Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wake Forest Report: Not Too Bad!

We just this second walked in the door, and I'm blitzing out this report as fast as possible, so you'll know what we know.

I'll probably add detail later.

Basically, we handed over the CD of the CT scan from January, which showed 2 new liver lesions, then the CD from April, which showed 3 liver lesions, and which said that two of the lesions had grown. That's what we were so worried about.

Basically, Dr. Torti said he couldn't get the CDs to work on their system, but they could get someone to make that work later, so all Dr. Torti had to go on was the typed-out opinion of the radiologist in Boone, which typed copy I also brought for Dr. T.

But Dr. T said that based on what the Boone radiologist wrote, it appears that Bill is very blessed indeed not to have any metastases showing up anywhere but potentially the liver again.

So Dr. T said he's going to have his radiologist, who, said Dr. T., is "world renowned" (seems like a suspiciously large number of doctors are claimed to be world-renowned), look at the CDs himself (once their tech people make that possible).

Then, if the lesions are tumors, Dr. T said not to worry. They will study the locations and technicalities, and then they will use a variety of methods to REMOVE the tumors, even if it requires another surgery. But he said radio ablation needle is an option, radiation is an option, even if they have to treat all the tumors differently.

Then once there are no more tumors, Bill will pick up with his last two rounds of chemo to catch any wandering cells. That would all occur, of course, while Bill is not teaching. So the timing is great.

Well, after Dr. T was talking like I've written here, it sounded to me like he was thinking these are definitely tumors. So I thought I could get him to give me a straight answer. So I asked. "Do you THINK they're tumors, then?" (which it seemed he did, basing it on what he had just said).

UP went the Medical Information Berlin Wall.

"I cannot say for sure that they are tumors. I don't want to say they are, without even seeing the CDs, and then have it turn out that they're water-filled cysts or something."

At this point, Bill, who was behind Dr. T. starting making a signal to me, drawing his finger across his neck, like, "Beth, shut up." hahahaha

So I gave up my questioning and accepted the fact that I must further dwell in the frustration of Not Being Sure. But Bill loves Not Being Sure, and it's his body, so I think he gets to decide when Beth should stop badgering the witness. hahahaha (I did get in trouble for that once in court, when I was an attorney representing a little girl against a very bad father. I intentionally badgered the dad to try to get his temper to blow in the courtroom so everyone could see, but the judge said, "Counsel? Step back from the witness box, please, and change the tone of your questioning."

Well, I NEVER! (hahaha).

So anyway, except for the major digression in that last paragraph, that's the story of today.

In the middle of next week, Dr T's assistant doctor will call us and tell us what the Galaxy's Greatest Radiologist thinks of the CT scans, and I will post that to you immediately!

In general, Bill feels great delight and relief in the hope that (a) they're not cancer; (b) they're removable even if they are cancer; and (c) the happiness of hearing that it could have been SO much worse. He and I both THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS AND LOVE!

Thank you for following and for caring and for praying and wishing us the best!

Love to all!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thursday is Wake Forest Day: Will Post the INSTANT We Are Home

It's 9:38 pm--late for me!--and I just wanted to say that as SOON as we are home tomorrow, I'm rushing to my computer to post what happens. I feel pretty sure they won't say anything definitive, but one never knows.

Bill taught his last class of the semester tonight. In my opinion, that moment was beyond heroic, but no one said anything to him. He figures the kids don't really understand what he has gone through to teach them this semester, but he said he wasn't disappointed.

"Were you emotional?" I asked. "Like thinking, oh man, what if this is my last class ever?"

He said, "Well, since I don't KNOW if it's my last class ever, what's the point of getting emotional?"

See why I wanna be him--or at least THINK like him?

I don't need REASONS to get emotional. He does.

My calm, heroic, brave, smart cowboy.... quietest hero ever.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quiet...but at least I threw in some pitchas at the end!

We're just quietly waiting to jump all the hurdles we'll have to jump before anyone tells us anything definitive. Neither of us thinks that Thursday's Wake Forest trip is going to tell us anything. Rather, we'll be sent for more tests, then other tests, then sent back for results, then an internal test, then wait for a pathology report to be typed up...that sort of thing.

I am beginning to believe it's absolute protocol not to tell cancer patients ANYTHING until they already know it.

We're both a little scared that we DO already know what there might be to know. So at this point, we're looking more for the miracle bullet-dodger outcome.

Bill said something typically marvelous yesterday: He said "Isn't it nice that we have this time to be happy, time during which we aren't sure it's something bad?"

Wow. I wanna be him.

He feels a little better than he has in a long time. That's the best news of all.

Wednesday he teaches his last class of the semester. He hopes it's not his last class ever, and is proceeding as if it isn't. And it probably isn't! He's obviously got the constitution of a...I almost wrote some type of animal right there, that is known for its strength. But then I decided to google "strongest animal on earth" and found out it's a rhinoceros beetle. They can lift 850 times their own weight. Which would be like a human picking up an SUV.

Go, Bill, go! Cutest rhinoceros beetle in a cowboy hat you ever saw!

Wait! THAT'S not a rhinoceros beetle!

Here we go, below, though I couldn't find one in a cowboy hat...I could only find this capitalist variety.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Slow resurrections...

My dearly beloved Orthodox friend from Wisconsin wrote this essay, and for the day after Easter, I can't think of anything more perfect to say. Thank you, Anita.

Click here to read the short essay on slow resurrections.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday CT Results: Bad and Good

We just walked in from what I felt was the most harrowing experience so far: I mean, waiting for these particular results--which would tell us: Did the most powerful chemo available have any effect on Bill's cancer? Waiting for the answer to that question was....well....I thought worse than waiting for any of the other times we've waited for results, because this answer was more of a life and death situation.

But Bill thought it was the third worst. Waiting to see if he had bladder cancer in the beginning, he thought was worse. And finding out from Dr. Torti at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital that he had three liver tumors was worse.

Anyway...they made us wait 45 minutes to see the oncologist, which was like saying, "The jury has your verdict on your death penalty case, but they're going to lunch before they read it to you. Just sit there and wait."

Oh, it was so horrible, that feeling.

So FINALLY, in comes the oncologist, and shuts the door behind her, then shakes my hand, then shakes Bill's hand. Note: When cancer doctors who are about to give you Big News shake your hand or touch your knee or get up close to you and start acting all personal, you should run away. REALLY fast. THIS is their way...

"Well," she says, "I wish I had better news."

If you aren't running at THIS point, there's still time to get out the door and down the hall before she keeps talking.

"There are now THREE lesions on your liver, where before there were two, on the January scan. However," she continues (put on your math hat for this next comment which comment will show you why you should have these things done at places where you are certain that the Beverly Hillbillies are not running the radiology department.)....(continuing) "However," she says......"ONE of the lesions has stayed the same size as January, ONE has shrunk a tiny bit since January, and ONE has grown since January."

Math Police 911. State your problem: Yes, math police. I'm wondering, how could THREE lesions found yesterday be compared to only TWO lesions found in January?

Well, it's mystery theater to us, how two can equal three.

But that was the radiology department's hallucination. Not the oncologist's. She was simply reading their report. And she KNEW I wanted a printout of this scan report, so she gave it to me without my having to ask. And I am studying it. I will write some more later. Although I will never figure out how they compared three lesions to the two lesions in January.

But, it is obviously not good that he has three "low attenuating" lesions on his liver. Those can be cancer.

I tried to force her into telling us if she even THOUGHT they were cancer, but the brick wall of Lawsuit Silence was in place and she REFUSED to answer any question along those lines.

