Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Graduation Day"

It has been nice to be home and in our own environment. I can tell Summer, our daughter has really been thankful to be home and spending time with us. Daniel, he has been pretty busy with his teenage social life so spending time with us has not been a big deal for him but knowing his dad is home and on the mend is good.

Sunday and Monday were almost carbon copies of each other. Danny has felt pretty weak and tired with constant nausea. It has not been as bad as in the past but he has been sick a couple of times each day.

Last night he did eat a small amount of soup so that was very good until he got sick about 45 minutes later. I know he will shy away from eating for a couple more days but at least he keeps trying. It seems any time he has a lot of movement or excitement he tends to get sick. I think both of those could have been contributing factors last night. Summer had ball practice and he thought me might go with us and just watch but changed his mind because he knew he really wasn't feeling up to it. His Mom had stopped by so he decided he would go to her house to visit and for a change of scenery. We got a huge surprise when we received a visit from some special friends of ours. They are missionaries in Cambodia & arrived here in the states on Saturday. We thought it would be about a week or so before we got to see them but they drove from the Kinston area to check in on us. We were very glad to see them! We didn't get to see their kids because they thought it best to wait until Danny is feeling better. It was a nice treat to visit with them, we havent seen them in 2 years.

We went for Danny's LAST treatment today! YEAH!!!! He didn't seem too excited but he was so sick before we left home. He came in carrying his old faithful friend the "pink basin". The nurses were so sad to see him still carrying "pinky" but they were excited for him because "he graduated" as they said. When we left the doctors office he was pretty sick again. I think any time he moves it stirs up his system and it causes him to be sick. We will try to lay low for the next few days.

However, tomorrow afternoon he will be receiving a blood transfusion at the hospital. This came as a total shock to us. His hemoglobin is around 8 so they feel it is at a level in which the shots are not going to be as effective as the new blood. His white blood count is low too so they have advised us to take precaution with being around folks that are sick and children that are in school or daycare. So naturally they are going to send us to the hospital where there are hundreds of sick poeple. Anyway, he received a magic shot for his white blood count today as well so he will be pretty sore for a few days because is causes some bone pain.

While we are still running the race and you know the finish line is just few miles up the road... it is always the hardest to push through to the end after you have run so many miles and your body begins to wear. Even though he is having a few set backs he knows he is getting better and will continue to.... We will make it! He has a huge crowd cheering him on and supporting him!

I have always respected nurses and have been thankful for them especially when they are so compassionate and caring... After having been "nurse" the past few days I have a new found respect for them. Everyone is asking how I am doing & if I want to go into nursing... well I am doing just fine because I have the medicine scheduled perfectly and set out in doses labeled with the time and my TPN feeding routine down perfectly... and for someone like me with my Type A personality it works because I know what is required and I am in control of making it happen. (Those who know me - don't laugh! You know I am telling the truth.) No, I have no desire to be a nurse... this is truly a stretch for me. Thank the Lord Danny is such a good patient!

You know when you are young and so in love you really have no idea what lies ahead. You excitedly say your wedding vows not really thinking about what they truly mean. Lets face it you repeat whatever the preacher tells you to and you hope you don't mess up... you are on cloud 9, caught up in the moment of this special day never thinking you will have to put into action what you just said in front of all of your friends and family. "For better or for worse... for richer or for poorer... in sickness and in health... until death do we part"... I never gave thought to the negatives... worse, poorer, sickness... I innocently looked forward to the rest of our lives being just perfect!

If you would have told me 18 years ago we would have this in our future it would not have caused me to change my mind, I would have still married Danny. I know at that time it would be because I really would have no idea the totality of my decision. But, you know we have all said at one time or another... "if I had only known then what I know now". Well, I can honestly say, if I had known then what I know now I would have still married Danny but not because I was young an naive but because my love for him would have been so much deeper. It is amazing how the Lord allows you to grow and love another person despite their flaws & what life brings your way... all the while changing you to become the person He wants you to be.

This might sound crazy but... I am thankful for where we are right now, I wouldn't change a thing. This has truly been an amazing journey. I have grown so much over the past 3 months, Danny has grown, our children have grown through this, our marriage has grown and will continue to grow richer... we have a wonderful life ahead of us BUT with a new found appreciation for not only LIFE itself but for EACH OTHER!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Home... Sweet Home!

We are Home!!!! Yeah!!!!

Yes, we are finally home. What a blessing to be with our family! The children were very excited and somewhat surprised to see us come home. I think they were prepared for another month just as we were.

The transition home has not been without its setbacks. Yesterday afternoon Danny started vomiting again. We were hoping it was just the extra movement, the schedule change in his medications because I had to get the prescriptions filled, and the fact he had some company last night from his family BUT it has continued this morning. He did seem to settle through the night a little and not feel quite as sick. It sometimes seems the pattern of vomiting does come when there is a lot of activity or noise around so I am going to work hard with our children to ensure a quite home. For those of you who know my children know this is going to be a challenge... they will have to resort to what life was like when Danny was on 3rd shift. It was tough but they can do it.

As we prepared for bed last night my excitement of sleeping in my own bed quickly turned to stress. I realized I was now responsible for making sure he had his medications through the night and on time. During the day is not too tough but he gets some sort of medicine about every 2 hours. I had to set my alarm and pray that I didn't sleep right through it. Well, I didn't... in fact I hardly slept at all for fear of not waking up. He received all his medicine on time, praise the Lord.

