Just yesterday Billy had mentioned both the need and desire to pay some of his bills. I knew Michelle had worked with Billy after he got out of ICU to get some financial matters sorted through and taken care of, but Billy was still very sick from his infection, and they could only do a little bit at a time. Now I knew there were ways I could help. Michelle shared with me everything she had figured out so far. She was off to a great start, but when she started working remotely (computer programming for Geisinger), I knew her plate was more than full.
Last night, I also asked Michelle if she would be interested in a blog entry from me once in a while. She has been doing such a fantastic job, but I thought I might be able to give her a break. She smiled at the idea.
On my way over to the hospital this morning, I stopped at Michelle and Bobby’s “office”. One of the bedrooms, which just happens to be right across the hall, has been converted to a workstation. I asked Michelle a financial question, and when I was leaving, she asked me for a hug. I could tell she was crying. She said the day was just hard for some reason. After she posted the blog last night, she received a message and an email about marathons. We really are in the midst of one.
Just 5 weeks ago last night (Really? Is that all? Can that be possible?), I was on a plane to Miami. Billy had said something about them finding a mass, but I figured I might be there for a short while as he recovered from some kind of surgery, and then I’d be on my way. Not in my wildest imagination could I have prepared for this, to be told just one and a half hours after I arrived that he had incurable, inoperable stomach cancer, with maybe 12 months to live.
Since, and including, that day (Thursday, September 23) we have watched him take 4 major hits:
- the first: the news of the cancer, a hit from behind he never saw coming.
- the second, the collapsed lungs after the insertion of the cataport (just that very same night) and waking up in ICU for 3 days with chest tubes, an NG tube, and being hooked up to a ventilator. That hit came from the left.
- then there was the 5 days of very potent chemo (that following Monday, the very night he came up out of ICU). That hit seemed to come from above.
- and of course the systemic infection that found him back in ICU on October 7. That one came from below, trying to knock him off his feet and down for the count. It seemed like every day was costing him a month of the short life they said he had left to live.
We watched, literally in shock, as this drama played out in front of us. How could this be happening? We cried. Oh, how we cried! We felt helpless, but thanks to our God, never hopeless. We prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more. We would go to bed exhausted, broken hearted, sickened by what Billy was having to endure, and shaking our heads in unbelief, only to wake up the next morning and realize it really wasn’t a bad dream. This thing is for real, and we get to go through it again, and again, and again. But we will go through it again, and again, and again, to help Billy fight this every step of the way. He is indeed in the thick of a battle. We were here to fight for him when he couldn’t fight for himself (specifically to get him here to Walter Reed) and we’ll continue to be here and fight with him. He wants to fly again, and we want to watch it happen.
Billy was not expected to live through the weekend with the systemic infection. We found that out Monday, October 11. On October 14 we celebrated his 26th birthday, and ever since that day, we have seen so many prayers answered on his behalf. We are so thankful to still have him with us. Thank you all so much for praying for Billy, and for our family.
I listen to the doctor’s daily reports. (They have actually recorded in their medical notes that his progress is miraculous.) We have a “communication” book where we record these reports, as well as our observations and concerns, if any. We also use it as a guest book where we have his visitors sign in. We track a lot of progress lately!
Yes, he still has an open incision in his left side where fluid from an infectious spot is draining, but the redness is now gone. Today, he walked further than yesterday, and stayed awake for 6 hours making phone calls and paying bills. He is too weak to be able to do any more chemo at this time, and his stomach is still not working. But each day since his birthday looks better than the day before. We recently started discussing Thanksgiving plans.
Billy and Michelle's Mom
And a little P.S. of sorts...a "blog correction," as my mom put it, and these are her words, not mine...
Mom loves to "facilitate" or help orchestrate surprises for other people. However, she is not especially fond of being surprised. In fact, she prefers not to be the focus of a surprise.
Thanks Mom. I love you.