March 8, 2005

It has been 2+ weeks since Diana’s last chemo treatment. She has not been as sick this time as last but she has been more tired these past 2 weeks. Her coughing has continued and she has been very weak. She has spent the majority of the time in bed.


We left our house Monday AM at 6:30 AM for Houston and Diana’s third treatment. Diana had several tests scheduled prior to her next chemo treatment including an Echo cardiogram, chest x-ray and blood tests on Monday starting at noon. Diana’s next chemo treatment was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon after we see Dr. Blumenschein for the test results.On Tuesday, she was to have a CT scan.

Wednesday morning she was scheduled to see Dr. B and Wed afternoon was her chemo treatment.

On Thursday, she was scheduled to get an EKG and her white cell booster shot. We would drive home Thursday after her booster shot. It was to be a very busy week. Especially since we decided to drive down leaving early Monday morning rather that drive down Sunday and spend the night at the Marriott. However, leaving Monday morning means one less night at the hotel and one more night in our own bed. It was worth it.

We drove directly to and arrived at MD Anderson at noon on Monday for her Echo cardiogram. I went into the room with Diana and could watch the computer screen as the technician moved her hand with the sounding device over Diana’s heart. We could hear the thumping noise of the heart also. With me being a computer person, this would have been very interesting for me if the patient wasn’t my wife. The computer technology is unreal. But it was my wife on the table and I did not enjoy seeing her heart on the computer screen. It made my skin have goose bumps.

Usually, as soon as a test is complete, the technician conducting the test says you are finished and you can leave. Not this time. After the test was completed, she said to wait – a cardiologist needed to meet with us. The Cardiologist came in and informed us that the echo cardiogram showed fluid in and around Diana’s heart. They found a substantial amount of fluid around her heart and scheduled her for a Pericardial Centesis – insert a needle/ drain into the chamber around the heart and remove the fluid. They were very concerned about the pressure the fluid was causing to her heart. Diana was immediately admitted to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) of MD Anderson. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200 – go straight to the ICU. All of a sudden I was by myself. Diana was gone. I finally found my way to the waiting room for the ICU. Finally after a couple of hours I was allowed into Diana’s room. When I finally saw Diana, she was in good spirits. It seemed like the cardiologists were attracted to Diana like bees to honey. She had a team of three including the Chief of Cardiology at MD Anderson assigned to her.

After much consultation and since Diana’s vital signs were good, the cardiologists decided to do the procedure on Diana on Tuesday AM when the hospital is fully staffed rather than Monday evening. Once that decision was made, I left to check into the hotel I returned as soon as I was checked in to stay with Diana. Diana spent Monday night in the ICU. I learned one thing about hospitals that evening – if you have to be in a hospital, go for the ICU. There are nurses, doctors, everywhere. Diana couldn’t move without someone asking if she was ok or needed help.

The operation was performed Tuesday morning at 10 AM. It was a 45 minute procedure done in her room in the ICU. Diana was given a local anesthesia in the chest area where the incision was made. She was awake during the procedure. I was not allowed in the room during the procedure.

While I was in the waiting room – it is a sad waiting room. Many people had been there for quite a while and were sleeping on couches, chairs, floor etc. A pastor came in and asked if anyone was with Diane Grace. I raised my hand and he started to talk to me. What he was saying did not make any sense to me – so I asked who was he looking for? He showed me a card – it was for Diane Grace in Room 153. Well, I told him, my wife was Diana Grace and she was in room 135. Unreal, out of 60 ICU patients, there were patients named Diana Grace & Diane Grace and one was in room 153 and the other 135. The nurses had realized this potential problem earlier and had put big signs on both doors.

Once I got over the pastor shock, I finally spoke with the Cardiologist after the procedure. He said all went well and that they had removed 1.3 liters of fluid. For us laymen, 1.3 liters is almost 2 bottles of wine. The Cardiologist was surprised at the amount of fluid removed. Further testing before the procedure showed that her oxygen level in her blood was low causing some shortness of breath.

I now was allowed back in to see Diana. She looked great. She told me how the cardiologist was shocked at the quantity of fluid extracted. That they had to temporarily stop the draining while they went for a new bottle container. Diana spent the day in the ICU and is resting well. The drain is still inserted in her chest and fluid is continuing to be removed. Her oxygen level in her blood is back to normal.

