This blog is for Jim Marventano's family and friends to review his status and updates while he goes through treatment for Stage IV Colon Cancer. We can beat it together!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Letting Go

Well, the Labor Day Weekend isn't the most opportune time to post a blog, but this is really the first chance I've had. Sorry.

As I mentioned in my last blog, Jim isn't doing very well. We met with Dr. Haid on Wednesday, and Jim has decided that he is ready to stop treatment. It was a very emotional day for us. I think we knew in our hearts that Jim was done with treatment, but hearing him voice it was tough. I don't know if he even really knew he was going to make that decision until we walked into Dr. Haid's office. We'd considered doing the microspheres again for pain relief, but Dr. Haid gently pointed out that Chicago is a long way to go to get the same kind of pain relief that they can provide here with other medications. We agreed.

While we were at The Vince on Wednesday all of the nurses came in to say goodbye to Jim. Some of them were really crying. Even Dr. Haid looked a little teary. It's tough to say goodbye to a team of caregivers like that. Jim won't be able to travel back to The Vince - it's becoming increasingly harder for him to move around.

We had an appointment with hospice today, and it went really well. I was scared out of my mind, and Jim was a little nervous, but it was a good thing to do. One of our favorite nurses (Stacy) came over for moral support. One of our favorite 2K nurses (Chris) stopped over just before that, and really calmed our nerves. We've opted to work with hospice because Jim would like to stay home as long as possible, if not to the end. There's a new private hospice program in Sheboygan that came highly recommended. We had a few questions, but mostly (for once, in my case) we just listened. I didn't have many questions because truthfully, I didn't know what to ask. Before today I had no idea what hospice entailed or what it was all about.

Jim and I are both at peace with things. Although this has been a difficult process, I can't imagine anything worse than making the whole scenario harder by holding onto someone who is ready to go. And Jim has said that he is ready. I am disappointed and sad. We gave cancer one hell of a fight. And cancer didn't beat us. I am sad to say that it doesn't seem as though our miracle is going to happen. But looking at the small miracles, we are a happy family. We've had a tough year, but it's also been a good one. We've laughed a lot, spent a lot of time together, and done things we never thought we could do. We've been truly appreciative of our time together and time with our family and friends.

I choose to look at this as not giving up, but letting go - letting go of the cancer, of the fight, of Jim. I truly feel that we need to let him go in peace, and that holding on is the absolute wrong thing to do. Jim's been able to see Jake grow into a little boy - he was there for Jake's first birthday, haircut, for his first steps, and his first words. Jim celebrated his 38th birthday this year. We celebrated our 12th anniversary. And he got to celebrate Rachel's birthday. He will see her off to her first day of school. He's played games with her, read her stories, and enjoys the time he has with his little girl. Rachel truly idolizes him - nothing will ever change that relationship or mutual feeling between them. Jim and I have also had the chance to say most of the things we wanted to say.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be spending as much time together as possible. Jim's parents and sister will be here this week. One of my brothers and his girlfriend are here right now. And as things begin to wind down, my parents will come back to spend a little more time with Jim. Jim's five best friends will be here next weekend for a visit. Everyone is going to want to spend some time alone with Jim - and we'll work hard to make sure that happens.

Thank you for all your cards, phone calls, and support. We are not answering the phone much at this point because it's too tiring for Jim to talk, and I'm running around with the kids. Don't worry - we're not screening your call, we're just not answering ANY calls. :)

We truly appreciate all the offers for help. We are taking people up on things. We need help. Amy Biznek and Susan Senti are arranging meals if anyone is interested in contributing that way. I need help with playdates for Rachel. We're going to need other things...but I don't know what. I cannot express the depth of our gratitude - to our friends, family, and tremendous support network. Thank you for all you've done for us. I know we're asking for more - but please know that your favors are so appreciated.

Thank you for reading the blog and supporting us through this journey. Even if you didn't know us before, I hope you feel that you know us now by reading the blog. Jim is the most amazing person I've ever met, and it's obvious from your show of support that many of you feel the same way. Please pray for us. Please pray for grace and healing. Please pray for our families as we prepare to let go of Jim.

