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Dad’s Illness

Dad Update (From Mom) – 05 April, 2008

I am posting this on April 8, 2008.  The Memphis Tigers lost to Kansas last night in the NCAA Championship which was a bummer.  When you’re up by 9 points with 2.5minutes to go you’re supposed to win.  Oh well.

Dad went home yesterday.  I  spoke to him when they were about an hour from home in the car… but not since.  He sounded really good.  I’m sure whatever the problem was it got taken care of… hopefully he’ll continue to eat and be fine.  I think they go back up for a checkup with the surgeon in a week or two and they meet the oncologist.  Hopefully the future regarding cancer works out.  Here is a message mom posted on the hospital blog on April 5:

April 05, 2008 at 01:45 PM EDT

Saturday, 4/5/08…..Moffitt Cancer Institute

We BOTH slept much better last night!! Yippee!!!!

Woke up at 5:00 am when the nurse came in to do something or the other and realized we had slept through because NO ONE came into our room last night. Usually, someone is in there every hour or two doing SOMETHING!! Felt GREAT!!!

You wouldn’t believe the bed that I am sleeping in. It looks like a small, low cabinet. You open the doors and pull out a NARROW (a little less wide than ME) cot with a THIN mattress. It was hard getting used to, but seems okay now. Actually, we are so grateful just to be able to have me sleep in the hospital; the cost of a motel room for all this time would have been tremendous.

Bill’s CT scan showed a BIG reduction in size of the abscess since he was admitted and it has reduced some more since the scan done earlier this week. He is down to just tube feedings at night (usually only takes about 6 hours or so) an antibiotics and antacid medication. They’re planning on switching his meds to pills instead of the intravenous. This means he’ll be able to walk around without the IV pole MOST of the time!! He walks more often that way, since it was so cumbersome just getting READY to walk before!!

Bill started on a regular diet yesterday and is eating pretty well. He has a good selection of food at each meal and I would say that he is eating about 1/3 to 1/2 of it at each meal. He’s also been taking a small snack in between. This is MUCH better than he had been doing when he was home for those two days.

All in all, Bill is doing, looking and feeling well…..we’re hoping he is released early this coming week. We both are much more comfortable about him returning home this time, since he is so much better and eating so well.

Bill’s brother, Bube, visited yesterday. Bill was soooo glad to see him (as was I); we haven’t seen him & Mary since before Christmas, when I began caring for Babe. They had a very nice visit.

His sister, Jane and her son, Andy, will be visiting tomorrow. They came down for Fred’s memorial service and are taking the time to come down to visit before returning home. It’s been a couple of years since Bill has seen his sister and it’s been at least SIX years since we’ve seen Andy. Young Bill did make it to the memorial service but probably won’t be able to get down to Tampa tomorrow; I’m sure he’ll be down soon though.

Thank you all for your wonderful, uplifting messages. You can’t know how much this has meant to both of us. You are great friends and supporters!!

Love, Betty

April 1st, 2008 – Dad Update (From Mom)

11 April 01, 2008 at 01:45 PM EDT

Well, I had hoped that we would be home by now, but it didn’t work out that way. CT scans show that Bill has some leakage around where the pancreas was reattached to the small intestine. There is also an abscess and his stomach is not emptying, causing a huge amount of bile and acid to build up.

Bill is feeling better now though; the drainage of fluid from his stomach is much more clear and seems to be slowing down. He is still receiving antibiotics and is being fed intravenously with a formula which the pharmacy prepares each day for him, after reviewing his blood work, which is filled with calories, protein, carbs, vitamins, and other essential products geared to his individual needs. The doctors seem to feel that he is healing and once this fluid stops backing up, they will begin tube feedings again and then slowly get him on regular food.

He is trying to walk each day, but it is pretty hard. He has lost a lot of weight (down to 153 lbs) and is very weak and soooo thin. But each of the last three days he has shown improvement.

Since we will be spending a longer time at the hospital, I went home today to get some more clothing, do some laundry and pick up some stuff we need that I didn’t think of when we rushed out last Thursday evening.

I thank all of you for your many comments, notes, etc. and especially for your prayers. I am sorry to say that Bill’s brother, Fred, passed away this past Friday. We appreciate your prayers for him and I will be sure that his family knows about them. Thank you!!


Dad Update (From Mom) – 28 March, 2008

Hi folks: Sorry for the long gap between updates. I had written an update about Bill’s discharge last Tuesday but apparently I didn’t post it properly, because it didn’t show up.

