Archive for the ‘PFT’ Category

Day one is done

I slept through most of the chemo today, and I’m still tired. I had to also take a PFT (the lung test), but fortunately they were able to get me in-and-out an hour earlier than normal. It helps when your scheduled to go from 6:45 AM to 4 PM. The drive home was ok.

I asked about my follow-up appointments after chemo. I need to come in 1 month after chemo ends, then every 6 months for CT scans. If nothing reappears after a few years, I’ll be coming in just once a year. That sounds pretty reasonable.

Time for a nap with the dog- he is always up for those!

5 Days

I’m back in Dana-Farber for the next five days of chemo. I didn’t miss this place at all. The cancer markers in my blood have all but gone away- showing that I am at normal human levels. I asked if that means I can stop the chemo treatment early. Of course not. This afternoon I will have another PFT (lung) test. My hair has been falling out slowly over the last few days. It looks like an ape has been using the bar of soap in my shower.

What a long day

I took the train in to Boston for my appointments today, not out of necessity, but to figure how this is going to work when I’m either high on chemo drugs and/or exhausted from it. The train will work out fine, albeit a long ride.

My first appointment was interesting to say the least. Because I want to make you feel awkward too, the picture on the left is the inside of the sperm donor room at Brigham’s. Nice artwork of someone’s ass on the wall, eh? As a guy, you’d think this process would be no sweat, but it was pretty uncomfortable being in a room where you can hear the conversations in the waiting area- and all of those folks know exactly what you’re doing in there. Add to that, you have to hand-deliver the container (no pun intended) to the semi-attractive female receptionist in the waiting area upon completion. To top off the visit, I had to give a blood sample.

I’ll find out on Monday whether or not I need to come back for a repeat visit. Let’s hope not. I was informed (but need to confirm with my oncologist), that even if I remain fertile after chemo, I may be at a high-risk of causing birth defects should Jess and I conceive kids naturally.
My second appointment was a CT scan. I’m absolutely annoyed with myself for being such a wimp when it comes to needles. I almost got emotional about it, but I know that it is completely psychological. I asked them to give me Novocaine first (before the IV), but they wouldn’t do it. I better figure out how to handle needles better because I’ll be pretty much living with an IV as of June 4th. Prior to the scan, I was also given the dye to drink orally. It tasted like liquid Tums, which wasn’t difficult to drink. They put the dye chemicals (it looked like powder) into two 20oz crystal light iced tea bottles. I was expecting it to be far worse.
My last appointment of the day was a PFT test. I sat in an enclosed phone booth-sized box with a snorkel breathing tube. It turns out that my lung capacity is well over 8-liters, which as the technician informed me, is equivalent to a 6’9″ athlete. He suggested that I take up running. In the short term, it enables the Bleomycin chemo (the B part of my BEP chemo) to have more of a runway to avoid causing lung damage. I will be taking PFT tests on a regular basis during my chemo treatment to monitor the risk.

Let the awkward appointments begin

Tomorrow, I start my day with a trip to the local sperm bank, however it’s called an “endocrine lab” at Brigham & Women’s. I’m pretty sure they use this name to keep people from laughing at what is actually going on in there. I’ve got to freeze my “goods” because chemo treatment could potentially make me infertile.

On a ridiculously stupid note, my HMO (Blue Cross) covers almost all of my cancer-related treatment which is great, but according to their existing policy, I can only freeze sperm if “currently undergoing a treatment that causes infertility”.

In a nut shell, I have to start the chemo first, then freeze my sperm to qualify. I beg to differ… the moment my right testicle was removed was the start of treatment that could cause infertility. Of course my oncologist agrees, informing me that the moment I start chemo- I could become permanently infertile. Thus, I’m going to the sperm bank without Blue Cross agreeing to pay for it, which would be a $1,100 bill, plus $400 annually for the freezer space. To Blue Cross’ credit, my situation is now under review with their grievance department, and I’m hoping for a positive outcome. I think common sense is on my side, as I’m sure a story about an HMO refusing to help a young man who wants to have children won’t help their PR efforts.

After the sperm clinic, I’m headed over to Dana-Farber for my 2nd CT scan of the month. I get to try the drinkable dye this time, which I’m ecstatic about. My first CT scan involved an IV injected dye, which burned like hell, and I’m a big wimp when it comes to needles. If I could drink Milwaukee’s Best in college, I sure as hell can drink some chalk-tasting liquid tomorrow.

I’ll follow that up with a PFT (pulmonary function test). I opted for BEP chemo treatment, which poses some sort of risk of lung damage. This test is supposed to determine the current health of my lungs. I’ve heard that this involves breathing into a tube, but it doesn’t hurt.