Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hope is a 4 letter word.

Alright, so how about a Chakotay update? We took him to Cornell on Tuesday for his next to last appointment. I told you that last week was a rough visit. His lymph nodes had grown 23% from his first visit. He was eating and drinking, but just seemed... off.

On Friday, I thought he seemed better, just more alert and more his old self. That continued through the weekend and, as I mentioned, he had a great time at the beach on Sunday. The lymph nodes are still profoundly swollen, but to my unskilled hands did not feel bigger.

Now diverting a little from talking about my sweet boy, I started my day Tuesday at 5:45 AM, by getting up and running on the treadmill. Now I know what you are thinking - you are like”Didn’t she just tell us that she wasn’t going to be obsessive about this whole exercise thing??!!” Well, you’re right. But the night before, I thought about the long drive there and back and knew that if I was going to exercise it would have to be before I went to work or after we got home and who knows what time that would be. So I decided that IF I felt like it, I would get up early and run. And if I didn’t? Well, that would be okay. When I woke up before the alarm went off at 5:43 and felt good, I headed down and ran.

I ran slow and for an hour - not because I HAD to, but because I wanted to. I also told myself that I was NOT ALLOWED to worry about any other exercise that day.

I worked in the morning then we headed down. We were greeted by the vet herself instead of a student which has been typical so for a moment I was afraid that something was wrong. But she sat down and went over how his week was and I told her that I thought he had seemed better but it might be just wishful thinking.

We took Archer on a quick walk around the Cornell campus while they took Chakotay’s blood and did his exam. I have not talked about what a good boy Archer has been through this whole thing - he has gone with us each time and has been so well behaved. It’s so hard to tell with animals - what they know, what they think - but I swear he knows that he is supporting his fur brother.

The vets were very fast this time and when we got back, Dr. Hume was right ready to talk to us so that we could head back. If you remember, last week, the lymph nodes had grown 23% since the first visit. She had told us last week that she did not expect the treatment to suddenly work, and that the best we could hope for was stabilization. Well, surprisingly, the lymph nodes actually SHRUNK. Not a huge amount, but still.... All of his blood is good EXCEPT an elevated calcium level. It is not terribly elevated, but it can and does happen with this type of cancer could be indicative of a system wide take over of the cancer. We’ll see what the blood work says next week.

So he stays on the meds for more week and then the trial is over so we decide where we are and what - if any - steps we take next. The shrinking of the lymph nodes is a good sign, but I am not going to delude myself that this means he is on his way to being cured. My hope is that this treatment bought us more time - not just in quantity of life but quality in the time he has left.

And then we headed home. Again, talking about ME - I had not gotten out anything for dinner, not knowing when we would get home. I had to actively and consciously resist the urge all day to obsessively think about stopping and getting something and what we would have and what time we would eat, etc. It’s part of the unhealthy ritual I’ve developed of NEEDING to eat a a prescribed time and needing to know exactly what we’ll have. So on the way home my minuscule bladder and I needed to stop and we got some chicken salad type offering from the deli section and came home and made a wrap with some soup. Not the most wonderfully healthy thing in the world, but okay. I am striving for OKAY right now. Okay is - OKAY.

I briefly considered doing another workout while we watched tv, but I didn’t. And that was just fine. Instead, I stretched out on the floor for a while and cuddled with both dogs. I think that was a good use of my time....

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