It’s been a while since I’ve updated everyone on how Mother Hen (a.k.a. Mom) is doing. And wow, a lot has happened. Warning: this one is a bit long!
At the beginning of December she had a chemo treatment directly into the brain via an Ommaya Reservoir. All well and good, and she’s had these for a while. The side-effects of the chemo usually go away after 3 or 4 days and we couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t doing its normal pattern. Then she got worse. Then she started loosing her balance. Then she got delirious, and I mean scary-delirious!
On a Sunday we took her to the emergency room and we found out that her shunt valve that controls her Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus had been adjusted to a dangerously low setting after the chemo treatment. Turned out her condition was made worse by a UTI infection, and we already know that those really affect her state of mind. We went home with antibiotics, shunt adjusted back to where it should be, and we thought we might be able to get her back on her feet again…
Wednesday afternoon she had a Grand Mal seizure. There’s a whole story around that, but suffice it to say that it ended up with her being medivaced to Phoenix in a helicopter. She doesn’t remember the flight, which she’s still miffed about as she’s always wanted to fly in one. Hehe, yeah, that’s our Mother Hen. 😛
They found out with this visit that her sodium levels were way too low (this can sometimes happen with infections). The emergency room doctor just shook his head and said, “Shunt adjusted too low, UTI infection, and too low sodium? It was a perfect storm for this kind of seizure to happen.”
In other words, no wonder it happened!
It really knocked Mother Hen sideways, though. A week in the hospital to stabilize her was then followed by nearly a month in a Skilled Nursing Facility (and wow, did she have a great one!) because she needed too much care for us to handle at home. She needed daily physical therapy to get the strength and balance back to a tolerable level. She’s not as strong, balanced, or coordinated as before the seizure, but at least we were able to bring her home.
Whew. Yeah, all that blew away all of December, and about half of January. As a consequence, we feel like we never did have a proper winter. Holidays? Um, did those happen somewhere in there? Can’t remember…
There is good news in all this. The MRI at the beginning of December showed no tumor growth. The checkup MRI at the beginning of March was identical to the one in December.
Yay! No new tumor growth!
Now back to bad news…
Mother Hen cracked a tooth badly in the Grand Mal seizure AND took a big chip out of her front tooth. Yes, she clenched her teeth that bad (and there was blood all over the place. Superficial wounds to the inside of her mouth, thank goodness). She doesn’t remember the seizure at all (YAY! That’s something I don’t want her to remember), but that front top chipped tooth?
It makes her feel ugly. It’s been horribly deflating to her self-esteem. She sees it every time she looks in the mirror.
See, Mother Hen has always been a lady. For my sister and I, we never had to worry about being embarrassed by our mother. When she came to school she represented us well. She dressed up. She put on her makeup. She did up her hair. And always, and I mean always, she had a smile and a good word for everyone around her.
Now she feels like she lost some of that.
Of course she hasn’t, but sometimes the cruel voices inside don’t shut up despite the truth.
The cracked tooth broke down to the gum line and took with it the crown and part of two fillings. The jagged pieces are creating sores in her mouth. It obviously needs to be removed. Today, we had a dentist look at it to let us know the approximate cost (he agreed it needed to be pulled because of how it cracked and broke away).
Even worse? Thanks to the radiation and chemo, and the ongoing chemo, and the meds that are causing bad chronic dry-mouth, the dentist confirmed what I already suspected: Mother Hen will eventually lose all her teeth. All of the above is causing them to rot away and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. All we can do is help her teeth last as long as possible.
The tooth that needs to be pulled will, unfortunately, be the first of many.
This has been devestating to her. She’s always taken care of her teeth. Not so many years ago she had a dentist compliment her and tell her that she would be a person who would likely die with all her original teeth.
Now to the other hard part: The cost to pull it will be $200-300 depending on how difficult it is to get out.
Ever feel like the universe is conspiring against you?
We finally get Mother Hen good insurance that is paying for both her medical care and expensive prescriptions… only to go right smack into a situation where there is no insurance coverage.
We did find an understanding dentist. He is coming in on a day off next week to pull the tooth after she recovers from her upcoming chemo treatment. Because of how the chipped top front tooth has affecting her mentally (Mother Hen finds it very depressing), he is even going to fix it without demanding same-day payment. Wow. That was really kind of him.
But it will still be an expense. The fund I had put together to fix the car air conditioning so we could get Mother Hen to and from treatments without giving her heat stroke (and trust me, AC in a car is a must in an Arizona desert summer!) is now going towards this emergency dental bill.
I feel bad about asking, considering how very generous so many were when Mother Hen was diagnosed with this cancer. The generosity meant she could have the radiation treatment when it was originally going to be denied (this was before we were able to get her insurance). It greatly increased her chance of survival, and I think it worked. She’s already outlived the average survival rate of someone with a Stage 4 Glioblastoma brain tumor.
I’m asking for generosity once more, on her behalf. To give her a little bit of her smile back, as well as to pull the teeth that are now beyond hope and prevent them from hurting her mouth or causing other health issues (she certainly doesn’t need more!).
I do want to give something back. So, here is my offer. A free ebook to anyone who donates to Mother Hen, and YOU get to pick the ebook. Just email me through the contact page here on my site with a note that you donated, the amount so I can match it up, and what book you would like and preferred format. Yes, this includes the Salmon Run, The String Weavers, and the Redpoint One books. It ALSO includes the upcoming release of the next book of The String Weavers (out within a week or so), and the next Salmon Run book (out in about 2 months)!
List of books available: http://www.starcatcherpub.com/category/authors/jamarlow/
Thank you to everyone for your kind words and thoughts. Through all of this they have meant a lot to both myself and my family, and of course, to Mother Hen.
PS: To those who donated for her initial treatment, please contact me. The above offer also applies to you. Thanks!