Monday, March 14, 2011

On The Brink

If the point of "burn and poison" is to bring my body to the brink of the death, we achieved that this weekend. Treatment finally overwhelmed my body. Last Thursday was the last time I got any food or drink to stay in me.

By Friday, my entire digestive system was shutting down from the insult of radiation. By Saturday, I couldn't even eat although I felt like I was starving and my stomach was cramping from feeling so empty. And all throughout, I was losing massive amounts of fluid via vomiting and diarrhea brought on by the radiation (poisoning).

Sunday came, but I didn't get up to see it. I was just too weak, too ill, and too sore. By 4:00 p.m., my family knew something was wrong and showed up to take care of me. They were ready to load me up and haul me to the hospital, but I insisted we stay home.

"There's only two choices here: either go to the hospital and get fluids in me until the doctor can see me tomorrow; or stay here and get fluids in me until the doctor can see me tomorrow. And HERE is safer than the hospital!"

We tried all night to get fluids and meds in me to mitigate the fluid loss, but the vomiting and diarrhea were just uncontrollable. What a miserable night! I finally got some sleep around 8:00 a.m.

Which, unfortunately, is when I *should* have been riding to the doctor, if we'd been thinking clearly. As it was, I made it there in time for my afternoon appointment. The doctor knew something was wrong the instant I walked in. I was too weak, and he thought I even LOOKED dehydrated. I'd dropped quite a bit of weight very rapidly, too. He suspects my potassium has dropped low, so he sent me straight to the blood-draw station and told me to come back for IV fluids in the morning.

I told him I wanted to quit radiation, that my entire alimentary canal is too insulted to continue. I can barely open my mouth to take a bite for the TMJ. I can barely tear a bite or chew food for the gum and teeth issues. I can't bear to swallow for the raw, sore, SWOLLEN throat and uvula. The acid reflux/heartburn/indigestion is IMMEDIATE and on a scale I couldn't have even imagined -- and even water triggers it. My stomach hasn't digested food properly since last Thursday morning; it hadn't even emptied itself in 11 hours when I vomited Friday morning! My stomach and guts are cramping in pain, from hunger as well as vomiting, dry heaves, and inflammation from the insult of radiation. The frustration and even despair I feel is genuine.

I am now so weak I cannot care for myself. I cannot shop for groceries or drive myself to my daily appointments. I cannot prepare my own meals. I require assistance to do laundry, bathe, and dress. It is finally time to request Home Health Care. The doctor is ordering it and we will see what coverage we might have for it.

Well, for all my whining, the doctor wouldn't let me quit radiation. It's a very very BARBARIC weapon, but it is still the weapon necessary at this time. He told me they would help me get through it, but get through it I must. Even though it is the radiation that is overwhelming me and NOT the chemos I take, we did opt to at least drop everything else while we get me through all the rounds of radiation. The doctor feels that should reduce some of the toxicity with which my body is having to deal.

So, I'm staying out of the hospital and sticking with round-the-clock care at home and at the cancer center. I made it through today's radiation, but BOY do I feel ILL!

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