One week in Hell

I’ll jump in right here. And hope you brought your floatation devices, we’ll be in here for a bit.

Whew, been a long week. So I think last time we spoke we just arrived home from the hospital. Well, a few days passed, maybe a week. It was Friday, it had been a pretty good week. So looking forward to the weekend right? In the words of one Lee Corso, not so fast my friend. Elizabeth went to bed with a fever, that progressed to terrible chills. She also had stomach pains which caused her to go to the bathroom. After checking on her I helped her stand up, she went down. After a few minutes I helped her up again, she fell again. Thankfully I was able to grab her. She was completely out of it. Hannah (god bless her) actually made the call (literally and figuratively) to emergency to get an ambulance. Haley went out to make sure they found the house. Once they arrived they wheeled her out and off to the mayo ER. I’ll tell you this, that moment right there took a lot out of me. I know it was tough on Ham and Cheese. About a month ago a customer and I were discussing our situation. He told me you will be surprised at the strength and resolve your kids show. He couldn’t have been more right. To step into action when everything was going to hell then watch as their mom is wheeled off, man that was tough but I couldn’t be more proud of them and thankful they are who they are.

Anyway we got into the ER and admitted around 6 in the morning. Between doctors coming in and getting things handled everywhere else, after 40 hours of being awake (with a two hour “nap’ mixed in. And when I say nap, sleep was hard to come by) the torture rack of a fold out bed felt like a sack of feathers held up by angels. It was magnificent. However the law of diminishing effects would take over and each subsequent night was less and less awesome. The doctors however were stumped. Was it just effects of the new chemo or were other forces at work here. So finally after four days of tests and blood work, we finally got a diagnosis. I got back to the room and Elizabeth pointed at the board and said, this is what I have. Peptostreptococcus.

I’ll repeat that because you probably have the same reaction as I did, Peptostreptococcus.

I laughed because it sounded made up. It apparently is a pretty rare thing to get. Of course it is, why wouldn’t it just follow the M.O. of this whole ordeal. It’s so rare the doctors at this Mayo didn’t know what to do with it so they had to send the samples to Rochester. Awesome. The whole while our heroine kept getting fevers and chills due to the white blood cells rebuilding due to the chemo and fighting it off. After talking to infectious diseases they suggested she take Flagyl for her antibiotic. You may say to yourself, why does that sound familiar. It’s because thats the medicine that sent her to the ER last time looking and feeling like someone going through heroin withdrawal. So naturally we said, no. What else you got. Well there was a pump they could give us and it would be a little bit of work. Whatever it takes, thats fine, we’ll figure it out. So now armed with a diagnosis and treatment we just were waiting for the fevers to subside then we could go home after a solid week at the temple of doom.

Oh, also quick story, on about day five she felt gross from laying in the bed and all so she wanted to take a shower. Now we weren’t expecting resort style accommodations, but damn, at least the shower could work right? Well again, not so fast my friend. The water either was on full blast, skin melting hot, or off. Nothing in between. So I had to fill up a bucket halfway with cold water, grab this nozzle shooting out boiling water, fill it the rest of the way, then pour it over my bride like back in the days of yore before there was indoor plumbing. The nozzle kept flying around so every now and again you’d get blasted by something close to the temperature of molten lava. After the “shower” I told the front desk that somebody should be receiving a strongly worded letter and they may want to send in housekeeping because the bathroom looks like San Marco in Jacksonville after a good rain, flooded and a mess.

So while we were waiting to be released I decided a colonoscopy would be a fine idea (I had it scheduled in advanced). I was actually looking forward to it as that anesthesia is really great stuff and I really could use a good nap. So I do the prep (no problem) and head in the next day to get the pipes cleaned out. They wheel me back, I lay on my side and they shoot me with the goods. I go out like a light.

Fast forward to recovery where I wake up feeling almost hungover. My throat was on fire and I could barely talk. What the hell happened here. The perky blond nurse (whom I’m assuming they bring in because, who is gonna yell at a perky blond) said “oh good, you’re awake. Well we had to cut your procedure a little short. You threw up” OK, and? “Yeah he found a couple of polyps, they’re small and he’ll remove them when you come back to complete the procedure. Oh yeah, you stopped breathing for a bit, so we stopped the procedure”

Uh, good call?

