Vern passed on September 22, 2010, at Nathan Adelson Hospice. See his bio, obituary and photos at www.mem.com (http://www.mem.com
) (search for Vern West).
See our Web Photo Albums at http://picasaweb.google.com/DWestNV
NOTE: Click on each of the photo covers to open up the album where you'll find additional pictures.
We learned on May 3, 2006, that a tumor on Vern's spine was causing his excrutiating back pain and inability to walk. Surgery occurred on May 5 to remove the tumor and rebuild the T-11 disk, with a diagnosis of multiple myeloma. Internal bleeding on May 7 returned him to surgery where he was given the wrong blood and experienced cardiac arrest and acute renal failure. After two weeks at Desert Springs Hospital, he was transferred to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital and was working hard to get mobile. A biopsy on June 8 did not show myeloma in the bone marrow; so the diagnosis was changed to a solitary plasmacytoma which would be treated with radiation. On June 12, a GI bleed brought him to St. Rose Siena. Blood counts continued to drop and a second bone marrow biopsy was done June 18; those results did show myeloma cells. Vern returned to HealthSouth on June 20 to continue his therapy; however, on June 29 he returned to St. Rose with pneumonia and a blood clot. He underwent his first chemo round at St. Rose July 4-14 and moved to Henderson Healthcare Center on July 21 for rehab. Vern arrived home on August 1st and continued with his chemo treatments at the doctor's office. He re-entered St. Rose on September 26 with dehydration and a c-diff infection, and transferred to Kindred Hospital, a long-term acute care facility, on October 6. To St. Rose on October 20 for a brain scan in the ER and then back again on October 23 for the colostomy surgery. He returned to Kindred on October 24 to continue his antibiotic treatments and headed home on November 8. Homecoming was short-lived, however, as he went back to St. Rose on November 13 for dehydration and acute gastroenteritis. Back home on November 22 in time for Thanksgiving, but returned to St. Rose November 29-December 11 with dehydration and another bout of c-diff. Back to Kindred December 11-January 6 and now home again, hopefully for a good, long time.
Vern had two years without chemo, after getting a 'complete response' from his Velcade treatment. He spent 2007 learning to walk again, and 2008 was a pretty good year. He received Aredia quarterly, but did not take any maintenance treatments.
Everything changed in 2009. An open wound in his mouth that wouldn't heal ended up being myeloma-related, with plasma cells found in his cheek and mandible. In April, his kidneys failed and he began dialysis treatments 3x/week. He was hospitalized in July with pancolitis and they discovered an abdominal aortic pseudoaneurysm. A graft stent was implanted in September to make this repair and he was put on antibiotics "for the rest of his life".
We hoped that we could leave 2009 behind us without any hospitalizations, but he entered the hospital on New Years Eve with an infection. Another hospitalization in June for a GI bleed and again in August with fluid overload. His strength continued to decline and we had to bring out the wheelchair again. Dialysis was hard on him.
In September he started complaining about pain in his left shoulder blade area, and on the 13th wasn't able to get up out of his recliner for dialysis. I gave him a day to see if he could get up, but when he couldn't I had no choice but to call the paramedics. We learned the myeloma had eaten away his entire clavicle and there was nothing they could do to fix it. Vern kept repeating how tired he was and told me he wanted to stop treatments. It took me a bit to understand what he was saying, but we ended up speaking to hospice. He entered Nathan Adelson Hospice on September 17 and passed peacefully in my arms on September 22, 2010.
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers during this journey. They brought us tremendous comfort. God Bless You.