Sep 11 2020
Mom had her first round of chemotherapy last Tuesday. Early that morning I drove her to the Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC, got her checked in, and had to leave as they took her back because, due to the pandemic and generally immunosuppressed state of the other patients in the office I posed a contamination risk. I spent most of the day puttering around the house, fixing stuff up, cleaning, and getting a bit of dayjob work done after dropping her off. Mom spent most of the day hooked up to one IV line or another. Unsurprisingly, it took some time to get the actual procedure started: Mediports can be used for drawing blood samples as well as administering medications. However, while it was possible to flush her mediport with saline the doctors weren't able to draw any blood samples through it and they couldn't proceed until they were able to. As I understand the situation, it required three heparin flushes to un-fuck the catheter, which took roughly 90 minutes.
Mom's oncologist says that each run of chemo has to be compounded specifically to the patient's current blood stats, height, and weight, which is why vitals and blood samples need to be taken every time. Seems like it's pretty tricky stuff to get right and it gets mixed up immediately prior to administration. Thing is, if the blood sample takes a while to get, the compounding process takes a while, and and and... this is why cancer patients normally bring lunch and things to occupy their time while they're in the office hooked up. Once they got things going, though, they started the process off with a prophylactic IV antibiotic (probably to minimize the risk of something already in her system getting any ideas while her immune system is suppressed), IV benadryl (because hypersensitivity to chemotheraputic drugs is a known problem), and an IV dose of an anti-nausea drug before the actual chemo drugs went in.
Aug 30 2020
CW: Stuff about medicine, post-surgical care, and cancer. Feel free to close the tab if you need to.
It's been a couple of weeks since my last update. I was working on a different post in my spare time but I'm not entirely pleased with how it's turning out, plus I think it needs a lot more work, so I thought it'd be easier to write about the last week and change. By "easier," I mean "easier to write," not "easier to handle."
A little over a week ago, on the 21st of August, I was killing time with mom rewatching Twin Peaks (she didn't know there was a third season so of course we had to rewatch the first two beforehand). Nothing fancy, just the television and me hacking around a bit on a project. Partway through the episode, around 2230 local time, she said in that quiet voice that in my family means that something is terribly wrong, that she was having trouble breathing and that I needed to call 911. I'm sorry to say that I was expecting that something like this would occur so I kept my phone within arm's reach and had a go-bag packed and standing by, so it was the work of a few seconds to dial emergency services, give a situation report, request an ambulance, and get my stuff together. There isn't much to say about the process of paramedics showing up, gathering data, loading my mom onto a stretcher, and heading to the hospital. There wasn't any room in the ambulance, unfortunately, so I had to call in a favor from a neighbor to follow.
Aug 02 2020
CW: Stuff about medicine, post-surgical care, and wounds. Feel free to close the tab if you need to.
This won't be easy for me to write, mostly because I'm tired, scatterbrained, and trying to put everything in some kind of order. I'm pretty stressed out and my allergies aren't helping, either. It's also been difficult to find ideas to put together right now.
Cancer is a nasty adversary. It runs you down, robs you of your strength, and tries to steal away your dignity. The overall supply of dignity in the world right now is starting to run low and I don't want to contribute to that. I'd be lying if I said that I knew, really knew, what mom was going through right now. I don't, and I can't. I can imagine what it's like from being here and watching and helping as best I can but that's not the same thing. Cancer can also throw you curveballs in the same way that an entire team of pissed off baseball pitchers could. When there are rogue immortal cells gobbling up the body's resources faster than they can be replenished it really wipes you out.
I mentioned a couple of days ago that my mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer and I flew back to Pittsburgh to help take care of her. Since that time it's been a whirlwind of activity around the old homestead, picking up, cleaning, throwing things out, fixing stuff, ordering parts and tools, and generally trying to get the house ready for her to come home. It's been a pretty big job, involving more driving in a day than I've done during the entire covid-19 lockdown (that's not saying much, I don't drive all that much back home) and finding myself on a first-name basis with the staff of our friendly neighborhood chain hardware store because they've been helping me track down the stuff I needed. Closer to mom's discharge date I had to call in assistance with the house because it just got to be too much for one body to handle, and as of when I write this we've been able to make some pretty serious changes for the better.
Jul 22 2020
Observant readers may have been wondering why I seemed to drop off the grid for a couple of days. Timed posts kept going up as expected, and undoubtedly other socnets seemed like they were being operated by my exocortex (which they were, for the most part). You've probably been wondering what happened.
You know what? Fuck it. I don't have the compute cycles right now to do a proper intro. I count it as fortune that I have the compute cycles just to type this right now. There's no easy or polite way to talk about it. My concentration is shot, my attention span rapidly approaches epsilon, and to be honest I'm a little fed up with Dora (Mom's cat) attacking me repeatedly because she's scared, confused, and doesn't understand what's going on or where her catmom is.
I will say, however, that I sought out permission before writing this.