A Visit to UMMS for a Second Opinion

Keith and I just wrapped up his first visit to Dr. Rappaport at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.  Poor Keith really had a tough ride up and back because the drive brought on nausea.  Our friend Ginny let us borrow a walker and wheelchair, and I used the wheelchair to push Keith around for the first time to get him from the car to the doctor’s office.  It was easier that I expected but then again, UMMS is a hospital with plenty of care taken for handicap access.  We both like the doctor and staff, but we did spend all day at the center without anything to snack on.  The doctor suggested that Keith further up his calorie intake since he is still losing weight and is down to 128 pounds.  Keith has been giving orders to start physical therapy.  He also reviewed Keith’s current course of chemotherapy and is in agreement with the doctors here in Easton (CHOP, no E).  We  are now waiting to get scheduled for another PET scan before his next course of treatment.

Our ride back from UMMS was crazy to say the least.  Keith’s nausea flared up in high fashion, I was starving and trying hard not to take his nausea as a personal affront to my driving, and we both got lost trying to find Adam’s Ribs.  By the time we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, Keith insisted that I order carry-out so he didn’t have to get out of the car.  After placing his order, I turned up the cranky starving caregiver/driver/wife mode and threw a fit, explaining that although he wanted to wait to eat, I did not want to order a steak and drive for another 1/2 hour before eating it.  Keith just laid in the seat next to me, trying not to let his stomach do extra    churning, and gave in.  He braved going into Adams Ribs.  I ordered my own steak and they brought his carry-out to the table.  He actually did feel better after going in and sitting down, even ordering a big slice of apple pie with a couple of scoops of ice cream.

Keith is still battling nausea today.  Again, I refuse to believe that it had anything to do with my driving.  I spoke with our social worker, Patty, today via email to find out how to start physical therapy and she has also guided me in the direction of a nutritionist.

One last note – Keith’s hair has official started to fall out.  We invested in a portable battery powered vacuum for quick clean-up and I found myself the other day running it over his head to suck out the lose hair.  It had us both laughing.

As always, thank you all for the power of your positive thinking.  We keep moving with it all!



Home from the Hospital

So I am officially done with vacation and home again with Keith.  He developed a very serious case of thrush, which is a nasty throat condition.  That was part of the reason he was unable to eat much leading up to being admitted to the hospital.  On November 8, 2011 Keith underwent an esophago gastro duadenoscopy.  I know this is a very long medical term but it basically means that a fiberoptic endoscope was inserted into his mouth, down into the esophagus, stomach and first portion of the small bowel so the doctor could take a peek.  There were a few biopsies done while they were down there and they did find ulcers.  We are currently waiting on the results from the biopsies.  Keith says its official – he’s had a camera put into every cavity.

His daughter Christie brought him home Wednesday night and went to town cleaning the house and organizing.  She made a big pot of chili that Keith is still munching on.  He is focused on eating more and moving around, and despite feeling very weak, has managed to brave another chemotherapy treatment today.  This decision was based on a conversation with his doctor, Dr. Smith, who pointed out that this cancer can be cured but Keith would need to accept the side effects of fatigue and keep his eye on the ball.  Dr. Smith has decided to remove the “E” from his CHOP-E formula to see if it will still target the cancer but not bottom Keith out.

Thank you all for the well wishes and support Keith has received from all of you.  Please feel free to call us anytime.  We may not be able to answer the phone every time but will do our best.



A Brief Medical Update

So since I start traveling tomorrow, I’m going to wrap up here with one last blog.  Keith is actually doing much better and has his HP touchpad with him in the hospital, so I’m hoping he will pick up posting.  If not, I’ll catch everyone up when I get back.

Monday evening we went to the ER and as most of you know, Keith was hospitalized with a fever and low white blood cell count.  By Wednesday, they had started a blood transfusion because his platelette count was low.  Today, they installed a midline catherter IV in his upper arm. I actually got to watch the procedure which consisted of using ultrasound to find the vein and then snaking the line in.  I’m going to get good at this medical stuff before its over.

The reason for the catherter is to feed his fluids, antibiotics, medications, and potassium through and thus freeing up his port for nutritional suppliments.  He started his first nutritional IV this evening and the stuff looks like milk.  I find it a little disturbing that its going into his veins.  My parents paid him a visit and we teased him that if he cut himself, he’d bleed pink.

Long and the short is he is definately on the mend.  They will keep him in the hospital for a few more days though and I think both of us are relieved – he still has a way to go before he’s really able to manuever around the house.  We will receive nursing assistance when he first gets out and probably a little physical therapy.  Our social worker, Patty Plaskon, did visit us tonight and shared a comforting laundry list of resources she can make readily available to us as Keith works through his cancer recovery.

Thank you all – keep sending that positive energy – and I will catch up with you when I return on the 13th.



Its Working Everyone!!

I have good news – Keith is now rising up!  We still have a long way to go and he will remain in the hospital but this morning he had some eggs for breakfast and was showing off his HP Touchpad to the doctor when it was check up time.  This evening, I will focus on the details of what his course of treatment is but I wanted to take just a couple of moments to let you all know that its looking UP!

Feel free to reach out to him as he improves.  Again, sending text messages works the best because they disturb him the least if he happens to be resting.  I thank you all for the positive energy you send to him – I know its working – and my heart sang this morning when I recognized my lovable husband behaving in his usual smarty-pants fashion.  I owe you all!



Our First Visit to the ER

After posting last night’s blog, I did my usual poking of the Keith so that I could help him start the slow trek to bed.  As I was rubbing his head, I could feel the heat which prompted me to take his temperature.  Sure enough we read 101.2.  After a brief conversation with the doctor on call, Brandon helped me get the car warmed up and it was off to the ER. 

Keith is still at the hospital as we speak and will probably remain till the end of the day Wednesday.  The nurse I spoke with today referred to this as the bottoming out after chemo.  He does have an infection and his stomach continues to bother him.  They have made morphine available to him to ease the pain and allow him some rest. 

I have reached out to the case worker this morning and we are going to work on some sort of health care home visits for the week I am out of town.  It looks very promising that we will have additional support during my absence which means I can relax and recharge on my trip knowing Keith will be looked after. 

Despite my own low fuel cells, I will do my best to keep the blog up to date as his treatment progresses at the hospital.  Please know that although he has his cell phone with him, I have intentially turned the ringer off.  Every minute of sleep for him right now is worth its weight in gold.  Certainly send text messages and if you call, don’t leave voicemail.  He knows to look at the call list to see who reached out.

I’ll touch base with you soon.