Friday, September 23, 2011

Farewell, Faithful Blog Followers

Neither me nor my cowboy can think of any reason to continue this blog.

And despite the wonderful reason for that, I must confess to foreseeing a terrible case of empty blog syndrome. :(

I guess the next post will be March 22, 2012.

If anything unexpected happens before then, I'll get each of you by facebook or email or whatever new social networks are invented by then (I heard there's one coming out that involves two empty cans and a string) and ask you to come back early.

Thank you beyond all telling for reading this blog and sticking with us for more than two years now. And I close with a joke I made up just for you:

"If you love something, let it go. If it doesn't come back, it wasn't yours to begin with. If it does come back, sue the oncologist."

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The scan showed no cancer at all.

His blood work was also perfect.

He is now graduated to getting checked only every 6 months.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last-Minute Change in Posting Plans

I mean, this is getting silly.

It's not like I think you're designing your calendars around the post from the scan. I KNOW THAT isn't the case.

But Bill and I are running around like hamsters on steroids, with the anxiety of the scan, so maybe posting these redundant messages gives me something to do besides chew my nails. :)


I'm gonna say that I won't post the results till Friday morning. That way, no one worries and thinks something bad happened. Most people are laid back about it, but there are a few who will freak out if I don't post when I say I will. I'm trying to phone those people. But just in case.


That way, if we CAN post early, it's early news. But if we CAN'T post till Friday, no one worries.


Don't worry. 'Kay?


Monday, September 19, 2011

Frowny Monday

Ole cowboy is having a no-good terrible day today. He is very queasy, could hardly make himself eat any breakfast, his equipment broke after he was completely dressed and ready to go teach. That is so discouraging for him. It's his most-dreaded development. Other things went wrong; and he had a distressing weekend with constantly changing issues.

He said he is very worried about his digestive system issues, beginning with all this nausea, and on throughout. AND his throat hurts. AND his back hurts.

But to be POSITIVE, we are hoping that maybe he is just having pre-scan jitters and every little thing seems magnified. I know I certainly am having pre-scan jitters, but we're also working to remember how silly it is to worry when worry doesn't change the outcome, and, if the outcome is good, all the worry time was just totally wasted.

I won't post again until, I'm thinking, Thursday night when we get home, early evening.

But there are so many variables. They could admit him to the hospital for IV drips, and I might stay with him. They could request a night MRI, which could go really late (they're open till midnight!) in which case we'd be home at 3 a.m. and sleep a little late the next day before posting.

So if you don't hear on Thursday night, it probably means we didn't get an all-clear. But I'll have my computer, and posting will be my priority, no matter what, ASAP.

If you haven't seen a post by midday Friday, it means the Mayans were right. :)

Love you all. Big time.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Micro-details for Sept. 22 (Thurs.) Scan

This post will push the snooze button for you due to extremely boring content, but in the remote chance anyone wants these details, here you go:

Arriving at Wake Forest Cancer Center 1 pm to drink milky stuff for the scan. Goof around for a while. Get the scan around 1:40. Scan will cover upper, mid, lower abdomen. (I wish he could get a full body scan, but oh well.) At 2:40, both we and the scan results will be with Dr. Torti (talk about FAST RESULTS! Gotta love that place!).

So at 2:40, if you're REALLY BORED, you can picture us sitting in the little room (it's always the same room) and there's a little knock on the door and in walks Dr. T with his assistant Dr. Diana Stint.

And we've learned to read the face and body language of doctors with "news"--so we'll probably know before he talks.

When it's good news, they walk in fast, raise their eyebrows and smile and say right away, "Good news!"

When it's bad news, they walk in gently, look at you sadly, say nothing for a minute, then quietly ask how you are, then the doctor sits on a stool and rolls it over really really close to Bill's chair and breaks the news in a really soft voice.

The first time we got bad news, it was a super nice doctor in Boone. He came in and closed the door, saying nothing. I knew right then, even tho I had no experience. Then he patted Bill's knee and said, very softly and sadly, "How ya doin', fella?" Oh I REALLY knew then. Then he sat on the ubiquitous rolling doctor stool and softly said, "Well, you've got bladder cancer."

Then--and this would only happen in the Deep South I think--he said, "I don't know what your spiritual position is, but would you like to pray with me right now?"

Can you believe that? If that makes you mad, go back to bed and get up on the other side. I thought that was the coolest thing ever! Bill could've said, "No," so no one got forced into anything. As it happens, Bill, a devout Christian, said, "Yes," and the doctor--I couldn't believe this--TOOK OUR HANDS and made a circle of the three of us holding hands, and said this long beautiful prayer.

Dude. Just hush if you don't like that. If a Dr. ever asks you that, say no if you're not into it. Bill was into it. And I'm just saying, it was one of the most moving moments I ever lived through. And I can't explain it rationally, either.

The other time I'll use as an example was when the bomb dropped at Wake Forest saying Bill had liver cancer. (Dear atheist friends: no prayer in this one. Read without caution.)

We're both sitting in tiny exam room, waiting, guessing the outcome, planning what we will say and do for various scenarios. Little knock on door, door opens. Dr. T comes in with Diana. They both have an expression of somberness and pity, and they say nothing. I know at this point. Dr. T goes, "How ya doing, Bill?" Kind of The Question they always start with, when, ironically, that's the question only THEY can answer.

Then Dr. T sits on the rolling stool, rolls it right up to Bill's knees, so Dr. T's knees are touching Bill's knees. No talking during this. Oh, yes, I was certain now. Then Dr. T mutes the delivery of the news, which I thought was exactly the way to go. He opens a manila folder and looks at a paper. (The fact that all this time is silence, dude, a FROG would've known what's coming.) Then he goes, "Bill, the radiologist is very worried about something he saw on the scan."

I thought, "Now, I bet that radiologist isn't sitting in a corner somewhere chewing his nails, so that must just be the intro they teach you at med school." I actually thought that.

But I loved that gradual presentation technique, and Bill did, too. Lets you kind of gather your heartbeat together before the full disclosure.

Why am I talking about these scenarios?

Because constantly this week, especially during insomnia, I run the scenarios over and over. I imagine every possible thing he could say when he walks in, and what we would do. Franz Kafka had a character who thought that whatever you imagined is the thing that would never happen. So his character avoided a lot of trouble by pre-imagining it. Okay, that was FICTION, yeah. But just in case, I do imagine everything from, "No sign of disease!" to "So how bout them Packers?".

This morning I asked Bill if he does this same thing: imagining all the scenarios when the Dr. walks in.

He looks at me over his glasses and after a long pause, he says, "No. I haven't been doing that. But now I will be, thank you very much."

Oh, snap! I quick told him about the Kafka thing. He listened then said, "Know what? How about YOU sit around imagining all the worst case scenarios, and I'll just continue with the sports page, here."

That's my cowboy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Phone Rang! Thursday Sept 22 A CT-Scan and See Dr. Torti! HOORAY!

This just in:

Dr. Torti's assistant just called me, and (HOORAY!) they will see him a week from tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 22. He will get a 3 part CT scan (and MRI later if CT shows any questions)--upper, middle, and lower abdomen.

She said that his fevers and things could indicate an infection, and maybe he should go to the hospital at Boone and be checked, but I know he won't do that. I'll mention it.

She also said--this was a GULP moment: "He HAS been getting his 3-month scans all along, right?" I said, "No. He was due in July and no one told us anything."

She said, "Oh dear."

I still think it was the vague communication from the Boone people--since they contacted Torti in August, I'm sure Torti ASSUMED they hadn't FORGOTTEN to give him his July scan.

But seems that they DID. So he's almost two months late for a three-month scan!

Torti's assistant did NOT seem happy about that, but rather concerned.

Anyway, Thursday Sept. 22nd will be just a day trip, over and back in one day, so you can bet I'll post the dickens out of THAT event!

