Thursday, July 30, 2009

First night of Chemo and morning after......

After all of the pain last night for about 6 hours, she got up and told me to call an ambulance and get her some help. The pain was unbearable in her side and lower back. We ended up at Baptist West around midnight and was there until 4 a.m.

The ER Dr. was very nice and seemed to be knowledgeable. We explained to him past issues my wife has encountered with her stomach and he seemed to think she either has diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, the chemo just triggered the problem and made it much worse than it usually is or simply the chemo itself and side affects from that. The chemo they gave her yesterday was very strong.

We went to radiation today and she slept on the way there and all the way back. I had to wake her up when we got home and she walked straight in to the recliner and is asleep again. She did tell me she was not hurting quite as bad as she had and we thank God for that. She has not eaten anything today and has drank maybe a cup all together. They tell us this is essential to her healing. Please help us pray she will eat and drink as much as possible.

God is giving us grace to carry on. The peace of God that "passeth all understanding" has a whole new meaning. He is wonderful and we love Him.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First Chemo

Wow. How blessed one is who has their health!!!! The things in life I was overlooking, now are becoming sweeter and more of a blessing each day as I see all that is going on with Debbie.

We started out this morning taking radiation at around 9:00 then went over to the chemo side. She went through the procedure very well, even ate a little Chik-fil-A while taking the chemo. We did not finish until 3:45. On the ride home she seemed to be ok (even though she calls my truck a log wagon thinking it rides rough) but as soon as we got home she went to bed and has been extremely nauseous even with all of the medication they have given her for that. They also told us day two and day three would be her sickest days from chemo so please pray they are wrong about that. She has had a low grade temperature which we have to monitor very closely. The Dr. told us if it gets to 100.5 we have to go to the hospital.

Thank you for your prayers and concerns. We are so blessed to have great friends. We love you all.

Wendell, Debbie and family.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Two Down...Thirty One To Go

Day two of radiation: Still no noticeable side effects. Although I have been incredibly tired today and have slept most of the day.
I will have my radiation treatment at 8:30 am tomorrow morning because I am scheduled to start my Chemo at 9:00 am. They say the first chemo day will be a long one, probably at least 6 hours. They will explain everything first, then hydrate me (through the port), then pre-meds, then the first chemo drug, then the second chemo drug. They do not have internet access which is really kind of a bummer but I am behind on my book work so that is probably how I will spend my time....if I'm awake that is...
I really don't know what to expect with the chemo, as far as side effects and when they will begin.
Thank you ahead of time to all those who will be praying for me tomorrow!!! God has truly been good to me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

One Down, Thirty Two to Go

I went today for my first radiation treatment. One down, thirty two to go!!!

I decided to do a "Show And Tell Blog" today!!!

This first picture is of my port placement, that will be used for the chemo. (The plastic tube has nothing to do with the port, it is an oxygen tube). The port is under the long, bumped up, incision. My shoulder still aches some from this procedure.

In preparation for the radiation treatments they made a mask for me, to be used during each treatment. The mask is made from a mesh material with a frame around it. They wet the mesh and then heat it. Then they press the frame down around my head so the mesh molds over my face. As it dries it hardens. The mask is placed over my face and the frame is screwed to the table for each treatment. They want to be precise each time, and to radiate the exact same places each time, thus the mask is used to make sure this happens. (I can't stand to be held down unable to move, so having my head screwed to a table requires my mind going to a "happy place"!!!!) They also put nice fury little cuffs on each wrist with a band connecting them to a board placed under my feet. This is done to pull my shoulders down out of the way of the radiation beams. It all looks and sounds pretty barbaric but there is no pain involved!!!










When this is all over, I will be given the mask as a souvenir!!!! What more could a girl want!!!!


The treatment only took a few minutes. I have no noticeable side effects after this first treatment.

Stephanie went with us today, and used the travel time to prepare for her Bible School Class tonight. I'm not sure why the big eyes?




Here is a picture of my ever faithful driver.




