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Posts Tagged ‘MRI’

Stroke

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while. I’m not sure why. I think things were going very well for a while, so that’s part of the reason. I also finally made it down to NC, which is great. I’ve been here for over a month now. I don’t see as much of my parents as you think I would while living in their house, but it’s great to be so close and to have the chance to at least see them every day.

I guess mom decided that cancer just wasn’t enough, so she decided to go ahead and have a stroke. It started last a week ago last Thursday…she was walking to the mailbox outside and suddenly started veering off to the right, unable to straighten herself. She didn’t fall, though. She was fine until Friday afternoon, when she fell over trying to bend down to pick something up. She called the doctor, who moved her MRI up from sometime in August to 6/28 (we were all afraid it was another brain tumor). They told her that if she got worse, she should call and go to the ER.

Well, she was worse Saturday morning. She couldn’t stand up at all, and dad noticed that her speech was slurred. We called the emergency number, and they told us to come into the ER. Mom wanted to finish her tea and have her breakfast, so we went in after that. 😉

Mom told the ER folks that she was just there to have an MRI. She told me while we were waiting that dad had mentioned that he thought it might be a stroke, so I told that to the ER folks, and that sent them into a tizzy. They immediately got her back and gave her an EKG. After that, it was honestly quite scary. They got her into a room and swooped in, three of them at once, attaching things to her without saying anything. They put in an IV (just the apparatus; no drip), took her blood and her vitals, and then were out just as quickly as they came in. Then a nurse and a doctor took turns interviewing us before sweeping her off to a CT scan.

The CT scan didn’t show anything, but the ER doctor consulted with mom’s oncology team, who wanted her admitted. I ran home to get her some things and to pick up lunch for all of us, and by the time I got back, she was up in her hospital room.

They kept her from Saturday to Tuesday (which was dad’s birthday, so it was great that she got to come home and have some of the delicious walnut cake that I baked!). I took her meals as I could…we even had a kind of picnic with kebabs that dad grilled for us. They ran every test you can think of; I can’t even name them all. They never found out the cause. There was no sign of residual damage, and there was no sign of blockage anywhere in her arteries.

They sent her home and gave her a heart monitor that she has to wear for a month in case she does had a-fibs. They also put her on Lipitor, which I learned was not just for cholesterol, but to help veins somehow. The oncologist said this shouldn’t have happened and was unrelated to the cancer. Just very strange.

So mom is weak in her right side. She has trouble with her right leg, but that is strengthening. She can’t hold a pen in her right hand, which is frustrating. And her speech is slurred…sometimes she has trouble thinking of words, too. It’s pretty scary. I know it could have been worse, but this is ridiculous. She’s just gone through enough.

I learned some things about myself, too. While she was there, I helped her change clothes, go to the bathroom, and walk around, and I brought her food and fetched her things. I learned that I don’t think I’m patient enough to be a good caregiver. I’m not really able to give myself over completely. I still have an expectation that people consider how things affect me, and I don’t think that’s happening. I know it’s extremely frustrating for mom; I don’t fault her for anything, and I know she’s doing the best she can. It’s just me and my personality. I still want to be the kid, and, unfortunately, I think that time has long passed.

What DOES make me upset is the state of food in the house. I don’t understand how people can complain that they don’t feel good, don’t have energy, feel nauseated, etc., and then constantly eat fried food, rich desserts, thick mayonnaise-based sauces. I wish I had the resources, time, and energy to cook all of their meals for them. I understand that the major constraint is time and energy and that they just don’t want to cook all the time. I get it. But I also understand the healing power of food. If something is making you sick and you want to get healthy, stop doing what is making you sick. It’s not fair to continue doing that when there are people around who love you and want you to be around a long, long time. It’s just not fair.

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As I’m sure you’ve read from mom’s blog, she had another MRI to check to see if her brain tumors had returned, and it was all clear. I know this is a huge relief to her. She was worried about it because chemo can’t cross the blood-brain barrier, so chemo wouldn’t help, and because she already had full-brain radiation, it would be difficult to use radiation to treat anything.

At least that’s one worry to put to rest for a while!

She had a PET scan yesterday to see if the chemo treatments put her back into remission…hopefully we’ll hear more about that tomorrow or early next week.

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The Family at KA

It’s been a while since my last update, so if you were waiting, you probably were wondering if we made it back alive.  Have no fear: we all made it to our respective homes, a little lighter in the pockets and with tighter-fitting clothes.  It was great to have the whole family together, and my only complaint about the whole trip was that it was too short!  I feel like I didn’t waste a single minute, which is great, but I never got a chance to relax!  That might also be because I had to work almost every day I was there, but that’s another story….

