The Great Escape Part 2

When I left Yangon with suspected pulmonary embolism, we all expected I would be back in a few days time.  My packing reflected that short timescale, as well as the expectation that I would be in hospital most of the time.  By the time I was eventually discharged from hospital (after a whole week) I had already worked my way through most of my clothes.  Most of my clothes comprising night clothes, a few tee shirts and 2 pairs of trousers.  And a swimsuit, just in case……..  that is a necessity.

The pain was mostly gone when I was discharged, but my blood levels had not reached the “therapeutic level” yet so I knew there would be a few more days in Bangkok before I could return.  I was told that it could take another 1 – 2 weeks for my bloods to not only reach the right levels, but they also had to remain stable within the” therapeutic range”.  As my strength slowly returned I was able to do some emergency shopping and get a few essentials to tide me over.

My first blood check was the day after my discharge from hospital.  I had already been back the previous evening for the dreaded injection into the stomach and as my appointment was not until 11 am I decided to nip over to the hospital early for my 8 am jab, get the blood draw and then return to the hotel for a relaxing breakfast.  My plan was sabotaged almost immediately as I learned that Dr W would actually be earlier and would see me as soon as the blood results were available in around one hour’s time.  With the blood draw done, I headed to the ward and had the second needle of the day, knowing I would miss the hotel breakfast unless my appointment with Dr W was extremely quick!

Of course I missed the breakfast!  It was not long after 9 when I was called in, but with the need to settle with the cashier afterwards, the hotel breakfast was clearly missed!  Happily though I did bump into a friend from Yangon and we had the chance to catch up.

Even more happily, and to my surprise, my bloods had just tipped over into the therapeutic range.  Dr W had looked subdued when I entered his consulting room, and with a kind of hang dog face, started with “I’m really sorry….”  My heart flipped over, expecting some kind of sinister news, and then he said “you will not be needing any more stomach injections after this evening!”  I was not sure whether to laugh, cry or squeal and probably did all three, as he leapt up from behind his desk and gave me a big hug!

I left the room with an appointment for the Tuesday, an adjustment in the Warfarin dosage, my blood results and a broad grin.  One more needle that day and then NO MORE NEEDLES for two whole days.  Two whole days without needles – just unimaginable bliss!

The following needle free days enabled me to begin that recuperating and rebuilding process as well as venturing slowly back into the scary outside world.  Those days passed incredibly quickly though, and I found myself again proferring my arm to the needle counter for the next blood draw.Another wait for results, with my eyes scanning over my book, reading and re-reading the same paragraphs and still retaining none of the words let alone any meaning.  Eventually, Dr W appeared and again I was summoned into his room.  No games this time, a big broad grin and he flamboyantly circled that day’s blood results.  A further nudge more comfortably into the therapeutic range.  He then prepared my report so that I could return home, pronouncing me fit to fly, providing me with 3 month’s supply of Warfarin, an instruction to adjust the dose again and to have regular draws in Yangon, and a return appointment for 3 month’s hence.  Which is also the time of my next oncology check, and the annual Big Check in October.

Finally I was able to  arrange my return travel and plan to get home to my non tilty bed, hubby, lush garden and super-cute puppy.  I had been away for two very long and scary weeks, longer than we all expected.  And that return home to Yangon was the long awaited Great Escape Part 2.

It does appear that this has been a “rare but dangerous” side effect of Tamoxifen and I have now been switched to Femara.  There were apparently several lobes of the lungs affected by embolism and it is no wonder that I was in such pain.  It was incredibly frightening.  I am very fortunate that cardio scans show no lasting effects or damage to the heart.  My confidence has been seriously knocked though and I think it will take a bit of time to rebuild emotionally as well as physically.  My 2012 pledge of resilience is incredibly pertinent and I am focusing intently on that.

13 thoughts on “The Great Escape Part 2

    • Thank you Catherine, yes it is so good when there is that warm connection with a Doc – I am very lucky with all of my docs 🙂 I am very glad to be home and focusing on rebuilding my strength. Thank you!

  1. Gee whiz, P!!! I’m so glad you are on the right side of the curve and that you have a doctor who believes in hugs. Now I hope you get to stay free and clear for a long while. Sigh. More Tamoxifen side effects. Not that Femara is risk free either. Take some vitamin D3 and get your bones check while you’re on that stuff!!!

    Big hugs to you. I have to give a ‘blood clot speech’ to every one of my post-op joint replacement patients. It is scary, but it’s even more scary to ignore those symptoms and put yourself at risk for a stroke or a heart attack. Yikes…at least there are solutions for this.

    xoxo, Kathi

    • Yeah, I know K!! It is so good to hear your validation of the seriousness of this – it was incredibly scary. And yes, while I am glad to be off Tamoxifen I know that Femara has its little bonuses too! Thank heavens there are solutions indeed.
      Philippa xoxox

    • Hah! Thanks for the alert – your comment was indeed hiding amongst the viagra adverts 😉 Why it did not do the same with this one, I have no idea! The mysteries of the blog host 😉

  2. Wow, P! What a story. I love that pledge of resilience idea. I’m adopting it if you don’t mind. Best wishes for a full recovery in every sense of the word. So glad that no permanent cardio effects resulted from this scare. You must be so relieved to be home. There’s no place like home, is there? xox

    • Thank you J, resilience is indeed for sharing. I am sure that the more we share and support each other, the greater our individual and collective resilience will be.

      Yes, home is so sweet, it is such a relief to be back 🙂

  3. Wow my friend – what an awful ride. I’m so sorry to hear about these kinds of adventures, instead of the meet up with friends and have a nice dinner in Hong Kong kind. I can only imagine that your confidence has taken a knock. I’m sending you tonnes of positive vibes that you will be back on your feet and back to your usual adventurous self soon. Until then, I hope you give yourself a chance to read a really great book, snuggle with your puppy (and hubby) and enjoy some of those beautiful Yangon landscapes. Big hugs! Terri

    • Thank you so much Terri, yes not the kind of adventures I had been seeking! Which makes our meet up in Hong Kong all the sweeter 🙂 I am often thinking of you, and following your posts as you process the past months and the challenges of return. I very much hope I can contribute in some way to your next plans…

      In the meantime, I am re-settling into life and work here, and revelling in the monsoonal Yangon scenes.

      Take care, and big hugs to you. Keep planning and enjoying!
      Philippa xoxox

  4. I’m just glad you are back home and regaining your strength and your confidence. What you went through sounds terribly frightening. I’m sorry you had to go through that. It does make one wonder about these drugs we are told we need to take doesn’t it? Sometimes I wonder… big hugs to you my dear.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and unfailing support, it really helped. Yes, it was a really scary time, and it is taking a bit of time to get my confidence back more than anything. I have such a lot of meds to take now, and have such mixed feelings about them! It is almost as if you cross over a line, with cancer, into this drugs landscape which you can only move forward gathering more as you move along!
      Big hugs to you too xox

  5. Pingback: In praise of my fish pickling flair | Feisty Blue Gecko – a tail of the unexpected

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