I am writing this post from a sofa in the waiting room outside an Ambulatory Treatment Center (ATC) at MD Anderson. It’s 9:30, and I’ve been here since 4:00. Mom had an appointment today with her doctor to talk about her ascites, the fluid that is building up in her abdomen because of her cancer. She also had a blood draw, which showed that her calcium level is elevated (again), and she found out that her creatanine level was up, almost twice as high as it was two weeks ago. Her doctor scheduled an IV fluids treatment and an appointment with a nephrologist, a kidney specialist. Nurse Jane Fuzzy-Wuzzy was with her but had to leave by 4:30, so I left school at 4:00 to take her place.

{Aside: one thing that is simply amazing about MDA is that when there is a problem – like Mom’s elevated creatinine level –  the scheduler for your doctor immediately makes an appointment for you so that you can receive a treatment, see a specialist, continue to be monitored, etc. Yes, you read that correctly. They make the appointment. For you.}

As I was driving over to MDA, I was talking to Nurse Jane Fuzzy-Wuzzy; she was telling me about the things Mom needed to do this afternoon – pick up medication at the pharmacy, get a 24-hour urine monitoring kit, get the infusion, see the kidney doc  – holy crap! Kidney doctor??? My mind started reeling – is she having kidney failure? Shit. This thing  is killing her even faster than we thought it was!

Fortunately, Dr. S did not think the elevated creatanine is a side effect of the cancer medication. Rather, he thinks that because she isn’t eating or drinking much, she is dehydrated, and he prescribed fluids – water, juice, coffee, tea, vodka. Hold the phone – vodka??? (I told him Mom is really more of a gin person.) He basically said she should drink anything she wants. And she needs more salt. Start mixing up the margaritas! He did not  want her to take Zometa, the calcium-reducing med, as it would interfere with the effort to reduce her creatanine level. He took her off a diuretic she was taking and told her to stop taking Mobic, an anti-inflammatory drug. He said all the meds she was taking were working against each other and her. {But when I read up on ascites, it said the treatment was a diuretic and to avoid salt…so confusing!} He did not seem worried about her kidney function, though, which was a great relief.

We waited until about 7:00 for her to start the IV fluids. At first, we thought it was going to be another 6 hour treatment, and I could not wrap my mind around how I was going to go home, come back up here at 1:00 a.m., get some sleep, then get up at 6:00 to go to school. I was trying to figure out if I could take a wee bit of {insert favorite sedative here}, sleep for a few hours, pick Mom up, take a wee  bit more sleep enhancer, then get up before the chickens  and teach all day. Luckily for me (and my students) I didn’t have to do that because (thank God) the infusion was only 2 1/2 hours!

So, 6 hours after I arrived, I finally got to take Mom home. I worry that she is declining – we just can’t seem to keep the calcium levels down, her energy up, or the ascites at bay. I can barely get her to take her medication, eat, or drink when I’m home with her; forget monitoring all that when I’m at school. I called S to give her an update; we agreed that this whole thing was shitty and frustrating the hell out of us. We need for Mom to do what it takes to keep her body regulated so that the cancer medication can do its job! We don’t know if she just doesn’t get it or if she is depressed and unmotivated. She’s just not fighting the cancer monster.

I think she feels defeated. My fear is that she will go through this rigmarole, feeling like shit, and it will be all for nought. I hate, hate, hate the possibility that she will spend the last months/years of her life feeling so bad and unable to enjoy herself.  It’s just so unfair. Our sweet baby AJ is finally here, and we can’t even enjoy her! Mom was planning to spend so much time in Seattle, going back and forth at least once a month. She hasn’t been there since September. 

I am weary. And feeling hopeless. I thought this cancer drug would buy us some time, but now I’m not so sure. I am tired of feeling like it’s ALL CANCER, ALL THE TIME! I can’t believe this is my life now. I know how this ends, and it’s not pretty. I am dreading everything and can’t stop playing it out in my mind – all of the decisions we will have to make, the inevitable final days, going to freakin’ Geo. Lewis to make arrangements – again. What will I do here without my mother? How is it that I will be responsible for her estate – the house, its contents, the financial stuff – at such a young age? I really thought I had decades before I had to assume that mantle, that I had time to grow up.

I was so wrong.

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