Monday, February 28, 2011

Bill Went to Work--Just Barely!

He didn't look good.

He didn't feel good.

He didn't have nuthin' good going on at all.

But he went to work. Don't know how he does these things. My hero...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Evening: Still No Pain But Feeling Down

Bill still hasn't gotten that bone pain--hallelujah!--but he is feeling sort of down today, and is discouraged because he looks yellow. He is very tired--he says, "exhausted"--and, well, he just feels very discouraged tonight.

Saturday Morning: No Pain!

Okay, WHO has been praying out there? ;)

The pain never struck! Not one tiny bit. Bill is FINE!

We are in shock and awe, here.

Unprecedented.

I try to control the maximum daily quota of times I say or write "Wow" during any given day, but.....wow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Night: Got the Bone Buster Shot Today

This afternoon, Bill got the shot (Neulasta) that makes the bones feel like they are molotov cocktails on fire.

That pain should strike about midnight tonight and, if it goes like last time, could, in a worst case scenario, provide him with excruciating pain through most of tomorrow. GOD FORBID.

This time, however, there are two differences from last time: one good, one bad.

The good difference is that he has special pain meds already on hand, just for this particularly severe pain, as this bone marrow pain is the most unendurable of all the pain he has to experience.

The bad difference is that this shot's effects will (warned the nurse)last much longer than the shots he got last time, so it may be a bad entire weekend. But we hope and pray that he gets through it with minimal trouble.

I was going to go to a conference tomorrow, 40 minutes out of town, but if things go in a bad direction for my cowboy, I will certainly cancel and stay with him. The conference happens three times a year, so I'll get other chances to go.

I'll be sure to write tomorrow, so that, if you're interested, you can see what happens from the shot.

Thank you for cheering him on from the sidelines. We both feel your love and prayers. Seems weird, but I mean it. Like, scientifically.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Chemo and Some Conundrumatics

I couldn't post about today until I saw if he would be allowed to get chemo or not.

He got it! Passed his blood test.

I was worried, because last night, he started with the fever again. Oh no!

And this morning, he felt bad and was even kind of crabby!

But he went, harumphing all the way, and they took his blood, and turns out the only thing wrong with it was too little magnesium, so he's on magnesium now.

So they gave him his M and V chemicals.

Tomorrow, though, he gets a Neulasta shot, which is the same basic product that gave him that hellacious bone pain last time. We're so hoping that doesn't happen again.

The sweet little guitar girl was there again today, but some of the song requests she got today were NOT of the hymn-like variety, and simply did NOT interface well with her gentle and childlike persona and voice: she looks delicate, speaks delicately, sings delicately, plays guitar delicately, and someone in there today had her singing the WRONGEST songs for her sweetly whispery self.

Imagine, let's say, you're looking at a whispery-voiced golden-haloed satin-eyed cherub holding a guitar. With wings on it. Yeah, on the guitar. And throw some wings on the cherub too. That's the persona, that's the effect, we're talking about.

Now imagine THAT singing THIS:

"Well, I'm runnin down the road tryin' to loosen my load
I've got seven women on my mind,
Four that wanna own me, two that wanna stone me,
One says she's a friend of mine."


Bill and I, hearing this across the room, looked up from our books and slowly turned our eyes toward each other until our eye contact said, "Did that just happen?"

"Well, I'm a standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see!
It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me.
Come on, baby, don't say maybe! I gotta know if your sweet love is
gonna save me!"


Um.

Yyyyyyeah.

Well, you gotta expect, if you're going to take requests...gonna be all kinds makin' a world!

Glad there are, though.

And we definitely had fun listening. Despite--and maybe even because of--the conundrumatic paradoxical juxtaposition of it all.

"Lighten up while you still can,
don't even try to understand.
Just find a place to make your stand
and take it easy."


Hey. We can do that!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Luminous, Brave Cowboy



If there were a book about my cowboy Billybob, this would be the book. (Unfortunately, this particular edition costs ten thousand dollars right now, so we don't have one, and we suggest that you check your basement in case YOU do. But I digress.)

That brave boy went off to teach college just now! He's in pain, nauseated, fatigued, and rather ash-colored, but couldn't be talked out of his plan.

Off he went, lugging 67 essay exams that he'd graded and heavily annotated over the last few days, despite feeling like something you'd scrape off your shoe!

(I meant MUD. Not something taboo, you silly.)

