Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hello all! It has been quite a while since our last family update...

I honestly feel very conflicted about using this page because it has so many emotions attached to it and has gone so long as a blank spot despite the fantastic adventures that we have all been on since the original inception of this blog. Please do not misunderstand. We have lived a very full and exciting life of blessings that I once feared would never be able to happen. At some point, I promise to share as many of those moments with you all as possible so that you can see how much we have made it our mission as a family to live life to its fullest whenever possible. That being said, I am not coming back here and reinstituting this update lightly. All of the wonderful people that love, support, and make up our family are what drive this growing necessity to create a home base of sorts for obtaining updates and information about the most current series of events.

Last year Dad began having some dental issues and pursued the issue with his dentist, who has gone above and beyond and ultimately led to our discovery of a stage 4 Oral Cavity Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Dad's left jaw tissue, bone, surrounding nerves, and a lymph node. This was obviously not in "the plan" so to speak and has us all spinning just a bit more off kilter than we would like on a daily basis. He is, however, a battling sort of man and has a burning love for his family and life and has agreed to be the patient instead of the healer (some days more agreeably than others). As a result, he went in for surgery in the spring. Under the care of our fabulous friends at Maricopa Integrated Health System and the doctors, nurses, and so many other wonderful people that somehow continue to save us, he underwent a mandibular surgery which removed a little under half of the left side of  his jaw. The surgery was very successful and is virtually impossible to detect from the exterior. Dad took the summer to heal, travel, and recuperate. Despite the large margins, however, there was still affected area to be dealt with. After extensive testing and review by Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, it was decided that the best course of treatment would be seven weeks of radiation and chemo to clear him. Both Dad and Mom are currently living most weeks (M-F) in a condo near the hospital to make transitions as easy as possible for both of them.

His first treatments began mid-July and overall he was probably eating and drinking in a more healthy manner than he has in years. Those that are at all familiar with his medical history know that Dad struggled for many years as a Type II Diabetic and eventually underwent Gastric Bypass in the early 2000s. Though this enabled him to discontinue insulin supplementation, relieved sleep apnea, and increased nerve regrowth, he has continued to struggle with the balancing act of eating and nourishing his body to the level that it requires. This struggle has somehow managed to rear its head in his current situation as it is imperative that he consume a minimum of 3,000 calories per day in order to appropriately nourish his healing,"chemo-ed," radiated, body. Given the very small size of his stomach and the already difficult task of eating in general, this had been quite the undertaking.

Mom, the problem solver that she is, jumped to action with her Ninja Blender and has blended up the most delicious (yes, I have tried them), healing, and caloric powerhouse meals that could come in liquid-ish form. Despite their constant efforts to stay on top of this massive daily goal, we managed to come across a few speed bumps in the road. Dad, due to his waning immune system, contracted a bout of Thrush which made his already painful mouth and throat beyond capable of eating his required caloric and liquid intake. In a little under two weeks dad lost a significant amount of weight. As we seem to like this whole concept of unique medical conditions, the solution to this is not as simple as it might seem for Dad.

His daily (M-F) radiation treatments require a very closely fitted mask that enables the most accurate and efficient treatment of his impacted region. Continued weight loss beyond what has already reached would impact his radiation treatments and is not an option. If things were simple, he would have had the quick procedure of inserting a feeding tube to get him on track and be on his way.  As we've already established, we are a unique sort and this is just not how things seem to pan out. Due to the aforementioned Gastric Bypass, dad was admitted Wednesday morning to have a feeding tube surgically placed in the remaining stomach that he has left. This procedure is much (and feels much like) like a C-Section. The procedure will allow him to maintain weight and prevent further loss from which he would not be able to recover. The surgery was successful, though it has left him in some additional pain and mom spinning in a few more circles.

We are filling as many buckets with optimism as possible for the coming weeks that will lead to the light at the end of Dad's tunnel and hope that you can help us to do so by keeping him in your thoughts and prayers. He is the most incredible spark in our lives and right now he just needs a bit more fuel to keep him glowing.