Thursday, February 4, 2010

Let's Just See How I Am Doing

They say no news is good news but when there is news... do we really want to hear it?

Some say "yes, course we do", while others will say "it all depends on the severity". For me, I always say give it to me straight, good or bad because like it or not, that's just the way it is.

So when Dr. Siu informed me on January 25 that the cancer had grown slightly since my last CT-Scan in November, I wasn't surprised. I could sense it. I had been struggling with shortness of breath at times and this coughing at night was driving me crazy. The reality is that things are getting worse and I now know I need further help to manage.

At the conclusion of my last appointment it was decided that I would go on Tarveca, an inhibitor cancer drug that can, in small cell lung patients, slow down or stop the progression of cancer. Of course this is not a cure nor is there a guarantee it will work but hopefully it will buy me more a little more time in the long run. It was also decided at this appointment that Dr. Siu would arrange for oxygen at night for me and I am too continue with my puffers during the day. All of this medication would all help to make me feel better and keep my quality of life more normal.

Now this is where the story gets interesting. You see, I have never been one for doing something easy. In fact, both Jennifer and I have always done things the hard way. For example, Trent was two years in the making. Some may call that the 'fun way' but when you're eager to have your first child, two years is a long time to wait.

So I arrive home with my medication Tarceva and take the first pill on the first day. On the second day, I take two pills and for the next four days, two pills each day. Unfortunately, when Saturday morning arrived I decided to count the number of pills left which were to last me a month and the numbers did not add up. I did not have enough pills left to finish the month.

As foolish as one can be, I ended up figuring out that I did not read the literature properly and instead of being short pills, I was taking too many pills and therefore overdosed on my supply of Tarceva. I took two per day instead of the prescribed one. A rash like no other rash developed on my face, neck, scalp and torso. I was getting as red as the brightest strawberry and as itchy as the biggest summer mosquito bite brings. After figuring out my blunder, I immediately called the hospital to see if I was going to die earlier than expected and spoke with a doctor at Princess Margaret Hospital who ended up being the boss of my doctor, Dr. Siu.

The doctor asked me a few questions pertaining to my general health and after I bored him with what I thought was a lengthy history of my congenital heart problems and numerous cancer treatments, he simply said, "oh". Then continued, "well you seem to be doing OK if after four days of taking the extra pills you're still standing. But please stop taking them immediately and don't take anymore until you see your doctor on Monday."

And so I did. For a week now I have suffered with the rash, even after getting some cream and an antibiotic following my appointment February 1st. I am still horribly embarrassed, however, considering my history with medications and my stupidity in overdosing and potentially cutting my life even shorter than it is. So people, that's why it is so very important to read your prescription bottle directions every time you take it. And don't forget to read the inside sheets of your prescription detailing all side effects as well.

Today, February 4, I am finally feeling better. My scalp doesn't itch, my face is no longer apple red and fatigue is not dragging my ass around the house slowly. I can now focus again on going back Monday Febraury 8 to Toronto for another blood test with hope of getting back on Tarceva and YES... taking the dose correctly. Perhaps then and with the good grace of God I can stick around a whole lot longer.


Just wanted to pass along thanks to a few people who have helped us in the past few weeks with rides and just for being there when I need someone to talk too. Andy Wasson, Ed Burke, and Jamie Batley have all driven me to Toronto recently. They are good friends and their time from work and family to drive me is greatly appreciated... Katrina Brumpton was the first person I called when I realized I overdosed on my pills. Katrina works at PRHC and she helped to calm me down and gave me great advice on what to do and who to call next.

Knowing I have these great people in my life helps me understand why I was selected to bear all of my illnesses. I have tried hard all my life to be a good friend to those who have treated me with respect and who have accepted me for who I am in spite of all of my health shortcomings. The time has come for me to slow down and allow some of that hard work to gently fall on the shoulders of my true friends. They don't just help me because they feel sorry for me. They do it because they know I have earned their friendship, their trust and their love. And that is exactly what friendship is all about.

Thanks for reading and sharing...

Next blog... February 15, 2010... Dog Day Afternoon


Joanne said...

Oh my Goodness Barry...I feel awful for the torture you endured from 'overdosing'...But I have to admit, I was laughing at your awsome description of it!!
I am glad to hear the Dr.'s are trying a new drug, and I keep you and your family in my prayers that it works.
You have gone through far more than any one person should have to in a lifetime. You are a real fighter and a true inspiration.
Take Care =)

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry, When I read your blog I started to tear up. This is very unlike old stone face me. I thought that it is so unfair that someone who has had so many struggles and dealt with each of them so well, now has to face all this.It could also be that Diane's friend Liz is facing the same outcome. A more honest and harmless person than certainly most of the rest of the population. Cancer seems to be ravaging our family and it is just so sad. Keep up the good fight. I think about you each and every day.....Lorraine