|What is This? That is a Lot of
One of the unavoidable consequences of being this sick is that there
are lots of symptoms to treat. While the doctors may have given up on
stopping the cancer, yet they still hope to make it possible to live a
while longer, and to do so without unavoidable pain or distress. So
because the cancer itself is growing and untreatable at this point,
they treat what symptoms they can in order to manage the symptoms.
Now having lots of symptoms means that there are lots of things to
treat, and it would seem that for each specific symptom there is a
corresponding pill or potion to counter it. As a result, I am faced
with taking what seems to me to be rather a large number of drugs
which, one by one may be understood, but which become a blur
the end of the day. What am I taking and why? Well, let's go down the
current list and see what all of this is supposed to do.
– For hypertension. I have had chronic high blood
pressure for 20+ years, and this keeps it under control. The Lisinopril
is affordable and has few side effects.
– Acid blocker. After the Whipple procedure surgery on
October 21, 2004, I had severe intestinal ulcer problems, and
Protonix is used to block the production of stomach acid. It seems to
work, and has few side effects. Unfortunately, Protonix is patented,
not available as a generic, and fairly expensive.
– Stomach/intestine coating. The Whipple
procedure surgery resulted in there being no regulation of the
production of storage of bile. This is a strong base, and can once
again cause ulcer problems. Once again, it seems to work, and has few
– Industrial strength laxative. The Whipple procedure
surgery resulted in massive internal scarring of the digestive tract.
Things will never be normal in any sense again, and the Glycolax helps
things flow around the obstructions.
– Pancreas enzyme supplement. With much of my
pancreas removed, the production of pancreas enzymes is reduced, and
the pancreas enzyme supplements are necessary to help digest food, This
is one of the generic varieties available.
– Blood thinner. I have had repeated
incidents withdeep vein thrombosis and now also with
embolism. The blood thinners are used in an attempt to keep
blood clots which cause these from forming. I was on Arixtra,
then Lovenox, and now am on warfarin. The Warfarin is an inexpensive
pill, whereas the others are very expensive injections.
– This is a potent steroid, and I am
taking it in order to reduce the swelling associated with the
metastatic bone cancer in my pelvis, ilium, sacrum, lumbar spine,
thorasic spine, and ribs. Basically it was a choice between reducing
the swelling this way, or having to take potent pain medication to deal
with the pain that the swelling causes. This steroid makes me swell up,
and turn “puffy.”
– Part of my symptom list is that I am
nearly drowning in excess phlegm. I cough up huge amounts
day, associated with the metastatic cancer which has spread to my lungs
and the lymph nodes and ducts in and around my lungs. Hyoscyamine is
being used to control of respiratory secretions so that I do not drown
quite so quickly or easily. I am still coughing up nearly a full cup of
phlegm every day, but especially at night there is less of a tendency
to get so blocked up as to drown and die right then and there. On the
other hand, it affects my voice, and makes it harder to talk more than
a little bit. There is a trade-ff with this drug.
– This is a diuretic, used to reduce the
amount of excess fluid accumulation all over, but especially in my
legs. From looking at the other drugs, I believe that it is partially
counteracting one side effect of the Dexamethasone. It has reduced the
– I consider this one to be
semi-questionable. The prescription was made to see if it would
counteract some of the peripheral neuropathy issues left over from the
chemotherapy (specifically from Oxaliplatin). I can not feel my hands
nor feet very well, and they tingle constantly, which is annoying. It
also makes it difficult to write, type, or walk. The Gabapentin is
being tried to see if it has any positive effect upon the
symptoms, and I see no positive results after a week of trying this. So
it may or may not be continued.
There are also a couple of pain killers available if I should really
need them, but I stick to nothing more potent than Acetaminophen
(Tylenol) unless things get really bad. Last year I was on
for nine months, and the side effects were terrible, plus getting back
off of it was very difficult. So unless there is a genuine screaming
need, it is to be avoided if at all possible.
Now, all of these drugs (with the exception of the lisinopril) are
being handled through hospice, because they are all related to
end-of-life care. They make the arrangements with Bunch
and we just go and pick them up. Hospice does their billing of
Blue-Cross Blue-Shield somehow, but we do not see the bills.
My pancreatic cancer blog may be found here: http://diehlmartin.com/cancer.html
Diehl Martin passed away in
October 2007. If you need to contact someone, please contact Monica Martin.
Change: Oct 18, 2007
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Contents, elements of style copyright 2006, 2007
by Diehl Martin