Friday, February 24, 2012

Doctor appointment

Mom was released from the hospital on Monday as Dr. Mullin felt that the increased dose of Doxil got her out of immediate danger. On Tuesday she had her appointment with Dr. Porubcin (who was extremely perplexed about her clotting issues - nothing new). The good news is that her CA125 count was in the 20's and the rest of her bloodwork information was also favorable. Dr. P was very happy about that, and as a result isn't going to recommend a chemo treatment just yet. Since there is no Doxil at the moment he would have to have put her on a different drug.

On the news that night there was a story that the FDA announced the availability of a new drug that should curb the Doxil shortage. The replacement drug is called Lipodox. I haven't had time to read up on it, but from what some other articles are saying, it's a good replacement for Doxil.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hammond-Henry "Hilton"

Mom drove herself to the Hammond-Henry emergency room Friday night - she had been having erratic heartbeat (periodically) throughout the day on Friday and some times her heart felt like it was pounding in her chest... not in a heart-attack way but it concerned her as there was nothing that she could think of that would be causing the symptoms. Long story short, she has developed more blood clots and they are in her right lung.

Dr. Mullin decided to keep her in the hospital until he could talk with her oncologist (Dr. Porubcin). So nurse George said "welcome back to the Hammond-Henry Hilton" as mom has been a frequent visitor in the last couple of years.

Dr. Mullin increased her Lovenox dose to dissolve the clots and would like for her to go back to doing the shot twice a day. Dr. Porubcin decreased her dose in early January back to one shot a day as he thought she could get by with that since she isn't doing a treatment at the moment. Mom does have an appointment with Dr. Porubcin already scheduled for Tuesday (1:00 p.m.) so we'll find out what the numbers are on her latest blood count.

She is doing much better today and is more at ease. Dr. Mullin also prescribed a drug, Atenolol, to slow down her heart a bit. He believes that the blood clots were putting pressure on one of the cavities in the heart and "making it really irritable" for the heart to do its job. The nurses hooked mom up to an EKG on Friday when she arrived into the emergency room, and that came out normal. They didn't see anything that would indicated heart tissue damage.

They are planning on sending mom home tomorrow after Dr. Mullin and Dr. Porubcin connect.

The other part of the conundrum is getting mom back on Lovenox twice a day. She will have to fill out a couple of forms (new insurance company now) and talk to them. To me that seems like the wrong way about it - you shouldn't have to talk to your insurance company first to get the ok to order more prescriptions. There is something really really backwards about having your insurance company dictate what prescriptions you get based on whether or not it will make them money (or cost them more money).

A patient's health needs to be the priority, and that is definitely not how the system works.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Home safe

Mom and I made it home safely on Thursday after a bumpy flight and tentative landing in Moline. The pilot announced midway through the flight that we may detour and land in DesMoines because of the visibility (dense fog in Moline) but he decided that Moline was a go so we landed at about 7:30 p.m.

Holly, Barb & Cheryl
We had a great time in Arizona. Mom and I met up with my dad’s sister, Cheryl, on Saturday at the Cracker Barrel in Casa Grande. We had about a two hour lunch to catch up on everything. It was great to see her and I could tell she was glad to see mom and be able to talk to her in person. Back in the day when Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Paul lived in Peoria, we used to get together with them a couple times a year. Uncle Paul worked for the Pabst brewery and dad wholeheartedly supported that endeavor. As tricky as my father’s side of the family is to sort out (when I was little I was confused about him having two mothers) the days in Peoria were good times and good memories with all of my cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. Mom is still close with Cheryl and wants to meet up with dad’s other sisters (Debbie, Bev, Eva Marie and Patty). We haven’t seen them since Scotty was born. Mom worries about them and so I think we will be taking a few more short trips in the future.

The Arizona weather has been great. Quail Run/Creek/Ridge (now I can’t for the life of me remember what comes after Quail) where Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernie is a gated community and everyone has a golf cart and a dog. It is a great place to walk and Aunt Ruth and mom walked in the mornings and I was able to get a couple of runs in. There is a three mile loop around the community and it makes for a nice 3 mile workout. Apparently the cattle run stray in this area – there are some warning signs out for cattle crossings – but I didn’t see any cows wandering around. Uncle Bernie told me to watch out for coyotes, snakes and these things that look like pigs called javalinas. I had to watch out for the golf carts more than anything.

Sunday was Uncle Bernie’ birthday. We went to Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernie’s church in Sauharita, and then headed to Tubac to do some shopping. The have some great little shops there and I cleaned out one of the pottery places. For Uncle Bernie’s birthday dinner we went to Florentino’s (Mexican and Italian) and had margaritas. What really made his day were the phone calls from Miles, Camden and Zachary.

Aunt Ruth & Mom on the way to Tombstone
Monday we took the scenic route to Tombstone (over an hour away). The mountains and valleys - entire landscape – is really breathtaking. U Bernie is a great driver and pulled over a couple of times for us to get photos. In Tombstone we had lunch and then wore ourselves out shopping (again). Mom bought a couple of things and found a John Wayne photo for her friend Robert (son of Lois, her good friend who passed away a few months ago). Robert has been in the hospital and Mom has kept in touch and checked on his progress each day.

Tuesday we went to the Tucson International Gem Show and had an eyeful of beads, gems, jewelry, fossils, rough cut stones and glass artwork. We stopped at the expo center first and Aunt Ruth got us in as official “buyers” with her jewelry connections (I felt very important). By the afternoon we were forgetting it was Tuesday and decided that we had enough of the showgrounds. Uncle Bernie found a collapsible cooler and a painting that he really liked, and mom, A. Ruth and I found some good jewelry deals.

Aunt Ruth & Uncle Bernie's house
By Wednesday we were all exhausted and just stayed close to “the ranch.” Mom, Aunt Ruth and I went through all of the model homes at Quail Run/Creek/Ridge. We all decided to let ourselves dream a bit – there’s no harm in that. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernie’s model of home was no longer offered, but there was one that was similar. Their style is what I would prefer with a grand room area that connects to the kitchen with an eat-in area off of the kitchen. Uncle Bernie caught up with us at lunch time and we ate at the Grill restaurant that is right off of the Quail putting green and driving range of the golf course and then had a look at the swimming pool and lap pool area. Quail is a great place and great community. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernie have a lot of good friends there. After lunch we visited the Hearts and Hands quilt shop and of course mom and I walked out of the shop with some new projects to finish. We were all beat and just sat around that afternoon. Uncle Bernie the grill master cooked up some salmon filets and had a nice dinner at home.

Heart-shaped cactus in the yard!
Thursday arrived fast and by the time we had to get in the car to go to the airport, mom and I didn’t really want to leave. We could have easily spent another week there – but duty calls at home and mom has a doctor’s appointment coming up in a couple of weeks. But we will definitely visit Arizona again to hang out with A. Ruth and U. Bernie. There are still some things that we missed and there is definitely plenty to do.