Thursday, November 5, 2009

at the center

Traffic was horrible, as per usual, but we left at 7:06AM and made it to the medical center with a few minutes to spare. I'm once again sitting in the van atop the parking deck. It's going to be a long, long wait this time: Mom's getting blood work plus two intravenous infusions done. We may be here until almost lunch.

Meanwhile, I'm very worried about Mom's thrush. has a few good articles about it (here, for example); for most young and relatively healthy folks, thrush isn't bad news. But for older folks, especially if they're immunocompromised, thrush can be serious business, sometimes even moving from inside the mouth to the bloodstream and internal organs.

With Mom starting carboplatin today, it's crucial that we hit the thrush problem hard: carboplatin depresses blood count, which means a further weakening of Mom's immune system.

Mom has apparently had thrush for a while. I see it on the tip of her tongue these days, and we know it's taken over a lot of the rest of her mouth. Dad and I are hoping that her new anti-thrush meds will be able to get rid of the infection within two weeks.

Mom hasn't complained of pain from the thrush yet, but then again, because she isn't too verbal, she doesn't complain about much at all. It's up to us to be her on-site doctors, exercising proactive vigilance-- not an easy task when you don't always know what to look for (which is why I was so relieved that Dr. Heery spotted the thrush a few days ago).

So that's where things stand for the moment. I've asked Dad to ask today's doc or nurse to check out Mom's thrush, and to give the rest of her body a once-over as well: thrush doesn't only appear inside the mouth.

We'll be making Mom gargle and swish salt water a few times a day to help her anti-thrush meds do their job. There's also a dye called "Gentian violet (1%)" that, when applied directly to infected spots, can help some cases of thrush. We also need to steer Mom's diet in a more Atkins-ish direction, because carbs and sugars encourage the growth of thrush. More jjigae, less juk. And no wine or mouthwash, either, as it turns out.

We're doing what we can for Mom, but every yang has its yin: whenever we start her on some new therapy, the treatment comes freighted with nasty side effects. In this case, as I mentioned before, the thrush was abetted by the Decadron, which looks more and more like a truly evil medication.


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