Category Archives: clinic

Another setback

Lucy’s stomach issues are a result of one of the cancer growths pressing against her small intestine. She has had a stubborn growth in her lower left abdomen since her debulking surgery. That growth has gotten a bit larger. So while she does not have a full mechanical ileus (intestinal blockage due to an object), she does have a partial ileus. The course of action is to keep on the Hexalen and see if it starts shrinking the tumor.

This setback is still not a reason to hit the panic button. It’s still too early to tell how this will resolve. We all need to stay positive for Lucy. She has the heart of a warrior and a lot of untapped sisu yet. Her clotting problem seems resolved, which is a huge step in the right direction.

Tomorrow she goes in for a two-unit transfusion because her hemoglobin was at 6.4. She has to be at Fairview Southdale at 8:00 am. She did not have to get one tonight because her hemoglobin was over 6.0. It’s nicer driving her home at 1:30 pm than 2:30 am.

Lab work shows no gastrointestinal infection, which is a good sign. She is still taking Pradaxa and Hexalen. After two rounds of nausea late last night and early this morning, Dr. Boente tried having Lucy take Compazine every four hours to see if that helped. It didn’t help much. She will be switching to Ativan, which should offer better relief for the stomach issues. Ativan was originally developed to alleviate nausea and has a bonus of being an anti-anxiety drug.

We tried a couple of simple home remedies that would not affect her medications. I found some ginger ale that has about 1 oz. of ginger per 12 oz. bottle called Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew at Byerly’s in Edina. Most ginger ales use a tiny fraction of that for flavoring. Ginger supposedly has properties that soothe stomach problems, but it seemed to make her even queasier. I like it so least it won’t go to waste.

She tried applesauce for lunch yesterday and wound up with a very rude and quick upset. Apple pectin is another foodstuff that supposedly helps with stomach upset. Ensure and Activia seem to be the only things at this time that don’t cause issues. She tried a couple of unsalted top saltines (sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it) and they do not seem to help though she tolerated them well. She is drinking about a pint of Gatorade or Powerade a day to keep her electrolytes up.

Yesterday and today were more the typical gray and slightly drizzly March days, albeit about 20°F warmer than average. Tonight should bring more rain. We are in a moderate drought now, so the rain is welcome. The frost is out of the ground and the rain can actually soak in. Most of the lakes in the Twin Cities metro are reporting “ice out” which is almost a month early. At least the flowering shrubs like the weather:

forsythia bush

The warm weather and rain kicked our forsythia bush into gear.

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Blood, sweat and tears

We know that nosebleeds are a side effect of blood thinners. Lucy had one that lasted for almost 45 minutes. She had another this morning that stopped in about 10 minutes.

We arrived at Fairview Southdale IV Therapy at 7:30 am for her transfusion. The type and match took a little longer than usual, so her transfusion started at 9:00 and finished at 12:45.

She is still extremely tired. Last night she had problems sleeping and she woke up several times. Now she’s home, warm, fed, and relaxing. Her leg isn’t quite as sore as yesterday and the swelling has abated somewhat.

Lucy’s next blood test is Monday afternoon. There may be no updates until then. In the meantime, give your loved ones hugs from us, and thank you for your support!

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

We fretted about today’s oncologist visit, but Lucy’s left leg stole the spotlight. We did not even get a chance to discuss the PET scan or CA125 level. Her rash is an erythema and is a sign of a blood clot. Her leg also ballooned up this morning.

Lucy did get her Alimta treatment, so something went right. She can take her multivitamins instead of the prescription folic acid since the multivitamins contain the requisite 400 micrograms folic acid. Lucy’s next vitamin B12 injection will be during her next treatment in three weeks.

She was supposed to visit Dr. Thurmes tomorrow, but he saw her while she was getting chemotherapy. Lucy had an ultrasound on her left leg at Suburban Imaging at 6:30. As a precaution, Lucy will be getting twice-daily Lovenox injections for a week followed by daily injections for around six months. Her Coumadin was stopped immediately.

We had about 45 minutes between the end of chemo and the ultrasound, so we had a quick dinner at Leeann Chin’s about eight blocks from Southdale Medical Building. The Heartland Cafe in the medical building closed several months ago and a Subway is supposedly going in to replace it.

The ultrasound confirmed multiple clots in her left leg. However, she was not admitted to the hospital. We’ll find out more tomorrow. Apparently, the belief is the Lovenox will work on the clots such that she won’t require hospitalization or TPA catheters.

I will be administering the injections. It looks like the syringe has a short small-bore needle. Lucy has no abdominal fat remaining because it got removed in her de-bulking surgery. The “tummy poke” is best for her, so I must be careful. It’s funny, I could probably give injections to anyone else, myself included, but the thought of giving Lucy a shot worries me. I know it’s irrational.

So yes, you’ve heard the blood clots stuff before. Believe me we hate reruns, too!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

A PET scan might not have been the most romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day, but battling cancer sometimes causes inconvenient lifestyle changes. The scan took almost 90 minutes overall at Lifescan Minnesota in Edina. An hour was spent for prep and the scan was about 20 or so minutes. The results will be available to Dr. Boente tomorrow afternoon.

