Thursday, February 21, 2008

Home again

Steve and I are home after his second ER visit in two days. He's resting now.

He felt "off" all day yesterday. He started having tremors on the right side; he said he felt shaky even in his head. The shakiness comes and goes and seems to disappear when he's lying down. The oncologist's nurse, who we consulted by phone, thought the tremors could be related to the fatigue and trauma of being in the ER for so long the night before.

When we went to bed last night, we both had a sense of dread and fear. We just felt unsettled. He woke me up sometime after 1 a.m., saying he needed to go to the emergency room. He was unable to use the bathroom at all, even though he felt he needed to. (I'll try to keep this as benign as possible for sensitive readers.)

I spoke with the oncologist on call, who suggested he should be seen. She also said it would be OK to go to a local hospital instead of driving all the way to St. Paul. I called Andy and Julie, who live behind us, and within minutes Andy was at our house, allowing us to leave.

Will, who was leaving work, met us at the hospital. Betty arrived soon after. Meanwhile, Sharon was leaving Rockwall to get to our house so Andy could go back home to their little guy, who has an awful cold plus asthma.

A kind triage nurse found a room for Steve within about 45 minutes of our arrival at Presbyterian in Plano. (The ER was full because the beds in the hospital were full. Only six of the 18 ER beds were available for incoming patients.) He was catheterized, which offered immediate relief. The ER doctor consulted with Steve's oncologist on the phone. They drew blood and took an X-ray of his stomach and an MRI of his lower back. His bowels were impacted, most likely a side effect of the chemotherapy and anti-nausea medication. Nurses helped take care of that problem.

Layne made a surprise Starbucks delivery; Sharon took charge of the morning routine with the kids and cleaned the kitchen; Liz took Cooper to school; Betty took Katie to preschool; Don visited us in the ER just before Steve's release.

About eight hours after we had arrived, we left for home. He is still catheterized and needs to follow up soon with a urologist. The best guess is that the impacted bowels were pressing on his prostate, causing urinary retention. The good news is none of it seems directly related to the cancer -- just an unfortunate side effect of the treatment.

The emotional and physical toll of two ER visits in one week is overwhelming. But Steve still rarely complains. He says today he's even more angry with the tumor. I suggested he stay home from radiation therapy today to rest (it's OK to miss a dose and tack it on the end), but he's too eager to keep fighting.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're home. Hope you get some much needed rest and get to feeling better. Lots of love!

Jen, Ryan and Amy

Anonymous said...

Oh, man--what a trooper he is. Go, Steve, go.

Anonymous said...

We are so glad that everything is ok and sorry to hear about how exhausting it must be.
Please remember that the whole family is in our hearts and prayers.

Cherl Hoskins and Rick Harrell

Laura said...

What an exhausting week for you all. Steve, we continue to pray and send good vibes your way. This is only mile one of 26 long ones (all uphill) -- hang in there.