I am doing really well both mentally and physically tonight. Thank you for all your prayers. I know several people and Churches had asked Wendell what time my appointment would be today, so they could pray at that time. Thank you sooooo much!!!! Once again I am so humbled by the concern that has been showed to me!!! I know it is through the prayers people are praying for us, that we get through each day, clothed in God's grace.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Been a while

This is Wendell and it has been a while since I have blogged only because my wife has had so much to say. Today she hasn't felt that well and I knew she had not blogged so I thought I would jot a line or two.

I want to let everyone know how much we appreciate your thoughts and prayers for our family during this time. Without the support of our friends, I am not sure how strong we could be. The encouragement you have given us along with the grace and mercy of God being manifest in our lives, gives us the strength to go another day. We love you all and thank you for everything.

Please pray as we begin our treatments tomorrow at 3:15 p.m.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Port In Place

The port placement went well yesterday, no complications. The worse part of the whole ordeal was not being allowed to drink after sleeping the night before!!! The surgery only took about 30 minutes. I woke up in recovery in some pain. My shoulder was aching, and has been aching since, but as long as I take something for the pain, it is manageable.
Some friends came up and had lunch with Wendell and I. Then we went for the dry run radiation. Wendell dropped me off at the door and went to park. By the time he had parked and started to walk in, I was finished and was walking out!!!!
I start the radiation treatments Monday evening and will have my first chemo treatment Wednesday.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Preparing For Chemo Port & New Hair!!!

We went today for the consultation appointment with the surgeon that is going to put in my chemo port. Although Wendell may strike this pose so anyone looking will think he's praying, he's not!!! If I had videoed instead of the still picture you would hear him snoring!!! He somehow always manages to get in a little nap while waiting:)


I am to be at Baptist West tomorrow morning at 8:00 am, and the surgery, to put the port in, will be at 10:00 am. They will give me the same drug Michael Jackson supposedly took, Diprivan, to put me and keep me asleep during the procedure. It is administered through IV. The Doctor said it is a wonderful drug that causes you to fall asleep in about three minutes of it being started and become fully awake within three minutes of it being stopped. The procedure will only take about 30 minutes. I then have an appointment for my "dry run" radiation. I will begin the actual radiation treatments on Monday and the Chemo on Wednesday.

I have been told that I will loose my hair between the first and fourth chemo treatments, so we went wig shopping today. Although Wendell preferred the blonde Dolly Parton wig, I being the realist, knew I do not have what is needed to pull that one off :0 So I opted for the medium length brunette. Even though I look miserably mad in these pics, I'm not. It was actually quite a humorous experience!!! Because the left side of my face, neck, mouth and chest is numb, my smile is crooked now, so I do not like to record it on film!!! sorry!!!


So what do you think? I was actually having what I felt like was a really unusual good hair day today when we left the house but after trying on the different wig styles it was a disaster, so I wore the wig home. The sales lady suggest that you wear them before you loose your hair, to get use to the feel. It really wasn't that bad. Not too hot, like I would have thought. We stopped at Sam's and although I never felt as if the wig had shifted I was a little self conscious imaging it turning sideways or something and me not realizing it!!! But no mishaps to record! Thankfully my hair stayed positioned correctly on my head!!!
Just for the record, before the wig trials today, I was able to mark TGI Fridays off my list!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We Are Not Alone

I am writing this morning with somewhat of a heavy heart. Not for my own circumstance, because I am doing well. I told my sisters yesterday that I am feeling good and it is easy to stay upbeat when you are feeling well. The reason for my heavy heart is because I have friends and relatives who are also facing devastating physical challenges as well. As I know so many have prayed, cried and felt for me, I, in turn, are crying, praying and feeling for my friends and family members. It is some how harder sometimes to watch those you love experience things, than it is to experience them yourself. So I just want to let them know...Mrs. Adkisson, Mrs. Rose, Sue, Bonnie, Martha...I love you and you are in my thoughts and prayers. I know we all have the same wonderful savior who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. We are not alone.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Punky!!!!

Today is Punky's Birthday. She and Kiah are at a camp meeting in Valdosta, Georgia and will not return home till Friday evening.
HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY PUNKY!!!!!!