I hope they don't try to keep the Cowpoke in that hospital over there due to his fevers and stuff. It's awful sad being in this house when he's not here. He's my lil darlin, and I love to be near him. I'd probably stay overnight with him. They always let the spouses sleep in a chair beside the patient. (He's probably thinking, "Shoot, I could've watched a game on the hospital TV that night without her TALKING all the way through it.")

Beth...stop blabbering now! That's enough information for one post!


Love to all!

Wednesday: Mama Took Matter Into Her Own Hands...

As of this morning, Mama (me) had had ENOUGH.

Mama basically said, heck with everything, and just picked up the darned telephone and called Wake Forest and got a shakedown rolling that is going to end up with them calling us back in the next 24 hours with AN APPOINTMENT AT WAKE FOREST BAPTIST IN WINSTON SALEM.

FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And almost CERTAINLY A SCAN.

How it came about:

This morning Bill woke up feeling horrible. He has a lot of things wrong that I can't mention, plus he noticed that his liver is swollen and hard and can be felt through his abdomen. He let me stand behind him and he put my hands on his left side and right side, and I could definitely feel the difference, something hard and round and big on the right side (the liver area). I think that scared him enough to realize we just had to act.

So I called Oncology at Wake, and it took a half hour of explaining and re-explaining and holding on, by phone, which made me so distressed that my fingers and toes got icy cold and I was shivering with anxiety. Bill sat near me to correct me if I (in his words) exaggerated any thing to the nurses.

Turns out that when the local oncologist faxed her update to Dr. Torti, earlier this summer, she wrote something like, "future treatment is undetermined." And apparently that phraseology does NOT activate Dr. Torti to resume care--so since June, we have had NO ONE monitoring Bill's case! That's why we missed the July scan, and no one called us and we just sat here wondering what was going on. Gulp!

So I laid out the symptoms, no holds barred, and made it clear that we need Dr. Torti to resume oversight of Bill entirely. So they said Torti's nurse would text him, set up everything, and call us back very soon with dates.


I was trying to cooperate with Bill's way of doing it, but the swollen liver put me over the edge, and I just went rogue and made the call.

In the end, he says he is very glad I did it, and thanked me for taking on the anxiety of calling, repeating the story to receptionists and nurses, making it clear, not irking the nurses, it's all so delicate, it seems.

I'll write again after the phone rings. I'm staring at the phone for the rest of the day, until this is resolved. :)

Love to all.....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday: No Calling of Wake Forest Occurred

Our cowboy didn't call Wake Forest Hospital (The Big Oncologist) today, as he had hoped he would have the nerve to do.

I'll keep you updated. Maybe they'll call us.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Happy Sunday Here: No Real Reason!

We should be freaked out.

But we just aren't!

Last time I wrote, we were pretty much absolutely gonna get that scan going. Or not. :)

As of today, we are MAYBE PROBABLY going to call Wake Forest Big Oncologist on Tuesday and at least make sure we are on their radar and they haven't forgotten about us. (Why haven't they scheduled a scan?)

Or not.

Meanwhile, we are laughing more than we've ever laughed in our lives. Why? I don't know! It's not due to some Hallmark Emo Reason like "Oh, every day the grass is beautiful, for we knoweth not the future!" Really, it's not like that. WE are not like that. But for unknown reasons, we have been laughing a ridiculous amount, and adoring our time together, just being lazy.

"I love our lazy days together," he said to me on Saturday. "And I want you to know that you are so much fun to live with."

Wow. Note to self: memorize THAT line for life. Well, yeah, I GUESS so! Husband of the year for saying THAT.

Okay, but now, not to contradict myself, and say something intense, I did receive a poem this week that moved me to the soles of my feet--no--actually, to the sole of my soul, and I want to show it to you. It was a birthday gift poem to me from my beloved Anna, luminous, love-illuminati grandmother to about fifty amazing young people, and unofficial fairy godmother to me (as I hope to be for young people, all my life, if I can follow her example).

Is this post inchoate so far? I hope so. Because life is.

And also isn't.

This poem, while being about birthdays, is also about, oh....terminal illnesses, say the scholars, and candles on the night of one's passing as well as on one's birthday, and things that really matter. It even happens to have the phrase "well scans" in it--just a synchronicity, but....a synchronicity that speaks.

I'm not saying I understand this poem. At all! And if you get frustrated by things you don't understand, then take a deep breath before reading this poem.

It will work you over.

But the last line is worth your trouble. I promise. I can't get it out of my mind.

Here you go. It's called "The Only Card I Got on My Birthday Was From An Insurance Man":

"On upland farms into abandoned wells
On a line meridian high
state by state my birthday star comes on
and peers, my birthday night,
and in my eyes it stands while past its light
the world and I turn, just and far, till
every well scans over the year like spokes
of a wheel returning the long soft look of the sky.

Star in a well, dark message: when I die,
my glance drawn over galaxies,
all through one night let a candle nurse the dark
to mark this instant of what I was,
this once--not putting my hand out
blessing for business' sake any frail markers
of human years: we want real friends or none;
what's genuine will accompany every man.

Who travel these lonely wells can drink that star."
---William Stafford

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Whatever Happened to That Scan?

Bill and I finally decided we'd better do something about that scan that didn't happen.

We were pretty sure he was on an every-three-months schedule. His last scan was April 28th. So he should have had one July 28th.

Nothing happened. No one called.

So we talked about whether he was willing to GET a scan. You'd think a person would automatically WANT to get a scan.

But when you're IN the situation, grey areas appear in that decision making.

Like this: He is pretty extremely sure that if he was told that he needed surgery, he would absolutely refuse it. Now, not MINOR surgery. But (I just asked him, and these are his words), "If it involved major surgery, with anesthesia and hospital time, I wouldn't do it."

I said, "Would you get chemo?"

"Yes, I would do chemo."

So, the question goes like this: If you know you will not have surgery, should you get a scan and run the risk of finding out you need surgery that you aren't going to get, OR should you skip the scan, since you aren't going to get surgery anyway, so that you might as well enjoy life without a bunch of bad news to process?

Easy: Of COURSE you get the scan, because you WOULD get chemo, AND the scan might show you are free of all disease, AND there are so many variables, that you can't foresee them all, so just get the darned scan, and figure it out later.

So...Bill started today by calling the Miniature Oncologist in Boone--I refer to her miniature physical stature (about 4'3") and her extremely miniature affection for me, by my use of the term "miniature"--not to her unquestionably vast skills as an oncologist (disclaimer, in case she reads this). So the, Mini's nurse said that Mini called the BIG Oncologist at Wake Forest (6'7") on August 2nd, and that the message must have gotten lost at Big Oncologist's end, so it is Bill's problem now. Bill needs to call Big Onco and get a scan scheduled, assuming Bill is still on the every-3-month scan plan, and hasn't graduated to every-6-months, which is a remote possibility.

As of this afternoon, Bill hasn't pulled together the nerve to call Big Onco yet. It is terribly difficult. It's difficult even to know scan scheduling is going on. My dread level went through the roof when this happened this morning. His denial level went through the solar system.

Short form: In a moment of courage, he is going to call Big Onco office and schedule the dreaded scan. When, I don't know, but I admire his taking step one by calling Mini Onco.

And here's my position: Some folks say I'm conservative here, and liberal there. But if there's one place I'm liberal, it's in being against people being SHOVED into doing scary things that they don't want to do. And I'm not going to FORCE Bill to make that phone call before he is ready. Or rag on him, or do it for him or even behind his back, as I have considered doing.

It's not my place because it's not my life. My life is impacted (though I don't believe "impacted" is a legitimate word, no matter how much Tv people use it), but I'm willing to pay the price to myself to protect his right to self-determine his path, and not to judge him, but to adore him and support him and love him right through to his soul, whatever he does, and whether I agree with it or not. Anything else is me trying to control him, and wow, does controlling others by force ever backfire in one's face.