I did get her to admit that benign cysts are ruled out, as they never change size, or pop up in groups, in this fashion. So if cysts are ruled out, it's more likely cancer, but WE DON'T KNOW! And BILL READS THIS BLOG SO I DON'T WANT TO SCARE HIM.

Finally, Bill said, "About my next chemo dates, could I change them, because I have conflicts at the University."

She said, "Hold on there. In a worst case scenario, you won't be having any more chemo. We will be looking only at clinical trials for you."

"Clinical trials" is a euphemism for ordering a variety of enjoyable desserts after dinner on the Titanic. Bill knew that.

At that point, at risk of ticking her off, and I could see she was already unthrilled with my questions, and with my admission that i had stuck the CD of the CT in my laptop and tried to read the photos (she didn't like that AT ALL)(NOR did she think it was funny.)(I thought it was funny.) I then said, "If he doesn't do clinical trials, are we looking at palliative care?"

"Palliative care" is the euphemism for Hospice and means giving up and going only on pain control.

"I did NOT say anything about palliative care!" she said, in a tone that was firm but was still well within the lines of civility for an oncologist with An Attitude, which she IS allowed to have. In fact, I think it was in some ways good that she used that tone, because I was now in a gray area, in my questioning, in which gray area I knew Bill's comfort level was shrinking. So while trying to remember that it's happening to me, too, I went with, "It's happening a heck of a lot more to BILL than to me," so I dropped my questions.

In fact, at that point, I literally put my hand over my mouth and kept it there for the rest of the meeting, because otherwise, I couldn't stop asking questions.

So next Thursday, April 28th, we take 2 CDs and the radiology reports to Dr. Torti. Our Boone oncologist expects he will order a PET scan or MRI, to see if the lesions are cancer. If they are, no more chemo, and if they AREN'T, then he would probably finish his last 2 rounds of chemo and not have to go back till July for another scan (scan in Winston Salem, since he'd be done with chemo).

I will post again, after I have compared this radiology report to the January one in terms of the exact segments of the liver in which these lesions have been found. Then I will know more about if everyone is on LSD in the radiology dept or what exactly is going on with the two/three lesions mixup.


Have a blessed Good Friday, a Holy Saturday, and a really GREAT Easter or Pascha, whichever branch of the church you're celebrating in (we have one of everything reading this blog, believe me.)

Love to all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday: CT scan this morning, results tomorrow (I hope!)

Nothing at all unusual happened during his CT scan of his abdomen today. No one said anything weird to him or needed extra pictures, etc. They gave us a CD of the CT to bring home and take to Wake Forest on the 28th, but they didn't have the radiology report ready yet, interpreting the CT pictures.

I tried to read the CD myself, by sticking it in my laptop and that was a joke. I almost broke my laptop! I couldn't tell what I was seeing, and when I tried to google comparable photos, I confused myself so badly that I had to stop.

So tomorrow, our appointment is at 11 am with Miss Personality Oncologist. I hope she gives us the results and doesn't make us wait till next week. That would be cruel and unusual.

You know I'll post the minute we walk in the door from that appointment, whatever we find out! Hoping for really good news and a weekend of celebration!

Love (and to those of us to whom it is Holy Week, blessed Holy Week to you!)
Info tidbit: The word "Maundy" in Maundy Thursday, comes from the word "mandate" for "commandment" because this was the Thursday night Jesus commanded the keeping of communion. I also googled THAT today. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday: Today=OK, but Tomorrow=SCARY!

Mostly good news for today, but, to ME, and I'm not the calmest person you'll ever hear from...really scary.

But starting with today: Bill is still coughing a lot, and last night his fever started going up again, but he felt okay, and he is still asleep. He is definitely going to try teaching today, even though there is a norovirus-type epidemic on his campus. (If he got it, would he know the difference? He's forever putting his hand over his mouth and putting one finger of the other hand up in the air to tell me, hold on, don't talk, I'm trying not to...Bin Laden) (If you saw yesterday's post, you'll know why I said Bin Laden right there.)

So I'll let you know if that changes, or if he's worse this morning.

But tomorrow. That's when he gets the dye-contrast CT scan. He has to fast overnight and drink a bunch of radioactive milkshakes. Then they take pictures of his abdomen. I think we'll get results on Friday.

The results will tell us more about the two lesions they found on his liver in January-whether those were cysts or something more troubling. The results will also tell us if the chemo has been working on Bill's type of cancer.

As they say in my 12-step Parents-Who-Screwed-Up-And-Wanna-Know-Why Anonymous program, if you're gonna do "what ifs" do them for the chance of WONDERFUL things happening, instead of scary things! Like WHAT IF I win the lottery tomorrow?

So WHAT IF the CT results come back that Bill's insides are as clean as a whistle in a car wash?

Well then, he will either get two more rounds of chemo OR they will let him off early for good behavior and he will have THREE WHOLE MONTHS without any medical events. Just a nice summer!

Let's end on THAT what-if, even though my little brain is sneaking around behind my back thinking of other scenarios. Bad brain! To a 12-step meeting with thee!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Evening: A Disaster-Free Day

I am happy to report that I have nothing to report!


Bill even feels a tiny bit better, and rested! He is terribly white, and very nauseous sometimes, but at other times, can eat quite well! He wanted to ride in the car today, and was able to help a little with the dogs, and things like that.


(Poor Charles Dickens! Wouldn't you hate to have your last name be a euphemism for hell? How did he get stuck with THAT?)

Of course, if there is someone you REALLY don't like, you can substitute their names for all kinds of things, and get a mwa-ha-haaaa chuckle out of it. Example: They pumped all the Hitler out of my septic tank yesterday. And when I ran the washing machine on LARGE LOAD, I saw not one iota of liquid Hitler coming into my shower, sink or john!

Wait! Ew! How did "john" come to mean "toilet"? It should be "Adolph". Here: Not one bit of Hitler came up into my Adolph today!

Wow. Beth needs to find a constructive use of her mind... this particular conversation is getting way too strange.

Anyway, the only $1200 thing that happened to us TODAY (and compared to the septic tank saga, this seemed like nothing!), was that our outdoor stone staircase fell apart. Yeppers. The ONLY stairs we have, outside leading from the basement where we now dwell, up to the actual level of the world of the living.

So our "Is he human or angel?" general contractor Steve made one phone call for us and got his genius stone masons out here SAME DAY (just like he got all those plumbers SAME DAY) and these masons are doing a beautiful job of rebuilding our outside stone stairs. Meanwhile.... Yes, we have to go around the side of the house and walk up hill for a couple of days, and yes, that involves walking over the Septic Tank from Dickens, but at least the septic tank isn't filled with Hitler right now, and our Adolphs are sparkling clean!

Love to all! And thanks for all the email hugs I got yesterday! Got us both right through it all!!!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Night: post #4: FIXED! FOR REAL!

It's all fixed. FOR REAL.

I have never thought I was so close to going nuts as I was today.

Bill felt so ill that he cut his classes short and came home early.

I spent hours bleaching every subatomic particle in the downstairs bathroom.

At last, I THINK, we are really, really finished with having no plumbing.

I'll write more tomorrow. Bill seems to feel a little bit better tonight--he had an increased appetite! And seems cheerful.

Ohhhhhhhhh, the things we take for granted.



Monday Post #3: Could Things Get Any Worse? YES!

Bill got to school and his extremely essential medical equipment failed! This has never happened at school! So he had to drive allllll the way back home because due to my car being somewhat broken, we didn't think it safe for me to take his backup equipment to Appalachian.

So the POOR MAN had to drive home, and change his entire outfit, and we can't do laundry all this time, so we're running out of clothes, and the misery level here has reached probably not only an all-time high, but the outer limits of what I personally can bear.

