Galveston: Ocean, Seizures, and Family

It’s too early in the morning, or maybe too late at night. I’m awake, thinking of too many things. It’s been a good trip, with very little to show for it so far. In MD Anderson, Mark flew through a blur of appts with an ENT surgeon, oral oncologist, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist. He was probed and tests: CT, PET, MRI, X-ray, nasal probe and blood work. We don’t have any results yet. The tumor board meets on Thursday night, and we’ll get a call after that. The docs will give us their prognosis and next steps for developing a treatment protocol. We’ll then have to decide if we uproot our lives and consider treatment at MD Anderson or some other major hospital, or stay put at home and get treatment there.

Mark’s appointments spanned two weeks, and so we took off on Friday night to head to Galveston. Mark was very tired. We stopped for lunch in the historic distric, went into a used bookstore, and then found our Airbnb, climbed the stairs to the second floor unit, and crashed for naps.

The next morning, Mark had another seizure. I keep my eye on him all the time, to the point of my own exhaustion, because I am afraid of so many things. He’ll be confused and disoriented. He’ll trip and fall. He’ll get lost. But I convinced myself to give myself a little break. Mark was asleep on the couch, and I propped open the door to the deck and sat outside in the sun to read. Within 10 minutes, I heard a crash. I ran in to find Mark flat on his back, unconscious on the hardwood floor. I grabbed my phone and called 911. “What’s your address, m’am?” the dispatcher calmly asked. “Can’t you trace my call from my phone?” I asked. I had no idea what the address of the house was, as I had just plugged it into GPS and followed the nice voice that led me here. “No, we can’t trace cell phones with that kind of accuracy.” Note to self. I had to leave Mark, run down the stairs and out to the sidewalk to look at the address on the house, and then run back upstairs.

That’s the third seizure in one week. These movie-scene kind of seizures are not my favorite. Accolades to the Galveston fire department and EMS, who got to us very quickly. I can report that the ER at University of Texas is more chill than our trauma hospital back home. Their neurologist said the CT scan looked okay, and added another med and sent us on our way. Mark slept most of the next day, and he was in a fairly confused state for a while. He doesn’t remember any of it. (I do. Again, not a fan.) He’s back to a more normal baseline now, thankfully.

Now we’re back in Houston at MD Anderson. Mark had one final appt today. It’s strange to be in the MD Anderson orbit. Everyone here has cancer, or is worried about someone who has cancer. It’s both a comfort somehow, and a little too much. We rode the hotel elevator four times yesterday, and each time a stranger made some small talk with a lot of (correct) assumptions. “When’s your call time tomorrow?” = I know one of you has cancer and you’re headed to the hospital tomorrow. Last Thursday night, we whooped it up (okay, they were really fun people) in the hotel bar with a couple from Louisiana who were back for an annual scan. The subtext to all conversations with everyone from Lyft drivers to hotel restaurant staff is I know you’re worried, I get it, I’ve been there, life is throwing a curve, let’s be kind to each other and try to make the best of today.

Speaking of making the best of today, my dear brother Scott and wife Karen and doggo Molly drove from Dallas to Galveston on Sunday to visit with us. A generous thing to do, as it’s 5 hours away and they were only with us for 24 hours. Even more generous in that Scott had emergency surgery on his leg on Friday morning after smooshing it in a motorcycle accident. (As they say, the motorcycle won.) Family. So great.

Will it be good to be home? Yes. Not restful week though. Mark has his gigantic 8 hour chemo day followed by two days of chemo at 3 hours each. Also being squeezed in there is a neuropsych appt. And of course, waiting to hear the MD Anderson news.

I’m going to make myself a cup of coffee.
Ever onward,