Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas.

For the Pullen family of Washington 2017 has been a very eventful year.  We continue to be blessed with great friends and family, and many life changes.
Among the biggest changes for us is that Kay and I moved from our home of 30 years in Puyallup to a condominium in Old Town Tacoma.  Most of our time here has been living in a major renovation, and today we are sitting watching the water from a couch in our living room for the first time in over a month. We look forward to living here in the middle of most of what’s happening in Tacoma, easy walks to many places including the Ruston Way waterfront parks.  I saw my first of the year Sabine’s gull with my spotting scope from the living room.  A nice “yard” bird.
Brett continues to work on his home in the McKinley District of Tacoma, and I’ve been having fun working with him at times.  Who’d have thought that we would learn how to lay hardwood floors and tile floors and walls (mostly Brett on this).  Brett has also progressed in his soccer refereeing and is now one of the top high school refs in the area, doing lot’s of high level playoff games, and this year got his college certification. He did lots of local college games too and is enjoying the challenge and exercise.
Jean has moved to Costa Rica.  She travelled extensively for much of 2016 and the first half of this year, before coming home for a very nice 3-month visit home in the summer.  Her partner Allen joined her for the last half of the visit.  In September they left for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, CR where they have been living since, exploring options for developing a permaculture farm and lifestyle there.
Kay and I have travelled to Florida for a trip to the Dry Tortugas and to visit Bill and Carol in April.  Kay got 12 ABA lifers and Ed 3 on the trip, and we really enjoyed the visit at Bill and Carols, where Carol and Kay set up their studio in the Florida Room while Bill and I biked, walked, the beach, and visited. In June of us visited the SoCal Colmars. Scott arranged an Airbnb in Fullerton, Jean, Brett, Kay and me, and Scott and Erin’s family stayed there while Ken and Keith stayed nearby.  We had three consecutive celebrations.  First was Fay’s fabulous retrospective show at Fullerton College, where we all marveled at her body of work, partied, and told stories.  

Next was a graduation party for Mic (from the University of California at Santa Barbara) and Caroline from Fullerton High School.  We celebrated their success and loved the party at Mary and Jim’s house.  Last was Fay and Vince’s 40th wedding anniversary. They renewed their vows, and we had a great celebration in their back yard.  In October Kay and I attended the wedding of Morgan in Unity, ME.  It was a really great wedding set in Morgan and Kendall’s back yard.  The fall foliage was a great backdrop.  We had a fun but whirlwind trip scheduled between Kay’s treatments.
The year has been somewhat of a struggle with Kay’s health, and we are blessed that she has survived over 8 ½ years since her diagnosis.  I’ll post an update on that soon, but this is a letter of joy and celebration so not here.
A highlight of the year was giving much of our art collection to a fund raiser event called Art Beat's Cancer.  We put this on with the tremendous help of Kay's Celebration Lutheran friends at the Bird Cage in Kirkland.  The event raised $15,000. to support Ovarian cancer research at U.W. by Kay's U.W. oncologist Dr. Elizabeth Swisher. It was also really fun, and since then we've had the joy of seeing some or our art being enjoyed in friends homes.  The generosity and support from everyone in this event was overwhelming. 

May your holiday season be joyous, your new year filled with joy and wonder, and may our love for all of you be received and returned in full.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Homeward Bound

Kay has been in the hospital at Good Sam in Puyallup since Tuesday for fluid and nutritional support while we have waited for her bowel to begin to function again.  The initial CT scan was felt to show a bowel blockage, but when a tube was placed through her nose to drain her stomach very little drainage happened.  This led to reevaluating whether there is a mechanical blockage, or maybe just a dysfunction of the small bowel related to medications including chemotherapy and the cancer in the abdominal cavity.  For the last 24 hours Kay has been able to drink clear fluids without much trouble, and today especially has been drinking well.  For lunch she had her diet advanced to “full liquids” (who would think of mashed potato and gravy as a liquid) and she is enjoying eating again.  No pain or problems so far, and the hope is that if she does well this afternoon we might go home tonight or maybe in the morning.

The future from there is less clear, but the first step is to go home and tolerate eating, regain some strength, and then figure out what to do from there. Thanks to everyone for your prayers and help.  Now to get in the Christmas spirit.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Update on Kay's Situation

Thanksgiving 2017 will be one to remember, or maybe better to forget if we can. Our place is in major renovation mode, and we were blessed to stay at the Asplund’s home while they visited family in Portland.  On the day before Thanksgiving, after a really enjoyable day visiting with Stephanie Allgood and doing art projects, on getting home Kay started to feel really poorly.  By early Thursday morning she started with diarrhea and then a strange vomiting without nausea.   This was severe enough that our move to the Asplund’s was put off until early afternoon.  Her gastrointestinal troubles continued all day, and Brett and I had a very quiet Thanksgiving meal while Kay struggled on the couch. 
By mid-evening Kay was getting very weak, and we went to the ER for IV hydration and evaluation. Her labs looked OK, she managed not to vomit there, and we got home by about 1 AM.  We slept in Friday, but all weekend Kay couldn’t eat anything without severe pain, and by Monday morning we contacted Dr. McCroskey and he saw Kay yesterday.  He ordered an abdominal CT scan that explained the problem, showing a distal partial small bowel obstruction.  (near the end of the small bowel before it dumps into the large bowel was a place where the bowel narrows considerably causing the bowel above there to dilate and fill up with air and fluid.)  This explains the pain with eating, the vomiting, and the severe bloating Kay has.  It is not clear what is causing the partial obstruction, but it is a fairly common problem in people who have had abdominal surgeries.  It may be related to adhesions, or possibly kinking where cancer causes a loop of bowel to bend too sharply.  It is not considered a surgical emergency at this time.  The plan is for Kay rest in the hospital, not eat or drink, get IV hydration and use a naso-gastric tube to drain her stomach and decompress the small bowel above the point of obstruction.   This may or may not work, but often it does once the proximal swelling of the bowel loops goes down.
This is likely to take a few days though and though we have been trying to find reasons to get out of the condo-under-construction, this was not high on our list of ways to get away.
The other not-good issue found on the CT scan is that the fairly small metastasis of the cancer to Kay’s liver and the area behind her peritoneal cavity have grown quite a bit in the last 2 months, despite being on the weekly Taxol chemotherapy.  This is an issue we will need to address after the bowel obstruction resolves and Kay is well enough to resume her chemotherapy.

Kay is at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, and maybe in a day or so a brief visit once or twice a day will be nice, but at least today we need to just get settled in and appreciate everyone’s prayers and best wishes.