Sunday, February 15, 2009

Not the news we were expecting

Brian got the hiccups after his surgery. He complained about them so the nurse gave him Thorazine. (Note to self - never again) He went into la-la land big time. He thought he was on a Springfield...Massachussetts...where they had taken a wall out of our room...and on and on and on. He was really over the edge. Pulled out his IV once and tried it a second time. It is funny (well, not the IV part) now to look back on, but it was kind of scary while it was happening. This was while the wireless Internet access was down at the hospital as well. Who knew I had come to be so dependent on electronic communication!?

So, Monday the surgeon came in and gave us the news we weren't expecting and didn't want to hear. The pathology report came back positive for cancer in the mass that was taken out. We should have been expecting it, but weren't - I mean just Friday the surgeon said he looked "pristine" and the oncologist was just there for a "social visit." We got a copy of the report and it looks like there were three separate tumors - of which two were not seen on a PET scan the 22nd of December. They were around 5-6 cm in size. Sobering news when after the Dec. 22 PET we all thought things were looking up, the tumor we were fighting was shrinking and there was no new activity. His CEA levels (a blood report which shows signs of cancer activity) were also not rising.

So, what to do now? Go home and get healed from the surgery. We are working on that. Brian got to come home last Thursday. He is resting a lot, eating small meals. We have been studying the literature from the dietitian about how he should and shouldn't eat. Everything we learned from Sloan during our year as the Move It! family has to be reversed for Brian. Less fiber, less raw fruit and vegetables, etc. Well, not everything. He needs to eat a bunch of smaller meals, because he has less intestine to do the work - less time in the intestine to absorb nutrients. He also is not supposed to drink while do you do that? I always have to swallow my food with some drink. Supposed to wait a half hour to an hour.

The chemo regimen will be a bit more intense now. He gets this week off, then back at it. He hasn't had any treatments for about six weeks. His new regimen will be something every week. Before he was every other week for six months, a total of twelve treatments. This time the doctor didn't say for how long. I think he said Brian would be in some kind of treatment always due to the aggressive nature of his cancer. That is something I have to ask when we go for his appt.

So, we will have a new version of normal in the house. Although my life seems very scattered, we do have a schedule and try to keep to it. Certain things happen on certain days. I have to work on what is best to keep and what can go away. Everyone says to take care of myself...but what that actually means is different in every person's head. So, taking stock in how to take care of myself while being there for my husband, making life happen for the girls and trying to maintain my job is what I am trying to work out now.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we embark on this newest version of our journey. Stop by and say hi, give us a call or a text. If you see me out running, it is okay to ask about Brian...and it is okay if sometimes I just keep running and don't answer your question or change the subject. It doesn't mean I don't hear you, or that I am mad at you for asking. It just means that sometimes I need to talk and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I just need to know that you want to know and that you still like me if I don't answer. Thanks.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Maybe this surgery was successful

Two weeks ago when Brian was discharged from the hospital, he was still having pains in his stomache. They weren't getting better. The surgeon didn't want to do surgery because of Brian's previous history. Said he wasn't sure if the risk was worth the benefit. So, Brian called the oncologist and told him that the pain was unbearable. That it felt the same as when he first had surgery and was diagnosed with cancer. The oncologist recommended a second opinion. The new surgeon said that nobody should be in the pain that Brian was in and that he would take a go at fixing the problem.

So, Brian had surgery - exploratory laparotomy - on Wednesday. The news is looking favorable. The surgery found a mass that was all tangled up in Brian's small intestine and colon. They say the radiation last summer probably caused it. They took it all out and had to piece his intestines back together in 3 different places. Brian got to get out of bed today for a bit. He was very "loopy" though. Morphine for ya. They want him to walk but I don't know if he will be steady enough today. We won't know the success of the surgery from a cancer standpoint until path report comes back, Monday or Tuesday.

He feels much better in the stomache area. The pain he is in is due to the incision and surgery. So, cross your fingers that all is now well. This surgery might have even gotten the "inoperable" tumor that we were fighting. We will see.

I got to run on Monday. I had told Susan that I would run with her, but was in a conversation with Carmen when we took off. I kept up with Carmen and Deb for a bit, but then had to let them go ahead. I looked around for Susan and Bobby was running with her, so I was on my own. It was lonely, but kind of nice. I could concentrate on myself. I ran the whole time, without stopping to walk. That felt good. Three miles, about 45 minutes. It is also fun to come to the end and have people there cheering you on/making sure you made it around and are safe. Runners World has done a great job of putting caring coaches into place. I really feel like I will be able to run the half in April in OKC.

