Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Getting Things Done

It seems like all of mom's "good" days are being wasted on endless doctor's appointments! Today she felt well enough to get out, but we had a hearing appointment in the morning (a requirement of the clinical trial) and the chemo-teaching appointment in the afternoon. We aren't entirely sure what the hearing test was for, but mom's hearing is fine, so that's nice to know. Hopefully the trial drug (if she is in one of the groups that gets the drug) won't make her go deaf. The boys and I waited in the reception area while she took the test, and apparently they were noticed by some older ladies who decided to comment very loudly (in front of my mom, not me) that they wondered if Nic and Tommy were from Africa and if they were part of "some church program." I'm not sure if they were thinking they were part of a very young children's choir or if they thought that people routinely borrow African children for periods of time. I really wish I could have asked. The best part? They thought they were whispering to each other...

The hearing test was conveniently located right next to See's Candy, so we stopped by to stock up on treats for Easter baskets. That place was a zoo! I'm glad we didn't go at a busy time because we never would have survived the lines. Neither mom nor I seem to have much stamina lately.

After lunch and a rest, we went back out for mom's chemo-teaching appointment. A nurse at Cancer Care sat us down and explained what side effects mom might expect from her chemo treatments. Of course she could only speak to the side effects of the routine chemo that mom will be receiving, not to any side effects caused by the drug from the trial. The way the trial works is as follows: all patients receive the most common chemo for pancreatic cancer. The patients are randomly divided into three groups, and one group receives the trial drug at a high level, one group gets it at a lower level, and a third gets a placebo. Thus, by enrolling in the trial mom has the chance to receive a new drug, but there is also a chance that she will only be getting standard chemo (but this is what she would be doing had she not enrolled). In two months they will assess her status, and if her cancer is not getting better then she will drop out of the trial and have the option to try a different type of chemo that is a little more aggressive.

According to the nurse, the standard chemo for pancreatic cancer has generally mild side effects compared to many types of chemotherapy. There are always some people who have unusual or extreme reactions, but overall they don't expect it to be as miserable as some. That's something anyway. We also learned about some more medications mom might have to take and some strategies for combating the most common side effects of chemotherapy. At the end of the appointment we toured the infusion rooms, and were pleasantly surprised by how nice they were. Mom starts up her chemo on Friday afternoon, and will be on a steady schedule with the trial for the next eight weeks.

After the appointment mom came home and rested some more. She had tickets to an Easter program for children this evening that she was very determined to take the boys to, and she made it. You really should not stand in her way when she wants something! I wish you could have seen her herd us all out the door. The program was perfect- it really captured Tommy's interest. Even Nic made it almost all the way through. It was an abbreviated "Pageant of the Masters" with little skits that explained the paintings and children singing. As a bonus, the seats were comfortable and it was dark, so I got to half-nap. It's the little things that count.

Please pray that mom's first chemo round goes well, that she would experience few side effects and that she would be encouraged to continue with treatments. And most of all, pray that her tumor SHRINKS!

Please continue to pray for her ongoing pain management. Things are getting better, but it is slow and frustrating.

In other news, I have finally found an OB! It took far more blood, sweat, and tears than it should have. The troubles were an interesting mix of Anthem Blue Cross having the lamest website ever, which led to me calling a bunch of OB's who were PPO only (huge waste of my time), then having a great deal of trouble getting an OB to take me at 35 weeks, and then having issues finding an office manager willing to make ONE phone call to verify my insurance. I seriously wonder if I would have gotten anywhere had it not been for one of my dad's co-workers who actually drove to her OB, explained the situation in person, and asked them to take me. She accomplished in one morning what I could not accomplish with a week of phone calls (thanks Wendy!). I have an appointment on Thursday!

I'm feeling fairly accomplished this week. Not only do I have an OB, I washed, dried, and folded a week's worth of laundry from five people, there are almost no dishes in the sink, mom successfully got to all her appointments today, AND her room is painted. To be clear, I did not paint it. However, I did call the painter...and I explained the urgency of the situation, and he got it done today. The color is beautiful. I'm hoping to post pictures once we get all the furniture set back up. Also, we found mom's camera. It had been missing all week, which explains why the blog has been so boring. It was under the couch.


Robin said...

Thank you for all the info. Tell Mary I have been shopping for mom and got all her meds ordered for mail delivery. Uncle David

Wendy said...

Beautiful pictures, Amy. The boys are so happy and Poppa and Jjaja look wonderful too. Take it from this mom of two, listen to your body when you feel you need rest. Your "accomplished week" of clean-up sounds suspiciously like "nesting". Sending prayers and warm thoughts!

Cindy said...

I am keeping you all in my prayers. I wanted to share with you a tip we learned when I father in law as going through chemo. There were times when the food was "terrible" it all tasted like metal. The solution: Eating with plastic utensiles. Worked like a charm.
Cindy Asher