Saturday, November 9, 2013

Steady decline

 It has been a slow week being after being admitted to the hospital.  Changes have been slow and largely for the worse.  My pain has been stable with low and tolerable amounts of pain laying still on my back.  However, the pain greatly increases whenever I have to roll over or move in general.  As long as the nurses are careful and take things slow it isn't too bad.  It mostly affects my lower back, hip, and thighs.  The strange thing is this area is numb and tingly without much sensation.   The worst thing is I have lost the ability to move anything below my waist.  The cause of my pain and loss of sensation is tumor growth along my spine putting pressure on my nerves.  

We discovered the tumor growth after an MRI on Thursday, and so far the docs have treated it with radiation and chemo.  I was able to start radiation right away, and finished up my fifth and final session on Wednesday.  I haven't felt any effects from radiation so far, but it often takes time for it to shrink the tumor.  Radiation has had mixed results in the past with some areas shrinking and some staying the same.  Hopefully the tumor that they targeted in my lower back is radiation sensitive, and I start to see some results soon.  We are also starting a new chemo regimen today which has previously helped a girl whom Van Tine treated who was in a similiar situation.  It consists of three drugs applied together at a low dose.  Van Tine said they seem to work together better than seperately, and the reason to use a low dose of all three is the regular dose would be too toxic.  I received my first dose last night and will get the second and final dose of the round in a week.

Overall, the week has been scary.  I've been confined to bed, and feel like I've switched places with one of my old nursing home residents.  I need assistance with just about everything due to my current paralysis.  I've been catheterized since the docs thought my adomenal pressure and bloating might be due to urine retention.  The initial catheter placement burned quite a bit, but I got used to it within a day or so.  Waking up to find that I am essentially paralyzed from the waist down was one of the most frightening moments of my life.  Espessially when that was combined with the need to be assisted going to number 2.  The worst part of it is that I can still feel the numbness, tingling, and pain in my lower body since I'm not actually paralyzed. 

My time in the hospital has been much easier to deal with than my previous admissions due to the constant contact with my family and friends.  My mom and dad came down right away, and she has been staying here ever since.  My dad had to go home for the week to finish up with harvest, but he came back down with my little sister Tracy this weekend.  My other siblings along with several aunts and uncles have come down over the past two weekends as well.  My friends have also been great with many impromptu visits.  I've also recieved many cards and messages which have brightened my day.  Thank you to everyone who have made this terrible part of my life a little easier.

It is becoming harder to remain optimistic about a cure at this point.  My cancer had proven to be more aggressive and treatment resistant than the typical Ewing's sarcoma at every treatment point.  New tumors keep popping up with every scan.  The periods of normalcy after treatment are becoming shorter as well.  Van Tine tells me to remain patient and that he has seen his patients come back from worse, but he also says that my current prognosis doesn't look good.  I've decided to take each day one at a time awhile ago which has helped me deal with each crisis as they've popped up.  There isn't much I can do besides take the doctor's advice as new problems come along.  I've remained fairly stable over the past few days, so it is hard to say what will happen next.  Hopefully, the chemo will have av effect, and I will be able to get out of bed on my own for another stretch of freedom.  I'll update soon if something dramatic happens.  Thanks as always to everyone pulling for me out there.


  1. Oh, my goodness. What a hard, hard week. Thinking of you all the time.

  2. Sounds terrible, wish you the best, I will try to stop by to visit!

  3. Stay strong Greg and keep hope. So so sorry that it has been so difficult lately. Praying hard and often for you. Sending lots of love from Charleston, and looking forward to hopefully seeing you and Bee around Thanksgiving! Thanks for keeping the blog updated.

  4. Stay strong! We're thinking and praying for you! ~Laura (Anna's friend/labmate)

  5. Hey Greg! It's been a few days since your post - I sure hope the latest zapping has helped you gain some mobility back. So glad to hear that your family has been able to come & stay with you & Anna. You've taught us all reading your blog so much - Thank you for sharing your highs, and even your lows. Here's hoping things are looking up this week, and that the new treatment combo is working. Love & hugs to you & your family from the Texas Abernathy's :)