A Time to Heal

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October 10, 2017
Just left the hospital here in Petoskey to go back to the motel. Bobbi underwent another procedure of having a new stent placed into her bile duct today. The last one, inserted in August became dislodged about a week and a half ago. It was plastic and small, this one is metal and will work a lot better. It should be removed during her upcoming Whipple surgery hopefully in December.

It was a painful and difficult week and a half as previous shared. We didn’t know if the pain was from the chemo treatments or another issue. It was this issue. Hard to imagine a device traveling through her system for such a long time. Very lucky we got her in and had things looked at.

What we learned from the procedure was also good news. There is no additional tumors and the one there is appears to be effected by the treatments. The Doctor explained that he wasn’t sure if the tumor had shrunk but did feel it had soften and wasn’t as hard as it had been when he placed the plastic one in. They had to use plastic then because of imaging. This was excellent news! My warrior didn’t want to go in, who would, but did and faced the fast pitch fastball that suddenly became an issue. It was difficult, naturally concerning many, but the problem is now fixed. The battle goes forward. Updating family and friends was time consuming but understood. I know people worry and don’t want that, so no problem. It’s not like I’m blogging while all this is taken place. Simply trying to find the time to assure people that she is safe and taking things on as fast as the problems surface.

Tonight, after she went to sleep I returned to this quiet and lonely motel and decided to update this. My own meds had to be taken and had to eat. We really appreciate the love and support from so many. Thank you.

CC, our grandchild, took the time to send an extremely pretty song with her playing the guitar. It was really pretty. The first time we heard it the music brought tears to our eyes. The expression on her face as she played it was beautiful. I played it for her while her eyes grew heavy and sleep came within seconds. The smallest acts of kindness and love go so much further than one can imagine. Thank you CC. It’s a precious gift.

Was one long day. At the end of it the sky gifted us with a wonderful sunset. Hoping this procedure will make her chemo battles more manageable. I kissed her cheek as she slept telling her she’s my hero. Thank you again for the prayers and support. Too many to list but you know who you are. The ones who didn’t get a chance we know your sending love.

AF76B5D5-D9DA-4AF1-AEBA-4B565AE98A52This is an amazing woman who could have given up and said to heck with it all. If one listen to the internets outlook and statistics many would not have the courage to battle. Every statistic has a positive side, may be slim but it’s there for a reason. We choose to believe we are on the side of positive. Time to end this and get up in the morning and take my wife home. Again thank you.

The Dark Of Night

October 9, 2017
Yesterday was another rough day. It’s Monday, about 3 :00am in the morning and I’ve staying up all night to watch over things. On Sunday morning she got up early, dressed, and was tired walking across the room. Her scalp hurt, skin, mouth. Hair continues to comb out in clumps. Her mood was very down and emotional. I went to the store and got a few scarves and flowers. It picked her mood up some but the day continued to be tough. We sat outside for about 30 minutes and even the sun caused pain on her skin. All the areas where new cells are constantly being made are effected by chemo. The medicine kills cancer cells but also kills good cells that reproduce naturally each day. The pain in her pancreas is not the chemo but the tumor. So the battle was taking place at different spots and different times. Her brother Steve and his wife Debbie were in town, texted to see if she was up for a visit but shared she was whipped out for company. They understood. We watched the Lions play but really didn’t follow it much. She tried to stay awake so she’d be able to sleep tonight.

I had a feeling that her night wouldn’t go well so laid down for an hour about 2:00. Sure enough, it didn’t go well. She went to bed about 9:00 but was up at around 9:30 balled up in severe pain. It was like a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10. No matter what she did it wouldn’t let up. I kept switching hot water bottles for cold. One minute she’d be burning up and the next minute chilled. Her temperature was bouncing all over the place. Tried help with massages, laying with her, providing fresh towels, but Twisty has a mind of its own. After about an hour she fell asleep exhausted. It’s presently about 3:15 in the morning and I just checked on her to see if she had a fever. She was sleeping soundly but temps still high.465EFA25-8C63-4F9B-BB43-FA3CFA22CA2F

What an ordeal. She has a week off from treatments but we may be going to Petoskey anyways to see the doctors. It’s close to a couple hour ride. The pain is just too much. Will be calling again when their office opens to find out. We knew this battle would be difficult, but had no clue what to expect. We are hoping that after the whipple surgery the painful episodes will subside, though pretty sure the 4 months of chemo will still leave her with fatigue and such. At least the tumor will be out, no longer pushing on the surrounding nerves and organs. We’ll learn more about this within the next 5 weeks. Hopefully the chemo is shrinking the tumor so they can safely get to it. It’s pushed against her portal veins so is too risky to attempt right now.

Have no clue what to expect today. The longer she stays asleep the better. At least she is not experiencing these problems then. I know she’ll will beat this but it’s hell watching her go through it.

So many thoughts and concerns going on at one time. There will be better days but at the time it’s like one boxing round after another. Each one leaving a toll. Her weight is slipping because she has no desire to eat, though is because she knows how important it is to be healthy enough to endure the major surgery. A whipple surgery is very complicated, which will be explained later. It’ll take place in Grand Rapids. For today we’ll just take it moment by moment until the darkness of the evening comes.

At about 11:00 her Doctor in Petoskey said to get her in the ER here in the Soo. We checked in, now she has her pain under control and a CAT scan is next. Will know more soon. She wasn’t too thrilled to come here but enough was enough. Could not sit back and watch her suffer. Bobbi’s the type to bite the bullet but in a situation like this it isn’t something to be messed with.

