Sunday, November 28, 2010

All's Quiet on the Cowboy Front

Bill is doing wonderfully.

He doesn't look REALLY ALL...but he is much less yellow, and he is sleeping a LOT, almost all day and all night. I think that seems like a very good thing. Seems restful, and he seems cheerful when he's awake.

He can eat a little bit, too.

I made the full menu Thanksgiving yesterday (Saturday) for JP, Emma, and myself, and Mister Bill drank Ensure. But by about 9 pm, he wanted a little bit of my homemade macaroni and cheese. Then he put in a "reserve" for a piece of pumpkin pie he saw in the fridge. Couldn't eat it last night, but is still looking at it with increasing enthusiasm this morning.

He is supposed to eat frequent small portions of high protein, to rebuild his liver, which will be completely grown back in 1 to 3 weeks. Is that not crazy??????

The future: Nothing medical is planned for Bill until, in 4 weeks, we go back to Dr. Shen for a checkup on the surgical recovery. I don't know when chemo will start.

I'll go back to posting every Sunday, but I might throw in some posts in between, if stuff happens.

Love to all and endless gratitude for your prayers and thoughts and wishes and love...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

He's Better! Crisis (Probably) Averted

We checked him through the night, and while his fever is still just under 100, that' still in the safety zone. And his color has come down a bit, too, to where he looks like a human and not an order of take-out Indian curry.

We're taking care of him right now, doing things, but I sneaked out to write this so you wouldn't worry.

I have a feeling some certain prayers didn't exactly hurt, bringing us around yet another corner. (You know who you are.) :)

Love and THANKS for letting us go thru this drama while you care WITH us!


Friday, November 26, 2010

PS to Post of 5 Minutes Ago

PS We did a skin comparison test, and all held our hands against Bill's to assess how yellow he actually is. Against MY hand, his hand looked like he'd been building sand castles out of French's mustard, but against his daughter's hand, his color didn't look so strange--so the consensus now is that we aren't sure HOW yellow he is, so we are going to set alarms and check on him through the night, and see what color he seems in the morning--if we aren't in the ER by morning.

As JP said just now, "You two get some sleep. I'll clear off the helicopter landing pad in the back yard for the 3 am pickup."





Uh oh. The Drama Begins at the Not-OK Corral

He's home, and, as his daughter put it, he looked better 5 minutes after surgery than he looks right now.

We are beside ourselves. "We" meaning Emma and I. JP will soon be beside himself when he gets back home and sees this.

Apparently, Mister I Will Trick The Medical Staff By Telling Little White Lies About How Great I Feel said whatever it took to get released.

And now he is, seriously, BRIGHT yellow--even his FEET are yellow--in rather large pain, has a fever of 99.8 (just .7 more degrees and we have to call Someone But Bill Forgot Who per his release papers--100.5 is the cutoff point for serious danger) AND a distended abdomen, AND can't walk without almost fainting AND can't eat AND isn't drinking AND doesn't have the correct pain meds because they sent him home with just a piece of paper prescription at 7:30 pm when the pharmacies are closed (we actually have a good substitute, left over from chemo, so we're okay with the meds), AND he just fell into his bed and conked out with complete and utter exhaustion.

Note to neighbors: If you hear sirens right about the middle of the night, it will be young William on his way back to Oz, where he obviously shouldn't have clicked the little red sparkly shoes QUITE so fast.

We don't know whether to hover over him and set our alarms for every 3 hours to check him, or GROUND him or take away his Kindle or SOMETHING because he was VERY naughty and should NOT have gotten himself released!

I'll tell you this: I am SOOOOOOOOOO glad beyond all description that there are THREE OF us here right now to collaborate on what we should do with this unbelievable scenario.

I will post again as soon as we see progress in any direction. I just hope I'm not posting from Wake Forest Medical Center at 3 am.





White Friday: Cowboy Comin Home!

Wild Willie called me this morning from his hospital bed and said that Dr. Shen said he could come home this afternoon!

But the weird thing about his recent phone calls is that, while I should be strictly happy when he tells me these things, instead, my emotions fly around like a deranged one-winged bat.

First, he sounds kind of terrible on the phone. But that's a vague example.

Mainly, I get upset when he tells me that Dr. Shen said, "In some ways, I want to keep you here another day because your kidneys function is disintegrating, but I'm just going to take you off Ibuprofen, which causes kidney failure even at the recommended dosage, and you can go home."



