Thursday, January 31, 2008

You Tube? I Tube Two Times!

Technology is a wonderful thing. It allows me to sit here in my libary 
(much too small to be an actual library)and report to you on technology 
advances in medicine that have occurred (or not) since the Middle Ages.

This week, the subject is tubing. For those who think this will be a seasonal discussion of happily sliding down some snowy hill, HIT YOUR DELETE KEY NOW!

If you ever visited the Carlsons during our many years in Germany, we probably took you to the Medieval walled city of Rothenberg, home to world famous "Torture Museum." Yet another chance to ESCAPE - it's the little key at the top left of your keyboard.

Well, back in the day, tubes were use to get OUT those nasty fluids in one's body - like blood - which were causing all the problems. With technological progress, tubes are now used more to get nasty fluids INTO one's body, where they may work their medical magic, such as poisoning you.

Take my case as an example. I now have two tubes surgically inserted in my body until such time as the docs decide that they should be removed.

The big tube is a PEG.  That stands for percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube. It is used to get fluids and liquid food into my body if I am unable to swallow due to radio and chemotherapy.

 The lower right portion of PEG is surgically inserted into the stomach and held in place on the stomach wall by a small balloon inflated from the right bluish nipple you see on the upper portion of the tube. The uncapped opening at the top is where food and fluids are introduced 
through a syringe that could give vaccinations to elephants and whales. Thankfully, no needle. The capped opening on the left is for medicine, either liquid or crushed to make into liquid.

Thus far, I have had no need to use Mr. PEG, and my docs and Nurse Victoria tell me that they never want me to use Mr. PEG, because if I do so, that means that I may not be exercising my jaw, swallow function, voicebox, and other items that can atrophy due to lack of use.

So Mr.PEG is my parachute. Open only if needed. In the meantime, keep it clean and dry.  And try not to be bothered by a six inch tube hanging out from your stomach.

When we told the doc that Samantha had asked why it was inserted so high (two inches right and just below the left nipple), he smiled and said, "Because that's where the stomach is located..."  What ever happened to high school biology?

The second tube isn't really a tube - it's a "line," specifically a PICC line or a peripherally inserted central catheter. This Mr. PICC (pronounced "pick") is why I may have to use Mr. PEG. 

Mr. PICC is where the chemotherapy poisons are inserted to work their way to the primary tumor at the underside base of my tongue ( vallecula).

The PICC line comes in through the inside of the arm at the triceps and is guided to the area of the heart known as the superior vena cava. That's where the chemo is deposited to begin its journey. 

The chemos being used on me will be Carboplatinum (I insisted on only the most expensive...) which will be given through Mr.PICC at Bethesda and something called "5 FU," (I am not making this up!) which will come home with me in a designer fanny pack and drips in through Mr. PICC for 24 hours.

Recall that the chemo in my case is not expected to be decisive; rather it will make the radiation even stronger.

Chances are that I will lose my hair, but they tell me that it comes back, often in a differing color and texture than before.  Having studied the PICC diagram above, I am okay with a full head of dark hair on top of a body that appears to be younger than mine.

Okay, so the prelims are all done, I've got my PEG, my PICC and my mask, my missing molars still ache and, on Monday, it will be time to go tubing! And then masking with Voldemort...  The only thing I seem to be missing is a SHOVEL.  "Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to weird we go..."

Since you can't come on the chair lift, say a prayer and I'll see you on the high ground!

Love to you all.


The Dragonfly said...

I think FU is a perfect name for the chemo! Thanks for the biology lesson dad - I've now taught my children that when their tummies hurt they should no longer grab there bellies, but instead should hug up by their ribs.

Sue said...

What other cancer patient can keep you laughing while describing all the medical torture devices they are subjected to? You're the best Ken! Lots of prayers going out for Monday. Give 'em hell!

Mike said...

Thanks for the graphic update Ken. Two tubes beat three. Good luck for a productive first week of treatment. Mary sends her best

Anderson Zoo Keepers said...

May you have luscious dark hair on a fab "Ken doll" body upon regrowth. Big virtual hugs!

Bluemax 36 said...

When this is all over, Ken, you'll have a nice start on chapters for a book. Thanks for sharing. Somehow, I suspect that more of us than we care to contemplate will find your exploration of the frontiers of life and medicine helpful and useful. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Our prayers and best wishes are with you.

Mike B.

Tobi said...

Keep your spirits high I know it will help you endure to the end!