An overview of the last 9 days. Brad had his 2nd round of chemo on 7/5/2018. It was about a 4 hour process. He always gets a bag of steroids with the chemo which definitely helps to increase his appetite. I left to go get lunch for myself and he texted me to get him cheese and crackers and/or pizza combos. I am thankful that he wants to eat something because he barely eats anything. So, I go to a grocery store deli and order 3 slices of cheese. The clerk was very nice and didn't even ask why I only wanted 3 slices of cheese. Thank goodness, because I don't want to explain. That evening, Brad was eating and walked to the end of the cul-de-sac. He had more energy than I had seen in weeks and was talking to the neighbors. Friday and Saturday we stayed on top of the pain and nausea with the meds. Saturday, Brad gets disconnected from his chemo at the hospital and we started on two nausea meds that he takes alternatingly because the one nausea medication wasn't cutting it. Sunday was decent. A fairly normal chemo weekend-no appetite, extreme fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, a lot of sleeping and encouragement to drink and eat. If he can sit outside in the chair for a bit a couple times each day, it is a good day. Monday morning at 3am I set my alarm to give him his nausea medication. He took it and got up to the go the bathroom and became nauseous. He vomited and dry heaved repeatedly. Monday, he was lethargic and would not eat and we kept trying to push fluids. I knew he was dehydrated. We contemplated between ER or oncologist. Rachel begged me not to take him to the ER for fear of getting admitted and this cycle of where he seemingly never gets to come home. We just really all want him home. I called the oncologist and they said to bring him in and they would get him feeling better. We went to the oncologist for 2 bags of fluids and they increased the pain med's for when we went home. Again, the steroid gives him a boost and he had energy to talk on the way home and he was up to visit with family Monday night for nearly 2 hours. Tuesday morning was a repeat of Monday, but worse. Every time he gets out of bed he is nauseous and dry heaving. He is maxed out on nausea med's. We go back to the oncologist for 2 bags of saline, steroid and other medications. We leave after 3.5 hours and he is feeling pretty good. Wanted ice cream on the way home which has not sounded good to him in 2 months. I'm feeling positive that he is eating. It's Rachel's 20th birthday so he eats a half of Italian sausage from one of his favorite restaurants and even eats a piece of cake. He is able to sing happy birthday and sat with us for a few minutes while he ate, but then he is back in bed and too weak. This is more than he has eaten in days.
At this point, he is trying to consume 2 Ensure per day (720 calories) and can maybe eat about 200-250 calories of real food. Some days he can only drink one Ensure and I calculate he has had 500-600 calories total for the day. It's no wonder he has no energy and is always light headed. He lost 17 pounds in 2 weeks.
Wednesday morning he was up and out of bed and wanted a bagel. I couldn't believe it. I thought for sure he was turning the corner and that the side effects of the chemo are lessening. Brad says to me, "We have a lot of things to do today." I am in disbelief but cautiously optimistic. I am hoping no visit to the oncologist. 40 minutes after his burst of energy, he is back in bed, nauseous, in pain and fatigued. He sleeps the majority of the day and barely eats. He is asking for his pain med's every 2 hours, but has to wait for 3 hours. As the day goes on, his pain seems worse and he is not out of bed at all. At 7pm I tell him I am taking him to the ER because he should not be in this much pain in his abdomen. After CT scan, I am thankful there are no additional blockages in his intestines. He is admitted to the hospital for pain.
It is determined the next day that he has an abdominal infection called c-diff. It is very contagious and typically spread in hospitals, however, you can obtain it by being on a lot of antibiotics (which he was) and if you have colon cancer. It is a natural bacteria that lives in all of our intestines, but his bacteria is having a fiesta (as the nurse said). We have no idea how long he has had the infection because the symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. All symptoms he has been experiencing since his abdominal surgery and chemo treatments.
His white blood cell count is continuing to drop so no one can see him if they are feeling at all not well. This is in spite of him getting shots of a medication to increase his white blood cell count. The Dr. hopes this will get better over the next few days. He can't have ice and can only drink bottled water for fear of more bacteria contamination. He spiked a fever last night of 101.7 so they are taking cultures to see if there is an infection somewhere else in addition to the c-diff. His pain meds are now being given every 2 hours and at 1 hour, 45 minutes, he is asking for them. Good news is he ate a few potatoes this morning and a few bites of eggs, so that is baby-step progress. Looking at early next week for him to be released at the earliest.
Also, I wanted to mention that Brad very much appreciates everyones texts or emails of encouragement or whatever. He is extremely weak and sleeps a lot. There are days that he does not look at his phone and other days when he feels better that he will look at his phone and may reply to some of the messages. Some days I will just read him his messages. He will smile or cry and truly appreciates it, but is unable to respond, or just does not have words at that time. We both thank you for all of your prayers. I can truly feel God's presence through all of this while he is giving me strength and guidance. As I have more time, I will update the situation prior to today.