On August 24th, Art and I were sitting next to each other, across the examing table from an infectious disease doctor. The words "It's serious," came out of his mouth followed by "testicular cancer." There were tears and oh my God's, an offer of tea and as well as sleeping aids. We left the doctors office in a daze and headed straight to a uruologist's office.
At the end of June, Art started complaining about joint pain, and his inability to squat completely, something he had previoulsy been able to do. It felt to him similar to the symptoms of Lyme's disease he had several years ago. He went to our primary care doctor who gave him a referral to an infectios disease doctor. The infectious disease guy ruled out Lyme's disease and ruled in a viral infection that was in his joints. His recommendation... take ibuproben and wait it out.
So Art did. Only things got worse. At the beginning of August, Art started running low grade fevers. Not often enough to worry us, but just enough to be annoying. His symptoms were flu like, low energy, achiness etc. On August 8th, Pallas was hit by a car outside our house. (See www.kimthamer.blogspot.com for the story) She was OK but Art and I spent the rest of the week emotionally recovering from viewing the whole event and writing off his increasingly harsh flu like symptoms. Art continued to get worse and spent many nights up coughing despite the cought medicine. Night sweats came every evening and night, followed by the chills. He was on the maximum dose of ibuproben. Over the weekend of 19th, he started having trouble breathing. We thought bronchitis.
And so did our PC, she gave him a z-pack (high powered antibitoics that you take in a course of 5 days) on Monday the 20th and sent us back to the infectious disease guy. On Thursday, August 24, we walked in. Spoke carefully of the symptoms. The infectious diseas guy suggested he do an x-ray. We agreed He came back, did a quick scrotum exam of Art and then left for 15 minutes. When he returned, he started saying things like serious and cancer.
I wish that were the end of the story. More tests were ordered, over a period of 2 days, unfortunately there was a weekend in between the days. By Monday, Art would get winded just by walking slowly across the house. Through Windward School, where Art works, we got an appointment with Dr. Wolin, a germ cell cancer specialist. He was alarmed at the slow pace of which the HMO system and urologist were moving. He explained that germ cells grow as fast as embryos -- double their size every week. He told us to contact a pulmonologist immediately. His concern was that Art would need oxygen before he could have the surgey that would lead to a definative diagnosis. (No on is 100% positive it's cancer until a biopsy is done.) There is a certain chemo treatment that most testicular cancer patients follow. It seems that extra oxygen combined with a drug called bleomysn (a corner stone of the chemo) could cause lung failure. Dr. Wolin wanted to avoid that.
We got home, lost more sleep and I went into high gear trying to get the help Art needed. It was too late. On Tuesday night, I took Art to the ER. He was admitted with 88% saturation level. Normal numbers for us generally healthy people are around 98%. The ER nurses and dr., of course, quickly hooked Art up to O2. Art has been in the hospital ever since.
Yesterday, he had his surgery. Today he is mending and we await word from the pathology lab. It's now four o'clock. I have given up hope at hearing anything today, which means chemo will start on Tuesday. I just hope the cells have lost a bit of their drive to destroy his lungs.
It feels like someone else's story. And then I wake up in the hospital room when he coughs and realize it is our story. It's hard to believe that 9 days ago we were this normal couple trying to figure out what was making my husband sick.
I will write as often as I can.