Subject: Jen wellness update #35 (29Sep00) Nasty Farts
radiation session #21 of 33 completed today: I *now* understand the 'Thank God It's Friday' sentiment. I've always had the kind of job that I bring home with me mentally, so never have quite got it. But the thought of not having to get up for a slightly grim and rather tedious activity tomorrow morning must be the TGIF feeling.
Jen is much better than we expected her to be at this point. She's seen all of her doctors over this week for regular checkups, and they all make the same noises:
"Mmm, you seem to be doing very well, no mouth sores to speak of, are you gargling with baking soda?, improved neck mobility, no external effects from the chemotherapy - I wonder why that should be. Oh, you're taking those Chinese 'erbs aren't you? I wonder if they do any good?"
I think the western doctors attitude is typified by Jean Quivey (the popsicle). I've met her a few times, but she doesn't normally engage with me - she focuses on Jen, then rushes away. This week, however, she was more relaxed. She was looking at Jen's mouth and remarking on how good it looked. Jen reminded her that she was supplementing her diet with a specially formulated mixture of herbs specified by Michael Broffman, that well known Chinese complementary medicine cancer specialist.
Quivey shot me a look and said "Yes, it could be that, but on the other hand, it could be the baking soda! we just don't know".
Well here's my take (with the usual caveat about no medical skills or experience).
The Western approach to delivering chemo and radiation is to just do it, and interfere as little as possible otherwise. That means treat whatever side-effect symptoms make themselves manifest as and when they occur. With the exception of the anti-nausea potions for chemo (which are administered in a prophylactic way), you have a problem, we fix it. You're 3 weeks into radiation, and now have mouth ulcers, so put this cream on.
Kramer the chemo-guy is the most laid back, and he was keen for Jen to take marihuana....
The Eastern approach seems to be to systemically fortify the body for the oncoming onslaught. Here is the medicine list that Jen has been taking every day for the past month. I'm not sure that the concept of "active ingredient" is acknowledged with these compounds - they have precious little hard information on the labels.
Chinese Vial (3xpotion), Herbal Powder C (3xtablespoon),
So what do we know? Well, one thing we know for sure is that Jen should under *no circumstances* be allowed in an enclosed space with other things that breathe for an hour after taking these compounds! If she says "I'll just take my medicines and then we can go in the car", you put your life in danger. I don't know how the cats have survived.
Aside from the nasty gas production, we see that Jen is suffering markedly less than the norm from the standard side-effects of this sort of cancer treatment. Jen is young and strong, but her doctors are still surprised. I give it, and her positive mental attitude, the thumbs up.
PS. Perhaps that's why Broffman's consulting room was filled with burning incense sticks....
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