Monday, December 27, 2010

Just a little speed bump on the road to cancer freedom

Chris's second round of chemo has not gone quite as well as the first! He had chemo on Thursday.  Everything seemed pretty much like the last time with two exceptions.  Last time he had EXTREME fatigue to the point where he could hardly get out of bed for over 24 hours.  This time, he was able to be up and interact with us more than last time - he didn't have the fatigue. I found out today that is because they reduced the amount of the 5FU drug that he gets in his chemo - which is what was causing the fatigue.

The other difference was that this time he had some chest tightening and difficulty breathing on Friday night.  I know...classic symptoms, right?  Well when you're in chemo everything is different.  He'd had tightening in other muscles, like his jaw and his extremities, so we both thought it was just yet another symptom.  By Saturday, he was feeling a little better and able to enjoy Christmas dinner with us.  He slept better on Saturday night too.  So, imagine my shock when he got up on Sunday morning, took the dog for a walk, and then came back in and laid on the couch where he had a heart attack out of the blue.

Elise and my mom were upstairs with me when it happened.  It looked like a seizure to us at first.  Elise was VERY quick in thinking to run downstairs and get Kelsey who is CPR certified because she's in her senior year doing her nursing degree.  How fortunate we are that Elise was so quick on her feet and that Kelsey was here to save his life.  She sprang into action, she knew all the right things to do, and she kept his heart pumping until the first policeman arrived who brought with him an AED (automated external defibrillator).  They put it on his chest and the machine said "Shock Advised, stand clear!"

It was all very frightening to watch.  Kelsey was so calm under the pressure while I crumbled watching my husband helpless on the floor turning crimson, then purple, and then ashen white.  I stood in shock and disbelief as I thought I was watching my husband die right there on my living room floor.

They got him off the ventilator last night, but he still wasn't conscious when I went home to bed.  When I came in this morning, he was alert but I learned quickly that his short term memory is gone.  They say it's pretty common and not to worry yet. It's pretty hard not to worry when you're living the movie Groundhog Day.  If you haven't seen it, you should.  It's very funny. Bill Murray as a TV reporter re-living Groundhog's day over and over and over again.  Every 10-15 minutes Chris would wake up and look at me with such surprise in his eyes and say "where am I?" or "Am I in the hospital?" or some other comment like that.  The first few times I'd tell him what happened and he'd say "I had a heart attack?"  It was the same thing over and over.  It still is, but the girls and I have found little ways to get a laugh out of it.  Sometimes he'd ask what he's doing here and i would say "What do you remember?" or "Do you know why you're here?"  Most often he'll respond with something that indicates he thinks he's here for some procedure that has to do with the cancer.  But the best response we've gotten so far was "I'm pregnant!"  We had a good laugh trying to figure out who the father is!!!

So, you can see he hasn't lost his sense of humor so his brain must not have been deprived of oxygen for very long because wit like his requires lots of fuel!  His long term memory is also good.  He was able to tell us what month and year it is, although he wasn't sure of the day...but hey...he just lost an entire day so who can blame him for that?

One other funny thing I have to tell you about before I sign off.  When I got home last night Kaden (my 4 1/2 year old grandson) kept talking about Papa's soldiers.  Chris is "Papa" to Kaden, just in case you're wondering.  Everyone thought he meant all the police and paramedics that came were his soldiers, but we kept Kaden downstairs and he never saw any of it. Papa's soldiers - what the heck!  Well, we finally figured it out when Kelsey retold the events from her point of view and told how Elise barged into their bedroom and said Chris was having a seizure!  Seizure = Soldiers!!! 

So, we're on the road to recovery now.  I am keeping a positive outlook that his memory will repair itself and he'll be back to normal in no time.  I'm thinking they probably won't be giving him the 5FU drug anymore, so maybe we'll be trying a new cocktail for the next chemo.  Who knows?  The only thing that's certain now in our life is uncertainty...

Thank you all again for your well wishes, it's so meaningful to us - even if he can't remember them right now!  :)

Julia (and Chris)


Robin said...

Thank you for sharing all the scary details, Julia. My heart goes out to all of you right now. So glad to hear that Chris is hanging on to his golden sense of humor! That says a lot. Please know that you are very much in our thoughts and prayers, and don't hesitate to ask if there is anything we can do.
Hugs all around.
xoxo R & J

Anonymous said...

We continue to remember you and send positive thoughts. J and J

JGTilley said...

We continue to remember you and send positive thoughts, Julia and Chris. J and J