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11/17/2016 Latest post:
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting. These posts come from Erin, Ken's step-daughter. I'll keep you posted with any personal posts and notes from Ken or my mom Kris!
On October 26th, while taking Kris to a post knee replacement checkup, some issues Ken had with confusion and other minor difficulties were brought up. Their family doctor, Dr. Decker, suggested that Ken have a test done fro a urinary tract infection as sometimes they can cause confusion. After the UTI test came up negative, Dr. Decker told Ken and Kris to go to the local hospital McLaren Northern Michigan in Petoskey to get a CT scan done on his brain. After reviewing the scan Dr. Decker called Ken and Kris back to his office before they got home, where he showed them that Ken had a baseball sized mass growing on his left frontal lobe. He was told he needed to be admitted into McLaren Northern Michigan.
There, Ken was put on a regimen of steroids to quell the swelling in his brain. At this time we were told the mass could be multiple things and not necessarily a tumor, an infection perhaps. So many unanswered questions and a lot of waiting around. They needed to do another CT scan to see if there was any other masses in his body where perhaps a cancer may have metastasized. It was a very slow process and Ken was in the hospital from that Wednesday night to Friday night. After the body scan came up negative for other masses they also did an MRI on his brain to get a better idea of what we were dealing with. Friday we were told by the neurosurgeon at McLaren that while the mass was in a spot that was easily operable it was imperative that it come out, but not emergent. So he said that if it were him and he had this mass he would have a whole committee look at the scans and make a decision from there, and that it would be wise to get a second opinion.
From there it was decided that a good place to go was the hospital at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. They have some of the best doctors in the nation there. McLaren told us that while they could refer us to U of M we may not be able to get a scheduled surgery while still up north, but that if we went to Ann Arbor and went to the emergency room with the scans that they would admit him. They said they could do surgery at McLaren, but we just didn't feel comfortable there with their track record although the neurosurgeon was very kind and had a good bedside manner. They gave Ken steroids to take at home but told him that if his blood sugars went above 300 that he needed to go back to the emergency room. The steroids have a tendency to spike blood sugars. On the way to Ann Arbor Ken's blood sugars were above 300 which was a cause for concern. That night when we were settling in, he tested his blood sugars and they had spiked to above 450. It was time to go to the emergency room.
There we checked Ken in and stayed until about 2:30 in the morning when they finally said they could admit him for the mass in his brain. We were very nervous that what we had been told at McLaren wouldn't be true but it all ended up working out. He was given a room to himself which was a great upgrade from McLaren and kept late into the day the next day when we met with a lot of techs, nurses and finally the neurosurgeon that would operate on Ken. Dr. Parag Patil is a very well known and qualified neurosurgeon, who also had a good bedside manner and answered any questions we had. He took plenty of time to explain Ken's options and his qualifications to perform the procedure to remove the mass completely from Ken's brain. The tumor is on top of the frontal lobe and hasn't branched, so while it is still a scary situation, from what we have been told it is easily operable for them with their experience.
Because Ken was on an aspirin regimen he couldn't perform surgery while we were there. We were told we would have to wait at least a week to get it out of his system as it is a blood-thinner. Dr. Patil was also planning to be out of town so said the best time to do a surgery was November 18th, because he wanted to be here post surgery to make sure he could give Ken the best care possible.
While it has been very troubling, Ken says his head seems to be doing fine and the steroids help the brain swelling which eases some of the confusion he has been having. However this week his back has been miserable and he has been back in to see the doctor for some pain medications. They are keeping in touch with Dr. Patil in Ann Arbor to communicate any issues and this new medication.
You'll be happy to know Ken's sense of humor has gone no where and he has not wasted time cracking jokes with doctors and nurses throughout this process! While this is a stressful time for Ken and my mom, please, send notes of encouragement, love and support for them. My mom is also scheduled to have her other knee replaced potentially around Christmas and is in a great deal of pain as well as she is still recovering from her knee surgery. Of course they don't want any pity and aren't asking for any money. This page is solely set up to keep loved ones informed! They gladly accept and welcome your well wishes and prayers for a good outcome, its going to be a hard ride, but if you know Ken he'll keep trucking! *pun intended* We can't be sure of the prognosis but know that keeping your head up is of the utmost importance! Just taking a step at a time and crossing bridges when we get to them.
Ken and my mom will head down to Ann Arbor Monday the 14th, and have a pre-op appointment on the 15th for surgery on the 18th. The doctors so far have said he will be in the ICU for 2-3 days and then will need to stay in the hospital for observation a few days after that. They will send the tumor to a pathologist to figure out more of what the situation is in terms of care moving forward. They will also use it for research.
As Ken said in his Facebook post he's seen some recent miracles and do know they exist. Again, please send love and positive words to help guide and lift Ken and my mom up in this time! Nothing like community support to help at least keep some stress at bay. They thank all friends and family for being there for them and we will keep you guys updated with everything we know and especially next week.