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.