Day 26: Back to the hospital


Last night, Roo kept feeling worse. She struggled to sleep, and when she managed to, even her light snoring sounded uncomfortably thin and strained. Once in a while she awoke with a start and jumped up wanting to go outside. But then all she wanted to do was lie down. By dawn, she wanted to do this so often the I left her outside with the door open because I am desperately out of sleep. She didn’t want to come back in the camper. She just laid there.

I didn’t mention yesterday the disturbing conversations I’d had with the vet’s office. When I called and asked to speak to the vet at her convenience, her staff said she wouldn’t. I understand that she’s busy, operating, all that. I asked that she call me any time she gets a few minutes, no matter how late. The person at the desk said it wouldn’t happen. She was one of those people who doesn’t let you get a word in, who talks over you non-stop, saying something mundane and repetitive as if speaking to an idiot while ignoring everything you say. Finally, I had enough. The exhaustion and frustration was too much. I had already gotten the message, that they wouldn’t put me in touch with the vet, and I said, “Look, since I can’t get a word in edgewise, I’m going to hang up now,” and I did. I figured it was going to be time to have to find another vet again. The whole reason for getting rid of the last one was because of the impossibility of getting through to her at critical times — first the catheter wound from the chemo leak and the rotting skin that has now taken nearly a month to heal, and now this episode of bad sickness — and that there would not be a repeat with this one was a promise I needed, and received from her, before I transferred Roo there.

This morning when I called back, because it was obvious Roo was going to have to come in,  and they said that the vet would come in to see Roo. Roo was in bad shape and didn’t want to get in the car. She made it out of the camper. I had to lift her into the car. 

When the vet came into the exam room, I thanked her for coming in.

“I was coming in anyway,” she said. Then what was the problem in the first place and then she accused me of being rude to her staff. “You hung up on her,” she said.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said.

She’s the kind of lady who’s used to laying down the law. “I won’t tolerate it,” she said.

“I got sick of being spoken over while I was trying to explain what was wrong and she wouldn’t stop talking and I said that since I couldn’t get a word in I was going to hang up. Would you like to fire me? Go ahead. This is ridiculous.” I was steaming. Roo was lying there on the floor in distress and feeling like hell and now this bullshit.

“No, I didn’t say that,” she said.

“Then what’s the point of this? You’re the one who promised I’d never have a problem getting in touch with you. I wasn’t asking anyone to drag you out of an operating room. Just a call back at any time you could and she said to forget it, that you wouldn’t talk to me at any time. Then asked me questions and didn’t listen to any of the answers. Just interrupt every thing I said to tell me I would never get you on the phone.”

She said all right, she’d ask them about it.

She finally took a look at Roo and brought in her back. Roo was going to need a liter of IV fluids since she hadn’t been drinking all the day before, with the exception of the one drink she had when she was Virginia when I went to the pharmacy. I sat out in the waiting room, unslept for days, in a constant state of worry and sadness about Roo and now given this nonsense to steam over.

The doctor came out to tell me that Roo was being given her IV fluids. Her bloodwork looked good. Nearly normal, in fact. And her lymph nodes were normal. And an ultrasound showed no more swelling of the spleen and liver. Signs of actual clinical remission. The chemo was doing its  job.

On the other hand, the chemo was also chewing Roo up much more than it was supposed to. While in back, Roo had had a sudden bout of uncontrollable diarrhea. That brewing in her all night must have been what had been making her so uncomfortable. And she couldn’t get it to unload. All those times she wanted to go outside, and nothing, just pressure building up in her belly.

The vet said that she would have to think about using this drug again on Roo. The dose might have to be reduced or, she said, it might have to be cut out altogether. “It’s too hard on me, it’s too hard on you and it’s too hard on her,” she said. I just shut up because I didn’t think I’d do much good by wondering out loud what difference it made how hard it was on her or me.

The clinic gave me some absorbent pads to spread out and I put one in the car where Roo was going to lie down, and the poor bear had another round of the diarrhea on the way back.

“Goo girl, Chig!” I said. “Let her rip! That’s my bear!” but she was embarrassed. “Don’t worry, Little Bear,” I kept telling her, but it upset her. Back at the camper I rinsed her off and dried her, spread a few more pads out and in she went. 

She continues not to eat or drink. She’s resting more comfortably than she did last night and the diarrhea seems to have abated. If she keeps refusing to drink overnight, she’ll have to go back for more IV fluids tomorrow, and another blood count on Tuesday. It’s pretty hard on Junior. My main worry now is that if this last chemo drug isn’t supposed to hit its peak until seven to ten days after treatment, that Roo could be in for some rough days before she gets to enjoy entering remission. If she starts vomiting or if she has more uncontrollable diarrhea she’ll have to be hospitalized.

[Apologies for typos, etc. I can’t bring myself to re-read this and correct it. And again, another old picture. It just somehow seems unfair to take any pictures of Roo feeling the way she does now.]