Monday, March 31, 2008

It was a pretty terrible weekend. Yesterday was the worst. He spent most of the day and night throwing up and gagging. What a great birthday for me! I was actually looking forward to getting to the center today. I told the nurse that he was in really bad shape and she had us see the doctor. She decided to give him a 2 day break from the radiation, so he'll need to make that up next week. She also gave him some anti nausea drugs and morphine through his IV today. He finally seemed to feel a little bit better. He has been upstairs in bed since we got home. The girls are watching a movie downstairs since it is raining outside. We didn't get any sleep last night, so I'm going to bed as soon as I put the girls to sleep.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Yesterday completed week 6 of treatment. The doctor said his kidney levels are still a bit low and he is now slightly anemic. They will give him fluids on Monday and Tuesday and test his blood again to see if he can get chemo on Wednesday. He is very tired and feels miserable. He is on some very strong pain medicine now and is still in a lot of pain. The Oxycotin is still not alleviating all the pain, so he is using the Hydrocodone every 4 hours for breakthrough pain. His neck is raw on the outside as well, even though he has been applying the prescribed creams as directed. He looks like a burn victim. You can see this black line on the side of his face that goes down his past his collar. There’s this ring just above his chest – like he was in the sun with a round t-shirt on. They said this is all normal. He looks terrible and his eyes are all glossed over and rolling back in his head when he tries to keep them open. His mouth is so swollen that you can see if from the outside. The kids don’t seem the least bit phased! He isn’t sleeping well either because he has to keep getting up to spit. The mucus part is so bad and he tried using Mucinex, but it dried him out too much and made it too difficult to even spit, so he was choking more. You can hear the gurgling all the time, so he just keeps spitting it out so that he doesn’t choke on it. He refuses to spit in a cup, which is pretty gross. So instead, he gets up throughout the night to spit. He even gets up during treatment and has to drag his IV with him to the bathroom. Just one more week to go!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's late now and everyone is asleep. Al did get chemo today, but they also pumped him with extra fluids. Thanks to my friends, the girls got rides home. Al had a strange reaction today. He was sweating profusely. The doctor said she doesn't know what is causing that. He was literally soaked when he woke up from a nap this afternoon. He is so miserable and it's really hard seeing him like this. I babble on about stuff to him, but you can just tell that he is totally out of it. I told the doctor that he is still in a lot of pain and that he is taking the hydrocodone every 4 hours now. And this is a double dose of what he was taking. In addition to that, he has been taking a double dose of the long acting pain medicine. She said he can triple that now. We also asked for the hydrocodone in pill form since the liquid stuff burns his throat. He is still drinking 3 shakes a day and taking a handful of pills every morning and evening. It does sometimes take him a good 2 hours to drink a shake. He is really fighting.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The first day of week 6 is over. We are counting down. He did seem to recover a little bit over the weekend, but the pain really kicked in yesterday. They said to double his pain medicine, so hopefully tomorrow will be better. He can only whisper now. His neck did peel in a few areas and is raw. We're seeing the doctor on Wednesday to see if he can get chemo. I hope his blood work comes back good. He started taking L-glutamine, which is supposed to help with the mucus. We checked with the doctor first and were told it might help. It can't hurt. The nurses even tried to cheer him up today. You can just look at him and see how miserable he is. One of the nurses told him that this is one of the worst cancer treatments to go through, but at least this cancer is curable.