It was weird and Hannah felt the same way, it was like talking to kids who had a party at their parents house and downplayed the size, the cops getting called, the mess that was made, you know. You will only get the information in bits and pieces. I was coming out of an hour and a half surgery that usually takes twenty minutes. So I was in no condition to ask. And my throat was still on fire. After discussing it with a friend we are guessing they jammed a tube down my throat. My jaw on both sides felt like I took a shot from Mike Tyson. Also guessing that I have sleep apnea that caused this. I have had an appointment with a sleep study clinic that has been blown off due to other things but something I really need to get done now I suppose. But not breathing, damn. They sent me home with some antibiotics to ward off pneumonia so it will all work out but still, not breathing huh? Wow.

So we’re all back home. Elizabeth is hurting a little bit and still trying to recover from her hospital visits. They say it takes a week to recover for every day you’re in there. So by my math she should be fine around March. The doctor came in and said she could push back the chemo a few days, so thats nice. Because while the doctors and nurses are fine people, we really don’t like the joint and would rather not be there. But we gotta go so we will suck it up and roll with it. Anyway, I’m gonna go. Keep us in your thoughts, say a prayer, whatever you do. Love you guys and blog at you later. MUAHHHH!!!!

Return of the Dragon

I’ll jump in here,

Well, shit. That sums up the past few days. Just, shit. So Friday was really good. Our heroine was upright, breathing without hurting, unplugged from the unit and headed off to her preschool to see the kids. Her sister drove her there and a fine time was had by all. So we then get to Saturday where, “she felt off”. Mmmkay. Like what? “I don’t know, just off”. OK. Let’s see where that goes. Well it went, you guessed it, to shit. She struggled through Sunday and monday we finally could contact our doctors. They said it was most likely the steroids she was prescribed for her joint pain and energy. I felt terrible as that has been the case before with these and should’ve remembered. I took them one time and as soon as they said that was the problem I told her exactly how she was feeling. Nervous energy, flushed feeling, tired but can’t sleep, all that. So we thought once we cut that, everything should be fine right?

Well we couldn’t have been more wrong. Tuesday, while she felt better from the steroids (or lack thereof) she started to get the pain from the new tumors against the diaphragm. This kept escalating throughout the day until we finally got in touch with pain management. I could go off but I’ll hold back as I was mad. Super pissed. Anyway they told us to head to the ER. Thankfully we got there when the waiting room was empty (more on that later). We got back and it was a madhouse. We got into a room, go settled and (cue the music)

Enter the Dragon.

Our old friend Dr Dragon popped on in. With his ponytail flowing majestically and all that. They asked her what her pain level was after they gave her an IV of dilaudin. It was an eight. AN EIGHT???!!!! Good lord I thought, this ain’t good. They pumped her with more and gave her some anti-psychotic drug that sometimes works. I had never heard of it but Elizabeth had and had a real level of, shall we say, uncomfortableness with taking it. See, she used to work with kids with severe mental issues and they would give whatever this was to them. Anyway, they tried it, it didn’t work, neither of us were really that surprised as was the doctor we saw who admitted us that said, really? Never heard of that one.

Anyway, between all that I went out to my truck to recharge my phone. As I walked out of the back into the waiting room I was greeting by some old dude puking in a bag. I then walked past some catatonic lady caterwauling like something I’ve never heard. I’m guessing thats what you would hear on like the third or fourth level of hell. It was packed like a sardine can full of misery, sickness, and suffering. I felt a twinge of a sore throat just walking through there. When I walked back in there was a lady that looked like she had her arms inside her shirt like she was cold or if you had your hands in the pocket of a sweatshirt. Upon further inspection her arms were out and those were her boobs resting on her thighs. I wanted to grab the old mans bag and puke in there with him. For all I know thats what started him up. After getting back to the room there was some guy who I could only imagine was coughing up his spleen and other organs. It was terrible.

So they admitted her and thats where we’re at today. They’ve plied her with more dilaudin to little or no real effect except the side effects that narcotics have. Surgery is on the agenda tomorrow to deaden the nerve that goes to the tumors that are banging against he diaphragm. There’s no guarantee it will completely work but some is better than none. That and the chemo will start to kill off these new ones and stop all this. But thats a process. Hopefully not long but a process nonetheless. She’s sleeping right now. She looks peaceful. So theres that. And I know she’s in pain, but I’m here to tell you, these fold out beds are modern day torture racks. When I rose like Frankenstein’s monster to go get coffee as I walked out the door one of the nurses actually said “oh that fold out got you honey”. I could do nothing but grimace. Again, I know my bride is in terrible pain but damn, this thing makes sleeping on a sidewalk seem like bags of feathers held up by angels. Come on mayo, step up your game here.

