Surgery, Chemo and Lungs

Let me start off that since the last post, this blog has been upgraded from a town in Brunei to the entire population of the capital of Antigua and Barbuda, St. John's.
Sun, sea and beaches. That's what I fancy right now.
There have been quite a few updates in just a week. None are particular fun and it's going to be quite a medical post. I'll keep it simple and somewhat interesting, and I'll try to remember some of the gruesome facts along the way.

As I said previously, I was awaiting the surgical insertion of a PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line. In short terms, this means no more needles. In long terms, it's a very long tube that leads from my bicep to my heart. This means that the chemotherapy drugs can be given without damaging the smaller veins in my arms. It's also far more stable than a temporary cannula which means the drugs can be given an hour quicker, reducing my chemo time from 5 hours to just 4 hours.

An accurate representation of the PICC line and my muscle definition, obviously. 
So those are the benefits. For me, the biggest disadvantage was the surgical procedure. Three massive needles were required to give a local anaesthetic, then all I remember seeing was a long, spaghetti-like tube before I decided to look away for the 20 minutes it took. At one point, I felt them take a wrong route and my armpit was tickled from the inside. Weird. Also, lots of blood.
The operating bed.
I was out of surgery for just five minutes before I got the call that chemotherapy 2A had been approved. It had been delayed for a couple of days due to low neutrophil levels. These had bounced back to an acceptable (but low) level. I was allowed to take my PICC line for a spin. It made the whole experience so much easier. No needles, not being confined to the chair and almost no pain.
Chemotherapy 3 of 16, on Thursday 2nd January 2014.
Then the following day I was booked to get my lung function tested. There are concerns with bleomycin causing damage to lungs, hence affecting breathing. Although I hadn't gotten any changes to my breathing, the doctors deemed it necessary for me to get tested. This consisted of blowing in to tubes and holding my breath. I must admit, it was like a full aerobic workout. I was pooped.
Fabulous breathing booth.
And my medicine library is growing daily. Just a few more months and I could open a pharmacy. 
That lot should last me a month.

Okay! All done here. I think I'm going to take at least a few days of rest while the drugs go through and do their thing. I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.

Joshua Lerner

Hi! I’m the 'star' of Livin' With Lymphoma. The blog was founded on the 31st October 2013, on the day I was diagnosed with Stage 4B Hodgkin's lymphoma. I hope you find it funny and informative.

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  1. Really feeling for you. My brother has been diagnosed with Myleoma. It should have been diagnosed 6 months ago, but the powers that be at Whipps Cross did not give the results of the tests to the doctor. So he was suffering for 5 months without treatment. He is now at stage 2 Myleoma. So sad, but hopefully yours has ben caught in time and hope the drugs work. See you sometime. LOL

  2. Hope you're doing good man, you're posts are really informative and I'm actually learning a lot! I had a long line in my arm (not sure if it's the same as a PICC) They can stay in the arm a lot longer, right? Whereas the regular cannula can only be in for 3 days max I believe?? Hope you're doing good, you're a strong guy! Praying all goes well, I know it will :)

  3. Hi Josh, saw your blog on Teens Unite's Facebook page and just thought I'd leave a comment! I'm one of their teens - I'm 16 and live in Essex and have been in remission for nearly a year after having aplastic anaemia, a blood disorder which I was diagnosed with after initially being diagnosed with leukaemia. I'm loving your blog and looking forward to reading more!

    Please feel free to check out my blog too - a lot of the earlier posts are about my disease and treatment :)