Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cancer...It's What We Do Here, Day 1

After Mom's appointment at Dr. Bott's it became apparent that we were no longer in charge. Although they told us Mom could go wherever she wanted to they started calling Mom telling her where and when she should be somewhere for a scan, procedure, etc.

After an assigned trip to the radiology department at the Central Utah Clinic in Provo it was decided that Mom needed a Biliary Drainage procedure (see the explanation below). They could do the procedure at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, but her insurance would not cover the procedure if it was done there. The insurance would cover Timpanogos Regional Hospital, but they didn't do the procedure often enough to do it well. It was then decided that Mom would be sent to the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

On March 9th we loaded Mom (wearing her "happy hat" and Superman t-shirt) up and headed for Salt Lake City. When we stepped into the lobby at Huntsman (which is what we call it in our family) and were simply awed. It is truly a beautiful building where amazing things happen. We got on the elevator and went to the third floor. On our way to Interventional Radiology we stopped to admire the view of the entire Salt Lake Valley through the large glass windows of the entrance.

We got Mom checked in and sat down in the waiting area. At some point during our wait they sent us back downstairs to get blood drawn. At this time Mom was still on her feet walking around. The ride to Salt Lake and the walking around Huntsman had completely worn her out. She curled up on a double seat in the waiting area while Grandma Black moved another chair over for her to put her feet on. We sat anxiously waiting for them to call her back. Mom was anxious and just didn't have a good feeling about it. We reassured her that the doctors would be amazing and that she was in a place where they do amazing things.

After what felt like forever they finally called her back to prep her for the procedure. When the blood work came back the nurse noticed that Mom's INR level (an INR level measures the body's blood clotting capabilities) was too high to do the procedure. What exactly did this mean...that Mom's blood wasn't clotting properly and the risk that she would bleed out was too great. So after spending the morning filled with hope that they could do something to help Mom we got knocked back down again. Then the doctors said three magical words...

FRESH FROZEN PLASMA!

They would infuse Mom with the FFP to bring her INR level back to normal and then they would be able to insert the bile drain. At this point it was too late in the day to start so we would be coming back on Monday morning. After a back and forth conversation about whether to admit Mom for the night or not they finally told us  that she could go home for the weekend and to be back at 7:00am on Monday morning.

So we loaded back up, drove home, and prepared ourselves for Monday morning.

to be continued...



A Biliary Drainage procedure is when a catheter is placed through your skin and into your liver to drain your bile. This procedure is performed in the Interventional Radiology Department by an Interventional Radiologist.  X-ray imaging helps the Interventional Radiologist guide the catheter into exactly the right place (information on Biliary Drainage procedure from http://www.altru.org/pdf/biliary.pdf) .


Fresh Frozen Plasma in the United States can refer to the fluid portion of one unit of human blood that has been centrifuged, separated, and frozen solid at −18 °C (−0 °F) or colder within eight hours of collection.[2] The phrase "FFP" is often used to mean any transfused plasma product.
(information on FFP from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fresh_frozen_plasma)


To learn more about the Huntsman Cancer Institute click here:
http://www.huntsmancancer.org/


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