Counting down

Been awhile, eh? Thought maybe I’d kicked off this old world and headed off to the beach somewhere?

No way.

Last week was fairly hellish, from a health point of view. Not eating enough (too much nausea), too much puking (ditto), and just not feeling it. Dropped the pain patch, though, and that seems to have made a tremendous difference in the nausea factor – meaning I only need to take three different things to keep the rolling under control.

Still not eating – or, rather, feeding through the tube – enough. We’re guessing that I’m getting about 1000 calories a day on a good day, and maybe 500 on a bad. Not enough, but I swear once I get finished with treatment and get this damn tube out, I’ll be much happier about eating that I am right now.

Still, the other numbers are making me feel better.

1 – the number of chemo sessions left
7 – the number of radiation treatments left
14 – the number of amifostene shots left

There will bemonthly visits to the various doctors over the next year, then every two months the following, then every three the third, and so on, until we reach the magical five year point, when we’ll just visit once a year.

The medical bill numbers keep going up, too, but that’s to be expected and I figure we’re nearing 100K now with everything, but not including the facilities charges for the radiation treatments themselves. We’ll see what they come to at some point.

They’ve changed my radiation treatments this week as well. Instead of treating three locations (right, left, top), they are now treating five – two more lateral (left/right), except with electrons. This is to the spinal area, and the reason they do this, so they tell me, is so they can treat the posterior spinal area without hitting the spinal cord, since electrons do not travel so deeply as the general wide field radiation does. A long as they don’t turn me into Quasimodo, I’m agreeable.

Tomorrow will be a long day on the table as they continue to shrink the treatment areas, which means more x-ray films while I am in lockdown. This is also apparently a normal course of action as you move to the end of treatment. It simply makes for a long, tiring day with all the machinations and the Xanax it takes to stay calm while the techs do their awesome job.

Two things in life are certain

Death and taxes. So they say.

As to the first – well, I’m not dying anytime soon unless I get run over by a bus or something, so I can leave that one alone for awhile. I felt a bit like I was over this past weekend, as I constantly heaved my guts into my ever-present bucket. I decided, though, that it was probably the pain patches (Fentanyl) causing the nausea to be worse than usual, so I took myself off of those on Monday. That increases the pain factor, but the gut-wrenching, make-you-want-to-die nausea is so much worse that I didn’t care.

As to the second – well, it’s the end of the fiscal quarter, so time to file all the required paperwork for the business and pay the payroll taxes on the staff, all of which I completed today, well before the deadline. Yay for me.

While the weekend was horrible, and I had a couple of bad days when I thought I couldn’t get through the last of these treatments, Monday was better and the days since even more so as my family pep talked me into getting into a better frame of mind, not to mention getting some calories down into me. Between Friday and Monday, I probably took in about 500 calories total, since I was puking up half of what I ate. Since then I’ve been managing between 500 and 800 calories a day, which still is well below what I should be eating (somewhere around 2200 calories/day) but better than starving to death.

Those calories, beyond the occasional spoonfuls of ice cream, are all going down the feeding tube. It’s still a very weird sensation to have something dripping directly into your stomach, but with three different antinausea drugs, at least it’s staying there now. I have developed a fungal infection in my mouth which is quite common in this sort of treatment, and that’s being treated with Diflucan. Fortunately, we’re at the end of week five now, with only two more weeks to go. I think between all the support from family and friends and the drugs, I’ll make it through the rest.

And the drugs! I have bottles lined up like soldiers, awaiting their marching orders. I finally gave in and asked for a prescription for Zofran, the big daddy of antinausea drugs, and shelled out $700 for 30 4mg tabs. Well worth it, let me tell you, in combination with the Ativan and Compazine. I’ve also been swallowing (well, tubing) Guaifenesin syrup to help with the thick mucositis that is also a common reaction to radiation to the mouth and throat, along with Benadryl allergy syrup, which helps dry it up a bit so I can sleep without choking on what would otherwise build up in my mouth.

Sleeping itself is becoming an adventure. I will sleep for a few hours after treatment, then get up and feed, but later, when it’s time to go back to bed, I’m so restless I can’t sleep. So, since I’m not on the pain patch any longer and still have some left, I dump a teaspon or so of Roxicet left over from the surgery down the tube and let that kill some of the pain and put me to sleep for about five hous or so. I keep thinking I should be sleeping more from all of this treatment stuff, but it’s not happening.

Only two more chemo rounds and 11 or 12 rad treatments left. The rad treatments have altered a bit as of Wednesday, but that’s a story for a new entry.