Mar 1, 2006


My oncology experience today:

He wasn't young but he wasn't old either. It started with "sinus" pain and pressure off and on for a couple of weeks. Then he started having confusion symptoms, for example, he would see a supermarket and recognize it as a building but not a supermarket. That's when he saw his doctor. The doctor wanted to run a CT scan but his insurance denied it. A few weeks later the pain became unbearable and he went straight to the Emergency room. They did a CT and low and behold found a brain tumor in the Occipital area of his brain. Surgeons decided to operate and removed parts of the tumor (but not all) via Craniotomy. Radiation was planned. Just 11 days later, he was rushed again to the ER, The fast growing tumor grew back and was larger then it was when it was partially resected. It was causing spinal fluid to build up and he developed intercranial pressure. His Doctors decided this time to go in and put in a shunt to relieve the pressure. During surgery he hemorrhaged too quickly and hasn't woken up since.
This tumor was related to B Cell Lymphoma, a nasty Cancer that works fast.
I spent a lot of time with his family today as they just recently decided that Hospice was the best route. He is unresponsive, paralyzed completely on one side, and the other side is posturing. His Urine output is decreasing, he has copious mucus secretions, his breathing is shallow and irregular. I'm not sure he'll be there when I get back tomorrow. I think my main focus will be to keep him comfortable and focus a little more on the family, His wife and his small children.

Boy, this hit close to home. But I have an understanding that maybe some of the other nurses don't. I enjoyed helping this patient and his family today. This disease process fascinates me. Enough so that I plan to do my Case study over B Cell Lymphoma. If I wasn't staying on at my current med/surg unit, I would say Oncology would be my second specialty of choice.


At 20:37, Blogger Unemployed Nurse Jack said...

Wow. Great post, Jodi.

I lost one of my closest friends last August to breast cancer - she was 43. Helping care for her and watching her medical struggle for 5 years may have been part of the reason I chose to pursue this route.

I realize I can't predict how I'll feel once I get into things, but I think Oncology is a specialty I'm interested in as well.

Is this rotation sometimes hard on you on a personal level, being that your loss wasn't too long ago? ((Hugs))

At 21:33, Blogger Jo said...


Mike died well over 4 years ago. I think had I been in this spot even 2 years ago, I'd be a wreck right now. But you know what they say about time and wounds.

But I'm only human. I think despite my history, if I ever got a patient like my Mike, in his mid 20s with a pregnant wife or new baby....I would have a hard time with it anyway.

I don't know how Mike's oncology nurses were able to stay so cheerful around us, but they did.

At 00:56, Blogger Andrew said...

Good post. You bring a human quality, a human face, to the terrible process of cancer.

At 23:39, Blogger Unknown said...

I lost my Dad to a fast growing bunch of brain tumors in 1991. He was only 52 years old. It came on fast. 6 weeks from diagnosis to death. Cancer just plain sucks..

At 18:40, Blogger MomThatsNuts said...

you know I worked hospice for 4 years as a nurses aid right? I love hospice. I too, love talking and explaining things to families. I just cant get through my stupid A&P class....ugggg
hey Jodi, thanks for being there with me these last few weeks. Its been hard, but I want you to know I appriciate you~~~


At 23:03, Blogger Jo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 23:18, Blogger Jo said...

Andy, Thanks!
NP, I'm sorry you had to lose your Dad that way, It's happened to too many I know. It does suck.
Mom, Your welcome, anytime, and hope you are hangin in there.

At 17:31, Blogger The new Third Degree Nurse said...

I can't think of anything more worth fighting than cancer.

When I interviewed for the internship on our cancer floor, the nurse manager said she nurses like me who had the passion and the obsession with fighting cancer. You might just have it in you, too.

There are some things that cancer cannot do. It can separate people, but it can't destroy love.

As I volunteer, I've seen some people make remarkable recoveries and some die. I haven't had the patient who will remind me of Truett yet, but the nurse manager said it happens. We trade off those patients and let other nurses on the floor with with them if we feel that it's too close.

At 14:31, Blogger Kim said...

Oh man, were you the right nurse for that patient or what? When you have been through a situation, you have an insight no other nurse can bring to the table.

Thanks to some great doctors and oncology nurses, my mother-in-law lived a vibrant, active two-and-a-half years after her lung cancer diagnosis. She was 57 when diagnosed and had just lost her husband 6 months before (doesn't that seem like it happens a lot?)

She wasn't even on hospice OR on oxygen until the last two weeks.
I had no idea that "a cancer patient" could do so well for so long.

We look back and laugh at how our family handles mourning. As in, the next year, four babies were born in four months. One of the last things she heard was that I was preganant with Rebecca.


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