My husband spent last week and weekend at home, literally… in the house because he could not be far from the porcelain facilities. By Monday, he’d weakened considerably, so I called the doctor and listened as my husband explained the seriousness of his diarrhea, which had begun in the hospital and continued at home.
The oncologist gave us an appointment the next day. He was very concerned that the antibiotic ciprofloxacin my husband was taking might have left him susceptible to a bacteria called c. diff, one of the most important causes of infectious diarrhea in the U.S. It’s also extremely difficult to get rid of. It’s symptoms include watery diarrhea, up to 15 times each day; severe abdominal pain; loss of appetite, fever, blood or pus in the stool, and weight loss.
While my husband did have diarrhea several times a day, he had no pain, was eating like a man who’d just discovered food, had no fever and had no blood or pus in his stool. His weight loss had not gotten worse, either, as bad as it still was.
Checking him over in the office, the doctor was fairly sure my husband didn’t have c.diff, but had a stool sample checked to be sure. He advised us to discontinue the Cipro, which we were due to end the next day, and to begin the by-week of the oral chemo drug Xeloda that day, two days earlier than anticipated. These steps he hoped would end the diarrhea. He also persuaded my husband to stay a few hours for IV fluids, which included electrolytes, something he surely was depleted of, the doctor felt, despite being only marginally dehydrated.
I left him there and did my grocery shopping–not my usual shopping, no, but the latest list of items my husband had to have. These included gummy bears, u-bet syrups, and celery seeds. He’d been watching cooking shows and wanted to make his own bar-b-que sauce, you see. When I picked him up at the cancer center, I saw a huge difference. He was more alert, looked stronger, had a steadier step.
By Friday, though, he seemed more frail and unsteady, more lethargic, too. I bought some Gatorade as the doctor had suggested, though my husband complains that its taste and viscosity isn’t well received on his tongue.
As every mother is aware, we treat our children’s diarrhea with BRAT–banana, rice, apple sauce,and toast. However, treating an adult with with the same complaint isn’t the same–or as easy. You can’t force them to eat any of the above, so the diarrhea continued, abated only minimally, as I tried to coax him to eat bananas–in cereal, oatmeal, peanut butter sandwiches–with some success. Apple sauce was a definite no. Toast appeared, but only toasted scones, with jelly. As for rice, the best I could get into him was Rice-A-Roni to which I added extra rice.
Imodium was a mainstay, as was cottage cheese and watermelon. Yes. He’s his own worst enemy.
By the following Tuesday, we had moderate success in damming the diarrhea, I’m convinced because he finished both cottage cheese and watermelon and I refused to buy more. Also, for better or worse, he’s drinking Gatorade for its electrolytes.
We see the doctor soon. I’m eager to hear what he advises.
And no, no new chemo.