Hi Family & Friends!
First and foremost I apologize that it has taken me this long to get an update out regarding my Dad. Each day is very demanding and extremely different making it especially difficult for us to provide accurate updates when things literally change by the minute. A huge Mahalo (thank you) to each of you for your support, good will, and continued prayers — simple words cannot even begin to express how appreciative we are! 🙂
I’m not sure when you may have seen or spoke with my Dad last (or received updates (if any) from myself, my Mom, or my Brother) but getting right to it my Dad has been in and out of the hospital since March due to chronic and severe abdominal pain. We ended up in the ER early morning 5/7/13 because he wasn’t feeling good at all: pain meds at that time were not working, and he couldn’t keep anything down. It was scary.
The ER doctors did a series of tests and my Dad’s G.I. team scheduled him for an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedure, which was performed the following morning (5/8/13). The ERCP procedure ended up being roughly 2 hours or so of extensive abdominal intervention. Two stents were required and one was placed in his bile duct and the other was placed in his duodenum (upper small intestine). They were able to clean out those areas entirely, including 1.5 liters of fluid as well as relieving obstructions with minimal bleeding etc.
They followed up that procedure with an Upper GI Series the very next morning (5/9/13) and according to his G.I. team of doctors the procedure was confirmed a complete success. Cleaning out the bile duct areas and draining the duodenum definitely improved the mechanics of everything and will hopefully continue to result in much relieved pain – only time will tell and every body heals different.
His pain level spiked immediately post procedure since his body is so frail and super sensitive adjusting to the stents as well as coming off general anesthesia. This was expected, but it was difficult to observe. Thankfully his pain level has gradually dropped since then, and he may have plateaued for the time being. Finding that pain management dosage “sweet spot” was a difficult task and while he is not at all “pain-free” he has come a long way since 3/25/13 to achieve a controlled baseline, and we praise Jesus for that.
My Dad’s revised pain management has now consisted of exclusively an extended and rapid release narcotic (MS-Contin; a.k.a. morphine). However, he has been leaning toward medicinal cannabis because he would prefer not to be on any opioids if at all possible. His oncologist encouraged this goal as the cannabis would aid in all of his ailments (pain, nausea, constipation, insomnia, etc.) alleviating a laundry list of medication. Click here to peruse several efficacious clinical studies and case reports concerning medical cannabis — most listed are related to pain control, including assisting various cancer treatments as well as being a cancer treatment itself.
The lack of sleep has been a major issue as he hasn’t been able to sleep through the night since at least March. He is generally up for various reasons every 30-60 minutes and it no doubt has to do with the narcotics as well as habit forming schedules from the hospital (checking vitals etc.), not to mention he is still sharp as a tack and his mind isn’t easily turned off. I hope to report drastic sleep improvement in my next update…
His vitals have been good, trending with positive improvement since the ERCP procedure (IE: his bilirubin dropped from a 7, to a 5, to a 2.5, and so on). Thursday (5/23/13) his lab work determined his bilirubin is now at 0.9, which is great news for someone who has a neuroendocrine carcinoma of the pancreas. Again, this confirms that mechanically my Dad’s bile duct and duodenum are working perfectly again, further confirming that the ERCP was a success and the two stents are thankfully healing properly.
Overall, my Dad’s Oncologist was very pleased with his latest blood results (5/23/13), as well as his post-procedure progress (that took nearly double the time to heal because Dad is so fragile), and has shifted the focus to consuming more nutrition to regain the quality weight that was lost. The he will move forward with his scheduled treatment plan, which is outpatient chemotherapy (oral pills: two weeks on and one or two weeks off for approximately 2-3 months).
Therefore, the main concern has now evolved to increasing his caloric intake to help him gain that lost weight. He dropped an alarming amount of weight, around 20lbs within a 30-day period, and hovers around 143lbs depending on the scale. Proper recovery from this extreme setback has been our main concern and is of course an ongoing journey. Since my Dad was in the hospital for over a week (almost four weeks collectively) the transition home has been nerve-racking for my Mom and I to say the least! We have been in full-time caretaker mode, ensuring he consumes the proper amount of liquids and nutrition all. the. time. We have developed a system that works for us and take copious notes, which I then collaborate with his Oncologist and ultimately end up using all that information to update each of you! 🙂
It has been difficult for my Dad to talk any more than he already has to with my Mom and I, only because it takes a lot of his energy. Eating and drinking has been a chore, and he could only consume liquids for a while (hence the drastic weight loss), but he has now graduated to mostly soft foods and a special “stent diet” that is actually very restrictive. He is beginning to crave certain foods, and eat more than last week so we are happy to report he is thankfully improving, even if only a little, everyday.
If you know my Dad at all, you know that he loves food, so to see him push food away or eat like a bird is alarming. Sometimes he is able to stay awake longer throughout the day, and can even walk a loop around our neighborhood once or twice; it just depends on how the previous night and new day is going. He will hopefully [re]gain weight and more strength with added nutrition — which is our current prayer request from all our family and friends.
As you have noticed, I created a special page for my Dad here, easily accessed via BillPederson.Org or by clicking the “Donate” tab on the top of this page between “About” and “Disclaimer”. Here is where I will be posting regularly for continued updates, as well as where you and others can donate what you feel comfortable to help support my Dad fight for his life against Pancreatic Cancer.
As you can imagine the medical bills continue to mount, leaving my parents in a desperate financial situation each month. My Dad is currently unable to work and my Mom and I are taking care of him full-time. My Brother, Shaun, and I have been helping financially as much as we can, but unfortunately it is not enough.
While it is difficult to even ask, it has come to that point to reach out to everyone we know to request they reach out to everyone they know in efforts to help eliminate as much of the financial burden as possible that this health crisis is causing.
We would love to coordinate an actual fundraiser for my Dad, however, until then, direct donations is the best way to mediate the bills that continue to come in like clockwork each month. Click here to learn how you can donate.
Feel free to forward this information to let friends and family know, and moreover, please keep my Dad in your prayers… Specifically that this procedure, recovery, nutrition etc. will result in regained strength and that the rest will follow! We want our Billy back strong so he can proceed with his Doctor’s treatment plan to kick this tumor in the butt!
Thank you & God Bless,
Jenn & Family
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PS: Stay Informed. The easiest way to stay updated is to subscribe to this blog. You can do so by entering your email address via the “subscribe” button found at the top right of the sidebar, above the “Please Give” image. However, by doing so you will also receive posts not necessarily regarding my Dad specifically, so keep that in mind. 🙂