Doctor just came in and explained that the CAT scan shows that the stent they put in her bile duct became dislodged and she’ll be transported to Petoskey by ambulance to have it fixed today. Knew that something was going on. At least it’s not a new mass or tumor! We can handle this one. It’s what it isn’t that provides the relief. Serious but she’ll probably be back home tomorrow. Time to pack the bags and meet the ambulance down there. Thank you for the concern. Onward with the battle.

Keep Pushing On

BCD1D353-725E-4686-88E1-7CDC7A7A494FToday the severe pain, which would come intermediately partially subsided. Though Twisty did show its urge and painful resistance last night really bad. Another endless night. Bobbi battled through it. The continuation of keeping pain Meds going on a 24 – hour basis worked for about 20 hours and then she was balled up with the severe wrenching again. Hot water bottles helped, changing positions, and gently messages got her though the ordeal. A fan lightly on and oils filling the air with defuser helps. The whole thing gets me so angry. They tell us to take her to the hospital if things take place again but we’ve been that route many times in the pass. Bright lights, a million questions while hurting, and waiting for different things. By that time the episodes become easier then your told you’ll be in the ER until a bed is available in a few hours. While laying on a bed with a hospital gown on freezing. Then the end result being told they can’t help much so a transfer to another hospital should take place. With me on palliative care pain medications are plenty, but you don’t want to use something that will make matters worse. It’s such a catch-22 situation. Billions and billions of dollars are spent in healthcare and yet people have to experience deliberating pain while the wheels work in approvals and decisions. Don’t get me wrong, we appreciate what can be done, and is, but I personally feel things could and should move much faster.

After the latest episode, which lasted a good half hour she got dressed into her nightwear and is relaxing comfortably on the recliner. Had we went to the hospital she’d be telling her story 10 different times to 10 different doctors all asking the same question as the previous one.

We talked for an hour and even joked some about the system. The tumor itself is acting up, and the cells next to it are dying and have nerves. We are picturing Twisty getting a shot of the Chemo and reacting with a temper tantrum. Her attitude is amazing. She simply deals with it, good humor, and tries to prepare for the next episode. Know it will come. When it decides to show its ugly side is on its own schedule.

Attitude and outlook is so important. She isn’t laying around whining with a poor me attitude. Not even a little. The effect on her, with hair loss, has been traumatic but reached the point where she really doesn’t give a damn about it. I told her the courage she has shown throughout this ordeal has made her more beautiful than any other time. I get why it bothers her. Women grow up seeing beauty on TV and billboards being brainwashed that beauty is having to look a certain way. Hair, weight, makeup, etc… Such a bunch of crap. It naturally freaks them out when they feel they aren’t living up to societies so called model image. She could give a damn now about any of it. She knows the people around her simply want her to get better and wants the same. But it is a process. There have been mood changes but we talk our way though them. Letting go of past bitterness in different ways, forgiving, and moving on with just getting better. She’s always treated everyone important and caring. The times it hasn’t been returned, or with “attitude” hurt her. A few times stand out when first moving up north. I’ve wanted to call these few people out… she simply asks me not to. People have to live with that guilt, if it even exists, so that’s on them. Life holds many unpleasant and confusing times. We all have this experience. From people we thought were friends, and even family. You forgive and move on. You do it for yourself. She once lived a little unsure about her ability to speak out, (though always strong and independent) afraid to hurt feelings or being a bother to others. That Bobbi is long gone. This experience has taught her how strong she really is, the people who actually care and give a damn, and she is going to come out of this stronger, wiser, and more sure of her abilities. I’m proud of her. I’ve always tried to help install a confidence in her, and remember teaching her to drive a huge big boy Harley when she expressed the desire. A few months later she was ripping down the highway with a friend to visit Nigeria Falls on our 840 pound beast.

Anyone thats meet or knows her instantly takes to her kind and caring ways. She had a good day today considering a few rough spots. Proud of her. Thank you again for the kind letters, cards, and calls. To both family and friends. If we can’t respond right away it’s because the days have often turned into nights and the nights into days. Thank you, it won’t be forgotten. You really learn who your friends are, by what they say and do when the chips are down, and feel very fortunate for the people in our lives. We are really missing the kids and grandchildren but hear all is well with them.

Turbulence

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Back home, it’s Friday and we left the cabin last night. Bobbi returned from her chemo treatment Wednesday night and felt well. Walked on the beach some with Lori and Jim, spirits cheerful and uplifted. Knew it was the steroids fused into her IV. Gave her energy and helped her be her funny and carefree way. In the back of my mind I knew it was the calm before the storm. Wednesday night she had terrible dreams where she thought she was in North Korea and they were making her work, pulling her hair when she quit. She was talking to me as it was taking place. It was like she allowed me into the dream. As she cried I just talked softly into her ear that I was there and nobody was going to get to her, and told her as long as she felt me lightly rubbing her back she wouldn’t have people pulling at her. I knew her subconscious was causing the nightmare. Her feet were constantly shifting about. So much in the news about the place and her hair starting to thin. It lasted about 15 minutes. When I started falling asleep she said “hey, your not watching for people” so I assured her I was and that things would be alright. In the morning I asked her if you had any memories the night before and she said a few, about messages of some sort, but felt like she slept pretty good. Shared with her what took place and her memory started to recall different parts of what I explained. I felt so helpless and didn’t know what to do during the time. All I could do was comfort and assure her she was safe.