I hope you have had a great day!!! I missssssssssss you bunches:(
LOVE YOU BUNCHES & BUNCHES MORE,
MOM

Monday, July 20, 2009

Radiation And Three Months Of Chemo

We saw the chemo doctor last Friday. He explained that because the cancer had already spread from my palette to my lymph nodes, there are definitely cancer cells travelling through my body. The radiation is targeted to kill the cancer cells in the specific areas it is aimed at, in my face and neck area. The chemo will travel through my body to hopefully get those travelling cancer cells before they settle in other places...lungs, liver...bones. I will be given a combination of two different chemotherapy drugs. These drugs will be administered once a week, starting during the same time I start the radiation treatments. I will be taking 33 radiation treatments, once a day, five days a week, for six and a half weeks. I will take the chemo, one day a week, (it will take 1 1/2 hours to administer the drugs each time), for three months. He said I will loose my hair by the fourth treatment. He also guaranteed I will get to the point where the PEG feeding tube will become unavoidable:( The PEG tube has been one of my biggest fears until... I had a visit from the sheriff of Morgan county, whom I had not previously met but Wendell knew. He said he had felt compelled to come and visit me, so he did last Friday morning. I found his visit to be a tremendous blessing. He battled tonsil cancer three years ago and was able to relate his experience with the treatments and things to me. He said the PEG tube was not bad at all, thus easing some of my fears.

I have heard other head and neck cancer patients who were unable, because of the severe side effects, to complete their allotted number of radiation treatments, who were not receiving chemo along with it. The radiation doctor has told me that it will do no good unless I finish the treatments. He said the last few treatments are the most important. My biggest fear is not being able to tolerate the allotted number of treatments. Because I am soooo stubborn, I don't ever give up on anything I start. My fear lies in the fact that I know if I give up, before completing my treatments, that will mean they are going to be more horrific than I can imagine!!! Does that make sense?

Although I have heard "Bald is Beautiful", I don't think the author of those words had me in mind when he uttered them!!! With all of our appointments and running from here to there I hadn't even began to think on preparing for the "Kojak" look. But as usual, I didn't have to search for help, it just kind of fell in my lap!!!! It's amazing how the Lord works. Our good friend Bryon was already working on this one for me. THANKS, Bryon!!! Bryon had already spoke to a friend of his who helps women with finding and styling wigs. Wendell and I met with her today.
She was very kind and had a lot of helpful information for me on the best kinds, lengths. etc...
She will be helping me in this process. She also recommended that I buy some scarves and turbans to wear during the times I do not want to wear the wig. Anyone know of any good turban stores?:)

I had been under the impression that the appointment I am scheduled for on Thursday morning, with a surgeon, was to have my chemo port put in. But I found out today that it is just a consult appointment and the appointment for the port will be made after this appointment. Then I have an appointment at 3:15 Friday evening to have my "dry run" for the radiation treatments. The "dry run" will be just to make sure they have all the correct mappings for my treatments and to make any necessary adjustments. I will not actually receive any radiation that day. My actual treatments begin next Monday.

And for all those that are wondering..... I am still working dilligently on eating everything in sight, as recommended, before I loose my taste buds!!! We can now mark Olive Garden, Mangia's Pizza, Arby's, and steak off my list of things to devour!!!! Also thanks to the teenage girls Sunday school class I have a good start on white chocolate Reeses'!!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"But If Not..."

