Monday, June 30, 2008

Al is definitely experiencing withdrawal symptoms. He was down to the lowest dose of fentanyl - 25 mg, but he has been on pain medicine for a good 4 months. We were both tired and attempted to go to bed early last night. He couldn't stop tossing and turning and said his legs were so restless. He was also freezing. I gave him a benadryl since I read that it can help. I think it did because he finally fell asleep and is now sleeping in late. He is working 5 hours today and then 10 hours for the next 3 days. The withdrawal should be over in 3-5 days based on what I've read. I'll probably call the doctor this morning to see what they say. He wanted to get off the pain medicine before returning to work. Now we think that would have been better.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

There isn't a lot to write about these days. Things are really getting back to "normal." If there is such a thing! Al is taking his last pain patch off tonight, so hopefully he won't experience any withdrawal symptoms or increased pain. He really seems like his old self these days. He is energetic and focused. He is eating more too. He just has problems with any kind of starchy foods. He will return to work full time next week. I hope that doesn't wear him out too much.

Friday, June 20, 2008

We saw the medical oncologist today and he said that the CAT scan looks good, but reminded us that it was done without contrast to protect Al's kidneys and is not as accurate. They will do a PET scan when he is 6 months out of treatment. That will be the big one, which will determine if they got all of the cancer. All we can do is wait now. As for Al's kidney's, his creatinine levels came back down to what they were prior to treatment. That is good news. I think anything over 1.2 was something to be concerned about, and Al is at 1.4. So it's not really that off. He did refer him to a kidney specialist. We'll see what comes of that. He is still anemic. The doctor said that 14 and up is normal. Al is only 9.3. They are going to check his thyroid too because the doctor said it felt a little bit big. We had been told prior to treatment that it would most likely get damaged from the radiation. That's easy to correct though. He would just have to take a pill, like I've been doing since I was 12 years old! Work has been going well this week. He does seem tired from it, but he isn't complaining. He said he'd like to go back to his regular schedule the first of next month. We will see the medical oncologist in a month. They won't be checking his blood every week anymore. Looks like we are slowly getting back into our old routine.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Al's first day back at work went well. I think he was happy to get out of this house finally! The girls ran and hugged him when he came home. It was as if they hadn't seen him in days. Rachel said we should celebrate his returning to work. Oh, we had to pull over to allow an ambulance to get by this morning. The girls wanted to know if that was our ambulance! That was interesting. Things are going well, but we are trying not to get too excited since there have been so many setbacks. Al decided to stay on the pain medicine for now. He may have 2 or 3 patches left, so he'll probably just finish those. He has been eating whatever I prepare for dinner, just very small portions. He does well with meat and veggies, but has a hard time getting down the carbs. He discovered yesterday that pickles taste good. His taste buds aren't 100% yet. He said apples just don't taste sweet. He was able to eat some pear and watermelon, but bananas and strawberries irritate his mouth. His energy level is really good, but he is still cold all of the time.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The ENT doctor said that the scan looks good. He couldn't see that huge mass anymore. He explained that the CAT scan was done without contrast because of Al's kidney problems, so it's not as accurate. He also didn't get a report from the radiologist. He used a scope to look down Al's throat and said it looked really good. He could see some ulcers in the throat, but that is normal. He is still healing. The swelling around his neck is lymphadema, which is common after radiation. He said it can be massaged, but nothing else can be done. It may or may not go away. Time will tell.
He is returning to work tomorrow. It's been almost 4 months! I'm nervous about letting him out of my sight, but it's time to let go. He seems ready. He is thinking about not putting on another pain patch tonight.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tomorrow is Al's CAT scan. I'm nervous because this will determine if they got all of the cancer. There should also be a PET scan scheduled for next month. I don't know if they will call us with the results or if we will have to wait until the following Friday to see the doctor. We are seeing the ENT on Monday too. This is all a bit confusing.
Al has been feeling fine since Saturday. He hasn't had any stomach problems. That was weird. Hopefully that won't happen again! He is returning to work next week. We have to figure out what he can take with him to eat. I suspect that his coworkers will offer to bring him junk because they all know how much he likes to eat and they will probably be shocked to see him 50 lbs thinner. I just hope he knows better than to attempt to eat things that could upset his stomach. He still has some discoloration around his neck and upper chest from the radiation. One area is kind of pink still. That's the part that burned and peeled. He also has some strange double chin that is really hard to the touch. The doctor said it is probably fluid buildup from the radiation and should get better in time. Oh, the girls teased him about his skinny legs the other day!
He is still on 25 mg of fentanyl, but will stop using the pain patches soon. I think he only has 2 left. He says his throat feels so much better, but the sides of his tongue still bother him. Certain foods irritate his mouth.
He isn't quite as obsessed about cooking after that emergency room visit. He is currently interested in photography. He took some pictures of the girls in their karate uniforms yesterday. We have really been enjoying watching them in class. They are having such a blast.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

