Monday, December 29, 2008

THIS was actually the first posting...

Hey, everyone! My name is Nicole, and I have recently been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. I have created this site to help keep friends and family up to date with what is going on. With any luck, treatment will be short and sweet. I will try to explain in case I get a little too technical! Please make sure to sign my guestbook and let me know that you stopped by!

On the 20th of November, I went into the ER for chest pains and a little shortness of breath. An EKG was done, which was normal. A CT scan to look for a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) was negative. The next day, I recieved a phone call from a doctor in the radiology clinic, telling me that the CT scan showed a 'spot on my lung' and that I would need to follow up with my primary care doctor (Dr. Jonathan Tallman at Fairview Uptown clinic) ASAP. That scared the crap out of me! Apparently, the 'spot' was neither a spot nor in my lungs. It was a anterior mediastinal mass. The mediastinum is the area of your thorax (chest) that contains your heart and lungs. Anterior means frontal (in relation to your spine, which would be dorsal). Dr. Tallman referred me to Dr. Michael Maddaus, who is a thoracic surgeon. He immediately set me up for a CT-guided needle biopsy the next day. Unbenknownst to the doctor performing the biopsy, the portion of the mass that was directly underneath my breastbone was cystic (full of fluid). It disintegrated when the needle punctured it, and the extra room allowed my heart to move into its place. When the needle came out with no tissue in it, the doctor went back in, thinking he may have simply missed the mass. The needle punctured the right atrium of my heart, and soon after the biopsy I began to crash. My blood pressure dropped dangerously low, and I was sent to the ER. The staff there began to push fluids using several IVs in order to raise my blood pressure, without result. It took a little bit for the staff to figure out what had happened, and I was immediately rushed into surgery. The damage was repaired, and the surgeon removed the mass as well as the part of my pericardium that it was attatched to. Drainage tubes were placed--two draining fluid from around my heart and two draining fluid from around my lungs. I spent five days in the hospital, including one in the ICU (which just happened to be Thanksgiving--saltines and apple juice, anyone?). I was able to go home on the 30th of November. On the afternoon of the 8th, I found out that the worst outcome had become a reality: both Dr. Maddaus and Dr. Tallman called to tell me that the pathology on the mass showed Hodgkin's disease--it was cancer. Talk about being slapped with reality! I didn't even know how to react to that--I have always been so healthy and active that cancer seemed like such a remote possibilty. But there it was.

I hope that each of you will listen to what your body tells you, and don't ignore the signals it gives. I listened, and I may have drastically changed my own outcome for the better because of it. This may have been caught early enough that treatment will be effective, and it will never return.

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