Saturday, December 25, 2010

'Twas a Merry Christmas

Grandsons Lane, Luke and Jasper
playing with some of their new toys.
John and I made our annual Christmas Eve trip to his parents and sister's homes.  They live on some beautiful acreage in Yelm where we watched Laura's small heard of fostered Icelandic ponies, the neighbor's sheep and llama, and Mom and Dad's chickens.  Laurie played short-order cook and made everyone a wonderful breakfast ... farm fresh eggs, bacon, sausage, cinnamon rolls ... yummm!

By the time we got home, son-in-law Cameron and grandson Jasper had arrived to spend the night and get ready for Christmas.  Jasper left out cookies, milk and carrots which were all munched up by Santa and his reindeer.

Our tabletop Christmas Tree

On Christmas morning we followed tradition; all of our children and their kids gathered at our home for breakfast* and to get their stockings from Santa.  The grandkids were showered with even more gifts.  It was pure chaos!

John's new hat with hair!

Our ham dinner got delayed this year.   Our kids went to visit other family members; John's parents stayed home because they weren't feeling well; and our friend was in the hospital because she got in a car accident. (Get well Gail!)   So, instead, John made us some egg salad sandwiches from a few hardboiled eggs (detoured from becoming deviled eggs).  Tomorrow, when we are more rested, I'll bake the ham which we'll munch on throughout the week.

Gretchen dressed
up for a Christmas picture.

This was a merry Christmas for us.  I hope yours was very merry as well.

* For the last several Christmas mornings, I've made a breakfast casserole for everyone.  It's become a tradition.  I learned to make this dish when I was a trail cook for High Country Outfitters.  We made it in a dutch oven for our guests.  Here is the basic recipe. 

1. Crumble and brown 2 pounds maple sausage,
2. Cube 1 large loaf of day-old French bread,
3. 2 cups shredded cheese (swiss and cheddar this year) 
4. Beat together 20 eggs, 2 cups milk, and salt/pepper to taste,
In a large greased casserole pan, make 2 layers, each with cubed French bread, cooked sausage and shredded cheese.  Cover everything with the beaten egg mixture.  Let stand at least 30 minutes until the bread is thoroughly soaked.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Serve with salsa.

You can also add other ingredients that you enjoy, like herbs, spices, onions, peppers, sour cream, etc.  This recipe made 12 large servings.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2nd Opinion & Storage Units

Clinic at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
 The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance oncologist recommended the same follow-up as did John's primary oncologist.  That is, we will monitor John's swollen lymph nodes with a CT scan in 3 months.  I'm glad that SCCA's recommendation was the same; it's much easier to make a decision about what to do next.

John just bought a couple of abandoned storage units on auction.  We use to buy these units all of the time, sorting through them, finding the good stuff, and then garage-selling the rest.  John stopped doing it when he started to have bad back problems.  For these units, John promises me that he won't be lifting more than he should, with the help of his brother, daughter and son-in-law.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Welcome Winter!

Start of Lunar Eclipse
Fall City Back Deck
Cloudy Skies, 12/20
Happy Solstice to all!  In a few more hours it'll be Winter!  Tho', in this part of the woods, you would have thought winter had already arrived ... snow and temperatures in the teens in November, and then, just recently, enough rain to make our rivers overflow their banks.  Over the last few days, we've been having high winds, too.  Thankfully, we are on high ground and stay plenty warm in our home.

John and I are getting ready for Christmas.  I'm decorating our little tree and wrapping presents today.  John is doing some last minute shopping.  We'll be continuing our traditions -- spending Christmas Eve with John's family and Christmas morning opening presents with the grandkids -- such joyous chaos!

John has been caring for his chicken flock more and more.  He is only half way into his 6-week recovery period and the lifting & bending restrictions are becoming frustrating to him.  Tomorrow, we go to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for a second opinion on John's treatment options.

I'm starting to plan for a road trip to Arizona in January.  During the winter, Quartzsite is a snowbirders haven ... with hundreds, maybe thousands of RVers staying in the area.   I'll be joining a group of my traveling friends for a rendezvous.

