Friday, November 28, 2008

O Happy Day!

The Universe has granted us another thing for which we give thanks.

Max slept in his crib last night.  On his back.

While he didn't sleep through the night (the holy grail of Boo-Ya!), he did allow Angie and I to sleep with each other in a bed most of the night.  He went down at 12am in the bassinet.  We were so shocked, we couldn't bring ourselves to move him into his crib.  So Angie stayed up for a while watching he shows online while sitting next to him.  He got hungry around 2am, took some TJ, and then went back to sleep in the crib next to our bed.  He got a little fussy around 4am, took some more to eat, and then went back on his back in his crib until 7:30 this morning, when he got hungry again.  And now he's sleeping in the bassinet again, while Daddy writes this with mouth agape.

Now, this didn't happen completely by divine intervention.  Mommy and Daddy have been experimenting with our son.  Here's what we've found out.

Use distilled water to mix his formula.
Give him a dose of "Little Tummies" before his last meal of the night (thanks be to Carey for the recommendation!)
Make a little nest for him in his crib.  Roll up a bath towel and shape it like a horseshoe, and set him in the middle.
Use the "magic afghan." 
Remove Bernie's collar so he doesn't jingle his tags.
Cross your fingers.

This is huge.  He's peaceful and therefore, mommy and daddy are peacefulish.  Of course, I know I got up many times during the night to make sure he was breathing, moving, and alive, but hey, can you blame me?

What a great way to cap of the Day of Thanks!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful EVERY Day

Although it's been a rough fall, we have so much to be thankful for...

- Our beautiful & thriving little boy!
- Michael's early cancer detection
- Our amazing and loving families
- The outpouring of support, prayers, kind words, good ch'i, etc. from friends (and strangers!)
- New jeans
- All of Michael's extremely supportive and understanding professors
- My BFF Jamie for taking several completely uncomprehensible and distraught phone calls
- The neonatologists, nurses & care staff at Geisinger Medical Center (particularly Dr. C, who offered the 'final resort' experimental treatment of nitric oxide that essentially saved Max's life!)
- Senses of humor
- Our faithful dog-child (Bernie) and his patience through all of life's stresses & changes this fall
- Hilarious homemade onesies from Amy & Calley
- Skype and text messaging
- Each other
- Health Insurance (Hi, understatement of the year!)
- Power Naps
- Random acts of kindness

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! May this be a day filled with family, friends and tryptophan-filled naps!

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - J.F.K.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sleep? Who needs sleep?

Call us new parents: we're living on little to no sleep, yet when our child finally gives in to the Sandman, we freak out and run to check to make sure he's breathing. (Above you'll catch us in a few rare moments!)

Michael has been working on a term paper and I on my work typing. We try to take turns with Max, but sometimes it feels like we're not getting anything accomplished. This is normal, right?

We've found that Max strongly dislikes sleeping on his back. He's a perfect angel when he's being held, though. He'll fall asleep in your arms like a champ and stay there for hours! (We often get him to calm down by lying in the recliner with him.) I need to write my letter to Santa and get it sent off to the North Pole soon- I'm asking for an extra set of arms this year. (One for holding the boy, one for working! Oh, how productive I'd be!...)

We've been having what fun we can with the lack of sleep, though. We just celebrated an hour and 45 minutes of Max staying asleep (or quiet enough to not need to be picked up) by doing happy dances in our pajamas. We raised the roof and did the sprinkler and worm! =)

We're exhausted, delirious and overwhelmed with life, but we've still got a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. And there's no one I'd rather be exhausted, delirious and overwhelmed with than Michael.

Guess it's time to go feed that crying baby...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'll Have The Chemo, Please.

Well, the meeting with the radiation oncologist was enlightening. He was very informative and presented me with a couple of options. First off, he corrected some of the numbers I was led to believe were true. My urologist has said that 90% of men in my position will not have a reoccurrence at this point with just surgery, and he said that number was closer to 80%. I told him the point was moot, that I was going to have radiation no matter what the numbers were.

He explained what the radiation would entail. First, they would evaluate my sperm count before they did anything. Turns out there may be a chance that the cancer has left me sterile already. If that's the case, then there is really no need to turn any of my guys into "mikesicles" for future use. I asked how could the cancer, which was in one testicle but not in the other, leave the unaffected testicle sterile. He said they didn't know at this point. They just know it happens.

