The antibiotics appear to be working. She finishes the last dose December 27 and a nurse will come out to remove the PICC line December 28. She is almost pain free. Energy level is up. Blood work is acceptable. Oxygen level is better. That's the good news.
The bad news is, her cancer is active again. They put chemo on hold because of the spine inflammation. Didn't want to jeopardize her immune system with chemo until the infection was under control. But now her oncologist is very concerned, so she scheduled a chemo treatment for next Tuesday instead of waiting for the last dose of antibiotic. Doc doesn't know if the cancer activity is because she hasn't had chemo in six weeks or if this chemo drug is losing its effectiveness. She said that if it's not going to work any more, there are still lots of other treatments they can go to.
The cancer shows as a bad "rash" on her chest. Carol noticed it "a while ago" but didn't say anything. Ignoring the obvious is what put her in a dangerous situation in the first place. Now, again.
I really don't know if my sister truly doesn't understand how serious... or if she's in full-blown denial because she might be so terrified of the reality that she can't/won't consider the consequences.
It's very much like living with a four year old at times.
She came home Wednesday night. Still in pain. With an oxygen tank and about half a dozen Rx. Visiting nurse services have trained me to give her the antibiotics into her PICC line every 8 hours. We'll be doing that to the end of December. The past two days have been overwhelming but we're starting to get a daily routine established. I need a shower and a nap. Thanks so much for the good wishes and prayers.
She's been in pain for about two months. Not her back. Her left side, around the mastectomy scar. It became progressively worse, to the point that she could not lay down to sleep because it felt like she couldn't breathe. Pain meds gave relief but didn't fix anything.
We've mentioned this to her oncologist several times. Response was always that after such major surgery it isn't surprising that there would be some pain around the scar. Her surgery was more than two years ago. Not last week. And the pain was getting worse... not better.
The pain has brought her to tears almost every day for the past few weeks.
I had to get louder with the medical professionals. Finally, they ordered a CT scan. The results from that raised red flags. On Friday they ordered an MRI. Those results got her admitted to the hospital. They say what they saw isn't cancer but an infection in her spine. Friday night they did a bone (spine) biopsy. They need to determine what type of infection it is before they will administer antibiotics. So far, they have no idea what caused the infection but it appears that the infection has eaten away at a couple of vertebrae. They won't have the biopsy results until Monday because, you know, hospitals work with skeleton crews on weekends. So in the meantime she is loopy on pain meds but is getting nothing that might actually get rid of the infection. Because they ignored her and didn't look closer sooner, the situation could be much more serious than it might have been two months ago. They're bringing in an infectious disease specialist but also a bone specialist who will evaluate the damage to the affected vertebrae and determine if surgery will be needed.
I feel so bad for her. She's been scared to death that all this was more cancer. I just hope they are telling her the truth.
I really, really want to punch someone. Hard. Many times.
As much as I love baseball, the season is coming to an end and I'm almost glad. The Indians had chances to move ahead but blew too many to finish more than .500 for the season. Sad.
Carol is doing well, still getting chemo every three weeks. Platelet count is climbing...192,000 yesterday. Unfortunately, she hurt her back about two weeks ago and that has put her out of commission for the most part. Will start physical therapy Oct. 7. I am her chief cook, bottle washer and driver for now.
I'm handling the insulin quite well. Beginning to understand cause and effect of food vs meds. Still need to lose more weight and that is the most frustrating part right now. Of course, if I did something a little more strenuous than laundry and dusting...
I will say the weather has been fabuloso...until the rain started. But, that won't last forever, either.
I take two different types of insulin. One is a long-lasting insulin (Lantus) that I inject once a day. I draw 28 units from a vial. The other (NovoLog) is a quick- acting insulin that I inject before meals, at 10 units per injection.
The NovoLog was in easy to use injector pens but when I ran out of those, the vials are much cheaper, so I switched to drawing those 10 units from a vial, using single-use syringes.
So, the first day using the vials for both meds, I dutifully inject both before breakfast. That morning's blood sugar reading was a very respectable 113.
Less than three hours later my stomach was growling, which is much sooner than usual for me to feel even a little bit hungry. But, I chalk it up to 'no big deal' and decide to check my sugar level (as I always do before meals) and fix myself a PB&J sammich to eat after the pre-lunch injection. I was very surprised to see that my sugar level had dropped to 56. Not good. Mid-day readings usually run between 90-120 for me. Still... no big deal, think I. I do the NovoLog injection and start eating lunch.