Bill is a VERY VERY Godly man, and spends an enormous amount of time in prayer--in fact, if I know you and he has heard your name mentioned, he writes it on his list, and you are being prayed for for a long time every night of your life, by him. (My mom is an atheist, and she says, "Get my name off that damned list. I didn't say he could pray for me!" Well, I guess that's another day's analysis--do we have the right to pray for people who don't want to be prayed for?! hahaha Good ole mom. She's a character and a half and funny as heck.)

I bless up and down every one of you who has shared your thoughts, ideas, impressions, creative suggestions and tireless love and concern, through this decision-making time.

I'm much more flawed than you are. I can be a selfish brat, and I don't know if I would be so selfless as you are, to reach out to others the way I have been reached out to. I pray that my shell of sickening self-absorption and ugly egocentricity will develop permanent cracks after observing the love in action that has come to me and to us from those of you who are not cursed with the disfiguring crusts of selfishness, like I have been. A "loving" me is in here, somewhere, imprisoned, I promise. But my defenses have built a wall, and my love has trouble seeping out.

Seeing yours flowing toward me and Bill has been humbling, moving, and inspiring, to say the least.

I will write again the minute we hear when the scan is set up. And if we're going to it.

Thank you for giving so much to us when we're just regular folks that you could easily have passed over. But you didn't. The universe is better for your having been in it. Our lives certainly are.

Love and gratitude.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Two Losses in this Blogosphere Family

I'm not going to post anything but the below tragic news today. (Bill has no news. Will have some later this week.)

Two of you, long-time friends, who read this blog and subscribe to it, and who write to Bill and me very frequently--have suffered devastating and unexpected losses this week.

One lost her father, completely unexpectedly, and she and her family are going through great pain at this time.

The other friend lost her 21-year-old granddaughter in a car wreck last night. That whole family is in complete shock and devastation.

The pain of empathetic repercussions is being felt for both of these families through endless concentric circles of friends of those lost and friends of their families and friends.

If you pray, please pray for them. Whatever you do, do it for them.

The rest of this post is silence, in which we probably all hold up that one little candle of hope that, in the end, things like this will make some kind of sense.

God grant it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cowboy is OK-ish

Our cowboy is rollin' along. We had some health issues this week, but until they are confirmed as problems, which we hope they never will be, he won't let me post them.

Hey Cowboy Bill! Look over THERE!

(Fever, digestion problems, sore back, breathlessness and over-sleeping)

Hi Bill, how ya doin? Whassup, dawg?

We are waiting for a call saying he has a checkup scheduled at Wake Forest--the scan I keep kvetching about. But he likes NOT reminding anyone to set that scan.

No comment.

But, but, but.....(sound of placing duct tape over my own mouth).......

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pretty Much Nothing to Post!

The ole cowboy is telling me to just say that everything is fine.

Everything is fine.

There. Can't say I'm not a good wife!

Okay, here's the real scoop: No, just kidding. See, the problem with the blog has become this: Billy and I see his status in almost diametrically opposed ways. I see every little thing as a potential danger to him, and I want a doctor to look at every little thing in great detail. But HE ignores absolutely everything. So when I post about things I see going on, that seem scary to ME, he says I'm overblowing it, and that I should chill.


Me. Chill.

Like that's EVER going to happen.

So, now that you know I can't post all the stuff I think is....word choice....."worthy of medical looking-into" can make what you want of my summary statement: All is well!

(I just asked him if he would mind if I noted that his scan is now one month late. He said that was okay to say. So I will add, without asking permission--forgiveness being easier to get hahahahaha!---that I OFFERED TO CALL AND SET UP THE SCAN AND HE SAID NO!)

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZIPPPPP! That's the sound of me b-e-i-n-g q-u-i-e-t which is not one of my gifts!

He has agreed to help out Appalachian State in an emergency this semester, teaching a course he hasn't taught since Univ. of Wisconsin, so he is frantically doing his prep this weekend. I'm running around as his squire, helping him find lost files, and create italics on his syllabus, and bringing him sandwiches and iced sweet tea, and making him home-made spaghetti, and reminding him that he's always nervous before a semester, and it will all be okay. He feels better, then, and thereafter, he says a lot of sweet things about me (told me today that I'm the best thing that ever happened to him? Whoa! I said, "Could you repeat that? About four times? I like the sound of that!") Hahaha, so I have HIM fooled as you can see. haha

Well, there you have it. A whole post that tells you really NOTHING AT ALL!

He is, though, seriously, feeling stabilized, so don't worry. A little trouble with nausea, and other things, and some other stuff, and a couple things besides that. That is all I can say!

Thank you for caring and stopping by and helping me love the brave boy through this big time in his life!

Love you,

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bill is cruising along, with glitches

Yes. I missed posting on Sunday. I have proven myself utterly unreliable with the vow to post each Sunday. Forgive....

Update on Willy: Nothing new has happened at the chemo clinic. BUT. Nothing new has happened with Wake Forest setting up that 90-day scan, which is now wayyyyyyyyyy overdue. I say to Bill, "Don't you want me to call and set that up for you?" He says, "No. It's too much fun to act like nothing is wrong."


Lately, his main troubles have been miscellaneous weirdnesses. He thinks he has swollen lymph nodes under one arm. I found them, when I was fake pushing him backwards (nice way to treat a cancer victim isn't it?) and I said, "Hey! What is THAT?" when I felt it. He checked, and thinks there's something there, too. But to remain calm (Who said, "I'd rather be happy than right?")(That person would not make a good cancer patient.), Bill has asked me not to talk about the lymph glands ANNNNNNNNNY more. So, that's his call! I'm actually less worried about them after googling for 8 thousand hours and finding out that when they feel like a big marshmallow, it's usually not bad. When they feel like gravel has gotten stuck under your skin, that's bad. His is marshmallow quality.

Also he is having quite a bit of external bleeding from his abdominal area. He says his abdominal area seems swollen, and his big new thing is tremendous fatigue from doing things he could do just weeks ago. Last night, he even called out for help after lying down suddenly across his bed after coming upstairs, while I was on the porch. Only he said, "HALP" instead of "HELP" and the term "halp" is a comedic term in our house for when you're saying what the dog is thinking and we pretend that the dog can't pronounce "help" except as "halp" so I thought Bill was joking. Ooops! He wasn't. I had to check his heart, and pulse, and help him kind of stabilize. Not sure what that's all about. He has bells hanging on a string from the bed headboard, and I said, "Why didn't you ring the bells????" and he said, "I couldn't reach them with my foot." (He was lying across the bed, perpendicular to the way you're supposed to lie in bed.) Wish I could have seen him trying to ring the bells with his foot. He is silly, even though he is sick.

He still plans to go ahead with a semester at Appalachian State. Hmmmmmmm. Not sure that's really an excellent plan, but he is stubborn, and I DO put my two cents in, but I never get any gumballs. He just does his thing, no matter what I advise. Big sigh!

That's it for now. Unless something happens this week, I'll post again "next Sunday"--and I put "next Sunday" in quotation marks to indicate that neither I nor you actually think I will remember to post ON Sunday. If I moved the deadline to Monday, I'd probably post on Tuesday.

Thank you for always caring!

Much love,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wednesday Magnesium Drip-a-thon

Thanks for checking on the cowboy.

He did need intravenous magnesium yesterday. So we sat at the old chemo saloon and he got dripped. I went out and refilled all the bird feeders outside the windows, as there were no seeds left, and lots of disappointed little birds checking for snacks. There was no volunteer at the place yesterday, so when that happens, they let me fill the bird feeders because I love it. Then little birds come and eat outside the one-way mirror that makes up the entire east wall, and it entertains all the drip-recipients a bit.

I don't know of any more scheduled appointments at the chemo place, but maybe he'll continue going by every couple of weeks to check the magnesium.

