Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday - Reunion Activities

Today we were up at dark-thirty so that we could get breakfast before our excursion to Hurlburt Air Force Base so that we could visit with today's version of the 18th SOS Squadron. The young men who "volunteered" to babysit us today were awesome. They sent two Air Force buses over to the hotel to pick us up and take us to the base.
They had set up a room where they could brief our guys on some of the new and exciting things going on with the latest aircraft and fire power. Next, they transported us over to the flight line where they had a C130 gunship ready for us to board and inspect and had personnel there to answer questions. You will see Marshall standing next to a REAL Gatling Gun.

After that, we watched an awesome historical video that they had taken several months to put together. Then they had a Q&A session and answered all questions our guys had.
When the Q&A was finished, they took us out to the patio where they prepared lunch for us (hot dogs, chips, soda and beer) and then we were transported to a park where lots of planes were on display. We had a short memorial for those who did not make it back from Viet Nam.
After being out in this heat all morning, we were all ready to get on the air conditioned buses and come back to the hotel.
Back at the hotel, the photographer from the base stopped by to take photos of Marshall's bike. And it's been great to see all the guys attending the reunion oohing and aahing over the bike and taking pictures of it.

Now a short rest before tonight's Meet & Greet.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, September 27, 2012

MD Anderson Cancer Center -- Moon Shot

If you haven't seen it in the news, the largest cancer center in the United States -- MD Anderson -- has announced what they call their "Moon Shots" program, an all out war against cancer and a commitment to cure cancer in this next decade.  They are anticipating huge progress by the year 2014.

Check it out:

Enjoying Florida

We have been having a great time. Last night I saw on the balcony for hours enjoying the ocean and the waves. And as you know, Marshall was down at the Hootch with his buddies, some cigars and Crown Royal, doing toasts.

Well, around midnight (I think), there was a knock on the door and when I opened it, I found Marshall being delivered to the door by two of his buddies. They were definitely "toasted."

Today has been laid back, more ocean time, lunch at Angler's, right on the water (see photos of us in front of restaurant).

And I forgot to mention that we rented a 2013 bright red Mustang. What a car. It's awesome and such fun to drive. But it's a 2-door and I truly don't think we could get anybody in the back seat if we tried. And it sits very low to the ground, so getting into the car is slow going. But still, it is FUN TO DRIVE!

Marshall's back is hurting a bit today, so he's going to take some Tylenol and rest a bit. Tomorrow is the official beginning of the military reunion, so there will be lots of activities.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Life is a "Beach"

We are relaxing in Florida. The ocean is so soothing and seeing this scene from our balcony is pretty darn nice.

Today the reunion group started to arrive and we spent some fun time "meeting and greeting" in the Hootch. I got a lot of my souvenir buying out of the way and then sat on the balcony watching the water with a glass of merlot. We have an end unit where there is always a beautiful breeze.

Marshall is down at the Hootch right now having his annual "cigar and Crown Royal" toast with the guys. I didn't even know he had that tradition until today. I learned something. From the size of the Crown Royal bottle, I think there just might be more than a toast involved!!!

Marshall has felt really good, and his Harley is getting a lot of positive attention. The hotel even asked if they could photograph it for their web page. I'll let you know if that happens.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, September 24, 2012

Marshall is in Fort Walton Beach, waiting for me...

He made it to Fort Walton Beach last night and got all settled in for a good night's rest.  He had a slight back pain but he thinks it's a muscle pain and not a bone pain.  I think anybody's muscles would be screaming a little after a 1400-mile ride on a motorcycle!

Today some of the men will start trickling in for the military reunion, so Marshall will be visiting and catching up with buddies.  They set up a room called the Hootch as a main gathering place throughout the reunion where there are refreshments, snacks, photos, t-shirts for sale, information about the events of the reunion, etc.

I am heading up to Denver today to get a hotel room near the airport and my flight to Florida leaves at 8:00 tomorrow morning.

