Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Most Bitter Pill of All

Lee Ann here:
Terry has been out of the hospital for more than a month, resting at home in hopes of getting better. We have been tending to him with healthy meals, medications, massage, and lots of good conversation.

It's been a busy month for the whole family. Terry's parents stayed until the 22nd (a generous gift of six weeks!) and have made a quick trip home to OKC. They will return soon. Dale and Jace are rushing toward the end of the school year, in the flurry of activities that signifies the approaching summer.

On May 16, Terry kissed Dale goodbye as he left for his first official high school prom, donning a brand new tuxedo. Dale wore his father's cummerbund, cuff links, braces, and bow tie (the real thing, of course). Our elder son looked like a young James Bond! --Pictured here with Terry's mom, Joan

Jace and Ed (Terry's dad) took a tour of the Indianapolis Colts practice facility recently, thanks to a connection through my brother, Jay. They saw Peyton Manning's locker, stood behind the media podium, and posed on the practice field. They returned home bearing horseshoe goody bags for everyone. Terry loved looking at the photos and hearing about the tour, taken on the hallowed ground of his beloved Blue.

We have all been doing our part to make Terry comfortable and nurse him back to health. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, Terry deteriorates a bit more each day. He is still the loving, funny man that I fell in love with 23 years ago, but the light is leaving his beautiful eyes. He gets confused frequently and his memory is failing. Also the verbal zingers Terry is famous for have become few and far between.

We have adapted our living room to accommodate Terry's hospital bed where he spends his days; at night, I sleep in a trundle bed next to him. The fog that surrounds him is so very frustrating and it breaks my heart to see him founder this way. He sleeps the vast majority of the day and struggles through his limited waking moments with his typical courage and good humor.

Terry's oncologist has determined that the symptoms Terry is experiencing signify that the tumor continues to grow rapidly and there is nothing more to be done to combat his cancer. The nurse service that we use now to monitor his health and control his pain concurs. They all feel that we have limited time left.

So we
try to respond as best we can to his needs and requests and embrace each moment. This morning when he woke up, he wanted champagne; so we popped open a bottle, poured it into a flute (do it up right), and he enjoyed a glass of the bubbly. There's very little I'll deny him now...

And while I write these words with an unbelievably heavy heart, I know that you all have been with us every step of the way and we don't feel alone. Terry's family, my family, our neighbors and friends have been and continue to be a tremendous source of strength to the four of us. Terry was always so grateful to have so many people care about his fight for health. It has been humbling to see the outpouring of concern. Thank you for all of your encouragement, love, and unfaltering faith during this two-year roller coaster.

You should know that, months ago, Terry wrote the last entry for this blog and saved it on this computer. I've never peeked at it, nor will I.

But, when the time comes, that will be the next entry you read here--from the Melonthumper, himself.


Lee Ann

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Update from The Harper Homestead

Lee Ann here. I thought it was time to give you all an update on Terry since he was discharged from the hospital on April 21. (and Terry was nice enough to grant me blogging rights)

He has been resting at home fairly comfortably, with no pain from the pancreatitis. His blood tests have shown that the platelet count has returned to normal ranges and that's a good thing. And doctors have determined that the pancreatitis was due to the drug therapy only so no gallbladder surgery will be necessary; also a good thing. However, the team of doctors overseeing his case have deemed it unsafe for Terry to continue taking the Sutent since it dislikes his pancreas so. Very disappointing news, of course.

The thread of irony that has followed us through so much of the last 22 months-plus continues on: We've found a drug that shrinks your brain tumor but you can't have it!

So, moving on, we have started another (fourth!) chemotherapy. It is easy to take (pills morning and night) and the side effects have been minimal. He is eating real food again with a low-fat/low-cholesterol slant to appease his pancreas. Despite the myriad of menu items he can't eat, he's been a real trooper and a great patient.

Terry is still pretty wiped out from his April from Hell: a month of hospitalizations, pain, and medications. For the time being, he will stay at home to focus on getting stronger and healing. Terry's parents (Ed and Joan) have continued to help us and will be here until late May. They must get back to OKC to address the lives they left behind there when we called them and they came running. I'll say it again: God bless Grandparents.

Terry has entertained a few visitors: his brothers Tim (from DC) and Dave (from OKC), his Aunt Pat (from FL), and Uncle Mike (the surgeon from OH). Chicago friends Shane and Michelle came to town for the Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon as well. He received at least 40 birthday cards on April 30 to celebrate his 45th year. His Facebook page was jumping with birthday greetings too. All good wishes (personal, paper, and virtual) were most appreciated.

Some lessons that Terry has shared from his most recent experiences, since we all know how wise he is: sleep is a really good thing; pain is a really bad thing; daytime television sucks.

Words to live by...

More soon. And thank you for all your encouragement and support.

Lee Ann