Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

I managed to escape blogging duties last week, thanks to the kindness and cleverness of Victoria and Samantha. Their rich mixture of the events we experienced as an extended family was a clear representation of the "Circle of Life."

As a "vertically gifted" person, it is often easy for me to forget the impact I may have on some when, for example, an elevator door opens and the unexpected crying giant is right in front of you. But they were truly tears of joy as so many emotional events crowded into one large body with one small brain. What a week!

Now we finish Week 8 with both radio and chemotherapies behind but much healing left to do.
The title of this post reminded me of the classic wherein the seaman describes his journey to a wedding guest. I , the Ancient Guy, have made the mistake of shooting the bird, which now hangs around my neck. It's like my weekly requirement to post a blog.

The neck, in turn, fits nicely into the description of the awful situation I have created:

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

I believe I mentioned the swallow study they did on me while I was hospitalized. That's where they discovered that I can swallow most liquid consistencies, except clear liquids, which I have a tendency to aspirate. That could cause pneumonia. Clear liquids, unfortunately, make up a large portion of the liquids one would like to swallow when one has a really bad sore throat.
As a result, as I am now in the reverse cycle of Week 5, and need to get lots of mucous out without the benefit of any saliva being created. In Week 5, I could do that with the help of clear liquids. Now, the problem is a bit stickier, pun fully intended.

The Navy has helped out by sending home a portable home care mucous suction machine, see below, which is quite helpful in getting the mess out of my mouth and throat. I love the fact that all the Navy contractor stuff comes in any delightful shade of gun metal gray you prefer.

To get fluids in, Victoria and I are still relying on the PEG tube and whatever else I can get down in the form of a shake or a soup of the right consistency. The external neck burns are getting better and could be almost gone in several weeks. In the next few weeks , we will begin testing to discover whether the therapy has outwardly succeeded at known locations . Various PET and MRI scans are also to be expected to see if the cancer has spread anywhere else.

So, right now, I feel as if we are "stuck, as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean." The frustrating part is that we may have entered the cave and slain the dragon, but we've lost the trail of bread crumbs that leads us back out. Victoria continues to remind me that this stage of treatment is one of the reasons they call us "patients." Patience, my patootie! Let's get on with it!

Finally, to celebrate the end of Week 7, I have attached some photos and a video taken by Samantha and Audrey on "Ringing Out Day." They are concluded with some photos of what the gals did for us before Victoria and I got home.

Remember all the balloons and posters you put up as your kids grew up, graduated, got married and had those wonderful grandchildren of yours? I never thought nor expected there would be pay back for any of that - until we arrived home on Monday. I love my family more than I can express in words.

(Poster reads: Way to go Dad! You did it and we are so proud of you!)

We have arrived on the first objective - there are still hills and obstacles ahead. Thank you for your continued prayers and best wishes. Take a break until Monday, then it's back uphill.
I'll see you as we maneuver towards the next high ground.


Tobi said...

Congrats Uncle Ken! Here at Camp Wilkinson we are all so happy that you have come out fighting!

Gun metal is just the coolest color though. I mean if you have to have all these invasive machines placed in your mouth and body the least they could do is make them gun metal gray.

Unknown said...

Congradulations on finishing the radiation and chemo. The hard part is here now-- waiting to heal before you can move on. We are with you in thoughts and prayers.
The Mosby Street Gang

Anderson Zoo Keepers said...

Love the balloons and the speech. You definitely have a way with words. You are the greatest.

Sue said...

I have this song in my mind, I think it's from the 70's, where the chorus goes, "Ring my be-e-ell, ring my bell." I'm sitting in my computer chair doing a little dance for you! (Just googled it, it's by Anita Ward, 1979.)

It was great to see the video! I just have one question. How did you make it out the back end of this thing with all of your hair? You lucky dog!

AgentHammerYou said...

Way to go Ken. Your ringing out of the treatment center was also a class act. Of course, we would expect no less from you. Keep up the great work. One more tough week and then every day should be better. We are still praying for you.

Matt said...

Way to go dad! I'm so proud of you and am impressed by your ability to endure the greatest of trials. I really liked the video though secretly I had hoped you'd steal that bell from those Navy squid dogs. Nothing quite shows the love for a brother in arms like adding a little fuel to the rivalry. GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY!