Thursday, March 29, 2012


Hi! Sue has had another good day She was able to get out of bed and sit in a chair a few times. She is feeling really good, except her shoulder really hurts. It is the location where they took a portion of her scapula. I'm not complaining, however. She is doing a great deal better than when she had her big surgery a couple of years ago. She can't really type much, but she is looking at Facebook and her e-mail.

I told her this afternoon that I am ready to hand the blog back over to her. Yet, here I am giving today's update. I really hope that she will be ready to take over tomorrow.

The doctors are all still very pleased with everything. They are all still monitoring the dopplers closely. I think they'll fell a lot more confident with the health of the transplanted veins after another 24 hours. Her graft looks good, as well as her closure sites. They did start to discontinue a couple of drugs today. She also has been able to have some clear nutrition; jello, broth, flavored ice, etc. She also did comment that she would like some McDonald's french fries. If she is craving those, it definitely means that she is hungry.

So, I'm happy to report that it was an uneventful day for Sue. She should be moving out of the ICU tomorrow and into a regular room. It doesn't feel like as big a change as it did the last go around. This ICU is quiet, and pretty laid back. Sue is accustomed to more noise and interruptions in the ICU setting.

Please keep praying that her veins and arteries continue to stay open, her swelling begins to subside, and the pain in her back starts to fade. We hope that you all have a great weekend!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A slow day

Sue felt that the day dragged today. As the day moved along, she started to feel a little antsy. After everything her body was put through yesterday, she was surprisingly comfortable today, from a pain perspective. She is just struggling with being comfortable on her bed. She should be sitting in a chair some tomorrow, and then hopefully out of the ICU on Friday. She is looking forward to it, but she definitely wasn't ready for it today.

A number of doctors came through today and all are are pleased with her current status. It's very evident that they are most focused on her veins and arteries that were transplanted. They are hooked up to Doppler monitors and being listened to constantly. Dr. Khariwala apparently has phoned the nurse a number of times with sole purpose of listening to the Doppler in the background. One of the nurses wanted to hook him up with a baby monitor that he could listen through. They wil continue to keyed on these for another 48 hours or so.

Sue is continuing to see additional swelling in her face. This should stop late tomorrow, and then hopefully start to come down a little a day or two later. Her eye is completely swollen shut and that is a little aggravating for her. She also seems a bit uncomfortable with the sutures in her side. Hopefully, she'll do okay when they start weaning her off of the pain meds.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Sue do a short update tomorrow. I would be more than happy to hand the reins back over to her. Thank you for all of your ongoing prayers and support. We cherish you all.


Starting to heal

The day after

Hi everyone. Nothing but good news to report so far in post surgery, day 1. Sue was moved to the ICU early this AM. She was resting comfortably until her blood pressure started dropping. This was due to her sedatives. They tried to get a balance that would work so that they could keep her sedated through today, but it didn't work. So, they gave up mid-morning and let her wake up.

When I arrived, they were yanking out her breathing tube. Pretty good timing on my part. Historically, it's been frustrating for both Sue and me to try and communicate when she can't speak and is medicated...imagine that. All things considered, she seems to be feeling okay and is resting fairly comfortably. As expected, she was a little confused to wake up and find a long row of stitches going up her forearm. As I said last night, it wasn't in the plan.

Dr. Khariwala was through this AM and is still very pleased with everything. He has been calling her nurse every half hour to check in with her. He is an incredible doctor and has the perfect demeanor for Sue. He and Sue just click, and that is such an important piece of the whole process.

Keep praying that the vessels and arteries keep on flowing and that Sue's recovery is speedy. Have a great day.


Positive Day

Hi everyone,

Sue's surgery was a great success. Just about 10 minutes after my last entry, Dr. Khariwala came out and said that things were closing up. You could tell that it had been a long day for him, but he was excited about what was accomplished. He said that reconstruction went very well, maybe a bit better than they had even hoped for. They were able to do some work on Sue's eyelid that I believe they thought would occur in a later surgery. He also thought that they got a few more implants in than what had been planned for today, but he couldn't recall for sure.

The one slight hitch they had was with the vein harvest. He wasn't confident with the veins he first looked at, so he ended up taking them out of her forearm, which she'll be a bit surprised at when she wakes up. That had not been in the plan, and we had thought the back up site would be from her leg. He believes that it will be a better 'fit' in the long run. One of the big things to pray for over the next few days is that the veins do not clog. That is one of the bigger risks with what she had done. Obviously, this is key to the blood flow for the area, and the health of everything in that region.

I am now at home and just received a call from the ICU. She just arrived there and will be kept sedated tonight. They are reconsidering when to bring her out of sedation. Originally it wasn't going to be until Thursday. But now, it sounds like they may consider doing so tommorrow afternoon.