By the way - the card count is up to 1301. I will continue to update the blog and let everyone know how Jim is doing. We are blessed every day with the gift of love and friendship.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Angels in Flannel - or something like that

Well, they say it takes a village. Today half the village of Kohler and several guys from our church came over to paint our porch. Last summer we did A LOT of work on the front of the house, and we painted the front of the porch to make it presentable. We left the side and the back of the porch unpainted, as well as one of the windows on the other side of the house.

When our friends Ken and Biz offered to paint, I pretty much pictured...well, the two of them painting. Boy was I wrong! TEN GUYS showed up to paint today. I almost fell over. It's not that ten of them showed up - it's that ten guys organized to all be in one place that didn't involve poker or football. Just kidding. I was just bowled over by the outpouring of friendship (guy style) and just downright goodness.

So today, eleven guys (eleven counting Jim Sr.) - Ken, Biz, Sandoval, Jay S., George, Brian, Chris, Jay M., Dave, and Mark all showed up to make our porch look respectable. It was like an episode of This Old House. These guys were amazing. Working in unison, eating lots of food (planned and delivered by their lovely wives), and listening to 80s music. They removed all the old screens (damaged from the vines the previous owner had let grow onto them), painted everything, built new screens, fixed the porch door, painted the exterior door on the top of the porch, painted the entire top of the porch including the spindles, and painted the window on the other side of the house. And the window on the other side of the house was no easy feat - second floor, only to be accessed from the right (plus the fact that no one was left-handed) on a very high extension ladder placed on a muddy patch of garden. And when they were done * poof * everything was cleaned up like they'd never been there.

I know I said it today guys, but thank you. Thank you to you and your families, who all gave up a full Saturday to paint our porch and check our biggest task off our list. Angels come in all shapes and sizes. Today they came dressed ready to paint.

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 24, 2007

Stent went well

Jim had the stent put in yesterday. It was a very successful procedure. In fact, the doctor was running behind so we actually spent more time waiting than Jim spent in surgery! The doctor said it took around 10 minutes. They did not use conscious sedation, they used general anesthesia. Jim was very happy about that. Under general anesthesia there's no chance of waking up. The anesthesiologist came in and spoke to us before the procedure and he really seemed to "get" Jim, so that was a good feeling. They decided to use general anesthesia because Jim cannot lie completely flat. He has to be propped up or he feels that he cannot get enough air in his lungs. So his recovery time was short, the nurses took great care of him, and he wasn't sick in the slightest. Yippee!

Yesterday was a busy day. I went and met with two of the nurses at The Vince who have really guided us through this whole process. I just needed to talk to people who have experience in this whole thing. I felt a lot better after talking to them. They were explaining to me that there are different stages that people go through during this whole process. I sometimes feel like people around me are crying and I'm sitting there like a stone with no emotion at all. It's not that I don't feel it, but sometimes I feel all cried out, or I think it's important to let someone else cry without me bawling, too. And sometimes I'm at peace with everything that is happening. I met with Deb and Stacy until it was time to take Jim to the hospital.

Then the procedure.

Then Rachel and I burned over to the drug store to pick up his new medications that go with the stent and some new test strips - they want me to check his blood sugar twice a day. I had gestational diabetes and I hated checking my blood sugar, but I get the impression that Jim thinks a little finger prick twice a day is the least of his worries.

After we got back from the drug store we hooked up his TPN.

And now I have a confession to make. I went to see The Bourne Ultimatum with three of my girlfriends. I asked Jim if I could go. He knows I've been dying to see it. And he told me that if he feels well enough to go see it soon, I can always go see it again. Amen to that! I haven't asked anyone to go see it with me because in my mind, it's a Date Night movie. I sort of felt embarrassed about asking anyone. My friend Judy asked me if I'd like to go and I jumped at the chance. Her husband volunteered to babysit. Now those are good people. So we invited our friends Amy and Susan and off we went! I told my mother-in-law Janet that I was leaving to get drunk on movie popcorn and Sprite. And that's just what I did.

