Saturday, February 14, 2015

Taking a break

Marshall is being released today from the hospital. Supposedly we will have physical therapy at home starting on Monday. Then we come back on Wednesday to get "mapped" for radiation. Then the following week -- if all goes according to plan -- we come back for the radiation.

Then on March 9 we come back to see the oncologist to get started back on a cancer treatment.

I am now going to take a break from this blog. I have no more mental or physical energy left and need to rest and regroup.

Thank you all for the love and support. It has meant the world to us.

I will be back in a few weeks.

Marilyn and Marshall

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Marshall is being discharged tomorrow

They told him today that they were sending him home tomorrow. My panic attack from yesterday doubled in size because I have no idea how to take care of him.  I was not prepared for this.

But the hospital found a company that will send rehab people out to our house so that is a good thing.

One day at a time.....

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Day three after surgery

Marshall got up and walked around the hospital floor today (with his brace on and his walker). He is making fantastic progress. He was moved to the orthopedic floor today, too, so his rehab can be easier.

I, on the other hand, spent the entire day in the emergency room for stress-related symptoms.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Day two after surgery

They got him to a standing position today. She says the hardest part will be laying back down. He has to "be a log." No twisting.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

One day after surgery

Today went fairly well. Marshall has pain from swelling of the spine but he has a pain pump to push when it gets out of hand. They tried to get him up today but all he could manage was to sit on the side of the bed. They all said that was very very good for the first day.

There were a few little issues during the day but all in all it went well. When I Ieft to come back to the hotel tonight he was having dinner.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Marshall is out of surgery

I just spoke to the doctor and Marshall is out of surgery ( it's 8:15P and the surgery started at 5:15P).

The doctor said it went really well and there were no surprises (which he said was a very good thing). He said they removed the tumor "cleanly" and that the screws went in nicely. I believe they also put some "cement" in to strengthen the bones. He said the cement was calcium something-or-other.

He said that until the spine calms down Marshall will be in a lot of pain so he will have one of those pain pumps so he can control his own pain medication.

They will be putting him in what the doctor called a "step down" room. He said that was between ICU and a regular room -- he felt Marshall needed a day or two of extra care.

When Marshall leaves the hospital (in about five days) he will be wearing a brace and he won't be allowed to bend, lift or twist for 3 months. I told the doctor that should be interesting because Marshall is a restless sleeper and sometimes his bed looks like it's been hit with a tornado!

He will be sent to off-site rehab -- we think he may go back to the VA Nursing Home for rehab which would be nice.

In a month or two he will have something called radiofrequency ablation (I will need to get a better handle on what that is) and then he will also have some more sessions of regular spot radiation. So there are still some tough times coming, but if the spinal pain has been removed, he should be able to handle everything else very nicely. We are very excited about this.

Our oncologist called to say that he thinks this surgery was definitely the thing to do and we would revisit further cancer treatment as soon as we settle down from all of this.

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A tumor in the spine is the cause of the problems.

Marshall will have spine surgery in about an hour to remove as much of a tumor as possible and put in a few screws.

Then in a month or two he will have radiation to try to kill this tumor all the way. In addition later on he will also have something called radio frequency ablation.

It will be a 3 hour surgery.

More later.

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I just talked to Marshall. They took him for a bunch of tests during the night and they say it is definitely the cancer causing him to lose feeling in his legs. They are trying to decide whether the best approach will be surgery or spot radiation.

I am on my way to Denver shortly. Will report later.

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Back to the emergency room

To recap -- a week ago Marshall started losing feeling in his feet; then it went up to his knees and then yesterday up to his hips.  I was going to call 911 and he wouldn’t let me because they would take him to Parkview and he’s been there too many times.  Every time he goes they start from scratch (which of course they have to do) and never get any results.  They usually end up making things worse because they start changing his medications around and also they are the ones who gave him the Dilaudid that put him in a semi-coma for weeks.  He said the only hospital he would go to is the University Hospital in Denver because that’s where he’s being treated and they have all his records, etc. etc.

Last night I had to help him to the bathroom several times.  His legs were kind of floppy so it wasn’t easy but we did it without him falling. 

This morning he says he has lots of rib pain, as well as the numbness in the legs.

