Friday, March 06, 2009
My mom called the hospital at 7pm last night, and was very surprised to find out my aunt had been released at 6pm, and taken back to the nursing home. The people at the home were surprised too, it was very short notice; they just got a call from the hospital and they were told "she's on way back". But, we thought since they had her on Xanax when we last saw her that afternoon, that that was the reason she seemed so out of it.
This morning, my aunt's nurse at the home called my mom. She was very concerned, because my aunt was pretty much unresponsive, and didn't know her own name at first. She was also asking to go back to the hospital. They wanted to wait until my mom and I got out there to see her for ourselves, they felt she was released from the hospital too soon, and wanted to know if we agreed before deciding what to do next.
In the meantime, before we got out there, she did perk up a little bit, though nowhere near as good as she was on Wednesday night, about 12 hours after the stroke at that time. They were able to feed her a little bit, and she seemed to be happy to be finally eating a little bit.
Before we saw my aunt, we talked with the nursing director. We all agree she was sent back to early, and we are wondering if she perhaps had one or more mini strokes since being admitted to the hospital, or having some type of seizure activity going on. For now, she is still at the home, and they are taking excellent care of her. They are going to have her doctor evaluate her again, and they also have a neurologist they can take her to to be evaluated. They will call my mom if they get any news or anything changes.
I think she is much worse than she was Wednesday evening. I also think that hospital released her because she was a nursing home patient, thinking that the nursing home could take care of her. If it had been anyone else, I don't see how they thought she was in any kind of condition to be released.
She knew my mom was there today, but I don't think she really knew me, or was even aware I was there; she barely opened her eyes, and was going back to sleep when we left there this afternoon. So for now, we are waiting to see what her doctor says and then we will decide from there what to do next.
It's in the low 50's here. A short time ago I got back from a 20 minute walk. I am still having my hip pain, but lately it hurts less when I am up and moving than when I am sitting. I am taking it easy though, and not going for speed when I'm walking, just trying to get my muscles stretched and used to moving again. I really wasn't hurting much at all while walking. I'm a little sore now, but not any more sore than I was before I went walking. I took a pain pill to hopefully prevent feeling more soreness later.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
I found this recipe on About.com
I made it last night and it was very good, I had mine with wild rice.
MIDDLE EASTERN CHICKEN
4 5-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast
2 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom *
1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and well rinsed
2 garlic cloves, slivered
1 14.5 ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro **
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place chicken breast in a glass baking dish large enough to accommodate the chicken in one layer. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine spices in a small bowl and sprinkle over chicken, followed by garlic slivers.
Pour garbanzo beans over chicken followed by the tomatoes. Bake uncovered 25 minutes.
Serve with couscous, rice or creamy polenta.
Per serving: Calories 321, fat 4.2 g, sodium 235 mg, carbs 29.7 g, fiber 7.9 g, protein 41.3 g
* I could not find cardomom in the store, and I heard it's a very expensive spice anyway, so I substituted allspice.
** The recipe did not specify what to do with the cilantro, so I mixed mine with the tomatoes before pouring the tomatoes over the beans.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
My mom and I went back to see my aunt last night, around 6pm. She seemed to doing slightly better then. She was talking a little better. She had a worked a little bit with a speech therapist, and did good with that. She is on a soft food diet for now, and she has to have someone feed her, because they only want her taking very small bites of food right now. She was able though to hold a cup on her own and drink through a straw. She seemed happy to see us, but we didn't stay long, she was obviously very tired and we could tell she was ready to go to sleep.
My mom called and talked to her nurse this morning. She was frustrated when she tried to get out of bed but couldn't, but then she remembered that she had had a stroke. But today she keeps thinking she is back at the nursing home, not the hospital, and keeps asking to go back to her "room"; meaning her room at the nursing home.
I had already made plans before this happened to get together with a couple of friends for lunch, and since my aunt was stable, I kept my plans. It's a small town, and if I were needed at the hospital if something came up, the restaurant was only a few minutes from the hospital anyway. But I think I needed that time just to talk and laugh with my friends for an hour.
Around 2pm my mom and I went to the hospital to see my aunt. She was kind of out of it; she became very agitated when Dawn, one of the student nurses, went home for the day. She really liked Dawn, and when she needed something after Dawn's shift was over, she became very upset that Dawn wasn't there, and wasn't understanding that Dawn went home and another nurse had taken over for her. Just before we got there, they had to give her something to calm her down. She was also on oxygen today, which she wasn't yesterday. But I think maybe they put her on that after she became stressed out over Dawn.
