Friday, July 31, 2009

Returning from the Benadryl-induced coma...

Well, we still haven't pinpointed the cause of my fever, but the good news is that it has subsided for the most part. Yesterday and today I hovered around 99.5 deg F all day, which is fine according to the doctors. They're continuing the course of antibiotics through my port in an attempt to save the port if it is the source of infection. This particular antibiotic, while not technically on my list of known allergies, makes me itch like crazy. So I get premedicated with IV Benadryl. Night night Lisa Marie. I'd say it's added 4 hours of sleep to my day.

I did have a CT scan (with rectal contrast, can you say Good Times?) yesterday to confirm that my anastamosis (the point where my bowel was reconnected) hadn't sprung a leak, causing the infection. That test showed no problems so our biggest worries have been eased significantly.

Yesterday, I thought I might be getting a cold sore on my upper lip. So I sent Art to the store for some Abreva. I was wrong, I wasn't getting a cold sore, I was getting six cold sores. I should have sent him to buy stock in Abreva (only $20 for 0.07 ounces). I'm guessing the nasty cold sore virus took advantage of my weakened immune system and decided to go crazy. Now isn't Sean sorry for all that smooching?

Today the docs told me I have neutropenia, which is basically a really low white blood count. The good news is this means the chemo is doing it's job. The bad news is I need a shot of Neupogen which, according to my brother-in-law, makes your bones ache. Again, good times.

The surgeon thinks I might get my NG tube out as early as Sunday and could potentially be discharged in the middle of next week. We're not getting our hopes up too high, but that sure would be nice.

Hayden called us this afternoon. Which was kind of surprising, given that he was at camp today.

The conversation:
Hayden: Hey Dad!
Sean (hearing background noises): Where are you?
Hayden: Dad, I finally found the phone at camp.
Sean: What do you mean you found the phone at camp?
Hayden: There's a phone in the corner of this room at camp
Sean: Why are you calling? Is your grandmother there?
Hayden: No, I just found the phone and thought I'd tell you the Yankees are on again tonight on WGN Channel 54.
Sean: Who gave you this number? Is your grandmother there?
Hayden: No, I just remembered it because I called it last night.
Sean: Well I don't think you're supposed to be on the phone at camp. Go back and play your shaving cream fight and I'll talk to you later tonight.
Hayden: OK, Goodbye.

So if my kid comes to your house, you'd better either lock up the phones or make sure you have unlimited free long distance calling. He has a real head for numbers and a love of phone conversation. Dangerous combination.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Fever again this morning: 102.5 deg F. Still investigating. The most likely culprit is an infection in my port (potentially caused by non-sterile procedures in accessing said port). We're still waiting on lab results, but in the meantime they've taken me off IV nutrition and are running my IV fluids and pain meds into a regular IV in my hand.

They're running a prophylactic course of antibiotics through the port itself. If it turns out to be infected, it will have to be removed immediately since it feeds directly to my heart. Then I'd get a new central line called a PICC line for the remainder of my stay here. Fun, fun, fun.

Dr. Sugarbaker came today to share the pathology results. More details later, but the synopsis is that the results were great, better than we ever could have imagined.

Finally, I'm without my cell phone now so I don't have my contact files and don't have any opf your phone numbers. If you want to call us instead, the direct line to our room is 202-877-4920. If it's after 10:30 (we're usually up till about 11:30), you can call the nurse station at 202-877-3291 and ask for Room 2NW20.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Temperature = 102.7 F. Investigating.....

by Shel Silverstein

"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

Monday, July 27, 2009

My boys...

I love this little video that my sweet brother-in-law Michael shot of the kids on Sunday when he and his family drove down from Tyler, TX to spend the day with the Houston McLaughlins. Here it is, short but sweet...

In case you don't remember Barnaby, please reference this old post.
Long Overdue...

Well, Sean certainly has done a fine job keeping you updated on the medical stuff so far. Here is today's news.

Three of my Jackson Pratt drains were removed today. I won't say it was fun, but it is a relief to have them gone. The doctor who took them out is so sweet, but he tricked me a little. He pulled the first one, which was only about 4 inches long and completely painless. Then he said "That wasn't bad, was it?" I said "No" and he proceeded to pull drain #2 which was about 12 inches long and really rather painful. He apologized, but there was a lot of deep breathing and pressing the button on the pain pump before I was ready for drain #3 to be pulled.

