Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Milk

This past Monday night, my mom, Chris, Danny, and I were hanging out together with Billy in his room.  Not being one to pay attention to the NFL schedule, I asked Billy if he wanted to watch a movie.  I knew the Patriots were scheduled to play sometime soon, as our cousin, Bryan, had mentioned his game tickets over the weekend when he was here.  So when I asked about watching a movie, Billy declined.  "I want to watch the game," he said.  And that was that.

I didn't mind.  I was glad to see Billy awake, and I was enjoying the time spent with my family.

As we waited for game time, Billy asked Chris for some chocolate milk from the pantry.  Chris went to get it.  I'm not sure when he returned with the chocolate milk.  Chris just came in and quietly placed the bottle on Billy's bedside table.

Chocolate Milk!

Sometime later, during the game, Danny stood up and said, "I'll be right back."  "Where you going?" Billy asked.  "To the pantry?"  Billy wanted more chocolate milk, so Danny gladly went to find some.

The Pantry...where we usually find chocolate milk.

After a while, Danny still hadn't returned.  Billy looked at me.  "There's no chocolate milk in the pantry, is there?" he asked.  "Why?" I asked.  "Is Danny taking a long time?"  Billy nodded, saying, "Chris took a long time, too."

The pantry fridge...where the chocolate milk bottles usually sit.

I smiled.  Something interesting was happening!  Chris and Danny must have walked to the pantry and discovered that there was no chocolate milk.  Then, they each must have taken the elevator to the 3rd floor, bought chocolate milk from Walt's (the snack shop), and come back to the 7th floor.  They both did all of that without saying anything, without expecting any recognition for the effort the put forth in getting chocolate milk for Billy.  It's the kind of thing that Billy has always done.

I had always thought of Billy as the sneaky one--the one who noticed little things he could do for people and then went off quietly to complete his mission, no matter how far he had to go or how long it would take to finish the job.  But now Chris and Danny were in on it.  And I had witnessed Bobby doing things like that before he went back to Colorado.  This kind of thing makes me smile.

When Danny finally came back in the room with chocolate milk, Billy and I made eye contact.  Without saying anything, we both smiled.  Danny saw it, and wondered what the joke was about.  But it wasn't a joke.  We were just appreciating the care Danny and Chris had shown to Billy.

Billy has done so many things for so many people.  We love it when we get to do things for him.

How is Billy?
He's quiet these days, and he sleeps a lot.  His energy level seems a lot lower than at other times.  It has been a while since I wrote an update, so I'll include some summaries:

Billy had been experiencing a lot of nausea last week.  The oncologists thought it was probably due to his liver and his gall bladder not draining properly.  Since the liver and gall bladder drain into the small bowel, and Billy's small bowel is blocked, the liver and gall bladder are probably backing up.  To alleviate this, the oncologists had suggested a percutaneous ("through the skin") catheter to drain his gall bladder.  That was supposed to happen sometime this week.

By Wednesday, most of Billy's nausea had subsided.  The doctors couldn't explain it; his symptoms somehow improved on their own.  At that point, the oncologists and radiologists thought it would be better not to insert the catheter.  Since Billy's nausea seemed to be under control (using scopolamine and phenergan), it would be better not to take on the risks of inserting a catheter into the gall bladder (risks like infection from another puncture or bleeding from the liver).

The nurses always ask Billy to rate his pain on a scale of 1 to 10.  Overall, Billy's pain seems to be in good control.  He's on a PCA (patient-controlled anesthesia) pump, which delivers dilaudid continuously.  He can always "push his button" if he needs an extra little spurt.  Usually, Billy says he's at a level 1.  He seldom complains about pain--but he seems to have intermittent, unexplained pain.  Some days, his left side hurts.  Other days, it's his right side.

Yesterday, his left side was feeling fairly sensitive, so he had an ultrasound to check for possible pockets of fluid.  They didn't find any pockets, and that's a good thing.

Today, his right side was hurting, so he had another CT scan.  We're still waiting on the results.

When Billy is feeling good, he likes to drink ice water, juice, or chocolate milk.  At some points, he has enjoyed milk shakes or smoothies from Walt's (the snack shop on the 3rd floor).  When he started feeling really nauseous, he stopped drinking anything.  Over the past few days, however, Billy has been drinking more--not the shakes and smoothies from downstairs--but juice and chocolate milk.

We've had several fun packages come in the mail.  Thank you to all who have sent ornaments.  Billy enjoys them.  We all do.  (I will post more pictures soon.)

This past weekend, Aunt Robin (one of my mom's younger sisters) and Bryan (Robin's son) came.  Uncle Paul (my mom's oldest brother), Aunt Linda (Paul's wife), and Aunt Janet (my mom's oldest sister) have been here all week.  Kelsey comes most weekends.  And last night, we got to meet Sarah--the girlfriend of one of Billy's army friends.  It has been fun to have visitors here.

How to Pray
  • For Rest and Energy.  There are so many interruptions in the hospital; it is often difficult to sleep through the night.  Pray for peaceful nights, good rest, and energy for Billy to sit up and go for walks during the day.  (Sitting and walking help keep his lungs healthy.)
  • For Healing.  Billy's left side is healing from a fairly large incision.  His liver isn't working as it should.  His bowel is still blocked.  And his abdomen still has a lot of fluid, with cancer cells spread throughout.  Pray for healing for all of these things.
  • For Perseverance and Goals to Work Toward.  It's kind of like a marathon, only longer.  Pray for all of us--to know what the next goal should be, and to know what we need in order to keep going.  Day after day in the hospital can be wearying.  Pray for fun things, good memories, and things to work toward to break up the monotony.  

Thank you for cards, and ornaments, and notes, and thank you for praying!


  1. Aww how sweet to do something like that, and not tell anyone-you just do it for the right reason. (((billy))) feel good soon.Mindy

  2. Keep up the good work, Michelle! You're a HUGE blessing to your brother. Hugs, Jeanette

  3. Continuing to pray for Billy - I have a link on my prayer blog and know that many will be joining me in prayer.

    God is so good! He is the ultimate Healer and Billy is in His hands.

  4. Greetings of the Season! I am a new follower of your blog... a complete stranger but a person who cares nonetheless. My husband has been battling colon cancer for five years now. I keep a blog on that. We have found that our faith and the support of others really makes a difference! We live in Oak Harbor, Washington- the proud home of NAS Whidbey. So the military are very close and dear to our hearts. God bless you, Billy and all your loved ones.

  5. Love you guys! Sending love and prayers,


    "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear ... "
    1 John 4:18

    Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
    Deuteronomy 31:6


Feel free to leave comments here, or email us at