded of the limits of my own health. Thankfully, I have a new inhaler and hopefully will prevent any future trips to the ER.

So, as Brett says, the Curran girls like to compete with each other with medical drama. Thankfully, we are both fine now and hopefully we won't compete any time soon. Thanks for thoughts and prayers - and don't forget to knock on some wood after reading this! We don't want to push our luck!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Family Tradition

In case you didn't know, one of the photos below is somewhat of a tradition in our family. Every time we "go to the mountains", we always made the obligatory trip to Reimer's Candy Store in Three Rivers . As a child, I knew it as "Huffakers, " then later as "Three Rivers Country Candies." A few years ago, it became Reimer's Candy Store. This place makes their own chocolates, home made ice cream, and has wonderful gifts and unique finds. It truly is a must see if you ever travel to this part of California on your way to Sequoia National Park.

Here I am, 16 years young, posing with the "candy maker" outside the store.

Here is a photo of my parents a few years later on the "back deck" of Reimer's Candy Shop overlooking one of the rivers of Three Rivers.

Here is a photo of the first time I took Brett to the candy shop. Same photo spot as my parents above. I love the leaves in the background of this one.

And would you believe it? Here I am with Jack back in 2001 when he was 10 months old... Same location, same back porch, same river!

Three Rivers has changed so much. The Candy Store used to be the only place to stop, and now it has wine tasting, hotels, antiques, etc. If you ever make the trip, be sure to stop at Reimer's Candy Shop. Tell them Kelly sent you!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter Weekend Photos

A few days before Easter, the kids and I took a trip to Visalia to visit my parents. It was the first trip for me since my 20 year high school reunion (September 2008), and obviously the first time I'd visited since my cancer. It was a wonderful trip and we took the kids on a day trip to Three Rivers, CA to enjoy the mountains and candy store. Jack loved it, except for the "driving" part.

Here I am with Jack at Reimer's Candy Store in Three Rivers overlooking the river.

Here are the huge boulders underneath Gateway Inn restaurant at the entrance to Sequoia National Park. We didn't go to the park because Jack was a little car sick.

One day, we went miniature golfing at the new place in Visalia. Jack had some interesting shots.

We came home in time to celebrate Easter with Brett's family. Here is the annual egg hunt with the cousins!

And on Monday, we went to Opening Day at the Angels Game! I saw with Jenelle in our seats, while Brett and Jack enjoyed the game in Diamond Club with Uncle Brad and Trevor. The Angels won, and Jenelle really did well during the game!

Hope you had a wonderful Easter holiday!