Those of you who know me, and my If The Slightest Symptom Is Suspicious We Must Push The Panic Button Right Now personality, I am NOT THE RIGHT PERSON to be in CHARGE OF SOMEONE who has been told that their kidneys are sort of failing.


Note to self: Put Dr. Shen's home phone number on speed dial.

Other note to self: Put Dr. Shen's home address into my "Favorites" section on my Garmin navigation device.

Okay, so back to the story.

Well......recalling that last time he came home from a hospital, he was back in an ambulance within the first five minutes after walking through our front, you could not say I am calm about this.

What, you might ask, are the symptoms of kidney failure?

Fever and nausea.

If you've been following along, you know that he had both of those....was it....DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY?

And yesterday, I noticed that his abdomen is extremely swollen. He then looked in a mirror standing up and was shocked at how swollen it was.

What does THAT mean?

Wahhhhhhhhhhhh! Should he REALLY be coming HOME?

Okay, deeeeeeeeeep breathing. Calllllllllmmmmmmmmmmmmming down.


Emma is going to drive down from Richmond, pick him up this afternoon, and bring him home to Blowing Rock. John Paul is still here. Sarah is still Somewhere Out West playing shows. We plan to do a full Thanksgiving Saturday night--minus Sarah, who had Thanksgiving with Some People Out West, whoever they may have been.

As you can well imagine, to avoid all that cooking on Saturday, I will be sneaking over to the nearest hospital cafeteria for takeout, then act like I worked allllllllll day long cooking alllllllllllll those dishes! Especially making the pie from scratch!


Stay posted. With this combination of facts coming together, there is bound to be some severe drama headed for us, like a cute little tsunami.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Styrofoam Thanksgiving Occurred!

We did it! Got Thanksgiving dinners--complete feasts!--in styrofoam boxes, took them to Bill's room, and he ate with us! Most meaningful, moving, happy and wondrous Thanksgiving maybe ever!

More news tomorrow. It was unbelievable!

By the way: here's a tip you can always remember. If you don't want to cook a Thanksgiving dinner, and you don't want to drop $25 per person at some fancy Thanksgiving buffet--GO TO THE NEAREST HOSPITAL CAFETERIA! They are always open--even on holidays like Thanksgiving, and they make the most amazing, tremendous feasts for about $6 per person, if you get everything, including pie!

It has never once occurred to me to eat in a hospital cafeteria when most restaurants are closed....It's a weird idea, but....I'm just sayin! It's a major discovery!

Love and hope your Thanksgiving Day was fantastic!

Thanksgiving News: Home Tomorrow?!

Bill just called this morning with the nearly unbelievable news that he will probably get to come home tomorrow, the day after Thanksgiving.

All of his problems suddenly resolved, and this morning he is having eggs and toast for breakfast, he is off hydration, off the pain IV, taking pain meds by mouth, and....WHAT JUST HAPPENED??????????

Not only that, but something about his surgery scar has approached the miraculous. Groups of students are coming in to look at it. THERE ARE NO STITCHES OR STAPLES. Apparently, even for Dr. Shen, this is some kind of wild scar situation. It looks exactly like the scar he got in March, and I mean exactly. Which, as you know, should have taken 8 months.

I've got some water in an earthen jug that I'd like Dr Shen to take a look at. (Couldn't resist; a little biblical levity).

I don't know. But this whole thing is kind of WILD! The fever, the abdominal swelling, all the issues, just *poof*?

So...I don't want to get TOO crazy with relief, but looks like tomorrow Cowboy Napolean will probably be doing the Victory March from the SUV to the front door arc du triomph style. I have no idea what I just did to those metaphors, but, well, the scary thing is, YOU FOLLOWED IT! hahahaha

Will write more tonight. Maybe he can try some turkey with us today now that the entire story just altered, mid-plot!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Night, Day 3 Report

This entry might be abnormally short. I'm so tired I can hardly think straight. Not sure why, but it's all so stressful, and yet I can't complain because it could all be so much worse.

Saw Bill again today, and he continues to sort of improve. He looks really good, and is still taking walks, and his scar looks amazingly good! His scar starts directly over his heart and goes down at an angle to the bottom of his rib cage and kind of starts toward his back. Unbelievably long scar!

His whole abdomen looks like he might have had a failed career that involved wearing a suicide vest. Scars and holes everywhere! :)

But he is having trouble with a fever that goes up to 102, which is more than a "low grade" fever, they said. And he is now having trouble with nausea and abdominal swelling. He is having to have extra shots every 6 hours for the nausea and the pain, and whatever else.

See, when I'm not there, he doesn't ask questions of the nurses much, so I end up feeling like I don't really know what's going on, because HE doesn't know.