I was much more interested in his Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) score and its ratio to his Creatinine, which I figured out how to calculate using google research. If a ratio gets into a certain zone (I think I explained this on here, once, so skip this paragraph if you read that), it means you have kidney malfunction. Bill's score was getting worse every 2 weeks that they checked, but Little Miss Oncologist didn't notice that, and I wasn't about to TELL her after getting sent to the principal's office for talking last time.

BUT BOTTOM LINE: Miss Onco didn't even have his Creatinine and B.U.N. scores TESTED yesterday, and she wasn't there, so we couldn't request it.


Next event should be Wake Forest calling us with a scan time. HALP! RUN AWAY!

Bill DID get a call from Appalachian State U. this week, and he will be teaching again this upcoming semester. I thought it would have been ideal to have gotten a scan before accepting that job, and I also wish Bill might have just taken the semester off to recover from the last years of travail. But no.

I'll write again Sunday, just to keep the schedule going during down times.

Thank you always for caring.

Muchest love...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday! I'm Blogging on Sunday!

Miraculously, I didn't forget to blog on time this week.

That's because I've invented a new way to torture myself, which torture has to do with why I would be typing the blog in a timely fashion. But more on that later.

Bill's next medical adventure is Wednesday, August 10th. (Our friend Jim G. was trying to invent a term for the day after the day after tomorrow, and he decided the term should be "tomorrow yonder." I fully agree with this idea.) Bill will have his blood tested and possibly get a magnesium drip tomorrow yonder.

Speaking of Jim G, Jim and his amazing family hosted Bill for 18 holes of golf Thursday, as part of a tournament to benefit Ashe County Memorial Hospital.

Bill golfed EIGHTEEN HOLES!!!!!

Bill said he pictured his days as a mere shredded scarecrow husk of a human (okay, that was MY non-melodramatic extended adjective) at Duke Hospital, and he thought of how far he'd come that he could golf 18 holes, when his chance of cancer remission was only 3%, and he's hit that 3%! (I don't know if he hit 3% of his golf balls correctly, however. But who cares about math.)

He isn't feeling completely great, though. But nothing outstandingly terrible. He said to tell you he wishes he could get a bright yellow 2012 Fiat 500 car, but I told him my mom would get mad if we put that on the blog because it is not fiscally conservative to purchase cars that are not extremely used, saith she. So pretend I didn't say that. And don't tell my mom about the Fiat; she doesn't have internet.

The next time I post here will be to update you on the Wednesday blood tests. Also, Wake Forest hasn't called to set up that scan that we are dreading with our entire beings. We aren't calling them, either, so we might have to man-up and get that scheduled. Right now, though, it's fun to pretend: "WHAT scan?"

Here ends the information about Bill. If you read on, you will only discover the new form of self-torture that has caused me to blog on time this week.

I read that a person burns a lot more calories standing than sitting, so as part of a sudden state of panic I have entered as a result of a silly and obvious LIE the bathroom scale tried to tell me this morning, I am no longer sitting down except for two 5-minute intervals per day.

I have moved my laptop to the kitchen bar and am standing up alllllllllllll day long. I have used up my two 5-minute sit-downs, and I now wish to perish. This is the single worst idea I have ever had, and that is saying something.

Tip: Computer games are no longer fun.

Anyway, because I can't sit down, I have to keep DOING things, so I thought of the blog. Thus it is timely for once.

However, if you knew the amount of leg, back, front, side, skeletal, and psychological pain I am experiencing at this very moment as I type this, you would understand why Bill just yelled at me, "Beth! YOU ARE CRAZY. GO SIT DOWN RIGHT NOW! YOU'RE MAKING MY BACK HURT!"

He loves me, though.

Even though I am a little bit nuts.

And a little bit fat.

Okay, more than a little bit fat.

Okay, fat.

Okay, the end.

Till tomorrow yonder!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Isn't it Still Sunday Somewhere?

Am I late AGAIN posting the Sunday blog? Please define "Sunday"! (Nah, that didn't work. I'm just plain late again.)

Well, nothing much good or bad.

Bill felt MUCH better after his magnesium drip last week. He even hit some golf balls at a driving range, but couldn't make it all the way through without stopping and resting. Still, though!

He still has off and on abdominal pain, about 3 inches below his heart, and on the inside, he says. And his medical equipment is giving him so much trouble--breaking all the time. (Also, our icemaker already broke on our new refrigerator, and he is more upset about THAT than the rest of it. haha)

Yesterday, I went to the funeral for my sweet 2nd cousin Janey Robbins Campbell who died at only age 48 of lung cancer, and she never smoked or even drank (Southern Baptist!). My cousin and that part of my family--we all share the same great-grandparents, born and buried in this same little town--that's how we're related to Tom Robbins the author. Tom couldn't be there, as he lives out west. He is 78 now, even though Wikipedia shows him as several years younger. For that reason, he once said he'd found the fountain of youth: It was Wikipedia.

It was upsetting being at the funeral, even though Janey is with the Lord now. They showed video montages of Janey, and played beautiful songs she loved. She was so brave, and she held out till her little boy came to her bedside (he had been afraid, and couldn't go into her room for a long time), but he finally got his nerve up and went up to her face and told her, "Mommy, I love you." And that instant, literally, she breathed her last. She waited for him to say that, not just for her, but so he could always remember how much he meant to her, and his last precious words to her, and how she had loved him so much that she waited for that.

Life isn't for the timid. Fighting cancer and simultaneously assimilating the fact that others near you have lost their battle with it--it was all I could bear at this particular time. I had to come home early. I couldn't eat at the luncheon afterward. I was too sad.

But on a happier note, Bill has taken up Facebook, and is having the time of his life finding his old friends and catching up with everyone. He hopes to go to his 50th class reunion next spring.

He isn't sure he will be teaching this fall, starting to feel pretty sure he won't--there were cutbacks at the campus, but nothing for sure yet.

As my friend, Gayle, who is an Orthodox Jew (I don't know too many Orthodox Jews, so we have really great discussions) says: May the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bless you!

Over and out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday at Chemo Clinic

I'm going to try to make these letters bigger. Is this working?

Bill saw the onco today, and failed his blood test, so he had to get a nice long drip, but only of magnesium. Still, it took most of the day.

He feels a little tired right now, but nothing worse than normal. So that's good.

Only worry I have right now is that his blood urea nitrogen (BUN) scores have continued to climb over the last month. I am wondering if that is connected to the new itching, as his BUN was at an all-time high today. Well over the limit for normal. One of the first signs of BUN disorder can be itching.

Well, I thought Miss Oncology would think of THAT, but no, she didn't. And why didn't she?

Because she thought it would be a better use of her time to yell at me for mentioning Bill's itching problem. I'm not kidding!


I am SO MAD!

Scolded for CONTRIBUTING information that Bill ASKED ME FOR while he was listing his issues, and darned if, as soon as I said one thing, that oncologist didn't suddenly say to me in a stern voice (as stern as you can sound when you're a 4-foot-tall 23-year old oncologist), "MA'AM, YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN. REALLY!"


Even Bill was dumbfounded. I had done nothing whatever to elicit being talked to like that! I couldn't believe it!

Well, in fine form, I instantly shut my mouth, and started silently perusing the posters on the wall and never looked at her again, never talked, never acted like I knew anyone else was in the room for the rest of the time.

She never made the connection between the BUN score and the itching, and she did not take the itching seriously.

"Oh, really, fooooo?" I thought. "If that BUN score is related to that itching, and you didn't do anything about it, except tell me to shut up, I hope you can spell m-a-l-p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e."

So after being unimpressed with everything else Bill said was wrong with him, she said, at the very end, "Anything else?" and Bill looked at me and said, "I don't think so. Anything else?" and I just shrugged, like "Don't ask me; I'm just his CAREGIVER who spends 40 hours a week learning about his health. Why would *I* have anything to contribute, Miss Impudent Hussy?" No, I didn't say that, but I thought it. And a lot more besides.

