feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
Reposted from this entry by [personal profile] lady_curmudgeon. I have obviously been talking with her every day, but not very much here or on Facebook. I just don't really find myself able to talk about it much in those other settings. I don't know if that's because I'm dealing with it by not dealing with it, or what... but please focus here or Facebook and I'll repost what Mudge shares. Or better yet, you can follow her directly.

We finally got the diagnostic report from Ra's procedures last Monday, as you well know. Last we knew, from Dr. B. was Ra would be on the Chlorambucil (the chemo drug) once/daily for six weeks, then every 72 hours thereafter depending on his clinical response. Dr. B said he would call right away to get the drug ordered and to us so we could start treatment.

Go in on Friday for Ra's first B-12 shot. Ask about the Chlorambucil--he's not gotten ahold of any yet, nor has he ordered any, and will make more calls for it later in the day. Sigh. We really wanted Ra to start this treatment regimen ASAP in order to keep the pre-cancerous cells in check and not have them develop into CANCER! WTF?!!?!

At least, in the good news department, Dr. B gave us six weeks worth of pre-filled syringes of B-12 for Ra for us to administer at home rather than bring him in once a week and get him all riled up with a ride to the vet and a vet encounter (which he hates) when we can do it at home and avoid all that stress on him. It's administered sub-cutaneously, so it'll be easy for J to give to him every Friday...Dr. B even gave us a bit of a deal on the B-12 shots. :)

So I call the Dr. B early yesterday afternoon--Chlorambucil still not ordered, largely because Dr. B left the office early yesterday for a wake for the family member of one of his techs. What the everlasting fuck?!?! Decided we couldn't wait any longer, so I asked the tech to ask Dr. B (who was predictably swamped with Saturday morning patients) if we could at least order some of the med from VCA Aurora, if they had it. He said that would be fine, so we called VCA Aurora and, thank Bast, they had the med in stock. Thank Bast, and for many reasons...

VCA Aurora continues to impress. They didn't have anybody from the internal medicine department or the pharmacy in the clinic because it was the weekend, but Dr. Mac from ER heard what was going on and was willing to personally dispense us at least 6 pills to get us through about two weeks worth of treatment so that we could pick it up right away. Six pills for two weeks? Turns out Dr. B either misspoke or misunderstood the Tx instructions--Ra is to get the Chlorambucil every other day for six weeks, not every day! I read the Tx summary copy we got from Dr. B and yep--says EOD, which is every other day to my understanding...Sigh, now I'm worried about Dr. B's ability to treat Ra for Dr. M over at VCA Aurora! UGH!!

We were able to talk to Dr. Mac when we picked up the med to ask her some basic questions--when to dose, with or without food, potential side-effects to watch out for. She was WONDERFUL!! Turns out she's also an internal medicine doc in addition to being an ER doc, so she was able to give us all the information we needed! :) She explained she was only willing to dispense two weeks worth of the med because she wants us to closely monitor Ra for any negative side effects and didn't want us to pay for too much of the med in case he ends up unable to tolerate it and ends up needing to try another med. It's to be taken in the morning with his 5mg of prednisone, preferably with food, but since he's got a tendency to vomit his feeds if he's fed too soon after medication, we're to try giving him the two meds about an hour before we feed him in the AM.

Because he fights us with the potassium supplement in particular, Dr. Mac suggested we not give Ra that particular med on the mornings we give him the Chlorambucil so he'll be more apt to not fight the Chlorambucil pill on those mornings because it's so important for him to get that med in him with minimal fuss. She also suggested we try compounded liquid version of the potassium so Ra's not taking as many pills at once, to give him a break on so many pills. She initially suggested we try compounding it ourselves by crushing the pills and adding the crushed pills to chicken, tuna, or clam juice, but given that Ra's on a hypoallergenic diet that idea might not be the best one and that we should wait and talk again to internal medicine proper on Monday to order the liquid from the VCA pharmacy...

Side effects we can expect from the Chlorambucil are GI upset, immuno-compromise in the form of bone marrow suppression, lack of appetite, decrease in white and red blood cells. Standard stuff for chemo treatment. They'll build over time as his blood saturation of the drug increases. She emphasized the importance of the monthly CBCs to monitor these things.

