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.