Well, today I find myself back in an unfortunately familiar environment. Room 649 at UT Southwestern Clements. On Friday, my stridor had gotten to the point where I could breath OK (with back pressure) if I looked straight ahead or down, but if I looked up, my airway quickly disappeared. This lead some of my detractors to immediately advise me to “keep my chin up.” Well, I can do that until I pass out, but then my head will naturally drop, reopening my airway at which point I’d come to. In any case, I rated this as a significant change that warranted having a professional look at, so drove over to the UTSW ER and got into the queue for an exam room. The waiting area was pretty full, but was still able to get into exam in about an hour. I think it might be my frequent-flyer miles I’ve racked up over the past two years.
The ENT on-call team came down and assessed and recommended that I be admitted and put on IV steroids and antibiotics. They also order a neck CT scan. That was at 5:30 pm. So, at 10:45 pm, I finally make it to my room (to be fair, I had guessed that it would be midnight before I got there, so they beat my estimate by over an hour). Got my first round of meds, then was told that CT would call and have me brought down. At Midnight, I got tired of waiting, so went ahead and went to sleep. Other than a couple of wake-ups for meds and vitals, no other interruptions.
At around 6:30 AM, they woke me up to let me know that CT transport was on the way. So, they trundled me down to the imaging room, took some pictures, then trundled me back up to my room. Not knowing whether I’d have a procedure, today, the doctors had put me on no-food-by-mouth (NPO) after midnight, Friday, so I couldn’t order breakfast. Around 8:30 AM, the ENT team came up and looked at my scans. They noted that the mass that was in my neck just above my larynx last year (that was deemed non-cancerous) was still there and was bigger. It is actually a hollow, fluid-filled shell. I’ve decided it is a bon-bon. Or, maybe a Lindor Chocolate. In any event, they want to biopsy, then decide what to do next. That could be any of at least:
- Send me home with steroids.
- Drain and/or otherwise surgically reduce the mass.
- Tracheotomy (complete removal of trachea).
- If it is a tumor, revived, then possible radiation and/or back to harder chemo.
So, my visit could end on Monday, or maybe mid-week, or maybe I’ll be here several weeks and then restricted to home for a couple of months. Some of those options could also include the re-insertion of a PEG (gastric feeding tube) and/or a trach tube, two things I really had hoped I’d seen the last of.
Meanwhile, the steroids/antibiotics have improved the stridor. I can look up (is that where the phrase “things are looking up” comes from?) and get air, although it is still much more restricted than not looking up. The doctors also removed my NPO status so that I could order food…but then forgot to actually mark my chart. At 9:30am I got tired of waiting so went down to the food court and bought some breakfast. This got sorted out by lunch-time, and now I’m awaiting my crispy fish dinner from nutrition services
So, that is the update, for now. Pretty much everything is up in the air, but since it makes it difficult to breath when I look up in the air, all I can do is look ahead and keep on trucking as well as I am able.