Last night was OK. I spiked a fever (101.5 deg F) after having my port accessed yesterday so they were concerned about an infection (highly unlikely due to their super-duper sterile medical practices here, ha!). The doctor ordered a stat blood culture at 9 pm. The phlebotomist showed up at 1 am and I woke up as she was tying the tourniquet around my left forearm. She said "You've only got one usable vein here and it's this big one on the underside of your wrist. It's really deep and rubbery, so this is going to hurt a lot." A this point, I became wide awake and reached over and took off the tourniquet and said "No thanks. I have to have blood drawn in the morning and I'm not sacrificing my last vein to you." So she stormed out of the room declaring "Well, I'm the only one here tonight so it's me or nobody." I proceeded to go back to sleep.

At 4 am I was woken by the surgical resident on-call and asked why I had refused the blood culture. I told her that I'm like a human pincushion here. I get shots, blood draws, blood sugar tests, etc. all day long and I grin and bear it. Ask anyone. But if some incompetent (I didn't say this to her) phlebotomist says I only have one usable vein (which is crap) and that she's going to hurt me, I'm not going for it. A nurse can draw my blood instead. So the resident says she'll inform my surgical team of my decision. I later find out this is the same on-call resident who told Sean it was OK that I had thrown up all my bowel prep solution the night before my surgery. Which by the way, was very NOT OK according to Dr. Sugarbaker.

So today I claimed victory. I discussed it with my surgical team on morning rounds and they said since my fever was gone, I didn't need the blood culture. And they said my future daily blood draws can come from my port line when my TPN line is changed. Yay! Yes Carolyn, it pays to be snarky.

And yesterday's night shift nurse and today's day shift nurse? Fantastic! And today's night shift nurse is named Juliet so how can I go wrong? Now we're just waiting for the pathology results, which should be back soon. We're hoping for clean margins across the board, which would mean no cancer evident in the edges of the tissue they removed. We've come this far, I know good news is ahead. Stay with us and pray with us.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Post-Op Day 5

It's 12:30 am and Lisa Marie is finally asleep. She was planning on doing her own post but she just couldn't make it so she asked me to give a short update. Today wasn't a great day. Very little sleep last night and only a very short nap today. Her NG tube was blocked for about 3 hours (meaning stomach acids built up), she was denied her antacid meds (or the nurse "forgot" even though we asked for it), she had a painful blood draw in the back of her right hand which left quite the bruise, she had her central line in the neck removed, and as she continues to become more mobile, the tugging of a central line tube, an NG tube, 6 Jackson-Pratt drain lines hanging from her abdomen, a catheter, and multiple EKG leads is beginning to take its toll.

However, even with all that, it wasn't a terrible day. She continues to make great progress, taking 2 long walks down the hall, to the elevator, down to the first floor, past the cafeteria elevators, past the Blimpies shop, and to the first floor entrance information desk. This is not a short walk. She also had a couple of calls from friends which really brightened her day.

We're looking forward to starting our second week in DC, which means we're that much closer to returning home to our friends and most precious and sorely missed children. Lisa Marie promises to be back blogging tomorrow. You may even get a few pictures of what the aftermath of a cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy looks like. (In the blogging business, we call that a teaser.) Stay tuned and wish her a good day tomorrow.
Belated Saturday post...

Hi, it's me, Lisa Marie, back at the helm. Sean has decided I'm recovered enough to resume blogging. But since I only get freed from my prison, er bed, a few times a day for short walks, I didn't have the tools at hand to put together a legitamate post. But I thought i'd write something brief here at 5 am while I'm waiting for a shot of beta blocker to calm my heartrate (too much dancing to iPod tunes if you ask me, but the doc disagrees. Saturday was overall a very good day, although we got off to a rough start. Turns out my pain isn't well controlled when I fall asleep for 3 hours and neglect to hit the button on my pain pump so I decided to stay awake the rest of the night and babysit the button. No sleep makes for a cranky sore girl. But I got some rest in the morning, had great nurses, and good news on the recovery front. Want the news? Maybe TMI, but we have bowel sounds. Which means things are starting to work inside and we're one step closer to going home.

Well, I've gotten my shot and would like at least 45 min of sleep before my next walking expedition, so that's all for now. Thanks for all your prayers, messages, love, and support.


Friday, July 24, 2009

The End of a Good Day in Room 2NW20

It's near midnight and all in all Friday was a good day. Abbie, the day nurse, and Darlene, the night nurse, have been SUCH a welcome change from the previous day. They understand what patient care is all about. Lots of communication, lots of putting the patient's needs first, true angels of mercy. We appreciate them very much.

