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Monday, December 31, 2012

Doctor visit today

We called the clinic first thing this morning and got an appointment at 11:30 with Dr. Bliss.  The first stop is always the scale and we learned that Marshall has lost almost 10 pounds in the past 6 days because he has had no appetite whatsoever.

The doctor took some x-rays and determined that the constipation is not being caused by any bowel obstruction.  It's just constipation caused by oxycodone.

So Marshall was given instructions to drink a half bottle of mag citrate (the stuff you get before a colonoscopy), drink a quart of water with it, and then 4 hours later do it again.  So he drank his first half-bottle with a bunch of water and now he's napping for a while.  Hopefully by tonight he'll be on his way to getting that problem settled and he can bring in the New Year on a brand new feel-good note.

Dr. Bliss said he would call this evening to see how things were "going" (pun intended).

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tough weekend....

Marshall is feeling slightly better than he did on Friday, but still very constipated and just not feeling good.  Tomorrow we're going to call the doctor here in town and try to get an appointment.

On a humorous note, here's a picture of Marshall taken at Christmas with his "oxycodone face" and his Yoda Christmas hat!  It's actually kind of clever because I was taking his picture and you can see me in the mirror behind Marshall.  How about that?
Christmas in Arkansas - 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

5th radiation treatment done; we are now home

Marshall was sick all night last night, it was an awful night for him. He was so sick that if there was any pain, he didn't notice it.

This morning we got the 5th and final radiation treatment out of the way. The radiation department gave him a "graduation ceremony" in the waiting room. He got a certificate, along with a small glittery pom-pom, and everyone in the waiting room applauded and cheered. Too bad he felt too awful to get a kick out of this little celebration.

We talked to the on-call doctor about the nausea, constipation and general "icky" feeling. He looked at Marshall and said, "You know, you really don't look well." Well, duh.....

He suggested Marshall be very aggressive with laxatives and if he continued to have problems we should make an appointment with our primary care doctor. We also have enough anti-nausea pills to last for several weeks.

After the treatment we went back to the hotel and he tried to get a nap in before we hit the road for home.

We got home around 2:00 and it was so great to see our "boys." Marshall took a nap -- it was nice for him to be in his own bed -- and now he's watching TV and trying to relax, but he just feels yukky. The good thing is he is not feeling any pain, so that is excellent news.

I think we are on an upswing now, so stay tuned.....


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Thursday, December 27, 2012

4th radiation treatment under his belt

This morning we were at the hospital at 8:00AM for the 4th radiation treatment. Afterwards we talked to the on-call doctor about the pain and we filled him in on how Marshall was dealing with the pain (oxycodone, then 2 hours later Tylenol, then 2 hours later oxycodone, etc.).

The doctor told us that the oxycodone we were using was basically Tylenol so we were overdoing the Tylenol. She suggested that we continue the same timing schedule but substitute Ibuprofen for Tylenol. So we've been doing that all day today and he has felt a bit better, although constipation is now setting in because of the oxycodone. He slept most of the day today, which I guess he really needed.

When I went to Walgreens to get the Ibuprofen I also picked up a cane to help him not only walk, but to help him get up easier from a sitting position.

Tomorrow is the last of the radiation treatments and then we finally head home. I don't think we'll be able to take the car home tomorrow (we left it at a friend's house here in Denver) if Marshall is still on the regular oxycodone because it is making him a bit drowsy. But we're coming back on January 3rd for his next PSA test and visit with the oncologist and we can always get it then.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pain won't go away

We made it back to Denver and are now resting at the Springhill Suites across from the Hospital. The weather was great for the whole drive (although bitterly cold!), even though the midwest was hit with some bad weather. We stayed ahead of it.

However, Marshall's pain never let up. It was an AWFUL trip for Marshall. He couldn't get comfortable and was in extreme pain for the entire trip. It was heartbreaking for me because there was nothing I could do. We used the oxycodone every four hours and the Extra Strength Tylenol in between times. And it still didn't work. I was so glad to get to the hotel where he could get in a bed and maybe relieve some of the pain.

So far he is still in pain, but feeling slightly better. Tomorrow morning at 8:20 we go for the fourth radiation treatment and we will discuss this pain with the radiation oncologist and see what he says.


