New Pain

Yesterday morning Maggie’s chest started bothering her.  Last night, it was substantially worse.  This morning, the painful trend continued pushing us to call Nurse Mary for counsel.  The pain is sharp, painful, and amplified by any movement that tenses her stomach muscles like sitting, coughing and, the worst of all, vomiting.

Both last night and this morning we attacked the new pain with our stash of pain meds.  Last night went ok, although I remember her waking up numerous times throughout the night hitting her bolus button.  This morning, for breakfast, she took another pain pill.  We chased that with a grilled cheese tortilla to try to dilute the narcotic but it was too little and too late.  About an hour later while still in bed trying to lie perfectly still, she lost it all.  It was heartbreaking to watch the convulsions and the wincing.  Thankfully, as is typical, she felt much better after she was done. 

I have to say once again, thank goodness for the liquid containment bags we’ve got.  I can’t say enough about how great it is to have them.  If you or someone you know is going through or planning on going through a time where vomiting will be a regular event get these bags!  You will thank me later.

Late morning, Nurse Mary called to report that Dr. Loukas wanted her to come in for his signature feel-up.  After his inspection he thinks that this pain is caused by the same thing as was causing our last sudden visit to the hospital – diaphragm irritation.  The pain is sharp, stabbing, quite uncomfortable and, most important and encouraging, fixable by the aggressive application of steroids.  The plan going forward: more steroids, more painkiller, and hope that Monday’s treatment at MD Anderson works some quick magic.

Monday we have a first treatment with the new clinical trial at MD Anderson.  Maggie will be the eighth person in the world to be given this treatment.  I won’t kid.  That causes me a little angst.  But, as Maggie likes to point out while smiling her beautiful smile, this is how miracles happen!

Tomorrow at 10AM we have a visit with a nutritional oncologist at Lone Star Oncology.  He’s the oncologist here in Austin that worked with Lance Armstrong, for what that’s worth.  I won’t be there but Nurse Jolie will take my place as anxious inquisitor.  While I’m certain that she’ll leave with a fist full of interesting pills and such, like grape seed extract, I can only hope that any encouragement this doctor offers is grounded.  We don’t need another lead-on despite the well-meaning intent like we got from Dr. Cut-Her-Liver-Up.

IV Specialties, the home healthcare company that’s provided Maggie’s little pain pump, sent over Jake today to change out her pump and crank up the dosage of the pain killer.  We changed it from 12 micrograms to 25 micrograms per hour.  Fairly substantial.  The last time I spoke with Maggie she was feeling about the same but Jake had just left meaning there hadn’t been a lot of time for the new dose to have an effect.  I hope for a different story when I call her later.  They also traded out the pump she had for a new one because, apparently, she’s had it so long that it’s due for its maintenance.  Geesh.

We’ve continued to work on the Houston travel puzzle.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you to everyone who has offered to help.  It’s truly touched our hearts that friends and strangers alike have offered to help out.  Thank you.

Right now we’re waiting on a call back from our patient advocate at MD Anderson.  Southwest Airlines contributes a set number of tickets directly to hospitals and the hospitals are left to divvy up the donations.  Our patient advocate seemed to believe that it would be a simple matter to cover her flight back this coming Thursday.  We are still waiting for confirmation.  If that plan doesn’t work out then it will cost $140-ish for that flight. Yeah, sure, it ain’t free but it could be a lot worse.

Regardless, once we have a few more answers we will be putting together a firm plan that looks weeks into the future.  Winging two trips to Houston each week is just more anarchy that I can healthily absorb (although Maggie, with her it-will-all-work-out-fine attitude is ok with it.)  The travel plan we develop will likely include, if not depend on, taking many of you up on your offers for help.

Monday was our 2nd Cancer-versary.  Last year we celebrated by inviting a group of friends to our house for a toast.  This year, well, we didn’t really mark the event at all which is my fault.  I haven’t really been myself lately.  But despite my own personal challenges, my joy in being able to share that day, and all the others, with my wife, celebration or not, is overwhelming.  I am blessed by her companionship.  I love her more than anything and I am extremely thankful that we have the time we’ve got.  Next year, for our 3rd Cancer-versary, we’ll have quite the shindig.  Heck, we might even have a 2nd+1/12th Cancer-versary celebration.  And a 2/12th, and 3/12th, and…

7 thoughts on “New Pain

  1. You are an amazing husband and Maggie is SO lucky to have you!!! I am also lucky to have a great deal of support through this challenging time, and feel so blessed. I always look forward to reading your posts 🙂

  2. Maggie Mae filled my mind this week, as I thought of F. Scott Fitzgerald..
    She made me read the Great Gatspy. Hello to her for me please Chris.
    You’re a good man. God bless you!

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