Saturday, October 31, 2009

sleeping and waking

We were all pretty tired when we got home from NCI. I, for one, had been running on only four hours' sleep. I fixed lunch for the parents, checked out Mom's feet (slightly swollen at the time I checked, but not as bad as on other days), and rotated her so that she could stretch out on the couch and take a nap. I placed a blanket next to her, telling her in Korean that she didn't have to use it if she didn't want to. She wordlessly took the blanket and covered herself with it. I bagged up the stray food in the kitchen, sleepily typed up the previous blog entry, then headed downstairs for a nap of my own. It might have been a dangerous thing to do: Dad was napping at the time as well. There was almost certainly a period when all three of us were sleeping. I imagine Dad woke up first, since he had gone to sleep first, and also because he knew that Mom needed her afternoon/evening meds.

I napped until 8PM, and woke with a "Damn!" when I realized the time. I went upstairs and asked Dad whether he'd taken care of dinner. He had: I'd made a huge amount of super-proteinated soup* for Mom at lunch, and he microwaved a large bowl of it for Mom's dinner. For himself, he'd made a cold-cut sandwich.

I admit that part of the reason I slept so long is that I was depressed. The news about Mom's third tumor, which didn't respond at all to the Avastin, was hard to take. I was happy to hear that the "main area of the cancer," as Dr. Iwamoto had put it, had responded so well to treatment, but those tumors had both been kicked in the teeth by surgery and in-tandem radio- and chemotherapy. The third neoplasm is apparently a law unto itself, and I have yet to research the effectiveness of carboplatin, the drug that Mom's supposed to start next week. Carboplatin worries me because it depresses blood count, something that other meds in Mom's current arsenal also do. The potential for infection continues to rise, and Mom's thrush isn't a good sign.

I've been staying away from Mom lately because of my various illnesses-- the waning bronchitis (which might not be waning) and the new cold-like symptoms. Before I hug her good-night, I give my hands a thorough washing, despite knowing that that might not be enough to protect Mom. But what else can I do? Should I be wearing a biohazard suit, stepping into and out of disinfectant showers every time I have to get near Mom? How realistic is that? For now, I try to keep away from Mom, and when I have to be near her for some reason, such as to serve her food, I try not to linger. At the hospital, I held her hand while we were in the waiting room, but only after slathering on some of the cancer center's ubiquitous antibacterial lotion. I miss sitting with Mom and just holding her hand. She responds so well to people's touch; it seems cruel to deprive her of something she loves.

But I still break protocol to give Mom her good-night hug. Tonight, I came upstairs just as Mom was crawling slowly into bed; she settled in, I washed my hands, then I leaned over and hugged her good night. She squeezed me back, and I was thankful it was dark. That way, she couldn't see the tears in my eyes.

*It's a miso-based soup with seaweed, lots of tofu, and soybean sprouts, with a few eggs tossed in for good measure. I had made enough to last Mom several meals.



Anonymous said...

Terribly sorry to hear of your mom's illness. I wish your family strength as you support your mother through this experience. If you are concerned about passing a respiratory infection like bronchitis, you might wear a mask with a respirator, available in the pharmacy section of Walmart and other major retailers. Masks with respirators were effective in protecting Chinese medical workers caring for SARS patients. Ordinary masks were not as effective in blocking airborne viruses like the one that causes SARS.

Kevin Kim said...

Thanks, Sonagi. Yes, that's good advice: I've been using an N95 respirator mask for just that reason.


Maven said...

Still here. Still caring and reading.

Re: Thrush...

Folks who take antibiotics, or who have insulin resistance problems (like myself) are prone to it, too.

I find that trying to get probiotics into the body (i.e., yogurt, kefir, kombucha) help balance the friendly flora.

Not sure if your mom is lactose intolerant or not, or if you'd be willing to consider adding it to her diet, but it might help control the thrush.

Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.