Today was a marathon day. I arrived at the hospital at noon and Mom was about to start her first chemo treatment. She had already had radiation therapy and a diagnostic test to determine if the Ommaya port was working. Immediately following chemo, the speech pathologist came in to check in on her swallowing and to see if she was having trouble eating. Then the opthamologist came in to test her eyes. About 30 minutes after he left, a physical therapist came in and did 20 minutes of physical therapy. For those of you counting at home, that's 6 treatments before 3pm.
The diagnostic test showed that the Ommaya Reservoir was working exactly as it should, thus allowing her first chemo treatment. The entire treatment takes about 10 minutes and can be done in her room. Because it's administered directly into her brain, she shouldn't have any side effects besides a headache (which she did get later on today).
Her swallowing is much better, which makes her feel like she can breathe easier. Eating and taking pills still isn't super comfortable, but it's better than it was earlier in the week. She also figured out that eating hot foods hot is easier than if they've cooled down to room temperature, so we make sure that we have her meals as warm as possible; this makes chewing easier for her.
The opthamologist determined that her eyes are great-the pressure is where it should be and the optic nerves are functioning well. That means that the blindness is due to something going on in her brain-his best guess is that the cancer is interfering with the brain in some capacity. He suggested an MRI of her eyes to see what's going on and ordered it for today, but when they came to take her, I didn't let them do it. She was completely exhausted from the other 6 therapies, the MRI is really uncomfortable for her and the treatment course probably won't change no matter what the results are, so I asked them to postpone (at least postpone and maybe cancel-I want to talk to the hospitalist about it more).
The physical therapist had her sit up in a flat bed, then get up to standing while bracing herself in a walker. This should build up her strength and balance. Unfortunately, PT was the last thing on the agenda and her body was just too tired. I mean, she did great, but she would have done much better had that be the second or third thing of the day. The PT gave her homework: leg exercises to do in bed every hour. She also suggested that we move to a larger room with a chair in addition to the bed so Mom can spend some part of the day sitting upright. We switched rooms tonight, so we'll see how that goes. I think both my parents will be happier in their new digs (or as my dad called it, his "new crib").
The last day of 2010 had Mom was feeling nostalgic. She asked us what all had happened in 2010, musing that it didn't seem like a particularly eventful year. I piped up that I got engaged in 2010 and she sort of waved it off, like, "oh, yeah, big deal." Ross chimed in that he started at UW and got on the Dean's List his first quarter. She perked right up at that and said that was an exciting thing. When I protested that getting engaged was at least as exciting as getting on the Dean's List, she shook her head and said, "Well, you've had a boyfriend since preschool." Then she smiled her teasing smile and said that she was very happy that I found someone who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. We had a little NYE celebration in her new large room. Mom said that she intended to stay up until midnight, hootin' and hollerin' and jumping up and down. We figured 10:45pm was just as good and about 12 of our closest friends gathered in her room to count down 15 seconds and yell "Happy New Year!"
She didn't jump up and down, but she hooted and hollered and said she was in the perfect place for a party. And really, she's right; any place filled with that much love is exactly the place for a party.