It’s Been One Week

A week ago we met with the Oncologist to discuss options.  We left the hospital that day with the picc line removed and the knowledge that there would be no more chemotherapy treatments for two months.

First – the removal of the picc line.  When the picc line was inserted back in July, it was done behind a screen.  My husband’s arm was extended and two individuals (not sure whether this was a nurse and technician or doctor) worked behind the screen to prep and insert the picc line.  It was inserted using local freezing and consequently pretty painless.  The first couple of weeks he was really aware of having the line in, but things became pretty routine afterwards.  Showering was no issue as we would wrap his arm in a press and seal type of cling wrap which made the whole area waterproof.  He found it a bit uncomfortable to sleep on that side (left) and so he tended to sleep more on his back.  For appointments where they needed easy access to the picc line he wore short sleeved, button up shirts.  The nurse routinely flushed the line once a week and it was not problematic in any way.  Last week they removed the line.  It surprised my husband to see how long it actually was, right up his arm into his chest.  It was a little uncomfortable coming out as it was removed without any sort of freezing – not painful, just uncomfortable.  The incision point was remarkably small.  He came away with a fairly dense area bandage which we were to remove the next day.  The incision has since healed completely with no issues.  He’s back to a full range of sleeping positions without needing to be mindful of the external hardware that had been taped to his arm.  All is good on that front.

Second – No chemotherapy for two months.  We have had a week to assimilate this information and what it can mean.  It doesn’t mean that we have lost our resources.  Certainly we can contact Oncology at any point to get some assistance.  It does mean that we can take a strong run at diet modification.  During chemo the intake of high protein meals is essential to rebuild and repair blood cells, consequently it was easy to include a lot of meat in our daily diet.  While researching an alkaline diet the focus is on reducing the amount of acidic foods in the diet and meat falls in this category.  So with the luxury of a little time we are now looking at a diet that ticks all the nourishment needs for health and wellbeing but not through reliance on meat.  It’s a learning process which we have just started.  One of the most helpful sites I have found in this regard is which provides lots of information supported by a wealth of research.  We’ve also found a cookbook that has some pretty decent recipes, Eating the Alkaline Way (Corrett and Edgson).  We made the mini pizzas last night, mine was artichoke and basil with mozzarella, my husband’s was fennel, sweet potato and goat’s cheese.  We did cheat and use premade shells – it is still baby steps for us. They turned out awesome. There is so much more to learn and try.  There are so many articles written on real life experiences of people who have successfully beaten the odds using an alkaline diet.  As my hubby says – he has no choice but to try this.

Interestingly, I spoke to the pharmacist and obtained a litmus paper sample which measures pH (acidity or alkalinity) and when he tested, my husband was at 7.0  which is a good reading since anything above 7.0 is considered alkaline.  This reading is not overly surprising; since he was diagnosed with cancer my husband has started every day with a warm glass of lemon water, and throughout the day drank a homeopathic remedy of ginger/lemon/maple syrup as well as a nice Kefir/kale smoothie, and just generally added more fruit and veg to his diet.  When he was suffering from chemo effects meat had no appeal for him – it was too heavy and dense – makes you wonder.  This journey really impresses on me how forgiving the human body is.  We cut ourselves – we heal, we break a bone – it mends, we nourish our bodies appropriately – we can send some diseases packing.  There’s everything to be gained in feeding ourselves properly.

Pre-Chemo Visit – Our Second Try



Today was our pre-chemo consultation with the Oncologist.  We’d postponed my husband’s last treatment in an effort to give his body a chance to address both the blood clot and the thrush. The thrush is almost gone and so is no longer an issue.  The blood clot on the other hand, continues to be quite persistent.  His leg from hip to ankle continues to remain swollen.  It remains painful to walk on, but we have commenced daily walks again.  He continues to get his daily injection but the process is slow.  We spoke with the Oncologist about it – is it normally this slow to dissolve a clot.  Her response was yes – it takes quite some time, and he did have a large clot.  I asked about compression stockings – her response was – not yet.  The swelling has to go and then the stockings/socks would be ordered as a preventive measure.

