Friday, November 27, 2009


Mom's gotten the royal treatment from Dad and me today: I spoon-fed her her afternoon meal because she seemed unable to feed herself. Her perseveration steals away what little initiative she retains: she might take a spoonful of soup out of the bowl, then simply stare at the soup in her spoon instead of eating it.

We've noticed that this condition comes and goes. If it's related to brain swelling, then this means that the swelling itself must also come and go-- a state of affairs I hadn't thought possible. I had thought that brain swelling always followed an upward curve. Some other cause might be responsible for Mom's behavior, but I wouldn't know what: Mom's perseveration has always been linked to intra-cranial edema, and the cause of her edema has always been tumor growth. Unless we're looking at some new, mysterious phenomenon (besides tumor growth) that's making Mom's perseverative flareups periodic instead of steady, the best hypothesis is that the edema itself follows some sort of cycle. The cancer probably does grow steadily, but since the edema is the brain's reaction to the pressure of the cancer, it could be that the brain's reaction follows some sort of sinusoidal rhythm, like a slow pulsation.

It was a very tranquil Friday. Mom woke up too late to receive a visit from her friend Mrs. Burns, who had wanted to come by today. Instead of visiting, Mrs. Burns very kindly gave our family some Zuni peanut brittle, roasted peanuts, chocolate nut clusters, and chocolate-covered peanuts. I gave Mom a small sampler platter, along with some of Dad's pumpkin pie and David's pumpkin ice cream.

Also of note: we received a post-Thanksgiving phone call from Texas. Mom listened as her sister spoke to her over the phone. She managed to whisper "I love you, too" when my aunt expressed her love for Mom, and she did the same for me later on before going to bed. From my point of view, the day was all too brief: Mom's already back in bed, having been out and about for not even eight hours. I don't begrudge Mom her need for rest; she continues to fight the monster inside her head.

Tomorrow, our family friend Mr. James will be visiting at 3PM. Sometime after that, Dad wants to take Mom out to a mall so she can try walking around. She's been very weak lately, and still has problems with puffy feet (an effect of the Decadron, as you'll recall), which hurt her and make walking difficult. Dad and I need to get on the ball about making Mom exercise while she's on the couch. We're pretty good about persuading her to use the spirometer, but as the weather has cooled, we've been remiss in taking Mom out walking. I'm worried about Mom's diminishing lung capacity, especially combined with the deterioration of her immune system. Her inhalations on the spirometer are becoming progressively weaker.

We're waiting for some sort of response from Mom's team at NCI regarding our trip to New York. I have no idea what Dr. Fine will say about our hopes at enrolling Mom in the Weill-Cornell intra-arterial Avastin program at New York Presbyterian. I'm guessing he'll advise against it, but for all I know, he may have taken a look at the work being done at NYP, and might agree that that's where Mom needs to go.

In other news: my old boss at Sookmyung Women's University wrote to tell me about a job opening in my old department this coming March. I had to write her back to remind her of Mom's situation, and to say that, unfortunately, I had no idea how things would be come March. I expressed my regrets at not being able to give her a definite answer. She wants me back, and I'd love to be back at my old job, which was easily the best job I'd ever had in Korea. Right now, though, I'm still at home, and am not actively seeking work: being away from home for eight to ten hours a day would put a more extreme burden on Dad than what he already shoulders.

And that's life, post-Thanksgiving, at our house. In a nutshell: it was a quiet Friday. I fed Mom her one big meal of the day (and her dessert); Dad clipped her toenails; we rejoiced that Mom's feet weren't swollen, thanks to the Maxzide she's taking. Mom spent the day watching TV. She didn't exercise, but I did get her to use the spirometer. And then, all too soon, Mom was back in bed. She barely got to see any daylight.

Here's hoping she'll be more alert and active tomorrow.



Anonymous said...

Even with her head bandaged, your mother looks elegantly beautiful.

Kevin Kim said...

Thanks, Sonagi.