Spoonful of Sugar

I wrote in yesterday’s post ‘A Few Days in the Hospital‘, that I am in the hospital with the hopes of identifying the source of my extreme intense pain I have experienced for weeks now.  I had a great deal of interaction with different doctors yesterday and substantial amount of information was given as well as what their expectations are by this Friday.

20170416_194313 (2)The usual CT Scan took place Tuesday evening in the abdominal and pelvic area, as this is where most pain is felt.  Wednesday pain medications were changed and increased and administered via IV for a much quicker response.  The purpose is to reduce my pain level from a level 10 to a level 4.  Because of the amount of pain medications, I am taking, my bowel movements are all but nonexistent.  All possible options to start the movement, did not work and as I sit here Thursday morning writing this post, I am very uncomfortable.

We needed a movement yesterday because I am to receive an MRI today.  I will get to the reasons for the importance of this a little later.  With the increase in pain medications it was hoped the extreme pain I experience in my right groin will subside so that I may be able to straighten my right leg while lying flat on my back.  This is currently not the case, my right leg must be bent at the knee for me to lay flat on my back.  Because the MRI requires laying on my back and being very still for a substantial amount of time, it is important the legs not be bent.

Image3What are the other alternatives?  Sedation or in my case Anesthesia.  Anesthesia is not the best because of the risks involved plus the administration and recovery time necessary.  Plus, as mentioned above with no bowel movements there is a chance while under anesthesia, accidents can happen.  But, at this time the MRI is important and therefore needs to take place.

Prior to Tuesday’s CT Scan, I had to drink contrast, which as many of us know too well does not have the greatest taste.  Yesterday of the possible options to start the bowels moving, I had to drink something that once again did not have the greatest taste.

If only I has a spoonful of sugar, I am sure the medicines would have gone down in the most delightful way.

I still plan one day to catch-up on responding to comments and reading your posts.

More to come tomorrow my friends.

A Few Days in the Hospital

My friends, I am in the hospital for a few days.

There have been several events that have happened since this past weekend that I want to write about.

I am behind on writing posts.

I am behind on responding to comments.

I am behind on reading your posts.

I am in the hospital with the hopes of identifying the source of my extreme intense pain I have experienced for weeks now.

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I need relief desperately.  In the hospital, I have a pain pump and other sources available to me to help comfort me in reducing the pain.

My posts may be a little short in size and subject matter the next couple of days.

I have many things to tell you and to write about and comments I need to respond to.

Thank you for your understanding as I deal with this expected turn of events.

Have ‘A Happy Day’ everyone.

so Late so Soon?

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The last several days have proven to be time consuming for me.

I published a post yesterday and yesterday did not respond to comments.

How did it get so late so soon?

The last several days many activities have taken place.

I promise to about in future posts.

Be patient with me as I slowly catch-up on comments.

Be patient with me as I slowly catch-up on reading your posts.

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day # 5

A week ago today in my post ‘for as long as possible‘, I wrote the following –

It is Friday and today is the day I am looking for pain relief – today is the day I receive my Superior Hypogastric Nerve Block procedure.  I certainly will update you next week with how I feel and the results of this procedure.

Next Monday I start my radiation treatments; another potential for pain relief.  I have no expectations concerning the radiation, except I want something good to come from it.

From this past Monday’s post ‘Failed‘, here are some excerpts –

It is Friday evening and as usual my pain is great and I am feeling little to no difference in my pain level several hours after the procedure was done.  I take my usual amount of evening pills and prepare myself for another rough night.

Gary sees what I go through each day and he is frustrated the doctors cannot find the source of the pain.

Dr. L indicates there are no other tests and the radiation treatment that starts on Monday should help with reducing the pain.

In today’s post, I write the following –

It is Friday again and day # 5 of my radiation treatments.  20170416_194313 (2)I will take the weekend off and then start again Monday for another 5 treatments.  Yesterday after my treatment I met with my Radiation Oncologist Dr. M. to discuss the status of my treatments.  There is nothing new that I reported except that my pain continued to be extreme.  Dr. M. felt if I would receive any pain relief from the radiation he would expect it by the end of next week.  If I do not then we will re-evaluate the current plan and make possible adjustments.

Dr. M. also placed 2 referrals in at Moffitt Cancer Center for me to see other specialty groups.  One group will take over managing my medications and ensure all my specialty doctors are in sync with what is taking place with my care.  This group may also provide alternative pain management treatments such as acupuncture and physical therapy.

The other group is a supportive group that will provide services such as hospice and other needs I may require as I continue with treatments.  Gary and I recently were talking about looking at hospice services.  In yesterday’s post ‘Phone Calls‘, my good friend and fellow blogger Jodi over at THE CREATIVE LIFE IN BETWEEN wrote the following comment –

Terry. Has anyone talked to you about hospice care? I know it scares a lot of people to talk about but it is a field I work in and it is NOT a death sentence. It can give you a fuller LIFE during the journey you are on. They can provide a lot of support physically and emotionally and spiritually and help Gary and help your pain. Just something to consider. Some people use it and feel better and don’t need it any more. Others use it for many months. It is something to think about. Sending lots of love. Xo

Thank you to Jodi and other friends here that support me in so many ways.  Your support, encouragement, thoughts, prayers and hugs are always welcomed and appreciated.

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Phone Calls

A few weeks ago in my post ‘Larger Lymph Nodes‘, I wrote about having a scan and the results indicating the chemotherapy was not working.  The results also indicated the cancer in some Lymph Nodes had grown and previous Lymph Nodes that were cancer free now have cancer.

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Image Provided by: Emedicine Medscape

Prior to receiving these results, Gary and I had a discussion.  He said to me that based on my pain situation and the results of the recent scan both indicate bad news; he wanted to make some phone calls to my family.  I have no issues with this because Gary has always had some form of contact with my family since my health situation started.  My family certainly considers Gary as part of my family and truly respect and appreciate the role he is playing as a caretaker to me.

(note: since the very beginning of my journey with my cancer, all procedures and tests and treatments; all resulted in bad news.  I have not once received good news in the past 1 ½ years.  NOT ONCE)

So, the news of my cancer spreading and growing was received on a Friday; and Saturday Gary made a couple of calls.

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Image Provided by: Kyrene Foundation

He called my twin sister and he called my stepmom.  Why call these two family members?

My stepmom is the caretaker of my dad who has Parkinson’s Disease.  My dad’s health has deteriorated a great deal in the past couple of years.  At times, it is very difficult to understand his speech and because of the medications he is on; he sleeps a lot.  My stepmom has been a part of the family for over 30 years and is in contact with my siblings.  Gary knew in talking with her, she in turn would talk with my siblings.

My twin sister, being the only female sibling, has a close relationship with my mom – they live in the same city.  Gary did not want to call my mom directly as he was concerned about upsetting her, plus a sensitive matter was to be discussed and Gary felt it coming from her daughter, my twin sister would be better received from mom.

What was discussed in these phone calls?

Gary was honest and sincere and direct.  He was caring and sensitive and calm.

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He called these 2 people to let them know the truth concerning my current health situation.  He told them I am in a great deal of pain to the point I am using a cane to help me walk.  He told them I have lost almost 40 lbs. and my appetite is not always the best.  He told them the results of the latest scan.  He told them what is to come with regards to my future treatment and the slim possibility of positive results.  He told them more than likely we would not make it to Texas for Thanksgiving.  He told them he felt it important that they (my family) consider making plans to visit me here in Florida.

My future health situation is unknown and honestly I have nothing positive to look forward to with regards to future treatments – there are no guarantees.

Failed

In last Friday’s post ‘for as long as possible‘, I wrote the following –

It is Friday and today is the day I am looking for pain relief – today is the day I receive my Superior Hypogastric Nerve Block procedure.  I certainly will update you next week with how I feel and the results of this procedure.

Next Monday I start my radiation treatments; another potential for pain relief.  I have no expectations concerning the radiation, except I want something good to come from it.

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In today’s post, I write the following –

Friday as I am being prepared for the procedure upon taking with the doctor, I find out this procedure will not be a simulation.  The simulation would only last a couple of days and if it worked, then I would go back and have the actual procedure for the long term relief.  This procedure should provide long term relief which may be a couple of weeks or a couple of months.

