Archive for April 2013

Two Steps Forward, One Step Backward

April 14, 2013

Bonnie & Louis in India(The picture accompanying this update is from when Bonnie and I were guests of honor a child’s birthday party in India one year.)

Sometimes Bonnie’s recovery from surgery seems a little bit like “two steps forward, one step backward.” The day began with a surprise as Bonnie got out of bed by herself for the first time in 11 days. She didn’t even raise herself up with the power bed to help her sit first.

Shortly thereafter, though, a doctor came by and examined her incision. He found it reddened and puffy with liquid underlying the surface. Hence, he extracted two staples and proceeded to clean the wound deep inside. He concluded by stuffing the wound with gauze and giving instructions for it to be changed three times daily. The incision was pre-infection, but the inflammation and pooling was the suspected reason for Bonnie’s low-grade fever for the past few days. The doctor also ordered an antibiotic to be added to her IV. Bonnie had not used the self-applied pain medicine to her IV during the night, but she has had to use it several times today.

Bonnie went on a little trip this morning while Rebecca and I were absent for Bible class and worship. She had mentioned a tingling or numbness on one of her legs below the knee. Erring perhaps on the side of caution, I alerted a nurse. While Rebecca and I were away, Bonnie was taken downstairs for an ultrasound of the area in question to ensure her safety. She probably felt toward me similarly as I felt two weeks ago when she marched me into a doctors’ offices concerning spots on my back – which turned out to be nothing of concern. Still, we are looking out for each other.

On the plus side, Bonnie was permitted to take her first shower (with help) since she came into the hospital. You can only imagine how pleasant Bonnie found that, especially having the opportunity to wash her long hair, too.

Bonnie has been scheduled tentatively to be discharged from the hospital on Monday sometime. However, her regular doctor, Copeland, will be back tomorrow, and he will have to reevaluate her condition and advise us accordingly before we will know whether Bonnie will be discharged tomorrow.

Rebecca was here Friday night through this afternoon. On her way home, she bought some groceries and other items for our house in anticipation of our return. In addition, she watered our flowers and changed one of the beds prior to the arrival of good friends and brethren from Ohio; Martha Noland will help take care of Bonnie for a week or so, for which we are thankful.

At Bible class and worship at the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ this morning, Rebecca and I received much encouragement from brethren, which we convey as well to Bonnie. We are heartily grateful for all forms of encouragement and handholding that we continue to receive from near and far. Our God is good, and He has many wonderful children who have showed us kindnesses.

One Day Closer to Home, More Thresholds Crossed

April 12, 2013

Several events moved Bonnie closer to home today. First, she seemed to have rested better last night. The sun was shining this morning, as opposed to the gloomy rain the day before, and the sun, too, may have helped lift her spirits. Having received additional pain medicine, the new pain that threatened to derail her physical progress dissipated overnight. Bonnie is running a low-grade fever, but a chest X-ray today confirmed that her lungs are free of infection.

This evening, Bonnie’s feeding tube was disconnected (she will retain the tube plus an additional tube upon going home until some future doctor’s visit). In addition, another tube and bag were completely removed. She still has an IV through a PICC Line; the IV may leave, too, over the weekend, but the PICC Line will not be removed until time of discharge. Physical therapy discharged Bonnie today, and she will need to continue on her own the walks in the hallway twice a day to maintain and increase her strength. Finally, Bonnie has resumed eating regular food – a little bit anyhow. I’ve saved the best for last; Bonnie may get to go home maybe Sunday, but at least by sometime Monday – as long as there are no setbacks.

Bonnie is still taking multiple breathing treatments daily, which are strenuous. She is also exhausted from all the goings on today, besides having extra discomfort and soreness from removing a drain tube tonight. Nevertheless, she is resting happily in bed, Rebecca newly arrived again for the weekend and I keeping her company.

Yesterday, a hospital volunteer delivering mail said Bonnie received the most mail for the day. We are thankful for the cards (coming to the hospital and at home), the phone calls, the visits, the emails, the texts and the personal visits. Even more so, we are thankful for the prayers, moral encouragement and monetary gifts to help us through these trying times. God has richly blessed us through His children scattered throughout the states and the world. To God be the glory.

Thursday, April 11 Report

April 11, 2013

Until today, Bonnie and I have observed daily recovery from her surgery for pancreatic cancer. Yesterday, she walked further and more often in the hallways than previous days. Bonnie spent little time in bed on Wednesday. Yesterday’s little victories included the removal of three more plastic appendages protruding from or hanging off her body.

