Karen, Rachel and I drove down to Pittsburgh last weekend and met with Dr. Bartlett and had the leukapheresis done on Monday. Several hours of the trip going down was at about 25 mph as it was pelting rain and half the vehicles were pulled off, the rest of us going very slowly with flashers on so we could see each other a teeny bit better, Rachel did that driving as controlling the GI tract and driving in that weather is not a lot of fun at this stage of the game. The internal jugular tube they put in so they can exchange 8.5 quarts in 90 minutes was a literal pain in the neck to insert and not much better to tolerate, but thankful that phase of my life is over. They obtained the precious 83 ml of white cells and the incubation process will begin to try to create a vaccine to hopefully slow down the growth of the cancer.
Both Dr. Bartlett and Dr. De Cook are a bit encouraged that the outer pocket (above my belly muscles and the sheet of mesh) is draining less and seems smaller on the repeat CT scan, though the one inside my belly is more confusing. There must be a connection to the outside one and the fistula must hook to the inside one, but how is another issue. So, for 3 days now, both agree that I can do sips of clear liquids and will continue that for another 2 weeks, repeat the CT scan and see if the inside pocket is enlarging with the liquids, a bad sign that the fistula is still open. What to do then is even more unclear, but pray that it is getting smaller and resolving. I love water, but it tastes extra special now, even in the small sips to wet the tongue and the esophagus.
As soon as the oral intake improves a bit (assuming that it will, ie the fistula is not misbehaving), I will start on my oral iron and see if I can get my anemia improved and thus get more stamina. I tried a shot of iron, admittedly I don’t have a bunch of padding, but it was mighty sore for 3 nights, so hoping I can use the oral route for more of my meds soon. Of course, a meal, even a small one, would be great, as it has been April 9 since I had my “last meal.”
Continue to pray for especially Dr. William. He would like the resident’s strike to end and get back to the training, despite the deplorable conditions, which are not likely to change in Haiti, but, so far, it is not happening and the interim president seems very harsh towards their efforts. Undoubtedly, if he needed care, he would fly to the US and get quality care there, so doesn’t seem as concerned about what the rank and file have to endure, probably a bit like our politicians, I suppose. Next weekend, Dr. Jim Webb will do surgery for a week with Tom Failing and Dave Weener from Byron Bible doing repairs, an endless job at CSL, it seems. Jim will return (thanks so much, sir) in July with Dan Boerman to repeat the cycle and keep that part of the hospital going in my absence. Our new chaplains seem to be a ball of fire, despite both being retired, for which I thank the Lord and I need to keep up with them as they hand out tracts, make contacts with patients and follow up with them. So, trying to find bulk volumes of French and Creole tracts as well as evangelistic DVDs for Jean Eddy and them to work with. We also have shipped down another skid of food packets, they enjoy giving that to the poor patients and it opens them up to spiritual discussions, of course, another tool to help soften hearts steeped in a dead religion and voodoo. It is hard for me to not be there, so pray that the Lord would heal my body and allow me to rejoin my brothers and sisters laboring there for Him soon.
In His Service,
Bill, Karen, Rachel, James and Jenn Ten Haaf