Thursday, July 30, 2009

Welcome back Dad. Per report of my sisterbaby, he didn't take a pain pill today. That is so me. I don't like how those make me feel... neither does he. All wacky and fuzzy. I talked to him a bit ago as well. Said he's drinking Diet 7 up?! That's creepy. First of all, of all the bevs on this planet, Diet 7 up? I'm not knockin' it... I guess I should try it... but just a little odd. AND... he said he drank a cup of coffee with mom the other day. NOT A DAY IN MY LIFE HAVE I SEEN MY DAD DRINK SOME COFFEE... and I'm going to be 32 this fall.
I suppose with a diagnosis like this, one may retreat to the antithesis of the sequalae.
I will enjoy enjoying a cup of coffee with dad.

A little politico... funny how you see things you never did before... would I have ever clicked on this New York Times link a month ago?? Um, moment of clarity.. I won't post the link, because it would send mom into some sort of grand mal seizuresque fire spitting skin peeling episode, but it was all about how health care companies should ration, what drug? Sutent. Is it worth it this Sutent? Should our premiums go up so some dude can extend his life with Sutent?
Suddenly, this dude happens to be Dad, so yes, it is worth it. Keep payin' your premiums and I will too. Worth it.

I have been urged to post by the patriarch via the matriarch. It is, afterall, my blog, and they are looking for any changes in perspective.
Perspective 1: Dad didn't die during surgery. This is good.
Perspective 2: Was worried he would be really creepy sick during recovery, alas, he was only wacky that one day, but slept it off and got back to normal. This is good.
P3: Perspective is a long word to type over and over, so i'm going to abbreviate (another long word).
P4: I'm envisioning some sort of scar busting incision bursting splatter of ooze if one of the grandkids (my Ethan I speak of specifically) forgets that PawPaw is not their usual trampoline o' fun. I got the big truck stuck in the sand once at the beach, and that had exponential consequences. I was pregnant and so obscenely chubby elsewhere, that the family took pity on me and didn't scold me so hard for having to get wenched out of a sand ditch.... Anyway... I'm worried the scar busting gut ooze would be all my fault, and that would be bad.
P5: Dad's not dead. I know many people in my circle who can't say the same thing, and for this, my perspective remains the same.
P6: Luckily, for us kids of D&B, I don't perceive this diagnosis bringing anything to the table that wasn't here before. We love eachother, we show up on eachothers doorsteps, we tell eachother that we need eachother. We go to the beach. We call just to say hey. If that bumper sticker is true, and in case of rapture my car is suddenly unoccupied (mom got a kick out of expalining that one to us in the back of a doo-doo brown VW Rabbit in the early 80s), then there woulnd't be anything left unsaid.

Perspective complete. Must leave my life as writer, and return to life as Mother of Two Trying To Pack In One Suitcase Because I'm Also Married To An Accountant And That $25 Extra Baggage Fee that American Airlines has Started Could Better Be Spent Towards An IRA or A Savings Account so We Can Retire Someday Fund so We Hope There's A Washer and Dryer There Because Everybody Only Gets Three Pairs of Undies.

Lervy Dervy (hang around with us enough, and you'll learn our Byrd-speak)

Lervy Dervy, Meaur.

Living with a New Ride

We actually had an offer for a trade! Thanks Vic and Susan; we think your kind offer is awesome. Trading the T-Byrd for your car would have been a great solution. We actually got your phone call as we were driving home in the new car. We just didn't know how to operate the hands-free system and hung up instead! Anyone who missed the offer can still come ask to drive the car. I don't know whether OKW will agree, though.

We went to three different dealerships today and finally made the deal. It's a good time to buy a car. We got LOTS of attention. This car has more computer power than early space vehicles. The absolute best feature, besides safety and functionality and all that, is the GPS system. Many of you have heard the stories of my driving adventures. Lost R Us. Cheryl Dawn and I drove past our Pa-pa's house because we were talking and driving at the same time. Yes, he had lived on that same road our entire lives. Bryan asked me to pick up something from one of the tile distributors in Maumelle. Yes, I had been there before. No, I didn't find it until I had passed it twice. So, I am just tickled to have a big ole screen that will show and tell me where to go. (CD, our road trip is on.)

The One Kidney Wonder has made great progress since getting home. First, he slept a lot. Then he started moving around. Having construction workers in the house helped; he had to go see what they were doing. He's gone up and down the stairs without incident. Today, we stopped by ART on the way to the car lot. Everyone was thrilled to see him. I had to shepherd him out before he got too tired to car shop.

His hoarse voice is a mystery. It's too late for irritation from the intubation during surgery. I hope our resident speech path will solve it for us next week.

We are grateful for our permission to make the Great Annual Beach Trip. We are taking all precautions. What do you do when you get a diagnosis of cancer? You live.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wanna Trade Cars?

This is, admittedly, a long shot, but here goes. Y'all know that Bryan drives a sweet little black Thunderbird. The drop-top, as Charles calls it. Problem is, he can't get into it right now. I have a perfectly comfortable Buick, a grandma car, the kids call it. Second problem, it might not make it to the beach. So, we have to either buy a new car tomorrow or rent one to go to the beach. Both are possibilities; I definitely need a new car.

Here's where this gets fun. Do you happen to have a comfortable, reliable, smooth-riding car that you haven't smoked in that you would like to trade for a week of driving around looking good in the T-Byrd? Let's talk, friends.

Mama Byrd

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Finally Home

Well, the numbers were ok this morning and so OKW got released. We are officially through the initial stage. The rotten kidney is expunged and low the KORK is healed !!!! uh NOT

Surgery wasn't bad, initial recovery wasn't bad, being home definitely isn't bad. I've got some healing to do, but I have good genes and good meds and good friends and good Doctors and I'll get there.