I asked about Rx foods--he seems to like the W/D alright so far, but what if he starts to reject it? She said we'd have to work with Dr. M from internal medicine to make the decision, but there are a number of other high fiber/low fat Rx diets that could work for him if needs be. That was good to know, just in case.

We think it's taken Dr. B so long to get us any Chlorambucil because it's pretty pricey--the six pills we got from VCA cost $125! Holy Hannah!! I'm thinking it's a combination of the med not being terribly common and that Dr. B is trying to find us the best deal possible for the med as well--he's a cheap bastard and tries to pass the savings onto his clientele. That being said, getting us SOME of the med should've been a priority and that he thought it was a once/daily med vs. every other day is a bit disconcerting and concerning. I'm starting to think Ra's care should be taken over by Dr. Lehal and associates at Brookville Animal Hospital, which is much closer to home an they seem to have it together a bit better than Aurora Cat Clinic. It's something J and I will have to discuss, definitely. I know we both want Ra to get the best and most competent care possible. Not to say that Dr. B is incompetent in any way, it's just that he's made not made any points lately, especially about being incorrect on the dosing regimen on the Chlorambucil. I just don't know...

Ra got his first dose of the Chlorambucil this morning. He wasn't happy about not being fed right after he got his pills like he normally is, but he managed okay. Waited to feed the other two monsters until Ra ate because, when hungry, Ra has a tendency to scavenge off of Lars' bowl. I though the Young Ones were going to explode, they were SOO HUNGRY!! :/ Whatevs, they managed to wait, so it was all good. Now we wait and see how Ra reacts to the Chlorambucil...
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-gruntle)
My neck's giving me problems again, and since I haven't gotten anywhere with scheduling physical therapy for it I now have need to call in a refill on the muscle relaxer and the anti-inflammatory. Except my doctor's practice is closed on Wednesday, so I can't even talk to the nurse on the phone and ask that they find a way to make it happen.


It is becoming painfully clear (no pun intended) that I need to change doctors. [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon's doctor is a block away, very good and doesn't have weirdass hours like my current PCP does. I think I'll investigate changing over.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-gruntle)
So it snowed and rained and generally was stupid, weather-wise last night, starting at around 2300. I got up this morning and made it to the hospital in reasonable time. In fact, I got there act exactly 0855, the requested twenty minutes before my MRI was scheduled.

Fuckery ensues.

So an hour and change (as well as about two dozen phone calls by the Imaging nurse/receptionist) later, my results for the ocular orbit X-ray are found (doctor's impression: clean of ferrous metal), I've filled out the paperwork (yes, I have an orthodontic element in my jaw, no I don't have a pacemaker, no I'm not pregnant...) and most importantly they've located the scrip for the MRI itself. And determined that I don't need an RQI or ... some damn acronym related to a referral number that was related to my insurance. Once all that was settled I was whisked off to the changing room, stripped of everything that might kill me or damage the machine and then whisked down a different hall to the MRI itself. While the tech got me situated I bantered with her a bit, and when I started talking about the helium cooling system I think I surprised her. She surprised me back by sharing a discussion she had with a GE engineer about the new water-cooling models they're going to be introducing, as well as a 9 Tesla model they're experimenting with at the U of I. Pretty cool, though as I understand it the tunnel's only big enough to shoot images of rodents. We won't be seeing people in that any time soon...

I can see why traditional MRIs could freak some people out. Lots of different noises that were quite loud, even with the earplugs I was given by the technologist. If somebody were claustrophobic the tight space of the tunnel could be very disconcerting. You've no sense of time in there, which didn't bother me (I just counted through the seconds for each imaging shot) but it could make some people twitchy. The hardest part for me, really, was just the sheer act of concentrating on not moving while the studies were being taken. That's when you get paranoid with thoughts of Shit, I have to swallow. Did I move when I swallowed? Oh, I have to s wallow again already! ARGH! That, or your nose itches and you know you can't do anything about it. Mostly I just kept my breathing shallow and sorta half-napped throughout the experience. Twenty minutes later or so I was up and out, being guided back to the locker room so I could put all my accessories back on.
feren: I AM THE MAN (doctor-pwned)
I got my blood pressure checked at the little automated kiosk thing while we were shopping at Meijer last night. The machine came back with results that were not terribly surprising to me: with a resting heart rate of 79 my blood pressure was 143 over 86. So my systolic (the first number) tells me what I already knew, I'm Stage 1 hypertensive (and my diastolic is getting close to crossing from "pre-hypertensive" into Stage 1 as well).