This has been the most frustrating part of this whole experience for me...not a lot is known about testicular cancer. Here is a pretty major symptom (at least in MY mind) and the medical community doesn't have a clue as to why it happens. We members of "Team Uno" need a Susan G. Komen type person to spearhead a lot more research into this thing. Lance Armstrong is great an all, but we have a lot more learn, and I don't think a Sheryl Crow dating, biking obsessed Texan is the answer. Tom Green took a stab at it too, but still...come on. Sterility? For all the talk of the world still being dominated by men, you'd think that this is something they'd want to look into. But heavens, no. Let's not talk about our nuts, and don't you dare talk about the possibility of being sterile. That's not manly, I guess. Maybe because it involves feelings. Well, I'm not wearing Prada, I watch lots of football, I look terrible in taffeta, I wield a pretty mean power tool, I love red meat, and I like to scratch myself. And guess what? I'd like to TALK about sterility. Steven K. Galson, do you hear me?

Okay, back to the visit. After the sperm assessment and it's findings, I'd bank some of my boys (if necessary) and begin radiation. 10-15 visits. The drawbacks to the radiation are sterility (WHAT? DID HE SAY STERILITY AGAIN?), possible malignancy 20 years down the road, and all the usual nasty side effects. He talked about the process, when they'd begin, and stuff like that. But then he told me that a single round of chemo (1-3 days) is as effective as going through the radiation. And there are some benefits to chemo over radiation. First off, it's not as time consuming. Second of all, the chances of a malignancy down the road are less. And, chemo covers the full body, not just the localized area in question. And I believe the chance of sterility (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, THERE'S THAT WORD AGAIN!) from the chemo is less than radiation. Sounds pretty good to me. So, in the coming days I'll have a sperm assessment and a meeting with a chemo oncologist to get more details. Honestly, though, Angie and I are leaning pretty heavily to chemo. I could have it done during Christmas break and not miss any school.

No matter what treatment I choose, it wouldn't begin for another month. I'm still sore from the orchiectomy. I have a nice bit of scar tissue forming, which will probably mean I'll need to get bigger pants (it's right at my belt line.) Guess who's asking for pants for Christmas?

So that's all the news that isn't for right now. I'll have lots more to talk about in the coming weeks, though....

including STERILITY! :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Zero=Fantastic

After spending a couple of days in NYC for school, I checked my email today to find the following message from my doctor.

"The BHCG went down to zero.  Good news."

This means that there are no noticeable tumor markers in my system.  Boo-ya.

Next step: meet with radiation oncology tomorrow at 1pm and lay out a plan.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

My First Day As A Cancer Survivor

Well, I have some news...

I have cancer. Confirmed.

As such, this marks my first official day as a cancer survivor, because I have cancer, and I'm surviving!

The type of cancer that I have is Stage I seminoma cancer. CAT scan revealed no abnormalities in the lymph nodes. As such, it's cure rate is 99%. It reacts well to radiation. No chemo is necessary. And, I will not have to have the dreaded RPLND surgery.

The doctor told me that 90% of men with my numbers and at this stage of the game will not have a recurrence with just the surgery. Fine. Good for them. I'm not taking any chances, so I'm going to opt for radiation. Why take chances? Sure, there will be side effects (skin irritation, nausea, diarrhea, and possible permanent sterility), but why gamble? This isn't Vegas, it's my life, and the life of my family. And what good is fathering anymore children when you'll be dead in a year, or you can't play with them and show them the wonders of life? What example would I be for my son? "Sorry I'm not going to see you graduate high school, Max, because I was too scared or lazy to take the high, hard road." That's not how I want to teach. But most of the men who have radiation gain their potency, so the point may be moot. Regardless, the choice is an easy one. I'll be meeting with a radiation oncologist in the coming weeks.

The other test that we're waiting for is the blood draw I had today to measure the tumor markers in my blood. If the level has not dropped from the pre-surgery, I'll be at Stage II, though very early in it. The treatment would be the same. I hope to know the results in a day or two.

To say we're relieved is an understatement, to be sure. I'm feeling exhausted from the mental roller coaster I've been on for the last week (plus recovering from the surgery.)

