Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ending the Week on a More Positive Note

Thursday Steve hit an all-time low, struggling with the swelling, leakage and fluid draining in his leg; feeling the effects of five days without much sleep; chest pain and flu-like symptoms from the Neupogen injections; sharp burning pains in his stomach; and a general loss of stamina and energy.  In this fragile condition he was also at an all-time emotional low. He was somehow able to make it through the work week, but each day was a real struggle and challenged his already compromised health.  The report from Dr. Liao about his dangerously low white blood cell count on Wednesday escalated our concerns about Steve's vulnerability to infection and illness.  How could we protect him from an unseen enemy that could unknowingly strike a low blow, landing him in the hospital someday from a simple cold or virus?  I hated the idea that he felt compelled to go into work in his weakened condition.  Each time I suggested that he stay home to rest, he would become upset and said that he couldn't add an additional financial stress on top of all he was already facing.  He has no sick leave, no vacation, and no opportunities for shared leave.  It just didn't seem right.  I would make it my new mission to find a way to replace his income so he would be free to take a leave of absence to fight the cancer. 

We both headed off to work again on Thursday.  At about eleven o'clock I received a call at work from Steve.  He was at the Emergency Room at Good Samaritan Hospital.  I was shocked to hear of this and asked him why he was there.  He said he wanted to get a new bulb for the drain in his leg.  The old bulb was not working properly and coming open all the time.  Steve thought he could drop by the hospital and simply get a new one.  He thought he would be back to work in an hour. 

Well, that quick trip to the hospital turned out to be a real fiasco.  With a simple request for a new bulb, he found himself in an emergency room with hospital staff questioning him about his health history and  recent surgeries.  I too was struggling emotionally and just hearing that he was alone in the hospital made me instantly want to drop everything I was doing to be with him, so I did. 

Hey, this place looks pretty familiar! 
Steve spent four hours in the ER waiting for a doctor to come in, clear the tubing and replace the bulb.  I drove into his work to grab his medication, computer and work files; I was not going to let him go back to work.  He desperately needed sleep, so I basically forced him to go home and rest before our appointment with Dr. Liao for another Neupogen injection.

Yesterday Steve saw Dr. Kim for his JP Drain.  Even with the new bulb, Steve's leg was not producing hardly any new fluid in the bulb.  Steve feared that it was still clogged, but the swelling was gone.  Dr. Kim thought it was time to get the drain out.  If it would fill with lymph fluid again, he would drain it as needed.  With one tug on the tubing, it came out with ease.  There is a small hole left that should close over time.  The wound looks like a small cigarette burn.  Steve was relieved to have that out of his leg and we were happy to close that chapter of his story.

After seeing Dr. Kim, we headed across the hall to Dr. Liao's office to get a check up.  The nurse drew blood out of his port and sent it off to be tested.  Dr. Liao was out of the office and Steve was seen by a different oncologist.  Realizing we had not heard the results of the thyroid biopsy, I called to get the report, which was faxed over right away.

The results were in and we had some good news!  Although one of the nodules in Steve's thyroid was not diagnostic, the other was.  The report said that it was benign and he was at a very low risk for cancer.  What a relief!  They would still keep a close eye on his thyroid, and Steve will need another ultrasound in three months. 

As we talked to the doctor, the results from the blood work came in.  More good news!  Steve's white blood count was up from 1.2 to 3.8.  It was just below normal!  Knowing how much Steve hated the injections, the new doctor was leaning toward letting Steve go without getting one, but I had a little problem with that.  If the normal range was between 5-10, wouldn't it be best if he had just one more shot to get him into the clear?  I knew that if Dr. Liao were here, he would suggest another injection.  So I objected and provided my rationale for giving Steve another injection.  The doctor agreed that another shot would not hurt, but would be helpful.  He ordered the shot and told Steve we would check his levels again on Monday.  He saw no reason why Steve wouldn't be able to get his second dose of Chemotherapy in two weeks. 

We have weathered a difficult week and Steve is back on the mend.  God's grace and mercy have seen us through.  We are praying that the next two weeks will pass without any new challenges and Steve will be strong for Chemo on November 18th. 

Team Fox -- Please continue to pray that: 
  • The lymph fluid will not collect any longer in his leg and that it will no longer be a threat.
  • That Steve's white blood count would stay in a normal range.
  • The Steve's strength will return and Steve will be strong for round 2 of Chemo on the 18th.
  • That we will be able to find financial support for Steve so he can to take a leave from work when needed and help pay for the rising medical bills.
  • That the chemo would do it's job to kill the cancer completely.

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