We did have to come home with the TPN feeding. I received a quick training yesterday before we left the hospital. There is a little more involved than I thought. I have to add the insulin & vitamins with needles & syringes to the bag of TPN before hooking to the machine and then to Danny. The pump is another fun animal to deal with. I am sure it will all be fine once I am comfortable with the routine.

Last night the home health nurse was supposed to come and train me again but unfortunately she had an emergency and didn't get to our home until around 9:30. So for the sake of time she handled everything while I watched. The feeding is a 12 hour process so she returned this morning and showed me how to detach everything. She will come back tonight and it is my turn. You know... I never wanted to be a nurse, never thought I would have to be on this level, and truthfully still have no desire to be a nurse completely responsible for someones care. It stresses me for sure. Hopefully, we will only have this to deal with this part for at least a week no more than two. In talking with the nurse she told us that some people have to be on TPN for long periods of time and some folks forever. Wow! I am so thankful for our health! Even though we have hit this storm along our way we know that smooth sailing is ahead... what a blessing from the Lord!

Danny was a little apprehensive about leaving the hospital and a little disappointed as well. He was concerned about getting home and getting sick again. He knew that he didn't really feel well enough to come home. He was still very nauseated but he had not thrown up in about 30 hours so they felt it was time for him to come home. It is just a matter of time for him begin to recover. It takes 30 - 45 days for the chemo to leave your body. Once the chemo is gone he will still need to recover from being so sick and weak. His body has been through so much and is in such a compromised state it will not be a fast easy recovery. He will have to build up his muscles & stamina again. Just walking from the hospital to the car took a lot out of him. Danny realized how weak he really is.

I think that is part of the disappointment. He wanted to feel good when he left the hopsital. I think he thought he would at least feel as good as he did the first time we left. But remember that was after his very first long week of treatment. His body has received 3 times that amount of chemo so it is going to take longer. He was hoping he would be able to walk more, eat some, and feel better. I am hoping that he will begin to make great strides the next few days. Each day will be easier if he feels the improvement and gets to feeling better... even if it is just a little.

We want to thank everyone for keeping our family in your prayers. We are so thankful to be home and on the mend. We can see the Lord working in so many ways. Just as I begin to feel down the Lord uses something to remind me of how fortunate we truly are. When you hear the word cancer your life begins to flash before you and you really start to think the worse.... but from the very beginning we have been assured that we could beat this cancer... and from the very first time I heard those words I have been giving God thankful praise... because we realize it is by His grace and His mercy that we will enjoy freedom from cancer. What a day that will be... we will be able to celebrate the gift of continued life.. one that is enriched by a new found appreciation!

No matter your situation, no matter your circumstances, no matter your obstacles, there is always reason to be thankful!

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Down & One To Go

Yesterday, I was able to take my Dad home. They never could find what was going on with him for sure. The doctors are suspicious it is costrocondritis. This is what they diagnosed Danny with originally for the first 3 months. So naturally I was a little concerned BUT they ran all sorts of tests and feel pretty sure this is the case and it was brought on by the horrible fall from a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, they gave him about 10 shots in his chest and he is some better. They hope he will continue to get better over the next couple of weeks. What an answer to prayer. The Lord is so loving and gracious.

So I have one down and one to go... in way of leaving the hospital and getting settled at home.

Danny is getting a little better each day but he really doesn't feel that he is. It is taking much longer for the progress to be seen and he wants to feel better on a much faster pace than his body is allowing at this time. I think that mentally knowing our treatments are almost over created a mirage... a false sense of we are almost over and then I should start feeling great. Truthfully it is going to take a long time for Danny to recover. His body has been through so much and will not bounce back overnight or over a week. He is a bit frustrated and disappointed.

The doctors are really feeling that we should be going home soon... maybe today or over the weekend. Danny wants to or had hoped to go home in much better shape than he is now. We will go home with the TPN feeding and possibly some other medical instructions. He is very weak and is still extremely nauseated so he is not eating or drinking anything. Just a trip to the restroom is tiring and a shower is exhausting. I understand that it is going to take months for his body to recover from the trauma of the chemo. His treatment included some really nasty drugs. Danny realizes this too but is so disappointed.

I am excited... the thought of going home and having my family back together is wonderful. I cant wait to sleep in my own bed. We have been here for 29 days. Wow! Alot has happened over the past 29 days.

Looking back... when we first came in the goal was to get Danny to stop vomiting. Then the goal was to nurse his body back to a "new healthy" that was stable enough to continue treatment. We then started treatments and was able to stay on track for each one. Because Danny was so sick it caused his doctor to question the idea there may be a better way. In his research he realized we could be finished with our treatment one round early. The entire stay has been a roller coaster ride for us... Guess what... we absolutely love to ride roller coasters! This is a ride we never forget!

We will see how things go today and will hopefully be going home soon! Praise the Lord!!!

Thanks everyone for your continued prayers and support. We have been blessed in so many ways... you have truly touch our lives in ways we never expected or imagined. We have not been alone in this fight and that is priceless! THANK YOU!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oh yea....

Sorry I have not written in a few days… things have been a little crazy as I have been dancing the hospital shuffle. Yes, we are all still here... one big happy family.