So to show that Angie and I have maintained our sick sense of humor, we came up with variations of the work orchiectomy (or-kee-EK-toh-mee). Here are some of our discoveries:

Dorkiectomy: surgery to remove geekiness.
Bjorkiectomy: surgery performed on a Icelandic indie rocker.
Porkiectomy: surgery to remove a testicle on a fat guy.
Snorkiectomy: surgery to remove a small blow spout on the top of one's head.
Torqueiectomy: surgery to remove the lowest gear in a transmission.
Mickeyrourkeiectomy: surgery that takes 9 1/2 weeks.

I hope this goes to dispell any notions that I've lost my twisted sense of humor.

Rub those rocks, fellas. It could be your life.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Big Day

Well today is the big day. I'm to report to Geisinger at 12:15pm to have a blood draw, that will immediately tested for HcG beta, the tumor marker for testicular cancer. Interestingly, it's only elevated in men with testicular cancer and pregnant women. (I'm pretty sure I'm not pregnant, though it would explain the weight gain.) After that, I'll meet with my urologist to go over the results of the CAT scan that I had on Friday and the biopsy of Lefty, may he rest in pieces.

I've looked around the web for stories of guys in similar situations. I'm hoping that the guys who only have a orchietomy and that's it it aren't posting. Everyone I've run across has had chemo and radiation. It's not that I'm afraid of either, but I'm afraid they will seriously jeopardize my schooling and put Angie in a very strenuous position. Particularly the chemo. My insurance is through the school. Things will get really hard if we lose that. Really difficult.

Besides stressing about the future, I'm pretty sore. I haven't been taking the pain meds they gave me, as I'm not one to indulge in that sort of thing. Perkoset is great, but totally wipes me out. It's not like I haven't been having a difficult time focusing as of late, either. Getting out of bed and out of a sitting position are the worst. Walking is okay, and actually feels pretty good after a brisk walk. And I worry about getting addicted and all that rot. Better in my mind to take some ibuprofen and grin and bear it for a while than run that risk.

So, now I'm going to work on a set for Delicate Balance. It's actually pretty fun and distracting to throw myself into something like that. I guess I picked the right degree program.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Visitors

This has been a great week or so for visitors. Nana was here last weekend, Grandma Kathy is now here for the week and Uncle Dave and our friend Jay arrived last night. I've been taking pictures like a fiend and will be sure to post some soon!

Nana and Dave first met Max the day he was born, which also ended up being the night they didn't think he would survive. Grandma Kathy & Grandpa Stu Fu flew in from Minnesota a couple weeks later while he was still in the NICU. Suffice it to say, the boy they're re-meeting this week is a completely different person! It's so fun to watch them interact with him. Aunt Dr. Becky, Uncle James and Aunt Katie will meet him in a couple weeks at Thanksgiving, too.

Way back when we met at that crazy little theatre in Vermont in '01 and were 'just friends', we had lengthy conversations about our families and how important they were to us. And since our marriage in '06 and eventual plans to have child/ren, we knew they would have an amazing family and support system.

This is (of course) true to the day and it's too bad Max isn't loved and adored. ;) We are so lucky.

P.S. Max was a champ at his doctor's appointment yesterday. He received four shots and Mom cried like a baby. He also weighed in at a whopping 8 lbs, 13 oz! (This is up from 7 lbs, 15 oz. last Wednesday!) We're guessing he'll be at least 10 lbs by Christmas.

~AB

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Early Intervention

We had a meeting with Early Intervention today at our house. It has been determined that due to being a preemie, Max qualifies for the program. Basically what will happen is that a physical therapist will come to our house once a week (or more or less if we choose) to work with him, in addition to four massage therapy sessions over the next year. The therapist will work with him to strengthen not only muscles, but his overall development as well.

The evaluator checked many different areas (i.e. reflexes, vision, overall demeanor, etc). She was quite impressed with how he follows our faces/eyes/voices and his neck strength. She seemed to think he's on track for his adjusted age, but will only benefit from extra help. The service plan will be set up within the next two weeks and then we'll start scheduling appointments.