May this Christmas be your merriest!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Next Steps

John saw his medical oncologist this afternoon to decide on his next treatment steps.  The doctor wants to take a wait-and-see approach.  So, in 3 months John will get some blood tests to check the function of his remaining kidney, and a full-body CT scan to check the lymph nodes under his liver. 

For Stage II Renal Cancer, the other possible option is adjuvant therapy which uses drugs to keep any remaining cancer cells from making more tumors.  But these drugs have some side effects and are so new that their effectiveness for early stage cancer is not well documented.

We are going to see about getting a second opinion to make sure the wait-and-see approach is the best for John right now.

Tomorrow John has his staples removed.

Since John has been home he's been busying himself caring for his chickens as much as he can.   We are also making plans for the holidays.  As usual, we'll be spending Christmas with family.  But, our outside Christmas lights will be scaled down this year because ladder climbing is not part of John's recuperation regimen :).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thank You's

As John continues to recuperate, I wanted to give our thanks to all who have generously helped us out.

Thank you to Jim, Sue, Tammy, Scott and Roy who are the primary chicken helpers as John heals up ... taking the morning and evening shifts, and going to the grocery store to pick up the discarded produce & bread.  Also, thanks so much to sister Laurie for caring for John's special needs hen.  And, thank you to all of John's customers for putting up with a bit of delay in getting your eggs.

A huge thanks to daughter Echo and brother Billy for being with us at the hospital, offering your help and moral support.  Also, a little birdie tells me Echo has made some frozen dinners for us ... yum and thank you!

And, thank you to all my traveling friends who have offered their positive thoughts, prayers, and good wishes ... Karen, VJ, Pat, Charlene, Cheryl, other VI2's, VanTramps, and more.   As well as a big thanks to all of our family and friends who have kept touch through the blog, facebook, and by phone & email ... Mom, Dad, Laurie, Cameron, Jasper, Gary, Mary, Char, Leon, Lisa, Connie, Larry, Lynne, Margaret, Marikay, Sunny, Glen, Ginny, Kay, Larry, Albertson's Produce and Bakery Depts, Fall City Espresso, and more.

I tried to remember as many people as I could.  So, if I forgot your name, please know that your love and friendship mean the world to us.

This is what John said this morning on his facebook wall: 
  • Well, it's Monday! Cool!  Ha, I made it through surgery.  Thanks to my wife and to all my family, friends, and for all the prayers people have asked for me, and the Big Guy who listened.  So, all that thought of me and helped me, I can't thank you all enough. Thanks friends.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

John's Home

John came home from the hospital this afternoon.  He wanted to be home early enough to watch the Apple Cup (UW vs. WSU) ... you know he's got to be feeling better.  I'm so glad to have him home.  Go Huskies!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pathology Report

John got the pathology report from his urologist this morning.  The great news is that the cancer is fully contained within the kidney's capsule, Stage II, T2.   (Prior to surgery, the doctor had suspected that it was at T3, Stage III.)  It's clear cell, the most common type of renal cell carcinoma.  The tumor was large at 7.5cm.   Usually a kidney weighs about 1.5 pounds; but, John's diseased kidney weighed 3 pounds.

If you'd like more context, go to the Kidney Cancer Association web page About Kidney Cancer.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Update on John at the Hospital

Christmas Tree in waiting room on John's floor.
Tonight will be John's 3rd night in the hospital.  He's healing up and getting stronger.   But, he really didn't think he'd feel as bad as he does, and heal as slowly as he is.  The nurses and I keep reassuring him that he's making good progress. 

Most of his tubes have been removed.  His appetite is slowly returning.  Both his blood pressure and blood sugar have been higher than usual ... but, both are heading downward.  Once his intestines begin working, we'll be on our way home, I think.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

John's Next Day

Night view from John's 5th floor room. 
Looking west into downtown Bellevue.
Today John has been recuperating from yesterday's surgery.  He's enjoyed some nice emails and phone calls.  Echo visited today again.  And his brother Bill blasted his big air horn when he passed the hospital 3 different times.  John knew right away that it was his little brother's truck.