Danny is doing fairly well. He has continued to have times of vomiting but they have not been as severe as in the past. Sunday night was pretty rough but Monday seemed to be a bit better. When Dr. Anagnost came in for our normal morning meeting he told us that he was concerned because Danny had been so sick for such a long time. He felt that if something didn’t turn around he would be in the hospital another month. He wanted us to know that he was planning to contact Dr. Ironhorn a specialist with 30+ years of study and research concerning Seminoma cancer. Dr. A wanted to see if there was another chemo drug we could use that would produce the same or just as good a result that wouldn’t make Danny so sick. Danny & I talked and decided we were not comfortable with making a drug change because based on the info we had been given this was the best course of treatment and the long term outcome was much more important to us than the next 3 weeks.

Last night Danny was a sick just a couple of times but overall had a restless night. We realized that he is having a reaction to one of the new drugs they introduced this week, Haldol. It has caused him to be very on edge and restless. We have since discontinued the use of this medication. Today was a better day. He had not gotten sick until about 8:00 this evening so today was a good day. He is still not eating but he is receiving the TPN feedings. We hope he will be able to eat soon so he will not need the TPN anymore. They have to give him insulin to offset the spikes in his blood sugar due to the feeding. He is receiving shots 3 times a week for his red blood count. But we have not needed the shot for his white blood count in a while.

Good news the doctors are hoping we go home sometime this weekend. They are going to try to start weaning Danny off of the IV medicines and go to all by mouth. We are hopeful too. We realize that it is a true possibility but we are realistic and know that recovering from such a tough week of chemo might take a little longer. In the past it has taken the full 2 weeks in between for him to become somewhat human feeling again before treatment starts again… so we will see. We are ready to go home. We have been here 26 nights already.

Oh yea....... I forgot to tell you what the specialist told Dr. Anagnost…. STOP! That’s right stop the treatment course at 3! That means we only have 1 more treatment because Danny received his bleomicin treatment today. We only have ONE more chemo treatment... not chemo cycle BUT treatment. Thank you Jesus!

We were shocked to say the least. I am not sure we have worked through the shock. We are very excited but still taken back and working through this decision in our minds. We had our heads down and ready to face the last storm. My initial thought was “what we can stop running… we are only at mile 16 or so… if we stop now can we still get the prize?” We want to be cancer free! Neither doctor has any question. They are completely satisfied with the decision. It still does not seem real to us yet. We know we still have a quite a way to go before Danny will be 100% but to know we are not facing the last treatment is thrilling.

We thank everyone for lifting us in prayer… we know the Lord answers! If you have ever questioned that fact… you now have proof! We are so very excited to see how the Lord will continue to work in our lives & in the complete healing of Danny’s body.

Many of you have asked about my Dad. He is doing okay. He is still in severe pain and they have yet to figure out why. He had a heart catheterization today and they couldn’t find anything that should be causing the pain. He has had a chest CT, a nuclear bone scan, several x-rays among other tests and nothing so far. I do know that the pain is so severe it is almost unbearable. He is already on high doses of methadone & neurontin for back pain that put him out on disability 13 years ago. So if he says he is in pain he truly is. Please keep him in your prayers too. We need to know what is going on. I am concerned and realize the responsibility of caring for him as he just has me & my sister now.

I feel so blessed to have one of the largest prayer circles I have ever heard of… I truly appreciate all the time you have sacrificed on behalf of our family. I trust you are praying for us and I trust the Lord hears and answers!

God is good all the time… and all the time God is good!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sleep... sleep... sleep

The turning point has arrived… Thursday night was a difficult one for Danny. He was sick for about 3 hours but then was able to rest because of all the medication. Friday morning he was sick again. He had a great “chemo nurse” that is very knowledgeable about what works and what doesnt. She kept the right meds on board the entire day and Danny has been able to sleep. He is sleeping almost non-stop and that is so much better than vomiting. Praise the Lord we finished the last treatment for the week. What a relief… even though he has gotten sick Danny is still doing well overall.

I don’t really expect to go home on Monday since they have not been able to get him off the IV drugs & right now he is very reliant on them. I do, however, feel like we are in a much better position at the same point in previous treatment weeks. I am actually hoping we go home maybe mid week or by the end of this coming week.

Today he has slept a lot but has gotten pretty sick at different times. The doctors really do not want him vomiting. Each step backwards takes extra steps forward to recover. He is still receiving all the medications they can offer. The TPN feedings are still going very well. Yes, it is disappointing that Danny has started getting sick again but we are so thankful that he is getting the excellent care from the doctors & the nurses. It is a huge relief for me for us to be at the hospital where he can get everything he needs. We will continue to be thankful for the blessings we experience every day… sometimes it is the smallest of things but the impact is huge.

Today, I was fortunate enough to get to travel with my kids to Kinston. Yes, Kinston… I know there is nothing here but Summer is playing in a softball tournament. It has been a nice time with my children. We have enjoyed spending time together and I have had fun catching up on what has been going on in their lives. I couldn’t have come this weekend if it were not for 3 special people in my life who are such a great support & are willing to sacrifice so much. Sandra is taking excellent care of Danny. Christy is doing her best to make Dad behave and do as the doctors have asked (that can be a tough job). Today my niece, Raegan had a softball game too so Beverley volunteered & was willing to give up her Saturday to sit with my Dad so my sister could be there. Thanks ya’ll!

We had a rough time with my Dad on Wednesday & Thursday, especially through the night. But things have started to turn around and he is doing better but they are still not sure what is causing the severe chest pain. They have been running tests and giving him pain meds. They can’t send him home until he is no longer on the IV pain medicine. They ran a CT scan today so hopefully we will get some news tomorrow.

