Monday, November 2, 2009

How to turn a simple operation into two weeks of pure hell in one easy lesson

Hello All

I know many of you are wondering how my simple little operation went and how I am doing. Well the answer is not good and not good, but slowly improving. Let me explain.

We checked into Duke on Sunday, October 18th which was supposed to be only a four day hospital stay. I had a tube stuck down my nose the first day which went all the way into my stomach. I then had to drink some barrium sludge solution which was to help light up my organs and show the doctors a good pathway into my stomach so they wouldn't perforate anything while installing my feeding tube the next day. On Monday I had the operation which was supposed to take around 30 minutes but ended up closer to two hours. While back in my room, recovering, when the drugs started to wear off I was thinking "what the hell, is it supposed to hurt this bad?"

That was the beginning of the next two horrific weeks. I was acutally discharged on Thursday afternoon, for about 12+ hours and stayed overnight locally to see my doctors on Friday when I was scheduled for my next round of chemo. Well when I saw my doctors, and they saw the pain and condition I was in, I was admitted right back to the hospital immediately. The pain was awful but they got it under control, I started to retain some fluids in and around my body cavity which required two "drainings" before I left the hospital. I had a terrible bout with constipation. I've continued to have "no" appetite and have been taking liquid nourishment orally or via the feeding tube. And, you may have heard, the black plague hit the area killing thousands and locusts struck the area whipping out all of the local tobacco crops, (officials are pretty much blaming these last two on me also.)

On the upside, I was finally discharged last Friday and have been at home recovering very slowly. I have the amazing love, and support, and nursing skills of my lovely wife to help me every step along the way. Additionally, you will not believe the amount of visitors I had and where some of them came from. First and foremost I had my two daughters (Pensacola, Fla and Richland, WA) one son-in-law, and two newest granddaughters come to support me and spend time with me. Robin is on maternity leave from work right now and is staying, along with Marjorie and Vivian for an extended period of time. Mark and Jackie had to go back last Friday as Mark was starting a new job on Monday and Jackie had to get back to tend to her kids as Rick had to go back to work flying.

Then I had a couple more total shockers, two old Coast Guard friends, both of whom I was stationed with in San Franscisco in the mid-80s came to visit. John from Kenai, Alaska, and Jeff from Seattle. What a pleasant surprise to see them both. On top of that Annette's sister Margaret and her husband Hall came all the way from southwestern Oregon and visited with me 3 times. Many of Annette's other brothers and sisters a nephew, and her two sons came as well (Oscar, Ike, Dianna, Bill, Myra, Lee, David, and Kelly) I hope I didn't miss anyone in my drugged up state. Thank you each and every one for the effort you made to visit this partially broken down machine.

Unfortunately, we came away from this stay with some not too great news. They said my body is too beat up from all the treatments to have any more chemo treatments, at least for now. In place of this they have hooked us up with some "home health /hospice care." I know what kind of connotation those words carry with them but we aren't thinking that way. However, and I've said this before, your prayers are even more important as they are about the only bullets left that I have to fight this awful disease.

My pain is less here now, the feedings are going fair, I still throw up a lot, the constipation is better but only with medicine to make me churn and burn. I still have no appetite, and I am retaining some body fluids but hey, other than that, I still look marvelous!

Annette and I are certainly enjoying the visit with Robin and her girls. They have brought some needed joy to our household. It is always nice to hear a childs laugh or a babys coo.

Well, I guess that is about it for this blog update. I know the news wasn't too great to hear but it is what it is. Your prayers are needed, don't forget us, please, while we continue this battle.


Drew & Annette

Note from Annette: As you can see, his humor remains intact. It is a great tool in this fight and we do our best to laugh every day. As the summer draws to an end and the trees begin to don their glorious palette of fall colors our thoughts turn to hot cider, and lemonade is enjoyed less often. However, lemonade is also enjoyed hot and spicey! Please hold us close and continue to lift us up. More now than ever .


  1. Dear Drew,
    My sister, Kathy Ruge shared your blog with me in hopes of sharing your great strength and courage throughout your battle. I am simply amazed by your strength. I have been going thru chemo treatments after Colan Cancer Surgery. I am ashamed of all of my complaining after reading your upbeat state of mind and all you have been through. I thank you for sharing this as it has helped me tremendously. You are truely an inspiration and are in my constant thoughts and prayers.
    Bobbi McElrath

  2. Hi Drew,

    Annette is right-you have certainly retained your sense of humor. As I have said before, we know where Robin gets her writing skills! I miss my girls, but can imagine how much you enjoy having them there. My love to you all.


  3. Boy Drew, you had some two weeks. That reminds me of that old classic, "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" So glad you're getting some nice quality time with the kids and grandkids. That kid laughing does work magic doesn't it. Now stay strong and I'm sure that old Wojtanik cantankerousness will prevail. That cancer don't know who it's dealing with!

    As always, we're sending you a slew of positive mind messages, Rod, Brenda & Quinn

  4. Hi Cuz,

    Sometimes it all seems like a bad dream--this cancer that's attacking you. One feels so powerless against it. Your attitude and outlook continue to amaze and inspire me and everyone who knows and loves you. I continue to keep you in prayer.

    Much love,


  5. Hi Drew (and Annette too),

    It's your cousin, Deanna. I ask my mom every morning when I speak to her if she's heard anything new via your mom. She and I marvel together at your incredible strength, and all those that love you. I am so pleased your mom will be coming to see you for a visit. It will do both of you a world of good. Keep laughing, humor is so important.

    Lots of love & good thoughts,


  6. Hi Everybody: I don't know if anybody else has heard. My classmate, Drew, entered eternity last night at 9:30. His mother was there when he passed. We are thankful for all the things that God has allowed him time to do these many months he was sick. The pictures here depict many of those activities. It's bittersweet. Sad to see him suffer here and sad to see him go, but Drew is in Heaven and will be there to greet us all when it's our time. God bless you all for encouraging Drew, my friend, during his illness. But, as my 95 year old aunt says "when God says it's time to come home" it's time... Drew lives in our hearts while we are still here. Dave Armstrong.