I'm liken these Hawaiian shirt pics. Mike couldn't be here so he sent a pic with his Hawaiian shirt and a lei. He wore it to work. I'm sure lots of tourists now know the story of KORK. Then I got a package in the mail with two leis inside from him. If you've been looking for the perfect gift and haven't a clue, they have it at the tower. They may have the only one of that thing in the region or maybe in the country. I modeled the lei in my coming home pic. Pretty snazzy huh.

I thought I looked a little thinner than when I went in the hospital. That wouldn't be a bad trend
and we'll see how that goes. Gotta do the blood thinners so I now officially have a prescription to not eat Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Greens, and other green leafy things.

Jerry lives here in LR and he wore his shirt to work on Thursday and then dropped by to see me after work. You can't go wrong with a support network like that. He was by the hospital a couple of times.
Shaun got Ethan and Elliot and himself all Hawaii'ed up for a pic. This guy deserves a big pat on the back and a cold beer. Taking care of a 3 year old and a 5 month old plus yourself while your sugar is 200 miles away lookin' after her Momma and Daddy is yoeman's work. One of Shaun's comments was about my pasty white legs..... wait until he sees this scar !!!!!

Talmon has been by several times. I would call him the keeper of all the good stuff from the old
Mountain Home Class of '69.

Matt came down for the weekend and was the recipient of a Hawaiian shirt that Carrot bought
for me. Since when have I been a medium? He has loaned us his new bride for over a week and we have enjoyed having her back under the roof. Oh, back to the medium size thing.... she gave Sam some pajama's she bought for me... like 3 pairs.... all size Men's Small..... I think we're gonna have to lift the leaves up and scan what's going on inside the carrot.

My brother Barett and his family were here on Friday and Sunday. I was on a cardiac floor but they let us have our hookielou anyway. It was just great to get to visit.

My brother Hiram has been here all week. He was quietly tending to little details at my plant, making sure things ran smoothly.

And LORDY the phone calls, I love hearing from all of y'all. There are scads of e-mails to answer and messages to return. Carrot has been relaying your messages from her email.
I just took to big ol white pills that should put an end to my evening. nite nite all

Monday, July 27, 2009

St. V's still won't let Moo and Poo into the blog... so I post this for Moo~

Sunday must be go-see-people-in-the-hospital day! Besides Rachel, Matt, and me, we also saw folks from church, Barett and his family, Sam and his family (including Eli and Emily), Jerry Smith and Talmon Preyer (college/hometown buddies), one of the Pickoids. He held court in the misnamed "solarium" which is an interior room with fluorescent lights and lots of chairs. He was a tired puppy today. Having napped much of the day, he texted Rachel requesting a Reuben sandwich because the hospital food is unappealing. (They sent turnip greens which I ate quite willingly.)

He's still in the hospital because his blood isn't thin enough yet. There's a target number (2.0--2.5) that the doctors want to hit before releasing him into the wild. His number was 1.6 today. They come draw blood at 3:00 a.m. Sleep is not the reason to stay. His pain is being well-managed by oral meds. He's showering and shaving himself. He's also figured out how to get into and out of bed with the least amount of stitch pulling.

We have really been pleased with St. Vincent. The nurses are both skilled and friendly. Sheila got him a diet Coke then ordered ham sandwiches for him after he turned up his nose at the first tray he was given. John stopped to explain the blood PT/IMR test and what Bryan's numbers have been. Each one has listened to requests and been as helpful as a floor full of patients allows.

Dr. Baltz just came by. He said if Bryan's IMR rises to 1.7 he can go home tomorrow. He explained more about Cumadin saying that he may need a daily injection as well as the oral tablets. THEN I asked if he has heard about our FAMOUS BEACH TRIP goal. After hearing about it, he said we can go, no problem, come see me when you get back, have fun. When Bryan said, "Now, I don't want to do anything foolish," Dr. Baltz said, "Wait, you still don't get this cancer thing, SHE's in charge. You do whatever she says."
I assured them both that I will worry about everything. For now, we're almost giddy.

We will send some great pictures from the beach!

I feel like if there were ever a time to buy a man some shell-art from Alvin's Island, this is the time. Maybe an airbrushed visor... something.... Dr. Baltz deserves something....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

He's wireless, and ready for the hula.
FROM OKW! The hospital network wouldn't let him sign in to the blog...

Hurrah!!!! it's like being in 6th grade.... cause/effect if you
pass gas, then you get to eat. Who makes up all these rules

Finally got my first tray of hospital fare on Saturday at noon. I
ate the roll, and the dessert. Debbie ate the turkey, and the thrice
cooked brockly (sp) and the mashed potatoes. So it looked like i
cleaned my plate. Doctors like that and want to measure. I could
bore you with details surrounding body elimination systems, but
suffice it to say everything is working.

My two main surgeons promptly took the week off after cleaning up the
RK. That musta been overwhelming...don't worry, I'm left in
extremely capable hands. They're talking about goin home on Monday.
I hope Debbie is ready for that, I'll try not to be a grouch.

Rachel and Matt ruined my breakfast this morning. I had a choice....
fluffy flat scrambled eggs and a tough bisquit St. Vincent's
Special OR some Purple Cow Pie.....geeeeze, I'd never seen that on
the menu before and I can assure you that it went down smoothly.
There is just something magical about purple ice cream. Thanks Matt
and Rach.

The OKW is doing just fine !!!! I'm enjoying hearing from every
one of you and as my Daddy would say " I love all of you".

