I went to my appointment with Dr. Eulau yesterday with the assumption that we were going to radiate my lung tumor to help relieve my cough.
He didn't seem to share my assumption, although he said we could do it. He seemed to want to make it clear that this would be a "quality of life" issue and would not prolong my life. Again, it's palliative care.
I understand that, but I asked why the radiation would not get rid of the tumor entirely, why it would just shrink it. I don't think I got a clear answer to that question. Or I missed the answer. According to Andrea's notes, he said it was "unlikely" we'd get rid of the tumor completely.
The treatment would include a set-up appointment, and then three weeks of daily treatments, Monday through Friday. These treatments are quite short, just 10-minute appointments.
The cough is caused by the tumor pressing on some nerves. I forgot to ask if my cough would get worse as the tumor continues to grow. I also forgot to ask if the tumor could cause other problems if we don't treat it.
The radiation could cause irritation to my esophagus, not pain but dryness or a burned feeling, with difficulty swallowing hot or dry foods. This would get better two to four weeks after treatment.
The radiation would also cause tiredness or fatigue--which I believe is a result of low blood counts. And there is the possibility of damage to the lung. We didn't write down the details about this.
Andrea wrote, "He seemed reluctant to do radiation if your cough is not too bad. Suggested to try the meds (codeine) more consistently and take an hour before bedtime, so that the codeine is in the blood stream by the time you want to sleep."
I agreed to try this at least until Monday and then give him a call on Monday to discuss any further questions and also to let him know if I want to set up the planning session for the radiation.
We also talked about my depression and lack of appetite and he suggested considering marijuana pills to increase my appetite. Of course, I'd have to discuss that with my "depression team" at Harborview.
So where am I at? I took a walk this morning with another friend and talked about it. Being outside and being with my friend didn't seem to do anything for my black depression. Sometimes it was even hard to talk.
I don't know if I am going to go ahead with the radiation or not. I can make a decision on Monday when I call Dr. Eulau, or I can let it slide. I don't see Dr. Lee again for almost a month.
I guess the big question is whether or not the cough bothers me enough to go through with this. Sometimes I feel one way, sometimes the other. Stay tuned.
@ Jeanne Sather 2013