Susan’s been doing worse these past two or three weeks. It started with an inability to sleep, an inability that has become so stubborn that she couldn’t sleep even when we stacked Lunesta on top of Ativan.
And then the shakes would start, and the inability to hold still.
In the past few days, she’s lost the ability to focus on anything at all, even for a moment, and her coordination is gone. Susan, who has a gift for making beautiful jewelry from silver wire she bends into intricate chains and patterns, is no longer able to tie her shoelace or make a sandwich.
She gets lost on the way from the bathroom to the bed.
Severe depression is common after chemo or between rounds of chemo; the doctors said that’s what this is, and gave Susan anti-depression medication.
Today, though, they did an MRI of her brain, just in case. Afterward, Susan and I drove home, with the Doctor’s promise that he’d call as soon as he knew anything.
We got a call at precisely the moment we arrived home. We needed to go back to the Doctor’s.
There’s no patient in the world who doesn’t instantly know that the news is bad if the Doctor wants to talk to you face to face. And you know it’s extra bad if the Doctor is staying late to talk to you the same day the tests are taken.
The only mysteries then — the ones we talked about on the way to the Doctor — were: how bad would it be? what were our options going to be?
I want to take a moment to say what a great person this particular Doctor we met with today is. He gave up his lunch hour to meet with us in the first place, and then stayed late to meet with us again the same day, so we wouldn’t have to wait another day in dread. At the end of our meeting with him, he gave me his personal cell phone number, with the instructions that I should call him tonight — no matter what time — if things get worse.
That is very unusual for a doctor to do.
Susan doesn’t have just one tumor in her brain, or a few. “There are too many to count,” the Doctor said. “They’re scattered through your brain like dandelion seeds.”
Susan hasn’t cried yet; I only have a little. We’re used to the notion of countless tumors in vital organs. And there’s a measure of relief in knowing what we’re fighting now, instead of being on the endless sleep aid / antidepressant merry-go-round.
For tonight, Seroquel and Ativan to help Susan sleep (at this moment she is in fact asleep, which is the best thing to happen today), plus some steroids to hopefully shrink the tumors to the point that Susan can get back her lucidity.
Tomorrow, we consult with the oncologist. I’m guessing there will be some radiation coming up right away, followed by chemo.
We haven’t given up. We’re not giving up. But I am scared.