In Honor of My Husband, Ron

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Ron's last day of treatment was October 28, 2005. While this day was certainly a cause for celebration, it was by no means the end of his problems. In fact, he actually had his worst days in the weeks following. He continued to be in a lot of pain, which meant he was still on the Fentanyl patches, also taking either Tylenol 3's or Vicodin. Now, this is not always explained to patients, but that many painkillers have a bad side effect of bowel impaction. I will try not to get too graphic, but I think caregivers should know that this may happen. Ron did, in fact, get impacted and I had to "assist" him in relieving it. Thankfully, I used to be a Nurses Aide, so I was equipped to handle this. It was not a pleasant experience for either of us, but when your loved one is in pain, you do whatever you can to relieve that pain. He had been taking stool softeners all along to try to prevent this, but they did not. So I'm just pointing out that this may happen. And, as you can imagine, that only adds to any other discomfort that is happening.

Ron also vomited more in the two weeks following treatment, for some reason. He lost a total of about 50 pounds by the time he was all done. He was still also going in for blood tests, and continued to receive Aranesp for low RBC's and Neupogen for low WBC's. I was quite worried at this point about his low immunity, and the possibility of him catching something from either myself, who works in a High School and is constantly around sick teenagers, or one of our own teenagers being ill. I think if he had caught even a common cold at that time, he would have ended up in the hospital. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

By the middle of November, his blood work started coming back in the normal range. He reached his lowest weight of 167. Before cancer, his weight was about 225. He had huge biceps from farming and a fair sized "beer belly", even though he didn't drink all that much beer. At treatments end, he had really no muscle mass left. It would be a long road to build himself up again. The first week of December, he had both PET and CT scans, and they both came back clear! YAY! Looks like all the pain was worth it.

The rest of December and January was spent with the Dentist and Oral Surgeon preparing his mouth for dentures. He had to have some bone shaved from his gums, and let that heal. He got his dentures February 1. His Port and PEG were removed on February 5, 2005. That was a good day, to get that PEG removed. As much as we know he needed it, it was a constant source of irritation to deal with. Two weeks after getting and wearing the dentures, he had a check at the Dentist, and he noticed a "spot" on the floor of Ron's mouth. He was told not to wear the bottom denture to let it heal. On March 1st, at another check, the Dentist found another "spot". Now he was sent to the Oral Surgeon, who in turn sent him to his ENT Surgeon that did the original surgery. It was decided that he could take no chances, so another surgery was done on March 13. Thankfully, it was completely benign!

For the next year, Ron went for CT and PET scans every three months. Nothing ever showed up on any of them, thank God. He continued to struggle with the teeth issue. He now only wears the upper denture, and that is usually only when I "make" him. He would be just as happy to not wear them at all, and can even eat steak with no teeth. Don't ask me how, I don't think I could do that! So 2006 was a year of adapting to a new normal, healing, getting clear scans, frequent doctor visits to make sure no other issues cropped up, and Ron getting back to full-time farming. Oh, by the way, his new hip was working great now, too! So glad he had that hip replacement.

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