Trip to ER

February 6, 2011

The problem with using a computer to write instead of pen and paper is that when the computer is acting up I get distracted. That was the start to yesterday and this morning. I’ll ignore it for now!

I am a person of routine. It’s comforting, predictable, safe. I love early morning as this has always been “me time.” My morning consists of feeding the dog and cats, make the coffee, sit and ponder, write.

When the routine is interrupted, especially my morning, it does seem to throw off my daily accomplishments. I lose the rhythm and pace for the day.  These past two weeks have certainly upset my teacart. That’s the life of living with cancer. Unpredictable.

Wednesday morning came much too early. About 4:30 am in fact. Dave had been up and down all night long to the bathroom. Not just a typical every few hours, but every few minutes. I was only vaguely aware because I am able to sleep. Dave has routinely gotten out of bed about this time for years. It wakes the dog.  Then, Lucky  dog usually wakes me to let the cats out (the laundry room is their bedroom), so he can eat the leftover kitty food.  This morning I was greeted with “I think we need to go to the Emergency Room.” All the intake of liquids was not going out. Call to health consulting nurse. Yes, go to the hospital ER.

We were fortunate. The ER was not busy and we were taken in right away. It’s always a rather slightly humorous unfolding of Dave’s medical history. (BTW, these days I carry a list of his medications with me. You hear that you should do this and it really does makes things much easier. Since his changing health and treatment there are new ones to add and remove weekly.) What’s funny about telling his medical history is that it goes on and on.  The look on the doctors’ or nurses’ face as another major illness is noted is one of wonder, as in I wonder how he is still alive! It takes awhile to tell. Dave is an amazingly strong person, and I think that means mentally in his case, considering all the physical challenges resulting from ill health.

The end result of his ER visit was Dave was given a catheter. The immediate relief is worth any fear or sense of embarrassment about the procedure. Not fun of course, but solves the problem. And most importantly, he was able to get some sleep for the first time in two days. We probably should have gone in earlier, but Dave is stubborn and I defer to him for his own health decisions. I think perhaps I might get a bit noisier and proactive. I’m sure some of this is a bit of denial on my part about the seriousness of these changes.

Friday morning we met with Dr. L., his oncologist. Blood pressure, other vital signs within normal range. Weight, holding, perhaps even was back up slightly. He had lost a few more pounds during the dehydration. We reviewed the two weeks with her. On discussion, the Ibuprophen he took for pain, along with the Tarceva, could be the culprits for the kidney and urinary issues. No more IB for pain. Fortunately, he is not experiencing anything significant right now. In fact, the radiation did work to a certain extent in the fact that he does not have that area of pain that he did before. I can only assume that the main tumor has shrunk.

Eating, or, lack thereof… We seem to be going in circles: No appetite, no food. No food, fatigue. Fatigue, no strength. No strength, no desire to eat. It’s hard to say why his appetite hasn’t come back. I thought once the fluids were given, he’d get hungry again. Maybe the amount of liquids is enough to feel full. Anyway, he was prescribed an appetite stimulant. Add another four pills a day. We’ll see if this helps. There seems to be a pill for every symptom. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, because with new pills come a litany of side effects. Most important is to remember to mention any ongoing problems to the doctor. There may be a pill to solve the symptom, but not necessarily cure the aliment. Yippee?!

There is no treatment scheduled for now. We’ll meet with the urologist mid-February, and back to see Dr. Lavanya in early March. Rest and recoup. Call if something gets worse.

I am guardedly optimist. Or just plain wishful that he will build strength, eat well and get back to the classroom. I have to have this hope for now. I know he does. There are many moments during the day that I have no doubts, and other moments I have every doubt. And this is daily! Hope comes in form of a strong voice, animation and stories come forth to visitors, sleeping soundly. Then I catch him in the occasional gunky-sounding cough (new this past week), sitting at the side of the bed trying to rise, and the reality and seriousness of his die-ease hits me. I feel helpless.

It’s three weeks since my Sunday routine changed. I’ll go walk with my friend Anne, but Dave won’t be cooking my eggs and grits this morning. It’s a countdown; like watching Keith Olbermann on MSNBC for the many days, weeks, months and years that he was part of our evening dialogue and routine. He’d countdown news stories and significant political faux pas. Now, even Keith isn’t counting down any longer. Things change.

Yet, I will continue to cheer Dave on! Get to work, make my Sunday breakfast, wash the dishes, get back to normal! If not for his sake, for mine.

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