In true Lisa Marie fashion, as soon as she was able to this morning, she bathed and chunked the standard hospital issue gown for her much more stylish Dear Johnnie model. (See photo on Friday's Facebook page.) She also graciously accepted compliments on her lovely pedicure nail color. She then proceeded to walk from the room to the aquarium and back, then to the nurses station before returning to the room. Still the biggest problem has been the nausea and the shoulder pain. The walking tends to bring on a little nausea because during the walk the suction from the NG tube has to be disconnected. This means the stuff that is typically being evacuated continuously from her stomach is allowed to stay there when the NG tube is not sucking and it builds up and makes her nauseated. (If your're interested, you can also check out her Facebook page to see an example of the green slime that is sucked out.) We have since requested that the dosage of her anti-nausea medicine, Zofran, be increased from 4 mg to 8 mg. Her standard dosage during her chemo from MD Anderson was 8 mg and the higher dosage seemed to bring more relief as the day went on. Before the night was over, she took another walk to the aquarium, back to and around the nurses station, over to 2Northeast (we're in 2 Northwest), back past the elevators and then back to the room. She's one tough cancer patient. It looks like maybe the treadmill borrowed from Mr. Buck before the surgery paid some dividends on helping to prepare her for her recovery.

But of course, the true highlight of the day for her was getting to talk to the children for the first time since Monday. We do miss them so. Hayden and Trevor's bowling plans at the Palace Lanes on Bellaire were foiled today by a private party so they enjoyed an outing to the Children's Museum with Aunt Carol and Grandma Denise while Grandma Carole had the pleasure of staying home with Miss Juliette. The kids are looking forward to this weekend when they get to see their big cousin Colin as Uncle Michael and Aunt Amy make the trek from Tyler to Houston for perhaps a day at the Downtown Aquarium or Discovery Green.

As I finish typing this LM is already sleeping peacefully thanks to the Benadryl. We pray for a quiet, restful night and another good day tomorrow. We thank everyone for continued support through prayer. Also, the comments on the blog and Facebook mean a lot to us being so far away. She is back in action on the Ipod and today began reading the posts and all the comments and that is good medicine, too.

And to Jennifer from Thousand Oaks, California, I, as Lisa Marie's husband and father of three young children who love and need their mother, owe you a special thank you for sharing your story with my wife through the colon cancer internet group and helping lead us to Dr. Sugarbaker. We feel so blesssed and hopeful right now and are confident that this is what we needed to do in order to have the joy of watching our children grow up and the two of us growing old together. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
We Busted Out

They tried to keep us in the ICU for another night but we would have none of that. Her orders for release were written early in the day Thursday without a bed being available. As the morning turned into afternoon with no sign of a transfer imminent, we began trying to work the system to expedite the process, going to the floor to which she was to be transferred to check on bed availablity, going to Admissions, getting Dr. Sugarbaker's office to place a request directly to Bed Management, etc. As afternoon turned into late evening we were beginning to get very apprehensive about the prospects of staying another night in a place we didn't need to be any longer. The staff that night was going to play hardball and strictly enforce the visiting hours even though the previous nights I was allowed to stay until she was asleep and comfortable.

Finally about 8:30 pm we were told that a bed had become available. We were all very happy to hear that. That happiness was short-lived though when we were also told that their new policy (which had just gone into effect last week) now prohibited all transfers after 8 pm due to data that showed that patients didn't tolerate a change in surroundings well after 8 pm. I assured them that Lisa Marie would most certainly fall into the minority category of patients who not only tolerated a change in surroundings after 8 pm well, but indeed would thrive with such a change. I'm not sure if it was the quick emotional swing of thinking you were going to be free at last from the ICU and having that snatched away or the pleasure that it seemed to bring the nurse when she told us we would not be going anywhere tonight and hopefully there would be a bed available tomorrow. After several spirited discussion with the ICU staff on these matters, I was told that my actions of trying to find her a room on my own and not going through the proper channels was totally inappropriate. Therefore, they were sending the supervisor of the nursing staff to tell me so. Fine, whatever.

When the supervisor got there, he explained the policy, blah, blah, blah, and I explained our side of things that if we couldn't get out of ICU, all Lisa Marie was asking was for me to be able to stay with her until she was asleep and he said that sounded reasonable. When he looked at the nurse and asked if that was acceptable, she said she doesn't like visitors in the room after hours when she was trying to assess her patients. Not wanting to tell the ICU staff how to run their unit he instead told me he would talk to a higher up and let me know if something could be worked out. Yeah, we'll hear from him again.