The procedure takes place and immediately I do not feel any difference.  Considering they gave me pain medication during the procedure, I thought I would be feeling no pain at all.  The pain was just as significant as before the procedure; Gary and I felt very disappointed.  Gary sees what I go through each day and he is frustrated the doctors cannot find the source of the pain.  He asks the doctor who performed the procedure to contact my Oncologist Dr. L. to see if there are any other tests that can be performed – there must be something they have missed for me to be feeling this amount of pain.  Dr. L indicates there are no other tests and the radiation treatment that starts on Monday should help with reducing the pain.

It is Friday evening and as usual my pain is great and I am feeling little to no difference in my pain level several hours after the procedure was done.  I take my usual amount of evening pills and prepare myself for another rough night.  The nightly routine is Gary sleeps in the bed and I sleep on the recliner.  I am unable to lie flat in the bed without feeling significate pain.  The recliner provides me some relief because I can position myself lightly upright, which takes pressure off my lower back pain.

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I am sitting in the recliner preparing myself for another night’s sleep and Gary is sitting in a chair next to me and I begin to cry.  He places his hand on mine and I tell him, I feel like I am dying and my body is starting to shut down and I will not be around much longer.

I say to him ‘I have failed you.’

for as long as possible

Last Friday’s post ‘10+‘, I wrote the following –

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Crazy Things My Brain Says – blogger

The pain in my right groin area has increased. This first started with just an occasional pain and now is constant.  This groin pain as well as my other pains is affecting my walking, sitting and standing and I have extreme difficulty sleeping at night.  I currently am experiencing many different pains daily and they are all becoming worse.

My current cancer, pain and health condition were discussed with the Radiation Oncologist Dr. M.

This past Monday’s post ‘simulation then radiation‘, I wrote the following –

You may remember from my post ‘Looking for Pain Relief‘, I mentioned my 2nd appointment with Pain Management, I will receive a Superior Hypogastric Nerve Block.

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The reason for this procedure is due to the increase pain in my groin area.  This procedure is also more precise in blocking nerve pain in the pelvic region.  This procedure will be a ‘simulation’; meaning temporary, and if it seems to work, then another procedure will take place for long acting pain relief.

This first ‘simulation’ procedure is scheduled for this Friday.

My hope is between this procedure and the radiation treatment, I can finally find some relief to this incredible pain I have experienced for months now.

In today’s post, I write the following –

It is Friday and today is the day I am looking for pain relief – today is the day I receive my Superior Hypogastric Nerve Block procedure.  I certainly will update you next week with how I feel and the results of this procedure.

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Image Provided by: Emedicine Medscape

Next Monday I start my radiation treatments; another potential for pain relief.  I have no expectations concerning the radiation, except I want something good to come from it.

This past Tuesday, I had an appointment with my Oncologist Dr. L. and we discussed my future treatment once the radiation is completed.  It was decided I would begin immunotherapy with a drug called ‘Tecentriq’.  This drug has recently been approved by FDA and can provide people hope of living longer.  Though this immunotherapy treatment only has a success of extending a longer life of 10% to 15%.  This is a higher rate than some chemotherapy drugs.

This treatment uses my own immune system to help in slowing the tumor growth.  I will receive a treatment once every three weeks for four cycles upon which a scan will take place to determine if the immunotherapy is working or not.  Upon the results of the scan will determine what will take place next.  Either the immunotherapy will be working or not – time will tell.

There are always side effects to any drug, and Tecentriq is no exception.  20170416_194313 (2)Since this affecting my immune system, my normal healthy tissues and organs can be attacked as well.  I also can experience the usual side effects of nausea, loss of appetite, constipation and tiredness.

As mentioned in previous posts, I will again remind everyone.  There is no cure to my cancer and the treatments I am receiving are to extend my life for as long as possible.

$3.50

I have mentioned in several previous posts I had a recent consultation appointment with a Radiation Oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center.  Dr. M. indicates receiving radiation would be a benefit for me prior to the next set of treatments to take place.

What does $3.50 have to do with my health and cancer treatments?  Nothing.

