My fun-loving husband, goofing for the camera. > >
Tom's now into his seventh day after chemo, and the results are mixed. The good news is that he has had minimal nausea. He was given anti-nausea meds during his nearly seven hour infusion, plus two different anti-nausea meds to be taken for three days after chemo and then on an as-needed basis. So far, so good - nausea hasn't been much of a problem.
Since it was his first chemo treatment, they slowed down the delivery of the three drugs (one trial-study experimental, two standard cancer drugs) to make sure he could tolerate them. That went well, and he had no problems during his infusion. The next time he has chemo, they'll speed it up a bit, and his infusion will probably only take about four and a half hours. Since he slept through most of it the first time, it just means he's going to have a good long afternoon nap. (I managed to get a lot of knitting done that day.)
He's struggling with some short-term pain from eating. Funny thing is that it's not his esophagus that hurts (which is what we anticipated), but instead his stomach. Most likely it's from him trying to eat as much as possible so he won't lose any more weight - his stomach just isn't happy with all those small meals he forces down just about every waking hour.
While Tom was receiving chemo, two of U-M's nutritionists visited with us. They gave us detailed hand-outs on things that Tom should try to eat, with a heavy emphasis on calories, protein and liquids. They even figured out exactly how many calories and protein grams he needs daily to maintain his current weight, as well as what he'll need to gain weight. That's the new goal - to pack a few more pounds on him, and he's giving it his best shot.
Since meat is something he still can't tolerate, it's been a challenge to get enough protein in him, but we are learning. I've been sliding tofu into his milkshakes (sure am glad he doesn't read my blog!), and we've discovered that HagenDaz ice cream has nearly twice as many calories and protein as regular ice cream. We should probably be buying stock in HagenDaz. He's now even eating cottage cheese, which has always been on his hate list. We temper the cottage cheese with peaches, which he loves. We should buy a peach farm too.
He's been close to or above all his eating goals nearly every day, and he's starting to feel a bit better too. That comes and goes - lately he's been sleeping a lot, which is what his body needs. One minute he's bustling around doing things, and then suddenly he plops down on the sofa and goes nappy-time. Unfortunately, we haven't figured out how to feed him in his sleep, so - being the dutifully mean and loving wife - I wake him up every couple of hours to feed him.
He's holding strong mentally, and is trying to do something every day - lately it's been cleaning his gun collection, doing a few loads of laundry, stocking the woodstove, and similar lightweight chores around the house. He's never been good at just sitting around, although lately he's discovered some tv shows he never knew existed before. Last night he even went for a short while to the Masonic Lodge he belongs to, and had a nice visit with the guys. They've been calling him, wanting to know how he's doing, so this visit was good for both Tom and his Masonic brothers.
We're slowly seeing him feel just a little bit better as each day passes, and we've learned to expect the unexpected. It's definitely been a roller coaster ride. Our main concentration is on staying strong and being there for each other - we both believe in that special vow we shared nearly 21 years ago: "For better and for worse, in sickness and in health."
One day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. It's okay. We can do this.