Anyway, our big Styrofoam Thanksgiving plan is called off. How sad is that!!!!

Problem is that his nausea and inability to take in anything but a tiny bit of clear fluids, besides the IV drip, means that we can't sit in his room with food and eat it in front of him. So we've all called it off. We decided to have a Thanksgiving at a later date, when he is home.

So JP and I will go there midday tomorrow for a short visit (he still seems like he prefers to be alone, he said even moreso with the fever and nausea), which is understandable.

Then JP and I will probably traipse down to the cafeteria and eat whatever they're serving down there for thanksgiving, then drive home.

Thank heaven for JP staying here so long! He does all the driving, and gas pumping, and dealing with parking, and every little thing. Even figures out all the meals, and, I mean, just everything! And Emma would be here in a heartbeat if I needed her. She's trying to manage worrying about her dad, and working all at the same time, in Virginia, and now she isn't have any thanksgiving at all! Sarah is in Washington State, I think, so she can't be here, but would want to. I hope she has Thanksgiving with SOMEone!

Well, that's about it. Our boy is better in some ways, but the little weirdness with the fever and abdominal pain and nausea is worrying me. I don't believe it's part of the normal process, because the surgeon had to invent a plan to deal with it, so it wasn't expected, I assume.

I'll write again tomorrow, just once, in the late afternoon, after we pop in and see him for just a tiny while, so he won't have to be alone for Thanksgiving.

Love to you all, and count your blessings! They're there for all of us!

"In the right light, everything's a miracle." --Sufjan Stevens

HAPPY THANKSGIVING and huge wishes and prayers for happiness and love to everyone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

End of Tuesday, Day 2

It's almost 7 pm, and I'm writing this from home.

Those of you who know Bill and me, know that I'm always the one wanting to pay more attention to him, and he's always the one wanting to have less attention paid to himself, so he can do his own thing. Therefore, he usually ends up watching sports at home, while I do some crazy hobby and talk to him ONLY during commercials.

Well, that whole pattern is still the deal at the hospital.

When he is sick, I become a little bit of a hovering mother hen who wants to be at his side, kind of staring at him, and continuously checking his vital sign readouts, and oxygen, and tubes, and giving him straws, and water, and juice, and bla bla bla.

And he is always kind of smiling mildly and hoping I stop staring at him and at his vital signs. hahaha

So today I had JP there to help me interpret whether Bill wanted me to be there or not. After lunch, there was about a half hour discussion between Bill and me and JP, in which I tried to find out from Bill if he wanted me to go home but didn't want to tell me that, or if he wanted me to stay, but didn't want to obligate me. You should have seen me trying to read into everything he said.

Finally, Jp took me aside and said, "Mom, I'm 100% sure that he is hinting that he wants to be alone. I know you want to mother him, but I think he just wants to sleep today."

So that made me feel less anxious about leaving the hospital and driving back home (2 hours). Okay, yeah, I felt a little bit rejected, but the same thing happened during the last surgery when he really did need some space and a lot of quiet at first. I did eventually understand that. hahah

The "do unto others" rule does NOT work when you're me. If it were me, I would never want anyone to go home, if I were in the hospital alone, and couldn't move even my arms enough to reach anything--even the TV remote-- but Bill is the opposite. He's quite the loner, if given a choice.

So we left, and I guess it feels like the right thing.

Sort of. :(

At least the pups were supremely happy to see me get home, and even as I write this, they have plastered themselves to my body, and can hardly stop kissing me. See, that's how I think BILL should be acting! (hahahah just kiddin)

So tomorrow, I GUESS I'll go back and see him for a few hours, or call him and see what he wants. The next day after that, he can't get around having company, because it's Thanksgiving, and we are all meeting there for the styrofoam take-out cafeteria turkey at lunch.

No one has said when he can come home, but it seems like he is doing so well, that I'm guessing it will be within the 5 to 7 day expected time frame. Although he had developed a fever as I was leaving. (Yet another reason I didn't wanna go!)

I'll write more tomorrow after we see him.

Thank you yet again for reading all this! Galaxies of love to you all!

Day 2: Cowboy Waking Up!

I'm sitting right beside Mister Rhinestone Cowboy in his teeny hospital room right now! John Paul is here, too, and our Wild Bill is doing pretty well, considering!

He is wide awake, although talking a little slowly. He still has his Demerol button and is trying not to push it, because he wants to keep his, um....digestive system...moving along.

