Monday, December 27, 2021

Saying Goodbye to 2021

It's been pretty quiet at the Dixon house. Trying to keep Jim healthy so we can get the radiation taken care of. 

One Sunday night, a family from our Ward had their second annual donuts and hot cocoa drive thru at their home. They started it last year because of the pandemic. It was a lot of fun even though the house was hard to find down a dirt road in the dark.  They even had a snow machine going.

On one of our many trips to Scottsdale we saw this beautiful tree in bloom in December. 

We also stopped at a McDonald's for lunch in the truck and this guy or gal decided to join us. I have no idea what this bird is. A grackle maybe?

We have a resident silver fox here in our park. Our neighbor took this picture. 

One day when I couldn't stand staying at home any longer, we picked up Mickey and Ginny and headed out for a treat. I had seen a spot on TV about AZ Chimney Cakes and they looked fantastic. 

Chimney cakes are a Hungarian dessert called Kurtoskalacs. This Sweet Bread is freshly baked to order with a crispy crunchy outside and a light fluffy dough inside. They are cylinder shaped with a hollow center, resembling a hot smoking chimney when it comes fresh out of the rotisserie oven. 

Then they are filled with your choice of fabulous flavors.

Christmas Eve day it rained, and rained, and rained, and rained. In fact we had 1 1/2 inches of rain. It wasn't a hard rain most of the time and that soaking rain is exactly what this dessert needed. The Spring flowers ought to be gorgeous.

On Christmas Eve I cooked a ham along with fruits and veggies to go with it. We invited our friends Paul, Key, and Paula. Key called in the afternoon and said he wasn't feeling good so he didn't join us. We had a wonderful time but I only have one picture and that was of the dessert Paul brought. Delicious. 


Christmas day was very quiet watching football and Hallmark movies. 

Sunset picture and clouds sitting on the Superstitions.

Our friend, Jeanne, made sourdough bread today and she shared some with us. She is an excellent baker. The bread was wonderful and her cinnamon rolls are incredible.

We will be celebrating the arrival of 2022 very quietly and full of hope for a world filled with more understanding and patience.

Monday, December 20, 2021


 Jim is scheduled to start radiation treatments on January 4. So we can relax and enjoy the holidays

Have a wonderful, safe holiday.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The Surgery That Wasn't

 On Friday Jim took his Covid test and got a negative result. 

Monday morning we drove up to the hospital in Scottsdale for a 10:00 am check in. Surgery was scheduled for 12:30. Because of Covid I could not go back with him to wait for the surgeon. 

I am sitting in the extremely cold surgery waiting room. 12:30 comes and goes. At about 1:00 I get a text from Jim that he hasn't seen the surgeon yet. Figured he was running behind in another surgery.  At 2:13 I get a text from Jim saying the the surgeon, Dr. Gillespie, just informed him that Dr. Grossman, the cardiologist, had not cleared Jim for surgery. This is after they have already hooked him up with IVs. 

I called Dr. Grossman's office to find out what was going on because when we saw him he told us Jim was high risk but surgery was not prohibitive. Was told many things that weren't true by the medical assistant (i.e. that Dr. Grossman had talked to Dr. Gillespie in the last 20 minutes). But found out that the major problem was that Dr. Gillespie's office had not requested a clearance form from Dr. Grossman.  They had requested medical records and notes but not the clearance. We also found out that in those notes Dr. Grossman had made a typo that made it sound like Jim was too high of a risk for surgery. And that is why Dr. Gillespie canceled the surgery. 

Getting this information took over an hour. But we wanted to know why Dr. Gillespie's office had not requested the clearance. Tried calling their office and got no answer. Dr. Grossman also tried calling and let us know he couldn't get through. 

Since we just happened to be in the neighborhood, we went to Dr. Gillespie's office.  Of course, the person responsible for getting the clearance had taken a long weekend. So I ranted at the front line person ( I know it's not fair to them but I was beyond upset). She took down the info and Gina is supposed to call us tomorrow. I want to know WHY this screw up happened. 

In the meantime, Dr. Gillespie had contacted Dr. Tsai, the oncologist, who called and left us a message to go see the radiologist and get set up for radiation.

So Jim is high risk for surgery but is still eligible if the surgeon thinks he can do the surgery. But the surgeon thinks it's a no go because a form is missing and there was a typo. We have an appointment with the radiologist in case surgery is out. But who knows. Certainly not us.

The other thing we want to know is why was the surgery scheduled in the first place without the clearance. Why were we all ready to go into surgery before we found out about this mess. 

Can you imagine the fight I'm going to have on my hands with the insurance!! 

Update:  I wrote this last night and I've now had time to cool down and become rational again. 

Haven't heard from the surgeon's office and I really doubt we will. Which is fine because Jim and I and the Lord have talked it over and we have decided on radiation. We both have received a calm reassurance that this is the right choice for Jim. We have an appointment scheduled for next Monday with the radiologist, Dr. Albert, to have Jim mapped for radiation. 

