Mr. Gibbs goes to Houston

Medical staff with the air ambulance service and the EMTs with Leon County EMS arrived at Francis’s hospital room around 2:45 on Wednesday afternoon.  At 3:15 p.m., Francis was sitting up all secured on a gurney in the airplane, the doors were closed and engines fired up.  The weather we were flying into wasn’t the greatest, but overall we were expecting to be in the air for around 2.5 hours.

The one thing that was unknown was how the flight would make Francis feel.  When your abdomen is distended with gas and fluid the pressure change from high altitude, even with a pressurized cabin, could cause some problems.

About an hour into the flight, Francis began to feel uncomfortable.  He requested that the medical staff plug the NG tube, which wasn’t removed prior to the transport, into the suction on the plane.  Another consideration of flying is that the suction on the airplane isn’t as strong as hospital suction.

With mediocre suction and the painful pressure from the altitude, we were anxious to have the flight finished.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate so well.  We circled all the way around the airport to get the best path through the storm to the runway below.

After a rather bumpy ride, we landed safe and sound at William P. Hobby Airport around 4:30 p.m. local time.  The ambulance met us plane side and we got on the road to MD Anderson.

Now, for those of you who haven’t driven around Houston, the traffic is horrible.  Friends in the DC area can understand this well.  A trip from the airport to MD Anderson could take 30 minutes or it could take two hours.

The weather and a stalled car in the middle of the highway weren’t going to help our return.  The driver of the ambulance informed me that we would likely be to MD Anderson in two hours.  Yikes!

As an aside, along the way on this cancer journey we’ve met a lot of interesting and inspiring people.  The driver of the ambulance is one of them.  He served in the Marine Corps and lived in the Washington, DC, metro region for a number of years.  We bonded over bad traffic.  He shared that he has a two-year-old son (just a few months younger than Couper).  When his son was only six months old, they discovered that he had cancer.  He was treated in Houston, and is cancer free today.  I love hearing these stories!

Fortunately, our two hour drive was only 45 minutes.  The trip from the ambulance bay through the maze of hospital hallways took nearly as long.

Francis settled into his hospital room at about 6:15 p.m.  What followed was a well-oiled machine of hospital admission.  In what felt like no time at all, Francis was in a gown, IV and fluids started, doctor in and out, and NG tube plugged into suction.

I escaped downstairs to the cafeteria and grabbed a bite to eat before returning to the hospital room to settle into my cot for the night.

That night I think Francis and I had the first night of restful sleep (despite the 5:00 a.m. check-in by the nurse) since this ordeal began 13 days earlier.

Since settling in here, Francis has been seen by his surgeon (Dr. Fournier), his dietitian, the surgical fellow for Dr. Fournier, and the plastic surgery fellow.  Next week we’ll visit with more doctors who will be present for the surgery on Wednesday.  Around here they refer to it as the “Mother of All Surgeries.”  The more we hear from these doctors the more appropriate that title seems.

Everything is now falling into place as we look forward hopefully and anxiously to the big cut on Wednesday (2/13).

For those of you who have asked what we need and what our goals are, here are a few things.  We both need rest because next week will be exhausting both physically and emotionally.  We need attention to detail as the doctors and nurses begin to prepare us for the surgery and the recovery with an abundance of information.  Francis needs to continue to build strength and health with the help of the TPN (total parenteral nutrition) and walks around the hospital.

I will be sure to keep everyone updated on Wednesday, and if anything new comes up in the meantime.  I cannot thank you enough for your continued thoughts, prayers, and support.


13 responses

  1. Hello, Frances! You are ALL in our thoughts and prayers, our hopes and dreams. Much love, Janice

  2. Praying for you all. Sending good vibes your way.

  3. Your in our prayers!

  4. I’ll be thinking of you both next week. Stay strong… think positive!

  5. Hello dear Francis, I’ve known you since you were that little boy, playing legos by your moms side…now, most unfortunately your journey has sure taken you off on this terrible path. Things we can never explain can we. You come from goodness and strong roots I have no doubt. Now you’ve been thru hell. And alongside with you, all the way, your wonderful wife! You’ve endured so much and with such courage! I am thinking of you both, and will pray for all you need; rest, healing and strength. One day at a time, and small steps for a perfect recovery! God Bless You!! Love, Kathy

  6. Thoughts and prayers are with you from our family in Amelia Island. Liz has kept me informed of your status each week but I am glad to have her share this blog as well. God be with you all.

  7. Richard Darden, Ann Gibbs brother | Reply

    Frances, Judy and I are sending you healing energy. BELIEVE and have faith that the best good will happen and recovery will become fact.

  8. We are praying for you and send our love. Love, Lee and Rachel

  9. So glad to hear Francis made it to Houston a-okay and that the surgery you’ve been waiting for is only a few days away. My fingers are crossed for you both!

  10. Francis, I am thinking of you often and hope you know how many of us are praying for you. We are sending all of our positive thoughts and energy your way. I am looking forward to sharing many laughs with you again soon.
    LeAnne, you are really amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time to keep all of us informed throughout this frightening ride for the two of you. We are all pulling for you both. Much love, Lee, Holly, Trey and Addison.

  11. Pattie Taber Siko | Reply

    Greetings, LeAnne and Brother, We hold you in our prayers and think of you every day; there are so many of us on this journey with you with friendship, support and good wishes. We hope for the opportunity to meet you, LeAnne and see you hand in hand with Francis and your dear children. Please forgive a poor choice of words, but we truly are enjoying your blog and find it so informative. Francis, we look forward to the good news of your escape from Houston and full recovery!
    …with much affection from your Ohio ‘cousins’ Pattie (Taber) and Tom Siko

  12. Francis and LeAnn, We’re praying for both of you.

  13. Your whole team (you,the docs, family,friends) are in our prayers and thoughts as the new day arrives! Stay strong and positive. Many blessings. Tell Francis a few of us old PYFers (Presbyterian youth fellowship) are praying extra hard today (:

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