Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I don't know what to call this post.
Not good?
Uncertain about everything?

Traveled to Edmonton yesterday for two appointments. One with an Internist and another with a plastic surgeon.

The roads were nice and dry this time so that made travelling pretty good, and that is probably the last bit of good news for this post.

1430 appointment with an Internist:

Because of all the symptoms she is currently having, like the shortness of breath that really hasn't gone away the internist has ordered a stress test, an MIBI, which I called for how many weeks ago?

We left the office and I said we should call Red Deer right away to get an appointment. So we went down the hallway into an area that WAS quiet. Seriously, as soon as Mom hit call 10 people showed up in the area and one kid starts crying and pouting then sits down on the floor and has a fit. Murphy's Law in effect there.

Red Deer informed Mom that they could not do the test because they need the local internist to requisition it.

How is that for a form of bureaucratic bullshit!

We went back to the internist's office and told the Secretary and she said she would see what she can do. She also informed Mom that she would probably want it in Red Deer because the test takes TWO DAYS. Mom gave her a name of a local internist who could possibly take the referral. She only knows... hmmm all of them? Well ok not all of them anymore but a lot of them. Hopefully that will come through. If not it means we have to travel up to Edmonton for two days within the next two weeks (just for that). I just fall more in love with Red Deer everyday. While I can understand facility permissions, if someone has a req from a Doctor (specifically an Internist) in the Alberta Medical Association it would make sense to me to just eat the req and supply the service. It's just such a good thing that the Goverenment of Alberta DEREGIONALIZED A PROVINCE and formed a "UNIFIED" ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES. #1086swearwordshere. Go Stelmach! (sarcasm!!)

Plastics 1630:

The second appointment of the day was with a plastic surgeon.
This began at 1630 and ended at 1800.

Surgery is going to be very invasive so invasive I am choosing not to lay it out for you here.

It will take 9 hours.

And she won't even get a new boob out of it.

And they expect her to be in hospital for 10 days.



The main Dr. wants to do the surgery before Christmas. At this point it is looking like Dec. 14. I wonder if they aren't moving too quickly. Are they going to do it without all the tests complete?

- She needs the stress test to evaluate her shortness of breath.
- She needs an angiogram so the surgeon can have a better look at the veins under her left arm.
- The hospital will probably want her to come to PreAdmission Clinic - unless they will do it by phone.
- She needs a type and cross.
- She needs her family doc to fill out some papers.
- She needs a CBC.

While I find the speed at which they want to proceed, kind; I question the rate at which it is occurring. Oh, and she should avoid, you know, getting the flu.

I keep hearing Dr. Graham say: The cancer has taken this long to grow we need to deal with the gut right now. (when she was in hospital with her abdominal problems) He's right you know, the cancer has been going on for quite awhile now, it didn't grow overnight. Would waiting until the new year be so bad?

Merry bleepin Christmas to us.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Surprise! The final dose of IV poison was.... TWO WEEKS AGO!

On Tuesday at 0930 Mom had another CT Scan and blood gas performed.
I had gone hunting with Mike in the morning and returned home after hunting to find her shoveling our massive driveway. By this I was not happy, and I didn't hide it. Whether or not she was feeling better didn't matter to me, we hadn't received results from the doctor yet so I felt it was a bit reckless to be exerting a ton of energy pushing snow. I was really upset.

Yesterday (Wednesday) We made the trek up to the oncologist in Edmonton yesterday to consult on the results of Mom's CT scans.

It was a snowy wintery day - the first of the year, but we made the trek ok. Only one alarming incident on the way home. We were almost over the Leduc overpasses and I pulled into let someone pass. He passed, switched lanes and then almost spun out (and would have taken another car with him). He managed to get control of his truck and pulled off the road immediately, where I am sure he had to change his shorts. He was going too fast anyway.

There was nothing conclusive from her scans, so upon further consultation with his colleagues the oncologist suspects Mom was having an allergic reaction to the chemotherapy drugs. Apparently some side effects can manifest in the days following the treatment and that was what was causing the problems with her breathing.

Being that this is the case, it has been decided that Mom will NOT be receiving a 6th round of chemotherapy due to the likely event that she could have an anaphalactic reaction, which could be fatal. SO CHEMOTHERAPY IS OVER!!! YAY!

There is no evidence of fluid around the heart, or lungs so that is reassuring. I guess that can happen with the docetaxel. I wasn't out of line to suspect something SERIOUS going on. At least it has subsided and her SATS are back in the normal range.

It wasn't until we were on the way home that it hit me that she is done chemotherapy. It's been rough on her! Even the Doctor said that a lot of people would not have survived what she went through.

I'll never understand unsolicited *advice*. I write *advice* because it's not advice. Having someone who really doesn't know my mother tell me she is independent (BIGGEST DUH MOMENT OF THE YEAR) is crap. Correction this person said "us older folks" - and I almost burst out laughing. I don't live in a bubble, and I was never raised in a bubble. I know who my mother is and what she has done. She's been independent since the umbilical cord was cut.

To say I didn't want to totally lose it on this person would be a lie, but rational thinking took over and I just kept my mouth shut because honestly? it's not worth it. This person didn't even know the circumstances under which I had reason to be upset with Mom. Wouldn't you be upset if your parent was put on oxygen because her blood wasn't being oxygenated so she was literally GASPING for air and then you found her shoveling a massive driveway before we had results from the doctor? Blargh. 'Nuff said.

Mom's hair should start to grow back, and she shouldn't lose her nails now.


Meeting with the surgeon in Edmonton November 22 and we will find out when Mom's next exploratory surgery will be.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The oncologist just called and wants a different type of CT Scan done on Mom.

They are going to call with the appointment.

Mom thinks it won't be tomorrow because of the holiday.

I hope it IS tomorrow. In fact I hope it is this evening. I know that is unreaslistic, but something isn't right.

Even the oncologist knows something isn't right.

