Friday, January 27, 2006

Sleep? I Don't Need No Stinkin' Sleep!

Wow, so this is what it feels like to be on speed? Who wants this? 55 minutes sleep Tuesday night, 4 hours of forced sleep with Benadryl Wednesday night and an hour and a half tonight. I am taking 40 mg of Prednisone every 12 hours. My last dose is scheduled for about 8 p.m. Saturday night. I teach my adult Sunday Bible Study class at 11 a.m. Sunday morning. Sure hope I don't crash and burn in the middle of teaching. My class is so great at carrying on discussion of the day's material that they could keep going as long as I managed to ask a question in the beginning. :)

Thought I would give a quick update to our continuing soap opera. My youngest brother, Bill, is the Broadway actor with about eight Broadway shows and many off-Broadway shows to his credit and the one who has been on a couple of soap operas and various TV shows. I never expected I would be in a real life soap opera. (By the way, his stage name is William Ryall and if you would like to read about his career and see pictures of him, along with various other stars, his website is at

Now for the latest installment of, "As the Stomach Turns."

Tonight boys and girls, our hero, John, received a call from his oldest daughter, Cheri, to see if she could bring the kids over to our house as she had to take her husband, Marc to the Emergency Room at Round Rock, Hospital. Since it was almost 10 and the kids were asleep, I told her I would come over there and watch them. Marc's left arm started hurting yesterday and by 3 in the afternoon, he had to leave work. He soaked in a tub of hot water for hours, but it just kept getting worse. By tonight it was paining so bad it was bringing tears to his eyes and he could not lift or even move his arm. Even though he doesn't have health insurance through is work, she said she had to take him. And she did. Unfortunately they decided not to add him to her work policy because it was going to cost $400 dollars a month. (Ain't health care grand?)

When our hero, John, arrived at their home, Marc was sitting out on the porch, obviously in great pain, and ready to go. I figured I would be there a couple of hours. Cheri called about 3:30 a.m. and said Marc was being admitted. So far he has had x-rays, EKG, Blood tests, Sugar glucose test, MRI and a CT Scan!! Remember, no insurance. His blood sugar was high, his blood pressure was very high, his EKG was abnormal and the doctor first said they suspected a stroke. Thus the brain MRI. Just like our hero, John, last month, they did find a brain, but no evidence of stroke. Thank you again, Lord! Then they did the CT scan of his shoulder and upper back. Cheri can't remember all the technical details, but it did indicate compression of something and she thought they said nerves were being compressed. A neurologist is being called in. His temperature was actually low, but he was sweating. Because various vital signs are off, they admitted him to room 231 (I think - remember, your hero is Sleepless in Seattle, er Round Rock, Texas!) She came back to the house about 5 a.m. so she could be there to get the kids off to school. She looked exhausted. For a fleeting moment our hero thought about offering her this cool drug called Prednisone as a pick me up. However, this soap opera script does not include the hero being carted off to jail. And this script doesn't need any more revisions. She will head back over to the hospital after the kids leave for school.

(Scene switch. Slowly pan into hospital room in upstate NY, where our hero's older brother is lying in a bed with a tube sticking out of his chest.) Jim had heart surgery Wednesday morning. The fluid continued to build around his heart and they had to relieve the pressure before it smothered his heart. They drained about 3 cups of fluid from the lining of his heart and the tube is still in him and draining. They also removed several swollen lymph nodes in the area for biopsy. When Jim mentioned that his brother, our hero, was battling swollen lymph nodes throughout his body, the doctor said maybe his was swelled in sympathy. Now that would be brotherly love gone too far to the extreme. But remember, this is a soap opera and you know how some of those medical scripts get really silly. (not to mention script writers on steroids) Anyway, back to our story. So far they have ruled out a lot of nasty diseases and other things. Cultures aren't showing much. They are moving more and more to a diagnosis of a viral infection. That could be tough to cure, I think. I talked to him for about a half hour on the phone Thursday morning and he sounded great. Of course he would like to get out of there and go home. He and his family are strong Christians too. His wife, Barb, seems to be holding up even though she has health problems of her own. They have five kids and so many grandchildren that I have lost count. Barb was a registered nurse by profession.

