Steve Hutchison (foomf) wrote,
Steve Hutchison

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Penny and Steve Health Status

Some of you have responded to me in a way that indicates I haven't been really clear on what happened with Penny. So, here's the timeline.

1999 'questionable' pap smear, second test negative.
2000 negative pap smear
2001 skipped annual smear for no good reason
2002 'questionable' smear in May. Positive for abnormal cells
July 3rd, appointment with Dr. Kim for 'scrape test' which involved
dilating the uterus and cervix, snipping a little bit of the cervix
out of an area that DOES have pain nerves, and scraping a couple
millimeters into the cervix and the uterus, three times (would have
been only one if he'd gotten a good sample the first two times.)
Note that there was no anaesthesia. Some doctors think it's a bad idea
but they're mostly men. Note that said men think it necessary to have
local anaesthesia to do a catheter into the bladder for males.
July 7th, positive diagnosis of endometrial cancer, probable stage 2.
Stage 2 means it has begun to penetrate the uterine wall and to extend
away from the places it was expected to be.
July 14th, appointment with surgical oncologist. He does some tests,
says surgery is needed, we discuss procedures, suggesting they remove
just the uterus (Penny's weight and asthma an issue for safety during
this particular surgery - they either go thru abdomen or vaginally,
but abdominal surgery is VERY slow healing. If uterus shows spread,
they can go abdominally to get ovaries and harvest lymph nodes. Also
sent to radiation oncologist to discuss alternatives.
July 28th, appointment with rad. oncologist, he thinks surgery is the
best option by far, then if needed, radiation.
Dr Gosewehr on vacation until August 14th. We wait. And wait. Make a
new appointment for August 18th, discuss surgery. Surgery scheduled for
4th of September.
September 4th, surgery, 3.5 hours, delicate work getting her uterus out
but cannot reach ovaries or lymph nodes, anaesthesiologist having hard
time keeping her breathing with her being basically upside down.
Six weeks pass. Followup visit with surgeon, all seems to be well.
Confirmation of information given at surgical exam - the cancer was in
the endometrium (a connective tissue lining that is found inside the
uterus but also runs to the ovaries, stomach, intestines, etc. but the
cancer was only in the endometrium. The cancer was localized but had
begun to secrete the hormone that loosens connective tissue, allowing
the cancer cells to migrate. However, outside of uterus was intact.
Since ovaries and lymph samples not taken, need to do radiation to go
from 90% surety of cure, to 99.99999% ... adjusting for age.
24 October, first prep for radiation. Continues to be radiated five
times a week, every weekday, until 27 November (Day before T-day).
One week respite, and then on second, third, and fourth weeks of Dec
she had internal radiation (eww) and yes, her last zap was just before
Christmas Eve.
No chemotherapy is used for this cancer unless it has gone to a stage
3 or higher. It's slow-growing so chemo doesn't really help that much.
So. Since January Penny's been feeling increasingly better, but at the
end of January/early February, when she finally felt good enough to go
out of the house, she overstressed her right knee.
Having been basically bed-ridden due to exhaustion from the cancer and
from the radiation for about six months, she's lost a lot of strength
in the legs, and her knees were damaged in high school - she has very
little of the cartilage that should be there. So walking became very
painful, and though it's recovered over the last six weeks, it's still
pretty hard for her to walk.

Meanwhile. This is the third week we've been doing the Atkins diet. We had
been looking at it as a way for me to get rid of the appx. 80 pounds of
excess that I've put on in the past 10 years. However, I was tested with a
fasting blood sugar of 175 - that's diabetic, if a second test shows the
same amount of blood sugar. So, rather than being stuck with the Diabetic
label and the long-term medicines that will eventually make me insulin dependent, while driving my insulin levels to dangerous levels and damaging my organs and capillaries, Penny said "You're going to start Atkins, right?"

She agreed to go on it if I would, because with the radiation and surgery and all the stress she's been having, her blood sugars were hovering in the low 300s.

The first week, my blood sugars were testing below 135, and the second week they were below 100 in the mornings. This is normal. Penny's response was a similar 10-point drop, every three or so days - she isn't quite back down to non-diabetic levels and still has to use insulin, but we're hoping that will come when we can get her to the gym so she can swim.

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