Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Doctors' views

Today, I went with Jeanine to see her Oncologist and her Urologist. It amazes me how talking with two different doctors about the same issue, you can come away with very different impressions.

They both listen very carefully to Jeanine's concerns and questions and both try to help her with those concerns. The Oncologist, though, answers her questions in a short sentence or two, while the Urologist will explain the reasonings behind the answers that Jeanine has already received. The Urologist has the ability to make you feel that there is hope. The Oncologist leaves you thinking that there is more that should have been said and that you are totally out of the loop.

That said, we got pretty good news this week. Jeanine's pain is lessening, her side effects with the IV drug are minimal, and her blood work is good. She was told that the side effects are probably as bad as they are going to get. We were so happy to hear this piece of news. She is doing well and we are happy that this is so.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jeanine's port

On Wednesday, Jeanine went in to get a port which allows them to give her her treatment with little pain. What should have been a 20 minute procedure turned out to be a 2 hour torture chamber.

They used ultrasound and found that her jugular vein on the right side (the preferred side) was too small for the catheter, so they put the port in on the left. This complicated the procedure, but even so shouldn't have resulted in the problems that she had.

She was supposed to be awake but numbed enough so that it wouldn't be an issue. It ended up that she has very tough skin and tissue and threading the catheter from the shoulder to the jugular vein was a very tough job. The way she described it, made me think of trying to feed a plumbing snake through a really bad clog in your drains. They pushed and rammed and pushed and rammed. That wasn't the only problem either. Once they got to the vein, they had to do the very same thing. Talk about painful! She ended up with dose after dose of painkiller that didn't do a thing to make her feel better.

But... the procedure is done and it should make getting her weekly treatment much easier. They almost always have a tough time finding her veins and she gets poke after poke in different locations on her body. One time they actually had to use the bottom of her foot for an IV. The port will allow them to take blood and to give medicine and even do tests that require IV's. Even so, I don't think that she will ever allow them to put in a port again unless she is sedated.

She is still sore from the procedure. She also has trouble swallowing because of pain in her bruised esophagus, but she went to the temple with us last night and watched her niece and nephew today, so she is not totally debilitated.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jeanine's latest prognosis

Jeanine has asked me to let you know that we went to see the Oncologist today. Jeanine has had several tests and has had severe pain in her liver for about 3 weeks. As I explained in an earlier post, she went to see the office PA when it started. The PA put her on Vicodine.

We spent some time talking to the Oncologist and going over her diagnosis with him. The cancer in her liver and nearby lymph nodes is growing. It has not spread anywhere else at this point. He explained that the pain is coming from that growth. Her liver is functioning fine and will continue to do so for some time since it needs very little mass to continue to function. She will continue on Vicodine as long as she is in pain and it is effective. It is managing her pain well at this point.

On Friday, she will start on Torisel. It is administered by IV and she will receive it once a week. It is hoped that it will stop the cancer from growing. The doctor believes that there is no drug that will make her cancer-free. He says that this drug has the fewest side effects, the most prevalent being a red rash that will spread over her body. She will be on this drug until it is no longer effective. There are a handful of other drugs that they can try if Torisel does not work or if (when) it quits working.

Jeanine and I were surprised by some of the things the doctor told us. He said that her hair loss is caused by her cancer and not the drugs she was/is on. Her hair has gotten noticeably thinner, but she does not have bare spots as of yet.

He also told us that the cancer in the liver will not kill her. It will be the side effects of the cancer. The cancer will weaken her immune system and make her susceptible to infections. She may lose her appetite. She may start to get weak.

Lastly, she asked the Oncologist what she should expect her life expectancy to be. He stated 1 or 2 years.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Beach Camp

Each year we head to California to South Carlsbad Beach and enjoy camping on the cliffs above the beach. This is the view from our campsite...

Here is our campsite.

The sound of the waves provide an almost sure cure to insomnia. It is what "white noise" is based on. I spent my first couple of days there sleeping and reading.

My DH and I went to Old Town San Diego one day. I wanted to show him all the museums that were there. Most of the museums were closed and the food that we had there was overpriced and not very good.

After a couple of days our DIL and grandchildren joined us. It picked up our pace quite a bit. We played on the beach and went strawberry picking. It is one of the activities that we most enjoy.

A few of those specks are my grandchildren playing on the beach. I took the photo from our campsite.

Our camping trip was a success and made another memory that we will have to look back on and enjoy.