Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2, 2010

It has been one heck of a week so far. It started on Tuesday with the second round of chemo and the first day of radiation.
Dad was having a pretty horrible day in the morning so we decided it was best that he stay home and get some rest. Reluctantly he agreed and ended up sleeping a good portion of the day. He needed the rest.
So Mom and I were off to the doctors, leaving here around 8:15 a.m. and headed, once again, to Waukesha Memorial Hospital. The waiting room was pretty packed with people and we were able to get in and get a window seat. they have small rooms where they administer the treatments and some are along the inside wall and others have an outside view. We cross our fingers each time for the outside view and it worked that day, too.
Getting mom settled in was good and then they had to put the needle in the med-port. The med-port had been in for almost a month but had not been used. Healing has gone pretty slowly due in part to mom's fibromyalgia and some blood thinners she was on. We got mom some lydocaine to the numb the area and the needle went in with not much difficulty and only a little bit of pain. But the pump kept stopping and stating there was an occlusion in the line but no one could see it. We feared the med-port might not be acting propertly so they flushed it and it worked, but a little slower than we want.
After the first 3 hour treatment we decided to give mom a brief rest from the chemo and head down to radiation. The morning as way off schedule and things were running pretty late. We got mom down to radiation and - well - it wasn't pretty.
The new mask is a very tight fit and it has to be - but it's not fun getting it on and locked (yes, I said LOCKED) down in to place. They put it down pretty tight and it hurt...a lot. And it was freaky. And we were nervous. and it was not a fun place to be. But she got through it with only a few tears.
We then headed back upstairs where we continued to have issues with the med-port tube. They finally decided it was the needle and IV so they took it out - and put in a new one. WithOUT the lydocaine. THAT one hurt. Poor was had been poked, squished, pulled, stretched, caged, locked down, tubed, drugged, and now poked again. she also pulled a rib muscle right near the PEG tube in her stomach AND the PEG tube was still healing and kinda hurt like heck. Things were getting tough so the GREAT Doctor Hake ordered some pretty heavy doses of a relaxer and mom went to beddy-by for the rest of the afternoon. She was in a very happy place but when she came around she was not exactly sure where she was. Fortunately I was right there to give her a hard time, crack a few jokes, and keep her mind off the fact that we had been there almost TEN hours.
We finally headed for home. But once we got home it was time to lay down and let Dr. Kurt go to work again. We changed dressing, flushed and cleaned the wound, flushed the PEG tube with water, re-dressed the wound, turned the PEG tube (THAT'S never fun but it's not painful - it's just...REALLY FREAKY!). Then I gave mom 2 more happy pills and she slept the rest of the night.
That brought us to today. Dad was up to going and we headed back to the hospital for more chemo and day 2 of radiation.
Today it went a LOT better. No pokes, not nuch stretching, and only minor lock-down for radiation. It went a LOT smoother than the day before.
Here are some pictures of two more of the amazing nurses. They do a great job of checking in with you and you never have to wait for them to come get you when the first bag of chemo is empty - they are always right there! They are angels walking among us.

We brought a lunch with us and here's a photo of dad unwrapping the sandwiches we made the night before. We all had a bite to eat before mom took another nap.

Then a big surprise at night - Terri and one of her daughters, Crystal, came by to take Dad out to McDonald's for dinner. Mom and I stayed home and had some scrambled egg sandwiches. Crystal got to play nurse and took mom's blood pressure and listened to her heart.
They had a great time. It's tough seeing your grandma like this and knowing she has cancer gets us all a little emotional. But it was a GREAT visit and Crystal was a true blessing to come visit.

So it has been a hard week so far. We have another day of it tomorrow and then radiation on Friday. Next week we're at the hospital five days a week for radiation.

The effects of chemo are slowly showing their evil little faces. Mom's hair is starting to come out and is getting very thin. We are actually pretty excited to showcase her new scarf she'll wear! She has had a little chemo-fog today. For years people undergoing cancer treatment have described their minds as being in a fog — unable to concentrate and remember details about their everyday lives. Research now shows that what these people are experiencing is called mild cognitive impairment — the loss of the ability to remember certain things, learn new skills and complete certain tasks. The cause of mild cognitive impairment during cancer treatment still isn’t clear, nor is it clear how often it happens or what may trigger it. Doctors aren’t sure what they can do about it. In 2007 the New York Times printed a series of articles helping to break the chemo-brain theory. Years ago it was all considered to be, well, "in their head". It was thought that because of the brain blood barrier in the brain that the harmful chemicals of chemo did not enter the brain but now it is considered more likely that some of them slip past and cause temporary issues. These are all temporary and as long as you know about it it is easy enough to handle.
Through it all, Mom and Dad are still standing by each other, still holding hands, and still in love. This September they celebrate 49 years and are bound and determined to make it to the 50th and beyond. I think they'll do it - but I'm a little biased!

1 comment:

dananchristy said...

Thanks so much for this blog. We really enjoyed our short time with you folks while you lived in NH and wanted to somehow be with you during this speed bump. You are gonna beat this and we are gonna provide all the moral support you can handle.

Love,
Dana, Christy, Daniel, & Aidan