During the morning her and Lori worked on the Mike’s chair, then became sick and had to rest. Went and laid with her for a bit until she felt better and got up like it was no big deal. A few hours later she took a couple hour nap. I knew after she got up that it was time I took her home.

No sooner did we get home Twisty started swinging away again. The pain was terrible. We used hot water bottles and a heating pad but it did little for the gut wrenching into a plastic container. Pain meds were given and eventually it subsided. We watched a little TV, had a small meal, and she quickly fell asleep in the recliner.

At about 8:00 we went to bed. She slept good throughout the night. I kept waking up checking on her and it was assuring to see her getting such good rest. At about 4:00am I heard her in the kitchen starting her day. Said she slept good and didn’t feel too bad. As we sat and talked she ran her fingers through her hair and large amounts came back in her hand. When she used a comb more. We looked at scarves on Amazon and ordered a couple she liked. They said her hair would thin, and she still has a lot and looks as beautiful as she always has. It wasn’t a good sign though. She put on a brave face and said screw it, hair was the least of her concern. The battle was with Twisty and not on hair.

Then another storm hit. The pain doubled her over and lasted a half hour. It strikes with no warning. Again all I could do was lay with her and try to keep her comfortable. Put on a fan, kept heating bag and pads going. When she was getting sick in the container, with each jolt of pain, I’d gently kept her hair out of the way….each light pass of my hand brought out hair. What a terrible experience she is going through. She can take a great deal of pain so I knew if she was in a ball that it was bad. Medication was given and took about 20 minutes to work. She is sleeping right now. I put on a sound machine with ocean waves and just held her. I realized then I needed to get up and take my own medication, it was a couple hours overdue.

This is what cancer is and does. It’s not easy and not like a cold. I’ve never experienced anything like this. It’s true and real pain. I know how deliberating it can come on with my past heart battles and it feels like it can’t possibly get any worse. I’m going to call her cancer team coordinator when their office is open and see if they can do anything more for her. Things in a pill form don’t do that well while the stomach is rejecting everything. Bobbi rarely used an aspirin before this but knows meds are needed at this time and the relief it brings helps. Doesn’t make problems disappear, just makes the situation a little more comfortable. We’ve talked about what to share and not to share. She wants the real face of this shown. If it helps others then she wants her voice to matter. I get it. You think of things like that when sick. You think of others who are suffering and want them to know that you can get through the worse possible experiences and come out on the other side. She was softly humming before falling asleep.

She has a week off of treatments thank god. Her lab numbers all look good and they are surprised at this. She is hitting back at this with everything she has, and will beat it. It’s certainly fighting back but I know this woman and know that Twisty will be decimated. It’s not a walk in the park and there is nothing good about it. What amazes me the most is that in a few hours she will be getting back up and going on with her day. After this bout I’m thinking it will be simply a day of rest and liquids. Have to flush the chemo out of her kidneys. We thought the pain and wrenching was from the chemo but her doctor said that it was the tumor itself. The third week of chemo directly attacks the tumor itself. It’s early, only 8:30. I looked outside and see nothing but fog. In the distance is the moon barely seen. A very dim light, but will be brighter later tonight. Much how each day has been. Dark ones and bright ones. The dark can seem so unforgiving and ending but the light does return.

It’s now about noon and she is up and about and doing well messaging people. Talked to her doctors and they are going to do a different pain management program. This morning was a big alarm going off and hopefully have things better controlled. She read this and I asked if she was comfortable with sharing this and she said “Definitely, you can’t sugar this”. I do a lot of writings that aren’t posted, so was a little unsure. But she is determined to share this experience but also doesn’t want people to worry. I mentioned that this one might have a few worry, she replied “Well they’ll soon see the brighter days of recovery”. I guess life really works this way. Not all days are butterflies and roses. But you push on, climb your mountain and don’t whine because there are others fighting battles just as serious. Life has its moments and not all are great. Yet they are better than no moments at all.

Endurance

October 1, 2017
Bobbi went with her brother Mike to Traverse City this morning to see Lori. They will leave Wednesday early for her 3rd treatment, they will meet me at the cabin in DeTour Village after. With her having such a difficult day yesterday I’m hoping for the best on her visit.

She doesn’t let anything stop her from embracing life at full speed. It’s difficult watching the one you love struggle with a health battle, but certainly not as hard as it is for them going through it. Really dread Wednesday’s and the days after. Have never experienced anything like this. The home feels so empty without her. Well, it isn’t a home without her. Have the Lions game on but she’s all I’m thinking about. I am in such awe of her. Her spirit has lifted many throughout her life. She’s personally saved me in more ways that can be counted. When we met I stayed out too late, drove motorcycles too fast, and after we met was in bed by 10:00 each night! Always got up with her at 4:30 while she got ready to go to work. Missing your best friend sucks. I’ve dealt with Asperger challenges throughout my life and she has helped in countless ways with this. 1Q8A2078

Somedays we take so much in life for granted, thinking that we’ll have forever to live and enjoy. Scares like this sure put things in perspective fast. I know she WILL beat this, we don’t allow any other thought. I feel bad I won’t be with her on the next treatment but glad she’ll be with her sister. We use laughter and love to get through the rough days, but yet silent tears slowly roll out while looking out the window alone in the middle of the night. Sometimes I think I hoover over her like a helicopter but can’t seem to help it.

