Something nice I found in Italy
There is an organization in this region of Italy called ANT, Associazione Nazionale Tumori which offers in-home care for cancer patients.
I believe it is partly funded by the government and partly by charity donations.
There are similar organizations in other regions in Italy, but I am not sure about all of the regions. Here’s how the hospital and home care breaks down for me.
I go to the hospital once every 3 weeks for my chemo. That takes 6-7 hours for the various IV drips.
They also prepare a bottle of chemo which I must carry around in a kangaroo pouch 24 hours a day for 5 days.
I will also go to the hospital when they schedule a TAC for me. If need be, my wife or I will talk with the oncologist. That’s it.
Here’s what the ANT does:
I have a doctor that comes to my home. I think he has about 40 patients. This doctor deals with all of the side effects of the cancer or chemo.
As my immune system is down, there is plenty to do. I am vulnerable to various infections. I’ve already had one in mouth and throat and could barely speak for two weeks.
Once my testicles swelled up for a few days. I have severe headaches, cramps in my guts, diarrhea or constipation and no desire to eat at all. My weight loss is alarming.
I keep a daily record of my blood pressure and the doctor always asks about my bathroom habits.
He brings all the various medicines and vitamins I need so no one needs to go to the pharmacy.
There is a nurse who comes around every few days to check on me as well. She follows and reports much of the above to the doctor and there is a written log in my home which both of them update as needed.
She taught my wife how to hook me up or disconnect me to IVs. The procedure is more complicated than you think.
There is a small device called a Port which is embedded in my chest. All IVs are attached to that rather than constantly poking my arms, looking for veins.
The nurse has to change a piece in it every week or so.
We had a little problem just a few days ago. I woke up at 4:30 am and found that my T-shirt was very wet.
Chemo had been leaking from the port. My wife called the ANT 24 hour hotline and shortly after 5am, the nurse was there to fix the problem.
Had the issue been worse, ANT would have sent over a doctor or called an ambulance if need be and my ANT doctor would have been notified.
I need blood tests 2 or 3 times per 3 week cycle. The nurse does that for me and delivers the blood samples to the lab.
Monday morning the nurse will be here to disconnect the chemo bottle from my body. I’ve also had 2 ultrasound tests with portable units in my home.
ANT supplies and delivers all the needles full of some liquid needed to clean the port every time my wife hooks an IV to me.
There is also sterile paper she lays on my chest where she can lay the needles, tube caps and such involved in the operation.
ANT also supplies a steady flow of little puddings or bottled drinks in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry which are hyper caloric and loaded with vitamins and nutrients (320 calories in a tiny 7oz bottle) I am supposed to consume these to combat weight loss or vitamin deficiency.
The last time they delivered, there were two heavy boxes of various supplies which the driver carried up to the third floor for my wife. All of this is for free.
In medicine, there can be doctors and nurses who just give orders and expect you to follow them blindly.
We’ve all seen that. This nurse explains things, listens to her patients and councils them on their problems and stress.
I think my nurse’s middle name is Empathy. She has been doing this work for over 20 years and is married to a doctor, so she sure knows her business.
My wife and I from now on, will check the little box on our tax returns to donate half of 1% to ANT.
I have bad days and good days like all cancer patients. But ANT makes all this a whole lot easier on me and my wife. May God bless them.