Tomorrow is Max's first synagis shot. This is the shot that will help his body fight off RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and other viruses, should he run into them. Although he's doing great, his little lungs are still growing and he needs all the protection he can get. The shot is given to many preemies and other high risk babies during flu season, which is November to April in this area according to our pediatrician. One he has the shot tomorrow, he'll have to have one once a month on the same day for the duration of the season. It's an extremely expensive (and necessary!) shot and is thankfully covered by our insurance! In addition to the synagis, Max will also have three two-month shots tomorrow. Mommy is not looking forward to watching her baby poked so many times, but knows it needs to be done. You'd think after the whole NICU experience this would be nothing!

In other news, we're holding up. Michael is still really sore, but such a trooper. The stubborn mule convinced me to let him take Bernie for a short walk after dinner tonight, citing that the doctor said walking would help him heal. I couldn't fight or protect him on that one. He and the Maxster are currently having some father/son time right now- the Penguins game is on! =) And as for me, I'm doing fine- just tired. I'll get plenty of sleep once my boys are healthy, but until then, taking care of them is my #1 priority!

Drudgery and Rain

So halfway class this morning, I realized that I forgot my note cards.  No biggie, I can steal some from someone, but for some reason that really got me down.  That and I realized that class isn't starting for another hour and a half after its usual time today.  So I have some time to kill.

It's raining here in State College.  A cold rain too.  I'm supposed to do a lot of walking to speed recovery, and Penn State is great for that (my classes are in two buildings on the opposite sides of campus) but the rain isn't helping.  I'm walking like a very old and decrepit man.  It's difficult to stand up straight, as it tugs on my incision.  I have to pull my books behind me in a rolling bookbag, because I can't lift anything.  I take short and shuffling steps.  It's like I'm ready to play Willie Loman.  It's not forever, I know, but still, it's not how I like to carry myself.  Especially when I'm surrounded by many spry and bouncy undergraduates.  And the really funny part is that I have to wear athletic pants, because they're stretchy and easy on my wounds.  Ironic that I the clothes I have to wear were made for exactly the type of activity I shouldn't be doing.  

Angie and Max were up most of the night.  She was exhausted when I got up this morning.  Fortunately, Grandma Kathy is here and loves nothing more than to dote on little Max, so Angie went to sleep for a while and Max was curled up in Grandma's arms when I left.  I worry that Ange is burning the candle at both ends.  I'm so thankful that Grandma is here, and Nana before that.  Uncle Dave will be up this weekend, and before you know it, it will be Thanksgiving and many relatives will be able to help.  Hopefully, my treatments won't be too taxing on me, and I can participate in the day to day activities like I did before.  At the very least, I just hope that I'm not putting too much on my wife.  And I know what she'll say.  "I said in sickness and in health, and I meant it."  She' so predictable.  

I have an appointment this Monday to go over what the lab has discovered about my condition,  and what my treatments will be.  Hopefully, surgery will be all that is needed, possibly radiation.  As I mentioned before, I'm not a fan of not knowing what is coming down the pike.  I feel like I'm about to enter tech week without a production meeting.  Being totally unprepared is not how I like to go about anything, as those of you who have worked with me well know.  Nor do I enjoy feeling like I'm dropping the ball, and I'm starting to feel that way about school.  But I'll catch up, like I did before.  I truly enjoy the work.  I feel myself growing as an artist and as a professional, even though I've been here a relatively short time.  I get frustrated when I feel I'm not moving in that direction all the time, but it's hard to concentrate while the anesthesia is working itself out of your system.

Don't let this seemingly depressed post full you, though.  I am going to beat this.  There is no other option in my mind.  I am still willing to speak about it to anyone who has questions.  We shall persevere.  We will be stronger for it.  We have already found blessings that go with the situation, and we will find many more, I'm sure.  

But, sometimes one just needs to bitch a little.  

Consider yourselves bitched at.

Thanks for listening.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oy, that Smarts!

Well, it's been 24 hours, and I gotta admit, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. Now, granted, I'm not ready to run, jump, or even get out of bed too quickly, but all in all, it's really no big deal.

The incision hurts the most. Laughing and coughing are a real drag. It feels like I've done 3000 situps on my left side. I keep looking for the six pack abs, but alas, no luck.

I don't "feel" any different, at least not yet. That may change after the swelling goes down, but at this point, I'm glad I didn't opt for the prosthetic. There's very little soreness in my groin. They gave me perkoset, and I took two on the ride home, but other than that, I've been doing fine with 4 ibuprofen every so often.

