Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Woo hoo!

We're gonna go home today! Will probably leave the hospital either late this morning or early this afternoon. 

Please pray for a smooth, pleasant, easy ride home.
Please pray for a good transition to "home life." 
Please continue to pray for healthy liver regrowth and suppression of tumor growth.

Thank you all so much for the love.
We feel it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dr park came by... He was encouraging...
Said gas "counts" (he was happy about it) for his system moving & that his RBC is low but not getting lower.. May get released tomorrow maybe not

Today's update:

  • Motility through the digestive system is still an issue
    • a good sign that there seems to be some air -- usually other movement follows soon (that continues to be a prayer request)
  • Red blood count is still low (another request)--- have limited the blood draws 'cause that may have been caused a problem -- (they were drawing blood every six hours and it was a challenge for his body to keep up with production. So they're only taking it out every 24 hours.) They feel like since he has no other symptoms of low RBC (nausea, dizziness, etc.)  they're gonna try to let his body raise the count on its own. (There's been a possibility that he would need blood. We are hoping that his body can get right on its own.) His energy level isn't very high, but he's walking and all other signs (blood pressure, heart rate, etc.) are looking good. 
  • They're gonna give him some iron.
  • Turns out that he can only receive Toradol for a max of 36 hours -- which will be here soon. Then they'll have to switch him to another drug that has oxycodone in it -- which can cause motility problems -- which can cause an ileus... which I don't want to happen (Harv doesn't either.) So his digestive system really needs to get movin'.
  • So far, this morning, he's done eight laps around the floor.

If things progress, he may be able to leave tomorrow...but I don't want to go home until his body is REALLY ready. Please pray for that, too.

That's all for now... 

Happy Monday, people!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday afternoon

It looks like Harv's system might be waking up (very slowly, but a little bit)... Stay tuned. Maybe he'll get to have some broth tonight.

Toradol is good for pain management... He's more alert and has more energy. Has already done five laps around the floor. Sounds of gurgling in his stomach, but no real action yet. May have to have a unit or two of blood (hemotacrit is low). 

We're both gonna take a nap (I hope).


Saturday, April 27, 2013

I walked to the hospital this morning and then walked myself to lunch. Got in a few good walks today. And that feels very good. Hoping it makes me sleep well and wake up ready to tackle tomorrow.

The girls came at about 2:00 and Harv was heavily narcotized which wasn't fun. He had difficulty moving around. He walked a little bit but was in too much pain to go very far. (They removed the epidural and the epidural really helped with the pain without narcotizing him.) After removing the epidural, they started him on oxycodone. That made him very groggy and not feel very good.

Dr. Park came by a while ago... He switched Harv to a non-narcotic pain med called Toradol -- which Harv had last year after colon surgery.  He also suggested that Harv stop eating or drinking so that his system could really start to work again. Put him on IV fluids again, too. He still has a ways to go, but the Toradol was the right call... 

The girls and I left for dinner at about 5:00-ish and when we came back at about 6:30 he was a different man. No longer dopey and had walked a fair bit. Much more energy. 

I'm not kiddin'! I love Dr. Park. Truly, I love all of the medical staff we've had so far. Seems like they know what they're doing and that they LOVE what they're doing. Gotta love THAT.

Very thankful for friends and family who keep sendin' the love... givin' me a place to lay my head, fb messages, phone calls, texts, email messages, food for the girls, dinner with me, lovin' my dog-child, Relay for Life luminaries, special prayer txts, and on and on it goes...

Digestive system still not moving. In pain. Gonna pull back on food/fluids until something moves. In pain. Resting. Still needs to walk. Doesn't want to. In pain. I have to be the drill sergeant soon (perhaps after I have dinner and a drink) ... wish me well. 

Oh...and btw, I love Dr. Park. He's smart and business-like (yet, not w/o bedside manner) and I feel confident he knows what he's talkin' about.

