Sunday, June 9, 2013

death rattle to maracas

Hoping to enjoy my first night’s sleep following 'cut back instructions' for Dexamethasone / Decadron, a corticosteroid, that had led the charge against brain metastasis … it was not to be …

Instead I was awoken by the most horrific breathing I had ever heard and it was coming from me. Drifting into the bathroom and seeing blood on my face. … major ‘freak out’ time

Sounding like Darth Vadar, I then made it to Google where up popped “A death rattle is the sound produced by someone who is near death when saliva accumulates in the throat.”

Rational thought began to kick in, “step away from the Internet”, and I called my oncology office at 0500. Answering service would contact ‘on call’ oncologist who luck of the draw would be my own.

Returning my call seemingly in minutes, she quickly pointed out that I was sounding better as we spoke, and her suggestion was to immediately take the phased out half tab of Decadron.  If I was not feeling and sounding better in 45 minutes get to Holy Spirit Hospital.

Dawn ER staff at Holy Spirit Hospital were a godsend as they poked, probed, listened and x-rayed … all the while staying in communication with my oncologist who in turn would call me … I never had fever nor pain nor shortness of breath.

Bottom line my lungs sounded ‘surprisingly clear’ to ER Doctor considering I have lung cancer and x-ray revealed that nothing more was there than before … “Clinical Impressions” upper respiratory infection, epistaxis (nose bleed) … abort phase out of Decadron and continue twice daily at 2 mg.

Most important to me … chemo remains all systems go for Tuesday and ... remember with a compromised immune system I'm somewhat a bug trap. 

After maybe the best nap of my life it was time to get ready … the show must go on. Forever I have been entertaining a Capitol Hill Block Party.

Beginning this Stage 4 morning in an ER and discharged was a different twist. … Yet in my lung cancer odyssey it was an empowering twist … I’d say even a stigma shattering twist.

“Work it, make it, do it,
Makes us harder, better, faster, stronger!”

Stronger by Kanye West

... and empowered / assisted by our daughter who has been surreal facing my lung cancer odyssey plus her Mom's care facility level of MS. How many young adults could possibly face such a combo?
Patrick Leer
Health Activist:
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @


  1. Man Patrick, and you still hosted a party! Sheesh, I am so tired these day all I want to do is sleep. You put me to shame. I am glad they didn't find any new ingredients to add to the mix and hope you enjoyed the party.

    1. Julie you're kind ... but I'm also motivated to do some serious stigma busting along the way. Your'e nursing experience made me smile, you caught the "no new ingredients" daughter and I noticed the grim faces at first until they realize we already knew there was cancer in that lung :)