update, chest pain

Mom seems to do well these days.  She made gravy from Sunday’s turnkey dinner.  She’s walking back and forth more.  Unfortunately, she had chest pains this morning that lasted 45 minutes.  Level: 10.  <sigh>  Not good.  But this doesn’t happen very often.  Here are Mom & Floyd watching Jeopardy on TV.

Mom’s voice & hearing, age

I’ve noticed that Mom’s voice is very crackly now.  She doesn’t have the lung power to push her voice out normal.  She feels badly about this and knows that, since her fall, things like this have been creeping up.  Yesterday we talked about this.  She can feel that things are very different, going downhill, as they say.

Yet, having said that, she is able to walk more without help (being wheeled across the house in her office chair), and she even made supper last night.  Meatloaf, asparagus, and mashed potatoes, if you want to know.  Floyd mashed the potatoes though.  That would be beyond what she can do.  Since her fall in the tub, she’s not made muffins or supper or my lunches for college (something she still so badly wants to do).

Mom’s hearing is not what it used to be either.  Her left ear is weak.  Even when talking in what I would call a normal voice in front of her, she still has trouble.  I think the TV is louder these days, too.

No change in the cancer situation.  She’s still on Tarceva daily.

How do I put this without sounding brash.  Well, just say it.  I’ve told her years ago that I thought she would die of old age, not of cancer.  I maintain this is true.  And she is now 81.  Then again, her mom lived to 93, so I believes she has a long while yet to go before she gives up.  …  It might sound brash to say so, but she says that she herself doesn’t feel bad about that.

home again

Mom is home again.  She came back yesterday afternoon.  She seems to have not been too impressed this time by the lack of, well, whatever she was expecting.  The doctor previously made it seem as though she should bet pumped up there – nutrition, hydration, rest, etc. – but this never happened.  It seems communication between the admitting doctor and the nurses and staff didn’t happen.

One nurse actually took Mom’s meds away saying, “You don’t need these now.”  Now, when a nurse says your meds are no longer needed it’s because one of two things – you’re doomed or you’re cured.  So obviously I (Justin) thought the worst.

As it turns out, so far as I know, the doctors were considering keeping Mom on Tarceva, her regular cancer meds, or switching up to a new form called …  We just looked for it.  It was thrown away.  Can’t remember what it was called, but it was the newest version of the cancer drug available now.

When – not if, but when – Tarceva stops being effective, this other drug will be used.  So it could be that the docs weren’t entirely sure what to do just yet.  But to be told in the hospital by nursing staff that you won’t be needing them, this seems a little tactless.

Mom’s eating lots.  I made steak, broiled potato cubes, and corn for lunch, and all three of us ate.  Mom seems to be eating more than she was a few weeks ago.  Her weakness in walking and other tasks is still there, but I don’t think it’s as bad as before.

She’s happy to be home but still complains about being tired.

cancer unchanged, hospital

Mom is now in hospital again.  She was hoping to admit herself into hospital to gain some strength, a ‘boost’ so-to-speak.  Floyd and I were talking about this.  The last time she tried this, she wanted to leave the next day.  No, she wasn’t tired there, but all she did was lie in bed and get up to use the washroom now and then – virtually no exercise, no activities (Wal-Mart, Tim Hortons), no real choice in foods, no snacks for when she gets hungry, and no family around her, and no sleeping at home.  What will she gain in hospital?  I’m not altogether sure.  I hope she gains strength and weight while she is there.

She had her checkup with Dr. Brigdon, her cancer doctor, and he said the cancer is unchanged since last time.  It might sound good at first glance, but she’s been on Tarceva seven days a week and was hoping the cancer would have decreased in size considerably; it did not.  But this is only from X-ray, and X-ray doesn’t really show a lot of detail.

Mom says she cannot go on seven days per week of Tarceva anymore.  It tires herself out too much.  It robs her of energy.  She says she’ll go four or five but not seven.

I’ll update everyone when I know more.  I (Allan) will not see her this evening, but Floyd will.

cancer update, hospital or not

Mom saw her doctor today.  Here are some results.

The cancer has decreased a little, enough to be noticeable by X-rays.  This is the result of being on Tarceva (cancer meds) 7 days a week now.

The home care nurse a few days ago said that there’s a new cancer drug similar to Tarceva called Osimertinib and that, should there come a point in time (and it apparently will come) that the Tarceva isn’t effective anymore, Osimrtinib might be the thing to try next.

She is usually pretty good when she goes in to see him, but this time she “was like a rag doll,” she said.  The doctor, upon seeing her like this, suggested she should go into hospital to get some strength back.

While staff were looking for a bed, she & Floyd talked and came to the conclusion that being admitted probably wouldn’t do any good.  She’s getting care – help to various places in the house, help with meds, food whenever she wants, company (Floyd & myself), gets out of the house now and then (Wal-Mart, etc.), and exercise enough to keep her going.  She wouldn’t necessarily get any of those things in hospital to the same degree as at home.

True, she wasn’t tired at all while in hospital, but she wasn’t doing anything either.  Besides, last time she went in to get stronger, she wanted to leave the next day, although she doesn’t remember this.

So, the doctor will call Wednesday of next week to see if she’s changed her mind.  But for now she’s at home.

home care workers

Mom got a visit today from two home care workers, part of the medical services plan.  When she was in the hospital last time, they strongly suggested that someone visit her to “see how you’re doing”.  Floyd and I understand it’s a good idea, in case Floyd needs respite to go shopping or go to an appointment, or if Mom needs help adjusting her meds, but she really didn’t think it was necessary.  I was in classes and came in just as they were leaving.  I asked a couple of times for specifics – “What did they talk about?”  “Nothing.”  …  Well they can’t very well just sit and stare at the walls for 45 minutes.  I take it they were just seeing how she was doing.

diet, protein powder

Mom’s diet and quantity are both pretty limited these days.  There are lots of foods she doesn’t like anymore, and her appetite is limited.

She’s taking medication to improve her appetite.  It’s working, but she still doesn’t eat much.  The foods she previously liked, like peas and carrots … kidding!  She’s always hated peas and carrots.  That’s kind of an inside joke.  We go to a restaurant, and she asks what vegetables they’re serving.  If it’s peas and carrots, she tells them to keep it.  Smitty’s is one place that does substitutions.  They bring sliced tomato and something else instead.  Anyway, pretty much everything she previously enjoyed doesn’t taste the same, so she just doesn’t enjoy eating.

So I bought some protein powder.

That did not go over well.  It acted like more of a laxative than anything.  Extreme proteins, like eggs for example, have never agreed with her.  But she is drinking the juice concoction I made, which is good, just so long as it’s not mixed in with this protein.

orange juice plus

Mom likes her orange juice, a lot more than the Boost non-milk-based drink (“Boost juice”).  But an orange, especially one that has been juiced and now comes in a carton, is not a whole food – it doesn’t give full nutrition.  I suggested a couple of weeks ago that I could make a drink with protein, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, electrolytes, etc. that the body needs.  She balked at the idea because “I just don’t want it, that’s all.”

Last night I asked what fruits she likes and pushed to the end.  “And…?  Anything else?”  Floyd would mention another fruit.  Peach, for example.  “I don’t like peaches.”  “You eat peaches from a can all the time.  You like them.”  No solid conclusion to be made on peaches.

Today I mixed it up anyway – everything except the protein powder – gotta go shopping.  She drank it and, at the end, scraped up the pulp from the glass and said, “I’m eating it because it’s expensive.  Isn’t it?”  “Yes, but you should be eating it because it’s good for you,” I offered.  I hope this takes because it’s a bit more nutrition in her, and every little bit counts.