But the result of not pushing the button is that he has to yell from pain, every so often, because he is having cramps. He told the nurse that his pain level is between 6 and 7, and they told him he wasn't pushing his button enough.

He seems satisfied with not pushing the button, though. No accounting for taste.

They moved him from his bed into a lazy-boy type recliner. Then they told him he should try to walk a few steps.

So he got very VERY bold, and decided to walk in the hall, and he went 300 feet! No one expected it, and he wore himself out, but is back in bed recovering from the walk, and the pain it stirred up.

You canNOT tell this patient what to do. He gets these ideas, and that's it!

But of course, it's amazing that he was walking when barely 24 hours ago, he was becoming chopped liver.

While I was writing this, he yelled again, and I turned around and said, "SQUEEZE YOUR PAIN BUTTON!"

He replied, "Oh, yeah."

Ummmm, I think the pain medicine is making him forget to take the pain medicine. haha

About mid-afternoon, JP and I will head back to Blowing Rock. Right now, Bill just said he wants to take a nap and that we should go down to the cafeteria. So WE know when we're being kicked out! :)

I'll post again this evening, once we get home.

In general, he looks great, his color is perfect, he's still on oxygen, but even in the time it took to type this, he's had several major pain cramps. Well, that's how it is!

Love and gratitude to every person following this and caring for my darling Bill.


Monday, November 22, 2010

End of the Day, Monday, Nov. 22

I plan to tell you, eventually, all the hilarious things Bill said when we briefly visited him in person after surgery. But not till tomorrow. Today, the hectic-ness JUST ended, and I'm going to SLEEEEEEEEP!

But just so you know, he is in a private room (yay! we worried about his sharing a room), and pain is the WHOLE deal. He said he had never felt a level-10 pain, even after the last operation, but today he felt a level-12, beyond anything he had ever felt in his life! YIKES!

He's on the demerol drip, but it only goes every 6 minutes, and only if he clicks it, so when he falls asleep, the pain creeps up.

He couldn't open his eyes much when we visited his room (he's in a regular room, not ICU!), and he kept trying to talk, so we thought we should leave pretty quickly, as it seemed like he felt an obligation to entertain us, and we DID NOT want that! He has enough problems!

So if you want to imagine him, picture a little bitty room, with this cute cowboy in a little bitty bed in the middle. On both legs, he has air-filled wraps to keep blood clots out, then he has an air-filled wrap on his right arm, too.

THEN, he has about 8 wires going into his chest on the right side, monitoring the blood flow between his liver and his heart. THEN he has about 4 wires going into his hands, giving him pain reliever and electrolytes and water and a bunch of stuff, I don't know what all he's getting. He was begging for ice chips, which I fed him, one at a time.

He has an oxygen tube in his nose, and keeps pulling it out and putting it up on his forehead, and then his machine starts beeping because his blood level of oxygen level starts free falling, and we go, "Bill! STOP TAKING THAT THING OUT OF YOUR NOSE!" He goes, "I don't like it."

Somehow, everything he says seems hilarious. But he actually did say some funny stuff to the nurse.

She goes, "Okay, Bill, now I have to do a depression assessment. Do you feel blue often? Do you feel like life is meaningless? Do you have trouble falling alseep?" He goes, "No, no, no," to all those. Then she says, "Do you prefer to stay at home? Or do you like to do new things?"

There is this silence, and then, without even opening his poor little swollen eyes, he replies, "I like to do new things at home."

How can he be funny even in THOSE circumstances?

Well, there's more, but I'll end the day here. I'm in the hotel, but will go home tomorrow. The kids are working out dropping by the house in the night tonight, to comfort the dogs, then coming back or something. They're driving fools!

I'm not clear who is doing what tonight, but as for tomorrow, I don't think Bill will want long stretches of company tomorrow--even me! He likes to hold my hand when I'm there, and he gets a little bit sad when I leave, but he needs to rest. Still, I'll stay with him every possible minute I can tomorrow, as long as I can do it without tiring him. Then I will tell you all about it!

For now, we're all just so happy that that scary surgery is over. Who knows what troubles lie ahead, but we're just happy about TODAY, cause that's what we've got.

Such profound gratitude to every single one of you who was pulling for that boy. And extra special to TW and JW--you know who you are!--for helping LAST MINUTE with our dogs, and ending up doing a lot more than they signed up for, due to my lack of planning. Talk about friends.....

Love and more love,
Diamond Lil

11:15 am--It's All Over! All is Well!

Shocker: they're DONE ALREADY!

