Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hoping for a virus

Almost a year ago, before Steve's cancer was diagnosed, we were in the strange position of praying for MS or lymphoma -- anything was better than a brain stem tumor, we were told.

Today we are praying that Steve has a virus or something else that can explain his current, sudden left-side weakness.

We saw Dr. M this afternoon. His blood tests look stable -- the counts are about the same as last week. And it took only one stick to get the blood. Yay!

She is concerned that his current symptoms (instability, left side slow to respond, some slurred speech) came on so quickly and weren't resolved completely by increased Decadron. He normally takes 2 mg daily. Yesterday he took 3 mg. By the end of today, he'll have taken 4 mg.

When he wakes up tomorrow, we'll assess how he's feeling.

The first prayer is that he'll wake up and feel "normal." That would indicate that his body just needs a little boost right now.

If he's not feeling his usual self (relative to having a brain tumor and being in the middle of long-term chemotherapy, of course), our next prayer is that he has a virus. Dr. M says a virus would explain his body being "off." Just a little glitch can cause some big changes in his overworked body.

If we're not satisfied with either of those options, Steve will most likely have an MRI Thursday or Friday to rule out any changes in the brain that would be causing problems. He's not scheduled for another scan until mid-December.

We also discussed some other symptoms. Steve has been more scatterbrained lately -- something I've observed for a few weeks and Steve noticed on his own recently. She's not too worried about that. His brain has been fighting the tumor for a while now, and he's been taking a lot of prescription drugs for almost a year. Forgetfulness could also be a long-term effect of radiation therapy.

She did take note of an incident a few weeks ago in which Steve zoned out and didn't seem aware of what was going on around him. There's a slight possibility that it was a type of seizure. He hasn't had a similar experience since. We're praying that it was isolated.

While we were in the office, Steve's face became bright red, as if he developed a sunburn in 15 seconds. A nurse checked his temperature, which was a degree higher than an hour earlier. He remained flush for the rest of the visit. Dr. M thinks his body might have trouble regulating temperature -- another symptom of long-term brain stress and medication. This will be one of many considerations as we evaluate each month if he'll start another cycle of chemotherapy. The goal is to fight off the tumor cells as long as possible while also keeping him as healthy as possible. It's one of the many balancing acts we've been working on.

Dr. M strongly suggested that Steve stay home from work tomorrow and possibly Friday. She stressed that his brain is busy healing and that his body needs plenty of rest.

The visit wasn't as dreary as I realize this post sounds. We don't have reason to panic. We just need to be cautious and aware of Steve's symptoms, and he needs to slow down when his body insists.



Sorry it's been a tough week, Steve. We are praying for you!

Anonymous said...

Praying for things viral.... we are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers... We give thanks for your strength and faith...

in hope - the podeszwa clan

Anonymous said...

I'm praying for a virus, too -- and a swift recovery.

Hugs, Linda Swift

Natalie Willis said...

Sending lots of prayers your way.

Anonymous said...

Remember, too, doctors don't like to admit it, but there have been several studies documenting "chemo brain" -- showing where chemo (and sometimes long-term steroid use) effects things like short-term memory, etc. I had chemo-brain by proxy when Kevin was sick! Of course, hoping for a simple virus! Thinking nothing but good thoughts for you & your family!

Jennifer W.

Billing @ PFC said...

We're praying for you and your family.

Alexis, Casey, Monica, and Jennifer