I wish I had someone to just come in the house, wrap their arms around me, hug me, and say, "Beth, it's gonna be okay" and then do the same for Poor Bill, who not only has this escalating chaos at home, but has to TEACH FOR THREE HOURS THIS AFTERNOON!

I have never been so afraid that I was going to just fall apart as I am right this minute. It has to get better from here. It just has to. Meanwhile, hes going back to ASU after changing his clothes, and I am sitting here waiting for the rooter, cameraman, jet man, and who knows who else.

Can you imagine what this is going to cost? Oh who even CARES!

AESOP'S FABLE ENDING: Be THANKFUL for your plumbing. You take it for granted and when it dies, you realize how your whole life depends on it in many ways. Seriously. Go say a prayer for your toilet. If necessary, KISS your toilet and BUY IT ROSES!

And pray for mine, while you're at it.

And if you drive by my house in the next three hours, please come in and hug me. I'm actually wondering if I've reached the end of what I can stand without going bonkers and having my eyes pop out of my head on springs leaving little Xs behind on my face. This is really really really TOO MUCH!

But if you have limited prayers, spend them all on Bill. He's got all this on his mind, AND 8 thousand terrible physical ailments at the same time. Ohhhhhhhhhhh, woe is that good Cowboy who deserves none of this and is patiently tolerating all of it............

Monday Afternoon: PROBLEMS INTENSIFY With Plumbing

After a whole morning of people digging up our septic tank, then pumping it, new disasters befell us, and as i write this, the sink, toilet, and shower stall in the downstairs bathroom are.....well.....let's just say COMPLETELY FULL OF GROSS, HORRIBLE, DISGUSTING SOMETHING MIXED WITH WATER, but still, by the grace of God, have not overflowed.

Bill went to school because they have bathrooms there. We don't have bathrooms here. I mean, *I* don't.

This afternoon, two whole new trucks are coming with CAMERAS to do a COLONOSCOPY of the HOUSE SEPTIC PIPES. They can't figure out what is wrong.

Meanwhile, there is a very happy fly trapped in the downstairs bathroom, to which room I have closed the doors. And I feel sure that I am going to come down with Ebola Virus or Dengue Fever or both from being in such proximity to such substances, even by air.

This is the grossest most horrible thing I have been involved with lately, and that's saying something, because I've seen a lot.

Bill is so ill and miserable that he looks like The Thing That Crawled Out of the Crypt today, and should NOT be at a university teaching! He knows it. I told him. But he dragged his feet to the car and went, nonetheless.

So here I am, in quasi-shock, monitoring the dogs' proximity to the open septic tank, and waiting for the next round of trucks, cameras, roto-rooters, jets (whatever those are), and HOPEFULLY, since it's a colonoscopy, an anesthesiologist will be involved because I NEED A SHOT. AND I NEED IT NOW!

Monday: TOTAL Plumbing Failure

At 8:01 the owner of LaBonte plumbing began his journey Drennanward.

Sand and...I won't say what else... filled--thank GOD did not overflow---BUT IT WAS PRETTY HORRIFYING THAT IT FILLED--our sink, shower, toilet, everything, when we did a THANK GOD AGAIN TINY TINY load of laundry last night. Had we done a large load of laundry, this whole thing would have flooded our basement and I would be on a plane to South America, because there IS a limit to what I can take. That would've been it.

So how this happened, last night we heard bubbling, ran into the bathroom only to see "the waters rising" and sandy water filling every available plumbing-related item in the bathroom.

Oh, the quantity of bleach that I used thereafter....this is nine oclock at night, when this drama struck.

Remember now: Bill has a CONDITION that I will not even mention that makes it impossible to proceed without frequent use of plumbing. So we are in a jam and a half.

The plumber is coming to pump out the entire tank, with equipment. Oh, Lord, help us.

After I publish this story which will get your Monday off to a Drennanesque start, I'm heading out into the woods with a shovel to create a Robinson Crusoe space for Bill who also feels quite ill, and is nonetheless planning to leave and TEACH today.

I was trying to think how to end this entry. No comment. It's just TOO....NOT funny...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Disaster-Free Day--Almost

Well, it was a disasterless day at the Drennan corral, and we couldn't be more relieved.

Okay, yeah, there are a few hours of sunlight left, so something could still happen, but we think we have a fighting chance of making it through till Monday without any 911s to plumbers or doctors or mechanics or (fade out sound of Beth chanting list of last week's adversities, afflictions, bales, banes, blights, busts, calamities, cataclysms, catastrophes, debacles, exigencies, fiascos, misadventures, mishaps, reversals, ruinations, setbacks, upsets, washouts and woes.)

Unless you count what happened at the grocery store just now, which I don't think counts, since it has nothing to do with Cowboy Billy except that he was waiting in the car with the three pups when: we parked at WalMart to get a list of about 12 things, only WalMart didn't have two of them, so after waiting in the WalMart line to pay for the ten items, that line being about 8 people long and taking longer than the shopping itself....we then had to go to FOOD LION to get TWO items that were not at WalMart.

So, have you done this? I look in my cart, and with only 2 items, I realize that FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE, I QUALIFY for the 12-items-or-fewer-lane. OH, HALLELUJAH!

So I zip into that lane, only to see that some woman (you've met her or one of her clones) has said, "The 12-item rule doesn't apply to ME" and pulled her TWO CARTLOADS of groceries and plopped them on the conveyor belt of the 12-item lane, and looks like she's going to be there for the duration of several presidential administrations, so I mutter under my breath something inappropriate, and I go to the only other lane open.

Which lane has a red-headed woman with approximately 100 items to be checked out.

And I have two.

So I stand there as they check out 100 items.

FINALLY, FINALLY they're finished.

But then the red-headed woman says, "Wait. Did I get FIVE cents off the Orbit gum or only THREE CENTS?" The cashier goes through the tape and says, "Three cents."

"THREE CENTS? It was supposed to be FIVE CENTS! If it's THREE CENTS, then I wish to RETURN THE ORBIT GUM!" says the red-headed lady with all the indignancy she can muster.

"Yes, ma'am," says the cashier. And uses the microphone to call the manager over because she needs the key to return the Orbit gum.

Oh. My. Gosh. I'm starting to get in touch with some angry feelings.

So then the manager sashays over from, I don't know, the farthest reaches of maybe the parking lot? And gives the cashier the key. They do something with the key, and voila! The Orbit Gum From Hell is now RETURNED.

I'm thinking, "FINALLY!"

BUT NO! The cashier says, "Ma'am, you'll have to fill out this form for why you returned the gum."

Oh. My. Gosh. This. Isn't. Happening.

So the red-headed lady takes out a pen and FILLS OUT THE FORM. I'm thinking, "Gosh darn it, I'll buy the ORBIT GUM FOR YOU IF YOU'LL JUST GET OUT OF HERE!"

OKAY, form is filled out.

I think, "Finally!"


NOW the red-headed lady reaches in her purse and pulls out approximately 35 carefully clipped COUPONS that pertain to her 100--no, now it's 99-items---that she has just purchased, but she looks smugly cheerful because she knows that by exercising extreme shrewdness and sagacity, she has saved TWO WHOLE PENNIES that were almost wrested from her wallet by some devilish misrepresentation having to do with the Very Evil Product Known As Orbit Gum.

I, myself, am NOT looking smugly cheerful. I am about to grab a magazine about the Royal Wedding and whack merry hell out of someone's head.

But to restrain myself, I simply sigh loudly, and lean over (I'm not kidding) and put my forehead on the hand-bar of my shopping cart, and remain in that half-bowed position, hoping to express the greatest amount of dismay that it is possible to express with simple body language.

