Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


We saw Dr. Ryan today, to get results from Mat's latest CT scans. Dr. Ryan was "very happy" with the results. The tumors have shrunk, the chemo is still working, and we have a "free pass" for the next two months, until Mat's next set of scans sometime in late November or early December.

What's a free pass? A nice, predictable life. Chemo every other Wednesday, a bit more fatigue than usual for a few days after that, and then a week and a half or so to help the kids with homework, watch their soccer games, go to the park, and play Legos with them.

In other words, all the good stuff.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sleeping Beauty, Part II

Mat was up to his old tricks again recently. A week or so ago, he slept 18 hours. A remaining six-hour day consists of getting up in the mid-afternoon for lunch, going down for a nap shortly thereafter, and then getting up again in time for dinner, the boys' bedtime routine, and a little TV.

I thought he was tired from our trip to San Diego, but then he slept all day Saturday, and Sunday, and Monday .... Finally, on Wednesday, Mat talked to his doctor about it, who thought it was probably the pain meds again. He had already cut his dose by 25 percent in early August because the pain medication seemed to be making him sleepy. That went off without a hitch. This time, the goal is to wean Mat off the medication entirely, in two or three steps.

This latest attempt to reduce Mat's dose has not gone so smoothly. The drug is more --much more -- potent than morphine, and more addictive than heroin. I guess it's not surprising that Mat is going through withdrawal. He's nauseated, jittery, dizzy, in a constant state of craving, and, yes, in pain.

I've always cast a skeptical eye on concerns about addiction to pain medication for terminally ill patients. I've seen first hand that good pain management has a huge impact on quality of life.

What do I think now? I'd still argue for the pain management. But ask me again in a week or so.