The Cancer Diary: Chapter Five

The Cancer Diary: Chapter Four
April 30, 2013
The Cancer Diary: Chapter Six – Alternative Treatment
May 14, 2013

The Cancer Diary: Chapter Five

All the prior posts lead up to the past year. And what a year it has been. Max has had surgeries scheduled 3 times, only to have them cancelled for various infections, and later because of a lung metastasis. He was placed on chemo for months on end and took his last treatment on December 11th. By Christmas Eve, he was running a fever and I had to rush him to the ER. With a diagnosis of  blood infection, he was immediately hospitalized. There they discovered a “vegetation” on his heart valve, which translates in layman terms to an infectious built up on his heart. He was placed on massive amounts of antibiotics and moved to the Telemetry Unit for observation. He had no sooner moved when his bowel obstructed and he became unable to pass anything, which meant he could no longer eat. Bile built up regularly in his stomach causing nausea and vomiting. He seemed to be fading fast. Finally, after days without any nutrition, I convinced the doctor to put him on TPN, or intravenous feeding. He was transferred to UCSD for his final scheduled surgery, but with all the complications, they chose not to proceed. They placed a GI tube in his stomach and he now had tubes and bags protruding from almost every major digestive and urinary track organ. Since there was nothing more they could do at UCSD, they sent Max packing to a lesser care facility, where he languished for weeks.

The only ray of hope during this terribly dark time was the day or two Max actually passed stool. But the CT scans consistently showed a bowel obstruction and the Radiologist consistently noted a likely metastasis on the small intestine. Life looked bleak. Max’s surgeon and oncologist visited to tell him there was nothing more they could do. It was time to call in Hospice.

In March, Max was transferred to a Rehab facility, where he continued to languish for a couple weeks. But then something miraculous happened, his bowel opened up and he began to eat again. It took me some time to integrate the significance of this turn of events and study the situation, but I finally realized that the bowel problem only resolved subsequent to the termination of antibiotics. It became apparent that Max didn’t have cancer in his small intestine, his obstruction had been caused by an overdose of antibiotics. But by that time, Max had deteriorated significantly. He had lost a tremendous amount of weight and was bed bound.

Even with the alleviation of the obstruction, Max was on a downhill trajectory.

Both Max and I were trying to come to terms with what looked like his impending demise. We read spiritual texts and talked about the meaning of life and our understanding of death.

The end was near.

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