Friday, November 2, 2012

Some Weeks Are Like Roller Coasters

Friday, November 2nd 
Joe is getting stronger every day and is on target for discharge today from the neurology floor of Memorial Hospital.  This is the in-patient hospital of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center/MSKCC located at 1275 York Ave. in New York City.

As I drove into Manhattan on Sunday, October 28th, I was very conscious of the pending storm and the exodus heading north on the Henry Hudson provided proof. Sunday night ensconced in Aunt Lynn's apartment on Riverside Drive, we listened to the winds howl from the warm safety of the 14th floor. As many of you know we headed off to Memorial for an early start Monday, October 29th for Joe's surgery. 

Check back later today for the rest of this entry. Busy with doctors etc. right now. Thanks for reading and caring. Have a great day. 

Our life is like a roller coaster.  Joe was not discharged as we hoped on Friday, Nov. 2nd.  Not to worry, Joe is ok. In fact, after an exhausting Friday for Joe (simulation/planning for Joe's radiation) it was decided that Joe would not be discharged.  The good thing?  Joe got some seriously good rest Friday afternoon into early evening.  Slept more soundly than Joe had in a long time.  Waking up more handsome than ever, if that could be possible?!

It's been quite an experience being in NYC this week of all weeks!

Monday, Oct 28th 
At 5 am  I called the car service located in our Upper West side neighborhood.  Dispatch assured me cars were available and that the Manhattan streets were desserted.  No problems were expected with getting to the East Side in time for a 7:45 am check-in on the 6th floor of Memorial Hospital. We went prepared with whatever we anticipated needing for the next five days. At 7 am Lis, Joe and I headed to Memorial in the early morning light.

Joe's  surgery (which began at 10:10 am) to install (percutaneously) 4 screws and 2 rods into the L2 vertebra went very well.  It took longer than we originally thought it would.  Mostly because the surgery involves taking images throughout the procedure to ensure proper placement of the hardware.  Sloan has a good process in place whereby a roaming nurse provides ongoing updates to the families of patients during surgery.

Around 3:30 pm Lis, Sarah and I were able to speak with Joe's surgeon who reassured us that the surgery went as expected.  Joe was resting (although in a great deal of pain) in the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) also known as Recovery.

It was close to 4 pm by the time we were permitted to see Joe.  I could immediately tell that Joe was in an incredible amount of pain. Joe, who never (I mean, ever) complains about the pain he experiences, told me his pain was a 15!  Health professionals use a sliding scale from 1 to 10 to ask patients to describe their level of pain. Joe was experiencing a pain crisis and was letting us know his pain was well off the chart. In addition to the pain from the back surgery, Joe has chronic pain to manage, too.

The staff in the PACU worked very well with Joe's pain management doctor from CT, (the dr who knows Joe best) to get Joe's pain under control.  Unfortunately, it took way too much time to readjust the pain meds. Over the next few days, a better pain management plan evolved.

By Monday at 8 pm, the few remaining patients were discharged from the PACU to the 7th floor leaving Joe, the only patient in a 32 bed recovery unit!  Many of the staff had come in early to be on site in preparation for Sandy.  In fact, I was told many of them were given aerobeds to use. All surgeries at Memorial had been canceled for Tues., October 30th.

See next post for continuing saga...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Today at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Joe's surgery went well today. It's almost midnight and Joe still has a lot of pain. Doctors are working to manage the pain. Had trouble with Internet here today.  Will keep you updated as we can. Thanks for all the support and love!

Love from Joe, Lis and Doreen

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What's Happening This Week - October 28th

Forgive everyone everything.

I received an email from a friend.  You know the kind.  You probably receive them, too.  This one was titled, "Good Advice" written by a 90 year old. The list was a long one, 45 pearls of wisdom to be exact.  The one that stuck with me?  Forgive everyone everything... 

We've heard it before.  It's been said many times in a myriad of ways by many famous people,  "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

People misspeak.  Coming  from our own corners, with our personal histories, we misinterpret. Feelings get hurt.  People most often mean well.  Sometimes mistakes are made. But remember, each day every one of us is faced with challenges with which we must cope.

Forgive everyone everything. Try it.  See how it impacts your life.

The last month has been crammed full of doctor appointments, chemo treatments, a 3 day admission to St. Vincent's Medical Center for pneumonia, and surgery (spaying) for Mia, too! Life has been super busy.  And as always, all the  love and the many messages from all our friends and family have helped sustain us.

On Monday, October 29th  Joe will be admitted at 7:45 am to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center/ MSKCC, 1275 York Ave in NYC.  A neurosurgeon will percutaneously insert 4 screws and 2 rods into Joe's  L2 vertebra.  Recovery is much faster from this type of surgery as it is less invasive that traditional methods for back surgery. The total procedure will take approximately 3 hours as  imaging is done to ensure proper placement of the hardware. Kyphoplasty, a procedure to inject a cement-like substance will be done as well.

In September, Joe's CT scans showed that his cancer has spread.  Hence, the change in chemo treatment to different drugs.  One of the areas showed a tumor in the vertebral column.  This has caused severe pain for Joe. Monday's surgery is necessary to provide pain relief from the fracture caused by the tumor and to stabilize this area to prevent any spinal cord compression. The following week, Joe will receive a one time dose of radiation to destroy the tumor.

By the time you read this post, we will be en-route to the Upper West side of Manhattan to Aunt Lynn's apartment.  We will spend Sunday afternoon watching football and relaxing. Monday morning we will be up bright and early to head to the East side to MSKCC. Check back for updates, we will keep you posted.

Thank you for all your love,


PS This afternoon I spoke with the neurosurgery fellow on call. Joe's  surgery is confirmed for tomorrow. Some of the doctors are overnighting at Sloan due to the storm. The stores are jammed with shoppers and long lines as New York prepares for Sandy.

Sarah, Joe, Mia, Brittany, Gabby, Lis, Jeremy, Hannah, NYC,  9/23/12