Friday, July 23, 2010


Thanks to my gall bladder surgery I got a wonderful 2 1/2 week vacation from my revlamid and it was kinda nice.  I felt better, slept better, had more energy and got a really big appetite back.  This week in particular I pigged out pretty big in anticipation of going back on it yesterday.  Monday I had lunch with a friend at Lolo's (our favorite mexican restaurant that is closing on the 28th) and got a half tostada grande.  The half covers an entire plate and is about 4" high with beans, chili colorado, cheese, lettuce guacamole and sour cream.  During revlamid I would have been happy to get half of it down.  I was half way done when I realized, 'I'm going to be able to finish this!'  Which I did.  And that was in addition to my own basket of chips and three bowls of salsa.

Tuesday my niece Amberly, her husband Aaron and their children Ethan and Radley came to visit us.  We had a great time exploring the coastal tide pools at Cambria, walking on and under the pier at San Simeon, riding the rider mower around the hill, etc.  I was able to do it all!  I was sore by the end of the day, but still able to sleep well with a little help from one of my medication friends.  I had a tri-tip sandwich for lunch and a huge plate of Lombardi's spagetti with meat balls, salad and garlic bread for dinner, topped off by a piece of cake.  Normally, I couldn't have eaten half of the sandwich, and would have been done for the day.  Wednesday, back to Lolo's with Dale and Hillary for more chips and salsa, carnitas taco with rice and beans.  Yesterday, in anticipation of my binging all coming to an end, I made an omelette with sauteed red peppers and mushrooms and cheese for breakfast.  Washed down with a big glass of ovaltine.  Wow it was good.

Yesterday late morning I had my appointment with Dr. Malone in SLO.  I got my first infusion of Zometa, plus he put me back on the revlamid.  Zometa is to help with the rebuilding of my bones.  The doctor said that maybe in 6 months or so, depending on the tests, I might be able to start golfing a little.  It's a once month infusion coupled with blood tests.  Fortunately, I didn't have the side effects from it that many have.  But it only took about 1 1/2 hours after taking the revlamid after I got home last night before the muscle and body aches, headache and nausea showed up.  I have to admit though, compared to many, I have it pretty dang easy.  The side effects only slow me down, but don't put me down.  Plus if it works, I'm not dead yet!  Not even ...mostly dead.  I also finally got my MRIs scheduled for the orthopedist.  August 2nd.  They are going to do 3 MRIs.  One with contrast and 2 without.   And I was able to do 3 appointments with clients at my Santa Maria office yesterday.  It was a great day.  I'm feeling good.  But vacation's over.  2 pieces of toast and 8 oz. of apple juice for breakfast today. 

Thanks for caring.  We love and appreciate you all.  Feel free to call or email.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'll never do THAT again!

Here's the second part of my posts for the day.  Friday we made our trip up to UCSF, but instead of seeing 1 doctor, we tried and barely succeeded in seeing 2.  The office manager for the orthopedic surgeon had it all worked out, on paper.  But we all know that medical offices are even less reliable than, say, me.  Fortunately, both doctors are in the same building.  Dr. Wolf, the super hero oncologist, on the 5th flr.  Dr. Shane Burch, of some note of his own in the world of spines, on the 3rd flr.   Lets just put it this way, nothing went as scheduled or as planned.  In the end, we were walking out of Dr. Burch's office at a little after 5pm, and heading to meet with Dr Wolf, who had to water his own office plants while he bided his time, after hours, waiting for us on a Friday afternoon.

