Nov 15, 2006

Even Sicker, Sandy Update and Scalp Sliding

I had a heck of a time trying to get to sleep last night. The new cough medicine didn’t really do much to stop my cough. All it did was make me woozy with a cough. I went to bed around 11pm but woke up at 1am since my throat felt like it was closing up. I immediately started hacking again. Ii tried to go back to sleep but I was up again at 2am. I decided to sit in the other room for a while to see if my cough would go away. I ended up on the computer for a while and then tried to lay down again at 3am with no luck. Finally, at 4am I thought.. duh! Why not put pillows behind my back and try to sleep propped up a bit? It took me a bit of trial and error, but I finally found a good position because next thing I knew, the alarm was going off to wake up poor Holly. I know I was keeping her up all night. She went to work around 8am and sometime between when she got up and left for work I pulled some of the pillows from behind and went back to sleep. I woke up around 11am with a very sore back and neck and coughing again. I have been coughing all day and I fear that I’m going to have trouble sleeping again tonight. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to have to get up early again (if I’m not already up) to make another doctor appointment so that the doctor can take another guess at what’s going on. I’m tired of coughing, my lungs feel congested and I’m tired. I hope they can get me feeling better soon because tomorrow will be one week that I’ve been sick.

A friend of ours from LA, another Matt, will be in town tomorrow for a meeting downtown. He wants to stop by tomorrow to say hi. His wife, Yoli, and he and their daughter stayed with us for about a week last summer as they visited DC. I hope I’m feeling better – it’ll be nice to catch up for a few hours.

Next, I got another update from Mike and Sandy I wanted to share with you:

Hello all - I wanted to provide an update from today's exciting trip to St. John's Cancer Center… Today went pretty well. In the last update I mentioned that there was a good possibility that Sandy's blood count would be too low for her to get her IV chemo today. That would have meant that she had to get shots for the next three days to build her up enough so she could get the IV chemo on Thursday. Well - Praise the Lord, her blood count was high enough today that she could get the IV chemo. That is really good news that her body is holding up to all the abuse. The bad news is that the blood count was not all that high and it probably needs to improve before next week.

Sandy got two more radiation treatments today and is looking pretty crusty. She continues her two a day radiation through Friday and then is done. For those of you keeping count; that means it is 32 down, 8 to go! Sandy sees the radiology oncologist tomorrow so she may know more, but I don't think anything is going to change at this late stage of the treatment.

The regular oncologist visit next Monday may be more exciting. We really aren't sure what we do next. The oncologist wants to see the radiation results to decide for sure what to do next. Sandy is off the oral chemo this week (the off week in the cycle) and will finish the radiation on Friday, so the oncologist wants to regroup before deciding how much of what and how often starting next week. We will meet with the oncologist on Monday and decide the next course of treatment. Based on the previous conversations, it should be the two chemos that she is on now, but different frequencies and dosages.

Even though things are starting to look better in beating the cancer right now, Sandy could still use all the prayer she can get. Her blood count really needs to rebound a bit this week so the doctor can continue to treat the cancer rather than the blood count. And some of the treatment side effects are starting to kick in. Sandy is having trouble swallowing which is caused by the radiation irritating the esophagus. In addition, the skin on her hands, mouth and lips is very sensitive. Even toothpaste feels like it burns her mouth and lips right now and bending her thumbs is a little sensitive. This is normal from what we are told, but still not pleasant. And her left arm is still a source of pain since the surgery. Once again, normal but not pleasant.

All in all, a day to celebrate the successes and pray for God's guidance and relief for the challenges. Speaking of leaning on God, Sandy and I had a very moving experience on Sunday. The elders of the church, our Spiritual Council, organized a "laying on of hands" for us before services on Sunday. We met in the chapel and the Spiritual Council members along with the Pastors laid hands on Sandy and I, anointed her with oil and prayed for us. There were about a dozen people in all. A real encouragement to us and an example of leaning on each other as the Bible instructs us.

Sandy and I are both looking forward to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. We really need a chance to have some time off work and hopefully away from treatments to spend some "fun" time with family and friends. Matt and Julie are coming in from DC and of course Jessica and Kimberly will be here. I think that is exactly what we need right now.

God bless you all and thank you so much for your continued support. Love, Mike

PS--- Mike covered it all for me. Thank you for your continued prayers & please keep praying. I'm still very tired but at least I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel w/radiation if nothing else. I hope & pray that you & yours are doing well, staying healthy & having fun. Thanks. love, S

I am encouraged by Sandy’s progress. Keep on praying for them, they need it. One last thing – I spoke to my neurosurgeon, Dr. Rosenbaum, today via email (I guess that’s not really talking, eh?) Anyway, I asked him again about the possibility of fixing a problem I am having at the left end of my incision. I keep on getting ingrown hairs that get painful because they closed it up and put skin over more skin where hair is still growing. It’s not pretty. He said that they might be able to fix it in Jan and we might also look at closing the gap where no hair is growing on the incision line. It should be a simple procedure. He said, “I think you could have a better job done… For now - I want you to start holding your scalp and sliding it back and forth across your skull. I know this sounds crazy but if you are able to wiggle the fibers loose and make the whole scalp slide freely we can avoid the prolonged application of a tissue expander.” So, next time you see me, I’ll be sliding my scalp back and forth!
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