The plan, it is a hatching…

I am writing this at just about midnight, having just returned home.  Ben was admitted to Surrey Memorial Hospital today due to an obvious deterioration in his condition.  He is finding it difficult to walk (as he mentioned in his previous post) and tends to look like he’s just polished off a 40 of rum when he’s walking.  (Haha.  He’s going to love it when he reads this one!).  So we made it into one of the rooms in Emerg, and Ben just crashed from the pain and the exhaustion:

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But then lovely Nurse Tracy arrived, and she told us all about how she could take the pain away.  Dear, dear Nurse Tracy.  Getting prepped for those pain meds made Ben pretty happy:

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Well, NOW he’s feeling pretty good, so why not get up and make a pit stop so that the whole of Emerg gets a vision of this little number in a short dress….

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There’s my man!  Amazing what some good drugs and cute nurse do for getting a man smiling again.  lol.

So once he got settled in, various people came to check him out.  Three different doctors and a few nurses, and one person who took a lot of blood.  One of the doctors decided to get to know Ben rather intimately and cracked jokes the entire time while doing so.  If I hadn’t been laughing so hard I would have taken a super cute blackmail photo for the blog.

In any case, when all was said and done, we now seem to have a tentative plan.  I believe (but don’t hold me to it) that an attempt will be made tomorrow to get a CT guided biopsy of the metastasized  site.  That will be followed by radiation to zap that bastard tumour out of Ben’s butt.  (haha…he’s also going to love to read that.  He says that other people get ‘cool’ cancers and he gets stuck with ‘ass cancer’).

Dr M (spinal surgeon who is not able to operate) spoke with Dr F in Vancouver (who is the one guy that may be able to operate, if that turns out to be the best option.  I doubt if surgery at that site is the best option, but we’ll see).  In any case, Dr F thinks that the tumour may require a ‘special’ radiation treatment that can only be done in Vancouver.  How fitting that my Unique Ben needs a Unique radiation treatment that requires ongoing commuting to Vancouver.  He just can’t do anything the simple way, my guy.  No normal radiation for him.

Dr F is trying to expedite the biopsy which may be done at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver.  We will find out tomorrow.  It is possible that they will radiate the crap out of that tumour, and then leave it to see what happens (and remove the kidney, of course).  I believe that chemo is a requirement after the kidney has been removed, due to the expectation that some rogue cells may escape during the surgery.  That kind of sucks, but so be it.

So that is pretty much the plan in a nutshell, which I realize is vague at best but a plan nonetheless.  So then we focussed on a little fun like this:

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Yes, that is Beth who flew in from Alberta today to spread the love.  (Look at Ben just revelling in that hug!)

And then there was this:

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As you can see, Ben has perked up a bit after the hug from Beth so he was warmed up for his picture with Zach.  The only one I missed was a picture of Ben and Ryan, who is also over for work and managed to stop in to say hello to Ben.  I was kicking myself afterwards for not getting a picture.  Ryan…if you’re reading this, head back to the hospital so I can get one!

Anyway, thats all we have for now.  He may be moved into Vancouver tomorrow.  We aren’t sure at this point but will let everyone know as soon as we know.

The plan, it is a hatching

Fear not…

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How did I ever get so lucky as to have this bunch of awesomeness around me?  We have certainly had our fair share of challenges, but really….how many people in this vast world would give anything to have what we do?  A lot, I’d venture to guess.  I think all the past challenges were just prepping us for this one….the one where we get to be the rock for once, instead of leaning on Ben.

While I really don’t like that fact that Ben has to go through this fear, and this treatment, I’ll tell you one thing…..I can stand it. For him, I can do anything.  So bring it on….I will definitely not be defeated.  After all Ben has done for us for half of his life, I can certainly withstand this little test for his sake.  So can the kids, because they are Ben’s kids and he taught them well.

Lean on us, love.  We’ve got this one for you.  You’ve only got one job to do, and that is to heal your body.  The rest is up to us and we will not let you down.

FEAR NOT!

Loving you every minute of every day,

Your bride

Doctors, Surgeons, Fighters and Fear

I saw Dr A yesterday. While there is still no concrete plan this is what the rough sketch is looking like.

My leg pain is starting to get worse, as is the numbness in my lower leg. I used to be able to feel my big toe but it’s starting to go numb now. The pain is also getting more pronounced in my right leg from my butt cheek to my knee. I’m starting to walk like a drunk now and almost fell on a guy playing a $3000 guitar at my favourite local music store. Good times.

Dr A said that while the kidney has to come out, the spine must be dealt with first in order to at least control if not stop the tumor growth. Dealt with means being blasted with radiation. Once that is done, the kidney will be removed. Dr A said he is not worried about leaving the kidney in for a little longer.

I also saw Dr B this morning. He said that a surgeon may have to go in and take a look at what’s happening to my spine. A little poke and peek. Apparently I may have an appointment with yet another spine surgeon on Thursday. The tumour on my spine seems to be growing so it’s time to zap it.