I keep asking her if they are going to look/test her heart? But they aren't testing her heart? She has a murmur. What if it's her heart?
What if it is failing.
What about her pulmonary arteries.
Look at the stress she is under.
Look at the stress her body is under.
What about hypertension.
What if it's her new blood pressure drug.

Maybe it's nothing.
Maybe it's something really simple.

But why aren't they looking at all the organs related to blood oxygenation.

Pulse Ox was ~97%, but arterial blood gas 55?
Why the disconnect between the two values.

She just feels fatigued.
You know how you feel when you are getting sick and you feel like you've been hit by a mack truck? I think that is how she is feeling.

Please note these are my thoughts, not questions. I don't need them quelled. I just need to put them out there.
Questions will be answered by the doctor. I will make sure of that.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

SOB results

Mom is now home from the hospital.
Is being put on Oxygen at home and needs to cut back on the excessive, fast exercise she has been doing.
They could find nothing wrong with her lungs.
The doctor ran a blood gas and the results were low @ 55, which would explain her shortness of breath. No real cause found except for the chemo.

Another blow - but nothing unmanageable.



Persistent shortness of breath increasing to a concerning level.
Yesterday - Xray, CT (inconclusive), blood thinners.

Lung tests this AM.

Possible conditions too overwhelming to list.

Hopefully nothing... ...


Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I fail to understand why the pharmacy is asking Mom what she needs.

Don't you have the prescriptions? Why don't you just follow them!

And with Mom and her "chemo-brain" as she calls it. Talk about confusion. Took me 20 minutes to sort out the crap she has -and I am not having to poison every cell in my body.
They all have different instructions, and they might as well all have the same name. The pharmacy expects her to know what she needs? C'mon. This is why she hasn't taken cipro since she was out of the hospital - because you aren't refilling her prescriptions. Bleh. Or maybe someone needs to stop telling them what she needs and let them look it up.

Now Mom has extra of some drugs -- when she shouldn't! $$$
No wonder the elderly are so screwed up with the millions of meds they get to take.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

5 of 6

Visited the oncologist yesterday and he told Mom she would probably lose her fingernails. Patients don't usually receive 6 rounds of the chemo she is receiving.

Mom kept her diet light in an effort to ward off constipation and ensuing abdominal pain.

5th Chemo proceeded with no complications and has had no significant abdominal pain.

One chemo to go.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Well we went on a trip - to Cape Cod!!

The doctor said there was really no risk - as he wasn't concerned with Mom catching a virus. He is more concerned with her catching a bacteria. So off we went!

I do wish people would use their head and when someone tells you just to sit down you don't make a big deal about it that they listen. Do you really think we'd be there if there was an issue? Cancer may be a horrible condition and it may beat down your immunity but you don't need to act like you can't be near the person. Time to take a refresher on how bugs are spread! Besides which - I'm the one that came home with a cold! Haha

Secondly some people need to shut up and if you need to be rude-do it to the face of the person, not when they walk away and then say it to the partner of someone else! I don't care if you have done the same things I have and in your opinion did it better. My ears were bleeding!!!! How about you Mike? Anyway enough on that.

I am so glad Mom was up to going. She was able to see Sarah get married and got to see my cousins whom she hasn't seen in awhile and of course her sister Clare who she hasn't seen in 4 years or something and her husband Alec! She even got to see her brother and his wife. It was an excellent trip, albeit short and something she really needed. Somewhere to just lay back and chillax and not have to work on her vacation.

Mom returned to Alberta on the 11th of October as her next treatment was booked for Wednesday and needed to visit the Dr. on Tuesday.

Chemo went ahead as scheduled. We thought it might be delayed but her blood work actually improved this round so that is a positive. Suffered from nausea again.

Two more rounds to go.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I am pleased to report that there were no complications today.

Got there and they started pumping things into her right away. From benadryl to some other drugs that they felt were needed - and probably were. The drugs ended up making her pretty stoned so she was pretty groggy and slept for the better part of the day.

The whole process took most of the day to complete, mainly because they brought her onboard with the drugs slowly. In theory it will take 1.5 hours next time vs. the ~5hrs it took today.

For now she is resting. We'll see how she is feeling later on. I suspect nausea might start, but maybe it won't - THAT would be great.

It's only day 1 of September, and it already feels like fall. There was even a frost warning earlier today for tonight. The other day I asked Mike if he thought the precipitation we accumulated this summer would continue through the winter and he hoped it would! I keep having flashbacks to winters in Ontario.

Round 2 - T minus 3 hrs and 15 minutes

September already.... and it's 0715. Today, Mom restarts chemo at 1030.

Her oncologist has her on the same pre chemo drugs as last time, but in addition to that has added a histamine beta blocker, and she is now on blood pressure medicine.

Hoping that she does not get an allergic reaction today or some other random side effect within the following days.

It shouldn't take as long to initalize this time, simply because Mom now has a port-o-cath.

Her incision line from surgery is almost closed and in little to no risk for infection.

Will update later or as we go.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quashing injustices, lies and ignorance.

So this isn't related at all to Mom, but I thought it important enough to share with whomever may stumble upon this page.

All you have to do is listen - with an objective mind.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Healing time

Well for the past few weeks since Mom has been home we've just been waiting for her to heal. Homecare comes daily to clean her wound.

Mom has always wanted a sunroom so has now signed a contract for that to be completed.

Dr. Fenton called yesterday and left a message checking on her.

She is not due back to see Dr. Hardy here until next week, but it is anticipated that she will start chemo again the following week.

We haven't really done much. Drove down to Diamond Valley a couple weekends ago pretty much just to get my Mom a Malt. Malt's are good. Why did they faze out?

I (along with some other people) got laid off from the greenhouse as there was nothing to do. Really bad season. They said they would like me back in September though? Who knows. I am in the process of dropping off resumes again. Not that I have much faith that that will result in a job, it sure didn't last summer.

Here is some pictures from the past few weeks.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The First 24

It has been raining hard all day. So glad for the sump pump and that it is still pumping, have a few contacts who have water in their basement.

