Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The photo at right is from Terry's February night out with his boys--Ed (Terry's dad), Jace, John, Shane and Ron. These great friends came to Indy to enjoy a night of red meat, stories, and Maker's Mark. Cheers to the boys!

This update is coming to you courtesy of Terry's blushing bride, Lee Ann.

To complete research for our upcoming book, "Emergency Rooms of America," Terry and I traveled to Bethesda, Md. We presented ourselves as a man with a brain tumor experiencing agonizing abdominal pains and his very concerned wife.

We're quite certain that by sharing our experiences in literary form, we will provide valuable insight to that guy with a gash needing stitches at 2 in the morning or that gal with a migraine on Memorial Day.

OK, maybe not. This is how the events of the last two weeks have unfolded, Reader's Digest-style.

We flew into Baltimore on Monday, April 6, looking forward to our NIH appointment to learn the results of the first round of Sutent. There had been some disruption in the medication schedule, due to blood pressure issues, so we were a little anxious about the visit.

However, what had begun as abdominal discomfort for Terry at 12:30 pm became sheer and utter torment by 5:30 pm, leaving him writhing and moaning on our deluxe king-size bed at the Hyatt Regency. So, armed with info from the NIH, we headed to Suburban Hospital's ER to address the stabbing pain that kept him flat on his back.

Unfortunately, it was a surprisingly busy night in the metropolis and so took three hours to be seen, and another two hours to get pain medication. Terry joked that I was a few minutes and one more polite ask away from channeling Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment ("Give my daughter the shot!!")

After a CT scan and lots of poking and prodding, the doctors determined he was suffering from acute pancreatitis. The doctors at the NIH confirmed that this complication was a rare but possible side-effect of the Sutent. By 3 am, Terry was resting comfortably (thank you, Dilaudid, pain medicine of the gods) and I was relieved to hear him joking again.

Over the course of the next three days, Terry was given lots of fluids, less and less pain medication, and more solid foods. By the time he was discharged on Thursday afternoon, we were encouraged about his pancreas. I mean, who really thinks about it, until it hurts like hell.

On Friday 4/10, we completed the majority of our previously scheduled appointments at the NIH and headed to the Neurology Clinic to await time with the doctors and review the results. We learned from our good friends there that Terry had experienced the greatest results so far on the Sutent trial. His scans showed a dramatic difference from a month ago. We were speechless, dumbfounded even.

We headed home that evening (esctatic and exhausted) and Terry took it easy for the weekend. He stayed home on Monday too; I assumed he was just wiped out from the anxiety of pain and the anticipation of results of our NIH visit. We'd followed the new diet (low fat, low cholesterol) to the letter but he was eating a lot less than normal. Unfortunately, Monday evening, I came home to find him frozen by pain and we were off to the ER once more.

The current diagnosis is more of the same. The pancreas does not like the Sutent and we must treat it with a great deal of TLC. For the time being, Terry will continue to push pain meds and drink clear fluids at IU Hospital (in downtown Indianapolis). The hope is that after a few more days, they will help the pancreas heal itself and the pain will be gone. He's a very good patient, cracking jokes with the nurses and complimenting their stellar patient care.

Luckily, Terry's parents are here now and helping us tremendously. Thank Heaven for grandparents. And thank you for all your support through the trials and tribulations of Terry (another book!). Seriously, we genuinely believe that your prayers and positive energy keep us going.

PS Terry was discharged from IU Hospital on Tuesday, 4/21. For now the pancreatitis seems to be calmed however his body is not recovering well. They tell us that the biggest issue now is the low platelet count (the thing your bone marrow produces). He cannot have any surgery to address the pancreatitis, nor take the Sutent, until that improves dramatically. Blood tests tomorrow 4/23 will tell us if that is happening. We visit with the oncologist next week.

More soon.

Keep those cards and letters (and blog comments) coming. We'll read them all to Terry and he loves the show of affection (such a ham!).

Lee Ann