However, late yesterday and so far today, instead of lessening, Bonnie’s pain is increasing. Proportionate to the pain, she will move less than on previous days. Proportionate to the pain, an already difficult night’s sleep is even less restful. Increased pain has resulted in an additional pain medicine prescription and advice to take it easy today. Any lack of daily progress forestalls her return home from the hospital and subsequent chemotherapy weeks from now. It is not difficult to become frustrated under these conditions; Bonnie is fearful that she will regress whenever she does not move forward in her recovery.

Nevertheless, there are some little thresholds of victory even today that we have crossed. Beginning today, Bonnie is allowed to consume liquids: broth, tea, juices and Jell-O. Even stairways usually have a landing somewhere along the way, and a temporary plateau may not be so bad after all.

Emails, texts, some phone calls, some visitors and several get-well cards have made their way to Bonnie’s room, for which we are ever so grateful. Some have provided lots of snacks, too. One family took some laundry home, washed it, pressed it and brought it back to me. Again, we are thankful and appreciative of all that brethren and friends have done and are doing for us these past few days.

Apparently, I made a one digit error in a former post when citing the address of the hospital. Bonnie is at Baptist Health Systems, Room# 5736, 1225 North State St., Jackson, MS 39202. You may contact me by text or voice at 662-739-3035 or email me at rushmore@gospelgazette.com. You can contact Bonnie by text or voice at 662-283-9946 or email her at bonnie@gospelgazette.com.

Oncology Doctor

April 8, 2013

Bonnie & Louis Sharing a Chocolate MaltI apologize for making two updates in the same day. (However, I did not make any report yesterday; maybe that will make two updates today all right.) Unexpectedly, our oncology doctor came to the room today; this was the first time we have met. Yesterday, brother Chris Bates, who is a cancer survivor from similar cancer, recommended Dr. Tammy Young. All we did was indicate to our surgeon Dr. Edward Copeland of our desire to stay with doctors associated with Baptist Health Systems (the hospital where we are now) and specifically mentioned Dr. Young.

Dr. Young came to us with a congenial personality, caringly and armed with final information from the pathology report. Bonnie has stage 3 pancreatic cancer. The cancer has escaped the pancreas into Bonnie’s nerves at the pancreas and into Bonnie’s lymph nodes. Surgery was extensive and removed discernible cancer. However, surgery alone will not result in a cure; this type of cancer characteristically returns. Therefore, about six weeks from now, Bonnie will been chemotherapy for six months. One day a week for three weeks, she will go to Jackson, MS for an infusion intravenously. The fourth week will be a respite from chemo. This cycle will continue throughout the treatment.

One Day at a Time

April 8, 2013

Sunday was an eventful day, according to Bonnie. Rebecca and I left for an anticipated three hours for Bible class, worship and lunch; we worshipped with the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ in Jackson, MS. We were warmed with encouragement for Bonnie during this medical trial. As it turned out, we were gone for five hours!

While we were gone, Bonnie sat in a chair for an hour – not big deal you might think, but tell that to her. She had her hospital sponge bath, and her dressings were changed. One small victory was when the tube through her nasal passage to her stomach was taken out. Bonnie still has numerous tubes and devices attached to her, and every time one more goes away, it is another significant threshold before she can be homeward bound. Last but not least, while Rebecca and I were away, Bonnie had installed a picline to receive anything intravenously and from which to draw blood; her veins never cooperate, and her arms are bruised from turning her into a pincushion. So, the picline is a good thing; it goes from just below her shoulder in her right arm into her chest.

Monday morning Bonnie sat in a chair for two hours. Later in the morning, a physical therapist took her for a walk down the hallway and back. I have been advised (threatened) not to take pictures. I think she is beautiful no matter how many tubes and machines she has collected, but naturally, she doesn’t feel that way. The worst part of the ordeal that we take for granted (i.e., sitting or walking) is to get back into bed. Her incisions, and she has several, no longer seep blood, and she has the shiniest staples!

Later today, Bonnie wants to get out of bed and sit so she can rest her back before lying on her back for the night. Her back pain tries to compete with the pain resulting from surgery. While out of the bed, her bed will be traded in for another one because the current bed is missing a bolt in a part of the bed that flexes.

We have not seen the oncologist yet, but the surgeon has discussed Bonnie’s case with the oncologist. The pathology report indicates that the cancer has escaped the pancreas and is in the nerves of the pancreas. We do not know the details yet, but it is beginning to look like Bonnie will take chemo pills and possibly radiation as well; we will speak to that more after consultation with the appropriate medical professionals.

Rebecca will return to the hospital after work on Friday. Our son Ray also called today. Our youngest son Robert called Rebecca on Thursday. We continue to receive calls, emails, texts and visits. The emails come from across the planet; Bonnie is sorely missed and loved by brethren in Asia and South America as well as Stateside. The first two cards through the mail arrived today, also.