Finished just this minute--11:15. I got to meet with Dr. Shen, and he was grinning the whole time--that was nice!--and said they found nothing else but the three tumors and took them out, and no complications!


So we have to wait two more hours in the waiting room, then the desk will call our name and tell us what room to go to and see him.

I couldn't think of any questions for Dr. Shen, because I was so happy and so shocked to see him so early. Unfortunately, the kids just went out for Domino's pizza, so they didn't get to meet him and probably won't.

You should see him. He looks about 25! But that smile--that was a major spirit lifter. Not used to grinning doctors, I guess.

Meanwhile, I caught the grin and can't get it off my face! All I wanna do is type exclamation points now! HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I'll stop, but inside I'm still exclamation pointing.

I'll write again after we see the Hurtin Cowpoke. Oh yeah, Dr. Shen did say he will be in an amazing amount of pain, but they have him hooked up to Extreme Amounts of Pain Killing Substances.

I am so beside myself with happiness right now that I can't even type another word.

One more word:


Sorry, that was two words. Try again:


10:10 am Report

This is post #3 of today.

They called again just this minute and said surgery is continuing and going as expected. That's all we know.

We'll probably post again in two hours. THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US!

Beth, Emma, John Paul and the Sleeping William

Annoyingly repetitive reminder: Remember to click the title of the blog to make sure you get the most recent post.

8 am: Surgery started an hour early

This is the 2nd post of today. To see the latest post, always click on the white title of the blog, the box, where it says "The Urological Adventures of Bil,l" otherwise you'll see older posts.

They just called "The William Drennan family" to the desk, then once you reach the desk, they route you to these 4 phones on the wall, and they tell you to pick up line 1, which rings as you walk across the room toward it. WEIRD. Kind of like the phones people use in the movies to talk to prisoners.

Not being the calmest person in the world, as you know, I, Expecter of the Worst At All Times, am in near heart failure as I approach this ringing phone, not knowing why they are calling at 8 am, since surgery is supposed to start at 9 am.

Amazing the number of scenarios one can envision in the time it takes to walk across a room.

So you say "hello" and you hear, "Hi, I'm Heather, the nurse, and surgery has begun and everything is going well. I will be calling you every 90 minutes to two hours to give you updates."

So I thank Heather the Nurse, and that's it. And about ten minutes later, my heartbeat returns to normal from the shock of being called up to the desk.

I should carry a generator and two electric zapper paddles with me in situations like this. "CLEAR!" ZZZZZAP!

It's about all my heart can take, just being here, without the shocker phone calls. HALP!

Bless you for caring enough to be reading this. I feel you out there. I literally do.

The Easily Panicked But Comforted By Your Love Diamond Lil

7:45 am Monday from waiting room

We've already kissed our good cowboy goodbye, as he was rolled away in his little hospital outfit with 8 thousand wires in his hand. He was in good spirits and glad to be going back to sleep, I think. He seems so fearless; it's really remarkable.

He was most worried that they would catheterize him--something he really hates--not knowing that he doesn't have a bladder. We thought maybe he should write them a big note in that particular area in permanent marker sharpie. Well, we thought that was funny as heck until the anesthesiologist announced they were about to catheterize him.

"No! He doesn't have a bladder!" Mama Bear to the defense.

"Oh. He doesn't?" (HALP! They didn't KNOW that?) See? The sharpie idea wasn't all that bad!

Bullet dodged.

Anyway, back in the waiting room: So far, we haven't been able ("we" means John Paul, Emma, and me) to locate an electric outlet in the waiting room, but I did bring a reeeeeeeeeallly long extension cord. However, if we can't find an outlet, I don't know how often I can update. I'll write again, once this problem is solved.

If you look at the clock around 9 am, think of the valient cowpoke. :)

Love to all for now, and THANK YOU for the amazing emails you're sending!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday, November 21: Quick Note

Here's the Sunday message, just so you'll know we're still on schedule.

Important: When there are multiple updates in a day (as there will be this week), you might open the page and see the older message and not know there's a more recent one. I believe that the only way to be sure you're on the latest message is to CLICK ON THE TITLE OF THE BLOG, where it says, on the blog itself, "THE UROLOGICAL ADVENTURES OF BILL". That's inside a decorative white box, big title. I think by doing that, it will always give you the most recent page. But without doing that, you won't get the latest post every time. I think....

Anyhow, we leave at 2 pm today for a hotel, get up at 5 am tomorrow, arrive at the hospital at 6 am, surgery starts at 9 am Monday, Nov. 22.

I'll post all along. Bye for now. Thank you so hugely much for following this story!