After she left, Bill said he couldn't believe she had done that, and that he wished he had said something smart-aleck back to her, but I said, "No, it wouldn't enlighten her AND we have no power in this situation. If she's that weird, she could mess with us if we really made a stink out of it."

Luckily, we didn't have to behold Her Royal Oncologism any more after that. We went into the hands of the nurses there, who are really nice, respectful, kind--even to the lowly caregiver.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Bad Blogstress Still Reigns

Maintaining my well-deserved title of "Bad Blogstress" I hereby write my paltry update on Young William, only 3 days late!

Hmmmm. Well, in SOME ways, he is better, but he is having some weird side problems.

Our next appointment is tomorrow, Wednesday, July 26th, with the Boone Oncologist and then, soon after, but no date set at this point, we go to Wake Forest for The Scan. Which we dread, of course, but face with optimism!

His new issues are REALLY new. He is having a big itching problem, all over his body, worst on his feet, legs, arms, and face. It's even keeping him awake at night. And he takes Benadryl already, so there is some antihistamine working, but still he itches.

He is also still having REALLY bad acid reflux feelings in his esophagus, and occasional strong pain in the center of his breastbone. Not his heart, but lower. That one really kind of upsets him.

But then again, any of you who've had experience with cancer in yourself or a loved one, know that once you've had cancer, everything is scary! Every little thing, you wonder. Especially if you're me! The hypochondriac of the universe! And now my hypochondria can work by proxy on the cowboy! If he says, oh, I have a paper cut, first I FEEL a paper cut on myself, and then I'm GOOGLING for hidden dangers! hahah

I know better; yes I do.

So I'll write again (don't listen to promises of bad blogstresses!) after tomorrow, to tell you what the Onco says, and then I'll TRY to remember to post next Sunday, just a weekly update.

Thank you for keepin' on caring allllllllllll this time!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Billybob is FINE!

Oh, I'm a horrible blogstress! I forgot Sunday AGAIN! It was because we were having TOO MUCH FUN with a visitor who stopped over and made us laugh a LOT and who brought us handwritten letters from the children in Uganda who/whom we are sending to school for a second year, since the last time we helped with it, we went into such an ecstatic state that we thought someone had slipped us a mickey! (Wow. I have been listening to too many of Bill's 1940s radio shows on the computer, that I would be familiar with the phrase "slipped us a mickey.")

Okay, now de-convoluting the above paragraph, what was I saying?

Oh, yeah.

Bill is doing very well!

He is better each day, stronger, fewer weird symptoms. His nausea is almost gone, for example.

On Thursday of last week, he got a blood test, and his magnesium had flown the coop, so he got hooked up to an IV for a big drip of that. This coming Wednesday (in two days), he gets another test and will meet with the Boone Oncologist for the last time this summer! Kind of a celebrational moment.

We thought we knew when his scan would be, but now we don't know. So we are trying not to think about that scan.

However, we did get some good news via Google research, that fewer than three percent of people with bladder cancer as severe as Bill's (especially having spread to the liver) EVER achieve remission! So the fact that he is in remission right now is certainly something of a miracle! I actually think the stats were worse than "three percent," but I don't wanna freak Bill out when he reads this. The actual text was more like, "It is generally impossible to achieve remission after bladder cancer has spread to a distant organ such as the liver or lungs." But, the reality is, that makes the greatness of his remission that much greater!

We are grateful, and I'm thanking the Author of the Storyline for this undeserved blessing, and this summer!

Thank you for the prayers you sent up. Certainly looks like they registered! Actually, I don't know how to draw the connection between prayers and answered prayers, as it seems rude to gloat when some prayers appear to be answered and some don't seem to be, so rather than sound like I'm into the Gospel of Prosperity, which I ain't!!!!, I am wording this carefully. I do believe that ALL good things come from God, but that some things don't look "good" when you first open the package. Yet the message of the Resurrection is that we don't know how it all turns out till later, and we're given a message that we WILL like the ending...which happens on the other side...and is going to be as big of a surprise as, oh, I don't know, say......someone rising from the dead?

Thank you, God...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Student's Perspective

This post, for Bill and for me, is a tear-jerker.

No, wait! Nothing bad has happened! Rather, it's a SWEET kind of tear-jerker.

One day this week, we unexpectedly received the following letter from Kristen, one of Bill's students of last semester at App State. We were so terrifically moved, and its meaningfulness was so intense for us, given the context of Bill's illness and struggles to teach last semester, and the question of his future ability to teach, that we....well....we were deeply moved, to say the least...

I wrote back to this student (she mailed her message to me, not to Bill), and after trying to put into words for her how much this had meant to us just now, I also asked her for permission to reprint her letter and name, and she granted it.

In order to make sure that YOU, the blog reader, know what Kristen's letter meant to us, AND in order to let Kristen's letter be the last part of this blog entry, as its grand finale, I will first post, below, part of my response to Kristen. Finally, you will see Kristen's letter in full.

Here is my response to her:


You can't possibly imagine how much this meant to me and to him to have a letter like this at this exact time in his life. Your beautiful message reflects to him something he has spent his life working for, even praying for--to have really made heart-to-heart contact with a student--because, believe me, he loves his students, and his sharing of his beloved literature with them, as much as he loves his own family, and he cares SO much about really reaching you. And here, he gets a letter like this, proving that he has, at least with you, achieved his life's wish. It is just beyond the pale, that you took the time to let us know this, and to share the beauty and sweetness of your heart with me, and with him.

And here, at last, is the letter Kristen sent to us, to which the above note from me was a reply:

Dear Beth,
I’ve been meaning to email you for some time now, but I didn’t really know what I was going to say once I did. I had professor Drennan’s English class this past spring, and on one of the days he notified us about canceling class, I think he used your email account (which you hopefully still use or I'm out of luck with this message) to send the email. And later on, for whatever reason, I was randomly Googling names as I am wont to do and upon entering yours I surreptitiously came across your blog. It was such a random occurrence that I guess I was meant to find it, and I’m really glad I did. It’s not only wonderfully well written and sad and funny rolled into one, but it gave me a glimpse into the life of my professor that we as students could only guess at. It was really difficult to read much of the time, knowing how sick he was and that he was there in front of me teaching every day through it all. And I would go back to my dorm or get online between classes and get the latest updates. I remember in your post from the last day of classes, you said that he’d said he didn't figure we knew the full extent of what he was going through, and I agree. What we saw in class never equaled what I was reading in the posts, his love for the subject keeping him smiling throughout each period, looking very tired at times but cheerful and passionate about teaching us. He’s really my hero at this point. I was thrilled to read that it’s all over now. Keep writing! You have a wonderful, strong husband and I feel honored to have taken his class.

Kristen Fox

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July from Cowboy Bill and Diamond Lil

We're having a wonderful 4th of July. Our cowboy is slowly but definitely getting a little bit stronger each day. His appetite has increased a tiny smidgeon, too. We've cooked out ribs and chicken (I'm the BBQ cook; Bill is the appreciative audience), and we've entertained a little visitor one day, named Koko, the white wonder poodle, and we both love the books we're reading, and there's golf and baseball on TV. This is Billybob's idea of heaven on earth.

I'm having a blast reconnecting with all my friends from high school this summer. There were 1,049 students JUST in our graduating class--3,500 in the high school. It was like a complete city! Many of us have now found our way onto Facebook and have our own reunion page, and it's one of the funnest things I've ever experienced.

Now that my caregiver role is greatly diminished by our cowboy's delightful remission, I'm returning to the activities I enjoyed before The Great Interruption occurred in Billybob in January 2009. I'm walking, gardening, weight lifting, interval training on the treadmill, and hiding behind the hedge throwing eggplants at strangers who walk past our house. JUST WANTED TO SEE IF YOU WERE PAYING ATTENTION. Of course I don't throw eggplants. Cucumbers* are much cheaper. [*Can you tell I'm reading Nicholas Nickleby, with the vegetables flying over the hedge? GOG AND MAGOG! GOG AND MAGOG! Funniest scene in all of literature.]

