Monday, May 31, 2010

Billy takes on The Mall

Our cowpoke feels good enough to be at the mall in Boone today! Hooray! He takes a kit with him in case Something Goes Wrong while he is there.

He also felt good enough to sit in the front yard the other night with his guitar and play all the old songs he and I sing together. He sings lead and I sing harmony. We were out of practice, but not too bad. (Watch out, LaRose: we're gearing up to descend on you! LaRose and Jill are the only other people I know who sing harmony, and we're going to be ganging up for that purpose sometime soon.)

So yeah, things could be much worse. Tra la la la laaaaaaaaaaaa!

Love to all.

PS Did I tell you my OVEN just BROKE? Timing is everything, right?

The ridiculously self-centered, self-indulgent, self-pitying blog post that I never should have posted

QUESTION 1: Have you ever been the only one in charge of running a three-week-long vacation in your home for between two and seven people, depending on the day? You know, cooking complex dinners every night, coffee and stuff every morning, shopping, vacuuming, getting rooms and beds ready, towels laundered, bathrooms kept clean, planning the entertainment, all while being careful to make it look easy by sitting down and "cheerfully" participating in the multiple conversations going on all day, all over your house, from about 8 am till about 9 pm when you just fall in bed? Only if you've done this do you REALLY have the complete idea of what this is like.

QUESTION 2: Have you ever taken care of a spouse with stage 4 bladder cancer, and all the passing sicknesses that come with that, and the sad and painful conversations, and the inexperience of dealing with such feelings and grief, all while trying to handle the anguish in the days leading up to the second opinion?

QUESTION 3: Have BOTH of the above scenarios ever befallen you at the EXACT SAME TIME?

QUESTION 4: Have you ever looked up at the sky, while watering your bedraggled and neglected garden at 8:30 pm because THAT'S when you could finally get to it, and have you said to the sky, "You're going to explain this all one day, right?"

QUESTION 5: Is this particular blog post right here the most self-centered, self-pitying, ridiculously inappropriate blog entry you have ever had to read on any blog anywhere? And am I going to get nailed if any of my house guests ever see this one (but, in defense of my house guests, they all did say they came here to "help us out" and to "give us a break").

I will answer question 5: Yes, and yes. And I'm ashamed of myself for posting this. But here I go, pushing the button to publish the darned thing.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Ten-Word Blog Post

Bill good. House full of relatives. ((((HALP!!!!))))

More news tomorrow!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Peripheral Neuropathy: Beth's Google-Degree Diagnosis

Once again, I, Miss BlogAlong Cassidy, Expert Physicianess, Graduate of the Impressive Medical School of Looking Stuff Up on the Internet, have been doing internet research and unabashedly coming up with any old diagnosis I think is right.

(I'm trying to CARE that I don't have a medical degree, but it just ain't working.)

So...after much thinking upon Billy's combination platter of symptoms this week, and after much googling, I am ready, as you can see by my portrait below, to make my Official Pontification:

Doctor William "Cowboy Willy" Drennan has peripheral neuropathy.

And, at this point, peripheral neuropathy isn't nearly as bad as it may sound.

Peripheral Neuropathy--Technical Medical Definition:


Okay, well, I'm not sure exactly what it IS, but I think he has it.

It's something about the nerve endings getting all wonky from chemotherapy, and it doesn't kick in until 3 to 5 months (that would be now) after your last chemo (English majors will have, by now, said a tsk tsk tsk that I didn't spell out numbers less than 10 and that I switched to second person when I said your--and maybe even that I didn't use commas between the tsk and the tsk and the tsk. But most importantly, they will have forgotten, due to this grammatical digression, that I have no idea how to define peripheral neuropathy. "But dahling, isn't it more important to LOOK smart than to BE smart?")

But really, I do think he has this peripheral neuropathy thing. A full thirty percent of people who receive Cisplatin (which he did) have some form of peripheral neuropathy appearing a few months afterward.

Symptoms on the ponyboy:

1. Numbness and tingling on soles of feet;
2. Numbness and tingling on fingers;
3. Hoarseness;
4. Uncomfortable feeling in larynx;
5. Something I can't write about because it is potty-related (that's a medical term);
6. And some other stuff I can't remember.

So, the thing is, we were--meaning I was, because he doesn't worry--getting pretty worried about these strange symptoms. Since, as you know, we were forbidden to receive (forbidden from receiving?) an MRI or body scan of any kind by Doctor Jekyll at Duke who pronounced any such diagnostic procedure "too expensive" for a mere cancer patient with stage 4 cancer that has metastasized all over his abdomen.

I mean, body scans are for SICK people, for Pete's sake!

See? I just can't stop harping on that. I might never get over it.

Neither might a jury of my peers. But let's not go there yet.

Anyway, I actually hope the BillyHoss DOES have peripheral neuropathy, and that that is ALL it is, because, while peripheral neuropathy CAN be a pretty bad thing if it keeps spreading, it usually doesn't get too much worse after chemo, and it can also reverse, although that happens slowly.

