Sunday (November 4th) was the six month mark of mom being diagnosed. It's hard to believe it's already been six months because it just blew by. A friend told me awhile ago that I pretty much had a crash course in cancer with all that has happened. I couldn't agree more. Six months ago, I had no idea about port placements, laparoscopies, c-met inhibitors, EOX regime, irinotecan, docetaxel, lovenox, ativan, fentayl patches, aranesp, zofran, neulasta, TPN, HER2, emend, oncogenes, managing WBC AND HGB levels....etc.
I am trying to figure out what else I could have done better. Would I have done anything differently? What can I do better going forward? The answer...I just don't know, in fact I have no clue. Up to this point, I've pretty much equipped myself with as much knowledge as I possibly can and always gone with my gut. I took one day at a time and never got too ahead of what I was dealing with. It's gotten me this far and overall I think I've managed to get by ok.
I've gathered a few tips for new caregivers. Some are things I just find myself doing..some are really no-brainers. I know there are lots more things too but these are the most common things.
- Always have at least half a tank of gas in your car at all times for the many appointments you will be going to and sometimes emergency trips you need to take
- Have a hospital overnight bag with personal items in case the patient needs to get admitted asap (it saves you a trip and lets you not leave them alone in the hospital)
- Have fully charged phone AND take phone charger with you
- Have a stash of quarters for metered-parking
- Bring entertainment for you for longer appointments, infusions etc. (I was grateful for my iPad)
- Always have kleenex, barf bags, bottled water, blanket, hand sanitizer on hand or in your car
- Keep a well organized binder of all medical info. (appt. schedule, scan results, pathology, business cards, insurance, legal docs etc.)
- Have Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive in place
- Have relevant phone numbers programmed in your phone (doctor, pharmacy, nurse, home care vendor etc)
- Keep broths, soups, and liquid energy drinks on hand (Ensure, Scandishakes, coconut water etc.) and always be on the lookout for higher calorie options
- Juice juice juice! If the patient tolerates it try to juice fruits and veggies
- Invest in a good digital thermometer and have Tylenol on hand to track and manage fevers.