This process, watching someone you love suffer, pushes you beyond control. A week of radiation to his spine and sternum took its toll. By Thursday, not even the end of the treatment, the “spike” that the radiation technicians and the oncologist spoke of, started to occur. I have to say, “spike” is hardly the right word. The pain was so intense, so relentless that nothing seemed to touch it. It was accompanied by retching, vomiting and nausea. What’s the difference between the three? With nausea you constantly feel the desire to throw up, with vomiting, you actually do throw up, with retching, there is nothing left to throw up but you continue to heave and heave and heave. They provided meds to assist with these symptoms, but all the meds were oral. No sooner did he take them than he threw them up. The risk for dehydration was huge, and the consequences of dehydration were frightening. We went to the hospital on Friday and they gave an injection for the pain and for nausea.
The next day, Saturday, we had the community care nurse attend the house, and thankfully, she provided a schedule designed to aggressively respond to the situation. Although everyone is different, the nurse informed us that the reaction to radiation is extreme, the pain intense, but that it would pass after about 72 hours. The key is to stick to the schedule, even waking up the patient to take pain medication if necessary (including through the night). It’s Sunday, and God willing, it appears that we have passed the low point. Now its just the fatigue of a battle well fought that is setting it.
No one prepares you for any of this stuff.