Okay, that's it for today.

PS: And anybody who tells my mother what I posted yesterday is gonna get a taste of this here cowgirl boot! She REALLY would NOT see the humor in that particular blog appearance of hers. I'm not kiddin...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Afternoon

I am sitting on the sofa beside Bill.

I just said to him, "Bill. Let's write a blog."

(You can see that I don't take defeat as easily as I should.)

ME: (I read the above three lines to Bill.) Okay, Bill, that's as far as I've gotten with today's blog. What should I say next?

Bill: I think the Noodle Plus Easy Distance golf ball would be a good choice for a slow swinger like myself. Here's a picture of the box. (He shows me a picture of a navy blue and gray and chartreuse box of golf balls on his computer screen.)

Me: No, Bill. That is not a blog entry.

Bill: Try this then. The Cobra Baffler Rail F Fairway Wood.

Me: Uh-huh. What about it?

Bill: I think that five wood has my name written alllllll over it.

(Voice from hallway) Bill's Mother-In-Law (Remember the old song called "Mother in Law"? Yeah. THAT kind of mother-in-law)(eavesdropping): For G-d's sake, tell me you are NOT talking about buying yet another golf club!!! Do you realize you have a FORTUNE in golf equipment downstairs that you never even use!?!? (Mother in law continues past the room and out into the backyard on a mission to locate dog poop that Bill and I, worthless slackers that we are, have failed to pick up today.)

Bill (to readers): As you can see, there is paltry material for blog entries just now, but here was a slice of our life, and welcome to it. Blessings to all.

Beth: (whispering aside to readers) There is a heartening kind of optimism that shines through when a cancer patient starts talking about all the new golf equipment he is pretty sure he needs for the upcoming season.

Golf clubs: expensive.

Cowboy optimism: priceless.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blogging Stand-off at the Okay Corral

Cowboy Bill said--SAID--(I should've gotten a sworn statement)--that he might want to participate in some more blog writing, because so many people have requested a re-appearance of his Learned Hand and great humor on the blog.

So to make those many folks happy, and to make it easiest for the Cowboy, I suggested that he start with something simple--just writing a blog or two. Just something short, when he feels like it. Any topic. I'd do all the posting, etc.

But when the time came for him to write something--to type or get off the keyboard, as it were--was any typing actually done by said cowboy?


So idea number two was that I offered to set him up with gchat, which I did, in which two people can dialog with each other (making it twice as easy) and then post the dialog on the blog.

So I set it all up, and showed him how to use it, practiced with him, et cetera.

But no gchatting ensued.

Instead, he simply started avoiding gchat.

And any discussion of gchat.

"Why won't you just write a tiny little bit? It can be about anything at all."

"Nothing to say. No news."

[Insert: sound of exasperation from cowboy's wife.]

Finally, I thought I'd give it one more try. So this morning, I leaned on him so persuasively that he actually got on gchat!

Hooray, thought I. Fool that I am.

I wrote to him, "Okay, good, you're here! Now, let's write some news and I will post it; all you have to do is write just a little itty bit. Okay? Go!"

Gchat silence.

"Hello? Are you there?" I began, optimistically.

Yes, he was there, but there was no typing going on.

"What's the matter? Why aren't you typing?" I wrote.

What did the Cowboy reply?

The Cowboy replied that in his opinion, there shouldn't be any more posts on the blog for a long, long time.

"What? Why do you say that?"

Cowboy: "Because I can't think of anything to say."

Wow, Cowboy Bill! Thanks for that illustrious input! I thought.

Then, because I'm a brat, I had to say something just the slightest bit snotty.

"Pays to be lazy, doesn't it?"

Ewww. Mean!!!!

Anyway, that's how Cowboy Bill's encore appearance on the blog ended, right before I turned off my gchat. For good, apparently.

So for those of you awaiting his reappearance on the blog...good luck. Can't blame me for not trying.

Meanwhile, if you get any ideas for putting on an in-home motivational seminar for fractiously recalcitrant cowboys who like doing crossword puzzles a lot more than they like appeasing the humble requests of their dear and faithful readers, please advise.

((((Pays to be fractiously recalcitrant, too, by the way...))))

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Moonpale Cowpoke Gets A New Appointment: Meet Doctor T!

Meet Dr. Frank Torti, the Second Opinion Bladder Dude!

You can click HERE and read about him if you need more info.

We have our appointment on Thursday, June 3rd in the morning. Dr. T wanted all the medical records.

Sadly comic: He also wanted copies of all the full-body CT scans and MRIs that Bill had done at Duke.


It was actually hard to explain that THERE WERE NONE IN EXISTENCE.

No, not because we LOST them. And not because we don't know where they are, but because NONE WERE EVER DONE. EVER. NOT ONCE.

Yeah. And you can be sure there was a bit of a pause after that fact sunk in.

The oncologist in Boone who referred us to Dr. Torti said that they've referred a lot of people to him, and the people came back REALLY liking this guy.

