Friday, December 12, 2008

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1115 - Nostrils above the water line


I've had quite a few personal inquiries about my health this month. It's simply not characteristic for me to have written so little. You can sometimes infer problems from brevity or infrequency, from excessive use of parenthetical expressions, and occasional over-reliance on pictures or vain attempts at humour.

So, I've waited patiently for energy to return only to discover that I required a blood transfusion (my hemoglobin having fallen from 97 to 77 since leaving hospital for home care). I've turned away visitors in the hope that regaining my flagging energy had an inverse relationship with the number of people I saw face-to-face each day. There is a relationship, of course, but nothing so simple as a direct inverse correlation.

Trying to find an appropriate balance of baseline and break-through medication as well as deal with the additional muscle spasm pain has meant becoming totally obsessed with numbers, intervals, and responding to slight variations in my 0-10 pain scale throughout all my waking moments. In addition, it became overwhelmingly obvious that I was no longer able to hold apart the barriers between my own private world of thoughts, reflections and outright dreaming from conversations and behaviour acceptable in the "real world". [I don't know how many times I'd catch myself watching my wife and sons trying to figure out if something I just said or did was a prelude to a hallucination, a full-blown hallucination, or an "aha" moment in which they had just been privileged participants to the world of genius that is Don Spencer.]

So I will simply bring that material back into the public arena as I can and let you judge for yourself.

In the past week, I've had a full-day at the Grand River Regional Cancer Cancer for a blood transfusion. I've been learning more about morphine and some of the other pain medications available. For now, we'll stick with what appears to be working; namely 10-mg dosages of morphine administered as the break-through medicine. This means, all other things being equal, that I'm actually taking less morphine than earlier in my treatment. The baseline is fentanyl 50-mg dosages administered over 72 hours. The spasms I'm deal with by shifting my body position and realizing that they won't last long.

When the pain is under control, I'm watching more great HD-TV shows with my wife, tracking how the Raptors respond to their new coach,  using the wheel chair to navigate around the house, and visiting for short periods with friends.

Thank you to all who have kept in regular contact as I struggle with pain. You can probably expect fewer posts in the immediate future as we get the basic daily routine perfected. But there's nothing preventing you from offering your own ideas and reflections!


Anita Mix said...

Great to hear from you again, Don!

the.yurkiws said...

If there is anything that we can do to support you or your family please let us know (it is sometimes difficult to know where the line is between friends/acquanticies/people from the same church). We are here and are willing to help in any way that we can.

The Yurkiw Family (Bill, Andrea, Kyle, Cole)

Brie said...

Sorry the Raptors aren't giving you better news! :-)

Thinking of you

mar said...

Hi Don - been away and thought I'd check in on you to see how you are doing. This is pretty cool! I am a blog virgin so not sure if you get this back or how this works but thank you for sharing your journey. I know you have many friends, relatives, colleagues and probably total strangers rooting for you and keeping you in their thoughts and prayers..... Mar

Joyce Barrette said...

Hi Don-
Have been thinking of you through the years. Funny how they seemed to have passed us by. Have heard your ups & downs through mutual friends. I hope you don't mind that Brie sent me your blog. I have wanted to let you know that we have thought about you lots, & know that it has been a very rough go for you & the family. I'm not sure I would know the boys if I past them on the street. Hard to believe that they are all adults now. (Well maybe????lol)
I haven't had a chance to read your blog as of yet, but I am sure that it will be a very good read. You always had a way with words.
Well, I just want to say that you are in our thoughts & very sorry that you have to go through this.