Cancer, Favorite Posts, On My Mind

a little Q&A.

In light of many questions that have been asked, and I’m sure more questions that y’all have been wondering, I decided to do a little Q&A…starting with the most popular of questions…

How is Nate doing?!?!?!!!!

I am SUPER happy to report that he is doing much better, considering where he was.  I mean, he still is recovering and has a ways to go, but this past week he has been able to eat more and has a lot more life in him.  He says he isn’t in actual pain, rather just always uncomfortable. Unfortunately he got sick a couple days ago which has brought him back down.  Doesn’t seem quite fair to get sick just when he was just starting to feel better from the surgery!  Though I’m super glad it happened when it did – he still has a few weeks to recover before chemo & radiation start. If he got sick right before or during that would have caused a lot of problems.  Pray that he can get over this sickness ASAP though!

he is still numb from the middle of his upper lip through most of his cheek.  The doc said he will be able to regain some feeling but not all of it.

I stare at his lack of scars everyday. seriously, our surgeons are geniuses.

Is he still on drugs?

Other than the occasional Tylenol, nope!  He stopped taking the heavy medications very quickly.  He was on Percocet in the hospital, and then took Lortab for about 5 days at home.  Since then he hasn’t really taken anything.

How is his leg?

His leg is healing really well!  He got the stitches taken out last week and the skin graft on his thigh is pretty much all better (the nasty scab finally fell off a couple nights ago).  He has been able to walk a lot better and further too.  We try to get out on a walk everyday.  He wanted to start tracking his walks…so if you want to see how he is doing…check out his Strava account: HERE  His PR so far is 1.4 miles up Provo canyon!

the piece of skin they removed is now the skin in the roof of his mouth! 
the last piece of the scab coming off! They used this skin to replace the one on his calf.

How is his eye?

It’s pretty much 100% normal!  Amazing! He says he can see totally fine out of it and it is in almost exactly the same position.  Like I have said, our surgeons were incredible.

What about his teeth?

They took out 1/3rd of the roof of his mouth including his upper left jaw, his “cat” tooth, & all of his molars.  The rest of his teeth are just fine.  He should be getting implants in for his missing teeth anywhere from 6-12 months from now.

Can he chew?

Chew? Yes. On his right side.  Problem is he can barely open up his mouth wide enough to fit a spoon in.  His jaw has a ton of scar tissue build-up making it impossible to really get much food in his mouth on top of a spoon.  His diet consists of smoothies, milkshakes, soups, and lots of blended up food…

blended burrito from Costa Vida 🙂 

Did they get the tumor all out? Has it spread?

They are pretty confident that they got the tumor out with clean margins all around!  However, they said the margin around his eye is “microscopic” and that there may be more groups of cancer cells that are too small to detect. That is why they follow the surgery up with chemo & radiation.

Chemo? Radiation?

They will do both, together for 6 weeks.  We are tentatively starting the Monday after Christmas.  We have appointments with his chemo & radiation doctors tomorrow and on the 16th.  After those appointments we should have firm dates on when to we are going to start both chemo & radiation.

What about his job?

The company he works for, Tomax, seriously have been AMAZING.  They are super supportive and we couldn’t be more grateful for them.  However, like any business, they have to obey the law.  Because Nate only worked there for 2.5 months before his surgery he doesn’t have any long-term leave of absence.  We sat down and talked to them last week and decided to have them “fire” him.  We will be covered on their insurance till the end of the year and if he can recoup from chemo/radiation come March, his job will most likely be waiting for him to come back to.  Though it’s not a for sure.  It is sad & makes things a little harder in a few ways, but overall they have been so great to us and we couldn’t ask for more.

How is he emotionally?

Considering what he is going through, he is doing amazing.  He tries really hard and does a great job at forcing himself to take everything in stride and be happy.  He obivousy has his moments and frequently tells me “I wish I could just have one day where I feel good. Like actually GOOD.”  So, he is never perfect, but sometimes it would be hard to guess otherwise 🙂 I really have been amazed at his strength and attitude handling all of this.

How am I doing?

I am also doing super well.  I surprise myself everyday how “easy” it has felt.  I too have my moments where my pillow or a shoulder gets wet, but overall I have handled everything WAY better than I could have ever imagined.  Definitely not only of my own strength…sometimes I feel almost a tangible strength around me.

What are his days like?

Pretty low key, as you probably can imagine.  He usually wakes up around 10:30, I make him a smoothie, and then he does his morning routine of changing his trach gauze (P.S. the trach hole is almost all the way closed!  I think in a couple more days he won’t have to deal with that at all!), cleaning his nose, changing his leg bandage, and then just normal stuff like brush teeth etc.  He then probably reads about 10 books to Ames. Not kidding, Ames is seriously in heaven having his Dad home all day.  When Nate is sleeping he is constantly running to the door of our room and yelling, “Dad!”  I usually finally let him in around 10:30 and Nate usually wakes up to a pair of big blues eyes right in his face and a happy smile yelling, “Hi Dad!” haha.  After getting ready and playing with Ames I usually fix him lunch and then every afternoon we try and get out and do something.  Usually we just go to a park or on a walk.  Every once in a while he has a little more energy and we do a little more.  He can usually last about 1 – 2 hours max being out.  Once we get home he takes a long nap.  After a nap we eat dinner then  watch a movie, play games, or just hang out.  We usually make it to bed around 11.  He also has jaw exercises that he has to do 5 – 7 times a day which he doesn’t like…but if he doesn’t do them his jaw might stay this small permanently! So…lots of sleeping, hanging out, and LOTS of playing with Ames…he is seriously in heaven!

sorry if this is a little too much for some people…but I think it’s fascinating how the body just closes the hole up in a few weeks! they don’t do anything to it.  This picture was a couple weeks ago…you can barely see a hole at all now!

a couple days ago when we went on a little train ride to see Santa.  Ames loved the train but was a little unsure about Mr. Claus
I walked in the other day to Nate sleeping like this.  I don’t know why but it made me crack up! maybe it was one of those ‘had to be there’ moments, but I still laugh every time I look at this picture.
the usual.

Overall, things are going really well!  We had an appointment with Dr. Hunt and his staff (there was seriously like 10 people in the room with us) and they were all SO pumped at how well Nate was doing and how he looked.  They were pretty much patting themselves on their backs and told us that Nate was one of the best surgeries they have ever done.  It felt super good to have the surgeons and doctors pumped about how good they did…that’s when you know it really was a job well done.  I know a lot of that had to do with the hand of our Master Physician helping us out because of all of your prayers.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!! I will be a broken record saying that, but we really are just so grateful!

On a different note…

The other day on a walk Nate asked me, “what can I do to keep busy? I really need something.”  We discussed a few ideas but one that came to my mind was something he started doing in the summer…

Nate’s passion in the professional world is exercise physiology put to use through coaching.  I have never seen anyone as dedicated or seriously giddy about knowing the body so well in order to maximize performance.  Because of his passion, super smart-ness, and easy going demeanor, he seriously is the world’s best coach….and people other than his wife will attest to it too 🙂

Over the summer he had an idea to do online coaching.  The company name is Forca Running.  If any of you are wanting to get in shape, run a race, get faster at running, or just have a coach that seriously is a genius when it comes to maximizing human performance, please take a look at his website.  It will help you, and help Nate stay busy over the next few months:

http://forcarunning.com/

Seriously, check it out! 🙂

I hope to find more time and get my thoughts more direct to write more often, but hopefully these 1-2 week updates are good enough for now!

Thanks again for everything!!

#teamdomiNATE

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