31 January 2009

Day 2

This morning did not start off well. Mom called me about 10:30am saying that the doctor thought Dad had a stroke because his speech was slow and the right side of his face was a bit droopy. He was taken for a brain scan a bit before noon and the results showed that he did NOT have a stroke (Thank God!).

He does have two new lesions on his brain. The one on the left side is larger and there is swelling around it. The doctor said that the swelling is causing the stroke like symptoms. The nurse gave Dad a large dose of a steroid that would lessen the swelling and every six hours he gets another dose of the steroid.

As the day progressed, Dad's speech improved and he was able to talk to us and not get frustrated that he couldn't spit out the words. He ate all of his lunch and dinner and looked better when we took Mom to get dinner around 8pm. His speech should continue to improve and hopefully we will know more on Monday when all the doctors make their rounds.

I will be going back tomorrow for a little bit so that Mom gets a little break. Keep those prayers coming! Love to you all!

30 January 2009

Another visit to the ER

Mom called my cell around noon today to leave a voice mail telling me she was taking Dad to the ER again due to breathing troubles. Of course, because of the situation, I know have my cell phone on me all day every day. I answered and asked if she wanted me to meet her. No. Did she want me to call Jason and have him meet her there. No. I asked again if she wanted me to come...she hesitated and I said that I'd get the rest of my classes covered and be there as soon as I could.

I absolutely LOVE my department (big hugs to all of you!) because they volunteered to cover the rest of my classes for the day and even made in house calls to the main office to tell them I would be leaving and that my classes were covered (thanks Jeannette!). They made leaving so much easier!!!

When I got to the hospital (Jason and in-laws in tow), Dad was in a "room" in the ER and waiting to see a doctor. He had oxygen which was helping his breathing a bit, but it was still labored. When the ER doctor came in to listen to Dad's lungs even I could hear the distinct difference between the left and the right (the one causing all the trouble, which seems to be typical of the cancer). The doctor explained (drawing on the sheets...) how last week the sac was only 1/4 full but this week, it was 3/4 full. She also explained that Dad would be admitted and he would have the fluid removed as soon as possible.

About an hour later, Dad was taken up to the Oncology floor (he likes to call it the Penthouse since all but 4 rooms are singles and of course he's seen two of the four that are not singles!). There was a problem with the bed not locking into position and the nurse's assistant having to call maintenance. When the maintenance man shows up, the bed works properly. Go figure. The nurse on duty couldn't be found. (He apparently was hanging out on the first floor-we figured this out as we left for dinner.) Then the doctor who would be performing the procedure (a bit different from last week's...a catheter) came by and explained what would be happening and why. Very blunt man-first one that's ever called the cancerous object in Dad's right lung a "mass" rather than a "spot." Once the catheter was in, Dad was feeling a bit better but just wanted to rest, so we went to dinner where Chris and Tom joined us.

After dinner, Mom, Chris and Tom went back to the hospital and my crew headed home. Jason and I will be going back to the hospital tomorrow. As far as we know, Dad will be in the hospital until Monday when the thoracic surgeon comes in and will possibly have another procedure done where some sort of talc (?) is placed into the pleural sac so the fluid does not build up again. I'll keep everyone posted as things progress.

Keep the prayers and good thoughts coming...We all need them!!!

25 January 2009

Home Again

Dad was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. He is back at home and resting. He has been in quite a bit of pain and has tried not to take as many of the pain pills because one of the nurses at the hospital told him he was taking too many. Plus, one of the pain medications can cause the fluid build up in the sac around the lungs.

The procedure that Dad had done yesterday to remove the fluid is called thoracentesis. This process removed about a quart and a half of fluid. The pulmonologist who performed the procedure was also the doctor who did the bronchoscopy back in December. He told us that the fluid build up would probably happen again. If it does, then they will put some kind of talc into the pleural sac so that fluid will not build up again.

I know I mentioned the oncologist trying to get Dad into a clinical trial at NIH before. We found out that Dad has to wait for three months after the radiation treatments before he can get into a study. So, that means that won't happen until March or April at the earliest.

This has been such a scary time for my family. First, with the doctors being so sure that this was lung cancer and then finding out it's melanoma (the pulmonologist still thinks its lung cancer, btw). Secondly, to see my dad in so much pain and not being able to help him leaves us feeling totally helpless. Finally, I want to thank everyone for all their good thoughts and prayers...it really helps to know that everyone cares and wants to do so much for us. Just being there to listen and pray right now is the best that anyone can do.

P.S. Mom found out that the insurance company only approved one round of the chemo pills. (That would be the round Dad finished last week.) The pharmacist is working to change that so that when the 23 days between rounds is up, Dad can start round 2 on time. This makes my blood boil! If the first round is approved why wouldn't the second round and third and so on be approved? So, yet again my parents have to worry about my dad being approved for chemo pills. This is not what they need during this time. Our country's health care system needs to change and change quickly. Who knew that a decision Mr. Nixon made almost 38 years ago would have a profound impact upon my family?

23 January 2009

Admitted

Dad was admitted to Franklin Square Hospital this afternoon. He was having difficulty breathing and called the oncologist. The oncologist saw him and told him to go to the emergency room. They thought he might have a blood clot in his lung, so they sent him for a CT scan.