Our only questions for Dr. T are:

(1) Is it true that "there are simply no more therapeutic options" for Bill, as Dr. Wallbrainbanger said, and we should all just give up all hope right now gosh-darn-it and get the heck out of his office?; and

(2) Might we PRETTY PRETTY PLEEEEEEEEEEZE get a scan of Bill's body done so we can at least know if these strange pains are tumors or not, and get some....what-do-you-call-it-again .... oh yeah! ....... MEDICAL ATTTENTION ..... for the po' skinny lil moonpale cowpoke?

Update on Bill

Bill is feelin' poe'ly, today, as they say here. He's tired and just feels bad. He's not a big describer. And he looks, I'd have to say, ill. And he has some strange pains in places that worry him, and there's also something wrong with his voice. His voice is raspy, husky, and is getting worse every day. That scares him quite a bit, too.

Good thing: he can eat! And has an appetite. Heeeray for that!

The thing we need to work on with Ranger Willy right now is that he needs to STOP feeling like he has to do things. He feels guilty if he doesn't push the wheelbarrow around or rake up weeds behind me or go to Lowe's and schlep all over the store with me.

I understand. I admire him. But today, he's staying in bed or on the couch.

And if you see him dragging them ol cowboy-booted feets around town today, doing errands, tell him to get on his hoss and ride straight back home afore Diamon' Lil finds out about it!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Bill has had a difficult couple of days. Something keeps going wrong with something that I can't write about on a blog, and it is very discouraging. It happens at all hours, wrecking his sleep way too often. And then there's the bleeding, and the weird infection, and the fear that every pain is a new tumor, and on and on and on.

But wow. It is hard to write about these little problems we have right now when I take the time I should take (and should take more often) to remember that everyone--everyone--and that includes YOU, our pals, reading this right now--has his and her own miseries, troubles, fears, and pains, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. And yes, cancer can be a big one, but suffering is suffering, and Cowboy and me ain't the only ones gettin' a dose.

Bill says he's spent some insomnia hours lately, thinking about suffering and life and all that. He says he sees it differently now. He says that in some ways life can look not so much like a holiday in paradise, but more like a campout in a sort of prison, and that maybe it's a good thing that we eventually get out. And here we are, trying so hard to stay here.

But the thing I liked best that he said--and it's not something no one's thought of--but maybe it's just the quiet way he said it to me and how sweet his thin and tired face looked when he said it--was that we should all try hard to remember that life itself--just life all on its own--deals out more than enough misery to every single one of us, and for that reason, everybody should just try as hard as they can to be as nice as they can to everybody else.

I was just about to write this sentence: So you can see that what Bill said wasn't some big new thing, like a new theory of relativity...

And I deleted that sentence.

But then, maybe it IS a kind of theory of "relativity"--if the fact that we all have to suffer, and we're all in this life thing together, and all at the very same time, kinda makes us relatives.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The 2nd opinion

Or would you rather first hear about the---I'm not saying COVERUP--let's say--the "dancing around the dont-sue-me maypole" communique from Duke about the POTENTIALLY FATAL ERROR in Bill's severely dangerous infection?


Let's do THAT first!

Fact: the results of the infection report were published on the Duke website on May 6, 2009.

Today is May 22.

Do the math, and then listen to this.

On May 20, I--me--lil ole me-discovered by HAPPENING to check the Duke records--that Bill had been found to have a HORRIBLY DANGEROUS infection (see these adjectives confirmed in a moment!).

Apparently, the medical geniuses at Duke FORGOT to check my husband's medical test results!

But they would never admit that. Oh no. They would rather rely on the dim hope that Beth and Bill have a combined IQ that equals the temperature of whole wheat toast, one hour after being forgotten in the toaster.

But shucks.

We ain't corncob brains. We both have DOCTORATES, and mine's in LAW! So....ooops on that Dukish gamble.

So get this!

When we saw the report by chance on May 20th, due to my curiosity, which report is so bad that the Center for Disease Control is all adither about such a dangerous infection being discovered at Duke--the date on the report was MAY 6TH!

Hold that date.

So on May 20, when I found this dangerous situation, I called Duke, and Dr. Wallbrain said he would MAIL us a prescription for one of the very few drugs that can fight this dangerous new mutated infection. Oh and it is HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS to family members!

Well, we said, no, but won't he please hurry,and simply FAX the prescription to our pharmacy so we can start sooner on the meds?

Well, guess what. Dr BladderFace apparently WILL NOT, dammit, be TOLD HOW TO PRACTICE MEDICINE, and he REFUSED TO FAX IT!

He said, "I will mail it. End of discussion. And it won't go out till tomorrow."



So ready for the juicy part?

Today....TODAY...we FINALLY get the prescription in the slow, slow mail, with a letter from Dr. PrideComesBeforeTheFall, and it has FAKE INFORMATION in it. Why? To make him look NOT GUILTY?????