While I was out of the room having these discussions, it seemed to be getting pretty heated in Lisa Marie's room, too. The nurse decided to throw caution to the wind and gave her a little lip about being a difficult patient. That did not sit well with LM, which is surprising because she is usually very open to and accepting of such feedback (stop laughing, Vito). Well, the McLaughlin/Usher team was really starting to go into protective mode now. The nurse who we felt was disrespecting LM got it from both barrels from me and her, and lawyer brother Art was quietly preparing his strategy of insisting that the only way he was leaving tonight was if security was dragging him out. And if that happened, the only thing he was unsure of yet was what course of action he would pursue to create a public relations nightmare for these people.

Fortunately for all, it was about this time that the supervisor of nursing returned and said he had discussed it with the higher up and they decided to bend the rule and transfer her to a private room even though it was after 8 pm. Thank you Walter "Luke" Laukaitis for your efforts on our behalf.

It was about 9:30 pm now and we still had about another 2 and 1/2 hours left to listen to the snarky comments (thanks for the word, Carolyn) of the nurse about Lisa Marie's misplaced anxiety and "obvious non-trust of the nurses on this unit." (That adversarial relationship would have made for a fun night.) It was a long day but in the end we got what we wanted and we were able to enjoy a relatively stress-free night.

Today's primary achievement will be having Lisa Marie get on her feet and walk around the room (after sitting in a chair for about a half hour yesterday). Her pain remains manageable. Surprisingly she seems to have more pain in her shoulder than from the incision in her abdomen. This may be "referred pain" from some of the nerves leading from the areas the doctor worked on. She continues to have some itching from the pain medicine but Benadryl, lotion, and the bristles of a hairbrush help with that. (Art was sent to buy a hairbush in the gift shop after the length of my fingernails proved insufficient.). We continue to receive answers to prayers and thank everyone for their support. The surgeon came in for rounds this morning and again stated how successful he thought the procedure was. He also said that patients who show such a good response to chemotherapy (the remaining tumors appeared dead) usually have a very favorable prognosis. Again we are thankful and hopeful for that. It feels good to feel good about something.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pray for a Quiet Night

Please pray that all goes well tonight. We seem to have gotten a zombie nurse. She walks around without saying anything unless you talk to her first. She seems to have some head games going on, too. She cut us off the PCA pain pump without saying anything and then when I asked her if the pump was on (I only asked this because the display said "Press Start to Infuse"), she proceeded to press the start button and said, "Yes, it's on." She then walked out humming an eerie tune. It's already an hour and a half past the end of visiting hours so I'm just trying to lay low to see if I can delay getting booted out to be with Lisa Marie and keep an eye on things. Pray for a calm and uneventful night.
The Road to Recovery

I couldn't stay with her in the ICU last night but Lisa Marie gave 2 thumbs up to the care that Darcy gave her. He helped her in every way she needed and always let her know exactly what he was going to do before he did it, which is very helpful when you're still a little disoriented from the surgery and you can't see without your glasses. When I arrived at the ICU in the morning, Lisa Marie provide a somewhat less glowing report of the day nurse but as the day went on they formed a more amicable bond so it wasn't too bad.

The physician who assisted Dr. Sugarbaker came by during rounds this morning. His name is Dr. Zappa. He again reiterated how well the surgery went. He said she had a very excellent response to the chemotherapy from MD Anderson. The peritoneal walls were very clean, all of the small bowel was in good condition with no evidence of disease. They didn't have to remove any of the small bowel. And for the anonymous person who asked about the ileostomy, that is correct. The dime-sized ink mark on her right side where they thought they might have to put it remains intact. They were able to successfully reconnect things and everything in that area should return to normal eventually, another blessing.

Did I mention that I married the most amazing person? She has already started doing her leg and breathing exercises and the doctors would like her to sit in a chair this afternoon to help ward off any clot issues. She also has some soreness in her shoulder from being strapped down like on a cross during surgery. But she asks for a little massage and rubbing and I am more than happy to oblige. It's hard to rest in the ICU but she is asleep now. Unfortunately, the helipad is right outside so we've got that noisy helicopter landing thing going for us it seems like at least once an hour. (Speak of the devil, make that at least twice an hour as another helicopter hovers outside our window.) And what about the 2 visitor limit? Is there a party going on in the next room?

