Laurie Update – 6/25/13

It has been several weeks since we posted any info, which is good news!  There hasn’t been a whole lot going on except for Laurie continuing to get her strength back, slowly but surely, everyday.  She still has some soreness in her ribs from the chest tubes, but we are told that is normal.  After about a nine month stretch of surgeries and chemo, she is starting to feel like her old self again.  In about a month she will be going to a health institute in south Florida where they give instruction on juicing and cooking vegan/organic food that actually tastes good.  Other than that, it will be a matter of watching her very closely.  She will be scanned every 3 months for the first couple of years.  The surgeon told us that she has a 30% chance of a recurrence.  Would rather look at it as a 70% chance of being cancer free.

We cannot find the words to express our gratitude for the support and prayers from so many people.  We are truly blessed to have a network of such amazing friends and family.  Please pray that God will continue to bring healing to Laurie so this disease can ultimately be defeated for good.

Laurie Update – 5/10/13

Laurie had surgery today at Memorial to remove fluid from her chest.  Everything went well and she is recovering nicely.  It is too early to tell, but we have hope that this is exactly what she needed to get back on the road to a healthy pain free life.  The surgeon found fluid up against the diaphragm that had formed a pocket and was pressing against the lung.  The bad stuff has been sent off to pathology to determine what it is and if she needs any additional antibiotic.  She has two chest tubes that will have to stay in for two or three days that are quite uncomfortable, but once they come out she should be able to go home.

Cautious optimism is the M/O.  Kind of exciting to think that this may be the last of a long line of surgeries strung out over the last year and a half.

Laurie Update – 5/7/13

Laurie had to be admitted again to Memorial Hospital last Saturday night. She has developed an infection somewhere and they are trying to determine where. It appears to either be from the fluid in her lung or possibly the stint that is still in her bile duct. Will post more info when it becomes available.

Laurie Update – 4/30/13

Mystery solved.  Laurie saw a pulmonologist yesterday for a series of tests that proved very worthwhile.  She has a paralyzed diaphragm.  The official medical term is diaphragmatic paralysis.  This was caused by the drain being left inserted through the diaphragm for a month.  He was not surprised at all after hearing her story.  Just another case of bad luck on Laurie’s part, along with some poor communication on the part of the team of doctors.  With younger patients like Laurie in good health, it should eventually fix itself.  Quite a relief to know now what the problem is.  A problem that, although painful for Laurie, is hopefully not permanent.

Laurie Update – 4/27/13

Received some good news a couple weeks ago.  Laurie when in for her first scan since the surgery.  They did a complete CT with contrast of her chest, abdomen and pelvis.  Everything was clear!

There is starting to be a light at the end of the tunnel now…only two more treatments left.  The date she has circled on her calendar is May 17.  That’s the day she will complete her final treatment.  Her biggest challenge is not tolerating the chemo, or the continued recovery from the surgery, but the persistent back, shoulder and diaphragm issues that emerged after her drain was removed.  It seems to be exacerbated with her chemo treatments and is quite painful.  She will feel it starting to fire up and within thirty minutes she is incapacitated.  Last week we made three trips to the ER.  One time they thought maybe she had a pulmonary embolism, another time a kidney stone.  Both were negative.  So the speculation continues as to what could be causing the pain.  We have been told that there is a nerve that goes from the diaphragm to the back and shoulder.   The most plausible explanation she can come up with is that it is referred pain from that nerve, in addition to some possible inflammation or tendonitis from when they manipulated her shoulder during surgery.  It was somewhat encouraging for her when she decided to do some research of her own online.  She found a few blogs of people who had drains inserted after similar surgeries, and, oddly enough, they reported having back and shoulder pain.  At least this appears to be a condition not unique to her.

We thank to God for the progress that has been made and for the friends and family who have been so supportive.  We are truly blessed.


Laurie Update – 3/3/13

On Feb 26 Laurie had an appointment at Vanderbilt with the surgeon to follow up on her progress and to finally take out the drain that had been in place for almost a month.   Within a few minutes of the drain coming out she started having severe pain.  They took her back for some X-rays thinking that maybe her lung had collapsed.  Everything checked out OK so they kept her overnight just to be safe and released her the next day.  Their best guess is that the diaphragm became irritated and would intermittently go into spasms.  These spasms lasted for about another two or three days.  She is still a little sore but feeling much better and able to get out and about.  She even scheduled herself to work a couple days this week.

Next on the agenda is an appointment with the oncologist in a couple of weeks to schedule the remaining chemo treatments.  She has five more to go.  These next five treatments are to finish off any remaining cancer cells lurking in the background.  Chemo is never easy, but it certainly is nice to have the worst behind her…surgery is over and she is more than half way through chemotherapy.   Can not thank everyone enough for all the prayers and support!

Laurie Update – 2/1/13

This week Laurie had a little bump on the road to recovery.  Had to spend a couple days at Memorial Hospital having fluid drained and re-inserting a temporary drain.  Turns out the culprit is bile.  Laurie had to learn the hard way that the level of pain from having a bile leak is about the same as child birth.  The doc thinks that it should eventually seal itself off.  Until then, the drain must stay.  It is back to Vanderbilt next week for follow up with the surgeon.  Hopefully he can give us a better understanding of whats going on with this bile issue.   She had been recovering nicely, so despite this little setback, just thankful that it is behind her and the healing continues.

Laurie Update – 1/22/13

Laurie was released today from the hospital and is now recuperating at home sweet home. Now if she could just find someone to hook her up with an epidural for another few days she will be all set. Hopefully each day will bring a little more relief. Just thankful the surgery is now in her rear view mirror.

Laurie update – 1/21/13

Recovery from liver surgery at Vanderbilt going well. Epidural is being pulled today. Depending on how she responds she may get to come home tomorrow.

Laurie Update – 1/17/13

What a day for Laurie.  Dr. Alex Parikh at Vanderbilt Medical Center finally got to do what we have been waiting for the last six months or so…remove the cancer from her body.  She is very sore and the next few days will be extremely uncomfortable for her.  They have inserted an epidural for pain so they won’t have to give her so many nausea inducing narcotics.  But she will trade a few days of misery for a healthy liver any day.

We have been told that the best diagnostic tool for seeing metastasis is direct ultra sound, which is done from the inside of the body instead of the outside.  This gives them a birds eye view inside the organ.  Laurie’s biggest fear was that they would see something in the left lobe from the ultra sound that didn’t show up from previous imaging and have to close her up without completing the resection.  Her fears were NOT realized.  The ultra sound showed absolutely nothing in the left lobe (except for one little spot that he thinks was a cyst, but whatever it is, it’s gone now).  So with the right lobe gone bye bye, she has a healthy liver again…50% smaller, but healthy.

She has been sliced and diced enough over the last 12 months to make a grown man cry.  Just to recap, starting last February it started innocently enough with a colonoscopy.  Then came colon resection, then liver biopsy, then port-a-cath insertion, then portal vein embolization, and finally todays liver resection.   All done in and around seven chemotherapy treatments, countless imaging with barium contrast, and all done without complaining.

We know there may still be challenges ahead.  She still will probably need to complete a few more rounds of chemo and then be watched like a hawk.  But we are praising God now for this miracle.  A big thank you to everyone who thought or prayed or called or texted or posted.   We love you all.

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