Again, I want to thank you for all of the prayers and support that you've given Sue and me through her surgery. Time for some sleep.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Okay, I'm sure everyone is in bed, but thought I would give another update. We've now gone into overtime. We've now surpassed the 14 hour mark. I really hope that the surgeon's don't charge time and a half. It's now 11:15PM and they are still going.

Last call from surgery was a little before 10PM and all was still going well. I'm sitting here thinking of how incredibly strong Sue is and how proud I am of her with all that she has been through. She is incredible!

I will catch up with everyone in the AM. Good night.


Still Waiting

Good evening everyone. It is nearly 8PM and they are still at work in the OR. Sue's Dad, sister, and I were having dinner at about 6:30PM when I got the last call. All is going well and they had just started with the microvascular surgery, or reconnecting the harvested veins and starting blood flow. This is a tedious portion of the surgery, as you may probably imagine. This is all so amazing to me.

The report from the suite, at that time, was that they still had a good chunk of time to go. I believe that anything before 10PM would be a great surprise for the team. I can only imagine how long a day it has been for them. I'm pretty much wiped out from sitting in the lounge.

I'll try and update again later tonight when everything is done and we've had a chance to sit down and talk with the surgeons. I appreciate everyone's prayers and thoughts for Sue today. We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful support, friends, co-workers. You are all awesome!


Update #1

Hi all,

Here is the first update from "The U". I have been lucky enough to have Dick and Marie keeping me company today. They got the girls off to school and came down.

I have spoken with the OR a couple of times so far and things are progressing slowly, but things are going "swimmingly" so far. The latest update had all 4 of the surgeons working on Sue. They are currently working on her dental implants and just started harvesting what they need from her scapula to start the rebuild.

I would expect to hear more about their progress around 3PM. I'll post again a little later.


Off and Running

Good morning everyone. Sue asked me to handle her blog through surgery today, as well as for the next couple of days before she wakes up. I will do my best, but know that I am not nearly the writer that she is.

We arrived at "the U" at 6AM this AM. After getting Sue checked in, we were grateful for a visit from Pastor Trautmann. He has been extremely supportive for our entire family through Sue's journey. His words and prayer for Sue this morning were comforting for us both.

Sue was feeling quite anxious last night and this morning, but was being incredibly strong as she mentally prepared for today. In true form, she was worried more about the kids and me vs. the 10-13 hour surgery that she was about to subject herself to. Sue was comforted after seeing a few of the surgeons that would be working on her today. They reinforced that she needed this to be done to protect her eye and for her general well-being. We are both very comfortable with the group that will be working on her today.

I always dread the walk from the pre-op room to the hallway, and having to say good-bye to her. It's one of those hard moments in life. She was wheeled back to her OR suite at about 8:15AM. I just spoke to the circulating nurse and they actually started surgery at about 9:20AM. It took them quite awhile to prep and position her. I will hopefully be able to update again in the early afternoon.

Please keep Sue and her surgical team in your prayers today.


Friday, March 16, 2012

The Countdown Is On

The countdown is on….64 hours until my surgery. I have accomplished everything on my to-do list with things that will help to keep my family organized while I am in the hospital and recovering at home. This included creating for my parents a "Surgery Survival Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Taking Care of Mackenzie and Kendall." This week was filled with appointments with each of the surgeons that are on my surgical team. My brain is completely fried after listening to each of them give their point of view of what will be taking place to fix my face. On several occasions I felt compelled to plug my ears with my fingers and sing la, la, la, la. Yet, I made it through each and every appointment....up until the last one scheduled on Friday with the Maxillofacial surgeon. By Thursday afternoon, I was done - there was nothing this surgeon was going to tell me that I hadn't already heard from the other surgeons. And I just needed a break. The appointment was cancelled.

Keeping busy was good for my sanity. If it were not for the long to-do list, I would have spent too much time thinking about what is to come and freaking out about it. I did have a little melt down after my appointment with the Plastic Surgeon, but overall I have been doing pretty well. Despite my busyness this past week I did manage to squeeze in some one on one time with Mackenzie, Kendall and Jason…but the highlight was going to see The Hunger Games. You could say it was my "last dying wish" before our lives are turned upside down.

During the down times, I spend a lot of time talking to God and asking Him for his goodness and mercy during and after the surgery. I don't know what is worse, no knowledge or too much knowledge going into a surgery. Last year, I had was afraid of the unknown. This time I am afraid because I know what is to come. Jason and my parents will be camping out at the hospital once again as the surgery will most likely take 12-13 hours. I will be in intensive care following the surgery for two days. They will be keeping me heavily sedated with a breathing tube....I put my foot down and instructed the surgeons that there was no possible way I would allow a trache to be inserted into my throat again.

Without going into to much detail, this surgery will be complicated and not without risk..especially since the skin and tissue in my face has been damaged due to radiation. It will take several months, possibly longer, for my face to heal. And then it will be back to surgery for further revision and skin grafting. The surgeons say it will be a take up to a year for everything to be completed.