Let me say this: Jason Bourne does not disappoint. If you're waiting for The Bourne Ultimatum to come out on video, run, don't walk, to the theater and see it on the big screen. It was AMAZING. And I truly felt blessed to have girlfriends that were willing to abdicate their own date nights in favor of seeing a Bourne fan through a potentially lonely experience. I didn't make it home until after midnight. And then Janet and I stayed up and talked until after 1:00! It was worth it. It was an exciting day and it seemed as though things went in our favor.

Jim had a rough night last night - he woke up multiple times. He didn't get much sleep at all. He slept through about 90% of today. Hopefully tonight will be a better night for him and he can recharge his batteries for tomorrow.

One of the Interventional Radiology nurses from Northwestern called me today to check up on Jim. She seemed happy with his progress and that the microspheres haven't completely wiped out his energy level. When I told her that Jim seemed to have some pain relief, she told me that was very possible because the microspheres can actually soften tumors that are pressing on other parts of the body. I was delighted. She also agreed to letting Jim have his scan here and then sending the pictures down to Northwestern if he's not up to the drive. I was happy about that - it's another option and we like to have choices.

We appreciate all the prayers, comments on the blog, cards, letters, and gifts. Thank you so very much for thinking of us and for supporting us through this journey. Even in the face of cancer, we find so many blessings to be thankful for. A friend of mine wrote and said that we should look for small miracles every day. I thought that was a wonderful sentiment - and a good way to go about the next steps in our journey. Lightening doesn't have to strike the house to cure Jim (although I'd take that, too) - perhaps our miracles are occurring, in small ways, and we need to open up to receiving them.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Drained the ascites today

Today was a relatively good day in cancerland. We've had two nausea free mornings after the TPN, which is wonderful. We're not sure what to attribute that to - but we changed his anti-nausea routine and he stopped taking one of his antibiotics. So hopefully one of those two things is what fixed it.

Jim had the ascites drained from his abdomen, and they took off a liter and a half of fluid. That was enough to bring down swelling and make it easier for him to breathe. The nurses were so awesome today. They really made him feel good. And one of the oncology nurses that we truly love came and visited and talked to us for quite a while.

Jim has the stent put in tomorrow. It's a slightly more complicated procedure than today's, so we'll be at the hospital for a bit longer because they have to use conscious sedation. When he has the ascites drained he takes a nap while they do it and they just give him a local. He hasn't been responding very well to conscious sedation - it's been making him nauseated. But he's only experienced that at Northwestern, so we're hoping that they just have the right anesthesia mix for him in Sheboygan, since he's never experienced nausea here.

Jim was feeling well enough to read Rachel a short story tonight. That made us all happy. Rachel was delighted. It's nice to get to see Jim doing things with the kids - even something as simple as reading a story means a lot to the kids. Of course at this point we can't let Jake get too near Jim because he's going through a biting and hitting stage and he doesn't seem to know his own strength. This kid is a handful. He's just like his father. Smart, cool as a cucumber, and an unparalleled wit.

We're still praying for our miracle. It seems that Jim is able to go longer between pain medications right now, so my brain is working a mile a minute wondering if perhaps the microspheres really are at work and giving him some pain relief. If that's the case he may feel up to making the trip to Chicago, which would be exciting.

Everything is so...crazy. Cancer changes all our plans. Even the very shortest term plans. But you know what? If I have to change my plan every 30 minutes for the rest of my life so we can keep Jim healthy, by gosh I'll do it.

Sometimes I feel desperate and I want to squeeze out as much time as I can with him. Sometimes I feel good and I know that we didn't waste any time in the 12 years we've been married. We've packed more into our 12 years than some people pack into 50. We've had all kinds of adventures, trials, fun, made mistakes, and mostly - it's been 12 years of love. I've been blessed to have Jim in my life every day. I am blessed to spend time with him now. In many ways, I believe that my life started when I met Jim. I'd always struggled on family vacations as my parents were together and my brothers were together...and then there was me. The moment Jim came into my life I knew that he belonged. My family knew it too. Jim and I met and fell in love in the course of a few weeks. I just knew. Cancer completely stinks, and this is the most painful event of my entire life. But if I had to do it all again to spend one more day with Jim, I would. It's been the best 12 years of my life. Believe me, I'm going to try and squeeze another 12 out of him. I'm praying for that miracle.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, August 20, 2007

I've lost my moral code: we bought him a barcalounger

I haven't posted in a long while because we've been up to our eyeballs in kids, cancer, appointments, and TPN. Things have been a little crazy at the Marventano household. Beyond my first statement there, I'm at a loss for words.

