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September 24th through the end of October 2004
I took most of the month of October off to recover from my surgery and adjusted into doing my normal daily activities. I ended up going back to work about 3 weeks after the surgery which was a bit quicker than I expected I would. 3 weeks of doing nothing but taking it easy gets boring fairly quick. I was looking forward to getting back to work and on with my normal duties.

Thursday September 24th we brought Cory home from the hospital. Our instructions were;

  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day
  • Use his "Airlife" inhaler many times a day
  • Get up and walk 10 to 12 times a day
  • Take Dexamethasone and Dilatin on a preset schedule
At first we had a hard time getting him to take his pills, get up and move around, and do he breathing exercise. He was still in lots of pain from the back injury. We were instructed to have Cory get up and walk around 10 to 12 times a day. Cory has a difficult time swallowing pills, especially ones on the larger side. His inital prescription for pain pills were for Darvocet which ended up being too big for him to swallow. Once we switched to Percocet he was able to take those once we cut them in half.

Cory had some friends including his boss come and visit him at home today. He got a gift from all his co-workers. Cory's back pain seems to be getting worse and he was complaining that the pain pills were not longer doing enough good. We called Dr Kokkino to see what we should do about it, they will return our call later today. I decided to de-stress so I went ahead and continued with my normal Friday routine. I didn't wanted to leave, but Cory and his father insisted that is was the best thing I could do for myself. When I got home, I found this note;

Don't freak
but Dr Kokkino's assistant Tammy
called back at 1:30 to say that 
Dr Kokkino wants us to take 
Cory to the emergency room to
rule out a blood clot as the 
cause of his back and leg stiffness
and pain.

I will call at 3pm to give update and
every half hour after that.  Don't worry
until there is a reason.

I am trying hard to stay calm, I want to rush there, to call someone, to do something. It is 4pm and no word yet. I am scared, very scared. I don't know what to do but write in my journal, my stomach is in knots. I finally got a call at 4:30.

Dad and I went directly to the Sacred Heart emergency room and got checked in. Apparantly there was only one doctor on staff that day, we ended waiting for well over and hour. My pain was quite severe at this point. Once I finally got to see the doctor he gave me a shot of 5mg of Morphine and 10mg of Valium. Needless to say the pain was gone, and they thought that it wouldn't come back.

A nurse came in to give my legs an ultrasound to see if she could find a blood clot anywhere. It took about 30 minutes and it turns out I didn't have a blood clot, just pulled muscles.

Just as the doctor predicted my back pain was gone and did not come back at all. I wish I had done it sooner.

Cory got back pumped full of morphine and valium and ate his pizza slice from Napoli that he forced his father to run across the street from the hospital to get while he was floating on cloud 9. It was very good, he gave me the last 1/3 of it. Artichocks, spinach, feta, tomato, cheese, garlic, olive oil, yumm! Worth the Weight Watcher points.

The emergency room visit, although a long wait, was worth it. Now we know it was not a blood clot and he is out of pain. Cory finally fell asleep, completely sleep deprived.

For next few weeks Cory didn't sleep that well and usually got up around 3 to 4am which was about when the pain pills wore off. He ususally didn't go back to sleep and rarely got a good nights sleep for a number of weeks. He wasn't eating like should have been, and wasn't exercising as instructed. But slowly that improved.

On Sunday September 26th Cory's cousin Shyanne and her husband Werner drove down from the Seattle area to visit and see how he was doing. We really appriciated them taking the time to come and visit him, it is a long drive. Shyanne and I made scones and a big family breakfast which was exactly what we all needed at this point.

Cory is doing better because we conviced him to take his maximum amount of pain medication because it will allow him to be more mobile and active. He tried to visit with the family but only wanted to sleep. He is having "healing" type pains at the surgery spot. At this point he still has the 53 staples on his head. He mentioned a few times that he smelled an ammonia smell for no apparent reason. Elaine (one of his nurses) said that if he eats an apple and smells a grapefruit, call the doctor. I guess it turned out to not anything imporatant because it went away on its own.

Monday September 27th Cory friend Rich visited for an hour or so. It really perked Cory up, he seemed just like his old self. It was heart warming for me, because the old Cory is still here. Getting some sleep really made a difference.

Tuesday September 28th Cory and I went for a little walk today. Today is not such a good day for him, maybe he overdid it yesterday. Mostly his entire face and incision pain - dull ache - more like healing pain. Numbness on the top of his head and he started to smell ammonia again. Sitting in the office chair for 5 minutes caused bad back pain. His leg muscles are weaking. We stayed up till about 2:30 in the morning at which time he finally took a Percocet. He slept only until about 7:30.

Somewhere around this time I noticed that I was having a vision problem in my left eye. The best way I could describe it was that I had a ring around the outer portion of my vision that was blurry, but the center was clear. Over the next few weeks it got a little worse in that the ring started shrinking and I started to only be able to see what was right in the center of my vision in my left eye. Nobody had an explanation for why or how this could have happened. My vision was fine after the surgery. More interesting though was that the problem was my left eye. The wrong side of my head from where the surgery and radiation occured. At the request of Dr Kokkino I scheduled an appointment with Dr Richard Hoffman to see if an eye specialist might have any additional insight.

Thursday September 30th we went to Dr Kokkino's office to get the staples removed. No lab results yet, kind of a let down although no news is good news. Getting staples removed was no big deal and didn't seem to hurt him.

I had been having pain in my face, all muscles were sore. As soon as the staples were removed the pain went away.

Saturday October 2nd - I was able to get 8 hours of sleep that night and felt pretty good. I decided to head into work to see if I could catch up on some important stuff I was falling behind on. I spent about 3 hours and was able to take care of a number of things and then went home. It was a productive day, I had over 3000 emails in my inbox when I got to work, and 400 when I left.

Cory and I went to the David Copperfield show at the Hult Center on October 3rd. He had bought the tickets before this whole thing happened and was concerned he wouldn't be well enough to attend. It was a great show, and a fun evening. He wanted to go out to eat afterward and we ended going to Red Robin. It was a sucessful attept at a first outing after the surgery.

It is important to point at that at this point we had no knowledge of him having cancer at all. We knew there was going to be radiation treatments. Nobody knew exactly what type of tumor was removed, samples were sent to various experts for analysis. We were still waiting to hear back from them.

Tuesday October 5th was our first meeting with Dr Fryefield at the Willamette Valley Cancer Center.