So I got on the phone to a patient advocate that I met up at the university and she works for the top oncologist at the University (he’s our oncologist’s boss) and she told him what was going on and he said Marshall should get to the nearest emergency room immediately.  Marshall said the only emergency room he would go to is the University’s.  So this wonderful patient advocate (her name is Wendy) is driving all the way down here to pick him up and get him up there.  That way I can spend the night here, get myself calmed down, take care of the animals, and get all packed to drive up there tomorrow.

Wendy also had the weekend on-call oncologist give me a call and he said he would prefer that Marshall go to the nearest hospital to us because he thinks this is an emergency situation but if Marshall comes up to Denver, that’s okay, too.  He said the quicker they can diagnose what’s going on, the quicker they can maybe do something.  He thought there was a possibility some radiation could be done to the lower spine that might alleviate everything that’s going on.  But of course he was just “supposing.”  We should know more tomorrow.  I think Marshall may have already had radiation to the spine and I don't think they can do it twice, but we'll find out.

He still has scans scheduled for Tuesday, but everything should be taken over by the hospital now rather than outpatient.  At least I hope so.

I will try to leave here tomorrow morning around 8:30 so I should be at the hospital by noon.  I will post information as it happens.

Friday, February 6, 2015

It just keeps on coming...

Marshall is now experiencing numbness and tingling in his legs from his knees to his toes. Dr. Gonzalez (VA Doctor) wants Marshall to see a neurologist and get an EMG to try to figure out the cause. I tried to get an appointment with the neurologist that Dr. Gonzalez suggested but they haven't returned my call. Based on the x-rays done yesterday the numbness could be caused by any number of things. But Marshall also has diabetes so diabetic neuropathy could be another cause. I guess we will have to wait till Monday to get an appointment and on Monday we will be on our way up to Denver for a week at the cancer center so that will be tricky.

Then for the past week or two I've been having some breathing difficulties and I have attributed it to anxiety (you think?) or maybe an allergy to the cats? But today I decided I should see a doctor (Renee, thanks so much for your input) and I went to the clinic here in town. While I was sitting there, my oxygen level bounced all over the place (88 to 96 to 98 to 87 to 89 to 95, etc.) and the doctor tended to agree with me that it was probably anxiety because it shouldn't be bouncing around like that. He ruled out allergy because he said my lungs were clear. But he said that a diagnosis of anxiety cannot be made until everything else is ruled out.

He did an EKG which turned out okay and blood pressure was fine. So until I can see a pulmonologist (not sure how that is spelled), he wants me on oxygen at night when I am at home at our altitude, so the oxygen people are on their way here to get me set up. Good grief....

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Today's VA Visit

We saw the VA doctor and he helped us get truly back on track with the medications. The VA will take care of most of them, but they would not cover the Temazepam (sleeping pill), Remeron (antidepressant) and the Lidocaine patches.

He can manage without the sleeping pill and he has another antidepressant he can use, but the lidocaine patch has really been helping him, so that one will be tough. We checked and Medicare and our supplemental insurance won't cover it either and if we pay for it ourselves it would cost almost $300 a month so that is out of the question now. Dr. Gonzalez suggested we try lidocaine gel, which he says is not only not as effective as the patch but rubs off on your clothing; however, it may provide some relief, so we will try that. And the VA will pay for it.

Then we talked about Marshall's low back pain so Dr. Gonzalez sent us over to xray and they did an xray of the back.

This evening Dr. Gonzalez called us to tell us that the xray showed two things that we already know about: (1) severe degenerative disease; and (2) cancer. But nothing jumped out as a definitive cause of the severe pain.

So we will wait till next week's tests at the cancer center to see if they can pinpoint the problem and alleviate the pain.

Marshall has pretty much just been staying in bed but he does get up and walk through the house and do some of his exercises. And, most importantly, he is lucid and not hallucinating.

One day at a time....

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Marshall had a birthday

Marshall celebrated his birthday on Super Bowl Sunday. A friend came over and we piled up in the bedroom (Marshall can't sit in a chair for very long) and watched the game. We didn't win any money in the football pool, but it was a good game and halftime was great.

Marshall's back pain simply will not get better. We thought we got a handle on it by giving him some Aleve along with his other pain meds but it's been an up and down battle. He hasn't really been able to get out of bed, which is worrisome, but he is still managing to do some of the exercises. If his back permits he starts physical therapy here in town next week when we get back from the cancer center.

He's now been having trouble with his feet and lower legs. We are going to get an appointment with his endocrinologist to be sure nothing weird is going on with the diabetes.

Thursday he sees his VA doctor to try to get the medications all caught up.

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