Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cancer Center Day, PSA 0.88 !!!!!!!!!!

Today was the 2-week monitoring visit to the Cancer Center. All of the blood work came back in the normal range -- AND THE PSA IS NOW DOWN TO 0.88. This could not have been a better day.

The nurse practitioner said that he is doing so well we are now going to have monthly visits instead of bi-monthly. That is excellent news, but it is also a bit scary. Those 2-week visits were comforting in their own special way. But it's really good to not have to drive 400 miles every 2 weeks.

He is feeling much better after his hospitalization as well. So perhaps the medication tweaking is making a difference, too.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Getting back to "normal"

We are slowly getting back to our "normal." Marshall has been feeling pretty good and his spirits are better. He will feel even better after our next visit to the Cancer Center on Wednesday for the regular checkup and to go over this recent hospitalization with the oncologist.

Today his lift chair arrived and it is pretty cool. It is a combination lift chair and zero gravity chair so it's supposed to help keep the blood from pooling in the legs. He can adjust this chair about 20 different ways.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Home from the hospital

Marshall was released today, but no real diagnosis. They changed a few medications to see if perhaps some of them were interacting badly.

We are home and relaxing.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2nd day in hospital

Marshall had a brain scan (it was normal); a CT scan of the kidneys (it also was normal); a visit with speech therapists and a visit with a physical therapist (they said he was fine); an EEG (no results yet); and 24-hr heart monitoring (no problems). His blood pressure has been running a little high. Tonight he got an MRI of his brain and we will get those results tomorrow.

The hospitalist said that he really thinks it was a mini-stroke and he hopes that the MRI will determine it for sure. And for the time being Marshall will stop taking Prilosec because it has a potential to interact poorly with Plavix and Plavix is the more important drug.

When I left the hospital this evening, Marshall was up and about and actually taking a walk around the floor. But when I got home and called him, he was kind of depressed. Too many things going on with his health.

He should be released tomorrow and with any luck we will leave there with an actual diagnosis.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In the hospital again

Well, Marshall got back from Wyoming this morning on his trike (it finally was fixed and he was able to pick it up). I went to town to get him at the place where he stores the bike and he pulled in, parked the bike and got off. He was in a great mood.

He took a few steps across the garage and started talking funny and he grabbed the wall at the door and said his stomach hurt. I got him a folding chair that we keep at the garage and he slid down to the chair and he was sweating and cold and clammy (sound familiar? -- something almost like this happened earlier this year here at home) His speech was slurred and he said his vision got blurry. He said his neck felt stiff.

We were only a few blocks from the clinic, so I called 911 and the ambulance was there in moments and took him to Parkview They did some tests in the emergency room and couldn't find anything wrong so they admitted him.

They did an ultrasound of his neck to check the arteries and that looked okay. Tomorrow they are going to do an MRI -- if they can sedate him for it since he has severe claustrophobia -- on his kidneys. They said the blood work showed kidney problems. We've been dealing with this at the oncologist's office, too, so I am hoping it's just another episode of dehydration from the motorcycle trip.

The hospitalist spent a bit of time with us and said for the most part he just didn't see anything wrong. He thinks that perhaps Marshall is having a series of mini-strokes. He did some checking on medications and came back and said it was possible that the Prilosec was interacting badly with the Plavix so we are going to tweak that a bit.

As soon as Marshall gets out of the hospital, we will run all of this by the oncologist to get his feel for this medication tweaking.

And it goes without saying that the eye surgery scheduled for Thursday is going to have to be canceled.

But the good news for the day is that when I got home from the hospital around 11PM I noticed that our phone was working again and our internet is back. It's a small thing in comparison, but it was so nice to be able to have a few things on the plus side.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Motorcycle is ready

They called last night to say that the motorcycle was fixed so Marshall headed back to Wyoming today to pick it up. They said that they test drove it a bunch of times to be sure it was okay and it checked out.

