Rooting for a Rash

Friday, January 21, 2011 9:45 am post appointment, breakfast

We’re home. It was a quick appointment considering the emotional ramping up for chemo. We had three prescriptions filled- Tarceva, the “Smart Pill” which has a job description “to kill cancer cells” according to the info sheet. Yep. That’s good.

Each doctor visit starts with the vital signs.  There are some I feel a need to track the trend from each visit: weight, creatinine (kidney function) and pain level. I found myself adding oxygen level to the list today.

  • Dave’s weight is down 8 pounds since his last weigh in December 20. That disturbs me. It’s difficult to see where the loss is because he doesn’t notice any changes in how his clothes fit. Although I think it may in his legs. He used to have a more noticeable difference between left and right legs because of the stroke damage and atrophy. I think they may be more similar now.
  • His creatinine is 2.3 now. Standard range is 0.50 to 1.40. Dave said it is up 0.2 since his last test. I suspect that too was taken in December when we last met the oncologist. This is important because the creatinine is a deciding factor for which chemo drugs he can tolerate. I think this just ruled out a couple of more medicines. Although many of the options were iffy when we last met with Dr. L. anyway.
  • Hearing him state his pain level is good because I think he provides a better assessment to the nurse. Dave is not a complainer. Fortunately it is not sounding awful. It’s about 3 now; 2 before he started radiation. But what I heard is that the pain level was a bit higher during the last week of radiation (going to 3.5 – 4); at least more than I had heard him express at the time. I think that it may still be a higher level at night when the ibuprophen wears off.  And he takes IB regularly now.
  • Dave often brags how great his oxygen level rate is – 98% mostly during visits. Today was the first time I’ve considered the real importance of this test related to the cancer.  Now it was a still healthy 96-97% but jumping around. I noted he didn’t ace this one immediately. I think it goes more to my edginess about every little indicator of health. The machine itself was very slow today. I guess it hadn’t had its coffee to warm up. I won’t read too much into this one quite yet.

So, even though several drugs were ruled out, what counts is the one he has now. What a relief. Pill daily at home. No IVs, no trips to the office. Side effects may be an acne-like rash. In fact, if the drug works, then the rash is worse. We’re rooting for a rash! Fatigue is another side effect. So maybe if he takes it at night then he’ll sleep better! (OK, so fatigue and sleepiness aren’t quite the same.)  The point is that he has a medicine to get to work on killing cancer cells. Visualization is powerful.

For the moment, we have a sense of relief, and hope.

Rooting for a rash.

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