Here's the letter:

Dear Mr. William Drennan:

"We were pleased to see you recently at your last clinic visit. I have reviewed the results of your studies from that visit" [he leaves out: AFTER YOUR WIFE BUSTED US FOR FORGETTING TO READ THEM]...

"RECOMMENDATION: Please fill the enclosed prescription.. PLEASE NOTE! [HE bolded and underlined that phrase, like all of a sudden, it's soooo urgent] This is a...bad bug. It is sensitive to only a few oral agents. Therefore, an aggressive treatment strategy would be appropriate to eliminate it from your urinary tract." [Me: does "aggressive" mean waiting 2 weeks until the wife finds it and then REFUSING with utter arrogance to Fax the prescription but make us wait 4 days for you to mail the dang prescription, you bizarre freak of a human being?] "It is still possible that it is also in your GI tract, therefore, TAKE CARE WITH SCRUPULOUS HANDWASHING TO AVOID CROSS CONTAMINATING YOURSELF AND OTHERS."


So for all these weeks, everyone in our house was AT RISK OF CATCHING THIS THING! Deprived of this information?

AND the nurses who came in and treated Bill were getting this dangerous bug all over them and then going around giving it to all the other patients they visit who are home bound?????????

GO, DUKE! THIS IS MEDICINE AT ITS VERY BEST! OH, my difficulty believing this is all happening.

*************Here's the Second Report news**** if you want to read this tomorrow, just come back.....this is awfully long....I realize!


First, the oncologist thought the infection Duke ignored was a HUGE DEAL. So big, in fact, that he needs to go to a special INFECTION CONTROL EXPERT because of how dangerous this is!

Secondly, she did confirm that while everyone is different, a prognosis of three months might happen for some people, while others could live a longer time. Putting Bill into that spectrum. Wow. Not the cheeriest moment.

So, she noted that Dr. Duke Wallbanger is a surgeon, while Bill now needs a bladder specialist oncologist.

She also confirmed our fears that "clinical trials" might be all we can get. But that's better than Dr. Walleye, who said Bill wouldn't qualify for any clinical trial anywhere on earth.

Thanks, pal! Boost of confidence really appreciated!

Mood elevator, right there. Not.

So, we are going to be sent to Winston Salem, only 2 hours away, not 3 hours like Duke, to an Infection Control specialist AND to a bladder cancer oncology SPECIALIST.

We get a call on Monday with a date.

More tomorrow.

Pray, if you can. There's a lot more going on than I'm able to post here. Love and more love, and LIGHT.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Friday Afternoon is the 2nd Opinion

Friday afternoon, tomorrow, we will go for our second opinion.

Yay....I think.

The doctor that gave us the referral said, "Yes, but, you're being cared for at DUKE. That's like already HAVING a second opinion."

Which is a kind of funny line, and it's hard to disagree with it in some ways.

But anyway, I'll have some juicy news to report after tomorrow's meeting. Will we get an MRI? Chemo? Don't know.

Bill has only one problem now, besides the fact that the prescription still hasn't been called in by the Dukenheimer to our pharmacy, if you can believe that. So Bill still has the colonies of Enterococcus that are resistant to FOUR pencillins. Man, am I washing my hands after I work on Bill!

And you should see what the Center for Disease Control has to say about this new strain of Enterococcus that Bill has! Whew. It's kind of cutting edge medical drama.
A bit unnerving.

But anyway, that's just waiting for the medicine.

Meanwhile, the only other problem he has is a kind of extreme....what would you call it....fatigue or exhaustion. He can do just tiny amounts before he is completely exhausted.

Maybe that's normal for post-operative dudes, though.

Yesterday, he went to the driving range. Yeah! He felt THAT optimistic. He could hit a small bucket of balls, but thought he would faint a few times. Then, when it came time to walk back up to the building, he couldn't carry his clubs. He tried and tried, but it was physically impossible. So a really nice guy helped him.

Still, though. He TRIED!

So, until tomorrow, love and fondest adieu.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


YES, this is totally SHOCKING news which, after reading, if you didn't already have the impetus to RUN LIKE HELL when you hear the word Duke within 500 miles of the word Medical, you WILL have said impetus, and a cowboy-sized case of it, to boot!

Duke Medical's High Wizard of All Things Urinarious ..... forgot ..... FORGOT ..... tell us that Bill was found to have a PENICILLIN-RESISTANT URINARY TRACT INFECTION when they tested him at Duke on May 4th.



Shocked and Shimmering.


Here's how I found out!

I was sitting on the sofa indulging in my medical googling obsession, and I thought, "Hey, I haven't checked to see if the Duke medical records people have posted the results of our May 4th visit." (See, there's this link they give to patients at Duke, and they put SOME, just a few, of the patients' medical reports at this link. Usually, they don't put up the good stuff, but I still thought I should see what was there).

Well, there were four reports up marked "new" so I opened the first one.

