Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hospitalized but Hopeful

Dear Family and Friends,
Francis went to Mercy Hospital this morning because of low sodium. (Some cancers cause low sodium.) He told Dr. Inhorn later that though sodium was the trigger, he would've asked to go anyway because his pain had become unmanageable. (As you may know, bone cancer is one of the most painful.) So the IV's are treating both sodium and pain.

But the hospitalization is also providing supervision to get Francis' "plumbing" system back into working order with "lactulose" a laxative that doesn't habituate. Dr. Inhorn thinks this is a key issue.

Dr. Inhorn is "cautiously optimistic" about Francis' prognosis. Though primary osteosarcoma is very rare in adults (It usually happens in children or young people,) he said, -- "Your cancer problem is a local problem."

When I asked him if Francis is likely to get kyphoplasty (inserting cement in the vertebrae) to stabilize the spine after radiation, he said no. He believes Francis' pain is due, not to collapse of the vertebrae (one of the "fractures" is old,) but to soft tissue pressing on the nerves.

I recently read that some people have temporary increased pain from cancer cells being destroyed and swelling of tissue. Dr. Inhorn confirmed this fact explaining that all this "debris" takes time to get flushed out. That's why it takes time to get relief, -- a month or two after radiation.

After giving Francis his nightly foot and leg massage (with sesame oil) to keep his skin healthy, I was happy to see that though he was pressing the buzzer to get more IV pain medication, he had me adjust his mini TV for the nightly news, something we've had neither the inclination nor the time and energy to do since he was first hospitalized.

Radiation treatment # 14 which Francis missed today will be back on track tomorrow via ambulance to Maine Medical Radiation Institute in the same neighborhood. Only seven treatments to go after that!

Though radiation causes nausea and fatigue, -- and likely damage to the intestines,-- it also relieves pain. So we're at a crossroads, so eager for Francis to be pain free, but forced to deal with more until the process is completed.

How long will Francis be in the hospital? Dr. Katz, Francis' primary care physician said we'd go from day to day. Once his sodium is built up again, his VNA nurse Kelly could check it at our home, but more often than once a week this time! (That's how low sodium was discovered late yesterday.) And surely, I could give him the lactulose!

I'm eager to get him back home but am honestly acknowledging, between visits to the hospital, it'll be good to catch up on my lost sleep. I want to be fresh for the next round, and the next one after that. With the doctors' okay, Francis will be using the alternative healing modalities even more to flush out the "debris."


PS Though, thanks to all of you, we're "hanging in there," Francis still needs a lot of rest, especially after radiation. So, without being rigid about it, and with a few exceptions, he's not generally soliciting visitors

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