We must both thank you again for all the prayers, not only during this surgery but for all of those who have been praying all along this journey. There are many things that will stick in my mind from this whole experience, but two really stand out right now.

The first is on 12/29/08 when we were in the hospital in Houston and they were trying to figure out what the source of all the pain was. After several days of trying unsuccessfuly, she finally had a colonoscopy. As she was waiting to wake up from the procedure, the doctor came out to me and said, "It looks like we've found the problem. It's a tumor." And I said, "OK, a tumor. So what does that mean?" And he said, "Well, usually, (short pause), it's not good." Two days later, on New Year's Eve, adenocarcinoma was confirmed.

The second thing I will always remember, is after her surgery yesterday when Dr. Sugarbaker came out to talk to us. He was describing the whole procedure, telling us how well he thought things went, writing down notes for us, drawing pictures, and I asked him about the condition of the known peritoneal implant tumor that he removed. And he said, "It looked (short pause) dead." I know we have a long way to go to claim complete and utter victory but right now, going from "Usually, it's not good" to "It looked dead" in 204 days feels pretty good. So for all the the saints and prayer warriors that we don't even know whose prayer lists we were on, don't forget the follow up and thank our God for answered prayers. And don't take us off those lists just yet. Grace and peace to you all, from the Washington Hospital Center Surgical ICU in the nation's capital.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The following section of this post is courtesy of Art Usher, Lisa Marie's lawyer brother:

Lisa Marie is out of surgery. After the surgery was over the surgeon (Dr. Paul Sugarbaker) met with Sean and Art and discussed and wrote up aspects of the surgery. Dr. Sugarbaker reported that Lisa Marie’s color was good and that she was being transferred up to the 3G Surgical ICU while we were speaking.

We attempted to go see Lisa Marie immediately but she was just being admitted to the surgical ICU at the same time as the nurse shift change was occurring. Thus we were informed that it would probably be at least 45 minutes before we could schedule a visit with Lisa Marie.

Overall the surgery went well and the focus is on Lisa Marie surviving and recovering from the lengthy (7+ hour) procedure that she just underwent. Lisa Marie lost an estimated 1200 cc of blood and received three (3) units of blood and six (6) units of platelets. Lisa Marie’s platelet count was not good. Her incoming platelet count was low (90K) as a result of the 10 rounds of chemotherapy that she has already undergone. This number sank to 50K during the surgery, but went back up to 60K with the infusion of platelets. However, with respect to any complications related to embolisms and the like, Lisa Marie’s low platelet count makes the use of any blood thinner such as heparin problematic if not outright prohibited.

In no particular order Lisa Marie’s procedures today included the following:
1) Excision of tissue and walls;
2) Repair of incisional hernia;
3) Lysis and resection of adhesions (scar tissue apparently being a common place for cancer cells to reside);
4) Extensive exploratory for evidence of visible cancer cells;
5) Greater omentectomy;
6) Lesser omentectomy;
7) Oopherectomy;
8) Hysterectomy and bilateral ovaries and tubes;
9) Pelvic peritenectomy
10) Recto-sigmoid colon resectomy and anastomosis;
11) Intraoperative chemotherapy.

Dr. Sugarbaker was guardedly optimistic about Lisa Marie’s long term prospects, but made it clear that this post operative recovery time in the next week is the critical period upon which we need to be focused. Dr. Sugarbaker saw little macroscopic evidence of cancer. While he found (and removed) various nodules in the cul de sac region, such nodules did not appear to be viable cancer cells. Similarly, the tumor in Lisa Marie’s pelvic region appeared to be lifeless. All such tissue, however, was part of that removed. Similarly, the evidence of cancerous tissue on her left ovary was not sent to a pathologist as the ovaries were being removed.

More may be written later but Sean is anxious to go back and schedule a visit in the surgical ICU to see Lisa Marie for himself. We feel blessed by God that Lisa Marie is out of surgery and stable and that there was so little evidence of macroscopic cancer cells during the procedures.

Latest update as of 11:30 pm EDT:
I spent the last 3 hours or so with Lisa Marie in the ICU. Her breathing tube was removed around 10:30 pm which made communicating much easier. The lip reading and scribble on a clipboard was getting frustrating. She is in very good spirits considering everything. She received some Benadryl for itching from the pain medicine and was resting peacefully when I left. This was some day. May none of you or I ever have to go through it again.

Thanks again to all for the prayers, thoughts, well wishes, and general support through this whole ordeal. It has meant a lot to us, more than any of you could ever realize.

