This morning, as he promised, Dr S showed up around 0730 to see Lori. He got all caught up on her recent history, and he examined her body. He asked if she was willing to continue treatment, and she replied that she definitely wanted to. He then left the room to confer with the other oncologists who had also been keeping tabs on Lori, the pain doctor, the neurosurgeons, and the main doctor on her new floor who is also like a hospitalist but specializes in cancer care, and her emphasis is on breast cancer.
He returned after about a half hour and told us that he doesn’t think the gamma knife on the brain is a possibility right now. The neuro guys need to see an extended period of the patient’s ability to be outpatient. Their minimum is 48 hours, and they also recommended a bit of a delay between the surgery and the start of chemo.
Since the brain spots are very small and not an immediate threat to life, they recommended to Dr S that he focus on saving the vital organs in particular, the liver. The only treatment option for preserving the liver is chemotherapy. Dr S had ordered the chemo from the pharmacy before he even returned to talk to us. We agreed with his assessment and were relieved to be able to start treatment right away.
We didn’t have to go downstairs to the cancer clinic’s infusion chairs. They brought the chemo right to her in this room. It’s so great being in this wing of the hospital! What a relief.
Throughout the morning, Lori had a significant amount of pain in her arms. She rated the pain a level 8 for a few consecutive hours. We tried morphine and some other oral options, but they did very little to even take off the edge. Finally the pain doctor visited this afternoon. We caught him up on the past week of frustrating pain control. When he checked the stats from her pain pump, he noticed she only used the bolus (extra controllable dosage) a total of 4 times in the past week. The dosages available weren’t adequate to cover her surge of pain last week, but now that things have settled down in her body, the pump should again be adequate if she uses the bolus regularly. He also upped the pump’s output and the bolus amount just to be sure. He also explained that the dilauded being administered from the pump directly to the spine is 300x more potent than the liquid dilauded the hospital had given her orally and intravenously! No kidding, 300x. I knew it was more effective but I had no idea what she was missing out on by not using the bolus this past week. We just need to rely on the bolus more heavily. It was great news for both of us. If she can stop the oral meds, her head will clear completely and she won’t be dependent on the hospital.
The liver problems have also been addressed. The damage to the liver is almost certainly the cancer, and the only way to potentially combat that is with chemotherapy. That’s why it’s important to start chemo now and push the gamma knife down the road until it’s absolutely necessary. Also, the antibiotics they have been pumping into her body for the past 4 days has done a great deal of good. Her stomach is not as bloated. They elected not to drain a sample for testing because by now, the infection has certainly been fixed by the antibiotics. The body will do the rest of the healing. Now, hopefully the new chemo will stop the cancer from damaging any more of her liver.
She hasn’t taken any oral pain medication since early this afternoon. She even skipped her 12 hour scheduled oxycontin tonight because she had very, very little pain. I don’t want to claim victory over this hospital stay yet, but she’s definitely moving in the right direction. Whereas two days ago I wasn’t sure she’d ever be discharged, I could now see her walking out of here by Thursday. Again, I’m not counting on it, but I think it’s a very real possibility. Overall, it was a very nice day.
Tomorrow, I’m going to Dayton for some AF stuff. I’ll be back by tomorrow night. Some of Lori’s family members from IL will be filling in for me while I’m gone.
Thank you everyone for showing her so much love! I saw that her fb was blowing up with comments, and my phone received many videos, texts, virtual flowers, edible flowers, silk flowers, a five-page letter, and more all from people wanting to send love to Lori. It’s very touching. Thank you again. She was feeling very thankful this evening. Lord willing, we’ll be back with the kids in Dayton at our home by this weekend.