Posted by: Ken Wheatley | May 31, 2008

Transition

Sheila had her last chemo treatment of the series on Wednesday. It’s been 5 months since this all started. Of course it couldn’t have ended on a benign note.

The first nurse had trouble getting the IV started, inflicting, unintentionally, a great deal of pain. In all of these months Sheila has never screamed in pain or hyperventilated, but she did this time. And again when the next nurse tried, twice, to get an IV going. The look of despair and pain on her face just crushed my spirit. All I could do was hold her and kiss her, trying to distract her from what was going on. But it was no use. The pain in her right hand where the IV was inserted was too excruciating.

They didn’t want to try another location and pleaded with Sheila to let the IV stay in place. The poor nurse’s hands were shaking. I think she was seriously afraid of trying again and was pleading for her own sake as well.

Because this was the short session – one hour, one drug – Sheila decided to tough it out and leave the IV in place. It was a very, very long hour. But she made it.

Compounding the situation is the fact that as of about a week and a half ago she started suffering nerve damage to her right arm and leg as a side effect of the chemo. She loses sensation in them. Almost like they go asleep. So she’ll have to see the doctor about that.

Yesterday she went back for another shot to try and get her bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. Her immune system is low, again. And with the wedding coming up in a few weeks they don’t want her getting sick.

She’s been nauseous pretty much every day for over a week now, tired most days and forgetful. I’m not sure if the latter is a side effect as well, but at this point any reduction in mental or physical performance automatically gets attributed to the cancer whether that’s the case or not.

I’m tired. As I told a friend earlier this week, I’ve been in a funk that’s just persisting. It’s very difficult, mentally, to live with this every day. You try to be upbeat, but it’s not that easy. Eating is challenging because her taste buds are affected as well so most things have a metallic, unappetizing taste. I want her to be well. I don’t want her to be in pain. I roll away from her at night when she gives herself that shot in the stomach to prevent blood clots. I can’t watch her stick herself and hear her suck in her breath from the pain of the fluid entering her body. Every night. When she’s done I roll back and we snuggle very close and I’ll either rock her or rub her tummy. She likes that part. 🙂 She rarely complains. Cries, yes. Complains, no. I don’t know how she manages.

She does go to a counselor every now and then. Plus she went to a patient support group on Wednesday, so that must be her safety valve. And she tells me that being home with me, or having me at the appointments help her a lot. So at least I’m able to help in that way.

Next week she gets the CAT and PET scans over two days to see how well the chemo has reduced or eliminated the tumors. We’ll get that news on the 9th when we see Dr. B. They’ll also use those results to determine her eligibility for the clinical trials that start in a month or two.

In the meantime, after the 9th, the doctor said that we should go play somewhere. It’s the first time in 5 months that we won’t have any appointments to deal with. I remember when she told us about being “free” for a month that we sat there a bit stunned. This routine has dictated our lives for so long that we don’t know how to switch gears. We don’t even know what to do, or where to go. We aren’t going to go anywhere before the 22nd, but I would like to take her somewhere for a week afterwards. We’ll see.

So for now we transition from chemo treatments to hopefully clinical trials. And wait.

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