I want to thank all of you for your prayers, messages and kindnesses over the last few weeks regarding Tess. It has been a busy few weeks for them. Hospice nurses came home with Tess for the first week to help with the administering of the antibiotics she needed and to help her get around as she gained strength.
Sharon, Johnny’s daughter, found a place near her for Tess and Johnny to move to. Within a week of being in the hospital, they had moved. But as nice as Sharon’s area is, it didn’t have the friends that Tess and Johnny have spent the last 20 years with. They wanted to be in their own home and with their friends, so back to Bowling Green they went. Their neighbors are keeping an eye on them and helping them out with whatever needs doing. A nurse comes by periodically to check on Tess and her condition. She is having problems with swelling in her legs that the doctors are trying to address.
Daniel and Charles hope to go down and visit her next month.
First, none of these things have to do with one another, but they are all on my mind. And rather than write three short posts, I thought I would put it all here.
The number one news is that Tess is much improved and will be going home tomorrow with 24/7 care (a combo of hospice and nurses aides). Her brother, Paul, and sister-in-law, Faye, are down visiting right now. Her niece and daugther are trying to work out a visit next week. We are so excited that she gets to go home tomorrow. And so grateful since last week, we didn’t think she would be leaving the hospital alive.
The second news story is the incoming storm. The weather people are really uncertain about this one. Predictions for us range from 7″ to 18″. I predict that on Sunday morning, we will know how much snow we have received!
Lastly, I am not sure if you are aware, but we are experiencing an Eggo Waffle shortage. Flooding at an Atlanta bakery during heavy rains in October forced Kellogg, which makes Eggo products, to shut down production temporarily, said company spokesman Kris Charles. Plus, equipment at Kellogg’s largest waffle facility, based in Rossville, Tenn., needs extensive repairs.
Food Lion ran out first, then last month, Sam’s ran out of Eggos. This morning, Jack ate the last Eggos in the house. This shortage gives a whole new meaning to the term “Leggo my Eggo!!” What I have read indicates that the shortage may last until mid-2010…I may actually have to …GASP… invest in a waffle maker!
What I didn’t include in my last post (which was supposed to publish yesterday, but I hit the wrong button) was how we got to this spot with Tess.
Dr. Franco is Tess’ oncologist. He told her at some time in the past that chemo was not an option for her. Her age, the three major surgeries she has undergone the last two years and the fact that she only has one functioning kidney (and due to her age, it is only functioning at 50% or less). So he sent her to a surgeon who might be able to help. That surgeon, Dr. T, was the one who took care of the previously mentioned surgeries. Dr. T. looked at the CAT scan and told Tess that because the liposarcoma was located on her liver he could not operate.
Dr. T. then made a referral to another surgeon at a cutting edge institute. The referral was to see if there was anything new that he wasn’t aware of. The note he put on the file was ‘Research.’ Well apparently, the surgeon didn’t read the file. He walked into the room, asked Tess why she was there. She told him about her tumor (not really understanding the research bit probably) and he told her he couldn’t operate on her and sent her to an oncologist. This surgeon dropped the ball as far as we are concerned. She went to this oncologist…no idea whether this person paid any attention to the file and why Tess was there or not. Our feeling is that the oncologist probably thought that Tess, like many, was looking for the glimmer of hope (we were told that chemo had a 15%-20% chance of helping).
So that’s how we ended up with Tess in the hospital fighting for her life against infections that she shouldn’t have been vulnerable to. We are glad it turned out as well as it did.
Again, this is just a bit more information that may help you in a similar situation.
We got up yesterday morning, got all of our belongings together, checked out and headed to the hospital. Daniel still wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but Bruce, Jack, Katrina and I were going to head for home after lunch.
I left the kids and my stuff in the waiting room, then headed towards Tess room and immediately knew something had changed. Her door was closed and the nurse getting ready to go into her room was suited up in a blue gown and gloves. The head nurse approached me and told me that Tess had been diagnosed with MRSA. My heart sank to my toes.
Sharon came out of the room and filled me in. The news was not as bad as my first thoughts. Turns out the ER doctor was on the ball. When he saw the blisters on Tess, he felt MRSA was a very real possibility and put her on triple antibiotics that would help her other infections as well as the MRSA. So, by the time we found out she had MRSA, she was on her way to recovery. I wish we had known that they were thinking MRSA was a possibility. We were all good about washing hands when we entered the room, but didn’t know we needed to wash them when we left. None of us have open wounds, so hopefully we will all be okay.
Her doctor came in and was much more positive today. He said she will need another 7 – 10 days of strong antibiotics and she would be receiving 2 pints of blood later in the day. He said her white blood cell count is coming back up, her color is good, her vitals are good. He told us she could go home with hospice (we are also setting up round the clock nursing for when hospice isn’t there). Tess applauded when she found out she could go home. We were told that radiation is not an option (Tess wanted to know). The tumor is so deep inside of her that the rads needed to reach it would destroy her bowel in the process. There will be no more CAT scans or horrible gook that she had to drink before them. Dr. Franco told us he didn’t do tests for the sake of curiosity. There is nothing else that can be done for the cancer, but we still have time with Tess and for that we are so very grateful. Our goal is for her to be as comfortable as she can be and to have the best quality of life she can during her time remaining.
Tess has survived against amazing odds. She was admitted barely alive. She had a fever of 103, her blood pressure was 220/130, one 50% functioning kidney (she lost one years ago), pneumonia, a urinary tract infection, MRSA and liposarcoma of the liver with no white blood cells or platelets because of recent chemotherapy. We left her with the infections under control and the hope that she will be able to go home with Johnny (their greatest wish) in a week with hospice and 24 hour nurses.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you for giving us some more precious time with Tess. Thank you for the possibility that she and Johnny can be at home together as they wish. Thank you for Sharon. If not for her, Tess wouldn’t be here today. And we are so grateful that she is on the same page as we are as how we want to see all this played out and that she is so willing to help since she lives here.
The middle of December, Tess called to tell us that they had found another tumor in her body. Over the last three years, Tess has had 4 surgeries to remove tumors that are growing within. She has liposarcoma. She had one 24 years ago that when they removed it was 35 pounds and she lost one kidney. She went another 20 years without problem, but in then there was an 18 pound one and since then they have kept close eye on her so they could perform surgery as soon as possible.
She told us her doctor was going to do another CAT scan in March to see what the growth was before they did another surgery. Then she called back and said that the doctor had called again saying she needed chemo because the tumor was on her liver and couldn’t be operated on. And she had an appointment the end of the month. Still, she was saying this was non-cancerous…
Tess does not hear well nor does Johnny. Both come from an age when you didn’t ask questions of the physicians and that the physician knew best. We are not sure what when on during an appointment with an oncologist the end of December or how their options were explained to them, but Tess called us and told us they would be installing a port in her chest and that they would be giving her chemotherapy which would involve her being in the hospital for four days at a time and then home between sessions.