Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Still Recovering

The big news so far this week is that Jimmie is now staple-free.  We went to the surgeon's office on Monday to get them out.  Unfortunately, the excursion completely wiped out Jimmie's energy reserves and he has yet to get any back.  I've encouraged him to rest more but he is so tired of being in bed.  Of course, having our grandson here this week may be another reason he prefers to spend the day closer to the family.  Watching a movie with Cole may not be as restful as a nap, but it is certainly a boost to his spirits.

Another boost recently was the news that we have a second grandchild on the way.  Congratulations Bronson and Julie!!!  Cole is excited about becoming a big brother, but quickly reminded them that he had put his order in early, "No sisters!"

- Linda

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Jimmie is continuing to improve since we've been home.  His pain is still intense at times, but is diminishng.  His appetite that had become nonexistent before the surgery is now picking up.  And his color continues to be better so I hope that means his blood counts are still going up.  Jimmie is now anxious to get back to work in his office so naturally, his recovery is not rapid enough for him.  But I'm pleased to see steady progress.

A few days before the surgery one of his doctors voiced the fear that Jimmie would not be able to survive it.  He was that sick.  And with the tremendous blood loss Jimmie sustained during the surgery we could have easily lost him.  So I know that Jimmie is only improving today through God's grace and the glory goes to Him.  The power of prayer is truly awesome.

- Linda

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

S + 6

Jimmie is home!  Yesterday he was getting his first sip of broth and asking how he could get out of the hospital.  I was replying, "Do the things that they've told you to do," and getting dirty looks for my impertinence.  Deep-breathing therapy and walking hallway laps are alot harder than they sound when someone has made a 12-inch slit through your middle and played with all your organs.   So I have to brag on Jimmie for a moment.  He determined to do it, and he did over and over yesterday.  We were even walking the halls again this morning at 6 AM.  Hmmmm. . . . I wonder if our grandson coming to town was the little extra motivation Jimmie needed.

- Linda

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

S + 4

Sunday was a difficult day, but today was better.  Jimmie lost a couple more of the tubes protruding from his body (one by accident when the stomach pump tube fell out on its own . . . hope he won't need it again.)  The doctor changed the pain control medication to something stronger (I had no idea there was something stronger than morphine, but it seems there is) so Jimmie suffered a bit less.  And Jimmie was allowed up to walk just a bit.  All positive moves forward. 

On the negative side, Jimmie's digestive system is still sleeping so he is not yet allowed anything by mouth, not even a sip of water since the surgery.

- Linda

Sunday, November 20, 2011

S + 3

I'm just home to grab a shower and head back to the hospital.  The guest lounge there provides Internet access that allows me to keep up with assigning online students to their teachers and see my email, but won't allow me to write on this blog.  So, a quick update.

Jimmie was moved to a regular room on the surgical floor last night.  Yeah!  That means he is improving!  He also hoped that would mean he would get some sleep, but that is hard to come by anywhere in a hospital so he was disappointed.  I was disappointed by Jimmie's blood counts.  He got 2 additional units of blood on Friday and baffled us all because his blood counts stayed exactly the same.  This morning they had dropped significantly so he got 2 more units immediately.  That is really not the direction it is supposed to be going and the doctors can't figure out why.  Jimmie also continues to be in a lot of pain. 

Your prayers for his recovery are greatly appreciated.

- Linda

Friday, November 18, 2011

S + 1

A very quick note - yesterday's surgery is done and Jimmie survived it.  That is certainly the important information.  There were a few complications.  The surgeon just said that the tumor was really huge, nasty, and difficult to get out.  And he was not able to remove quite all of it.  A portion had adhered to the wall of the vena cava and could not be extracted.  Hopefully, chemo will be helpful there as well as Jimmie's lungs.

But the major complication was that Jimmie lost a tremendous amount of blood.  The human body holds about 5 1/2 liters of it.  Jimmie lost 6 1/2 during the 3 1/2 hours of surgery.  He was bleeding it out about as quickly as they were pumping it in.  As a result, he went straight from the operating room into critical care on a ventilator.  But his vital signs were great and were still good this morning so the ventilator is out and he is breathing on his own.  His vascular surgeon figures Jimmie will remain in ICU through the weekend.

- Linda

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

S - 1

What can I say about today?  It was one incredibly tiring day while I tried to get everything prepared for tomorrow.    Jimmie proved once more that large doses of pain medication make him very loopy.  (I'll never think about the story of the Tortoise and the Hare quite the same way again.)  And we have received some wonderful, endearing messages from some wonderful, endearing friends.  In all, it has been a good day.

Monday's blood transfusion did not give the remarkable surge in energy I had hoped for, but it is helping.  And the hiccups have been very quiet today.  I hope tomorrow's surgery will clear them for good.

I don't know how soon after surgery I will be able to post anything.  Those who are friends on Facebook should hear something from our daughter.  Thank you so much for your continued prayers.

- Linda

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

S - 2

2 days until surgery.  We've cleared most of the hurdles so I feel like it is truly a countdown now.  But my "To Do" list seems to keep growing rather than shrinking.

Today we must go for the hospital pre-op appointment . . . again.  We actually did that yesterday, but as we were finally called to a room I asked to call the treatment center down the hall to let them know things were running slow.  Jimmie had a blood transfusion scheduled for 1pm and I wanted to be sure that having that pushed back for another 1 1/2 hours was going to be alright.  Instead, the nurse immediately said the transfusion took precedence and hurried us over to the other part of the hospital.  I had no idea that blood transfusions took so long!  We did not get out of the hospital until after 8pm and by then I'm not sure that the word "exhausted" is the right adjective.  But it is wonderful to see some color in Jimmie's cheeks after months of ashen grey.

