Good news on the health front.

Yesterday, I learned that my PET scan was fine. At least for now, the lymphoma is in remission. Another scan will be done in six months.

The infection that hit my kidneys is still there despite multiple courses of antibiotics. I am now on a good old sulfa antibiotic. Yet nobody is sure how or why I have this persistent infection. My kidneys are functioning at about half speed. While I can live with it, and I don’t need dialysis, we need to know the source of the infection to avoid another renal failure.

Here’s the interesting part: Yesterday, my oncologist said that my BioFlow PASV Valve (port), that was installed in my chest (under the skin) and hooked to a major blood vessel to allow infusion of chemo and blood testing, can harbor bacteria that causes infection.


My port is the third one on the right.

My port is the third one on the right.


Later this month, near the end of my course of antibiotics, the port will be removed and then cultured to see if it is the source of the infection. Removal requires minor surgery, just like the installation. An interventional radiologist will remove the port in the hospital. The procedure is short, but I will be kept at the hospital during the afternoon to insure I don’t bleed out. In total, I will be at the hospital for a half-day.

Here is a simple diagram. It shows where the port is at presently.


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Here’s hoping that the port is the source of the infection and that removal will eliminate it. I will know more in mid-June when my oncologist will do further blood testing and review the results of the culture of any bacteria found on the port.

I am tempted to make a risqué joke about “any port in a storm.” See the Urban Dictionary. Some other time, perhaps.




19 responses

  1. That’s great news judge. I hope the kidney infection clears up soon. I can’t imagine that’s much fun.

    Why is life such a pain in the $&@ sometimes?

    I expect an answer to that. You’re a federal judge, which means you’re very smart,so you must know these things.

  2. Anon.,

    Of course I have an answer. As you say, I am no mere mortal.

    Q. Why is life such a pain in the $&@ sometimes?

    A. Because we deserve it!

    All the best.


  3. Doubt you deserve it Judge. Nature seems to have developed arbitrary and capricious into an art form and you are one of the good guys.

  4. Rooting for you from this corner. When my wife leukemia about 10 years back, we almost lost her — not due to the cancer but to an infection from the chemo port. Best of luck, judge.

  5. Norm,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Wow!

    I never would have occured to me that an infection starting on a chemo port under the skin was possible.

    All the best.


  6. Glad to hear of the good, sorry to hear of the bad. And as a certain Mr. Franklin might observe, a risque joke or 30 is particularly good medicine, esp. for a patient such as you appear to be, whose sense of humor isn’t mainly used as mighty thin seat-padding. Here, I’ll get you started:

    A judge, the Clintons and a hot young farmer’s daughter with a duck and a snake are sitting in a dimly-lit nightclub having drinks…long story short, it ends with Bill exclaiming, “Jesus, Hil, all I said was ‘I like her _DUCK and her ASP_…’ and the judge saying, “Jesus, Bill, that’s sure as heck not what I would have wanted to do…”

    O WTF H

  7. Thanks for the update and news about progress in tracking that infection. It is always something!!
    With the excellent doctors that you have, I believe that they will get this infection issue solved. We continue to appreciate your willingness to share and educate us on this complicated process. I think that Tom Brokaw has been making a similar point in his new book about his battle with cancer.

  8. Elaine,

    Thank you for your kind words. However, I am reminded that some think TMI (too much information) is narcissistic. I once asked my therapist whether I was a narcissist. She said, “While your crazy as a loon, you aren’t a narcissist.” I found that very depressing because I truly thought it was all about me.

    All the best.


  9. I agree with you. My in law had a port put in and he had infection after infection. It was removed and “poof” he is better. No infections. The doctors acted very weird when we suggested to remove it as it may be a harbor. Then it was removed on day. Hmmmmmmm.

  10. I guess any time you break the skin, you have the opportunity for an infection. What troubled me the most was that neither her oncologist nor any of the nurses in the isolation ward drew the connection, and it was only when the surgeon who placed the port came to see her and went “Oh s***” (or words to that effect) that they started treating it. Just another lesson in “you get the care that you demand” — so demand what you think you need.

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