This will probably be a long, "theraputic", post for me today, so bear with me:) I will get to what we heard today, at the radiology oncologists' appointment, in a few minutes. First I would like to write about something that has been on my heart.
I was able to go to our revival two nights last week. On one of the nights the preacher was speaking on my favorite story in the bible, The Firery Furnace. Most everyone will know this story but in case you don't I will just give a brief version. The king, Nebuchadnezzar, had made a decree that at the sound of certain musical instruments that everyone was to bow down and worship his golden image. His decree stated that who ever did not fall down and worship this image would be cast into a firey furnace. Three jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship this image. The king had these men brought to him, he repeated his decree to them and told them if they did not comply they would be cast into the firey furnace. He then asked them "and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" To which they replied "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." So the king got mad, ordered these three men bound, the furnace heated seven times hotter than normal, and these men to be thrown in. But when he looked in there were four men in the fire, the form of the fourth was like the son of God, and they were walking around unharmed.
I woke up early this morning, as usual, praying for two friends of ours who our going through physical trials themselves. I couldn't go back to sleep and began thinking on these things. I was thinking about how I desire to have this faith and this attitude. I KNOW my God is able to deliver me out of this trial if he so chooses, but I kept hearing that phrase," But if not"!!! I so desire the faith and attitude that if my God chooses to not deliver me, I will still always honor, praise, and worship Him. Please help me to pray for this, not only for myself but for my family as well. It is probably harder on my family worrying about me, than it is on me. The greatest tradgedy that could come of this is not anything I could experience physically, but would be for anyone of us to become bitter. I know my God is in control and His ways are higher than ours. I know my God will see me through.
I thought about just getting up and writing my thoughts down at that time, but... I knew I had this appointment today and afterwards we were going to take the girls shopping at the mall, something I haven't felt like doing in a very long time. I wanted us to be able to have a good day together, I knew if I got up at 5 am I would be wore out all day, so I stayed in bed and eventually fell back to sleep.

Then came my appointment. The girls accompanied us to what we assumed would be a fairly routine appointment. But what we heard, once again was not what we wanted or expected to hear. Dr. Boppanna said I would need 33 radiation treatments. Because the cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes, I will also need chemotherapy. I asked if this would be 'low dose" and he didn't seem to think so. We have an appointment with the chemo doctor tomorrow at 1:00 to find out exactly what I will need. Dr. Boppanna said that radiation has the worse side effects for head and neck and brain tumor patients. He told me this will get pretty bad and will not be easy. He told me to eat everything and anything I love in the next two weeks because I will be losing my since of taste, maybe permanently. He said, because of the side effects... sore throat, burns, blisters, etc, if I loose 15% of my weight, I will have to have a PEG feeding tube. (Please,please, help us pray that I can at least eat enough to maintain my weight!) Then I asked him "the question", What are my chances of being cured if I do all this? To which he replied, I have a 60%-70% chance of making it five years. Without treatment I don't have a chance, he said. Not exactly what I wanted to hear:) especially with the girls sitting there. He said the form of cancer I have is extremely rare and there is not alot of data on it.
So, here we are tonight. We still covet your prayers for our family. I know my God is in control. His grace will be sufficient.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kiah's Big Day




Today's a big day for Kiah!!! She received her Driver's Permit today!!!! Wow, do I feel old!!! Kiah is the baby. It brought back memories of when my first child, Josh, got his driver's permit. Every time I would even look as if I were putting on my shoes to go somewhere, by the time I got outside, there he would be, sitting in the driver's seat, eagerly waiting to drive me to my next nervous breakdown!!!!
I have an appointment with the Radiology Oncologist tomorrow afternoon. I guess I will know more of what treatments I will be needing after this appointment.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What We Found Out

We left for Nashville at 11:00 this morning. My appointment wasn't until 2:00ct, but we wanted to stop and have lunch in Cookville at "Cheddars", a restaurant we went to on the night before my last surgery. They have the best onion ring appetizers. I have been dreaming of them!!!!
I have to admit, my mood was pretty somber this morning. I was really dreading this trip, afraid of receiving news I did not want to hear. I took along my lap top and my bookwork, and stayed busy during the one and one half hour wait after signing in, before being called back. It did help keep my mind off of things and the time passed fairly quickly. Wendell was busy passed out in a recliner in the waiting room!!!!
Dr. Netterville is one of the most kind, caring, compassionate men I have ever met. He seems to genuinely care about his patients. So what did we find out?.....
They removed 26 lymph nodes, of which three were positive for cancer. I had read on the Internet that if a certain nerve is removed, I don't remember the name of the nerve and am too tired to look it up now :),the numbness will be permanent. Dr. Netterville said he did have to remove that nerve. I asked if my numbness will be permanent and he said one of two things will happen, either the surrounding nerves will fill in and the numbness will go away or the numbness will be permanent and I will learn to ignore it. There's no way of knowing which will happen. I have a hard time imagining being able to ignore it, but I guess with time I will eventually get use to it. He said everything from my surgery was healing wonderfully. The next step is to go back to the radiology oncologist and get started with the radiation. He said it would be up to the oncologist whether or not to administer chemotherapy along with the radiation. Dr. Netterville said chemo sometimes helps the cancer cells to be more successible to the radiation.
The nurse stayed in the room after Dr. Netterville left to kind of give me a heads up on what to expect with the radiation. She said I would not fully recover from the effects of it for at least a year after completing the treatments. She said if in nine months I still have no energy and feel bad, to not be surprised, it will be normal. Wow, my normal has changed so much over the last few months. But I am thankful! No "new" bad news today. I am blessed!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Back To Vanderbilt