Anyway, we got home late Tuesday and the Home Care nurses came to check him out; they taught me how to administer his tube feedings and meds and how to change his dressing. He had a good day on Wednesday until about mid-afternoon: he was up and around, eating some and feeling pretty good. But then he developed a slight fever which steadily increased and felt generally bad; he just about stopped regular eating and was drinking very little too. I called Moffitt yesterday evening and they wanted him to come up there so they could check him out, so we made the two hour trip in 1.5 hours and arrived there around 9:30 pm.

This hospital is fantastic. The doctor had left word that we were coming in; when we arrived, they told us that he was to be admitted and tests run. The total admitting process took about 2 minutes and we were sent up to his old floor and into a new room, where a bed had already been set up for me. The nurses immediately took over, taking blood work, took an EKG and sent him down for chest and abdomen x-rays.

The on-call doctor came in and told us some of the possibilities and said that he was putting him on antibiotics by intravenous overnight and he would have a CT scan in the morning. By this morning, his fever was down to 99 f (it had been 101.9 last night) and his white blood count was improving. Not too long after the CT scan, his surgeon came up and told us that his stomach was distended so they had to reinsert the naso tube to drain off the bile. The CT scan showed a small abscess had developed, so after the stomach is emptied, he’ll be going down to the radiologist to have the abscess drained. They’ll be keeping him for a few days, on antibiotics, to be sure that the situation has been taken care of.

We both feel good that we took him back to Moffitt and were very pleased with how fast and efficiently they took care of him. Bill is already feeling better (except that this time, he had a hard time when they put the tube back down his nose….there was a LOT of bile down there).

Hopefully things will go well now and we’ll soon be home again. During the two days we were home, I did get a LOT accomplished so things should go much better when we return.

Bill’s brother, Fred, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, had emergency surgery for a bowel obstruction yesterday. I haven’t heard yet how he made out, and it may be a while before I do. In the meantime, I would appreciate you all keeping him in your prayers!!


Dad Easter Update

Just got back from Tampa. Couldn’t type much on that ipod and I didn’t feel like tracking down a PC. Dad is doing a lot better. He finally started eating solid food Saturday and it is making him feel a lot better. They feed him nutritional crap through a feeding tube during the night though so when he woke up today and they brought his breakfast he wasn’t hungry.. lol.

I haven’t heard from my mom on how he did with lunch and dinner, but the docs said today that they plan to send him home tomorrow with a visiting nurse twice a day… my mom of course is an expert at taking care of sick people.

Here is a picture of the HUGE incision they made to get in there if anyone is interested in looking. I found it quite impressive and interesting which is why I posted it.

I made it a link so if you don’t want to see where someone cut someone else wide open with a scapel to do some plumbing, don’t clicky on it. :)

I counted 44 staples on the original pic. This one part of the incision is cut off because I edited out the feeding tube which looks pretty gross. 😀

Dad’s Incision

Dad Update (From Mom)

UPDATE FROM MOM – 3/19/2008I’m not sure what happened. I posted an update on Sunday, the 16th, but it doesn’t show up here. I went over to the kids on Monday and stayed overnight, so I didn’t post Monday or Tuesday. I’ll be staying with Bill in his room on a cot from here on, so I should be able to post every day from now on.

Anyway, Bill is doing very well. He was put on small feedings through his stomach tube and tolerated that well. He was also allowed to eat ice chips but he was eating so many (about 6 – 8 cups a day) they cut him back because he was producing so much drainage through his naso-gastric tube. Then they stopped his tube feedings until he moved his bowels. His last meal was on Saturday, 3/8/08.

Anyway, his naso-gastric tube and bladder catheter have now been removed and he has been walking very well. His pain is much less and he is using minimal pain medication. He is still receiving insulin for his elevated blood sugar; we’re not sure if that will continue later or not. His blood count is also very low but they feel that is normal with this type of surgery and they will be giving him iron supplements soon.

Surprisingly, he’s been feeling very good for not eating or getting any nourishment. The most he’s had by tube feeding so far is about 4 – 6 ounces. Today they allowed him about 3 oz of apple juice and told him it had to last him four hours. He finished it in about 5 minutes!! They have started the tube feeding again, to provide some extra nourishment and he’s hoping to have a liquid diet food tray for lunch.

His final pathology showed an adenocarcinoma, early stage. When he returns to his surgeon for a check-up, they’ll probably refer him to a chemo oncologist for their recommendation regarding further treatment.

