Michael’s journey with palliative care
Thanks to family and friends, this past weekend we got our lake house opened for the summer. It got a good spring cleaning, plus the docks are out and the yard is mowed. Everything is ready.
Right now, I’m sitting in a recliner at the cancer center waiting to get treatment number 31. I get a treatment every three weeks. For two hours, I can watch TV, and I play an electronic Yahtzee game that’s about 20 years old. Sometimes I just nap until it’s time to go home. That’s probably what I’ll do today.
I used to have to get an infusion of magnesium, and that took four hours…that was a very long time.
I’m on a new cancer treatment now – it’s the drug I started on. Side effects are neuropathy in my hands and feet and sensitivity to cold. When I touch something cold, I get the sensation of little electric shocks. It’s an interesting experience when you grab something out of the freezer for the first time. Those little electric shocks…they feel like when you’re a kid and you try putting your tongue on a nine-volt battery! Drinking something cold can cause shortness of breath, so I have to watch that, too.
I have many pairs of tennis shoes because of the neuropathy. If I wear the same shoes all day, my feet will hurt, so I change them every couple hours.
My kids bought me a foot bath machine, and that helps, too, but I have lost some of my strength, and I can’t move that container full of water very easily right now. I love to sit on the dock with my bare feet in the water. It is amazing. The most wonderful feeling. My feet don’t hurt then.
On May 19, I saw Harbor Palliative Care nurse practitioner Chad for a standard follow up. We talked about the side effects after my last two chemo treatments. I was shocked that in all my treatments, those last two were the first time I had side effects — mostly nausea and diarrhea. I was given a prescription that helped. We talked about my pain and reduced my nighttime meds, since my pain has been very manageable lately. So, I have a little set back here and there, and some improvement. A week after my appointment, nurse Cheri called to check on me. It’s so nice that staff do that. They really want to make our lives as comfortable as possible.
Palliative care has been able to manage my pain, so it doesn’t hurt when I’m outside doing things. That has improved my quality of life. My goal is to be able to take a trip again this fall. We’re talking about going south to Gatlinburg, Tennessee or somewhere in that area. My oldest daughter volunteered to drive, and that will make it easier, too. My wife and I will be able to relax and enjoy the trip without having to worry about me driving.