Sunday, December 5, 2010

Celebrating Life

When Billy goes for a walk, the whole floor seems to come alive.

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.

An excited nurse (in brown) and a smiling Billy.

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.

Medically Speaking
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.

Celebrating Life
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.

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.

A favorite, from the LaBlue family.

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. 


  1. Firstly, the pictures of Will walking are indeed joyous. I saw them earlier on FB and was so excited about them. Keep fighting, Will! We are behind you, lifting you in prayer literally every step of the way.

    Secondly, please know how much we (me, Jason, the girls) love you guys. How much we love Will, how much we have come to love you, Michelle and Jill and Bobby and Danny and even Ken and Chris whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting.

    It seems to be such a shared sentiment that we all wish that we could do more. People who have never even had the great pleasure of meeting Will or your family wish that they could do more. They wish it because it is so incredibly evident what an amazing man Will is, what a beautiful family you all have. It's evident because of the love that others have for you.

    When people ask me about you guys, I kind of get lost in what to say because it's so difficult to compare the love that you all exude for each other with any other family. All that I know to say is that you are the family that EVERYONE wishes and hopes that they would have at such a time in their lives. God did an amazing thing when he made you all a family. Sadly, not every family has what you do. Not every family was raised by parents who taught their children the kind of values that you all share. Not every family was taught to love each other like God loves us. Jill and Ken, you did good. :)

    I'm rambling. Sorry. For now, all that I can do is pray and continue to spread the word of Will's needs. Over the last week, many new people have heard Will's story, thanks to a very dear friend of mine. They are ARMY family, and they are spreading the word. Will's story, the story of this journey that you are all on is being heard. People are praying, and we still believe in miracles.

    With much love,

  2. Michelle, please tell Billy he continues to be in my prayers, daily. It is such a blessing that the family can be together, especially during the holidays. It's good to see him get up walking and wake up the nurses LOL. Hugs for you both.

  3. Awww I really hope he feels better for the holidays, he deserves it. (((billy))) I wish you all luck. Mindy

  4. Michelle,
    So happy to see "Iron Will" up an walking and still fighting! I'm so glad that his family has been able to be by his side during this, but that's what families are for! Will is in prayers, as well as you and the rest of your family. I ask God daily to give all of you hope,faith and the strenghth to continue this fihgt for for Will. I do understand how you feel when you think God is not answering you prayers but if nothing else he has made it possiable for all of you to together to give Will all the hugs,kisses and surround him contining with love of his family. It has to be such a comfort for him to open his eyes after a nap or wake up in the morning and to have all of you their with him. My family and I love him so much and as Tricia said, people are praying and miracles can and do happen.
    Love you all, Cindy from IN.

  5. Prayers ongoing from here. GOD knows the needs...

    Love and faith...


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