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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On our way back to Colorado

Well, we are now heading back to Colorado for the last two radiation treatments. The Christmas trip to Arkansas was awesome for me, but misery for Marshall. He was in excruciating pain the whole time and was in bed a lot. It was awful.

However, I had a great visit with my family and Marshall had an hour or two here and there where he felt good enough to at least come out on the deck and look at the river going by.

The weather couldn't have been better and my brother and son-in-law had fun fishing (and we all had fun eating the fish!). Here are a few photos:

Me and Marshall on our deck (see my son-in-law fishing in the background):




Tricia peeking behind a tree:



My brother on the deck of our cottage:



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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas in Arkansas

It's been a tough few days here in Arkansas. Marshall has had lots of pain and we have tried to stay ahead of the pain but we haven't been as successful as we would like. I located the nearest hospital just in case we needed a trip to the emergency room.

This morning we had a great brunch down at the lodge and then Marshall came back to the cottage and took a nap. The women went to Mountain Home and did some shopping while the guys watched football and Marshall was able to stay up and watch the game.

Then we came back and we cooked a great meal. Marshall got up late in the evening feeling a little better. So far we have avoided the emergency room!!

Here is a picture I took from the deck of our cottage and a picture of our precious 2-year-old great-niece (doesn't she look like the Capital One baby?). This is a GREAT place. More pictures will follow later.







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Friday, December 21, 2012

3rd Radiation Treatment

I got to Denver last night and picked Marshall up at our friends, Jim and Char's house (we left the Prius at their house and we are taking the truck to Arkansas -- thank you, Jim and Char).

Marshall was barely functioning when I picked him up. He had been nauseous all day after the radiation treatment and extremely fatigued. By the time we got to the hotel we weren't sure we would be able to go to Arkansas.

But we hugged a lot and Marshall got a fairly good night's sleep. This morning we went for the third radiation treatment at 7:40AM and we made sure to get anti-nausea medication today.

So Marshall felt good enough to head out to Arkansas and we are now at a hotel in Salina, Kansas -- almost halfway to our destination -- and by the time we got settled in the room, Marshall could barely walk and he was having really bad pain down his right leg. And his knee kept giving out.

He tried Tylenol and it didn't work, so he took an oxycodone and after an hour he started feeling better. Tomorrow before we leave Salina we are going to find a Walmart or a Walgreens and get him a knee brace so that he has more stability and doesn't fall.

Tomorrow evening we should be all settled in our wonderful riverside deluxe cottage and relaxing in front of a Christmas tree that my sister brings every year. Our cottage sits right on the White River -- and here's a picture I took from their website. I'll have better pictures next week. This place is awesome and oh-so-relaxing.




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Thursday, December 20, 2012

2nd Radiation Treatment

I heard from Marshall after this morning's radiation treatment -- he still has pain and now there's a bad pain in his knee.  So we hope that in a week or so the pain lets up.

But one of the side effects of radiation -- fatigue -- has shown up, so Marshall is totally zonked and at the hotel napping.

I am on my way to Denver now.

Day Three - Radiation and Snow Storm

On Wednesday I had planned to be with Marshall for his first actual radiation treatment, but southern Colorado had one heck of a snowstorm and I couldn't even make it down our lane.  this picture is taken from the window of the truck when I tried to get out and realized I couldn't.

Snow - December 19
A wonderful friend of ours, Catherine, volunteered to be with Marshall on Wednesday.  She went over and was there for him when he went in to get treatment and then she waited until he was done and made sure all was well.  (Thank you, Catherine, from the bottom of our hearts.)

The first treatment was uneventful -- Marshall says it was sort of like getting an x-ray -- but no pain has been alleviated yet.  Marshall had spent Tuesday night with his nephew, but on Wednesday he got a hotel room for the rest of the week.  The hotel is directly across the street from the hospital and makes things a whole lot easier.  (Thank you, Kevin and Angie, for taking care of him.)

Today he gets another radiation treatment -- he'll be by himself, but he'll be okay since he now knows what to expect.   I am getting things together to drive up to Denver to be with him and spend the night.  Tomorrow morning his treatment is at 7:40AM and then we will hit the road for Arkansas for Christmas.  Hopefully the pain will start to lessen during this trip.

