Pericardial Effusion Part II

October 5, 2014

The Coxsackie Virus

 

I decided to check in with my main naturopath, Dr. Rich Olree regarding my Pericardial Effusion.  He told me that the extra fluid could be a result of a virus called Coxsackie.  His recommendation was to take a specific type of Golden Flower Chinese herb.  Never having heard of such a virus I immediately turned to Google as my research tool!  Below is information from Web MD,

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/coxsackie-virus

 

What is coxsackievirus?

Coxsackievirus is a member of a family of viruses called enteroviruses. Enteroviruses are made up of a single strand of ribonucleic acid (RNA). The enteroviruses are also referred to as picornaviruses (pico means “small,” so, “small RNA virues”).

Coxsackievirus was first found in the town Coxsackie south of Albany, New York.

What are the types of coxsackieviruses and what can they cause?

There are two different types of coxsackieviruses: A and B. Type A viruses cause herpangina (sores in the throat) and hand, foot, and mouth disease. Type B viruses cause epidemic pleurodynia, and inflammation in the chest. Both types A and B viruses can cause meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord or brain), myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), and pericarditis (inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart). They also may have a role in the development of acute onset juvenile (type 1) diabetes.”

Wow, I couldn’t believe I had just read that…Perhaps this was the cause of my Pericardial Effusion!

When I asked Dr. Raisinghani about the Coxsackie Virus,he told me two things:
1. How do you know about Coxsackie? (I just smiled…)
2. No, not likely to be Coxsackie; well, Western medicine doesn’t typically test for the Coxsackie virus, and there are no medications to treat it.
Interesting to ponder?  Yes, mainly because it seems much more economical to test for a virus than to go for an MRI.  Sure, the MRI is an extremely useful tool, but it could be the second/next step after investigating something like a virus!
Nonetheless, I also realize that at this point, time is of the essence since I need to resolve the Pericardial Effusion cause in order to proceed with the next steps of treatment.  My corse of action now is to start taking the Golden Flower Chinese herb, go for the Cardiac MRI, and get blood drawn to check my Thyroid function.  Then Dr. Raisinghani will repeat the ECG in two weeks as well.
Stay tuned for the results of all of these tests!
Namaste,
Ivonne

Pericardial Effusion Part I

October 3, 2014

ECGs and EKGs

 

It’s time to start investigating why there’s a bit of extra fluid around my heart, which is known as Pericardial Effusion.  So today I met Dr. Ajit Raisinghani, a cardiologist who is part of the University of California San Diego Healthcare system.  At the UCSD Medical Center Dr. Raisinghani is Director of Cardiology Clinics, Director of Non-Invasive Laboratory Chief of Clinical Services, and associate professor. He enjoys cycling quite a bit too, and enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons!

 

I was greatful that Dr. Raisinghani was able to see me on such short notice.  He conducted an Echo-cardiogram (ECG) and an Electro-Cardiogram (KG). If you’re like me, you may be wondering about the difference between these two kinds of tests.

 

As I learned, an ECG is a test that creates pictures of the heart through the use of sound waves.  The pictures created allow the Dr. to see the heart’s beating ability, the heart’s valves and chambers, and enables the detection of several things including:

  • Abnormal heart valves
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack
  • Heart murmurs
  • Inflammation (pericarditis) or fluid in the sac around the heart (pericardial effusion)
  • Infection on or around the heart valves (infectious endocarditis)
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Ability of the heart to pump (for people with heart failure)
  • Source of a blood clot after a stroke or TIA

**Information found on www.nlm.nih.gov**

 

Think of the ECG as an ultrasound.  A gel is applied to the center and left areas of your chest and on the upper abdomen.  Then a probe is used to slide around these areas while it sends out the sound waves that pick up your heart.  It was a pretty neat experience because there are times throughout the exam when you can hear how your heart beats, how it speeds up and slows down depending on your breathing, and the difference in sound from when the probe is on your chest versus your abdomen.

 

On the other hand, an EKG records the electrical activity of the heart.  Basically, an electrical signal travels from the top to the bottom of the heart each time the heart beats.  As the electrical signal moves from top to bottom it causes the heart to contract and to pump blood.  It is these signals that set the rhythm of the heart beat.

An EKG shows:

  • How fast your heart is beating
  • Whether the rhythm of your heartbeat is steady or irregular
  • The strength and timing of electrical signals as they pass through each part of your heart

Doctors use EKGs to detect and study many heart problems, such as heart attacks, arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs), and heart failure. The test’s results also can suggest other disorders that affect heart function.

**Information found on www.nih.gov**

 

The Findings:

Dr. Raisinghani told me that he suspected three potential causes of the Pericardial Effusion:

1. Potentially caused by a low Thyroid function (perhaps a result of all the Chemo meds)

2. The Docetaxel Chemo med has Pericardial Effusion as one of the risks associated with it.

3. Potential metastasis, highly unlikely given no metastasis was found in my latest scans and blood work.

 

now, the next steps are to have some blood drawn to check my Thyroid, have a Cardiac MRI done, and repeat the ECG in two weeks to see if the fluid has changed.

 

Stay tuned for more!

 

Namaste,

Ivonne

 

http://www.iminmotion.net

The Decision To Cut My Hair!

Image

 

Ivonne holding her brades after new haircut.

August 12, 2014

 

The decision to cut my hair was not a difficult one to make.  I knew that I would eventually cut it, the question was “when”.

 

At first, there was a bit of anger and sadness as I thought about cutting my long dark black hair.  Sadness because of the realization that no matter how well I took care of my nutrition, my sleep, exercise, and emotions, my hair would still fall out.  This is just one of the side effects of Chemotherapy.  Sadness because I have dreamt of racing at the 2016 Paralympics with a long brade down my back.  Now I’ll have less than two years to grow it back! 

 

The anger came as a natural emotion of coping with cancer; why me, why now, how will I handle questions about what happened to my hair?  Then, as the tears streamed down my cheeks and fell onto my pillow, I reminded myself that there was no sense in me asking “why?”  The key to moving forward, past the anger and sadness, would be to decide what to do about my hair.  That’s when I told myself, “Ivonne, you can donate your hair and bring another human being joy!”  It was then that I decided to donate my hair to Locks of Love, a  public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. 

 

I chose Locks of Love because I believe that it is essential for children to feel empowered and self-confident to face their peers and the world starting at an early age in life.  Our experiences and feelings from childhood play a crucial part in life as we become adults. This thought brought me piece with the decision to cut my hair immediately in order to donate as much of it as possible.

 

The Haircut:

I found a salon called Pigtails and Crew Cuts in Chula Vista California that gave me a free haircut because I would be donating my hair to Locks of Love. My hair was braded into 6 brades, which were cut and neatly placed into a plastic bag and padded envelope to be mailed off to Locks of Love.  My hair was then trimmed up nicely and evenly, and it was short but cute!  Thank you to the warm and welcoming staff at the salon!

 

I even had a support crew come to the salon with me:  John (husband), Sandra (oldest sister), Ariana (Niece), and William Adrian (nephew)!  We all Facetimed with my mom as well!  Everyone’s support made the experience light and fun!  I can’t thank my family enough for joining me today!

 

**If you are interested in donating your hair for a meaningful cause, join me!**