Monday, October 31, 2011

Still no results from the lung and kidney biopsies last week, but we saw the urology surgeon this morning.  Removing Jimmie’s kidney is complicated by the fact that the tumor seems to be entwined with his vena cava (the major vein that returns the blood to the heart) so it is beyond what this surgeon can do.  He is referring Jimmie to some specialists at Emory Hospital in hopes that they will do the surgery.  Jimmie is scheduled to have an MRI tomorrow on the area of the vena cava, something these surgeons will have to have to determine if removing the tumor will be possible.  I’m told that it will probably be at least a week before these oncology surgeons at Emory will let us know if they will even see Jimmie – so more waiting.  We appreciate your continued prayers.

- Linda

Sunday, October 30, 2011

No News

The follow-up appointment with the doctor on Friday did not give us any new information since he did not yet have the biopsy report.  We have an appointment tomorrow with a surgeon to find out if the kidney can be removed - something I thought would have been determined while we were waiting on the biopsy, but it wasn't.  So the feeling of trying to walk through molasses continues.

- Linda

Friday, October 28, 2011


Wednesday was an exceptionally trying day.  In addition to 3 puncture wounds, Jimmie came home from the hospital with all his ribs bruised and a shoulder smashed by the CT scanner.  So Thursday there were not very many places on his body that didn't hurt.  Ouch!  To make it even more fun the radiologist was not able to get a good sample of tissue from Jimmie's lungs so after a hurried phone conference with the hemotologist he did a kidney biopsy instead. 

But even with Wednesday's worries there were still blessings, like -
  • Jimmie's lung was punctured twice but didn't collapse (we had been warned several times that it might). 
  • Some wonderful friends stuck with us until I could bring Jimmie home
  • Our daughter and grandson arrived.  An exuberant 5-year-old in the house always does wonders.
- Linda

Monday, October 24, 2011

Do you ever feel like things are moving in slow-motion around you?  Now that we know there is a problem we need to be fighting we are anxious for the fight to begin . . . but things don't move very fast in the medical world.  After waiting 4 days for the hospital to set up the lung biopsy their first available time became this coming Wednesday.  It will be Friday before we know anything about the results.  Waiting is a lousy option, but the only one we have right now.

Please continue to remember Jimmie in your prayers.

- Linda

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Prayer Request

We got the results of the full body scans yesterday and they were not good.  There is a large mass growing in Jimmie’s right kidney that the doctor identified as renal cancer.  There are also additional spots in his lungs that they will biopsy next week to see if cancer has spread from his kidneys.  The doctor said that after he gets the biopsy results he can begin to plan a treatment regiment, so we won’t know anything more until then.

The news yesterday was certainly a shock, but Jimmie’s attitude is great.  Actually, he may have startled the doctor a bit because the first words out of Jimmie’s mouth were, “Can you get me well enough to go back to Africa?”

Prayers will be greatly appreciated.

- Linda

Friday, October 7, 2011

One Down, Umpteen to Go

Was it really only a week ago that we thought the only thing we had to figure out was why Jimmie's anemia was hanging on?

We saw the hematologist this afternoon, but left with more questions than answers.  He told us immediately that they were able to rule out Multiple Myeloma (a type of blood cancer), but the doctor declared he was not happy about some of the other results.  There were so many numbers on so many items that it was quickly a blur, but the doctor said a couple of items indicated there is a lot of inflammation somewhere in Jimmie’s body and another value indicated there is a problem in his bones.  He has ordered still more testing  – more blood workup today and 2 scans next week, a full body cat scan and a bone scan with a dye.  They set up to do both next Thursday so that’s going to be a long day.

Parathyroidism could still be the culprit, but the parathyroid test had not been done.  It seems that it falls into the endocrinologist field – and the endocrinologist didn’t do it Wednesday because he assumed the hematologist had already done it.  There was annoyed head –shaking by more than just the hematologist today.  Specialists are great, but sometimes just a shade too specialized for me.  But the hematologist ordered the blood work today after talking to us, which meant that Jimmie had to be stuck twice.  If they continue to take blood every time we walk in the door Jimmie will be needing transfusions for sure, especially since his hemoglobin level had fallen again today.  But at least they have now determined for sure that this is iron-deficiency anemia so Jimmie is to go back on the prescription iron.  It is a new version of iron, though, so hopefully it won’t make him as sick as the other did.

But despite all that Jimmie actually said he felt a bit better today.

- Linda

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Update on Jimmie

Just to let you know - we’re running the alphabet on doctors again.  Last week it was the hematologist (to check why Jimmie's anemia was not improving).  Yesterday it was an endocrinologist.  Between them they have taken so much blood Jimmie is bound to be running low on it, not good for someone already anemic.  But they had a new word for us to learn – hypercalcemia.  That just means recently Jimmie started having too much calcium in his blood.  Calcium inhibits the absorption of iron in the blood, which is probably why the super doses of iron Jimmie has been taking for weeks has not phased his hemoglobin levels.  But I still didn’t understand what all the alarm was last week – the doctor actually called it an emergency to get the calcium level down.  The doctor yesterday explained that high calcium can also cause several other problems, including brain fog, stroke and starting by level 13, even coma.  Jimmie was at 12 last Wednesday.  But last Friday’s infusion treatment worked and Monday he was back down to 9.3, normal range.

The doctor yesterday explained that the only 2 common causes of high calcium are: 
1.  A short list of cancers or
2. A tumor in a parathyroid gland. 
The hematologist is also an oncologist so he is focused on cancer and is running a whole panel of tests to check for that.  But from everything I’ve read online the last few days it is much more likely that the problem will be Jimmie’s parathyroid gland - and they are checking on that as well.  Parathyroidism is the most typical cause of hypercalcemia, plus on the rather short list of factors that increase the risk of getting parathyroidism is radiated iodine treatments used for thyroid cancer.  Jimmie has had that twice and the first was a larger than normal dose in 2008.   If this is the cause of the high calcium level the only treatment is surgery to remove the offending gland or glands.  (Everybody has 4)  We are scheduled to return to the hematologist on Friday to get test results so hopefully he will have some answers then.

We continue to need your prayers.

- Linda