Wow! It seems like I completely disappeared from the radar … my apologies for blogging less frequently than I would have liked; besides the day-to-day activities that consume most of our time, I was actually hospitalized for approximately ten days in early September with another new diagnosis: severe heart failure.
It sounds as scary as you can presume. Now instead of embarking on the expected litany of the “woe is me” and “thou has suffered so much” self-pity (which I actually did do!), I must say that I am just as surprised as you probably are! Remember the medical mishap that I encountered in early August with an emergency CT scan from my healthcare team with abnormal liver imaging? The shortness of breath? The persistent non-productive cough? Even a new onset of pedal edema? I finally received a long-awaited consultation from the gastroenterology and liver transplant team and learned that my enlarged liver is only a secondary issue; it turns out the true heart of the problem (no pun intended) is a severe case of congestive heart failure. After an immediate echocardiogram scheduled and continuous labored breathing on my part, a nurse practitioner from the cardiology department alerted the team that I needed to be admitted immediately for emergency care. Reminiscent of my admission for induction chemotherapy, I was immediately wheeled off (literally) with a glorious oxygen tank to the ER.
The accused cause of this whole medical fiasco just when I thought I was on the verge of good times ahead? Chemotherapy soldiers doxorubicin (also known under the alias: adriamycin) and mitoxantrone. Apparently the transient toxicity of these two chemotherapy drugs in my past year-long regimen severely weakened my heart, particularly the rate of its ejection fraction, which is a term often used in cardiovascular physiology to describe the fraction of blood that pumps out of our heart ventricles with each beat.
But fear not! For those ten lonesome and (admittedly) pretty miserable days in the hospital, I learned a lot about what it takes to live with this condition — dare I say, even an extremely long life, though sometimes in the back of my mind I realize that my overall mortality potential may not be the same as it was before. I’m now on additional medication that will strengthen my heart slowly over time. And you can bet I’ve become a new fan of the American Heart Association. I have a lot to share about everything I’ve learned to maintain a healthy lifestyle and hopefully that will be in another post someday so that other patients can benefit from this information. Conclusively, I hope it brings much awareness out there that patients who suffer from blood diseases not only deal with the fatality of their suggested prognosis, but also the underlying complications that may surface later on in their overall treatment. The road is not easy; the bumps and hurdles are still there but over time I’ve found that if you keep the faith, you can really overcome whatever else is thrown at you. This has been an incredibly indispensable life skill that I’ve learned at 23.
Even with these setbacks, I’m thankful for some exciting news from the Asian American Donor Program (AADP). The Michelle Maykin Protection Donation Act has now been signed into California LAW by Governor Schwartzeneggar. According to the bill’s provisions, it provides “private sector employees that donate life-saving bone marrow or organs paid, protected leave from their employment”. For a concise and brief description about this new law, please visit: http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/SB_1304/
This is a huge win! I’d like to thank everyone who signed the grassroots petition and pledged support. I can’t even begin to fathom the meaningful, widespread impact this piece of legislation will have on patients. Tomorrow, I’m getting a big cone of Caramel Apple Ice Cream to celebrate (I’m five years old again)!