But red-head is not deterred in the least by my very evident misery. Not in the least.

The cashier has to check allllllllll the coupons, one by one, and oh, the 25-cents-off-for-crackers one WON'T INTERACT WITH THE LASER so she has to fool with that one.

When said cashier is finished with said coupons, she says to the lady, "You saved a dollar ninety-eight with your coupons."


I am now breathing fire. I am thinking through every slogan I've ever heard in any 12-step program, in order to keep from pulling a dollar ninety-eight out of my wallet and throwing it into the HAIR of this madwoman in front of me.

Then she leaves.

By the time I get to the car, I look like I've been wandering in the Gobi desert for weeks. I throw my tiny little bag of two items into the car. Bill says, "You look upset. Did something happen?"

"Oh, noooooooooo," I said. "Just a little delay in the checkout lane."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

No. We Have to Be Making This Up.....But We Aren't....

This time, before I list our traumatic events, I want you to know that they are all solved.

Yesterday, I heard from a few people, that perhaps my blog posts had scared everyone to death. So maybe I should be a little more circumspect in what I list and leave some of the stuff out.

But then, how would I have ANY fun? Posting on this blog, given the junk that happens to us, is like telling ghost stories around a campfire! By the end of the stories, no one knows who's going to live or die or get sued or fall in a septic tank.

Septic tank?

Did you mention septic tanks?

Why, THAT'S a coincidence, because WE HAD OUR SEPTIC TANK DUG OUT TODAY.

YES! Our plumbing backed up to where WE COULD NOT USE IT AT ALL.

Not only that, but Bill came down with a gastrointestinal reaction to his antibiotics such that PLUMBING USE BECAME COMPLETELY MANDATORY! At the same time that we lost all our plumbing.

Please know I'm not kidding when I say that for several hours, the only option we had left, which option we admit we used, was going "potty" in the WOODS, despite driving rainstorms all morning. Which lovely cold rain made the experience even more pleasant. Not.

And as I was doing my thing at various times in the woods, due to much coffee drinking, I was admiring the little sprouts that were coming up in the nice leaves of my Robinson Crusoe "bathroom" amidst the rain-drenched rhododendrons, and I did have to start laughing because I realized that this was so far beyond ridiculous.

But thank HEAVEN for our contractor, who, even tho it was Saturday, out of the mercy of his bless-ed heart, found plumbers to come out here by early afternoon and rescue us. It took them the rest of the day, and given that it was TWO plumbers, at time and a half, I calculate that for the price of it, I could've paid off Ford Motor Credit company and bought myself a nice used van.

But yes. This ACTUALLY happened. TODAY.

And I admit that for a few minutes, despondency did set in. Bill and I were slouched on the bench outside, watching the plumbers digging up the septic tank, as we listened to "worst case scenarios" such as perhaps having to abandon our septic tank and do a $15,000 hookup to the sewer that is about a half mile away from us, and other such delightful possibilities. All of which involved moving to a hotel for a few weeks.

We DID actually start to get depressed at that point.

But suddenly, I remembered some slogans from the 12-step program I have joined in order to find out what I did wrong in my parenting to cause certain developments along the lines of the Ford Credit Fiasco, and quite a FEW VERY similar events since Christmas, that I shan't describe, to spare the reputations of the TWO unnamed young persons whose behavior has driven me into Codependents Anonymous.

And you probably think I'm joking.

Nope. I'm on step four of the twelve steps. Yes, I realized that I must have done something totally backwards in my parenting, something I'm completely unaware of, and I want to know what it was. You'd be amazed how many parents are in my group, telling stories about their adult kids and saying "Where did I go WRONG?"

But that's another day's post.

For TODAY, all I have is: our septic tank got dug up, our toilet got yanked, our pipes got whatever-ed, we "tinkled" in the woods, in the rain, and as for our Cancer Fightin' Cowpoke, he coughed LESS today, looked whiter, is bleeding from his side but has no fever, and ate a little FOOD! Even better, he said, "I feel a little bit better. Weak, very weak, but better."

Hey, coulda been a much worse day! We were 5 minutes from moving to that hotel when the plumbers, at one point, said, leaning on their shovels in the rain, "We just don't know what to do to fix this."

That was the nadir.

But once I started laughing and busting out the 12-step slogans, I felt so much better.

"There's no such thing as the end of the world, except the end of the world!" I said to Bill, courageously.

Bill said, to that one, "I think I see the end of the world over there where those two guys are shoveling."

Well, that's all I've got to report for today's fun. Let's see what TOMORROW holds for us!

Thanks always for caring and following this crazy, crazy plot.

Nighty night!

He Slept Through the Night

It's 10 am, and he is still asleep! Meaning his coughing didn't wake him up (he has good cough medicine), and he isn't so banged up that he can't just sleep. I'm sure he's missed a lot of sleep in the hospital.

I'm feeling great today and rested, and imagining a good day here with NO problems of ANY kind.

Hey. I can dream!

But actually, we can all (meaning me and YOU) breathe a sigh of relief, because nothing terrible has happened in almost 24 hours now, AND it's been pretty amazing that God didn't forget to wrap all the hurdles in comedy. Well, okay, a lot of it wasn't funny. Moment of seriousness. But...okay, moment over: a lot of it WAS funny.

(All my atheist friends, please translate "God" to whatever you call the pen that writes the storyline. Yes, existentialists, I know you call it "YOU". Yes, fatalists, I know you call it "fate."Yes, agnostics, I know you're not SURE what to call it.) Okay, Beth. Stop. Go drink your coffee.

I'll post later, after he's up, but I think things are better. I just feel it in mah bones!

Love love and more love to all of you for caring and following and wanting to help and wanting the best for an ole cowpoke and his girl.

Happy day to you!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Oh. My. Gosh.

You might as WELL read the post backwards--and I don't even know what that means, read a post backwards--but at this point, I don't know what ANYTHING means, so yeah, go ahead and read it backwards.



UNBELIEVABLY ****WEIRD****!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Am I in a Fellini movie? Has God left the building and has some teen-aged vandal on crack taken over the controls and made a practical joke out of our entire lives?



Wait. Did they run any more tests on him? NO.

To see if he could survive if he walked more than 20 steps? NO.

To see if his body had ever even HEARD of white cells? NO.

To see if he was better? NO.

Did they give him any treatments after making him stay in the hospital another night and day? NO.

Did anyone mention any of the stuff Dr. Braun said the night before? NO.

They just LET HIM GO HOME, and rolled him to the door with all his stuff, and BOOM. I'M in charge of him now!

He can't walk, can't breathe, is deathly white (sorry, Bill, but that's the only color adjective that fits today), can't stop coughing, can't eat, is completely nauseated, couldn't even carry one bag in from the car, can't sit up, can't stay awake, looks like something out of a teen horror movie, and feels absolutely WRETCHED.

And he's home.

What in the wide, wide world of sports is going ON?

