Too Sweet For Her Own Good

The tumor wasn’t visible on the last scan, but the pancreatic cancer was never thought to have gone completely away.  It’s insidious stuff.  Systemically adapting itself to survive, while you do the same. 

I’m convinced there’s no perfect way to weather illness, particularly an illness that has a poor prognosis. Most days though, I think those who go through it do the same thing.

They suck it up.  They pretend it’s just another day. And they try to be tough; crying in private moments and showing a brave face the rest of the time, because that’s what people in their lives have come to expect from them.

When asked how they are they say “fine”. Not because they actually are, but because if they indicated they weren’t OK they would just begin sobbing, crumple into a heap on the floor and never get back up.

I really think It’s like that for Mom right now.   

Rising Blood Sugars

In the last month, elevated blood sugar have been a problem.  So has abdominal pain that radiates into her back and is pretty much a constant.

Upon waking, normal blood sugar levels should be in the 100-120 range, but Mom’s sugars are running around 180-200 in the morning.  Even two hours after eating, sometimes they are two, to two and a half times higher.

Elevated blood sugars are making her feel fuzzy headed, dizzy and the sensation in her feet is somewhat numb, all of which are making her balance less than optimum for navigating even short distances without a walker or a steady arm.

It’s frustrating and scary. 

Adapting To Changes

The pancreas is the likely cause of this current condition as it maintains the blood sugar balance in the body.  When the pancreas is sick with cancer, blood sugar spikes and variations are expected, and can be difficult to manage.

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that managed blood sugar, and if blood sugars are running high, then the body needs more insulin.  Thus, Mom will start giving herself insulin shots next week and see Dr. Savage, her oncologist, on the 29th of September.

With any luck the insulin and dietary adjustments will be enough to make her feel better.

A scan of some type is likely to be scheduled by Dr.Savage, especially if her CA119 numbers have gone up in a dramatic way.

For now we’re educating ourselves on the diabetic diet and low glycemic index foods, hoping to find foods that don’t compromise her Coumadin (blood thinner) and help to lower her blood sugar naturally.

Honestly, it’s all overwhelming at times. But if you ask… “we’re fine”. 

Ups and Downs

“Well…shit.”  That was the only thing I could say when I saw the number 367 in Mom’s labs.  The CA119 numbers had been below 100, allowing for a declaration of remission 6 weeks ago, and now off chemo for that same time there have been some new symptoms of disease with the higher numbers.

Just yesterday when we’d gone in to see Dr.Savage after a month of restful remission Mom had asked her: “What if the CA numbers have shot up to say…500?”

The reply was swift. “We’d probably do a scan to see what’s going on. Manage symptoms and go from there. If need be we’d put you back on chemotherapy, but because that’s so hard on your system we’d like to avoid it for as long as possible.”

Dr. Savage called her today and we’ll go in again in two weeks to check the numbers and reassess. The doctor said this wasn’t what she’d hope would happen, but also reminded Mom to remember how high the numbers had been and how well her body had responded to treatment.

Lunch & ER Visit

After that visit we went to lunch with a group of friends from Mom’s days in high school. Having graduated 60 years ago, these friends are an anchor to a happier, healthier past and a reminder of the love that exists despite the passage of time.

One of their friends had died only the day before. She had not been healthy enough to attend their recent reunion as Mom had, and refused to see most of her friends prior to her death.  Something that had deeply saddened many, even if they understood why.

Mom and I were some of the last to leave the restaurant. Mom had gone before me out the door and as I glanced up I saw her start to fall forward, lurching as you do when you’re trying to regain your balance, towards the street.

I couldn’t run fast enough.  I could hear myself yelling and feel myself trying to get in front of her to break her fall.  As we both went to the deck; landing in front of our parked car, I’d hit on my left side with my arm under her.  Mom had fortunately put out her hands and hit on her “good” knee.  (The other side of her body had been repaired with rods and pins nearly two years ago when her hip spontaneously fractured.)

Fortunately two of Mom’s friends were backing up and saw us on the ground.  They helped me get her up and into the car after Mom (the retired nurse…) assessed her own condition as “nothing is broken”.

Not completely convinced and pumped with adrenaline I took a look at her knee and told her I would be driving her somewhere: her doctor’s office, Urgent Care, or the ER, but not home.

We spent the next 3 hours at the Emergency Room where Mom’s knee was xrayed and she was ultimately released home to ice and rest her knee. On my pants was her fettuccine Alfredo leftovers from lunch that she’d hoped would be her dinner.

What do you think about KFC?

Digging Once Again

It wasn’t until I was driving home from Mom’s house last night that I noticed my left side was aching in all the points my body had made contact with the roadway.

I began to think about how lucky we were to have not fallen in front of an oncoming car, or to have had her hit her face or cracked open her head.  I’m so grateful this whole accident wasn’t worse.

So with the news of higher CA119 numbers my spirits dip, but they are not crushed. Whether it’s a bounce off the pavement or lab result, life is still ours and somehow we still find ways to laugh through the tears…together.