I knew I wouldn't make it to run Tuesday night with the group, so I got up Tuesday morning and ran at the Health Zone. I do not feel safe running by myself outside, so I am glad that I can go indoors. I got in four miles and had the incline at 2.5. I think I heard Michael tell us that if you were running on a treadmill you needed to have it at 1.5 or higher. I finished in just under an hour. So, I am slow, but I can feel the change in my body and abilities.

I was going to try to make it for the Thursday night run and to listen to Sloan afterwards. But, Brian was in the hospital and we weren't sure that we had heard from all of the doctors. The surgeon had been in, but not the oncologist. He stopped by this morning for a "social visit". Turns out he is not listed as being on the case, so he will not be coming by each day. Now we know. One visit from the doctor per day. After Brian gets out of the hospital and has recoverd for a few weeks we will go back to the oncologist to make a new plan. Maybe this surgery was successful and not only is the pain gone, but so is the cancer. We can only hope.

I plan to run on Saturday with the group. I don't know if I can make six miles, or not, but am willing to try. I have a friend who is going to come and sit with Brian. See you out there.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The best laid plans

What is a normal schedule? I really was going to get back on a schedule last week. Didn't happen. I did get the elastic sewn onto my daughter's toe shoes. I did "attend" the inauguration with 210 of my favorite students at school. I did make it to class Tuesday and Thursday. I did plan an entire school wide community day for my school to celebrate on Wednesday. I did get my portfolio turned in to the district competition for Teacher of the Year. I did get my lifeguard recertification completed. I did make it to my workshop at Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium on Saturday.

I only ran Monday night. Got to work on that. Although, in light of the temperatures, maybe I am glad I didn't run? I applaud all of you who did. Especially the 60-70 of you who made it out on Saturday morning. Wow...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Getting back to a schedule

So, my husband came home from the hospital. He didn't have any procedures, just some steroids and bowel rest. He got to come home Thursday night. So, I am going to try to return to a "normal" I ever had a normal schedule.

Tomorrow is Monday, I will get up and work at the HZ in the a.m. I have a couple of dr. appts.. myself. Then I will meet with the Monday group at 5:30 p.m. I am assuming at 21st and Riverside.

Thanks for the prayers and well wishes.

I am now even farther behind on the training, but I think I can catch up. I have to miss the next two Saturday long runs. I might try to get them in on Sundays.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Missing the runs - and needing prayers

It is amazing that even after being a runner for such a short time (4 weeks now?) that I miss it when I don't get it in. I did well at the beginning of the week...running at the HZ even if I missed the runs with the group. Thursday I was prepared to run with the group when I realized that I wasn't going to be at school on Friday and needed to set up for my sub. I didn't get finished with that until about 8:30 and went home to sulk. The outcome of the football game didn't help my mood much. Neither did the fact that my husband came home from work sick.

For those of you who don't know, my husband has cancer of the terminal ileum, which is the last third of the small intestine, and it is being treated as if it were colon cancer. He was first diagnosed in August of 06. It was surgically removed, he had 6 months of chemo, and he was declared in remission. Jan of 08 they spotted a suspicious area on a routine PET scan. Mar of 08, it was still there and bigger. May of 08 he had surgery and we were told it was another tumor and was attached to his femoral artery (the big one running from your leg to your heart) and couldn't be removed surgically...too risky. He had 5 weeks of radiation + chemo, then went on a regimine of more chemo - every other week. He had a PET scan in Dec of 08 which showed that the tumor was getting smaller, changing color and all of this was good.

So, Thursday night he came home from work sick. I told him it was convenient that he was "sick" on the night that OU was playing in the National Championship Game. (I can be very rude sometimes.) He didn't even really watch the game - which told me there might really be an issue. Friday morning I went to my workshop at TU (I am going back for my Master's degree), and was called out of the workshop to meet him at the ER, because he REALLY did not feel well. Twelve hours later (midnight thirty), we were sent to a room.

So, here we sit. He is sleeping. I have nothing to do but watch him sleep and worry. He has a new bowel obstruction, which is how this whole cancer thing started 2 1/2 years ago. We won't know for sure what this obstruction is until there is a procedure of some sort. Could be as simple as a scope, could be as dangerous as another exploratory surgery. Probably won't know anything until Sunday or even Monday. So, there is the prayer request.