I will post pictures if I can figure out how to upload pictures from the iPad to the internet (so far that ability has eluded me).  But for now, here's a picture of the hotel.  Our room will be one of the end rooms with the large balcony.  It is heavenly.

Sheraton Four Points

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Marshall is in Vicksburg, Mississippi

Marshall stopped for the night in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  He is really enjoying this trip and he has been pain-free.

People are still surrounding the trike everywhere he stops, taking pictures, etc.

And the big news story of today was an announcement by MD Anderson, the cancer center, that they are pulling out all stops to find a cure for several different cancers (advanced prostate cancer is one of them) within this decade, and to have better life-extending treatments in place by 2014.  They are calling it their "moon shot" program.  That is very exciting news.  I am anxious to hear more.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Marshall has made it to Dallas -- feeling good!

Day Two of Bike Ride to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida:  Marshall has made it to Dallas and is enjoying the heck out of his trip.  He has been pain free and having a blast.  The bike has been drawing attention and he's been passing out his Prostate Cancer Awareness brochures. 

And we "video" talk every night using FaceTime on our iPads, which is really cool.  We get to see each other and Marshall also gets to see Marlee, Coco and Okie.  It is a great feature of the iPad.

I met up with my friend Janel today and we went over to Canon City to visit the shop where we have a booth.  Things are going well there.  Then we went to lunch and then back home.

Now, back to my health issues for hopefully the last time.  Dr. Hickson had told me to massage the gland, especially when eating.  Last night after a little dinner I was massaging the gland when all heck broke loose in my mouth.  Scared the daylights out of me.  It felt like a volcano eruption (ha) and caused choking.  Then it was over.

I called Dr. Hickson this morning first thing and she said, "Well, I think you cured yourself." And I think I agree. She said that whatever was blocking the duct coming from the gland must have finally broken free.   I haven't had any pain or swelling today at all, even while eating.  So I am a very happy person today.  I kept the appointment on the books for the dilation procedure on October 18th just in case, but I believe I will be canceling it when the time comes. 

All in all, this has been a really good day!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My appointment with ENT doctor

First, Marshall got off on his trip to Florida around 9:00 this morning and he is having a great time.  Every time he stops, he is surrounded by people admiring his bike, wanting to talk about it and taking pictures of it.  Very cool.  He stopped for the night near Amarillo, Texas.

After he left, I went to my new ENT doctor.  She says it is definitely a problem with the submandibular salivary gland.  She does not think there is a stone and she does not think the lymph nodes surrounding the gland are malignant.  But she does think that perhaps the salivary gland needs to be removed.  The side effects are a little scary (damage to a facial nerve causing numbness, damage to some large blood vessels, etc.), so she said she could try something else first.  She says she can dilate the duct that enters the gland and see if that releases some of the pressure and might resolve everything.  She also suggested massaging the gland at meals and drinking tons of water every day and applying a hot compress several times a day.  I go back on October 18th for the dilation procedure.  Ugh.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Getting ready for Florida

Today we ran around and did all the little things to get ready for Florida trip.  Took the trike to Harley for its 1000-mile checkup and then came home and started packing up for Marshall to leave tomorrow morning.

His back pain went away and he developed pain in the center of his chest that got progressively worse all day.  We are assuming that pain is also associated with the Xgeva injection. Took more Tylenol and the pain lessened.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be pain-free.

Dr. Flaig's nurse finally returned my call today, so I feel better about that.  Marshall now has his next appointments all set up on October 10 (for CT scan and full-body bone scan) and on October 11 for another PSA test and then an appointment with Dr. Flaig to get results of all the tests.  Another stressful two days.  But in the meantime, we have Florida!
Not to grasp at straws, but Marshall has had a hiatal hernia for years and tonight I did some research on hernias.  (Today, he had chest pain -- center of the chest -- and he was nauseous, hoarse, had hiccups, and no appetite).  Every one of these symptoms falls under hiatal hernia, for whatever it's worth.....

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Side effects of Xgeva injection

Marshall had a wonderful trip to Albuquerque and back.  He really enjoyed himself.  He needed that after the rough doctor visit on Thursday.  The psa rise was kind of depressing.