And if that wasn't enough, my car is broken, my drains in my house are stopped up suddenly, to the point that we can't use the water except briefly, we still live in the basement with no stove or fridge, China (the country) forgot to ship one of our cabinets and now they can't install them till April 26th, and, oh, there must be some more...oh, someone whose young name I won't mention....and for whom I--with parental love and trust--co-signed a car loan way back in 2006, has announced that said person is no longer able to pay said car loan and told the collection agency they'd have to collect it all from "his Mom, the co-signer", because he is "out of options" so in the midst of all this, now I personally have to come up with 8 THOUSAND DOLLARS IMMEDIATELY or have liens put on my cars, bank accounts and house. Yeah, that JUST happened, too. Pretty cool timing, wouldn't you say? [THIS JUST IN! OH MY GOODNESS! SOMEONE JUST WROTE AND OFFERED TO HELP US WITH THE 8 THOUSAND DOLLARS! I DIDNT MEAN TO MAKE IT SOUND LIKE WE DON'T HAVE THE 8 THOUSAND DOLLARS. BY GOD'S GRACE, WE DO HAVE IT, AND DON'T NEED HELP, BUT THIS JUST SHOWS YOU WHAT KIND OF ANGELIC SOULS THERE ARE OUT THERE IN THE WORLD! THEY ARE PRAYING FOR US AT THEIR CHURCH AND WILLING TO DO ANYTHING TO HELP. OH, MAN. I CAN'T BELIEVE IT. BILL SAID I SHOULDN'T HAVE PUT THAT IN ABOUT THE 8 THOUSAND DOLLARS, BUT I THOUGHT IT HELPED PAINT THE TOTAL PICTURE OF THE TRAGI-COMEDIC NATURE OF THIS CRAZY TIME PERIOD! OH, PERSON WHO MADE THAT OFFER, MAY GOD BLESS YOU A THOUSAND TIMES FOR BEING SO UNBELIEVABLY GENEROUS. WE REALLY ARE OKAY, THOUGH. BUT THANK YOU!]

There must be a few more things I'm not thinking of, but Bill is coughing up spleen parts right now, so it's hard to think, and the dogs are barking, and I believe I hear the laughter of a teenaged vandal on crack coming from the control booth.


Love, and just kidding about God. I know it's all going to turn out just rosy. But you gotta admit......

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday Night: Bill is Not Released. Doctor: "Do You Realize How SICK YOU ARE?"


I just walked in the door of home, and after returning lots of phone calls, I'm on the blog to let you know the very latest. But I can't write out the extended version tonight, even though it was one of the funniest scenes I have ever beheld except on Saturday Night Live or Jay Leno.

The outcome, however, wasn't funny. Just the conversation with the NEW doctor, who is from Wisconsin (can you believe it?) and a genius and sooooo funny and theatrical and knew Bill's case backward and forward. I'll describe it all tomorrow, as I just don't have time tonight. There are still calls I have to return, and it's almost 9 already.

Bottom line:

Bill's oncologist of whom we are NOT fond (I left out of a previous post an entire scene in which she scolded him in his hospital bed for going to the emergency room after she had called in a prescription for him at noon. I think she was mad because it made her look bad to the hospital doctors for calling in a random prescription for a patient as sick as Bill, WITHOUT even seeing him or testing his blood or urine, KNOWING he has no white cells! I was trying to be polite and leave that story out, but I'll put it in, in another post).

Anyway, this same oncologist, Miss Personality, told Bill this morning he could go home today, subject to the final okay of Dr. Braun (the Wisconsin cool guy), but that she could see no reason he couldn't go home.

So he thought at first he felt pretty sick and it was weird they were sending him home, but by the end of the day, he had warmed to the idea and got excited about going home. So excited that by 4, he was dressed, had his Florida gators hat on, all his bags packed and was lying on his bed just waiting to be released.

Well, it got to be 7 pm and nothing.

So I started hunting around the floor trying to find the doctor who would release him. I found him (Dr. Braun) and did NOT expect to encounter a doctor with a sense of humor that could easily be on TV, and a really smart brain, AND who had Bill's case utterly memorized, AND who looks like Johnny Depp only 6 foot 4 feet tall. The nurses were swooning around him and he was just making everyone laugh.

So I said, hello, that I was Bill Drennan's wife and that my mission was to block the elevators so he couldn't leave until he had released Bill.

He said, "Release him? Are you kidding? He is not going ANYWHERE. He is sick as a dog!"

I said, "But the doctor this morning told him he would go home."

He says, "Well, i don't know what she was thinking when she said that, because he is not going anywhere, and if you saw his lab results, you'd understand."

I said,"Okay! I'm with you! I don't think he seems all that great either! I'm actually relieved, but Bill's going to be really mad, because he's all dressed and thinks he's going home."

Dr B says, "Well you go break the news, and if he wants a fistfight, send him on down here." (He was being funny, but acting this out theatrically).

So I went and told Bill, and Bill was furious. Bill came down the hall and said to the doctor, "WHY in the WORLD am I not getting released?"

The doctor said, "Well, for one thing, [and right here, the doctor leaned close to Bill's face and said in a Bill Murray impression] your lab results were HORRIBLE. Do you want to see them?"

Bill: Actually, yes I do.

Dr: Okay, lets take a look.

So they open the chart (this is all happening at the nurse's station and all the nurses are giggling at how funny the doctor is making this scene.)

The doctor goes, "Oh, Look! YOU ONLY QUALIFIED FOR *FOUR* UNITS OF MAGNESIUM TODAY! Do you know how sick you have to be to need four units of magnesium? And let's see here. Oh, Look! You have no white cells. Look at this number! You're worse than when you came in!"

Bill: Are you serious?

Dr: (He looked at Bill's hat and said these exact words, just like this, with no punctuation): Yes, I'm serious, and after I show you the rest of the lab results go gators you are not going to be mad at me."

Oh man, I don't know. Was it as funny as it seemed? Even Bill was laughing by now.

Then the doctor gave us the clincher. "Here's how messed up you are. If you came to the ER right NOW, with these lab results, I would have you admitted to the hospital in one minute. Now get back to your isolation room and go to bed. You're not going anywhere, and you're probably going to get some transfusions, AT LEAST, for starters tomorrow, and a lot of stuff besides that. These lab scores are wretched!"

So finally Bill understood, and I escorted him back to his room. As we walked away, the doctor took the file and slid it about 10 yards, down the nurse's station countertop and said, "And if you want more drama, keep reading your file. It's in there, ad nauseum."

Bill said, "Don't say nausea!"

Well, it ended with all of us laughing, even poor dejected Bill as he changed back into his jammies and got in bed, and we said good night, and I'm home and will be back there tomorrow morning early.

I'll let you know more stuff tomorrow, but for now, you're pretty caught up.

The illness is still a mystery, and Bill seems to be slightly worse than when he got in. So much for ever listening to that Boone oncologist again. But that's another day's whining.

Thank heaven for Dr. Braun. He honestly might have saved Bill's life today. And talk about bedside manner: do you know how hard it is to make someone who is furious not only calm down but start laughing??? This guy is amazing.

Love to you all for caring and following along. Nighty night!

Thursday, 3rd post: Afternoon

We're now waiting for a doctor who has promised to come by and (probably) release Bill this afternoon. His magnesium drip is all done (I read the bag. It contains SULFURIC ACID! halp! No wonder it's "caustic" to the insides of one's arteries!)

We have a list for the doctor.

(1) We're requesting codeine cough suppressant so he can breathe and walk without doubling over choking half to death;

(2) we're requesting sleeping medicine to help him sleep with the cough;

(3) we're requesting a prescription inhaler in case he gets to where he can't fully inhale, which has occasionally happened;

(4) and I am going to ask the doctor to assign a value to the variables X and Y in this sentence: If X happens, we should do Y.

Bill's color is better. No more yellow, only a creamy pale color but some pink has returned. He said the platelets did that. I love thinking there's some nice person out there walking around who donated those platelets and helped heal my lil cowboy! God bless you, anonymous donor!

Then I got to thinking: if a person donated 100% of their body parts to other people (if that could be done) and all their body parts went to recipients successfully and were working in those recipients, would that donor be dead or still alive?

Bill said that was the weirdest question he has heard in a long time, and yet he couldn't answer it. It's like the Aristotle question: if you take a boat apart piece by piece, and then reassemble it, is it the same boat or a different boat?