Got up this morning and made Mom some cream of wheat, a poached egg, a piece of toast, coffee and some apple juice. Ate it all!

I made a few calls to her doctor, and dentist and made some appts.
Then I called the nurse practitioner to find out if Mom needed a heparin flush on her catheter(like she thought) or if the saline flush was good enough. Turns out she needed the heparin flush.

We headed up to the hospital today to see Dr. Roy in the OPD so he could look at her suture line and remove the rest of her staples. Mom has a little infection in her suture line, so Dr. Roy had to open the dermal layer a bit, cleaned it out and they have put packing in. (this is the point where I got a bit queasy - maybe because it was hurting Mom so much? but I just looked away) Once the Dr. was done the nurse irrigated the wound and asked if I wanted to see an internal stitch - and I was OK with that so I took a look. I'll be honest, it's a little weird looking at human tissue and a little more weird to be looking at my Mom's tissue, but anyway. I took a picture, so that Mom could see her wound, not sharing that one with you. Home care is now supposed to come everyday and repack the wound and check on her stoma. It is looking like Mom will NOT be able to start chemo again for 4-6 weeks. We are scheduled to go back to OPD to see Dr. Hardy, who performed her surgery, on the 21st of July (he's away right now).

Mom got a copy of her blood results and tried to get a copy of her OR procedure - it was kind of funny because the nurse that was going to print it was having trouble retrieving it, so Mom helped her!! haha, but the record wasn't done yet - so nothing to print. I wish Mom's surgical unit had just said that it wasn't complete yet instead of telling Mom she had to submit a request though Medical Records.

We headed down to the Cancer Centre to get Mom's cath flushed. Sonja did an awesome job, before Mom could finish "instructing" her on how to remove the needle she was done. Nurses always make the worst patients ;). I showed Sonja Mom's blood results and Mom's potassium is a bit low, which makes sense.. she really hasn't been getting her nutrients. Sonja also made a copy and put it in Mom's chart to show Dr. Graham.

I would have thought the unit would have checked her results..... and you know where this thought it going. I'm not really impressed. What a difference between the units. For the most part I felt invisible on the surgical unit :(.

After the hospital Mom was pretty sore (from her suture line) so I took her home and then went and got groceries. Found some carrot soup (by chance) that had LOTS of potassium in it so I bought it along with lots of other foods that are good. Mike met me at the grocery store and kept me company. Picked up Mom's BP medication on the way out and then went home.

Heated up some delicious cabbage casserole, mashed potatoes (thanks to the Adamchick's!!) and some store bought lasagna. We feasted on that for supper. Mom ate a bit of food and she hasn't had any abdominal pain yet so that is promising!!

The cabbage casserole was a huge hit with everyone! We loved it Jim, Lori and Melynda!! Maybe we could get the recipe!?? :)) <3

Monday, July 12, 2010

24 days

Mom came home today!
She was discharged at 1345! A few concerns around her port-o-cath, whether the unit capped it off correctly or not? I'll call the nurse pratitioner tomorrow.
Forgot to get the results of her bloodwork too.
Finally home though :))

Aunt Clare called so I told her Mom was home and she informed me that my cousin Marcos and his wife had a baby! 10 lbs!!!!

Mom rested most of the evening, I got her up around 1830 for some supper and then she just relaxed.

It's raining here hard. Sump pump is working great though.

Road Rash

Finished the front yard today. The crows were cawing above our heads so I decided to thrown a pine cone at them.... stumbled on the edge on the lawn and gave myself a bit of road rash from the road on my palms and one leg, failed miserably at that attempt.

Mom was alright today. Was just finishing eating when I arrived. Actually had solids!!
She's off her IV, so one step closer!
Mom is supposed to have bloodwork done in the morning - just to make sure everything is looking good and the ET is also supposed to come with Mom's supplies.

I told Mom to blame the noises on fido. She thought that was a good one.

Went for a good walk this evening, but I am sure she was very tired after the fact. Hopefully she sleeps well. The Dr. will be in in the morning and we'll see then about discharge. 23 days.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

High Pressure and Landscaping

Preparing a bit of a surprise for Mom when she gets out of the hospital, so spent most of the day doing that. I already showed her three surprises (a water barrel, new tree and a flag holder).

Decided we would build a plot around the new tree so Mike and I worked on that today in the rain. It wasn't coming down too hard so we were able to get one of the plots done.

The plan is to fill the plot with the tree, and the one in front of the window with wood chips.
Tired Mike out as you can see by the last photo.

Went up and saw Mom. Still feels nauseated, but hasn't vomited and has eaten some thicker foods, so that is promising. Bad news is her blood pressure is up. While I was there the nurse came in for vitals and it was 170/102. They have her on some BP meds but they aren't bringing it down any so... ? Mom is psychologically tired and worn out with being in the hospital. Topping it off they were prepping the bed beside her today for a new patient so Mom asked what the gender of the new patient was... Guess what? it was Male! So glad the unit had a learning experience from the last time they tried? Mom offered to move her bed into the wash closet. She is really hoping to get out tomorrow and she is concerned with a lot of things which isn't good for her BP either. Beth came and visited her today and she spoke with Grandma, and her brother and sister.

My suspicion is that Mom will not be released from hospital tomorrow unless she discharges herself.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A lesson

Today was another up day. I really hope it isn't down tomorrow.

Had my first lesson today with the ET nurse and Mom's second. Pretty straight forward.
Mom has a bit of drainage from her staples, but the line looks good and some of them are starting to pop. Also has a bit of drainage on the bottom edge of her stoma which we will be keeping an eye on.

Mom seemed to be feeling better for the most part. They are stopping the flagyl as it may be giving her some of the nausea, but are continuing with the cipro for now. Also put in an order for a new set of bloodwork to see how Mom's levels are.