Friday, March 21, 2008

We just got home from the treatment center. It’s almost 5:00, so it was a very long day. The doctors sure weren’t kidding when they said things were about to get tough. Al’s kidney levels were low, so the doctor gave him fluids today. He doesn’t want to give him chemo on Monday either. He is to get more fluids on Monday and Tuesday and chemo on Wednesday if his blood work looks better. His magnesium is also low. I thought he was taking a supplement because I went out and bought some. However, when I opened up his pill box to add an extra one, I saw that there weren’t any in there. That means I forgot to give them those pills all week. Oops! The doctor was also concerned about his 6 lb weight loss. He is eating, but he hasn’t been able to keep much down these past 2 days. He has been nauseous, but he threw up mostly because he was gagging so much on his own spit. The doctor wasn’t too concerned about him spitting up blood though, which is because his throat is so raw. The mucus in his mouth is the most unbearable thing for him right now. The doctor offered him some kind of suction device, but he isn’t interested. He can’t even tolerate soup anymore, so it’s just Scandishakes. He is forcing himself to drink 3 of those a day, so that’s a good 1800 calories. He really needs to try and drink 4 shakes, but I don’t know if he can do it. The doctor said he will be forced to put in a feeding tube if he continues to lose weight at this rate. Al was even reluctant to get fluids today, but the doctor said he could end up in the hospital if he doesn’t. He didn’t argue with that. It was a pretty depressing day. Al can hardly talk and says he feels terrible. So terrible that he doesn’t know how he is going to make it through the next 2 weeks. I really hope he feels better tomorrow. He has been feeling well on the weekends so far, so this little break from treatment should help. His neck is completely black now from the radiation. He has been applying the creams, so hopefully it won’t peel.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Al is upstairs sleeping now. He is usually pretty beat by the middle of the week. He had a hard time getting up this morning too. The doctor said his throat looks raw and she was concerned that he was in too much pain. He assured her that the pain medication was making things tolerable. She told him to come in for fluids if he isn't able to eat enough. I don't think he will take her up on that. We just want to get this over with, but the time isn't passing quickly enough. I have been having the hardest time sleeping. It's hard to believe that I'm functioning on such little sleep. I have my own doctor's appointment on Monday and am already worried about leaving him alone for any length of time at the treatment center. I know he'll be okay without me for a few hours. The kids are also coming home Monday afternoon. I miss them.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The weekend was actually pretty good. We played pool on Saturday and also went for a long walk. We watched some silly movies as well. Al felt well enough to mow the backyard yesterday. He started sleeping a little bit elevated and that seems to be helping a lot. I don't know why I am having such a hard time sleeping at night. It's so frustrating. I'm tired, but toss and turn all night. Al's voice is very hoarse right now and his throat is really bothering him. He took some hydrocodone last night, which they told him to use for "breakthrough" pain. I have to keep telling him to take what they give him. He just hates taking all of this medication. The kids are having fun with their aunt and uncle. We talk to them several times a day.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Today's appointment went well. They made some new marks on his radiation mask. They will be radiating a smaller area now that the tumor has shrunk. Al is currently sleeping. He is pretty miserable. The doctor said the tough part starts now. He gave him an antibiotic since he has thrush in his mouth. It's a common yeast infection that we knew he might get. They are showing an 8 lb weight loss, but our scale shows almost 15 lbs. We didn't realize he had lost that much. It's very quiet in the house without the girls. I'm tired, but also pretty restless.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We are now halfway through treatment. The doctor examined him yesterday and couldn't see or feel anything anymore. Great news! He is very tired and his mouth is raw, but he isn't really complaining too much. His biggest complaint is that he can't taste food, which makes it even more difficult to eat. He was given Oxycodone to take twice a day. It's longer acting than the Hydrocodone. He started using the magic mouthwash prior to eating. He is still maintaining his weight. Brooke's surgery went very well the other day. She didn't need any pain medicine and is eating normally. Amazing. My sister took the girls to her house and will keep them until next Sunday. I hope they don't drive her crazy! But, I am so glad for the break and I know they will have a good time.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Today started the 4th week of treatment. The weekend was okay. Al is feeling pretty miserable. He is getting some relief from the pain medicine, but I think they’ll give him some stronger stuff soon. He is starting to gag on his own saliva and gets up often to spit. We are just ready for this to be over!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It was another rough night. The pain is here now. To add to that, the girls were up at 3:00 in the morning giggling and playing. My cold was really bad yesterday and I had been taking some over the counter anti histamine that wasn't doing much. Then I remembered that I had some good prescription stuff, so I took one of those last night. However, they make you really tired. So, it was pretty disturbing to have to get up and deal with the kids. Al even got up to help. Needless to say, I had to literally drag Brooke out of bed for school this morning.
We saw the radiation oncologist yesterday and she prescribed some "magic mouthwash." He is supposed to gargle with it and then swallow it to coat his throat. After about 10 minutes, he should be able to swallow something. So, he'll use that before he eats and at bedtime. He was also given some liquid Hydrocodone to use every 4-6 hours for the pain. She said to see how this goes and if necessary, they will add some stronger stuff as time goes on. I think we are both getting nervous. They told us that the pain will hit by the 3rd week, so we were warned. But, you still kind of hope that you'll be the exception! Again, the doctor said that the tumor is shrinking. When Al went to the restroom, the doctor told me that he is doing a really good job. Then she corrected herself and said, "Both of you." Thank you! I know that he is the one that has to go through this, but I totally feel like I'm right there with him in it. I hope he does too. I always tell him about everyone that asks about him and let him know that he has a whole bunch of people pulling for him. I imagine it must be a lonely and scary thing for him at times.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I just dropped Brooke off at school and Rachel is sitting on the couch watching cartoons. I am too sick and tired to exercise this morning. I hate missing a workout, but my body needs to rest. Al had a rough night. After being pumped with liquids, he kept burping and belching and getting up to use the bathroom. He said his throat was killing him. He also did a lot of spitting. These treatments cause some thick mucus to build up in his mouth. It's pretty gross. We did set up the humidifier yesterday, so hopefully that will give him some relief. I'm getting nervous because we both know it is only going to get worse.
The treatment center was packed yesterday. We sat next to a guy from our chemo class that has esophageal cancer. He is getting Cisplatin too. He was very positive and funny. It was good to have someone to chat with during that long day. The guys talked sports and cancer of course. This one guy came in and announced that he wasn't taking his radiation. The nurses tried to joke and say it wasn't optional, but he was not in a very good mood. I heard the nurses talking after he left and they said he also refused his fluids and said he just wanted to go home. They said he only had 5 treatments left. That was kind of scary because I'm sure it does get really difficult as time goes on. I wonder how many patients just refuse to continue their treatment.
The center isn't as depressing as one would imagine. The nurses joke around and are always upbeat. There is always food available. Survivors come back to volunteer. You see people of all ages. And some don't even look sick. Cancer patients have got to be some of the bravest people.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

