The Bridge

To get to work I cross a long bridge over the Tampa Bay. Yesterday morning as I was driving I noticed a difference in the water on one side compared to the other. It's hard not to notice the water, but this morning it felt relevant. North of the bridge was extra choppy and south appeared calm (well, relative for the ocean). The bridge seemed to serve as the dividing line. At first I thought it was because I was still on the portion of land where the bridge acts as the barrier, but as I worked my way towards the middle of the bridge - where the waters collided and where I expected both sides to now be choppy with white caps taking over the calm, I realized that wasn't the case. The difference in the water remained - choppy on one side and calm on the other, with the bridge simply sitting in the middle. I am sure there is some science as to why the water was this way, but please don't tell me because instead it seemed to perfectly portray how I have felt lately.


This week I have felt like I was both sitting on the "bridge" in the middle of what felt like chaos and some sense of peace thanks to our Father, while also fighting to not let the "choppy" waters overtake that peace.


As you know, we were praying to be out of the hospital for Thanksgiving. Our prayer was answered because Brad was discharged on Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, that discharge came with a severe head ache and extreme exhaustion. Brad spent 99% of Thursday and Friday asleep. He basically woke up to take medicine, try to stomach something bland and then back to sleep.


With some extra head ache medicine, we were able to all go to dinner Saturday night.

While we were in the hospital we found out that Brad would be undergoing a stent of localized radiation. 3 weeks of radiation to be exact. I'll be honest, radiation was a shock to us. Actually, it felt like a punch in the gut. We were under the impression that radiation was only if it was needed, as in the tumor wasn't responding enough to the chemo. The tumor shrunk by nearly half which we thought was great! Come to find out, Brad's doctor wanted to see it shrink by 70% or more. So... radiation is now part of his treatment.


Brad will begin radiation on 12/30, after Christmas. Radiation can't start until about a month after chemo ends and we sweet talked his doctor to start after Christmas so we can make it home to see family and friends. Radiation, unlike chemotherapy, won't necessarily make him feel extra crappy, but will make him tired and possibly cause skin irritation. It's also extremely inconvenient. Brad has to go to the treatment center every single day (Mon - Fri) for a 10 minute appointment, and we all know how doctor's visits go, 10 minutes means at least an hour + travel. On the bright side, because chemotherapy and radiation won't run in parallel, Brad will get to take a break from the infusions for a month or so.


We also had his CT mapping appointment today. This will allow them to begin developing his radiation plan. They also took his labs and we had a visit with his doctor. His white blood cell count is sitting at 0.33. That's really low, like - high risk of infection - stay inside - don't touch anything - kind of low. It's expected, hence the reason we are not sitting in a hospital room right now, but nonetheless something to pay attention to.


I had my first true breakdown on Thanksgiving day. After 45 days since we first found out, I had to let it out. I cried. I let the feeling of being overwhelmed out. I did it all while sitting in our garage organizing our Christmas decorations. It was exactly what I needed. My personality needed space. Alone time. A mindless activity. On the flip side, Brad seems to be handling this probably better than anyone. I mean really, when the doctors ask him about his "mental distress" for their records he firmly says "0" (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being bad). He talks about things, sometimes gets frustrated, but ultimately he is just as steady as can be.


This week has been full of a lot of information and even more emotion for us: exhaustion, sickness, peace, overwhelmed, frustration, thankfulness. We are sitting on that bridge, somewhere in between, trying to maintain our positive perspective, sense of peace and not letting the negative emotions knock us around.


What's next: labs are to be taken 2x per week. We will continue to monitor his counts and temperature. We will also be spraying lysol regularly and keeping our hands washed and cooties far away. Oh - and in 2 weeks we move into our new house. We are SUPER pumped about that!


Prayer request: that we are able to maintain positive attitudes because it is still the very beginning. That we continue to learn our individual coping mechanisms as we navigate our current, yet temporary, day to day. Pray that Brad would feel better. Right now, indigestion is a real problem. Also, please pray that this radiation will be effective without long term side effects to Brad's body. While you're praying, also praise Jesus for the fact that we were able to be out of the hospital and with our families this past weekend, including Lincoln! Praise Him, that while we stand in the middle of chaos and calm, He is our steady bridge.


Lincoln has been the epitome of an emotional support dog - he hasn't left our side.

As always, we are thankful you continue to stand by us on our journey,

Natalie


Brad was extremely proud of the length of the PICC line that was in his arm.




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