Love infinitum,
Beth and Bill

Friday, November 19, 2010

Just Got Home from the "Pre-Op"

Gotta love the medical jargon: pre-ops. (Glad it's not Special Ops, I guess.)

All those "I'm in the medical world" terms: meds, temps, NGs (naso-gastric tubes), JPs (something something tubes?), vitals, path reports, mets, so much lingo.

And someone ALWAYS has to end with, "Well, Dr. Drennan, looks like you're good to go!"

I thought of an update for that: "You're set to jet." I just guess I'm tired of "good to go"--it's only been 25 years since I first heard it.

Wow, I'm already thought-wandering and haven't even started the post yet. Sleep deprivation. Kinda feels like 25 cups of coffee, even though you'd think it would be the opposite.

Beth! Focus!

Okay. So!

We left before sunrise, had to scrape ice off the car. Drooooooooove two hours to the hospital, got lost 5 times in the medical center, spent hours in offices getting questioned, advised, informed, consented, bled, EKG'd, bla bla bla. Everyone was super nice to us and funny. We laughed a lot. Too much, maybe. Got tired of laughing. Got tired of smiling. Then too tired to eat, drooooooooooooove home again. We were going to stop at store and buy porterhouse steaks and potatoes for a little feast. Too tired.

So, on the subject of sleep deprivation, we have to be at the surgical check-in at 6 am on Monday. Ay yi yi. That's too early!

I told Bill, "YOU get to sleep the rest of the day! I have to sit in those little chairs all day, worrying about you."

He goes, "Yeah, but at the end of the day, your liver will still be right where it started." HAHAHA. He kills me.

Tomorrow, Saturday, John Paul arrives here to keep me company and help me commute and so forth all week. Emma meets us at the hospital and we'll wing it from there on who's where, maybe keep a hotel room over there all week, depending on how much help Bill needs. He needed TONS of help last time.

Blogging Updates To Come:
Okay, starting Monday morning, from the waiting room, I'll be blogging "hell for leather" as they say down here in the south, meaning, "like crazy" and try to put at least a line in for every little development. Assuming they have wifi! They will. The hotel does, for sure.

Thank you so immensely for your prayers, your thoughts, your wishes, whatever you send upward or over-ward or however you do it. THANK YOU for your love.

Here's to a great weekend for everyone....

Diamond Lil and Cowboy Bill

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Countdown till Surgery

This is a strange week. Unless you've ever had a family member going into a big scary surgery, you might not know what it feels like in the week before.

It feels like a calm before a storm. Even though this coming surgery isn't nearly as scary as the previous one, there's still this pre-surgery mode of, hmmmmm, how to describe it....a lot of staring out of the window, a lot of not talking, a lot of not laughing, a kind of quiet reverence or respectfulness in the face of the seriousness of the situation.

Then again, here and there, there's still the incurable laughing. Bill and I can't help but laugh because that's just what we do. We're always looking for something absurd in the news or something silly in a book, or something insane that the 4 dogs do.

So the recipe for this week is: one dose of regular humor mixed with one large dose of somber pondering. That kind of captures it.

Next dates: Friday the 19th, we go to Wake for orientation, sort of.

Monday, the 22nd, 9 am, the surgery.

Every time Something Dramatic Happens, I'll post, but probably the next one will be next weekend. I'll have the computer at the hospital, and they have wifi, so I'll keep it up to the minute.

So this was a pretty boring entry, I know. But if it made you feel sleepy or quiet or like staring out the window, or like wishing you were somewhere else, then you got the drift. :)

Love to all as we fasten our seat belts for the ride ahead.

Lily and Billy

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No Biopsy Today

If you've been REALLY remembering details (bless you!), then you might be wondering about the biopsy that was supposed to be today.

They canceled it. Dr. Shen feels it is unnecessary, due to the certainty of the other reports, AND he said that biopsies often miss the tumor and bring up plain tissue, and it isn't worth it in Bill's case, to do something that will bring no more certainty, since there is already complete certainty that he has liver cancer and exactly where the tumors are.

Now here's where I get weird:

I found a little movie online that SHOWS DR. SHEN DOING A LIVER RESECTION! The same procedure he will do for Bill. I am usually squeamish but since it involved the liver I love so much (my beloved Billy's liver), I was able to actually watch it!

You can see Dr. Shen talking, and watch him do the surgery, AND listen to him give instructions to an assistant who is learning how to do the procedure. It does get a trifle humorous when Dr. Shen gets impatient with his assistant because his assistant is scared to shoot in the staples. Dr. Shen is like, "Shoot it twice. Twice. SHOOT IT TWICE!" ooops hahahah Heck, if you saw THAT bit of business close up, you could understand why a newbie might be a little hesitant to go firing staples into someone's liver arteries!