Another blessing… thanks so much to my father in law, Larry and Danny’s brother Bud for repairing both our vehicles today. Since Danny has been in the hospital, both vehicles have had a little trouble. One needed brakes very bad and the other needed a battery installed. (Sorry Freddy, I know you have offered many times.) It is amazing how many things you take for granted when things in your life are normal.

I continue to be humbled by everyone wanting to help us. It is a tough position for me… I like to be the one helping not needing or accepting help. I know that each blessing is of the Lord and is because of His prompting and your willingness. Thank you for being available and willing. Your sacrificial support and love for our family has been such a sweet reminder of how blessed we are. You have enriched our lives through your immeasurable support. The number of people that have been praying for our family blows my mind. We know that when God’s people call on His name He listens… please know that He is truly honoring your prayers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mile 14.... and on to 15 & 16....

Last night was interesting to say the least. But it was good and the Lord gave strength and alertness when needed. My sister and I stayed at the hospital last night. Danny's room is very nice and is on the 10th floor which has been recently renovated with a pull out sofa type sleeper. Dad is on the 5th floor with a roommate that was up all night getting a blood transfusion and only a single upright chair. So I slept until 3:00 in Danny's room and then switched with my sister so she could get some sleep. The tag teaming seemed to have worked well. It is amazing how your perception changes when you realize how much you have truly been given. While the bed I have been sleeping on has been tough it is SO much better than a chair.

Danny is really doing very well. He has only been sick a little (compared to before) and each episode has not been too bad. He seems to be gaining strength and looks a little better everyday. Dr. Anagost said today that he had a schedule laid out and if all goes well Danny might be able to go home Monday. Whoo hoo! He needs to be able to keep the vomiting under control and also be able to take his medicine by mouth with no issues. He will come home with the TPN feeding but that shouldn't be too bad as we will hook up only at night while he is resting. It is a slow process but we are in a much better place today than we were 3 weeks ago. We are so thankful for his continued healing... not just physical but emotional too.

The fever has been gone for a few days. His arm is healing nicely and he has not had any issues with the new PIC line. We expect everything to only improve. Today is the 4th day of his treatment this week. In the past, Thursday and Friday is when things really started to take a turn for the worse. We are praying this is not the case this week. We expect a very good day!

I continue to be amazed at the support we have. So many of you have helped out in different ways. We really could not be as strong and together without you. Thanks for thinking of us and being available to help!

Thanks Beverley for being a lifesaver yesterday! Your taking care of the girls was a HUGE help in the midst of the storm. Sonny, my brother in law is such a trooper. I am sure when he married Christy he never dreamed he would be Mr. Mom at home taking care of all 4 of our children giving baths, washing clothes, and managing two households. The Lord has truly blessed Christy and I with wonderful husbands and their families!

We give the Lord all the praise and glory for His continued blessings. I am so thrilled Danny is doing better. We know he is not out of the woods yet but even still his condition is wonderful in comparison... each step forward the light at the end of the tunnel gets a little brighter.

Having run a marathon (26.2 long miles) I remember the first part of the race was easier because you knew what you needed to do and mentally you were prepared... 1/2 way through you begin doubting yourself and the possibility that you would finish... 3/4 of the way through the race you realize (not only are you crazy but) that it is as much a mental feat as physical and you get small bursts of energy that give you the strength and desire to finish and the last stretch is horrible and wonderful all at the same time. You are so tired and worn from the race but you want so badly to finish... you MUST finish for the medal otherwise it all will have been for nothing.

Danny is running mile 14 looking toward 15 & 16 in his race and is doing well. We know that the last stretch will be hard because you become anxious, excited, and physical beat all at the same time but the PRIZE is worth it so he will push hard and will cross the finish line with so many cheerleaders there. It takes all the supporters yelling your name, encouraging and cheering you on to push you to finish line when you endure such a long physically challenging race.... THANK YOU for being Danny's supporters! We will celebrate!!!!

Yes, James you are right... God is good... all the time!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Better days....

I am sorry there hasn’t been an update in the past couple of days. Things have been a little crazy for me personally. I had the privilege of staying at home last night with my children. Sandra, my super Mother in law stayed with him at the hospital so I could go home and rest. It was very nice. The Lord must have known I needed some nice sleep.

I spent the day with my Dad at the emergency room, doctor’s offices, and now the hospital. Yep, my Dad is here at the hospital too. My sister is downstairs with my Dad & her husband is at home taking care of all of the kids and getting things together for school tomorrow for all 4 kids! My family is a super blessing on so many levels.

Yesterday and today, Danny has had pretty good days. He ate like crazy Tuesday. He woke from a dead sleep to eat almost an entire meal. He did get sick last night but then he rested through the night. He then was sick a little this morning before treatment but it subsided and the treatment went very well. He has eaten again today and has been sick a little this evening but is resting now. It is better when he has something on his stomach when he gets sick instead of the retching on an empty stomach. Even though he has been sick it has not been as bad as what we went through 3 weeks ago.

We have been on track with the treatments and that is great news. He has also been receiving his TPN feedings and he seems to be feeling better. The doctor hopes to have Danny off of all the IV medicines when he finishes his chemo on Friday… and if all goes well on Saturday… he may get to go home Sunday. Please pray with us that he will keep doing very well and will have the opportunity to go home and not be too sick. We are ready!