We had a little meltdown this morning -- every now and then we let ourselves dwell on the cancer and how it has changed our lives and when that happens it gets emotional. But we move on....

Our land line is still out and our internet is still out. I feel so isolated (ha). We are very grateful for the rain but I can do without the lightning strikes.

This morning I went into the cupboard to get a coffee cup out and there was a scorpion in it!!!!!!!!!! My screams scared Marshall to death. It's so weird -- we have neighbors who have lived here 20+ years and they have never seen a scorpion. We have been here 9 years and we have seen 5 scorpions, three of them were in the house. Marshall said it was a "fine specimen" and wanted me to look at it closer. Fat chance.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Eye Surgery

Well, Marshall has to have eye surgery on July 25.

Evidently the vitreous fluid behind the retina has broken loose and formed large globs of "gel" that are floating in his eye and making vision in the right eye almost impossible.

The retina specialist (at the University of Colorado) will remove the vitreous fluid and replace it with an air bubble and some saline.  Within a week or so, the air bubble will be absorbed by the body and the eye will start making its own saline solution.

The recovery will be like recovery from cataract surgery.  One week of total rest and using eyedrops every day, wear a patch to bed.  On the second week, he can move around more freely and resume most normal activities (although probably not motorcycle riding for a while).

Since his next visit with the oncologist is on July, we will be at a hotel for the 24th, 25th and 26th.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Addendum to today

The visit to the ophthalmologist (at the University Hospital) was kind of a downer.

Ever since Marshall had cataract surgery on his right eye -- about a year ago -- there has been a kind of film floating back and forth across his eye and it really messes with his vision.  It's not a floater, it is a film that moves around.  We were hoping that some kind of minimal laser surgery could take care of it.

So today he had a very thorough examination by a retina specialist.  He said that the "film" is actually vitreous fluid that has broken away and is kind of gummed up together.  He advised that there are only two options:  (1) live with it; or (2) have risky surgery.    I asked the doctor what the risks were and he said infection or detached retina or, in the worst case scenario, loss of vision.

The doctor went to great lengths to be sure Marshall couldn't just live with the situation as it is and Marshall said it impairs his vision so badly that he really wanted the surgery.  Since it is elective surgery we need to see if Medicare will cover it so the doctor's scheduler will call us in the next week or so to discuss it.

I asked the doctor if he had performed the surgery before and he said "many times," even though he looked like he was only about 18.  I asked him how successful this surgery was and he said problems only occur in 1 out of 4000 patients.  He also said that the results were usually very very good.

If anyone reading this has any input on this surgery, I would appreciate it.

Today at Cancer Center

Lab work showed that he was starting to get dry again so she stressed the water intake.

He got his Xgeva shot and his Zolodex shot. Zolodex is taking the place of Lupron. They think he will tolerate it better.

For a lot of reasons, Marshall is depressed today so this has been an incredibly ugly day. And we still have a 4-hr drive home. Ugh.

Now we are waiting for him to see the ophthalmologist and they are running late. I hope they are able to help him. It would improve the mood.

We will head back home when this is done.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013


First of all, I want to clarify that Marshall broke down in Wyoming, not Montana like I said in my entry a few days ago.  I learned about my mistake when my friend Jane -- who lives in Montana -- called me this morning to find out where in Montana Marshall was and why did I mention Wyoming in the last post.  My apologies.

Marshall made it back to Denver in the rental car and is staying with a friend.  Tomorrow he has lab work done at the University Hospital and then he'll be home tomorrow afternoon to begin his fight with Harley Davidson about getting a new engine for the trike.

In the meantime, the lightning strike to our house is still playing with my brain.  The land line works one minute and doesn't the next.  The internet is bouncing on and off.  I'm writing this during a brief "on" period.  And on top of that my iPhone is acting all wonky.  I may have to drive to Pueblo tomorrow to have a talk with the AT&T folks.

