Begun 2/18/2017 written by Linda, approved by Doug
Around Christmas Doug started having pain in his back on the left side and around on what they call his left flank. He has quite a tolerance for pain but finally he saw the doctor January 6. He was given a regimen that we followed pretty well but a couple of weeks passed and we agreed that the pain should be gone but wasn't, so he saw the doctor again January 20. It was recommended that we allow a month to see if it would improve, but the pain was sometimes bad enough that I thought he should go to an ER. We contacted the doctor again, he ordered labs and a CT scan which was to be done the following week.
In the intervening time we traveled to a business meeting mid week and to attend the baptism of one of our grandchildren on Saturday, February 5. In the wee hours the morning of the baptism Doug was unable to get comfortable enough to sleep, so we took him to the Emergency Room. The ER doctor considered the possibility of his having a kidney stone and did an ultra sound and lab followed up by a CT scan which showed a large mass suspected of being a lymphoma. The doctor was very kind, thorough and helpful; she spent a lot of time helping us decide what to do. She suggested a couple of hospitals for him to be immediately admitted to for pain management and hoping a biopsy might be done asap.
Doug was transferred by ambulance to a large well-equipped hospital but, unfortunately, his pain did not improve; rather, it continued to increase. No staff was available over the weekend to interpret a biopsy so it wasn't done until Monday afternoon, and results were not expected for a couple of days. By Wednesday Doug's pain was better managed and he was being discharged, but not until an Oncologist visited us. He expected results to be available by the end of the week and promised to contact us. When he called Friday afternoon, February 10, the results were still incomplete but he shared what information he had, that the mass was non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, not an aggressive form. To our uninformed minds, this sounded like relatively good news, but not all the facts were known yet, and since the weekend was near and we would be waiting until Monday otherwise, he said he would check again later that afternoon and let us know if more information were available.
A couple of hours later he called again and, even though he still didn't have ALL the information he was awaiting, he did have some more information. Now he said it was an aggressive lymphoma and that it was suspected that Doug had a particular gene that would make it even more aggressive. This news was pretty distressing. (FYI, whether aggressive or non-aggressive, there is good AND bad news. The non aggressive is slow but isn't curable. The aggressive IS aggressive but it CAN be cured.) We still await the final word on the full impact of this gene, which will determine whether Doug's chemotherapy includes 5 or 6 medications and the duration of his initial hospital stay (two days to up to 7 days).
Earlier in the week all our children had gathered together (wonderful spouses made that happen), so we were able to all hear this information from the doctor together. It was a bummer, but happily, the next day, Saturday, February 11, was Doug's birthday and we had a wonderful morning together.
The following day people from out of town returned to their homes, and after attending church, Doug and I and one of our daughters (another wonderful spouse making this happen) drove home for a couple of days so we could get things together for a longer stay and to collect our thoughts.