Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nothing New

I am doing pretty well at the moment. Reasonable appetite (well, reasonable compared to some times in the past!), no diarrhea, tiredness that is not too overwhelming. The only new thing that worries me is pain that has developed in my left side which I can control with Panadol.

One of the problems with the Big C is that you are never sure whether a problem is cancer related or something else that a GP could be consulted for. I have an appointment with the oncologist on Friday - bloods on Thursday - so I will wait to consult him about the pain. I am also concerned about a continually stuffed head (like a cold) which only happens when I get vertical so I'll mention that too.

I am scheduled to have my first dose of irinotecan after the consult. Hoping the side effects will be bearable - it's only 2 weeks to Helen's wedding. We had a small gathering of friends and family here on Sunday afternoon in honour of her and Kevin's birthdays - his was Monday. Lovely afternoon, though I had to wimp out and go sleep before everyone had left.

Martin seems to be doing OK, though he will still be under medical supervision till Christmas.

And here's what I made for dinner last night - Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with fresh herbs and prawns. One was enough for me - Kevin ate the rest. Yummy!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cause of problem unknown

The oncologist rang at lunchtime today. They have been unable to culture any nasties from either my urine or the PICC line blood, so if I actually have an infection its origin is unknown. I am still extremely weak and I have nasty diarrhea, so the recommendation is continue the antibiotics and rest and drink lots. Not hard to do.

I am going to try and do some shopping this afternoon - it is Helen's birthday tomorrow and Kevin's on Monday. Kevin is going to drive me to the shopping centre so I'm not sure how I am going to manage his gift - maybe just take him to the shop and forget any element of surprise!

Martin seems to be a lot better. He is still having daily visits from a nurse to change his IV antibiotic, and he still has a catheter for urine, but he is in a good mood overall. I hope this lasts so the wedding is not overshadowed by a bad mood.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I have been unwell since Tuesday evening when I had a bad dose of the chills. Even though it was 25 degrees celsius, and Kevin was feeling quite comfortable in a Tshirt, I couldn't get warm at all and was literally shaking like a leaf, while my teeth were chattering like castenets. I took my temperature and it was normal, so I went to bed with two blankets, the quilt and an extra throw rug. I was all better, though very tired, by morning. I spent most of the morning moving from toilet to bed.

By the afternoon I was feeling much better, so I decided to to sit out in the sun. Then the shivers started again, so I called the oncologist. He was concerned and made an appointment for me to see him today and to have a blood test beforehand. I was also to take my temperature regularly during the evening/night.

The shivers continued for several hours, though not at the intensity they were the day before, then suddenly I was dripping with sweat. Took my temperature and it was 38, so decided bed was the best place for me. This was at 8.45. I woke up much more frequently than usual, and I didn't have diarrhea. At 11.55 my temperature had dropped to 37.9. At 3am it was back to 38 and by 6am it was down a bit to 37.5. It was normal when I got up for a shower and to have breakfast, but I was very weak.

We went off to the hospital for the blood test and the oncologist appointment (I packed a bag just in case). Because we had a wait between blood test and doctor, I checked whether I could have my PICC line flushed and dressed today rather than tomorrow and they were able to fit me in. When I saw the doctor, he told me my white blood cells were OK, but I had some sort of infection. I was sent off to give a urine sample (which was a difficulty, even though I had been drinking lots) and to get blood taken and cultured from the PICC line. I had to go back to the Ivy suite for that.

The oncologist is going to phone me on Saturday if I need any further treatment. For the moment, the prescription is rest and an antibiotic (here at home thank goodness). I am feeling pretty good at the moment though I probably need to get horizontal shortly.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No news is good news?

I haven't been blogging because there has been nothing much happening. I have diarrhea again and it is knocking me around. I get up in the morning, have a shower and go back to bed again for an hour or so. Each time I have a bowel episode I have to have another lie down - it is a pain to be so weak and tired. It is not helped by lack of appetite - I have again lost the desire to eat.

I have been visiting a Chinese doctor who employs laser acupuncture and my shoulder is almost pain free. I went to him today and he treated the constant "stuffed head" I have had for a while. He ascribes it to pinched nerves - certainly he managed to find some very painful points in my neck. I am going back in a fortnight.

I have a PICC line dressing on Friday, then the following week I will be having the new chemo. It doesn't sound like fun, according to what I have read, but every drug is different, and I may just be able to handle this one better than Folfox6 or Xeloda. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the side effects this first time will be minimal - I want to feel well for the wedding.

Martin is out of hospital, but still has a catheter and a pump for IV antibiotics. He gets a daily visit from a nurse who changes the IV bag - he has been taught how to handle the catheter himself. Yesterday we took him to the hospital where he had more blood tests and it seems there may be a problem with his kidneys. We can only wait and see.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Post Radiation

The SIRT infusion went well, and I have been told the spheres all went where they were supposed to go. I will be slightly radioactive for the next week, but pose no danger to anyone other than small children or pregnant women, and only then if I am in close contact for more than a hour. This won't be a problem.

I arrived at the hospital a bit before 7am, after fasting since the previous evening, and by 7.15 I was hooked up to a Panadol infusion and given a tablet to take. I really enjoyed the water I had with it. The procedure took just on two hours - no pain but a bit of discomfort from lying still. I saw most of it on the X-ray screen -the insertion of the coils to block off the unwanted second artery branch was most interesting. I thought that only one coil would be inserted, but they actually used five. It looked like a scribble on the screen - perhaps a doctor's signature!

