Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
Troy is still improving little by little. We both thought he would be further along in his recovery by now, but the pain has been lingering longer and more severely than we anticipated. It's a double edged sword. He needs to get up and move around, but it hurts to do so. The nights are difficult too. He is making progress though.
I was just thinking this morning about how we haven't had much time to let it sink in but - Troy is free of cancer! What a wonderful feeling. It seems like we have been living in a sort of dream world during his recovery from surgery. First in the hospital and now at home. Maybe it will sink in more as we resume our daily lives and get back to work and sailing and enjoying life. We are looking forward to a great summer on the water.
They are dead; but they live in each Patriot's breast,And their names are engraven on honor's bright crest.~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! ~Maya Angelou
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
He has been eating pretty well, so that is encouraging. He is a little disappointed that his recovery isn't going faster. The doctors said to give it about 2 months for recovery, but I think he secretly thought that he would be ready to go in a couple of weeks. He is amazed at how much his energy is zapped just to make it downstairs and walk out into his shop.
We are just trying to stay focused on the positive outcome that we know is right within our reach. Just remember -
Life is good. ~Jake
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Troy isn't feeling very well this evening, but it's been a long day for him. He's dealing with quite a bit of pain and his stomach is upset. Hopefully he will get a good night of rest in his own bed and will feel better in the morning.
I am happy to report that Troy received his Coast Guard Certificate while we were in the hospital. Now I must refer to him as Cap'n Troy at all times!
There's no place like home! ~Dorothy (Judy Garland) in The Wizard of Oz
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
His doctors are amazed at how well his labs look and he is doing great. He still has quite a bit of pain, but I think that is to be expected. One doctor commented today that Troy is making them look good! It really feels great to hear and see how impressed the doctors and nurses are with his progress.
We are also hoping to get his pathology results back on the lymph nodes, but I can't imagine anything other than good news.
And every word I didn’t say that caught up in some busy day
And every dance on the kitchen floor we didn’t dance before
And every sunset that we’ll miss I’ll wrap them all up in a kiss
And pick you up in all of this when I sail away - Train, My Private Nation
Saturday, May 19, 2007
They removed him from the IV fluids which resulted in getting rid of one of those big boxes on his IV pole. It didn't really get rid of any lines connected to him, but it just seems better to have one less thing to deal with. They also removed him from the oxygen today. That's another tube gone - yippee! Today's struggles are not talking and dealing with the catheter. He can't wait to get rid of that particular tube - for obvious reasons.
Troy decided that he felt good enough to get up and shave and have a quick sponge bath. It was his first time in the bathroom so that was an accomplishment. He shaved and washed up and still felt so good that we gathered up all the apparatuses (or would it be apparati? - no, according to spell check it would be apparatuses) and took a walk around the halls. We did the same thing again around 9:00 am. Just look at the difference a few days has made.
Everyone is very pleased with Troy's progress. He is doing great and his surgeon expects the Barium Swallow Test on Monday to go well. I sure hope so because that is the target for removing the chest tube, it's also when he will start to be able to swallow some liquids. It will stay in place until they are certain that there is no leak in the anastomosis (that's where they sew the stomach to the throat).
It's really interesting how many doctors are involved in Troy's care. There's the surgeon, oncologist, internist, otoloaryngolist (for his vocal chord), anestiologist (in charge of his pain management). The nurses and physician's assistants have been great as well. I can't say it enough - I'm so glad we chose to get Troy's treatment here at Methodist Hospital. What a great organization. I'm amazed that they can operate as smoothly as they do.
Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death. ~Author Unknown
Friday, May 18, 2007
According to what we have been told, his voice will sound hoarse and probably somewhat different that his normal voice for about 6 months. After that, the hope is that the paralyzed flap will heal and work properly again. There is a chance that it won't and his voice will always be different, but the doctors do expect it to correct within the next 6 months. Troy says he hopes he ends up with Kris Kristopherson's speaking voice, but not his singing voice!
