Daniel warned us there would be dark days; the last few have been just that. On Saturday and Sunday he tolerated his tube feedings but was plagued by mild nausea. We anticipated a good week with weight gain, but at about 4:45 and then again at 5:30 on Monday morning, Daniel experienced extreme and sudden nausea followed by intense vomiting. We all know how unnerving it is to vomit, but for Daniel the irritation is exacerbated by his cancer. Every time the vomit contacts the tumor, his pain worsens. This drains him physically and also mentally because he anticipates what will happen if he "eats."
Daniel was scheduled for radiation on Monday at 12:30, and we kept that appointment. His tongue had developed a white coating a couple of days prior to that, and so we saw the doctor to ask him about it. He explained that Daniel was experiencing mucositis, a common side-effect of radiation. Briefly, radiation breaks down the cancer cells, which makes the mucosal tissue susceptible to ulceration and infection. Thankfully, the doctor said he saw no infection yet. The trade-off for Daniel is that the radiation has lessened the pain of the cancer itself, but now he is beginning to experience its nasty consequences. He is constantly irritated by mucous; unfortunately, he doesn't have the strength to clear his mouth as he would like, and honestly it just hurts. Tonight, he's using a suction machine, which is providing welcomed relief. We will be getting one for home soon. The doctor weighed Daniel, which brings us to today's hospitalization. He had lost another three and a half pounds since last week. You must remember, though, that he had chemotherapy last Tuesday, which meant little or no food the following couple of days, and he had the PEG tube placement last Thursday, which meant no food eight hours prior to the procedure. He didn't get to eat anything until Friday morning at about 10:00 - a couple of bites of JELL-O and one practice tube feeding. So really, last week was a bust food-wise. Daniel has lost almost 24 pounds since April 9.
On Monday evening and again this morning, Daniel consumed very small amounts of tube feeding, but this morning, he vomited again. He had decided last night that he would ask Dr. Gilbert today to admit him to build up his strength and hopefully help him adjust to the feedings; he also thought he should be switched to a continuous pump rather than intermittent syringe feeding. His visit with her started out something like this, "I don't mean to tell you how to do your job, but . . ." She said he was exactly correct. What else would one say to Daniel! He went to radiation after that and then was sent to the chemo infusion area for fluids. Unlike last Thursday, we were given a room within a couple of hours.
He has rested for most of the evening but is actually channel-surfing at the moment. The new chemo he's on causes ringing in his ears and magnifies other noises, so he's wearing earplugs. I'll probably have hearing loss because he's really cranked up the volume on the TV!
Daniel is very sick. As much as all of us are hurting, I can only imagine how he feels. All of you know how he loves life, strangers, adventure, running, climbing, music, worship, friends, and family. Every day he fights for all of that. His stalwart faith inspires us all, but he really needs you now. Pray for him. He covets that. We covet that. I know you are praying, but lift him up to the Father even more. While he is weak, help us stand in his place. Daniel may be slight in body right now, but his spiritual shoes are hard to fill.
For now, I praise God for suction machines, continuous feed pumps, loud TVs, and a few good minutes.
Specific prayer requests:
1. success for the new method of feeding
2. courage and increased faith
3. manageable side-effects
4. to stay close to God and focused on Him
6. prayers of thanks for Daniel's medical team
Blessings to you all,
"Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all His benefits." -Psalm 103:2