Purple Hull

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Finally! They served the man a drink. Now on with the Hawaiian theme. We are still hoping that we can all go to the beach. It just wouldn't be right if all the people aren't in attendance, but we'll do what we have to do. PawPaw is usually the one that catches the early rising grandkids to give us parents some extra sleep... I do say that if he gets to go this year, he can be off early morning buscuit and kid duty... JUST THIS YEAR. We'll wake up with our own children if we have to. Err ee err eee (that's me rubbin' my eyes). Now, if shnazzy dress could ensure our trip, then I have no worries!
Here's Mike. He's known Dad since Dad's been around. They grew up together in MoHo. That's always been what I call Mountain Home. I remember Mom telling me it was disrespectful once. I don't remember why. I still call it MoHo. No disrespect intended.

The Oliver manboys... I was going to donn my coconut bra and hula skirt, but I'm only 6 months post partum. I hope that image gets out of your head sometime today.

Here's Jerry. He was Dad's roomate at U of A. I'm sure he has some stories to tell.

And Matt. I swear we don't intentionally torture new family members. Mom asked him to nicely put on this peach number last night. He obliged. Who could say no to a steamed carrot?

Talked to OKW a bit ago... he's enjoying his Diet Coke and looking forward to more tubes being yanked from his body. They're transferring him from needle meds to oral meds today, so if we ever look back and wonder when his addiction to pain pills started, it's today. I'm just kidding. His only addiction is caffinated, calorie free, and delicious!


Friday, July 24, 2009

Good night good night. Barett, Michele and Sara came by on their way to Mountain Home. Then Dr. Baltz came, we turned on the overhead light to see him better and then started asking away. In a nutshell here is what he said, his recommendations and what's gonna happen in the next month ...

- They will do a new set of scans in about 3 weeks after Dad has healed from the RK surgery. This will give him a new starting point to know exactly what we are dealing with. A radiologist who specializes in cancer will take new measurements.

- In the next couple of weeks we will choose the drug of choice to start his treatment. Once the scans are over we will start treatment.

- Success is measured by stability. If the tumors aren't growing, that equals success. If they shrink - that is great.

- Dr. Baltz's drug of choice is Sutent. He has 6 patients on it currently and 2 are doing very well, 2 are doing well and 2 are doing ok. I asked what "ok" means and he said "the tumors are stable." So that's good news.

- There is a new drug coming out next week that might also be a possibility. We've got lots of decisions. Baltz said there are too many choices but that's not always a bad thing.

- No need to biopsy the lung mets and put Dad through that because it won't change the course of treatment.

- Interlukin 2 or whatever it's called makes you feel like you have the "nuclear flu" and the other drugs are more successful with fewer side effects. Izzy Stephens (Gray's) is currently on IL2 and we all know she had some rough days.

We all agree that we like Dr. Baltz. He had the right amount of humor and knowledge and we all felt good after talking with him. He listened to all our questions and repeated some stuff for me since I have horrible listening skills (probably genetic from Carrot and Purple Hull). He also said that most of the stuff we are reading on the Internet is old and that RCC drugs have come a long way this year. He told Dad they'd meet in his office when he's all healed from surgery and "the next time I see you wear a manlier outfit."

OKW update: he got his bandages and the tubes sticking out of his neck removed. He has one gnarly scar.

He's ready for some Key Lime Pie. Nurse Nancy II said it sounds like pudding to her (one of the first foods he'll get.)

Nighty night.


Hey peeps. I just got to read the path report. They confirmed that the tumor was indeed renal cell carcinoma, clear cell type and gave it a Fuhrman grade of 3. I understand that the grading indicates the cells' degree of deviation from normal. Dr. Meadors is in here now, so I gotta listen..........we just asked about the beach trip again, and Dr. Meadors just told us that the line between fun and dumb is sometimes transparent. I love that line. Meadors said he looks good, predicts that it will be Monday probably before he gets outta here. He gets his neck port out today, and they'll take his bandages off today. They'll take his epidural out tomorrow. Big John (man nurse- calls himself an adrenaline junkie) is about to take out the neck port. I'm heading back up the mountain to Fayetteville to tend to my boys. Shaun is an excellent Daddy, but we all know it's easier when the kids don't outnumber the laps.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

There he sits. We've been staring at him an awful lot. Now he's asking for his iphone, laptop, and briefcase. He was complaining of itching (either from the chest shave or the epidural) and Fancy Nancy the Nurse gave him a vile of benedryl in his neck port. He was snoring about 3 minutes later, so us girls hopped over to the Catina Larado for gigantic margaritas and guacamole. How often to you get lunch with your mama and sister on a Thursday?