Overall, everything is going well and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is released by this weekend. In the meantime, he’s watching TV and his DVD movies, reading, walking, flirting with his nurses and waiting for the chance to eat again!! Thanks to everyone for their notes of support and cards.

Hopefully this message will post this time….

Love, Betty

Update… Thursday… almost two days later.

I got home to Memphis Tuesday night about 6:30. I was going to leave early Wednesday if everything was going well, but after I saw dad in ICU around 3PM I decided to hop a 5:15 flight back to Memphis.

Yesterday he was in a lot of pain.  They got him up in a chair which must have been brutal.

I talked to mom this morning.  Last night dad must have gotten confused while sleeping and pulled the drainage tube out of his nose.  That sucks because today they need to put it back in again.  That must suck while you’re awake.

Anyway at least he seems to be better today than yesterday and better yesterday than the day before.  I probably won’t get back down til next weekend and even that will depend on the flights since it’s Easter.


I went down to Tampa on Saturday, March 8th to spend a few days with mom & dad before his surgery.  On Tuesday AM they took him in for prep.  We were there when his surgeon – Dr. Karl – came in.  He explained that it would take about 4 hours unless they had run into issues.  He said they’d make a small 4″ or so cut first and look around.  If the cancer had spread then they probably would close up and not do the surgery.  He said they had four ‘checkpoints’ along the way.  I guess like a ‘go or no-go’ thing.  Each place they’d determine how things were going and whether they’d continue or not.  He told us that when he came out to talk to us they would put us in a private room first.  He said that was his standard procedure and he did it with everyone, so just being taken to a private room did not mean there was bad news.  We said good-bye and went to the waiting room. 

It was kinda cool.  They had a ‘scoreboard’ up on the wall with a patient number and then you could see where they were ‘pre-op, OR, recovery’ that sort of thing… and the time the surgery started and how long it had been going on for.

There were a ton of people in there waiting.  Lots of operations going on in that place every day… and they’re all cancer surgeries.  I guess some doctors don’t do the ‘private room’ thing unless there is bad news.  The phone constantly rang and the person would call out a name and take them to a room.  Some surgeons just came out and sat with the people and told them how the surgery went.

After awhile all the operations that had started before dads were over and new ones had started.  Everytime the phone rang I’d get a bad feeling.  I knew if they called our name that something wasn’t right.

After two hours I figured that if they weren’t going to continue because of cancer spread they’d have known it by then so we relaxed a bit.

It took them almost five hours.  Finally they told us they were through and took us to a room.  The doc came out and told us that things went well.

He said that dad had  tollerated the surgery well… BP and pulse… he stayed strong through the whole thing. He needs to hear back from pathology but I imagine that won’t take too long since they’re already at Moffitt Cancer Center.

He said the next 10-20 hours were vital for watching for internal bleeding and then after that the danger is ‘leakage’ inside.

A little while later they had him in ICU and we went in to see him.

He ‘looked’ great. In a lot of pain, but to be expected. He has a hose down his nose sucking acid out of his stomach and he has a feeding tube into his stomach in case they need to use it.

When I had my ACL replaced they gave me one of those epidural things that blocked the feeling from my waist to my toes. They did the same with him only I had no idea they could give one so you felt nothing from your chest to your waist (or something like that) but could still feel things in your legs. Thats some awesome stuff. I believe they’ll leave that for awhile… then you don’t feel the pain associated with being cut open in your midsection and (literally) having your guts ripped out and sewn all back together again.

I decided it would be easier on my mom if I just went home tonight. Then she could sleep in tomorrow and not have to get up at 4AM to drop me off at the airport. I’m sure he’ll be feeling much better in a few days.

Hopefully there will be no bleeding or leakage… then hopefully there will be no/minimal cancer issues. One step at a time though.

The first thing I asked him was ‘Hey, did you open your eyes and think to yourself ‘Hey! I’m still here!’. He looked at me and nodded his head and said ‘yep’.

Patrick Swazye and stuff…

I read last night that actor Patrick Swayze has cancer of the pancreas and was given 5 WEEKS to live!

Of course his spokesman says he was diagnosed in January and now it’s March… that he is undergoing treatment and still working on his projects.

I did some checking and realized that pancreatic cancer is basically a death sentence.  Most people don’t live long at all and it is very painful.

I really started getting depressed.  Then I talked to my mom this morning.  I realize now I need to clear something up about my dad.

