Yeah...I've got something to vent.
In 2010, my sweetie (58 at the time) began to have digestive problems that sounded for all the world like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). So, not having any health insurance and being more into "natural" remedies, we tried a myriad of different nutritional/diet changes. Finally got her stabilized on plain grilled chicken, white rice and plain steamed veggies. Since I'm the chef in the family, I was frustrated, but she was able to eat, and that was all that mattered. She would get stable for awhile, say a month or so, and then she'd go out to lunch with her bunch of girlfriends and have something different and then she'd be back in the bathroom again. It'd take me a couple of weeks to get her back on track, and we'd go along for another month or so until we just couldn't stand it and splurged on going out. Then back to misery for her. Then she started to lose weight. At first, she was thrilled...she worked out at the gym 3 days a week and had been trying to lose for a few years. But she kept losing. She didn't want to go to a doctor, but in Jan. 2011, after she got down to 125 lbs (from 180) I finally made her go see a doc we'd been to for my high blood pressure (which was definitely going back up with all this mess going on) about a decade ago . He did an exam and said "This doesn't look good. I'm going to order a blood test."
That blood test was called a CA125. It's not one that is usually run during womens' yearly checkups. Unless, that is, there is an incidence of Ovarian cancer in the family history. Test came back with an astronomical marker number: 1700+. He sort of just took a deep breath and said there probably wasn't much we could do, but he'd do his best to get her into some sort of treatment.
Two weeks later, we had an appt with a cancer doc at a supposedly "public charity" hospital here in town, as we have no insurance, and no real income. He admitted her to the hospital immediately, did an emergency temporary colostomy operation the next day. Then we waited two weeks while she built up more strength, as she was finally able to eat again. CT-scan showed that the tumors in her ovaries were so huge that they were squashing her colon shut, thus the "IBS"-like symptoms. We then went through three months of chemo to shrink the tumors, then another huge operation to remove everything female-related in a complete abdominal hysterectomy, and to reverse the colostomy. The doc was very pleased..."we were able to get it all" he said. Three more grueling months of chemo to supposedly kill all the cancer floating in her bloodstream, and her marker number was an astonishingly low 14 (which doc called normal) when we were done.
That was September of last year, 2011. Aside from being hounded by the collection henchmen for the so-called "charity" hospital for money for the two operations and chemo ($160k+), we set about going about our lives, since this evil ordeal was obviously over, right? She had bounced back so incredbly strong and empowered, that she felt and looked more alive and more like my sweetie of 16 years' time than she had in years. The three-month blood test came back great...no sign of cancer at all, number still 14. In January of this year, she even went on a week-long road trip with her gal-pals and had a blast. On Valentine's Day, the 6-month blood test showed a jump in the number, to 78. Doc said well, it could be a "false positive" since she was having a bit of a cold, which can sometimes make the number jump. This un-nerved both of us, as we'd really thought that this was over for good, in, I suppose, our child-like way of looking at it. Asked if we could wait another month or so before another test, just to make sure she was over her cold, plus, she just didn't want to go through it again so soon.
About three weeks ago, I began to notice that she was doing odd little things, like leaving cabinet doors hanging open, when she'd been such a stickler for closing them before. Then she started having a bit of a hard time coming up with the right word at the end of a sentence, and would take a second before finishing. We tried to brush it off as "senior moments", since I do the same thing sometimes. The next couple of times it happened, though, she said the exact OPPOSITE of the word she was trying to find. Then she started having trouble remembering how to do simple things she'd done forever, like operate her little CD player that she plays her meditation CD on every day, which way to turn the door lock, and she started to act frustrated and anxious for no real reason. Next day she had trouble putting on her shirt...her left arm couldn't find the hole for the sleeve, and she couldn't tie her shoes. By now, I'm freakin' out, and called the cancer doc. Nurse arranged for a CT-scan of her head. Before we got home from the imaging place, doc had left a message on our answering machine to "Get her to the ER NOW!"
The Ovarian cancer has metastasized in four places in her brain, and her brain was swelling, which was pushing the midline of her brain to the side, causing all of these odd things to happen. They gave her a big shot of Decadron (heavy-duty steroid) to reduce the swelling in her brain, and she began to immediately calm down and get better. Resident (student) doc came in and said there was probably not much they could do for her anymore, and to start looking into hospice arrangements. We both cratered. She was in the hopital overnight, and the actual doc came in next morning and said that there was possible help from a procedure called the "CyberKnife", which is targeted radiation only to the tumors. This won't be a cure, at all, but might give us a little more time together before the inevitable.
While all this was going on, the hospital's "financial" department was relentlessly sending collection-agency callers after us, as many at three times a day, going after money we don't have, as well as nasty letters...and this is from a supposedly "charitable" "Christian" hospital run by Catholics. The stress from those calls every day (I'm QUITE sure) wore her down so badly that I am positive that it had an affect on how badly the cancer has come back. All because none of the drones they sent to take our financial information would listen to us about our situation.
The cancer doc finally made arrangements with the CyberKnife people to take our case on full charity status, the first time we've been treated right as far as the money goes. We have a consultation with them this coming week, to see just what they will and won't be able to do for her. He seemed confident that while it won't kill the ovarian cancer totally, it might buy us some time. How much time? Nobody can or will say at this point. Weeks? Months? We don't know, and it's taking our concept of "stress" to whole new levels. I'm just trying to take care of her best I can and help her to enjoy each moment we have left together. She's much better right now on the Decadron tablets they prescribed, and can dress herself again, and is getting much better at the "word finding" thing again. She tires easily, but at least we can almost act like things are "normal"...for awhile.
thx for lettin' a tired old guy vent.
One more thing: Ladies, ask your doctor to run the CA125 blood test next checkup. I think EVERY woman should get that test, no matter what. NOBODY should have to go through what we have been, and are still going through.
Sure hope the "good aliens" really ARE coming to help soon and will release all the suppressed health-care technology that has been hidden from us by the evil ones for so long, before it's too late for my baby.
"You may say I'm a dreamer...but I'm not the only one."