You look too healthy to be a cancer patient

This post is a continuation of the things we have experienced since the end of March.  The posts in chronological order can be found on the Timeline page.

Francis was discharged from Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH) following his second hospitalization early in the evening on Monday, May 14.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t transfered between TMH and Mayo as expected.  We weren’t sure what the rest of the week held for us.  He needed surgery to address the cancer in his colon, and I could go into labor and deliver our second child at any point in the next couple of weeks.  Our best hope was to get into Mayo on Wednesday for a regular consultation with a doctor, but we didn’t know who that would be.

All things considered, we were in store for our first truly normal Monday evening for months.  We ate a nice dinner together, and Couper got some serious play time with Dada.  It was heartwarming to see them reconnect – something I was longing for since Couper had only seen Francis once since the second hospitalization had begun.

After Couper went to bed, Francis and I indulged our guilty pleasure of watching The Bachelor.  We then decided to go to bed early and get some rest.  For Francis, it would be the first time he hadn’t been interrupted in the middle of the night by a nurse or patient care assistant for nearly a week.

We fell asleep by 10:00 p.m. knowing that the next morning we’d be back at trying to get things expedited to get into Mayo.  I should note that we were certainly thankful just to get an appointment at Mayo that week.  When Francis spoke with the general scheduling office on Monday morning, he was informed that the earliest he could get an appointment would be in late July.

Francis woke around 4:30 a.m., probably a result of being awakened for so many nights in a row at about that time to have blood drawn.  He rolled over and checked his email.  There in his inbox was an email from a contact at Mayo named Layne Smith.  We were connected with him through one of Francis’ friends.  Layne had been working with Francis all day Monday and apparently late into the night.  He informed Francis that he could get an appointment on Tuesday, but wasn’t sure what time and that we needed to get there as soon as we could.

Francis emailed Layne to thank him and let him know we would be on our way soon.  I woke up my mom to give her the news.  I’m sure she was thinking I was in labor by the shocked look on her face when I suddenly appeared at her bedside at 5:00 in the morning.  I let her know that we would be getting ready to leave and that I’d call to let her know what to do after we were in a position to make a decision.

Fortunately, we hadn’t unloaded the cars in preparation for a trip sometime Tuesday or Wednesday so we were largely packed and ready to go.  I wasn’t moving too quickly at this point in my pregnancy and Francis had some things to get lined up in anticipation of a lengthy trip to Jacksonville, should everything go smoothly and he would be undergoing surgery.

We got a phone call from Layne to confirm everything around 6:00 a.m., and were on the road to Jacksonville by 6:30 a.m.

Three hours later, we arrived at Mayo and met Layne at the registration desk.  We are so thankful for Layne’s help, and for his taking time out of what I’m sure is a very busy schedule on Monday and into Tuesday morning to get us set up for a consultation that day.

Layne warned us that the day could be long, like flying standby, but that we’d certainly get the opportunity to see someone that day.

Francis’ dad met us at the hospital and sat with us throughout the day.  Around noon, Francis was sent for some blood work and then shortly after an X-ray.

I should note that nothing about Mayo Clinic looks like a doctor’s office or hospital.  The entry looks like a hotel reception desk.  It’s organized and efficient.  When you get a scheduled appointment you go to the check-in desk in the waiting room where your appointment will occur.  Francis went early for both his blood work and X-ray, and was called early for both.

After the X-ray appointment, we were told we’d need to wait until 4:30 p.m. to see Dr. Metzger.  At 3:30 a nurse came out to get us and took Francis’ vitals, weight, and height.  She ushered us to Dr. Metzger’s exam room and told us he’d be with us shortly.

Being accustomed to waiting for doctors, especially at the end of the day, we settled in for what we anticipated to be a long wait for a 4:30 appointment.  At 3:45, Dr. Metzger entered the room and began the exam.

He asked Francis to go back and start from the beginning of symptoms.  He basically began telling the story I’ve told here.  Dr. Metzger never interrupted, never seemed impatient to get the story completed, and asked numerous questions.  If anything, it seemed that we had finally found a doctor who was interested and truly listened.

It was also clear from the questions that Dr. Metzger asked that he actually read the file from the doctors at TMH, something I’m not sure all the doctors at TMH did at any point, even during Francis’ hospitalization.

After a physical exam, Dr. Metzger told us that he would like to perform surgery for Francis.  He paused to take some notes.  Francis then asked him when this would happen.  Dr. Metzger said that he would speak with the nurse and Francis would be admitted immediately with surgery prep beginning immediately for surgery on Thursday.

All I could say at this point is WOOHOOOO!  What a relief it was for us to know we had achieved what we thought was the near impossible!

When we met the nurse after Dr. Metzger left she told Francis, “Oh, you’re Francis.  We were hearing a lot about you.  You must have had a lot of angels on your side to get you this appointment.”

That’s exactly how we felt.  Thank you to all the angels out there making phone calls and praying for us.  We are truly blessed.

We called my mom and told her to load up Couper and head on over to Jacksonville.  We made arrangements to get a two bedroom suite with a full kitchen, similar to a Marriott Residence Inn, at the Inn at Mayo Clinic attached to the hospital.  While the hospital was working to get Francis admitted we went over to the room to relax together.

Shortly before my mom arrived with Couper around 8:00 p.m., the admitting desk called Francis and told him to go to the sixth floor nurses’ station to be admitted.  His bed was ready.  I went over to the hospital with Francis and when we arrived at the desk they told us that the room wasn’t quite ready so we should wait in a small waiting room.

By 11:00 p.m., I was exhausted and needed to get some rest.  I returned to the hotel room (just a 5 minute waddle), and Francis asked if there was a place he could sleep.  They escorted him to the room and allowed him to sleep in the recliner because they still didn’t have the bed ready.

At 3:30 a.m., I was awakened by a phone call.  I was immediately concerned about the fact that the person on the other end of the line was someone from Mayo.  The next question was even more concerning, “Mrs. Gibbs, are you with your husband?”

After responding that I was not, the woman informed me that they were looking for Francis, and that perhaps he was pacing the hospital.  I told them that the last I knew he was in a recliner in his room.

Shortly after that call, someone tapped Francis on the shoulder, “Mr. Gibbs? Are you Francis Gibbs?”

Come to find out, the room was ready.  Francis walked in looking too healthy to be the patient, and the nurses assumed he was family meeting the patient.  It was all a miscommunication that sadly robbed us both of some sleep.

After getting into the bed, Francis called me (I had been trying to reach him for 15 terrifying minutes) to tell me that all was well.

We both went back to sleep anticipating that Wednesday was sure to be a busy day.

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One response

  1. So thankful for those who worked in God’s will to get Francis in at Mayo and was faithful to you and your babies with such amazing health and care.

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