for Pat Adair, and the people who love her...

Our beloved Pat got some shocking news recently, and we're off and running on a mysterious medical adventure. Not an adventure we would have picked, but we're off just the same... (If you're new to the blog, start here.)

Monday, March 31, 2008

John Muir Spa and Resort

The staff at John Muir (they call it a "hospital") are really fantastic. Everyone is kind and considerate, and Mom is really comfortable there. That's good, because she's been there for a full week today. She's feeling better, and if they knew what was causing her problems 10 days ago she would have already been released.

The latest is that the test of her gall bladder came back normal, so they're looking at the biliary stent they put in during her first spa treatment back in January. The surgeon is going to replace it with a new one on Tuesday, mostly as a precaution. Assuming all goes well and she's still feeling good, she'll go home on Wednesday.

Fingers crossed, and maybe Mums will have a relatively uneventful and rejuvenating next few weeks or months. This is one of those vacations that you need to rest up after...


p.s. Almost forgot - it's Patio's birthday today!! Yay, Patio! Happy Birthday!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Feeling better, still not sure...

Here we are at John Muir hospital, our new home away from home. Mom's been here since Monday, and Mike's been here since Tuesday. I went to work for two days and came back last night. We're still trying to figure out what caused Mom to collapse last week. Her stay here has been up and down. She felt really terrible yesterday, after having an ultrasound, chemo, and two sessions of blood transfusions. All the fluid left her breathing like a fish out of water by last night, and she was absolutely exhausted. After an injected diuretic, her breathing became easier about 4 a.m., and she got some sleep. She took a shower this morning and reports that she feels "a million times better!" In the photo, taken an hour ago, she doesn't look like she's spent four days in the hospital.

Patio's had periodic headaches and a high temperature, and they still aren't sure why. As much as it would be nice for Mom to be sleeping in her own bed, we'd all be more comfortable if they knew what happened, so we could feel like it won't happen again. The internist just came by, and his current speculation is that it could be her gall stones, which they've known about, are causing the problem. He's ordering a test that will try to figure that out, and we'll go from there. It's likely she'll stay again tonight.

Mike and I are sitting in the waiting room while Pat naps. As if it wasn't bad enough spending so much time in the hospital, Kevin Costner as Robin Hood is on TV. Now that's painful.

Dave (and Mike)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Living large on 3 North

Patio's still in the hospital, but feeling a lot better than the night she arrived. (Which means, not surprisingly, that Mike and I are feeling much better, too.) She had a crushing headache and a bit of nausea on Sunday when she was admitted, but the headache has pretty much gone and they're treating the nausea, so that's better, too, and her appetite is pretty good. She had an MRI of her brain, which didn't show anything (there's a joke there somewhere) so they'll keep poking around and looking for the cause of what seems to be an infection.

Tomorrow she's getting an ultrasound to see if maybe the bile duct is partially blocked, and she'll get another blood transfusion, which the doctor says will make her feel much better. And Thursday night or Friday she'll probably get her weekly chemo treatment. She may go home Friday, depending on how she's doing.

Thanks for your good thoughts. We'll keep you posted...


p.s. If you want to receive these updates in your e-mail, let me know at Or send a blank e-mail to, and you'll be automatically added to the list (once you confirm your e-mail address.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Familiar faces

I'm really sorry to report that Mom's back in the hospital as I write this. We had a really nice Easter lunch with Mike, Mary and Brooke (Courtney was competing at a dance meet in Seattle,) and Mom was tired but happy. We sat outside and had a delicious meal. Towards the end of the day, though, she seemed to get weaker, and her headache went from bad to splitting. She was due for another blood thinner injection today, Monday, so we scheduled an appointment with the doctor. He found that she had a fever, low blood pressure, and elevated heart rate - pretty much what happened Friday. He didn't know why it's happening, so he suggested a stay in the hospital, where she can be watched closely. He also ordered a brain MRI to see if they can figure out the headache.

So after a long wait in admissions, she's back to 3 North, the oncology ward at John Muir in Walnut Creek. She's too sick to care, but I found it comforting to be back where she got such good care when she first found out she had cancer in January.

Keep checking in. I'll be posting more information as we get it. Thanks for your love and good wishes. They mean a lot.


Here's a collage of photos from Easter. They're of Brooke, who's 14, and her mom, Mary (Mike's family) - click on it for a larger view:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mom's out of the hospital

As quickly as Mom's latest illness came, it went away, mostly, and the doctor allowed her to leave the hospital around 2 p.m. today. We're both exhausted after last night, but she took a solid nap and is feeling pretty good now. She has an appointment for an injection tomorrow, Easter Sunday, and we'll to see the doctor, too. We may know a little more about what caused this latest drama. Or not!

