Regular readers might have noticed that I've been absent... The reason is that I've been away - staying near Melinda who was admitted 4 nights ago to the University Medical Center. Between long hours at her bedside, a couple hours a day with cat chores, and a few hours to sleep, there hasn't been blogging time. We also agreed we didn't need to blog about her stay till we knew more about what was going on, but time to let you know.
While the radiation treatments started out fine, the addition of chemo introduced side-effects that weren't a bother to her during her earlier cycles of chemo alone. Starting about a week into the radiation, she developed a sore throat (the largest tumor location they are treating is very near her esophagus). It was not totally unexpected, but got so bad by last Thursday not only could she not eat soft food, but any food at all, or even drink and swallow water. We went to the Cancer Center last Friday for fluid infusion to keep her hydrated. After blood tests showed her white blood count (WBC) had crashed to extremely low levels, it was decided that she should be admitted to the hospital that afternoon (7 February) for care.
While UMC care is exceedingly good, going in late on a Friday isn't always a good idea. With the weekend, fill-in doctors not aware of her complications always seem to put off specific plans of action till the new weeks starts, and that was the case. IV pain meds over the weekend couldn't touch her sore throat pain, so she is still off food and water, but getting fluids via IV as well. Her WBC is still exceedingly low making her an infection risk, so she's been getting some strong antibiotics as well. They've transfused a unit of blood and platelets, but the effects were short-lived. They took her off her blood thinners (we're both on Coumadin for different reasons), and are using an injectable version so she can tolerate a gastroscopy to see what is going on. They'll also give her another unit of platelets before hand to prevent bleeding if they scratch her esophagus. So we'll know more after tomorrow, but that is what has been going on. No serious talk of a stomach tube yet for feeding, perhaps after tomorrow's procedure, or when we have a cause for her symptoms. Of course, she is off radiation treatments for now, but likely just delayed until she feels better. So her future treatment plan is still uncertain. Friends local to Tucson should not rush to visit as infection is still a fear - and the oncology ward doesn't allow food, plants or flowers. So send best wishes from afar for now and stay tuned for news!
UPDATE: Melinda's gastroscopy was, for various reasons, pushed back to today (Wed.). She got two units of platelets, and her WBC has tripled from her low. Best, her throat feels better and her pain has moderated from even earlier yesterday. She was able to tackle a bowl of broth last night before she went NPO for today's procedure. All good news!
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Wow! You came all of the way from _______ to visit us?!!!
Credit where credit is due...
All photos are by Dean and Melinda Ketelsen - even the really cool astrophotography ones. Granted, some pics have come from the Internet...such as pictures of actors, or of Miss Tohono O'odham, etc. However, the astronomy pics, as well as the bird pics are all original - compliments of Dean, and sometimes Melinda too! Layout, editing, and continual tweaking (I think they call that "desk top publishing"), well, that would be the work of "I know I can make this better" Melinda!