It’s 2016 AC. That’s after cancer. And for the last month, we’ve been trying to live life as best as we know how. Dad started immunotherapy on August 27 and had his second dose on September 7. He was tolerating it rather well, until a week or so ago, when he started acting more tired than normal and really wasn’t eating or drinking. We knew he was pretty down and out when he turned down plans to celebrate my 38th birthday at one of our favorite local pizza places, Angelo’s.
We took him to the ER at University Hospital’s main campus last Tuesday night, Sept. 13, for symptoms that were eerily similar to what we experienced last May when he was diagnosed with tumor lysis syndrome, which I talk about at length in “To hell and back.” He was lethargic. He wasn’t eating. He showed signs of confusion. He had little strength. Sure enough, his ammonia level was very high, and they admitted him for treatment and observation.
We are now on day seven in the hospital. I don’t believe I can appropriately capture what has improved or what has declined in the last week. Suffice to say he’s done just that, improve in one area and decline in another. We’ve been told ‘he’ll go home tomorrow’ multiple times. And, right now, we know tomorrow is unlikely but we are hopeful it’s coming soon.
Dad was initially treated for a high ammonia level and hypothyroidism. On Saturday, his heart rate spiked so high and his blood pressure dropped so low, that a cardiac care nurse from another floor, who miraculously happened to be stationed on the cancer floor that day and working as his nurse, performed an emergency procedure that quickly got everything back under control. We were told that she was his angel that day, and we truly believe that.
He’s had two procedures to remove excess fluid from his abdomen, withdrawing an estimated total of 10 liters of fluid, the equivalent of five 2-liter bottles of soda. The gradual increase of fluid overtime had led to a very distended stomach that was causing much discomfort and difficulty breathing. This has given him relief.
Yesterday, we learned that he has a form of liver disease, which was likely underway before the cancer traveled from the lung to the liver. This may be hereditary or caused by the medications he’s taken over the years for his knee replacement complications. Regardless, this is the root of all he’s enduring right now, and contributing to the intermittent confusion that is still present. He had a blood transfusion last evening that will hopefully normalize his complete blood counts soon. Today, he looks and feels pretty good but his levels aren’t yet where we want them to be.
A positive indicator is that his doctor wants him to continue with the immunotherapy as soon as he’s well enough. We choose to believe that this past week was just another set back and forward momentum on this journey continues.
Please, take a minute to say a prayer for my dad or send positive vibes our way. In just the last week alone, both he and my mom have missed out on so many things that mean so much to them, and to us. Life isn’t the same without them both being just minutes away. We need them both to come home.
Until next time,