Her attitude is great. Friends not need worry about this. Each know her and the pictures shared show you how each know her. Free spirit, happy, and positive. Each have a story about her. I can not express enough how much this support has helped her. All she’s ever cared about, above monetary and material things, is her family and friends. While I dealt with my health battle she was the rock. Now I’m fortunate to be one of hers. It hasn’t been easy for either, lots of sleepless nights. But it’s taught us how lucky we are to have lived the life we chose to live. We have a long battle ahead. Yet don’t look at the length of it, but the quality of it. She’s always been a giver in life, never a taker. I’m so proud to have her as my wife. So very proud of her attitude taking on this battle. Have naturally always heard of the word cancer, and now it’s one I hate to hear. We talked many times about sharing this experience. So her family and friends can stay updated, and what’s been important to her is to possibly inspire others who themselves are fighting this terrible disease. Pancreatic cancer is a tough one, they all are. It’s a tough battle for people to go through. She had the choice to lay back and feel bad, or get up, get dressed, and swing away at it. It tells you her character. A lot of unanswered concerns. A big surgery not too far from now.

We can and we WILL get through this. Thank you for the calls, comments, facybook messages to all! She is a fighter, always has been. She will beat this!

A Positive Attitude

September 29, 2017
The last couple of days seemed to have bleed into one long one. Bobbi’s 2nd chemo treatment was on Wednesday. We were hoping the side-effects wouldn’t be as severe but unfortunately not. Thursday wasn’t too bad. She got up early and drove over to mom’s apartment for coffee. Each of us probably slept a total of 60 minutes last night. Pain, nausea, muscle aches. This morning I went to the grocery store about 5am, while it was slow. Stocked up on fruits, liquids. Fever running a little high but within range they said to expect. Lori met us in Petoskey so that was very nice. The two made the best of the situation and I tried to give them their space. The area was in a dayroom type setting. Loud and lots of things taking place all over. Lori brought some great pumpkin muffins and that really made her day! All of us went out and had coffee after she checked in and between the time where her chemo was being prepared. Also stopped by an art gallery to deliver a picture Lori painted of Bobbi appropriately titled “Braveheart”. (Click here to see 2nd round of chemo with Lori) The chemo is mixed going by her latest lab work the day before, body weight, and side-effects from last week. An extra nausea medicine was given through her port.

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Had a nice weekend too. Sunday afternoon was nice. We drove over to Mikes house and had cheeseburgers while watching the Lions play on TV. He showed how his hunting cabin is coming along, a short trip from his home. It’s amazing how much work he finished on it since seeing it in July. He is really a good guy. All of her siblings are for that matter. All have called and inquired about how she’s doing. Bobbi’s attitude has been fantastic! She posted a message on Facybook letting friends know what was taking place. Someone had written her a message saying they heard she had brain or bone cancer so she wanted to nip the rumors in the rump right away. Her good friend Jamie is putting an event together, probably in the start of December so it’ll be nice for her to connect again with friends. And seeing family again will really pick up both our spirits. Know it’s difficult having so many miles apart so make short videos when we can. She sure is inspiring. She credits me for showing her how to deal with a health challenge but I can’t take any credit for that! I’d be a mess dealing with what she’s dealing with! She is truly blazing her own trail on this one. How she manages to get through things with a song and dance has me shaking my head in awe. Was a nice relaxing weekend. Not so good at the present moment but we’ll get through it. Love her so much and so glad our paths crossed 25 some years ago! Have added a lot of photography from over the years to these writings and her smile is as beautiful as the day we met. We are now a third away from finding out if the tumor has shrunk, and then the surgery probably in December. Hard not to worry about that. Trying to take things one day at a time. Had some Facytime with Cinneidi and she played the guitar for us, which was really nice!

She did get a chance to relay the experience she had at the War Memorial Hospital last week with the one nurse who said her teeth would fall out. The hospital called and inquired on how the experience went and she shared good except in regards to that ordeal. Didn’t want to mention any names, she’s not like that, but did relay the information. People each step of the way have been very nice. Her support team is strong and she IS going to beat this! Parting words for readers are to keep the faith and prayers coming, and a gigantic thank you,

First Treatment

September 21, 2017
First treatment of chemo began yesterday, a very long day. We were up at 2:00am, both unable to sleep. Loaded our little Prius car and talked about the day before.

The day before Bobbi had her port put in at the War Memorial Hospital in town. The procedure went well, no complications. Her mother and sister-in-law Debbie waited patiently with me. It was good. Her mother, Betty, has naturally been very concerned watching her daughter battle through each step. Debbie and her have kept in to touch as well. Messaging with family kept everyone updated. She has a strong team cheering her on which has helped tremendously. She decided to let friends know back in Wisconsin too. Took a bit because she didn’t want to concern people and such. When we left Wisconsin last year it was sudden and during a rough period. She had a calling to return home closer to her siblings and I was exhausted from so many hospital trips myself. Working all day in one and then having me in and out of it took its toll. It was a difficult decision because of the close relationships in town. The move put distance between her family there and here but I think she knew deep down that she had to return home. Everything happened so fast. It really helped her connecting again with her friends. I contacted a lot of her friends, letting them know about this blog, but I’m sure I missed some. If so PLEASE understand and don’t take it personal. Simply write her a note in messages. She deleted her first account when we left because there were simply too many people neither of us knew listed.

