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"And the Beast Goes On"


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Journal Excerpt:

Monday, April 25th I had my first meeting with Dr. Xuan in 3 weeks at 10:00 am Monday morning. Mom had an appointment, also, with Dr. Ionescu at 11:30 am. I wasn’t sure I would have the time to take her – fortunately we had Chad to save the day. He was there at 11:00 am sharp to take mom to Internal Medicine. Mom has very few on-going appointments with Doctors. There is her primary care physician, in internal medicine, Dr. Andrei Ionescu; her rheumatologist, Dr. Ene-Stroescu (same office); and Dr. Needham Ward, her cardiologist. Dr. Ward prescribed, and is tracking, her Coumadan).

Things went amazingly well with Dr. Xuan – of course, I always like her when she has good news. I had blood drawn to see if my white blood cell count had dropped since my first round of chemo. White blood cells are fast-growing cells which are attacked, like cancer cells, by the chemical poisons they drip into you. If they drop too low it could seriously compromise your immune system and force you to pause in your treatment. Dr. Xuan told me that my white blood cell count had actually come up over the previous week. This was good news on a number of fronts: that my treatment could proceed on schedule; that my over all health was good; and that my body was strong enough to fight off infection, like pneumonia. We agreed to start my next round of chemo the next day as scheduled.

As for my medication angst of the previous day – it seemed to be a non-issue. Dr. Xuan cheerfully changed me over to OxyContin in place of morphine. Her concern was only that I be taking an extended release pain med. She suggested trying the fentanyl ER patch at some point. As I was taking 90 mg of morphine ER per day she wished to keep the 1:1 dosage on the Oxy change-over intact. The only way to do that was to have me take 3 X 10 mg OxyContins 3 times daily. Oxy only comes in 10, 20, 40, 80 and 160 mg doses. A one month supply would be 270 pills. In my ongoing attempt to save money where possible, I had made a serious mistake. OxyContin is not generic, as the morphine was. 270 tablets would cost me $475.00. If my Medicaid didn’t come through soon I’m afraid that I will be dead broke in a month – medications, alone, in one month of treatment, had cost me over a thousand dollars!

I arrived home just as Chad and mom pulled up. As usual, I helped them with the groceries by holding the door open for them (ain’t I a stinker?) They had been to the doctor, the bank and the post office. Chad made lunch for mom (earlier he had done laundry, cleaned the kitchen and made up mom’s room) and left to pick up his younger sister at school. I asked mom how Chad was working out. With the small problem of mom being of little help in giving Chad directions, things went surprisingly well. Mom feels that she’s just used to the way that she and I run errands, and change is difficult for her to accept. I agreed. She said that she was surprised that Chad was so savvy in his navigation of the store aisles and his attention to detail in picking out products. Evidently they had spent some time picking out just the right box of band-aids and cans of evaporated milk for my coffee (they batted .500 – respectable). I was not nearly as surprised at Chad’s level of experience as I was in my 84 year old mother’s use of the word “savvyâ€

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