Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Dad was transferred from the ICU to a regular floor yesterday which means that he's doing really well. His recovery has gone as well as could be expected, and we're so happy for that. We're just hoping that the path continues to be smooth. Of course there's been some challenges along the way, especially getting used to dialysis. I'm sure this will take time, but Dad's been a trooper so far. The doctors are suspecting that he'll be discharged by the end of this week or early next week. Then, the real recovery begins. We've set him up for dialysis on a Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday schedule for now at Lancaster General. We're armed with dialysis cookbooks and ideas for recipes. My sister and Mike will be staying with my parents for a few weeks until they figure out Katy's job situation. I'm SO, SO thankful that they're going to be here since we have to get back to Colorado. Angus has to return to work, but we're already planning to come back to PA at the end of April to help out. Overall, I think at this point it's just going to be about Dad regaining his strength and getting into a dialysis routine. Once he heals from the surgery we'll be looking at another procedure to set up home dialysis. We don't have the details about that yet, but hopefully we will have them before he is discharged. Angus, Calvin, and I are staying home from the hospital tomorrow to get some things done around the house and to cook dinner for everyone. It will be a nice break...it's definitely been tough going up and back with Calvin in tow (although totally worth it!) I am just so freakin' proud of my dad. No one realizes how intense this all is and how big of a life change it is, and he is handling it remarkably well. He was in good spirits today laughing and joking around which was so great to see. He is, without a doubt, my hero.

Give peas a chance - part II.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Surgery - check.

We got up to the hospital this morning around 9:30 a.m. and heard an update from Dad's surgeon around 11:00 a.m. They had removed his kidney and were working on the tumor in the vena cava. After another few hours, we got a call saying that Dad was in recovery. They were able to successfully remove the kidney and the tumor. The tumor was actually attaching itself to the liver and the diaphragm, so Dr. Harpster (our surgeon) had to scrape it off the liver and cut a hole in the diaphragm in order to remove it completely. Otherwise, the surrounding areas looked free of any evidence of cancer. Dad was intubated and because of the hole in the diaphragm, they had to keep him intubated after the surgery to make sure his lung didn't collapse after they stitched up the hole. Luckily, the stitches held, and Dad was extubated soon after he moved to the SICU (Surgical Intensive Care Unit). This was a great relief to him as the tube was irritating his throat. Because he could breathe on his own, he was fighting the tube which made it even more uncomfortable. We first saw him on the stretcher in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, and he was covered in warm blankets and hooked up to several IVs. Apparently the anesthesia can make a person really cold. That combined with his anxiety due to the tube down this throat made him really shaky. As soon as he saw us, we could tell he felt relieved that it was over. We didn't get to stay too long because they were moving him to the SICU.

Once in the SICU, we were able to visit with him a bit longer. At this point, he was extubated, but his throat was really sore, so it was difficult for him to speak. He was able to say that he felt OK but was in some intense pain. The doctors came in and upped his pain medication through his IV and through the epidural line. He was so super cute. He looked like the tin man from The Wizard of Oz as he tested his arms and legs as if moving them for the first time. He raised his arms above his head, stretched his legs, and wiggled his feet. It must be an odd feeling to wake up from a surgery not knowing what parts of you are missing and what parts of you are still there.

Overall, the doctors were optimistic about the surgery. They were able to get what the set out to get, and now we just wait for the healing, dialysis set-up, and pathology results. Dad has been such a trooper. He's been so amazing. I really am just SO proud of him for all that he has endured thus far. It's still going to be a long road ahead, but I know we will get through it. They are estimating he'll be in the hospital for two weeks as long as there aren't any complications, but we're just taking it day to day. We're just so happy that the surgery went well and Dad was able to see us and hold our hands. I just love him so damn much it hurts. Will continue to update as the week goes by. Everyone's thoughts have been awesome. Thanks so much.

Highlights of my day: Nursing Calvin in the hospital chapel; nursing Calvin in a weird abandoned phone booth; eating Philadelphia soft pretzels like they were crack (although I don't eat crack, so I'm not sure that makes sense); sticking together with my family; vegetable sushi from the cafeteria; Calvin eating bananas in the waiting room; Tippo (a tiger-hippo hybrid my mom bought to entertain Calvin); seeing my dad's sweet face after the surgery.

Downers of the day: The fact that the chaplain told us to nurse Calvin in the Jewish worship area, not the Islamic area; having to spray everyone and everything with hand sanitizer every two seconds; the drive home; the fact that I feel like a giant dough ball; the fact that my dad has to go through this shit; crusty waiting area seats.

Now we wait.

