It’s 3:43 pm and the date is 10 April 16.
I’m posting another entry from my blog over on Facebook. This entry sees Lori and I at the U of Michigan after her cancer surgery. I wrote these entries on the hospital’s computer and because of that,I couldn’t write detailed entries because other folks were waiting as well to use the computer.
The day of the surgery,I drove Lori to U of M. It was very early in the morning but traffic was light,we were asked to be there by 6 am for a 7 am start. We packed Lori’s clothes and personal items in a overnight bag because we were supposed to be at the hospital for one night.
Our nerves were on edge despite Dr. Johnston assuring us that Lori’s chances were “excellent”because the cancer was so slow moving in her uterus.
We checked into the hospital,were escorted to the surgical bay and prepped. We met Lori’s surgical team who explained that the surgery was to take place in two stages…Lori’s hysterectomy was to come first and would take about 2-2.5 hours,then the other team would come in and do the bladder suspension surgery,this would take another 2 hours.
I was to be given a buzzer and after Dr. Johnston was done,she would buzz me and update me at around 10:30 am. After the second stage,they would buzz me again and direct me to the recovery area.
I sat with Lori and we talked as I held her hand and reassured her. I showed her the buzzer they gave me,I said “Olive Garden will be miffed they are missing these” which got a good laugh. Then it was time to go and as they wheeled Lori into surgery,I began my wait.
I had breakfast and a coffee in the lounge and tried to read a book I brought. Time slowed to a crawl and I couldn’t keep my focus on my book. I walked the floor of the surgical floor and went to the computer area to check my Facebook and emailed her family on how we were doing.
10:30 am came and went and the buzzer was silent,I didn’t expect it to buzz dead on because that isn’t how surgery works. I continued to walk the floor…but by 11:15,I started to get concerned….I headed back to the waiting room to see if I could find someone who could find out where we stood at.
11:30 am and the buzzer went off as I entered the waiting room. I checked in and was taken to a small room. Dr. Johnston sat down,I can still see her face,even 5 years later,her eyes were sad,concerned and determined.
I asked her if they had gotten all the cancer within the uterus. Dr. Johnston sighed and said that the cancer had broken through the back wall of the uterus and had spread up and down Lori’s intestines. She had called in a colon specialist because she was concerned the cancer had invaded her colon,while it hadn’t,it had spread to a lymph mode on her left leg as well. My heart stopped and I am not sure it ever completely restarted at times.
I asked Dr. Johnston what our percentage was,it certainly was no longer 87%. Dr. Johnston,who had earlier kept on telling us about high of survival rates,now told me “don’t think about that now,just get ready for what is to come and we will get through this. You two are a remarkable couple and Lori will need you more then ever now.”
The bladder surgery was going on and after 90 more minutes,I was sitting next to Lori,waiting for her to awaken. I felt hollow and terrified as I looked at Lori’s lovely face as she stirred. When she asked and I told her the news,she gripped my hand and cried. We sat there for the longest time before they wheeled us upstairs to her room.
I stayed overnight in a tiny room down the hall (I know I would snore and didn’t want to wake Lori up).
7 April 11
Its 1:46 am
Trying for my 2nd update using a U of M computer….my first one got wiped out…
Okay….my wife had her surgery yesterday and the news was not good. Seems like the cancer went thru the back wall of the uterus and latched onto her bowels in 3 places…and also on her lymph nodes above her right leg.
Dr. Johnston was able to get most of it off but not all of it. Too say we’re disappointed is a understatement…but when I told my wife the news,she allowed herself a short cry then wiped away her tears and asked what was next.
What is next is a port being put into her shoulder and in two weeks,we start a 6 month chemo therapy. I offered my bone marrow/blood in case that would make a difference,sadly,that won’t help us much here.
The U of M hospital staff has been beyond awesome….even letting me stay the night with her. It helps us both out a lot,she sleeps better knowing I’m here….but the cats are upset because I’m coming home alone and they know she isn’t there. I came home to catch up a few hours of sleep and recharge my battery…so I took a nap,when I woke up,Derek was curled up on my wife’s pillow…how cats know these things is real mystery.So thats where we are at….not in a good plce but still in the fight. Thank you all for thinking of us and keeping us in your prayers.
Special thanks for your wonderful support to Michelle,Amy and Lisa Ann. You guys rock!
10 April 16 pm
So by now,you may noticed in these entries,I don’t use Lori’s name. I did this out of privacy. I wrote this blog as a way to express my feelings and fears of what was going on. It really wasn’t meant for a lot of folks to see.
As I wrote below,this was a good day…Lori was up and walking with the help of a staff member when I got there,we traded places and Lori gripped my arm as I steadied her,her strength was getting low and we slowly turned back to her room. She said she was hungry and wanted anything to eat. She was on a food restricted diet and this was making her a bit grumpy,she hadn’t eaten in almost 2.5 days by this point.
I helped her take a shower and get dressed. She felt much better afterwards and after I put her to bed,we did indeed watch the first baseball game of the year.
As I now know,Lori was in deep trouble once Dr. Johnston was able to see her cancer with naked eyes. She probably was advanced the minute Dr. Johnston saw this but Dr. J was a fighter and by God,she did fight with us against this monster. Lori’s team did their best trying to correct the major fuck up that the doctors at Oakwood (now Beaumont) made in totally missing her cancer. Oakwood’s negligence killed Lori as much as her cancer did.
It took 5 months from the very first ER visit to the day when her cancer was discovered. 5 months of being bounced around and that includes having her gall bladder removed which I already wrote about.
7 April 11
Its 12:26 am
Back home tonight….it was a long day. My armor showed its first cracks….