Mom called me back later and told me that Dad did not have a blood clot (thank God!) but did have fluid built up in the sac around his lungs. That pressure was causing the breathing difficulties. Tomorrow, Dad will have the fluid drained. I don't know when the procedure will take place; just some time tomorrow. Chris is going to stay with Mom tonight and Jason and I will be there tomorrow.

Please keep the prayers and good thoughts directed towards Dad (as well as the rest of us!).

18 January 2009

End of Round 1

Dad finished the first round of chemo last night. He started on Tuesday and felt okay but did have a bit of nausea. Wednesday was worse and he called the doctor for a better anti nausea drug. The doctor gave him one and said that the anti nausea drip that Dad had gotten was pretty much a waste since it took a week to get the chemo pills. (Figures.) I did see Mom and Dad yesterday and Dad was in good spirits and looked good. He sees the oncologist on Monday.

Mom is doing okay with her hand. She can now touch all of her fingers with the exception of the pinky to her thumb. She is still experiencing some pain, and will see the surgeon on Wednesday.

That's the update for this week. Keep your good thoughts and prayers headed in their direction!

13 January 2009

Update on Dad

This was going to be a post about how I despise our health care system here in the United States. (Don't get me started...and it's worse since I watched SICKO!) I feel like my dad has been a victim of our health care system. It took ONE WEEK for the insurance company to approve the chemo pills for Dad. This is absolutely ridiculous! The man has cancer; his doctor said he needs this type of chemotherapy; and the man is in pain.

However, I cannot thank the pharmacist, Reddy Annappareddy, R.Ph. enough for keeping my parents abreast of the situation with the insurance company and how long it might actually take to get the medication to my dad. This pharmacist was kind, caring and considerate to come in before the pharmacy was open to call Dad and the insurance company. He even gave Dad his cell phone number in case he had questions after the pharmacy closed. Late this afternoon, the insurance company approved the chemo pills (Temodar) for Dad and the pharmacy actually delivered the prescription to the house! The delivery man was knowledgeable and when my parents had more questions, they called the pharmacist and he answered them right away.

Thank you so very much to the pharmacist who makes this difficult time in my Dad's life a little bit easier by taking the time to treat him like a human being. When I can, I will be stopping by the pharmacy and thanking the pharmacist in person!

Thanks, Pal!

My secret pal sent me a lovely package that arrived yesterday. It looked like this when I opened the envelope:
Then I opened each gift: a bag of dried cherries (I've never had them before and tried them as my mid morning snack today-YUMMY!), a bottle of Coconut Lime Verbena Body Cream (my favorite!) and a skein of Malabrigo Yarn Lace!


Ironically, I have just finished my first lace project, Tiger Eye Scarf, and still need to block it. I look forward to finding a project to use the Malabrigo Lace...any ideas???

08 January 2009

Shocker

Mom and Dad received a bit of a shock yesterday when they went to see the oncologist before Dad's scheduled appointment for his first chemo treatment. Dad does NOT have lung cancer! Dad does have melanoma. Yes, skin cancer. The doctor checked my dad from head to toe yesterday and did not find one mole or spot that would suggest Dad has melanoma. Dad has no outward signs of melanoma.

The oncologist has already contacted doctors at NIH to get Dad into a clinical trial. I'm sure that more details on this will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, Dad will not have to go to have chemo at the hospital but will be taking chemo pills at home. He will have to take 5 pills a day for 5 days then be off for 28 days and start again. We do not know how long this will continue right now.

Hopefully, in the coming days we will know more information. As always, please keep Dad in your thoughts and prayers.

07 January 2009

My two favorite things!

It has been brought to my attention that two of my favorite things can now be done AT THE SAME TIME!

I read many knitting blogs and KRAFTY1 mentioned this on her Web Wednesday post:



I'm going to have to investigate this some more...but be sure that I will be Kniittiing with my Wii!

05 January 2009

First Round of Radiation Complete

Dad had no problems with his first round of radiation today. No pain. No nausea. No nothing. He was still having some back pain and called the doctor about his pain medications. The oncologist gave him a higher mg dosage of the oxycodone and also a percacet prescription to use as needed.

When I talked to Dad this evening, he sounded well and in good spirits. The doctor did ask him a strange question about whether or not he had ever had sun cancer...of course, Dad didn't ask the all important question of late...WHY???? Of course I chastised both Dad and Mom and they will be asking LOTS of questions when they see the oncologist on Wednesday.

So far, all is going well. Please keep the prayers and good thoughts moving in Dad's direction!

04 January 2009

This week...

This week is a big week for both Mom and Dad.

Mom will have her follow up appointment with the surgeon who performed the carpal tunnel surgery.  She's been having some pain in her arm.  Hopefully there will only be good news.

Dad begins his radiation treatments tomorrow morning.  He will go in again on Tuesday and Thursday for the lesion near his spine.  On Wednesday he will have the treatment for the lesion on his brain.  He will also begin chemo on Wednesday.  The doctors have said that the pain in his back will be relieved with the three shots of radiation.  I hope so!  Seeing Dad in so much pain is difficult.  Plus I don't think he knows how to deal with the pain since he has never really experienced pain other than muscle aches and strains.  

Dad did go to work yesterday(crazy man), but he needs to keep busy.  

Please keep your thoughts and prayers with Mom and especially Dad this week.  Love to all!