The ET nurse came around 1030 and was there awhile.
Then we went for a short walk and sat in the seating area and watched a bit of TV. Penny, Mabel and Sonja popped by while we were in the sitting area so we visited for a bit until Mom got too tired.
When we got back to the room, Dr. Graham showed up to check on Mom, and then Dr. Hardy showed up.
She had a lot of activity today ...and I know she was exhausted when I left around 1300. Hopefully Mom got some sleep, not too many more visitors and is keeping stuff down.

It rained pretty good here around 1600 and then quit. Brought the temp down a wee bit but has since quit raining and the temp has gone back up.

Three Weeks

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Yo-yo effect

...........I don't know what to say.

Mom had a bad day again. I don't understand. I don't understand how she can be better one day and then crap the next and then repeat. Is it in part due to the chemo? maybe.

I just want her to get out of that place... SHE just wants to get out of that place. She was hoping by this weekend. I don't think that is happening anymore.

She ate jell-o last evening, and was sick last night.
She had jello today and was sick.
She had a popsicle and had a lot of abdominal pain.
She had chicken broth and was sick.
Air is moving through her, and so that says the motility is there, but she can't take the liquids yet? Is it about re-training her gut? like on survivor where they willingly starve themselves for 30 some days and then get sick if they eat too much?

Beth visited her this AM and they walked.
Diane visited her and they walked.
Arlene visited her.

Her moral is low, and the more she has to stay in that place the worse it gets. I don't know what I can do. She hates being sick in front of people so having lots a visitors is a bad thing. She says not to worry, but what else can I do? She is my family. My only family. It's been us for 22 years.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Turn the page

Complete turn around today.

Mom was even awake when I went in.
She had her room to herself at the time I arrived, but it was set up for arrival of
a new patient.

Mom's foley came out at 0600.
She had a shower.
Bladder functioning.
And she is allowed to sip fluids.

Still having some abdominal pain, but that is to be expected.
The ET nurse was in to change her bag today, and she'll be back Friday. I'll go to learn how to do it as well.

We went for quite a walk today, all the way from the unit to the new elevators on level 2 and back. They have rocking benches in the atrium but they need some lubrication! Squeaky squeaky.

Had a good rest after we got back to the room, and Beth stopped by.

Yay progress! On our way to getting her out of the hospital, and I can't be more excited. Friday will be 3 weeks.

Ate Swiss Steak for supper courtesy of the Adamchick's. Was delicious!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Set back

Well the plan didn't become the action after I left last night and today was not better.

I got there at approx 1730, Diane was there, and Mom has a massive headache, hasn't even been out of bed since Sunday, is apparently still suffering from nausea, isn't having her pain managed properly (her PCA is done). I'll be the first to admit I'm a little bit pissed about this. I don't care how nauseated my Mom is, she needs to get up. She's been in this hospital for 2.5 weeks now. I don't know what is going on, but I know there is more going on than just nausea and pain. Oh! The one bonus is that they moved her IV into her port.

So I set a goal, get Mom UP, OUT of bed and moving, since the nursing staff hasn't done it - I have to do it BEFORE I leave tonight.

I heard the evening nurse say that when she came on she recognized that Mom was in a lot of pain so she started her on pain meds and was in the act of doing the catch up and getting my Mom stable. I can do nothing but appreciate what she did in the 3hrs it took to turn Mom around. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

She gave Mom IV maxeran at 1836 and at the same time she talked to Mom about taking out her foley (as it was supposed to come out earlier today). It was agreed that the foley would come out and that they would put a commode near her bed so she could pee without having to go far- but the way I looked at it, at least she'd be getting up and going a couple steps, and so what if she was nauseated. If she needs to puke, puke.

Around 1910 I try and wake Mom. I take the cloth off her head and prod her hand. She was in a pretty deep sleep but eventually woke up. I wasn't beating around the bush anymore, she said something about just letting her lay there and that's when I gave the push. She needed to get up, so she could A) prove to them she was Ok B) get eating FOOD (because she is not allowed to eat anything yet except ice) and C) Get the hell out of the hospital.

She got up, we went for a walk, sat in the atrium for a bit and she told me there was an incident. Suddenly EVERYTHING makes sense.

I don't know what retard thought patients would be ok with roommates of the opposite sex, but not all people are Ok with that. You would think you would at least check with the patient before hand to see if it was ok instead of just wheeling in the patient.
So end result, Mom speaks with the charge nurse (who she has known for how many years?), male pt is moved, female one brought in.

Mom gets WRECKED over the whole incident. Making herself ill over it in fact. Which I would tend to lean towards as the cause of the extreme headache and nausea.
Surgery has NOT made Mom sick this time, so the nausea bit isn't adding up for me. Not that I am doubting she feels like crap. If anything I would bet the nausea is from the pain medicine they are giving her. There are very few she reacts well to.

We sit for a bit longer in the atrium and then we head back - Mom has ZERO energy because of the fact she isn't allowed to eat yet (and that is just procedure after colostomies). Hoping maybe tomorrow her diet changes? I can't remember what Beth said for time line.

I thought the nurse would be coming around right away to do checks but it was getting later and later and Mom was more and more tired so I went out to the desk and asked to have Mom's nurse sent in to remove the foley (as per the agreement).

There's this nurse I went to high school with on the surgical unit, she STILL rubs me the wrong way. It's fine if you have a degree in nursing-congratulations, but it sure didn't give you a degree in humanity or intelligence. Quit talking down to people, and taking charge of other peoples patients. I asked to speak with MY Mom's nurse, not you. She steam rolls in to see my Mom and talks her out of the foley removal until 0600. Stupid. Hope there isn't complications from that now!

So I said goodnight to Mom, because nothing was going to take place now.
What a retarded unit.
You want people to get healthy? Treat them like people and pay attention.

It's like the patient in the bed next to Mom. She is telling them her foley is causing her extreme pain when she moves (yes I realize they cause some discomfort, but you aren't hearing what I am hearing). The are shrugging it off as the patient not handling it well and because fluid is flowing correctly - so it must be in the right position. Retarded.