Bobbi’s port, was stitched into the left side of her chest, is where blood can be drawn and the chemo will be slowly dripped into. It was an out patient procedure. Arrived around 9:30, left about 4:00. She got along with all the nurses and doctors. It seems like once they know she spent so many years of her life in nursing that it instantly creates a bond with the same people. She doesn’t bring it up until they ask her if she understands certain things and she then shares with them why she does. There was one nurse that really upset her though. When she was checking Bobbi in she mentioned that she had worked with cancer patients in the past, and told her that her hair would soon be history, that she’d probably wake up some morning and clumps of it would be in her bed. She then added that her teeth would probably fall out eventually too. WTF? That really was a bizarre exchange that left her fighting tears. I was blown away and didn’t know what to say. All her doctors have told her that her hair might thin a little but the chemo used today, for her type of cancer, wasn’t the type used years ago. The nurse had no business telling her this. Shot her chances at a Daisy Award right in the ass.

When we got home her mom and Fred stopped by with supper, which was very nice.

We arrived in Petoskey about 7:30. Our first appointment meeting with her Doc was at 8:30 so we stopped a park a mile away from the hospital. Had a snack and walked around watching the fishermen who were out early along the shore of Lake Michigan.

When she met with her doctor (who is super nice and kind) she shared about the concerns of her hair falling out in clumps and teeth dropping out. He was shocked! He first asked jokingly about the teeth, were they bad? They didn’t appear to be. The hair he said might thin, but it shouldn’t be bad. Bobbi is ok with this. She knows the biggest battle has little to do with hair but really didn’t want to go bald and toothless.

An hour later we had a “teaching” class on the infusion treatment of chemo. A short video, a 30 minute talk with a very nice nurse, and then went to the area where treatments would began. Her medicine would be mixed up, according to her blood work the day before and takes about 90 minutes. We were taken into a nice private room, nice reclining chairs and another nice nurse talked with her the process. When the medicine arrived it would be checked by two nurses to make sure there were no mistakes. First nausea medicine was given through her IV then the first bag would take about 45 minutes with half hour flush, a wait of about a half hour and then the second medicine administered. The room was chilly so they gave her a nice blanket. When the treatment began I moved my chair next to her and started to read a book to her.”The Girl on the Train”. She got tired at different times. Her sisters messaged her and it helped keep her spirits up.

We were done about 2:30, returned to our car and took off for Upper Michigan. She was extremely tired but wanted ice cream. Which was a little strange because she never really cared for it much. Had to stop at a couple places to find it. We have dentist appointments on Drummond Island so drove to her mom’s cabin outside DeTour Village instead of Sault Ste. Marie, where home is. When we arrived she laid down on the couch and dozed off. I stayed up to watch for a fever and make sure things would go well. At about 10:00 all was good and called it a day. The first treatment was started, we now know the procedure, times, and hoping for a surgery in December.

People are concerned about my challenges with the ticker ticking. Have no worries. I don’t think about it and simply manage it with the tools learned and given. There is a lot on our plate and at times each of our challenges collide a little. No one promised life would be easy all the time. It is what it is, and you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Bobbi is up this morning, moving about, washing clothes, humming, and full of energy. Blood sugar number high but her injected insulin and took care of that. All an all a busy couple days but the sun is shining bright this morning and a thunderstorm last night has made the air outside fresh and the ferry ride to the dentist should be refreshing.  (Click here to see our ride on the ferry)

Dentist went fine but driving back to the Soo it was a rough ride. Side-effects kicked in and made the rest of the day miserable. Is like a terrible flu. It comes on and goes, then returns with a vengeance. Twisty must have started to feel the fight and knows it’s days of running rampant are slowly coming in an end. Difficult watching the one you love go through such difficult times. Lasted throughout the evening. Kept eye on temp. Heat when chills hit, ice when the sweating struck, and mellow easy listening music on to help her fall asleep. Never in a million years did we expect this demon to knock on our door. She ended her career at work so that we’d have more time together, and caretaking working on hearts all day. To now us switching roles and my needing to be there for her, regardless of my cardiac challenge. It’s something that two people growing old together simply do. We take care of each other. We got this. The support of family and friends have been overwhelming. For this endless thanks and appreciation is given. We don’t think about her not making it through this challenging battle. She WILL. We try not to read what the internet says and odds and statistics say and listen to the doctors and professionals. Everyone is different and respond to medications and treatments different. I do believe people do follow their loved ones who lose their battles to broken heart syndrome and know this will be the case on this. We don’t dwell on the negative, have no room or energy for it. She is the kindest and strongest woman I’ve ever met, loved by many, and I truly believe we’ll have many years to come. The word cancer is scary, but a lot of research and studies have been made the last twenty years. It’s the ignorant people, like the nurse at the War Memorial Hospital who said she’d surely lose her hair AND teeth that need to rethink their knowledge and people skills. This is life though. It has its good, bad, and it’s ugly. Take advantage of the friends and family in your life and waste little time on the trivial things. Putting two socks in the washer with only one coming out in the dryer isn’t a reason to complain and moan. Our family may bend during turbulent times but we don’t break. All of us have loved ones hurting in some fashion. Take the time to call them, visit, and simply let them know they are important.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23