My mom told me this morning that the tumor is not on the pancreas but on the “Ampulla of Vater” which is an organ that is right near the pancreas – and shares the same blood supply.  So he doesn’t have pancreatic cancer (actually we don’t know if he has cancer at ALL at this point) – that we know of – and that the doctor wasn’t concerned so much about the cancer (if its there) but of whether he can survive the surgery.

So we’ll see.  This is getting more and more complicated and scary.  So I  need to fix some other places where I was discussing this.

 By The Way I found a couple other pictures last night I thought I’d share:

This is a really crappy picture (the photo was damaged not the scanner) of me and my dad in Daytona during “Bike Week” in 1978.

 Also, here is a photo of my dad rough-housing with my sister Babe & I on the sofa in our old house in Clayton NJ.  I am guessing this picture was taken around 1967 or 1968.

Happy March…

I guess it’s time for another entry.  Not much going on these days.  Well actually I guess there ALWAYS is something going on.  Let’s see.  Last weekend I was down to the lake with my buddy Ivan.  I had helped him build his lake house a couple years ago so I have a key to go down whenever I want… which is pretty much every few weeks.  I’m usually doing things down there related to myself.  I own a lake property in Double Springs, AL which I am now selling.  I found another property in Crane Hill, AL (same lake) that I prefer to build on.  My first lot was in a convienent development right on a state highway, but there were some issues going on over there that did not please me.  Besides that, it is in an area of the lake up in the National Forest quite far from where most of my friends live.

 Anyway, so that lot is up for sale.  If anyone is interested you can see it at LOT 22 – LAKESHORE EAST ESTATES (plug).  I stopped by the Lot22 lot the other day and spread a 50lb bag of grass seed to try to get some more ground cover going.  It hasn’t rained much at the lake over the last few years, but of course we got a deluge of rain right after I put down the seed.  I’m sure the fish will love it. LOL.

If anyone is interested in looking at pictures of my new lot – the one I plan to build on – have a looksee: LOT 172 – CEDAR COVE ESTATES

When I bought the second lot I had the bank combine the mortgage from the first with the new one… they used the equity in the first lot as collateral.  I can’t start building my house until I sell the first lot though.  When I do I need to pay down the huge mortgage on the lots to 100k.  Then after I put aside some money for taxes I’ll have some cash to start building the new house.  Plus I guess I’ll be able to get a construction loan at that point.

I have an UMF (unseen magical force) trying to get me to buy a boat.  I have a new boat dock coming but I only bought it because I’ll need one eventually and the prices keep going up like crazy… I really, really dont need a BOAT right now though.  What I need to do is build a HOUSE.  And besides, the prices of boats will probably drop this year as gas prices rise to $4 (on their way to $5) a gallon.

Speaking of that I need to sell my airplane too.  It is a giant money pit and I don’t ever use it anymore… yet it still costs me 6-8k a year in maintenance.  It must go.  In the next few months.  That will give me money to pay off the balance I owe on my boat dock and also to add to what I’ll have to start the house.

The BIG news this writting is about my dad.  My dad has been having some issues with pain and chills and vomiting and other things for awhile now.  He finally got some tests done and two days before Babe passed away he found out he has a tumor on his pancreas.  Hopefully this is not cancer… but the doctor said that if it isn’t, it will be soon.  So it has to come out.  Now.

The procedure is a very complicated one that I dont know much about.  It’s called a Pancreaticoduodenectomy (or “Whipple Procedure” for short).  It’s a very complicated surgery that involves removing different organs from your body, doing what you need to do, then putting them all back.  The biggest problem is that multiple organs share the same blood supply.

He’s having it done at the Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa and the surgeon is supposed to be one of the best with a lot of experience in this procedure.  Still, its worrisome.  Dad isn’t ‘old’ by any means, but he’s still 70.  The surgery has a 10% mortality rate anyway and age probably makes it worse.  I’m also sure that the stress on him the last few months with having to watch his daughter pass away isn’t going to help either.

I’ll be flying down to Tampa on Saturday.  We’ll all hang out with my Aunt & Uncle who are visiting that week.  The surgery is Monday morning.  Please say a prayer for my dad if you will.

I will write again to let everyone know how it goes.  I need to get back to work now. :)

Here is a photo of my sister Babe, Me & my dad the night before I graduated from Marine Corps boot camp in Parris Island, SC.  It was September 1977.  Babe was like 16 years old.  I was 18.  Dad was 39.  How about those glasses I’m wearing?  Cool huh?  And what about the purple flare pants, Playboy Bunny tshirt, leather sandals and dark socks on Dad?

Here is another one of me, dad & my ex-step daughter Faith in the hot tub one night in March 2001.