Before I'm half-way done with my sandwich I start shaking and sweating and getting woozy. That's happened a few times before and it means my sugar level is too low, but it usually happens because I didn't eat enough or I've waited too long since the last meal. So, I get some OJ and chug down 4 or 5 ounces to bring up my sugar level. I'm getting nervous because the symptoms are NOT getting better... and then it hits me... I've OD'd my stupid self on NovoLog. Instead of drawing 10 units, I drew 28 like I was used to doing with the Lantus vial. And then I did it again before lunch. So I've used 56 units instead of 20. I'm thinking I might die. I open a bottle of Coke and sip it quickly while my sister is heating up a bowl of spaghetti and then I start to devour that while trying really hard not to go into full-blown panic mode. It takes almost half an hour before the shaking and sweating start to subside. I finish half the Coke, wait about ten minutes and check blood sugar again. With a sigh of relief, I see it's reading 119. I skip the third injection before dinner because I've already had almost double what I should have taken all day and my sugar level had dropped to 70 by 4:30. This is a great excuse for stuffing my face with more spaghetti and another half Coke and some grapes for dessert. At 7:00 blood sugar is 146. At 11:15 it's 112 so I have a few cashews and hope that's enough to keep me from going into a coma while I'm sleeping. Need I say I didn't sleep well? Need I say I am being very, very careful about measuring doses? p.s. I have Medicaid now, so that's helping financially. Still in search of competent medical practitioners. Still wondering how I got to be so stupid.
I still don't have insurance because Medicaid has been dragging its' ass since May. That means I've had to pay 100% out of pocket for all my diabetes meds and supplies. I can't afford to do that much longer. Medicaid doesn't care. Plus, I owe about $40,000 in hospital and doctor bills. Medicaid doesn't care about that, either.
Oh, and... the quack I was assigned to in the hospital is a moron.
The second reason I wish Medicaid would hurry the fuck up is so I can find a new doctor with at least half a functioning brain.
Then, the other day, I got slapped upside the head, figuratively speaking; A friend I've known for nearly 40 years was recently diagnosed with brain, lung and bone cancer. Stage 4. Someone emailed a photo of him. I would not have recognized him if I hadn't been told who it was. He looks like a Nazi death camp survivor. Skin over skeleton.
It breaks my heart. And it makes me ashamed of myself.
Went to the ER because of a boil that had become a horrible abscess. (I know TMI.) They admitted me and asked how long I had diabetes. Huh? My blood sugar was a bit high... 400. Two days later, they said I had MRSA. I insisted I'd been in the hospital eleven days but paperwork and my sisters proved it was "only" seven. My head is still a bit fuzzy and I'm more than a little pissed off that I have to inject insulin four times a day.
I'll try to finish this on a positive note: the weather has been beautiful.
When I was about four, my folks bought70 acres of farmland. They spent the next seven years building a house and garage so we could live in the country. It took seven years because Dad worked six days a week, so Sundays and his vacation time was the only time they had to do what needed doing to make a new home. Plus, it was Ohio and the weather wasn't agreeable for construction about five months of the year.
My Mom's father and two of her brothers were bricklayers and stone masons, so they took care of that part of the work. Electric and plumbing was done by professionals because of the required permits and inspections. The rest was done by mom and dad. Anyway... one front corner of the property was a copse of huge old trees and long, soft grass that never got mowed. (Not all yards need to look like they are trimmed with cuticle scissors.) In the Spring, that green carpet became engorged with daffodils and grape hyacinths. It was my favorite place to play. I never picked any of the flowers. They were where they should have been. It was a wonderland for my imagination. Those beautiful flowers have been missing from that corner for more than three decades... since the property was sold. Still, I remember and I visit that beautiful corner in the country every Spring. It only exists in my memory but it's just as radiant in my mind's eye now as it was for that little girl so many years ago.
A baby rabbit bouncing over the yards across the street. A big, fuzzy black cat tip-toeing across the melting snow in the backyard. We cabin-fevered humans able to venture outside with just a jacket instead of three layers plus hat, scarf, gloves and boots. Cloudless blue skies and sunshine. A nighttime sky full of stars. The sweet earth smell in the air. The Indians playing training games in Arizona. The groundhog was right.
This is my 64th Spring as of this Friday. I bought myself a big bottle of Coco Mademoiselle so I can wear it every day.
Look at the photo in the post below. Today is no different, maybe worse.
It started snowing around midnight last night and is expected to continue through tomorrow and maybe Tuesday and Wednesday. The only difference is that the temp is 29 degrees as opposed to something below zero, like it's been for more than a week.
Hey, Joe... is it worth shoveling now knowing the snow won't be stopping any time soon? No one really has to leave here before Tuesday.
I skipped right over the beginning of the New Year.
We spent December 30 celebrating sister Ann's birthday. Dinner, movie, shopping at Books A'Million. Much fun.
The next four days are mostly lost to me. I have foggy memories of NyQuil, sticking tissues up my nostrils to staunch the snotty flow while I slept, sneezing that made my head explode, coughing that splattered my lungs on the walls, more NyQuil, layers of flannel, chicken noodle soup, really crazy dreams in bright, shiny color... and more NyQuil. It was hell.
Today I'm feeling better. Almost human. Except it's snowing, windy, temps are dropping into the teens, and my Jeep won't hold a charge so I need to get it to my favorite mechanic's shop soon. Such is the life of a grown-up. Bah-humbug.
Happy New Year, anyway. Belated though it might be.