Friday, October 31, 2014

Cancer: Recovery Week 3

Monday night was devoted to nausea and vomiting. I flashed until I couldn't stand up, and let me tell you there is nothing worse than vomiting up the artificial food I have to eat via my feeding tube followed by dry heaves.

Tuesday my radiation oncologist (Dr. Rubin) stuck a fiber optic tube up my nose to look at my throat. This procedure is no fun, by the way. He followed this examination by trying to find the tumor in my neck that had started the whole business, and declared the tumor to be gone. 

Result: I am now cancer free.

Dr. Rubin has no idea why I'm still sick and unable to retain food. I explain that I'm depressed and need some sort of anti-depressant, which Dr. Rubin cheerfully prescribes. Everyone in the know says the pills will help, but I'm doubtful.

Wednesday my chemo therapy oncologist (Dr. Muler) ordered hydration and 2 grams of magnesium. Dr. Muler thinks the problem is with the tube feeding and blames the dietician, Marcia, for my problems.
Marcia changed me to a brand new artificial food and slowed the intake rate to practically nil. Marcia wondered if I might have picked up a nasty little bug from the hospital, which is very likely. My immune system is compromised.

Thursday I begin to feel a little better and spend the day eating from my feeding tube and watching The Sopranos on DVD. I'm depressed. I force myself to get cleaned up and think positive thoughts.

Friday, today, I'm fighting off depression with everything I've got.

The bottom line is that both doctors are good at their profession, yet neither one can tell me why I'm so sick.  I'm exhausted all the time, I'm almost always nauseated and I'm depressed.  I don't see that there is much of anything worth living for.

Still and all, I keep marching.  One foot in front of the other, one hour at a time.  I hope the scenery changes.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cancer: Recovery Weeks 1 and 2

Now that the therapy has concluded with an appropriate fanfare (Puccini's Tosca belting out Saint James Infirmary) I can relax and recover.  Right?  Wrong.  Real wrong.  I've spent most of my days in the hospital hooked up to multiple bags holding various concoctions which are guaranteed to keep my electrolytes in balance.  We hope.

The real blessing is that the constant nausea is gone or is under control.  The stomach being a small part of the digestive system, the intestines are free to give me one form of hell or another, and I now know that my mother's favorite son can have constipation and diarrhea at the same time.

Right now I'm getting nutrition from a bag of slop hooked up to my feeding tube and being fed into me by a pump.  If not for the pump regulating the flow, I would truly be up against it.

I want to thank all of you for your kind words, prayers and patience.  This is a bad road I'm on and every single prayer helps.  Just this afternoon Main Lady stopped over with a small bowl of yellow squash soup, and wonder of wonders I could actually taste the soup.  I am overjoyed, literally.  Everything else tastes like sawdust, and because of my dry mouth condition most foods are off the menu - I need soup or something the consistency of soup, not too spicy because my throat has the same feeling you get right after a tonsillectomy.

The pain medications are making me paranoid and hallucinate.  Not badly, mind you, but hallucinations are what they are.

Well, thanks to all of you. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cancer: Last and Final Treatment

I had my final treatment today.  As of today, no more chemo therapy and no more radiation therapy.  I'm officially done.

Now the tough part starts.  All that collateral damage has to be repaired, and the urban renewal process is tough and takes time.  For instance, Monday night I landed in the ER with my electrolytes out of balance to the point of magnesium being critically low.  I was unable to move my arms and legs, I was hallucinating and generally incoherent.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and Divine intervention, I'm still alive and with us. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cancer: Week 7 Day 4

Today is my birthday and my final chemo therapy treatment.  Of better news is that I was given a pump to use with my feeding tube.

The deal is I have a feeding tube.  In theory I take a can of highly concentrated, high caloric liquid food and poor it down the tube and into my stomach.  The trouble is and likely has been, is that the stomach can't handle it.  Think: you go from a diet (diet?  you call that a diet?) diet of junk food and gin to something that any triathlete would call desirably, disgustingly healthy and you wouldn't know what to do either.  So the stomach threatens an abrupt return to sender until the mystery substance can be identified and dealt with.

Enter the pump.

The pump accepts a huge bag of this health slop on one end and dispenses said slop into the stomach one tiny teaspoon full per minute.  The stomach gets used to getting a nutritious substance in this fashion and doesn't act up.  Much.  So now the nausea is, we all pray and hope, a thing of the past.

Prayers answered, and we may all thank the Lord for this one.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cancer: Week 7 Day 3

I woke up yesterday afternoon and discovered that I've lost my voice.  I cannot talk at all; only whisper.  I'm told this is an expected side effect of the radiation therapy.

The skin on my neck and throat is burned and the nausea continues.  I can't eat anything without becoming nauseous, and the medication for nausea is not all that helpful.  The only real cure is time. I'm supposed to consume 2000 calories per day; I'm doing good to eat 1100.  Yesterday I managed about 1800 or so, which took a Herculean effort on my part.