If you don't know what I'm talking about, read this post from late-late last night:

Mike and Mary and their girls, Courtney and Brooke, are coming down for Easter, and we've got reservations for an outdoor table at Toscana's restaurant in Concord. That beats a trip to the hospital.


The roller coaster ride

Patio's in the hospital as I write this, but she's doing pretty well. It wasn't looking so promising earlier in the evening.

I didn't write for some time because there wasn't much going on. Mom was doing well, and things seemed pretty steady. We went to the oncologists two weeks ago and he suggested we book that cruise to Alaska in June if we wanted to go, because if she felt this well now, she probably would in June, too. Wow! Great news, and the first time we'd heard any kind of a time frame. It's been mostly downhill from there.

Mom was doing so well two weeks ago that I changed my schedule, which had been to stay with her Wednesday through Sunday. On Tuesday she got a little bit nauseous and sick, but felt better the next day. On Thursday, though, she was throwing up a bunch, and ended up in the doctor's office. He thought it was maybe a bile duct obstruction, or that the cancer was progressing. Something had taken a dramatic turn for the worse with her liver, we were told. She had I.V. rehydration two days in a row, plus a CAT scan, plus her first-ever blood transfusion for anemia. That all happened at the end of the week, so by time we saw the doctor on our Monday appointment, we were braced for the worst. We imagined all kind of doomsday scenarios except the one we got - everything looks great! The chemo has shrunk the tumors by half, and keep up the good work! So what happened on that Thursday? Well, we're not sure, but it might have just been the flu. So much for what we think is going to happen.

This chemo stuff is a piece of cake. It works like a charm - everybody should try it! Not so fast, baldy. Last week mom noticed a swelling in her right leg, which lead to all kinds of new tests - cut to the chase - she has a blood clot, not very dangerous, apparently, but requires six days in a row of an injected blood thinner, (including on Easter!) plus some new pills for the rest of her life. Mom's been poked and prodded so much in the last week, she can hardly stand it. Mike and I had a trip planned to Arizona to visit our dad, but when I heard about the potential blood clot I cancelled my trip the night before, and Mike went on his own. He's down there now.

Here's the best part of my not going down to Arizona: I am staying with Patio from Thursday to Sunday, but today I went for a walk with my friend Michelle. Mom had driven herself to coffee today early, and felt fine, and I took her to her chemo appointment, and she felt fine. I came back after being gone about two and a half hours, and she was practically incoherent. She hadn't moved from her chair, and was saying nonsensical things, including "I'm not confused", "I feel fine" and "No, you don't need to call an ambulance." Not only could she not stand up on her own or even use her walker, she couldn't walk with me practically carrying her to the bathroom. After she used the bathroom I couldn't get her back to the front room. Her legs were stiff, and she was so confused she was practically frozen. (It didn't really help that I started crying, but it did feel good.) We looked like marathon dancers as I was struggling to get her back to a chair when the ambulance and fire department arrived.

Mom's heart rate was 160, and they did some quick tests for stroke, heart attack, blood sugar and I don't know what else. They were about to give her an injection that would shock the heart to a much lower pulse (like 30) before it would come back up. Fortunately her heart rate dropped just enough to not have to give her that - cuz I would have fainted and we couldn't both fit on the gurney. (I wasn't laughing when any of this happened, if it isn't obvious.)

The wonderful firefighter-peoples put her in the ambulance, and I tried to follow them to the Mt. Diablo hospital. They ran a yellow light that I missed, and I watched them drive away, not knowing where the hospital was. I enjoyed watching my reactions to looking for the hospital for about 15 minutes that I couldn't find. That was an experience.

Emergency rooms are not relaxing places, in spite of what everybody says. Mom was put into a shared room, and they discovered that she had a fever of 101.4. The doctor explained that the fever comes from an infection, and given her trampled immune system from the chemo, it's actually quite dangerous. We got to the hospital around 9-ish, and she didn't get moved out of emergency into a regular room until close to 2 a.m. Her fever dropped, and was almost normal by midnight. We don't really know what will happen, but she may be staying in the hospital until Easter Sunday.

I guess I could have written this letter in a paragraph or two. Thanks for sticking with it, unless you just jumped to the end! Patio is still in reasonable spirits in spite of it all. It really scares me to think of what would have happened if Mike and I had both been gone. Mom was so confused that she didn't know she was confused. We got her one of those Medi-Alert gadgets so when she presses a button a person comes on a loudspeaker in the house and will call 911. But Mom wouldn't have used it, (and didn't use it) because she didn't think she needed to. It's hard to know what would have happened, but it's scary, scary to think about...

If you write a note to Patio in the comments, I'll make sure she gets it. She'd love to hear from you, and so would I. And a request from me: try to think unusually kind thoughts today.

Too much love,