The cowpoke still has trouble with aspects of his body: lots of nausea, metal taste in his mouth, fatigue, breathlessness, turning white, almost fainting, sudden drenching sweats, little fun things like that. But he bought a bag of used golf balls, and every day he drives to the end of the cul de sac and hits a few into the woods. He SO hopes to golf this summer.

Nothing scheduled medically for this week. So I'll write again on Sunday for the holding pattern plan. You know by now that "Sunday" might mean "Monday." oops!

Love to you all and thank you for reading this.

And before I forget: now that your prayers for Bill can relax a little, if YOU have any prayers you'd like prayed, please email them to us. Bill is an incredible pray-er. He prays a long time for his list of names every SINGLE day of his life, and loves to add things to the list. I try to be good about praying, too, but no one could keep up with him! (He's a saint, like, I think, really! In addition to being the nicest, kindest, sweetest, funniest, smartest person I've ever known in my whole life. But don't get me started. I love him too much!)


Thursday, June 30, 2011

He Failed The Blood Test & Hadda Get A Drip...

Poor ole Cowboy Willy. He thought he was just dropping by the chemo clinic for a quick check of his blood, and then home again in half an hour.


His magnesium had crashed and burned--even though he had a GIANT drip just a week ago. He was all out of it again, and had to be admitted, put in a bed, and given a half day drip of magnesium and whatever they squirt in there with it. No chemo though.

He got the somewhat disheartening news that it will be six to twelve months before he feels right again, can taste food properly, isn't nauseated, can catch his breath, and so on. Yikes! He was hoping to be in a golf tournament in early August...I guess he'll be lucky if he feels good enough to ride along in the cart!

The better news is that Boone Oncology is going to give him continued monitoring. We were afraid they'd cut him loose, and we'd have to drive two hours every time something came up (to Wake Forest, where his MAIN Oncologist is). But no. He will get checkups every couple of weeks or as needed to monitor his blood and health, for, it sounded like, the rest of this year.

He will still, though, have his scans at Wake. Those are the scary things, as they can flip our world in one hour. The next one, as I've said, is something like late July, but we don't have a date yet. Could be August.

I'll continue to post on Sundays while the drama factor is low. If I forget, don't worry about him as your first response: it's probably just that I...well...FORGOT! haha

Thank you for loving him through this last long haul, which actually started in October 2010 when they found the liver tumors. We are just now at the end of the chemo which THAT event started.

Gratefulness and love to each and every one of you who has taken the time to read this, and to care. To quote good ol' Dickens: God bless us, every one!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Ooops. I forgot to post on Sunday!

I remembered, at about 11:15 pm, on Sunday night, that I hadn't posted on Sunday like I said I would.

That's why I am practicing remembering. Which is different from remembering. It's called "forgetting with an excuse." HA!

Bill is having a severe nausea day today, but not a pain day.

This post is written in GREEN in honor of Bill's trying-not-to-toss-his-cookies. (Ooops! I'm testing the Google Chrome browser today, and it is DISOBEYING my command to make these letters green. Dear Google Chrome Browser Inventors: Score 1 for Firefox, GoogleChrome: ZERO!)

Dr. appointments coming up: Thursday June 30, we see the Boone Oncologist and Billybob gets blood work. We'll see if he needs platelets or anything else at that time. So, hmmmm, I guess I will post on Thursday afternoon and report on that doctor visit.

Also, on that day, I'm imagining we'll get our marching orders for what to do next: the summer scan, and whatever else they do to check his progress. I'll announce that, too.

Meanwhile, happy summer day to everyone!

Friday, June 24, 2011

All Better!

As of this morning, Friday morning, Bill feels fine! All his pain is gone, and he has no symptoms at all. Truly amazing! No idea what that was all about.

Next time he goes to the Bronco Onco is Thursday of this coming week. I'll try to remember to post just a little something two days from now, on Sunday, so I can get into the habit of Sunday posting while he's in remission--as long as back pain dramas don't kick up and make me post more often!

Love to you all, and thank you for your emergency prayers and concern!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hmmm. What is THIS all about?

Our battleship boy suddenly came down with EXTREEEEEME bone pain last night (Wednesday night). It wasn't related to his shot of last week, the oncology place said, but he thinks it WAS related to a shot he got last week.

They said no way.

He said, "Way."

There you go.

He could hardly sleep even with pain meds. By this morning, he was literally YELLING in pain! We got to the clinic for his magnesium drip, and the oncologist w-a-s-n't t-h-e-r-e, so his bone pain has not been addressed.

So we don't know yet what the bone pain is all about. It's his pelvis, lower back mostly, and his chest bones.

So they took his blood at the clinic, and it's all goofed up.

His magnesium was the lowest ever, and he had to get a double drip! I asked if his blood problems could have caused the bone pain, and they said absolutely no way.

Cowboy Bill: "Way."

His blood was messed up in the following areas, which I have yet to google and am clueless regarding these terms: Red cells: too low. Hemoglobin: too low. Something called HCT: too low. HGB: too low. MCV: too high (WAY too high); MCH: too high. MCHC: too high. Platelets: too low.

And none of that means squat to me, until I google those letters.

Anyway, he is surviving by pain pills, which he also ran out of today, but a different doctor (thankfully!) signed an RX so he could have pain meds.


We're going to just ride the trail tonight and see what the bones do. If it gets crazy, I'm taking him to a doctor, whether he whines or not.

If it goes away, I stand corrected and so do all the chemo center employees--maybe the shot had a delayed effect from last week.


But I will post tomorrow, so you can know whatever we know, in case you're following this new little drama.

Love to all!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Maybe a Magnesium Drip on Thursday?

We have TWO more trips scheduled to the Chemo Palace, but not for chemo (thankfully!).

Trip one is tomorrow (Thursday, June 23), during which he gets his blood tested and will probably receive a magnesium drip (which only makes him feel better, so no worries there).

Trip two is set for one week later (the following Thursday, June 30) wherein he gets his last meeting with the Madame Boone Oncologist, and finds out if he needs anything else before we are cut loose from Boone and the world of chemo, until the next scan at Wake, later this summer.

I think what I did last time we were on cruise control, during a remission, was to post each Sunday, so folks could check in if they wanted to, for a reliably regular update. I guess I'll do that again, after we're unleashed into the joys of remission.

Thank you for helping to bring this gift of remission into being! It definitely beats the odds, and wasn't "supposed to happen" according to medical prognostics and such.

We are SOOOOOOOO grateful, and we believe that prayer and love and the goodness and inexplicable mercies of God are to credit.

We are thankful also to the mothers and fathers who raised up their children to be intelligent, disciplined, educated and responsible enough to become doctors and scientists and researchers, such that those brilliant minds chose to use their gifts for the good of mankind by developing treatments, machines, and drugs to help fight human suffering.

And we are thankful, also, for Medicare, without which we would have been very financially banged up by this illness.

We find much to think about here and have learned many unexpected lessons, ourselves...

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Bill and I would just like to wish a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all of you out there who are biological fathers, step-fathers, spiritual fathers, uncles, grandpas, brothers, or who care for other people, animals, or even cute little plants in a fatherly way. Fathering is a big word, and there are lots of ways to be one.


Thursday, June 16, 2011



HALLELUJAH MY SWEET LORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


It's a Maybe-Chemo day...

It's Thursday, and a big one for us!

If he passes his blood test, today will be the LAST CHEMO in his 6 cycles--a truly amazing achievement. Two different oncologists have told us that "almost no one" can make it through all 6 cycles!

Yesterday, Bill's general practice doctor told him that he'd never even known of a person to go through so much chemo and not lose weight, and Bill didn't lose any.

Neither did I. Can I please blame chemo for that? I have a few to get rid of these days...