We travel back to Nashville to Vanderbilt tomorrow, for my post op. visit. My appointment is at 2:00ct which makes it 3:00 our time. I dread this trip for several reasons. First of all, patience is a virtue that clearly I do not possess! We have always had to wait close to two hours past our appointment time before seeing the doctor. Also, every time we go, we expect to hear one thing and then are blindsided with something we didn't expect to hear. This makes me a little nervous about tomorrows appointment. Please help us pray the Lord's will be done and that He will give us direction and peace over any decisions we may be faced with. This journey, at times has not been an easy one, but I know it is one the Lord has allowed to come into our lives. I know there is a purpose. Once again I covet your prayers. Once again I am standing on His promise... His Grace Will Be Sufficient.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A New Sensation

I have taken one form or another of pain meds daily since my surgery. The left side of my face and mouth is hard and numb. I have pretty much been deaf in my left ear since surgery, due to the swelling and I assume the missing lymph nodes. I sleep part of the night in bed and then move to my recliner between 4 & 6 am. Last night I took a tylenol pm hoping to get a good nights sleep. My bottom jaw was still hurting so I got back up and took a little pain medication. When I returned to bed Wendell wanted to know exactly what all I had taken in case he needed to inform the medical team of what I had overdosed on!!! hee hee:). Sometimes I do feel like a walking pharmacy!!!
I woke this morning to a new sensation. It took me a few minutes to figure out what was different. Then it hit me... My left ear is not numb!!!! WOW!!! This feels so much better!!! Now I am just a little nervous, as the morning wears on, hoping that the numbness won't return!!! I am elated!!! This is the first bit of progress I feel I have made in weeks!!! Thanks for praying for me!!! God Is Good!!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Still More Details

Once they were finished dismantling me, they said that they wanted me to start trying to swallowing liquids. At first I was excited over this endeavor. Until….
The first thing they brought me was stool softening medication in a small medicine cup. Well, unknown to me, this medicine had a very strong taste. One little sip was all it took!!! It went down the wrong way and I aspirated. I thought I was going to choke to death!!! The nurses just kept standing there looking at me and at my monitors as I choked. Finally I got enough air in to ask for oxygen. I was amazed that I had to ask for something I felt they should have administered immediately!!! The head nurse continued to stand there staring at me and the monitors while thankfully the other nurse ran to set up the oxygen for me. I found out afterwards that my oxygen rate had dropped substantially. This experience was my most frightening one. It took me hours to recover to the point I had started at. My heart rate and blood pressure also rose dramatically. After this I was very afraid to try to drink anything else. It was if I had to learn to swallow for the first time ever. I had to figure out how to direct liquids down my swollen, numb throat!!!
The next day, Tuesday, therapists came in to try and help me. I felt the feeding tube was hindering me from being able to swallow. I felt like if the feeding tube was removed I would be able to swallow enough to sustain myself. They agreed that the feeding tube could very well be hindering my ability to swallow but the dilemma was….If they removed the feeding tube and I still couldn’t swallow, it would have to be reinserted for me to go home. Reinsertion while awake is something they assured me I would not wish to experience. So what to do? I continued to try and swallow, without much success, Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday night I prayed continually and asked the Lord to help give the Doctors wisdom in making the decision of whether to remove it or not. I desperately wanted it out, I did not want to come home with it. I asked the Lord to please make his will in this decision known clearly to me and the doctors. As bad as I wanted it out, I did not want to fail at swallowing and have it reinserted. The next morning, as soon as one of the doctors walked in, the first thing he said was, “Dr. Netterville feels as if we can remove the feeding tube today”. I praised the Lord for his clarity!!! I knew I would be able to swallow, the Lord had clearly answered my prayer. I still say, praise the Lord for His goodness!!! The removal of the feeding tube was quick and painless. Slowly that day I began to be able to take very small sips of tea and sprite.

