Ah, what a difference a couple of days makes.
Today, Kate was quite well and chipper. The community care nurse came this morning and installed the CADD pump.
CADD = Continuous Ambulatory Delivery Device.
What it's delivering is a kind of morphine, and today Kate felt no pain, but she has a needle stuck into her gut, connected to a tube, connected to a device sort of like an old cassette walkman, which she needs to keep with her at all times, including sleeping.
The pain relief trumps all other discomforts, and it has meant that our day has been good.
This afternoon, Kate had an appointment in Clinic "A" with her oncologist at 3:30. However, the clinic was understaffed and overwhelmed. We didn't see the doctor until after 8:00 pm. When we left the hospital at 9:45 pm the entire wing was empty.
Still, we had no complaints. Sitting and waiting did not induce any pain or discomfort, only boredom, which we will take any day of the week.
This was a "check in" visit with the oncologist, and it had obviously been overtaken by events of past ten days. In fact, we learned that the MRI that Kate had on March 22 ought to have flagged her as an emergency. She had a compression of her vertebrae pressing on her spinal cord. The radiologist ought to have flagged this for the oncologist immediately. Instead, Kate's pain increased and we bullied our way into the clinic a week ago, and they immediately referred Kate for five zaps of radiation, which concluded this past Saturday.
So that wasn't good news, but the matter has been addressed, and Kate was pain free today, and we are moving on.
The other news today was also generally good. Kate's bloodwork was normal. Liver function normal. The specialist was happy with her results. "Years," she said. "We see no reason why we can't give you years."
The oral chemotherapy has been having some of the usual side effects: nausea, soreness of hands and feet, and other indignities. The doctor is going to dial it back a bit on the next round.
Regarding Kate's back, the doctors are going to keep a close eye on it. Kate is going to start a new round of the oral chemotherapy on Easter Monday, and she will have a new MRI in a couple of weeks. The concern is that the spinal compression will worsen, and Kate would become an invalid, but this is an outcome the doctors stressed is unlikely.
From breast cancer to back collapse. It's an evolution we haven't been prepared to comprehend, and we're not sure we have come to grips with it, though last week was frightening, and it gave us a glimpse of a possible future we want to avoid.
As noted earlier, surgery on the back is an option if things worsen. Also we learned tonight that it may be possible to inject cement into the back to hold up the spine. Very weird, we both agreed. Cement?
Anyway, that's a hypothetical path we hope to avoid altogether, and the doctor today was encouraging.
We did the right thing last week, she said. We self-advocated and made the system respond. All patients should do the same.
You can't keep Kate down, I said. Nobody puts baby in a corner.