Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Follow the green laser........

 This morning was my turn to take Zack for both treatments. As we are driving the closer we get to Asheville snow starts to fall, but so light it looks like rain. We first go into the Cancer Center for them to access his port and start him on IV fluids along with his anti nausea medicine. Angie is his nurse today, she is always so happy and yet today she is more subdued. Her father who has been battling cancer for a while now is not doing that great. I still don't understand how she can work around this disease all day, every day and go home to help take care of her father. What an angel! She allowed me to take a picture of her while preparing the "red crap", as Zack likes to call it. His chemo treatment.We love all of the staff, each and everyone of them are special in their own way and we are so blessed to have them caring for us all!
 Once he has the fluids in his system it is time to go down to the lower level for Radiation. This will be my first time seeing what they do and as always, he has allowed me to take pictures (the grump photo to the right was to intimidate!) We are escorted by Angie through the staff elevator downstairs and told to come back up when done. The technicians (four in all) come out to get us and we are taken into "the room". Zack lays on his stomach on the table. I look at the ceiling and there is a beautifully painted image of the sky with tiny little lights designed to look like stars. Zack teases that because he doesn't lay on his back he doesn't get to enjoy the view. 

The drawings on his legs all makes sense now. The green laser light lines up to the exact pattern marked on his leg and thigh. The techs move the machine around, up and down until it is perfectly matched to the markings. Zack shows me the mold they made which is designed specifically for him. One leg fits in at an angle with the knee pointing out, the other with the leg a little twisted. The technicians explain how it all works and where the actual laser is that shoots the radiation rays at his leg. 

When they were ready to do the treatment, Matt, one of the techs walked out to the waiting area, just outside the room. He was asking how we discovered the tumor, how we are handling everything. He is a young man about 30 years old, married and teasing about his wife wearing the pants in the family. I explained about our initial treatment from the surgeon that removed the tumor, having no insurance and now Inclusive Care and my blog. A few minutes into our conversation a man walks in and sits down. He is in his 40's and volunteers that this Friday will be his last radiation treatment. He has had 30 and his story was, as he stated a mixed blessing. He was involved in a serious accident where he was knocked unconscious and in a coma for about three weeks. When he woke up he didn't remember anything that had happened in the accident, but discovered the doctors discovered a malignant brain tumor. They removed the tumor without incident  and he has been going through chemo and radiation. His prognosis is very good ("depending on which doctor  you listen to"). He explained that the biggest changes are that he talks a lot more now, and his moods fluctuate, "like a roller coaster." I told him that is the exact word I use to describe our situation. One day is up and the other down. He said that there are days when he has a lot of energy and some where he has none left after his radiation treatment. I wished him the best and as he was going in, Zack was coming out.

We went back upstairs for the chemotherapy. Zack was talkative, in a good mood and as the treatment continued his mood went from good to bad. He was abrupt with Angie and the Doctor. He was told that he needed more fluids, he was border line dehydrated and they didn't want him to end up in the hospital. The extra fluids would take another hour and a half. Zack is NOT happy. He continues to be abrupt with me, Karen and Angie. Karen tries to talk with him and explain what is going on and he doesn't even make eye contact. As a parent this is hard to watch. I want to ask him, "where are your manners", but as his caregiver, I understand too well that he is not feeling well at all and just wants to be left alone. I head outside in the hall to apologize to both Angie and Karen, who both tell me that they do not take it personally! They understand what he is feeling and it is totally expected. "Of course he doesn't want to be here, we don't blame it at all!" 

I take a nap while he receives the rest of the fluids. When I wake, he decides that he is hungry and finally lets me go down to the cafe and get him some yogurt and a drink. He is still pretty nauseous but doesn't want any benadryl as it knocks him out. Within thirty minutes we are given our walking papers. He must return tomorrow for the Neulasta shot and radiation each day. Chris and He will go tomorrow so that Frank and I can continue with our work week. How lucky we are that his friends like to go with him. 

We stop at Walmart on the way home and get him some warmer clothing. With the weather turning colder and him on blood thinners he gets and stays cold. We discuss the balance of the week, how it will get easier and he will feel better. He must keep up his spirits, even though it is hard. How he must also be disciplined once finished with his treatment and come home immediately to continue his school work.  Karen told me how she was asking Zack yesterday, if he brought his school work with him, she went on to tell me that she told Zack " I'm sure that I don't need to tell you to do it with your Dad here," Zack looked at her and said "No, that' my Moms job", "Dad tells me to do my chores." She and I were laughing, at least he knows who is in charge of what!

We arrived home around 5:30 pm, ate dinner (he was finally able to eat a meal) and he is now in his room resting, but in much better spirits. Our friends up North seem to be okay in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Aunt Lee had a tree fall down and nearly hit her back porch. Nancy's Mom is without power, but has her gas stove ready to cook on and the water has stayed out of her house. God Bless everyone that is having to deal with this storm. 

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