You can see what happens in the minds of the entertainment-deprived sitting in hospitals for too long.

Love to all...

Thursday, 2nd post of the day: No big news...

This is today's second post. No big news yet. Nothing more about going home, but now Bill has decided he really wants to get out of here, as they are being completely unresponsive to his requests.

Like two hours ago, he started asking for Tums or something to help him not vomit. Even though he's reminded them, they are ignoring him. It's not that he can't have it. They just aren't bringing it. In a minute, I'm going to walk to the Walgreens down the street and buy some.

Then an hour ago, he asked for cough medicine. Since he has coughed about 450 thousand individual times since I got here, he shouldn't have to ask for it, but he did, and has called in TWO reminders, and they hang up on him and simply never bring it. And he is asking nicely, through his laryngitis (he's still coughing his head off while I'm typing this).

Are they busy, you wonder?

How's this for busy: four of them are standing at the nurse's station talking about American Idol.

Wow. I need to get control of my little snotty attitude! Let's see if I delete the entire above post and write a NICE one about ponies and puppies!


THURSDAY Morning: Mystery Illness Unsolved

Here's what I've gotten from Bill so far:

The doctors are saying they can't find the source of the infection. And now, it's even harder to find, because the intravenous antibiotics have made the infection retreat. No one understands what he has or had (two different doctors told him that).

So they're thinking of letting him go home this afternoon, with oral antibiotics.

This seems somewhat insane to both of us. His lungs are completely full of junk, he coughs till he almost throws up, coughs almost constantly (the whole time I'm typing this, he is just coughing his brains out, and his lungs are bubbling when he tries to inhale), his voice is gone, you can hear every inhale and exhale from across the room, from all the lung congestion--it sounds like he is breathing through a wet sponge (and yet the doctor said, "Sounds great in there!" when he listened to his lungs! What?!?!), he's still yellow and white (mixed), can't catch his breath, can barely eat, and he's supposed to go home and the two of us sit at home wondering what the dickens we're supposed to do, if ANY strange thing develops.

Well, he's pretty mad about going home with a complete failure to determine what is wrong with him, and barely able to breathe, but I guess if his fever is under control now, they sort of HAVE to send him home. It's understandable, some parts of it, but man oh man.

So we'll know more this afternoon. His mood is "crabby" and I hope he just sleeps today. He is still hooked up to sodium chloride and now they're giving him a magnesium drip, as his magnesium is way off.

But you know what? I'm still super happy he isn't in "sepsis" as that was as close to disaster as I want to be any time soon!

(Skip this paragraph if you don't want to hear me whine about the other things that happened to me yesterday) I don't think yesterday could have squeezed many more thumps into my agenda: as soon as I got home alone from the hospital, really tired, I noticed my car was making a burning rubber smell under the hood along with a strange humming sound (took other car today) AND while washing my hair last night, the drain stopped working and the shower floor filled up. Plus the workmen had left all my doors open, cigarette butts outside on the rock patio, paint on my dog, paint on my dog's toy, clumps of white paint and white goo dripped and piled over the carpet AND the sanded wood floor, and they'd apparently practiced with a white paint spray gun ON MY BLACK DRIVEWAY then walked through it, so paint or something was all over my driveway, my mountain rock walkway, my stone entrance way. Maybe by tonight they will have cleaned it all up. Oh heaven. I would NOT want to do yesterday over again in the foreseeable future. But I just said to myself, "You know what? I don't care," and I walked away from all the problems and just ignored them for now. It was a little hard to ignore the insomnia from 2 am to 6 am, but, hey, here's a new day! Will probably be better...Whining ends here. For now. hahahaha

Love to all of you!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday Evening: Slight Improvement

It's between 6:30 and 7 pm, and I'm sitting beside Bill in his hospital room (he's still in reverse isolation AND they added a "Fall Risk" sign to his door--the sign happens to be the exact same color as a banana peel.)

Anyway, let's get serious. He feels somewhat better. He has lost his voice now and can only honk out sounds, and he is still coughing, but his fever is down at the moment. Not gone, but down. He is still pastel yellow in color, and looks very ill, but has felt worse, and has no specific pain.

No one has used the word "sepsis" any more, so I think we might really be in the clear on that one. He's still getting round-the-clock antibiotics intravenously. They still have no idea what is wrong with him. (All this information I'm getting from him is second-hand, as I was out of the room when they told him some of this, so I didn't get to ask questions or clarify, etc.)

He says there are sort of two teams of doctors pursuing the source of his illness: one team is looking at types of infections, and the other team is his local oncologist, approaching the question from a chemotherapy angle.

He got the feeling that he won't be released tomorrow, because they said they won't let him go till the diagnosis is complete. He isn't happy about this because he does not like being in hospitals. AT. ALL.

He also isn't eating or drinking very much, but he won't admit that to the staff, for some reason, so he is only getting sodium chloride drip instead of any nutrition. His last meal was Tuesday lunch, when he had tomato soup and macaroni and cheese, and only a tiny bit of that. He's one stubborn cowboy.

Well, I'm going home for the night, and will tell you next time I learn anything.

Thank you for praying and caring. Love to all.

Wednesday noon update: Sepsis!?

I'm at Bill's bedside at the hospital, and he is one sick puppy. Still coughing like a mad man, and he's a yellow-white color and feels really sick.

He is getting a transfusion in a few minutes, and they have given him more xrays and more blood tests. He said they are doing tests involving lactic acid which is part of their concern with sepsis, or maybe they are saying he DOES have sepsis. He told me they said he has it, but when I read about sepsis just now, it doesn't seem like he has it, else he'd be in ICU. So I can't tell if he does or doesn't have it.

Sepsis is not funny. If you're the easily-scared type, don't click on the link below, because it will take you to a page where you can see how dangerous sepsis is, if that's what he has.

To click or not to click HERE ----> TO READ AN OUTLINE ABOUT SEPSIS

To get in his room, I had to go through "Reverse Isolation" procedures, meaning everyone who comes in has to wear gloves and masks and so forth, because he has no immune system. Hence, definitely no visitors.

Description of setting: He is in a private room (even reverse isolation has its benefits), and has all kinds of tubes going into him, and he is mostly not awake. They had trouble with his fever at 5 a.m. It started getting dangerously high, so they had to do stuff to bring that down. He has a west-facing window and can see the mountains of Boone out the window, very pretty view. Only he isn't seeing it because he just sleeps. And I'm not seeing it because I just sit here staring at him and his machines and drips and tubes.

Oh no. My computer just said it is about to lose this whole post. Which happened to last night's post near 11 pm. So I'm going to try to save it and try to send it. More in a while.

Lost a whole post! Cowboy in hospital with big infection

I can't believe the detailed post I wrote at 10:30 last night got deleted! What?

Well, I'm running around like a madwoman right now, so I have to make this short and catch you up later.

He's in the hospital, admitted, for at least 2 days. He doesn't have pneumonia, but he has some kind of infection, and it's in his blood, and they are determining where else, and where it's coming from (he has been having bleeding and other things he didn't tell me about). Oh my gosh, the number of details I had in the post that got lost! Arrrgh! (Beth, get over it.) They didn't put him in ICU, so I'm using that fact to tell myself this couldn't be fatal. But I'm scared, because they said he has no white cell immune system.

His white cells aren't working. He is manufacturing tiny white cells that die, called "bands", and those can't fight infection, so the oncologist will have to help figure out the problem today. I'm at home right now, getting a bunch of his stuff together, then going back over there right away.

He can't have visitors at this point, because of no immune system. Everyone has to wear a mask who goes in his room, and he has one of those big warning signs on his door.

