Wednesday, 14 May 2014

My son, the drug addict

"Do you have a history of trouble with the law, drug or alcohol abuse?"

"Well, um, yes. When I was 19 months old I was heavily addicted to narcotics."

I'm hoping Dominic's future potential employers will give him a break on this one. Morphine, as they say, is a hell of a drug.

As with everything else in his journey, he can't seem to do anything average. Just acute myeloid leukemia? No, better make it a super-rare subtype. Just a run-of-the-mill infection? No, best if there's only seven other documented cases.

Even the good stuff is extra good. When he was taken off his ventilator Tuesday morning, the ICU team was prepared in case he couldn't handle breathing on his own right away.

Instead, he just laid there and went back to sleep as if nothing had happened. Breathed just as well off the machine as he had with it.

I overheard the doctor tell our nurse: "It's almost going TOO well."

The plan all along was to move us back to Unit 1 (the cancer ward) on Wednesday morning. Nope. By Tuesday afternoon the only thing stopping us from making the trip through two sets of double doors and down a hallway was a busy ICU - our nurse needed to help out with some incoming patients.

We were back "home" Tuesday evening. Everything was going perfectly. The Epstein-Barr Virus that caused his PTLD? An initial count of the virus was 22 million - a number our oncology doctor said was the largest he'd ever seen in a patient. Horribly bad. The count taken just prior to him getting the 36-hour rituximab drug this week? Down to 47,000. The same doctor was both thrilled and bewildered. Here the rituximab was supposed to be the wonder drug, yet the virus was already in check.

So here we are Tuesday night, Trish has gone home to her parents' house, everybody's breathing a sigh of relief. There's been no second bad reaction to the rituximab either.

At 11:30 p.m., seemingly out of nowhere, Dom starts lifting his legs, crunching over in agony and screaming out of a voicebox he hadn't used in the prior week of being sedated into a deep sleep with morphine and a dozen other drugs.

He spikes a fever, he's pretty much shaking. He's writhing from one corner of the crib to another.

A doctor comes and decides to give him one of the sedatives he'd been on in the ICU; he thinks Dom got addicted to the sedatives and is showing signs of withdrawal.

There are many signs of withdrawal. They include cold sweats, uncontrollable shaking, hallucinations... and diahrrea.

I've avoided writing too much about poop because it's a can of worms you can't easily put the lid back on. Like a used diaper, you like to forget about what you saw and move on. But the nightmares I will have forever more of Poop Lake 1, 2, 3 and 4 give me no choice.

Oddly, Poo Lakes 1 through 3 came before we left the ICU. Muddy water, somehow pooled up to the edges of his diaper as we took it off in such a fashion that the diaper became a basin you had to pour out.

That night, each new bowel movement was accompanied by a fresh set of withdrawal symptoms. We barely slept. He went through a few sets of pyjamas. He'd have gone through more in the ICU except for the fact he was naked there; there were too many tubes to bother trying to loop through clothes.

How do you combat such an addiction? You wean it off. The ICU team had literally pulled the plug on a huge dose of morphine and other drugs after five days, hoping Dom would get lucky and not suffer. He wasn't so fortunate.

As he continued to revive from his week-long drug-induced haze Wednesday, Dom got progressively better. Some morphine was re-added which ironically helped him wake up more. Pretty soon he was giggling again even though he couldn't sit up straight. By bedtime he sat up straight and practically pointed at his butt. "Need a change here, boss," he seemed to suggest.

It wasn't Poo Lake 5. When he's older I won't let him forget about his brief bout of addiction, but especially not those diapers.

1 comment:

  1. What a difference a week makes! Wishing you a very boring upcoming week. :-)