Report:  They were a little shocked about my having my gall bladder surgery on Monday and being in their office after a 4 hour drive on Friday, but they don't really know yet who they are dealing with (an idiot).  Asked about a possible referral to the psyche dept.  Dale said yes, I said we didn't have time. It would have been another month before I could have gotten in to see him, so there was no way I was postponing this appointment. Had x-rays done of my lumbar and thoracic spine for Dr. Burch.  They showed the 3 vertebra that were previously repositioned by kyphoplasty (T12, L1 & L4).  It was interesting to be able to so clearly see how each of the vertebra had to be treated differently, but that all 3 were back in the right position and doing well.  Very cool.  As to the other 4 thoracic vertebra with stress or compression fractures (T3, T9, T10, T11) not yet treated, the x-ray was less conclusive.  It appeared that all of the fractures had healed, but that the little "wings" on the back of each vertebra might be out of place because of the compression of 1 disk on the next.  So I need to get a MRI.  Two of the vertebra didn't look too bad (T3, T11) and probably won't need anything.  The other two (T9, T10) didn't look as good and may need anywhere from some surgery to some physical therapy, cortisone shots, etc. attention in the future.  We'll keep you posted.

Report:  We just love Dr. Wolf.  Regardless of the circumstances, he NEVER makes us feel rushed or that he needs to move on.  So he reviewed my blood work.  He hadn't gotten the report from Dr Malone on the bone marrow biopsy from early June, so we'll have them send that on Monday.  Everything in the blood work shows no signs of cancer.  As to the Revlimid, he's the one who wants me to take it every day without a break for 2 years.  We talked about the side effects, and he hopes they subside.  If not, he suggested that we could consider velcade as my maintenance drug instead of Revlimid, so we'll see.  I never had velcade all by itself, and that was during  my worst cancer pain.  Hopefully, the side effects wouldn't be as bad as the Revlimid.  Should be an interesting next   The good Dr Wolf was a little miffed to find out that Dr Malone hadn't started me on the Zometa, which is the osteoporosis infusion drug that they've wanted to get me started on.  Dr Wold restated that my bones have been severely weakened by the cancer, and he feels strongly about getting it going ASAP.  It's a once a month infusion that supposedly gives one flu-like symptoms for day or two.  So the question is, if Revlimid gives me headaches, nausea, body aches, muscle aches and night sweats, would the "flu-like" symptoms from the Zometa even be noticable or could they even make the side effects from the Revlimid less noticeable becasue they're so similar and to a much lesser degree.  The answer to this, and all those other questions that you'd never thought you'd ever ask, will be explained in future episodes of I'll never do THAT again!

Thousand thank-yous to Hillary who drove us up and back.  We left at 9am and got home around 10:10pm.  She's just been a wonderful support to both Dale and I and I know she'll be missed at our future appointments by the staff who just adore her.

Please keep the prayers and thoughts coming.  I got on facebook, but really don't have a clue on how it all works.  I'll have to make Hillary sit down with me again and go through it.  So stay in touch through this blog and email.  Love to all.  Kevin

Gall Dang It!

I'm going to break the next posts into two different ones, as, they are really unrelated but have been another piece or two of the continuing saga.  The story goes like this...  It was a dark and stormy Sunday afternoon....

So I'm sitting in the back row of chairs in the chapel just before the start of Sacrament meeting (the benches KILL my back) and in wheels Cari Ham, being pushed by her husband Pat, in a big old wheel chair.  Her left foot exposed and up in the air.  Before I could even get out a sarcastic (but loving) remark Cari says: "I just got fed up with Kevin Richards hogging the spotlight for so long.  Somebody had to do something about it."   A boy howdy did she.  She took the twins to swimming lessons one day so that Betsy could just look after the triplets at home.  After swimming they played pirates, and the twins 'ad 'er trapped like a rat on top of a picnic table.  Decidin' to give up 'er 'igher ground, she leaped to the ground, landed awkwardly and ended up breakin' 'er left ankle in 2 places pretty bad.  Reminds me of a pirate joke I know, but I'll save that fer another time.  She just had surgery Thursday and everything went well.  It'll take while to heal, but she'll be good in a few weeks.  So back to our Sunday confrontation...