Had a good day today…got to the hospital and went into my wife’s room…except she isn’t there…she is out motoring on her own,taking a walk about around her floor. She comes back in and we catch up on her night….progress is being made at a rapid pace…her MS (morphine) drip is pulled,her last two EKG tabs are pulled and she is able to take a shower.
That said,that is what is done….afterwards in her own PJs and feeling refreshed,her spirits are much improved. The diet is upgraded slightly to toast and popsicles w/lukewarm tea and orange juice.
The day started out cloudy and rainy but it cleared up in time to watch the Tiger’s Opening Day game against the Royals.
We enjoyed watching the pre-game ceremonies and seeing the sell-out crowd cheering away. The game itself was okay,the Tigers put a 4 spot on the board in the 1st inning to go up 4-0. At the same time the Yankees are getting drilled by Boston…makes for a long afternoon indeed.
With the Tigers ahead,my wife dozes off for a few…her face is peaceful….
3:30 PM….the nursing staff changes over. We meet Diana,our NA for the evening…the Tigers are still winning and the Yanks are still losing,Hughes is getting bombed.
My wife places a order for toast and a popsicle at 5 pm. We finish watching the Tigers win,5-2,a patient cheered when the final out was made.
5:30 pm….no toast
5:45 pm….no toast
6:00 pm….the doctors make rounds,see how well my wife is recovering and upgrade her meal to solid food. As we are waiting for a menu,we make another lap around the floor….
6:25 pm…..we come back to find……a single slice of toast.
6:30 PM….We meet Jaime,my wife’s RN for the night,he places a fish dinner order for her…and when we asked about bladder lift,he brings up her treatment profile and tells us exactly what took place on Tuesday morning.
As he is explaining it,he mentions something that finally cracked my armor…something Dr. Johnston didn’t tell us. They found cancer very close to the colon…and it hits me….what was originally a stage 2 cancer now has been elevated…I can taste the fear for the first time and I’m not liking this at all…
The kitchen rolls in my wife’s dinner…meat loaf! Since she is observing Lent,she doesn’t eat meat on Fridays plus she had ordered fish….so the order is regiven and at 7:30,I head on home…I have to hurry because I can feel my tears coming,she can’t see me cry,can she? We kiss and I head out…get my parking stamped and lose it in hallway. First time since this whole fucking hell has started in September and I am losing it….I ask,are we in a stage 3 arena now? The nurses don’t but say Jaime might know….we walk down the hall and I want an honest answer…he can’t say for sure but does admit this cancer has caught everyone by surprise with its speed. But as far as stage 3 goes,we have to wait for Wednesday to see what the pathology says. What we don’t want to see is this:
As you can see,this is a very aggressive form of cancer and it can invade other parts of the body,including the bowels.
And this is what is really bothering me….how fast it progressed from a self-contained uterine cancer with a 87% cure rate to the unknown.
I’m going to offer once again my bone marrow…there has to be a way to slow this beast down…All eyes are on Wednesday.
Keep us in your prayers.
10 April 16
We are now home after Lori’s surgery. The distance between our home and U of M Cancer Center is actually 18.5 miles if you drive through Dixboro.
That pharm tech at CVS was indeed pretty amazing,incredibly fast and very nice to boot despite having a line. I left Lori in the car with the heater running,I had asked her if she wanted to go home and I would come back for the meds but she said she wanted me home with her and she would wait.
Derek Jeter was VERY happy to see us and he was flopping and presenting his tummy for a rub. He started talking at Lori and trying to rub against her legs,we discouraged this because Derek weighed 22 pounds and Lori was still weak,the last thing we needed was her to trip over him.
I forgot what I fixed for dinner,only that I didn’t burn it and for that I am ever grateful.
Lori made a few phone calls to her family and co-workers to give them an update,there were a lot of tears I remember. I had to cut the calls short as I didn’t want her to get too worn out.
10 April 11
Its 2:41 pm
Cranking out a quick update…
So my wife is home….I went and picked her up yesterday at U of M . We had to wait 2 hours to be properly discharged but it was worth it. Weather was a little chilly but the 16 mile ride home was pretty great. We dropped by CVS to fill out her load of meds which the pharm tech filled in only 15 minutes,he was a real saint as it normally takes a lot longer coming in cold.
We got home and Derek Jeter was very happy to see her,purring loudly and meowing a lot.
I helped her change into some comfys and got her comfortable on the couch. I unpacked her suitcase arranged her flowers. I bounced acrossed the street,got the mail and was happy to see she had gotten a few cards. It lifted her spirits quite a bit.
As the day went on,I fixed dinner and we talked about the future ahead of us. We know now her first chemo treatment will require another overnight stay in the hospital,thats SOP for first treatment cases as they want to see how a patient will handle the treatment. We are expecting total hair loss but hoping for the best. But hey,I bet I can get a great wig from somewhere,right?
We spent a quiet night watching “Grown Ups” (a funny movie w/lots of heart) and The Antonio Treatment. The AT was a good one as Antonio is a old school punker who enjoys kick ass music and often uses the bands he likes in his designs….last night he created a mural out of fans at a Slayer show and paid tribute to the late Elliott Smith by copying a design that he saw in Silverlake. The person whom he was designing for was really stoked on how her house turned out…
Today is a little more easier…moving around better but mostly sleeping. I did chores around the house,laundry,cooking,shopping,etc…the weather was perfect today in SE Michigan and we went for a little walk and checked in on our neighbor who had major surgery on her mouth.
That is it for this re-entry. A lot of emotion in reading this and adding more input as to what was going on. If you made it through….thank you for reading this.