I keep saying that running is hard, and not wanting to be a "bad apple" (just teasing you, Sandra) I want everyone to know that while it is hard, I enjoy it and look forward to running for the rest of my life. I missed running on Thursday night and was going to run Friday afternoon to make up for it. I missed running Friday afternoon and now am missing running today with the group. It was going to be the "long" 4 mile run! I asked Carmen to run an extra four for me. I hope you all made the four or more miles that you were doing today. Maybe if one of my family members can come up and sit with Brian for an hour or so, I can at least go over to the HZ and get in my 3 miles on the treadmill.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Keeping Fit

I couldn't sleep last night, finally fell to the sandman about 3 this morning. At 4:30 woke up to the alarm letting me know that the Health Zone opened in 30 minutes and I was supposed to meet the trainer. So, I crawled out of bed and threw on some workout clothes. I knew that I had to get ready for an entire day before I left...I wasn't coming back home until after running tonight.

I had my first ever mammogram right after the workout, so I had to be prepared for that. I had to then go to school/work, so I had to be ready for that. I then was supposed to meet the RW group at 21 and Riverside at 5:30 pm to run. I was then supposed to pick up my daughters from dance and take them home to feed them. Included in all of this were the appropriate clothes and food. I had my work/school clothes in my bag, along with makeup and curling iron. I could get dressed at the HZ before I went to the mammogram. I also put two pairs of running pants/shirts in my bag and my running shoes. I packed my lunch...we are supposed to be watching what we eat now as we beginning half-marathoners are getting ready for runs longer than 3 mi. I also packed breakfast and two snacks.

I made it to everything but running! How do I do that? I am on contract at school to work until 4:45. I thought that I could leave then and make it to Riverside on time. Which, in theory, works. But my principal came back to my teaching area right around that time and started rearranging our class pets...he brought in two snakes. I felt obligated to stay and help with the rearranging, after all it was my classroom.

So then I thought that I could make it to the HZ to swim or run on the treadmill. Not to be. By the time I got out and over to pick up my daughters I needed to bring them home and feed them.

So, here is my revised running plan for the week:
Monday - crosstrain - I did walk a mile and then work out with weights in the morning. I can count that.
Tuesday - get up in the morning and run at the HZ, go for at least 3.5 miles at 2.0. (I have other obligations on Tuesday nights)
Wednesday - get up and make it to the HZ again to run and work out.
Thursday - meet with the RW group at the store and run.
Friday - off
Saturday - see if I can make the 4 miles we are supposed to do on Saturday. I think we are meeting at the store at 8:00 a.m.

Did I remember to say Running is Hard! (My goal for the year is to be able to not say that!)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Running is hard

Who ever thought that running would be easy? This portion of my story begins in December, 2007. Fox 23 was having a contest. (Isn't it always about a contest?) They were looking for a family to follow for a year - with a nutritionist and a personal trainer - a family who wanted to improve their health and well being...we were picked as the first Move It! family for Fox 23.
Most of the 2008 year was pretty good.

One of the perks of being the Move It! family was that people offered to do things for us. One of those things was to train us to run in the Route 66 Marathon...the 5K or the quarter. I will try almost anything, so I said yes for the whole family. Right after I said yes, my husband was diagnosed with a recurrence of his "colon" cancer. He had to bow out. My girls didn't like the running much, either. Maybe they will come around.

So, that left me. I did ok with a friend during the summer month of June into the first week of July. Then I went out of state for a workshop/conference or two and when I came back had to hit the ground running for school (did I mention I am a school teacher?) Once school started, it was hard to do anything. Needless to say, the Route 66 fell by the wayside, what with school, Brian's chemo and getting the daughters to their various after school activities. Sorry Fox23, but I did lose 50 lbs over the course of the year. Thanks for that.

I did re-start strength training (restart? I never actually started) at the Health Zone. I met with a trainer on Mondays and Wednesdays and tried to get myself there on Fridays. Then the fateful day came. We were at a function at school and in breezes Carmen. "Hey, LeeAnne, why don't you start running with me. I am joining a group at Runner's World, training for a half-marathon in OKC in April. I think you can do it." It was midnight or later when Carmen made this statement, so I blurrily said sure, and talked a couple of other people into it as well (or so I thought...).

So, Carmen sent me the link and here I am. I have run with the Runner's World group several times. I make it more often to the Health Zone to run on the treadmill. There is quite a difference between a treadmill and the great outdoors, but I am managing. I am quite a wimp when it comes to cold weather.

I ran the Race Into the New Year on New Year's Eve with Carmen, Shelia, Carla, Deborah and Susan. I am glad that I have these friends to run with. We rarely end up together, but it is nice to pass or be passed by each of them. (For the record, I never even saw Susan until the race was over...)

I plan to continue with the blog to help keep me honest about my running. I think it will be a good influence on my life. I do have to say I was disappointed last Saturday when Fire Pants told the group before our training run that running did not burn fat...I thought that was one of the reasons I was doing this. Oh well.

By the way...running is hard.