These past 2 days have been very long. The doctor increased his fluids, so he had to be there all day today and yesterday. He seems to be feeling okay so far. He isn't losing weight, so that's good. But, he is having some discomfort, so soft foods are best for him now. I managed to get a nasty cold, so that certainly doesn't help our situation. I'm too tired to write more now.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Al was able to stay up the whole day yesterday. We even went for a short walk. We both were tired by the evening though. I was really surprised that he didn't need a nap yesterday. I could have used one myself! We were able to catch up on some recorded shows. I think we watched 4 episodes of American Idol. Eating is becoming more difficult for him. He says his tongue feels broken and it feels like razor blades in his throat. He says not being able to taste things is so frustrating. He can still smell stuff, but the taste buds are all messed up. He said that some sweet things taste bitter. I keep reminding him that food is for nutrition now and the doctors keep reminding him to get in enough calories. They said ice cream is great because it is loaded with calories. I made him a shake with some carnation, whole milk, a scoop of ice cream and 2 big tablespoons of peanut butter. He actually enjoyed it. So did the girls! We've seen a more sensitive side to Brooke lately. She will often go cuddle with Daddy and rub his head. Rachel doesn't really seem to get it just yet. She still keeps climbing on him and it makes me really nervous because he allows it!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

2 weeks down. The weekend is here now and we can relax a little bit. Hopefully Al will get a little more energy back these next 2 days. He has been getting in the bed right after treatments and only getting up for short periods to eat something. He isn't always in a deep sleep, but says he is just too tired to do anything. I'm going to try and get him to go for a walk today. We saw the medical oncologist yesterday and he felt Al's neck and said the tumor is shrinking! He recommended a humidifier in the bedroom to help with the dryness in Al's throat. He said it was normal that Al got a nosebleed and spit up blood the other day. Yuck!
Brooke's teacher cooked for us the other day, so I haven't had to prepare many meals. That has been a huge help to the family. I used to talk to Al in the mornings about what to take out to defrost for dinner. Now he doesn't even want to talk about food. He says everything tastes terrible, especially water. He said the only thing that still tastes okay is chicken. He isn't in any pain yet, but says that eating has become such a chore. I ordered him some Scandishakes that are 600 calories each. Right now it is all about the calories. The doctors keep telling him to eat as much as he can because it's just a matter of time before he won't feel like eating anything.