So I let Cari know that it's just not as easy as breaking an ankle.  I am highly jealous of my hogging the spotlight position in the Ward and would not give it up lightly.  If she thought I was competitive in sports, just try me, at your own risk, in limelighting!  We had a good laugh over it and the service began.  I began to feel really bad.  Non-cancer related bad.  I had felt a little sick the night before, but that was due to having way too much fun, staying way too long, and having way too much food at Floyd and Karla's get together on Sat. night.  The pain became intense where I could feel myself sweating from the pressure.  I was getting more and more nauseated.  I knew that feeling.  I had had it about 5 years before...the dreaded gall stones were back!
I leaned over to Cari's daughter Macey and asked her if she'd mind if I threw up on her.  She looked back at me with a horrified look on her face (she could see that I probably meant it) and said, YES!  So I headed out to the men's room, and from there a get some cool air in the Relief Society room.  There Jason Ivey was walking by with his adorable little daughter.  He took one look at me and said, "I'm taking yo home now."  Which he kindly did.  I laid on the couch as things got worse and worse.  I waited for Dale to finally get home, which seemed to be an eternity, and announced to her that she needed to take me to the ER.  Of course it was fast Sunday, so she at least gobbled down a bowl of cereal so she didn't pass out.  The ultrasound clearly showed one HUMONGOUS stone and one big one.  We conferred with the surgeon and the gall bladder was scheduled to come out Monday morning.  Which it did.  I stayed in the hospital until Wednesday afternoon.  2 percosets every 4 hours.  I antibiotic every 6 hours.  NO REVLIMID until after my meeting with my local oncologist on July 22nd.

Just to let you know.  Surgeons lie about the amount of pain that you're not going to have after gall bladder surgery just like they do about after back surgery.

Cari still may one up me on this, as she'll be in a wheel chair.  I guess I could get the wheel chair back from Pres. Kunz before church tomorrow...  This isn't over yet.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hole in my Gut

This morning around 9am they took Kevin in to have his gall badder removed. They were successful at doing it laprascopically which means his recovery time should be minimal. The doctor came in to tell us everything went great and that his gall badder "was really sick!" So it's a good thing they decided to take it out quickly. There were also two stones and one was very big. He was surprised it hadn't caused bigger problems sooner. They brought him back from surgery around 11:30am. He was already feeling and looking much better.
He even began to drink clear liquids immediately and quite a bit considering. He is supposed to take it easy right now but I'm sure he will be excited when he can eat food again. I'm sure he will want to fill the new void in his gut with food. He still has a drainage tube in which should be removed soon. We haven't heard talk of a release date yet it depends on how he's feeling but maybe  in the next couple of days. He is still hoping to make his appointments at UCSF Friday, but we are not sure it would be wise considering. We will know soon enough!

Gut Wrenching Good Time

This year is a little different considering the 4th of July fell on a Sunday. We were planning to BBQ ribs, have corn on the cob, fresh cold watermelon & ice cream but we thought heck everyone in America will be having that same kind of meal and we wanted to do something different to make this memorable. So we decided to visit our friends at the ER for a gut wrenching good time...

Kevin got a ride home from church early cause he was having stomach pain. When we arrived home a while later it was worse. Kevin made the decision that we needed to go to the ER so we grabbed what we could (unfortunately I forgot to grab my purse which had the camera in it, I will try to post a couple of pics from my cell phone later) Kevin guessed it was gall badder or kidney stones and he was right.  They did an ultrasound and we could all see stones in his gall badder. The surgeon meet with us and it was decided that it should be taken out.

Kevin is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning between 8-9am. They will try to do it laparoscopically (small incisions) which would mean a minimal hospital stay but we know how a few days can easily turn into a week so we won't hold our breath.  After he received his 20th blessing from Daryl and Brandon (Brandon was ordained earlier that day it was a special experience) and got some morphine he was feeling a lot better. Hopefully he will sleep tonight and everything will go smoothly tomorrow.

I will keep you posted once he is out of surgery.

P.S. Sorry Cari, you know how he always has to be the center of attention and it's so not fair that he will have surgery before you do! Hope your feeling better soon, we love you.