Friday, January 06, 2012

Updates X Two

First things first.  Here is what I heard back from the German organization that the German Embassy sent me to:

Dear Mrs. Cullen

I confirm your inquiry in which you asked which institution to contact regarding the German “dog tag” in your possession.
Please contact the following institution.
Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (German War Graves Agency), Werner-Hilpert-Straße 2; D-34112 Kassel,

This Institution is responsible for German soldiers which were killed in both world wars. We hope that we could be of some use in supporting your endeavour.

Yours sincerely

So I went to the website and found the form for contacting them by email, but two tries and nothing worked.  So if any of you out there can read Deutsche, please let me know how I complete the next chapter of this adventure.

With respect to my "procedure,"  we showed up promptly at 2:45 and waited for an hour or so before they were ready for us.  The attending, Dr. Julka,  came in to the operating room and informed me of the risks attendant to the operation.  I was most interested in the idea that the stent could displace and end up in my stomach.  Dr. Julka said it was more likely where the pressure closing the esophagus comes from the outside vs. an internal blockage but still the risk was only 10% or so.  He also said that if they put in the stent, I was going to have to spend the night in the hospital so I could get appropriate pain medication.  Then they injected the anesthetic into my IV and I was gone in a flash.  Woke up in the recovery bay with my friends, Anne and Diane anxiously waiting.  It took a while to really get myself up and going this time.  Dr. Saunders, the GI in charge came in and told me that when he  inserted the endoscope he discovered the stricture was not as closed as the doctors had observed on Friday, so rather than put a stent in, he instead "dilated to 54 french."  That was in my discharge notes and I have no idea what it means exactly.  I was still a bit woozy from the anesthetic when he came and spoke to me, so that's the best I can do at present.  Anne took me home around 6pm and I went, promptly, to bed and slept rather soundly.  Today I had a huge headache, courtesy of the anesthetic and my chest ached but that seems par for the course.  I am on soups for the first week or so, we will see if I can eat anything more substantial once the ache goes away.

And, thanks to Bonnie's timely reminder, I got my oncologist to agree to prescribe low dose Naltrexone to me to see if that will do anything to stop tumor growth.  It's in the category of can't hurt might help, so we'll see.  Nothing like being a guinea pig.  But a live one.  Thanks Bonnie!


Mellodee said...

Oh yeah, a live guinea pig is a whole lot better than the alternative!! Glad your procedure is behind you and best wishes that it helped!

odp said...

Your resident medical junkie went Googling, and found what "54 French" means: (54 French = 18 mm = 1.8 cm; 2.54 cm = 1 inch). For some reason I always thought the esophagus was much bigger in diameter; guess not.

Let's hope it works! And glad you're able to have the Naltrexone.

You're my favorite guinea pig!

Lots of love,

Anonymous said...

Praying the naltrexone does its work. It has shown promise. Got my fingers and toes crossed and petitioning the Almighty. :) All best wishes, Bonnie

moe99 said...

My Macalester College classmate, Louisa, a doctor in Georgia, emailed me the following:

"I could not figure out how to reply actually on your blog so your readers could see. Maybe just as well, since I am going to be a bit vague. But “54 French” refers to a size of a round medical tool (I forget if it is the specific tool used to dilate things like esophageal strictures, but I think it is more general. I think foley catheters, for instance, which are catheters that get inserted into the bladder of people who can’t urinate on their own (Like you during surgery or under anesthesia) are also sized, I think, as 6 french, 12 french, and so on.

So when the doc said he “dilated to 54 french” he is saying that he dilated your esophagus to the same circumfrence as is equivalent to 54french (as opposed to 42 french which would be smaller, or 89 french which would be larger) on that medical instrument. I forget where the measuring system came from. Given how medicine gives out names, I suspect a doctor named Dr. French developed the instrument in serial sizes and numbered them, and then the rest of us began referring to the various sized instruments as 54 french (example- surgeon to the scrub nurse “Now Hand me a 54 french” or “not that one, that was a 54 french, I need a 50 french here”).

So he is just saying that he did not feel it was necessary to put in a stent, since your esophagus was in better shape than he expected it to be. Instead he serially slid in larger and larger round tools, gently streatching the esophagus circumference as he went, until he had dilated up to the diameter of a 54 french sized instrument."