Fancy Nancy recommended that Dad take three walks a day. She said next time she won't even need to go with him. I don't know what she would have done if Dad had gone down, but she felt useful.
More later. E
Dad just ROSE UP! out the bed and went for a walk down the hall. He tagged both ends of the hall and sat back down. I'll post pics when I have my computer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just went to see the One Kidney Wonder. He's still a bit in and out on his good drugs, but he was able to confirm that "righty is back to normal." He is real real thirsty and they'll only give him ice chips. We said goodnight, and we'll check on him tomorrow.
Alright. We've got mama back on the porch. She is resting assured that Dad is in good hands. He's at CVSU (Cardiovascular Surgical Unit)at St. Vincent. We left him snoring and the nurse (Lori) said that he would probably be snoring the rest of the day and night. We took our opportunity to get Mama home for a little rest.
The manna of food in this house is IMPRESSIVE! Since I've stepped foot in the door, I have had chips with this yummy bean salsa, and some apple pie. That's an excellent combo.
So back to the man of the hour. He had a tube sucking the contents of his stomach out, apparently to counteract the nausea of the anesthesia, coming from his nose, which Lori the Nurse said he had been complaining about since he regained consciousness. He had an arterial blood pressure thing in, and a little splint to keep that in. He had a nasal canula in his nose. He had some sort of heater on his bed to warm him up. He was swiped in benadine. He sounded just like Pops(Dad's dad)when he grumbled about his nose tube. Pops was not a grumbler, he was a gentle man indeed, just the tone of his voice came through. So that's all I saw... he had a sheet pulled up to his neck. Joe went by a bit ago and said that he was still snoring. Now I'm going to eat some chicken and rice something that rachy and mom are noshing on. Smells excellent.
One Kidney Wonder says " I feel like crap and I don't know jack shit" and "get somebody to get this crap out of my nose.". Mom assured him that his liver was gone. He looked at her funny, then told her "nice shirt."
Dr. Langford came out and said they're sewing him up. Said everything went as planned, thrombus came out easily. Said there was bleeding around the site of the thrombus, which they were prepared for. They gave him "cell saver" which is I think catching the blood that falls outta ya and processing it and sticking it back in. Said he has an lateral incision of around 8 inches. Ok, now Dr Meadors just came out. He's stable. I assume dr meadors is stable too, but i was referencing dad. He will stay in CVICU tonight. Again reported that there was lots of bleeding, that there were lots of auxillary blood vessels that had grown, but they got "most of it back in him." Mom will probably get to go back in 45 mins or so. Overall, dr measors said he thought the overall result was good.
I was going to post a picture of the waiting game. I think we're the loud people. Mom's crackin jokes, and they're actually funny. This iPhone fails me, and I can't get a picture in. We've had no updates.


They started at 11:45. Now we have 2.5 hours to wait. Oh, and Joe found his bananna.

Here we sit...

We're all camped out in the surgical waiting room. Naturally, things have gotten off to a slow start. Reminds me of a song we used to sing when we went camping with Scouts. "Here we sit like ticks on a toilet seat...." but I digress. As we've been throughout this process, we're surrounded by family and friends.

We'll post more as we know more.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Give Blood

As you have read, I'm a worrier. I could recite a litany of Things-That-Could-Happen-To-You. When the kids were teenagers, they understood that, "Don't run with scissors," was shorthand for that list. They had been drilled. Bryan says he won't have to worry because I will.

I do see the rainbows, though. We have been abundantly blessed in our family. We are surrounded by children, their amazing spouses, and our precious grandchildren. Our circle of family and friends is wide and loving.

I absolutely believe that everything is going to be ok. The surgery is just a procedure. The recovery will not be more remarkable than many other surgeries that we all have had. (The Goads have recommended that we record Bryan's babbling when he's coming out of anesthesia. That will be fun.) We also want everyone to know that we don't think we're the only family with something Really Bad happening. But we do thank you all for all your letters and emails and calls.

Many of you have said that you would do ANYTHING to help us. Today the nurse told us that Bryan would probably need two units of blood. We tend to take that blood supply for granted. There is no reason or time for us to ask for specific donations of blood for Bryan, but we know that giving blood or platelets is a life-saving gift that is relatively easy to do. (They give you cookies when it's over!) So--if you're in the cadre of folks who meet the criteria and don't have a vaso-vagal reaction (faint, like I nearly did) then please consider going to your local Red Cross or hospital and donating a pint. You'll be saving somebody's life.

Today the nurse who shepherded us through the admission process took us to the hospital pharmacy for Bryan's pre-op meds. One of them was a single aspirin. On the way home Bryan wondered what we had paid for it. I pulled out the receipt. Zero. No charge. Good sign. We also saw a rainbow. But, as Karen told Erin before their wedding when she wondered about seeing Shaun before the ceremony: We're not superstitious, we're religious. See everyone later. Love you all.

Get it Gone, Gone, Gone

Hey, That desk was my Daddy's desk and it hasn't been that clean since I moved it into my office. Just ask "the Carrot" how much gnashing of teeth was required for me to finally get everything put away.

Well, the Keeper of the Rotten Kidney is just about to turn that duty over to someone else...maybe a big ol' red hazardous medical waste bag or something. I kinda wonder if I'd like to see it, but it's probably yuck!! I'm not on drugs yet and I thought last night that maybe I'd like to be awake so I could see what was going on...hell, I can't even get stuff out of my own eye. The kidney was a good one and I wonder what will fill the hole that will be left. Maybe they could shove a little of my belly over in the gap and then my 6-pack would show through. I still have one under there I'm sure. (glass half full)

It has been an amazingly long time since this thing was discovered and also an amazingly short time to get ready to get the surgery done.

Family and friends and friends-of-friends, seen and unseen, known and unknown, have responded to my news and have lifted us up emotionally and spiritually. I am grateful for that support. I may even mumble some of your names under the influence of anesthesia. I'll keep all the secrets.

We will get this thing done in the morning and the Docs can have a late lunch. I guess I'll get jello and steamed carrots for awhile. Maybe somebody will smuggle in a Diet Coke and some Key Lime Pie.

Maybe I'll get some new shirts. I do have some new Hawaiian flowerdy shirts ready for my hospital attire. There is not a red one in the bunch. Surely this crazy family of mine will post some pics of ME.... it's all about me. :D lovin' it !!!!!

I've enjoyed seeing my kids' personalities on parade. It's amazing that they are permutations of the combination of us.

I'll blog again on the post side of the surgery. Looks like I'll be laid up with nothin' to do for awhile. My personal e-mail is I'll write back as meds permit.
Some of those might be interesting.

up short KORK
soon to be just plain ol Purple Hulls again

Nothin' like a little organ removal to light a fire under ya!... Dad's desk is clean. I'm wondering how full the drawers are... but the desk is clean!

