Posted by: Ken Wheatley | August 12, 2009

Brain Radiation Starts and Other Developments

Yesterday and today (Tuesday) were good days for Sheila. Much less pain, much more coherent. The respiratory people were even able to halve the amount of external oxygen support Sheila was receiving while her body maintained the appropriate level of oxygen staturation – about 95% – on its own.

Her resting heart rate however continues to swing between the upper 90’s to about 110.

She started radiation treatment yesterday morning and was scheduled for 8:30 this morning, but there was a screw-up with the ambulance crew and they didn’t send people who are critical care certified. So if something happened to Sheila, like a stroke, during the trip to the radiation center across the street (it really is literally across the street, but they have to use an ambulance to get her there) they aren’t qualified to deal with it.

So they rescheduled her treatment to 1pm instead when the right crew would be available.

Kathy and Paul, one of Sheila’s sisters and brother arrived early, so I was able to take off and deal with Sheila’s business bank account issues and check mail at home and at my MBE mailbox, do some laundry, eat, and shower.

I met with Dr. B last night to go over the latest CAT scans. There appears to be a tumor on Sheila’s chest wall that may be the cause of the pain she’s feeling on the lower right side of her chest. But they need to do an MRI to conclusively determine if that the case and to then map out the radiation treatment plan. Dr. B doesn’t think it’s the liver that’s been causing the problem after all, even though the liver also has at least one tumor the size of a dime.

The not so good other news is that the original tumor in her left lung has tripled in size in 5 weeks, so we can speculate that the trial drug from USC was not doing anything substantive.

They scheduled Sheila for an MRI of her spine, chest, and abdominal area to take place at 4pm. Then it was moved to 6pm, then finally 8pm. Because of all the changes, Sheila missed dinner from the hospital foodservice, so I went to Sammy’s and got her hummus.

She was supposed to be gone for at least two hours. But she was back in the room in less than 30 minutes. The pain in her back and stomach when she laid on the MRI table was excruciating she said, and there was no way she would be able to lay there for an hour and a half. So the doctors said that they would have to sedate her tomorrow to do the procedure because they obviously have to get the scan done, and there’s nothing they can do to relieve that level of pain short of knocking her out.

When she got back she was seriously stressed, hungry and tired. So we decided that what she needed was a nice warm “sponge” bath. (They may have used sponges in “the old days” but not anymore.) So I used a bunch of wash cloths and gave her a nice full body bath with one of her favorite soaps. She smells all pretty now! And then she put on some nice soft pj’s that CC lent her.

I’ve been writing this over two days, so it’s now 1:30am on the Wednesday, the 12th.

Dr. B and some of the other doctors are still talking about letting her go home in a day or so. As much as we would like that, I would really like to see her more stable so that we don’t end-up back in the ER a couple of days after we leave.

And before I sign off, a word about the sleeping arrangement situation…when David and Jeannie stopped by to see Sheila before they headed off to see Jeannie’s beloved, Earl, who just had a stroke, David brought a camping cot, which was very nice of him. I think that shamed the staff here into resolving the issue because when I came back from errands yesterday afternoon there was a lovely, flat, soft (and very narrow) sofabed in the room – already made-up with sheets, a blanket and two pillows! Turns out that Kathy had said something to Donna, one of Sheila’s nurses, and they went all out to find me something decent and that works.

Fortunately, Sheila slept the most soundly she has in 8 days, so therefore I slept well. We only had to get up three times during the night. Not bad…and thanks again David for your thoughtfulness.


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