That’s it in a nutshell.

So based on how I “slept” last night and how I feel this morning, I will likely be heading to the emergency room tonight.

While trying to get to sleep last night I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts: The Fighter and The Kid. They had Rashad Evans, former UFC LH Champ, as a guest. Their discussions eventually led to how Rashad Evans felt before a fight. He admitted to being afraid and having self-doubt immediately before the fight. They went on to share stories of other fighters feeling the same way. Rashad Evans went on to impart some conversations he’s had with George St-Pierre immediately before his fights. Evans did his best impersonation of GSP and said “ah no my friend, my god I’m a fucking mess. I hate this. This is my last fight. Tabernac de calice. I am done. I can’t stand this shit. I hate this. I fell like my stomach is in knots. I can’t breath.” Brendan Schaub went on to recount one of his experiences with GSP when his coach asked him to keep GSP company before a fight. Schaub did his best impersonation and said “I’m so fucking scared. I’m so fucking nervous!” Well I laughed my head off at their impersonations and was inspired by what they said about my favourite and most respected fighter. Despite having those feeling before every fight, GSP would show up in the octagon, completely composed and ready for battle. And he would win. Again and again and again.

TFATK  GSP

Well here it is. I am also afraid. I’m afraid of having this shit in my body. I’m afraid of being cut open and losing body parts or worse, the doctors finding a lot more cancer than they expected. I am afraid of permanently losing the use of my right leg. I am afraid of the effects of radiation and chemotherapy. I’m afraid of some of the last memories I have of my grandmother and her battle with cancer. I’m afraid of Wendy, Zach, Jaime and Raegan being afraid for me or seeing me in a broken state.

But like any other challenges I’ve faced, I will put my fears aside, face it head on and hope for the best.

Spending Time With The Kids

I had a great day with Zach on Sunday. He finally got a start date for his job but was told he needed his own chef’s knife. I remembered seeing a cooking store that I always wanted to check out in Vancouver, so we went there. Sure enough, they had everything a cooking heart would desire. We picked up a reasonably priced chef’s knife and spent an hour roaming the aisles and looking at all of the other cooking toys. We spent the drive to and from Vancouver listening to one of my favourite podcasts: The Fighter and The Kid. We laughed our heads off. It was fun.

Sunday night Raegan and I decided to go and see the movie Insurgent (part 2 of the Divergent Series). We watch the first one together (Divergent) and enjoyed it so much that we thought Insurgent was worth going to see. I always have a great time with Raegan because she always laughs at my stupid jokes. And let me tell you, I can be pretty stupid. He we are being all gangster with our 3D glasses.

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Next up is Jaime. Yes she got her “L” (learner’s permit) last week. Now she’s always begging to drive. So I indulged her last night and let her drive to Volleyball practice. Raegan was asked by Jaime’s coach to join last night’s practice so I made sure she was strapped in. It was a bit of a harrowing experience but she did ok. Luckily, I have a background in driving instruction (although Wendy doesn’t seem to believe me) and am a patient instructor.

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She does need to work on her parking skills…The back tires are up on the curb!

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All in all, I think I made some pretty awesome kids. Thanks for incubating them for me Wendy!

Thinking Out Loud

I woke up today thinking about Ed Sheeran, of all things.  Well actually, let me back track.  I first woke up staring into the sleeping face of my beloved, with his arm outreached toward me across our king size.  (There’s another story here you should know first …. I have always hated the king size because there is too much room between us, and it comforts me to fall asleep with my foot tucked under Ben’s leg. However, I tend to have cold feet….so it amuses Ben that I have to stretch so far to reach him, and I usually give up and just fall asleep, way over on my side of the bed.)  In any case, this morning I woke up to find him closer to me, with his arm reaching long across the bed towards me, and I was able to wrap my arms around it and snuggle right in.  And thats when Ed Sheeran popped into my head.

Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

And, darling, I will be loving you ’til we’re 70
And, baby, my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Well, me – I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am

So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are

I have loved Ben since I was 22 years old.  Almost from the moment we met.  (To be clear….he totally fell in love with me from the first moment he saw me, but I took a little while to be persuaded.  Regardless, I was head over heels before my 23rd birthday).

I remember, at 23, wondering “how will I know if he is the one for me?”  I wanted to emulate the best marriage I knew at that time (and still know), which is my parent’s marriage.  (49 years and counting for them, but I digress).  Anyway, I fell in love with Ben, and shortly after I turned 23 he was transferred to Gibsons BC while I still remained in the pit of Hell that is the RCMP Training Academy in Regina Saskatchewan.  We said our goodbyes, he moved on, and I continued on with my training.

