Saturday, May 31, 2008


Mels mother is in critical condition in the ICU right now.

They've induced a coma and have her on a ventilator. It seems that she's got peritonitis, and a perforated intestine; a complication from multiple surgeries for an aggressive cancer discovered a few weeks ago. Shes also aspirating waste laden fluid, so there's more going on that they haven't found yet.

The thing is, it wasn't the cancer that put her here. She's had fluid buildup in her abdomen and chest for several weeks now (predating the peritonitis. It's the first thing they checked for weeks ago), and they haven't found the cause. The fluid tests clear, it's not infected seepage.

They keep giving her palliative care (painkillers and draining the fluid) but they haven't done any real diagnostics on what is causing this fluid buildup. Instead, they've transferred her to two different hospitals, discharged her twice (while the fluid was still building up) over the objection of her oncologist... it's a charlie fox all the way around.

Clearly there's more going on, but we haven't found out yet.

At least now they've transferred her to the right hospital. She's at the Arizona Cancer Center at University Hospital Tucson. Mel says the docs there are doing about 10 times the job of her previous two hospitals.

Mel is with her father at the hospital now, while I watch the kids (no young children in the ICU).

UPDATE: Her kidneys have shut down, and her blood sugar is over 340 after having no nutrition for 24+ hours (she wasn't able to keep anything down. The nausea medication wasn't working. They were going to hang a sugar bag after her transfer).

It looks like she's having additional complications from previously undiagnosed diabetes. In this case it's a complication not a causative factor; we still don't know what the root causes here are.

At this point she's had some some heart damage as well, most likely from the diabetes. It doesn't look good.

UPDATE 2: Shes still in critical condition, but she's stable. The doctors think she'll be OK at least for the weekend. They want her to stabilize for at least 24 hours, then she'll have more surgery... most likely Monday morning.

Mel's coming home for the night, then she'll go back on Monday to be there for the surgery.