We’re out of hospital 12 days now, and things are going well for the most part. My husband is still taking Cipro to prevent possible bacterial reinfection.
Last Wednesday we visited our oncologist, who decided that, because his albumen levels were at 2 instead of 2.5, my husband would begin oral chemotherapy. The two drugs would weaken the outer walls of the cancer cells so that when his protein levels rose and the IV drugs were delivered, they would have easier access to the cells themselves, and hopefully, an easier time killing them.
The two drugs are not a lightweight approach, as I found out. Both Tarceva and Xeloda must be handled with extreme care. I can not open the vials near my body because I should not breathe in the air emitted. I must administer the pills wearing rubber gloves, discard them out immediately, and wash my hands well with soap and water.
We’re on day five of the drugs, with few side effects. He sleeps more, and has mild abdominal pain which frightened him initially. He said he couldn’t go through more months of the pain that laid him low. We seem to have found a way to minimize the pain so that he can continue to eat. Even so, these symptoms are better than the canker sores, nausea, burned and peeling skin on the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet, to name just a few of the possible side effects that he could experience, and I pray it continues so. I’d hate him to lose his appetite when he’s so eager to eat just now, and has about 35 pounds to regain.
We will take Xeloda for two weeks, and then have a byweek with no drug. Tarceva will continue to be administered with no break. In that byweek, we’ll go for bloodwork to evaluate the efficacy of the drugs and to measure his albumen level.
If I have anything to complain about, it is that my husband does not move about enough. He doesn’t use the exercise bike, or even lift 2 lb. weights. He lies on the couch and watches TV, which is not optimal. I’m losing patience with him and try to have more patience. I’m also watching for more overt signs of depression.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that my stress response is something I’ve never experienced before. I grow dizzy and must sit immediately. I must remind myself to breathe deeply and force myself to recognize stress as the reason. If I weren’t so in tune with myself, I might pass out, or I might drown in the deep end of stress. I might even do something irrational, especially as yesterday, I caught myself saying something to my husband that reminded me of something my character Danny Ambrose said to her husband, Alec Johnston.
Where I said, “Get with it. I’m not your nurse or your maid. Go get your own glass of water and take your own meds,” Danny, at the end of a longer stretch providing the same care to a more passive aggressive husband, lost her patience and said, “Somewhere along the line you abdicated responsibility for yourself to me. I never asked for that. I said ‘lean on me.’ I didn’t say ‘beat my heart into depression, my mind to frustration, and my soul to despair’!”
I doubt I’ll become as desperate as Danny. In fact, having written the character, I find myself measuring my emotional state against hers, and checking my declining mood, retreating into a book to take me away from my troubles. But Danny is a novelist. She escapes into her stories, too. Perhaps the difference between us is duration. Our fight is still in its beginning phase. Hers had run the course for some time.
Then again, she’s fictional. I’m not.