Our neighbor Dave came over yesterday and plowed our road so that I won't have any difficulties getting out. And his wife Cathy brought over some Christmas goodies.  (Thank you, Dave and Cathy!!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day Two - Setting the radiation plan

Marshall met with the radiation oncologist this morning at 9:00. They did the simulated CT scan and marked the spots on his body where the radiation will be directed. The simulated CT scan required him to lay on a flat table and be still for quite a while so he left there with back pain again that lasted all through the evening.

His first radiation treatment is tomorrow at 2:00 and I plan to drive up to Denver to be there with him. However, the weather man is predicting a lot of snow and low visibility for tomorrow, so we may have to change that plan tomorrow. I know he wants me there with him so I hope the weather cooperates.

He will have another treatment Thursday and another on Friday. We are going to try to schedule the one on Friday to be in the morning so we can head out for our trip to Arkansas right after the treatment. We will leave my truck in Denver and pick it up on our way back next week.


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Monday, December 17, 2012

Depressing day -- radiation starting quickly

Our appointment with Dr. Kavanaugh (radiation oncologist) was at 2:30 today. (By the way, Dr. Kavanaugh had an uncanny resemblance to Elvis Costello!)

The first thing he did was to put Marshall's recent bone scan and CT scan on the screen and pointed out the many many places in the bones where there was cancer. We already knew these lesions were there, but had never really studied the scans. That was totally depressing.

However, the doctor continued talking and we moved on.

The doctor basically said that rather than try to do radiation on a large number of lesions, the best approach is to radiate the spots causing pain and worry about other lesions whenever they cause pain. Also, it is possible that the hormone therapy and the bone strengthening treatment are also working to reduce tumors and he didn't want to do unnecessary radiation unless and until the day comes when the hormone therapy isn't doing the job.

So for now, we are concentrating on the painful area of the lower spine and the right hip. Dr. Kavanaugh said there are two approaches. One would be to do one very strong radiation treatment. The second would be to spread it out and do 3 to 5 less strong radiation treatments. He thought the second approach was the way to go and I don't know whether he sensed our anxiety level or not, but he made the offer that we could get started on the radiation this week and finish it out next week after the holidays.

So Marshall has an appointment tomorrow at 9:00 to have what they called a "simulated" CT scan to (1) pinpoint the spots needing radiation; and (2) create a "cradle" for Marshall that, in addition to little tattoos, will make sure that each treatment is in exactly the correct spot. Then he will begin the radiation on Wednesday.

Marshall will drive up by himself tomorrow and stay with his great-nephew Kevin, who lives very close to the hospital. Then I will drive up on Wednesday to be with him for the first radiation treatment. I'll come back Wednesday night -- can't stay up in Denver because we don't have anyone to watch our boys.

We are scheduled to drive to Arkansas this weekend. We thought we'd leave Friday but now it looks like it might be Saturday. But we still plan to make the trip unless there are unexpected side effects. We have rented a house on the White River and there is a special fishing expedition waiting for Marshall in Arkansas with my brother and my son-in-law!

I will update this each day as we go through this new journey of radiation.


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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A couple of easy days

Yesterday Marshall felt fairly good so we took advantage of that and ran errands and then went to Canon City to visit Marketplace Shops (where we have our booth).  We went to our favorite Chinese restaurant for a late lunch and then home.  By the time we got home he was starting to get tired.

Today we stayed close to home.  Marshall felt pretty good most of the day, but took some Tylenol a few minutes ago, so I think the pain was creeping in again.  But at least he isn't in that awful pain that he had earlier this week.

It's been pretty cold this week so we've been using the wood burning stove and staying nice and cozy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Radiation

Marshall talked to Dr. Flaig (oncologist) today and Dr. Flaig now believes that Marshall's pain is caused by the cancer in the lower spine messing with the nerves so he thinks it's time for radiation.

So on Monday (12/17) we have a consult with the Radiation Department at the University of Colorado to decide how many radiation treatments he will need. Dr. Flaig believes he will need from 2 to 5 treatments, but we should know more on Monday.

