Monday, September 17, 2007

Coach House With A View...

I just got back from Peoria Saturday night, visiting La Mama at OSF St. Francis Hospital (Forest Park wing--the "coach house"). I'm cautiously optimistic right now, so my report will reflect this mood...

I went down on Thursday morning, and was really dismayed at what I saw at first--she seemed very confused and asked me what year I was in college, where she lived and where I lived. Also, her left eyelid was drooping and she was squinting a lot, making me really fear she'd had a stroke. However, the EEG results were normal, and she'd already had an MRI which was clear. Friday morning, I went with her to radiology, where they did a spinal tap to check for any problems there. Nothing. My aunt still wants to (and we concur) get a second opinion, since the symptoms are so stroke-like, and there's "something missing," as she says.

Absent the stroke diagnosis, the only thing to conclude is that the Avastin (chemo), combined with over six weeks of not eating anything substantial, plus the diarrhea from the Avastin, left her in a really weakened state and caused her brain to malfunction. Her oncologists hopes that these effects will wear off eventually. I was encouraged, too, because the more time I spent with her, the more signs I got that things were trying to "come back," so to speak. When she saw visitors from her office (and there were many--it was great), she remembered their kids' names, where they'd been on vacation, etc. It's still very "in-and-out," though, and she has patches of forgetfulness that are quite large. But she's eating regular food now (and can even hold a fork on her own, albeit shakily), and I was supervising her meals on Friday and Saturday (basically standing over her, ordering her to eat and feeding her when she wouldn't).

She will definitely need transitional occupational and physical therapy (due to the memory issues and her general weakness), but there's a terrific facility in Chillicothe, right across the street from where she lives, and they are a PPO provider, which is covered by her insurance, so she might go there. Not sure when she's leaving the hospital yet, so this is all yet to be determined. (Ironically, the facility in question was just a scary old nursing home with a different name when I was a kid--when I was in the St. Edwards kids' choir we used to sing there for the old folks and they were clearly suffering from what we now know was Alzheimer's. Amazing how things change with better management! And treatment methods.)

Thanks to everyone for the good thoughts and wishes and prayers! They are much appreciated...

Oh, and Taylor Joans (Ross) and I laid down the initial foundation of Ed-Joans-as-Carol Ann's new song, "You'll Never Find Another Woman Like Me." It needs a bridge or final verse, and maybe a key change, but so far it's peppy and fun and a little spicy. It's the Taco Bell of pop music.


Anonymous Sarah said...

Second opinions don't hurt. Sounds like a lot of what she's going through is related to exhaustion and malnutrition. I'm sure seeing your pretty face and your nagging her to eat helped her a good deal.

1:13 PM  

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