He's still doing great. The doctors are all very pleased with his progress. They had planned to remove his chest tube today but the doctor that did the procedure this morning did not want it removed prior to his work because there is always a chance that it will need to be re-inserted and they didn't want to take a chance on that happening during the procedure. We will find out later what the plans are for the chest tube. As uncomfortable as it is, Troy would rather them leave it alone for now. He says he's been through enough for one day!
Still nothing from pathology. Looks like we won't get those results until Monday.
I am so happy with Troy's progress. Seeing how well he has handled the surgery has encouraged me. I realize that he still has a long hard recovery ahead of him, but this surgery was definitely a major milestone in his recovery. I thought I knew how much I loved him until we had to face this terrible disease called cancer. It has definitely forced me to look at our lives and realize that my hopes and dreams are entwined with his. I can't imagine a life without him in it. Hopefully God will grant us lots of years together and many adventures yet to come! (OK - enough of the sappy stuff... well, maybe just one more sappy quote)!
If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I. ~Michel de Montaigne
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Dr. Jac (oncologist) came in shortly after Dr. Ramchandani. Dr Jac says that Troy's bloodwork came back slightly anemic, but he is not concerned about it at this time. He just want to "keep an eye on it". He was also pleased with Troy's progress.
We are still waiting for the pathology reports on the lymph nodes that were removed during surgery and we are a little anxious about that. Hopefully we will get them back today or tomorrow.
Troy will have the procedure done on his vocal chord tomorrow. We have just been informed that he will probably be on total voice rest for 24-48 hours. This should be interesting! I guess he better get his writing hand warmed up because I don't think we can learn enough sign language before tomorrow!
Also, we think the chest tube will be removed tomorrow. That will be major progress as it is a rather large tube that goes straight into his side and is draining some yucky fluids out of him. Shortly after that the epidural will be removed. We are not looking forward to that because Troy can push this nifty little button every 15 minutes and get pain medication directly through the epidural. We are worried that his pain will increase when they remove the epidural, of course the staff are really dedicated to controlling his pain so I am sure that they have a plan in mind. The plus side of losing the epidural is that he will also lose the foley (catheter). He is definitely looking forward to losing that one!
Just take a look at his IV pole! They finally consolidated everythink onto one pole. Other than this pole with two plugs in the wall and four different tubes connected to Troy in one way or another, he is also connected to the foley and the chest tube. It's just amazing to me.
We felt really good after our visit with Dr. Ramchandani. He has done an excellent job and we were glad to hear him say that he is pleased with Troy's progress. Even though he is in pain and it's difficult to move because of the pain, the tubes and wires and apparatuses that are attached to him and the coughing spells, he is doing so well. We are hearing good things about his prognosis and that is such a relief.
I just want to say that the hospital and staff here at Methodist have done a wonderful job. This is truly a top notch organization. One of Troy's nurses told me that The Methodist Hospital ranks #9 in the Fortune 100 best companies to work for in the nation. This is definitely reflected in the care and service that we have received on each stay that Troy has had. This is his 4th hospital stay at Methodist.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:11-12 NLT
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The afternoon was much better than the morning. Troy walked 370 feet today. He has so many tubes and wires attached that he had to take his entire entourage with him! Both of the nurses behind him were pushing IV poles, plus there are various other apparatuses hanging from the cart that he is using for support.
My girls! Tori and Shawn (I can't believe how grown up they are now!)
Danny (my dad), Kenny (my uncle) and our friends - Mary and Larry, Chef Greg, Robert, Pat, Richard, Bill, Dave. It meant so much to me that you were all there. I know that we had many many more friends and relatives that were there in spirit and that were praying for us all day long. It's really a wonderful feeling to see first hand how many people have touched our lives and it means so much to us.