Current stuff

  • Harv walked around the floor THREE times. (The doc told him he should try to make it around five times today... I'm guessing he'll exceed that expectation.)
  • He's started eating solid foods.
  • He's gonna get disconnected from the epidural (and start with oral pain meds), the catheter and the IV fluids today.
So... the challenge right now is that his digestive system isn't really moving yet. For those of you who were around when he had colon surgery, you may remember that he had an ileus (definition here). He went home a little bit too soon and that's when we discovered things weren't right... A tiny bit scary for me...)  We were told that ileus sometimes happens with surgery + pain meds. 

ANYWAY... we don't want that to happen again so -- please pray that his system gets movin' and that he begins to feel less pain with fewer pain meds.... (that can sometimes be difficult balance, I think.)

He's resting and now I have a cot so I can rest here, too. :-)

Have a happy day!

Here's Harv walkin' last night for those of you who might not have seen it yet.
The doctor just came by... Harv's numbers are on an improving trend which means his liver is starting to regenerate. (Remember -- we want the LIVER to regenerate, but NOT the cancer...pray, pray, pray He can also begin eating solid food.

His goal for today is to do FIVE laps around the floor.

The doctor took the dressing off of the incision (I tried not to look too closely) and from what I could see, it looked really good. It's big, but neat and tidy. (Tidbit of information: they sewed up the inside, but stapled the outside. 

The girls are gonna come down for a visit this afternoon. I will be happy to see them and Harv is really looking forward to it, too.

That is all.

Happy Saturday, people!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Nice way to end the day

Tonight Harv did a WHOLE lap around the floor before I left!  I've been trying for about an hour to get the video to upload, but am having trouble... Trust me. It was a big deal.
Hopefully, he'll sleep well tomorrow and be ready for some more exercise.

Two things -- no, three: (1) he's in a regular room!!!! With a view!!! (2) Please start praying now that the evil little cancer tumors will not grow while his healthy liver DOES. (3) Love you people!

Harv sat in a chair. He stood up, but not for long. Felt nauseous and dizzy so they didn't push it. 

They have let him progress to a popsicle which was a bit more exciting than ice chips.  

He's resting now and I wish I was, too, but can't... 

Hoping he can stand again and maybe even take a few steps. 

(Pray for the man in the bed next to Harv. Not sure what the whole issue is, but I think he has some neurological problems. His wife seems so pleasant and loving. I bet she is EXHAUSTED and sad.)

These kinds of situations make me really appreciate nurses, etc. Seriously. Harv's nurse has been great, but I can tell she's losing steam today. When she arrived, she was a bit perkier than she was a few minutes ago. (The man next to Harv is requiring a lot of care.)  
And, so... I guess say a prayer for all the people taking care of all the people. It's a tough job.

Special shout out to my friend, Nahla and her family... I stocked up on some delicious Lebanese food from Mediterranean Specialties before I drove down and it is yuuuuuuuuuuuum-MY!! 

And a shout out to Susie and Mark who made a trip this morning to get me a latté so I could start my day just right. 

Harv's still in ICU and his nurse is tendin' to him and one other patient -- who seems to be having a difficult time. His nurse is so patient and kind. 

A couple of doctors came by today and think he's doing really well... which is good. 

If Harv gets up and gets movin' a bit today, they'll move him to a regular room. Please pray that the pain in his shoulder goes away (movement should help with that). He needs to cough more...to get the stuff movin' in his lungs.  They're gonna try to get him walkin' at about 11:00 PST. Send some strength this way to give him the boost he needs to get movin'. 

Just a little info: they gave him an epidural for the surgery and it is currently still hooked up. It's a constant flow of pain meds and he has a button that he can push if he needs to add a little boost. So far, he has pushed it a couple of times an hour -- which is reasonable for the amount of pain he's experiencing. In fact, I think he could probably increase it, but am thankful that he hasn't felt the need. 

My job today is to keep him mentally alert and to assist with gettin' him out and movin'. 

