so here's the deal: in 1975 when I was 19 years old, I was diagnosed with Hodgekins Lymphoma (stage three B,mixed cellularity, for all you amateur oncologists out there) and treated with both radiation (400 rad upper mantel) and chemotherapy ( four drug protocol based on CCNU). Been in remission ever since, though I have had to cope with some problems (GERD, shingles, etc) resulting from either the disease or the treatment. Four weeks ago, I had a mechanical aortic valve (Medtronic) installed. I have recovered very well from surgery, and am exceeding expectations in rehab. Due to go home tomorrow (well, to a hotel; I am living and being treated in Switzerland, due to return to the US for good in the coming month). The cardiac oncologist who is tracking my case says that the heart valve damage was almost exclusively the result of the radiation and chemo, and that as a result I am "different" from all other patients undergoing similar procedures, specifically in that I cannot hope for a full recovery. I had a heart ultrasound a couple days after surgery, and my EF is still right around 30%; not good from everything I have read, most folks say if you're at thirty, get to a hospital immediately. Due for another round of tests (stress EKG, another ultrasound) followed by a consultation with the aforementioned cardiac oncologist(who will also arrange a referral to a contact in the US) in a week or so.
What should I ask him? Is there even any point in asking about a prognosis? Best case, I still have a million questions about living with warfarin, which I am not even on yet (the Swiss use something different).
I am new here, but I have really appreciated this candor and humor of this site. Thanks.