Lucy had a bit of an upset stomach today. We’re both apprehensive about Thursday’s appointment. Lucy has had a series of set backs since November. Her CA125 level has been slowly increasing which necessitated stopping the Taxol/Avastin treatments. The waiting is the hard part.

For the positive news of the day, she did get the latest Coumadin dosing for the upcoming week. She is on a three day cycle of 5 mg, 5 mg then 2.5 mg until next week’s blood test. We did not get her hemoglobin level in the voice mail message, but there was no mention of a transfusion.

Tomorrow will be a test of how well Lucy can maneuver a walker. I’ll be taking her to the Bloomington Deputy Registrar’s office to get her driver’s license renewed. Maybe she’ll feel up to a belated Valentine’s Day lunch or dinner. I did pick up some carnations for her tonight. She likes carnations because they last a long time.

We hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Take a moment to think of the people who love you and remember how lucky you are to have them in your life.

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Blood tests

Lucy’s other amaryllis opened while she was in the hospital. There are six flower on the stalk.
The tulips Lucy received from Annette and Al

I completely spaced out mentioning the tulip bouquet Lucy received from Annette and Al on Tuesday. Mea maxima culpa! Annette and Al own Carver Country Flower and Gifts in Carver. Tulips are so cheery and get people thinking about spring. Even though we have had an unusually mild winter in Minne-snow-ta, it will be nice getting back into the gardens soon!

This afternoon she had her blood drawn to determine if her Coumadin dose is still effective. She now has an alternating daily dose of 5 mg and 2.5 mg until Monday.

Next week is booking up quickly: Monday is her next blood work to see how well the Coumadin dose is working, Tuesday is the PET scan, Thursday is her appointment with Dr. Boente and Friday is her appointment with Dr. Thurmes. As far as we know she will get her next Alimta treatment on Thursday.

We take simple things for granted. Our bodies are amazingly complex bio-mechanical wonders governed by amazingly complex electrochemical networks. Nerves trigger muscles, muscles and connective tissues move joints, joints move limbs, limbs move the body. (Anyone who has studied anatomy or kinesiology in detail will notice this is a simplified 50,000 foot overview.) Lucy’s leg is looking less swollen and the redness is slowly turning pink. She still has some stiffness in her ankle and finds relief when she can prop her leg up. She can manage a few steps without the walker and her right ankle is more stable because of some regained flexibility. The pain level is also subsiding. She is hoping to be cleared to return to work a week from Tuesday (her company observes the President’s Day holiday on the 20th).

There probably won’t be an update until Monday. Until then, thank you for taking the time to read this and showing your support for Lucy!

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Fill ‘er up! No, not quite…

Today is getting longer than we expected. I’m doing this entry via my phone so please excuse the egregious spelling mistakes.

Lucy’s leg is about the same. The pain relievers zonk her out so she had some quality time getting re-acquainted with the backs of her eyelids.

Lucy went to Minnesota Oncology to have an INR test and get a Lovenox shot. Tomorrow is the meeting with the hematologist.

She had the chills before the INR test. Lucy had a CBC test done in addition to the INR. Her hemoglobin was 5.5, which was very low.

After her Lovenox shot, Lucy went to Fairview Southdale for a transfusion. Her temperature is 102.8°F, so she is being held overnight. They are starting antibiotics and doing a blood culture.

Her transfusion started at 10:00 pm when her temperature was 98.1°F. It was stopped at 10:45 when her temperature rose to 102°F, then started again at 11:15 when it went down to 100.9°F.

Here’s hoping tomorrow will go better!

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Another day, another poke

Lucy had another Lovenox shot today. For those of you with some medical background, Lovenox is a SC slow-push injection. The ideal area for the shot is in the belly region. Cringe-worthy for sure, but it’s also not as painful. Lucy has mentioned feeling only a couple of the injections. You can’t begin to understand how much we appreciate skilled nurses!

Starting around Thanksgiving Lucy had noticed her sense of taste was getting impaired. We did have a couple unusual food experiences where she believed her taste buds were on vacation, but they weren’t (trust me!). By and large she has mentioned food not having much flavor, even spicy Asian and Mexican cuisine. Many people going through chemo mention food tastes changing and some will develop food sensitivities. The past few days, Lucy is noticing food tasting better and her appetite increasing. This is good news!

Her leg swelling is slowly getting better and the coloration is looking a lot less “angry”. Her right ankle is swollen and not very flexible at this time. It is swollen to the point tonight that getting a boot on was nearly impossible. She got around that by pulling the insert out of her Sorel boot so it could easily slip on. I thought that was pretty clever! If the weather were still as mild as it was two weeks ago, boots would not be necessary. The Twin Cities area finally has a couple of inches of snow on the ground. We’re thankful the temperature was in the +20°F’s today and not the -20°F’s we can and do get.

Lucy is out on disability for the next two weeks. This is not a bad sign. She has had a tremendous fight going the past few months and her body needs a rest. Walking is still very painful and driving is out of the question especially with painkiller involved. She moved to a different cubicle at work after their reorganization and it means more walking for her.

The blood clot issue will resolve and her leg will get better. She is anxious to start using our treadmill, rebuild the strength in her leg, and be her usual independent self again.

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