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Monday, March 14, 2011

Hyperbarics Here We Come!

Good news today from Dr. Doom. We got the results back from Bob's PET and CAT scans and there's no sign of cancer! and, actually, no real sign of new radiation damage, either. I was worried about the former but actually wanting the latter--radiation damage would send Bob to the hyperbaric chamber and I believed it would do him a world of good.

So, what about the title of this post? Let me back up a bit....

In 2009, Bob received his first hyperbaric treatment a.k.a. HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy). At that time, his teeth had begun to fall out due to radiation damage from the cancer treatment he received in 2002 and HBOT is the FDA approved treatment for that problem. But a funny thing happened during his treatment. Most of you know that Bob had suffered a stroke (minor) in 2003 which left him with some minor coordination problems in his right hand/arm. During hyperbaric treatments, he totally regained the total use of his right hand/arm. It was nothing short of a miracle. I remember talking to the doctor in charge of hyperbarics at that time, and she told me that in some countries HBOT is considered an essential treatment for stroke survivors, often given immediately following a stroke, but not here in the good old USA, because the FDA hasn't approved it and insurance won't pay for it. What HBOT does is promote the growth of new blood vessels and, often in stroke, many of the actual brain cells are not dead but considered "dormant" because of the lack of blood flow. HBOT can promote the growth of new blood vessels to these areas and rejuvenate the brain cells.

Well, when Bob first had his stroke in October, I was like a demon asking, begging, pleading with every doctor to please get him to a hyperbaric chamber. They actually have a Hyperbaric Department at the hospital he was at, but, alas I couldn't get him over there. I even went so far as to talk to the director of the Hyperbaric Department, but to no avail. Constantly, I was told that the treatment was "too new", "too controversial", "not FDA approved" or "his insurance won't pay for it". It was very frustrating back then just knowing that a hyperbaric chamber sat in the same hospital as Bob and they wouldn't let him use it, unless I could pay for it myself and the hospital charges $1000/hour. I even checked into some private-pay clinics but found out that the cost there was $250.00/hour and he would need probably about 20 hours of treatments (or more) and there was just no way we could afford it. And if we had any credit, I would've taken out a loan, but alas our credit sucks...

So, today we went to see Dr. Doom and I has hoping and praying that his mouth pain was being caused by the radiation damage, but alas, Dr. Doom comes in the room all happy. No sign of cancer. (Great!) No sign of new radiation damage. (damn.) He says he thinks the mouth pain is "neuropathic" and we should go to his neurologist (already been there) and maybe get a prescription for neurotin (already is taking that).... Well.  I tell Dr. Doom that really, I was hoping that Bob could get some hyperbaric treatment. Really, it did him a world of good last time. I think it might help his mouth pain besides other things....  And Dr. Doom looks at me and says, "Well, there's a slight chance the pain is from radiation damage. I suppose we could give it a try. I could write a script if you want." Do I want?

GOD BLESS HIM! He told me he wasn't "optimistic" about it helping the mouth pain, but it couldn't hurt and it might help. I COULD KISS HIM!

So we have prescription in hand for HBOT with a diagnosis the FDA would approve of and I can't wait to get him over there and start the treatments. And I do believe it will help his mouth pain and his pressure sores and everything else. (I just wish I could have got him to HBOT earlier, and hope it's not "too late".)

So! It's been a good day at The Pink House.


Anonymous said...

Diane, I have to leave this comment because your blog opened up to this screen and wouldn't not let me see your latest posting.

Anonymous said...

And it went to comment again. Helen M from Wisconsin