Jim isn't doing well, folks. He is getting the TPN as planned. His first couple of days of TPN he was hospitalized so that they could monitor his blood levels. Then he came home and the Visiting Nurses Association has taught me to hook up his TPN at night and take it off his port in the morning. Now they are only scheduled to come to the house on Mondays and Thursdays for bloodwork.

The reason I say he isn't doing well is because he's sick every morning. In fact, he's sick every morning at 8:00 am on the nose. We're not sure what's causing the nausea - it could be myriad factors, but the fact remains that he's sick every morning at 8:00, and then gradually feels better throughout the day.

The TPN is contributing to swelling in his legs and feet. He's so swollen that it's becoming painful. They've got him on water pills to try and control the fluid buildup in his abdomen and reduce the swelling in his legs, but they don't seem to be working ultrafast. And understandably, they have him on low doses of the water pills because otherwise the meds could drain his potassium levels, which could cause problems for his heart.

He's not able to eat anything. They told us that could happen because he's getting everything he needs from the TPN.

He's got fluid buildup in his abdomen, making it hard for him to breathe. He can't lie down at all. So he's been sleeping sitting up in a chair. TPN is pure liquid - TPN plus the water pills means he has to get up and use the washroom multiple times per night. Due to exhaustion he's near delirious at night so he gets up at different times to take pain meds as he needs them.

This leads me to the title of the post: we bought him a barcalounger. It occurred to me that he can't sleep sitting up in the old wing chair that he's been sitting in. So I asked if he'd like me to rent him a hospital bed from the VNA. He said no. So then I sucked in my breath and offered to get him a barcalounger. He agreed. Big exhale and wavery smile. Luckily Janet agreed to go with me to pick out the hideous chair. And when we walked into the store, the clerk said "Can I help you find something?" and Rachel said "We're looking for a big ugly chair for my Daddy!" Oh geez. Janet and I picked the best of the bunch, loaded it up, and brought it home. It's an electric chair so he can recline with the push of a button. It's also a lift chair so by pushing a different button he can basically move the chair to put him in a near standing position. Technology at it's finest. At least it doesn't have cup holders.

Jim and I have been having more of the hard talks. At some point, everyone who has cancer has to determine when or if to stop treatment. And there comes a point when continuing on with treatments is foolish and cruel. The doctors and nurses have been prepping me for the hard decisions for a while now. Although we haven't made a decision to stop treatment, we are at a point where I question whether or not continuing on with treatment is prudent. Dragging someone to more appointments than they can handle reflects selfishness on the part of the family - not caring.

For the last several months, before every treatment I've tried to remind Jim that he only has to do the treatments he wants to do. He can stop at any time, or we can try other options if something makes him uncomfortable. We've worked hard to find every available treatment avenue so that he can have as many choices open to him as possible.

Truthfully, if Jim wasn't so thin, it would be easier to drag him to more appointments. Before he didn't look like he had cancer. Now he looks frail and I dread inflicting any kind of discomfort on him. Throughout this process, the two hardest things have been watching Jim experience any kind of pain or discomfort; and, the changes in our relationship.

We can hope that some of the discomfort he's experiencing is the microspheres at work. But it takes 60 - 90 days to have the best picture of what the microspheres are doing. And it takes around 6 weeks for the liver to repair itself. So even if the microspheres are at work, I don't know that we're going to get immediate results. He's got an appointment in Chicago the first week in September to determine the next steps with the microspheres. At this point I'm not sure whether or not Jim will keep that appointment - we'll see how he feels when we get closer to the date.

