Sunday, December 23, 2012

Elaine Update 12/23/12

Elaine was discharged from the hospital late Wednesday afternoon. She came home with oxygen, heavy pain meds, antibiotics, and under strict guidance to not leave the house or have direct physical contact with visitors. Her immune system is compromised, and she needs a chance to recover.

She has a home health nurse who will visit regularly to monitor progress, and a therapist whose focus is on stabilizing heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen intake through exercise and breathing techniques.

But she's clearly better and has visibly improved over the past couple days. She's breathing much easier now, and has significantly less pain from her incisions and in her chest. She's gradually becoming more active and is less winded by getting up and walking around the house.

Two weeks ago her normal weight dropped 4 lbs, to 114. By the time she was discharged from her most recent hospital stay, her torso and legs were very swollen from the infused fluids, and her weight had risen to 128. She's metabolizing some of that now.

It is important to distinguish between the broader problem of the cancer and the ravages of the cancer's spin-off acute conditions. The bile duct obstruction was in some way generated by the cancer's spread. It is less clear at this point whether her lung issues were directly related to the cancer, or were related to her bile problems and their management. In any case, it is possible that she will regain her strength - even if it is back to a new normal - and that the immediate future may be characterized by periodic brushfire illnesses.

She has thrived at home, and has already regained enough vitality that she's reading, doing some light paperwork and wandering around the house on her own. She's back to wisecracking - usually at my expense - and being her old self. On several occasions, visitors have inadvertently stepped on the oxygen tube that snakes across the room. This breaks up the tension and is always good for some gallows humor.

Our next step will be developing a targeted treatment plan with the doctors and researchers who have helped us be successful so far. We are still uncertain what that will look like, but the approaches are likely to include alternative, palliative approaches that are scientifically credible and promising but not yet fully proven.

As always, we thank you for your kindness, support, and for always being there for us.


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