He's just a luminous man (he likes that word, luminous), and the more you know him, the more you think so. (And the more you start saying things like "luminous.")

But there are a lot of luminous people out there, and some are very sick right now, and whether they're our friends or your friends or somebody else's friends, you or we or all of us together love them and worry for them.

So whether you pray or think or hope or just let yer luvlight shine, however you do it, throw in an extra dose for everybody's friends everywhere, who need extra love today.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday: Ooops, Forgot to Post!

Thanks to Bev, my friend from all the way back in kindergarten, (now THAT'S a long friendship!) I just realized that I had forgotten to post an update!

Oooops!

Bill did fine until Sunday afternoon, when he started crashing like the cars in the NASCAR race. (We have never watched NASCAR before, or even considered it, but for some reason, we did watch on Sunday, and it was surprisingly fun.)

Well, by Monday morning, he was messed all the way up and had to call in sick to work, which, as you know, is the very last option for him. He can't stand to miss a class!

He was profoundly exhausted. All he did was sleep for almost 24 hours, or even more. He could eat a little bit, but this morning (Tuesday), he was having trouble managing nausea for the first time.

He rested more, and as of this afternoon, he is walking around a little. He even finished grading all those essay exams. He is really amazing.

It's been an almost silent day in our house. When he feels so bad, it makes me feel down, too. I guess it was kinda up to the dogs to make anyone smile today!

But they did.

BabyJack, the little black poodle, made up a game involving lying down and rolling the ball to me with his nose, and I'd roll it back. I laughed really hard when I realized he had actually made up a game.

Not much else seemed too funny today. But at least my cowboy is a leeeeedle bit better, so that's enough to make me thankful.

Love to you all, and thank you for your thoughts and prayers, sooooo much...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday After Cisplatin: Nothing Happening Yet

The Cisplatin drip went (yay!) uneventfully on Friday. Three hours (!) of pre-medications before they could even give him the chemical, then the chemical took two hours more.

As of today, Bill says he feels only weak and breathless, but otherwise fine (still on steroids, and anti-nausea, and anti-anxiety meds, and some Atomic Bomb Anti-Nausea pills that cost $90 EACH!)

Last time he had Cisplatin, there was no reaction until Monday. So we are hoping for an okay weekend.

A friend made him home-made sticky buns yesterday (like Cinnabons), and another friend mailed him home-made sugar cookies. Ohhhhhhhhhhh, he is so happy about those developments. He definitely lost weight lately, and can't finish even one serving of anything, but he can eat sweets.

I'll write again tomorrow, but we expect no drama until next week, and for that matter, we hope we just get to skip the drama entirely this time!

Love to all of you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday: Bombs Away

It's Friday, and we're for sure scheduled for Cisplatin Extreme today. He'll feel great for three days, then crash. I'll write daily, though.

Yesterday was completely uneventful, as the Methotrexate and the VinBlastOff do nothing to cause him discomfort. They took only a short while to put in, and he graded essay exams the entire time.

BUT A HAPPY SURPRISE IN THE CHEMO ROOM

One huge blessing from living in Scots-Irish territory as we do is the musical talent that floats in the genetics around here like blue in the ocean. It's everywhere.

And as Bill said, "Only in the Appalachians would this happen," we had the oddest and most wonderful surprise in the chemo room yesterday.

An Appalachian student, about 20 years old, has signed on to do "music therapy" for the patients there. This involves her walking around with a guitar, talking to each patient, and asking if they'd like a song, or if a group of them would like a song. She has a notebook with all the requested songs in it (words, chords), and she said every time she gets a request she doesn't already have have the music for, she makes sure to have it the next time.

So yesterday, as Bill graded papers, and I read Psalms to myself and then looked at pictures of birds in an Audubon book, in the background we heard this shockingly beautiful soft voice singing songs in different parts of the room, with chords strummed quietly in accompaniment.

Not only that, but, as I was saying about the genetic pool here and musicality: people getting chemo would add harmony parts spontaneously, and let me tell you: old, old hymns sung by a young, young girl, with all ages of voices chiming in together, in country-style four-part, now THERE'S a sound you remember for years to come.

"When We Meet on that Beautiful Shore" and "I'll Fly Away" and "Leanin' on the Everlasting Arms" (yes, CTK church friends, THAT hymn showed up yesterday!).