We spent most of day in the emergency room yesterday. That was really unexpected. We saw the doctor on Friday and he didn't mention anything about Al's kidneys. Al told him he wanted to return to work on the 17th as scheduled, so he signed the release. Afterwards, we all went shopping and cooked a nice dinner. Actually, we have been eating together for the first time in months. Al has been doing most of the cooking lately and has even been staying up most of the day. So, yesterday morning he woke up feeling good and decided to mow the lawn. I made him a shake and walked away for a few minutes. When I returned, I noticed that his glass was empty and he was outside. I was alarmed to see that he gulped it down so quickly since he normally sips it slowly. It was also ice cold, which is how he prefers it. About 10 minutes later, he comes back inside complaining of stomach pain. He lied down on the living room floor and was yelling in pain. He was sweating profusely. I said I was going to call the doctor on call, but he said not to because they'd just tell us to go to the emergency room. The pain was coming in waves. I was going to call anyway, but before I had a chance, he started screaming in pain and said to call 911. While I was on the phone with the operator, he started throwing up. The ambulance and fire truck arrived within minutes. I remember the operator telling me to breathe. I had to run upstairs to get dressed while I was on the phone with her. After the paramedics arrived, I ran next door to see if the kids could stay with my neighbor. Luckily, she was able to take them. They were still in their pajamas. Al's blood pressure was low and his heart rate was elevated. They got him hooked up to an IV for fluids and took him to the hospital. Once we arrived, the pain had subsided. We were put in a room within the ER. Al dozed while receiving fluids. The doctor finally came in and did a quick exam and said he could go home. The nurse came in took his blood pressure, which was pretty high. As we were getting ready to check out and pay the $150 fee, the pain returned. Al plopped down in a wheelchair that was in the hallway. The nurse got him on a gurney and wheeled him to another room. The room we had just left was already taken! The gurney couldn't fit through the doorway, so the nurse left him in the hallway to find a different one. Al was able to get to the bathroom and started throwing up again. He was basically screaming in pain. His stomach was also empty. We got back to the room and Al lied down, but the pain was still excruciating. No one came in or did anything to help us! It was horrible. I was completely helpless. Luckily, the pain subsided and the doctor came back. He was kind of annoying because he kept saying, "Hey buddy. How you doing?" Anyway, Al had just about had enough of that place and said he felt well enough to go home. The doctor was okay with that, so we left. So far, so good. Our neighbor finished the yard for us. The kids were upset that they had to return home. Al was exhausted and went to sleep. He was afraid to eat, so he just sipped some water. He drank some of his shake very slowly this morning and went back upstairs to lie in the bed. The girls were invited to a birthday party today. My girlfriend is taking them with her 3 kids for me so that I can stay home with Al. I'm afraid to leave him alone. I'll follow up with his doctor on Monday. We think this happened because Al ate more solid food than usual the previous evening and drank that cold shake so quickly. He is just going to have to take it easy. He has been watching too much of the food network! I wanted to steam some green beans Friday with dinner, but he insisted on trying something different. He found some recipe that called for garlic, onions and bacon. I was also going to sauté some fish, but he decided to bake it with some seasoned crust that the girls just scraped off! Well, after yesterday, he agreed that we can go back to my bland cooking!