Friday, August 29, 2014

And the hits just keep on comin'....

Nothing can ever go easy.  I think it's an actual law of physics at this point.  Just as we're getting settled into the routine, something has to come along and mess with it.

This round of chemo went a little differently.  They are having a hard time getting one of the drugs on time.  So they started on the other 3 first, and then while we were there, they got the shipment they needed.  Thankfully.   But something about the change in order has made it a little harder on Tommy this time, nausea and fatigue is worse.

Wednesday, on our way in to get is Nulasta shot, we got rear ended.  It wasn't a bad wreck by any means, but it was one hell of a jolt. Especially since we were at a complete stop at a red light.   Tommy ended up getting a ride to the hospital from the local EMS -  the seat belt compressed against his port -  he was in agony.  And we needed to make sure the port and the vein didn't suffer any damage.  The X rays came back clear, thank God, no damage, no internal bleeding.   But it's still a whole new world of pain.

Both of us are still pretty dang sore though.  He's got the double whammy of the pain from the shot and the soreness and stiffness from the hit.  Thankful the guy that hit us has insurance -- more thankful that it's the same carrier I have - hoping that makes it easy enough.  

He's back at the doctor today with sore back, neck and headache. I know I'll have to make some time somewhere to go in, the twinges in my back aren't getting any better and the Alleve isn't working as good as it did the first couple days.  Now just to find the time to do that...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Another Round for the Birthday Boy!

Let's have another round for the birthday boy!

Used to be we'd say that for the weekend at a local dive bar..  not quite the same.  The 25th is Tommy's birthday - we'll be celebrating it with lab work and gearing up for chemo on Tuesday. (We are having a family celebration on the weekend too.. so there will be some fun).

I've been in terrible head space to write anything lately, but figured it was time for me to give it another go anyway.  Last treatment was postponed by a couple of days, doc said it was because of difficulty getting one of the drugs.  I think it was fate (and partly sneaky doctor).

There was a young kid -- 22 -- there for his first session, with worried Momma.  As the day wore on I finally had a chance to talk to worried Momma, and Tommy had a chance to talk to The Kid.  Come to find out, same type of cancer, same treatments, and we should be on the same schedule as them, I heard they were slated to come back next week as well.  It was good to have the fellowship with worried Momma, I hope I was able to ease some of her concerns and give her some advice that helped after his first treatment.

Doc came in late in the day and said he had hoped we'd have a chance to talk to one another - of course he couldn't tell either one of us what was going on with the other, but was hoping...  I had to laugh at that.  

This will be the third treatment out of the initial six that are planned -  half way through!  But it's starting to show on him now.  He's having a hard time sleeping and getting comfortable, but I did notice the lumps in his abdomen are gone to barely noticeable now, so it's working! The food fight is continuing but lessening; he's getting at least one good meal in a day and snacking through the night.  While he's lost a little bit of weight, his clothes are still fitting.  He's agreed that taking one of the nausea meds helps if he takes it before a meal. Smells are setting him off at times, we've learned that fish for dinner might sound good, but the smell is a no-no.  The mouth sores are still an issue, which makes soft food a must while they heal.  Soups are good,  even if it is 100+ outside here. At least I can pack a lot of veggies and nutrition into a soup.  I think he's had a touch of a chest cold the last week or so.  A slight fever at times is normal, so hard to say what is from the cough and what is from the chemo.  But he's not really felt like venturing out of the house as much as he was for awhile.  I suppose at least that keeps the exposure to the germs to a minimum.

Depression.  That has been the going word around the house for the last few weeks.  For him, for me, for my mom.  I know it's common --there's a lot of fear and anger with cancer.  But it's still not something to be taken lightly.  Add in the unsettled patterns for sleep and eating and generalized chaos that comes, it can get quite overwhelming at times. Best I know to do is  JUST.KEEP.DOING.  I won't lie -  there were about 3 days I did nothing but lay in bed and cry.  I realized, that wasn't helping me, and that certainly wasn't helping him.  That being said... there might be some that can't "snap themselves" out of the depression  -- I'm still depressed, I'm just forcing myself to, at the very least, go through the motions of the day.   If YOU or someone you know is facing depression-- no matter that cause, there are several groups that can help. 

For families of those with cancer, there are support groups available. American Cancer Society has several.  If your depression is not cancer related the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has support groups by TYPE of anxiety or depression.

That being said.... if you are EVER thinking of just ending it all. First of... please don't.  Consider what your loved ones will go through first. (If you're saying I have no loved ones, Bullshit, I love you, even if I don't *know* you, you are loved).  Second please call the suicide prevention lifeline
1-800-273-8255.  Depression is NOT weakness - it is a physical, chemical imbalance in the brain.  It is an illness just as much as a cold, or flu, or cancer.