I couldn't watch the whole thing because Bill could hear it, and he said it wasn't his ideal background soundtrack for the novel he was reading. hahaha

Here's where you can see the liver resection:

In other news: I've been very sick this week with something like halfway between the flu and a terrible cold. Can't even get out of bed! I think I caught it from Bill, who had a very mild version, so he should be okay. If you are a pray-er, please pray that Bill doesn't catch it.

Best news of all: Our kids have coordinated their schedules (heaven only knows what they had to give up to do this; I'm so thankful to them, I could cry right now thinking of it), and will be with us THE ENTIRE TIME! I am so exhilarated by this that I can't express it. I was SO WORRIED about all the details of either commuting alone in the dark, when I'm stressed, and our cars are so old, and taking care of the 4 (gol-danged) dogs alone, or working out a sitter on the busiest week of the year for dog sitters (Thanksgiving), so this was a gift from heaven! (Even though Sandy, Watauga County's And World's Greatest Dog Sitter would have helped me out, I know! Bless you, Sandy!)

So the next update will be on Sunday, just to keep the pattern the same.

Dates: Friday November 19, we go to Winston for a pre-op and get all the info. Then Sunday, November 21, we go to a hotel in Winston so BillyBob can get to the hospital super early Monday Nov 22 for the big day.

Thank you for reading all this! Mountains of love, and I mean it.

The Cowpokes

PS Currently accepting liver-related humor such as the following, from friends this week:

1. "Cry Me A Liver"

2. Liver Joke #1, courtesy of MG:

Three men are in a bar having a drink. When a gorgeous woman comes up to them and says,

WOMAN: Whoever can use the words ‘liver’ and ‘cheese’ in a creative sentence can date me for tonight.

1ST MAN: I love liver and cheese!

WOMAN: That’s not good enough!

2ND MAN: I hate liver and cheese!

WOMAN: That’s not creative!

3RD MAN: Liver alone, cheese mine!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A little bit more on Bill's liver surgery

Now that I look at what I posted last night (see blog entry just before this one), I'm not sure what I should add.

Summary in case you can't access last night's blog:

Bill definitely has metastatic liver cancer, 3 tumors. Tumors in impossible locations for hot needle ablation. So Nov. 22, he goes in Wake Forest Baptist Hospital for a 4-5 hour surgery at 9 am; two doctors lift up his liver, cut out the tumors, put liver back, hospital 5 to 7 days, length of stay determined by getting his pain under control and him being able to walk. He'll definitely be in there through Thanksgiving and beyond. Kids are coming, drive is only 90 minutes from here, so we'll commute to the hospital every day, won't need a dog sitter for my 4 little dogs.

The kidney object of interest isn't of much interest to the liver surgeon, so they don't think it is cancer, pretty sure it's not, but they have to follow it; they're not sure what it is--it's bleeding, whatever it is, and that topic is on hold as they address the liver thing first.

End of re-statement from last night (WOW were we tired when we got home!).

Top 10 additional pieces of possible interest to you:

1. Dr. Shen repeated twice that "medical literature does not support this kind of surgery" but he is doing it because Dr. Torti insists, because without this surgery, the tumors are of a type (size and growth power) that cannot be knocked out by chemo, and without this surgery, Bill has less of a chance.

2. A team of experts still has to meet to okay this surgery, since it's unusual. They could still decide to forbid it, but Dr. Shen doesn't expect that.

3. It is rare, said Dr. Shen, that these kinds of tumors grow on the liver. These are bladder cancer tumors, growing on the liver, not liver tumors.

4. Possibly for that reason, they asked Bill to donate one of the tumors to a study being done at Wake. Well, we'd already picked out a spot for that tumor on the fireplace mantel, but I GUESS we can part with it.

5. The timing is fantastic: not only will Bill only miss a very few final classes for the semester, but our children will be here to help out, AND I ain't gotta cook no Thanksgiving dinner this year. I'm seeing styrofoam boxes from the cafeteria, all of us around Bill's bed, Bill doped out of his mind on morphine, mumbling incoherently at the Detroit Lions. Hey, didn't Norman Rockwell do a painting of that scene once?

6. After Bill recovers from the surgery, he will get chemo in Boone (6 miles from home), WAY more potent chemo than last time. As in, chemically identical to rocket fuel. Just kidding about the rocket fuel.