The theory is that you're only truly hypertensive if you consistently come in with elevated numbers. I don't have any current measurements besides that one to compare with so this is all supposedly just theory. But let's face it, this was taken at 12:10 in the morning and I'd had the entire week off for vacation. My blood pressure isn't going to get any lower then when I'm away from the office. Speaking of the office, I'm back in the office today and tomorrow. After that I have the rest of the year off for vacation. Let's hear it for "use it or lose it" vacation policies!

Signs goin' up
feren: I AM THE MAN (doctor-pwned)
This cold I've somehow managed to contract (A headcold!! In the second week of June!!) is rapidly sapping me of my will to live.

That is all.

[Addendum: God bless you, guaifenesin and pseudoephedrine. You are the Wonder Twins of my personal pharmacy -- even if you provide only a precious few hours of relief per day]
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
My voice post from sometime around 1:50 this morning didn't get transcribed by anybody, so I had to transcribe it. What is wrong with my f-list? Why didn't three dozen people didn't spring to action like a thousand mokeys at a thousand typewriters immediately upon the post's appearance? I want answers!

I am, of course, only joking when I say things like the above. Seriously, if anybody had transcribed a voicepost from 1:50 in the morning I probably would have hit them with a stick while demanding to know what was wrong with them. Unless it was [livejournal.com profile] yotogi, at which point I wouldn't be surprised (save that he seems to have the plague this week).

Shortly after ten last night I drove [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon to the hospital Emergency Room. The breathing problem that had plagued her all day had finally intensified to the point that her inhaler and a Prednisone burst couldn't help, and it was time to upgrade to the Professional Grade type stuff, so when she made that decision I dropped everything and grabbed the keys to the Expedition. We waited an hour and change and were finally admitted (the ER on a Saturday night is an interesting place to be and unless you arrive in a stretcher with lights and sirens on your ambulance, you're going to be put in a queue) and met with Cliff, a fellow from Repiratory Therapy. He confirmed the attending doctor's diagnosis and approved the recommended treatment... so at around 12:30 this morning the Curmudgeon began receiving an hour-long nebulizer treatment. The medicine made her pretty jittery at the end, but for her breathing it seems to have done wonders. That's what matters the most.

We were checked out of the ER sometime around 1:43 this morning (roughly five minutes or so before I made the voice post) and proceeded to hit the local 24-hour pancake house (which I think is now infamous to [livejournal.com profile] donaldson, [livejournal.com profile] joewolfbrother and [livejournal.com profile] brianblackberry for various reasons from our last visit there) to get a bite to eat. Curmudgeon wanted it so she could warm up, get her blood sugar back to something aking to normal and, most of all, to try and make the shaking in her arms and hands from the nebulizer treatment stop. Me, I just wanted something to cut the four cups of coffee I was going to drink. Breakfast was served in short order, we ate our fill and paid the bill before boxing up leftovers and heading back to the world's smallest two-bedroom flat.

So that was my Saturday night. Certainly it was a bit more exciting than I needed it to be but everything worked out and Curmudgeon is going to be okay, so I'm happy.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-angst)
I talked to my parents, finally. More accurately, I got a voicemail from my mother. Due to my manager's vacation these last two weeks I haven't had the chance to talk to them much. It always seemed like my work schedule was overlapping with that of my parents and causing one party or the other to be unreachable.

From the all-too-brief message I got all the information that I could. Grampa Schep got his pacemaker put in about a day after my last entry on him, so I put it at around the 27th or the 28th of August. Since then his recovery has not been satisfactory and he had to be transferred to a nursing home. Right now it takes two people to help him from his bed to the bathroom and back. My mother can't do this alone at the farm and there's no way this would be feasible at his apartment, so the nursing home was the only option. My mother must be going out of her mind. I know it bothered her to have to move him away from his home in Florida so that she could "keep an eye on him," and now she's had to put him into a nursing home. My father, while fiscally well off, probably is worried about the new drain on his finances -- especially since he is eligible for retirement now. I can't begin to imagine what this must be like for my grandfather.