It showed the results of Bill's urinary test. (After a cystectomy, they can't do a urinalysis without a really complex procedure involving a catheter that goes into Bill's side about 24 inches deep, in order to test urine directly from the kidneys.)

So I read the results and kind of shrieked.

"WHAT????????????" is what I shrieked.

"Bill! Go to the Duke link and look at this urinalysis report! Can I possibly be reading this correctly???"

So Bill opens the page and, after he reads it, out comes the second, "WHAT????????????" of the day.

All this time, Bill has been walking around with an infection that is resistant to standard penicillins! Isn't that called a superbug or something? Isn't that what people pick up in hospitals and can't it be FATAL????

Oh, if I knew what swooning was, I would be doing it right now.

So on the report, it says, YOU MUST CONTACT INFECTION CONTROL IMMEDIATELY. CALL THIS NUMBER: and it gives a number.

So I call that number and the woman answers, "Infection control." So I tell her the story and she says, "I don't know why you're calling here. You have to take that up with your doctor."

I said, "I'm calling here because the report says to call this number immediately. Have I dialed the right number?" I read the number to her.

"Yes, that's the number, but I have no idea why it's on your report."

"You're saying, it's a mistake that it's on the report? Your number?"


Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh-kayyyyyyy, I thought.


So I called our main Bladder Dude's office and told the story to the nurse. She said she'd call right back. In a minute, she calls back and basically says, "Oooops."

So they are FAXing a prescription for some newly-invented medicine that can fight this strong bacteria Bill has, and he will start it tonight.


Anyone want to entrust their life into my little half-baked googling fingers?

I'm pretty much cheaper than Duke and....on a good day....perhaps a trifle more reliable?

And THAT is a frightening thought.

Monday, May 17, 2010





Billy Bob is doing the cowboy happy dance right now!

He just this minute got home from the local doctor's office, and the doctor gave him a referral to the Boone oncologist! The same oncologist who guided him through his whole chemo!

Now he can get a second opinion, and see if there isn't something--SOMETHING--that they can at least TRY on him.

And maybe he'll get that MRI after all.

Oh, thank you Lord! No wonder You're so popular!

Blessings to all, and gratitude in excelsis deo for all them-there prayers!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Better Day...

You've all written such sweet and comforting notes to us. I think I'd better save up my whining sessions, so I don't wear out your compassion! What huge blessings you are.

Tomorrow is the Dr appt asking for the referral, so we won't know anything tomorrow, except whether we can get a referral (I feel sure we can).

In other news, my mother has come here from Florida to stay with us for three weeks.

You know how moms can be. And NOT wild about my pups, either.

Love ya anyhow Mama!

More tomorrow on Bill's medical state, after the Dr. appointment.

Love to all...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weepy Day

As any grief graduate knows--many among you!--grief runs on a non-predictable path.

So true to its form, or lack of form, today, for no reason, I can't stop crying to save my life. Just playing a computer game, or washing dishes, or even walking in a store, I am illogically overcome with aching surges of terrible sadness. I've cried so hard today, I thought I'd never inhale again. Poor rodeo boy--he doesn't know what to do to help, so I just get him to sit by me and hold my hand. Of course, when he does that, it seems so sweet of him that I start to cry all over again.

Hey THANKS BETH! THAT sure lifted everyone's spirits, on a pleasant Saturday! Let's all do a happy dance now!

There IS good news, though!

Second opinion!

Bronco Billy is GOING TO A DOCTOR in town on Monday and requesting a referral to an oncologist at the big hospital in Boone (at the Seby Jones Cancer center). That's where Bill got his chemo, and it is SO PLEASANT in that place that chemo is practically FUN! (Uttered by she who did not have the radioactively glowing lava cluster-bombs pressure-pumped into her little blue veins.)

Weird twist though.

Medicare apparently will pay for a 2nd opinion only if the first doctor recommended a certain TREATMENT. It will not pay where the first doctor has said, "You have no therapeutic options. Sorry. Just go home." Which is what our Dukey dude said.

So, yes, we can self-pay for a consultation, but if this oncologist is willing to accept Bill and let Bill at least TRY some new chemicals, and at LEAST get an MRI or PET scan (for God's sake! How could anyone refuse us THAT, as did Doctor Puke), then I suppose we'd have to fire His Supreme BladderDemiGodness and switch to the Boone oncologist who in NO WAY specializes in bladder cancer.

You'd think, "Well who cares if he knows about bladder cancer? Bill has no bladder, so bladder cancer is a thing of the past."

But no.

When bladder cancer returns, no matter what part of your body it appears in, it appears as BLADDER CANCER. ISN'T THAT JUST SUPREMELY WHACK? You can have bladder cancer in your lungs?



And then a tough decision arises: if we ditch The Duke of Hazard, the Bladdizard of Oz, for an extreme non-specialist, will we be sorry later?

Heck. Anything is better than just sitting here letting Bill's little demonic-remora psycho hell cells set up shop anywhere they dang well please in his beautiful body, right?

