[cancer] Field notes from Cancerland, symptomological edition

Overall health

I continue to feel as if I dropped a few tiers in baseline health in about the past three weeks. My overall levels of energy, physical integrity and so forth simply aren’t what they used to be. I am listless, and activity tires me out quickly. This is to be expected as I continue through my terminal decline, but I dislike it intensely.

Post-operative issues

I have at most minor discomfort from the surgery sites, and even that is intermittent. But the pain stripe on my chest, below the pectoral muscle, continues unabated and deeply annoying. Beyond that, my breathing has not felt quite right since the surgery. Given that there are about two dozen tumors in my lungs, perhaps this is not surprising.

The cough

The cough, which didn’t emerge for more than week post-operatively, continues to bedevil me. It’s gotten a big bigger and deeper, and is definitely bronchial. I continue to not show any other signs of infection, there is no phlegm produced when I cough, I have no post-nasal drip. Just a cough. For which I am taking tesselon perles and using an albuterol inhaler, to no apparent effect. Twice in the past few days I’ve coughed so hard I’ve become nauseous, and barely avoided deep unpleasantness. Last night I coughed so hard I developed a very painful stitch in my right side, along the line of the open incision surgery scar from my last two liver resections. So, yeah, this sucks.


I am beginning to develop small sores which do not heal. Right now, one in my left armpit, one on my left hip. They’re sort of like infected pimples, except they don’t get any better. This is a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things, but definitely an annoyance all the same.


Sleep is elusive if I don’t medicate. If I do medicate, I sleep too much most of time. At this point, oversleeping is better than undersleeping, but it’s another bit of evidence for decline.
Oddly, my GI, usually the first of my bodily systems to grow unruly, is currently behaving. But this is the dying process. Little things going wrong, and big things creeping up.

4 thoughts on “[cancer] Field notes from Cancerland, symptomological edition

  1. Laurie Mann says:

    Sorry things are so rough for you. If Albuterol is not helping you at all, Advair might might help.

  2. Ann Totusek says:

    Are those sores in limbs or areas with edema? Frequently edema contributes to wound development and prevents healing, not that your body isn’t challenged enough _without_ edema to develop wounds. Have you shown them to your oncologist? My concern as an R.N. would be that they might be cutaneous metastases. There are things that can be done to minimize discomfort and bothersome symptoms such as excess moisture, odor, etc., and these are definitely things that a palliative oncologist or palliative care nurse should be familiar with. With regard to the one in/near the armpit, if you use a scented deodorant/antiperspirant, you might consider switching to an unscented one, or forgoing altogether if your dail personal hygiene is sufficient to the task given that you are less active. It sounds like they’re in areas where they might be worsened by friction, so a “window dressing” (like OpSite) might be helpful in preventing further friction. I’m not in a position to actually assess what’s going on with you, and I’m not one of your care givers, I just want to be sure that you’re aware that there are resources for such things. I hope you can continue to bask in the love and care of your family and friends.

    1. Jay says:

      Thank you, Ann. I will have these looked at next week.

  3. Grant Kruger says:

    Sending you big hugs, Jay. Not sure if it’s applicable, but bizarrely inexplicable coughing coupled with nausea is sometimes linked to acid reflux, as I recently discovered.

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