John got up twice today, first to sit in a chair, then to take a short walk.  I figure that his increase in complaining means that he's getting better.  :)

John returning from
his stroll
He may go home tomorrow, but I suspect that Friday is more likely.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

John's Hospital Contact Information

John will be recovering at Overlake Hospital Medical Center for a couple of days.
1035 116th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA  98004.

To email John, go to  Address it to "John R. Carlson" and hospital staff will print it out and bring your message to John's room (Mon - Fri).

To reach John by phone, call 425-688-5000, extension 479151.

To visit John at the hospital, go to South Tower, 5th Floor, Room 506 (a nice private room with a view of downtown Bellevue).

The closest place to park is the South Parking Garage.  To get more parking information go to

Maps and directions are at

For more Visitor Information, go to

Report from surgeon, 9:15PM

The surgeon came down and told us that he got the kidney out just fine with laparoscopic surgery.  John is heading to the room for nursing care now.  We are headed to the South Tower to meet him.

Post Anesthesia Care, 8:45 PM

About 8:45 PM, according to the monitor of patients' status in the Waiting Room, John's status has changed to "Post Anesthesia Care."  That is, John is in Post Anesthesia Care Unit for recovery.  We are not yet allowed to see him.

Closing to Recovery, 8:25 PM

The Family Waiting Area at Overlake Hospital has a large TV monitor scrolling surgery patients' current status.  A patient's status begins at "Check-In" through all of the steps to "Complete." 

Since we've been in the Waiting Room, John's status has been "Procedure in Progress." 

A few minutes ago John's status changed to "Closing to Recovery."  This means that John's surgery is nearing completion and he will be moved to the recovery area when finished.

We expect to talk with John's surgeon soon.

Prior to surgery, we were told that John would be in recovery for about 1.5 hours before we'd be able to see him again.

John is doing OK in surgery, 8 PM

At 8 PM a nurse just came into the waiting room to let us know that John is doing OK.  He'll be in surgery about another 30 minutes.

To Surgery at 3:45 PM

John and daughter Echo
It's been a day of delays, but John is now in the surgery room.  We arrived at the appointed 9:30 AM check-in time and got into the pre-op room where Echo, John's daughter, joined us about 11 AM.  We expected John's surgery to begin at 11:30 AM. 
Brother Bill trimming John's
mustache so tape will stick

Come to find out, the surgery room that John was suppose to go into was still being used.  So, we waited and waited.  Finally, the hospital arranged for John to go into another room. 

About 3 PM John's brother Bill showed up, followed shortly by the Operating Room Nurse and Anesthesiologist. 

So that tape would stick well to John's skin, some of his mustache needed to be trimmed.  Bill did the favor. 

Half a mustache, mid-trim.

At 3:45 PM, John was wheeled off to surgery.

The doctor indicated that John's surgery could take as long as 6 hours.  I will blog more when we find out anything new.
Anesthesiologist & O.R. Nurse prep'ing John

John off to surgery
Update:  We got the report that the incision was made at 4:31 PM.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Surgery Information

John is going into surgery tomorrow at 11:30 AM.  I'll blog John's status as the day progresses.  We were told that the laparoscopic surgery takes about 4 hours.  Then, John will probably be in recovery for about 1.5 hours before I get to see him in his room.  I will blog John's contact information at Overlake Hospital once I know it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Laparoscopic Surgery

John's CT results show that the swollen lymph nodes under his liver are essentially the same size.  So, John will have the laparoscopic surgery to remove his right kidney instead of the more invasive surgery to also sample a swollen node. 

Finding out that the lymph nodes have not grown is the final factor in John's decision to go with laparoscopic surgery.  Other factors include: 1) kidney cancer typically does not go to these lymph nodes, 2) the swollen nodes are in a "treacherous" area, 3) there's only a 50% chance that the surgeon can safely sample a node, and 4) the chevron incision requires a much longer recovery period.

By not sampling a swollen lymph node John will not know if the cancer has spread, nor will he qualify for most of the clinical trials.

With this change, the urologist needs to get a different surgeon to assist him.  If she isn't available on Tuesday, they may postpone the surgery for a few days.

