Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hurry Up! ...and Wait...

We got to the hospital around 11:30am today (Friday), and Billy was conked out.  Actually, he was wiped out for most of the day.  It turns out that there were a few issues last night—a blood clot in his port, waiting on doctors for orders for the anti-coagulant, and waiting for the anti-coagulant to kick in so the clot would go away.  It meant halting the flow of the chemo for a while, and then starting it up again.  Needless to say, Billy didn’t sleep much last night, so he was extra-sleepy today.

In the middle of all of this, we’re all getting tired—or maybe it’s just me.    When I’m tired, frustrating things seem even more frustrating, and funny comments make me laugh for a long time.  There were a few humorous moments today.  I’m going to attempt to capture them—but it’s hard to deliver the punch line well when so much of the humor comes from facial expressions and voice inflections.

Earlier this afternoon, one of the nurses was in the room, trying to help us figure out why the bottoms of Billy’s feet were a particular color.  He had just gotten back from a walk (yay!), and the bottoms of his feet were a dark reddish purple.  “I think it’s the chemo,” the nurse said.  “He’s on ‘something’ and ‘such-and-such’ and 5FU…”  In the middle her sentence, Billy interrupted.  “Wait.  What’d you call me?”  It took the nurse a minute, and then she realized he was messing with her.  In the middle of serious situations, his wit comes out, and everyone laughs. 

The conversation continued.  “There’s a side effect of chemo,” the nurse said.  “It’s called hand and foot.”  Again, Billy interrupted.  “So you’re telling me I’m going to get mad cow disease?”  Again, we laughed.  He delivers his jokes with such dead-pan humor.  His face says he’s completely serious.  There’s no hint of a smile.  He delivers the joke.  It takes us a minute.  We all laugh, and his face turns up in a grin.

Billy, on a walk with army buddies Trevor (left) and Chris (right).

At the same time, the day was a bit frustrating.  Billy still isn’t able to keep liquids down, so the medical team wants to figure out if there are any blockages in his GI tract.  They want to do an MRI.  However, MRIs use magnets to produce images, so if there is any metal in a patient’s body, an MRI isn’t a good idea.  Billy got hit with some shrapnel during the war in Iraq, so he did have some metal in his body for a while.  He thinks it’s all out now, but the physician wants to make sure before we get an MRI.  So we need x-rays.

As preparations were being made for those things, we started to notice some swelling in Billy’s right leg and foot.  The nurses were concerned about a blood clot, so they sent Billy down to the 3rd floor for an ultrasound.  The procedure felt like it took forever.  I think they took him downstairs at 7pm.  He didn’t come back until 9:30 or so.  And that was just the ultrasound.  He still had the x-rays and MRI to have done.

I’ll spare you all the details.  The summary is:  the process was utterly frustrating.  I think we’re all getting tired (Billy especially), and the inefficiency of things sometimes feels like too much.  Tonight, Billy was really tired.  And he had to wait for 30-45 minutes for a nurse to come and move all of his machines from the transport rack to the “Christmas tree” (the rolling stand that holds the IVs), so he could lay down and go to sleep.  We finally said good night to him around 12:30am.  And he still hadn’t had his x-rays (though the nurse said that the x-ray tech would be coming tonight to take the pictures).  Frustrating.  Especially when you’re really tired, you have a tube down your throat, and there’s lots of stuff blocking your throat.

Update on Moving
We’re still working on moving to Walter Reed—but there are no conclusive plans yet.  It sounds like we won’t be moving this weekend.  Hopefully, it will happen early next week.  We’ll keep you posted.

Some Ways to Pray
  • The first round of chemo is done!  Pray for it to knock out a lot of the cancer.
  • An efficient transfer to Walter Reed.  Also, that Billy’s body would handle the move well and not be too drained.
  • A place for my family to stay near the hospital in D.C. (assuming we go to Walter Reed).
  • Billy has an NG (Nasal Gastric) tube in his nose and down his throat.  It helps to deal with his nausea, and the fluid building up in his stomach.  However, the tube doesn’t seem to be working right.  It causes a lot of discomfort, and makes breathing difficult at times.  Pray that we’d figure out what’s wrong, and that the tube/suction would start working right. 
  • Rest and good health.  It’s hard to rest.  There’s a lot going on.  But we’re all tired.  Billy needs us to be healthy, because the chemo is going to attack his white blood cells (as well as the cancer), and we need to be healthy when we’re around him. 
  • That Billy’s intestines/bowels would start working again—and that he’d eventually be able to eat food again. 

Thanks again for your prayers!


  1. Hi Chelle! My name is Ben Hickman and I know Will from Ft Rucker. Nate Neal is a good friend of mine and I met "Cooter" through him.Thank you for keeping us updated on his condition.I check your blog religiously several times a day to make sure I don't miss anything!

    To my point... I know the move to Walter Reed is still up in the air but I have a suggestion for your housing situation in DC. Have you ever heard of The Fisher House? They are a private/public parternership that provides a place for families of servicemembers to stay while their loved one is hospitalized for illness or injury. The best part is that the cost is ZERO for the family members! Eligibility is determined by the facility commanders but all you need to do is contact the manager of the one in DC. I dont know a ton about the progran but all the info you need(FAQs, contact info, etc) can be found at Hopefully this can at least offset some of the costs of what you guys are dealing with. Tell Will that the Hickmans said hello and know that my family prays for yours every day.

  2. As always, Will and family, you are in my thoughts and prayers. All day long. ♥


  3. Ah yes, 5FU. Great fodder for comedy. :) Tell Billy I'm impressed.

  4. Ben...Thank you for the information. I'll pass along the message to my brother.


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