I'm going to send him a card tomorrow since he's not able to take calls right now. He needs to know I'm thinking about him and am worried sick.

Broken ice still melts in the sun
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-angst)
My dad just called with the latest news on the condition of my grandfather. Since we spoke on Monday the situation has changed yet again and now my grandfather is going in for surgery tomorrow -- the doctors are going to do some sort of crazy Roto-Rooter procedure on his urinary tract. I don't know all the details and (speaking as a male of the species) I probably don't want to know. The upshot of it is that they're going to open him up, then go in and try to clear the clogs that have made their homes in his water works. There is little doubt in my mind that it's going to suck but it's still better than living out the rest of his life with a catheter and a bag, right?

After all that is done he will be given a few weeks to recover from the procedure. I guess he's going to need it... the plan as it stands now is that after he's all healed up he'll go back under the knife one more time. Doctors are fickle creatures and one of the team that's working my grandfather's case has pulled a one-eighty on his opinion. This morning the cardiologist had a long talk with my mother and apparently made a good case for a pacemaker -- it seems that some of Schep's confusion could be due to a lack of oxygen. As I am lead to understand my grandfather's irregular heartbeat isn't the doctor's primary concern. I guess now the issue is that my grandfather's heart has periods where it slows down so much that there's not enough oxygen getting up to his brain. At eighty-nine years old, can anyone really say they're surprised by this? Regardless, these bouts of "lazy heart" make him suddenly grow very tired and irritable. In the more extreme prolonged periods he becomes irrational and very confused. Those extreme periods have been more frequent in the last half-decade and it's clearly taken a very large toll on my mother, my father and my grandfather's relationships (not to mention their mental states). I know that all three of them would like for him to be as clear-headed and self-reliant as he was even six years ago. In light of that, I cannot help but think that perhaps this pacemaker is a good thing.

The sun always shines on TV
feren: I AM THE MAN (contemplative)
To give some backstory: in December of last year my grandfather, who is now 89 years old, developed Diverticulosis. It kept him in bed or in the bathroom for about three days. I didn't find out about this until my mother called about twenty minutes ago -- I am a poor excuse for a grandson, but that's an entry for another time.

When the phone rang and I saw it was my parents' number, I figured it was my mother wanting to confirm the details of their arrival at Z'ha'dum tomorrow. I was told instead that they may not be coming down at all, or that if they do manage to make the trip, they'll be leaving on Friday and not tomorrow. When I asked why, I was given the backstory about my grandfather's condition and then told, "So it seems that your cat and your grandfather both have something in common -- their digestive tracts refuse to permit them to travel."

That was cause for worry. )

Incidentally, stomach problems are in vogue today. Along with my grandfather's situation, my coworker Dave was out sick yesterday after being ill on Monday night. He was in the office today but complained on the drive home that his stomach was still rather questionable. Earlier in the week [livejournal.com profile] harlee_one had gotten sick and is just now on the mend, right before her trip out of town. During the commute to work this morning I was talking with [livejournal.com profile] flynhamster and found out she'd gotten sent home from work because she'd gotten sick to her stomach in the cat food aisle. Naturally I'm worried about her and hoping that she's getting some much-needed rest tonight.

shouldn't you know I'm bound to follow
feren: I AM THE MAN (fcy2k)
So this morning I had the distinct pleasure of waking up at 3AM with searing pain in the left side of my chest. It felt like my heart was caught in a vice and there was quite a bit of pain every time I tried to move. I've never had a heart attack before, so I had no idea if that's what this was or not. Even though I didn't think it was a heart attack (I had no shortness of breath and had no other secondary symptoms I could associate off the top of my head to a heart attack) I didn't feel like finding out the hard way, so I hurriedly downed two aspirin and drove myself to the hospital for a check out.

The good news is that it wasn't a heart attack. The best guess the doctor could come with is that it's a muscle pull or bruise, though I tell you it feels a hell of a lot worse than just a strain. Further conjecture is that this is manifesting as a result of a near-perfect combination of stress, too many cigarettes, too much caffeine and "just sleeping wrong" (apparently my sleep posture is sub-optimal, or something. I just know I've been tossing and turning too much). I also found that my blood pressure is running the ragged edge of hypertension again (137/90), something I'm none too pleased to see.

