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Johns Hopkins Cancer Ward — Not the New Year’s Party Place We’d Expected

Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Medical Procedures and Other Drugs, My Health Updates - 17 Comments
stoned cat

It seemed like a good idea at the time. The unpredictable street corners of Baltimore. The crazy purple and yellow and orange colors of the walls at Johns Hopkins. Dena and I alone in a room with a view. We even brought some illegal fireworks to let off in the nurse’s station (after thoroughly washing our hands of course). It just all seemed to come together as a hell of a way to spend New Year’s Day — at Johns Hopkins Hospital!

It wasn’t as good an idea as we thought. A few lessons learned:

  • You are required to remove your crazy holiday-themed tie  and all your bling and replace it with a faded aqua-blue ass-out gown that comes to your knees.
  • Nurses not only frown upon lit explosives in the hallway, they literally freak out when you set one off.
  • All that champagne? Confiscated.
  • Cats are forbidden from juggling — either juggling themselves are being juggled by others.
  • Not as much privacy as you would have thought at a top-rated institution.. The Marriott on the bay may have been a better choice in this regard.
  • Separate beds. (What is this — the Dick Van Dyke show?)
  • Three words: No Funny Hats. Not even one of those pointless blue We’re No. 1 gloves that everybody gets to wear in Times Square.
  • People stick you with sharp pointy things. (Rude.)
  • On the upside, there’s a steady supply of drugs and painkillers, and we did see a clown. (Two, actually. Male and female. Whether they were in a consensual relationship  remains unclear.)

So, yes, Dena and I regret our decision to celebrate New Year’s at the hospital. As cool as it seemed at the time, the environment is a little more sterile and restrictive than you’ll find at Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve.  Not a drop of confetti where we were.

Besides the potential for some serious partying, another reason we ended up at Johns Hopkins is that for the last several days my breathing was getting more and more labored aand I was coughing up more congestive sputum, some pink. I’d also begun experiencing pains in my side. Dr. Hammers was alarmed by this and suggested I come in.

The CT scan of my chest showed additional “ground glass opacity” in my lungs compared to the scan we’d done just a week before. The doctors aren’t entirely sure what to make of it. All of them immediately assumed it was Dena  sprinkling said ground glass in my oatmeal; however, she had a solid alibi in trying to reign in Josie each morning. So the doctors went back to the drawing board and came up with three other potential answers:

  1. A  worsening of the lung infection from the pneumonia. However, the doctors seem skeptical that this is the cause.
  2. A growth in the bronchial airways, similar to what happened back in August when they performed a bronchoscopy and found a tumor growth blocking most of my left bronchus.
  3. Inflammation in the lungs, a potential result of hemorrhaging from growing tumors that are damaging the lung tissue.

Tomorrow morning we undergo another bronchoscopy to try to get some answers. The pulmonologist will search for any growths in the airways (and burn them out if found) and we’ll take a biopsy of lung tissue to try to figure out if the areas showing up opaque on the CT scans are either due to infection or inflammation.

Whichever of the three turn out to be the culprit will each require quite different approaches in treatment, some more difficult than others. For now, we need to simply to wait and see what the bronchoscopy shows before making any decisions. Well, decisions about treatment options, that is. In the meantime, Dena and I are going to doubledown on our efforts to come up with new solutions for turning this place into Party Central for New Years 2013! Dena brought out her Banaanagrams game — with all its game tiles held in a cute little hollowed-out cloth banana. Look  out, things could get  crazy in Baltimore!


  • Karen in Ottawa

    ;-}. Thinking of you and hoping the testing goes well and you breathe easy again. You give a whole new double entendre to the phrase ‘you take my breathe away ‘

  • Kenny

    Hey Chris, We will be there on Valentines Day. Blood work, scans (my wife had will be 5 mos post op) and our second appt with Dr Hammers. I have a few hundred questions to ask you. Been reading your posts, and rooting for you as long as we’ve been in this rcc world.

    • Dena

      kenny, feel free to email us with any and all questions: dena_battle@yahoo.com. Thanks for following our story – we’ll be praying for clean scans!

  • maryalice

    Mean old nurses – not letting you cat juggle. Hate that you had to ring in the new year at JH. Thank you for the chuckle this morning. (You are one funny mother trucker!) As always you all are in my thoughts and prayers. We will be anxiously waiting on a update regarding your next set of tests. Love and hugs to all.

  • libby camp elliott

    Hang in there, Chris. Sending prayers your way for healing in 2013!

  • Mick and Sue

    Thinking of you and praying for you every moment of the day!! Thanks for keeping our spirits up, you are both amazing!! Hugs and love!! Mom and Dad Plummer

  • Becci

    As always, praying for, thinking about and loving y’all!

  • Renee Doty

    I can’t believe Dena couldn’t sneak in a juggling cat. I expected more from her. Hoping there are better things to come for you in 2013 with our without the fireworks on NY’s Day.

  • Jim G

    I hope you were able to take the time to celebrate each other, even in Baltimore. As others have said before, you share something special everyday.

    And I pray for a breakthrough for you every day.

    Keep up your amazing spirit; you are an inspiration to all of us.

  • Tam

    God bless you.

  • Jenni Wendt

    Happy New Year – you are both amazing. We will watch for the next post and hope for the least difficult treatment.

  • Minnie Kriek

    You need some good news and I hope you get it, please God I hope you get it

  • pbeyer

    let’s claim the scans are clean! miracles do happen.

  • Theresa, Florida

    Hi Chris and Dena,
    I have been following your blog since I diagnosed RCC stage 4 in April 2011. I just want to let you know how much I appreciate your information help me through the unknowing treatment and test results, check on your blog is my first week of every month is my routine. And know that I am not alone to due with the diease. I have been tried the Toresole, Sutent and Votrient during the past year which didn’t help the metatases. Now I am on Afinitor which cause a lot coughing and short of breath, the efficacy is still unknown until the follow up at MD Anderson in Jan 24 .
    I want to write to you since day 1 I read your blog, English is not my mother tongue that discourage me to write. Again, I just want to tell how much I appreciate your information and amusing, sometimes touching by your essay, which also change my attitude to dealing with the unknowing future. Theresa, Florida

    • Dena

      Thank you for writing Theresa! Be sure to check in with your doctor to make sure you don’t have pneumonitis — it’s sometimes a side effect of Afinitor. We will keep you in our prayers!

  • Julie

    I hope this new year brings lots of good news and easy restful days ahead for you both. Take care – praying for good scans and easy breathing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dawnveselka Dawn Boyesen Veselka

    I adore and admire you both so much… you continue to inspire all who know you to be better human beings, to be grateful for our “problems” and to remember that every day is truly a gift. Keep fighting and know that we are all praying for you and for your miracle. xo

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