I don't know where we go from here. He has two appointments this week - one to drain the fluid in his abdomen again. The second is for the stent to help keep his kidneys open. I think after this week we'll be better able to gauge our next steps and determine how many or which appointments he wants to keep.

Please keep us in your prayers. Please pray for our miracle. Please pray for peace of mind, for healing, and for the grace to make the best decisions for Jim's health and well being. I wish I had better news to report. I wish that hearing Lola had truly meant hearing "NED". I wish he'd get better. I wish we never had to deal with cancer. I wish, I wish, I wish.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lo-Lo-Lo Lola!

I heard it on the way home from the cabin today. I screamed so hard that I almost lost my voice. I cried for around 5 miles. I was shouting when I called Jim and my folks. My Dad couldn't even understand what I was saying because I was screaming and crying. He thought I'd been in an accident. My knees shook for a good hour after I got home. I can't believe I heard Lola. I CAN'T BELIEVE I HEARD LOLA! I am excited.

Now, of course, the over analysis begins:
Are we going to hear the words NED?
Is this a sign of good things to come?
Is this a sign we should just push on?

I hope we'll hear NED, but I also believe we're still a long way from that (barring a miracle, which I would gladly accept). So we'll take things one day at a time. We know that we have happiness in our future. Whatever that may be.

Things are looking up attitude-wise here. JIM ATE A SLICE OF PIZZA. This was his first solid food in more than 3 weeks! Jim will be going in to the hospital tomorrow for TPN. He'll be on the second floor with his beloved 2K nurses. He'll be there until Thursday or Friday. Then they'll set him up with the Visiting Nurses Association - a nurse will come and hook him up to the TPN at night, and unhook him in the morning. Then she'll teach me how to do it so we can just hook him up on our own. This will last up to 4 weeks. We're aiming to get him back to a regular weight. After 4 weeks, they'll evaluate how he's doing.

1. Yes, he can eat while he's on the TPN, although he may not have much of an appetite since that's really giving him everything he needs.
2. We don't know why he was able to eat that slice of pizza, but we think it might be because they drained his ascites and he's possibly getting some relief from his liver.
3. They have to hospitalize him for the first couple of days of TPN because they want to monitor things like his insulin and glucose levels.
4. This is not a feeding tube. This is intravenous feeding - the nutrition goes through his veins, not to his stomach. A feeding tube carries a higher risk of infection.
5. No, I'm not pregnant. Hearing Lola is a sign of good things to come, not that I'm preggo.

As I said before, many people use TPN and then go back to normal eating when they're at a normal weight. The microspheres plus the removal of the ascites could possibly give him enough relief to eat a regular diet again. That's what we're hoping for. He'll have a chance to regain his strength and decide how he wants to continue on with his fight.

Thank you for your prayers, good thoughts, and wishes. We continue to push on.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Procedure Went Well

Hello friends and family-

Jim's procedure went well on Thursday. The doctors were very happy, as things went off without a hitch. They also took another 2 liters of ascites out of his abdomen. We won't know the results for around 60 days. Jim is scheduled to have a scan at the beginning of September, but they aren't expecting remarkable results on the first scan.

Unfortunately Jim did not do well with the conscious sedation, and he was quite sick after the procedure. His parents are with him and they still haven't left Chicago. They were planning to leave today.

Jim has an appointment with Dr. Haid on Monday morning to discuss TPN and methods for removing the ascites buildup as it happens.

I'll report more later but I wanted to let everyone know that he's doing well, the procedure went well, and we are praying that those little microspheres are working like crazy to kill off the tumors.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Plan

So here's where we're at:
1. Jim and I leave for Chicago tomorrow afternoon. My Mom is going to watch the kids at our house Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
2. Jim's parents are going to meet us in Chicago tomorrow. They will stay through the procedure, stay the night in Chicago with Jim, and then bring Jim home to our house.
3. After Jim comes out of recovery from the procedure, I am leaving Chicago and driving home. I can't stay in Chicago with him because we're not supposed to sleep in the same bed for around a week.
4. I get home Thursday night, and Friday morning my mom, the kids and I are all driving to my parents' cabin.
5. Jim's parents will stay and take care of him for the week. Jim and his parents will be meeting with Dr. Haid on Monday to talk about TPN, which is the intravenous feeding. This is not a feeding tube - it's nutrition that will go right through his port. The NP told me that they had a woman receive TPN last week and she gained 8 pounds right off the bat. That's what we need.