As that last song goes, "What a fellowship. What a joy divine."

I'd say. Chemo community singing songs of hope together?

Does it get much better than that?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday: Starting round 2 (we think!)

Bill made it through his work week, and is feeling almost completely right again (except for tired, and a reduced appetite).

But as the plot line apparently must go, as soon as he feels good again, they have to give him something to make him feel bad again.

(By the way, he's getting so nervous about having a port installed in his chest that he is thinking of refusing. It unnerves him, just the idea of it, but now he is worried that he won't know how to rinse it out every 6 weeks. If any of you know about ports, email or Fbook message me. I'm going to google it, too.)

So today, we're pretty sure he will be starting Round Two. If so, he'll get the M and V chemicals, which are mild and to which he has no discernible reaction. Takes only a few hours at The Palace.

Tomorrow, though, he gets the bomber, Cisplatin in massive quantity.

I'll write every day, God willin' and the chemo don't rise!

Love and thankfulness that you brought yourself here and have read these words because you care for Bill. God bless you.

Diamond Lil

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday: Even better...

Me: Bill, how should I say you're doing today?

Bill: Better than yesterday. A little shaky, weak, but better, much better than I was yesterday.

(Plus, he has graded 15 essay exams today! And gone on errands, although I drove, as he didn't feel good enough.)

There ya have it!

"God is great, Sabu. He plays with us." --Out of Africa

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday: Better!

Feeling stronger (saith he)! As the day went on, he says he felt more like himself. He had a hot dog and a bowl of cream of potato soup for lunch. (He said to tell you that.)

Hip hip heeeeerayyyyyyyy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Friday & Saturday

Nothing new to report except that "nothing new to report" means he still can't eat more than a tiny amount at a time, has lost weight, is ferociously tired, still coughing, and still running a low-grade fever. And five days from now, it will be a full month since he got chemo.

But in The World According to Billybob, what's a little measly stage 4 metastatic cancer with a serving of chemo complications on the side, when, at 2 this afternoon, there's a HUGE game on TV: Ohio State versus Wisconsin. "AT Wisconsin!" (he keeps saying) "AT Wisconsin!"

I think I'll move into HIS world for the rest of this particular day.

Love to all.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday: No chemo this week.

Ole Bill got sent home from Chemoland today, to our dismay.

Everything was "a go" till they realized he was on penicillin from the unidentified fever. So they put chemo off yet another week.

This will be three weeks without any chemo.

On one hand, of course it's great that he gets to rest and recover from the infection before being slammed with more chemicals.

But at the same time, three weeks without chemo is three weeks of microscopic cancer cells being free to do whatever they please, unobstructed.

As for emotions: Bill is relieved to get a postponement, and I am glad he gets more rest and recovery time. But the anxiety rises every time he misses another week of the battle.

I'm planning to make him some home-made chicken & dumpling soup today. We both still quasi-believe in the power of chicken soup.

Thank you for reading this, and caring allllllllllll this time!

So much love to you from us both.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday: He taught again!

Bill woke up with no fever this morning, just a rippin' cough. So he went off to teach. He'll be home by 7, and I'll write again tomorrow and tell you if there's news.

He's scheduled to get the M and V chemicals tomorrow (the tiny dose ones) at the Chemo Palace. But I don't know what they do with people who are recovering from Whatever It Was He Had.

Love and more news when we have it. THANK you for caring!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bill made it through class, but fever went up

Our heroic professor DID make it through his classes, but when he got home, he walked straight to the bed and stayed there all night. I helped him get his poor liddle shoes off, and brought him dinner on a tray. Then he watched TV recaps of the Superbowl--couldn't get enough of that Packer victory!--and went to sleep really early.

Unfortunately, his fever went up to almost 102 before he went to sleep, despite tylenol.

This morning, he's walking around, coughing and feeling very exhausted.

He plans to teach yet again on Wednesday.

I don't know what will happen on Thursday and Friday of this week, as he is scheduled to start round 2 of chemo, meaning he would get the M and V on Thursday, and the womper--Cisplatin--on Friday. I just don't know if they give chemo to people who are already as banged up as he is right now.

Sorry I didn't post last night. I was having a lot of hand-wringingly anxious feelings about Bill, and I felt so sorry for him, so I just didn't go near my computer.

Love to all of you!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bill Drennan: Superman

That crazy cowboy of mine WENT TO WORK this morning and won't be home till 7 pm!