A true friend reaches for your hand and touches your heart. ~Author Unknown
There are big ships and small ships. But the best ship of all is friendship. ~Author Unknown
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
We just saw an ENT doc because there was some temporary damage to Troy's left vocal chord during the surgery. As a result he can only talk in a whisper. They want to correct it surgically on Friday. It will be a relatively (compared to what he has been through) minor procedure, but it will mean anesthesia and surgery so that they can inject something into his vocal chord. The doc was confident that this is a temporary and easily corrected problem. There is a chance that this will change his voice so obviously we are a little anxious about that.
This evening his doctors all consulted each other and decided to insert a device called a Vena Cava Filter into his femoral vein (the large vein in the groin area). This will prevent the blood clot that they found from dislodging and going into his lungs, which could be fatal. The procedure was fairly simple but all the moving around had Troy feeling kinda rotten this evening. The other positive is that he won't have to give himself those blood thinner shots in his stomach. We really think that those shots are what have had him feeling so bad over the last week and a half.
We have been counting each tube, line or IV that is attached and there are at least 8 of them coming out of everywhere. Even out of places that didn't have holes for tubes and lines before yesterday! They have begun the slow process of removing them one by one, depending on the function of each one. There were IVs in each arm this morning - those are now gone. The only IV is the central line in his chest. He also got rid of the horrible NG tube that was draining his stomach through his nose. That one was a real pain (literally!). So - three down. The catheter is really bugging him, but they won't remove that one until they remove the epidural. The epidural is one of the things that is keeping him from being in excruciating pain. He doesn't like the catheter, but it's a trade off that he's willing to make at the moment!
It's been an exhausting couple of days, so I think I better get this posted and try to get some sleep! ----- Goodnight!
I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. ~Author Unknown
Troy says to tell everyone hello and thanks for the thoughts and prayers!
As I was standing in the lunch line at the cafeteria this afternoon I noticed that Dr. Jac (Troy's oncologist) was right behind me. He had already seen Troy this morning so we had a good visit as we waited. He is pleased that Troy has handled the surgery so well this far. He wants to see the pathology reports as that will give us more information regarding the likelihood of a recurrence of the cancer. He did say that he felt good about the amount of shrinkage that was seen in the tumor after the chemo and radiation. He said that is a good sign that we are less likely to see recurrence. I guess we will keep praying and see what the pathology reports tell us.
We know that the prognosis for this type of cancer is not the best, but Troy is young, strong and healthy and his doctors are all optimistic about his continued recovery. I am feeling better about our situation today. It feels good to get the surgery behind us and start the healing process.
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. - Mark Twain
Monday, May 14, 2007
I will post more later after I have had a chance to see him.
Thanks for every one's thoughts and prayers!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
The surgery should begin at around 7:30 am and will probably take about 6 hours. I will do my best to post again tomorrow night so everyone can know that he is safely through the surgery and has begun the slow process of healing.
We are leaving everything in God's hands now. I am so thankful that we have so many friends praying for us. It's also amazing that we are hearing about so many people who don't know us praying too. It's been such a comfort.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. James 5:15 NIV
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Luke 12:25 NIV
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
At about noon we headed out for Double Bayou. The bay was pretty rough and wavy with troughs that were several feet high. It was a rough ride at first, but we were determined and I figured that if this wasn’t making Troy sick then we would be fine. We made it out to the North Boater Cut (to cross the Houston Ship Channel) and we could see that they were dredging or had some other major operation going on there. We thought it would be a good idea to avoid that area and cruise over to the South Boater Cut.
Once we crossed the ship channel we suddenly remembered why we love sailing so much. I have never really attempted to use the written word to describe that feeling, but this was so awesome, that I will try. OK, close your eyes (well maybe you should read this first with your eyes open, then close them to get the full effect), feel the wind on your face, hear the sound of the sea against the boat. The seas calmed, the winds were about 10 mph out of the east, we were close hauled on a starboard tack with the auto pilot on and headed right for our destination. The boat was heeled over at 10-15 degrees, the sun was shining, the sound of the water against the boat was soothing and everything in life was perfect at that moment in time. Life is good! We sat up on deck enjoying everything and trying to soak it all in. We sailed along just like that for about 2 ½ hours. Finally… that perfect sail that we have been craving for months.