Please forgive me for not making more phone calls... Writing helps me process and helps me get the info to lots of people at once. The updates I give are as thorough as I know at the moment. I appreciate you all wantin' to keep up with what's happening. I will try to update as often as I can -- or as often as there is something to report.

We are thankful that he's doing as well as he is. We are hopeful that he will get even stronger today.

(And, I'm kinda hopin' he gets to move into a private room.)

Friday morning

Don't have any real news.  Harv said that when he did sleep he slept well, but it was a "hospital sleep" so lots of interruptions. He has a knot in his shoulder, and he is in a fair bit of pain in his abdomen. He's in good spirits, though, and that's good. The goal today is to get him out of bed and moving a little bit. 
His blood work seems good.
Haven't seen the doctor yet this morning, but wanted to give a quick update.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just saw Harv... He's sore and thirsty.
Dr.Park said he was surprised at how healthy the liver looked. He took about 60% of the liver -- 3 bigger tumors and 2 smaller ones.
Hard to remember all the details, but the goal is to get him moving and recovered quickly so we can do another one of these surgeries and get rid of the rest of the tumors.
He ended up taking more than he thought he was gonna take 'cause of the placement of the tumors. He was able to take the only tumor that still appears to be growing...and some of the others.
Tonight he'll be in ICU so they can keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn't bleed. Hopefully in a regular room by tomorrow a.m.
I'm gonna spend the night at a friend's place and hopefully come back tomorrow as a very effective drill sergeant. :-)
Current prayer request: that his liver will regrow, but the tumors will not grow.
Thank you all for your prayers and concern. Love you!!!
Nurse just called from ER...
Almost finished with the resection of the tumors... No excessive bleeding --which is good. Hope to be finished by 7:00.
More as I find out.
Harv was wheeled to surgery at 1:30... Will update when I know something... Probably 4 or 5 hours.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Returning to the nest

Any other mothers out there who have a difficult time coming back home from a trip? Unstated and perhaps unrealistic expectations of how things are gonna be upon your return? I excel at that. I'm not sure what I'm expecting, but I'm pretty sure my expectations are always way over the top. And, because of that, I often fail to notice the things that HAVE been done.

I think especially after a long, lovely trip which was basically free of responsibility it is hard to come back to the nest. And, truthfully,  this time I had a few things on my mind in addition to why the dishwasher had not been unloaded and reloaded.

But I goofed yesterday. Feelings were hurt. I accidentally broke the lawn mower while trying to cut the grass. I went to bed a little grumpy. Woke up with sore jaws from grittin' my teeth.

It's all so silly.

I kinda think there are other things on our minds. I know that my mind is full. 

Should I take the espresso maker with me when I go? Should I hurry out and get Harv some new pajamas and a new bathrobe today? (YES!!) Remind me to cancel the hotel reservation 'cause I have a free place to stay. What clothes am I gonna take? Should we carry Harv's suitcase into the hospital when we check him in or do we have to wait until they give him a room? Remind me to get Raney's meds before we leave town. We're almost outta milk. I need another cup of coffee. Gotta remember to take myself a bottle of rosé.  Will there be wireless where I'm going? I wasn't very nice yesterday. (followed by defensiveness and an explanation -- in my head) The veggie man is gonna deliver our vegetables today...gotta remember to leave the $ for him. What are we gonna have for dinner tonight? Gotta remember S & H's dr. appt. this afternoon. Have to call insurance today to check on the procedure if he needs to stay longer. What are the girls gonna eat for meals while I'm gone?  How is Raney gonna do all this week? My head hurts. I don't want Harv to have to have surgery on his liver. The feeling inside of me is the same feeling I have when I'm gettin' ready to fly on an airplane -- before I take a pill to "take the edge off." I am sure this surgery is a good thing -- and I'm still nervous about it.  I wanna do what I wanna do.