Thank you for being our prayer warriors. Our family has certainly had a tough time lately but I have faith that the Lord will not let us fall. He loves and cares for us… we will be just fine!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back on Track

Lots of progress was made today... finally! After a rough start our day turned out pretty good. This morning the doctor was surprised to find that Danny did not get his PIC line installed this weekend. He was ready to start the chemo early this morning. Believe it or not, there is only ONE radiologist at NHRMC that can do this particular procedure & they must not work weekends. Anyway, Danny was bumped down the line after the assessment of the weekend emergencies, of course they took priority as they should have. Dr. A tried to get Dr. Bebb to come to the hospital to do the procedure but that didn't work out either. After much shuffling and begging Dr. A resolved to have a new IV started so we would have a clean site for chemo. The VAT team was able to find one site that would work. We started pre-meds around 11:45 with chemo following shortly behind.

In the middle of the treatment Danny's number was up for the PIC line. So they took him downstairs for the procedure and it went very smooth with no issues that we are aware of. They began using it immediately for chemo. He finished up his treatment today so we were able to stay on schedule, which was extremely important. Thank the Lord for working all things together for Danny's good!

They have not yet started his TPN feeding. Good news he has only lost about 5 lbs since his feedings stopped. He had gained 2 lbs with the TPN and with the 5 pound loss he is still in the okay margin at this point. His blood sugar was high tonight. I am thinking it might have to do with the steroid given in his pre-meds. He only needed 3 units of insulin.

Danny was able to rest a lot today. Fortunately, he has not been sick & I am hoping we will make it through the night without being sick.

We have to be the most fortunate people on the face of this earth! We have super amazing family & friends... so many of you have given of yourselves to help our family in so many ways. I am always humbled when the Lord chooses to use the people in our lives, He never ceases to amaze me! Today a couple of very special friends taught me a lot about myself through the sacrifice they made on behalf our family. Not to mention, about 21 years ago they were responsible for introducing me & Danny. I don't think they really thought it would work out but it was kinda cool to have your best friend date your boyfriends best friend. It did make for some fun dates... thanks David & Beverley... for everything!

I have shared with several people today that we know we are incredibly blessed. A few folks recently have said I know you hate being at the hospital for so long and you are ready for all of this to be over. Yes, it is not ideal but we are so thankful to be where we are right now. I am content being in the hospital knowing Danny is receiving the best care possible. Of course, we will be glad when all of this is over because it is not all peachy... with the exception of loosing my Mother this is the toughest situation I have ever been through... but we also are thankful in the good times and the bad. We realize that Danny is so fortunate to have a cancer that responds very well to chemo and he is going to be cured! And now the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter as we pass the half way mark with the treatments, yeah!

Overall we are blessed beyond measure!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Super Sunday!

As I sit and take in the view of Wilmington from the 10th floor of the hospital it is a sweet reminder of the Lord. You know as I see the city as a whole I tend to not pay attention to the small happenings going on below. I am just content taking in the beauty of the view and the amazement of God's creation... I can see the "big picture”. I can’t help but relate that to how the Lord must see our situation. Even though He is aware of the smallest of details in our everyday struggle with this cancer I am sure He does not let that distract or concern Him or even take away from His view… He can see the "big picture" and can see the situation as a whole... and knows that it is beautiful!

Danny had a restful night last night with no sickness. This morning we started with an early morning walk “around the block” as Danny says. We expected he would have the PIC line put in this morning but then morning came and went. We saw the doctor on call for a second as he told us to hang in there they were going to do the PIC line today soon so we would be ready for chemo in the morning. The nurse came in about 45 minutes later to tell us they would do the PIC line tomorrow morning and start chemo in the afternoon because they do not have anyone available today that do the PIC line today. Danny's case is a little different in that the VAT team will not be doing the procedure as normal. They will be using an ultrasound during the placement and will need to make sure all goes well. The nurse explained it is because it is kinda a "one time shot" deal due to the fact his other vein and port had issues. We knew Danny was a special person but little did we know he would create special issues & situations along the way. :)

Good news… Dr. Testori also told us the MRI came back clean. Thank the Lord for an excellent report. We know now we only have to deal with this cancer and the chemo. If they had found something in the brain we would have to address that as a new issue - what a blessing! Thank you for locking arms with us and praying... the Lord is faithful!

Danny finally received his lunch and they brought him the wrong food. He had fried chicken, green beans, chicken & pastry, cookie, chocolate pudding, & a nutrition drink (Boost style). Well he was starving and wanted to try some so he did. The greens beans & pudding were his food of choice. He did well and was able to keep it down even though he was not feeling great afterwards. He really wants some pizza and French fries but that will have to wait.

Dinner time he tried to eat a potato on his plate and that was all it took to make him sick. This vomiting episode was short but was just enough to make him start feeling bad. He is still running the low grade fever but it doesn’t seem to be a huge concern since they have given him so much antibiotics.

The new IV is holding up well so far too. He is able to receive his fluids, antibiotics, and medicine with no issues at this time. Another example of the mercies the Lord provides.

Danny had a lot of visitors today including his 89 year old grandmother & Aunt from Whiteville. We truly enjoyed each visit. It means so much for friends & family to sacrifice their time to come visit. Today was a good day to visit. We had a good time laughing with our children as they entertained our friends, Freddy & Gwen. Danny had a couple of friends from work, Stan & Randy visit. It was an encouragement to me as much as Danny. Stan shared he knew exactly what we were going through as he has personally been effected by cancer with his immediate family in two different situations. As a caregiver he offered much support & comfort. Later, we even had a visitor we didn’t know that is a church & family member of Stan’s. He has been praying for us and wanted to put a face with the name… Wow!

