Steven had a lot of relief earlier this week after they drained all the fluid from his abdomen, and he was resting much better afterward. A blood culture from 3/26 tested positive, indicating that he still has the blood infection. He no longer complained of pain after the procedure, although was still wearing a pain patch. By draining the fluid, he was at least no longer asking for additional doses of pain medication like before, so that was good. He has continued with dialysis this week, and they were trying to figure out when to pull dialysis and chemo ports due to trying to clear up the blood infection before starting the chemo again.
The culture that grew from the 26th was not a yeast infection in the blood, which was good news. There were a lot of changes in plans this week. He ended up getting a PICC line in his arm last night (I’m educating myself constantly … it means peripherally inserted central catheter – more info here if you’re curious: http://picclinenursing.com/picc_why.html – according to this site, PICCs are frequently used to obtain central venous access for patients in acute care, home care and skilled nursing care. Since complication risks are less with PICC lines, it is preferred over other forms of central venous catheters).
He had his chemo port removed so he’ll get chemo treatments through his picc line starting next week. They will NOT put in a tunneled catheter for dialysis. Instead, they will keep doing temporary catheters until the infection is gone from his blood. This is because his white blood cell count will be wiped out after next Monday when they start chemo again; if he were to get an infection in his dialysis catheter, it would be very difficult and risky to remove a tunneled catheter. They hoped to get a temporary port for dialysis today or Friday, depending on his lab reports.
His pancreatitis appears to be over, and now he’s left with just the peritonitis. Okay, I’m not a doctor, and had to look up the latter – I think Denise should get an honorary medical degree for all the knowledge she has acquired on this journey! According to the Science Dictionary, peritoneum is the membrane that lines the walls of the abdomen and the pelvis and encloses the abdominal and pelvic organs. The space between the two, the peritoneal cavity, fills with inflammatory cells and pus when the peritoneum becomes infected. In Steven, the fluid is building back up on his tummy, so they were hoping to find the right combination of antibiotics to fight that infection so the fluid will go away.
When Denise looked at Steven’s lab report today, she saw that his LDH level (which measures the lymphoma) is within normal range. She was looking forward to talking to the oncologist to inquire, hoping it meant the cancer is going away without additional chemo (he hasn’t had chemo since March 6th). The oncologist who came by was on call this week and not their regular doctor. She still wanted to proceed with chemo next Monday at half the amount of the dose he received in St Louis. Mama Bear was hoping the LDH counts would mean he could let his body heal from the infections a little longer before or in lieu of knocking that white blood cell count down again with chemo. He is supposed to get another temporary dialysis port tomorrow.
Here’s where we really need all of your amazing thoughts and prayers this week: Infectious Disease docs visited and said Steven’s tummy fluid shows that the yeast infection is in his peritoneal cavity (referenced above), which is not a good thing and it’s hard to cure. Let’s all send some REALLY good mojo Steven’s way in hopes that the meds they have him on will work. I’m thinking this: Cancer isn’t good and it’s hard to cure, too. But people like my friend, Tracey Callahan, show you that cancer and illness don’t have to win.
Tracey was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in her early 30s and given only a few months to live – she has now been in remission for nearly 7 years!!! She hiked Machu Picchu at year 5, as a sign of triumph and release. Upon doing so, she said, “For five years, I have been writing a letter in my head to the doctor who told me I didn’t have a shot in hell of being here because my odds of surviving Stage IV colon cancer were ‘nil’. He offered this unsolicited insight in the presence of my three-year-old son and I have been ready to serve him a steaming hot dish of crow since 2003. I had the sheer pleasure of telling that doctor exactly what I thought of him and flipping him the bird on film, with Machu Picchu in the background. I really hope he sees it.” Tracey, YOU are an inspiration.
So yes, things are challenging and hard to cure, but it IS possible!!! Let’s focus on the healing and the wellness. Our Steven is a fighter. Picture him in perfect health and recovery. Let’s help him by sending all of the positivity we can imagine RIGHT NOW!!!! 🙂 They will do a CT scan in the morning to see if they can give him more time to heal before they restart chemo. We’ll keep you posted. THANK YOU for all your love and support for our young warrior!