Anything is Possible

HDu_AnythingIsPossibleI’m at home this morning while Hook waits at the hospital for the case manager to stop by and give the okay for a Tuesday release.

Over the weekend, the doctors were able to contain the blood clot by putting in a filter of sorts to prevent the clot from rising further up the body.   That was the non-invasive procedure I’d mentioned in the last blog.  Blood clots are common for people with pancreatic cancer.  As a preventative measure, Hook will self-inject blood thinners daily once he’s home.   He did these in January for almost a month, right after the December surgery, and it’s a procedure he’s comfortable with already.

Hook feels 100% better.  He looks better, has color in his face, and he seems to have twice the energy he’s had in a long time.    He certainly seemed to have a good appetite in the hospital which is not the gourmet place you want to find yourself hungry.

I wish I could tell you for certain how much time Hook has left, but we don’t know.  No one does not even the doctors.  He could have three weeks, he could have three months, he could have three years.   Everything depends on how well we self-manage his diet and exercise and stick to holistic methods of treatment as much as possible.

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and thoughts but especially your prayers.  A special thanks to my friend, Linda Lou, a cancer nurse who has been guiding and helping us to interpret information at each new turn.   Linda Lou has been the voice of reason since all of this started almost a year ago.  She’s been a trusted medical confidant to my family for over 20 years, and it’s her advice that led to my father living 10 more healthy years.  Had he listened to his oncologist, he would have been dead in six months with chemo in his veins.  When my father did pass away in 2011, it was from natural causes and not cancer, and not one ounce of chemo ever entered his body.

Anything is possible.  I know this because I’ve experienced it.  And I think that if my husband is willing to get his head out of his ass and open his mind to something more than just data that he can experience the impossible, too.

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Getting Back on Schedule

You all must have been praying double-time because from about 7 o’clock yesterday evening to most of today, Hook’s situation has improved:

  • Sunday 7:00PM: A great second shift weekend nurse, Justin, entered the hospital scene.  I was looking forward to having Nurse Daniel back because I didn’t want to break in another night nurse.   But Justin came, started chatting Hook up, asked him about his surgery and what he did for a living so that when I heard Hook crack a sleepy joke to him, I knew everything was going to be all right.  Hook seemed comfortable with Justin so by 8:30, I headed home and got a full eight hours of sleep.  I felt a little bad that I didn’t ask Justin his story about how he came to be in nursing, but I’ll do that tonight since I’ll hang around until after the nurse shift change.
  • Monday 6:30AM:  Nurse Roy took over for Justin and when I saw him, a sense of relief floated over me.  Roy was the back-up to Nurse Michael when Hook was in the real ICU.  When we met the first time around and he asked if there was anything he could get for me, naturally I said, “Margarita, frozen, no salt,” and Roy replied, “Make mine with salt.”   Roy is like the Edward Scissorhands of nurses.  He whipped Hook’s schedule into shape and within one hour gave me status updates on all liquids, physical therapist appointment, when we can expect to see the surgeon, and how the rest of the morning would look.   The room vibrated (I’m not kidding!!!) from his energy as he zipped around pulling sheets off, hooking things up, punching buttons here and there.  It feels so good to be taken care of!  Even Hook said, “He’s good.”  Roy always knew he would be a nurse growing up.  His mom and two brothers are also in healthcare, and he started volunteering in health service settings when he was 15 years old.  He said he’d thought about medical school but changed his mind after his first pre-med course.  The professor in Hook snickered when he heard that.  (The man even snickers when he’s drowsy!)
  • Monday 9:00am:  In walks Joyce, a 30-year, career physical therapist with a witty sense of humor and a joke bank to back it up.  She immediately went into action, giving Hook a play-by-play of how he was going to pull himself up and off the bed and into a standing position and how she would navigate the whole process.   Joyce has raised three sons, all in their 20s, and she said she enjoys her job even more now that she doesn’t have to worry about soccer practices and laundry.  She’s firm and insistent with her instructions to Hook which is exactly what he’ll need for this next physical stage.
  • Monday 10:30am:  A visit with the surgeon and the big spleen debate.   Our surgeon informs us that Hook is hooked up to more tubes than anyone on the floor and that his goal is to start removing a few.
  • Monday 2:30pm:  One of the outie tubes is removed!

Love is a Many Spleendor Thing 

Since yesterday, when Hook overheard a conversation between one of the weekend nurses and me about the reconstruction of his insides, he has insisted that he still has his spleen.   We’ve been circling this spleen thing ever since.HDU_spleen

You see, even though Hook can answer questions asked of him, he has drifted in and out of a drug stupor for the last five days.   Although he remembers more and more in between his wake-ups, in the first three days, he could recall very little about what was asked of him and what was going on around him.

The first time he asked me how the surgery went, I de-briefed him as the surgeon had de-briefed me.   Hook’s focus then was on the specifics regarding the smaller stomach which made sense given he was looking forward to getting back to eating.  All was fine until yesterday when he piped into my conversation with the nurse and from out of a slumber mumbled,  “No he didn’t,” and I said, “No he didn’t what honey?” and Hook said, “He didn’t take my spleen.”   Then he glanced at me with a sideways look and what I believe to have been a sneer that screamed, you don’t know what you’re talking about.   Then he fell back into a sleep.