But over the weekend he started developing a little back pain that got worse as time went on and by yesterday it was really bothering him.  I sent the oncologist an email, but he has not responded, and neither has his nurse.  Not happy about that.

So I got online and into a few Message Boards and learned that quite a few men have back pain and some bone pain for the first week after an Xgeva injection.  That was reassuring.  They recommended Motrin or Tylenol or another painkiller, so Marshall took a few Extra Strength Tylenol and in a half hour he was feeling less pain.

Then tonight Marshall was nauseous.  Back to the Message Boards (or, as Tricia would say, back to "Dr. Google").  Nausea is another side effect of the Xgeva injection.  Hopefully this will all die down by the time he leaves on Thursday for his trip to Florida!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Marshall took off on his Harley for weekend

Yesterday Marshall woke up in a better frame of mind and decided we would go on our Florida trip (his annual military reunion), so we will schedule the next set of tests for early October.  Marshall even said that this little "setback" may have been a good thing because it is spurring him on to spend more time on things he wants to do (and actually doing them) rather than dwelling on the unknown.

So yesterday we took a long ride on the Harley, had a nice lunch, and came home.  And this morning he headed out to Albuquerque.  It's only about 350 miles away and he wants to see if he can manage 350 miles in a day so he can build his stamina a bit before he heads out to Florida on the Harley.  He had this bike painted to honor his time in Viet Nam and all of his buddies that come to the reunion are looking forward to seeing it.  By the way, I will be flying to Florida and I'll meet him there... :)

So he will leave for Florida on his bike around September 20th and I'll leave September 25th.  We have a hotel room on the beach and I am very much looking forward to this relaxing oceanside trip.
Unloaded trike from the trailer

And off he goes.....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kind of a bad day -- PSA went up.....

Today was our appointment with the oncologist for lab work and the Xgeva shot.

HERE'S WHAT THE DOCTOR SAID:  "Your PSA went up slightly from 3.9 to 6.6.  Please don't let this depress you -- I have had a lot of patients whose PSA bounced around for a period of time and then went down and stayed down for a year or more.  So we just need to watch it closely.  And I'd like to be proactive to be sure we stay on top of things so let's schedule another PSA test in several weeks.  We have to wait at least two weeks before we can do another one, so any time at your convenience after two weeks from today.  And let's also do a full-body bone scan and a CT scan so we can compare it to your past one, so if there's any change we'll see it quickly."  [At this point I mentioned we had a trip to Florida scheduled on September 20th...]  Dr. Flaig said, "By all means, take your trip and schedule these tests for when you get  back."  Dr. Flaig also mentioned other options and drugs and clinical trials that we can talk about later.  I asked about Zytiga and he said that that drug can only be used after chemotherapy so it does not apply to Marshall.


We went and got the Xgeva (bone strengthener) shot and headed home.

What a day......

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vanity Plates

I got Marshall some vanity plates for the trike -- STNGER -- so here's a copy of the back of the bike with the new plates.  I have not yet been able to take any pictures that will do justice to this bike, but hopefully tomorrow.  You can see the gatling gun tailpipes and you can sort of see the AC119 gunship on the left fender firing on targets, and the survivor pictures on the right fender and the Eagle guarding the United States on the top trunk, but not good enough. 

Yesterday we bought a trailer for the bike so that he can get the bike from our house to town without ruining the paint job with rocks.  The trailer is pretty nice -- it has a skylight/vent in the top and lots of lights.  And since Marshall was riding the motorcycle back home, it was my job to pull the trailer back.  That was a little scary since I hadn't pulled a trailer in lots of years.  But it was easier than I was anticipating and we made it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Early Photos of Motorcycle

Today was a VERY long day, so here are some early photos of the trike. These pictures don't do it justice.  Better ones will follow in the days to come.  The first five were taken at the Harley dealership; the last two were taken at Fred & Jana's.
Rear view shows the "gatling gun" tailpipes.