We know the Lord hears and answers. Danny told a friend today that he knew he was in the best shape of his life right now... because more people than ever have been praying to the Lord on his behalf! We have so many here at home praying but many of you have asked friends & family across the nation to pray, we know we have people on the other side of the world praying. We received an encouraging phone call today all the way from Cambodia. James & Lynette Cottle are very close friends of ours that are missionaries. They have been joined in prayer by their missionary team and local Cambodian Christian friends. It is so humbling to know that we have so many people are praying for us.

When we lay our head on our pillow at night we never question if the sun will rise in the morning, we rest in full confidence knowing it will......

...... with that same confidence and peace we fight this cancer!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Small Saturday Surprises

I really enjoyed my time today with Daniel & Summer. It was much needed for all of us. Thanks so much to Sandra for sacrificing her Saturday & allowing me to leave the hospital with no worries.

While I was gone Danny met doctor Testori (dr on call this weekend). He offered a game plan today that we were a bit surprised by. Dr. Testori told Sandra that he and Dr. Anagnost, Dr. Arb, & Dr. McNulty had a meeting to discuss his case. They are truly perplexed as to why Danny is so sick. They know the chemo drugs they are using are very strong and make for a tough time but they feel there should be or could be something else causing the intense sickness. They decided to do an MRI on his brain to see if they originally missed something small that could have grown over time. No results yet. We are hoping they do not find anything because we know the chemo does not affect the brain and this would mean there would need to be additional measures taken.

We were expecting Danny to get the port a cath inserted today but they have decided to use a PIC line instead. They have not placed that yet. He has had 5 different IV's in the last 3 days. Danny's veins are not very strong. They function for a while and then produce fever, red streaks, and pain. The IV team has a hard time finding good veins & they are not lasting long. We will be thankful when the PIC line is functioning. I am assuming they will restart the TPN feeding at that time. He is no longer receiving his meds by mouth they are using the IV in hopes of keeping him from vomiting.

He is still running a low grade fever with no real reason to explain it even though he has had tons of antibiotics over the past week.

For some reason today the communication and nursing care has been challenging. We hope tomorrow brings good news and a much better day as we gear up for treatment on Monday.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tenth Floor Two-Step

Interesting, not so fun, dance.... It seems that as we take a few good steps forward we have to take a few steps backward as well. Sad to say on my 2nd post for the day Danny has started to vomit again. He had been doing pretty good with keeping the small amounts of food down. Today they had changed his antibiotic and this one is to be taken by mouth. The pill is HUGE. He did pretty good taking it the first time. The past two times he has needed to take meds by mouth it must have stimulated the gag reflex or something because each time has been pretty tough. We are praying that the nausea will lessen and he will have a good couple of days before the tough treatment begins.

I am excited... I will be spending tomorrow (Saturday) with my children. Sandra, Danny's Mom will be with him while I am away. Besides watching Danny go through so much, being away from Daniel & Summer has been the hardest adjustment. We are all doing well and knowing they are with my sister & brother in law makes that aspect so much easier... I just miss them. Daniel & Summer visited Danny tonight, it was good for everyone.

Enjoy your weekend.... spend time with someone you love! :)

Gearing up for next week....

We are still in the hospital. Danny has been able to eat small amounts of broth and such type foods. He cant seem to shake the nausea so his eating is real dependant on how he feels. He is still receiving all of his nausea medications and for now things are a bit better.

He still has a low grade fever and is still receiving antibiotics to treat the infection (which we are still not sure what we are fighting). His white blood count has increased since yesterday so the Neupogen shot is definitely doing its job. You can tell it starts to work quickly because this shot causes pretty tough bone pain. Danny needed pain medicine yesterday about 3 hours after the shot to help cope with that pain.

Danny's blood pressure was very low this morning (82/32) so they are giving him extra fluids to try to help with dehydration. Since he has not been able to receive the TPN feedings his fluid intake was low and his caloric & nutrient intake has been almost nothing. We expect he will start the TPN feedings once his port a cath is in place. The doctor has requested that the surgeon insert the port a cath tomorrow as they expect his white blood count to be back in safe range.

It appears we may be here through the weekend and will start the chemo here in the hospital. One good side of that is that we will be here and have the constant medical care through his week of treatment. Maybe we will be ahead of the game instead of playing catch up after the treatment. Our hope is that he will recover much quicker after the treatment and go home with a couple of good weeks before his last round of treatment. Please pray with us that will be the case.

We are doing well. Tonight will be our 15th night in the hospital and the Lord has continued to be merciful to us in so many ways. Our needs are being met on so many different levels. I know we have to be some of the most blessed people on earth because we have such wonderful supportive friends & family. This fight would be much tougher without you. We thank the Lord everyday for each of you.