We arrived at Double Bayou with no problems. After we got settled in we had a great visit with our friends at Channel Marker and enjoyed a great cheeseburger. Today… life is good.
Troy has agreed blog a little (I know, it's shocking to see him actually post on his blog!):
Troy here... we did have quite the weekend, I hate being sick and missing what’s going on around me, but I guess that’s part of the gig, anyway, we did have a perfect sail over to Double Bayou on Monday, the wind was just right and the bay went from choppy to pretty smooth on the Trinity Bay side. It just reminded me of why I love the boat and sailing, It’s just so great to be on the water with my best friend and partner (Deana) We got to Double Bayou and had some good food, I’m eating well right now, so I’m trying to eat while I can, I think it’s going to be some time before I have a steak sandwich after the surgery next week! After dinner, we put the motor on the dinghy and took a ride up the east fork of Double Bayou, it’s just beautiful out there, then we rode out to the entrance of the Bayou and watched the sunset over the bay... We spent some more time with our friends then watched a movie on the boat.. then good night!
Since Troy started feeling a little better I don’t know if it really was the Lovenox making him sick, or more likely just all the torture that he had been through in the last week (including being injected with dyes and contrasts for several days in a row) and maybe even some left over chemo side effects. The good news is that he is feeling better today.
Bill was very understanding of the situation. I felt kinda bad because he took Monday off work to go sailing with us, but we all understood that it couldn’t be helped. Bill decided that it would be a good day for a boat re-naming ceremony. He had been planning a ceremony to re-name his sail boat and this semed like a perfect opportunity. Her old name was Shiaway Wind and she was to be re-named Miss Inclined. Bill and our friend Ida and myself discussed a party for that evening. We decided to boil shrimp and rename his boat.
Troy slept most of the day and still didn’t feel any better. We did manage to take a dinghy ride and get out on the water for a few minutes, but I could tell that he just felt lousy. We had just taken a nap when his phone rang. I was our friend Dave. He owns a boat that is the same model as ours and is also on Pier 4 with us. He also ride bikes and is involved with a group called Christian Motorcycle Association. (I sure hope I got that right, I will check with Dave to make sure and correct if needed). They were across the street at Hooters with a booth set up since they were having their annual fundraiser. Dave wanted to know if they could come over and pray with us.
Dave and his wife Judy and about 13 bikers showed up at our boat within minutes. I think that breaks the record for how many people we have had on the boat at one time! They all came below, gathered around us, put their hands on us and took turns praying over us. We felt so blessed that these people who didn’t even know us took the time out of their life to pray for us during these difficult times. How awesome is it that 13 bikers were on our boat praying! They gave us a small sticker that says “I was blessed in 07”. That is so true, they truly blessed us that day. Even though we don’t know each other, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. What a wonderful experience.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. James 5:20 NIV
Now it was time for the boat re-naming. Everyone from the dock plus Bill’s sister and brother-in-law (Lynette and Dave) were there. We gathered for the shrimp boil and in true Pier 4 fashion we had plenty of great food and good company. Unfortunately Troy still was feeling pretty lousy, so he spent most of the party sleeping. He did wake up for the actual naming ceremony. Bill, dressed in his nautical finery, and his boat was dressed as well. She was flying all her flags and burgees. Bill paddled his dinghy around and back up to the boat. He stood on the dock box over his boat and said what he had to say, basically something about how a sailboat should never shy away from the wind (Shiaway Wind)! He added some nautical, boat naming stuff then declared her to be Miss Inclined. We all cheered and Bill poured Bud Light over her bow to christen her. She was officially re-named.
We finally arrived at the marina Friday afternoon. Most of our friends were already there. We were planning to leave the dock first thing Saturday morning and head for Smith Point with the Texas Mariners Cruisers Association or TMCA (check them out at www.tmca.nu). We were really looking forward to getting out on the water and visiting with our TMCA friends.
