Thursday, September 25, 2008

Toad's Story

****Toad is my husband's nickname. So, that's probably the only way you'll ever hear me refer to him. This is a repost from my xanga blog and Those who know the story may want to skip to the last five paragraphs. Those who don't, read on ~

Everyone has a story. This one happens to be about my husband. In the summer of 2006 he began getting stomach pains. He had a physical for his CDL/Hazmat license. As a trucker this gets done on a regular basis since they have to carry a physical card with them. During that physical, he was diagnosed with an umbilical hernia. So, ok, he could live with that. No biggie.
As the summer went on the pain began increasing. It was getting harder and harder to tolerate it. He thought that the hernia was strangling ( meaning twisting ) So on August 6, 2006 we headed to the emergency room. They did the regular screenings and asked if he knew he had a hernia. ( ok so that's why we were there LOL) The doctor felt around his abdomen and decided he wanted to do a CT Scan just to be sure.
The test results came back and we heard " I've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is, you don't have a hernia. The bad news, it's a mass pushing your navel out ." His CEA test came back at over 12,000.
We sat in silence for what seemd like an eternity and then my husband began putting his clothes on. The doctor asked what he was doing and he said "going home" The doctor said" No, you're going upstairs"
That was the start of life as we know it for the past 2 years. It's amazing how something simple can totally change into something horrific within seconds.
There were 2 major surgeries. In the first, the omentum & part of the large intestine were removed. His liver was shaved and the diaphgram was also cleaned up. The surgeon said there were several "BB" sized polyps all through his abdomen. 2 liters of cancerous fluid was drained away. This op took over 6 hours. Everything was healing up nicely. Then suddenly an infection developed. The incision had 4 small openings. They began to open more and more. Then it began to tunnel.
Toad's case was taken before a cancer conference. The Chief Oncologist Surgeon at another hospital asked to take charge of his case. So phone calls were made and suddenly he was going into surgery for the second time.
His gallbladder & part of the small intestine were removed as well as more of the BB's. The cancer had attached itself to the fresh incision of the previous surgery. That's why it never fully healed and had opened so grossly. They took a 4 inch section of skin/tissue from the center of his tummy. He no longer has that bellybutton that started it all. They also did an internal chemo flush. This operation took 9 hours. There remain two masses that they couldn't get. His CEA had come down to 44
Off to chemo we go. For the first year it worked great. Then,his regular home health nurse went on sick leave and they bounced us around from nurse to nurse. His first port became infected. While in the hospital to remove it, he developed a staff infection in his blood. At this same time our son was enlisting. So, Toad told the doctor he wanted out of the hospital to see our son off to boot camp. The doctor relented but made sure we knew that if Toad left the hospital the staff infection could kill him. Well, that started things moving in the wrong direction.
The port was removed and a picline was placed. Chemo happened and for a couple of weeks things started looking up. A blood clot developed at the site and suddenly things were looking pretty crappy so the military branch our son was enlisting in sent him home. I had received a phone call from the base commander telling me that in 6 months when things reached their culmination at home, they wanted our son to re- enlist as he would make a fine addition to his squad.-- Our son was coming home and that is all that mattered to Toad. He needed to have a little less stress in his life at that moment in time. We all did. What "I " heard during that phone conversation was...once your husband is dead, send your son back to us.~ I said and still say to this day "I think not!"
Back to chemo.... but the CEA was well over 900 by then.The picline had since been replaced by a new port. Chemo had started up-- then suddenly, thinking he was wiping away sweat, hubby looked down at his chest and realized the wound at the port site had re-opened. By the time he got home, I could actually look into his chest and see the wires/ tubes from the port. No, you aren't suppsed to see anything as it is totally embedded into the chest. Off to the hospital we go once more.
That's the funny thing about chemo. It won't let things heal properly. DUH!! It was way too soon to start the chemo.
Ok so no chemo until the proper amount of healing happened. Things move along swimmingly. No nasty side effects to amount to anything. He's still strong and has all his hair. The worst thing was having to wear the pump every other week for 3 days at a time.
1 1/2 years have gone by since the beginning. Christmas rolls around and a new CT scan is done. At the first of the year 2008 we get the news that it's spread to his lungs. It's now necessary to switch up the chemo.
It's the chemo from hell! Things go from bad to worse in days. He's been in the hospital 4 times~ each for at least a week due to the side effects. They are severe. He's so weak he can barely walk 50 feet without having to stop and rest. He'd lost 70lbs since Jan. 1~ 30 of which had been in July alone. So, the choice has been made to take a chemo break. His body couldn't recover from the chemo, how was it going to have the ability to fight the cancer if the chemo was killing him faster?
In August we spent the 7 days in the hospital again. His white count had gone down to .08 and his immune system was at critical. They put him in Isotonic Isolation until his white count improved. Neupogen shots each and every day... He calls them "Nitrogen Shots" because they are cold and they burn. His white count improved and he was removed from isolation after 3 days. ~~ He had recovered and was feeling great. But, soon he was just as bad as he was before he went in. Seems things were only helping as long as he is hooked to the IV. His count was 9.7 when we left the hospital that time.

That's where things stood as of August 15th 2008.

Today is September 25th, 2008. Things have gotten better. His strength is slowly returning along with his hair. I tease him about being "Samson" giggle. He hasn't been back in the hospital since they took him off the chemo. His weight has stabalized and he's happy with it. There are still bad days, but they don't last as long as they used to and are getting fewer and farther between.

It's a long road ahead of us..... but I'll be there right beside him every step of the way.

Please keep him in your prayers that God simply dissolves the cancer and his body regains the strength he needs to live life as it should be lived. I'll post updates every now and again as time permits.......


SparkieL said...

A little side note:

Please remember that everyone's story is different. What my husband has experienced isn't the same thing you or your loved one will. His cancer was severe. His battle will be a long one. He's had setbacks that others will never have. Don't let this story frighten you. Let it encourage you that no matter what, when things go wrong, they will get better! This man amazes me each and every day. He said we will just take it a day at a time. No sense worrying about tomorrow. It's going to be better anyway.

So, if you are just beginning your journey, or if you have been battling for a while, know you are not alone. The exact path you are taking is your own unique journey. But, there others who's paths will intersect with yours. Keep a positive attitude and the trip won't be so rough.

Lorri said...

sparkiel...I saw you are my first official blog follower. After reading your husband's story, I see why! Funny how cancer can make strangers friends. Thanks for sharing your journey too. I will remember you and your family in prayer. With love, Lorri