I got back from the ER well before I had to go to work but I decided staying home today was probably my best bet. I'm going to quietly spend my day in the recliner and try to do some thinking in between naps. I've been thinking for a long time now that I should take an honest, more-than-a-three-day-weekend vacation (I haven't had one in over 17 months, and it's starting to show) so I guess this was my body's way of reminding me not to forget. Frankly, I would have rather it just sent those appointment reminder cards like I get from my dentist -- then I could easily ignore them and throw them out with the rest of the trash.

On and on, does anybody know what we are looking for?
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-WTF)
I got 3 hours of very broken sleep last night. I arrived ar school this morning with 30 seconds to spare before the attendance monitoring system would have cut off and marked me absent (one absence and I'm essentially expelled). I'm doped to the metaphorical gills on caffeine and sudaphedrine and I didn't study at all (read: haven't even opened the book) for the exam we're having that covers six chapters in the text. My professor noticed I "look and sound like hell."

As soon as I turned in my answer sheet the instructor graded it and called me back up to the front of the classroom so I could see the results. Despite all the forces working against me this morning I somehow managed to score 88 out of 90 points on the exam for a good, solid 97% - an "A".

I think I should go buy a lottery ticket now.

You take my hand, I'll take your hand

I'm sick.

Sep. 17th, 2004 09:54 pm
feren: I AM THE MAN (pissy)
My head is congested, I ache, I've spent the last two days on the verge of constant exhaustion and my throat feels like sandpaper. Swallowing isn't so much a reflex as it is an experiment in pain thresholds. Long ago, in the Before Time, I think I used to be able to swallow without searing agony. That's a long-distant memory now.

This had better not be strep.

Veteran of a race that should be over
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
It's official as of 0730 this morning: Bogie (better known as That Damned Farting Coworker) has cancer of the esophagus. The doctors operate on him next Tuesday, and they figure it could go anywhere from four to eight hours in length. Nobody has an idea how long it will take him to recover from the surgery in the hospital or how long he'll be out of the office on disability. Of course, that's not the nastiest part, not by a long shot. The surgery is a painful and involved one: to ensure they're removing every last bit of the cancer they will have taken half his esophagus, and pulled his stomach up, removing about half of that as well, but it actually gets worse.

I dare you to guess what the real killer is, the single most vicious part of this little cosmic dance. Some of you might see this coming, but it certainly blindsided me: Once the operation is complete the doctor is still only giving him five years. Five years. Five years for the man who quit smoking and took up walking during lunch because he wanted to make himself a healthier person. Five years of life even after he's done being subjected to the pain and suffering of having the top half of his gastrointestinal tract removed. It's like some bizzare repeat of my cousin Priscilla's situation, only this time it's just some random cell that started growing out of control that's to blame instead of a doctor's ignorance. Five years. Five years of what? What kind of life is that, knowing that each day is numbered just like it was before... but that each number has suddenly become much, much more valuable because they've been taken from a limited supply to a piddling allocation? Wondering if you'll wake up in the morning, if you'll have any quality of life towards the end?

It's true that we're all dying. Now Bogie is just dying faster than the rest of us.

Five years, even with a successful "treatment."

And yet here I am.

It's hard to make that all fit, it's incredibly difficult to find the equation for it where both sides balance out. Survivor's Guilt is the popular term that shrinks like to sling around in cases like this, and I'm carrying a heavy case of it, especially given my family's medical history. It doesn't make any sense to me, how I went through eight months of treatment and got a clean bill of health. At the end of it I was waiting for some twist just like this, but it never came. It's as if some djinn emerged from a bottle and said "You have passed the trial, you may have your life back -- try to make the most of it." I got my life back after eight months of treatment, one type amongst many available to me... and Bogie is going through to endure the only treatment available for him, and he's still not going to come through the other side.

How in the blue fuck do you fit that into your world?

I cross the ocean for a heart of gold
feren: I AM THE MAN (nuke)
Tickle leads to sniffling.
Snliffling leads to sneezing.
Sneezing.... leads to back spasms.


You all realize that no good can come of this.


feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)

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