After the procedure was finished I was taken to a ward and had to lie still for another two hours, though I was allowed to have water. I have a seal in my groin artery which will dissolve gradually over the next 90 days, but should not cause any problems. I spent the night in hospital. My room was not as palatial as the one I had at SJoG, but it had a lovely view of the the Narrows interchange park and lakes and the city skyscrapers beyond. It certainly helps to have pleasant surroundings when you have to be in hospital.

The next morning I went to have more scans - this time with a Gamma Ray camera. I didn't have to fast for this,so I enjoyed some breakfast. It was these scans that showed the spheres had gone where they were supposed to, so I am really hopeful they will kill off the liver tumours.

After I was released from hospital we went to see the oncologist prior to my having a second push of 5-FU. He had some bad news. In the two months I have been off chemo the lung tumours have increased in number and size, though the most serious part of my condition is definitely the liver. I am to have some more chemo in three weeks with a different drug - irinotecan. I hope I don't have nasty side effects - it is only 5 weeks to Helen's wedding and I do want to feel well for that.

When we got home I went and had a sleep, then we went to the opening of the Designing Women exhibition in which I have some pieces. I was exhausted after a hour or so, even though I found a chair, so went straight to bed when we got home.

Yesterday we went down to Martin's unit to find some things he wanted and then went to see him in hospital. He says he is feeling much better, but his stomach is still distended. He is still having problems with his bowels.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chemo again

The 5-FU flush was OK this morning - it took longer for the antinausea drug infusion and the line flush than the actual chemo. I have been feeling slightly nauseous all day, even before the chemo, and when I told the nurse she said it was almost certainly psychosomatic, given that I have had very little nausea in the past weeks.

In any case, I have had to take a Pramin this afternoon.

I have made a big pot of minestrone (I don't think it's possible to make a small one) for dinner tonight. I have to fast from midnight and be at the hospital at 7 am. I hope the nausea doesn't happen tomorrow morning, because I'm not supposed to even take a sip of water.

We went to visit Martin after my chemo. He seemed a bit more settled than he was on Monday, but is still complaining of pain. His abdomen is still very distended and he is still having trouble with his bowels and his urination. Helen is going to see him after school tomorrow, and I/we will visit him on Saturday - I don't think I could manage it Friday after both radio and chemo therapy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More Hospital Visits

But they are not for me. Sunday evening our son Martin rang. He was in a lot of pain and wanted us to take him to Emergency. He lives about 20 minutes drive from us and his local hospital (Rockingham-Kwinana) is another 15 minutes away. He had tried to ring an ambulance but they had said his symptoms were not severe enough. So we picked him up and took him to the hospital and left him there.

He rang us in the morning from Fremantle Hospital. After some tests the Rockingham hospital had decided that his condition was severe enough to warrant treatment at a major hospital. The diagnosis is one or more abscesses on the spine. He is having antibiotics and will continue with them for 6 weeks. They will be administered intravenously and so he too will have to have a PICC line. Untreated, the condition could result in paralysis.

I went to see him yesterday afternoon. He was on an IV drip and had a catheter. He is not a good patient - complaining that he needed more pain relief and that no-one would help him shower. I admit to being relieved when a middle-aged nurse came with the pain relief and dealt with him in a no-nonsense way. I made a quick exit.

Last night the hospital rang us to advise that he was being transferred to yet another hospital - Sir Charles Gairdner - so that he could have access to the major specialist in this field. This morning Martin rang us and told us that they were talking about surgery, though later we were told they are just continuing with the antibiotics.

He has been admitted as a public patient which means all his costs are fully covered. Thank goodness for MediCare. He doesn't want us to visit today, but we will probably call in tomorrow after I have had my chemo since the two hospitals are quite close.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Radiotherapy ready to go

We went to the specialist in charge of the SIRT therapy today. He went into much more detail than the oncologist did about the tests I had a couple of weeks ago, but reiterated that I was a good candidate for the treatment, because in the test few of the spheres went where they shouldn't have gone.

The fact that my hepatic artery has two branches means that they will have to insert a titanium spiral in the unwanted branch. This will cause a clot so the spheres can't enter, but the clot will eventually dissolve, leaving $250 worth of titanium there. He is very hopeful that the therapy will have a good result. I have to have a dose of 5-FU next Wednesday, go into hospital for the SIRT therapy on Thursday, stay overnight and then have another dose of 5-FU on Friday.

I am not looking forward to resuming chemo. I have enjoyed having what resembles a normal appetite, though I still cannot eat very large amounts. Tonight I cooked fish in foil with halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced onion and lemon, garlic and parsley. We had lettuce and chopped green capsicum and a dob of guacamole with it - very nice indeed.

Monday we drove down to Denmark, a town in the south of the State about four and a half hours from Perth and returned yesterday. You can get more details from the family blog. My feet are a bit swollen today - probably due to sitting so long, though I did wear compression stockings (not TEDS, though). So I am still doing really well overall. I have a CT scan tomorrow, a PICC dressing on Friday and another blood test on Saturday. Busy, busy.