I took a bit of time away from the hospital this afternoon to grab lunch, collect my thoughts, and run an errand. While driving alone in the car with no sound other than the wind rushing by (a rare thing with 2 kids), I began to reflect on the way the experiences of the last 9 months and the last week have impacted me. There is an update in here, so skip to the bottom if you just want the update.
I’ve always been afraid of heights, at least as far back as I can remember.
As a kid, I used to love the good, old-fashioned swings that have since been removed from most playgrounds for safety reasons. I loved pumping my legs until it felt like my head was soaring above the crossbar of the swing set.
At this point, my fear of heights would kick in. When all of my friends would swing forward again and sail through the air to the ground I would continue to be securely on my swing’s seat, gripping the chains with white-knuckled fear while the brief free fall commenced.
All of us who have ever flown this high on a swing know that when you get that high the chains slacken and for a moment you feel as if you’re falling, not swinging. Then the chains snap tight at the bottom of the fall and swing you back the other directions.
For some reason, having that snap happen while swinging backward when you can’t see what’s ahead is far more terrifying than the jolt when swinging forward.
This is really what this whole cancer experience has been like for me: terrifying when we can’t see what is ahead, manageable when we can.
Last winter and early spring we were swinging along high in the air, excited about what we saw on the horizon. New baby on the way. New house we purchased and into which we were settling nicely.
Then Francis is diagnosed with an aggressive type of colon cancer that we later learn is Stage IV. That horrible backward floating happened for a long time while we learned to navigate surgery, recovery, chemo, chemo side effects, etc.
Then the reassuring snap of the swing catches us and we’re safely headed back to a point where we can see what lies ahead when we learn about an exciting treatment known as cytoreduction and HIPEC.
We feel freed to build dreams, plan vacations, think about where we’ll be 5, 20, 40 years. We’re flying forward again to the height of the swing set’s crossbar. Little did we know we were nearing the top of that climb.
Then Thursday night and Friday brought that terrifying backward freefall again. The terrifying moment when we didn’t know the seriousness of the situation in which Francis found himself. Not knowing whether the chains would actually fail to catch our weight this time.
But today, the chains caught us. Karen (Dr. Fournier’s PA) called our doctors who arrived in our room with her on their cell phone speaker. She told us all that Dr. Fournier was comfortable with the program of treatment currently outlined.
Francis will remain on TPN, a nutrition fluid given through an IV that is the equivalent of approximately 2100 calories. The NG tube will remain in place to remove excess fluid from his stomach and keep his intestines resting. We will continue to hope and pray that his blockage diminishes or disappears as a result of the rest so that he may go home.
Finally and perhaps most importantly when we feel completely out of control, we’ve been given full control over whether we go to Houston now or whether we wait. They’ll take us if and when we say we’re coming or just as planned in February.
As far as we all know, the major surgery that is scheduled for February 13 will be done as planned and if the blockage remains it will be addressed at that time.
Again, thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers. I will continue to update the blog if there are any changes or new developments.