The doctor also had difficulty believing that Bill made it through teaching the whole spring semester with THAT kind of chemo.

Say what we will about our cowboy, he has the constitution of a battleship!

So I will write again tonight and let you know if he gets the chemo or gets sent home to build up strength till next week.

Tons of love from Beth and Battleship Billy

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

He's Better!

I didn't want to bum everyone out for the last two days with more of "He's horrible," and "He's awful," and "Nothing is helping."

At one point, I wanted to park my chair outside his door, as he needed help so often, and he was trying to stumble around on his own being a hero. But then he fell asleep for most of the day, so I didn't have to set up shop in the hall. He has bells he can ring if he can't call for me, and he can call the house phone on the cell phone. But you know him: he likes to do it all on his own.


He looks better, was smiling, had better color, and is walking around s-l-o-w-l-y.

Thank you for anything and everything you did to be part of that. We are SO GRATEFUL!

He is supposed to have his last drip on Thursday, but we'll have to see if his blood work comes back showing that he should have more. Maybe he'll get another week to recover.

We love you!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How Can Sumthin HURT So Much If It's HELPIN?


POOR Cowboy Bill is in the WCE today! (WCE=Worst Condition Ever)

He says he is having the worst reaction he has EVER had to the chemo, and is so sick he can't even LOOK at the television screen.

He's taken every possible medicine, done every possible thing to feel better, and just BAM! Lying under the covers and can't move.

I'll post again as SOON as he starts to improve.

We knew today would be bad, as each chemo round is cumulative in its side effects. So today he has six rounds of chemo working together to knock the living starch out of him.

I have bells by his bed so he can call me, and I'm sitting nearby listening for them to ring, in case he needs something.

Thank you for your prayers and cares and invisible hugs.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

All is Well! Sorry for the Late Post...

All is well, all went normally. Bill feels fine, and won't feel the miseries till sometime this afternoon or Sunday. In fact, he's still asleep right now, and it's after 9 am as I type this!

His next chemo is Thursday, the 16th, and that should be his very last dose of chemicals, tho he'll need some other kinds of stuff around that time.

Hooray for how close he is to the finish line! Thank you for being a great cloud of witnesses!

Again, apologies for the late post. Many reasons! None of them bad.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday Chemo: Nothing Weird Happened!

Nothing weird happened! Can you believe it?

Bill got his methotrexate and vinblastine and left, and except for the air conditioning then completely breaking in the car, and then a certain personal "appliance" Bill wears virtually exploding while he was standing with the air conditioning repair man, at the car repair place while I walked home in my cowboy boots, and then during dinner, while we watched TV, the remote control for the TV going psycho and rewinding an entire episode of Monk without our doing it, WHILE we watched the whole show backwards helplessly, it was a perfectly normal, uneventful day!

Tomorrow is an all-day affair, so we will barely be home in time for supper. That's IF they have the drug Cisplatin available. Since Cisplatin is made with real gold (hence the name sounding like platinum), it has become so expensive that insurance companies are going mad, and the drug has become nearly unavailable in some parts of the country, and there is no substitute.

So I SHOULD say that tomorrow will PERHAPS be an all-day affair--if the drug is there.

You know I'll write when we get home!

Thanks for thinking of us! Tons of love!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Apricot Nectar, Anyone?

If you were to compare this apricot nectar:

to this picture of the platelets that Cowboy Billy received today through a tube and needle:

...would you EVER EVER EVER want to drink apricot nectar again?

Bill doesn't.

And it WAS one of his favorite juices...until today.

And when they first put up the bag, it was SO HUGE that I asked the nurse if the donor was Kirstie Alley.

Well, anyway, it wasn't Kirstie, but God bless you, anonymous donor! Bill made it through, and no side effects, and he feels just fine.

"Would you say you feel just fine?" I just asked him.

"Yeah. I feel okay," he said, in his typical chatterbox fashion.

Leaving ME to figure out how to amuse you on the topic of PLATELET TRANSFUSIONS.

OH, WAIT! One of the funniest emails we ever got came in this morning from Anna B, another mountaineer and dear friend of ours. When you live on the mountain, you just feel...well...SUPERIOR TO EVERYONE IN THE FLATLANDS! That's just the way it IS. The flatlands people come to US for their vacations. We do NOT go to them.

So with that in mind, listen to what Anna sent us this morning by email, when she read that he had to have his platelets driven up the mountain from the flatlands. We about died laughing when we read this:


No way to top that for an ending.

Happy apricot nectar weekend!

Wishing you kisses and hugs and "the light of God" ("light of God" is from one of our favorite Swahili hymns, Sisi ni kutembea katika mwanga wa Mungu, which is Swahili for: We are marching in the Light of God.

Our family used to sing the Zulu version, called Siya Hamba, in 4-part harmony, a capella...back when the children were speaking to us. Maybe they'll come back some day, and we can put up a Youtube of our family version.

Till then, here's a link to a Youtube of a Malaysian choir singing the exact version our family sang: CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE SONG IN ZULU AND ENGLISH

Love to all!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cowboy Billy Went On A Trick-Nic


Poor Cowboy Bill thought he was going to the Oncologist for a quick checkup. Instead, he ended up in a hospital bed, not getting home until five hours later.

He was purty mad about it.

In short, you could say he failed his blood test.

His magnesium was at Ethiopian drought level. So he got a whoppin' bag of that.

And his platelet count was...well, let's say it didn't take the lab worker too long to count the straggling few platelets he had left, so he has to go back for MORE infusion tomorrow, once they ship platelets up the mountain from the flatlands.

The Oncologist said that these things were causing some of his symptoms--irregular heartbeat, exhaustion, breathlessness, super pale face, and other stuff.

So we postponed our errands for yet another day, and made the best of it. At least it was air-conditioned in there. And the cafeteria is staffed by real southern cooks. So the food at this hospital is unbelievably good. Well, if you like southern cooking, which we both do. Today's dessert was home-made banana pudding, complete with vanilla wafers and meringue.

Gotta try to cheer the boy up SOMEhow!

I'll write again tomorrow afternoon, when we get home from the platelet transfusion.

Love to all, and thanks for checking on him!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Doctor Tomorrow for Mister Bill

Early for us--a 9:15 a.m. appointment with the local (Boone) oncologist--tomorrow (Thursday). She will see how his blood looks and just check him over to okay him for the following Thursday's beginning of his very last round of chemo (that last round will begin a week from tomorrow).

I'll write once we're back home tomorrow, but it's expected to be just a routine checkup.

Bill has continuous nausea problems, and feels faint, is quite pale, and breathless and very fatigued, but he sometimes has a good appetite and feels halfway decent. At least we feel good knowing that these symptoms are from the chemo, and not from something crazy in his liver!

Thank you all for your love and your care and your notes and your everything!

More tomorrow.

Tons of love,

Saturday, May 28, 2011

At First, Bad...Then....GOOD!

Our cowboy started out HORRIBLE today. But after taking tons of medicines and resting and sleeping and eating a little bit, he's much better!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Six Doses of Stuff!

Our Cowboy Courageous endured six containers of chemicals today--small bags, big bags, colored bags, little needles full, big needles full, on and on for more than two hours.

But he's okay.

His platelets were bad, and the Onc was on the verge of sending him home, but they decided to give him the chemo if he would come back tomorrow for a Neulasta shot (which we hope won't give him bone-shattering pain!) to try to rev up his white cells and give him some immunity. He also needed a transfusion of Magnesium.

Right this MINUTE, he feels okay, but is SUPER UPSET that the local TV Channel Higher Powers BLOCKED the Phillies game last night which turned out to be (his words) "One of the great games in baseball history!!! 19 innings!!! Second baseman turns out to be the winning pitcher!!!"

Frankly, I'm glad his Phillies Irk has gotten his mind off his chemo. He sure isn't thinking about Vinblastine right now! Rather, he wants to VinBLASTine the entire organization called Dish Network right this minute.