Also note his fake look of agony and holding of his right flank... is he even grabbing the right side? He does that when he wants something. It works like a charm.

Welp, we're at T-14 hours. Dad reports to St. Vincent's Organ Removal Department at 8AM. We hope everything is where it is supposed to be. We hope the surgeons have a good breakfast. Mom was talking the other day about the "Heirarchy of Horrible Things that Can Happen." We wonder why she can't sleep?! While horrible, disgusting, vile and full of uncertainty, I'm hoping to learn something during or after this is all over. Not the surgery so much as the journey. Maybe I'll be thankful for it someday, in some regard.

I'll keep you posted about tomorrow.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our friend Chuck Dorion (we say it Du waa waa) was in Mom's 6th grade class way back when... then he and Rach went to High School together. He's a grown up now and does scary stuff like defending us and our own from bad guys... from the seat of his very own Black Hawk!! As my mama asked, he compares our upcoming battle with his deployment.
Chuck- you fly Black Hawks in wars and stuff, but you're real bravery is posting literary prose for Debbie Byrd to critique! She loved your email and asked me to post- which means you passed the English teachers' test! I don't sometimes, but I'm bigger than her now. Thanks, Chuck.

i wasn't sure if i was supposed to email you, or leave a blog entry (thinking thats just for the fam)

but here goes....

in the next few lines, i'll briefly describe MY experiences going through the deployment process. when i compare the deployment to the rotten kidney, i am speaking only from what i have heard from the blog as to what KORK and the KORK KREW (i kinda like that name for you all) have gone through. here goes nothin!

-- our WARNO (Warning Order) comes in. now i hate to compare this to the...well, as erin put it..."nether regions" symptom, but its our "heads up, somthings coming" letter we get.

-- then there is the actual Deployment Order. this is the point at which he family does most of the worrying! my thoughts...ok, lets get this thing done (kinda sounds like KORK doesn't it). from what i hear, this is the part where you all knew something was up, and now you know for sure.

-- time to prep! while im being "guided" by my family to get this, that, and the other thing (paperwork) done, i'm more interested in doing the things i love. flying, fishing, having a drink with friends. sorry KORK, no banjo for me! in this mode, you're not really trying to forget the upcoming "adventure" just living in the moment. however, the love and support from family and friends is always welcomed! this is the part i LOVE reading about on the blog...KORK playing the banjo and driving the drop-top, and mamma byrd google-ing everything about the soon to be ex-kidney!

-- the go-to-war part. not the part anyone really wants to talk about. but from a deployment view....yes, we all think about the bad. yes, we are all scared at some point. but that is where the support group comes into play. for me, it was the family and friends i had back home....oh and i can't forget about mamma byrd and rach threatening to write my commander and tell him i wasn't "allowed" to go on this trip! that still makes me smile! some people might wonder why KORK isn't worried. its probably the same reason why a lot of soldiers "arent worried"....we have plenty of other people doing that for us. that is the stage i think you all are in right now. KORK is playing his banjo, just waiting to jump this last hurdle that is keeping him from the beach!

as i read the blog, i laugh! its great getting to hear everyone's point of view. but the one thing that jumps out of every single one, is KORK's courage. The smiling pictures, the constant joking, and no fear! With his attitude towards life, i know for a fact, that if the army special forces had tile guys, he'd be the one they picked first!

i know my "few" lines i mentioned earlier has now turned into many. but as i write i can't help but think that these two events are a lot alike. well except one thing...erin said the kidney doesn't stink....iraq does! one last note:

the best definition of courage that i have found is this..."Courage is ones ability to accept and overcome fear!" Sounds like KORK to me!

oh and if you don't want to accept any of this, and would rather crunch some numbers....the way i see it, ya'll have 9 good kidneys vs. 1 misfit kidney! you do the math!

p.s. thats just the numbers in your household. you've got 2 more right here ready to fight!

Chuck (or Charles, but only for you carrot)

Friday, July 17, 2009


I just look normal, or as normal as I've ever been, but I'm finding myself in a bit of a fog occasionally.

When I referred to our friends who have deployed, how could I have left off our dear friend, Lt. Colonel Mark David Henry? Not because we don't love him, but because my rememberer is defective. Of course, he'll tell you that we also forgot his picnic, but I'm going to blame that on Bryan. He got involved in weekend chores, and we looked up to see Joe who wondered if we were ok. I felt horrible! So, David, here's my apology for those times and any others that I don't even know about because I don't remember! We love you and your whole family.

Somebody call and remind me of anything important, like eating.

BTW I haven't heard from any of you formerly-deployed folks. I either got it right or am so far off the mark that you can't even start to explain. Oh well. My metaphors have been goofy too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Whew! Thanks for getting back to your old authentic selves, ya'll. I must admit that all the politeness between yourselves was a little disconcerting while I was home. I was waiting for a "HHHHHHHhhhhhh(audible exhale) BRY-in!!" to make me know that everything was ok, and I never heard it.
Here's to authenticity! Now go get my Dad a Diet Coke.

No really- All we've ever learned about how to be married is from these two fools. They've taught us well. I hope Shaun still likes me as much as Dad likes Mom 36? How old is Sam? I'll be 32... so he's 34?? So y'all are 37? Eh hmmm. I hope Shaun still likes me as much as Dad likes Mom 37 years from now. They're best friends.

I can only quote from kids' movies these days...

