Thursday, May 7, 2015

We've Got Your Back!

We walked into the waiting room for Radiology.  Our trip to MAD City was quiet.  Rich slept, he was miserable but quiet.
After his treatment, we saw Dr. W, who felt the lymph node and commented that it was already receding.  This was great news!  I felt ecstatic.  My husband-patient however was miserable still.

Dr. W mentioned that by next week Rich's mouth was going to start feeling the effects of the Radiation Treatments.

We made it to the VA with time to spare.

Rich's labs were good, his white count was fine...
Then we entered the Infusion Lab and when Ronnie the nurse asked Rich if he wanted water and went to get it, I followed her.

I told her what had been going on.  I told her about 'nausea-not nausea argument' that we'd been having. 

The way he got impatient with the Jevity and pushed it into his stomach and then the horrid diarrhea that he was experiencing.
I also mentioned that I thought he was hitting a major block of depression.  "Well who wouldn't be, right?" I asked.
Ronnie told me that she'd address everything with him.

First thing she did was weigh him and then question him about what was going on.  She was like a drill sergeant with her questions.  

Finally she leaned back and said to him, "If you continue like this I will admit you to the hospital.  I can do it today, if you like."

Rich shook his head.

Then Ronnie carefully explained that the anti nausea meds that are given intravenously with the chemo treatment last for 72 hours and everything he was telling her was right on for the nausea catching up to him and his refusal of taking his nausea meds only made things horribly worse.

She told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to have one can of Jevity EVERY night this week.  Starting next week, two cans.
Any meals missed = one can of Jevity.
She arranged for us to receive 'Kangaroo' bags to put the Jevity in and hang from an IV pole.
Ronnie then explained that Jevity needed to drip in slowly to his stomach because if it was 'pushed' in, it would cause severe diarrhea.
Rich's impatience had contributed to his awful bout with that...

Ronnie suggested setting up the pole and bag, kicking back on the couch and watching a movie while his liquid 'gold' dripped into his stomach.

Ronnie went on to say that he needed to get out every day and take a small walk of some kind.  He needed to have fresh air and see the clouds and sun.

One word about Ronnie.  She is kind, sweet, and overflowing with compassion regarding her patients, she cares for them and it shows in her eyes.  She knows how to be a hardass when it is warranted.  And she knows how to deal with Veterans. 
She is priceless.

She told him that IF at any time he couldn't eat, or he couldn't control his nausea, that HE should call the Oncology number we had 24 hrs a day and a nurse would get back to him.
Not only that, we were next door at the UW Carbone Cancer Center 5 times a
IF he felt ill any day, come immediately to the Infusion Clinic and they'd make room for him.

What we had been going through could have been avoided.

Boy, did I feel like a dumb-ass.  I told Ronnie that.  She shrugged and told me that I was normal.  This cancer treatment thing had a learning curve.

Rich had been dehydrated and sorely needed the IV hydration that he was given first.  He really perked up with that and ate pudding and drank juices and ice water.

Ronnie was busy making phone calls around the VA and even got us in to see a Mental Health Counselor before we went home.

We made the trip home after an 8 hour day spent at two hospitals and clinics.  

One of the things I won't go into here is all of the different medications Rich is getting.  Each person is so different in what kind of cancer they may have and what will be given to them.
As we were told by the Nutritionist yesterday, there is such a delicate balance of trying to make the patient as comfortable as possible during treatment.  Medications would be changed and adjusted according to how the patient was doing.

It may also be important to bring along a voice recorder so both the cancer patient and the CareGiver can review what was said.  I have found that to be priceless.  I haven't run across a nurse or doctor yet who wouldn't let me use it.

We spent an hour with a counselor who helped address the Depression issues.  

Day 6 of radiation completed.  Day 2 of Chemo completed.
8 days into treatment.

Most of all, don't lose hope and know that if you are getting treatment, there are people who will have your back.  I imagine this is true for nearly any oncology clinic.
I think this was the most important thing I learned yesterday and it was such a relief.


  1. Sounds like things are slowly coming together. Awesome!

    1. It is a learning experience for sure.

  2. One day at a time. You got some good information today and it could make a difference.

  3. STILL learning. And it was one year ago today, Nick lost 1/3 of his stomach to this wretched disease.

    1. I am still learning also. No one has written a booklet on after care and what to expect. Seems you are suddenly left on your own to deal with all the scars from chemo and radiation..and in your case surgery, Sue.
      We can only stand by and stumble on the best way possible.