Tag Archives: ruptured spleen

The Fear of Cancer

Not often I have ‘fear‘.

I have it now. I fear that I may not beat this cancer.

I was diagnosed on October 22nd, 2018, with Pharyngeal and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Stage four.

I was past the ability to be treated via chemotherapy and conventional radiation. My only three options were let nature take her course or surgery to remove my complete tongue and lymph nodes (leaving me with zero quality of life) or receive radical aggressive radiation.

I chose the latter. Receiving a double session twice per day for twenty days. The actual treatment was easy. Just lay down, strapped in a cage and a mere fifteen minutes listening to Pink Floyd as the machine’s robotic arms did their task.

I was pleased when on March the first I completed the therapy and was told it had succeeded in killing all the tumors.

What I didn’t understand at that time was the worse part comes after the therapy. As the tumors diminished the damage from the radiation and cancer surfaces. This, apparently, can go on for up to two years.

My throat swelled and on the exterior turned purple. A side affect of the radiation burn and dying tissues within.

I had a few complications during the course of treatment. I developed a huge abscess in my lower abdominal cavity, possibly from the feeding g-tube implant. It required minor surgery to remove and drain. This was followed by a major battle with septicemia. A battle I thankfully won.

I was released from the Princess Margaret Cancer Center on January 31, 2019. After being hospitalized for twenty seven days. I was glad to be home.

At four in the morning of February the 2nd my spleen exploded. I bled out and have only survived because I live blocks from the Michael Garron Hospital. I was revived. Received four pints of blood, rapid infusion of Ringers lactate, a litre of iron sucrose and twenty nine staples on my abdomen. Complete removal of my spleen.

I spent all of February and half of March in Princess Margaret. My weight dropped down to ninety seven pounds. A far cry from my average one hundred and seventy.

I look like a survivor from a Nazi Death Camp.

I was sent home mid March to complete my treatment as an out-patient.

Things were well at first. I could not swallow most food so I was dependant on six cans of condensed Isosource nutrients to feed my body. I managed to get my weight up to one hundred and twenty-two pounds.

But, a big but, the damage from the tumors and radiation was surfacing more and more. The pain of swallowing increasingly getting worse. To the point I feared swallowing even my saliva.

This I am still plagued with as I write.

My weight loss increased and depression tried to take over my logic. I feared that I would definitely die. I have that fear still, as do my caregivers.

No longer able to function properly I resigned myself to the reality of coming back into the hospital.

Presently, I am hospitalized in the magnificent Toronto General Hospital. A Blessing of living in Toronto with the world class treatment of Toronto General and the adjoined Princess Margaret Cancer Center. Two of the best hospitals worldwide.

If I lived anywhere else I am positive I would not be authoring this blog on this foggy Sunday morning.

I am not sure what is to happen to me next. Neither are my team of doctors.

I have been here a mere few days, having been admitted on the twenty four of May. So, I am awaiting the results of my MRI, CT Scan and numerous other tests.

Tomorrow I have to have minor surgery to re-implant a gastric feeding tube and biopsy of my tongue and throat.

So far my diagnosis is as follows:

1) as my body absorbed the dead tumors it left behind holes, like potholes in a road. These ‘holes‘ have developed ulcers.

2) The ulcers can be one of three types. (A) non-cancerous, (B) Cancerous but treatable and (C) Cancerous non-treatable

3) I am severely malnourished and dehydrated.

Hopefully, by tomorrow evening I will know for sure what battle lays before me.

I am a ‘realist’. Hence, I take things in stride. It is what it is and I will deal with whatever falls my way with logic over emotions.

I also trained myself to always expect the worse possible scenarios. Reason being if I am expecting the worse no matter what my diagnosis is to be it shall be better than what I expected. A small comfort in such a serious situation.

I am not being unrealistic in my expectations. I am in a serious situation.

After many discussions with all my treatment team and my beloved family, I made the difficult decision to put in place a DNR, (Do Not Resuscitate), on my medical record.

This is justified and many tears were shed coming to the decision. It is the best avenue to take considering the condition of my physical form. My bone density is very low which means that if I were to receive CPR my ribs would shatter. Greater risk is that my heart and poor physical condition makes it ninety nine percent positive I will slip into a coma – a coma I will not recover from.

I pray no one ever has to have this discussion with their family. It was/is the most heartbreaking talk I have ever imagined having to have.

Saddest part being the reaction of my family and friends. I, being the patient, fully have accepted that I am knocking on the gates of Valhalla. I did not wish to accept it, but it is what it is.

I also have refused any major surgery that will disfigure and disable me. I refuse wholeheartedly to have my love ones suffer the anguish of watching me whither away, perhaps for weeks or months. That would scar their very souls for life. It would be selfish of me to put them through such.

They understand. They don’t like accepting it, but, once again, it is what it is.

I am not, by far, a ‘religious’ man. I am a man of faith. I believe in a higher, supreme power. Over the past 15 years I have been brought back to life 9 times so far. I wrote about these times previously. It’s suffice to say my life has been full of numerous ups and downs. Often down. It strengthened my personality and outlook on life. To most they would say my life was tragic. I see it as just ‘my life’. Sixty-one and a half years of learning and growth.