(Scene switch back to Texas) Cindy is doing OK. Still not up to par and still running slight fever. Seems to be an ear infection. Jonathan, her son, has also been out of school for two days as he has been running a fever. Of course they are avoiding me like the plague. When they got out of my bed from sleeping here the other night after her ER adventure, she said she didn't have time to strip the sheets, but she did spray the bed down with Lysol just in case I didn't change them. HA! She has placed hand sanitizers around our house and handwash is the order for everyone. Again, I thank the Lord that her fever doesn't seem to be connected with her heart surgery, other than her general weakened condition because of it.

(Scene switch to Funeral Home visitation) Our reluctant hero of this soap opera visited with Gene Jones for a short time Thursday evening at visitation time. She seems to be holding up absolutely wonderfully. She is such a sweet lady. Loving family and many, many Christian friends surround her. She has had a steady stream to her home of folks bringing food and love and support. Jimmy and Gene have both been very strong Christians and a great witness in their community. Jimmy was always testifying to his faith even during this last hospital visit. He didn't say that much that often in our class, but when he did it was always great and often with a sense of humor and impishness. He had a great love for the Lord and all people in general. He was the oldest member of our class and died at a young 84. (Our class is supposed to be over 50 to 65, I think, but we actually range from 32 up to Jimmy's age. I don't know who is our oldest member now, but I think somewhere in their 70s, maybe. Most, but not all of us are in our late 50s and 60s.) Jimmy's funeral is at 10 this morning and Cheryl and I will be attending.

(Last scene switch and slight flashback to a couple of days ago) After only 55 minutes of sleep on Tuesday night, our hero decided it might not be a good idea to go to work because he figured he would give out during the day. He didn't, he hasn't. His baby brother wouldn't let him drive his own car that day because he figured a crash was coming, both figuratively and literally. Neither happened. So, after getting a whole 4 hours on Wednesday night, he woke up at 4 a.m., very wide awake, and decide to go to work. This was much appreciated by his loving family who had put up with a couple of days of non-stop, hyper talking, singing, trying to tell jokes that were only funny to him, etc. Not much got accomplished at work, but he was there. First few hours were spent retelling his sad tale of surgery and chemo. Would have been nice if everyone had shown up at once and he could have told it once. But we have staggered hours and if people asked, he didn't want to say, "Come to the classroom at 10 o'clock and I'll brief everyone." HA! The rest of the day was mostly spent answering legitimate emails and cleaning out many spam emails as the spam filters had been off for a week. Really strange because our hero never received even one spam in two years even though other's did, then this last year they started flooding in. Mostly to buy cheap drugs, grow hair and other body parts. Who squealed?

To be serious, I am so very grateful to how I am handling this chemo. Monday was very rough, but in the scheme of things that was short and very bearable. My greatest fear, severe nausea has not been realized in the least. The strong anti-nausea drugs I am on (which also make me hyper) are working wonderfully! I will take being awake and hyper over the nausea any time! The treatment so far has been going much more smoothly than I had imagined it would. I guess I should have had more faith because I know many, many people are praying for me and PRAYER WORKS! I am so grateful that our Lord can never become overwhelmed with intercessory prayers being offered, because many have been sent on behalf of my family and friends this last week or two. Many prayers of thanksgiving have been among those prayers, not just requests. I realize I can expect to hit a low next week sometime, but that should only be extreme fatigue.

Hmmm, Sleep? Yes, I do need some stinkin' sleep.

Again, thank you to each of you for all of your support. I have received many individual emails and comments posted on this Blog. I appreciate each and every one of you!


Karen said...

WOW! What a soap opera! I just wanted to stop by and thank you for the kind (and funny!) comments you posted on my blog. Lymphomanic -- I love it! :) I know that your sense of humor is going to get you through all of this!

Karen (aka "Cancer Girl")

Betty in NM said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of #*STEROIDS*#, John! I never feel so great as when I'm on a nice course of dexamethasone, which is my steroid of choice. I can read and write all night long, and I even write poetry--something I can't do to save my soul when I'm "clean". Wish there were not such nasty side-effects to steroids or I would claim I need them all the time!
Keep on truckin'!!
Betty in NM
DX 3-05; TX RFCx3 Apr-June 05; CR as of 9-05

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