Rich Clark

First post: Nov 25, 2021 Latest post: Dec 7, 2021
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Around Oct/Nov of 2020, Rich started having feinting spells after heavy coughing, so he went to see his primary care doctor to find out the cause. His PC ordered a chest radiograph (aka x-ray), and discovered a mass near his heart that he suspected was cancer. Rich was referred to a wonderful oncology care team, lead by Dr. Arrambide at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center in Salida. They also coordinated with doctors at Pulmonary Associates and University Health in Colorado Springs. He was diagnosed with Stage 4, B-Cell Lymphoma - a treatable cancer, but also one that is known to return.

Rich underwent chemotherapy, then radiation therapy to rid him of the cancer, but was still having complications with fluid between his right lung and its lining. He underwent a surgery called pleurodesis, which adheres the lung lining to the lung wall to prevent the fluid build-up. Unfortunately, there was a complication with that surgery (a leak in the lung) that required him to stay in the hospital for two weeks while he healed.

Since then, he developed a mechanical pneumonia (no infection involved) for which he was being treated with steroids. On Saturday, November 20, 2021, after Rich had returned home from an overnight stay at HRRMC and they drained fluid from his left lung, he was sleeping all day, had barely any energy, and his blood oxygen level crashed after he simply got up to go to the bathroom, and it was not recovering as it should, so I called 911. The EMT's took him back to HRRMC in Salida, who determined that he likely did now have an infection and they flew him to the Anschutz Medical Center (CU Health) in Denver, where there was an ICU bed available. It's an excellent hospital, but a three-hour drive for me, so my ability to visit him is limited.  

After a day at Anschutz of Rich struggling to keep his O2 levels up, they received our permission to put him on a ventilator, which will allow him to rest while the machine breaths for him, and the antibiotics he is on do their job.  He is sedated so that he doesn't fight the machine too much, but somewhat aware of the presence of others, especially loved ones.