Diana also had her CT Scan and chest x-ray tests done this evening. She was wheeled down in her bed. I am now back at the hotel writing this email. I am both happy and sad. Happy that they found the fluid and extracted it. Sad at what Diana is going through. I certainly had not planned to be at the hotel by myself this week. It is very lonely in the hotel. I am beginning to recognize some of the people who are also here for medical reasons. I spoke with one gentleman tonight and he will be at the Marriott for 60 days while being treated. He has been there for three weeks so far. Wow. At least we are only there for a few days at at time. I should feel lucky.

Diana will spend tonight in the ICU. The Cardiologist will make a decision on what is next for her tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, her chemo treatment scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed until Dr Blumenschein has time to analyze the CT Scan and what is causing the fluid. I was told it may be 3 -4 days before we know more about the fluid removed from around the heart. Apparently, some of the cultures take that long to grow out.

I spent the night at the Marriott by myself. In the morning I will walk over to see and be with Diana. Obviously, we now know what was causing her shortness of breath. Dr. Blumenschein had noted the fluid on Diana’s first series of tests at MD Anderson.


March 14, 2005

Picking up where my last email left off – Diana spent Tuesday night in the Intensive Care unit (ICU) at MD Anderson. I spent the night at the Marriott.


Once I got up and dressed Wednesday morning, I joined Diana in her ICU room. On Wednesday, the drain in her heart had accumulated another .3 liters of fluid in the 24 hours since her procedure. Thus, on Wednesday AM, the Cardiologists decided to leave the drain in her heart for another day. On late Wednesday afternoon, Diana was moved from her room in the ICU to a regular recovery room in the hospital. She spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in that room. Wednesday night, I spoke with the Doctor covering Dr Blumenschein’s in-patients and she informed us that Diana’s left lung had partially collapsed. That they were going to treat her for pneumonia with antibiotics (using an IV). The IV antibiotics started Wednesday night. Diana was still connected to a monitoring device for her vital signs – pulse rate, blood pressure and oxygen level in her blood. The extra oxygen tube that she had in her nose was removed.On Thursday morning, cardiology removed the drain from her heart. Less than 100 milliliters of fluid had drained in the prior 24 hours. Thursday at noon Diana had more x-rays. It was determined that there was excessive fluid between the lining of her left lung and the lung itself. This fluid was causing the lung to collapse.

Thursday evening – the head of Pulmonary came to see Diana. After much discussion, it was agreed that he would perform a thora centersis on Diana Friday morning. This is a procedure whereby they stick a needle thru her back into the space between the lung lining and the lung and remove the fluid from that space. Similar to the procedure that had been done to her heart on Tuesday. The disease is referred to as pleural effusion. By the way, her heart disease is referred to as pericardial effusion. Wow – things were happening so fast

On Friday morning, the thora centersis procedure was performed to remove the fluid around the lung. Approximately .7 liters of fluid were removed (1 bottle of wine). Diana came thru the procedure very well. X-rays were taken of Diana’s pleural area immediately after.

All went very well.The Drs. reviewed the x-rays and think they got all of the fluid, A respiratory specialist tested Diana to see if she needed extra oxygen. The test showed no external oxygen needed. They walked Diana all over the floor of the hospital to test her breathing. No problem. At about 3 PM, we were told that Diana would probably be released from the hospital Friday afternoon. I couldn’t believe it. Diana was ecstatic. I just never expected her to be released so fast. I left her hospital room immediately, to check out of the Marriott. I never made a round trip between the hospital and the hotel that fast all week. Diana was released from the hospital around 4 PM on Friday.

We immediately drove home arriving about 10 PM. We were both exhausted but so happy to be home. Diana could not wait to get into her own bed.

Diana rested at home this past weekend. She is still coughing. We are taking her vital signs every few hours. Her blood pressure has been a little low since the fluid was removed from around her heart – but has been very consistent and an acceptable level. She has anew antibiotic prescriptions for her cough/infection.

Based on preliminary test results, her cancer treatment will probably change. We won’t know until I speak with Dr Blumenschein early next week. He wants her to rest and recover so there probably will not be any treatment next week. Both of us are still in shock. Everything happened so fast – two serious procedures performed on Diana and here we are at home. Diana is so happy to be home. I was not sure we would see our house ever again let alone so fast.

