Saturday, December 15, 2007

Come closer, Pull my Finger

Well, this would certainly not be a candidate for the "most-favored-week" status. Dennis has been experiencing increasing pain for the past few weeks, with the return of the "designer jaundice" yellow we have all come to know and love. So the doctors up at Huntsman assumed that his stent had become blocked or had slipped out of place. It was agreed that the condition needed to be remedied with a procedure known in "DOC TALK" as an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) This procedure was performed Thursday morning.

And the results are:
"DOC TALK": A biliary stricture was found in the bile duct with occluded and distally migrated stent.
"DOC TALK" INTERPRETATION: The stent had become blocked AND had slipped out of place. So they put in a new stent. The good news is that it was assumed the stent slipped out of place because we're radiating the @#%&$ out of the little #%$&@* and it has been shrinking. Dr. Wills came in after the ERCP to explain what had just taken place. It was all a little confusing to the Clot, so Dr. Wills, in an effort to help us better understand, drew a picture of a banana. Erin immediately remarked, "So this is my Dad's brain...on bananas?" Thank goodness Dr. Wills is a friend of the Clot, and understands the concept of people unclear on the concept. However, in an attempt at clarification, he began to speak louder. He was operating under the assumption that by turning up the decibels, he could turn up the comprehension. We all nodded in synchronized unison, and after he left, we went to the cafeteria for bananas!

The bad news is it took some rather powerful narcotics before the pain subsided, during which time the doctors were considering admitting Dennis to the hospital over-night. But eventually the discomfort began to diminish. Apparently Dr. Wills had injected a fair amount of air to open up the ducts during the ERCP, and it was this air that was the cause of the pain and belly distention.

At one point, as the nurses and the Clot were surrounding his bed, Dennis motioned us closer indicating he had something to tell us. Of course, we all bent closer to hear what he had to say. We were not sure if he was going to give us the answer to the meaning of life or simply utter,"Rosebud!" When we were all bent down with our ears as close to his mouth as possible, he said, "Tylenol...Ibuprofen...on!" This was punctuated by a prolonged expulsion of the air that had inflated his midsection.

Well, there was a great eruption of laughter from the group, as you might expect. Even the nurses were laughing. Dennis apologized for committing such a social faux pas as flagrant flatulance, but Brodi reassured him, "That's music to our ears. We've been dying to hear that!" And Dennis, with his dry wit, replied, "And now you're just dying!" Well, once again the door to the Ashton room had to be closed to protect the other patients from the disruption of uncontrolled laughter. However, when we were able to get ourselves under control, we began toying with the idea of making a film based on his biography and calling it, "Citizen Dennis!"

Dennis only has 7 more treatments to go before completing this round of chemo and radiation. And then we can hang up the fufu bag for a while and work on getting some chubbies on him. We wouldn't call him scrawny (at least to his face). But his face is quite chiseled, and his bones are pretty well-defined. But his spirit is fat, bordering on obese, and he is determined to finish the treatments...and eat. This he will do.

The infusion process has afforded us some rare time for observation and reflection. Our fellow infusees are an interesting amalgam of ethnic, age, gender, economic, religious, political and emotional diversity. No one chose to be here. Not one wouldn't rather be somewhere else...anywhere else. No one hasn't had their life thrown into tumultuous upheaval by circumstances unbidden and random.

Each one endures daily bodily invasions and a spaghetti bowl of tangled lines, wires, tubes and needles. Each is tied, tethered, trussed, connected, lassoed, and bound. No one is doing it for the thrill factor, or to test the limits to which they can tempt the fates. Nor are they wearing flashy rhinestone-studded costumes entertaining the masses with risky and "death-defying" stunts against a back-drop of pyrotechnics. No, they simply sit with consummate calm and composure, and confront their own mortality. This is rather rarified company we are in. And perhaps this is why our family feels the spirit of Christmas so much this year.

Perhaps that was the destiny of the Bethlehem Baby so long be born, to die, to be resurrected, and to ultimately confront our mortality. So, while no one will ever receive the media notoriety of the dare-devils, every one is definitely worthy of Superman jammies!

Merry Christmas.

The Clot
P.S We had some surprise Carolers a few days ago, and it was the sweetest music we've ever heard!


duff said...

Hi to all of you--I have read every post and am so grateful to be able to be kept up to date. My family is praying for you all and waiting for the day we can get back to business--CANCER BE GONE! Joanie I new you were brilliant, but honestly you should write a book. I love you all and will get over sometime for a visit. I have tried twice to post a comment and for what ever reason it didn't make it--so here goes again. I love you Dennis, Joan, Brodi and Erin----Deanna

the4ofusut said...

Although in the outside world the release of "air" is deemed un-couth, we have learned that there are times that it is truly something to be celebrated - so congratulations on the wonderful moment! After a ruptured appendix and a ruptured spleen (of course both Brandon!) our family have cheered to hear the resounding noise - and when living in a house of all boys it is a sound that I don't often cheer for! We miss you and pray for you and your family every day. Thank you so much for the wonderful updates on our favorite doc - we want you back ASAP!

Dan, Stephanie, Brandon and Nick Urry