Lemons and Lemonade

“I want to roll my eyes right now, but the doctor says that if I keep doing it, my ocular muscles might spasm and eject my eyeballs.” —Liz Lemon

Oh, wait, was I supposed to quote “if life hands you lemons, make lemonade?”

I thought the whole Liz Lemon spasm quote was more apropos. I could be wrong.

“Hiccups lasting more than 48 hours are considered persistent. If they last longer than a month, they are termed intractable. The longest recorded bout of hiccups lasted 68 years.” We don’t intend on surpassing that goal… Guinness Book of World Records be damned.

You see, a change in position, a bit of conversation, eating a meal. All these things bring on the hiccups. The now painful and continual hiccups. There have been a number of frustrating conversations with the medical team. They don’t see what is happening. It’s all only anecdotal to them. Generally he is on the medication Ativan when they show up.

Today, this morning, they saw what we’ve seen. Rich’s entire belly in spasm. The hiccups making the seal and walrus sounds. Worst of all are the ones that are silent. Those… those close up his throat. He can’t breathe. The spasms continue, bed shakes, the pain in his eyes, and a panic begins to set in as the air can’t pass his closed glottis and epiglottis. Four, five, six spasms then a long gasping breath and the oxygen fills his lungs again.

I spoke with every nurse, every doctor every person I could get today. The frustration was overwhelming. They understood they said. They even saw. But nothing, nothing could get through to them the desperation we felt that this effect was not being addressed the way it needed to be. The night nurses, God bless them, know and feel for us. Understandably, their hands are tied to the doctor’s orders.

We make a decision on our own… we will stop the Thorazine. One thing you can count on with chemo, once a side effect begins, if you don’t nip it in the bud, it will go on and on and on. Unfortunately, the changes that were made to our successful home protocol once we got to the hospital started that problem on the wrong track. From now on, we will count on Ativan to counter the hiccups. It does make Rich sleep, but the sleep is healing. Other narcotics are now off the request list. We leave only one pain med as an option if the obliques are too strained.

The RN calls in a practical nurse. She listens to us and agrees with our course of action. I talk to her about a remedy I’ve read about on my never-ending internet searches… Meyer Lemons or Lemonade Fruit. Neither is readily at hand, but we do have regular lemons in the hospital. We have asked for them with dinner… fresh sliced.

At the first sign of hiccups, We follow the directions sprinkle sugar onto the slices and Rich eats the pulpy fruit. It quickly stops the spasms. The “dosage” is a recommended 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 a lemon. It works. Rich is able to converse for ten minutes without a hiccup. The only thing we need to worry about is the acid and its effect on his mucosa. Meyer lemons don’t have that same acidity. The hunt is on!

77766_2014-08-29_23.45.11_displayIn the meantime, one of the orderlies is asked by the nurse to find some fresh cut lemons. He goes to the Au Bon Pain in the hospital, explains what he needs for a transplant patient and they wash and fresh cut half a dozen lemons and give them to him in a cup that was out of a new sealed package.

The care and courtesy of the night staff throughout the hospital touches us to the core. There is nothing we could do, no words we could say to thank and repay them for their service to us. Their understanding and compassion far exceeds their job description. At this writing, we began our new protocol about three hours ago. We’ve seen the success of it. Rich now quietly sleeps, his belly only rising and falling with his deep breathing. There are no spasms.

At this point, the only lemon/lemonade quotes here are “find me some Meyer lemons or some Lemonade fruit”… a quote I attribute to me.

But if you really need one more that you can find on the internet, let’s go with this one… “If reality TV has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t keep people with no shame down.” — Liz Lemon

Does that have anything to do with cancer? Nah, but without an ounce of shame, we refuse to stay down.

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