Spleens aren’t exactly trending on the internet so here’s a quick paragraph on all you could ever want to know:  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/spleendiseases.html

“The spleen unfortunately was an innocent bystander,” said our surgeon at the 10:30am meeting.  One of the arteries going into the spleen had suspicious looking nodes and leaving them behind was not an option.  When Hook kept on with more questions, asking about the 10% number regarding his pancreas (he questioned the accuracy of my information on that one as well), the surgeon confirmed that yes he cut away more than he had anticipated.  Hook said, “You didn’t leave me much,” and the surgeon replied, “I left you enough.”

And it will be enough because we will make it enough.

If all goes well the rest of today, Hook might be allowed to enjoy something other than ice chips as an entrée like a frozen ice pop, maybe even some broth, or tea.  But we won’t know that until the late evening.

Before I forget, this joke from Joyce the physical therapist is too good not to share:

A man is lying in bed in the hospital with an oxygen mask over his mouth.  A young nurse comes into his room and says she’s there to sponge his hands and feet.  “Nurse,” the man mumbles from behind the mask, “Are my testicles black?” Embarrassed, the young nurse replies, “I don’t know, I’m only here to wash your hands and feet.”  The man struggles to ask again, “Are my testicles black?”  The nurse pulls back the bed covers, raises the patient’s gown, holds his penis in one hand and his testicles in her other hand and looks closely and says, “No, your testicles are not black.”  Finally, the man pulls off his oxygen mask and replies, “That was very nice but, are… my… test… results… back?

My baby is gaining strength and thanks to our new nurses (Justin will be back tonight!) his body is getting back on track and back on schedule.  If it doesn’t, the nurses and the surgeon will have some exspleening to do …  😀 😀 😀

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The Beginning of Thanks not the End of It

I didn’t miss posting about Thanksgiving in Australia simply because there is no Thanksgiving in Australia at least not in the month of November.   Thanksgiving is one of the few U.S. holidays that is unique to Americans and oddly enough not grossly over commercialized.   We’re too busy giving thanks I guess.

Australia’s Thanksgiving

Australians have what some rumors call a National Day of Thanksgiving in the month of May.  It sounds like it was something conjured up by a Christian network in the mid-2000s and maybe (or maybe not) recognized by the Australian government.   But do Aussies actually celebrate this National Day of Thanksgiving?  I can only wonder without some Aussie input.

It doesn’t bother me that other countries might create their own day of thanks. Maybe your thanks will override our thanks since I’m sure everyone is not thankful enough.   I can already hear people saying out loud (mostly Americans probably), “I’m thankful, I am!”   Be more thankful.   If you’re healthy and you know it, clap your hands and be so very, very thankful.

No Thanks, Scary Thanks & Real Thanks

There is inner turmoil between my bethankful woman and my I’mpissedandscared woman and since this is not a Thanksgiving blog but only sounds like one, let me share my lists of No Thanks, Scary Thanks, and Real Thanks.

  • I give no thanks, nothing, nada, zilch to the doctors who have been treating Hook for the past six months but do not see him as a person.   Do I expect too much?  Maybe.  Except Hook represents for these doctors one of very few patients who is likely to become candy-free.   He’s not just a statistic so stop treating him like a number!
  • No thanks to– I have to say it: cancer.  That disgusting blob of killjoy which attaches itself to healthy cells and feeds off organs like a parasite.  With all the fat floating around in the universe, why couldn’t cancer attach itself to cellulite? We’d all sign up for it then.
  • More no thanks to a healthcare system that didn’t allow for a nurse practitioner to help Hook and me navigate the healthcare process until …wait for it…six months after we’d been navigating the system on our own.   In fact, I’ve been so upset about this for the past week that I couldn’t even post a blog.  (Yes, I’m blaming healthcare for my lack of writing!  Genius, no?)  No thanks for the added layer of bureaucracy.
  • A big fat no thanks to Hook’s oncologist who loves to answer a question with a question.  When I asked, “Should we get a second opinion?”  He answered, “Why do you feel you need a second opinion?” and I said, “Let me ask that another way.  Would you recommend we get a second opinion?”   His answer, “You could.”    Thanks for nothing, but shhhh, don’t tell Hook I wrote this.  He likes his fist-bumping oncologist.
  • Finally, I am not at all thankful for mastering the art of living-in-limbo in a constant state of ‘wait and see.’  It sucks.

Okay.  The no thanks is off my chest.   That was my fear and frustration talking.   Now let’s hear from my heart.

Scary Thanks

Scary thanks are those thanks I give because I know it could be worse (way worse).  I know I’ve somehow skated by and I’m not quite sure why I get to be part of the lucky group.  Scary thanks are those cosmic chuckles we all give from time to time when Good Blessings aren’t checking I.D.s at the door because not all of us would be admitted:

  • I give thanks that my life’s circumstances aren’t worse or worse than yours whoever you are whose life is worse than mine.
  • I give thanks that my husband is who he is, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.  If things get worse, please remind me that I wrote this.
  • I give thanks for those nurses who do answer our questions, who give us frank advice when it’s not always in their best, political interest to do so.  God bless all nurses always.

Real Thanks

  • For our families.
  • For our wealth of friends.
  • For our lack of debt because we like to live like monks.
  • For my work-from-home business.
  • For my stupid cat.

I’ll always be thankful that life in Australia was even a possibility, is still a possibility, and who knows maybe next May when some Australians celebrate a Day of Thanks, the Hooks will be celebrating with them.  It’s the beginning of thanks, not the end of it.  Sing it with me people!

Hook’s Surgery is Dec 6th  I’ll probably post twice that day.   I’ll either post or spontaneously combust and you can read about it on Twitter.  😦

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