One Day at a Time

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September 17, 2017,
The port where the chemo cocktail during treatments will be put in, here in the Soo on Tuesday. Treatments begin this coming Wednesday, the next day, in Petoskey. Friday was spent there, having lab work done and meeting the doctor that She’d be dealing with. He was a nice man and had a sense of humor. Bobbi liked him so that’s what counts most. Having spent 45 years working in the field of medicine and helping others her instincts were sharp. When he first came in I wasn’t sure, he asked her how she was doing, which she replied “good”, he replied “no you aren’t, you have cancer”. He had a point… but her attitude was good, she had been hurting a lot early, but at the moment good. The doc was about 65, and had a warm smile. I couldn’t image the lives he’s seen in his lifetime. Things are being setup for Wednesday’s. Hitting the road early, when it’s still dark, and returning later in the evening. Side effects would be many. The illness has already made life tough, so two different battles being fought. The disease and the medicine used to shrink the tumor. Nights have been rough. Nausea with stabbing and twisting pain. It’s last about 30 minutes. All I can do is keep her hair out of the fluids her illness is expelling. When she is sweating, cold wash clothes rotated in and out of the freezer. One feels so helpless. Lori invited us out to relax outside of DeTour Village, at their summer cabin, so we drove here after the trip to Petoskey. Her mothers cabin is next door so it was nice to see her and Fred yesterday and for a bit today. Had a nice meal, walked the beach, and sanded away on an old chair being refurbished for her brother Mike. He’s done do much for others that it’s a project many have taken on. The chair, a rocker, was somebody’s pride and joy at one time. But it certainly seen it’s better days. It had been restored to life about five times. Old springs, strings, rope held layers of fabric. The wood and frame is nice, made of hard cherrywood. Yesterday we spent the day on it. Passed time and kept us busy. We talk nonstop, about everything. Then BAM Twisty shows it’s nastiness.

Today we spent about two hours on the beach. The sun is bright and the waves were loud. They snapped at the shoreline in a calming way. We looked across the water and just took everything in. She had spent her early years, sitting in the exact spot, wondering what her future would hold. Now she was here, looking across the water reflecting on how it’s being lived. She laid back on the sand, arms outstretched, looking up at the sky. Her head and arms facing the waves. The white foam of the waves would cease into little bubbles and color the sand a dark wet tan. They stayed about a foot from her head. We listen to the waves. No man made sounds could be heard. Just the earth. A wave suddenly splashed higher on the shore and lightly broke to a calm stream and gently brushed her arms and hair. It was like the Great Lake had blessed her I said. A body of water that has taken freighters and ships down gently touched her. A force that can be so powerful, which has taken real lives, calming her today. She laughed and sat up, hair wet and curly, sand all over, and laughed. Then laid back and welcomed the ones that barely reached her.

She picked up a stick and started to draw in the sand. I asked her to draw what the cancer looked like in her mind. Draw whatever came to mind. It was a twisting barb of a tornado shape to the bottom. When she was done we wrecked it. Getting rid of it like she is going to beat it. She asked me to use the stick and draw my heart disease. I drew a heart, and took black weeds and piled them randomly on and around it. We kicked it away, telling each to go away. It was therapeutic in a lot of ways. We are going to keep the stick of course.

We talked and talked. About the future and the seriousness of things. Her cancer and dealing with my palliative care issues. What we each wanted and didn’t want. We each agreed that when a person dies their spirit is united with the important people who left earlier, and that we’d be able to fly.

It was nice to spend our weekend in such a serene place, among many islands. It’s on the very eastern tip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Today is Sunday and we are working on the rocking chair on and off. Football is on the TV buts it’s mostly background noise. I care little about whose playing and what scores are. I use to read world news constantly and couldn’t go an hour without reading something on the internet. Now, it’s like I really could care less what’s going on in the world. It’s strange that so much can take place in your life, change it, in just a few short days. Short days that have felt like a lifetime. Drawing in the sand together was the right thing at the right time. We were marriage 100 feet away, in her mothers yard. We talked and talked. For some reason she likes me reading to her so this is something new we’ve started. We plan on doing this while her chemo medicine drips into her heart. The book I started to read turned smutty on us, we laughed and said that we doubted I’d read it during treatment. We have a lot different reading material so it shouldn’t be a problem. Plan on reading some books Jen’s mother Carol sent us, and a novel. This is probably our last weekend of nice weather here. The trees are starting to turn colors. So many unknowns right now. Have thought about what to share in these writings and what not to share. Not naming a lot of the doctors and hospital staff to protect their identities. Bobbi and I want to keep the family updated, in addition to it possibly helping others who are going through similar situations down the road.

For we live by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 

Grand Rapids

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What a busy week. On Labor Day we packed the car and preceded to Grand Rapids, Mercy Hospital. Bobbi had her CAT done but hadn’t received any information on it yet. Her cancer team in Grand Rapids told us about the “Hope Lodge” a block away from the hospital. It cost nothing to stay there, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. I thought no way. We were a long ways from home and had no idea how we’d afford the journey. Like millions of other families we lived month to month on her social security. I was prepared to simply sleep in the car at night. Wasn’t a big deal. The big deal was what was taking place inside my wife’s body.

The hospital first wanted us there on a Tuesday for a imaging test called EUS for staging of the cancer. This would provide the information that haunted us. The test was completed and the next few days until Friday seemed like an eternity of time. The Hope Lodge was extremely comforting. Everyone there was fighting cancer and were battlers. It felt surreal walking into the doors. A kind lady named Stacy greeted us at the door and took us on a tour. There was a exercise room, reading room, billiards table, and a huge kitchen area for meals. The rooms were nice and very clean. What more could one wish for during this tense time? Guests were able to cook meals. Refrigerators were assigned to each family and one room had shelves stocked with different foods from the kindness of others. We can’t say enough good about this place. Everyone was kind and supportive. Meeting other cancer patients was good. Learning of their own personal battles helped a lot. We certainly all have our mountains to climb. She and her sister Chrissy, who lived about 45 minutes away went out together for the day on Thursday. The visit picked up her spirits and helped pass the time before the meeting. The wait was torture for us. Bobbi was experiencing nausea and stomach pain. The nights were long. Shay is going to school in Australia, which is a 12 hours time difference so it was nice messaging with her in the deep of it. During the day we did the same with Sean and Jen, in addition to Bobbi’s siblings. Each helped us a great deal. Everyone was concerned and supportive. What a situation our family was suddenly confronted with.

