Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'm Back In The Hospital

I'm feeling pretty groggy right now. I'm taking two long acting Morphine tablets twice a day, and getting IV Dilaudid every three hours, so please bear with my incoherence.

My back had been bothering me for about the last month, and was getting worse. The pain in my left lung and spleen had disappeared altogether, but the pain in my liver never went away. In fact it got gradually worse, and by Sunday afternoon, it had become tortuous, reaching a crescendo of debilitating misery by Sunday evening. Anything but the shallowest breath would bring on a hellish stabbing pain and a cry of agony. There was nothing left to be done but get me to the Emergency Room as quickly as possible, and since I wasn't about to ride with my mother, especially at night, calls were put out to find alternative transportation, but no one was home! The only thing left to do was call 911. Within five minutes an ambulance pulled up to the building, and within less than 10 minutes total, five emergency responders were standing out in the hallway, ringing my mother's bell. That would be the bell on her door, not the bell in her head.

They came in and took vital signs, and questioned me about the history of my condition, and then with me moaning in agony, they helped me onto their gurney, and we began he trip down the hallway, and down the elevator from the 10th floor to the lobby, and then out to their ambulance. Mom rode up front in the ambulance as a passenger, with the driver and other male responders, while I was tended to in the back by the two female responders.

Because it was a Sunday night, the emergency room was not crowded, and it wasn't long before I was attended to. I was first X-rayed, then given a CT scan, where it was determined that my cancer had moved into the bone, and caused a compression fracture in my spine. It had also advance in my belly. The experimental therapy that I was on worked well to decrease the tumors with a particular genetic mutation in my lung and spleen, but there must have been other mutations as well, and they grew and spread unaffected by the miracle pills
I was taking. The ER doctor was very kind to me and giving me his blessings and well wishes, ordered the ER nurse to inject 2 mg of Dilaudid into my IV, which caused an instantaneous rush of blessed relief! It was like being caressed by a thousand angels! I now know why people become junkies.

I thought this was the end of the line for me, so I requested some information on hospice care, but I saw my oncologist yesterday, and he said that I shouldn't give up. He said he wants to treat the cancer in my spine with radiation, and then put me on an intravenous therapy that he said was pretty effective. He acknowledged that Melanoma was incurable, but he said he has seen this therapy add several years on to the lives of patients. He said that considering my age, he thought I should go for it. I agreed, so if everything gets approved by my insurance, we are going to continue managing my pain with drugs, and start radiation and chemotherapy. One of the side effects of most intravenous chemotherapies, is the loss of body and head hair. I'm already bald on top, so no big deal there. Hopefully I will soon be able to say good-bye to my recently reacquired hirsuteness as well.

Love to all!

Melissa XX

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Taste Of Freedom (and some other good stuff)

I managed to escape the confines of my 10th floor prison yesterday, when my jailer (mom) suggested we go to Ruby Tuesdays for our evening meal. While only a brief furlough, it was good to get out amongst other human beings with my mom and sister, and enjoy a meal cooked and served by others. It gave mom a break from her routine too. She spends far too much time cooking and cleaning up. I try to help as much as possible, but we often just get in each other's way.

We all like Ruby Tuesdays. They have good food, and their prices are reasonable. Like the geriatrics that we have all become, we usually go out to eat between 5:00 and 5:30 PM, so we get there before the crowd arrives. This ensures a good seat, and a short wait for our food. Before we left mom's, it was suggested that we take sweaters, since sometimes the airconditioning in restaurants makes them too cold for short sleeves. When I heard that, I thought, well if I'm going to take a sweater, then I might as well change from shorts to long pants. No point in wearing a sweater, if I'm going to have my legs exposed. As it turned out, we were seated next to a sweltering west facing window. Fortunately the hostess had the good sense to closed the wooden venetian blinds, otherwise we would have felt like we were having supper in a hot house. Needless to say the sweater wasn't necessary, nor were the long pants. Next time I go, I will probably forgo the extra clothing, and then be seated directly below an airconditioning duct!

Did I say the food at Ruby Tuesdays is good? I had a half a rack of barbecued babyback ribs, a serving of grilled asparagus, and large portion of some of the best French fries I have ever eaten. They were nice and crispy, with the skins still on, and not overly salted. The grilled asparagus was delicious, and the pork was succulent and falling off the bone. The ribs were slathered in a thick coating of sweet smokey barbecue sauce, that required the use of two napkins and a lot of finger licking.

Because she is very finicky about what she likes and doesn't like, Mom chose the Asian babyback ribs instead. She despises anything with a smokey flavor. She also got French fries and a serving of their yummy mashed cauliflower. She took a couple of bites from the ribs, and refused to eat anymore of them. She said they tasted like smoke. I guess she was expecting the kind of sweet unsmoked ribs that Chinese restaurants serve when you get a Pu Pu Platter, but this wasn't a Chinese restaurant, and these ribs were cooked in the smoker along with the others. They had Asian spices applied, instead of barbecue sauce. No loss though. They were taken home in a doggy bag, and I will be eating them for lunch today. She did enjoy her fries and mashed cauliflower.

My sister had a turkey burger, French fries and broccoli. I never had a turkey burger before, so she gave me a little taste. It was nothing like a hamburger, but it was good nevertheless, and she liked it too. So other than mom, who is a notoriously finicky eater, we thoroughly enjoyed our meals and were too full for desert. I really enjoyed getting out, and would like to do it more often. Hopefully next time my niece can come too.

Oh, by the way.............we took my mothers car, but my sister drove (Thanks be to the gods!). Mom's car is ruby red and so are the bumpers. We noticed white streaks on both the left and right corners of her front bumper. I'm thinking we need to install rods on all four corners of her car, with red flags at the top, so she knows where her bumpers are!

Melissa XX