Category Archives: Medical

Back to the filling station

On 3 June I lost 950ml blood. After five weeks on ‘kangaroo petrol’, lurching from one day of normal energy to the next being a ‘blah’ day, back to a good day, then reverting to yuk, I am finally to get a top-up of a couple of units of blood tomorrow.

In discussing this compromised quality of life due to non-replacement of the lost blood, the Oncologist said that the problem is that I do not have a clinical crisis when I lose that quantity of blood, therefore they cannot transfuse me. On the other hand she said that I can get a transfusion if I have symptomatic reactions such as headaches, light-headedness, unsteadiness on my feet, nausea and deep lethargy. I’m not sure why I haven’t been told this before as I have phoned her office on numerous occasions in the last 5 weeks complaining of such symptoms.

The blood tests indicate my liver function levels are raised, but not worryingly so. She did not give me specific figures!

All in all, the Oncologist seems to think I’m doing quite well though and has pushed my next appointment out to three months. (The last two appointments have only been two months apart).

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Posted by on 11 July, 2011 in Medical, Personal


From treading water to dog-paddle

It’s been nearly three weeks since I blogged about the loss of 950ml of blood. I expected my haemoglobin to eventually drop to below 90 after 10 days as it usually does, at which stage I would receive the two units of blood top-up. None of that happened. My haemoglobin has been steady but not yet back to normal so I haven’t received my hoped for ‘fix’.

I was beginning to look to the IV blood drip as my saviour – even to the point of singing to the little pack of blood hanging above me that beautiful song,”You raise me up … to more than I can be”!

This time my body has accepted the struggle to produce new blood, along with its struggle against the metastases, etc. In that time I’ve also had to contend with a couple of small liver internal bleeds that are very painful (unlike the larger duodenum bleeds). In spite of these battles that have meant nearly three weeks of ‘one day up; one day flat’, I feel as if I’ve finally moved from treading water to making forward progress, even if it is only dog-paddle.


Posted by on 26 June, 2011 in Medical, Personal


The old body is not giving up yet!

After losing 950ml blood between Friday lunch time and Saturday morning, I expected to be lining up for a blood transfusion this week as has been the case every other time this has happened. I was complaining that they didn’t pre-empt the expected further drop in my haemoglobin and give me the blood they had already cross-matched on Friday night at the Nelson Hospital. Instead I had to have follow-up blood tests on Saturday morning and again this morning (Tuesday).

Yesterday was one of the worst days I’ve had for a long time. No energy, lethargic and feelings of nausea. Today I have felt a good deal better and it appears the body has again responded well. My blood count dropped to 99 on Friday night, was up to 102 on Saturday morning and was 103 this morning. They will not transfuse unless the count drops to below 90. Here’s hoping the upward trend continues and my energy is renewed every morning, as the prophet Isaiah said.

Yesterday may have been complicated by the fact that I had 2 cups of coffee during the day and I’ve recently discovered that coffee (whether ordinary or decaffinated) actually closes the liver down for an extended period and it is not able to process bile! (See also: Caffeine blues)With my liver under some stress, perhaps that had something to do with the feelings of nausea.

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Posted by on 7 June, 2011 in Medical, Personal


Same story; same routine; same old run-around!

I arrived home on Friday night from Geraldine after a wonderful time with the 14 – 17 yr old campers.

Unfortunately, I noticed just before I left the Bible College at mid-day, that I had started bleeding again from the duodenal tissue damage. By the time I got to Christchurch airport I had lost 250ml. By the time I arrived in Nelson at 6.30pm I had lost a further 300ml. I have always been instructed that when this happens I should take myself off the the Emergency Dept at the hospital. I had a feeling that the routine would be the same as usual so first phoned the after-hours duty doctor (these things always seem to happen on Friday nights and over long weekends). The duty doctor advised against seeing me saying that she would refer me straight away to the hospital, so save my money, bypass her and go direct to A & E.

I was admitted to A & E and a full blood test was done. My haemoglobin had dropped from 109 to 99. They had cross-matched 2 units of blood but did not want to give them to me that night because my count was not low enough. I was sent home and told to report back on Saturday morning for a review and new blood count. When I got home at about 10.30pm I had lost a further 150ml making a total of 700ml. I reported back this morning, had a new test and the haemoglobin was holding steady. The doctors admitted that it will probably fall by the end of the weekend and that I will probably need a blood transfusion later next week. The house-surgeon even agreed that it was logical that as I’d lost more than 2 units, a 2 unit top-up now might prevent a frustrating week combatting the side-effects of a falling blood count. Nevertheless I was sent me home after a wasted morning with a form for another blood test on Tuesday, after the Queens Birthday holiday.

It is the same pattern every time this happens. I think next time I will bypass A & E and just get a blood test a week after the next bleed. I know when I need a transfusion because the energy levels plunge and I get headachey. I cannot understand why, when they know this will happen, the Hospital cannot pre-empt things by giving me a couple of units as soon as I have lost them. Then again I’ve discovered that medical bureaucratic procedures don’t always factor in common sense.

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Posted by on 4 June, 2011 in Medical, Personal


Another excuse for a family get-together

When Bronwen and I visited Auckland to preach at Long Bay Baptist Church on 22 May, my brother Gordon and his wife Cathy gathered rellies together for lunch on Sunday. There were over 30 people present ranging from cousins, brothers, nephews and neices and their children as well. Out of my own father’s family of 5 brothers, 4 of the brothers’ descendants were represented. It was a great occasion to celebrate memories before Bronwen and I flew home later that Sunday afternoon.

My health remained good after a health scare the previous Wednesday when I had what appears to have been a bleed within the liver. The pain was so great I had to revert to the strongest pain-killing medication available. It felt as if I had been whacked in the side with a log of wood and I wondered if I would be able to travel to Auckland on the Friday afternoon. The pain gradually abated over Thursday night and Friday and by Saturday the pain resembled that of a bruise. By Sunday I was back to my usual Panadol medication to keep any pain under. It was nice to know that there are sufficient reserves in my body, that though the liver is distended, the body is healing itself of these annoying little ‘side’ issues.

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Posted by on 26 May, 2011 in Devotional, Medical, Personal


Latest Oncology report

Had my two-monthly visit with the oncologist today.

I recounted the fun and games I’d had while in Australia and asked why the duodenal ulcer keeps bleeding when I’m on a high dose of Omeprazole. She said that my ulcer is not a typical ulcer and therefore does not react or respond as ‘normal’ ulcers would. Mine is more like an injury or ‘disease’ caused by the leakage of the first dose of radio-active spheres I received into my liver (December 2008). The CT scan taken in Geelong a couple of weeks ago, at the time of my last big bleed, showed no evidence of small or large bowel obstruction or anything that might suggest a cause for the large bowel bleeding. No ‘pooling’ was evident either that would suggest a site for the bleeding and no focal aggressive bone lesion could be seen.

The CT Scan did show large multiple hepatic metastasis and lower lobe lung metastases but we knew that already. The Oncologist palpated my stomach and noted that my liver is distended (enlarged) and tender in places but from the blood test results affirmed that the liver function is holding its own.

Any pain is still being controlled by Panadol only, so the Oncologist does not believe any further intervention is warranted at this stage. She encouraged me to continue to accept speaking engagements as I feel able, but to ensure I also get adequate rest.

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Posted by on 10 May, 2011 in Family, Medical, Personal