Sunday, August 30, 2009

I have not cried this much in my life.
My father died 3 months ago and I was just beginning to hope I was finally through with the waves of grief that crash over me without warning. Now I'm a tidal wave of emotion. I am a mess! I seem to be on automatic as I make all the necessary appointments.
I've told my friends and my children. Thank God the kids are both adults. I am so thankful for their support but also concerned for them. They may be grown, but, to me, they are still young people that need protection. By law George is their step-father, but he is truly their father in every sense of the word.
George has not yet processed any of this. He has that "deer in the headlights" look on his face and is barely speaking to anyone. He was adamant that he not lose his vocal cords and now cannot comprehend that this is exactly what is going to happen.
He has decided not to tell his kids yet. I don't agree with this but am too numb to argue. I'll deal with that later.
So far I've learned about x-rays, cat scans -with and without dyes, ultrasounds, endoscopies, MRA's, MRI's and PET scans. Now I'm discovering the world of biopsies,PEG tubes (a feeding tube that is being put into his stomach), tracheostomies and tracheotomies. The upcoming biopsy surgery will include the insertion of a peg tube and, if the biopsy confirms their diagnosis, a tracheostomy will be performed in preparation for the radical neck dissection and total laryngectomy. WHAT????? Radical??? Total????
I understand the medical terms but still cannot completely grasp that these words pertain to my husband.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Laryngeal cancer.....did I just hear correctly? C-a-n-c-e-r??? What is he, ???? Is he kidding; some kind of scare tactic? That must be it. He's trying to scare George into taking better care of himself.
The sound of the surgeon's voice becomes background noise for my own thoughts: How? When? W-H-Y? Why him? Why us? Why now?
The words 'immediate surgery' force me back into focus.
The doctor is explaining that stage 3 cancer of this size and in this area is best treated by complete removal of the voice box along with 6-8 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. Today is Monday. He will do a final biopsy and p.e.g. insertion(whatever that is) before the removal. Be prepared for a 14-21 day hospital stay. Be at the hospital by 6:30 am on Friday. Before then there are all kinds of pre-operation tests and studies to be done. We have 4 days to get them scheduled, completed and get the results back to the surgeon. I know he's telling us more but I cannot comprehend it all. We nod politely, thank the doctor for his time and tell him we'll see him bright and early Friday. As the three of us stand at the receptionist's desk smiling and nodding, like friends scheduling a lunch date, I start to think ahead to what needs to be done.
I'm working full-time - how do we arrange for all of this? What do I tell our kids, our families, my boss?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And so it begins

The envelope sat in my lap, silently demanding to be opened. My husband of 18 years sat beside me, his blue eyes filled with the apprehension that not knowing brings. As the grey skies unhinged a torrent of rain, lightening and thunder - the first such storm of the spring - I opened the letter that would change our lives forever.