The Oncologist asked my husband if he wanted to defer his chemo treatment for another week.  They chatted for a minute or two about it, and he decided that he would go ahead.  His rationale was that he felt so lousy anyway for the week he took off of chemo, he should have had the treatment.  He continues to experience waves of nausea and lightheadedness.  This we discussed with the Oncologist.  She attributes the lightheadedness to blood pressure.  His blood pressure drops considerably when going from lying to sitting, or sitting to standing – around 14 points.  Slow and steady is his rule for movement.  The nausea could just be his particular experience with the chemo treatment.  It may just be that he needs to use the anti-nausea medication on an ongoing basis to stay ahead of the nausea.  All in all it was a good visit, especially since I didn’t have to do the daily injection – the doctor did it!  I just cannot get used to giving that thing.

So chemo treatment 3 will go ahead on Wednesday – hydration has already been ordered for at least two to three days after his treatment.  After that the moment of truth – he is scheduled for a CT scan to see if the treatments are effective.  The CT scan is set for the 20th of October.  I sure hope the news is good news!

The First Appointment – Again

So got the call first thing this morning and the apology.  Don’t know what happened, made a mistake, sorry.  Thing is, a mistake for someone who is gravely ill can really be quite traumatic.  To have to travel a distance for a mistake is simply not acceptable.  Either way though they have you, we need the service, and they provide it.  Being miserable to the service providers accomplishes nothing and actually can make things more difficult.  So we take the high road. Anyway, we had our appointment, learned a little bit more about chemo and the treatment and were instructed to go back down tomorrow to the hospital to have the picc line installed.  No problem.

In the meantime we are expecting the delivery of mechanical supports, specifically a tripod for above the bed to help my husband move around, a walker for obvious reasons, some toileting accessories and a ramp for the house.  The delivery was scheduled for either last Friday or today.  When we followed up, guess what, someone forgot to put in the order for the equipment.  I can’t believe this stuff keeps happening to us.  Are we a test run for tolerance?  Again, what do you do  – answer:  nothing, say no problem just please get it here as soon as possible.

Learning from all of the above, mistakes happen for sure, but following up is essential.  If I hadn’t called about the equipment today who knows when it would have arrived.  Actually, who knows when it will arrive – because it still isn’t here.

I can hardly wait for tomorrow (sigh).


The First Appointment

Another day, another frustration.  We get a call on Friday to be at the hospital for blood work and an appointment with the oncologist.  The appointment is set for Monday.  It’s Friday, be here Monday says the appointment booking clerk.  Monday?  Yes, Monday.  She says 8 a.m., I request 8:30 a.m.  It’s just too hard to get up, dressed, fed, and in the car for the half hour drive to the hospital.  She agrees to the 8:30 a.m. appointment and that’s that.

Well, today is Monday.  We went to the hospital for our appointment.  No one, I mean, no one was there.  The Cancer Care Clinic was locked up tight, everything was closed.  It is a civic holiday in Ontario and nobody is working.  I talk to the volunteer on the Front Desk, who takes me to Emerg to see if blood work may have been booked there, we go to the Lab to see if blood work has been booked there.  He’s a sweet man who has to deal with a very irate me.  The volunteer tells me that incorrect bookings happen all the time.  ALL THE TIME!  In some cases people travel much further than we have only to be turned away because the clerk mixed up the dates, or meant to cancel the appointment. 

My first observation is this, cancer gets a holiday?  So the civic holiday trumps the treatment of ill people.  I personally believe that with the money invested in cancer treatment and care, the Care Clinics should be required to run 7 days a week.  It’s just a prudent use of resources and investment.  My second observation is, where is the quality control?  This might have been a simple mistake, but when the volunteer on the desk tells me that this is a significant problem, then why isn’t it addressed?  My third and most important concern is, then when the heck is my husband actually scheduled for his appointment?  If it is Tuesday, then guess what, we are missing it through no fault of our own and may be deferred for an indefinite period of time because some individual was careless, or disinterested, or feels underpaid or just doesn’t care enough to get it right. 

My frustration level is high right now, because in the case of cancer, every second of every day counts.