I've never had surgery before when I've been under a general anesthesia, so the whole experience was a little weird. Literally, I'm breathing deep, and the next thing I know, the nurse is waking me up in recovery. Crazy. I slept like a drugged up baby last night, and I'm sure my wife checked up on me more than she's telling me. Today, I kinda drifted in and out of sleep, and played with Max a bit.

On Monday, I have my follow up appointment. They'll take another blood draw to look for a decrease in the tumor markers, and they'll go over the results of the CAT scan I'll have on Friday. Hopefully, the surgery is all I'm going to need at this point, in addition to a lot of follow up appointments.

I'm really glad I checked myself. I wish men would feel as comfortable talking about this as women were about breast cancer. So much machismo is based on our genitals. But how butch is a corpse? As Angie will tell you, I'm not really shy about talking about anything. I'll go into great descriptive detail if anyone has any questions. If one person can learn something, then it makes this even more meaningful for me.

I'll keep everyone updates as events warrant.

Michael

Morning Update

Me: "How are you feeling?"

Him: "Kind of like I've been run through the ringer"

Me: "Hit by a semi, huh?"

Him: "Nah, more like a fat kid on a bicycle"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Surgery Day

Here's an overview of our day at Geisinger...

12:00pm
We checked Michael in at In/Out Surgery (a half hour early), which was coincidentially mere footsteps from the NICU Family Room where we posted many a blog during our stay there with Max. The rather large waiting room was packed, but we were fortunate to find three open seats over in a corner with enough room for Max's stroller. And so began the waiting...

2pm(ish)
Michael was called up to the main desk. A few minutes later he returned to the seats and said they'd call him twice more before the surgery- once to sign a release form and then when it was actually time. Max ate, slept and had his diaper changed. He was also quite the attraction for the couple sitting across from us. ("Look at that hair! How old? How cute!")

4pm
They finally called Michael's name to sign the form and within minutes he came back to say goodbye to us. It was time. After they took him in, we had a quick bite at the coffee shop. (Again, an all-too-familiar Geisinger locale.) Afterwards, we moved to a little room off the main waiting room with comfier couches and more space. I think I leafed through every possible Ladies Home Journal, People, Star and Redbook possible and eventually dozed off for a bit.

5:45pm
I'd just woken up when a nurse walked over and informed us that the surgery hadn't even begun until 15 minutes prior, so we settled back in knowing we had at least another hour left. (Again, more eating, sleeping and being adorable on Max's part. Not that I'm biased.)

6:10pm
I was called up to the front desk and told to answer the red phone on the desk when it rang- the doctor wanted to talk to me. My heart sunk. Fortunately, she was just reporting that the surgery was finished, that it'd gone well and that Michael did great! WHEW. The only restrictions he was given was that he can't drive a car for 24 hours or lift anything over 20 lbs for 6 weeks. I know this will be particularly difficult for him (being the go-getter that he is), but I'm going to give him 'tough love' and make sure he abides by the rule! (PSU peeps, please keep a watchful eye and help me out with this one!) =) He's also just supposed to plain old REST, which I'll also be enforcing. The nurse then suggested I go fill Michael's prescriptions and when I returned I could go in and see him. (Lots of Max & Nana cuddle time in the meantime!)

6:50pm
Returned from pharmacy and headed back to recovery to see Michael. He was groggy and pale, but more alert than I expected. He reported that he'd been told that the results of his Monday blood work looked good (knock on wood). He'll be able to explain more in-depth once he's feeling stronger, but basically they look for all kinds of 'tumor markers' and want the numbers to be under two. Only one of his markers was above and it was only 2.2. This more or less indicates that they caught the cancer early and that it hopefully hasn't spread!!! =) It will still take a week and a half or so until the results come back regarding if it reached the lymph nodes, though. On a side note, it turns out that his anesthesiologist today was one that was in the room when they attempted to give me epidurals before Max was born!

7:30pm
The nurse sent me back out to gather the two cuddle bugs and load up the car. Another nurse pushed Michael downstairs in a wheelchair to meet us at an outside entrance. He took his first dose of pain killer.

