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March, 2008:

End Of March, 2008

Wow.  It’s the last day of March, 2008.  It’s been almost two years now since my ex-wife told me she wanted a divorce and that she was leaving.  I guess that is one of the reasons I feel so down.  My ex-wife turned 43 just a few days ago.  I used to always give her a thoughtful card… writing in it how much I loved her and how happy I was to have met her… you know I don’t think she ever remembered my birthday even once?  Maybe one or two times… but for the most part she’d ask me in July sometime ‘Don’t you have a birthday coming up soon?’  and I’d just smile and say ‘Yeah, next June.’

Oh well.  I haven’t seen Faith or Jacob since the night before they left.  I missed Jacobs graduation from 8th grade.  I’ve wondered how he made out at Christian Brothers where he went to High School.  We decided that he was on the wrong path nearing the end of 8th grade with grades and behavior and thought the more disciplined environment at Christian Brothers would help.  He’s near the end of 10th grade by now.  I wonder how he made out?  I miss the time we used to spend together watching “My Name Is Earl” and “Everybody Hates Chris”.  He used to listen to a lot of my old rock CDs too… introducing him to Led Zepplin and The Stones.  We’d go to breakfast a lot too on Saturday mornings.. to the West Street Diner.  I used to like taking him there.  It gave us time to just ourselves.

Faith graduated High School and went off to college but I’m not really sure where.  I suspect she went to UT Knoxville which is where we had planned to send her anyway.  I hope she’s enjoying herself and having a good  experience out on her own.  She’ll be good at it.  She was very mature and I was so proud of her when she managed to fly to Oregon by herself.  I made sure she could reach me via cell phone at any time but she really did a superb job on her own.

She is a wonderful writer.  I always felt she’d end up being a writer somewhere… yet her uncle is a big shot at TBS in Atlanta so I can also see her as a television personality.  She’s beautiful and has a great personality.  Maybe I’ll see her on TV one day.

Anyway, enough moping.  You know my therapist has been on me for over a year to join some online dating service.  She says that once I meet someone else to care about I’ll stop having these silly feelings about missing the people who left me.

I know she’s right.  I think it’s probably time to start.  In the next month or so I’m going to sign up and see if I can’t meet someone new to care about and who cares about me.

OK!  Today is he start of the 2008 BASEBALL SEASON!!!  Go Phillies!

Also, in my previous entry (really written by my mom) she mentioned that my uncle Fred had cancer as well.  He was having some surgery on his bowel last weekend.  Well, she told me on Sunday that he died Saturday night.  I don’t know the particulars, but you know what?  This has been a REALLY shitty two years for me.

1. My wife leaves and takes the only family I’ve ever had away.
2. I find out my sister has lung cancer – stage IV.
3. Our divorce becomes final and my ex-wife has me return Eddie – the dog they left with me when they left and who had been with me 24 hours a day the entire last year – to them as part of the settlement.  I’ve not seen the pooch since.  BTW, here is a picture of Eddie with my nieces cat “Monkey” at Christmas in 2006.

4. My cousin Toni gets lung cancer.  They remove her lung and she seems to still be doing ok.
5. One of my Aunts finds out she has liver cancer.  I won’t give details for her privacy.
6. My dad finds out he has a tumor on his pancreas that may be cancer.
7. Two days after we find out about my dad, my sister “Babe” dies of cancer.
8. My uncle Fred goes in to have his gallbladder removed and they don’t do it because they find he is full of cancer.
9. My dad has surgery.  Seems successful.  We’ll see.  He has some minor complications going on right now, but it was still cancer.  We’ll see what the future course is once he is over this major surgery.
10. My uncle Fred goes in for some bowel surgery over the past weekend and dies Saturday night.

What next????  Sheesh.

The surgeon seems to think dad’s ‘leakage’ in his bowel or Pancreas will heal on its own so he doesn’t expect more surgery.  Mom says he’s feeling better.  They’re feeding him through some sort of mainline thing that goes right into an artery in his neck.  Mom didn’t want to tell dad that his brother had died until he was doing better, but she decided to tell him last night.  I haven’t spoken to her today so I’ll try to get ahold of her later.

Sorry for the negative post.  I think I’m just going to go home from work and watch the Phillies game which I TIVOed today.

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!!

Betty

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

Chi-Town, Kids, Hockey, Old Friends & Hooters

First off, I talked to my mom yesterday and they had moved dad out of ICU to a room of his own. They’ve had him up walking and he’s feeling much better. Hopefully he’ll begin soon trying to get some food through his system. I bet he’s lost a lot of weight. I don’t even think he FEELS hungry. Mom said he’s been watching Baseball on TV and watched the NASCAR race too. So I’m sure he’s doing better. His throat is still really sore… I guess from the tube going down there during the surgery. I haven’t spoken to him yet since the day he woke up in ICU, but I’m sure I will soon. Hopefully I can jump on a flight this weekend to go see him, though it IS Easter so I’m not sure that will work out.

This past weekend I flew up to Chicago for my friend Alex’s 50th birthday party. His wife Carolyn is about ten years younger than Alex. She’s a sweetheart. I met her when I was flying to Bali in Indonesia in 1991 for a skydiving meet. I’ll never forget it. I was 32 and Alex was 34. He introduces me to his latest girlfriend Carolyn who is but 23 years old. We only had a short time so we went downtown and had some lunch and some beers. I barely got back to Midway airport to get my connection to Los Angeles. They got married in 1995.