In addition to getting the CT scan today, John also had his pre-op visit at the hospital.  Afterward, we watched the Harry Potter movie and enjoyed a Mexican dinner ... yum!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Today we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at Echo's home ... very yummy.  I love spending holidays with the grandkids.  Lane is becoming such a big boy.  And Luke, the youngest, is exploring his world ... learning how to fall without breaking an arm or getting a black eye.  Unfortunately, Jasper, our eldest grandchild was sick and couldn't join us.
Setting the Thanksgiving table.

Grandson Luke sporting
a new shiner along with his
two-day old cast
Tomorrow is a big day.  John has a pre-op visit at the hospital and another CT scan.  The scan is to see if the lymph nodes have changed. 

If the nodes have grown, John will likely continue with the chevron-incision operation on Tuesday.   Otherwise, the surgery date may need to be postponed until a different surgeon who has expertise in kidney laparoscopic procedures can assist.

After all of the medical appointments tomorrow, John and I will see the new Harry Potter movie then go for a Mexican dinner as an early birthday celebration.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Surgeon, Turkey, and Snow

Looking out the basement door this morning
to our small stand of birch.
John talked with the surgeon late yesterday.  He provided some valuable information.  He confirmed that the lymph nodes are in a "treacherous" location.  But the surgeon let us know that he would be safe and avoid going any place during the surgery that would put John's life at risk, even to the point of not sampling the lymph nodes if he couldn't safely reach them.  That put our minds a bit more at ease. 

When I asked that he estimate the likelihood of being able to reach the lymph nodes safely, he said 50%.  Such a low probability shocked me.  I wish we had that information when John made the decision about which surgery to have.

In addition, this surgeon reiterated that kidney cancer usually doesn't travel to the location of John's swollen lymph nodes.  And, like the UW urologist, he said that if it were him, he would not have the more invasive surgery.

John still wants to know if the cancer has spread, however.  So, he's asked for another CT Scan.  If the swollen lymph nodes have gotten even bigger, then he'll probably go for the more invasive surgery.  Otherwise, he'll opt for the less invasive laparoscopic surgery.  The CT Scan is scheduled for Friday.
Gretchen says, "Let me in Ma,
it's cold out here!"

Today John is scheduled for his pre-op visit at Overlake.  But, we are snowed in and the temperatures are in the teens and low twenties today.  Brrr.  I've called about rescheduling.

I'm glad this is a slow growing cancer, because the slow pace of getting this all done is driving me bonkers.

In the meantime, I'm trying to plan ahead.  I cooked a turkey yesterday and froze most of the meat, stock and dressing to make meals while John is recuperating.  Today I'm slow cooking a ham and will freeze most of that too.
This Morning

Yesterday Morning
It snowed all of yesterday, into the evening.  Today and tomorrow the temperatures are supposed to stay low.  It's time to make a pot of turkey vegetable soup, cuddle up next to the fire, and read a good book.

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Information, More Questions

We got a call yesterday from John's urologist.  He said that they may need to remove John's gallbladder in order to gain safe access under the liver where the swollen lymph nodes are located.  The gallbladder is healthy; so, this is considered an "incidental" removal.  He indicated that John can live fine without a gallbladder. 

John is upset over the possibility of loosing another organ.  But, mostly, he's concerned about becoming more susceptible to infection.  We have an appointment to talk with the surgeon late Monday, and will decide how to proceed from there.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Decision Made

Last night John decided to go for the larger chevron-incision surgery to both remove his right kidney and sample the swollen lymph nodes under his liver for metastasis.  Choosing this higher risk procedure would let him know for sure if the cancer has spread and put him in a better position for future treatment options. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

John is still weighing the pros and cons between the laparoscopic surgery to remove his right kidney, and the chevron incision to sample the swollen lymph nodes as well as remove the kidney.

We were hoping that this decision would become clearer after meeting with his urologist yesterday.  Instead, John is still up in the air about his best course of action.  The chevron incision is more risky because the swollen lymph nodes are close to a large artery, and recovery is longer because muscles must be cut through.  But, this surgery is the only way to know if the cancer has metastasized to the lymph nodes.  The laparoscopy is less risky with a shorter recovery period.

