5/17/15 - On Tuesday, May 12th, my wife Sue and I were relaxing watching TV after a day at the Cancer Center. I have mentioned in the past that I have been dealing with a bad cough, well Tuesday night was no different… or so I thought. During one coughing fit I actually passed out. All I can remember was Sue standing over me saying “Rich, are you alright, Rich, are you alright?” I slowly regained consciousness but was left with a feeling of being exhausted.
On the following evening my wife and I were again relaxing watching TV when I felt a little warm. We took my temperature and it was 100.6. When my temperature hits 100.5 is when I typically call into the cancer center to see what they would like to do. I suggested to my wife that we wait a few minutes and take my temperature again. In the time we were waiting I had another coughing fit and I passed out again. Regaining consciousness was similar to what happened the night before. We took my temperature again and it was 100.4. We did it one more time and it was 98.6. Even though my temp was OK we decided call the Hospital. This ended up being a good idea. The on call doctor wanted to see me ASAP being he was very concerned with me passing out. (to be continued)
This was the beginning of a few crazy days where I learned that I have a few aliments, that when they are brought together can create something called “Cough Syncope”. This is a well-known entity which results in loss of consciousness during episodes of cough due to the loss of air/blood flow to the brain.
The aliments that I was found to have are:
Parainfluenza (not to be confused with the Flu) - Typically, it is one of those things that does not impact most people. In my case, being I have a suppressed immune system due to my recent chemo and SCT, it can be a big issue for me. Parainfluenza is the leading cause of croup in children. Croup is a swelling near the vocal chords and in other parts of the upper respiratory system. I guess my immature immune system is making its presence known
Pneumonia – A CT scan showed that I have signs of pneumonia
Mantle Cell Lymphoma – Yes, my MCL is in my chest and abdomen areas with some of the tumors resting on top and creating pressure to arteries and vessels of my respiratory system.
When these are all present it can bring on Cough Syncope
(Continued) We arrived at the hospital emergency room around 11:30PM on the evening of May 12th. I was put through a series of tests and saw a couple of doctors. While in the ER I had another coughing fit and passed out again. Being I was hooked up to all kinds on monitors there was a clear drop in my blood pressure with this coughing/passing out episode. This was enough information for me to be admitted.
When I got to my room, it was now Wednesday morning. It didn't take long for me to experience another coughing/passing out episode. My roommate called the nurse while Sue shook me back into consciousness. Over this time I had another 2 episodes. The hospital decided to assign me a 24/7 sitter, someone who would constantly watch me. As my episodes continued the medical team evaluating me grew in size. It included oncology, pulmonary, infectious disease, neurology and cardiology.
As Thursday evening approached, I had another 4 episodes followed by another few more episodes during the early hours of Friday with the last episode occurring 5AM. From that point on it seemed that the medications started to do their jobs.
With all this going on, we were planning to have a Bridal Shower at our home for my daughter Jill on this Saturday, May 16th. I really didn’t want my situation to impact this fun event.
Friday passed without any incidence. The doctors stopped by and said he wanted to continue to observe me for another day or so. The good news was that it seems that the episodes have stopped. I did still have a bad cough but I was not passing out.
My wife stayed with me a few hours while my younger daughter Alli did all she could do the set up for her sister’s Bridal Shower. My wife left to go home around 3PM. This made me feel good, knowing that my Daughter Jill’s Bridal Shower was going to happen. Sure I wouldn't be there but Showers are for women anyway.
After being monitored all day on Friday and Saturday morning arrived, the team of doctors working on my case decided that I could be released. The feeling was that the medications were working. Also, once the Parainfluenza and Pneumonia to run their courses I could begin to be pulled off the medications. Lastly, as I continue to receive my chemotherapy treatments the tumors in my chest will reduce in size (and hopefully go away). I have a follow up appointment at the Cancer Center on Tuesday, May 19th.
I was excited to be able to go home. My good friend Larry offered to come and pick me up. I was able to make it home in time to get showered and shaved and presentable in time for my daughter Jill’s Bridal Shower. The day went on to be a great day. Everyone had a wonderful time. As the day wound down my daughter Jill told me that “It was the best surprise ever that you were there”.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
More to come…