7 through 10. I couldn't think of anything else.

We're in really great moods, thankful to get this chance, which, apparently, not everyone gets.

Bill, ever the hero, is beside himself with remorse that he is going to MISS CLASSES at his job. He actually asked the Dr. if he could postpone the surgery till the semester was over! Can you believe that?

But the tumors had changed size in just 8 days, between the CT scan and the MRI--very fast growth, although one had shrunk (!!) (Anna, those would be YOUR prayers that accomplished THAT stunt)--so the Dr. said there was no way Bill could delay surgery.

November 10th: Meet with anesthesiologist.

I'll write more next time something happens. Bill feels NOTHING--no pain, no pinches, no aches, absolutely nothing--is hungry, energetic, has perfect color. Hard to believe he is that sick!

THANK YOU FOR CARING, PRAYING, SENDING LOVE, SENDING LIGHT, THINKING, whatever you are doing or have done. We think about all of you constantly, and feel so loved by your love. Not just saying that. It's a BIG HUGE deal that you love us.

Diamond Lil and Wild Willy "50 Ways to Leave Your Liver" or "Liver Come Back to Me" or "Liver, No Onion" Drennan

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ack! We just got home!

We JUST drove into the driveway, are totally exhausted, and can't write much. Will write all the details in the morning, so check back tomorrow. AND THANK YOU FOR CHECKING AT ALL! WE ARE SO COMPLETELY THANKFUL THAT YOU CARE!!!

Summary: Bill has to have major liver surgery on Nov. 22, will be in hospital at least 5 to 7 days, average, depending on his pain level.

The surgeon, Dr. Shen, will be taking his liver out of his body, with a 2nd surgeon, and cutting out the 3 cancerous tumors, then putting the liver back in. YIKES!

It's a 4 to 5 hour procedure and starts at 9 am on Nov. 22.

So he'll be in there right through Thanksgiving.

He definitely has metastasized liver cancer, but they still don't think the kidney thing is cancer, or they're not sure what it is, but are putting that on the back burner for now.

More tomorrow.

Thank you for CARING! We love you all!


Monday, November 1, 2010

MRI Results

Bill got home from work just before 7, and after a little everyday chit chat, he asked about the MRI results.

So I told him, and he wasn't upset, as I had kind of thought he would be. (!?)

Here are the results:

The MRI confirmed that the three spots on his liver are, indeed, metastasized cancer, and are the following sizes: 10 mm, 14 mm, and 16.5 mm. I googled millimeters, and discovered that a dime is about 14 millimeters, and a penny is just over 17 millimeters, so those are the sizes.

The woman who called said, with sudden perkiness, that the good news is that there were no other spots on the liver.

Ummmmmm.....yyyyyyeah.....that's some really swell news right there..... (on some planet, somewhere in the universe, I guess)...only THREE spots of liver cancer. Oh, hooray for such great news.......(not).

However, they have also discovered something on his left kidney. She said it is some kind of "complex cyst" and that they will need to "follow that."

So I googled that and found out that there are two kinds of cysts on kidneys: simple and complex. Simple are never cancerous, but complex cysts can often be cancerous, so we really don't know about that yet.

Bill was relieved just to hear the word "cyst", of course.

I asked the woman on the phone, "About those liver spots, is anyone talking possibly just cysts?"

She said, "No, no one is talking cysts."

I said, "So you mean everyone is talking liver cancer?"

She said, "Yes, everyone is talking liver cancer."

So that was farther than she went with me last week on the phone. At least, we're not in limbo on that point any longer.

Nor are we any longer in Kansas, Dorothy.

Fortunately, we only have to wait till Friday afternoon to meet with the Liver Oncological surgeon to find out what the future holds for treatment.

As for the kidney, I am guessing that will require a Urologist, so maybe more trips back to Wake for that.

Anyway, as Bill viewed it, things could have been a LOT worse, from the MRI. He didn't have bone, lung, colon, lymph cancers or a bunch of other kinds he could have had. (I think he's been drinking out of the same glass as the Perky Lady on the Phone who was So Happy there were only THREE Liver Cancers.)

Good ole Cowboy Willie--lookin' at the bright side.

Not exactly what ol' Diamon' Lil was doing today, let me tell you.

Many thanks for checking in on him, and on us. You know I'll write here the minute we get home Friday night.

Love and thankfulness to each and every one of you. Feel free to ask us questions, if you have any. We are still extremely normal in our behavior, and there's nothing you should be afraid to say or ask.

El Diamond and El Caballero