Monday, July 31, 2017

Ramping It Up

First of all, I want to say thank you to the deacons and other fellows who built a new wheelchair ramp for us a couple of weeks ago. Superb work, guys!  It’s just what we needed to help me in and out of the house on my “bad” days.

That said, I feel like we’re in the middle of a TV reality show around here. One of those old house renovation sagas where they’re doing renovation work and they keep running into problems that weren’t in the original plans. Things like, “Oops! That wall we’re knocking out is a load bearing wall!” or “The foundation is crumbling and you’ve got enormous termite damage!” In our case, when the guys sunk posts for the ramp, they accidentally cut the gas line coming into the house. We sort of expected that, so it was no big deal. We had the gas company come out to fix the line for a reasonable price, but in the process two more problems came up.  First they discovered there was a leak somewhere.  After checking their work and all the connections in the house, they finally found it in our dark, dank, seldom used cellar. Wow…we could have blown ourselves up!  Second, while they were digging a new trench for the gas line, they hit an old 220 V. live electrical line that my late brother-in-law had buried years ago. The scary part is that the circuit breaker didn’t kick out when they hit it. Still working on getting an electrician out to work on that problem. To compound problems, the day after the gas company fixed the line, we had an all-day rainstorm that washed all the dirt out of the trench. We’re going to need to haul some dirt in to fill the trench back up. The heavy rain also revealed that we have a leak in our porch roof. I’m wondering what the next problem is going to be.

On the health front, the immunotherapy has been discontinued and my oncologist has pretty much cut me loose. I have a follow-up appointment with him in a couple of weeks, but I think that’s just curiosity on his part to see if I’m still alive by then. The cancer has pretty much consumed about 80-90% of my right lung and is moving into my central airway, apparently heading for my left lung. I have good days and bad days. On a good day, my atrial fibrillation calms down and I can get up and move around the house without a lot of problems. On a bad day my heart flip-flops like a fish on dry land. I just sit in my recliner and try to relax. I’m also coughing a lot more lately. I think it’s the cancer making me feel like there’s something down there that needs to be coughed up. I wish I could.

I guess I can announce to the world that I’m going to be a “grampy” again. My second son and his wife are expecting twin boys in October.

Well, I’ve got a fly pestering me that has been trying to land on my nose for the last 15 or 20 minutes. I’m going to close this post and go find a fly swatter.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Going and going, and going...

Several folks have asked me if I planned to post anything more in Dry Crusts, so here I am at the keyboard again. I don’t know how many more posts I’ll get in, but here’s another one.

I’ve been home about a week now following another trip to the hospital. This trip was probably the most serious one so far. One of my nurses said I’m like the Energizer Bunny, I just keep going and going. One of the Energizer commercials mentions that their bunny has a furry little tail. After this last trip, MY furry little tail is feeling pretty bedraggled.

This episode started when I had a coughing fit that lasted about an hour.  Couldn’t put two words together. Once I stopped coughing I couldn’t get my breath. After about three hours, it finally occurred to me to check my oxygen level. I was at 60% saturation when I’m normally 98 or 99%. Most folks pass out at around 55%. I decided it was time to make a trip to the emergency room. I got to the local ER and they put me on a Cpap machine, but it didn’t help. I don’t think they were sure what to do next. My wife insisted they send me to Gotham hospital to see if they could help. A two hour trip, they said I  needed to be stabilized before life-flighting me there in a helicopter. That meant ventilation. They knocked me out, put a tube down my throat and sent me North. 
Since it was the weekend, nothing was done until the following Monday. I remained in stasis for about three days before they got around to working on me. I have no memory of anything from the time they knocked me out until I woke up in Gotham except for being in a sort of gray limbo and somebody telling me to squeeze their hand if I could hear them. Once they did a broncoscopy, they discovered a mucus plug had formed in my good lung and caused it to collapse. Once the lung was reinflated, they woke me back up.

I’ve been told that to come off a ventilator and not have any major problems is highly unusual and that I’m a very lucky guy. Personally, I don’t think luck had anything to do with it. I have dozens of people praying for me both locally and elsewhere. You won’t convince me that isn’t what pulled me through this time.

I talked to my oncologist Thursday and he said the imunotherapy treatments have done just about all they can do for me and decided to terminate them. Of all the  patients he put on this therapy at the same time as me, there are only two still alive. I am one of them. But it looks like it’s getting close to the end of the trail for me unless some other miracle treatment is discovered. The end could come tomorrow or maybe six months from now, everybody is different. It’s up to me now to make sure I stay healthy and breathing deeply for as long as I can.

Thanks to EVERYONE for your prayers and well-wishes. It does a WORLD of good.