Not happy. Not impressed. Will I go to work tomorrow? Or to the hospital?

Monday, July 5, 2010

20 hrs Post-Surgery

I opted to not go to work today, rainy day anyway, not that it matters at a greenhouse as you are inside mostly. I went up and saw Mom instead.

She was pretty groggy and sleepy still. That is to be expected. At least she is not vomitting her empty guts out this time. Only has a wee bit of nausea. She has vomitted twice so far. Once prior to my arrival when they made her sit up for something and then once while Diane and I were there. Not really sure what brought it on, perhaps a bit too much excitement. I could see it coming though, she got a headache suddenly. Of course there isn't anything in her guts to bring up except the ice chips she is sucking on for some hydration on top of her IV, so it's more like dry heaves.

Diane didn't stay too long- it was nice of her to stop by.

Mom actually doesn't remember that the three of us visiting her yesterday right after surgery. I keep telling her bits of stuff. One recount about when she said she thought it was 1630(rather than the actual time of 1930) was familiar, but so far nothing else.

A physiotherapist came by, checked her lungs and encouraged her to get moving to increase motility. Mom even sat up for her and didn't vomit. The physiotherapist didn't push her too hard though. She knew Mom was feeling nauseated. She said she would be back tomorrow and they would go for a walk.

Beth showed up around 1600 and visited for a bit.

We really just let Mom sleep. That's what she needs today. She is still hooked up to her PCA and has used up to 56mg of Morphine as of 1700.

Tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dr. Hardy Surgery

Mike left around 12 as he had things to do at home, but invited me for supper.
Mom phoned at 1218 and she had had a visit from both Dr. Hardy and Dr. Tom. They told her she would be having surgery unless an emergency came in but they would keep her apprised. We didn't talk too long. My plan was to go over later and I forgot to ask her what her new room number was.

Later came around and I called Mom to find out what her room number was. No answer. I thought maybe she was in the washroom, or out for a walk. I called again and still no answer. I don't think I considered that they had taken her away to surgery? I thought she was going to call when they came for her, but perhaps they whisked her away quickly.

I was due for dinner at Mike's house so I made my way there. We had a good dinner. Halfway through dinner I heard my phone beep that someone had called. When dinner was done I picked up my phone to discover an unknown number AND a voicemail. I think adrenaline might have kicked in a bit when I heard the doctor on the line saying that surgery was done as expected, there were no surprises and that Mom was in the recovery room. I guess I was also a little upset because I wasn't expecting that. I called Beth to let her know Mom was out of surgery.

I got to the hospital around 1830 and Mom was not actually back to her room yet. There were two nurses waiting outside her room for her as she was on her way.

I knew they weren't going to be able to use her port for the anesthesia, and they ended up having to put the IV in a weird spot on her inner wrist. So it is a little tender. In fact Mom overall is a little tender. Her pain level was an 8 upon returning to the room, but she was hooked up to a PCA so she was in control of her pain management. They have given her lots of gravol in an attempt to thwart the nausea and vomitting that Mom tends to have to endure post-op let alone as a side effect to morphine. I hope it works...

Beth showed up not long after I did and we waited in the hall while they finished setting my Mom up in the room. Mom's breathing was ok when she breathes through her nose, but they put a mask on her because she's a mouth breather when she sleeps and her oxygen levels decrease a bit.

Diane then showed up! So we were all there to offer our support while she rested post-op. Mom didn't talk much, mainly slept(except when I woke her to get her to take some breaths), but she did ask if Dr. Hardy called me when surgery was over, and I let her know I brought his book for him to sign. Us visitors didn't stay too late. I woke Mom to say goodnight and that I loved her and we were all gone by 2030 so Mom could return to sleeping. Upon leaving 18mg of morphine had been pumped at ~2mg intervals.

I'm relieved nothing bad happened during surgery, especially considering she is a chemotherapy patient.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Went and got a haircut this AM - not quite the haircut I gave Mom a few days ago. Afterwards went to the Market with Mike. He's home now, Yay! I have my tower back!

After the market we decided to go up to the hospital to see Mom. She wasn't in her room when we got there so I thought maybe they had taken her down into surgery but she was just out wandering. I didn't check the back visiting room, so Michael and I got out exercise walking down to the main entrance again. We wandered into the gift shop (Mom likes to peruse through there) and then headed back up to the room. This time I decided that we would take the elevator back up... :). Got back to the unit and I could see Mom's shoes on the floor so I knew she was in her room now. I popped my head around the curtain and surprised her with my hair cut then summoned Mike over from the other waiting room. We then went to the back waiting room and visited for a bit. Mike told his funny story about meeting Elvis Stojko at the Toronto Airport. He said: "You're alot shorter in person, Elvis" and Elvis turned around (looking average height level and had to look up and said "Dude! anyone is short next to you! Then they shook hands and all went on their way.

Didn't stay too long, Mom was getting settled for surgery and what not and expected they wanted to start an IV soon, so we decided to let her relax. On my way out I checked at the nurses station to approximately how long the surgery would take and found out that the Doctor wasn't going to be able to perform it today. Perhaps tomorrow. More waiting, and that's OK, it wasn't scheduled it was slotted as emergency surgery, someone more critical must have come in.

After visiting Mom, we went over and visited with Mike's Grandparents for awhile and then came back to the house. Our plan now is to head out to "The Rock" a new restaurant in town and then maybe rent or go to a movie. We'll see about the movie. I am feeling pretty tired at the moment.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Last Will

Today is two weeks that Mom is in hospital. Full fluids for 90% of the time she has been there.

Did you know TV costs 8 - 11 dollars PER Day there? So when you think about it you are paying $110 for "premium" shaw cable for TEN days. That is highway robbery considering you can get home cable for THIRTY days for less than that.

Mom has to have more surgery.

She is booked for an "emergency" colostomy.

