I remember how Steven was during chemo the first time, but I must have forgotten how he was BEFORE that first chemo. I do remember that we found out during tests that took place in the hospital, so he had to be pretty sick if he was in the hospital. Probably as sick as he is now. I just don’t remember it clearly. As I watch him suffer here at home, it’s KILLING me that I can’t do anything. On the other hand, I’m glad he’s waiting it out in the comfort of our home, rather than having his days pass uncomfortably in a bed that crunches when you move!
We go to see Dr. Sprawls on Tuesday and he’ll have the results of the biopsies from last week. The biopsies alone are good reason to feel like crap! He looks like he was in a knife fight in a biker bar. He has stab marks from a scalpel in several places on his neck and chest and a surgically implanted port in his chest. Count your blessing that I don’t have a pic of the incision in his arm pit. It looks like a monkey’s lady parts. (Don’t ask how I know…I just do, OK?)
Unfortunately, this cancer thing is really powerful stuff. I’ve watched it take down my tough guy in just a few weeks. He is now laying in bed, struggling to catch his breath. I would be willing to bet that some of the fluid that was drained from his abdomen last Monday is back. And the lesser amount that was not drained has probably increased. His belly is huge again and unless he’s about to deliver a pack of Gosselin’s, it’s our old archenemy Lymphoma trying to get in a couple of sucker punches before the chemo bell rings. He’s in a lot of pain that doesn’t seem to be managed by the hydocodone that’s been prescribed. So here I sit, watching him sleep and wishing I could fix it. I do know that caregivers sometimes think a sick person is safer in the hospital where there are drugs, and oxygen tanks and specialists. But the waiting game is worse in the big house…that I know from experience.
So with that in mind, I thought I’d share a few more words of wisdom for cancer newbies. These particular tidbits cross over to ANY situation that involves a hospital. Three key things to remember are:
- Any time frames in a hospital need to have 12-24 hours factored into them. If your doctor says you’ll be out by noon, order dinner because you’ll be out some where between 6PM and the next day. If the nurse says the hospital pharmacy is sending some new pain meds right up…bite on a bullet and add +2-4 hours. And if you like your roommate and he’s making the time pass nicely for you while he recovers from something serious…expect a miracle because he’ll be leaving tomorrow at noon.
- No matter how sick you are and how frightened and helpless you feel, understand that sometime within the first day you will receive a visit from the Angel of Debt – the hospital payment Nazi. She’ll show up with a clipboard and a sneer and will throw around giant numbers that will make you want to throw in the towel. Don’t. Don’t listen, don’t worry and don’t let her bully you. Just realize that there are some serial killers who don’t have the stomach to kill…so they work in the payment offices of hospitals across the land. The bills WILL wait for you.
- There is always ONE nurse Cratchit. No matter how many caring, sweet, understanding nurses there are on your floor, that one devil-nurse will darken your door at least once. She’ll hate you from the jump and you’ll hate her right back and it will be a long shift. Just remember, it’s better to get drugs than be right. And better than that – all shifts come to an end!
So for now, the only joyous moments Steven is having are the short minutes he can tolerate sitting and watching our cute new puppy Lucy Mae. I picked her up on Friday and she is the smallest, sweetest thing we’ve had here since Maritza was a Whippet baby. The one upside to a puppy that I overlooked when factoring in this little addition to our family is that puppy=baby=napper. So when Steven feel so exhausted that he can’t sit up…he’s got a willing partner to cuddle up for a snooze.