I'll write as soon as I get over there and get the news. His blood results take 48 hours, counting from 10 pm last night, so I don't think they can let him out till they know what kind of bacteria he has or whatever it is. He's on intravenous antibiotics, broad spectrum, right now.

So thanks for your prayers and for caring! (Yes, his classes are cancelled for today--I called the University. At last, he takes a day off!) xoxoxox

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Update from Hospital--9:30 pm Tuesday

He's here in the Emergency Room, in a bed, in one of those little gowns with the gray and green diamonds all over it. I'm sitting beside him. They said he's almost certainly going to stay overnight. They took blood and a chest x-ray, so we're just waiting for the results.

I said I bet he doesn't have pneumonia, and they let him go home.

He is betting they don't let him go home because he thinks "they're gonna find SOMEthing."

Either way, he says he thinks it was the right decision to come here. And if he stays, I'll go home and come back tomorrow morning. I'll try my best to post more right away if we learn something interesting.

Thanks for checking in. Love.

Oh, No....

As I'm writing this, it's 7:11 pm on Tuesday night. His temperature went up suddenly to about 101.5, and he has shaking chills, his cough has returned, and he feels horribly ill.

In the past few months, we've gotten three instructions on when to go to the ER: Two doctors said 101.5 means go to the ER. One doctor (Dr. Torti at Wake Forest) said 102 or chills, go to the ER. Either way, I think he should go to the ER.

Dr. Torti said, back in later winter, that if, during this wildly strong chemotherapy regimen, his fever gets to 102, or he has chills, that if he waits two to three hours before going to a hospital, he could die, because he has no immune system, needs to be tested and given disease-specific treatment by IV (not a wild-guess drug, as it seems the Boone oncologist thought was a good idea when she prescribed it without having him seen or tested.)

Ohhhhhhhhhhh the angst is incredible for me right this minute. He's coughing like a mad man. I asked him if he is willing to risk death in his bed, and he said yes, he's willing to risk that, rather than go to the hospital. That puts the ball in MY court, as to whether to override his willingness to perish with my willingness for him to get actual treatment. Do I FORCE him to go to the hospital?

I'm seriously feeling like I'm going to freak out in about two minutes. I don't know what to do.......
UPDATE ADDED AT 7:50 PM: His temperature is rising very fast, now heading toward 102, called ER at Boone, are driving him there in a minute. He's shaking and so sick...thank you for praying!

Miraculous Cure

You would NOT have wanted to be around here this morning.

Poor Cowboy Willie was, in his words, feeling sicker than he has ever felt in his life, and was even thinking he might actually die. You have to know him to realize that he UNDER-zaggerates. I, as you know, tend to EXaggerate or at least fluff things up to their maximum dramatic potential.

But he doesn't do that. So when he said he thought he might be going to die, well, that scared the living Niagara starch right out of me.

So I grabbed the phone and started calling everyone medical I could think of, to find out what we should do.

Most everyone thought he should go to the ER--but at the last minute, his oncologist came through with a really clever analysis (winning back some of the points she lost when she was mean to us that other time). She decided that since he is severely immune-compromised right now, which would make the germs of an ER a real danger, and since his symptoms and fever and color, etc. all pointed so strongly to pneumonia, and since he was so sick that he couldn't even sit up, she just called in a prescription for pneumonia antibiotics, and all I ended up having to do was go pick that up.

Yes. Slightly weird that he was never SEEN, but I'm trying to look at the upsides...

Within two hours of the medicine ($116 for 7 pills--thank God for Medicare), his fever started to reverse--it HAD been going up and up and up before that--terrifying me, especially. And then his cough began to subside, his color changed from gray to almost normal, he felt like eating a little bit, and I stocked him up with Vernor's ginger ale, and tomato soup, and he is now feeling distinctly better.

Ohhhhhhhhhhh the thank-you prayer that I said after that! I was crying and blubbering to God so hard with relief and happiness, that I don't think God had the slightest idea what I was even saying, but I'm pretty sure He's good with body language, so He caught my drift.

Now the cowboy still isn't really back on his horse all the way, but he's sitting up, and feeling cheerful. And sooooooooooooooooooooo am I!

Thank you for caring and sending your own prayers up on his behalf. Your prayers are probably the ones God heard, anyway, since mine were all unintelligible. I'm not exactly stoic when things get dramatic.

Love and gratitude to every single one of you who cared enough to read this. We love you so much!

The Lil and the Will

Finally Going to Doctor with the Cough

(Ooops. That title looks like the DOCTOR might have the cough. Nope. It's Bill.)

Coughing Cowboy Report

Today he has a fever already, even though he's been up a while. He couldn't sleep most of the night from coughing, and now can't breathe more than a few breaths without coughing a bad-sounding cough, and he admits that he is definitely feeling worse in every way.

NOW will he puh-leeeeze call the doctor? says I.

Yes, he said. Yes.


I'll report on that soon. Thank you for caring about our Coughing Cowpoke.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Morning Worry

His fever started going up last night, not high enough to go to the ER, and at least he made it through the night. But I was awake half of it worrying about pneumonia in his condition. He is stirring now (I'm typing this in another room), so I'll update later this morning when I hear how he feels and take his temperature. He's making kind of normal noises, yawning and not howling for example, but the cough sounds wretched. More anon.

UPDATE: He has NO fever right now, and says he feels better! Yes, he IS planning to teach today. Ay yi yi...but I thank GOD he is better and not worse!

(Robinson Crusoe says you can't see the full aspect of a bad thing happening until you've noted the good things that accompany it, as well as the worse things that COULD have happened.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday: Lungs Acting Weird and Robinson Crusoe

Our cowboy woke up with such congested lungs and ferocious coughing that he was (and I was, too!) afraid that he was (a) going to hurl; and/or (b) not be able to get any air in, through all the congestion.

As soon as I heard his breathing, I jumped out of bed and got completely dressed to take him to the ER. But he, being the adamant, balky, bullheaded, cantankerous, contumacious, determined, dogged, hardheaded, headstrong, inexorable, inflexible, intractable, mulish, obdurate, ornery, persevering, persistent, pertinacious, pigheaded, recalcitrant, refractory, relentlessly rigid, self-willed, set in his ways, single-minded, steadfast, tenacious, unbending, unshakable, untoward cowboy that he IS, refused to go to any ER.

He is now describing his condition as merely "weak and breathless." See? He won't even help me make this post more theatrical and interesting! Weak and breathless? Welllllllll, I guess I should focus on being thankful that he didn't do either of (a) or (b) in paragraph number one, above. And has slowed down a lot on the coughing, and isn't having trouble getting air in.

He's still white as a goose, though. (Goose?)

And to try to manage my never-ending anxiety, which hums like low-level radiation inside my soul 24 hours a day, I've downloaded Robinson Crusoe onto my Kindle. I'd never read it, but in examining a book of Bill's by Wilkie Collins (Moonstone), I saw that Wilkie Collins thought Robinson Crusoe was the greatest book of all time and had read it dozens of times, for its wisdom.

What? Robinson CRUSOE?*(See Wilkie Collins quote at end of post, at asterisk)

So I'm reading Robinson Crusoe, for the FIRST time (THANKS, public education system), and indeed am severely struck with the thrilling and thought-inducing content of it--none of which I would have understood if I'd read it in third grade like I should have.