I went up and visited her this evening, we filled out a temporary last will and testament as the last one she had done was when I was a minor and very out of date. We also filled out a living will. Boy this was rough, it wasn't too bad for me until we had to go get 3 witnesses. That's when I broke down a bit.

The plan is for her to call me tomorrow as soon as she gets the call for surgery.
Things will progress quickly as soon as she gets the call as it will be performed by the On-Call physician, but I hope to be able to make it to the hospital and see her off to surgery.

I'm glad that she will finally have some relief.
The video we watched really expressed how much relief the patients have, and quite frankly since December, Mom has been having manageable problems.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A family resemblance?

I worked today, it's good to be doing something that gets my mind off of the hospital for a bit.

I went over to the hospital at 8pm ( and yes that is the END of visiting hours - but that is just how it works out). I brought a bunch of stuff with me. Mom wanted the laptop and I brought her more juice crystals, along with a juice jug and hair clippers.

We went for a walk and and watched a video from the surgical unit about colostomies. It was really informative and squashed some of Mom's fears. Then I shaved my Mom's hair off, she was getting pretty patchy and it was falling out everywhere.

I think she looks pretty good bald, definitely better than when she was missing the section of skull too.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Static condition

Went up to the hospital today, no new change really.

Mom was actually out of her room for a walk. Funny thing she had written on the whiteboard she was going for a walk at 1900 but forgot her bed number! Good thing I know her handwritting.

Her chic hospital gown and housecoat were laying on the bed so I knew she was in her street clothes - it's a good thing I remembered to bring her some pants back last week!

I found her downstairs in the gift shop looking at all the knick knacks. She loves looking at them all, but really has no need for those "dust collectors" as she calls them. Then we sat outside on the benches in front of the doors and watched the storm come in as she updated me on her day.

A dietician had come to see Mom as per her request for a consult and as per Mom's request they changed her diet to high fibre. I understand why she wanted it, she's probably really sick of her full fluid diet and wants stuff with sustinance, however jumping from full fluids to high fibre (which can and does include corn) is and was not the best idea or decision. Mom ended up paying a bit for that one and had some abdominal pain again. Thank goodness for pain meds.

Our fresh air was interupted by raindrops and wind. It looked really beautiful coming down, the sun was shining from the east reflecting in the rain drops like diamonds onto a dark sky into the east and the wind was blowing the swedish aspens. We made our way to the overhang at the main doors and watched the torrential rain come down with people who were wanting to go to their vehicles.

When we got back to the room we discovered that Dr. Ferries had come to talk to Mom, but as she wasn't there would come back tomorrow. Dr. Graham came and checked in with her around 21:30 and put some things into perspective, that her abdomen was going on now and the chest had been going on for awhile.

Mom's hair is coming out by the handful now, and it's hurting alot so my plan is to bring the hair clippers tomorrow.

Settled In

Another new room.
With a roommate this time.
Very noisy roomate, who is very very ill.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunny Evening

Got Mom out of the Hospital for a couple hours again. Fresh air... ahhh..
We drove out east of Red Deer and ended up by the new C&E Trail Walking bridge that the Military helped construct.

Mike had to leave for Ontario again. He just got back last Sunday. His grandmother passed away. 88 years old! Had been having problems breathing the night before so they were going to take her up to the hospital in the AM. In the AM she went into respiratory arrest. Lungs just gave out. Thankful that she didn't suffer.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Country Drive

Got Mom out of the hospital for a couple hours today.

Glad to get her some fresh air and sunshine.

I drove her around the country.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blood levels

Got to the hospital today and made it a foot into Mom's room before she kicked me out and told me I needed to wear a mask.

I guess her blood work is a little low. Due in part to chemo I bet, the mask is for her protection so I don't give her an infection.

I question though why the nurse on evenings didn't have to wear one? Afterall the day nurse wore one? Is it because the day nurse knows Mom and maybe cares more about her? The thing about being a nurse and not needing a mask is a load of crap. She see's more people in the hospital and is exposed to far more bacteria than I am. I didn't complain about wearing a mask. Those were the rules. Just because you don't like to wear one doesn't make you exempt. It's a little different than wearing a hair net in a packing plant to prevent hairs from falling in product, this is someone's life you are putting at risk because their blood work is shit.

Rain came in thick, made the city look foggy! Hard to see in the picture but normally you can see clear across it.

Some of the pics are blurry but they are pictures none the less.

You can see her arm where they poked her on Friday trying to find a vein. The cylindrically shaped one closer to her wrist. The circular one higher up was from chemo last Tuesday.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Sat most of the afternoon and evening with Mom again. We watch TV and socialized. Brought Mom's pillow and socks and underwear and other comfort things to make things easier for her stay in hospital. Even brought her some sudoku and books/mags for her to read. Not that she feels much like reading.

She finally passed her constipation this AM. Finally. After 6 days. She is due for another CT scan to see what is going on now that she won't be full. Now it will be a battle over the next few days to regain regularity.

Mom also go her port-o-cath inserted today so that she can receive chemotherapy through that instead of them fighting to find IV access. It gives her arms a little more freedom too, without a needle in it.

The dilaudid that Mom has been given for her pain is doing an excellent job. The question now is will she respond to antibiotics for the abscess in her intestine.

Dr. Ferris is away but will hopefully be back soon.
Dr. Graham is taking great care of Mom and Dr. Hovan has been into see her as well.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Rough weekend. Mom's is in alot of pain due to the constipation. I've stayed with her most of the time and encouraged her to receive pain meds and reminded her that she needs to request them sooner than later because it takes time. Time for the nurse to respond to her request, time for her to draw the meds, time for the meds to be adminitered and finally time for the meds to start working so she doesn't have to be in the agony she has been. She did hear me on this one and she tended to request drugs on a more frequent basis. I understand her not wanting to take so many pain killers but there are times when we require them. We've been out walking a bit, just down the hallway. Hoping the guts start moving soon, they've been giving her a tonne of laxatives. Really wish Dr. Ferris was here. Really worried. We asked to have her chart brought up from when she was admitted in December and asked Dr. Graham if he was considering consulting with Dr. Ferris.
We'll see what happens, I just need to have a little more patience? It's been 2 days in hospital though, and 5 days since onset. I don't know what I need, I know I want her to stop being in pain.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I could hear Mom get up this morning around 0900 and I was up the stairs pretty quick to see how she looked. I urged Mom to call the clinic immediately. I had an appointment with the Chiropractor at 0950 so I left for that and said I would be back in a bout 20 minutes. While I was gone around 0955 Mom called the cancer clinic and speaks with NP informing her of nausea and vomitting, but not severity of abdominal pain. NP says to come in so Mom can at least get some fluids.

