Thursday, September 30, 2010

Me and My Lung-Bag

In Our Last Episode, 9/15/10:  
Our heroine goes for a thoracentesis to drain the fluid that cancer-clogged lymph nodes have caused to collect in the pleura, ie, sac, around her left lung. After draining 2-plus liters of what looks like slightly stale amber ale, a One-in-a-Hundred-Chance Boo-Boo results in the plastic drain tube puncturing a tiny hole in the lung itself...

This Week: She checks in with her oncologist. Was it all worth it? Uh...

I wish I had better news.

The fluid is back in my left pleura-- as much if not more then they took out on the 15th. Damn. Dr Taylor assured me (more than once) that this is NOT an indication that the meds aren't working-- it is too early in the game to be able to deduce that. Just because the hormone has not reversed this effect of the cancer YET doesn't mean that it won't or can't do that in the future.

In the meantime, they need to get the fluid outta my lung-bag. Again. I am decidedly and understandably NOT interested in doing another thoracentesis, which is fine with Dr T-- that is not what he would recommend anyway. Given how much and how quickly this fluid has built up, he thinks we have two options-- both involving day surgery that would put a tube in my chest. After that I have two choices:

Option 1: Stay in the hospital for maybe 5 days while they pump/drain/suck the fluid outta me, and puff some talc in between my lung and the sac to encourage them to stick together, eliminating the space where the fluid currently collects. (Not sure where it goes, but I didn't think to ask that.) OH-- and if that doesn't work, they'd have to try Option 2 anyway...

Dr T agrees that Option 2 is the better choice: They put in a slightly smaller tube which I can drain myself (with the help of a Home Health Visiting Nurse. or any other interested party who could be easily trained by the same) every ?? Uh, once in a while??

This could go on for weeks (or months) as needed until (we hope) the fluid stops collecting. Which, as I said, Dr T thinks it SHOULD happen if/when the hormone therapy has time to do it's fluid-build-up-stopping job. The biggest risk here is infection, but it is relatively small.... OH-- and sometimes it's painful when you get near the end of the draining. (Copy that!)

Yeah. I don't like it either. I don't like procedures in general, as you all know, and I don't like to see them stacking up one on top of the other like this.

But the alternatives aren't pretty. If I just leave this be, eventually some equilibrium will be struck between the amount of fluid my pleura can contain and the amount of room left for air in my lung-- but that leaves me feeling kinda shitty all the time and could prevent my lung from ever expanding back to it's full capacity if/when the fluid were to stop collecting. Or I could do chemo to in hopes of blasting through the cancer-clotted lymph nodes-- but that has less promise for a long-term positive outcome then hormone therapy-- and is highly toxic in the short term.

Decisions, decisions. I think I'll take the marble fudge, I mean the fuckin' chest tube at home drain kit.

Momma always said, "This too shall pass..."

Cue Music. Cut to Commercial... And we're out!


  1. Hey there, beautiful. Thank you for opening yourself to us in this amazing way. It can't be easy for you to do it; you've never been one to draw attention to yourself. Yet this may help. I really appreciate being included.

  2. A candle burns for you in the church of St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, this very moment. I love you, miss you, and am praying those hormones starting kicking .......