We are nervous and excited about this procedure. I have total confidence that things will go off without a hitch. I worry about what kind of results we'll get. I worry about Jim not getting pain relief. I worry that he'll be unhappy because it's one more procedure he has to endure. They've told us that Thursday will be far easier than the angiogram day. But what's "easier" in cancer-speak?

Please pray for healing for Jim. Please pray that we'll have the confidence and grace to make it through this experience. Please pray that Jim gets some pain relief and that we find some answers through the microspheres.

Thanks for checking in on us. I'll post info about how Jim did on Thursday night or Friday morning.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Date Night

Thursday we went to see the urologist. Jim had an ultrasound and the urologist basically said that we could wait a few weeks to have the stent put in. I was not happy with this information because we clearly have a difference of opinion from what they recommended at Northwestern. But Jim was delighted. I had the doctor's office fax all the notes to Northwestern, so that they could review his findings. We haven't heard back from them so I can only assume that they agree...but just in case, I'll call on Monday.

Jim is still not getting enough calories in every day. I am also going to be asking for intravenous nutrition. Mostly because I feel bad badgering him every 15 minutes to drink a shake. He's trying to drink more but sometimes his stomach just feels so full. Unfortunately Dr. Haid also told me that the ascites can build quickly so his abdomen may have to be drained again soon. Even worse, I told Jim that and he's already starting to feel uncomfortable. Hm. I should have told him that Dr. Haid told me it wouldn't build up for a long time.

Jim is sick of being prodded around. He got upset the other day because he had to have an ultrasound. As you know, an ultrasound is completely non-invasive. But the thought of one more test really sent Jim over the edge. He made it through the ultrasound, but it was a tough day.

In general, though, he's doing pretty well. One of the things that is tough for me, as I mentioned before, is that Jim and I don't get to do things together anymore. Last night The Bourne Ultimatum opened and I was hoping that Jim could go with me. I am a huge fan of The Jason Bourne series. Jim told me he might be able to go because he's feeling a little better, but it turned out that he wasn't feeling well enough. I was so disappointed. But I went to a scrapbooking night with a really great group of girls. I got a lot done and I felt good about that.

I'm not sure why I was upset that he couldn't go. We have more DVDs at home than we know what to do with - it's not like The Bourne Ultimatum won't come out on DVD around 3 weeks from now. I guess it's hard because if I'm paying a sitter, I want to spend that time with Jim. We're at a place right now where I can't leave the kids alone with Jim for long. It's okay for a run to Target or something like that, but not for 6 hours of scrapbooking. I have a great crowd of girlfriends, but Jim is and always has been the number one person that I like to spend my time with. He's always come first in my social life. Getting a sitter means "date night" to me. Date night is something I really miss. It's not like we did it that often before, but now we don't get to do it at all, so it really bugs me. And there's so many things associated with date night - fun, talk, dinner, and lots of laughing. Laughter is something of a glue in our marriage. I miss just talking and laughing about normal stuff. It's really hard to get Jim to laugh anymore. (Rachel took this picture of me.)

Laughing and talking is a kind of intimacy that suffers with cancer. We're still talking, of course...and it seems that our marriage is stronger for this whole experience. At least now we know what we're made of. But sometimes it's the little things that slip away that hurt. Going to see a movie is not a luxury we indulge in often, so when we do get to do something like that, I want it to be with him.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Windy City

Hello friends and family!

We had a good visit to Northwestern. We went late Sunday afternoon because Jim's CT Scan was at 7:00 am on Monday morning. Although he was terrified, his scan went well . All these scans and tests don't seem like a big deal individually, but when you have to have a scan every week or every other week, it's easy to dread them. And the good news about this scan was that he didn't have to drink the contrast dye. Jim is having trouble getting anything into his colon at this point. If they'd made him drink the contrast, he probably would have gotten sick. But they did an IV contrast instead. It seems impossible that an IV would be more pleasant, but it's all perspective.