In the midst of trying to keep it together, I have to consciously decide to not go down the road of blame and anger. I often wonder why it is that after four years of dealing with cancer and its aftermath, that I am still facing more pain and recovery. I envy the cancer patients who go through treatment, are healed and then are able to move on with life. I on the other hand feel stuck.

Yet once again, I am so blessed by the many friends and family offering words of encouragement and support. God is using them more than they know to minister to me especially at the times I need it the most. I have learned that this is the way God speaks to me…through others in my life. I am so thankful for my neighborhood friends that have signed up to bring meals for the next couple of weeks or have offered have the girls over during Spring Break. It helps me to feel at ease to know that my family will be taken care of. God has blessed me with wonderful parents and in-laws willing to interrupt their own lives to come and care for my girls while I am in the hospital and recovering also allowing Jason to attempt to maintain a normal schedule at work.

Jason will be updating my blog/Facebook page during surgery to let you all know how things are progressing. A special thanks to those of you that will be keeping me in your prayers. I am thankful for all of my friends and family that are willing to go on this next journey with me.

With Love,


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Surgery has been scheduled

It was a Saturday morning in December. I had just finished doing what I do best on Saturday mornings...sleeping in. I came down the stairs, still attempting to wake up, and as soon as I reached the bottom step a little hand with a piece of paper was waving in front of my face. It was a Christmas card Kendall had been working on all morning while I was milking every possible minute I could to stay in bed. Kendall had a very strong determination to show me what she had done and to give me specific instructions on what to do with it. It was a Christmas card she made, clearly on the computer paper I have told her endless times that was not to be used for coloring. Yet, I did not have it in me to remind her that computer paper was too expensive to use for drawing as I soon read the front of the card. It said "Gloria", the theme of the Christmas concert we had attended at church the night before. Underneath it was a carefully drawn star. Inside the card included a Bible verse that Kendall received in Sunday School. It was one of the first Bible verses she had ever memorized and coincidentally it was a verse that was near and dear to my heart throughout my battle with cancer. The card read....

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

After reading the card and basking in the moment that my daughter had memorized a verse that I cherished, Kendall said the card was created specially for our Pastor and insisted that I send the card to him immediately. He has become near and dear to our family as he has supported us over the past couple of years. I set the card on the counter, and walked away not realizing the importance of the card. Kendall once again insisted that I mail the card to our Pastor. My strong willed daughter was not going to give up, so I got out an envelope, addressed it, and put the envelope in the mail on the following Monday. Little did I know what God was doing in the heart of my little girl and about to do for the person on the receiving end of the card.

Within a few days, I got a call from our Pastor. He was so touched by the card. He wanted Kendall to know that not only was it his favorite Christmas card he had received, but it meant more to him that she would ever know. For it could not have been better timing for him to receive the message of hope that the card and the Bible verse in it gave to him. I could tell it in his voice and in my heart that it was something he needed to hear. God had clearly used my little girl to show encouragement to someone that needed it at that time.

I have the card with the Bible verse Kendall received in Sunday School taped to our refrigerator. It is next to our family calendar that helps to keep our family somewhat organized. Since I look at this calendar at least 2-3 times a day to make sure I get everyone where they need to be, including myself, I read the verse every day.

This verse will once again be giving me much needed hope and peace in the upcoming weeks. The long awaited, much planned, and much anticipated surgery to fix my face has finally been scheduled. After waiting almost one year and spending countless hours meeting with surgeons reviewing the risks, potential complications and plan of action to fix my face, the surgery has been scheduled for March 27. It is going to be a difficult surgery that will involve three different surgeons. It will most likely be as involved and as intense as my maxillectomy requiring bone, skin and tissue to be transplanted from my shoulder. Should everything go as planned, the surgery will fix the contour of my face, the droop of my eye lid, provide better support for my eye, and replace missing bone and teeth.

On Monday, we got back from our annual trip to Florida. We sailed away on another Disney cruise and spent some time in the Disney area. It was a wonderful time spent with Jason and the girls as well as Jason's parents. It was much needed time to spend together before we embark on this next journey. I am anticipating this year to be another long year filled with surgeries and recovery. For it may take several surgeries to get the end result that my surgeons and I are looking for.

Surprisingly, I have felt very at peace about the surgery. It may be because I am still feeling the high of the happiest place on earth that Disney gives. But knowing myself all to well, I am sure my anxiety level will increase as the date approaches. Memories of the pain and discomfort I felt after my last surgery are starting to loom in the back of my mind. I am beginning to prepare the girls for what is to come as well as map out how to make everyone's life easier while I am in the hospital and recovering. Despite the risks, I am so excited to have a new hold my head up high be comfortable in my own skin again.

I am thankful for the help that many of you have already offered and for the assistance that our parents will be giving. Please keep me and my family in your prayers over the next few weeks. I will continue to keep you updated through this blog.