And I will never forget the Duke-dude's line: "No, Bill can't have an MRI. It's too expensive."


So I guess he knows the monetary value of a human life, the human life of a dignified, brilliant, kind and loving soul like my handsome Billy?


So, through sad and swollen eyes, below which are dried rivers of salt, I sadly and sigh-ingly bid you adieu for today, and THANK you for finding that place in your heart where Billy and I can rest our heads in your love.

Forgive my uncourageous complaining and revelation of my terrible sadness, but I know for sure that you forgive me, and that you love us both.

That's everything, really everything. That you love us.

Bless you so very very much.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why Bill Refuses to Get a Second Opinion...

A woman went to the doctor, and he gave her a disappointing diagnosis.

To which she replied, “I want a second opinion.”

So the doctor said, “Okay. You’re ugly, too.”

(Cancer joke of the day courtesy of our beloved MG of B,W 53913)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday Evening

Big (good) moment last night!

Mr. Coyote-yay was gallopin' all the way, and WENT OUT TO DINNER for the first time since The Duke (not John Wayne; the other one) got hold of him.

And yeehaw! It went pretty well!

I almost wrote, "It went swimmingly", but since it actually DID involve...well... let's just say that I am not sure "swimmingly" would be the apropos adverb.

But despite the slight problem round about the ninth inning, the fact that we had purposely picked a restaurant in town so that in case of problems, he could get home fast, saved us.

Wow, was that a viable sentence?

So, emboldened, he and I went out to dinner AGAIN tonight, and NOTHING went wrong. Except that I managed to eat more calories than a family of Sumi wrestlers consumes in a week.

But Bill had a great time! He had been reading a British novel, and someone in the novel kept ordering Shepherd's Pie, so Bill got a big ol' cowhand hankerin' for Shepherd's Pie, and wouldn't you know, we have a BRITISH PUB in our town. So there we were!

Everyone who sees him says that he doesn't look like he's lost 50 pounds. I guess they imagine that without those 50 pounds, he would look like a runway model. But no. He just looks like a regular ole cowboy.

He hasn't tried any more walks. But he really doesn't have any specific complaints right now.

Currently, we are (I know: saying "are" makes "currently" redundant...but does saying "currently" make saying "are" redundant? No, it does not! Else I could say, "Currently, we wrangling with...") wrangling with the question of whether to get a 2nd opinion. He was supposed to announce his intentions by Monday, but he never said nuthin.

The children are, one by one, telling him that they want him to get a 2nd opinion. He just looks at them over the top of his glasses and says, "Thanks for sharing. Run along now."

Ostrichizing: It's The Drennan Way.

See you tomorrow, God willin' and the creek don't rise, as they say here.

Some Days It's Up; Some Days It's Down...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hello Monday: What Will You Bring?

I wanted to find a happy picture to try to keep things light here, for kicking off Monday.

If a laughing baby elephant doesn't cheer me up, then I should probably just go back to bed and wait for Tuesday.

Happy baby elephants aside, Bill is bleeding.

He called the local doctor. The nurse put him on hold. Then she forgot him. Then he finally gave up waiting and hung up. Then he called back and it was busy. Yes, a busy signal at a doctor's office. Then he called back again. Busy. And again. Busy. And again. Busy.

"Monday, Monday... (ba daaaaaaaa, ba daDAda) Can't trust that day (ba daaaaaa, ba daDAda)..." as the song goes.

I mean, he's not bleeding like Emergency Room level, or anything, but still.

So then an hour later, he tries again. Gets through.

"We can see you next Monday."

Fade in theme song here: Ba DAAAAAAAAAA, ba da-DA-daaaaaaa.

Update later.


Dear Doctor's office:

Exactly how much blood would qualify us for an appointment before next Monday?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Night

BillyBob's day started out purdy purdy good. He went to church, which was very brave--his first social outing. And he loved it.

But by midday, he started feeling bad (Poorly? Poe-ly? Sick?). He says something feels highly weird in his stomach area, and there are a few other symptoms.

Of course, if Surgical Demigod His Excellentness the Cantankerous Bladdernity, MD, PhD, at Duke had simply given our boy an MRI or a Pet scan or any of those commonplace tests, we might have found out that there is nothing weird growing inside our cow-dude, and our cow-dude wouldn't have to worry about every weird internal development.

But noooooooooooooo. "It's too expensive," said Doctor Doom. "He can't have an MRI."

Um, what?

Tone, Beth, tone. Keep it nice.

Okay, so anyway, my good William ended his Sunday night feeling discouraged and worried.

He wasn't even hungry for home-made spaghetti dinner which we have every Sunday night.

Maybe tomorrow will be lots better.

Thank you for remembering him in so many ways.

Love and more love.

I added two pictures to the last blog... you could see Bass Lake and some geese with their babies. So you might want to go back to that post and see those pictures, unless you live here, in which case, you already know what they look like! (To go to a previous post, I think you look over in the right-hand column and click on the title of it--"Saturday Nightness"). I mean, the photos aren't worth your going to much trouble, but if you're terribly bored...

