July, 2001

7/1/01 A few notes from Candace: As the caretaker/support person/cheerleader I thought that I should put in a few words. Eric has made major strides in recovery from chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. While many of those changes have been physical, some of the most striking changes have been mental and emotional. Our vacation to Florida was a turning point for both of us. We are returning to regular life slowly. He ate out in restaurants with mixed success, but he actually ate out. He went swimming without his shirt on and found that no one stared at his scarred chest. Eric also pushed himself to walk on the beach, swim, carry on conversations and get out. He commented that he felt like he was finally living again rather than just recovering. He has some energy in his eyes and step now. I am learning to step back and let him carry groceries, or struggle with loads rather than automatically jumping in to do it. His surgery has been life changing for both of us so we are both recovering. I could never have imagined that we would go through so many changes. Candace

7/14/2001 A note from Candace: Eric had an appointment with Dr. Moore this past week. Prior to the visit he had a barium swallow and an upper GI series (too bad they don't make barium in chocolate fudge or some nice flavor). The barium swallow showed a small sac-like pocket called a diverticulum up at the top of his stomach where the esophagus joins the stomach. It was odd to see it fill with barium on the pictures and then drain. Currently this is not causing any problems but will need further investigation. Dr. Moore asked Eric to go back to Dr. Greenstein for endoscopy. Other than the need for endoscopy, the visit went very well. Dr. Moore was pleased with Eric's progress to date. He will have another follow up appointment in three more months with another CT scan.

I am looking forward to what Dr. Greenstein has to say. He is the gastroenterologist who last saw Eric in October 2000 for endoscopy to evaluate his GI bleeding. Now that Eric has had surgery, nothing down there is the same. It should be interesting for him to go back and see what the plumbing looks like now. At least Dr. Greenstein won't need as along a scope this time as he used last.

07/14/2001We had a minor setback this week. I got sick with a nasty little respiratory bug. As a pediatrician, I hang out with a wonderful but rather germy crowd. With their hugs they share their germs. One of the disadvantages of such a fun job is an occassional illness and this was my week. My cold quickly became a sinus infection setting off my asthma. Unfortunately Eric got it too. As the week progressed, his cold headed south into his lungs. By Friday night he looked a bit blue, had a pretty high fever and was beyond what I can do for him at home. My barometer is that when I look at my husband and start thinking of IV's and Oxygen rather than hugs, it's time to take him to see another doctor.

Eric was admitted to Northside Hospital with pneumonia on Friday night. He went reluctantly but felt and looked so much better on oxygen that even he admitted (begrudgingly) that it was the right thing to do. He is resting comfortably tonight. Fortunately I had seen his previous x rays and cat scans. The doctor at the clinic where we went did not have any of his prior films for comparison. Interpreting all the shadows and vascular clips and stuff to see what is new and what is old is a tough job with no prior films to compare.I was allowed to see the films and help read it, which made things a bit smoother. Patients like Eric who have had prior surgery and some previous diagnosis are a big challenge for doctors not familiar with them.

The hospital routine is much gentler this time. He has oxygen and an IV and that is it. Eric jokingly asked the admitting nurse for his Dilaudid pump like he had after surgery. That won't be part of his treatment this time. While this is a simple problem and a simple treatment, Eric found it hard at first not to feel as though he had lost all the ground he had gained. Those feelings of despair are easy to slip back into. He should be home in a day or two after this minor setback. Candace

07/17/2001 Eric here: got sprung from the hospital Sunday afternoon! Spent most of the rest of Sunday sleeping in and coughing. Monday was pretty much the same, but started feeling a bit better. Chest feels as if I was kicked by a mule due to all the coughing. Today is even better and I might see about sneaking off to work for a few hours tomorrow or Thursday - I GOTTA get out of this house!!

7/21/2001 This is Candace. It has been a long week for Eric. The pneumonia really set him back in his slow recovery from surgery. Coughing is particularly difficult to watch as he often starts gagging. More than that he seems more discouraged than previously. Recovery from esophageal cancer surgery takes a lot of energy, persistence and courage. Any setback feels enormous. I, too, find it hard sometimes to hold onto the faith that things will get better. Candace

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