Special thanks to Art for being here with me for the whole thing.

And to Sally for the unexpected quick pop-in to the waiting room bearing hamburgers, fries, drinks, chips, double chunk chocolate chip cookies (yes!), and assorted candies. Who was that masked woman?

And also to Renee for the laptop that let me avoid having to do all this blogging on the Blackberry like the first time we did all this colon cancer surgery thing. My eyes thank you.

And now to bed. I've already had my sweet dream. I love you, honey.
Lisa Marie remains stable. The nurse has reported the successful removal of the ovaries, uterus, gall bladder, and omentum (the last being a fatty apron of tissue within the peritoneal cavity for those of you unfamiliar with the word). The doctor is pleased with what he has seen so far and expects to begin intraperitoneal chemotherapy in 20-30 minutes. The intraperitoneal chemotherapy is expected to take about 90 minutes (like a cook book, pour heated liquid into cavity, carefully insert blender and stir for 1.5 hours). The nurse also reported that the doctor currently is hopeful that an ileostomy will not be necessary, but he will not know for sure until ready for reconnection. Still about 3-4 hours to go.
She's doing well so far. The doctor said she had responded well to her previous chemo treatments as evidenced by limited spread of disease outside the known peritoneal implants. The small bowel looks good. Some disease on the left ovary. The uterus and ovaries are coming out as planned. Too early to tell if she will be getting an ileostomy yet. She is receiving some blood because her platelet count was borderline going in. Nothing unusual yet so she will be getting the chemotherapy bath (HIPEC) as planned. She will be going to ICU on completion of the procedure. More in a couple hours.
The nurse just came out and said that all the prep work was complete (central line, breathing tube, etc.) and the actual procedure began about 20 minutes ago. They expect to provide an update on what the doctor saw inside in about another hour.
Godspeed, My Love...

And thank you for your undeniable courage and unbelievable will to survive and be there for your family. We love you, we need you, and we will be forever grateful and in your debt for saying that the statistics quoted to us were unacceptable and instead taking this more difficult path toward an attempt to be cured.

She went into the OR at 9:05 am EDT looking at digital frame slide show pictures of her "three little birds" (a family favorite Bob Marley song reference). The first update from the OR is expected about 10:30 or 11. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Apparently this is my 300th blog post. Ideally, I would post something meaningful, but I'm on the blackberry in a car going 70 mph (Sean is driving) so the setting isn't conducive to inspirational thoughts.

We're on the way to the airport for our trip to DC. I check into the hospital tomorrow for some pre-op tests and such. I think the surgery is scheduled to start at 9 am Eastern on Tuesday and should last 9-11 hours. I assume Sean will be getting periodic updates on the progress and I've instructed him to post them here.

So keep us in your prayers. Sean and my brother Art will be with me at the hospital. We're hoping for what's called an R0 resection, which means no visible disease remaining. That pushes our stats up to 50% 5yr survival. Oh, and if you want to ask for some icing on the cake, I'm hoping not to end up with a temporary ileostomy. That's a 60-40 according to the surgeon, but really, we could live with that. Anything less than R0, not so much.

Hope to be back blogging for you soon.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Oh I wish I were an...
Oscar Mayer Weiner, that is what I truly want to be. Because if I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner, everyone would be in love with me.

Some people take their kids on vacations to fancy exotic places. We take our kids to the Strawberry Festival and to the Kroger parking lot to see a hot-dog shaped vehicle. Now that's a family memory you don't want to forget.
Smile big for the camera kids. This is a definite scrapbook moment. "Remember the day we hung out in a parking lot in the 100 degree heat and mom made us pose by the giant hot dog? "
Now that's classy.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Cleared for takeoff

I have a million things in my head to post but am just so very, very tired these days. But I know that some of you are checking regularly for news, so I wanted to post something.

We met with the surgeon in DC on Monday and are now gearing up for surgery on July 21. We liked the surgeon and have confidence in him. But it's still just so scary at the end of the day. I know it's what I wanted and really represents my best/only potential for long term survival, but it's just hard to say you're happy or excited about a 12 hour surgery where they remove more organs than I can name. But onward we march nonetheless, making plans, getting ready. We're in good hands both physically and spiritually.

One of the hardest things to imagine is being away from the littles for so long. At least I can count on Hayden to tell me every detail of his day on the phone. If you've ever been on the phone with him, you know what I mean. How does a father who barely says 2 words on the phone end up with a son who never stops talking? Life's little ironies.