We are tentatively scheduled to go back to MD Anderson the week of March 21.

Needless to say, it was not the week we were hoping and praying for. Diana is home resting. I am at her Company trying to understand what happened in her business last week.

Thanks for your support and prayers..


March 27, 2005

After arriving home late of Friday, March 11,Diana spent a quiet 10 days at home recovering from the two procedures performed on her heart and lung recently. She was and still is coughing – sometimes pretty severely and it occasionally turns into gagging.


I was in contact with Dr. Blumenschein a couple of times during the past week+. He tried 2 different prescriptions for the cough – neither seemed to help that we could determine.On Tuesday March 22, we drove to MD Anderson. Diana had a chest x-ray and blood tests done late on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we met with Dr. Blumenschein. This is the first time we have met in person with Dr. Blumenschein since Diana was in the ICU and had the heart and lung procedures performed on her. While she was in the hospital, she also had a CT Scan. Here is a summary of what he told us.

The CT Scan done 2 weeks ago on Diana showed positive tumor growth in some areas and decreased tumor size in other areas. Including the fluid problems Diana had, he overall result was not as good as he had hoped for. Therefore, he was going to stop the clinical trial and change Diana’s treatment to a new 2nd line chemo treatment – Altima. He said this chemo was less toxic than Cisplatin and hopefully her body would respond in a positive manner. She would also now be getting a vitamin B!2 shot every 9 weeks. Altima is an approved FDA drug and Diana will no longer be on a clinical trial. Neither Diana nor I expected that she would have positive results from the clinical trial. We both supported the idea of changing the treatment.

The other news we received was that fluids extracted from her heart and lung both tested positive for cancer. This was not a surprise to the doctors. While Diana was in the hospital, I was constantly bugging one of the doctors making the rounds of in-patients – inquiring if the fluid test results were available. She always answered no but would add words that I did not want to hear – “Natural progression of the disease.” When she told me that, I decided that I did not like her. It really wasn’t her, I didn’t want to hear those words associated with Diana.

Another finding, based on the x-ray taken on Tuesday, the fluid appeared to come back to Diana’s lung. Dr. Blumenschein said the heart looked good – no new fluid accumulation. As a result Dr. B recommended that a procedure be done to Diana on Monday March 28 to drain the fluid from the lung again and insert a drain tube that will remain in Diana for as long as she continues to have fluid accumulate in the lung. Possibly 3 – 4 weeks or even longer – months – as the pulmonary doctor told us. Diana was not happy with the prospect of having the drain installed. However, it is a procedure developed at MD Anderson – named “The Denver Catheter”.

Wednesday evening Diana got her B12 shot and new Chemo treatment. All went well. We went back to the hotel exhausted and spent the night. It was a grueling day for Diana. Not lots of good news and more procedures and tests. Although we were unhappy with the results, at least we were at a place – MD Anderson – where they had procedures to immediately address Diana’s fluid problem. Dr. Blumenschein did not want to delay either the new chemo treatment or the drainage tube procedure.

We drove home Thursday afternoon. Diana felt pretty good on Thursday and Friday – however, today (Saturday) she is very sick and nauseated from the chemo. She has spent the day in bed and has not eaten any food.

Tomorrow – Easter Sunday – we will be driving to MD Anderson in Houston in preparation for her lung procedure on Monday. Traffic will be terrible in the evening with it being Easter, so we will try to leave as early as possible. We will be meeting with the Pulmonary Dr on Monday morning and hopefully can make some progress on the cough problem at the same time.

I spent some time reviewing the past couple of weeks in my mind. What would’ve happened had we not been at MD Anderson? Would the doctors in Dallas have moved as quickly/ I doubt it. As I sat and thought about what Diana had gone through the pst few weeks, I was so happy we had gone to MD Anderson. The speed at which decisions were made and implemented – I still cannot believe that it really happened.

To make matters worse last week – I got sick in Houston Tuesday night with the flu. Just what Diana needed to get exposed to in her condition. Fortunately, Diana’s mother is living with us and she took care of both of this week. Today is the first day I ate any solid food since Tuesday. It also delayed my getting this email written and sent. Sorry.

Thanks for your support and prayers.

Happy Easter