Later that day they informed me that I could go home. I was excited. It took several hours to get everything in order for my discharge. I was scared to death of leaving my suction machine behind. It was the only way I had been able to clear my throat of mucus when it would build up and begin to choke me. Then they informed me that they were having one delivered for home use and it would be there before I was discharged. You can only imagine my relief!!! The suction machine had an adapter for use in the truck. I used it many times on the two and a half hour drive home that night, and frequently for the next five or six days. I know I could not have survived without it. Once my trach hole healed fairly well, I stopped choking and no longer needed the suction machine.

After arriving home, we spent two nights at home and then left for our annual Townsend camping trip. I stayed in the camper and slept for most of this trip not feeling very well. That Friday I woke up to find brown liquid oozing from the incision across my neck. We knew it was infection. It had a bad odor. Wendell called Dr.Netterville’s office and they informed us that it probably wasn’t a bad thing. They told me to keep taking my antibiotics and I should be fine. They were right. It eventually drained and even began to feel a bit better. We came back home the next Saturday after a week of camping.

Friday, July 3, 2009

More From My Perspective

After being moved to a room on the surgical step-down floor, my level of care was excellent for the most part.

I found out that one of the side effects of surgery is high blood sugar. They would check my levels at least three times a day and it was normally high so it would require that I have an injection of insulin each time. The insulin shots were quick and practically pain free. I was also given a shot of heparin at least twice a day to diminish the chance of blood clots. The heparin shots burned like fire. After ten days I began to feel like a human pin cushion. My veins are not very IV worthy so after a few days this too began to be a problem. They can only leave an IV in place for four days and then they have to remove it and administer another one. At one point they had to call and ask for someone from the trauma unit to come up and put in a new IV for me, after the “best” on the floor had tried to no avail. Even the trauma girls had to try twice before getting one in.

I was not allowed to have anything to drink or even the normal ice chip for seven days after surgery. At one point, on the fourth day, I would have sold a kidney for a drop of water or a single ice chip!!! It made me think of the rich man lifting up his eyes in Hell and begging for a drop of water. Boy, those verses began to have a whole new meaning and understanding for me!! Instead they would give me a pre-packaged little sponge to swab my mouth with. They began to feed me through the feeding tube after three or four days. After about an hour or so I would begin to feel very full and ill feeling. They would shut it off but would constantly ask if they could turn it back on, insisting that it was running very slowly. They said the protein in it would be very beneficial in my healing process.

I had a suction machine that I would have to use often to suction my mouth and throat with, to keep from choking on the mucus. On several occasions, even using the suction machine, I would choke to the point where I was unsure if I would make it or not. There were times I would have difficulty clearing my throat of the mucus and would feel as if I was going to choke to death. During these episodes my heart rate would increase dramatically. It was a very frightening feeling, one I hope to never experience again.

Six days after surgery, on Monday, the doctors came in, in their usual pack and began dismantling me:). One began taking the cast off of my arm, one took out the trach, and one began removing the drainage tubes. They replaced the cast on my arm with a smaller version but still positioned it tilted back. They were in and out like lightening. It was a huge relief to get the trach out. My arm was quite a shock to see!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Just A Thought

I have been struggling somewhat mentally for the last week or so. I still know God is in control, I still desire His will in my life. His grace has been sufficient. But I have not felt like I have made any progress in recuperating in weeks. I have a hard knot under my chin, the left side of my face is numb and hard from the middle of my lips over which is sooo uncomfortable. It is hard to get relief from this even with the pain meds. My bottom jaw is pretty much in constant pain. And I recently found out the removal of lymph nodes is probably what’s causing the numbness. It may go away in a month, a year, five years, or never, it may be a permanent side effect. That is hard to swallow at this point. No pun intended:)
I feel more deformed after this reconstruction surgery than I did before it. I know God has allowed for this cancer to come into my life. I don’t ask why. I am not bitter. But I do miss having my good health…feeling well when I wake up…having energy to function during the day…feeling like getting out with my family…