It took quite awhile for Mom to feel good enough to get in the car and go to the hospital. She feels like she is going to throw up but at around 1130 Mom is "stable" enough to get in the car. We bring a bucket in case she does need to get sick. I go to the directly to the hospital Cancer centre, park illegaly and I escort her into the treatment room. I leave to park the car. Unfortunetly the Cancer Centre staff were only under the idea that Mom was dehydrated, suffering from nausea and vomitting but were unaware of her abdominal pain. A younger nurse was unable to start an IV in her three times(causing Mom GREAT pain) at which point Mom asked for the nurse who started it on Tuesday. She came over and was successful on the second attempt. Fluids were started immediately while assessment of her condition made.

I had to leave for a bit and cry as the stress of the past couple days came out. At this point I was just happy that she was somewhere she could be being taken care of. They drew blood and results came back telling them she was fighting an infection so they started her on flagyl.

The NP recommended dilaudid as a pain medication due to the adverse reactions Mom has to Morphine, demerol and codeine and thankfully mom's pain began to decrease - without vomitting. Of course the pain meds only mask the problem but at least she can breathe and have a proper heart rate while the doctors figure out what to do for her.

While my mom rested I called and spoke with Mike, let him know Mom was being admitted and that I couldn't wait for him to come home. I also spoke with Beth (as she coincidentaly called) and I let her know Mom was being admitted.

We went down to CT and then waited for admission.
Around 1630 Mom was admitted up onto Unit 32 into the Palliative Unit (but only because that is the only bed they could find).

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I decided to stay home today, just in case, and so I can monitor Mom.

To keep busy I make some soup for Mom, with lots of nutritious things in it.

Mom is still suffering from intense abdominal pain along with nausea, vomitting and flushing. Her condition is progressively becoming worse and I am becoming very concerned, much like in December.

I want to respect my Mom's decisions and give her the opportunity to work through things, but there is a point at which we need to get help.

With Mom's permission I call the NP. Unfortunetly it's past 1700 and she is gone for the day.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Mom suffering abdominal pain, intense flushing - which you can do nothing about, and nausea, but I go to work - hoping she will be able to get some rest and be better when I get home.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chemo - Round 2

Chemotherapy treatment begins in Red Deer and the Cancer Centre 1130.

Met with NP who would be liason in Red Deer for Dr. Fenton.

IV was difficult to start due to previous chemotherapy and IV access only permitted in right arm because of lymph node removal under left arm and high risk of lymphedema.

Mom suffered an intense allergic reaction to Taxotare(docetaxel). We were informed prior to watch for warning signs. Allergic reaction starts as severe back pain, and then causing shortness of breath. BP read around 175/102 and she was put on oxygen. Upper lip swelled a bit and IV hand had turned a bit red. The affects were countered with Benadryl and steroids to reduce allergic reaction and blood pressure repectively. Slow reintroduction of taxotare to the body followed. Subsequent chemotherapy treatments will begin with dose of benadryl and then introduction of taxotare.

Throughout the treatment we tried to play cribbage(although there were a few distractions...). We managed to complete one and a half games. Mom became tired halfway through the second (mainly due to the benadryl) so we quit and I let her rest.

We left the centre around 4.
Hoping the next treatment goes more smoothly.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pre-Chemo Checkup

Drove up to the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton for Mom's Pre-chemo checkup and bloodwork with Dr. Fenton at 14:40. Everything looked good on her bloodwork and she has healed nicely from surgery so chemotherapy starts Tuesday, June 15, 2010.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dr. Fenton - Oncologist

Due to a cancellation Mom was able to see Dr. Fenton right away @0930

Course of treatment to follow but subject to change if chemotherapy is unsuccessful in making the tissue softer:

  • Chemotherapy to soften hardened tissue. 6 treatments over 18 weeks. (chemo every three weeks)

  • More Surgery to remove cancerous tissue which were unable to remove during May 25 session.

  • Radiation Therapy 5 weeks, every day.

  • Hormonal Therapy to lower the amount of estrogen in the body and by blocking the action of estrogen on breast cancer cells.
Treatment was to start immediately, however Dr. Fenton forgot that she had only had surgery May 25, 2010 so he delayed one week and would re-evaluate.

Mom's blood pressure peaked while we were there, so we had the nurse check her before we left. We were require to wait a bit before leaving.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dr. Dabbs - Post Surgery Checkup

I drove Mom up to Edmonton this afternoon for her Post-Op Consultation and check-up with the surgeon who performed surgery, Dr. Kelly Dabbs in Edmonton. We had a bit of a wait in the most uncomfortable chairs. The doctor removed Mom's drainage tubes and informed Mom of the severity of the cancer, and told her that she would need more surgery but needed chemotherapy to loosen the tissue first.

We didn't even make it to the car before we broke down in tears.

I don't think I can even cry enough to express my distress over this news.

Pathology reports local metastasis of the breast/chest wall UNDER and into the TRAM as well as positive lymph nodes. The cancer is lobular and Estrogen positive. Unknown lymphatic invasion.

Mom has been referred to Oncologist Dr. Fenton at the Cross Cancer Institute. If we haven't heard from his office by Friday we are to call Dr. Dabbs.

