Friday, 18 March 2011

"I wanna go home!"

Not me, actually, but rather my father, who is getting some cabin fever after having been here for 5 days. I am sitting in the corner of the hospital room and my father is struggling into a t-shirt. He doesn't want to get up and move around but he still wants to be released. And then he wants to go to the office on Monday. And then he wants to fly to Geneva next week. He's on antibiotics for the next two weeks, so we might be able to convince him to stay put.

So, where are we today? They extracted 3 litres of fluid from his abdomen but he is still incredibly bloated (like pregnant bloated). The initial tests show a high number of white blood cells in the fluid, which suggests the presence of an infection (possibly now gone). This is good, believe it or not, because it means that he could be feeling so crappy due to the infection rather than because he is dying.

However, an ultrasound yesterday revealed that his portal vein is partially blocked, which means that this is going to keep happening if they don't find a way to solve it: he will keep retaining fluid and losing albumin and feeling crappy. We have to wait for his regular oncologist to come back from holiday to investigate options. It's not a very good state to be in,though, so we are waiting to find out what will be going on.

Further, we are waiting to hear about what else they find in the fluid from his abdomen. They are looking for cancer cells, which would be the equivalent of a further metastasis. This would be bad. Worse, in fact, than the other stuff. So we wait, again.

I keep trying to fly home. It was supposed to be Wednesday. Then it was Friday. Now it's Saturday. But we are waiting for my father to be released from the damn hospital. I also have a deal with him that he will cooperate with the nurse that they are hiring in to help and do his best to get some exercise, as it make him feel better. I am writing it here as a testament that we made this deal, because he promised. His health depends on this.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

I really didn't miss the hospital

I am writing this on my phone in one of the public areas of MD Anderson. My parents were in Bangkok and had to fly back as a matter of urgency. Why? Because in the space of a week my father's test results tanked. He had very low haemoglobin, albumin, and other bad things and was sleeping 20 hours a day.

So off they flew for 26 hours, picking me up in London on the way. We drove straight to the ER on arrival and, after 8 hours and 3 tests, my father was admitted and has been there ever since (monday).

He has multiple system dysfunction which is causing pain, fatigue, confusion and a scary amount of fluid to build up in his abdomen. The question, though, is why.

We have now had opinions from 4 oncologists. 1 believes that it's a blockage of his portal vein. This is problematic and potentially serious but not time critical or cancer-related. Doctor 2 is hoping that it was an infection in the fluid which will go away now that he is on antibiotics. Doctor 3 thinks it's the cancer that is spreading to his spleen and that he could do everyone a favour by dying faster and not wasting anymore time and resources. Doctor 4 thinks patients are idiots and should only be interested in treating the symptoms rather than the problem. Overall, I am thinking of taking a sledgehammer to the lot of them.

He's had the fluid drained as is feeling a bit better, but he will be staying in hospital until they bloody find the cause of the problem. In the meanwhile, the tumour is acting oddly in that it is changing shape and no one knows why. His brain is clear, which is nice to know.

And, oddly, what I have noticed most over the last few days are the number of child patients kicking around the hospital. Now, cancer is horrible at any age but to see patents with their 5 year-olds waiting in radiation is one of the most heartbreaking things I can imagine. Sod pancreatic cancer. It's the cancers that kill children that we need to eliminate as quickly as possible. Because right now, there is no justice in this world.
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