Thursday, August 11, 2005

Week Two - Part Three

I know how to get to Dr. LaDue's office now, but head out of the door early again thinking I might need extra time if Tank has a problem getting in the car. He did but not because he's still zonked.

Weakness, perhaps. Except for the pizza Tuesday night, he hadn't eaten much of anything for a while. But more likely it's that he's exhausted and sore. He gets in as far as he can as best he can. I hoist his butt up and in the rest of the way and we're set.

I arrive early, again. ("Early is always better than late!" I'd been told.) Tank gets on the scale when I tell him to. The measure is in kilograms (which I can't translate into pounds but that's how the dosage of whut.ever is determined) and he's dropped several since just yesterday.

He will not leave the waiting room with the attendant.

"I'll take him." But I can't go in back this time and doubt I will be able to again. We're now in the treatment schedule when the real business occurs back there. Tank and the others like him are their focus, not me.

So I lead him down the hallway. She takes his lead and quietly closes the door between us before Tank notices. Behind the closed door I can hear him panting as he stops, realizing I'm not there. As I walk away I hear a fading voice saying, "Come on, Tank. It's okay, big boy. Your mommy's not leaving you. Come on, Tank. It's okay, big boy. Gooood boy. You're such a good boy . . ."

This is a 30 minute appointment at most from beginning to end. All Tank has to have done today is injection of the next chemical in the regimen.

I sit down and open the book I'd brought with me to read. I notice for the first time that the woman sitting on one of the couches is very quietly crying.

I don't know what say. I don't know what to do. I don't even know what I'm doing. I'm too new at this.

One of the things Dr. LaDue had said was that I should expect to feel overwhelmed at times. That it's okay. It's normal with so much thrown at me so fast in such little time. I'm beginning to think that she wasn't talking about only the medical aspects.

I go outside, pace the parking lot and smoke a cigarette. I come back in as Erin is showing the woman into an examination room, the same one Tank and I had been in the day before.

It's taking longer than it should have. I try to read a magazine. Someone (I'd been introduced to but whose name I don't remember) came out a few minutes later with Tank. Tank's healing is depressed because of the chemo. When they took out the staples in his leg from where the lymph node had been removed, the incision opened up all over again. Cleaned out, restapled. Keep an eye out for this and that and a review of the "be on the lookouts for" because of THIS chemical, more written material, and we were out of there!

Get home. Tank's drinking water but he still won't eat. Refuses to eat. But I have to so

Friday I fix myself a sandwich for lunch. For the first time in two weeks Tank plants himself in his normal "I'm-not-really-begging-but-if-you-drop-something-I'll-clean-it-up-for-you" position.

I offered him a bit of my ham and cheese sandwich but he won't touch it. An hour or so later I offered him a slice of ham but he won't touch it.

We're talking Sara Lee™, here boys and girls. It's expensive. (I won't buy it because it's so high priced. Hubby did.) And Tank won't even look at it.

Instead of the whole slice I tried a small piece. Nope! Hubby said to let him give it a try. He placed it on top of Tank's paw.

Tank started licking his paw — he's always had this thing about washing his feet — and somewhere along the way that little piece of ham disappeared. So did the next piece. And the one after that. And the next one after that.

Tank's total food intake that afternoon: two slices of Sara Lee smoked ham and one slice of Sara Lee smoked turkey, but hey! He'd eaten!

Later that night when we human were taking our dinner plates back into the kitchen . . .

(Let me correct a misconception you might have by now. We do not feed table scraps, Ever. A bit of pizza crust now and again and occasionally some gristle from a steak. Or if something hits the floor while we're cooking, but then they — the Wonderdog, most of the time; Tank always — wait until we tell them they can have it. Any more than that and the Wonderdog might . . . it can take days to bring his digestive tract back under control and clean up after. That's the nicest way I can put it and I'm sure you get the idea.)

. . . Tank followed us, his expression saying, "Please! Drop something!"

Saturday — it took him all day to finish — he ate his regular (except softened) feed and had started scoffing down treats again. He's still panting but it's easier and the wheeze is gone.

Patterns. You get into patterns. They become such a normal part of your life somewhere along the way you don't realize they even exist. They just are until they aren't because something's wrong.

Saturday afternoon I find Tank lying on the couch in his standard "I hate thunderstorms!" position and notice the sound of distant thunder. He hasn't given a hoot about it since the beginning of the month. That night when I go to bed he slowly comes up and lies beside me, pushing my hand around with his nose for his good-night ear scritch. He does not sleep by my side of the bed, but where he has for years.

Sunday morning the Wonderdog, as always, shoves by me and then takes off when I open the door to let them out. Tank waits, then follows the Wonderdog at his more mature pace. Not slow and sickly like he's been doing, but . . . and then he runs after him.

Not long or far. When I finally catch up Tank's on the ground, happily wiggling on his back in a patch of tall grass.

I'm my mother's child. If you're sick you should eat. Keep your strength up! Tank's still not eating normally but I'm not sure what the new normal is or even if there is one. The goal is to get him back on his NORMAL feed but push it too fast OR give him something strange to encourage his appetite could result in vomiting or diarrhea, both of which are warning signs that he's having an adverse reaction to the chemo.

If Tank turns his nose away from what's in his bowl is he doing so because he's feeling nauseosus? Or is it because he's discovered he much prefers Sara Lee™? I don't know the answers.

I also have to monitor Tank's bowel movements for things like if they're too loose and / or for signs of blood. Except, Tank's always been a private "dumper." I respect that. Or I did.

Even from a far distance I know his funny little trot. Then he circles twice to the left, stops . . . and he's done. Except now I have to see what he's done and in order to make sure it's not something he left earlier or from the Wonderdog . . .

Tank looks at me in disgust, moves (in that funny little "It's time!" way of his) somewhere else, far away from where I am. So I go trotting after him.

Tank looks at me with increased disgust, then goes (in that funny little "It's time!" way of his) somewhere else. And I go trotting after him. Eventually he gives up and goes.

Except for all of that trotting shit Monday and Tuesday were good. Still no sign of an adverse reaction and we're close to getting Tank back on his regular feed, too.

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