Cautiously Optimistic

Today started off well with a positive update on my sister-in-law.   Yesterday they had stopped the blood pressure medication and my sister-in-law appears to be holding her own in that area.  Her temperature was normal and the antibiotics appear to be working.  The nurse stated that the night had been good, and that things were on track.  The doctor, during his rounds this morning, stated he is pleased with what he is seeing by way of response.  He did advise however, that they had discovered a second bacteria in her lungs and are awaiting its identification; hopefully the present cocktail of antibiotics will be effective to address this new bacteria.

For the immediate future the intent is to get her breathing on her own, consequently the medical staff advised that they will remove the support provided by the respirator in the next few days.  They do not want to keep her on it for more than 14 days and she is nearing that mark.  If she is unable to breathe on her own, then they will perform a tracheostomy.  Although this sounds dire, the hope is that she will improve sufficiently in the next couple of days and pleasantly surprise all of us by regaining her capacity in this area and this procedure will not be required.

Certainly during my visit yesterday I noticed visibly encouraging signs.  I don’t know if she was registering that I was there but there was a physical response using finger movements to certain statements made.  She is still sedated, but the level of sedation has been reduced – I can’t help but think that she is making her way back to us.

Stomach Pain

Healthy and green and home grown.

Healthy and green and home grown.

Another side effect of chemo that we weren’t ready for was stomach issues. Over the course of the treatments my husband’s problems with his stomach have increased from periodic to now persistent – without let up. I was speaking with a long time friend about it and she said “oh yes, he needs acidophilus for the entire course of his treatment.” The chemotherapy doesn’t just kill good and bad cells, it also kills the good bacteria/flora in your gut – obviously this is a contributing factor to stomach and intestinal discomfort.

So what options are there?  I was fortunate to be on the phone with a well informed  and knowledgeable practitioner of reflexology, reiki and brain gym.  She’s been using natural remedies for as long as I have known her – which is going on 30 years.  Right off the top she suggested BIO-K® (argh! I hate using brand names, but this one is Canadian and apparently this product is quite effective) which is a fermented milk.  We chatted about a few other ways to get the good bacteria re-established in his gut; all of the items we spoke about were in the health food store when I went there later.  So today I came home with a tub of Kefir (for use in smoothies) , a papain supplement (which I need to check out with the Oncology department – it has a warning about a potential interaction with blood thinners) and the BIO-K+ ®.

There were a few other foods that may help to get his tummy back on track.  Brown rice, kale and lentils are considered excellent foods that I will incorporate (in moderation) into our regular diet to support intestinal health.  With the help of the internet I found an awesome sausage, kale and lentil soup recipe that will be hitting my table in the very near future.

So far in this journey through cancer, my husband has experienced many and varied health challenges including: upset stomach, a blood clot, purpura, petechiae, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, constipation, headaches, change of taste, breathing related issues, modifications to his pre-existing medications that caused high then low blood pressure, and pain management.  I suspect I may have missed something in there but you get the idea.  His spirit and resilience is remarkable.  I have such an immense respect for him and for all cancer patients, this disease is merciless, throwing its victims on a path fraught with peril and challenge and full of unknowns.   The Canadian Cancer Society website states: “About 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes and 1 in 4 will die of the disease.” (Extracted Oct 14, 2014 from ttp://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/canadian-cancer-statistics-publication/?region=on )  Simply put, it could have been me taking  this journey but for the luck of the draw.  I, for one, plan on changing our diet to include some preventive foods and will continue my quest for knowledge of this disease.