We have had many visits that have been uplifting and encouraging. We thank you for taking your time to come and show your support. We had a very special visit today. A co-worker and friend of Danny's came by today, Velma. She is such a sweet spirit and a testimony of the Lord's grace. She is a cancer survivor! She has been in remission for a while now and the wounds from battle were still fresh... but that did not keep her from encouraging Danny and giving praise to the Lord for her healing. We know that so many of us have been affected by cancer in some way. I lost my Mother to cancer just 2 years ago. We have a friend that found out yesterday she has breast cancer. It is all around us... we dont understand why. We can look at each situation and say why we feel it is a shame, the timing is not good, they have small children, they just retired, they are too young or have a new grandchild on the way, any number of reasons... we will never know why... but we do know the fight is extremely tough and without the Lord, for us it would almost impossible. We have complete peace in knowing that Jesus is in control and He loves Danny and will give him the strength to fight through the tough times. Thank the Lord His mercies are new EVERY morning!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Hurdles

Good news.. the past couple of days Danny has been able to eat broth, crackers, & a few bites of bland food. He has not vomited but has still been really nauseated. Baby steps but in the right direction.

The doctors found a blood clot in his port a cath a couple of days ago so they removed that yesterday. They are starting him on a blood thinner for a while to hopefully dissolve the blood clot. Because they have not been using his port a cath they have been using a regular IV. They now have used 4 different IV sites in one arm because they really couldnt use the arm with the port. His veins are not holding up very long. The type and the amount of medication he is getting through the IV makes it harder for them to hold up along with the chemo. The VAT team has been called in to start each of his IVs and the last nurse said that she thought the next option might have to be a IV PIC. Which if I understand right is a step between the port and a regular IV. We will have to see how things progress today because the last IV has started to give him trouble. They are trying not to use it more than needed so they are going to try to give some meds by mouth.

He will not be able to recieve the chemo treatments next week without a new port a cath. The surgeon will not be able to insert a new port until his white blood count increases. They are giving Danny neupogen shots & hopefully that will do the trick. Dr. A is worried this may run into next week. I am worried if it runs into next week his strong chemo will not be spread over the usual 5 days but once we add the weekend in it will stretch his difficult days out over a longer period of time and cause us to fight the very sick days longer. We are ready to push through the chemo treatments, deal with the sickness, and hopefully get through all of this as quickly as possible. Danny is ready to get his life back... so am I, the kids, our family, everyone. So we are praying for no delays or setbacks that would change our course of treatment.

The addition of the new medicine, Marinol, seems to be helping. We are not sure if it is actually the medicine or the fact we are just in that part of the cycle in which he would be doing a bit better anyway. We are hoping the medicine is a huge help and the sickness will not be as bad this coming week.

The fever has dropped. It is still around 99 or so but it has not been nearly as high. Danny is receiving 2 different IV antibiotics and he is on his 5th round of those. We have no idea where the infection is comeing from. He did receive his one chemo drug, Bleomicin yesterday and that went well. It could have contributed to him not feeling as well yesterday.

He had gained 2 lbs with the TPN feeding but since they have suspended that feeding he lost those 2 lbs but has been able to at least maintain his weight with no additional loss as of yesterday. Danny has been up walking the halls a little but it makes him really tired afterwards. Taking a shower feels really good but truly wipes him out for a while. He will gain his strength back when he is able to eat again. This might be a while away but we know this will not last forever.

In speaking with a friend this morning I mentioned that we are know we are so blessed. Our situtaion could be so much worse & we know it. We see so much sickness being here in the hospital. Yes, things are tough... yes, they are frustrating... yes, they could be better BUT they could be so much worse. Danny will beat this cancer! We know in the end the doctors expect nothing less than a "cancer free" healing. What a blessing!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tests, Tests, & More Tests

Last night was a restful one for Danny. The first in a while. He has been able to keep down the Marinol tablets... good news! We dont really know if it is working or not. He still vomited about 4:30 this morning.

He just left to go downstairs for a couple of tests. They are running a port a cath o gram. They will run dye to see if there is an issue with his port. His arm is swollen and is in some pain with it. They are also going to run a high resolution CT scan of his chest to be sure something isnt going on in his lungs due to the Bleomicin chemo drug. That is a concern with that particular drug.

They are exploring the option of changing his chemo drugs but the doctors concern is they know this combo is the gospel, it works and if you go changing the meds you could change the outcome. Dr. A consulted Dr. Arb and they are very concerned about making that change. They will be consulting doctors that highly skilled in testicular cancer (this is their primary study focus) and see what they suggest.

Right now the concern is the fever, the source of the fever, along with the nausea & vomiting. They have suspended his TPN feeding due to fact they cant use his port a cath. I am not sure if he will have his chemo treatment today or not.

Will try to keep everyone updated with the latest test results. Thanks so much for everything!

Monday, September 7, 2009

"Still Kicking"

Whoo hoo... thanks Eddie! I should be able to update the blog more often since a friend was able to work some magic in the IT dept here at the hospital. I now have access to the blog using the hospital network. :)

Yes, we are still here, 10 nights so far. Danny said to let everyone know that he is "still kicking". The past few days have been a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs. We have experienced times of no sickness only to be followed by a pretty bad case of vomiting, sometimes for no reason and more recently because of eating a "bread" meal as requested by the doctor. Each of these episodes set us back in our progress to being nausea/vomiting free.

The endoscopy came back with only a few irritated places in his stomach and esophagus believed to be from the vomiting and retching. Nothing was found that is contributing to the vomiting. They have increased his platonics to twice the dose previously prescribed.

The TPN feeding has gone pretty well. The only negative side effect that
Danny has experienced is the his blood sugar count. It keeps fluctuating from high to very high. The highest so far has been about 370,normal range goes up to 112. They adjust his insulin shot accordingly.

Danny started running a fever last night. It was 102.2. They were able to get it down for a while but it has started rising again. They are treating him with antibiotics and have decided to have a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. They know with the fever there is an infection but they want to find the source.