Regardless of which surgery John selects, he wants to enroll in a clinical trial.  New immunotherapy drugs show promise at shrinking metastasized tumors, and perhaps preventing the spread of kidney cancer.  Most of these drug trials require metastasis of the cancer.  So, if John choses the safer laparoscopic procedure, we won't know if the cancer has spread and, thus, he won't qualify for most of the clinical trials.

Anniversary flowers for Suanne ...
John is such a romantic,  but he thinks he's
girly for liking flowers so much ... LOL
Yesterday and today I've been searching the clinical trials and their inclusion requirements.  I'm also trying to figure out if it makes sense for us to keep or change our current medical insurance so that John has access to as many immunotherapy drug trials as possible.  Open enrollment ends on the 30th, the same day as John's surgery; so, time is short.

Both John's urologist and the urologist that gave a 2nd opinion say that either surgery is a reasonable choice, they just tend toward a different first choice.  Stay tuned ... John must decide soon ...

On a lighter note, John and I had a fun time for our anniversary.  We both played the slots a bit, John coming out ahead, and I with a loss.  The seafood buffet was good, too!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Our Anniversary and Other Happenings

Hubby John at Lane's Bday Party
(Lane's Dad, Joe, in the background)
Our wedding anniversary is tomorrow, but we are starting our celebration tonight at the Snoqualmie Casino's seafood buffet.  Since John missed going to Maine this past October, we figure he can get some lobster this way :).  We've been married for 17 years!

Lane opening his gifts

On Wednesday, Grandson Lane turned 5 years old.  Happy Birthday Big Boy Lane!

The UW has yet to put the rest of John's radiology CD's on their computer system so their urologist can finish giving us his second opinion.  I'll call again on Monday.  Waiting is frustrating sometimes.
Little Brother Luke
on a Big Slide

Tuesday will be a busy day -- John will be consulting with the surgeon, getting his pre-op physical, and donating blood for his surgery.  
Lane and a friend.
These bouncy slides are
fun for high-energy play.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nov 30th Surgery Date Set (and a few updates)

John's surgery date is set for Tuesday, November 30th at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, WA.  He is making arrangements to donate some of his own blood in case it is needed during surgery. 

John will be talking with his urologist on Tuesday about whether or not to do the risker surgery to get at the lymph nodes as well as remove his right kidney, or to do the less invasive laparoscopic surgery to only remove his kidney.

Today, we'll talk with the cardiologist and get the complete run down on John's heart tests.

Tomorrow, we hope to talk again with the urologist who gave us his second opinion, as he's had time to review John's many radiology scans since 2007.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Second Opinion Preview

We got up very early this morning and drove into Seattle for John's second opinion.  After reviewing the latest CT and PT scans, this urologist confirmed that John has more than a 90% likelihood of having renal cell carcinoma.  In addition, he concurred that John needs to have his right kidney totally removed because the cancer is quite large.

This urologist, however, did not agree that the swollen lymph nodes next to John's liver need to be biopsied or removed.  In this doctor's (and a colleague's) experience, kidney cancer does not typically spread to lymph nodes near the liver.  Also, these swollen lymph nodes did not show positive for cancer on a PT scan.   That is, the lymph nodes do not look "clinically suspicious" enough  to warrant the risks associated with an invasive surgical procedure. 

Furthermore, if a lymph node biopsy did showed positive, then cancer cells are very likely already throughout John's body anyway.  This urologist explained that new drugs show promise at shrinking metastasized kidney cancer, but they don't do well when it has only spread to the lymph nodes.

But, before this urologist firms up his "official" second opinion, he wants to thoroughly review all of John's radiology scans, including those from 2007.  So, we should hear back from him in a few days.

If John decides to go ahead and get the lymph nodes next to his liver removed, it'll mean an invasive surgery with a large chevron incision on his abdomen.  If he decides to leave the lymph nodes intact, the right kidney will likely be removed using laparoscopic surgical methods.  Laparoscopy is less invasive, reducing both hospital and recovery time significantly, as compared to the use of a chevron incision.