We love living in these mountains, but those dry lightning strikes are dangerous.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The saga continues

Marshall's motorcycle has huge problems. I won't even pretend to understand what happened, but there were words like "hole in the piston," and "burned through the plastic," etc. The Harley dealer in Caspar, Wyoming was not able to fix it so Marshall had to leave the bike behind and rent a car to drive back. He also had to miss the Wyoming State Harley Rally and eat the cost of two nights at a hotel. What a trip.

I realized that Marshall doesn't have enough cancer medications with him for the extra time that his return trip is going to take and had a bit of a panic for a while so I called the on-call oncologist at the University and she talked me off the ledge. I was going to get in the car and start driving up to meet him so we could keep on our medication schedule, but he should be back home on Monday in time to take his medications a little late so the oncologist said it would be okay.

He is due for more lab work on Monday so on his way back he also has to stop at the University Hospital.

Our new wireless router finally arrived today at 5:30 and I spent the next 4 or 5 hours trying to get it all set up again. I'm not sure I succeeded. I'll know for sure tomorrow.

PS: Marshall made the comment that when he had his Honda GoldWings, he NEVER had a breakdown or any mechanical problems whatsoever. Just saying .......

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

What a day

Our house got hit by lightning twice. Knocked out the land line for the day (thank goodness for the iPhone which I'm using now).

Fried the wireless router so no Internet till Saturday or Monday.

Scared the daylights out of me, the dogs, and the cat.

And then I hear from Marshall that the Harley broke down in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming. He will be stuck there a while.

What next?

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

PSA DOWN TO 1.04 !!!!!!!!!

We came up to the hospital yesterday so that Marshall could go to the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Center. They couldn't find anything definitive wrong with the eyes, so they set another appointment for next Thursday for him to have a thorough retina examination.

So we spent the night at our favorite hotel, the Spring Hill Suites, and had a nice evening just kicking back.

Today was the regular 2-week lab work and checkup with the nurse practitioner, Kathryn. The best news is that the PSA has gone down even more and it is now 1.04. That is so exciting.

His iron levels are coming up again, which is really good, so we will continue the iron supplements until it gets back up to normal.

His Vitamin D levels are getting low again, so they will be starting him up again on 50,000 units of Vitamin D a week for the next 24 weeks to bring those levels back up. We mentioned that it was odd that his vitamin D would be so low when he gets a lot of sunlight. She said she is not at all convinced with regard to the correlation between sunlight and vitamin D production in the body.

With regard to the petechia/purpura on his arms, she said that is probably caused by the prednisone and that, while it is annoying, it is not harmful and he shouldn't worry about it.

The varicose veins on his legs are not concerning her at this point, but we will keep an eye on them and monitor them. The varicose veins could be causing some of the leg pain he's been having.

She said that if the restless leg syndrome continues to get worse, she will prescribe Gabapentin for him. (Tricia, I mentioned that you gave us your bottle of Gabapentin and she seemed to think he could use that if necessary, so thank you.)

We mentioned that he's been having some leg pain that is reminiscent of the bone pain he had before and she said that if it was bone pain from the cancer, it would not be intermittent, it would be constant, so she was confident it was not the cancer.

Marshall asked her for her opinion about what was happening with the cancer in the bones -- if he could be considered in remission. She said that the term remission isn't really used any more except in very limited cancer situations. It is not used in prostate cancer that has metastasized. But she is confident that the tumors are being starved and thus are not growing. She said that's what all of the test results tell her.

And she's not sure what is causing the nausea, but she wants him to try to not take the anti-nausea pills unless he absolutely has to. Easier said than done.

But then she saw one of the tests that indicated he was severely dehydrated again and that concerned her. She did not want him to leave on his motorcycle trip today without being hydrated, so he had to stick around until 3:30 to get hooked up to an IV for several hours. She stressed to him again that he needs to get 60 or 70 ounces of water a day.

