Jeff continues to progress in his recovery.  Last week he took more steps out of his door and he has frequently used his wheelchair.  The Occupational and Physical therapists have told him that he is progressing quickly and doing better than other patients that have had the same procedure.

Dr. Lin, the surgeon who performed the procedure, explained that they had to remove a large portion of the femoral nerve.  The femoral nerve supplies the muscles that help straighten the leg. It provides feeling to the front of the thigh and part of the lower leg.  They are taking special care to make sure that Jeff will heal properly and be able to have flexion in his leg.

Jeff has been able to go outside in order to do some walking and to use his wheel chair.  He cannot bear weight on his right leg, so he is learning how to walk lightly and balance on his left leg.

Jeff was transferred to the rehabilitation unit on Tuesday.  He is continuing to progress quickly.  He has met some of his goals for discharge and is constantly trying to challenge himself in order to expedite his release from the hospital.  They are also working toward weaning him off the pain medication administered through his IV.  He is starting to take oral pain medication.

We are hopeful that he will be released by Wednesday of next week.  We will be staying in Houston until the end of the month so that Jeff can continue therapy and we can feel comfortable with our transition back to Denver.  There is a lot to be done in order to get the house ready for Jeff’s return.

Santos and I moved to an apartment near the hospital.  We needed to have a handicapped accessible space for Jeff when he is released.  Please let me know if you need our new address.

I hope to be more regular with updates.  With Santos, Jeff’s therapy schedule, and just the normal activities of life, sitting down at a computer is a challenge.

Update from Jeff

I was moved from the post-operative floor of the hospital last night about 9:00 PM or so. I am now residing on the rehabilitation floor where I get three hours of therapy each day. It is an extremely positive sign and I continue to progress quicker than anyone anticipated. That said, I hate cancer.

It turns out that having one’s right pelvis, hip bone and joint amputated is getting off with ease around these parts. One of the daily activities on this floor is upper and lower body strength training as a group each morning just before lunch. Having been bedridden for at least 23 hours of each day for over two weeks didn’t afford me much of an opportunity to meet any of my fellow pilgrims on this journey. I will now have a chance to interact with everyone else in this section of the floor on a daily basis.

I hate cancer because it takes. Most obviously, it takes lives, but it takes in so many other ways. I have met many brave and decent people since being here at MD Anderson, many who fight seemingly undaunted by the odds stacked against them–odds like or worse than the ones that came with the original erroneous diagnosis I was given. Sometimes dying is far easier that living, and I can’t begin to put words to what watching those who comport themselves with grace and dignity is like. There is a contingent of bitter ones too, and who can blame them? They are angels, each and every one of them.

I’ve met people who have lost their children to cancer, those who’ve lost their breasts or, like me, the ability to procreate; I met a man with half of a face. Cancer takes legs, arms, significant portions of one’s skull, one’s ears, throat and voice, sight, lungs, heart as well as every other organ or body part conceivable. To understand this place and this journey, one needs to come to grips with irreparable loss, often in the form of extreme physical dismemberment. It isn’t easy.

Today in rehab, I met a woman who has been dealing with breast cancer and later metastasis since she was three. That’s not a typographical error. I met the first guy in the US to have my same surgery today. He is not doing nearly as well as I am. Upon operating, the surgeons realized they were dealing with a rarer strain of chondrosarcoma and he will require chemotherapy for his entire bone structure once he is well enough to stand it. To make matters worse, his hip popped out of joint and he is due for surgery tomorrow in order to correct him again. The man I sat next to in the gym was an adept wheelchair driver. It turns out it is because he also had a hemipelvectomy several years ago once his thyroid cancer metastasized in his hip. Electing not to reconstruct, his femur made it’s way up into where a hip had once been and froze there, leaving his leg paralyzed. The cancer has since spread to his spine (which is now fused in significant areas), behind his now glassy right eye and it currently resides in his jaw. We took turns sharing the limited floorspace in the rehab gym so we could each finish our regimen of leg lifts with our functional legs.

These are my cohorts, my fellow travelers on this fraught road. Together we fight the urge to quit for a moment, or an hour, or a day–or for good. Their effort inspires me, just as I hope mine does them. They are moment-by-moment reminders of what was and was not my lot in life. They remind me that every day is icing on the cake, and I wanted to pay them the homage they deserve. They are angels, each and every one of them.

As an aside, I love the replies to the blog posts that the collective you keep sending our way. I have read them all–numerous times, in fact. In moments of anxiety or downtroddenness, they have lifted my spirits. We are so fortunate to live in an age in which distance doesn’t really matter all that much. Your love and kindness has helped bridge the gap between Denver and Houston. Thanks.

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