Darrell Schlaegel

First post: Jan 30, 2020 Latest post: Sep 2, 2020
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On September 6, Darrell decided to take 1 last motorcycle ride over the North Cascades Highway before the weather turned bad. He just got to the foothills when he rounded a corner in the highway and a van did not see him and pulled out right in front of him while Darrell was going 60 mph! Amazingly, Darrell was able to walk away! We took him to the ER anyway. They did all kinds of x-rays, especially of his neck and shoulders where the pain eventually settled 2 - 3 hours after the accident. The x-rays revealed no damage, so they sent him home with pain pills.

About 1 month later he had a sharp pain in his neck, which he immediately associated back to the accident. The doctor referred him to a physical therapist, which made things worse.

Finally, in December he was given a referral to a nerve specialist. We took a chance and planned a quick trip to Disneyland for 3 days right before Christmas to celebrate Leslie’s birthday.

As it turned out, Leslie’s father had some issues and ended up in the hospital. Short explanation is that he was released from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility for 20 days, which gave us the opportunity to go to Disneyland with less worry!

We got home on December 24 in the wee early hours. We spent Christmas Day having a buffet dinner at the skilled nursing facility with Darrell’s Mom and Leslie’s Dad. By the time we flew home from California, Darrell had a cough. It got worse, and after a week it wasn’t any better, so we visited an urgent care facility. That doctor diagnosed a virus and gave us cough syrup and pills, but highly recommended that Darrell see a doctor for the “goiter” they could both feel in his neck.

We got Leslie’s father released from the care center, with a long list of tasks and purchases that were needed. Darrell did his best to step up to managing Leslie’s Dad’s care while Leslie worked to pay the bills and keep medical insurance. Darrell even climbed up on the garage roof to clean out the gutters for Leslie’s Dad in early January. Darrell was more tired than what would be normal for such a task, but he persevered!

Darrell saw his primary care physician on Wednesday, January 15, because of the “goiter” in his neck and the ongoing cough. It was an afternoon appointment followed by a chest x-ray. By the time Darrell picked up the prescription and got home, the doctor had left a voice mail, then called Darrell again from his own home. He told Darrell to drive himself to the ER at Virginia Mason in downtown Seattle to be admitted. The only vehicle we had was Darrell’s truck as the car was stuck at Leslie’s Dad’s with the 14 inches of snow at our home.

We got to the hospital at 9:45 pm. 6 hours later we were taken to Darrell’s room in the oncology(cancer) ward. Darrell has been there ever since. Darrell’s brother had to drive the truck home and drive Leslie to her Dad’s home to retrieve our car.

We first heard “thyroid cancer” in the ER, but learned it had spread to his lymph nodes and lungs. They took another chest x-ray and a c-t scan. The c-t scan clearly showed cancer throughout - stage 4!

They did a needle biopsy on Thursday and another on Friday. The cells from the first biopsy were so mutilated and dead that it was not possible to determine the type of cancer, so the second biopsy was to try to get a better selection of cells to send to the Mayo Clinic for molecular analysis, which should take 2 - 3 weeks.

10 days of radiation has been targeted at the thyroid. The last radiation treatment is Monday, February 3. Hopefully, the molecular analysis will be back on Monday. On Tuesday or Wednesday chemo treatment will be started. They hope to have the Mayo Clinic results for targeted chemo with the fewest side effects, but if the results are not received in time, they will start a generic chemo mix with some negative side effects.

Darrell was scheduled for a nerve treatment on Thursday, January 23, but it had to be cancelled because of the radiation treatment and can’t be done until he finishes chemo and is released from the hospital, so initially that pain was far more aggravating than any of the cancer symptoms, but the coughing has become a much bigger issue, as well as his diminishing ability to get benefit from his breathing. He is now on high volume, high pressure oxygen 24/7.

In the meantime, a blood test revealed some markers of a variant of the Coronavirus in Darrell’s system. It is not normally a deadly version, but given Darrell’s weakened condition it is not a good thing. All visitors must wear masks. If you have the sniffles or are sick, please stay home.

Darrell is enjoying all of the visitors, love, support, and encouragement, but please note that he tires very easily, so please monitor time on the phone and in person. He won’t ask you to leave, but please pay attention. Talking triggers heavy, deep coughing. Text and phone calls can easily wake him up, so email or messages on here are especially good alternatives.

We covet your prayers for all of us close to this situation. So many people want to help. Prayer is the greatest help. Leslie is asking for help whenever she needs it.