Sunday, November 16, 2008

Like a 12 step program

One day at a time. And so time has moved along, and for the most part, been good to us.

My husband had his PET scan, and it was good news. He still has enlarged nodes, though they are smaller, and none of them took up the label, so they consider the therapy a success. 6 months of chemo instead of 8, and most likely no radiation needed (thank God). I finally feel like I can breathe again.

On the bad side, chemo sucks so much. I guess I have realized how caviler we are with prescribing things for our patients, how quickly we are to dismiss them as "not too bad", when really they are pretty horrible and life-changing. To be fair, we were basically warned pretty accurately about the chemo, but there are parts of it that were downplayed to a ridiculous degree. For example, Mr. Dr. Dr. VonB had to get a central port, which they really blew off as not a big deal. In fact, the VIR (vascular interventional radiology) guys who did it didn't even prescribe pain medicines, they told him that Tylanol would be more than sufficient. What a joke! He was absolutely miserable for at least three days after that procedure, unable to sleep, unable to be comfortable, and in lots of pain. It was so much worse than his lymph node biopsy that he was using the pain medicine they'd given him for that (which he used once right after his surgery, and then had gotten by fine with Tylanol).

It's still a struggle to try to find something that doesn't make chemo so horrible. He just feels awful for 4-5 days after each treatment (and each one is getting a little worse). We keep switching around his medicines to help treat the nausea but most of them make him feel bad too. It is indecribably sucky to watch your partner suffer like this and be completely powerless to do anything.

In other news... OldMDGirl was actually right, though not about what my worst nightmare is. I found out the day after my husband's official diagnosis that I'm pregnant. It isn't that I'm not happy, it's just... nice timing, right? The first trimester was just... well, it was pretty miserable. I was worried about the baby, worried about my husband, worried about how much I was worrying (anyone else catch the study published right around that time linking maternal stress in the first trimester with schizophrenia in the child?), and oh yeah, yacking every single day while trying to continue rotations. Good. Times.

But things are better now. We got the Happy PET Scan News, the scary 1st trimester is behind me, along with the yacking, and I'm 5 short weeks from being essentially done with medical school. I took and passed Step 2, and surprisingly managed to to better than OK, which really blew my mind. I am done with my AI in three days (well, almost four, since one of those days is a call day) and it was pretty good even though I reaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllly didn't want to be working. Then I have four weeks of PICU and I'm outta there. Well, there's this crazy two week long course we all have to take in March. Oh, and I have to drive to FREAKING ATLANTA to take the Biggest Rip-Off in Existence (aka Step 2 CS) in February. But other than that... done.

And did I mention the baby is due the day after graduation? I don't care if I have to wheel myself, in labor, across the stage... I WILL ATTEND GRADUATION AND BE HANDED MY FREAKING DEGREE AND BE HOODED AND ALL THAT. This little munchkin is either going to have to be a little early, or a little late. Hear that, munchkin?

Anyway, that is a quick update of stuff here. I had actually meant to write more about the AI and what that's like, but I will have to do that another time. Here's a preview: overall, it's pretty awesome.

Until then... thanks so much for all of your thoughts, prayers and well-wishes. For those of you in graduate or medical school, keep the faith, because I am proof that even with random hideous life curve-balls, you do eventually get through it and move on.


Old MD Girl said...

Holy shit you've had a rough couple of months. I found your observations on the discomfort associated with chemo (esp the part about the port) really eye opening. I'm glad it looks like your husband is doing well. My fingers are still crossed for you two.

Congratulations on being pregnant!

Are you still planning on doing peds derm?

That_girl said...

Definitely congrats on being pregnant!!

This is a rough time for you right now. No doubt, but you can handle it. You have to. You dont have any other choice- giving up and dying isn't an option. You cant... your husband needs you too much.

You will get through it. Know that!

You dont know me, but I am thinking about you, and hoping for the best.

Court Dimon said...

We have been thinking of you both (and now the 3 of you) these past weeks.

During times like these, I know even the slightest turn of good news is measured with held breath; always waiting for the other shoe to drop, never wanting to celebrate the small and not-so-small victories because of what waits around the corner, the next week, the next test.

But take heart that his treatment appears to be working, that you are 1100 steps closer to graduating, and that you have this beautiful new person about to enter into your life.

You are, and have been, one of the strongest people I've had the pleasure of knowing. So I know that you will come out on the other side of this a stronger, better person, which makes for one hell of a mom.

DK said...

Wow. Wow!! Wow.

One thing I've always liked about you, VonB - you're never boring. You do something, you go all out.

Whew. What a ride this all must have been. I'm a little tuckered out just from reading the post.

Okay. So. On all fronts, CONGRATULATIONS!

So very glad to hear that Mr. Dr. Dr. VonB is headed down a good road, however bumpy it may be. That's definitely some positive prognostic stuff. And, ugh, the chemo nausea is the worst. Two things that used to make a big difference in my HEG patients (co-opted from our Gyn Onc patients, but I spent a lot of time with the pregnant pukers) were ginger and accupuncture. Allegedly, my friend knows a good accupuncturist if you need a name. You know, aside from phenergan and things that end in -ansetron.

So many congrats to you both on the impending small one! What a little miracle. Amazing. And I'm sure she'll be just as neurotic as the rest of us. You aren't Dutch. That study only applies to Dutch babies. And I think it's a confounding variable to the real culprit - wooden shoes.

I'm a psychiatrist. So you have to believe me when I tell you that wooden shoes cause schizophrenia. Nope, sorry, no choice.

Also (why does this seem like the least of things? This is HUGE!), congrats on the giant accomplishment that is the MD/PhD program. Either of those is plenty, thanks, but both? Damn, girl. Good work!!

Dragonfly said...

Congratulations on the pregnancy! And that is the BEST mental picture ever of your graduation. I have seen quite a few graduate with a baby in their arms, I always think that is really cool (though classmates with a toddler snark about it for some reason - possibly cause they didn't get to). Hope all goes well with your husband.
I swear by ginger when I have migraines (not exactly postop pain) and one of my best friends was converted by me when she was having side effects from being changed round antiepileptics and antidepressants. Hungover flatmates have also liked it...