He still has a small fever, his cough is worse, he feels terrible, but he didn't want to "let anyone down" at school, so he WENT!

I pleaded with him to stay home. When that failed, I pleaded to let me drive him and pick him up, and that he should arrive just before class, and leave right after the last class. When that failed, I tried to get him to stop by and see his oncologist in case this was a reeeeeeeeeeally bad idea to go teach today.

NOOP.

So you can see: the boy is crazy. Crazy and mule-headed stubborn.

But still. Let's talk heroes...I know one.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday morning: purty sick :(

Hurtin' cowpoke. Fever of 101.5, cough getting worse, can't get out of bed, can't eat much, queasy, CAN drink fluids, thank heaven. Still taking penicillin, pain meds, anti-fever stuff.

Oncologist said the fever might continue through the weekend, despite the penicillin, but we should go back to the ER if it gets above 102.

I'll post later. Thank you for your prayers. I heard that several churches in Wisconsin are saying his name during their service prayers.

You who made that happen: THANK you. Wow.

Everyone, thank you for your love.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Home from hospital at 1:30 pm

What a day! Bill got his Neupogen shot, but they said he still had a fever, so the nurse sent him right over to the hospital.

They let him into a room immediately because he was "immune compromised," and we were there three hours, on IV drip. They can't find the source of his infection, but they blessedly ruled out pneumonia. They tested everything.

Finally, they felt it was safe to let him recover as an outpatient. Whew! So we are home now, and he is on strong antibiotics.

He feels (I just asked him)"weak, run down, and feverish." But he is eating some food, and will rest in bed all day.

I'm off to the grocery story, as we're out of everything, and he wants a few special things to eat during the Superbowl. For the big game, he's picking (I also just asked him this) Steelers over Packers, 27-23, though he wishes the Pack would win.

I'll post tomorrow, unless new dramas unfold. Heaven forbid.

Love and THANK you for caring!

Are you getting tired of our dramas yet?

You must be growing weary of all these updates.

But we no sooner got the bone pain taken care of, and it has disappeared now to the point of not even needing any pain medicine (!)--but, yes, we no sooner conquered that than a new problem:

The dreaded fever.

Now we are supposed to check into the hospital because the fever went above the line for NOT going to the hospital.

AND he can't stop coughing. Of course you know I'm thinking "pneumonia".

Anyway...we do have an appointment at 10 am with the Neupogen shot nurse, but after we see her, since the oncologists don't work on weekends, we'll have to use the ER. I'll sit in the ER and wait for his appointment for him, while he waits in the car, because he also isn't supposed to be exposed to germs by sitting in the ER. This is getting so complicated, it's practically "jommetry"!

I'll have my computer, and will post again with the next development.

There's also the chance that the fever is just from the Neupogen drama, but we were told by Dr. Torti last month, that if he gets a fever, not to wait, that even hours can make a life or death difference.

You also know that, had I been running this battalion, he would have been in the ER about 2.5 minutes after discovering the fever, but he (a) didn't tell me about it all night; and (b) is STILL refusing to go because of the 10 am appointment.

You can lead a cowboy to a Neupogen shot, but you can't make him THINK.

(Here's hoping the fever disappears before 10, doesn't come back, and we spend the day at home, instead. You'll be the first to know!)

Love and thanks to you.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Club Med(ication)

It's almost 4 pm now, on Friday. At 2, we drove to the chemo place. Every bump in the road hurt poor William's bones!

And his oncologist said, yes, he HAD to have that next Neupogen shot today (and one more tomorrow: yikes!).

And when he told her about the pain, he made clear that he wasn't exaggerating, that this was the third worst pain he'd ever felt in his life, the first two being (1) impacted molars; and (2) passing a kidney stone without medicine when he was 23.

Upon hearing that, she wrote him a prescription for a burger king whopper of a pain killer that has NO acetaminophen in it, as she felt the acetaminophen was too much for his kidneys and liver, with the chemo already doing demolition on those particular organs.

So we're home, his pain is down, he is in bed, and even occasionally smiling.

Today's shot will kick in about 10 pm tonight. He might not be smiling then. So if you're in another part of the US and you hear a vague yelling sound, you'll know what it is.

Then again, on 20 milligrams of military-grade pain meds, we should be okay.

Love.

Of Bones, Phones, and Moans

Friday, almost 1 pm right now.