Dr. Dabbs also said she would be seeing Dr. Fenton this evening and would be discussing Mom's case with him.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Home Care Visit

Home Care came and visited today. Nice lady.
She checked Mom's surgery site and drainage tubes. Everything looking good.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Post Surgery - Mastectomy - Dr. Dabbs

Went back up to Edmonton early in the morning. I guess I was hopeful that Mom would be stable. There was no point in calling up in advance to see if she would be discharged. Either way I was going up.

Got there to discover Mom severely nauseated and vomitting.
She never reacts well to anaesthesia or pain meds.

We were allowed to go whenever though.
Mom knew she'd stabilize once the Morphine stopped, and the anaesthesia wore off completely.

They gave Mom some gravol and pain meds intravenously one last time but we had to sit for a bit before leaving, so around 16:30 Mom felt stable enough to make our escape. I had to go on a mission to find a wheelchair and I did manage to find one in ER thanks to some very helpfuil staff. We got some air sick bags for the road, we loaded up and I wheeled her as fast and gently as I could down to the car which I had parked in front of the doors. I got Mom into the car and she was sick right away.

I really hate when people need to stare. It`s a hospital. People are sick, why are you staring.

I emptied her dish in the washroom and we got the heck out of there.

On the Anthony Henday to get out of town there was a rather large piece of lumber which ended up popping a hole in the radiator of the car in front of us and he swerved off. I tried to dodge the thing and hit it with what I think was the tire, but I pulled over to make sure everything appeared OK. It was, so I continued on. Mom made it halfway home before she was sick again. It`s a good thing it doesn`t bother me.

Got home around 18:30

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dr. Dabbs Surgery

Surgery, Lt "Mastectomy" and Lymph node removal. I use " " because is it really possible to have a mastectomy twice on the same side? No, because it is a term associated with the breast, and Mom already lost that breast in 1995.

Today was really hard.

Michael drove us up to the hospital and we checked in and waited. Signed final consent forms and stuff, and then waited. There was a bit of a wait, but that was OK. Things don't always go as planned in surgeries.

They let me accompany Mom all the way into the OR waiting room. I never had that opportunity the last time Mom was diagnosed with Cancer - of course I was also 15, and it was 1995. I maintained composure for most of the time. Dr. Dabbs came in and explained what she was going to do to Mom. I turned away, as I didn't want to infringe on Mom's privacy. The anaesthesiologist also came in and spoke with Mom. It's nice, to remind people that they will be working on People and not... objects. I stayed with Mom until it was time, it came up suddenly really. The nurse came in and he asked Mom identification questions and they were ready to go... so I said I love you and walked away... I barely made it two steps before I started crying my eyes out. So scared.

I was thankful Michael came with me (even though his employer flew a technicality card and wouldn't allow him to use a family illness day) to occupy me while Mom was in surgery. We headed out of the hospital and went to Whyte Ave. Had lunch and Canada Tap House. Best chicken wings ever. Was a good distraction there. Awesome pictures and historical stuff for Canada. Then I dragged Mike up and down Whyte Ave into some of the shops. Even found a place for a buddy of ours.

Went back to the hospital. Mom was really groggy, but I was relieved she made it back alive. We didn't stay too too long. I sat for a bit with her but rest was all she was going to be able to do and she was in the place she needed to be.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Misericordia Pre-Op

Mom went up to Edmonton today for Pre-Op @ Misericordia, still unsure if plastic surgeon required as Dr. Dabbs is away.

Mom signed all paperwork and requested a private room if available.

Misericordia showings it's age but an excellent hospital.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

CT & Bone Scan

Mom went back up to Edmonton today to the Cross Cancer Institute for CT Scan.

CT scan delayed by ~3hrs due to one CT machine breaking down. Results inconclusive and unclear due to TRAM(Mom's reconstruction).

Bone Scan - no bone metastssis, just showed signs that she was getting old. *relief*

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Mom went up to Edmonton's Cross Cancer Institute today for an MRI. It turns out she CAN have an MRI. All these years we thought she couldn't because of the metal plate in her head.

MRI was one of the worst things she ever experienced and NEVER wants another one. She said you could feel it, like punching you I guess. They don't even talk to you, althought because Mom's heart rate peaked a bit they did start walking her through it. Telling her each step they were going to take.

She wished she had taken an ativan before hand.

Results ended up being inconclusive/difficult to see due to TRAM.... making having taken this test all the more pointless.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Speed bump

You never want to hear the words you have cancer. So you never want to hear them a third time either, especially when you thought you had beat the s.o.b.

Mom has cancer again. The results of the biopsy are positive for carcinoma. She is now scheduled for Surgery May 25, 2010.

I had an appointment with the chiropractor this evening for their "doctor's meeting". I'd rather call it propaganda propogation time. Some of it the stuff he said was way out there, some of the stuff said was insulting to be quite honest, I'm glad my filter is set to high.... I guess that means I have high logic? I want to be free from back pain and I can agree with SOME aspects mentioned I highly disagree with other things said. There is concrete evidence in medical science, and I'm not about to become a herb nut who turns a blind eye on something that guarantees results for something that may help. I'll say this much. If the chiropractor that was giving the "discussion" this evening had been the one I met at the trade show I probably would have left and NEVER gone back.

Vanessa was there and I told her the news about Mom.
Then I went to Blackfalds and broke the news to Mike.

Lots of tears today.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I drove Mom up to have an OPD visit to Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton today. Dr. Dabbs performed a biopsy on lump located left of her sternum and three other needle aspiration sites on her left side.

As a just in case, Mom was booked immediately for surgery on May 25, 2010.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Trouble just below the surface

Went for a routine exam at the Breast Centre in Edmonton with Dr. Krause.
An abnormal lump was discovered medially along the left of the sternum. Suspect just hardened tissue from reconstruction, but to be on the safe side will perform biopsy schedule April 16, 2010. Ultrasound results negative.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010 Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy exam showing diverticulosis in the sigmoid. Suffered transient bradycardia @ 37 beats/min and given atropine.

I am concerned that something is going on, something that we don't know about yet.