Friday Feb. 20, 09 Chemo#4
I met Dad and Val at chemo at around 10am (they had arrived at around 9 am). Val was positioned in the recliner chemo chair already connected to her infusasport with the beginning IV's. She looked good, smiling and comfortable all wrapped in throw blankets as the chemo infusion makes one cold. She was wearing the black hat Cindy Catto made her and using the blanket Nancy made for her. Tony her chemo nurse was there. I got to spend the whole time with both of them as Joe was with John, Jazanne and all the kids at Bolton Valley skiing. There was no complications or reactions so she was able to eat her lunch, and was disconnected around 3:30. At that time she had her visit with Dr. Eltabacck (I will learn his correct spelling sometime I promise). He listened to her lungs which he felt were a little cleared, but a mild pleural effusion still remains on the right. He recommended they still keep the oxygen at home for one more chemo cycle. He agreed with them being off the oxygen since last Friday as her oxygen levels remain in the low 90's without it. He palpated her abdomen which he stated was less distended than last visit. Val asked about on spot on her upper left quadrant that was bothering her. He explained that it was the internal stitches which do not dissolve. He specifically asked her if she had gotten OUT. She proudly said yes that she had visited some puppies at which time they then talked dogs for two minutes as he has an old dog and asked about her dog Fuller who has come to some of her visits with her there. I reinforced to Val that the Dr. wants her to be going out and doing things especially since he was asking. We are all so happy for her that she has been going down stairs once a day for the past five days and we hope this exercise continues. By going downstairs she exercises her lungs, all her muscles, and gets to eat her meals with Dad at the kitchen table. I also reminded Val how deconditioned she was in general as she has been been sick in bed these last two and 1/2 months. Val has lost about 30 lbs since Nov. , and 3-4 lbs. since her last MD visit. The Ca-125 marker was down to 89 (Yes that is something to be happy about) down from 245 after last chemo treatment. Her hemoglobin remains to be stable at 10-11. Normal is 14. I asked Tony why not give the one more tansfusion of blood to bump her up to the 14, she would feel alt better?? She said that they only give the transfusions if the levels are below 8, that all chemo patients hover at 10-11. The nulasta shot will be given on this Wednesday by the home health nurse, and Val and Dad no longer will travel to Burlington to get this shot. (Yes this makes them very happy also) This is because as of Jan 09 insurance is no longer reimbursing the MD office for the shot, but Val can get it from the pharmacy. The shot should be given in her arm not her abdomen. Val was able to NOT take her pain medicine Thursday night as this is when she began her steroids prior to chemo treatment. We asked the MD if we should take the steroids instead of the narcotic addicting pain medication. He said NO. He doesn't recommend taking these steroids any longer than necessary. Val was in full agreement and didn't want to do this anyway. Steroids have side effects no matter what dose one takes. The steroids do make Val feel like a 100 dollars ( I would love to use the expression a million dollars, but I don't think anyone would feel this way when they are going through chemo treatments), and she uses them to avoid nausea, vomiting and diarrhea after the chemo treatments. She will try not to take the pain medication while she is taking the steroids in the next five days. I also asked the MD if there was anything Val should be doing more to help keep her liver and kidney healthy as they filter all these poisons out of her body? He stated she didn't need to do anything different, and reinforced to her that she was doing BETTER. That made her smile.
I went with Dad grocery shopping while Val was having her infusions. We found her favorite blueberries and Odwalla strawberry drinks along with some other new treats. He hates to throw away food at home and with Val's finicky taste buds she will eat something one day and not the next. It is a lot of work to think of three meals a day, prepare them and do the dishes. We hope he begins to use the dishwasher every other day run a load...it would help reduce the time he has to spend in the kitchen. He should have no guilt about throwing things away (Just throw it away!), but he wasn't brought up to waste as a child, we can all understand where he is coming from. A BIG THANK YOU to all their friends, neighbors, and relatives who continue to make meals for them as this is VERY MUCH appreciated.
Val's coumadin level fluctuates with how much minestrone soup of Lea's that she eats as well as how much vegetables she eats. Apparently there is a list of veggies which includes ONIONS that will lower the levels so she has to AVOID these ( I will list them when I get the list). Val has to be careful to remember to elevate her leg when she is sitting, but overall has little pain in her leg from the DVT, despite not using the compression stockings or the Jobst stockings.
At 4pm they left the office visit to encounter black ice from Burlington to Waterbury. They made it home safely at 5:00. Both of them were tired and from the long day.
Love and Prayers to Val Salynn