Oh, and Bill went to church this morning!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday Nightness

Nothing major, but a little good, a little bad.

Bill was quite excited about the possibility of going to church tomorrow--me tagging along this time--but as of tonight, he isn't sure he can. He is having an odd bleeding situation and a few other things, the telling of which make neither for comedy nor appetite, so I'll just say he isn't perfect tonight, after a few good days. So not sure about church, unfortunately.

Some good news, though! He seized this beautiful day here (it was windy, sunny, cool, with low humidity all day). He fiddled with Sarah's bike for her (he loves fiddling with bikes), he hit a PERFECT pitching wedge in the backyard (his words; I don't know what "PERFECT pitching wedge" means), he played with the puppies, threw Baby Jack's new toy for him (a gorilla as big as Baby Jack that sings "Hunka Hunka Burnin Love" when you squeeze its hand)(which you do about three times before you throw the happily singing gorilla over a cliff--or wish you could), won't believe this: he WALKED ALL THE WAY AROUND BASS LAKE ONE TIME!

Giddyup, cowboy!

During that walk, at sunset, we saw mallards and their tiny babies following them in the clear water, big geese and their babies, with the sunlight making their baby heads glow like fuzzy yellow halos as they swam west beside us. We saw beavers and dams, and a woodchuck, two newborn calves and their parents, and all kinds of dogs being walked. (As I'm typing this, the wind is ROARING outside our lil cabin!)

Oh, and he ate his supper! He had beef stroganoff--big on the noodles, small on the meat--and for dessert, I made him and Sarah home-made zucchini cake. Never tried doing that before. Man, do you realize there are THREE whole zucchinis in one of those things? That has to be kinda good for you, in a not-good-for-you way.

(Just now, Sarah walked in and she was calling us by saying, "Parents?" which made me laugh. "Parents?" Anyhow, she just showed us her brand new music video of herself singing one of her songs, and it's going to be on Fuse.TV. That was kind of a bonus to a great day.)

So yeah. Kind of a wish-I-could-send-some-helium-balloons-skyward-carrying-little-notes-that-said-Thanks, God-for-these-great-days-even-with-the-glitches.


The Wranglin' Bronco Drennans

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ain't Finished Keeping the Blog...

I didn't really think I could stop writing the blog. So it's coming back.

You MUST read Bill's post, though, from May 5th. It's amazing.

If I can get him to agree, we can both write. He is obviously a thousand times better than I am at writing, but I can at least keep it going between his momentes de inspirazion.

Ready for how good he feels today????? HE IS OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW PAINTING THE FENCE!

Shock theater.

And for dinner last night, he ate chicken parmesan with rotini AND strawberry shortcake for dessert!

And this Sunday, he thinks he can go to church!

Moment of Wow.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Hi, folks. Bill here.

Yeah, now that Beth's blog seems to be in a death spiral (gee, I hope that sort of thing isn't catching), the voice of the patient is at last heard in the land.

And true it is that my beloved bride and I do see what went down in Durham yesterday somewhat differently. And it's true that I may be guilty of a "rosiness" born of self-willed ignorance.

But you need to know my starting point. I've been feeling so miserable since the operation that I foresaw my conversation with His Bladderwocky, M.D., going something like this:

His Bladderwocky [HB]: "Mr. Drennan, if you have contemplated purchasing some green bananas, I would heartily seek to dissuade you from an act so rash. As Elin told Tiger, it is time to put your affairs in order."

Me: "You mean, Doc . . . ."

HB: "I mean, realistically, that you enjoy the life expectancy of an off-brand Bulgarian water heater. Eschew, therefore, any investment in long-term junk bonds."

But that's not what happened. Quite. Here's my spin:

Post-operation, I currently harbor no macroscopic (i.e., visible-to-the-eye) cancers, and I take that fact as a plus. True, there's little doubt that now, even now, countless legions of microscopic (i.e., invisible) cancer bugs are coursing their way through my system, the original mass having penetrated the bladder wall and sprouted, inter alia, on a couple of lymph nodes. (Imagine a small child blowing on the dessicated bloom of a long-dead dandelion and the resultant shower of dead-white dandelion dander drifting along the summer zephyrs; metaphorically speaking, I think that's probably what's going on inside me just now. But at least the dandelions themselves are gone. For now.)

Moreover, I'm feeling better and stronger day by day now, something that hadn't been true heretofore. It turns out that all the post-op misery was not caused by either anemia or by my illness itself, but rather by the (predictable) rigors of surviving, at my age, a twelve-hour, open-body procedure.

On the downside, that four months of chemo seems not to have been efficacious in terms of containing my cancer. Rats. His Bladderwocky promises to try a new chemical mix if and when (when, probably) the disease crops up again in a meaningful way.

