Sunday, November 05, 2006

Jim's Doing So Well

I know it's only temporary. I know he is end-stage. But it feels so good for the time being to have him feeling better and knowing he's feeling better.

The last couple of days he has sat in a chair for 2-3 hours. He has been eating almost all of every meal and getting a protein drink between meals. His leg edema is almost gone, and his right leg is "oozing" very little. We did exercises for an hour today.

Jim has very little confusion, although his mind is "slow." For example, I told him I had had 9 of my 28 radiation treatments, and asked how many more I had to go. He thought hard about it and said he would have to subtract 9 from 28, but then he couldn't do that simple math. He is getting his sense of humor back, thank God. This afternoon he called here and said "get your butt down here and kiss your husband."

Tomorrow Jim gets his 3rd paracentesis, where they use a syringe to draw the excess fluid out of his peritoneum. With his last paracentesis, the DR drew out 2.6 liters. The GIs today said there is likely that much in there now. He is NPO (nothing by mouth) from midnight on. He will not get physical therapy tomorrow because the GIs are concerned about his platelet level. It's nearly normal, but he could still be at risk of bleeding.

Jim is starting to be aware that he cannot remember the last 2 months. We had to go over quite a few things today. He could not remember my left breast mastectomy, and he wanted to see what it looked like. He could not remember having seen it.

I had to explain my radiation therapy to him. He thought I had been getting dental X-rays everyday.

Jim believes, and I agree, that the move to Select Specialty Hospital has a big part to do with his healing. It is so quiet, and there is a higher staff/patient ratio than there was at Wilmington. Although he was very difficult and confused the first day there, he has been only getting stronger every day.

Jim is very thankful that Betty is here to help. Betty has been a joy. Last night, she and I went to her sister's house for dinner. I had not met Estelle and Marty before they dropped Betty off last Monday. Beautiful people; beautiful home; beautiful meal. They had a birthday cake for Betty. She turns 64 tomorrow. Estelle had gotten a birthday card for me to give to Betty. Sadly, I was so very tired that we had to leave after only 2.5 hours.

I went to see Jim early today and left Betty sleeping in. When I got home at 2pm, she was raking my front yard. I joined in and we got the whole front done. She is out tonight at dinner with friends. She is going to "take" Jim the next two lunchtimes so that I can do some daytime sleeping. She also is going to try to get my car serviced; it started leaking antifreeze a couple days ago. Neighbor Kurt came over to look at it and said we were OK driving it in the short-term.

We are so very blessed to have our neighbors, friends, and family helping us with all of this. I spoke with my brother and sister-in-law from TX today, and they remain ready to come up if I need them. I want them here every day, but I am "saving" them for the next time that Jim "crashes" and has to go into the hospital. I have a strong feeling that will be his last time, and when I will need them the most.

Thank you all so very much for going through this with us.

Tomorrow is radiation 10. I am not aware of any side effects except the scaring. The radiation supposedly scars and thickens the skin, and I feel that the skin on the right side is getting "tougher" than the skin on the left side is. Another supposed side effect is fatigue. Yes I am very very tired all the time. But who knows where that is coming from, with the Jim situation. I still have "dead feet" from the chemo.

I have a follow-up appointment with my family DR tomorrow afternoon because of the colitis (which she suspects is a stress reaction to Jim's situation). The DR sent me for blood, stool cultures, and a belly CT scan. I got a call last week from her nurse, who said I could call back for lab results, or wait until I came in for the appointment. That troubled me because they never call with "normal" results. Something must be out of whack. I'll find out tomorrow.

I had an initial appointment with a dermatologist last week. I was becoming concerned with skin cancer because of my age (and Jim had it last year) and my breast cancer. She said I was skin cancer- and pre-cancer-free. She did say that there is a high correlation between breast cancer and skin cancer, and that the type of skin cancer involved is melanoma (the deadliest), not basal cell or squamous cell. She said there are different theories for that correlation, but that she subscribes to the theory that chemo "sets off" the cells that lead to melanoma. I'm now on annual follow-up for skin cancer.


Martha and Alley Cat said...

One thought - you probably know - but if any of your cats go outside, antifreeze is not only deadly to them but very attractive, they will drink it, eat it, lick it, so watch out for the leaking antifreeze.

Venita and Jim said...

Martha--Very good point. My cats don't go out, and the neighborhood generally does not have roaming animals, but I will wash out those spots from the driveway as soon as I can.

cindy said...

Hi Venita - I am so glad to hear about Jim's improving condition. I think the environment is truly important. Here is to his continued improvement!

Let us know your test results - that phone call from the nurse could mean nothing.

Also - sorry I missed your phone call last week - I was here but was with students. Then I didn't call back as I knew your friend was arriving. Anyway, just know that I think of you all the time!

Alice said...

Glad Jim is improving. Glad you have had Betty to help.Also glae your radiation treatments are ticking down. Sening lots of love your way.