Saturday, October 08, 2005

Mercy Hospital, Day 8


I'm writing this in the hospital. We practically live in the hospital these days; I've been sleeping here, too, in a reclining chair. I should just bring my own blanket and save the nurses from fetching one for me, but until today I've been hoping David's well enough to come home. Now it's looking like he'll be here another weekend.

David just finished his second unit of blood, his first blood transfusion. They're sending other fluids through his IV line: antibiotics, saline, potassium, and drugs to ease his cramping pain. Every time he goes to the bathroom we unhook the Flowtron machine from his calves (which inflate with air to promote blood circulation), and he hobbles over, IV in tow. David's immune system has taken a beating from last week's chemotherapy treatment, and even with the immunity boosters his count isn't high enough for him to leave the hospital. They check his vitals around the clock, and there have been some temperature spikes the last couple of days past 100F/38C. Nope, not ready to come home yet. In the hospital they can give him stronger painkillers and keep him hydrated intravenously, neither of which I can administer at home.

We just finished watching a DVD we received as a wedding present -- a presentation of the Rocky Mountain Railway Tour that runs between Vancouver and Jasper/Banff. We wanted to go on a railway honeymoon somewhere along the East Coast, but it will be some time before David's in any shape to leave the area -- medically speaking, we're stuck here. David's latest radiation treatment to his spine is completed, and Dr. B (radiologist) will be monitoring him weekly. But he's still in the middle of the second round of combination chemotherapy, using a newer drug that's shown to be more effective for 'younger' patients (less than 40). The chemotherapy can't continue while David's blood counts are this low, so the goal is to boost his immunity so he has the strength to resume chemo. Dr. A (oncologist) says he will extend the time between treatments to lessen the taxing effect on David's system; how people react to chemotherapy drugs is very individual. It looks like the treatment last Thursday, a couple of days before the wedding, was more than he could handle considering he just completed a month of major radiation almost daily. This is a LOT more than the average cancer patient receives, so it should come as no surprise that his body is responding the way it is.

This is David's fourth hospital stay, and the longest thus far. With the drugs being as strong as they are (Dilaudid, especially), he drifts in and out of consciousness and often can't finish sentences. David says in his hallucinatory state he can't remember if he's said the words in his head or out loud. From what I hear, it's just like married life!

We watch movies, I show him cached internet pages of friends' blogs, e-mails, video clips, whatever I can to keep him connected somehow to the world outside the hospital. If only this place had an internet connection! David has a TV with 77 channels, but he keeps it mostly locked to the History Channel, which you think would boast a higher quality of content, but it has its share of dubious merit, eg. "The History of the Screwdriver". Another reminder of why we don't watch TV at home: more television doesn't mean better television.

I slept here on Monday night after driving to New York and back because I was too tired to go home, but I found the reclining chair almost like sleeping in a bed, so I slept here again last night. It makes David feel better, and in the morning I'm present when the doctors make their rounds -- I'm 'in the loop'. I'll get some kip now in my makeshift bed recliner, and write about the happenings of the week after some rest.

By the way, David wrote a journal entry last Monday night:

Dave's Logbook: Alive, Kicking and Off the Market!

I also wrote a short entry for his site today; he's not in a writing mood at the moment:

Another Weekend at Mercy Hospital