Wednesday, January 14, 2015

CTCA Appointments for January 14

We had a busy morning over at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

That's Rudy's foot peeking out from behind the curtain.

The first appointment was to get Rudy's blood drawn.  They monitor his blood closely to make sure he's staying on track.  We got the results a short time later when we met with Terri.  She was beaming with good news.  The Absolute Neutrophil number is above normal.  This number is an important one in terms of  his immune system.  This number has been low on Rudy's lab reports for too long.  Boy, did it bounce back!  He still has a few things a little low or a little high, but nothing is far off. Terri said he's still a little bit anemic, but not enough to affect chemo. We'll be eating more iron this week.  Good news -  he can now see friends and family.  Terri said, "Just don't lick any sick people."  All joking aside, we'll still be careful, as advised for anyone undergoing chemo and, of course, we're still planning to be cautious while this flu makes the rounds.  HOWEVER, Rudy will at least be able to do a little something to help his severe case of Cabin Fever!

His kidney, liver, heart, and lungs still look good.  His blood pressure is great.

Rudy had two new appointments today that were GREAT.  First he had a massage that was so good he looked like he had turned to jelly when it was over.  I was with him and I felt pretty relaxed just from watching.  The lights were dimmed and soft music was playing.

He also had acupuncture for the first time ever.  This guy took a long time explaining just how it worked and figuring out what symptoms to target.  It didn't hurt, but there's no immediate results.  It will be interesting to see how these extras benefit over time.

One symptom both the acupuncturist and the massage therapist targeted was the tension in his neck.  Rudy had been dealing with some tension headaches.  They eased as soon as he got good news before the last chemo, but he had another one a day or so ago, possibly because he's getting a tiny bit anxious about the upcoming Pet Scan.  He also had a crazy cramp in his neck this week.  It was pretty much like a cramp you might get in a leg.  It lasted about 15 minutes and hurt like the devil.  Massaging it didn't help a bit.  It finally eased when I brought him a heating pad.  The massage therapist could still feel tight muscles in his neck and shoulders and she worked them good today.  And the acupuncturist worked on the pathways there as well.  He also talked with Rudy about some other options in the Mind/Body department at CTCA to help him with the cause of his tension - worrying.  Rudy puts up a good front, but anyone with a diagnosis like his is going to have stress to deal with.  As far as I'm concerned, I think he can use any help that's offered to help with that.  In fact, we could both benefit from some help.  It's really hard not to worry.

While we were waiting to see the acupuncturist, we saw a short film being made right in front of us.

The video is being made for CTCA employees, which they call stakeholders.  CTCA works very hard to encourage their stakeholders to wholeheartedly participate in their philosophy - the mother standard.  They want their employees to treat each patient just as well as they'd treat their mother or someone they dearly loved. (I can verify that they are very successful at this - their employees are amazing!) In this film, they were honoring two employees who went above and beyond.  Another employee saw these two doing something special for a patient and she nominated them both.  They were each being given a $500 reward as part of their recognition. By the way, they were recognized for what they had done to help a couple celebrate their anniversary.  The husband always gave his wife white roses on their anniversaries - one for each year they were married.  This anniversary was being spent in chemo and he was sad that they couldn't celebrate as they'd always done before.  These two employees helped him get the roses for his wife (19 of them) and also brought them a dvd player and movie.

Sometimes CTCA feels like a gathering place for friends.  Today, while we were working with Joe, our scheduler, we saw Paige.  I posted about her a few days ago.  Her husband was around the corner from our room, meeting with Dr. Thompson before his chemo.  Paige's son and daughter-in law (who works for DR. Thompson) stopped by, too.  Joe is lively and fun.  Stephanie and Paige are loads of fun. Paige's son was only there for a flash, but I'll bet he's fun, too. Joe and Stephanie are hard working and doing great things, but it feels more like play when we're with them.  If laughter is the best medicine, then we will get well fast.  NOte: There are 2 Joes in this story - Joe, our scheduler, and Paige's husband who is having chemo.

CHEMO THREE - Our observations
I haven't posted many updates this last week.  No new is good news.  Basically, Rudy said this was a very easy chemo.  He was really, really, REALLY tired for a day or two, but there was no nausea.  He is bouncing back pretty fast.  He is doing things around the house.  He rests a lot, but he's able to be more active than after the other chemos.

Next week, the big things are a Pet Scan and Chemo.  The Pet Scan will tell us whether the chemos have been successful or not.  We are hoping and praying that we're making progress.

If you are praying for us, we sure do appreciate it.  We know we are being looked after, even when our news isn't what we wanted.  We're thankful that things are going so well.   Please keep praying.  God willing, his Pet Scan results will be good.  We want that so badly!  Also, it would be wonderful if you would add Paige and her husband, Joe, to your prayer list.  Joe had to have part of his tongue removed due to mouth and throat cancer.  He has a feeding tube.  He has great difficulty swallowing.  If he gets nauseous, he could choke.  We hope this chemo goes as well for him as Rudy's chemos are going for him.  We also hope that he is able to have reconstructive surgery soon so he can swallow again and eat normally once more.

I'm sure I'm leaving something out, but this post is quite long enough.  Feel free to call this week.  Those phone calls keep Rudy cheered and frankly, he's probably really tired of talking to me so much lately! :-D