8pm
We hit the road and headed back home. Michael had been fasting (both food & water) since midnight last night (poor guy!), so we ordered a delicious late dinner from one of our favorite take out places up the road and then tucked him into bed. His temperature was low and he was dizzy. Max and I are going to sleep out in the living room tonight so a) he can get a solid night's rest and b) so I don't thrash around and accidentally hit him. (I *might* have the habit of being a little restless when I'm stressed out... sorry, honey!) I turned on the baby monitor (Michael Monitor?) out in the living room so I can hear him if he needs something in the middle of the night. He had the TV on, but I heard him snoring his way into a much-needed deep sleep within 10 minutes.

He did awesome today and I'm so proud to call this man my husband. He has been very brave and open about the cancer and subsequent testicle removal, which I find highly commendable. Gents (and ladies, too!), please be sure to do your self exams! I know it sounds cliche, but it only takes 30 seconds and Michael is proof that those 30 seconds can make a difference.

And as he said tonight before bed- cancer picked the wrong family to mess with!!!

Thank you all (again) for your love and support. My heart is warmed by your notes, concern and generosity. Thanksgiving will have extra special significance this year, that's for darn sure!

~Ange

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bidding Adeiu To Lefty


Well, tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow I will answer the question "What are you willing to give your left nut for?" The answer? My family. My wife. My son. After my appointment today, I have a better idea of what the next few weeks have in store.

Tomorrow at 12:30pm, I'll report to Geisinger for an out-patient orchiectomy
surgery (testicle removal) that will begin around 2pm and last for one hour. They equated it to a hernia surgery. I'll be under general anesthesia, so they recommend that I not drive for 24 hours after waking up and be under the care of someone at home (Angie has volunteered.) For six weeks afterward, I will not be permitted to lift more than 20 lbs (10 lbs will be the max for a few days). However, I will be able to drive starting 24 hours after being discharged.

Once the offending body part is removed, they will dissect it to ascertain the specific type of cancer that is present, and the results should be available after about a week and a half. All indications point to the fact that we have caught this very early. Pinpointing the type of cancer and how far it's spread will dictate the treatment that I receive. I have a CAT scan scheduled for Friday evening to see if the cancer has spread to my lymph nodes in the abdomen. The treatment can range from just the surgery tomorrow to radiation, to radiation and chemo. If the cancer turns out to be a specific rare variety, then I will need to go back into surgery so they can inspect all of the lymph nodes in my abdomen. This surgery will take about 4-6 hours and would be scheduled immediately after identifying the cancer as that one specific variety.

So, in short, I know what I'm doing for the next week and a half. After that is hazy, but I have high hopes.


So after tomorrow it's hurry up and wait again. And that's the part that really sucks. Not knowing what we're up against. Just give it a first, middle, and last name, and turn me loose. Patience is a virtue, and I want some NOW.

Nana is here now and Grandma Kathy is coming on Wednesday. Uncle Dave and our buddy Jay are coming up on Friday, so we have the help to make this easier. And Max will meet more of his family while Daddy sits around with an ice pack on his giblet.

If you like the t shirt that I'm going to be wearing tomorrow to my surgery (I don't think lipstick will convey the right message), check out some of
these. And if you like those, check out this website. Totally searchable.

Talk to everyone soon.

Oh, and everyone better believe that I'm hitting them up hard for donations for Relay for Life this year! Big time.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hiccups!

video

Here is a fun little video of Max hanging out with Dad and getting the hiccups. Ah, the small wonders of life.

Life = Roller Coaster

It's 5am and I can't sleep. I got up to feed Max about an hour ago and he actually went right back down after he was finished eating... but I'm fully awake now.

It's been quite an adventure here in the ol' household. We're a bit overwhelmed by the recent news of Michael's potential diagnosis to say the very least. This is definitely something we didn't see coming! Max is finally home and thriving, and now this. We're taking it in stride, though. Yes, we'll allow ourselves to be scared/angry/etc., but we're also going to laugh our way through it. As we learned during our time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU from now on), we NEED to laugh. More importantly, we need to ALLOW ourselves to laugh- even if it's at things that may not be the most 'politically correct' in some cases! As I was just discussing with my friend Amy yesterday, Michael and I have a very twisted and wonderful understanding of each other. We can crack ourselves up until the cows come home, but also have the deepest and most serious love for one another. So scary as this is and will be, our 'mantra' has always (and will continue to be) that we wouldn't be given anything we can't handle. We'll get through it together... which is really all we've ever wanted- to be together as a family.