Monday, August 11, 2014



I hate cliches and except in movies, I have never heard any Fire Fighter use the the term. Well in Chemo it has some lovely side effects. When the nurse mentioned it I had to laugh inside as I sat there wearing a FD t-shirt...(ask FF Girl, I only wear FD shirts). I have heard Jobs, Workers, 10-75s and a few other names for fires, but what the hell is this Red Devil? The name of the drug is Adriamycin that is bright red in color and is delivered into the port in my chest by this horse size syringe that has to be administered slowly as not to cause heart damage. As she was prepping this, she covered me with a large pad. Inquiring minds want to know, so I asked why? Her response "If this gets on your skin it will burn". Wait...what? You are putting this into the main line to my heart and it is ok? I have been in a few fires that scared the crap out of me but this blew my mind. Well the side effects (which the first nurse failed to mention) include your urine turning bright red. Wellllll..this is one guy that sees bright red urine and gets worried. Thank God we had the notes on the meds I get and we read the side effects. Hopefully this gives you some insight into the RED DEVIL. As always..Never Give up, Never Give In  and Never Forget.....Da Chappy

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Food Fight

I come from a "foodie family".  Food is love - Mom always had a good breakfast ready for us kids before school, and a warm dinner for the family in the evening.

Tommy's family on his mom's side is Italian -- if they are feeding you, they are loving you.

For those that don't have these backgrounds or a passion for cooking and creating it is hard to understand that feeling of satisfaction and completion when you present your loved ones with a good nourishing meal, and how a part of your heart goes into it.

One of the side effects of the chemotherapy is altering the way food tastes.  For a former chef like Tommy, that could be likened to maiming the hand of a master pianist.  The loss is terrible.  Some lose the ability to taste at all, others the taste is metallic, or things just don't "taste right".  It's an itch you just can't scratch when craving comfort foods and favorites.

Tommy's sense of taste has started to become altered. Metal utensils leave a metallic taste in his mouth, so we've now switched to all plastic ware. (Bonus.... fewer dishes to wash!)  The down side... I had to endure a series of  "does this taste like it's gone bad/stale" episodes.  That was a lose/lose situation there, and I have now adopted a "when in doubt, throw it out" stance. 

However, this brings the problem of getting enough nutrition in him.  Along with the not feeling good, and nausea, the food just doesn't taste right.  So there is a disappointment in the expectations and cravings that just can't be met right now.  Additionally, there are the mouth sores to deal with.  The chemo doesn't just attack the bad cancer cells; it also goes after the good cells too, and usually the lining of the mouth, esophagus and stomach take the first rounds of hits. 

Now I am NOT a nutritionist,  and won't even start with the claim that if you eat the right foods, in the right orders with the stars aligned the right way you will cure your cancer without treatment.  In my opinion, that's just foolish, dangerous and deadly. And don't even get me started on the dangerous- to- manufacture hemp oil magic elixir without some concrete, scientifically proven results.

 HOWEVER, the body needs more nutrition and more proteins to fight off the cancer, and heal against the unwanted effects of the chemo.  My goal is to be able to help him maintain a certain amount of nutrients, minimize the weight loss, and keep him feeling as strong as he can during treatment.  Food is fuel, and this fight takes a lot of fueling.

Speaking of fights.. our days usually go like this.

Me: "Have you eaten"
Him:  "No"  or "I'm not hungry"
Me:  "I didn't ask if you were hungry, you're going to eat anyway".

At which point he either gives in, or I give up for a few hours and we repeat the process. Smoothies, as long as they aren't too acidic, have been a great way to get good nutrition and calories in him when he has no appetite.  I also found a protein powder at a health food store  I can sneak into the  smoothie without him noticing.  (Shh, honey don't read that part). 

The problem remains that what tastes good to the unaltered palate,  might not work for the one affected by the chemo. Since flavors have been dulled to him, he usually piles on jalapenos and hot sauce. (We now buy each by the vat.)

There has been a good book I've found recipes that sound (and what we have tried are) tasty, and are broken down in a way you can tell if it is good for a nauseated day, or a sore mouth day, if they need more or less fiber, things that are high protein, and nutrient dense.  The book  The Cancer Fighting Kitchen has been a go-to for me for ideas, even if I don't have all the ingredients on hand, I can still switch things around enough that it tastes good to all of us.
I was told even if he didn't feel like eating - one or two bites of something - anything- every few hours is a good thing right now.  It can be applesauce, pudding, a part of a sandwich, what ever he will just take 2 bites out of.  And that is enough for now. 

~~FF's girl 

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