Danny is going to try to eat some clear liquids again today. We hope this will stay in his system. They are also going to try a fairly new drug called Marinol. I know I have mentioned this before and the concern was that he is not able to take meds by mouth. This is the only form of this medication and at this point we have "nothing to loose" as the doctor said. We will try it and hope that is the magic medicine. We have no other choices. If there are any the doctors have not mentioned them and I feel sure they would have at least tried them. Pray this is what we need.

Danny should finish up his second round of chemo with a treatment tomorrow. Meaning we will be officially half way through with the chemo treatments. He will receive Bleomicin which will not contribute to his being sick. This particular chemo does not cause nausea or vomiting. The true culprit is cisplatin. It is one of the chemo drugs he receives at the beginning of each cycle for the 5 day treatment week, which will begin again on Monday of next week.

I know we have said this so many times before but we truly do mean it.... THANK YOU! We have been so blessed with many friends and family that love and care about us and it shows in everything you say and do.

We know that the Lord is extending His mercy everyday. We are so thankful for the medicine that Danny is receiving because we know without it he would be in a horrible place right now. Even though the meds are not curing the nausea & vomiting we know they are helping him to survive. There are brighter days ahead and we are setting our sites on the future!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Journey Continues

Last night Danny was a bit restless but the sleep was good while it lasted. This morning Dr. A decided to order the steroid that he has been taking with his pre-meds to be taken on a more consistent basis. This is also the steroid that he received the day that he began feeling better before. There is concern with taking a steroid on a long term basis so I feel that is why he was so hesitant to do so before now.

If Danny is about the same we believe the GI specialist will go ahead with the endoscopy. They will be looking for anything abnormal along with any tears or lesions that may have occur ed with the vomiting and retching. Danny is not looking forward to that test but he found out this morning that he will be asleep.

They have continued his TPN feedings. That seems to be going well. He did get another insulin shot last night but they feel they will have that worked out soon.

We did ask the PA this morning "what stage Danny's cancer was in the beginning"? She was hesitant to answer but she did - Stage 4. She said she didnt want to tell us because stage 4 is usually really bad. You have a long way to go from stage 4 to "cancer free" BUT he is young and otherwise healthy. Which is why they are staying on course for his treatment, they do not want to give up the progress made. They truly do expect him to be cured! We do too!

We are just holding on praying for better days ahead. If he is not able to take meds by mouth I am not sure when we will be able to go home. In talking with the doctor this morning he feels that our expected (& hopeful) course may be to spend the week after his long treatment in the hospital during his next 2 courses of chemo. I am hoping that is ALL we have to spend in the hospital. Of course, we need to get better now so we can go home & rest up for the next tough round.

We have had wonderful nurses! The Lord knows just who to send our way. One special nurse that has unknowingly comforted me in so many ways is Sharon. It takes special people to be able to take care of strangers and do it with genuine compassion & concern BUT she is extra special in that she not only has taken care of Danny but me too. The 10th floor nurses are true angels!

Thanks everyone for your prayers! We are so grateful for each of you & how you have made an impact in our lives!!! We love you!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Change of Address

I think it may be time to change our home address to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. :) We are still at the hospital and really are not sure when we will have the opportunity to go home.

Tuesday and Wednesday have been about the same. Danny is still vomiting for no reason. He has not eaten or really tried to eat and the vomiting continues. They have experimented with his medication some but nothing has really worked. He may get away with not vomiting for a few hours but then he has a really bad attack.

Yesterday in talking with Dr. A we learned that the mass in Danny's chest was about 10 cm. He said it was about the size of a large softball. No wonder he was in so much pain! Good news... it has definitely shrunk! The pain he had in his chest exists no more, Praise the Lord! We know the chemo is doing its job but in the meantime his body is having an extra difficult time tolerating it.

They ran some tests on his gall bladder, pancreas, and that area but all were negative. Good and bad news. I was kinda hoping they would find something that we could point to and know was contributing to the vomiting so that we could address it. But it is still good news he is otherwise healthy & has no issues in that area.

He did have his chemo treatment for the week yesterday. We are certainly not veering off schedule for the chemo. That is the focus and all this sickness is secondary.

The doctor called in the GI specialist for help as well. We had 3 visits today between the intern, the PA and the doctor. The plan for now is to add some Platonics and hope this helps within the next 12 to 18 hours. If not, they may check everything out by sending a scope down to take a look.

We skipped TPN school today as the nurse didnt want to stress us and teach us if it is going to be unnecessary. We are not sure when we will go home and in what condition. Time will tell. Their hope is that the TPN will allow him to maintain his weight. They do not want any more weight loss. He did have to receive a couple of insulin shots last night and this morning because the TPN is going in at a faster rate as of yesterday afternoon and this caused his blood sugar to go to high.

At this point we are just hoping something will break through soon and we will find out what works. If he is unable to take his meds by mouth I am not sure what we will do. I dont know if they will send us home with a home health nurse or what. Someone told me I could administer the meds (that didnt sound right to me) to Danny. We are just not sure.

Thanks to everyone that has been praying for us. We appreciate your concern and the fact that you take time out of your busy schedules to lift us up to the Lord. We know that He is in control and that in His time He will provide mercy through healing. We appreciate all the cards, blog posts, emails, phone calls, visits, meals, and gifts. We are so blessed to have friends & family that care so much!