Friday, September 23, 2011

Farewell, Faithful Blog Followers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The scan showed no cancer at all.

His blood work was also perfect.

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


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last-Minute Change in Posting Plans

I mean, this is getting silly.

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

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


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


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


Don't worry. 'Kay?


Monday, September 19, 2011

Frowny Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you all. Big time.

Friday, September 16, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why am I talking about these scenarios?

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

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

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

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

That's my cowboy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

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

This just in:

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

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

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

She said, "Oh dear."

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

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

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

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

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

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


Love to all!

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

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

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

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

How it came about:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Love to all.....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday: No Calling of Wake Forest Occurred

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

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

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Happy Sunday Here: No Real Reason!

We should be freaked out.

But we just aren't!

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

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

Or not.

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

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

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

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

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

And also isn't.

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

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

It will work you over.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Whatever Happened to That Scan?

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

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

Nothing happened. No one called.

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

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

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

I said, "Would you get chemo?"

"Yes, I would do chemo."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and gratitude.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Two Losses in this Blogosphere Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God grant it.