Below is another update based on an email we sent out on 7-21-2014. This post is dated 7-25-2014, and though every detail below is still relevant, every day Ruth’s condition progresses.
With love, Brian
As many of you know, Ruth went to see her oncologist, Dr. Michele Basche, today. [7-21] We had a good, plain-spoken, tender visit. Dr. Basche made it clear that going forward, we are focussed on making Ruth comfortable and alleviating pain. We talked about Ruth’s bloated abdomen, fluid retention, the small amount of food and liquid Ruth is able to consume, plan for medications, and the course of the disease.
Ruth received several big doses of vitamins (particularly C, B17, and K) in several big bags of fluid in Tijuana. This protocol seems to help shrink, if not eradicate, tumors in some patients. We are not sure how much help this treatment was to Ruth. Unfortunately, the fluids did not stay within her digestive and vascular systems; they ballooned her legs and lower regions, and flooded her abdominal cavity.
Today, we went from her oncologist to the main hospital to see how much fluid might be drained. After a very simple and quick procedure, nearly three liters were drained. Whew!
Ruth’s abdomen is visibly smaller, and she is a little more flexible. She can probably eat and drink a little more now that there is a little more room for her stomach to receive such basics.
Though Ruth’s belly is relieved of fluids, it is still swollen by the disease in her liver – and as it turns out to still be true – other tumor locations here and there around her abdominal organs. Her condition is still very painful. Our visit with Dr. Basche confirmed the pain med regimen she is on, and improved it to address anxiety, constipation, and reflux from her stomach still doing its job even with very little food.
Very small doses of morphine are now a regular part of Ruth’s day. We have created a daily chart to track and check off the meds she takes. By staying on schedule, we are keeping Ruth fairly comfortable.
Hospice and Home Care
We had hoped to determine Ruth’s hospice protocol and set up a regular home care service today. With our day at the hospital, we intend to get these services sorted tomorrow.
Once we have these care providers in place, we can better schedule more people to visit.
We all want to know how much longer our wonderful sweet Ruth has to live. She asked her oncologist this question today. Though no one wants to put a number on it, having a sense of timing helps quell anxiety about an unknown, helps settle remaining practical life pieces (bank accounts, credit cards, car title, worldly possessions, etc.), and helps friends and family visit in a timely reasonable way.
Dr. Basche answered Ruth’s question, saying that of course there is no certainty. However, to generally set a rough idea of timing, if there was no fluid to drain (meaning the swelling was entirely due to disease), Ruth has a couple to a few weeks. If there was fluid to drain, Ruth may have a few weeks, possibly months.
We do not really know how much more time we have. We do know that we want to make our time as good as it can be.
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We will continue to update everyone as we can.
Thanks and love,