Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hey ... you stabbed me!

One of Mat's ... favorite parts of the latest clinical trial has been the twice-daily shots of SOM230. Some of these he gives himself, in the leg. The back of his arm is harder for him to reach, so these are my job.

The process is simple: snap the top off the glass ampule, draw out the SOM230 with a filter needle, replace the filter needle with a thin needle (it won't hurt, I promise). Then, pinch the back of the arm, hold the needle poised, overcome decades of conditioning (do not stick people with sharp objects!), and ... stab the arm. Sometimes it goes well, others not quite so much. Sorry! That wasn't supposed to hurt!

Fortunately, the rash of stabbings in the neighborhood seems to have subsided. The twice-daily shots have been replaced with a once-monthly long-acting version of the drug. Whew.

In the meantime, the upside of recent frigid temperatures is a beautifully frozen neighborhood pond. The boys and I went skating today while Mat reported for nap duty. Colin, in his second attempt at skating, pushed crates around the pond at the speed of light and Ian practiced hockey stops. It was a nice day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Clinical trial, day 2 ... or 28, or something like that

The last month has been a blur. Sometimes life is like looking at a television screen with static on it (remember static?). If you concentrate hard, you can just begin to make out the difference between Godzilla and the girl, when the screen shifts, or the big black line comes rolling up the screen and now the top of the picture is on the bottom of the screen.

The clinical trial has been a little staticky. We've had to hold the rabbit ears at just the right angle to get a clear picture, when we lose it, and then ... oh that's the problem -- I wasn't holding my left leg quite high enough or pointing my toes.

On the up side, the high blood sugar Mat experienced shortly after (hours after) starting his new chemo regimen has settled down. It jerks up and down once in awhile, but not as high as the record set on Day 1, and is typically in the higher-than-average-but-not-high-enough-to-worry-about range. It's possible that the mildly elevated blood sugar is contributing to Mat's increasing fatigue (Mat has increasing fatigue? is that even possible?), but we don't know.

On the down side, Mat's blood pressure is too low. He's on the low side to begin with, and the combination of drugs and their side effects seem to make it lower. It's unnerving for Mat to be greeted upon arrival at MGH with nurses who take one look at him and immediately ply him with an array of beverages and connect him to an infuser for some heavy-duty hydration.

All of this led to a week-long break in the clinical trial for Mat to recover from the side effects, and to start again on a lower dose. The side effects now seem to be milder, and Mat's blood pressure is back up a bit, but of course there's still snow on the television screen of life. Is the lower dose high enough to be effective? Will the side effects accumulate again, causing worried-looking nurses to rush about?

Tune in again next week for another exciting installment of As the Static Turns.