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On Friday we met with her main doctor, a lady named Jill. She explained the results of the different tests and what our options were. The tumor was located on the top of her pancreas, which was more positive than in other areas. Because it was in this area, blocking her gallbladder duct, Bobbi’s body showed that there was something wrong. The change in skin color, the nausea, the blood sugar numbers bouncing all over the place, not to mention the weight loss. All symptoms that told her to get in and see our doctor. Some people dealing with this type of cancer get little advanced warning. Which in turn makes it more difficult to catch and treat. The CAT scan showed no spreading of the disease. The best course of action would be chemotherapy and then a surgery named ‘whipple’. The goal was to shrink the tumor and stop any cells from spreading, and when it was safe to surgically remove it. We’d began with 2 months of chemo, have another CAT scan, and see if it did in fact shrink the tumor. If so a month would be needed for all the chemo to leave her body and surgery. A major surgery. After this more chemo. A total of six months. Once each week, for three weeks in a row and then a week off. The chemo treatments will take place in Petoskey, Michigan. About an hour and 45 minutes away. On the way home we stopped at Lori’s and Jim’s house for a couple of days. Could think of no better place to shelter us from the storm. She’s close with everyone in her family. Mike and Steve, her younger brothers, and Lori and Chrissy her younger sisters. her father passed away some years back, of cancer, and that is still fresh in everyones minds and heart. Her mother, Betty,  are close as well. Its been a very emotional three weeks for everyone.

First a port will be placed into her chest. This is a tube where the Chemo will be dripped into. We are waiting for the local hospital here in the Soo to call us on the date. On Friday we travel to Petoskey for our first consultation visit, in just a few days.

On Sunday we talked with Sean and Jen. They had told the grandkids. We were waiting until we learned more on the battle plan. It must have been a difficult meeting to have. We are a close family and just the word cancer is scary. We made a short video to show them a visual that things were well, and followed up their talk with a FaceTime call. You want to protect the people you love from worry and stress, but at the same time its important to have the children know that this battle will take place and that we are going to beat it. We have some good things in our favor. Catching it early and the location where it the tumor was discovered. We aren’t out of the woods in any fashion. Its going to be a long and tough road. Bobbi’s attitude throughout this has been amazing. There are moments of unsureness, but they’re talked through and discussed. We could sit back and just cry and let the sorrow drain us, or we can put on the armor and get ready for the fight. Jen sent us lots of oils and her mother Carol sent us lots of reading on holistic information. We’re very close with her parents. Every holiday was spent together while living in Wisconsin. Bobbi has chosen to only share the news with a few friends there as well. She doesn’t want people to worry or feel sorry for her. Which I get 100 percent. People will learn in time I’m sure. But right now its a family matter and all our energy is being spent in preparing for the chemo and surgery. Getting our ducks in a roll with insurance coverage and so forth. We’re on medicaid so lots of pre-authorizations and phone calls are being made.

We are choosing to believe that we can and WILL beat this. There is no room for doubt. I can’t began to imagine whats going on in her mind. This is the strongest woman Ive ever met, whose taking on a battle that is going to be beaten. We now have the facts, the battle plan, and now waiting on the first treatment. In the meantime its important to get as many calories into her system as possible. There have been some rough spots of sickness throughout the day and night. Its such a helpless feeling wanting to spare her the pains and be unable. I’ve dealt with over 25 hospitalizations the last 6 years with heart issues. A failed quadruple bypass surgery, and 19 stents put into my heart. Everything medically that can be done has finished. I’m on palliative care for comfort. My battle may help her in knowing that we can do anything we put our minds to. We each look at life differently than just a few weeks ago.

The Island

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August 30, 2017
Today we traveled on Ferry to see Dr. Aldridge on Drummond Island. We came down early to her Mothers cabin not far from the island. Time was spent with the family and walking the dunes of the beach. Short videos were made trying to keep a positive mind set. We knew we had to be strong. Bobbi never once complained or whined about any of this. We had a million unanswered questions and being patient was the most difficult. Hearing your wife has such a devastating type of cancer is so confusing. How far along was it? How far has it spread? What beast were we looking at?

The meeting with Dr. Aldridge was difficult. His concern showed on his face. A very kind and compassionate man. The staff at this small medical clinic seemed like family. They were in as much disbelief as we were. They knew we were battlers and if anybody could deal with this it was us they shared. We talked about what took place in Petoskey, and the CAT scan planned this Friday. While we waited for the ferry to take us back we had ice cream at a little stand close by. It was sunny and blue skied day. Everything still felt fuzzy and not really taking place. I was scared but didn’t want to show it. I knew Bobbi was but wouldn’t admit to it. She put on her armor the moment we were informed that she had cancer. I’m amazed how quickly she accepted things and how cheerful and positive she was. We knew so very little. We stayed in contact with the family and kept everyone updated. The time alone at the cabin did us good. Lots of talks and walks.