Mater: "I knew .. I knowed I made a good choice"
Lighting McQueen: About what?
Mater: "My best friend"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Carpe Diem

After receiving the diagnosis (finally, after over a week of tests and consultations) we went through a period of shock. We were surrounded by family and friends who distracted, laughed, cried, empathized, and fed us. We took on an aura of uber-politeness and -carefulness. Then we began this waiting. KORK would have gone to the hospital immediately as if cutting out the offending body parts would set the world right again. Carrot, as you have read, imagined that the surgery would be the dividing point on the time line: Before and After.

We have merged our points of view, in a way. Bryan has been getting his work organized so that other folks can keep it going. He spent the afternoon Monday with Gertie, his mom, letting her see him unchanged and happy. tonight he went to play music (banjo) with the Nobodies because "this might be the last time I can go for a while." I have stepped back from the nightmares of What-if (kind of). Neither of us could sustain the tip-toeing around any more.

Maybe this is what military folks do before they deploy. (Barett, Jesse, Chuck, JB, you'll have to give me feedback on this.) You get ready. Get all your business in order. Visit friends and family. Make sure other people are taken care of.

Then have a party, remodel the house, start another courthouse tile restoration project, go to the beach, teach the kids to swim, plant a tree, and be thankful for every single friend and every single day.

We love you all,
Debbie (aka Carrot)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

From the Keeper of the Rotten Kidney

As my granddaughter,Emily, would say... "hey you guys" this is the KORK. I'm the guy with the Kidney that is out of control. Erin (Erv) started this and everybody in the immediate family has written and, low and behold, my firstborn finally wrote and threw down the gauntlet and said it was time to hear from me. I know they're all worried about me because after all, I have been pegged as the pea....surrounded by my pod...and apparently y'all are wondering. I thought they could read me like a book...all the way to the red ears.

By the way...if indeed I am the peas, I choose to be purple hulls. They're sweet and earthy and go great with cornbread and butter.

First and foremost, thank y'all for your prayers and concerns for me and for my family. I will use every prayer and pass them along to folks who also need our prayers and thoughts.

I've had this Right Kidney for a long time....approaching 6 decades and it has worked fine....and may actually still be working.... I don't know the answer to that, but it's coming out. They tell me that it's time to give it up...and so I shall, with gratitude for its service. I would say that I am lucky. I have a spare already installed and up to speed. They won't have to whittle on an organ, and bombard it with chemicals and radiation so that I have some hope of continuing on. They'll just take it out.... I'm extremely lucky.

This happened as such a surprise. I suppose lots of dianoses are surprises, but I have no symptoms. I feel good, I'm middle aged plus, but I wouldn't guess that there is anything wrong with me and I do actually pay attention most of the time.

Debbie says I need to find a different way to say it, but, here is how I feel about the problem of cancer. I have a great respect for it and how it is stealthy and how it has so many forms, but I am not afraid of it. In the past week, I have talked to lots of people who have been through many forms of the disease and they are survivors. I plan to join their ranks. In general it changed how they look at life. You know, the older we get, the more our perspective I'm assuming that there are lots more roses to be smelled.

There is a big unknown out there as it relates to how my treatment will be specific to me. We are blessed with good doctors and I'll rely on them to figure out what is best. I'll help them all I can. I'll deal with that as it comes because I do not have a personal benchmark for a deal like this.

My understanding is that the surgery will be similar to a C-section. David Eifling said "sounds like a K-section"... so I'll borrow that phrase and use that as a way to get through the surgery. It's been done before so surely I can get through it too.

I'm one week away from surgery...let's get on with it. I'm not used to waiting. I have a few more details to get in place so that ART operates smoothly. I guess it took a Rotten Kidney to get me to spread out some of the details of my business. I have a great crew.... they'll do great.

Ok, so there you have it

KORK....soon to be OKW ( one kidney wonder)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bubba's turn

Bubba, yup, that's what my sisters refer to me as. Not sure how I got the nickname, but it stuck, anyway. Guess it's my turn to put something out here. It's been an interesting two weeks, wow, is that really all it's been? It's amazing the outpouring of support from friends far and wide when your family runs into something like this.

As Erin has related in her posts dad, aka KORK, has been stoically optimistic through all of this. We went out to enjoy the pool today and as was related by mom, aka carrot, in an email earlier he's treating each day as just another day. He gets more done on a Saturday than most of us get done in a week. Today was spent dealing with the new laundry room, the backed up A/C drain, etc. Just another day, ready to put this behind him and move on.

Mom is being her usual pessimist, we've really got to get her off the Internet (quit reading everything you can find mom it'll just make you more nervous). I know, I know, you just wanna know what to expect.

Anyway, we're charging ahead, looking forward to Byrd Beach Trip 2009, with all present and accounted for, minus one borked kidney. Those who haven't seen him upright and treating life as normal can trust that he's still vertical and keeping on keeping on.

OK dad, we've all posted but you. Time to get the scoop straight from KORK himself.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Nothing Kidney-related to report today. I suspect it's still rotten. What I have to report today is philosophical and religous in nature. Spiritual, perhaps. Raised in a religiously liberal home, we were never told that one was right and one was wrong. Never told that if you're good you're heaven bound and bad you're screwed to the depths of hell. If you were vain enough to ask if your Sundy Shoes looked alright, then you were reminded... "oh Honey, God doesn't care, get in the car." We had to tell Rachy the arc story a couple of years ago- Bible trivia has never been our forte.
So, whatever we call him, Yaweh, God, Allah, "Sky Guy" (my 3 year old), must be the one keeping me so calm. Perhaps its all the prayers going around, and as BEB says, (y'all know his middle name is Earl, right?) Earl. That's a funny middle name, isn't it? I've always thought so. Ahem... sorry.. As BEB has said "Isn't it amazing that God never gets too many."