And then the letters started coming.  Ah … the days where no one had cell phones or email, and a person had to sit down and put pen to paper in order to communicate with someone far away.  Ben wrote me letters about his new posting, and about the city he was living in, and he wrote about how much he missed me and and how he hoped I would be posted out his way once I graduated.  And then … I remember this as if it happened yesterday …  I was sitting in my dorm, looking at the photo of the two of us that I posted under “In The Beginning,” and I thought to myself “If I am lucky enough to get posted out west near Ben, I will always remember how much I love him and miss him right now.  Even when I hate him, I will remember this moment and how much I wish I was with him.”  And that was the exact moment that I knew he was the one for me.  I knew that I could never want to be with anyone as much as I wanted to be with him. That was the real start to our Love Story.

I have carried that moment with me for the last 22 years.  All the times I was frustrated and angry, and wanted to push him out the front door – I always remembered that moment.  Thats the moment I held onto, that reminded me of how much I loved my man, even when I didn’t.

It isn’t hard to love Ben.  I’ve said it before – the words that come to mind when I think of him are steadfast, strong, brave.  He makes me feel safe.  He’s never let me down.  Not over anything important.  Well, to be honest, he lets me down all the time when it comes to not having the dishes done before I come home from work, or forgetting to do some domestic chore that seemed like the most important thing in the world to me.  But never, NEVER over anything that mattered.  He has stood by my side and never faltered, even when I didn’t deserve him.  He’s not a perfect person, but he’s a good person.  He may be the best person I know.  So solid.

We have built a crazy awesome life together!  When I think back to where we started (two young kids with no money and big dreams) and look at where we’ve come (3 beautiful and kind hearted children, family and friends that love us) I am really proud and happy.  You won’t read about us climbing Mt Everest, or traveling the world together (although we will do that, later), but I believe we have done better then most I know.  Because all these years later, we are still each other’s one and only, and that is exactly where both of us want to be.

It is true that sometimes it takes being shaken to the core to really appreciate what you have.  And we are definitely being shaken right now.  But Ben has always appreciated what he has.  He has lived his whole life with a “live in the moment” attitude.  He has lived from a place of gratitude.  We have been through some challenging times, and he has never once asked “why me”?  Instead, every challenge that we were presented he took on as a life lesson he could teach his children. I think he has done an amazing job so far.  The way he loved our son so passionately through the last few years makes my heart flutter.  The way he looks at our girls with such pride and pleasure at having had a hand at shaping their lives brings a tear to my eye.

So, in the words of Ed Sheeran, I will be loving you til we’re 70 (plus another 30).  I have no regrets, because as Ben has taught me, they are a waste of time and you can only look forward.  But I will say that this bump in the road has provided me with a slightly clearer outlook on whats important in life.  And as usual, it is my steadfast, strong, brave man who is teaching me that lesson.

I’m just thinking out loud.

Opinions, Assholes and Uniqueness

I saw Dr M, an orthopedic surgeon, on Thursday. I was told to expect and arrogant and abrupt man but I was pleasantly surprised. He was sympathetic, caring and went out of his way to make phone calls to different oncologists while we waited. Unfortunately, he couldn’t reach anyone.

Here’s the gist of what he had to say. The tumor is located on the right side of my sacrum between L5 and S1. The nerves coming out of those vertebrae and being aggravated by the tumor and that’s why my lower leg is numb and why I feel so much pain in my right leg. The location of the tumor on my spine makes it almost impossible to surgically remove. It is in the sacroiliac joint – where the sacrum joins the pelvis to support the spine. If you cut out that joint, there is nothing to support the spine. He said some other things that Barb wrote down but all I could think of after that is – Fuck! Dr M assured us that he would consult with other specialists and get back to us ASAP.

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See that #3? That’s where my tumor is located. The nerves that come out of the holes above and below the #3 are the one causing me all of the pain and numbness. #5 is the right side of the pelvis.

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Here’s a different view of the entire pelvis and how the sacrum fits in there.

True to his word, Dr M called me the next day (Friday). I had to take a day to digest the “news” before sharing it. Dr M managed to consult with a radiation oncologist named Dr P who said that a tissue diagnosis (biopsy) of the sacrum is required to proceed any further. Dr P was of the opinion that no surgery should be performed and that both tumors should be treated with radiation and chemotherapy to see how they react. Dr M reminded me that Dr A’s opinion was that the kidney had to be removed.

Clearly opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. I just need a plan.

I told Dr M that I had fractured my sacrum in 1995 and have had sacroiliac joint dysfunction since then and ask if the “tumor” could be something else related to that injury. He said “no, it’s definitely a tumor” (so much for that idea). Dr M said he would speak to Dr F, a spine surgeon at VGH, to get his opinion on potential courses of action. He is still working on contacting him. Dr M told me that I was a unique case and that he would continue to try to find an answer. He said he would call me when he had more information.

So, clearly things aren’t as simple as I had hoped. I know I’ve always been different, unique whatever you want to call it. I remember my Mom telling me stories of my birth and how special I was – kind of like a miracle baby, given the difficulties she had with prior pregnancies. There are many stories of my “uniqueness” growing up as well – I won’t bore you with those. Except for this one, which my friends remind of every season: I grew up French Canadian and I don’t like and have never played ice hockey. WTF!? Yup, its true.

Just this once, I would like to not be unique.