Battle Plan

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August 25, 2017
This morning seemed like I woke from a bad dream. Only it wasn’t. The hospital was only a few blocks away. I was still in a daze. When I got to her room she was sitting up, ordering breakfast. The stent was doing its job, her skin was less yellow and her eyes whiter. Both of us knew there was a battle ahead and concentrated on how we’d tackle this news. At least she felt better from having the pressure relieved inside the gallbladder. The doctor soon came into the room and cleared her for release. Her enzymes were still sky high but should soon get better. Her attitude amazes me. I shared that I had talked with the kids and that it wasn’t an easy experience. We talked about how important it was to stay in touch with them and are committed to it. When she was released the ride home back to Sault Ste. Marie took forever. An appointment was made with our family doctor on Drummond Island, and a CAT scan was ordered at the local War Memorial Hospital. An appointment was made in Grand Rapids to meet with the doctors who’d be involved with this battle. Grand Rapids is about a five hour drive from Sault Ste. Marie. It felt good to get home, though still feels like a bad dream. So much has taken place in just a few short days. Her Mother and siblings were all notified by Lori. Bobbi made a call to her Mother and shared the battle plan. The next step was the CAT scan and seeing Dr. Aldridge on Drummond Island. We’re so grateful to have him for our primary doctor.

Cancer!

August 24, 2017
An MRI was done this morning and the results were not good. The doctor later came into the room and said that his team went over the results and there is a tumor in her pancreas thats blocking her bile duct. He shared with us that his team suspected that it was cancerous. What a eye opener this news was. Hit us like a freight train. He explained that they’d put in a stent, later that day, to open up the gallbladder duct, to relieve the pressure. They would take brushings of it while performing the procedure.

The doctor was very straight to the point and immediately after hearing the news a nurse closed the curtain separating her bed from the patients bed next to her. We couldn’t believe we actually heard the news we heard. Pancreas cancer? There must be a mistake. We each shed tears and tried to make sense of all of it. This was a long way from suspected gallstones causing the problems. We were shell shocked. Her sister Lori came into the room and knew something was wrong when she seen the curtains closed around the bed. When she came in we explained what the doctor said, and I knew it was important that the two spent sometime alone. I took a walk outside in a daze. It was too much coming in at one time. You have got to be kidding me I thought. Pancreas cancer! No, it wasn’t, but yes it really was. As I walked outside the hospital the tears just flowed. I cared little who saw. I knew that she and her sister were experiencing grief and disbelief. When I walked back into the room their faces showed it. Everyone looked exhausted and spent.

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Later in the day they took her into surgery and placed a plastic stent into the area they said. The doctor took brushings from the tumor at the same time, to confirm his diagnoses. The procedure lasted about a half hour. She was sleeping when they wheeled the bed into the recovery room. I took my finger and slowly rubbed the side of her temple as she slept. Slowly she awoke and became more aware of her surroundings. The doctor came in and confirmed that the tumor was about the size of a walnut to plum in diameter. He could give no prognosis until other tests were done.

She eventually was transferred back to her room and we talked about the battle ahead. Her attitude was positive. She said that she was a battler and would kick its butt. It was important to keep a positive attitude and she and Lori tried to put on a brave face. When Lori left Bobbi and I continued to remain as positive as we could. When visiting hours ended it was back to the hotel. I called Shay and Sean and shared the terrible news. They were the most difficult calls ever made. I called my sister Charlie in Colorado as well. I couldn’t believe how everything changes in seconds. I stayed up until late in the night, looking out the motel window in a daze. Traffic and cars continued to pass on the street. The world just kept going, people going on with their lives, and we were wondering what ours now would bring. I eventually fell asleep on top of the bed, not drawing down the blankets or changing. I couldn’t imagine what was going on in her mind. She was a nurse for the last 40 years, recently retiring a year and a half ago. The last 5 years caregiving me, during my cardiac battle, and my  palliative care. It seemed so unfair. Anger, disbelief, shock, grief, all mixed into one feeling. Rage.

Gallbladder Problem?

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August 23, 2017
We got up early, packed a few things and went to the hospital. Her labs had come back from the blood work and her numbers (enzymes) were off the chart. The hospital decided that it would be best for her to be transferred to another hospital down state in lower Michigan, Petoskey. They knew there was a problem taking place in her gallbladder and thought a stent being placed in the duct would at least provide relief, while other tests would be done. I went home, packed some clothes, and met the ambulance there. Her sister Lori I contacted and she and her husband Jim were also present. Because of her unusually high enzymes a MRI was ordered. She was taken off all foods and feed through an IV. Her attitude was good but her discomfort was strong. I checked into a nearby motel because the staff at the hospital said the MRI would be done the next day. I stayed with her until visiting hours ended then drove to the motel, still thinking there was a problem taking place in her gallbladder and hoping they’d figure things out tomorrow. People have trouble with their gallbladders all the time. Sometimes they are taken out, hopefully it was nothing serious and we’d be home later in the day.

One More Night.

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August 23, 2017
Something out of the ordinary was taking place. My wife, Bobbi, and I take walks and bicycle rides frequently and the duration of them became shorter and shorter. She has diabetes 2 and numbers were bouncing all over the place. She was steadily losing weight. When her skin and eyes started to turn yellow I knew it was time we made an appointment with our doctor on Drummond Island. He quickly seen her, ordered blood work, and an ultrasound at the local hospital. The tests showed that her gallbladder duct wasn’t working right for some reason. Perhaps stones were the problem. An appointment was made to see another doctor a couple weeks away. In the mean time she started to become more and more uncomfortable. After an early evening of watching her struggle with pain and nausea I decided we shouldn’t wait for the upcoming appointment and take her into the emergency room right away. She said that she’d like to spend the evening at home, in our own bed, and go in the morning. I could understand this. Who’d be in a hurry to visit a hospital? So we waited until the morning.