Keep 'em coming.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A bit of information...

Moo and Poo went to see Dr. Meadors today. They were both impressed with his bedside manner and delivery of info. Dr. Meadors said that he has seen three of these tumors in the last two weeks. Odd. Check your kidneys, Little Rock. Anyway, he said that Dad's thrombus is low in the vena cava, which is good, and that he could see the beginning and the end of it, which is also good. The plan is to cut that sucker out on July 22nd, at 10am. He will cut from right below his rib cage, to God knows where, but that he shouldn't need to "break his ribcage" (bonus!), unless he needs to go higher. He will prep Dad's chest anyway, just in case he needs to go higher during the surgery. Surgery will take about 2.5 hours (sometimes I can't get two children fed and bathed in that time, but, I guess these guys are THAT good),and expected stay in the hospital is a week. Mom said that they have a nice new add-on to St. Vincent where he'll have lots of windows in his room or something like that. Visiting will be pretty tight as long as he is in ICU status right after surgery, but once he's in step-down we'll all be able to go in and gawk at him in his hospital gown.
Even though trivial to the outsider, they did ask about the.. um... I think like the 23rd? Annual Byrd Pilgramidge to the Gulf of Mexico to Sit There and Do Nothing Except Eat Oreos and Drink Wine and Get Real Hot then Go Cool Off. It's what we do. We're slated for Aug 1-8, and we really need to go. We don't miss. We have perfect attendence.
The nurse said that he could ride to the beach, but he can't get his incisions wet until his scabs fall off (throw up in my mouth), so we'll just have to give him wet wash cloths to put on his forehead and stuff. Anyway... if Dad's feeling like it, we're still going to the beach.
They (the medical community) still isn't very concerned with the lungs. My optimistic father thinks this is because there's nothing to worry about. My pessimistic mother thinks this is because there's lots to worry about. We'll see.

More as I recieve it,
Sisterbaby's turn! I have a new goal in life - be optimistic like Dad. I am so so glad I went to LR last weekend to turn my frown upside down. How can someone who has just been told they have the big C be so happy? Well, that's just what I have to learn. Life's not that bad.

Realizations that I've had recently:
1. I am completely in the middle (although I'm the baby) of Sam and Erin's personality. Good with computers with a little funny sometimes. I didn't "get" the joke about Erin's Christianity box until she explained to me that Dad had said "JEW-ry" box. Jew - get it?

2. If Dad needs a kidney transplant he will most likely get one from Erin since they have the same knees and personality. If Mom every needs ANYTHING - I think they can just clone anything I've got.

3. I know more about the tile business than I thought.

Some pics from the wedding ...

Love you all,
Rach (Sisterbaby)

Mom - don't even think about editing this. :)
He carries the Rotten Kidney with much style.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I was going to post another pre-op picture of KORK today. Mom sent one of him wading through paper on his desk, and he was in a red shirt again. I'm waiting until he presents with a little variety in his wardrobe. Maybe he's decided "the hell with changing clothes!" Who knows.
Most of you know that I'm married to a lovely member of Uncle Sam's Tax Squad. KORK asked him today if donation of a slightly bulbous kidney was deductible. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha.... humor is genetic too. I remember the exact day that I knew Dad thought I was funny. We were in Sears, it was the late 80s. Dad was wearing a red shirt- no really.. he was! We were in that section where they put all the extra lotion and crap they try to sell you on the way to the mowers... anyway... Dad said "ooooh, look at all those jew-ry boxes!" and I said "oooooh, where could I find a christianity box?!" then he snorted and told me I was funny.
Definining moment. Been workin' on being funny ever since.
There has been no medical news today. Appointment Thursday at 1:30 with Dr. Meadors. I hope he's the biggest cardiovascular nerd they've ever met, or that Christina Yang walks through the door.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

We (the children), don't drop everything and make trips to Little Rock. We just don't. We all have kids, new marriages, jobs, lives... all things we know Mom and Dad are very proud of. But I must say, despite the dire circumstance that we arrived under, not that it has gone away, I personally had a very nice time. A hang out in the living room for no reason very nice time. We usually only do that on alternating Thanksgivings and Christmases, with more than one place to be, with things we're supposed to do and say and sing and eat.
We should remember to do that more often. I feel exponentially better about our future after being there these three days. I think I expected Dad to be writhing in pain with one eyeball hanging from wires, gasping for breath like a floppy fish.

Here's PawPaw and his fan-club...Elliot was the closest to the fish outta water.


The Elephant in the Room

Given a potentially life-ending diagnosis, some people might choose to ignore it and hope no one will talk about it. Not this family. We decided to invite the Elephant into the house and join the party. Of course, we're trying to keep disturbing facts from the little ones, but even they pick up news while playing around the circle of adults. When Erin and Rachel pulled into the driveway Sunday afternoon, Ethan asked, "Is Pawpaw better?"

Our plan is to do our best to all go on our annual beach trip August 1-8. Recovering from the surgery will be 4-6 weeks according to Dr. Langford. We may have to sit on Bryan to keep him down that long.

His crew at work is great. They are gearing up to handle more independence. Bryan now has a very good answer to customers who wonder why he didn't answer their emails yet.

Please continue to call and/or come over. Your prayers are holding us up.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The surgery will be scheduled, not happen, before Thursday. We might know when it's gonna be, but it won't happen before Thursday.
Update: I'm taking this per verbal from Carrot:
1. The tumor in the vena cava is not considered a distal metastesis(this bodes well for survival rates)
2. KORK will meet with the cardiovascular surgeon on Thursday. Carrot took the slides to that doc today for him to "study up" before the surgery.
3. The surgery will probably be scheduled previous to Thursday, once the two surgeons coordinate their schedules
4. Dad went back to work
5. Joe's coming to dinner to be our medical transcriptionist
6. Cheryl Dawn made some chicken tetrazzini. That's gooooooood.

