Thursday

New Adventures in the Journey of Life, in case anyone asks

Life is always full of new adventures, some expected others unexpected and I've started down a new unexpected path.

But first some back story on how this particular journey started. About 6 weeks ago I decided to grill up 5 lbs of chicken I had sitting in the freezer. Many of the chicken breasts were freezer burned but not wanting to waste food I grilled them up anyway. Nice and crispy (burnt) I dug into a couple for dinner. A little hard to cut because the cooked breasts were dry I added some butter and some sauce to add a little liquid to moisten them up. I retired for the evening a short time later but was awakened later that night by a sharp pain just below my sternum. Rubbing the area I noticed a lump. My first thought was “great the dried out over cooked chicken has bound up my gut, this should be fun” and went back to sleep. The next day I was constipated lending credence to the idea my cooking skills were responsible. This continued for several days so I ordered an enema bag to flush things out. I finally began to see some waste movement and the enemas seemed to help (hurrah for Amazon and deliveries to the bootheel of New Mexico). I continued with the enemas on a regular basis and noticed no pain just some discomfort and a full feeling during the day while outside working. The owner had scheduled a visit to help me with some jobs on the estate and with his arrival we got to work finishing the installation of the new pool cover. I also serviced the pool's solar heating system in preparation for winter. But I was spending more and more time in the bathroom. The owners concern grew and he eventually wanted me to get checked out. Through the hard work of Marlenia Baska the P.A. at the Animas clinic which is now open 4 days a week, I was able to get checked out. She sent me to Silver City for an ultrasound. The Gila River Regional Medical is 2 ½ hrs away and the owner graciously postponed his return and carried me up there for the procedure. The only tip off I heard was a question about how much alcohol I drank, to which I responded “I don't drink”. They cut me loose after the ultrasound (which I saw as a positive) and we headed home. A day or so later it was back to the Hidalgo county medical clinic for results. The ultrasound revealed 2 large masses (7 cm in my left lobe and 10 cm in my right lobe) in the liver and was suggestive of metastatic liver cancer. Oops, wasn't expecting that one. Having walked this path before with the brain tumor I knew things were about to get exciting and messy. So now on to the next step, notifications. I let the owner know so we could start planning the transition to make sure guests were taken care of in my absence. Then then family call. I remember making this family call when I was in the hospital with the brain tumor, not the most fun call. My sister immediately said she and her husband would drive out and get me. I immediately responded yes, since I knew a plane flight would be mistake and driving back and to Silver City for treatment would be very difficult, so she and her husband Bob headed cross country to pick me up. After three days out and 3 days back I was ensconced in central Illinois. I hadn't been in central Illinois since 1987 when I finished my PhD at the University of Illinois in
Campaign Urbana. I then went to the emergency room at Springfield Memorial and handed over my test results and was admitted.

Since my symptoms were progressing my immediate goals were to 1. - have a good old fashioned morning poo. You know, after getting up and brushing your teeth and peeing followed by a hot cup of coffee nothing feels better than a morning evacuation of the bowels. 2. - a good meal. I'd not been eating much since it took so long to get stuff through my system and I had a good appetite, I just wanted a tasty meal.

After abdominal, pelvic, and head CAT scans with contrast the next phase was planned. I had a maximum of 3 options, 1. a bowel stint to open things up, 2. tumor resection, and 3. a diversional colostomy with primary tumor left in place. Well my choice was curtain number 1 but a lower GI test showed complete blockage. The extent of the disease showed the primary tumor in the lower colon, complete liver involvement, and evidence of metastases in the spine, lungs and omentum. This pretty much ruled out option 2 since the benefit derived would be minimal, so curtain 3 became the best choice. After a laparoscopic colostomy I was done, about 36 hours after walking in the door to the emergency room. Pain medications ranged from acetaminophen with codeine (helped with incision pain but nothing else) to morphine. I must admit a fondness for morphine, it washed all the pain away and allowed me to get a good nights sleep. I could also now eat and was craving bacon and eggs which I had every morning after the procedure as well as a variety of other treats. Unlike many other hospitals, you order your meals from a menu at your convenience and perhaps the best part of the morphine availability is, at least in my case, no risk of addiction.

So I have a place to finish up and some time to wrap up loose ends which is a good thing. Although I won't be able to get back to the valley, the farm here is not a bad place to be. I'm planning a photo essay of Hoblit Farms so I have something occupy my time and will try and post when I can.

