Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Only A Little Bit Behind Time

Despite my "low hei" (defined in English as 'she who exhibits dilatory tendencies') cousin's comment about being behind the times, I am not that late in reporting progress. Mind you she could have picked up the phone and amused Lin for a while!

So where was I? Yes, Monday we had our second meeting with Prof John Wong at NUH. We reviewed (at least he did) a number of things and discussed modalities. Two choices: Xeloda (capecitabine which is taken orally and is then converted in the anti-cancer drug 5Fu) plus a couple more intravenously, or all drugs intravenously.

This was decided by Lin's hands which are dry and peeling. JW said he was concerned about administering chemo because it does cause problems with hands and feet and if Lin's hands did not improve he would have reservations about starting chemo.

(We had already visited Roy Chan at the National Skin Centre and he had recommended that Lin wash his hands less often and slather moisturiser on hands and feet, in fact all over. A skin scraping tested negative for a fungal condition).

So we have got moisturising cream and he dutifully puts it on a few times a day;  after each meal he carefully cleans his obturator and mouth - protecting his hands with surgical type gloves. And he goes to bed with a pair of white gloves to keep his hands moisturised.

Challenge: Try to finding plain cotton gloves (not dress gloves) in Singapore!

After the visit to JW, Lin had a couple of x-rays because he felt pain across the back of his shoulders. The x-rays showed only normal wear and tear, so I have been applying some Voltaren cream on it.

JW travels a lot and has many commitments because of his vast portfolio, but he has an extremely competent nurse clinician, Edna, who dots the i's and crosses the t's. And follows up every step of the way.

So, blood work has been done (last Thursday before the Vesak Day public holiday) and this morning he's having a bone density test.

This will be followed up with another visit to the Prof on June 10, a port-a-cath installation on June 11 and the first installment of chemo on June 14. It's my birthday; I could think of better things we could be doing on that day but given the circumstances this is the best thing Lin could be doing.

After that we will see how the drugs get along with his body; pray and hope they're compatible so that side effects are relatively mild and treatment can continue.

However, if there are adverse reactions or any hitches there's the whole of NUH to draw upon. It's not like going to a stand alone clinic and having to go from pillar to post to get one thing or another checked or attended to.

These past ten days or so, we have had a chance to briefly experience the seamless way in which they work and are integrated into the NUH system. Of course, credit must go to the management and administration for the smooth running of the background chores which make it possible to walk to one's appointments without sheaves of paper. And for the results to come up onscreen when the medical staff need it.

If there was one thing I would suggest, it is to have wireless installed at the cancer centre so that I (and others) could use our time more productively while waiting!

By the way, he's been better about his eating. And JW's weaning him off sleeping aids - so far so good. (I just tell him it's psychological and that he doesn't need them anyway.)

So know that he listens to the Prof and to you! So keep those encouraging emails coming.

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