Bonnie is too weak to take phone calls personally, and though we like visitors to come, that can be very tiring on her, too. There is a constant flurry of activity with about 10 people attending to Bonnie at one time or another and in one way or another per shift. The facilities are excellent, and the care is proficient, gentle and friendly. Add to that the wonderful encouragement and prayers by fellow Christians the world over, and it all helps us to make the best of a difficult time. Bonnie’s body is battered, and her morale is conflicted (and I, too, am on this emotional rollercoaster), but we have greater rather than less confidence and trust in our God as ever before. We simply request of God a little time yet to serve Jesus Christ; we do not believe that we are done yet, and we are the most able to serve in a meaningful way than ever before in our lives. In any case, though, may the will of God be done!

Bonnie’s Update (Saturday, April 6)

April 6, 2013

Baptist Medical CenterAbout 2 p.m. CST, Bonnie was moved from SICU to a regular room (#5736) at Baptist Health Systems, 1224 North State St., Jackson, MS 39202. Bonnie is not up to receiving personally phone calls, emails or texts just yet. However, you may continue to contact me especially by text (662-739-3035) or email at rushmore@gospelgazette.com. You can still contact Bonnie by text (662-283-9946) or email at bonnie@gospelgazette.com, though she may not respond until she begins to feel some improved.

A few moments ago, Bonnie started receiving “food” (aside from IV’s) through a feeding tube. If her stomach doesn’t object by resulting in nausea, then tomorrow she can begin taking some clear liquids. Just now, she began a breathing treatment with medicine in it. Shortly, Bonnie will resume some breathing exercises.

My dear wife still experiences a high level of pain and is on a morphine pump. Though awake more, she is exhausted and drifts off to sleep and back. She did not awake fully from the anesthesia during surgery on Thursday until 3 p.m. on Friday. Overall, Bonnie is progressing well for what she has been through, to the extent that she is responding beyond doctor’s expectations. Still, we anticipate about 10 days of hospital stay, before returning to Winona, MS for further recovery from surgery. We will have to excuse her from warehouse duty for some time to come in the World Evangelism Building even when she feels well enough to grace us with her presence at the office.

When I resume my weekend appointments, Bonnie will not be able to travel with me. Other dates and activities weeks or even months ahead of us will be reassessed closer to time for them. In the weeks ahead, we with doctors will agree upon a form of oncological treatment.

We covet your prayers and moral encouragement. We continue to appreciate the well wishes coming to us via personal visits, emails, texts and phone calls from throughout the States and across the globe. Thank you.

Surgery Day

April 4, 2013

Baptist Hospital Jackson, MSAs I write this, it is a little after 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 4th. Bonnie is resting comfortably in Surgical ICU (SICU). She is sedated and medicated, and she is asleep. Bonnie was not awakened after surgery, but taken directly to SICU and will be permitted to gradually wake up on her own. In addition, she is on a ventilator to make it easier to breathe following a lengthy surgery. The purpose of the sedation is to permit her to sleep through the discomfort of tubes, pain and ventilation, as well so that Bonnie will not remember this part of her ordeal. She is restrained gently, too, for her own protection along with the sedation to lessen the likelihood of her instinctively attempt to remove ventilation and tubing.

All of this follows a six-hour surgery when a three and a half hour procedure was anticipated. Bonnie and I arrived at about 5:45 a.m. at Baptist Hospital in Jackson, MS. At 7:45 a.m. Bonnie was taken into surgery. Surgery began at 8:29 a.m. and continued until 2:30 p.m. Rebecca and I have visited Bonnie briefly twice in SICU, and we will be staying the night in the waiting room.

Surgery included cutting into Bonnie’s stomach, intestine, pancreas and bile duct. The goal of the surgery was to remove an unidentified linear mass in her bile duct. Much of her pancreas has been removed, as well as part of her bile duct and part of her intestine. It has been confirmed that Bonnie has cancer, but as far as we know all discernible cancer has been removed. In a few days, a pathologist will notify us of the type of cancer involved, which will determine the type of treatment to be pursued weeks from now after Bonnie recovers from the surgery.

Bonnie will probably remain in SICU for at least today and tomorrow before being moved to a room. Overall, Bonnie will remain in the hospital from eight to ten days. Weeks later, she should begin to feel somewhat back to normal. Weeks later, she may be able to travel with me for weekend appointments. She will miss her speaking part in the upcoming India Mission Conference later this month.

Last night, Bonnie and I stayed with brother and sister Andrew Dulaney following meeting with the surgeon yesterday and undergoing preadmission registration and procedures. Several brethren from various congregations have visited us in the hospital throughout the day. In addition, we continue to receive phone calls, texts and emails from throughout the country and across the globe. We appreciate the moral encouragement and prayers.