Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Choreography of Caretaking

I'm starting to learn the new rhythm of the day for Vida.

What governs this rhythm?

Medicine: anesthesia, radiation, prednisone (steroids). These are so strong that they require everything else be done in response to them. You can't ask them to be forgiving, you have to get your timing down to help her body rebound from the worst of their effects. Not guerrilla warfare, but guerrilla care.

The herbs, acupressure, flower essences, reiki, and food - these all have to partner with each other and be choreographed within the framework of the medicine.

She woke up today hungry, but since she couldn't eat until after her radiation treatment she went to a bowl and drank. She hadn't gotten up at all during the night to drink, despite her evening dose of steroids, so she drank a lot. Within a few minutes she was clearly working hard to hold it down, and spent the rest of the early morning in bed. I left her alone (in part because her bowl of water included tea, which was doing some secret good inside of her).

Then she trots out to the car and hops in. This reminds me not to freak out when she's in bed looking so off.

We had a bit of a schedule glitch, ending up with a later treatment time due to a mechanical glitch. She ate her whole meal at the hospital, and the tea with me in the waiting room (not sure why she waits to drink it with me). She drank even more in the car.

She came home and looked at her empty dish. So I fed her again about an hour later. I figured that I should feed her when she wanted to eat, because later in the day she wouldn't (the previous night she finally ate at 9pm, eagerly, but only when I brought to her in bed). I put her detox tincture, herbs, and digestives in the food. I keep forgetting the fish oil, a sign that I've not quite acclimated to the new routine.

The mantra is "get the herbs in when you can."

The other mantra I'm learning is "get the herbs in when they're needed."

It seems like she gets a couple hours of high off the sweet anesthesia, then it all starts to go downhill (I joked with someone that I was worried she'd become and addict). The downside of the anesthesia hits her - her stomach is gurgling, she lays in bed looking miserable.

The ginger-mint tincture helps (she burps a little). I wash it down with some tea. I give it again a couple hours later with some astragalus tincture and make a note to start earlier with this intervention tomorrow.

I also use acupressure on Earth points (ST36, SP4), and CV12.

I've taken to making her get up every so often to walk around (don't worry, my insistence is completely hands-off). I'm glad if she stops at the bowl, but then have to stop her before she fills up too much. She walks around looking a bit delicate, the hair on her lower back rising up, a sign of discomfort I don't quite understand. I've learned that in the afternoon she just wants to relieve herself and go back to bed.

She's surprisingly warm, as if the heat of the radiation has taken over. Her pulse is a bit fast, as is her breathing. The restless breathing is what bothers me the most because it tells me she's not at ease (though she's quiet in her bed).

Now that I've given her the prednisone again I'm waiting to see if things settle down for the night. I'll probably syringe a little tea/water in later if she doesn't drink on her own (on the way back from her last trip out at night - one that I'll likely have to insist on.

I may get a TCM herb formula from Dr. Weingardt to help her stomach if I'm not able to be more effective on her own.

It's my task to find the balance point. To do what's needed when it will work best, and do it as simply as possible.

I'm glad that her treatment is on a schedule (M-F, 8am). It will help both of us get the hang of this difficult dance together. Then it will be over and we'll be on to bigger and better things. Current score: 3 down, 16 to go.
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