Monday, October 19, 2009

Agony and Ecstasy

Dear Family and Friends,

Agony and ecstasy. Admitedly, that expression may be too dramatic. But it conveys what we're going through right now.

Francis had his first acupuncture appointment with a Chinese acupuncturist, Fern Tsao of Yarmouth ME on Saturday morning the 17th. He found it "comforting," and for the rest of the day he was astounded to be feeling better than he had in weeks and even in months! In fact he didn't want to move in order to savor being pain free.

Then you can imagine my joy Sunday morning after the alarm went off to hear him calling out to me, on our bed nearby, -- (and I wrote it all down in my dream journal verbatim:)

"There's nothing like a natural sleep, -- 8 hours with no sleeping pill! I turned a corner! The radiation yesterday (his 5th) helped, but it needed a boost. The acupuncture treatment gave it that boost. And boom! The acupuncture treatment said to the cancer: 'Get out of there!' ....This one, -- WOW! This corner was extraordinary! There'll be more bumps on the way still to go. But this was a big, big boost! There'll be other obstacles but a big obstacle was overcome here!" That was clearly ecstasy for us.

But the following two days have been difficult, esp. today when the pain returned, and the nausea too. The nausea seemed almost worse than the pain, just as it did last week after which we tried to ease up on the hydromorphone and use compazine and ativan instead (also powerful meds) that are supposed to ease nausea. But as one VNA nurse told us: Even anti-nausea medication can cause nausea!!

It's a real kind of agony for me to see him unable to keep his food, and to be dizzy and wobbly walking from the car to the acupuncture clinic. Maybe the nausea is from the radiation (treatment # 6 today.) The doctor admitted at our first visit on Oct 9 that "the intestines are in the way" between the killer radiation beam(s) (my word) and the cancer cells whose destruction eases his pain.

So tonight Francis tried an Ume-Sho-Kuzu (Kudzu) drink recommended by Lisa Silverman who teaches macrobiotic cooking, -- a drink that Fern the acupuncturist recommended too. I'm glad he found it acceptable, -- so he can eat!!

Tomorrow will be another challenging day for Francis. Just having two back to back appointments in itself will be tiring for him as we discovered, -- simply from two appointments (as happened today) with rest time in between. After his 11:30 am radiation treatment at Maine Med in Portland we'll be driving to Scarborough for a 1:00 pm "mapping" appointment. But with the diagnosis finally in, they'll be able to fine tune the radiation treatments now, -- as Dr. Inhorn told me -- "to minimize" the damage. He confirmed that whatever damage is done to the organs will heal in time.

Through all of this we're rescued by small moments of humor, e.g. after flossing his teeth I said, -- "Okay, eye drops next." So he opened his mouth. Then last night after a friend emailed relating how lovingly our Pax Christi friends spoke about Francis during the retreat weekend we missed, he said a few minutes later: "I just had a black humor thought: People would die to hear such tender sentiments expressed about themselves!"

Thank you all for being in the "Prayer Brigade," as our dear friend Allen Moore in Arizona called it! I told him that this brigade is "numero uno!" We need it especially now!

Loving gratitude,
PS The sweet chickies continue to humor us too. Even with cooler weather Francis can hear them cackling when I approach, or when one of them lays an egg. Sometimes we get 1 or 2 or 3 a day. One day earlier we got 4. I hope Francis' nausea will disappear tonight with the kudzu-ume drink so he can enjoy another of those delicious eggs tomorrow!

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