Different Drummer resides on Pier 4 at Blue Dolphin Marina. Our friend from Pier 4, Bill Nowlin was planning to go with us to Smith Point and then hopefully to sail with us over to Double Bayou on Sunday. We got settled in on the boat and headed out to the TMCA dock party for a few minutes then to the grocery store to provision for being out on the boat for at least four days. We wanted to get out there and enjoy some time sailing and just being together before the big surgery.
Unfortunately Troy started feeling really nauseous. He was feeling worse by the minute. We finally decided that we needed to re-think leaving the dock the next morning. We were concerned that the Lovenox (blood thinner) shots were making him sick, but we knew that he needed to continue the shots. He was taking both of his anti-nauseous medications and they just weren’t working. We decided to wait and see what the morning would bring.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
He called me at about 2:00 to tell me that they found a blood clot behind his right knee and that he may need to be admitted to the hospital. That was scary! I had been more worried about the MRI on his liver up to that point. I was about to leave work to meet him for his appointment with Dr. Ramchandani (the surgeon) so I headed out to meet him at Dr. Jac's office instead. Dr. Jac decided that he would not admit him, apparently this is a common side effect of the cancer treatment. He put him on a blood thinner and now Troy has to give himself a shot in the stomach twice a day. By the way, the liver turned out to be OK!
We feel like we are really blessed to have been referred to Dr. Ramchandani. He is a thoracic and cardiac surgeon which is important to have for this kind of procedure. The procedure itself called Transhiatal Esophagectomy or Transthoracic Esophagectomy (depending on which one the surgeon decides) is a technically demanding procedure and will involve removing part or all of the esophagus, possibly part of the stomach and the lymph nodes in the surrounding area. The stomach is used to reconstruct the esophagus. We both feel very confident in Dr. Ramchandani's skills.
We spent a long time visiting with Dr. Ramchandani about the surgery and recovery. He told Troy that he wants to make sure we realize that this is a major surgery, the procedure will take about 6 hours. We expect a hospital stay of about 10 days and the recovery to take about 2 months. The surgery is scheduled for May 14th! We are both a little shaken by the fact that surgery is only a little over a week away. Dr. R told us (this is a direct quote): "I will get you well so you can take me sailing". I knew we took up sailing for a reason!
Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God. Ephesians 6:10-11
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
The tests results were all good news, further confirmation that the tumor has shrunk. In PET Scan speak: "Abnormal uptake by the lower esophagus, noted on the previous study, is markedly improved on today's study, etc, etc". Dr. Jac was very pleased with the results of the treatment.
Just two minor set backs - the doctor wants Troy to have an MRI to take a look at his liver. There is a spot on it that he wants to take a closer look at. He did say that he did not expect it to be cancer because it didn't show up on the PET Scan (only on the CT Scan), where apparently it would have shown up if cancer cells were involved - see previous paragraph regarding "abnormal uptake". Anyway, Dr. Jack was very confident that it would not be anything to worry about, just him being thorough and cautious.
The other set back - Troy's right arm and right leg are still very swollen and the arm is so tender to the touch that he is in quite a bit of pain (even though he's trying to be tough about it all). We figured it was just a side effect of the chemo, but Dr. Jac wants ultrasounds of both his arm and his leg to rule out blood clots.
I tell you, those doctors order tests like we order lunch off the menu! Troy has been poked and prodded enough in the last two days (not to mention the last few months) to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, we realize that there's plenty more on the doctor's lunch menu - if you catch my drift.
The next round of tests haven't been scheduled yet, but they will probably be done this week, if not tomorrow. We have an appointment with Dr. Ramchandani (the surgeon) tomorrow, so we are trying to brace ourselves for receiving more information regarding the surgery and possibly even when it will happen. We're both anxious about that. We are hoping to take a few days off next week and spend them on the boat. Our plan is to have a little bit of fun and relaxation before the surgery.
More tomorrow . . . Tonight I am remembering Jesus' promise:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV