Christmas Passed

Daphne the Christmas Pooch!

Daphne – All dressed up for the occasion.

So we are through part one of two for the holidays.  Christmas is now over and we have New Year’s to get through.  This new phase in our lives has meant some significant changes to how we “do” Christmas.  In years past we would go carolling up and down the street or get together with friend’s at our house, their house, it changed from year to year.  We’d have a nice Christmas Eve dinner – usually surf and turf, drink Bailey’s and watch The Christmas Story.  We go to bed late, and get up late the next day.  Christmas Day would be turkey with all the trimmings and generally people arriving throughout the day for appetizers, drinks, carol singing, dinner and later on games.  We’ve always been sure to take pictures and plenty of them.  This year was a much different affair.  We managed to do a bit of a drive around our city to look at the Xmas lights on Xmas Eve, my husband and I along with his sister, two of the kids and two couples that are dear friends of the family.  The next day we had more family, including our two grandchildren, stop by but it was for a few brief hours, no meals, no games, no drinks.  The only consistent thing from years past is that we took pictures, and lots of them.

My husband had a poor response to the Zometa infusion and it took him down for about 8 days.  Today, the 28th, is the first day he has had an appetite and been able to participate in conversation with the family.   It was just bad timing for the reaction to the Zometa, but it did make me realize that I had slipped a bit on my research on recommended treatments.  If I had read up on Zometa and chatted through the side effects with my husband prior to commencing the treatments I doubt he would have opted for it.  This is what WebMD states regarding Zometa Intravenous under Common Side Effects:

The following side effects are associated with Zometa intravenous:

Common side effects of Zometa intravenous:

  • Bone Pain –  Severe
  • Feeling Weak – Severe
  • High Blood Pressure – Severe
  • Low Amount of Magnesium in the Blood – Severe
  • Low Amount of Phosphate in the Blood –  Severe
  • Low Amount of Potassium in the Blood –  Severe
  • Trouble Breathing – Severe
  • Backache –  Less Severe
  • Chills –  Less Severe
  • Chronic Trouble Sleeping – Less Severe
  • Cough – Less Severe
  • Diarrhea – Less Severe
  • Dizzy –  Less Severe
  • Feel Like Throwing Up  – Less Severe
  • Fever – Less Severe
  • Fluid Retention in the Legs, Feet, Arms or Hand – Less Severe
  • Head Pain –  Less Severe
  • Incomplete or Infrequent Bowel Movements – Less Severe
  • Inflammation of Skin caused by an Allergy – Less Severe
  • Joint Pain –  Less Severe
  • Low Energy – Less Severe
  • Muscle Pain  – Less Severe
  • Throwing Up  –  Less Severe
  • Urinary Tract Infection –  Less Severe

Click on the link if you want to see the other side effects listed under Infrequent or Rare.  There is also a good site in the UK that I often refer to when looking up this type of information, Patient.co.uk.; it provides suggestions on how to deal with the side effects.

Back to our situation and nope, we definitely would have considered other holistic ways to enhance his bones rather than infuse them with a bisphosphonate.  There is plenty out there too – therapies like mind body healing, osteotapping, Tai Chi, Xi Sui Jing; a wide range of supplements and dietary supports.  We just need to get through New Year`s and then settle back into a routine where there is time to do the much needed research.

The Infusion

On Friday my husband had his second intravenous treatment of Zometa®, a zoledronic acid often prescribed for bone cancer patients.  The first treatment, four weeks earlier, had been relatively uneventful with no noticeable side effects.  Whole different story for Friday’s – it was like stepping back to mid-July and how he felt then.  The treatment was administered Friday afternoon; a fairly hectic day for us between doctors appointments (him and me), me working half a day, this treatment, and friends and family stopping by.  He was dog tired by the time he went to bed, relatively early for him at 10:30 pm, and I attributed it to the activity during the day.

On Saturday morning when he woke up it was apparent he was under the weather.  He had a low grade fever, headache, and a general body ache.  I left him in bed until noon and checked on him again then.  Ever mindful of the implications of lack of activity, I suggested he get up and start his day.  He needed to take his daily meds and have some food anyway.  I went to the kitchen to make his morning smoothie and get some food ready for him.  A half hour passed and I went upstairs to see what was going on.  My husband was awake but still in bed.  He had felt dizzy when he tried to sit forward and the dizziness had aggravated his headache which made him feel sick.  He needed to get up but didn’t trust himself to be steady enough to make it to the washroom, he wanted my assistance in case.  So this was his start to the day.

As the day progressed none of his symptoms alleviated, they just worsened.  We brought his mother’s old rollator in from the garage to use as a support to help him get around. By the time it was 6:00 pm he was feeling nauseous and the body ache had worsened.  All he would do for nourishment throughout the day was sip on water or tea.  The nausea turned to vomiting by about 8:00 pm and the vomiting made his headache worse.  There was no discussion about going to the hospital – this was not an option as he has a deep distrust of our local hospital.  The hospital where he takes his chemo treatment is a half hour away and he knew they would only send him home with a script for more meds.  I looked on line to see if this reaction could be attributed to the intravenous he had on Friday and sure thing – all of the symptoms were there.  This alleviated some of my stress but didn’t help my husband feel any better.  Bedtime was shades of July when I had to help him into the bed since he couldn’t lift his legs onto the bed.

Looking back, a similar response occurred with his second CT Scan.  He had the first one with no issues, drank the liquid and had the IV, but the second one knocked him for a loop.  All I can figure is that this is the case with the Zometa®.  The first was fine, the second wasn’t; obviously the chemicals disagree with him.  As I write this it is Sunday morning and my husband awoke to still feeling awful, the headache persists and his stomach is still unsettled.  When he is feeling better we will chat through whether this is a treatment he should continue with.  We will ask the Oncologist about other options mainstream medicine has in this regard.  We will also consider TCM and alternative treatments that work to strengthen the bones.