Sunday, May 22, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
This has been a challenging week for my dad and family. Once he received the wrong antibiotic last weekend things have gotten worse. He has developed cellulites on a leg which rendered him almost immobile before coming to the hospital. Once he arrived at the hospital it was quickly decided that he should not leave the bed without assistance, which has made it hard for my mother since she is 5’4” tall and he is around 6’2”. When a man of that stature cannot stand on his own a lady that small does not stand a chance.
Along with this difficulty he experienced blood problems, a white blood cell count of 800, compared with the normal range of 4,000-10,000 and a platelet count went below 100,000 (normal range is 150,000-450,000. This week alone he has received 2 pints of whole blood and 4 applications of platelets. The doctor said his blood is looking better now, I laughed and said, “Of course it is, it’s someone else’s blood!!”
Blood wise he is doing better, strength wise he is not! Along with this he is acting sort of ‘out of it’ for the lack of a medical term. When he was asked a serious of cognitive review questions Friday he was unable to identify that he was in a hospital, the date, and once he did not identify my mother. Of course this upset her and everyone else in the family but we have to keep in mind that he had a kidney removed a couple years ago which makes the filtering of his blood take much longer than the regular timeframe. Everyone understands it will take longer to filter drugs from his blood, but right now the drugs need to be used, and remove later (but it does not make it any better).
Of course Mother is doing more than anyone should have to do, but she does it (and all the others before her did, and all those that follow her will do it too). This week she has stayed every night at the hospital with Dad and parts of several days. Simple math reveals that she is sleeping less-and-less and becoming less effective at dealing with the situation. Family members stay with him the time she is not there and she returns, but he continues to request that she stay with him at night.
Friday the clinical team realized he had some higher volume of fluid in his bladder; the next step, a catheter. When I was told this happened I expected the next sentence would be all about his struggling and uneasiness, but instead the nursing team noticed he turned into a more comfortable patient and became a little more cooperative. This completely surprised me but at midnight (about 1hour before writing this post) he was asleep, talked in his sleep while I was on the phone and kept sleeping. Blessing are few and far between, but appreciated.
It is now Saturday morning, which leads me to believe he will be in the hospital at least until Monday.
More to follow.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Well, I’ve stayed away from this site as long as I could stand it. Many things have happened but now the happenings seem to be taking the ‘anticipated’ turn. I hate to write ‘anticipated’ for the fear of appearing to myself as a doubter, one who did not have confidence in my dad, mother, the doctors and God. But I’ve always had a fear of things not working out at hoped and since several family members were reading my words on this site I tried to stay away.
But now things are different, but the same for so many cancer patients and their families. Dad has taken the chemo like a trooper, at the hands of clinical personnel who have seen it all, know the path and where it leads. Yes, there are occasional successes and they are welcomed by everyone; families, friends, clinical workers, doctors, and church memberships; you name it, when life is prolonged or the cancer monster is beaten down and life is extended people are excited.
But over in the corner, at the party of life is a group of people who did not experience that warmth, and happiness; that victory. They are the people who lost to the monster that takes most everyone who enter its jaws, the grasps of its clutches. This group’s family member was unable to avoid the talons which pierced the shield of hope, unable to escape the fangs which delivered the poison that devastated prayer and seeded the collective mind of families resulting in doubt and despair.
After losing, members of this group can’t smile when listening to the winners. This group can’t smile when listening to the ‘new’ cancer families discuss what is happening. They can’t because each story reminds them of their battle, when they were losing the fight and the day when they lost. Some can’t talk about it at all; some can but only in a cautious manner while being careful to avoid the painful memories. There are some who are OK talking about it but I have no idea how much time passed before they reached the point of control. My experience before dad was diagnosed with lung cancer was not a lot, now it’s more. I can’t predict the future but I’m afraid experience is headed my way; the wait might not be long.
Cancer is hell!!! It seems no one experiences it and is the same afterwards.
Here’s the short story.
Over the last 7 months my dad has taken chemo treatments, whatever was assigned he faced it with confidence that his doctors knew what to do, the nurses were the know-it-alls; for him chemo has been like a job and he was always good at his job! Never a follower, always a leader! He has continued to stand-up from the automobile and entered the cancer center using his walker, but recently this changed. He has been drained of energy and slow to move and for the past month he has been greeted by a wheelchair and rolled in, one day he went over for a shot to boost his white blood cell count and the nurse came out and administered it in the auto.
During the past month the southern United States experienced some devastating tornadoes. When the storms came in the first day Dad was at the center for a chemo treatment and everyone was evacuated. The treatment was completed a couple days later. My parents were not in the area with the worst damage but the storms moved through and they were without electricity for 5 days. Lucky for my parents my dad’s brother had a generator and my brother helped get it setup. One day the power came back on, the generator was moved out and the power went out 5 hours later, and was off for 2 more days.
Also during the past 3 months dad has fallen a couple times. This is bad for anyone but for him it’s extra-bad. It’s hard for him to move about and getting back up on his own is pretty tough. Luckily no bones were broken during any falling event.
Just as he reached the point of being reviewed and the chemo stopped his primary-care physician spotted an enlarged lymph node in his abdomen. He forwarded the findings to Dad’s Oncologist and after reviewing the findings the chemo was not stopped and in fact, a new drugs was started and in a more aggressive manner. This is when things changed.
Immediately after this regiment of drug was started dad started to become more tired, queasy feeling, he lost his appetite and what he did eat was reported as tasting like ‘metal’ or ‘aluminum.’ He lost interested in a lot of most things, now he’s concentrating on not being sick and hurting more. But he still likes to watch his love on television – golf.
Oh yea, and his white cell count dropped. This past week his white count dropped to 800, the normal range is from 4,000-10,000. This was not good and the sign of a bad infection. So an IV antibiotic was started in the doctor’s office. All this past week he’s been sleepy, tired, and still in a lot of pain. He is again talking about the end, or not continuing the chemo so he will not be sick and has said several times, “Didn’t they say this was suppose to work?”, and “Didn’t they tell me they would manage the pain?”
Several times he has mentioned that it would be easier, or he would feel better if he stopped the chemo. Of course we all know what will happen if he stops the chemo, but I understand that he does not want to continue being sick from the chemo and the treatments that come along with it. After all, from what I can tell the chemo seems to be slowly killing him.
So, what to do?
Please pull your trays back into the upright and takeoff position. Fasten your seatbelts! I’ve got one more thing for this post.
This weekend, Saturday to be exact the center was closed for the weekend but Dad was supposed to get another antibiotic injection. So it was scheduled to be administered at his house. A service titled “Home Care” (I don’t know if it is part of the hospital, cancer center, community outreach) came out to give him the IV antibiotic. No problem, right?
Well the drug administered has a warning which states, “If you have an allergic reaction to amoxicillin do not use the drug.” I guess Home Care missed this note, or didn’t read Dad’s records because the person walked in and immediately administered the antibiotic. Now he is in the hospital with a rash over his entire body.
Some people would scream “LAWSUIT” and maybe that is something to consider. But the most terrible thing is, here’s my dad with a white count dangerously low, skin that has spots all over it which itch like the measles or a skin rash, and cancer.
But all he really wants is to feel better.