Saturday, 12 July 2014

Don't lose hope by Rama (Disclaimer: Hospital Guide Foundation provides a neutral platform for Patients/attendants & Doctors to express their opinions/experiences. These views are of the writer.)

I would like to share the difficult moments which we underwent during the treatment of my husband.  It was way back in 2012, when we were happily settled in Coimbatore after a hectic life in Mumbai where both of us were working.  We used to shuttle between Coimbatore and Bangalore, where our both the daughters were settled after marriage, to spend some time with our grandchildren.

In January, 2012, one day my husband suddenly complained of severe stomach pain and went to the doctor.  There the Dr. prescribed some pain killers and asked him to go for an ultra sound.  We then went to the family doctor who asked us to go for a ct scan immediately, though the pain had subsided by then.  The CT scan showed some mass in the gall bladder area and we consulted a senior surgeon who said that the patient has to undergo an operation for removal of the mass and further investigation.  So with the help of our family doctor, my husband underwent all the tests before the operation and he was found to be ok in all the tests.  On 30th January, 2012, he underwent an open surgery and even while undergoing the operation, the mass was sent for a pathological test and that gave me the shock of my life, my husband is suffering from cancer of the gall bladder.  The surgeon removed the gall bladder and advised us to see a oncologist for further treatment.  This news gave me a terrible shock, I started thinking why God has given me this again, 20 years back my father died of cancer.  But I was assured by the surgeon that things have improved a lot in the last 20 years and we should have a positive approach.  

Our next visit was to the oncologist.  He went through the reports and told us that my husband has to undergo chemotherapy once in 15 days for six months.  The oncologist was very positive and he assured us that he is confident of treating him and that we should also have a positive approach.  At this point, I should surely mention about the way my husband took the whole thing, he was very.......... positive and was so confident that he will be out of it.  The whole family, particularly my daughters and the sons-in-laws were so supportive.  They decided in consultation with their family doctor, that we will continue the treatment in Bangalore.  Thus started our visits to the hospital every 15 days for the chemotherapy.  One day before the chemo, he was asked to undergo blood tests. The oncologist was very helpful and the whole staff of the hospital were very cooperative.  We followed the instructions of the doctor strictly and the whole treatment went on very smoothly.  Sometimes he vomited and was little down at times because of the food restrictions and restrictions on his movement outside the house.  But we regularly went on our daily walks, we visited Coimbatore twice during the treatment.  My husband did not lose his hair and jokingly he used to tell people that he had to spend money for a haircut!!  After the six months chemo, the oncologist took a pet scan and we were very happy with the result, the cancer has not spread and he now requires only a regular medical check up once in three months.

We went back to our house in Coimbatore and resumed our routine.  My husband was very happy, back to his friends and his regular badminton.  We had our regular check ups and  slowly even forgot the chemos and other treatments.  We started visiting our family functions, marriages etc.  We even went on a holiday to Kodaikanal with our daughters, sons-in-law and the grandchildren.

After a period of 8 months since his last chemo, my husband suddenly developed itching all over the body.  There was no other problem, but the itching became unbearable.  We consulted even a dermatologist who said that it may be due to the dry weather of Bangalore.  We tried all sorts of lotions and creams.  Then one day in the mid of the night, after going to the toilet, he told me that he passed some blood.  We got worried with this development and next day early morning we called up our oncologist who advised us to go for a LFT.  I must mention here one thing, all the doctors inspite of their busy schedules, were always responding to us though we called them any time of the day or night.  Immediately my husband went for a LFT and the report showed very high level of bilirubin.  Then started our ordeal of visits to the doctors - oncologist, urologist, liver specialist etc.  Inspite of stenting two times, his bilirubin went on increasing and the sodium level went down.  The doctors said that it is due to a block in the bile duct - obstructive jaundice.  After the first two months during which time he was hospitalised 3-4 times, we could see that he was becoming weak day by day.  His daily routine got affected and was becoming quite irritated.  With even a slightest strain, he was developing high fever.  The bilirubin level was constantly on the rise.  During this time the oncologist asked us to go for a Pet scan, the report showed that the cancer might have resurfaced, the report was not very clear, but the oncologist felt that the disease has surfaced again, but is progressing very slowly.  The oncologist wanted to again try chemo for him, but only after the bilirubin level comes down.  But that did not happen at all.  My husband started having water retention in the body, his abdomen, feet were swollen, he was finding it difficult to move around.  The doctors pumped out the water from his abdomen, but that did not give him much relief.  We could see that his condition was deteriorating, our family doctor told us that his condition is worsening and nothing much could be done.  One day the surgeon who had operated him visited the patient in the hospital.  He told us since nothing much could be done at this point, better to go for palliative treatment.  We followed his advise.  My husband was brought home and we tried to make him as comfortable as possible.  Though he was getting a little frustrated as he started depending on us for even going to the toilet, yet he still had a positive approach to the whole thing.  Never he said that he is fed up with the treatment, only he was a little scared of the pain he had when they were piercing needles for the intravenous injections and the drips.  It is this positive approach which gave him and also us the strength to fight the disease.

  Then on 22nd September, 2013, his sister, brother and some more relatives had just left after visiting him, I insisted that he should  have a bath and eat his lunch.  He was reluctant for having a bath as he required help, which I was always ready to do.  He had his bath, ate his simple lunch and went to bed.  Around 3.30 pm he called me, said he wants to go the toilet, I helped him get up from the bed, he got up, but was not steady, he started collapsing.  I called my son-in-law who came and held him, but then my husband was breathing very heavily.  My daughter tried to get his pulse, but could not and we could see him passing away from us.  The doctor was called and he said that 'he is no more'.  Thus came his end at 3.50pm.  The end was quite peaceful.

All this experience of nearly 18 months has made me quite strong to face any adversaries.  If we are destined to suffer we have to.  In these trying times, it is the positive approach of the patient and the family support gives us all the strength.  What I wish to share with others who are in the same condition, don't lose hope, have a positive approach, follow the doctor's advise, have faith in the doctors and above all in the God almighty.  

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