Yesterday was Jim's big day - his angiogram and dry run with the microspheres. He also had to have more than 2 hours of scans. He was under conscious sedation for everything, which means that he's awake, but he doesn't feel any pain and he typically doesn't remember anything. The angiogram went well. So well, in fact, that they had him scheduled for the actual procedure before we even made it out of Chicago.

They also drained out 5 litres of ascites (fluid) from Jim's abdomen. Monday night Jim had so much ascites that he was actually having trouble breathing because it was starting to push his lungs up. Jim actually remembers watching them drain out the ascites from his abdomen. While he was under conscious sedation. Draining that much fluid will help Jim feel better. By the time we got there he looked like he was around 5 or 6 months pregnant. But the rest of him is so thin that his belly was really obvious. He looks a lot better now - he's not nearly as distended. And I'm hoping that relief will lead him to drinking his shakes during the day so he can build his strength up.

The only disappointing news is that the Interventional Radiologist (IR), Dr. Lewandowski, found a blockage in Jim's kidney. When we heard "blockage" the first thing we thought was "cancer". But Dr. Lewandowski doesn't know what it is that's creating the blockage, so we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves. If it is cancer related, it's brand new, because Jim had that PET scan on July 12th and no less than 4 doctors have reviewed his PET scan without finding it. So I'm hoping they're going to come back and say "kidney stone" - which was my brother-in-law's idea. And a good one. Luckily Jim had his personal care team of three newly indoctrinated doctors - me, his sister, and her husband. They have to get rid of/fix the blockage in his kidney because it can cause an infection, and heaven knows we don't want that happening. I spoke with Dr. Haid today and he basically told me that we need to fix it sooner than later. Read: get it done this week or early next week. Aw, come on. To fix a blockage they can put in a stent, similar to the stents they put in one's heart arteries. The process for putting in a kidney stent is not a pretty one. You can research that on your own if you're really curious. But Dr. Haid did give us his advice on choosing one of the two methods, and we're going to follow it.

Here's the difference between a big hospital and our very own world-class medical care in Sheboygan. When Jim comes out of any sort of sedation, apparently he's a bit of a handful. Meaning he basically wakes up fighting with fists swinging. The IR nurses here in Sheboygan teased him and said he was "cute" and "feisty". The IR nurses at Northwestern just drugged him until he passed out. I guess at a big hospital they have so many patients that they can't cater to anyone, but all the drugs they gave him made him really, really nauseated. He was sick all evening and the bulk of today. We didn't get home until much later than we expected because he just didn't feel well enough to leave Chicago. I'll say it again: there's something to be said for small town care. We also had our first not-so-caring nurse. And no matter where we go, so far the nurses have been awesome. So it was a bit of a disappointment, especially because we've come to rely so heavily on the nurses for moral support, for comfort, and to insert an IV with a bit of a gentle hand.

So his actual microspheres procedure is on Thursday, August 9th. The longest day was actually yesterday, so he's over the hump in terms of tests and scans. We are looking forward to the 9th. I am hopeful that this will bring him some pain relief, and that he'll be able to go back to solid foods after this procedure. FYI, it's not uncommon to have to do shakes or some such diet and then later return to a normal diet.

Chicago was fabulous. Northwestern Hospital is literally one block off the Miracle Mile, so we even got to do a little shopping while Jim was in his angiogram. (It was six hours long...don't look at me like that.) I had fun getting a couple of school outfits for Rachel. I love Chicago. It's a very pretty city. The hardest thing about being there is that I typically do everything with Jim. It's really hard to have fun without him. He's the first one I tell...anything. He's my best friend and I am always disappointed when I can't share something really exciting with him. Being in Chicago is a treat because it's Chicago, but it was tough because I just don't have the same kind of fun without my sweetie by my side. I keep saying it. Next year. Next year we'll hit the Windy City running.

Labels: , , , , ,