The mind is full of a lot more than that...but you kinda get the idea...

Anyway... #1 -- I'm sorry, family (especially Harv) for not being as appreciative as I should've been.

#2 -- Reckon I'm a little "on edge" and could use a fair bit of prayer for peace.

#3 -- Thank you all! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

This week

I am still soakin' up some Georgia goodness and I am SO thankful that I've been able to take this trip. I'm ready to see my family, but I'm not quite ready to leave. 

This morning I noticed an alert that the FAA has had to furlough some air traffic controllers and some flights will most likely be delayed. They didn't mention any flights to Seattle in the alerts, but I am seriously hopin' that will not be an issue. So, if you don't mind sayin' a little prayer, I'd appreciate that.

Also, I get home on Tuesday afternoon and we will head down to Seattle on Wednesday. Thursday is the day that Dr. Park will rid Harv's body of a little bit more cancer. Enter the second prayer request.... please pray that Harv's liver is healthy enough to remove a whole bunch of cancer... Dr. Park will only be able to be as aggressive as the liver dictates -- the healthier the liver, the more aggressive. The less healthy the liver, the less aggressive with surgery. 

We have some plans for the rest of the spring and the summer and we need Harv to be able to participate fully.  So, we would like him to heal quickly and thoroughly. (That's the third prayer request.)

This trip to Georgia has been very good for me. My friends, Carol and Matt, helped my visit start out just right. Time with Laura and Mary has been really fun, too.  (It included a photo shoot, strawberry pickin', eatin', drinkin', laughin', a teeny bit of sisterly annoyances, long car rides, antiquin' and other fun.). Thankful! Thankful! Thankful!!

Every time I want to say "thank you" to all of you, I try to come up with a new way to say it, but I can't.  So...please accept this not-very-creative way of sayin' how much we all appreciate your love and support. We love you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Slight change of plans...

Harvey met with Dr. Park, the surgeon, yesterday for about and hour and a half.  (I'm in Georgia soakin' up my roots.) He took good notes and I'm just gonna copy and paste what he learned.

- Harv is a good candidate for surgery, so that is an answer to prayer. (Only 10% of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer are good candidates for surgery, because of various risks including tumor location within the liver.)

- Survival rates for the surgery itself are very high. As recently as the 1990s, the survival rate was only 80%, but nowadays it's practically 100%.

- The surgery will be done in two phases, to minimize risk of liver failure or the cancer spreading. (Surgery has an immuno-suppressive effect, and on top of that Harv's chemo must be temporarily halted after the surgery, so doing too much at once may be too risky.)

- The first phase will be April 25th, and will remove tumors in the left side of the liver. If the liver looks healthy, more tumors will be removed. If the liver looks like it has deteriorated from the chemotherapy, Dr Park will be less aggressive and only remove a few of the easier-accessed tumors.

- The surgery will not be laproscopic; there'll be a fairly long incision instead.

- After that surgery, there will be about 2 months of recovery time before the second surgery. Chemo, probably in mild form, will be re-introduced during that recovery period.

- The second surgery will remove the right half of the liver.

- There had been some discussion about the possibility of embedding radioactive beads at the time of surgery; however Dr. Park feels that would be too traumatic to the liver.

- After some period of recovery from the second surgery, chemo will resume, and possibly external radiation. 

This week I'm in Georgia visiting my good college friend and her husband...followed by a visit with my sisters. I've learned, as I get older, that there is something healing about going "home."  I kinda "get" what Scarlett felt about Tara.  It's pretty special.

You people are pretty special, too... Thank you for supporting us and for praying for us all.

We love you.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What the deal is...

It's a little over a week until Harv's surgery (April 25th)... We are excited and a bit nervous... and HOPEFUL.

Harv has come a very long way since he was diagnosed. His numbers are way better. And, in what I think is sort of a miraculous way, he has not experienced severe side effects from the chemo that he's had. The surgery he had last year on his colon was a boost to his health, too.