I spent most of the time at the gym and spa, and I think mom was too.  She worked out twice, and since she asked me to give her some pointers, I tried to help.  I still think the Canyon Ranch Grill is the best place to eat in Vegas: awesome food, they print the nutrition value right on the menu, and it’s not overpriced.  I’ve never been one for massages before, but I sure liked the one I had there!  (In the spa, not the grill, of course.)  I don’t think I’ve ever felt my shoulders without any tension in them before.

I didn’t do very well at blackjack, which stinks.  I usually do a good job.  I think I was too cautious, which might come with age, or maybe with a full understanding of the value of money.  It was easier when I was younger and didn’t have any bills waiting for me at home.

Mom on the Scooter

I think everyone else had a good time, too.  Mom’s energy kept up for all but one day, and we got her a little motorized scooter so she could go shopping with us at the Forum shops.  I have to admit that it was slightly annoying…I was looking for a couple specific things, and it’s really hard to run around and get in and out of places quickly with one of those scooters…but I was really glad she was able to come around with me, and I’d rather have dealt with the scooter than have stolen all her energy for the rest of the trip.  It’s not as easy to do things anymore because there’s a lot more planning involved: will there be a wheelchair and wheelchair access, how much walking is there, what if mom wants to leave early or gets tired, how early can we eat, etc.  I’m not saying that’s bad…just something different that we’ll have to get used to from here on out.  Kind of like learning how to be a parent and how to maneuver a stroller.

When mom got back to NC, she got her MRI and the results that her brain tumors are completely gone.  Her thyroid levels are back to normal (though she’s still a bit low on energy), and they took her off the blood thinning meds.  We’re all hoping for a clear PET scan in September, and then for it all to continue on the upward path for a long time!!

So the next exciting adventure is that Anthony lost his job, so we’re back into the thick of money worries.  I don’t think there’s any worse stress than wondering how you’re going to afford your mortgage (in our case, mortgageS).  I’m trying not to worry too much because I know that everything works out the way it’s supposed to, but I thought we were finally getting on track, and it sucks to be back in this place.

I’ll be seeing mom (and dad) again in a couple of weeks when we’re back in NC for a friend’s wedding shower.  I think I get to see them at least once a month from here on out for the rest of the year…after the shower, they’re coming to WV to visit the Greenbrier in mid-September; then the friend’s wedding in October; then Thanksgiving; then Christmas.  Time sure flies!

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

We’re all heading out tomorrow to meet in Vegas.  Mom’s doing great, considering…her latest MRI showed no trace of any of the tumors in her brain, which is AWESOME, and she’s hanging in there on her nausea and thyroid meds.

I’m feeling a bit sad tonight because this is the first time we’re leaving the cats at the vet for boarding instead of just leaving them home, and even though we got them a decently sized room (like a little kitty motel room!), all you can hear from there are dog barks!  The kids were SO frightened…it broke my heart.  I’m hoping they’re doing better now that it’s dark and (hopefully) quiet.

Please donate a couple of bucks if you can!

Anyway, everyone please send some positive vibes!  I’d really love to hit a jackpot, especially because I’ve promised the funds to the assembly-hall project at Senkoase High School in Lesotho, where my Peace Corps Volunteer replacement, Violeta, is struggling to meet her fund-raising goal (see pic).  She needs about $26k, and I figure a big ol’ Vegas jackpot could take care of that.  😀

See you in a week!

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MRI, PET, CAT, EGFR…I thought I had to learn a lot of acronyms when I started working for the government, but this is getting out of hand!  🙂

Mom had an MRI to check the progress of her brain radiation therapy, and it showed that the tumors are still there, though smaller.  Before she underwent the therapy, I tried to do some research online, and I swear that I read somewhere that the radiation only begins the process of killing the tumors and that it takes time for them to fully die off.  Now that I’ve gone back to look again, all I can find is that radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells and to shrink tumors.  So does this mean that the cancer is dead, but the tumors are going to stick around (assuming the Tarceva doesn’t get them)?  Maybe the nursing part of our family can explain.

Mom’s still sounding a lot better, though, which is good.  And Anthony and I (and the cats!) are heading down over Memorial Day weekend to hang out, so that should be fun.

One thing I’d like to say while I have the chance is that my dad has been awesome during all of this.  I was talking once with my classmate who lost her mom to cancer, and she asked me if my parents had a good relationship…”Yeah,” I said, “but my dad has been exceptionally nice lately.”  It was the same for her, she said, that her parents got a lot closer and it was really strange.  It is kind of strange.  But I think it’s amazing to see the love that my parents have for each other, even after all these years, and to watch my dad’s strength and patience rise to new levels.  I’m proud to be a daddy’s girl.  🙂

PS: I also found out this morning that mom’s cousin is in the hospital with a number of issues, but it’s mainly her heart.  So if you’ve got prayers to spare, send some her way.

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