She didn't seem to know my mom and I were there today, but she kept calling out for Dawn, and you could tell the drugs they gave her to calm her down were making her sleepy, and she was trying to fight it.
It was discouraging that she didn't seem to be doing as well as when we left her last night, but I'm sure the sedation drug had a lot to do with it. It's got to be hard for them to keep her calm, but not so drugged up that she can't do her therapy to get better.
I just pray that she recovers enough to enjoy life again, and not have to be confined to a bed and feel confused all the time. I want her to live, but I want her to have quality of life too.
I just took a pain pill for my hip. Yesterday, the day after my Zometa treatment, that hip didn't hurt at all; I just felt the usual bone pain in my other leg instead. The same thing happened with my Zometa treatment last month; the hip pain mysteriously disapeared the day after my treatment, only to return as usual the next day. But the fact that I was pain free for a couple of days in that hip tells me that it should be possible to have more pain free days. But the bone pain in my right leg is gone today; with the Zometa, the bone pain is usually gone within about 36 hours.
I am hoping the next nerve block injection, which I'll be getting on the 17th, will make me feel even better. The local university here is doing their own Relay for Life, a 12 hour one instead of a 24 hour, at their indoor recreation center March 20th. I got an invitation to the Survivor Celebration and would really like to go, and be able to walk a few laps. This Relay is being done by the university; we will still be having the usual 24 hour Relay in the fall that Mecosta county has been doing for years.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
My Aunt Elinor is my mom's oldest sister. While I was growing up, she was a like a grandmother to me; two of my grandparents died before I was born, and the remaining two were gone by the time I was 7 years old.
She had a major stroke in Feb. 2003. It's amazing she survived it, as she was on her floor for 3 days before anyone found her, and one more night and she wouldn't have made it. She recovered enough to walk with a walker, after her doctor said she'd never be out of a wheelchair, and she got her speech back. She could no longer live on her own though, and had to move into a nursing home. She still had her mind intact though, and was always busy with whatever activities were going on there, and her favorite was bingo. She loves the people that work there, and they love her too.
This morning though, she wouldn't respond when they tried to wake her up, and give her morning meds. So after calling 911, they called my mom. I went to the ER with my mom. She was showing all the signs of a stroke, and couldn't move her left side, (her previous stroke was also on her left side). They did a CT scan, and no bleeding was found in the brain, so they gave her a clot busting drug, TPA. The TPA carries a risk of bleeding, especially with age; and my aunt is 88. But without the drug, she would not get any better than she was when she was brought into the ER, and she would have wanted to try the drug, despite the risk.
When we got there, she could talk a little, but not very well, and she could not open one eye.
She knew my mom and I though, and knew she was in the hospital. But she kept saying she wanted to go back to Metron (the name of the nursing home.) She understood she had a stroke, but didn't seem to understand why she needed to stay in the hospital to treat it.
They admitted her to a room around noon. She seemed to be much calmer there; I think because it was just a much more comfortable bed. By the time we left late this afternoon, she was talking a little better, and was moving her left foot. But she's not out of the woods yet. We still don't know to what extent this will affect her, and there is still a danger that the TPA will cause a bleed.
So far we have not spoken yet with her regular doctor, only the ER doctor. Mom and I will be going back to see her around 6pm tonight.
I am doing ok; I am feeling some bone pain from my Zometa treatment yesterday, but I know that pain is temporary, I will be a lot better tomorrow. My GERD is aggravated a little bit; mostly because of my diet today. I had no breakfast, I only ate a cereal bar before heading to the ER, and there wasn't much to pick from for lunch in the hospital cafeteria; they had taco salad fixings and nachoes today. I had a salad with tomatoes, (had one of those single serving packets of Kraft fat free dressing in my purse that I used), and had a small plate of nachoes with a little bit of meat and melted cheese. I am still tasting that meat! It had more grease in it than I am use to eating. But I plan to take the time tonight to eat a good dinner before I go back up there.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Today is the day of my once every 4 weeks appointment with Dr.Pawl, my oncologist, and my treatment day. I thought today would be a good day to explain a little about my cancer, and how it is being treated, for some of my newer friends here that haven't known me since the "beginning."
I'll try to stick to just the facts for now; the emotional and mental part is a whole other blog, which I plan to blog about soon; I just don't want to make this post too terribly long.
