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7/18/2017 Latest post:
Hope this helps those who aren't familiar with Howard's story. Earlier this year (2017), Howard started not feeling well---bloating, gas, pain, nausea,excessive fatigue and somewhat elevated blood sugar (188). Since Howard is diabetic, his doctor had him go to the Ozarks Medical Center Emergency Department in the late afternoon of April 24th thinking he might be experiencing Ketoacidosis. The doctor gave him half a bag of IV fluids, took his blood sugar number and did a chest x-Ray and told him nothing was wrong with him except his blood sugar was elevated.
Each day he felt worse, and on May 3rd, he went to see his family doctor. He ordered an ultrasound be done at OMC on May 9th. His doctor suspected that Howard was suffering from gall stones. Even though Howard had fasted for the test, the ultrasound technician said she couldn't get a clear picture because of the presence of bowel gas--which we suspect was actually the pancreatic mass she was seeing.
The pain was getting worse every day and his blood sugar levels were getting more out of control (364) so in the late afternoon of May 10th, we took him to Mercy Hospital's Emergency Department in Springfield, MO. That's where they did CT scans and found a pancreatic mass. They gave him pain pills and referred him to Mercy's Oncology Clinic. We were told we'd get a phone call from them to set up an appointment. After calling and leaving numerous messages, the cancer clinic said their Emergency Department doctor's referral wasn't good enough and so they needed his family doctor's referral in order to get an appointment. So his family doctor did what they asked of him.
Howard started vomiting everything up--even water and his pain level was bad. So after not hearing anything from Mercy's Cancer Clinic, Vanessa and I took him back to Mercy's Emergency Department on May 24th. That night they admitted him to the hospital and found that his liver had almost shut down because the pancreatic tumor was pressing against his bile duct and was partially closed off. Sothe next day, they put a stent in Howard's bile duct to open it back up.
Still had no Oncology Clinic appointment. So we told his Hospital Doctor and she got a Oncologist to come look at Howard. Ultimately, Mercy declined to do an EUS,(Endoscopic Ultra Sound), a "biopsy" and without an EUS the Cancer Clinic wouldn't even give Howard an appointment. Instead they referred Howard to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.
Still suffering from pain, nausea, vomiting and wild blood sugar numbers, we went to a consultation visit with our Barnes' doctor on June 9th. His condition deteriorating quickly, on June 13th Howard fell in the bathroom and hit his head--being weak and light-headed from vomiting. We got him to Barnes' Emergency Department about 4am (June 14th). They found his blood sugar was at 880 and they kept him there trying to lower and stabilize his blood sugar. Wednesday night they moved him from the Emergency Department to ICU where they monitored his blood sugar every hour. After stabilizing his blood sugar levels, they did the EUS on Friday, June 16th, in order to verify the mass on his pancreas was cancerous.His cancer doctor told him that it was early stage 3 cancer and the tumor was pressing against some blood vessels and he would need to have chemotherapy first instead of surgery in order to try and shrink the tumor away from the blood vessels. The doctor said that after approximately 4months of chemo, he would perform the Whipple procedure on Howard. This procedure is where he cuts off the head of the pancreas along with the tumor and reattaches the pancreas. He was released from Barnes on Sunday, June 18th.
Howard decided to do his chemo treatment at OMC's Cancer Clinic. He has an awesome doctor, Dr. Singh, and is starting chemo on July 25th.