As faithful listeners will no doubt recall, Kate’s treatment consisted of surgery, six weeks of daily radiation and chemo, a month off, and six months (or more) of monthly chemo. Well, she just finished up her sixth round of monthly chemo and at the moment it looks like that will, indeed, be it. Which is a good thing, as the nausea and fatigue, while never completely debilitating, have been getting a little worse each round and this one was pretty bad. So, even though we’re not out of the woods by any means, we can celebrate the end of treatment for the cancer per se. I hope that as we get further away from chemo Kate will see her energy levels increase and spend less time napping.
This month, though, we learned that steroid-induced hyperglycemia (aka steroid diabetes) is a thing. Diabetes, it turns out, is a condition with multiple causes. Type 1 and type 2 (formerly known as juvenile and adult-onset diabetes) are basically two different diseases, and gestational diabetes is the third well-known cause of the same condition. But there are many other causes, and apparently taking “pharmacologic doses” of dexamethasone for a long time is one of them. This explains Kate’s headaches, dry mouth, and some other symptoms that have cropped up recently.
As with gestational diabetes, usually steroid diabetes goes away along when you stop taking the steroids… but that isn’t likely to happen any time soon, so the oncologist suggested using diet and exercise to try to bring her blood sugar down. We met with a dietician, who recommended whole grains, plenty of colorful vegetables, and a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in every meal and snack… which is basically what we were already trying to do. As for exercise, that’s difficult because of chemo fatigue and steroid-induced muscular atrophy. We will just have to try to be more consistent in eating right and exercising, and see how it goes.
I mentioned last month that we were working with a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech therapist. They were all helpful, but all those appointments were tiring, so we decided to discontinue the speech and occupational therapy and continue with the physical therapist every two weeks. (Did I explain the difference between physical and occupational therapy? The line is fuzzy, but basically occupational therapy covers anything you do with your hands and physical therapy is everything else you do with your body. Both occupational and speech therapy can include cognitive stuff.)
However, life continues. We have signed with a contractor to properly bolt the house to its foundation for earthquake resistance; we visited Seattle to hang out with friends and attend a Clarion West party; I’ve been soliciting blurbs for ARABELLA OF MARS (some awesome ones have come in already) and plugging away on writing the sequel; and I recorded an Act of Whimsy video for a charity fundraiser which required having a fabulous English Regency men’s outfit made. I’ll be wearing that outfit for my readings when the book comes out next year.
The bottom line is… we keep on keeping on. Kate is weak, wobbly, fatigued, and has some memory and cognitive issues, and I’m kind of fatigued myself, but we are doing our best to take care of ourselves and each other. Anything you can do to help would be appreciated.
Thanks to Janna, Mark, Cynthia, Kate & Glenn, Hal & Ulrika, John, Shannon, Tempest, Elsa, Elizabeth, Cole, Melissa, Michelle, Len, John, George & Brian, Page, Tina, and everyone else who came for a visit, helped with a task, or joined us for a meal. It may not seem like much, but it really helps.