As Michael reported yesterday, we were at Geisinger on Friday for Max's first follow-up physical therapy session. It went well and Max was a champ the whole trip to & from- the commute is about an hour each way. Michael had class that morning, so I'd been a little nervous about making the trip alone, but he was so good for me! (This is further proof that he's perfectly content as long as he has clean drawers, milk and regular cuddle time.)

The therapist did an evaluation and reported that he's on schedule developmentally for his 'age', which was a whopping 6 days on the day of the evaluation. (Though he was born two months early, they go by his 'corrected' age- i.e. his due date, Nov. 1. We saw the therapist on the 7th.) She gave us a couple of exercises to do with him at home to help him gain strength in his neck and legs. His vision is amazingly ahead of schedule, which is a true miracle considering our poor vision! (I believe that Michael and I cancelled each other out and gave him good eyesight! Wouldn't it be awesome if that was really true... haha!) I was actually not surprised that his vision is coming along though, as we've noticed that he can already recognize us and always searches for our faces when he's not right up next to them. He literally squirms up our chests to be closer to our faces when we're holding him! (Having our son stare at us so intently with his big peepers is a truly wonderful feeling, by the by.)

He still has the typical 'preemie tremors' in his arms, legs and face from time to time, but she said it's normal and will be for a couple more months. It was a very enlightening visit and comforting to know he's doing well. In addition to potential physical therapy here at home, he'll return to Geisinger in two months for another check-up. (We think they're keeping extra special tabs on him, as he was a NICU baby saved by an experimental 'procedure'- that procedure being that he was given nitric oxide as a last resort. It worked!)

The support everyone showed through the Carepages was appreciated more than you will ever know and the same goes here. Thanks for reading- there's a surprising comfort in reflecting and typing. We'll do our best to keep this updated with the latest (and hopefully greatest) news.

Cheers,
Ange

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Initial Blog

From Carepages to Blogger. Let us begin again.

Now that Maxwell is doing much better (eating like a horse, gaining weight) we've decided to move the chronicling of our lives to a blog. We're very grateful for carepages, but I would like to think that we've earned the opportunity to run a more mundane spot on the web. We'll keep the carepages up for a little bit longer (at least until we download all the posts, messages, and pics for Max's scrapbook!) So, I'm not sure how this works, if you can sign up for email messages if you would like to know when we post something new, or how that happens. Anyhoo, we'll figure it out.

Max had an appointment with the physical therapist at Geisinger yesterday. Angie can tell you more about it, but I guess it went well. He's right about where he should be for a preemie. I'm sure she'll tell you more about it. All I know is that he's 8lbs and 21 inches...about normal for any baby!

So, in the midst of all this excitement of Maxwell coming home, and doing well, and settling into life as parents, I found a lump on my left nut during a routine examination. I scheduled an appointment with the student health clinic here at PSU. The doctor (who is great) examined it, and said "yep, that's something we want to pay attention to." He immediately sent me over for an ultrasound, which indeed revealed a solid mass on my left testicle. So, we had a chat, he explained that while the mass could be caused by something else, the most likely cause is testicular cancer. He referred me to a urologist at Geisinger (because, in his words "if it were MY left nut, that's where I'd want to get it treated"...like I said, he's great) and told my that my prognosis was excellent. Most likely it would be a simple matter of "cut and cure", remove the testical and all will be well. If it's spread to the lymph nodes, I'd most likely get radiation, possibly chemo. But regardless, this is a very curable cancer in his words.

So, I meet with the urologist on Monday at 2 to lay out my treatment for the next couple of days. Needless to say, this is not the way I would like to spend a Monday. Angie is hanging tough, but allowed herself to break down a little bit last night, which was good. She needs to let it out.

I wasn't going to mention anything to anyone until after I had a confirmed diagnosis, but, the support that everyone gave to us during Max's trials and tribulations was so wonderful and comforting. While I would be fine sitting on this information for a while, I feel it would be selfish of me to deny my wonderful wife the support that I know she will recieve. And, yes, I'm a little scared myself. The information I have been finding on testicular cancer is somewhat contradictory, so I don't feel like I'm getting a good gauge of what to expect. And I'm the type of guy that doesn't like surprises.

Ironic, isn't it?

Love to all.

Michael