|Mom, Joyce, & Elaine|
Right now, Joyce is doing a little bit better than she was mid to late last week, although her condition seems to go up and down from day to day. She improves a little, then takes a step back. The doctors were hopeful that she might be able to come home today (today is the 18th day that she has been in the hospital), but when I talked to my mom a little while ago, she said the doctor had not come in yet and that Joyce was feeling a little bit worse and in more pain than she has been the last few days, so I'm not sure if they will approve for her to go home or not.
|The whole fam: Mom, Dad, Me & Ryan, Matt, TJ, & Jamie to the right of Joyce. Elaine & Steve, Andrea & husband Jimmy, kids Alicia & AJ; Tina & husband Wes; & Eric to Joyce's left.|
Joyce was fine as far as we knew last month - she had less energy than normal and had not been feeling great, but had not been able to figure out exactly what it was. Two Fridays back, she was at home, getting ready to color her hair and had plans to go to dinner and a movie with a friend later that night when her doctor called and told her she needed to go to the hospital due to the results from her blood work a few days prior. Her hemoglobin was at a 6 (normal should be 11 or 12), so she had less than half the amount of blood pumping through her body than normal, hence the major sluggishness and lack of energy. Because her blood level was so dangerously low, they told her not to drive herself, so my mom went to pick her up and take her. When they got there, they admitted her, gave her two units of blood, and proceeded to run tests on her for the next four days. A CT Scan revealed something irregular on her abdomen and then a colonoscopy a few days later revealed that the irregularity was a cancerous tumor in her colon. They scheduled her for surgery that Friday to remove the tumor and take some lymph nodes to see if the cancer was contained or if it had begun to spread.
|Joycie with her two daughters and her two sons-in-law|
|Mom & Joyce at the cabin|
The worst part about it all is that once they found out about the infection, they put her in isolation and no one could see her other than my mom and my aunt Elaine who had already been around her every day (we had not gone to the hospital to see her the previous couple of days because she was feeling so weak that she was not up for visitors). This has been really hard for both my mom and Elaine as they have watched Joyce deteriorate before their eyes. It has been emotionally and physically draining for them - for my mom because before this weekend, she had been at the hospital for 14 days straight and had only been home twice (she would go to Elaine's house to sleep when she didn't stay in Joyce's room because they live much closer to the hospital than my parents do) and with Elaine working full time and being sick (elementary school teacher at the start of a school year), Mom has spent most of the last two weeks up there going through this time of uncertainty alone, writing everything the doctors were saying in a notebook just so she could keep up. And then for Elaine, in addition to going through all of this herself, she is working full time and has been sick...so it has just been exhausting for both of them, and hard for all of the rest of us to not be able to visit Joyce or be there for Mom and Elaine.
Last week, we also found out that of the 18 lymph nodes that they removed, 16 were clean but 2 had traces of the cancer. They brought an oncologist on, who established that she has Stage 3 Colon Cancer, and has said that chemo would be an option, but only if Joyce is well and gets her strength back, so right now there has not been much talk or thinking about that decision at all yet...she still has a long way to go to get to the point of being able to make that decision. There are a lot of risks with chemo, so there will likely be some tough decisions ahead.
Through it all though, God has used so many of you to remind us of His goodness, His love, and that His will and His plan are for His glory and His good. The power of prayer is so amazing, and though Joyce's situation has not improved significantly and there remains so much uncertainty yet ahead, I have so many times felt God's peace that surpasses ALL understanding that I know has been prayed over us. It is a comfort to know that our God is not only Joyce's Creator, but also her Great Physician. And this weekend, God blessed us beyond what we could have even thought to pray for. Mom says He sent us an angel...and He really did.
Mom and Elaine have been so anxious about what they will do when Joyce is released to go home. Mom has said so many times that many times it takes two or three nurses to help Joyce do things that she has to do in order to get better and she doesn't know what they'll do when they take her home. Well, last Wednesday night, after talking to my mom on the phone and her telling me that she didn't think Joyce was going to make it through this infection, I put a post on facebook about Joyce's situation asking for prayer. One of my mom's best friends who lives in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) is a nurse and saw my post (they had just gotten internet and it was her first time online in several weeks), and messaged me asking all the medically detailed questions about Joyce. I got the message during the night and since I couldn't sleep, I got up and went ahead and responded with all of the details. The next morning, Ginny messaged me back saying that she had thought and prayed about a way to help and that she had booked a (15-hr) flight (!!) to fly across the world from Dubai to Atlanta to come take care of Joyce and relieve my mom and Elaine in a way that none of the rest of us could. Ginny wanted to surprise my mom, so my dad and I went down to the airport to pick Ginny up early Saturday morning and brought her back home (mom came home Friday night to spend the weekend while Elaine stayed with Joyce since she is no longer sick). Saying that Mom was shocked to see Ginny is an understatement. She burst into tears and they hugged and cried for the next half hour.
|Joycie has sat through her share of football games. TJ introduced her to "the swamp".|
|At another football game - Duke @ Clemson|