- Linda

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jimmie is finally getting some breaks from the hiccups.  The second medicine worked a little bit so Friday the doctor doubled the dosage and now it is working much better.  Jimmie still isn't hiccup-free, but he does have more quiet times he can sleep and when he does have a bout they are not as severe.  Ah, the things I have learned in recent weeks.  I had no idea that something as simple as the hiccups could be so devastating.  More than a week of those really rough ones squandered much of Jimmie's strength.  I pray that he can regain some of it before the surgery.

- Linda

Friday, November 11, 2011

At last!

The urology surgeon's office called yesterday afternoon to tell us that Jimmie's procedure will be Thursday November 17th.   But Jimmie has had so many "procedures" in the last 5 months that I had to verify, "Do you mean his surgery?"  Yes!  The wonderful office assistant who called had actually booked the operating room while waiting on an answer from the vascular surgeon so as soon as he approved she had everything done.  I think that smart assistant deserves a raise!

But we only got to savour the joyful optimism for about 18 hours.  This morning when Jimmie's oncologist  heard first-hand the struggle Jimmie has trying to breathe during these hiccup bouts he started talking about cancelling the surgery.  His fear was that the cancer that had spread to Jimmie's lungs had grown so much that it was causing the problem.  If it was then the operation would have to be scrubbed and chemo begun immediately. 

Amazingly, his secretary managed to schedule a CT scan at the hospital with only an hour's wait and we headed over there.  After the scan the technician said it usually took at least a day for the report to be sent to the doctor - so I'm thinking late Monday if we're lucky.  Jimmie was supposed to have pre-op on Monday morning so I begged him to put it through right away.  (The doctor's orders had specified an immediate response but he never looked at that.)  Thankfully the young man carried through on his promise to mark it STAT and we got a call this afternoon that the nodules in Jimmie's lungs were unchanged.  So the surgery is back on.  But I'm exhausted.

- Linda

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

. . . and waiting . . .

It's Wednesday but no word about surgery.  I called the urology surgeon this morning as instructed last week, but his assistant just said they were still waiting on the vascular surgeon to review and decide.  I got the classic, "We'll call you."

The medication the doctor prescribed on Monday had failed miserably in controlling the hiccups.  Jimmie has had several bouts of hiccups so bad he could hardly catch a breathe of air which was frightening for both of us. Today the oncologist prescribed something stronger and it is working.  Jimmie has actually been sleeping since shortly after taking it - I'm not sure if that is a result of the drug or the exhaustion - but the quiet sounds wonderful.  He definitely needed the rest.

- Linda

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Still Waiting

Another day of waiting.  Not that the day has been idle . . . there is plenty to keep me busy.  I always forget just how much Jimmie does until he can't do it and I try to fill the gaps.  Still, waiting is one of the hardest part of our days right now.  It's been just over 3 weeks since the doctor shocked us with the C word, and about 10 days since he confirmed that it was already stage 4, something I had figured out from my frantic Internet research.  But it really feels like it has been much longer.

- Linda

Monday, November 7, 2011


I remember when someone getting a case of the hiccups seemed hilarious, especially as they tried all of the old wives tale remedies, like drinking water upsidedown or breathing into a paper sack.  I've laughed at myself a few times, but this time it isn't quite so funny.  Jimmie has had hiccups continuously since last Thursday evening and considering how sore his midsection already was, these hiccups are beyond annoying.  We have tried every home remedy I could find - and there were a number on the Internet that I didn't know about.  Not even my surefire, never-failed-before remedy of a teaspoonful of sugar held in the mouth made any difference.  This morning I called the doctor who immediately called in a prescription.  (The nurse told me that hiccups are not uncommon with the location of this cancer.)  The hiccups persist, but Jimmie does think they have gotten a bit milder.  I hope additional doses of the medicine will calm them more because he definitely needs some sleep.

No word yet from the surgeons.  The urology surgeon said he would try to have something definitive for us by Wednesday.

- Linda

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Good News

We arrived at the doctor's office this morning for Jimmie's first chemo infusion.  We left 2 hours later WITHOUT the chemo - and yet we were not disappointed by the delay.   Instead, we were rejoicing with good news for a change:
  1. for the first time since becoming anemic Jimmie's hemoglobin level quit its downward spiral and headed back up slightly
  2. Tuesday's MRI on Jimmie's brain showed nothing but heathly tissue - no cancer has spread there
  3. Tuesday's pictures of the kidney tumor do show that the vena cava is definitely involved, but not as severely as expected from the CT scan so surgery should be an option afterall
We are still on hold, waiting for the fight to begin.  But the plan of attack is looking better.

- Linda

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Jimmie had some sage advice as we left the imaging center yesterday.  "If you ever are having an MRI and the technician asks if you want a break - Take it!"  He did not and sorely regretted it.  Of course, at the time he did not realize he would be on the table for 3 1/2 hours for 3 back-to-back MRIs.  My stint in the waiting room was exhausting just because it was so long, but adding several decibels of noise while being stuck in that narrow imaging tube certainly made his afternoon worse than mine.  I was very glad to get him home again last night even if the house is far too quiet now.  Our daughter and grandson had to return home yesterday.

- Linda