Sunday, April 19, 2009

The past month

The last four weeks of my battle with cancer has been exceptionally difficult. After receiving the third IV injection of my clinical trial drug, I elected to get a permanent pain block procedure on my back near the bottom of my left ribs. This surgery was on 25-Mar. The evening upon returning home from surgery I felt significant pain in my left lung area, ran a 102+ fever, and had uncontrolled sweating. When I went in for my fourth IV injection on 27-Mar I was in so much pain that Deb had to slow to a near stop over every bump and pot-hole on the road (which was quite frequent in mid-town Detroit).

The doctors were concerned about my pain, so a full array of tests were ordered. Deb and I were really anxious when the physicians assistant thought she heard a "gallop" in my heartbeat, so we went to another part of the hospital to get a heart echo. This test looked at the efficiency of my heart and thankfully it showed that my heart was still in great shape. A wonderful technician did this test and to pass the time we talked about faith and the wonder of life, uplifting my spirits on my difficult day. Chest x-rays were clear. The blood tests came back negative for a bacterial infection but due to a specific liver enzyme (and my pain), it was decided that I would not receive my scheduled treatment.

That weekend at home I was just miserable. I prayed constantly to the Lord for mercy (the pain medication wasn't doing anything). When I went in for treatment the week of 30-Mar my liver enzymes were still to elevated to receive treatment and my oncologist determined that I had picked up a nasty virus that was overworking my liver. Thankfully, it looked like the enzyme numbers were coming down and I was experiencing less pain, fevers, and sweats. We agreed that I would resume treatment on 13-Apr and fortunately the pharmaceutical company allowed me to stay in the trial (even though my results could not be used in the analysis of the drug).

We went up to Port Huron for Easter weekend (11,12-Apr) to spend time with my folks, my sisters Meg and Emily, and my brother Steve. My brother Charley and his wife Melissa had spent the first part of the week with us in Dearborn. Deb's mom also came out for a few days this week to help us during the kids Easter break week.
It was great to be able to spend time with family, especially since we are so spread out.

I went in for treatment on 13-Apr and felt relatively well. My spirits were high and my liver enzymes were low. I received my IV injection and went home. On Wednesday I began to feel a new source of sharp pain in my left side. When I went in for treatment on 16-Apr the doctors found that my hemoglobin (red blood cells) had fallen again. Unfortunately this may mean that I am bleeding internally, which is fairly common with Metastatic Melanoma tumors. I am going back in for treatment on Monday (20-Apr) and will also get a blood transfusion (two units). It will be a 10 hour day for us a Karmanos.

Deb and I appreciate all of the wonderful people that have prayed for and encouraged us through this journey. My primary prayer need right now is pain relief, so I can interact more with Deb, Morgan, and Landon. We don't know how much time I have left and every moment I can spend with my family is more valuable to me than gold.

God Bless you all.