How was THAT for a digression? More about our cowboy as things develop. Love to all!
* "You are not to take it, if you please, as the saying of an ignorant man, when I express my opinion that such a book as ROBINSON CRUSOE never was written, and never will be written again. I have tried that book for years—generally in combination with a pipe of tobacco—and I have found it my friend in need in all the necessities of this mortal life. When my spirits are bad—ROBINSON CRUSOE. When I want advice—ROBINSON CRUSOE. In past times when my wife plagued me; in present times when I have had a drop too much—ROBINSON CRUSOE. I have worn out six stout ROBINSON CRUSOES with hard work in my service. On my lady's last birthday she gave me a seventh. I took a drop too much on the strength of it; and ROBINSON CRUSOE put me right again. Price four shillings and sixpence, bound in blue, with a picture into the bargain.
Wilkie Collins

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday Afternoon: Better!

Dear Kenny,

Regarding my previous post: sorry I scared you. Bill feels better. No hospital. So far. Yay.


Saturday: Not Well

Our heroic cowboy is in bed, and is strangely ill. He doesn't want me to scare anyone (especially you, Kenny, he said), so I'm going to honor his request and NOT write the following: he said he may ask me to drive him to the hospital if he doesn't feel better soon. Ooops! How did THAT get into this post? (BAD caregiver! Delete that right now!)

He is unbelievably white, extremely nauseous, dizzy, and can't even sit up.

I promise to post more as soon as he feels better.

He has taken a lot of medications just now, at my urging, meds he is told to take when he gets really bad. So I'm believing that in about an hour, he's going to say he feels much better. He was able to drink an Ensure. That helped a little, too.

I'll probably delete this message later on, because of the sneakiness involved in my having written it, possibly scaring Kenny, which is against Bill's will. But I know you all care for him and will pray if you see this. Thus, I cheat....but for such a good reason! (Sorry, Kenny!)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday: He Feels Better!

He got his M&V chemo on Thursday, and a few extra drip bags of stuff to help him feel better, and as of today, he says he feels "weak but otherwise okay. Fatigue and breathlessness," he said, when I just asked him what I should write.

They were concerned with how white he was, but couldn't find the source of it. When he goes up stairs, he can only do a few at a time, without resting and catching his breath.

He said today he plans to watch the Masters and grade papers. This afternoon, he gets a Neulasta shot to help his bones create white cells.

As a sideline, we're getting PRITTTTY PRITTY PRITTY BLOOMIN' SICK OF LIVING IN THE BASEMENT, with no stove, and just a 12" by 12" refrigerator, but heaven knows there are worse things that could be going on...

Thank you for your love and prayers. Always and always.....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

He's Teaching Today!

He felt good enough to go teach today. It's a miracle. Thank you for your part in it. We are so relieved and thankful on days like these...

Next treatment is tomorrow (Thursday), so in addition to the M&V chemo, maybe they can give him some extra stuff to help with some problems he still has (like his throat burning like fire 24 hours a day, and stuff.)

Love, love, love.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesday: Great News! He's MUCH Better!

Thank you for all the love and prayers that so many of you bombarded us with yesterday! Post hoc ergo propter hoc? I ain't a-rulin' out nuthin!

The cowboy is SO much better today that it's almost unbelievable!

I'll post again least by tomorrow...and later today if things change, but for now, whew! Hugest gratitude!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

He Had to Cancel His Classes Today

A friend wrote, on her blog recently, that she always orders her Starbucks coffee at 110 degrees. Starbucks will comply with that kind of order. My friend says she feels like she's acting like "a diva" when she does it, but that she really can't tolerate things at extremes.

I am now using her story as a way to think of my blogging about Bill: I try to keep the reports always at 110 degrees so it doesn't burn you when you sip it.

Today, though, it's hard to keep it at 110.

Blow on this post a few times before you sip it.

Bill is REALLY REALLY sick today. The worst ever, after chemo, easily. Canceled classes and had to have a throw up bag with him, even for the time it took to mass email his students.

I reminded him that he can go to the chemo clinic for treatment when he is severely ill, but he said he is too sick to even walk to the car.

Yeah, it's more than 110 degrees today. You don't want the details.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hurtin' Cowpoke

Poor Cowboy Billy. He is feeling SO terrible today that he can hardly believe it. If I tried to even list the number of things wrong with him right now, you'd still be reading it when the world ends on Dec. 12, 2012, according to the Mayan calendar.

Too bad the Mayan calendar didn't tell the Mayans the date their civilization would end.


Talk to you later. Thanks for stopping by. We love you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Yesterday, Friday, our Courageous Cowboy got his HUGE bag full of cisplatin, kicking off round four of chemo on the same day that kicked off Opening Day for the Phillies, his beloved baseball team.

Actually, yesterday also marked the one-year anniversary of his "April Fool's" return home from Duke last year, during which he was able to relax in his own bed after 3 weeks at Duke. That nice rest lasted about 7 minutes before the medical rescue team was called by a nurse, after which six EMTs appeared in our home and hauled him out on a stretcher, and back to Duke for another week.

In a remarkable but unfortunate synchronicity, a medical rescue team answered a 911 call right in front of where we were sitting in chemo yesterday. A woman getting chemo had a heart attack, and the medics ran in, along with police, a doctor, and all the nurses, and rushed her out of chemo and over to the ER in the hospital. That poor woman. And she had no one sitting with her to comfort her. Prayers.

Anyway, we are hoping that perhaps in 2012, we will have an April 1st that does not involve life-saving maneuvers and calls to 911.

So about Bill...because Bill has had so many physical problems this past month, they did a lot more pre-medicating yesterday. Three hours of it, before they even got to the cisplatin. They gave him an anti-nausea medicine that will last five days (previously, he had taken it in pill form, and we had to pay (can't remember) either $60 or $90 PER PILL, and insurance wouldn't cover it.) But insurance does cover the drip form. Whew!

So because of all the helping medications he got, he feels normal right now. The downward spiral would normally begin on Sunday.

Sitting in a chemo clinic and listening to people tell their stories is like getting a doctoral degree in human suffering. Every time we're there, we hear people explain the toughest situations. Almost always, they tell their stories matter-of-factly, not in a self-pitying tone.

Yesterday, I heard a 35-year old man (who looks exactly like Michael C. Hall, the actor who plays Dexter and is on Six Feet Under) explaining that he had tonsil cancer. Yikes! And the radiation took away his ability to eat, so he has to feed himself with a squeeze tube into his stomach. He was asking a nurse to tell him in detail about a beef stew dinner she had cooked, as stew was his favorite food, and he missed it so much. He was also talking about all the things he likes to do when he's not sick, especially boating.

At the end of the day, he was telling his wife that there wasn't enough money in their account to pay for a whole dose of the medicine he needed, so she should use the credit card and buy just half.

What in the world do you do when you hear that? I wanted to walk over and say, No, you will buy ALL the medicine you need, and here is my credit card. But people have dignity, especially these Scots-Irish people in these mountains, and you can't just walk over and do that.

But in a world where a thing like that can happen, a young man can't buy the medicine he needs, something isn't right. At all.

The day ended on a more amusing, but equally strange, note when the man next to us started explaining to me how to kill yard moles by burying chewing gum with the foil on it. The moles eat the gum and die from the foil.

Ummmmmm, not sure I wanted to know that.

He finished his chat by telling me that if you break up pieces of alka seltzer and put them around your floorboards, mice will eat them and explode. He was then getting some distance into a description of how he had seen some guy feed alka seltzers to birds and the birds also exploded. "Them birds got bigger n bigger n then busted all to pieces an felled ratt down on the groun'."

Fortunately for the sake of what little was left of my mental health at that point, his wife stopped him right there, and told him to stop telling those stories.

And for whatever is left of YOUR mental health, I will now stop telling you about April 1st in the Chemo Palace.

At least it wasn't boring.

Love to all and thank you for caring.

Diamond Lil and Cowboy Billybob