Tuesday, November 29, 2005

November Update

Normally, Tanya likes to see what we post in the blog before we post it, but it has been so long since we posted that I've decided to cross my fingers and just let everyone know what's been happening. Tanya's doing a great job of fighting, and Steve has been caring for her 24/7.

Oct 27: Drugs were making Tanya weaker physically, but that didn't stop her from planning to have some friends over for a barbecue on Halloween and sit outside to hand out candy.

Oct 31: Tanya's back was hurting so badly in the morning that Steve took her to the ER, and they admitted her to the hospital. The tests and waiting began.

Nov 3: A test revealed that Tanya's spinal fluid had cancer cells in it, so Tanya had surgery that evening to install a port to administer chemotherapy directly into her spine. This new port is on top of Tanya's head. She already had a chemo port on her chest. Ports are great. (There's a previous post about that.)

Nov 4: An email said that "Tanya is being an absolute sweetheart despite the pain, and some of the drugs are making her a bit confused."

Nov 5: The drugs were making Tanya very anxious. She kept trying to remove all her tubes, and Steve had to watch her constantly, day and night. Finally a new nurse came on duty at 4:30 a.m. and got a prescription to calm Tanya.

Nov 6: The drugs were making Tanya very confused. Steve said that during the night he had to really watch her because he'd doze off, wake up, and find her trying to remove something she shouldn't. She was really out of it but didn't seem to be in so much pain.

Nov 7: Tanya slept much of the time, shaking. Thank goodness Steve lived at the hospital during Tanya's stay, sleeping on a cot in Tanya's room and watching out for her around the clock. Many of the hospital personnel didn't seem to notice that Tanya was too out of it to answer important questions properly.

Nov 10: Tanya had been taken off the medications that were causing her to be so confused and anxious. However, she was still in a lot of pain, so she was given morphine, which was probably making her loopy, too. Even so, she seemed much more alert and with it to me.

Nov 11: It had been an incredibly emotional roller coaster for Steve this week and he didn't get much sleep. Steve said that someone came to talk to him about hospice and that, for Tanya's situation, it was a no-brainer to choose hospice over a home health care worker. We know of someone else involved with the Relay for Life who has gone to hospice several times and then went home and was out and about energetically doing things for the relay again.

Nov 14: Tanya had surgery to install a pump to administer pain medication directly to her spine. This should help greatly with the pain and require less pain medication, so she should feel fewer side effects.

Nov 17: Steve noticed he had lost 16 pounds during Tanya's hospital stay, despite my dad and I trying to make sure he ate. Tanya was still in some pain but appeared to be doing better. Her thinking was not completely right, but you could only tell because she told you so and because every now and then she would say something a bit odd. She was still very shaky, hopefully due to drugs. But she was much stronger, so the extreme weakness must have been due to drugs, too.

Nov 19: Tanya came home from the hospital. Yippee!

Nov 22: Tanya was still in pain and taking a lot of drugs, so she felt "wooby," as she calls it, and tired much of the time.

Nov 23: Steve and Tanya's 16-year-old basenji (dog) was very sick during the night. For quite some time, she had been getting frail, was almost completely blind and deaf, and was wearing diapers, so we knew it was time to let her go. Thankfully, Tanya was doing well enough to say goodbye. The vet told Steve that Rikki was the oldest basenji she had ever seen. Rikki went to sleep peacefully in Steve's arms. Tanya's Chihuahua puppy, Gigi, is doing fine.

Nov 24: Tanya has taken great interest in watching cooking shows recently, so the family got together for an all-home-cooked Thanksgiving feast.

Today: Tanya seemed to get a little better for the holiday but is fighting an infection or something now. She has been nauseous and the hospice nurse has visited a few times. The hospice nurse house calls are sooooooo much better than having to go to the ER and wait for hours while Tanya is feeling awful. Before the hospice nurse visits, that was the only option other than waiting for insurance to approve a doctor appointment days or weeks later.

Today's big news is that the latest test of Tanya's spinal fluid showed no tumor cells!

Thanks again, everyone, for all you've been doing to lift Steve and Tanya's spirits and help them keep their great attitudes!