Regardless of his choice of surgery, John will follow up with regular scans to make sure the cancer has not spread.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Heart is Good

The internal medicine doctor's office called this morning to let John know that his heart test came out negative.  Good news.  As a preventative measure, they are starting him on a beta blocker before his surgery.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Brief Update

On Monday and Wednesday of this week, John went in for tests to check his heart health.  Monday's procedure was a stress test; and Wednesday's was a rest test.  We are scheduled to learn the test results from the cardiologist a week from today.

On Monday of next week, we will be meeting with another urologist for a second opinion.  We are still waiting to consult with the surgeon that will be doing the chevron incision to reach the lymph nodes by John's liver.

John seems to be over his cold.  I'm about a week behind on my cold and hope to feel better next week.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Our Front Door for

We had lots of trick-or-treaters tonight. 
We even ran out of 30 pounds of candy!

One of the pumpkins from John's garden

Grandson Jasper was a Doctor.  He went around the neighborhood, then passed out some candy himself. 

One of the bigger pumpkins from
John's garden.

We have a fire hall down the street where the firemen pass out candy, glow bracelets, and let the kids sit in the fire engines.  So cool.
"Doctor Jasper" in the Fire Engine

Friday, October 29, 2010

No News, Just Pics

John's girls: 
They race to meet you at the gate.
Going into the weekend, we'd hope to have an appointment for a second opinion scheduled.  But, nothing yet.  We did get copies of John's medical records today, tho'.

John's "Special Needs" Hen
Kept in the garage as a pet

John continues to get people lined up to take care of his chickens ... showing them how to do the care, and stocking up on food and supplies.

John, The Troll Under the Deck
(insulating pipes in preparation for winter)

John ventured under the deck today, while it wasn't raining, to insulate the pipes.

Birdie, our little
Senegal Parrot

Happy Halloween everyone!
Gretchen lounging on deck

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More Appointments, More Waiting

Gretchen riding on my bed
in the Prius RV
John's stress test to check his heart health is scheduled for Monday afternoon.  He's been instructed to avoid caffeine, including chocolate for 24 hours before the test.  So, with Halloween being on Sunday, he's a bit bummed.  Maybe I'll make him some chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast Halloween morning, so he can get his trick-or-treat chocolate fix.

He'll get the results of his heart test on the 11th.

relaxed, laying on the bed,
chin on a duffel bag,
watching the world go by ...

John also has an appointment to talk with the surgeon on Tuesday.  Hopefully we'll have more of an idea about timing, risks, etc. after that meeting.

John and brother Bill finished cleaning out the gutters today.  John also went out and stocked up on a couple months worth of layer pellets and bedding material for his chicken flock. 

I've started taking our dog Gretchen with me on short car trips.  Although she gets a bit anxious, she looks so cute sitting on top of my "Prius RV" bed.  Maybe she'll become a traveling dog.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bits and Pieces

I started the process to get a second opinion from the Urology Department at the University of Washington Medical Center. 

We are still waiting to schedule the test to check John's heart health.

John's surgeon has yet to contact him to schedule his kidney and lymph node operation.

John and I are still getting over our colds.

John is lining up family and friends to help take care of his flock of 40+ laying hens.

The first major storm of the season will hit tonight.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

PET Scan Result

Rather than waiting until tomorrow afternoon, the oncologist called tonight to give John the results of today's PET Scan.  The doctor explained that the scan was inconclusive.  That is, the lymph nodes near John's liver did not "light up" on the scan.  If they had lit up, we would have known for sure that the kidney cancer had spread.  Now, we still don't know for sure.

Next, the doctors are wanting to do a major surgery to remove both his right kidney and one of his swollen lymph nodes for biopsy.  We are now waiting to talk with the surgeon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

John's Heart

John met with both an internal medicine doctor and a cardiologist this morning to make sure his heart is healthy before undergoing surgery.  The doctors expressed "slight to mild concern" over John's symptoms.  But, to make sure, they ordered another test to look at blood flow through his arteries.  We are now waiting to schedule that appointment.

The doctors explained that studies show that a surgery to put stints into a diseased heart does not work as a preventative measure to reduce heart attacks for an upcoming surgery.   So, even if they find heart disease in John, the doctors will probably treat it with beta blockers just before his upcoming surgery, rather than doing heart surgery first.