Finally, there's this: Is it possible, after eight or nine months of periodic suffering (not to go into self-serving detail), that the mere act of breathing in and out is a less precious enterprise to me than it once was? Yeah, that's possible. I read just the other day that there's a new treatment for prostate cancer; it costs millions of dollars, features a boatload of horrendous side effects, and increases life expectancy, on average, four-point-three *months*. Medicare is all set to approve this procedure, as are most insurance companies. Me, I wanted to laugh out loud. I can't tell you how much more I'd rather be holding the hand of Jesus for those four-point-three months than lingering around this shooting match we call life, sweet as it often is . . . .

Last word: Beth's blog has harbored many virtues, many of them reflective of the woman herself. But selfishly speaking, its greatest value to me has been to reveal the depth and breadth of how much (and how many) people out there--I mean you, dear reader--have chosen, unaccountably, to care about our recent trials. O God, my God, I have learned much in my illness (Flannery O'Connor points out that a lingering malady is a great blessing from the Almighty), and one of the things is this: y'all are amazing. I am overcome by your kindness, by your love.

That's all for now. Whether or not the blog continues (and whether or not *I* do), we'll see. In the meantime, know that I love you all, however inadequately. In the off chance that I see Jesus before you do, I'll definitely be putting in a good word for you. Promise.


Warning: ascerbic-ness levels too high in below post

Bill has lovingly advised me that the level of ascerbic-ness in the below post might POSSIBLY exceed the recommended daily requirement.


So, knowing that some people find ascerbic-ness humorous and some offensive, figger out which camp yer pony's in and do or don't read that post down there.

I meant it to be funny, so really, I DO apologize if it's too astringent.

The Possibly Bad Cowgirl

Possible/probable end of Beth's blogging...

Hey all,

Beth, here. This isn't the update. That will come this afternoon from Bill.

This is just me saying least for now...I won't be writing this blog any more. [Caveat: I often say I'm not going to talk any more, only to start back up within mere hours, so unless there is new kind of duct tape that works on my mouth, don't entirely believe that my silence is forever.]

It's just because...and I'm sure this is common....when two partners/old married codgers are going through a Big Experience, and they have polar opposite ways of dealing with it...only one of them should be publicly reporting the story line. And that should be the one who wants to see things "in a light most favorable to the plaintiff." hahah Had to bust out that stupid lawyer language--even though, actually, that line didn't really make my point. I just wrote it because it popped into my head. Wait, maybe it DID make my point. Must drink more coffee and think.

What I mean is: the partner (podnuh in cowboy parlance, I guess) who see things rosiest should write the blog.

Okay, here's an illustrative maxim invented by me on the spot just now: Tis better to preserve a rosy view by silence, than to air a poopy view by kvetching.

As for emails: If anyone has an email inquiry about Bill's condition, please direct it to Bill. Unless you want to hear the negative version. In that case, direct it to me.

Allrighty, then.

Bill's debut into the blog-arena will occur sometime today. Blogutante Ball.

"My blog report is not going to be as optimistic as you think it's going to be," he told me.

Then he added, "But compared to what I thought I was facing, it's a wonderful outcome."

And I'm thankful to God he feels optimistic. Optimism alone can be healing. I know that!

There there's this:

Hours spent by Bill learning about his status and treatment options: Zero.

Hours spent by Beth learning about Bill's status and treatment options: Five hundred million thousand billion.

Alllllllllllllllllllllllllrighty, then.......

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


It was a 12-hour day for us, and even longer for the angel friend who drove here from Jefferson to pick us up and take us to Duke, then return us!

The results were far from clear. In fact, Bill and our friend heard it one way, and I heard it another way. And never the twain opinions shall meet.


What to do about reporting it here.....

I guess that tomorrow morning, I will get out my nearly verbatim notes that I always take when the doctor talks, and I will tell you what he said, and you can draw your own conclusions.

One thing is for sure: it was either great news or terrible news!

Sorry to make you wait, but no way can I get it into writing tonight. We are exhausted, and, frankly, I need about 12 hours to think of how to present what the doctor said, given the weirdness of interpreting it.

Sweet dreams, love, and thanks for your prayers.

Tuesday: Duke Day

We're leaving very early. Bill will have some tests at Duke, then we talk to the doctor at 1:30. (Which translates to 3 pm for Dr. Blad. Here I go griping again, but he has made us wait in the exam room--not the waiting room, but the exam room--for 90 minutes--twice--with no explanation or apology either time. Gripe, gripe, gripe.)

Thereafter...I don't think there's any way I can post an update till we get home.

So till tonight!

Love and blessings.

Monday, May 3, 2010


. . . HIS CAR!

To the post office!

Is this progress, or what!?!??!?!?!?!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cowboy Dinner

He ate!

Alright, he didn't eat what's shown in that photo, exactly, but he ate an actual meal for the first time last night!


He had home-made BBQ chicken (see? we're TRYING here!) and baked beans and brown rice (brown rice = we sneaked in some health food) and he even ate a piece of home-made carrot cake (even the cake involved subterfuge, as it was loaded with shredded carrots).