I was reading another blog, I follow, today. It is written by the wife of an oral cancer victim. She was speaking about a sermon she had heard this week where the pastor said that “God allows us to be broken so He can rebuild us in His image”. Boy, that hit home with me!! Oh how I pray that this journey will not be in vain, that I will have my eyes open to what He wills for me to learn. How I desire to be a vessel for His use. How I desire to be rebuilt!
Once again His grace has been sufficient!!!
Bless The Lord Oh My Soul, And All That Is Within Me, Bless His Holy Name!!!!

My ICU "Horror Movie" Feeling

One day after surgery they removed the catheter. To be honest it was not painful while it was with me and the removal was not painful either.

When you think of being in ICU you think of having constant nursing attention and care, being monitored closely. Well my experience was quite different.. During the day Wendell was with me constantly and I received the best of care, but at night, when he had to leave, it was a completely different story.

About an hour or so after I woke up in ICU they brought another man in the room with me. He, I know, was in worse condition than myself, and my heart hurt for him over the next several days. I realized because of his condition he needed pretty much constant care. With only one nurse for the both of us, and the curtain pulled between us, to separate us, I was pretty much left on my own for most of the night time hours while the nurse stayed at his bedside. I was unable to talk because of the trach. When my pain meds would wear off I would lay for what seemed like hours in pain and no way to get the nurses attention. I couldn’t speak because of the trach. When she would appear at the end of his bed where I could see her I would try waving my arm to get her attention but she never looked up. I had a suction tube, used to suction my mouth and throat, (to keep from choking on the mucus), that I would try to bang on the bed rail, but the noise it produced was less than the noise from the machines in the room, so it was useless. There were times I felt like I was in a horror movie. I would lay there in pain or needing to use the bathroom, unable to get up or even move very much, helpless to call for assistance. On my last night in ICU, after lying in pain for hours, I was finally able to get her attention. I began writing on my note pad telling her I had tried to get her attention for hours… he needed his own nurse…I needed help and attention too that I was not receiving…. please just get me a button or something to push to get her attention when I need help… To this she began insisting she was checking on me every few minutes and there were no call buttons in ICU. Feeling so helpless, I gave up trying to reason with her and just begged for my pain meds. She gave them to me and then came back a little while later to tell me how much she cared for me and would do anything for me… It was so weird..I have honestly thought by watching her actions and hearing her she had some kind of mental disorder. I felt like I was in a sequel to the movie “Misery”!!! The next morning a nurse from another room came in and asked my dayshift nurse if our cable was working in our room. My nurse replied that she didn’t know because we had not turned the TV’s on but she was welcome to check. The nurse came over to my bedside and asked where my button was. I shrugged and she found it behind my bed. After checking the cable she hooked my call button onto my pillow….The same button the night shift nurse said didn’t exist!!!!

On another occasion…. I began having difficulty breathing. It seemed like all I could do to get enough oxygen to breath. I was struggling. I felt like I was burning up, I was sweating profusely. I told this nurse I felt like I couldn’t breathe. She looked at the monitors and said my oxygen level numbers were good and I was just excited!!! I tried on numerous occasions over the next three hours to convince her that I couldn’t breathe well and she kept insisting it was anxiety!!!! Finally one of my doctors came in for his nightly visit, he asked me what was wrong. I told him I felt like I couldn’t breathe. He immediately reached over and pulled the canula out of my trach. It had a big lump of something in it, completely clogging it!!! He said “no wonder’! He told me the only oxygen I had been getting was through my nose through the tiny space the trach was not filling. I told him I had been that way for hours. He left the room, I assumed to tell the nurse who had left the room. When she returned later she tried her best to accommodate me in every way!!!

Even though the night shift nurse spent most of the night at the other man’s bedside, the things I heard her say to him sent shivers down my spine.

After the fourth night in ICU I told Wendell that he had to get me out of there!! I was not going to spend another night in there!!! He got me a room later that day.