One more sunrise over the Peloncillo Mountains


I wish everyone well and will miss the place terribly, but some new adventures can not be put off.

22 comments:

  1. Bruce, now I am somewhat confused...are you now NOT able to return to Rodeo? I had thought things were going so well. Is this blog serving as an "new" update separate from our postings on Facebook?

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    1. David, this was the best way to catch everyone up on the details of this rapidly evolving situation. Everything has happened so fast trying to update everyone individually was becoming difficult, so this way everyone is up to speed on a rapidly changing situation including regular readers of the blog who I've never met.

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  2. May God bless you on your journey! You're such an amazing person! Every person place and thing you have touched has been made so much better by you! So happy to have met and got to know you.still hoping to see you. I wish you well. Anything anytime you need something I'll help you out anyway I can. Take care!

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  3. Thank you Paula, the photos you and DiAnn took of the cottage in harbor springs ment a lot to me and the family. I'm sad that I won't be able to finish up back in the valley but some choices are not as we hope and the farm is not to shabby.

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  4. Bruce, now I am somewhat confused...are you now NOT able to return to Rodeo? I had thought things were going so well. Is this blog serving as an "new" update separate from our postings on Facebook?

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  5. Bruce you are an extraordinary person, love you, you are the one person I call my true friend. praying, be well friend kathy

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    1. Thanks Kathy, I will be building and creating right up to the transition.

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  6. Wow! Not expecting all that information but thanks for that. I'm glad I got to meet your sister and brother-in-law. That had to be one of God's appointments!

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    1. Pat, it seemed the easiest way to catch up wirh everyone at once and let regular readers of the blog I don't know personally that there will be some changes.

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  7. Having now seen my brothers life in the bubble, I understand. This is valuable time. I will treat it as such.

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  8. Beth, you and Bruce are very special people. Kudos to your mom! Please tell her that for me!

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  9. Thanks Pat, I appreciate the support and will certainly pass along your message to the family.

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  10. I will miss you here in Rodeo, and all the good advice and education that you always took time to show me. You are loved more than you know, and hopefully, that will reach across the states and lend you some comfort. I'm happy that you have a wonderful sister and family support. Looking forward to you photo essay. Hugs and love, Statia

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  11. Thank you Statia. My sister will bring the ashes back out there to scatter them around the mountains. She will place the details on Blogging from the Bootheel and I'm hoping some folks can show her around or perhaps the Hiking club can show her some cool spots.

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    1. please have Beth contact us [here on the blog is good] as the hiking group would be privileged to show Beth some cool spots!

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  12. Bruce, I just heard from Doug and read your blog. Though we haven't seen each other in a long time, I have often thought of you and told stories of your spelunking adventures. When I heard you were in NM, I was crushed, because I had just moved away after a decade in Northern NM. Bruce, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I am glad you are with your sister and her family. I am so inspired by your bravery. With much love, your old housemate, Kathe Andrews (once a Chrisope)

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  13. Kathe, thanks for your kind note. Ever since I moved out west for a post doc I knew I was home and 30 years later they had to pry me out but such is life and I find myself back in central Illinois. New Mexico is a very special place and I enjoyed calling the San Simon Valley home.

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    1. I remember visiting you in Tempe...I think I was attending a conference and you left me a note saying you were camping on the south rim and would be back the next day. You returned, but you were beet red walking in the door - you had dropped your photos off at Fox photo and they had sliced each frame in two. You told them they needed to go rappel down the south rim to the cave and take the photos again! I think we might have pigged out at my friend's posh restaurant where the baseball players would go, and he just kept bringing us everything on the menu. A long time ago, but I knew you were Western then! Being in the land of caves now (Kentucky), I tell caving stories about you pretty regularly, and your Mammoth Cave passage discovery, and such. I can't wait to go explore your beautiful spot in New Mexico!

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    2. It is always nice to hear stories about my life from the lips of others, another perspective is always useful.

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  14. You will leave a legacy of friends touched by your love and creativity, hiking maps to use for exploring, stunning photographs to ease the soul, landscapes recovered and so much more. Glad to have met you!

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    1. Thanks Debbie, I truely believe that if you provide the tools, people will come up with unique and interesting ways of using them.

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  15. I'm so very sorry to hear that you're going through this. From reading through your blog and the comments, I can see that you are very loved and respected by the people of this community. I regret that I moved here too late to meet you. It would have been a pleasure to have gotten to know you.

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