To Evansville and Back...

I drove to Evansville today to check on Marian. I packed all kinds of stuff, not knowing what her condition was going to be or how long I might need to stay. I wound up staying two hours and driving back.

I'm tired. But it feels so good to be home. Today is our seventh wedding anniversary and we've been together for almost eight years. So I know this sounds sappy and sentimental. But John and I have spent very few nights apart and I hated the thought of being away on our anniversary. We've already celebrated by going out of town for New Year's. It's not about going out to dinner again. I just wanted to be home tonight. And I'm thankful I could be.

Marian's calcium level is stabilized for the moment. The diagnosis was dehydration causing the hypercalcemia. I can't say I'm completely convinced it was nothing more than that. But I will take her to Dr. Flinn next week and if he says that's all it was, I'll be more relieved. I don't want to be an alarmist and turn it into something it's not. But I don't understand how dehydration could solely be the cause if her calcium has been elevated for over two weeks. It was only slightly elevated at first and then it skyrocketed. So maybe dehydration contributed to it going to the dangerously high level. But when she was here I was constantly on her to stay hydrated and drink more water. She assured me she was. Then she went to my sister-in-law's last Wednesday night and stayed through the weekend. And my sister-in-law said she ate well and was drinking water the whole time she was there. She had only been home for one night before she went to her PCP and had the blood draw that showed a calcium level of over 13 (severely high). So that is why my mind is not put completely at ease by this simple diagnosis. My brother-in-law and I were talking about it as he walked me to my car and he was still concerned as well. His question was, "What caused the dehydration if she was drinking plenty of fluids?"

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to ask her doctor any questions or even meet him. I have not encountered this before, but I found out Marian's doctor does not make hospital visits. She has not seen him since being admitted. They have someone called a "hospitalist" who came to her room to tell her the results of her tests. I looked up the term online and, sure enough, it's a newer trend in medicine. (I don't like it.) I'm sure the hospitalist is a qualified medical doctor. But that just seems so impersonal to me. And I didn't even get to see him because he came by Marian's room while I went to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee. My sister-in-law was there, though, and she said he told them the diagnosis was dehydration and she would probably go home in the morning.

I felt kind of like I'd made the drive unnecessarily. But I guess it wasn't for nothing, since I'm sure it demonstrated to my mother-in-law how concerned I am about her care.

On my way to Evansville I spoke with one of the oncology nurses in Dr. Flinn's office and communicated my concerns to her. She relayed the information to Dr. Flinn and Dr. Flinn made a phone call to Marian's PCP. I was then advised that Dr. Flinn wanted her to be sent back to his office after she was stabilized. So we moved her next appointment up to next week.

The diagnosis of dehydration has not put my mind at ease. I still have questions. But I am thankful that Marian responded to the IV fluids and is stable. I look forward to getting her to Dr. Flinn next week. And I appreciate the doctor/patient relationship we have established with him. I know I will leave his office next week with a much more thorough understanding of what is going on.

It's so good to have an actual relationship with our CLL doctor. Along with being a specialist in CLL, Dr. Flinn is so caring and easy to talk to. He has never once made me feel like I ask too many questions. In fact, I once asked him if caregivers like me are a pain (wanting to know and understand every detail of my loved ones' health concerns). He assured me that caregivers like me are refreshing and he enjoys discussing the details with someone who is educated about CLL and comprehends the details he's explaining. Not that I expected him to say I was a pain, but he seemed very sincere in his response. And the way he has interacted with us -- like a friend as well as a physician -- has proven to me that he genuinely does feel that way. This is something I deeply appreciate. I also appreciate the relationships we have developed with the nurses and office personnel. When speaking with Noel today, I felt reassured that she understood my concerns and would immediately relay the information to Dr. Flinn. That was the only thing that truly put my mind at ease today; talking to Noel and knowing that Dr. Flinn was communicating with Marian's PCP.

We have received such quality, personal care from Dr. Flinn and the entire staff at TN Oncology/SCRI. Although I didn't begin writing this blog post with the intention of writing a medical review, I do highly recommend Dr. Flinn to anyone in the Nashville vicinity with CLL or any other hematologic malignancy. I've heard wonderful things about other CLL specialists in different parts of the country as well. But there are only a handful. And he is one of the best.

So, that's the latest on Marian's condition ... and mine. : )