Sunday, August 10, 2014

New Direction

It's hard to know where to start this new phase in our lives.  It's totally different from anything we've faced before, but this blog has been about our lives, and so here it is.

Mike was diagnosed with lung cancer in July.  Probably anyone who reads this blog already knows all about it, but I want to keep this journal because it is a part of our lives, and we are not sure which direction it's going to take us.  Whatever it is, we're up for the challenge and will do the right things to get him back to health again.

It's funny to hear someone starting chemotherapy to say he feels the best he's felt in 30 years, but that's the truth.

We're in Snoqualmie, so for sure there is a lot of action with an 18-month-old running the show.  She's changed so much in the 2 months since we saw her last and is repeating words and understanding them and just being totally charming.  We live for that toothy grin with dimples everywhere or that sweet voice saying, "Night night" to her baby.  Except it's not so sweet when it's her turn to go to bed.  I had to be the bad guy tonight and put her to bed, and it was sad.  Even though she snuggled down with her blankets and animals, she has to have that last defiant cry/yell, and it makes me so sad.  I'm sitting in the next room crying because I had to make her cry.  But all will be forgiven in the morning.

This is not going to be a medical journal, but I'm going to try to get a chance to write about our days and the experiences at the Swedish Hospital Cancer Center.  There will be ups and downs, I know, but we've had them before, and we'll do the best we can.

(This was written on Saturday but not published until today, Sunday.)

Mike is the upbeat one.  He didn't miss a beat yesterday and left people laughing in every department.    It was such a hectic day that I didn't take many pictures and none of them good, but here's what I have.

The hospital and cancer center are in Seattle pretty close to the interstate but what looks like to me to be downtown.  It was a long day because he had to have a port put in for the chemo meds to go in every week to keep from having to get stuck so much.  The procedure itself was fine.  He never knew a thing.  But there was a new RN who had a heck of a time getting that needle for the sedation in.  Emily watched the first try and nearly had to excuse herself, and I was back there for the second try.  Poor guy.  Things just didn't go well for him - or Mike, although he doesn't seem to feel pain!  Another nurse came in and got it going, and it was fine after that.

It did put us off schedule though, and the nice receptionist worked with Emily to get word to the oncologist's office what was going on.

When we got there, we were greeted by several of the nurses who were working late.  I didn't get any names this time except for the main one named Shasta.  First Shasta I've ever met.

I'm not sure how they keep their spirits up and especially late on Friday afternoon, but when I say it was like a party, I'm not far off.  They found out we had not had anything to eat all day and started bringing us food.  Which was exactly what Mike appreciates - free food.  

It's amazing how a tuna sandwich and cookie will excite you when you've been without food for nearly 18 hours.  One girl told him she made egg custard that morning and that he could have 2 of them.  It wasn't quite as exciting as getting that first cup of Starbucks coffee after the port procedure.  
Looks like a simple hospital machine for dispensing medications, but the stuff in there was not so simple and is not something we're welcoming too much except for it's ability to get rid of all the cancer cells that are lurking.  It's Taxol and carboplatin.  I still haven't looked them up and made sure I was spelling them correctly.  The combination might change after 3 weeks if it looks like it's not doing it's job, and they can switch to something else.  I think it will though.

So the first chemo was not traumatic at all and actually quite pleasant with all the feeling good and nice people.  We don't fool ourselves that it will be this good every time.  We're realistic, of course, but why not enjoy every experience we can right now?

This tired girl has been at it for over a week, taking Mike to appointments and a surgery and coordinating everything.  I'm not sure where I would have been without her yesterday.  No stone will be unturned in getting the best of care for her dad.

During all this time, Ryan was babysitting, but he and Graysen were also at Costco buying provisions, and when Emily would hear a suggestion, she would call or text Ryan to pick it up.  That's pretty good service.

Mike doesn't like hovering normally, but I think he's accepted the fact that we (Emily and I anyway) are going to be staring at him all the time and asking questions about how he's feeling.  The drugs he got before the chemo were pretty nice for keeping him feeling great last night.  He went to bed and slept nicely and felt great this morning.  We went for a walk while the others were out.  I'm the one who ended it finally , not him.  The weather is wonderful for walking though.  It feels like the first week in October instead of August, sunny and fairly warm but with just a little chill in the air and a little breeze.

He took a couple of naps today but then he, Emily, Graysen, and I went for another walk down a beautiful little wooded trail across the street from their house.  I would have enjoyed it except for Mike mentioning bears too much.  It didn't help that as we came out of the trail onto the street, there was a sign with a picture of a bobcat (or some cat) and a bear.  I didn't read it, but just seeing it was enough. 

So that's the first day of keeping it going in Snoqualmie.  I'll be here until the 26th and go home for a week or so and come back and stay for whatever is decided to be the treatment time.  I haven't yet learned to love to fly but flying by myself finally and changing planes in Atlanta gave me a little confidence.  I really loved the trip once we got in the air.  It was clear, and I was able to see most of the country from 32,000+ feet.  There were some beautiful scenes.  I also lucked up and another guy and I got to change seats to an empty row (with a seat between), and he gave me the window seat.  I like a nice seatmate who is silent and watches movies. 

Mike and Emily pointed out Mount Rainier on the way home from Seattle but said it wouldn't do any good to try to get a picture.  It's pretty rare to have as good a view of it, and I tried anyway.  You can kind of see it on the left if you look hard.  So beautiful.

No Graysen pictures yet.  I've been too busy soaking up her sweetness to take pictures.  But there will be some.  Oh yes, there will be plenty!


  1. And we're thrilled to be here - or did I mention that?