Falling

We had another very scary incident the other night. I woke up very early Thursday morning, needing to use the restroom. I considered asking Haley for help, but she’s been tired and I wanted her to get as much rest as possible, so I decided to let her sleep.

(FYI, my “bed” has been a particular spot on the couch for the past few weeks. It’s more comfortable than it sounds)

I successfully used the bathroom without help, but the effort completely wiped me out. I then made a terrible decision and tried to grab a soda from the fridge on the way back to “bed”. As I went to close the door to the refrigerator door I stumbled slightly and lost my balance. I was able to control my fall so I didn’t hurt anything, but I ended up on the floor and unable to get back up.

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I called out to Haley for help and she came running. The experience was terrifying for her, being woken up by her husband yelling for help. When she got into the kitchen, I was leaning back against the refrigerator, struggling to breathe. Taking some time to relax and concentrate on my breathing helped with the oxygen situation, but I was still stuck on the floor.

After several aborted attempts to get me up off the floor, I ended up pushing myself backward across the kitchen and living room floors. This left me leaning back against the couch, but still unable to get up off of the floor. It took approximately 20 minutes, but we were eventually able to get me up onto the couch thanks to Haley’s incredible strength.

It might sound like a joke or exaggeration, but to get me up off of the floor Haley had to dead lift a 250 lb man. I truly was just dead weight, unable to provide any help. I am continually impressed by this woman.

I’ve read what I’ve just written, and it does not convey just how scary this whole experience was. I spent nearly an hour on the floor of my own house, completely unable to get up. I was helpless in every sense. To help ensure this never happens again, I will be getting Haley’s help any time I need something from another room.

We also found out that if something like this does happen again, it’s possible to call the non-emergency number for the Fire Department and they will come out to help. That sounds embarrassing as hell, but at this point I frankly don’t care about my pride.

Regardless, the time I spent laying helpless on the floor of my own house, unable to stand, walk, or even crawl, was enlightening. I knew that trying to do things on my own was a little “dangerous,” but this really drove home for me the potential consequences and just how close I am to causing myself serious harm.

Thank goodness I have the support system I have, especially my wife. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it: I would not be here if it wasn’t for their help.


Due to my illness, we have created a Gofundme campaign for my sons’ college tuitions. If you can spare anything we greatly appreciate it. If not, simply sharing this link would be a big help. No matter what happens, Haley and I want to be able to give the boys the best future possible.

Should I recover, all donations will be refunded.

Link to make a donation: https://www.gofundme.com/edhigginsmemorial

Oxygen is Good

We spent a lot of time this weekend dealing with “Home Health” people. Saturday morning we had a worker stop by from an agency that handles Pallative Care. After a lot of discussion, we realized that what we want isn’t Pallative Care but Hospice Care. I’m still a little fuzzy on the distinction – I believe Pallative Care is designed to manage the pain of stable patients, while Hospice is preparing for death, but either way the practical results of each mean that Hospice is going to be better and easier than Pallative in terms of getting help.

First on the list of that help is Oxygen. Last night a worker from the Hospice agency stopped by and dropped off an Oxygen machine. It’s not quite what I expected… I was expecting either a small pack that strapped to my waist or something, or a device involving actual oxygen tanks. What I received instead looks more like a carpet steamer; We fill it with distilled water, and it provides the oxygen through the usual tube and canula that I used in the hospital.

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Using the home oxygen canula

It’s only been one day, but the oxygen has already been a giant help. Just the other night I struggled trying to sleep, because every time my concentration dropped my oxygen would drop dangerously low. Now that I’m ensured of at least a steady supply of oxygen, I can drop my attention enough to get some actual sleep.


We’ve had several guests in town lately, which has been great. My father’s been here a few weeks, and he’s been great about helping with practical things… helping run errands, take the boys out of the house, things like that.

My best friend Mike Armstrong arrived here over the weekend, and that’s been so great. I don’t see get to see Mike very often, as he lives in Utah, but he’s my best friend in the world and any minute I get to spend hanging out with him, even while I’m this sick, is a delight. The hours we’ve spent watching terrible movies and playing bizarre video games with my kids have been a great distraction from what’s happening to me, and I always feel better when Mike’s around.


In terms of strategy, we’re still pinning all of our hopes that MD Anderson down in Houston has some kind of treatment that will do something. So far we’ve been unable to find any treatment that even slows down this stupid lymphoma, which is pretty crazy. So we’ll be flying out of Kansas City on the 19th of this month. There is no pre-planned schedule of what’s going to happen once we’re down there, so I have no idea what to expect. I’ve booked everything for a return trip that weekend, but we could be staying anywhere from one or two days to several weeks.

Obviously I’d prefer to be home for Christmas so I can spend it with the boys, but a quick trip to Houston also likely means they have nothing for me, so we’re just gonna have to see what happens once we get down there.


Lastly, I finally put up the fundraiser for the boys. I hate doing this – asking for help is humiliating enough, but asking for actual money runs against all of my instincts – but the boys will need help when I’m gone, and they will always come first.

While donations are obviously hugely appreciated, you can also just share the link to people you know. I’m terrible at getting the word out and social media in general, so every person you can share the link with is a help.

Link to fundraiser campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/edhigginsmemorial

Thank you everyone. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below.

 

Flashback: My 40th Birthday

Good morning, everyone! Way back on my birthday in mid-October, I referred to a surprise my wife got me that was so fantastic it needed its own post.

I had been meaning to elaborate on what Haley did, but just haven’t had the time. Between being in and out of the hospital, I just haven’t had the time to go into detail. Well, now that I’m sitting in the hospital just waiting for test results, I finally have some time to tell you guys about the sick gift(s) she got me.

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Figured I’d throw in an older photo from back around my birthday. This appearance is no longer valid 😉

To start off, it’s important to know about two things that I love to an unreasonable degree:

  1. Podcasts. Particularly comedy podcasts. Even more particularly, improv comedy podcasts.
  2. A certain gathering of improvisational comedians, including but not limited to Matt Gourley, Mark McConville, The Flop House, and Andy Daly.

So on the morning of October 11th, a couple of days before my birthday, Matt Gourley and Mark McConville had an episode of their improvised comedy podcast, Pistol Shrimp Radio. This podcast involves Matt and Mark simply watching a women’s recreational basketball game and pretending they understand enough to provide commentary about that night’s game.

What was so unique about that day’s episode? Here was the announcement:

Matt and Mark expressly dedicated that day’s episode to me! And they weren’t the only ones to dedicate their rantings!

Can you believe this? And even that wasn’t all! Matt Gourley somehow went back in time and brought back James Bond author Ian Fleming to wish me good health.


See, I told you I had a crazy great birthday. My wife, and my life, are both just absolutely unbelievable. Even at forty years old I’ve already fulfilled so many wishes that there’s not much left to do other than sit around and smile at my luck. What a great life I have.

Take care, everyone; See you next post 🙂

Stress

One of the interesting things about major life events like my cancer diagnosis is that there really isn’t much of a change in life for just about everyone else on Earth. There’s definitely a big effect on close friends and family, but things don’t suddenly change at my kids’ school, or the grocery store, or my bank.

No matter how I feel when I wake up in the morning, my son will still have diabetes, we’ll still need money for food, and most importantly, my close friends and family will still need love and support.

That last one isn’t usually a problem, as I’ve been pretty good about keeping things upbeat and positive. But between last month’s negative comments from my medical support team, the uncertainty of where my cancer is at and what affect we’re having on it, and new actual physical symptoms like my facial numbness, it’s been getting harder to keep that forward-focused attitude lately.

There’s also been quite a bit of confusion regarding scheduling, mostly regarding appointments and visits from family and friends; None of it has been bad (in fact, it’s all for great reasons like new treatments, or having friends and family come into town), but the fact remains that I’m the final decision maker when it comes to everything, no matter how much energy I have, or how I’m feeling physically.

There’s also the matter of the medications themselves. I’ve had some serious issues dealing with stress in the past, and I was prescribed anxiety medication months ago. That medication helps quite a bit, and I haven’t had as many issues with anxiety and anger since getting on a regular medication.

However, there’s also now a lot of new medication related to my cancer, including some that have behavioral changes listed as a common side effect. That’s not something that I think would be a problem by itself, but when piled onto other potential problems, and the fact that life’s daily stresses don’t just stop and wait for me to feel better, feel a little like an anxiety attack just waiting to happen.

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I bring this all up now because yesterday morning (Monday) I had some issues dealing with a situation that normally wouldn’t be that big of a deal. It was a fairly normal problem with my son’s diabetes, but I wasn’t able to react to it in what I like to think of as my normal even-handed approach. Instead I got fairly angry and stressed out and turned what should have been a relatively smooth morning into a bunch of people angry with each other.

Why? What happened? Is it stress from very recent events? Is it issues with my old medication? Problems with my new medications? I honestly don’t know and that’s a problem. The only thing worse than the stress is not knowing where that stress is coming from, and I honestly just don’t know what’s happening. I do know that there’s currently nothing currently on the table to mitigate that stress, or help my close friends and family deal with it, which all just adds to the anxiety.

I have an appointment to review everything with my oncology team tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, and I’m hoping to speak with them about what’s happening to me and what I can do about it, but I’m not feeling too hopeful at the moment. We’ll see, I guess.

In the meantime, all I can do is try to relax and avoid doing too much damage to my relationships with friends and family. Of course, even that solution feels like a cop-out… if I’m the problem, “relax” feels like a pretty half-assed solution.

Having said all that, this is still the beginning of the week. There’s always room for things to get better.

Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I’ve always had a lot to be thankful for, especially as the years have gone on and my life, family, and career have kept on improving to almost ridiculous levels. This year, for obvious reasons, I have even more to be thankful for.

I’m primarily thankful for Dr. Jacob Smeltzer and his staff at St. Luke’s East Hospital in Lee’s Summit. Dr. Smeltzer and the other doctors and nurses in his office have been going above and beyond what’s expected of them (and what other doctors have done) to help me get through all of this.

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The people inside this building have saved my life, and continue to do so.

This fight is still ongoing, and there’s a lot of rough road ahead, but I know it’ll be easier with Dr. Smeltzer and his team by my side.


Of course, this being Thanksgiving, there’s more to the day than sincerity and thankfulness. There’s also food, and lots of it.

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Artists’ rendering of the Higgins Family Thanksgiving

Haley’s brother Matt is still in town, so everyone’s been having a blast. We’ve been watching movies and he and the boys have been playing all sorts of games while school is on Thanksgiving break.

The actual Thanksgiving dinner should be pretty relaxed this year, which I always prefer. Some years things are a little more formal, but I think the plan for this year is to have a nice big dinner, sit by the fire, and doze off while watching action movies.


Whatever you and yours are up to, I hope you all have a wonderful day. No matter how dry the food comes out, or how many commercials there are during whatever movie marathon your family decides to watch, I hope everyone remembers the true meaning of the day: That Television was created by a Canadian turkey in order to avoid being murdered by pilgrims.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.