More to come.

Brain scan is CLEAR!

Oh how our point of reference can change in three days! There are no apparent mets in the brain. This is excellent, triumphant news. Congratulations, you only have cancer in your kidney and vena cava!!
Personally, I think that the very essence of us sits betwixt our ears. So I was worried about Dad not being Dad. But, looks like we're clear.

Mom sent this pic of Dad and his BFF Joe waiting on results. Joe went to listen, as Mom and Dad have proven to be less than stellar listeners. Thank you, Joe. Please know how imporrtant you are to Dad.

Full results when they get home.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm sitting in very close proximity to the Rotten Kidney itself. I'd say, figuring for belly size and one Razorback t-shirt, I'd give us 3-4 inches between one another, me and RK... it doesn't smell or anything.
Keeper of the Rotten Kidney (Maybe we'll start calling him KORK?)- just for one short week until its gone- is just fine. He's hanging out with the hyper grandkids and drinking a diet coke.
He doesn't want us to worry about him, he's not scared, and it just ready to get this thing out. He looks like he did a week ago (waterproof hair, tanned complexion, droopy puppy eyes - i got 'em too... they're genetic.)

Brain scan at 1:45 tomorrow at St. Vincent. We'll keep you informed of the insides of KORK's noggin.

Is it weird that I dressed up as a Loop of Henley one time? Look it up. It's a kidney part.


Saturday, July 4, 2009


If you're here, then you know there's a diagnosis. Stage 4 Renal Cell Carcinoma with mets to inferior vena cava and lungs. Simple, ehe? JUST what you want to hear when your cell phone rings.

The Rotten Kidney will be my perspective only. So, if you're looking for just info, just the facts... you'll get it sprinkled in here. Mom and other siblings will contribute too.... if they wish. I'm the middle child. I'm the consolidater, the informer, the solver, the maker of peace betwixt these crazy-ass Byrds. It's a title I honor and revere.

A snippet from

I may be more introspective than others, but I always feel like I have one eyeball looking back at myself.... watching how I react, how I absorb, etc...segue to grown up moments. These are those moments when you take a big gulp and know you're a grown-up, or atleast you have to act like one.

There are little grown up moments, like when your mortgage comes for the first time, or when you get your tax bill...

Then there are big grown up moments, like when a doctor pulls a baby from your very own hey thats mine what are you doing in there body, better act like a big girl moment.

A couple more rungs up the ladder is when your dad calls you to tell you that he has Stage 4 Renal Cell Carcinoma. BOOM BOOM POW! Let it hit 'ya, then take a gulp and feel like a grown up moment. So that's where we are. Feelin' all grown up. We're talking about surgeries and vena cavas and brain scans. All. grown. up.
So, I refer you to my new blog...
This will be a place to get information, and unfortunatly field my perspective on this whole thing. Mom's probably going to get sick of re-vomiting the same news over and over... I'm not saying not to call her, and HIM... by God call him! He probably won't answer 'cause he can't hear you when the TBird top is down... I'm just saying this will be a good place to get some info. It'll probably hold a Pg-13 to R rating at very least, as, if I have to act like a grown up, then I get to talk like one too.

So what I know is that the tumor started in his kidney. It grew on up to 8 x 7 x 6cm then burst forth from his kidney into the inferior vena cava (that's the big vein returning blood to your heart)... only symptom was swelling in one side of his nether-regions (don't you hate when you have to talk about your dad's balls?!) Sorry Dad, I regressed.... Come to find out, that was the result of the blockage in the vena cava. GOOD TO KNOW?! He presented without any other signs or symptoms (i'm in the medical field, so that's medical speak for - "ain't nothin' else wrong that we could see with our nekkid eyes" )so referrals weren't made immediately. BUT, once the mass, the block, the whole shabang was found, docs have been right on top of it.. Also note; however, 4pm before a holiday weekend is a less than desireable time to get a diagnosis. So when you're going in for your cancer diagnosis, plan better.

He gets a brain scan on Monday (if they can get past all that hair), then appointments will be made for a simple nephrectomy. I say simple, not because I think I could do it (I AM a smart cat), but because they will remove just the kidney, not the surrounding glands and lymph nodes(radical nephrectomy). I could be mis-informed on that. At that time a vascular surgeon will remove (WILL remove, did you hear me Dr. Vascular?) the tumor in his vena cava. This will resolve his man-symptoms, and will also afford him 4-6 weeks up in the bed. We all know Dad will not tolerate bed-rest well, as he's ready to just get on back to makin' some tile, but... we'll take a brief time out to let his uni-kidney self adapt to all the diet coke its going to need to filter.

The remaining course of treatment for lung nodules(they haven't done antying to those or graded them or biopsied or any of that stuff because it didn't affect the Rotten Kidney itself, or its course of treatment) will be decided on after the surgery.

We are thankful for oncology nerds. We are thankful for time. We are thankful that mom and dad actually have friends. I never knew that was possible 15 years ago, as I thought they were SO WEIRD. They still have their moments, but I'd like to keep them around, them... they go together... I'd say that mom is the carrot and dad is the peas. Mom is orange on the outside with her green leaf hanging out on top. She's crunchy, and has nothing hiding on the inside that you can't see on the outside. Dad's milder, with a pod, with peas on the inside. Gotta peel 'im to get them out. No offense mom, but you are the carrot. That's not a bad thing, but you're just the carrot. :)

I'll keep everyone updated, and I'll try to keep a clean mouth.