Walking has been a bit more difficult these days, as Billy has been nauseous and tired. He used to be able to drink various juices and broth. The NG tube would immediately pump the liquid back out, but it was nice for him to be able to enjoy different tastes in his mouth. For the past week or so, however, Billy has felt “full.” In the past, the NG tube alleviated his nausea; now, the suction tube doesn’t seem to be enough.
Given all of that, it is amazing to see Billy walking. But he knows it’s good for him, so he keeps doing it. When he takes his walk, the nurses smile. Last night around 10:00pm, Billy announced that he wanted to take a walk. It had been a long day, and he had slept for most of it, but he knew he needed to get up. We all helped him get ready, and off he went.
Billy (right), out for a walk with Aunt Robin (white sweatshirt), our cousin Bryan (black hat, on the left), and Kelsey (just behind Bryan).
Some of the staff were talking at the nurses’ station. As Billy walked by, conversation stopped, and people watched and grinned. It was good to see Billy out of bed! One of the nurses was quite animated. She whipped out her cell phone camera and tried to take as many pictures of Billy as she could. Billy smiled. It was a joyful moment for all of us.
Billy’s case is a tough one. It’s hard for the medical staff to see someone so young facing something as difficult as this. One of the custodians has even taken an interest in Billy, and she stops by every day to check on him. When she sees us, she anxiously asks about him. When she walks by his room and sees us watching a movie, she pokes her head in to say hello. Everyone wants to see Billy beat this.
The nausea has been frustrating, and it has affected Billy’s ability to enjoy life. He has begun taking medication for nausea, and that makes him sleepy. Billy’s pain medication (dilaudid) can also make him sleepy, so the combination is a double whammy.
Billy’s team of oncologists has been doing some brainstorming to figure out why the nausea has increased. Billy had an MRCP (a form of MRI) this week to look at his liver and gall bladder. Unfortunately, the news isn’t great. The liver and the gall bladder drain into the small bowel (intestine). Because Billy’s small bowel is blocked, the liver and gall bladder aren’t able to drain as they should. The byproducts of the liver and gall bladder are backing up in Billy’s body. The oncologists suspect that’s why Billy is feeling more nauseous.
At this point, Billy is still ineligible for surgery to remove the blockage to his bowel. (The surgery would be a huge undertaking for someone who was in prime health. At this point, Billy is not very well nourished, and his body is in a weakened state. Surgery would be very risky for Billy.) So the oncologists have proposed a different solution: to insert a percutaneous (“through the skin”) drain into Billy’s liver and/or gall bladder (on his right side), to drain the fluid that is backing up. Billy thinks the procedure would be a good idea, so he will probably have a consultation with radiology on Monday (tomorrow).
At the same time, the MRCP also showed a pocket of fluid on Billy’s left side, just below his lung. The nature of the fluid collection indicates that it is probably infected. For now, the infection appears to be well-managed. Billy is still on a major antibiotic (meropenem), and his vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature) have been holding steady. For now, the oncologists plan to leave the infected fluid alone.
When Billy is awake, we’re trying to make life fun. We rejoice when he’s able to walk. We laugh together at fun pictures and posters. (Thanks, Aunt Robin and Bryan!) We watch movies together. And we enjoy the ornaments that people have sent.
Last night, we had fun opening some new ornaments. I thought we’d share some with you.
Kelsey's Mr. McCotter Head
From a dear lady in Texas who has never stopped praying for us, and who keeps sending cards and messages. She heard about Billy from her friend, who heard about Billy from his friend, and that friend is a friend of Billy.
More to come! Thank you for the ornaments, and for celebrating Christmas with us. And thank you for your prayers.
How to Pray
- For Billy’s liver. It’s not working right or draining right. Pray that the radiologists and oncologists would know what to do to help with Billy’s nausea. And pray for a complication-free procedure to insert the drain.
- For Billy’s bowel. The oncologists believe that the blockage is from Billy’s tumor. Pray for the tumor to decrease, and for the blockage to release.
- For Billy’s spirits. This is a long, hard road. Pray for endurance, and for Billy to feel loved and cared for. Pray for God to meet the needs he has that he hasn’t shared out loud.
- For our family. This is a tough thing to face. Pray for strength, courage, humility, and grace as we work together to care for Billy and for each other.