So, as it stands today, I have a battle to win. And I shall win because I am surrounded by true caring and love. I have a large group of beautiful souls who have formed a ‘Prayer Army’ on my behalf. Believe or not, but there is a power in prayers. They don’t have to be church indoctrinated chants, but rather sincere and positive praise to whoever you perceive as your Creator.

I am anxious to get the results of the tests tomorrow. The waiting and the fear of what may be is far more disheartening than the cancers themselves. The fear of the unknown instills an anxiety that clouds judgement.

I prefer sunny days over cloudy ones.

So, I will leave you now and I will blog whatever happens next in my wonderful life as soon as I know.

Until then, I remain ‘Dann, just as I am – – – The Original Urban Viking’.

NAMASTE’ MY FRIENDS

And remember to ……

ALWAYS PRAY IT FORWARD

BLESS

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For Those Who Wonder Where I Have Been

As most of you know in late October I was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Pharyngeal Cancer.

Due to the advance stage conventional chemotherapy and radiation were off the table.

My only options being surgery to completely remove my tongue, larynx and most everything else within my neck or radical radiation treatments twice a day for 20 days and see what the result would be.

I, of course, opted for the radiation. I began treatment in early December.

I had to have a gastric feeding tube implanted as I would definitely need it as treatment progressed.

I was doing well until early January when I developed a very large abscess in my lower abdominal cavity between my stomach and muscles.

Mind you, this abscess had nothing whatsoever to do with the cancers or the feeding tube. It just decided to appear and grow and grow.

The fine surgeons here at Princess Margaret Cancer Hospital immediately dealt with the demon infection. Part of the process involved inserting a necessary draining tube.

If it were not for bad luck I would have no luck at all.

Hence, I had many complications from the drainage tube requiring me to spend most of January in the hospital.

Fortunately, I was still receiving my radiation therapy as per scheduled.

The infection took a fair amount of time to get cleared up and by the end of January 2019 I was declared infection free and discharged to home.

I would resume my radiation therapy as an outpatient as per the original plan of care. I was so happy to finally get to go home after almost a whole month of hospitalization.

I arrived home February first. Very sore, but happy.

I slept well the first night. The second night I had a slight pain in my back but I put that off as getting used to sleeping on my own bed instead of the hospital bunk.

I am not sure what time I woke up that morning.

What I am sure of is that I woke to the most excruciating pain you could possibly imagine.

The pain was so intense I could not even scream for help. I literally had to call to the next room to wake my good friend who was watching over me.

I honestly thought I was going to die.

Immediately she called 911 and within minutes I was in an ambulance with a police escort rushing me to the nearest hospital at full speed.

All I remember about the ambulance ride was the EMS man telling the driver they had mere minutes to get me to surgery. My blood pressure was 49 over 43.

I passed out.

Next memory was surreal – I was in an elevator, someone was cutting my shirt off and I heard the surgeon say,

I have to open him right now.”

I felt the scalpel cutting through my abdomen and I saw my blood covering everyone in the elevator.

I passed out.

I awoke many hours later in ICU.

Surrounded by my family and dearest loved ones. I was not sure if I was alive or dead. But, when I blinked my eyes, everyone single one of them cried and I knew I had survived something very serious.

My spleen had literally exploded. Like a small nuclear bomb.

Apparently I had lost almost all my blood – if not for my living so close to a hospital I definitely would not be here to author this blog.

I spent one week in the Michael Garron Hospital in East York, Toronto. Bless the surgeons there for saving my life.

I was then discharged from there do I could go into Toronto General Hospital as an in-patient and then transferred across the street to Princess Margaret Cancer Hospital where I am now.

It sounds complicated but Toronto General, Princess Margaret, Mount Sinai and a few other medical facilities are all side by side and part of the same University Health Network and also connected to The University Toronto.

I am in one of the highest rated cancer hospitals in the world and I am forever thankful that the Creators have given me yet another chance to live.

My road to recovery is going to be a long difficult journey. The spleen is an important organ. Yes, you can live without it, but I need many vaccinations and for the rest of my days I will have to be very vigilant not to get infections and such.

My radiation therapy is back on track and I finish my first series of treatments on March the first. Which is also my oldest son’s birthday – so I take that as an omen of good fortune.

I will write more at some point down the road. I just wanted my followers to know why they haven’t heard from me in a while.

People, look around at your family and friends and let them know how precious they are to you. Life can change in the blink of an eye. Or the pop of a spleen. Never be afraid to tell them you love them.

I am a tough old dude with very tough masculine friends and I have no qualms hugging them, kissing them and saying, “I love you Brother. “

The greatest gift I received from this disaster was seeing my dearest and most close friend standing there with love and joy in his eyes when I blinked that first blink. To see my sons faces fill with relief when I spoke.

Life is a precious gift and to have life and love together cannot be matched by any other thing.

Namaste’