Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Simple Gift

I haven't posted anything for the past week because the pain and nausea have been so bad that I haven't been able to do much. We've spent the past five days playing around with different combinations and permutations of pain and nausea medication, but we just can't seem to get it right. I've started losing weight again because the mere thought of eating makes me queasy, and this is worrying me since I have to keep my body strong enough for chemo.

I finally decided a few days ago to get a liver ultrasound, even though my regular oncologist isn't back yet from her holiday break. I'll call in tomorrow to see what the results show. I had a quick peek at the monitor as the technician was scanning my liver and it looked like Swiss cheese to me. But I'll try to hold off on any conclusions, especially those involving food-related similes, until I see the actual report.

The long-term plan will be to find another chemo combination that will work if this one's not doing the job. The immediate plan is to find a way to stop this pain and nausea so I can have a quality of life worth preserving with the chemo in the first place.

It's easy enough to tell people to be strong and persist. Maybe on a short-term basis, physical pain can be overcome. But when the pain and discomfort are constant so that you can't think about anything else, they really take life away from you. I've given birth twice. I'd rather do that all over again than deal with this. Yes, even without the epidural.

The worst of it all is the effect on the family. I haven't been able to play with my kids or their cousins who are visiting from the U.S. I haven't been able to help Tony with things around the house to keep his family happy. On Christmas day, it was all I could do to sit up straight without falling over as the kids opened their gifts.

By the way, those of you who gave us gifts, could you please let me know what you gave? Normally, I'd write down who each gift came from so we can say thank-you. But I wasn't able to do that and now we have a houseful of very generous gifts and I have no idea whom to thank for them. Not only that, we still have a bagful of gifts that we have to hand out to the neighborhood kids that I haven't been able to organize. Poor Tony has enough to deal with these days. So if your kids haven't received their gifts from us yet, please come by and we can give them to you.

I'm sorry I don't have anything very cheerful or festive to say. How's this... Lucky for you, you have your health and your family to enjoy it with. Don't underestimate the value of something as simple as being pain-free. Relish that you can eat, that you can pick up and hug your kids, that you can make your spouse smile instead of look sad, that you can walk and talk without running out of breath. There are so many delicious things in life that you still have that I see I'm losing now (only temporarily, I hope!). Play that out-of-body game and be me for a few minutes. Then go back to being you. Aah. No pain... That must feel good. There's my gift to you this holiday season. Merry Christmas!


Suzanne said...

I don't know if you are taking Tramadol. For me, I learnt that avoiding this particular painkiller reduced my nausea symptoms dramatically, which in turn, lowered my misery index.

Anonymous said...

Dear Shin, Sending you a super long, big, virtual hug. I pray with all my being that this is temporary and you find relief soon. It's amazing you can still write in such an intelligent and witty way. Your amazing spirit shines through. Thanks for the reminder to count my blessings. Lots of love, Natalia


It may seem like a "simple gift", Shin, but guess what? It is the most meaningful gift ever, just to be able to remember to be thankful, and not to sweat the small stuff.


lisacc said...

During her illness, my mother twice went into a respite centre to help stabilise her when the nausea became so bad that she couldn't eat at all. I don't know if this is an option for you or even if would help you, but I do know that just being somewhere specialist with 24 hour care if it was needed really helped her. It was very reassuring. And it was peaceful and private - no phones going off, no people arriving, etc. It also helped my father, because it meant he knew that she would get exactly the treatments she needed.

They stabilised her well both times, and she came home again.

Anyway I am thinking of you constantly, and wishing you well. I know medical miracles are rare, but they do happen, and no one is more deserving than you.

Anne and Tom said...

Hi Shin,
What about medical marijuana? You can get it in pill form so that you don't have to smoke, which would probably be hard on your lungs. A lot of people here use that to help nausea so that they can eat and thus maintain strength. (and it gives you the munchies, which can't hurt.) :) Also, is there a good acupuncturist near you? I've had very good results with that for pain, but it's not cancer pain and probably not in the same realm. But it might work.
With aloha,

Shin said...

Anne and Tom,

Thanks for your suggestion, but Singapore has one of the strictest drug laws in the world. They have a mandatory death penalty for drug traffickers, for example, and they consider it trafficking if you have an amount that most of us in the U.S. would consider not enough for a decent party (IF we were into that sort of thing, of course, which I'm not). They hang traffickers here.

When I asked my doctor about medical marijuana months back, she tried really hard not to laugh. So even it it DID work for me, it wouldn't be an option for me here. Thanks for offering the suggestion though.

As for acupuncture, I'm considering it, but need to find the right person at the right price, preferably free.