She wants him to see his primary care physician on Monday when he gets back to check the kidney function and if it isn't back up to par by then, she wants him up at the hospital ASAP in order to do an ultrasound of the kidneys to see if anything bad is going on. She feels confident that he is just dehydrated from not getting enough water and that he will be back up to par by Monday but she wants to be sure we stay very much on top of this.

I asked her whether drinking coffee could cause dehydration and she said absolutely. She said that for every cup of coffee he drinks, he needs to have two glasses of water -- one for the water he should be drinking and a second glass to make up for the cup of coffee. So Marshall may cut down on coffee.

He is due for another Lupron (hormone) injection and Xgeva (bone strengthener) injection and he'll get that next Thursday.

One of Marshall's childhood friends was in Boulder this week so he came over to the hotel to spend a few hours with Marshall this afternoon. That was a special treat.

I think that sums it up.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Back to see the doctor

Tomorrow (Monday) we head up to the University Hospital again.  On Monday Marshall has an appointment with an ophthalmologist at the hospital to see if they can do anything about the film that is covering one eye and moving back and forth.  He's had cataract surgery and went back to the ophthalmologist who did that surgery and this doctor said "sorry, nothing can be done, you have to learn to live with it."  That wasn't really an acceptable answer, so we are going to the very highly regarded University doctor to see what she says.

Then Tuesday morning is more lab work and then a visit with the Nurse Practitioner to see where we stand with regard to iron levels, Vitamin B levels, and all the other things they check every two weeks.  Marshall has developed what the Nurse Practitioner said was petechia on his arms.  (I hear that word on Law & Order all the time and now I know what it is...)  Basically that's broken blood vessels that then cause these purple blotches on his arms.  And he scratches them and they get worse.  So we want to talk to her about that.

In addition, he says his legs still have that very very heavy feeling and his knees feel wobbly.  When I consult Dr. Google, it seems like this could be due to the low iron levels, but we will talk to the Nurse about that, too.

Then after that visit on Tuesday, he is taking off on his bike and going to the Wyoming State HOG Rally to enter his bike in another show and I will head back home.  He'll be gone till Sunday.

I have already made an appointment for a massage and a manicure on Wednesday!!

Our sweet sheltie, Marlee, has developed a lipoma (benign fatty tissue) on his stomach.  It is weird looking but at least it is benign.  Poor thing, he is now almost totally deaf, he has thyroid problems, cataracts, and extreme arthritis (without Rimadyl, he can hardly walk).  He does a lot of sleeping these days.  We've bought him a very nice bed with a bolster pillow around it that he loves.  Every hour or so he gets up enough energy to chase the cat and then he lays down for another nap.  We will do whatever it takes to keep him comfortable and pain-free.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

More Photo Shoot

Marshall's depression lifted a bit and we got out and about several times this week.

Sean Halverson, the photographer who is doing the photo shoot, asked us to come to his studio Friday night to do some video of Marshall.  Everything he did was SO cool.  He put Marshall in an entirely black background and sat him in a big armchair.   There was a table next to the chair with a glass of wine on it and an old time radio (indicating the period of time of the VietNam war).  Then he did a video interview and Marshall appeared to be sitting in the shadows but you could see him clearly.  Marshall was dressed in his Harley gear and the glass of wine sitting on the table was kind of a quirky touch.  Really cool.

When he is finished -- which will still be a while -- he plans to post a short video on YouTube and when that happens I'll put the link here.

He also gave Marshall an 8x10 of one of the pictures from the last shoot.
Sean's wife, Heidi, is a fellow crafter (she makes dichroic glass items) so she and I made earrings while Marshall and Sean were doing the video.  It was a fun night.

Then this morning we met Sean at 6:00am (YAWN) so he could get a video of Marshall on the bike.  The town was totally dead at that hour so he was able to shoot Marshall coming towards him and then heading away from him, all on Main Street with no other traffic in the video.