For all that have asked, the girls are doing good. I’m fortunate/blessed to have them standing with me. I’ve also said it before, the guys at work that pick up my slack are phenomenal. For everyone who has asked what they could do I’ll say it again, for right now we’re fine. Just thoughts and calls help to break everything up. We have help we can call if needed. And believe me, we’ll need a lot more before this is wrapped up and we will definitely let you know. Anyway, love you guys and blog at you later. Peace out homey.

A Double shot of thanks

Hey kids, I’ll jump in here.

So a quick update on our heroine. The chemo and steroids seem to be doing their job quicker than expected. She can breathe without pain (for the most part) which is good. She unplugged from the unit today after two days so for the next week and a half she’ll be going acoustic (been waiting all day for that one). I keep telling her that this latest hiccup and the remedy for it is a process, not a quick fix. Her sister Judy has come in for a little bit to hang out. I’m sure that will do her wonders as like I’ve said, as wonderful as I am to be around, I’m sure she’s tired of me. It’s like eating lobster every day or double meat on a sandwich. It’s great at first but after a while, its just too much.

Anyway, this one is going to be quick. I/we just wanted to thank everyone for the support we’ve gotten over this ordeal, especially the last week. You guys have reached out to us when we really needed it. It’s been a roller coaster of a couple of weeks. With all the kind words, calls, emails and just general niceness, you guys hold a special place in my heart that I hope someday to repay. Just sometimes even a quick “hey” call or text out of the blue does wonders. Again, this is going to be quick because I’m not very good at this but love all of you and

Thanks.

Blog at you sooner than later.

Hey Tin Man

Let me jump right on in here.

So we’ll start this one with an update on our heroine. The pain has been terrible since we last spoke. Like, excruciating to watch much less go through kind of bad. So we had a meeting with the doctor/PA today. After going through the symptoms she said the story all adds up to the two new spots they found on the outside of the liver. Remember those, the one the radiologist sort of dismissed? Yeah, those. That apparently even though they’re super small they can rub up against the wrong nerve and send searing pain from the abdomin all the way up the right shoulder. So Dwayne the drain was not the culprit as my Holiday Inn Express level of doctorin’ has concluded. So they switched her chemo meds up to something that would specifically target these tumors. Again, lets be clear, they’re tumors, more on that later. So she gets them and goes home with a pump that infuses her with more chemo for 46 hours. This sounds terrible but its not as bad as one would think with the port plus the fact that we’re only a few hours in and she can actually breathe without pain. Which I’m sure is a relief because, one needs to breathe. And It’ll help with the swallowing and everything else as well. They also prescribed a steroid that will act as an anti-inflammatory and should help with a lot of other stuff (energy/appetite?who knows). If things get really dicey again they could do something that I could only describe as blocking the nerve so it doesn’t radiate pain. But for now, things are fine. The new chemo was a little scary though as when the nurse injected the one dose, it seemed like they mixed up FU-5 (the chemo med, I laughed a little to as it’ll be easy to remember as its one of my favorite, go to phrases) and instead administered high grade heroin as her speech immediately slurred. She assured us she’d seen that before and not to worry. OK. Easier to say than to do. But everything seems to be ok. Still a little light in the head but ok nonetheless.

So I’ll go to my review of the Mayo Clinic breakfast selection today. I thought about eating light with some fruit, maybe cottage cheese and/or oatmeal. I also considered an omelet as they are always a satisfying choice. However, I was tired. And fat boy needed some comfort food. So I went in. I asked the woman behind the counter for eggs, the potatoes, a link of andouille sausage and a biscuit. This meal turned out to be about as comfortable as a prison cot or a fold out couch. The eggs had all the taste of a dry sponge. The potatoes were so cold they were almost refreshing. No matter how much ketchup, vinegar, and hot sauce were applied they were terrible at best. The sausage looked and tasted like something I’d left on the grill from the other night when I got hammered and passed out and pulled off in the morning. The biscuit was an insult to biscuitry. It was not fluffy, nor moist even though it was undercooked in the middle yet mortar-like with the crust. I would’ve rather eaten at the Golden Corral with a group of fourth graders with colds that are below the sneeze guard. One out of ten bacon slices.