Unfortunately, there is a tumor (or multiple tumors) in his liver. One of those is kinda big. 

At our last visit, Dr. Lin told us that, since there wasn't a great improvement in that tumor from the chemo he had most recently, we've most likely reached the maximum benefit from chemo. There comes a time, Dr. Lin says, when the tumors are resistant to the chemo. He said that the largest tumor in the liver is "hunkered down" and holdin' on tight and us trying to fight it from the outside isn't really working. That's why surgery is important. And, thankfully, Dr. Park believes that there's enough margin to remove that ugly sucker! 

The plan is to cut that tumor out...Well, actually, the plan is to remove the whole right side of his liver. (Interestingly, that surgery will be done laproscopically.)  And, then we will wait for him to heal and for his liver to regenerate. After a time, he will go back on (probably) oral chemo. And, the likelihood is that he will be on some form of chemo forever. (BTW, the oral chemo + Celebrex is what Dr. Lin is calling "maintenance chemo" -- which keeps the tumors that have gotten smaller from growing.)

The hope is that he will be able to have another surgery later to remove the smaller tumor(s) in the liver...which are on the left side of his liver.

It is encouraging that the treatment he's had so far has had enough of an impact to do surgery on the liver. There was  a time when the surgeon didn't want to take a risk with surgery. It is also encouraging that in December of 2011 we didn't know what our future held... we didn't know what April of 2013 would look like. 

It's not lookin' too bad. He's got a little ways to go before we can slow down our doctor visits, but it is not lookin' bad at all. 

We are very, very thankful for all kinds of things -- excellent children who make our lives happier, excellent friends who have stepped in many a time to fill in the gaps when something needed to happen and who have just been available, friends who have prayed for us throughout this journey-we-wish-we-were-not-taking, family who have supported us, amazingly excellent medical staff (both in Bellingham and Seattle) who seem to know and enjoy what they're doing, and a God who has held us in his hands throughout this trip...  

We don't know what the future looks like, but we are trusting in the goodness of God regardless of what it looks like.

SO! Please begin now to pray for:
  • a successful removal of all of the largest tumor and the surrounding area that might be holdin' some teeny weensy cancer cells.
  • fast healing from the surgery.
  • fast liver regrowth with healthy new cells.
  • happy healing time at home (you know -- pleasant patient and pleasant caregiver :-)  )
Thank you all -- for loving our family. 

We love you, too!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hey y'all -- Sorry to keep you hangin' ... Harv's CT scan didn't show much change --- neither shrinkage or growth. He'll be on maintenance chemo (oral) for a week, then off for a week and then surgery. Dr. Lin believes that whatever good the "big guns" chemo was gonna do it has done... so now it's time to cut the yucky out of his liver. And, then... we'll see what needs to happen next. All in all a good meeting. Lookin' forward to gettin' rid of a big hunk of cancer. Love you people!

Today is the pre-surgery CT scan. Praying that the last round of chemo made a significant difference and has left a wider margin around the tumors than before.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


This week we have been so thankful to be able to get away to one of our favorite spots -- Kalaloch, WA. It's quiet, wide open fresh air. No tv, no real telephone and very limited Internet... Lots of "boring" and full of refreshment!!

Since we've been here, we have found out that Harv DOESN'T, in fact, have to have chemo on the 8th, but he WILL have a pre-surgery CT scan. We had thought that the scan would be done on the 16th when he goes to UW medical center for his pre-surgery appt. Dr. Park would like it earlier,though, so it's gonna happen on Monday. (We are very happy about no chemo, btw!)

Please pray for a "beautiful" CT scan. Please pray that these next few weeks before surgery will be weeks where Harv feels strong and healthy.

And, please pray for our family that we all feel strong and healthy --- all the way around. Please pray that the time at Kalaloch strengthens us and renews us for the time ahead.

Thank you for your support and for being there for us all...in many ways.

We love you!!