Except, following the visit with my Radiation Oncologist Dr. M., Gary and I needed to make a stop by a bank.

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Image Provided by: Waverly Place

The bank’s location was in a small shopping plaza and I spotted a Gigi’s Cupcakes shop.  I have never had a Gigi cupcake but had heard they were delicious; I also knew they were most likely expensive as well.

Let me provide you some information.  Gary and I are both retired and we can survive the rest of our lives without the worry of money.  Well Gary being a former comptroller and numbers guy, he counts his pennies.  And that is okay to a certain point.  Over the years, I have learned from him and he has learned from me when comes to matters of money.  But, recent events, specifically my health situation has me changing a little bit when it comes to spending money.

There would have been a time, I would not have paid $3.50 for one cupcake, why would I, when I can get them cheaper at the local grocery store.

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Image Provided by: Chicago Tribune

Life is short and on that particular day upon the completion of my appointment with Dr. M., for the first time in a long time I felt a sense of hope; something good in the future that I could look forward to.

I have lost 38lbs. in the last 4 months and I have no idea how long I will be here on this earth.  I might be here for a short couple of years or I may be for another 40+ years.  Because of my health situation and my weight loss and a day where I felt a little celebration was due – I spent $3.50 on one cupcake.

Naturally I gobbled it up without taking a picture of the actual cupcake, I remember it had lots of chocolate, chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles on top.  I could not resist the temptation, it was eaten quickly; though I did take a picture of the box it was in.

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My health situation has me changing a little bit when it comes to spending money.  Every once in a while, I spend a little extra money on me and splurge occasionally.

Thank you, Gigi’s Cupcakes, for the excellent cupcake that day, for me it was worth every penny – all 3 hundred and 50 of them.

Cachexia

From cancer.net

Weight Loss

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2016

Weight loss is common among people with cancer. It is often the first noticeable sign of the disease.

As many as 40% of people report unexplained weight loss when first diagnosed with cancer. And up to 80% of people with advanced cancer experience weight loss and cachexia. Cachexia is also called wasting. Wasting is the combination of weight loss and muscle loss.

Other symptoms often accompany weight loss and wasting:

Fatigue

Weakness

Loss of energy

Inability to perform everyday tasks

I am certainly experiencing wasting.  Between the 10+ pain I experience and the pain medications, I am fatigued and weak, have no energy and honestly having issues performing everyday tasks.  My pain that has existed since my surgery in January, has increased and spread to the point I am having troubles walking.  Because of this my activity level is near zero.

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You may remember last month in my post ‘My Shell‘, I mentioned I lost 30 lbs.

I now have lost 38 lbs.

I have no muscle mass and my appetite is not good.  I do eat every 2-3 hours and the food I eat is healthy.  Occasionally, I will eat ice cream, but usually I do not eat sweets.  But there are times when I do not want to eat, but I do anyway, trust me – Gary makes sure I eat – thank you Gary.

I informed you yesterday that I will start radiation treatments Monday of next week.  Last week when I had my consultation with my Radiation Oncologist Dr. M., I asked him about my weight loss.  He responded the tumors have a high metabolism and are burning lots of calories.  I had never heard this and found it interesting.  Could he be right and is this the reason for my continued weight loss?

Upon some research, I found an interesting article ‘Why Do Cancer Patients Waste Away? Research Finds New Clues’ that includes information about Cachexia.  Click the article name link if you are interested in reading the entire article.

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Image Provided by: Quality of Life in ONCOLOGY Resource Centre

From that article, here is some important information –

A third of cancer patients die from a wasting syndrome. With new hints, researchers are closing in on what causes it and how to slow it down in order to give cancer patients more time to fight.

Half of all cancer patients suffer from a wasting syndrome called cachexia. Affected patients lose weight, including muscle, no matter how much they eat. The wasting is the immediate cause of about a third of all cancer deaths.

Those stark numbers have spurred research into what exactly causes cachexia in patients with cancer and how it might be avoided. Until recently, doctors thought cancer-associated cachexia was a sign of an energy-hungry tumor taking food from healthy cells. That view doesn’t account for the fact that small tumors can also cause wasting.

I am unsure how to process this information.  Do I have cachexia and am I wasting away?