Treats and Medical Tricks

October 30 - November 9, 2021

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

(I am writing this diary almost ten days after the first of the days mentioned. Why, when I decided to take a break? Because s_ _ _ just keeps happening and we find ourselves wanting a record - for our own use primarily, but our 20+-year practice of public record is maintained out of not knowing what else to do!)

catWe returned from out light trip to Paso Robles on Friday, October 29th. Marianne started her new chemo that evening, with three pills and added three more Saturday morning and again in the evening. Each time, she was careful to eat food along with the medicine and there were no reactions. Good start. Overall, Saturday was completely regular. We started at the Vineyard Farmer's Market where one fruit-seller was getting into the Halloween spirit. Cute.


boxspread outSunday went well too. Marianne was extra tired, presumably from chemo pills, so I broke out my big new wooden Liberty puzzle. I would while away the time while she was napping and watching Netflix. With over 700 imaginative pieces, this would keep me busy - busy enough.

Toward sun down, we joined neighbors on the Cambridge Commons for the neighborhood Halloween celebration, where we all get together to offer goodies and chat. It was nice to be in touch with neighbors, but we used the medical excuse to leave earlier than most.

chat 1 chat 2 chat 3
costumes Gloria neighbors

gardenMonday, Nov. 1. Here's where my memory is reinforced with some notes I made. At 9:05, Marianne had another chest pain session, lasting 15 or 20 minutes. Otherwise, Monday was routine, except our patient did get very tired in the afternoon and napped, while I marked time with YouTube, my big new puzzle, and garden inspection. In the evening, Marianne had yet more upper chest pain, something that would plague her all week.

On Tuesday, our medical day started with my trip to Kaiser for a Covid booster. Meanwhile, Marianne had called the Oncology pharmacist to see if the new medicine could be causing the chest pain. The pharmacist said she'd not heard of such a side effect, but, given the location, there might be something going on with Marianne's pacemaker. A next-day appointment was arranged with the pacemaker nurse-technician.

On Wednesday, the pacemaker check caused other medical checks to be canceled. The nurse said the device was indicating completely normal, both for the device and for the electrical signals of Marianne's heart. I think this was when we first heard the suggestion that it might be "Esophagitis" - a new vocabulary word for the day. This new information prompted a series of emails with various doctors. We experimented with Pepside and generic Maalox for pain control, only semi-successfully.

headOn Thursday more chest pains caused a hearing aid service appointment to shift to a phone call rather than a visit. Surprisingly, the device diagnosis seemed to be successful. Otherwise, there were more emails with Dr. Box (oncologist), Dr. Ahn (GP), and the (oncology) pharmacist and the consensus seemed to be "Esophagitis". Dr. Ahn arranged for an esophagus endoscopy next day.

Meanwhile, for the record, I was given permission to stop my skin treatment. My head was apparently cooked enough.

We were back at Kaiser early on Friday for the esophagus endoscopy. A few hours later the doctor basically said they found nothing. We celebrated with pizza lunch afterward at Anesso and Trader Joe shopping after that. The nagging chest pain returned as we walked back to the car.

Back home, M sent another round of emails: Box, Ahn, Dr. Kalamkarian (cardiologist). Dr. Ahn was out of office, but nurse did call and said "sorry". Dr. Box said "interesting", but offered no particular insight. Dr. K suggested a trip to the Emergency Department to get a stress test. Then there was another episode at bedtime that seemed to be stopped by the distraction of getting a blood pressure reading. We slept on it.

By Saturday morning, we had decided to take the cardiologists suggestion and report to the Emergency Department for a stress test. We got there at 11:00 and Marianne proceeded to get lots of tests (EKG, blood, X ray), but hours later we learned stress tests can only be done on admitted patients, not ER ones. Through all this, Marianne endured the chaos of the ER environment, aided by an iPad showing Netflix, and I held out in the comfortable front seat of the Tesla.patient

Seven hours later, she was transferred to room 232, on the telemetry floor. I ran over to pick up food and made arrangements to get it up to her, since Covid restrictions prevent any human visitors. We exchanged a few calls and texts and said good-night.

Sunday morning. The good news was that neighbor Marie was the nursing lead for telemetry, so Marianne got a wonderful explanation of what should be happening. At 9:00, Marie took the special patient down to the nuclear medicine lab for the two or three hours worth of testing.

Marianne was back in her room by 11:00, and eventually the duty cardiologist phoned her with an unclear explanation. After a few more communications, we heard the bottom line: "we need another test, an invasive angiogram". The further inconvenient news was that the procedure requires stopping of blood thinners 48 hours ahead, meaning it could only happen Tuesday, with two more nights in Room 232. Our patient remained strong while making difficult decisions, but it will be a long wait.

Monday came and went. Home was too quiet and Room 232 wasn't fun.

On Tuesday about noon, after a two-hour delay to get yet another negative Covid test (her 3rd in 5 days), Marianne was transported over to St. Agnes hospital, since Kaiser apparently does not have the facilities for an invasive angiogram. The procedure was over in a couple of hours and the cardiologist reported back that her heart arteries and muscles were just fine. Good news, although it leaves us at a loss for an explanation for the chest pain that started all this.

At 6pm I picked her up from St. Agnes and we headed home. It was wondeful to be a unit again.

With that, I'll end this diary and, hopefully, have nothing interesting to say for awhile.

Stay tuned,

John and Marianne.