After a long night, Dad went into surgery this morning at 7:00 a.m. We were able to talk to him on the phone, and he was fairly emotional but quiet knowing what he was about to go through. The anesthesiologist actually gave him an epidural to help with the pain once he wakes up. We are getting ready to head up to Hershey in a few minutes. Mike just left to be there to support Katy since she's alone with all of the bags and running on two hours of sleep...and because he's just a great husband. :) The surgery should take almost all day, but I'll try to post an update tonight once we're home. Fingers crossed, prayers said, thoughts of my amazing dad. Now we wait.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Home sweet home.

Angus, Calvin and I got home on Sunday to be with my parents for my dad's surgery. The flight was OK...a few rough patches, but overall pretty doable. I am tempted, however, to buy the extra seat the next time we fly. We'll see. My little boy is growing up fast and just keeps getting more wiggley. Being squished in the window and middle seat is tough when you have a squirmy worm in your arms. Anyway, it's been nice to be home, but it's been super intense. It's just been really hard to see my parents go through these past couple months. A lot of worry, heartache, adjustment, and preparation. Hopefully this surgery will bring good news and brighter days.

My dad was admitted into the hospital this morning around 11:00. Almost immediately, the nurse started his IV and drew is blood. After that, we waited awhile until he was ready to go to have his central line placed. A central line is an IV port that goes in through a large vein in the neck. They place a catheter down through the vein and the port comes out through the chest. This port will be for dialysis since my dad will need it immediately post-op. The nephrology team will do dialysis from this port until my dad heals from his surgery. At that point, they will set him up for a more permanent dialysis situation. Details to follow... Dad had the procedure to place the central line around 4:00 p.m. It took about an hour, and he came out with few complaints and feeling pretty relieved that this part was over. Angus, Calvin and I left the hospital around 6:00 p.m. since Calvin was getting cranked up and ready for bed. Katy, God bless her soul, is spending the night in the hospital with my dad. It's been great to have her there for support. Also, the surgical team is taking Dad as the first case of the day tomorrow, so he'll be in surgery by 8:00 a.m. I doubt we'll be up at the hospital by then, so it's nice that Katy is there to comfort him as he goes in.

After Angus, Calvin and I left, Dad's surgeon came in to discuss tomorrow. He seemed optimistic about being able to get the cancer out. He, of course, was upset that Dad has to go on dialysis. It will be quite a life change, but I think it is important to take things day by day. I know my parents have so many friends and family members who are being very supportive during this time, and for that, I am so grateful. People are really reaching out and doing what they can to help out. It's really been nice, especially for my mom who is pretty overwhelmed by it all.

That's the update for now...Katy is with Dad, and they are "watching" a movie. Dad is sleepy but he will probably be up all night as they are giving him medicine to empty his system and prepare him for the surgery. All we can do now is hope and pray that it's a success. From there, we'll take it one moment at a time. I'm going to do my best to update this blog since this is a lot easier than making phone calls at this moment. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers. Much appreciated.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spin cycle.

Calvin loves to watch the washer spin round and round.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Squash face.

Calvin tried some butternut squash that Mommy made. Looks like more got on his face and clothes than in his belly!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The latest.

Wanted to write about the latest developments with my dad's situation. While we were in PA for three weeks, my dad had a procedure called an embolization which was supposed to stop his tumor from growing and possibly even shrink it making a partial nephrectomy (partial removal of his remaining kidney and tumor) possible. This week in a meeting with his doctors, we discovered that the tumor has actually grown a bit. This is devastating news as now the option of a partial nephrectomy is out. Basically, we are left with two options. 1. Leave the cancer in and treat with medications (similar to chemo and radiation) and hope to keep it at bay. With this option, it's only a matter of time until the cancer spreads. 2. Opt for a full nephrectomy which will leave my dad on dialysis. He will have to be on dialysis and cancer-free for 5 years before a transplant is possible. Dad has chosen to fight, and is going for the surgery. He's really scared, as are we, but we're trying to remain positive about the possibilities in the future. If this works out, he could be cancer-free. There are many risks with this surgery, and it will be an intense recovery. Dialysis will be a huge life change, and there are major risks with this as well. I am just hoping that everything, as intense as we know it will be, will go smoothly and successfully. Angus and I are flying home on the 20th of March, and Dad's surgery is scheduled for later that week (either the 24th or 25th as of now). Katy and Mike are also coming home since she is finishing her contract in TX on March 19th. She is still looking for her next placement and is hoping to get something close to my parents.

Needless to say, this freaking sucks. It's just awful to watch my dad go through this. It's very surreal. I'll continue to update my blog as it's been tough to find the time to call everyone. Thanks for thinking of us during this time.