Love to all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Me & Cowboy Bill Just Hangin' in There

He's feeling so much better today, it's amazing! Not a bad day at all!

In fact, no such thing as a bad day when you've got your sweetie nearby...

Monday, May 23, 2011


Today's blog will use the above visual aid to illustrate young William's progress through the day.

He started out sicker than a Nigerian village during an Ebola epidemic.

It was BAD. He said he felt like he could actually die if one more thing in his body malfunctioned.

But he took all his meds, and I convinced him to take his pain medicine, which is there to remove the edge when he has days like today. He was resistant, as it has side effects, but after he did, he felt so much better (see graph) that he could actually go to the grocery store with me briefly!

Right now, he's out of bed, sitting on the sofa, looking at his computer! A crash will hit later this evening, but for now, it's been an upwardly mobile day for Chemoboy!

Love to all...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cowboy Billy's No Good Terrible Sick Day


Yes, Cowboy Bill, you can has sick day.

Our Chemoboy is FEELIN' THE PAIN today...He has "the worst metal mouth of all time," said he. He is shaking all over, is so weak he can barely walk across the room, is extremely dizzy, and has a new symptom that we THOUGHT we all figured out on Friday (we all=me, Bill, the nurses at chemo), but we didn't, because it's back. His skin from his chest up, and all over his neck, face, and head turns bright, extreme red and slightly puffy and stays like that for hours and hours, then disappears. You'd think allergy or sunburn, but neither is possible. He looks like when you take a photo of someone hanging upside down by their knees, how their face turns red and puffy.

As symptoms go, it's not THAT scary; it's not like the theme from Jaws or anything (doomdoom....doomdoom....THAT theme), but it IS just weird enough to give us an undertone of slightly spooked.

He plans to not move from his bed all day, and I'm on duty. Right this minute, he's trying to sleep. He had a second night of extreme insomnia due to endless strong acid reflux, so I hope the dogs don't start barking and ruin his nap.

(We're still--all 5 of us--Bill, me and three doggies--living in the basement. Yyyyeah. At least it feels air conditioned down here. And we do have a TV. Last night, the feature film was the classic Oscar-winning Mongolian Death Worm. High quality film. For example, in one gun battle scene, the actors are holding different kinds of guns every time the camera points at them. Hope the continuity department got fired. Anyway, I think right now he feels like one of those Mongolian things has got a hold of him.)

Thanks for love and prayers and wishes for his good.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Victory! First week DONE!


It took alllllllll day, and there were glitches, and hours of excess misery, but by the end of the day, although he felt out of breath, shaky, tired, and bombed out by chemicals, still--he was FINISHED and able to GO HOME!

None of his chemicals should really start to do him in until Sunday, unless things have changed due to the cumulative effect of the four prior rounds. But for now, we're okay, and nothing else gets dripped into him until Thursday!


Thank you for your love and prayers and good wishes.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Uh-Oh...Chemo was a LEEDLE bit worse than expected....


Bill got just the SMALL chemo today and...WHAM...he's melting!


He feels absolutely wretched.

It must be the cumulative effect from the previous rounds, because this methotrexate and vinblastine have never made him this sick before.

We were at the clinic for more than 4 hours, and the whole time, he was in a MISTER CRABBY APPLETON mood! (Are you old enough to know who Crabby Appleton was?).

But pore ole cowboy...I juss reckon he can act anyway he wants and we love him JUSS the same.

Tomorrow, though, I might bring a helmet in case he starts swinging things. It's a 7-hour session even if nothing goes wrong, and he isn't gonna be happy...


Will post tomorrow night. THANK YOU FOR CHECKING! Thank you just SO SO SO much.

Tons of love.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cowboy Chemo is a Go...Not Sure If We're Glad or Sad

We just now got the phone call.

Our Cowboy Courageous has to go for two more rounds of the dreaded chemo. Probably starting tomorrow.

As I write this, I'm sitting beside the phone, with the calendar on my lap, and a sharpie ready to write in the Dreaded Dates.

Truly, though, neither Willy nor I is (instead of "is" right there, I wanted to say "are"--but he said something about neither/nor constructions and antecedents so I stopped listening and just switched it to "is") sure whether we're all that sorry he will get the last two rounds.

My logic is this: If two rounds now kill so many cancer bugs that he can avoid a relapse and SIX MORE rounds down the road, let 'er rip.

His thought is: HALP!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Waiting (still) to see if more chemo will happen...

We waited a day or so, then finally called Wake Baptist Hospital and left a message for Diana S., Dr. Torti's assistant, to find out if our Cancer-Free Cowpoke is still supposed to finish his two last rounds of chemo.

Hope not! But I'll post the minute we know.

Not sure what to do with the blog while Bill's in remission. I think I used to post only on Sundays. Maybe I should go back to that? Hmmmmmm. I COULD post every day, but I might lose you as readers, because there would be precious little drama to keep you amused! Pondering.....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


We JUST THIS SECOND got the call!

"No evidence of disease!" That's what she said (Dr. Torti's assistant.)

Sometime tomorrow, we will hear back as to whether Bill has to have any more chemo. His assistant wasn't even sure he would need THAT!

Bill is out of his mind with happiness. I'm still recovering from seeing the words "Wake Forest" on the caller ID. I feel like I just got pulled out of the ocean as a great white shark had its mouth open over my feet. My heart is pounding as I type this.

We are soooooooooooo happy and relieved! Indescribable.

Thank you for your PRAYERS and LOVE and GOOD WISHES! And THANK YOU, DR. TORTI!



Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday 5:07 pm: Guess They're Not Calling Today (WAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!)

Well, we have officially given up hope of Wake Forest calling us today with the MRI results.

Do they REALIZE that people sit and stare at phones ALL DAY LONG when they're waiting for life and death NEWS???????

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday: Post-MRI 2-Hour Car Party Results In Horrific 4-Part Vocal Rendition of "McArthur Park" In Wildly Immature Drennan & Friends Celebration

That about says it.

Who would think that something as morose as a 90-minute MRI checking for metastatic liver cancer, for Pete's sake, could turn into a party lasting into the wee hours, involving a giant Italian dinner, followed by a two-hour road trip full of ear-splitting, howling renditions of a remarkable medley of horrific songs, performed in a variety of completely wrong keys, at unthinkable volumes, while Bill--BILL! MISTER SERENE!--not participating in the actual singing, quietly drove our SUV, containing we four long-time friends, all of us far too old to be acting like 15-year-olds, but doing so, nonetheless, along 421 toward home, as midnight approached?






As well as many portions of many songs from "Mame," a musical in which one of our car partyers will soon be performing at the Little Theater in Ashe county.

Well, we certainly didn't expect our evening to go like THAT, but we haven't had so much fun in a long, long, long, long time.

The MRI did take a shocking 90 minutes, and Bill's back, hands, and feet were speaking French by the time it was over, but by then it was 7, so our friends took us to Carrabba's in Winston for an Italian feast, and then we drove home in FINE spirits, even though it was wayyyyyyyyyyy past our bedtime.

We have no results at all from the test, not even little comments by the MRI conductor, from which to glean tiny inferences.

But we do expect a call on Monday with results, which I will post instantly.

Thank you for caring, and I hope you're enjoying your Mother's Day or Other's Day or whatever you're celebrating. I'm having one of my best Mother's Days ever, which I would never have foreseen, but it's because so many people knew that my children would be completely ignoring me today, due to their amazingly timed fit of pique, so these wonderful not-my-children individuals have sent me love notes, cheery cards, and even FLOWERS!!!!!!!!!!!!! and lots of love and reassurance that I was a great mom, and kids will be kids, and not to blame myself.

So if the MRI shoe falls tomorrow, Billyboy and I can certainly say that we partied right up to the last minute, and if the shoe DOESN'T fall, we'll keep right on partying: This is FUN!

Love to all.