Archive for April, 2015
It’s been kind of two steps forward, one step back this month. Kate woke up one morning with chest pains and we went to the emergency room. They kept her in the hospital overnight for observation; it turned out not to be a heart attack, but was still a stressful and exhausting experience.
We also tried reducing the steroid dose again, and again this resulted in a return of the aphasia and other symptoms so we went back to the previous dose. She’s much better now, but after all that I feel that we’re basically back where we were at this time last month. We won’t be trying that again any time soon, unless there’s some solid evidence that she doesn’t need the higher dose any more.
We did get another MRI this month. We were both pretty nervous about the results, but when we saw the scan it was were pretty much the same as the last one, with some improvements. The areas of “enhancement” are a bit smaller, one of the spots went away completely, and there’s no indication of increased blood flow (associated with tumor growth). This is good news.
Also good news: we took a trip to Las Vegas, which went well. We saw three shows, ate many excellent meals, visited the Mob Museum, and goggled at the architecture. We did not gamble at all. It was a pretty laid-back trip by our usual standards, but we were exhausted when we came home; I’m really not sure whether or not we will be up for the square dance convention in late May. We’ll play it by ear based on our energy levels.
All in all, Kate is generally doing well. She can’t drive and can’t walk very far or very fast, but she’s been cooking and today she even took a trip on the bus while I was at yoga class. We hope for continued improvement in the months to come. If you can come by for a visit or send a card or some cookies, please do so.
As you may recall, I had a small spot removed from my nose two weeks ago. Well, I got a phone call from the dermatologist’s office yesterday, saying only “call us.” Unfortunately, I didn’t get the message until after the office was closed.
As you might guess, I didn’t sleep well. At all.
The news, when I finally got it this morning, was not what I’d hoped to hear but not nearly as bad as I’d feared. The spot is an “in-situ squamous cell carcinoma,” in other words a type of skin cancer. But it is not malignant, and is easily treatable: it’s a 15-minute procedure in the doctor’s office, with a 98% cure rate. Basically they just “scrape and burn” until they find healthy tissue. This a very common procedure; one in five people gets skin cancer at some point in their lives.
So, all in all, not too bad. But, seriously, this can stop any time.
Hug the people you love. And wear sunscreen.
Kate woke up at 5am yesterday with chest pain, and we went to the emergency room. Initial tests indicated it wasn’t a heart attack, but they kept her overnight for observation and more tests. Those tests also showed it wasn’t a heart attack, though it took until noon today to get a doctor to sign off on that and let us go home. :-(
It’s tough for the doctors to tell what the cause of the pain actually was, but it was likely heartburn from the steroids. Kate was already taking an anti-heartburn med (Pepcid) for that, but we got a prescription for a stronger one (Prilosec). We will also be seeing our regular doctor on Friday to follow up.
Hospitals make you “sick.” By which I mean that the simple fact of being in the hospital takes away your agency and turns you into a “sick person,” an object. Your clothes are stripped away and you are given a stupid gown that does almost nothing to protect your privacy or dignity. You sleep, eat, and drink on someone else’s schedule, and none of it well. You are forced into a horizontal position in which everyone literally looks down on you. You are poked with needles, given drugs which often make you feel worse, and forced into inactivity even if movement and exercise might make you feel better. It’s all done out of kindness and for the best of reasons, but the whole thing seems engineered to make you powerless and miserable.
The whole episode was time-consuming, anxiety-inducing, and exhausting, but at least it won’t cost us anything in cash — we’ve already hit our “out of pocket max” for the year. In the larger scheme of things, this was just a bump in the road.
Thanks very much for your support, especially Nancy, John, Dave, Merilee, Bo, Don, Janna, Mary, and Teresa, all of whom came by to keep us company and let me get away from the room when necessary.