Tomorrow is John's PET Scan.  Late Friday afternoon, the cardiologist will call with the results. We expect to hear if the cancer has spread beyond his kidney, and if they will do a liver (lymph node) biopsy.

John's cold is getting better.  And, to fix his tooth with the missing filling, he's seeing the dentist in a few hours.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So Far This Week

John has a couple of appointments tomorrow morning -- cardiology and internal medicine -- both in preparation for his operation.

Ruby Beach, Olympic NP

Also, John went to our family doctor yesterday for a bad cold.  He got some meds so it doesn't progress to something worse.  Now, he thinks a filling has come out of one of his teeth.  When it rains, it pours.

I spent a couple of days exploring Olympic National Park -- ocean beaches, rain forests, and alpine meadows.  What a beautiful place!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More Appointments

John finally got an appointment for his PET Scan.   Next week is going to be busy -- Internal Medicine and Cardiology appointments on Wednesday, PET Scan on Thursday, and Oncology on Friday when we'll get the results of the PET Scan and other tests.  See October 6th blog post for details about the PET Scan.

Mount Rainier peeking out from behind the clouds
On Monday, I went to Mt. Rainier National Park.  The fall colors were beautiful, and the mountain peeked out from behind the clouds a couple of times that afternoon.  Unfortunately, the campgrounds had just closed for the season; so, I opted to come back home.

While I was exploring the park, John went to the Emergency Room for a dog bite.  They cleaned it up and he's now on another course of antibiotics.  I think he just likes the attention he gets from the nurses LOL.

Yesterday John and I took a drive east of the mountains into Cle Elem and Roslyn.  The day was gorgeous and we got some goodies from few of our favorite shops in town.  Today, I'm laying low to keep a cold at bay and John has been out and about getting food for the chickens.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What's Happening?

We are still waiting to get an appointment for John's PET scan.  Hopefully it'll be this Thursday.

Both John and I have been puttering about, getting the place ready for winter.  John has been tending his girls, though almost all of them are molting right now ... poor things.  I've been trying to get caught up on paperwork, John's medical records, and my blogs.

We had a wet weekend, but the sun is shinning now.  I'm going to take advantage of the good weather for the next few days and head out to one of the local national parks.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Next Test: A PET Scan

John's appointment today was with an oncologist (not the surgeon).  He explained that the next proceedure they want to do is a PET scan to see if the swollen lymph nodes next to his liver contain cancer.  That scan will probably be on Thursday, a week from tomorrow. 

Here are the two possible courses of action based upon the PET scan result:

If the scan is positive for cancer, then that means that cancer cells have likely spread all through his body. He would then need to go through chemo treatment as well as have his right kidney removed.  The incision for the kidney removal is small.


If the PET scan is not positive for cancer, then they will remove one of the swollen lymph nodes for biopsy at the same time they remove his right kidney.   The location of the swollen lymph nodes is deep in his body, thus will require a very large chevron-shaped incision to remove.

So, we are now waiting to hear from the Imaging Department to schedule the PET scan.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Result from Head Scan

We got a copy of the doctor's report from today's head scan.  He stated that the spot on John's forehead "is suggestive of a benign bony lesion."  So, that's good news, I think.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Another Pumpkin Harvest

We had more pumpkin harvesting tonight.  Daughter Echo brought grandsons Lane and Luke over to claim their pumpkins and for a hotdog dinner.

Lane and Luke sitting on
their big pumpkin

Lane rolling their big pumpkin

Echo and Luke

Gretchen watching all the action

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Visits with Family

Pumpkins in John's garden
John and I spent some good time with family this weekend.  On Saturday, John's family came over.  John's sister Laura took Mom and Dad, brother Bill, and us out to an early dinner.  Everyone thought the food at the Fall City Roadhouse was wonderful.  Thanks Laurie!

Jasper with pumpkins to take home.

Carrot: 11" long, 11" circumference

Then on Sunday, our son-in-law Cameron and grandson Jasper came over for BBQ and to pick out their pumpkins from Grampa's garden ... a yearly tradition.

When the pumpkins are small and green, John scratches the grandkids' names on a pumpkin for each of them.  They came out great.  Now, we are waiting for grandsons Lane and Luke to come and get theirs.