While driving up though I heard this song “Tin Man” by Miranda lambert. I’m not a country music fan as most of you know. I’ll listen to it with Elizabeth as she is but its not my genre of choice. However this song, I dont know if its a good song or a song that hit me at the right time. Like when you’re starving in Europe a McDonald’s Filet-o-fish is five star dining but when you get a full belly stateside, its barely edible (experience guys). But it went into how lucky the Tinman in the wizard of Oz was because he didn’t have a heart to break. It scratched me right where I itched. I got out of the truck with tears in my eyes, which the past couple of days has been the norm. But man, how I identified with that song. But I have a heart, and as sappy as it sounds, half of it is Elizabeths. And its been breaking the last few days. When we were with the doctor/PA, and she started crying with the news of the two new tumors, man, that sucked. Bad. We’ve done it a few times and it always sucks each and every time just as bad as the last one. But along with it there was a little hope. They can fix this problem I think. I’m sure of it. So, I’m cutting and running from today as between this, the Vegas shootings, and the passing/nonpassing of Tom Petty, this is a say I’d just soon forget. I wont but you know. Anyway, love you guys and blog at you latter. Big Hugs.

When a win doesn’t feel like a win

I’ll jump in right here. Jackknife with a big splash.

So yeah, been a week. The chemo on top of radiation just kicked our heroines ass like Mike Tyson beat down that palooka in his 14th fight. It was rough. Every joint in her body was sore, she was tired, the stitches were bugging her. Just nothing but bad. So she and I just ate it until wednesday. So we went to the temple of doom. She was in an ill mood due to having to fast 12 hours prior to blood work at 6:30 am then the MRI at 9 (another six hours). Look, we know the reasons behind it but when you’re dealing with a cancer patient that has nausea issues on top of everything else, after 16 hours of not eating, I’m shocked she didn’t trash the place like Van Halen hotel room after a concert. So we get to the doctor. Mixed results. The radiation is doing its job and getting to the big tumor and killing the middle. However, there are two other spots on the outside now. He called them something but didn’t seem too concerned by them. We’ll know more monday about that. So yeah. She had her tube fixed and hoping that resolves some of the issues. Last night sitting on the couch was the first time in a while that she said she felt little to no pain. Which if she would quit gasping when she breathes sometime at night I would feel better about. So we just keep going right? They had her scheduled for chemo on monday which just isn’t enough time off. So when we go in we’ll talk about skipping that because, well, that may be better. At least we hope. It sounded kinda like a win but we don’t know yet. Like that game where a touchdown is under review. We’re hoping its good.

Hell, we really don’t know.

It’s funny though because I watch her and even with all she’s going through I see the same killer chick I fell in love with twenty years ago. I see some patient in a wheelchair drop a bag, she’s going to grab it before I can take a breath. She’s still kind to strangers. We were in an elevator and some older gentleman had a long sleeve gator shirt on. She looked and told him he looked “handsome in his shirt”. He lit up a little bit. Even with the pain and crap and everything else she’s going through, she still does the absolute most considerate thing all the time. I wish I had that move in my repertoire but if you don’t, marry someone who does. Like I’ve always said, its not the grand gestures that make her or anyone up. It’s the little things. The actions throughout the day that take so little effort but can change a mood for the better for someone else. She does that better than anyone I’ve ever been around. Ham actually, while I’ve said is far more like me than is probably good for her, has that quality. Just something that will make you laugh. Or the other day when I was leaving for work. She left a little note by my keys. Just filled with stuff that we laugh about usually. Saying to have a good day and ——>over

You’re doing a pretty good job with this “life” thing.

Again, its a small thing. And I’ve heard it in different ways from a lot of you. But just that hit me in a special way. Not gonna kid you, some awesome leaked out of my eye. The mornings have been tough. It’d be easy to just pull the covers over my head and cry. It’s hard sometimes to lace up the boots and leave. But that? I felt nine feet tall walking out the door that day. Little things. I just saw on a facebook post, It doesn’t cost anything to be nice. I could’ve been snarky but I get it. It doesn’t. And Elizabeth and the girls are great examples of this. I’m a better person because of them. I’m not sure what I add to the equation but hopefully its something as good. Maybe how to smoke a great pork butt or the value of keeping tall grass short and the value of edging and weed eating. Not sure what but I’m just hoping. Anyway, This is gonna be short as I’m just tired. I’ll bring a little more next time and hopefully a little more funny. Hugs and a slap on the ass til next time. Love you savages and blog at you later. MMMMUAHHH!!!