First, a little background. I had a lumpectomy in April 2003 after finding a lump in my breast; the pathology report came back that it was cancer, and I actually had two lumps, one behind the other lump that I could not feel. After discussing it with the surgeon and Dr. Pawl, because of my age (I was 39), and a strong family history of cancer, I opted to have a bilateral mastectomy. I had that done in May 2003. That lead to my diagnosis of stage 2 breast cancer. From June to December of that year, I went through chemo, and had radiation in 2004. That was followed by about a year and a half of Tamoxifen, then I was switched to Arimidex. I also started getting Lupron injections in Feb. 2004, every 3 months, to stop my periods.
In April of 2007, I was diagnosed with bone metatasis, or "bone mets" as they are also called. What that means is that my breast cancer returned and went to the bones. Most of the mets were in my pelvic bones and left hip, those in the hip being the only ones causing me pain at the time. I had radiation to my hip that spring, not as a cure, but to relieve the pain. Bone mets are automatically stage 4. That means that while they are not curable, they are treatable; and much easier than treat than cancer that has spread to an organ, so in that respect, I was lucky, it could have been a lot worse.
So, this is the monthly treatment I have been on since April 2007. I get Zometa through an infusion. It's not chemo, so I didn't lose my hair this time or have most of the bad side effects of the chemo drugs like I did in 2003. It is a drug to build up the bones; the biggest danger with bone mets is the possibility of the bones weakening and breaking. Sometimes, bones mets are not even discovered until a woman breaks a bone from a fall or an accident. Mine were discovered through a PET/CT scan followed by a bone scan. The first two infusions were the wost; they caused very bad widespread bone pain for two days afterwards, but by the 3rd or 4th treatment, the side effects begin to lessen. Now I just feel mildly achy the next day.
After the Zometa infusion, I get my Faslodex injection. That is a treatment for the cancer itself. It hurts going in; it goes into the hip, and they have to use a thick needle and push it in slow. It also causes me to have a migraine. I had to go the ER a few hours after my first shot for that reason. After that, my Dr. Pawl gave me a prescription for Fioricet to take after my treatment. It makes me very sleepy, but it prevents a migraine at least. It's a pretty strong pill; you can only take one every 12 hours, but all I ever need is just one. I get a prescription for 10 pills at a time, and it last me most of the year.
I still have my Lupron injections once every three months.
So, this is what it is like for me typically the day of and the day after a treatment. My appointments are always on Tuesdays; Dr. Pawl's office is in a bigger city out of town, he comes to the Specialty Clinic at our hospital on Tuesdays. I usually spend quite a bit of time just waiting in the waiting room, very rarely are things right on time there, but I am still thankful not to have to spend that time on the road traveling to see him. My mom brings me, because I feel a little light headed after a treatment so I do not want to drive. I bring my bag packed with a book to read, and my Nintendo DS; along with a little snack and a bottle of water. I see Dr. Pawl first, then I go into another little room, and my mom is there with me, and get hooked up to the IV for my Zometa. That takes 20-30 minutes to drip through, then I get my Faslodex, then when I leave, I get my appointment to come in get my blood drawn through my port for my lab work, then a week after the labs are done, I come in for Dr. Pawl and my treatment again.
I take my Fioricet as soon as I get home, which is usually very late in the afternoon. My appointments are usually around 3pm. I get into my pajamas, and just relax and take it easy for the evening. Sometimes I get on the computer til the pain pill starts making me feel a little "fuzzy", then I move on to the recliner in the living room, and just veg out in front of the tv for the night, until I feel ready to go to bed for the night.
I sleep in Wednesday morning, then I spend Wednesday not doing much of anything, not anything strenuous anyway. I'm always a little achy that day from the Zometa, and I feel little wiped out from the pain pill. By Thursday, I'm usually back to feeling normal. So, knowing what to expect, and knowing that the worst of the side effects are only for a couple of days, makes it easier to tolerate. It's not nearly as bad as the chemo I had in 2003, and I have it pretty easy right now compared to the treatment many other people living with cancer have to go through.
As for my hip/leg/knee pain issue, I have been seeing a pain specialist, Dr. Basch, for that since November. After many test and different injections, the problem has finally been narrowed down. I learned last month that I have scar tissue on my femoral nerve, which is most likely a result of the radiation I had on my hip. Dr. Basch just started me on treatments with nerve blocks, and I had my first nerve block a week ago. I am starting to feel a little improvement with that; I still have the hip pain, but most of the pain in the rest of my leg and knee is gone.
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