Anyway, the last time I saw Carolyn was in 1999. I had gone to Chicago from where I lived in Alabama to go see an Eagles/Bears game with Alex at Soldier Field. Here is Alex’s buddy, Alex & Me at the game.

Alex's buddy, Alex & Me @ Eagles/Bears - October 1999

I met their two youngest children at that time. They were only about 3 and 1 or something like that. Trevor is the oldest and Abby is the youngest. Here is a picture of Carolyn with Trevor & Abby back in 1999. Again this is the last time I’ve seen them.

Carolyn, Abby & Trevor - October 1999

In the summer of 2000 after I got married, my parents had a party for us up at their home in Delaware. Alex and Trevor came out but Carolyn couldn’t come because she was prego with their third child Nolan. There were some issues and the doctor told her she couldn’t come out. SO…

I have not been in touch much with Alex for quite awhile. It seemed like after I got married I just got involved with other things and time passed. A month or so ago I got a call from Carolyn asking me if I’d come up for Alex’s party. So… that’s how I ended up there this weekend.

I got there late Friday and Alex didn’t know I was coming. I just drove to their home from O’Hare and banged on the door at 10:30 at night. Carolyn played it up like ‘who is at the door at 10:30?’ I’m glad she didn’t tell Alex to get his gun. He was quite surprised to see me standing there. The kids were in bed of course but we talked for awhile. Around 1:30AM Carolyn reminded us that the kids needed to be at the rink by 7:30 for the first game of their tournament. I don’t remember if I mentioned that all three kids play ice hockey. Alex and I used to play when we were teenagers on Saturday nights. That’s a whole other story though.

So we get up early and head to the rink. This is the first time I see the kids. Trevor is very shy and doesn’t say much… Abby comes right to me and smiles and starts talking… and so does Nolan even though he’s never met me. Of course the other two don’t remember me either so it’s like meeting them all for the first time.

We went and the kids played their first games. The next round of games was at noon so we went out to breakfast with some of their friends – lots of family interaction in youth hockey leagues – just like other sports for kids I’d imagine.

Nolan wanted to sit next to me. While we had breakfast he drew an alien on a napkin with some space ships and wrote “To Bill From Your Best Friend Nolan” on it. How cool is that? I told him that my “ex” stepdaughter Faith Behnke used to make me home made cards and pictures all the time when she was a little girl. I kept every one and used to hang them on the wall of my office wherever I was working. He asked if I’d put his drawing up there and I told him ‘of course… first thing Monday morning….’ and I did it today. I don’t have a picture of it though.

Here are some pictures of the kids at the rink playing around – I didn’t take any while they were on the ice because they don’t come out well with the glass and netting in front of you.

This is Nolan getting suited up.Nolan getting suited up

Abby on the air hockey table
Abby on the air hockey table

Nolan playing air hockey
Nolan Playing Air Hockey

Nolan & I hanging out before his next game.
Nolan & Bill hanging out before his next game

Another friend of Alex’s – a Marine like us – showed up around four PM. Ed was from New Jersey where Alex & I grew up. I guess Alex started thinking something was up by then.

We watched the afternoon games – Nolan played goalie in the afternoon game – he and Abby are on the same team – and Trevor plays goal all the time in his group. Both teams won their games and Trevor scored a shutout in his stopping a penalty shot and a couple breakaways to keep his shutout. Way to go Trev! Both of their teams made it to the Championship round on Sunday but I had to leave before them so I still don’t know how they made out.

After the games we took Alex to Hooters for some wings and beers. We were supposed to bring him back to the house at 7 or so. He knew something was going on, but he’s a good sport and played right along. At Hooters I had my picture taken with our Hooter girl “Jackie” and told her it was Alex’s birthday. They got all the Hooter girls together and sat him down and sang Happy Birthday to him and then posed for a group shot. It was great. :)

Alex & Ed @ Hooters

Me and our Hooters Girl “Jackie”
Me & Our Hooters Girl Jackie

Alex & Ed & Jackie
Alex & Ed & Jackie

The Hooters Girls singing for Alex
The Hooters Girls singing for Alex

Hooter Girl Group Photo with Alex
Hooter Girl Group Photo with Alex

Then we went back to the house and there were about 60 people there for the party. It was a lot of fun. Carolyn had Alex take some jackets to the bedroom and inside the bedroom was Alex’s old buddy Trevor and Trevor’s wife Jackie. Alex & Trevor have known each other since they were three years old growing up in England. He was quite suprised that they flew all the way from England for his birthday party. Here are some more pictures of the rest of the night:

Here is Trevor & Jackie
Trevor & Jackie

Abby
Abby

Carolyn and her friend Nicole. They are both training to run a marathon in two months. Go Girls!
Carolyn & Nicole

Hey…I FOUND a picture I took with Trevor in it! This is Trevor with his Grandma.
Trevor & Grandma

Abby & Jackie
Abby & Jackie

Me & Nolan once again. It’s times like this that I really miss my ex-stepkids… Faith & Jacob.
Bill & Nolan

This is Abby with Aubrey (I think I spelled that right). Aubrey is Nicoles daughter. She plays ice hockey too.
Abby & Aubrey

In the end, after a day of two hockey games and a big party… everyone was tuckered out. Ed left around 1:30AM and had to get up at 4AM to drive back to Chicago to catch a 6AM flight out. I went to sleep by 2 or 2:30 and got up at 7 to drive back to Chicago to catch an 11AM flight back to Memphis.

I didn’t realize how easy it is to get up there for me. I’ll have to go back again soon to see the kids. I forgot how much I missed being around children. :)

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.

Surgery…

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.