Dr. Flaig says that they have a very high success rate with radiation pinpointing and killing the targeted cancer in the bone which then also kills those nerves and thus stops the pain. Marshall will have to have a special contraption designed just for him to enable precise targeting of the radiation.

Because of the Christmas holiday, these treatments won't be scheduled until after Christmas, so until then Marshall is going to have to figure out how to manage the pain through the holiday as well as our trip to Arkansas for Christmas. The doctors keep telling him to stay ahead of the pain by taking the Tylenol or painkiller of choice before the pain gets really bad rather than waiting till the pain is unbearable before taking medication. We'll have to work on that.

Today was a downer.




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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Snow

Well, first, Marshall had two of those pain injections, one on Friday and one on Saturday, and he is feeling better.  So that is good news.  (Oops, I spoke too soon -- the pain is back. Tomorrow we need to call the oncologist....I feel so helpless).

On a calming note, here's what our road looks like today:
Our first snow of the winter!  This is the half-mile lane to our house.

 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pain is always in the wings

Well, we will have several really good days and then Mr. Pain decides we've had enough good days.

So the past two days Marshall has been in a lot of pain and unable to do much of anything. Today he went back to his primary care doctor and got another one of those aspirin-like injections and now he's feeling better. He'll get another injection tomorrow.

The primary care doctor thinks the pain is cancer-related but when we brought this up to the oncologist last month he said that if it was cancer related, it would not go away that easy. So we're going with the oncologist's opinion.

It seems to me that if an anti-inflammatory quiets the pain down, then it must be inflammation causing the pain and not cancer. But at any rate, Marshall is feeling much better and that's good.



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Monday, December 3, 2012

Regular checkup with primary care physician

Today was Marshall's regularly scheduled visit to his primary care physician (he sees Dr. Bliss after every visit to the Cancer Center just to keep the doctor current on Marshall's care).

The oncologist had told us to ask Dr. Bliss about this weird skin pain that Marshall has on his abdomen that won't go away (I originally tried to blame it on a possible case of shingles, but that has been ruled out).  Dr. Bliss was at a loss but thought it could possibly be a diabetic neuropathy thing due to the diabetes.  He prescribed a topical treatment -- I think he said it was a steroid treatment --that Marshall needs to try for two weeks to see if it helps.  If it doesn't help, we will try something else.

Marshall's arthritis has been acting up more than usual, but that's another side effect of the hormone therapy treatment he's getting.

We've been getting a short walk in every morning and some stretching, so all in all, things are really good!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Marshall was a motorcycle reindeer

First of all, the crafts fair was a HUGE hit for me.  My sterling silver jewelry sold out each day of the fair and I had to stay up Thursday night and Friday night to make more jewelry to replenish my table.  I was so tickled.

And today Santa Claus came to Westcliffe on a fire truck.  And his reindeer were motorcyclists with antlers on and carrying stuffed animals.  They rode through town (which is about two blocks long) and then dropped Santa off at "All Aboard Westcliffe" where the kids joined him to get their picture taken and give him their wish lists.  I couldn't get any pictures of the ride through town because I was riding behind Marshall.

After Santa was dropped off to see the children, the "reindeer" rode down to the Assisted Living Center and we visited each resident and gave them a stuffed animal.  They weren't really expecting us and it was a little bizarre because about 10 motorcycles roared up to the front door of the Assisted Living Center and all of us (with our antlers on) walked into rooms and sang Jingle Bells and gave the resident a stuffed animal and said Merry Christmas and moved on...but they all seemed truly delighted to see us and get their stuffed animal.

I got pictures of the motorcycles gathering for the ride (below) but I didn't really get any pictures at the senior center except for Marshall with a 22-year-old toothless poodle that belonged to one of the residents, very cute.
Marshall and Santa

The "reindeer" getting ready -- that's me next to Santa.

The "reindeer" getting into place so that Santa and his Fire Truck can get behind them. 
Look at "Rudolph" with her red nose -- it even had blinking lights.
 There were only 2 trikes in the group and they got to ride in the rear, so Marshall is in the very back.

 And here comes Santa!!

Marshall with 22-year-old poodle at Assisted Living Center. 
They both look good for their age, don't they?  :)