May 23, 2016

My digestive difficulties continued to persist since my last report dated 5/12.  I returned for a visit with Dr. Helton on 5/17.  His main concern was that with my every-other-day vomiting routine it might contribute towards mal-absorption of nutrients and my blood work may have gone wacky.  As it turned out, my blood chemistry and hematology were all very acceptable.  And he stated that I looked healthy, contrary to my symptoms.

Dr. Helton offered me the option to have an endoscopic exam by the gastroenterologist to rule out such things as a developing ulcer.  Not satisfied with the status quo, I concurred to be put on the schedule for this week.

But, Happy Report!!!  Last Thursday, 5/19, was a turnaround day.  Sometime during the day, I undeniably felt repeated waves of stomach peristalsis going left to right, and an awareness that food was in fact going down.  This happened suddenly and distinctively.  I even felt hungry enough to eat a piece of chicken with rice for dinner at the NW Synod Council meeting at 6 pm.  (Previously, I had stopped eating around 3-4 pm each day for my stomach already felt full.)

At the Council Meeting, Vice President Georganne acknowledged my attendance after a long hiatus due to my health.  I stood and thanked everyone for their love, concern and their fervent prayers and concluded by saying, “the successful surgery gave me a chance for success, with further Chemo therapy gives me increased probability of success, but with your continual prayers, that will give me the certainty of success.”  I am truly thankful and moved by the large number of people who genuinely care for my health and welfare.

Linnea acted as my ‘handler,’ taking me everywhere and attended the Synod Assembly with me on Friday and Saturday.  At the Assembly, Pastor Paul surprised me by leading everyone in raising the purple ballot sheets which he provided each voting member to show support and solidarity against pancreatic cancer.  My GI system has shown no sign of setback since Thursday; although not perfect, it has been probably 80% back to normal throughout the convention to the present.

Today when Virginia Mason called to give me my time for endoscopy, I cancelled that procedure.

I next visit Dr. Picozzi, the oncologist, on June 1st to start my next round of Chemo therapy.  I know you’ll continue cheering for me.  As able, I will keep you posted.

American Entrepreneurship

I have not been feeling energized to write for a while.  Today while taking a walk, I decided to ‘write on.’ a bit.

Between William and me, from the very start, we managed to save about $10 per week from our paper routes.  Over what seemed a short period of time, we accumulated more than $200!  It was a given from the beginning that 10% of our earnings went straight towards our weekly church offering.  Now William suggested to me that we ought to give 10% to Mom and Dad to help with our household expenses.  After reflection, I agreed.  This then began our tradition of giving 10% of our earnings to our parents.  We saved every penny of the remainder 80% towards the joint college fund to be divided equally among the four of us.

Regular gifting our parents in various ways is a practice that my siblings and I have continued into our adult lives –to the present—as the ‘Chinese way.’

As time passed, (our portfolio grew steadily,) William and I also decided that after church each week, we’d take the family to eat in a restaurant so Mom had a day off from cooking.  By the time we had turned 16, we had multiple employment experiences.  (I’ll be citing a few as future entries.) We also started investing in the stock market, first buying Sears Roebuck shares, and then AMF (‘bowling’ was becoming very popular) and later in and out of other issues.  By the time William and I started college, each one of us siblings received $5000 in distribution.

I am citing the following incident because it made an indelible imprint on my brother Dan, and now I feel very sorry for having done it to him.

As we each went about our various ways of assimilating, Dan joined a Cub Scout group.  Apparently Cub Scouts take field trips.  (Now I know!)  One Saturday, his group was taken to Columbus to be on the TV show Bozo, the Clown.  On the way back, the group stopped at a place to get snacks.  Some in the group had burgers; others had ice cream sundaes, etc.  Poor Dan probably pondered long and hard, and then finally ordered a small ice cream cone.  When he got home, he told us that he had bought a small cone.  Remember William and I had saved every penny from our earnings, and Dan goes and treats himself to a frivolous ice cream cone.  I was so angry that he’d squander good money for selfish gains that I ‘ordered’ William to give him a beating.  Order carried out and Dan cried and cried.  The 20 cents was most likely given him by Mom!!??

May 12, 2016

With increased and higher dosages of medications and continued soft food diet, I noted little difference in my tolerance.  It seemed that every other day, my system worked sufficiently to absorb my intake.  However, every other day, I ‘fight’ to keep food down and the stomach does not ‘empty’ the entire day; at night I need to vomit to get relief from the constant regurgitation.  Linnea tried everything possible, insisting that I chew all foods, such as banana 20-30 times before swallowing, and to eat very slowly.  She even bought ‘baby food’ for me.  No difference or improvement.

My energy level is definitely deceased.  My weight is down another 5 lbs.  I weighed 155 prior to illness, now I am 138.  (Not a recommended method to lose lbs.)  My B/P is intermittently controlled because of poor absorption so I monitor it very carefully.  Anyway, I completely stopped taking the high dosages of Reglan because I note no positive effect from it.  Nevertheless, over the period of time, I feel naturally I am doing slightly better, thus slowly, I am hoping to be improving.

The weather being so beautiful, Steve’s Stenberg and Chupic , Lynn Divelbess and I are scheduled to play a round of golf at Pt Ludlow today.  Pr. Paul is so worried that I still should not do full swings that he volunteered to drive the balls for me to within 100 yds so I can pitch and putt nearer the greens.  We’ll play as a team and give that a try.

Again, I know and appreciate all your care and concerns and just wanted to give everyone a quick update.

May 3, 2016

Yesterday I had appointments with Jodhi, the Pan Can dietician, Dr. Picozzi, the oncologist, and Dr. Deal, the surgical resident of Dr. Helton who was in the OR doing another Whipple’s procedure.

The visit with the dietician was very enlightening and helpful.  Her point was that this experience with “gastric paresis” or inability of the stomach to empty is not unusual.  She said that many post Whipple’s patients start out this way, but that I was ‘spoiled’ by doing so well that this hit me as ‘out of the ordinary.’  She suggested foods which could be added to my current regiment to ‘ease’ me through the next few weeks in the attempt to maintain or slow the weight loss.  Linnea says she wished this information had been given to us earlier.

Dr. Picozzi reviewed the pathology report.  He felt that the good aspects of the findings ‘trump’ the one bad revelation that the cell type is Adenosquamous.  He also increased the dosage of Reglan from 5mg 3X per day to 10mg 4X per day.  He said that the surgery gives me a ‘chance’ of survival, but more Chemo is not just ‘insurance,’ but added probability of cure.  For certain, he recommends another course of different Chemo agents for at least 4 more treatments, then reassess.

Dr. Deal examined me and felt that I ‘looked healthy’ i.e. I don’t appear ‘sick.’  I should continue my new medicines and diet regiment and she would follow me via phone later this week and clinic follow-up in two weeks.

After the medical visits, we met a friend in town and I had a bowl of very tasty Mediterranean red lentil soup.  I managed to keep it down and slept well last night.

More updates as they develop.  Thanks for your interest and care