I also talked to the insurance company and was told by Jim's case manager that because the surgery was canceled by the surgeon we are not responsible for any charges. That is a relief.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

And The Winner is - Surgery

 Highs still in the 80s and lows in the 50s

Jim passed his heart and lung tests so the team decided that surgery would have the best chance of success. 

He is scheduled for a Robotic Assisted Right Middle Lung Lobectomy on December 13th.  He will be in the hospital for two nights and then home for recovery.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Big "C"

AJ, AZ  High in the 80s  Lows 40s and 50s

I'm writing this blog post as things occurred so it will cover a couple of months worth. I need to remember all of this so my blog is where I keep the information.

On October 5, we met with Jim's oncologist for his six month check up and to talk about the CT Scan he recently had done.  For those of you who have been following this blog for years, you will remember that in 2012 Jim lost the lower lobe of his left lung to cancer. Dr. Tsai told us that his latest scan showed an area in his right lung (called "ground glass") was growing and he needed to have a biopsy.

With hospitals being over run with Covid patients and staffing problems, we finally got the biopsy scheduled for October 27th. 

He also had several other appointments scheduled for the dermatologist,  internist, cardiologist and the sleep institute. Oh and don't forget the dentist.

We had to be in Scottsdale at 6:30 am for the biopsy. I was allowed to go into the hospital with him and everyone had to be masked. No problems with the biopsy and we were back home about 3:30. Now we wait. 

Waiting for the biopsy with Happy Guy. Ginny sent him along for good luck.

Jim was starved after the biopsy (not surprising) and they brought him this really good breakfast. He wiped it out.

I hate waiting to get the results but between Jim's schedule and the doctor's we finally got to see Dr. Tsai on November 8th. That was the day we got the devastating news that he now has cancer in his right lung. Stage 1 which is the only good news. 

Now we have to schedule a PET scan, an appointment with a surgeon and one with a radiologist.  I feel like we have spent zillions of hours on the phone trying to make doctor appointments.  However we have the scan scheduled for November 11, the radiologist on the 17th and the surgeon on the 22nd. Then Thanksgiving happens so we won't see Dr. Tsai until November 30. 

While waiting we kept busy with him getting two teeth pulled and a new crown, spending the night at the sleep institute, having tests done on all his arteries, an ECHO and other heart tests (each one on a separate day), and trying to be patient. 

Got sleep study results. Without his CPAP he stops breathing, on average, 54 times an hour and his oxygen level drops to 86%. This is not good. But when they put the CPAP on him, everything was great. We will be getting a new machine. His is somewhere around 15 years old so it's definitely time.  

Wired for sleep.


We get the results of all his heart tests on the 29th. Hoping for good news. 

November 17th - saw the radiologist, Dr. Ashley Albert. She had access to Jim's PET scan info and was able to tell us that the cancer has not spread. It is stage one in his right lung only. 

We took a deep breath and smiled for the first time in several weeks. Did a happy dance. After Dr. Albert explained the radiation process to us we are seriously considering that as our next move. We meet with the surgeon on the 22nd to see what he thinks is best. He's going to have to have a good sales pitch for surgery to change our thinking.

Radiation would involve five treatments, each one about 20 minutes long, five days in a row. There are very few side effects in the vast majority of cases. The location of the cancer is in the lower area of the lung so it would not interfere with his pacemaker/defibrillator which is in his upper left chest area. Radiation therapy has come a long way in the last few years. It has about a 90% success rate which is pretty good odds. We left her office feeling very much relieved.

Met with Dr. Gillespie, the surgeon. Well, guess what - he had a really great sales pitch. The surgery Jim had in 2012 involved cutting him open from front to back and spreading his ribs apart. Several days in the hospital and a long recovery time. How things have changed in the last ten years. 

This is how I see Jim a whole lot of the time - in a doctor's chair.


The surgeon makes four small cuts in his right side and uses a small camera to pin point the area that needs to be removed. Then they cut out the lobe and remove it through one of the cuts. He would be in the hospital for a couple of nights and then a couple weeks of recovery.  So now we are really not sure which way to go.

The good news is that the oncologist, radiologist and surgeon all are in constant communication about Jim's case. It's wonderful to be part of a team like this. The next step is for the surgeon to get Jim's records from his pulmonologist from January and his cardiologist who just happened to be running all the tests that are necessary. These tests will determine if Jim is healthy enough to have surgery.  (We see his cardiologist on the 29th to also get the results of all the tests.)

It seems Jim is wired all the time. This is for his EKG.

Once all the information is collected the team will meet to discuss what they think is the best way to go - radiation or surgery. We will get their recommendation on Tuesday when we see the oncologist. (if all goes as planned which is not guaranteed). Then Jim and I make our decision. 

Slight hitch in our plans. The surgeon wants a pulmonology test done and we couldn't schedule it until Tuesday. That was the day we had hoped to get our decision made. So now we're not sure what day we can make our decision. Hopefully very soon.

Hate to leave you hanging but this post has really gotten long and we still don't have a decision made.  I'm going to start a new blog post when we know more.