Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Our time at UCLA was very productive. Michael's sister graciously went with us. She lives near UCLA, and so we picked her up on our way. It's good to have her along with us during our doctor appointments because another pair of ears always catches something we don't, and she's a good conversationalist so she keeps us entertained and distracted while we wait. I love my sister-in-law. She's very good to Michael and me, and it's nice to have a big sister around. Cathie is great at backing me up when Michael is resisting my healthy advice for him.

Dr. K saw us right away and he made a number of decisions to help Michael. The first thing he decided was that it is time to change Michael's medication from Sutent to Afinitor. It was obviously to all of us that the Sutent was no longer able to defeat the cancer. Afinitor works in the body differently than Sutent does, and Dr. K said he wanted something the cancer wouldn't recognize. The problem with Afinitor is that it has not been proven to work as long as Sutent can (for those patients it works for, that is). That really troubled me at first, but I'm just going to have to trust that it's enough for now and that it will be effective. Michael complained about how difficult it is for him to get a deep breath anymore, and Dr. K admitted that there is much cancer in his lungs - particularly the right lung. Thus the coughing. Afinitor is known to increase cholesterol levels, so he strongly advised a low-fat diet from now on. That's better for me because I'd like to lose some weight, but Michael needs to gain weight - he weighed in at 145 pounds a day or two ago. Sigh...

The doctor examined Michael's scalp lesions and decided that it was time to begin radiation therapy for that. He had his assistant set up a consultation for us that very day, but before we saw the radiologist he examined Michael's finger and said that he didn't think that it was cancer, but that it was an infection. He then had one of his urological surgeons come in the room and lance Michael's finger. The purpose was to relieve some of the pressure in the finger that was so painful. They did send off a specimen to the lab for analysis. I held Michael's hand while he got poked and prodded, and Cathie distracted us with a good story. It was over before we knew it, and the doctor bandaged Michael up, and he was prescribed an antibiotic.

After that, we went downstairs to the radiation department for our consultation. We first met with the intern or resident doctor (I can't remember). He was such a nice young man. It's heartwarming to see these young men and women learning how to practice medicine. The ones we've encountered are so compassionate and obviously dedicated. A teaching hospital has a very different vibe from what we were used to at Hoag. Anyway, after he interviewed Michael he left the room briefly and came back with his attending doctor who discussed the treatment plan with us. Once we get approval from our insurance company (probably today or tomorrow), Michael will have a CT scan of the head. The doctors need to know the dimensions of the lesions before they start the radiation. After that, Michael will begin a ten-day radiation treatment. The doctors said it would be painless and very effective at eliminating the lesions and the pain, but they also said the Michael would end up with a bald patch - albeit temporarily. We think that we'll be able to get in for the CT scan this week, and that Michael will begin the radiation treatments as early as Monday next week.

To combat the pain Michael has been experiencing, he was prescribed Oxycodone. The radiologist recommended using Ibuprofen whenever possible as there are unpleasant side effects from using narcotic drugs too frequently. Good to know.

Michael took the Oxycodone last night, and we had a better night's rest than we've had in a while. We also propped him up on a couple of pillows because I've noticed that he's able to breathe better and that he coughs less when he's upright. Cathie recommended one of those wedge pillows to help with that, too. I'm going to have to shop for one this week. On Sunday we purchased a twin mattress set for the back bedroom. My mom and I have started clearing the room out to make room for the bed which will be delivered tomorrow. I had a lot of giftcards to Target that I used to purchase some really nice bedding, and we will use that bed on work nights when I have to get more rest to get through my day in the classroom. My mom is coming back up today to continue that project with me. We are also going to tackle the patio room, and Michael has said that he will work with his brother (in a supervisory role) to get rid of some more things he has stored in the garage so that we can store some of these other things that are coming out of the house. My goal for the patio room is to be able to get a treadmill in there so I can exercise without leaving the house. I'm trying to take care of myself while I take care of Michael, too.

Looking forward to when I go back to work next week, I can see that Michael will need to have family and friends stopping by once again on a daily basis while I am at work. Mostly because we need to make sure he gets a midday meal. I think I will have to start cooking with my mom or my sister again on the weekends to have a full refrigerator of lunch and dinner choices. This is going to require a lot of planning and organizing, and I can see that we're going to need help to do it all. If you're a friend or family member of ours and you have the time and the heart to help, please let us know.

So, there you have it. Thank you for continuing to lift us up in prayer for physical healing and spiritual awakening. I know God is right here in all of this, and that he will bring about something good from this mess. A couple of verses I'm clinging to right now are:

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all of your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Do not fear for I am with you,
do not be afraid for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
Isaiah 41:10


~K said...

Always in my prayers...
Wishing I was closer so I could do more to help out...

elainaann said...

Still praying. I admire your trust in the Lord through all of this. I can see just by reading your post that you are leaning on God.

Alex and Jill said...

Oh how I wish I were there to cook you some meals!!

I was happy to read that you both got a better nights sleep.

Always praying...


Sniffles and Smiles said...

I've been praying especially this week...so glad they are changing the drugs...and glad that Michael got more sleep with the oxycodone...that's powerful stuff!! Wish I could help...but am afraid the meal would get cold by the time it made the journey from East coast to West ;-) But I'm praying...and will pray God sends someone to help with meals in my stead!!! You both are continually in my prayers! Love to you both!!! Janine XO

Kudo said...

I took Oxycodone after my back surgery and it is hands down the best for pain smooth and continuis. You may also want to give your Church a call and see if they have meals. You could have them bring it around noon time. I wish I lived closer to you.

Calico Sky said...

Two of my favourite verses. I hope the pain meds are working for Michael.