Terry Fritz

First post: Dec 18, 2019 Latest post: Dec 16, 2020
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Hello Everyone!  As you know Terry is on a journey of recovery after a stroke and a diagnosis of Glioblastoma (GGM).  First things first, we as a family are moving forward in a spirit of faith and hope and will ensure Dad has every possible chance to get better.  In the short term, we are going to Madonna in Lincoln, Nebraska for rehab to strengthen Dad up and help him restore his ability to communicate and move his right leg and arm.  In the long term, we are working with local oncologists and the nuero-oncologists at the Mayo Clinic and MD Anderson to develop a plan to combat the Glioblastoma.  Below is a short chronological account of the last few days.

Over the past 3-6 months we’ve noticed that Dad was more tired than usual, had bad headaches, and had a bit of forgetfulness.  We engaged with our family doctor and performed a sleep study.  The results of these tests showed that Dad had hypertension (high blood pressure) and severe sleep apnea.  Dad received a CPAP early in December to begin treating the sleep apnea, and he continued taking medication to control his blood pressure.  Between these two diagnoses, all of Dad’s symptoms were typical of these conditions.

On Friday, December 6th, Mom, Aunt Barb, and Uncle Jerry took Dad to the ER after his headache worsened and he couldn’t keep down water.  They performed an MRI in the afternoon where they found a tumor on the right frontal lobe of Dad’s brain.  By Saturday afternoon, the entire family was together with Dad, including many of Dad’s siblings.  The rest of the weekend was spent preparing Dad for surgery on Monday and spending time with all the family that had come into town.  On Sunday, he even conned the nurses and doctors into letting him come down to the family waiting room to watch the Chiefs game as a family!   Dad ensured that we as a family had a plan for the surgery and the ensuing rehab.

On Monday afternoon (12/9/19), Dad had his surgery.  The purpose of this surgery was to perform a biopsy (get a sample of the tumor) and a resection (remove as much of the tumor as feasibly possible).  In this regard, the surgery was a success, with the entire tumor being removed.  The bad news out of the surgery is that the preliminary diagnosis of the tumor was GBM.  Dad was responsive out of the surgery moving both arms and legs. 

Tuesday was a hard day.  Early in the morning, the doctors performed a post-surgery MRI where they found what they thought was a blood clot.  A stroke had already set in on the front left of Dad’s brain.  A 2-stage surgery was presented as an option to prevent the stroke from progressing to the back left of Dad’s brain.  The first stage was to go in through the artery to get a better image of the blockage.  The second stage was to attempt to remove the blockage and restore adequate blood flow.  When the surgeon went in, he found there wasn't a blood clot, but rather that the artery was dissected (injured) due to the tumor or surgical trauma.  He attempted to open the artery four times, and the last time it held.  Stints were not an option due to the earlier surgery.

Overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, the artery collapsed, and Dad’s stroke progressed to the back left of his brain.  As a result of the stroke he has experienced troubles communicating and difficulties moving his right arm and leg.

Wednesday to Friday, Dad and the family began recuperating.  We kept family and friends with him all day and night so that he didn’t unconsciously pull out his feeding tube and so that he could wear his CPAP while he’s sleeping.  Dad was more lucid every day. He recognizes everyone.  He understands what is said to him.  He has his sense of humor.  He just has troubles talking, and it does frustrate him.

Sunday (12/15/19) was the first night he slept without family and friends in the room.  This allowed him to get a good night’s sleep and have his own time to process.

Every day is a better day. Dad understands more and for longer periods.  His strength slowly comes back.  He says more words, and uses the intonation he always has. 

As of today (12/17/19),  he has a feeding tube in his stomach, which will allow him to get the nutrition he needs to progress through rehab.  He knows we will be leaving the hospital soon to embark on rehab, and that Mom and his children will be with him throughout the journey.  We haven’t brought up the cancer results to him yet; we are going one day at a time and today Dad needs to focus on regaining his strength.

The outpouring of support from all of you has been amazing.  The doctors, nurses, therapists, and physician assistants at Wesley have been outstanding in their profession and in their compassion.  The priests of the parish have been here each and every day, and the peace and understanding they have brought has allowed our family to keep moving forward.

Lastly, the most common question we’ve gotten is “what can we do to help?”.  The outpouring of prayers we’ve received from you all is the most important thing we have received and wish to continue receiving.  As our recovery plans solidify, we’ll reach out for your material support as it is needed, whether that is meals, or helping us get Dad where he needs to be, or anything else.  We absolutely know each and every one of you are here for us and for Dad.

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