We called the chemo place this morning and told them our tale of woe. They told Bill he simply cannot miss his Neupogen shot today or tomorrow, and that they will do whatever is necessary to get rid of his pain, no matter what it takes.

In the meantime, they told Bill to take a slightly whopping 15 mg of hydrocodone. He thought he was brave at 7.5, and I thought I was playing with fire by recommending that he take 10 mg!

Well, the 15 mg did the trick. He is asleep and his pain is down, but still significant.

I'll write more tonight and tell you what happens after yet another shot of Neupogen. Let's hope they send him home with a morphine drip. And I'm only half kidding!

Trouble (but getting better)

Last night just after dinner time, poor Bill started getting the bone pain from the Neupogen shot.

He's had this pain before, from previous Neupogen shots, but this time, he said it was off the scale. Never pain like this.

By bedtime, we were considering going to the ER for morphine. He said it had become almost unbearable, and he was groaning from the severity of it. He could get his body into no position that would ease the pain.

I quickly studied all his pain medication labels and found that he had one that was 10 mg instead of the 5 he was taking. So I told him I thought it would be worth a try to take two of the 5 mg pills, since he had some 10 mg pills.* I have no idea why he didn't want to take the 10 mg pills, but he feels very confident about this other particular pain medicine in the 5 mg dose. So he took one and a half, to compromise, and it helped.

*Pain medicines contain a lot of acetaminophen. When you read a pain med label, you HAVE to consider the amount of acetaminophen in each pill, because you can easily take an amount that can damage your kidneys and liver, even fatally. So I was watching that he didn't get too much acetaminophen, which is mixed in with the pain med.

But his night was horrible. He kept waking up from the pain. And in keeping with the when-it-rains-it-pours rule, at midnight, he had an equipment malfunction that forced him to walk around and do a lot of physical things, all of which made his burning bones hurt all the more.

By this morning, I have convinced him (I used to volunteer with Hospice) that pain prevention is the goal, not letting the pain escalate in the first place. So now he has his clock set to take the meds 15 minutes early for each dose, and not to skip a dose.

Of course we will call the chemo clinic as soon as they're open.

He was supposed to have another Neupogen shot at 2 pm today, and he is currently refusing to even consider it.

I'll post every time something happens.

Anna B., I know you are praying so hard for him. THANK you, and thank all of you everywhere for your prayers and love.

"This, too, shall pass."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sent home without chemo--awwwwww!

Our apparently-hearty-but-in-actuality-not-so-hearty cowpoke got sent home from the Chemo Palace today.

He was supposed to start round two, with Methotrexate and VinBlastItAll today, but when they tried to get his blood out, it wouldn't come out. It was clotted all to smithereens. They eventually called the head of the center over to give it a try, and he could get out just enough for the lab to test it.

Turns out ole Billy is extremely low on both white cells and red cells. But especially the white cells. Thus the severe clotting.

So!

He got a shot of Neupogen today, and will get one tomorrow, and a third on Saturday. These shots make his bones hurt because they overstimulate the marrow to make it create white cells. So he got pain meds, too.

Unfortunately, he is at extremely high risk of infection while his white cells are almost non-existent, so we have to go to the ER if he gets any fever over 100.

AND they are going to have to install a "port" which is some little disc that goes under the skin of his chest and is sort of permanent. They will then always use that port to pull stuff out of him or put stuff in him, and won't have to stick him with needles, or search for veins that aren't fed up with being poked, or pull the hair off his arms when they remove the tape every time he gets anything by IV.

The only other thing that happened--and by now you know I worry too easily--is that they gave us a copy of that CT scan written report. And I'm sure it's a good report--they all agreed it was--but upon reading it, I saw that they did find two new lesions on his liver again. The radiologist who wrote the report said he thought they were probably just little fluid-filled things, not worrisome. But there's "not worrisome," and then there's "not worrisome to Beth," and never the twain shall meet.

So I plan to post really SHORT notes daily for a little while. If I miss a day, don't worry. I will just have gotten too busy.

Thank you for your love and prayers and wishes, and for checking on our boy, who, by the way, is walking around in his Packers jacket and Green Bay hat, EVERYwhere he goes, thereby making many new devout friends or lifetime enemies every few minutes.

That's our boy, who used to have a bumper sticker on his Wisconsin-plated car that read: Eat Cheese or Die.