Sunday, January 18, 2009

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1152 - Mobility and Strength


We chose home palliative care because of one thing - quality of life.

When I was still in hospital recovering from a series of serious medical problems issuing from chemotherapy treatments, it became apparent to all of my medical team that my quality of life was quickly reaching a critical low point. Both legs had extreme edema, one with  life-threatening blood clots. And that was just the beginning of a litany of problems, none of which were direct results of the metastatic colorectal cancer with which I had been diagnosed.  Instead, they were results of treatment, not the disease. Quality of life had become a farce.

If somehow I had known what the future would bring by starting treatment with Avastin, I would obviously have opted to avoid chemotherapy completely. I would be mobile and in relatively good health. Yes, I would still have to face growth of the lesions in the liver and in the abdominal walls. But that would take time, and there were - at the time - no symptoms causing immediate health problems.

Given what would have been good mobility, strength, clarity of thought, etc, there would have been more choices available to me.

I might have considered continuing my career. Or I might have considered building my physical conditioning. I might have considered a kind of semi-retirement with time for travel. I might have ...

But here we are.

I am struggling daily with physical pain, mobility and strength. But I am making some progress while the disease continues its inevitable march towards something from which I can never recover. The way I look at it, though, is that any and all progress is worth celebrating.

Progress is about quality of life - mobility, strength, personal choice and control over bodily functions. Last week, here's what I achieved:

  • walking in small areas around the house with the use of the walker or the cane
  • less use of break-through pain killers (better management and control)
  • clean up under my own strength and out-of-bed for standard things like washing up, brushing my teeth, flossing, etc.
  • negotiated non-pharmacological approach to some pain management by committing to more physical movement and "exercise" thereby reducing the dosage of maintenance drugs

These are items for celebration.

Finally, I'd like to reassert our gratitude to family, friends, colleagues, correspondents, etc. who continue to express their support for us through calls, emails, and personal visits (call first!).


Anonymous said...

I've said it before, I'll say it again.

You are THE man!

Way West

Jan Antoon Marien said...

Hello Don

I found your site because last year you made a link to my site in an article about CP Snow's A coat of Varnish. I have been reading a few of your texts and I'd like to congratulate you on your courage. Fine job you do in your site.
Raise high the roof beam, carpenter!
Greetings from the other side of the world,
Jan Antoon Marien

brie said...

Well, it's been at least 36 hours without a snowfall, so I'm celebrating by dropping by!

Thinking of you in sun (what is THAT?), snow, sleet and ... :-)