This is the rear end showing the eagle protecting the United States.  The right fender
shows the survivors of Stinger 41 posing in front of their aircraft.

From the side, shows the tank.

Fender showing map of VietNam.

Jana and Marshall in the back, Jeffrey in the driver's seat....

Jeffrey and Fred.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The motorcycle is ready!!

We got a call from Pike's Peak Harley late this afternoon to tell us they have put the trike back together again and it is ready to pick up.  Yay!  However, they aren't open on Sundays, so we have to wait till Monday.  Marshall is counting the hours.

We have some old friends coming from St. Louis on Monday and they don't know it yet, but they will be taking a trip up to Harley with us so Marshall can get the bike.  I don't think they will mind.....

Now a real quick report on my CT scan:  On Thursday when Marshall checked himself out of the hospital, I was able to run over to the ENT doctor to get the results.  I was a little stressed out wondering what Marshall was doing back at the hospital, so I was distracted when I got to Dr. Newburg's office and all I really heard at that moment was that I need to get a biopsy of the lymph glands around the submandibular gland.

Afterwards, when we were back home and I could redirect my thoughts for a while, I put together what happened at the ENT and I think I need a second opinion.

When Dr. Newburg took me into the exam room she had another woman with her.  She introduced the woman but didn't ask me for permission to bring this woman in (who I now believe was probably an intern and was there for the learning experience).  Dr. Newburg pulled out my file and addressed every single comment to the intern and barely looked at me.  She said, "Mrs. Mullins came in two weeks ago with a swollen salivary gland and I sent her for a CT scan....."  And then she went on to say -- to the intern -- the CT scan did not show any stones in the salivary gland, the salivary gland is surrounded by 4 lymph nodes, the lymph nodes looked benign to her but you just can't tell without a biopsy, and maybe the gland should even be surgically removed.  And she kept drawing little pictures and showing them to the intern, never once looking at me.

When she turned her attention to me at the end, I asked her what her recommendation was and she said she couldn't tell me what to do.  She told me to call her if I wanted her to remove the gland and she would perform the surgery (and she mentioned some very scary side effects to this surgery) --then she handed me a card of a person to call if I wanted to get a biopsy.  That was it.  When I thought about it later, I decided I needed to start over and get a second opinion.  I don't like Dr. Newburg.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The motorcycle may actually be done soon

We got a call from the artist this morning.  He has finished all of the artwork and has delivered all of the pieces back to Pike's Peak Harley Davidson to be put back together again.  So Marshall called the Harley dealer and they say they will do their best to get it done quickly.  So sometime next week he will actually have the trike back.  I can't wait to get pictures of the completed project.

Marshall rested all day today and is feeling good, so I am very happy about that.  We are starting to calm down now after these scary few days.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Marshall checked himself out of hospital

Well, every time there was a shift change at the hospital, Marshall had to see a new and different doctor that was on call.  All of them were foreign and you can imagine Marshall with his hillbilly accent trying to talk to someone with a heavy Indian accent or perhaps Korean accent.  This morning he ripped all of his monitors off just to see how long it took for anyone to notice.  And no nurse EVER came running.  So he was really getting angry when the little female Asian doctor walked in and wanted to do more tests.  He got so frustrated trying to talk to her that it really escalated.  He feels that doctors in general have let him down hugely by not catching this cancer before it got advanced and now these doctors at Parkview weren't doing much to impress him either.

 So Marshall checked himself out of the hospital against the doctors’ recommendation and we are now home. 

From my perspective when I spoke to the doctors, they said they were not able to detect a heart attack.  All heart functions checked out fine.  They did a scan of his carotid artery this morning but we didn’t stick around long enough to get the results.  They wanted to do an MRI of his head but he couldn't convince this doctor that he needs to be anesthetized for an MRI.  The only other explanation they could come up with for what happened was a mini-stroke because that would present the same symptoms (passing out, chest pain, difficulty breathing, unable to speak) or maybe angina.  But I guess we’ll never know.  He has a big black eye from when he passed out and he is choosing to tell people that I beat him up (ha). 

He is on the mend and we will hope it doesn’t happen again.  It’s been surreal.  I'm attaching a photo of his big old "shiner"!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Marshall still in hospital....

The hospital did a bunch of blood enzyme tests throughout the night and they did a scan of Marshall's neck.  They also did a stress test.  None of the tests confirmed a heart attack, and yet they can't come up with any other reason for what happened.

Late this afternoon they decided to do a scan of Marshall's head.  When he passed out, he must have hit the floor hard with his face because he has a real shiner today (I'll see if I can post a photo tomorrow ....).  So as a precautionary measure, they thought a scan of the head was in order.  When I left the hospital tonight he was waiting on the results of that scan.  They anticipate releasing him tomorrow morning.  It is extremely frustrating to see him go through all of that and not come up with a cause but it is good to have him released to come home.  Me and the boys will be glad to have our "normal" back, even if our "normal" gets re-defined periodically.  Although I doubt that I will let him drive for a while -- at least not with me in the car!

Tomorrow I go to the ENT doctor at 10:30 to get the results of my CT scan so I will get to the hospital around noon.  Hopefully he will have gotten the final test result by then and be all ready to leave.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the next report.

Marshall is in the hospital

Well, today started off really good.  Marshall woke up with more energy than usual and in a nice frame of mind, so we ran a bunch of errands and had a late brunch.  We got home around 3:00 and noticed that one of the greenhouse doors had mostly broken off, no idea why, so we took it off the rest of the way.

Then we came in the house and started doing a few things around the house.  I was in my office and I heard a loud THUMP.  I thought the cat had knocked over his "tower," so I went out to take a look and Marshall was unconscious on the floor.  I got down on the floor and shook him a little and checked to see if he was breathing and after about a minute and a half he started to come around.  His head was bleeding from hitting the floor with his glasses on and his knee was bleeding from whatever it scraped as he fell.

So I tried to help him get up and he couldn't seem to move his legs or arms.  He tried to talk and all that came out was gibberish.  So I grabbed the phone and called 911.  By that time, he was grabbing his chest and moaning in pain, but still couldn't talk clearly.  He was sweating, pale, cold and clammy.  He was able to let me know that his left arm was numb.

The 911 dispatcher stayed on the phone with me and she could hear Marshall moaning and crying out in pain and she was relaying everything to the paramedics.  All I could understand Marshall say was "Please hurry, please hurry."  The dispatcher did a superb job of keeping me calm.

It felt like an eternity, but the paramedics were here in about 17 or 18 minutes.  I got all the animals tucked away into the bedroom so they would be out of the way (but Marlee was breaking my heart, he refused to leave Marshall's side and I had to drag him away).

The paramedics started working on him and one of them said she thought they needed the Flight For Life helicopter to get him to the hospital quicker.  She asked for my permission to order the helicopter, so I guess that tells me that insurance won't cover this and from hearing stories of others who have used Flight For Life, I believe it's about a $15,000 trip.  But how can you not do it?  So the helicopter landed in a field a little ways from our house and whisked him off to the hospital.

By that time he was starting to come around and feel more normal because as they were taking him out, he was saying to the paramedics, "Ain't this a bitch!  I've got cancer and I'm going to die of a heart attack."

By the time I got to the hospital, they had already run a few tests and they decided to admit him.  He got into his room around 9:30 or so.  And by then he was actually feeling fine.  Two doctors came in around 10:30 and spent an hour or so asking questions and making him do funny things like touch his nose with his forefinger and grab the doctor's fingers and squeeze, etc.

The doctor said that they cannot right now definitely say it was a heart attack, so I can't wait to hear what else it could have been.  The doctor talked about checking markers in the blood, something that's supposed to tell them if there has been damage to the heart.  They also want to check his carotid arteries for clots.  They want to do a stress test.  And they want to see if it is at all possible that this was all cancer related.  (Marshall does have cancer lesions in his ribcage...)

So stay tuned for more news tomorrow.  I will try to be at the hospital by 10:00.  Right now, me and the boys are off to bed!