Posted by: davidalemmink | July 24, 2009

Friday, July 24

Hello everyone!

I am finally posting!  The fog is lifting from too little sleep and jet lag.  It has been a difficult week and I am thankful that it is Friday.

So, our trip to Basel.  We left on Thursday, and we found that traveling to Europe is exhausting!  Lots of changing of planes, and waiting in airports and not enough sleep.  We arrived in Basel Friday morning and headed right to our hostel.  Unfortunately, I gave the cab driver the incorrect address, so he dropped us off and left.  We went in to what we thought was the hostel, and realized that we were in the wrong place.  We weren’t too far from OUR hostel, but with David being overly exhausted and all our luggage, we called another taxi and waited to be picked up and dropped off at the correct place.  Wow, were we glad to just CRASH!

I will say up front, David was tired before we left and after all this, all he did was spend his time in the hostel, resting and sleeping.  John and I spent Friday hanging out with him and then Saturday morning headed out to explore Basel.  We found a flea market in the park nearest us and enjoyed ourselves wandering around and listening to all the German being spoken.  We did encounter one family speaking English, and of course, I had to speak up and say hello.  Her name was Robyn and she was so friendly and gave us a bunch of tips for getting around Basel.  Being newbies, we really appreciated her willingness to help us out.  We spent Sunday together and prepared for David to enter hospital on Monday.

Monday came and we called a cab to get us the few blocks to the hospital.  We went there, and I will say it is very different from what we are used to here in the United States.  We went up to the 4th floor and were buzzed into the radioactive area.  David’s nurse Martin met us, introduced himself, we introduced ourselves and he led us to David’s room.  That’s it.  No forms to fill out, no name band around the wrist, no gowns, no nothing.  He showed me where to stash David’s bag and led David to the hospital bed.  Following a bit of instruction, John and I left.

First, David was given something intravenously to protect his kidneys from the radioactive isotopes.  Then they gave him the shot of Y-90.  That was it.  He basically just had to be there because he was radioactive, and they of course wanted to see how he reacted to all of this.   There wasn’t much to do.  TV, but of course most of it was in German, or French, or other languages.  Not much in English.

John and I headed out to explore Basel.  It is a lovely city that is easy to get around in.  We walked all over and were a bit timid to try the public transportation.  We got a little lost, but with maps found our way back to the hostel.  One of the places we did find was the Co-op.  They are all over the city and are very nice grocery stores.  We spent a lot of time shopping there  because everything is so expensive, including eating out.  We ate sandwiches, and pizzas that we baked in the oven of the kitchen on the first floor in the hostel.  Our room had a nice little area where we could sit and eat.  Or we would take our sandwiches with us and eat picnics around Basel.

Tuesday morning, we headed up the the hospital to see David.  He had tolerated the treatment pretty well, although he did have some kidney pain that made him quite uncomfortable.  That is one of the side effects of the Y-90 treatment that many patients experience.  He also experienced extreme exhaustion which made him sleep a lot.  We spent some time there and then left again for a while, to return later in the day.  We didn’t want to spend too much time there as David WAS radioactive and, well, we just didn’t want to hang there too much.

Wednesday, we went back to the hospital to check David out.  He was still exhausted, and instead of calling a cab, we borrowed a wheelchair and wheeled him back to our room.  Fortunately, the hospital and hostel were very close so that wasn’t a problem.  I think it did him good to be out in the fresh air for a bit, anyway!

John and I spent the rest of our time in Basel wandering around, heading back to the hostel to hang with David, wandering around some more, spending more time with David.  Back and forth,  so we got our time to be tourists!  We went to the town square, the marketplace, the zoo, the Rhine River where John took his shoes off and played.  We walked and walked and walked.

On Friday, I had the good fortune to meet Karalyn who was there with her husband, Jim (he was in the hospital) so he could get a similar treatment for carcinoid.  Jim has had carcinoid for 5 years and they both were a wealth of information.  One thing she did for us was get us familiar with the public transportation.  She took us on our first ride on Bus #33 into the marketplace and from there on, John and I got a lot braver and started learning the system.  Both Karalyn and Jim gave us so much information regarding carcinoid, which we have implemented since we returned home.  We are so thankful we met them.  God puts people right where you need them, and I thank Him for that!

We did learn that David has another appointment in Basel September 23.  At that time, instead of the Y-90 treatment they will administer Lutetium 177.  It is another radioactive substance that is more gentle on the kidneys.  It also has had excellent results.  My job now is to get him stronger.  I will work as hard as I can to build him up in the next 2 months.

We headed home Monday morning.  We left our hostel around 10:30 a.m (4:30 a.m. Grand Rapids time) and arrived at the GR airport at approximately 10:30 pm Grand Rapids time.  That adds up to an 18-hour day and we all (David especially) were whipped and ready to be home and in our own beds!  My parents were there at the airport to greet us and Elisabeth and Angela showed up a couple of minutes later.  It was great to see them all and we grabbed our bags and headed home.

Since we’ve been home, David has been so tired.  As explained to me, along with the exhaustion from too little sleep and jet lag, he is experiencing “tumor kill” from the treatment.  That is a good thing, but not much fun to experience.  He’s been sleeping and resting and trying to get some food in him (well, that’s me trying to get him to eat more!)  In the last couple of days, I can tell he is beginning to come out of it.  He is more alert daily and sleeping less.

Thank you all so much for your kind wishes and prayers.  It’s what keeps us going!

Love, Connie


Responses

  1. Thanks for the great Swiss travelogue.

    So happy that David can rest and you can see him getting better.

    We are so happy to support and sustain you with prayers for healing.

    Make good and healthy food for all of you. Feed lots to Dave!

  2. Hi Connie,

    I really appreciate your updates. I will continue to pray for your family and especially for David to get more energy and to get stronger. You are doing such a great job taking care of David. I am glad you and John had some opportunities to explore Basel.

    I pray for all of God’s blessings to be showered on your family!

  3. This really gives the flavor of how it went down. It sounds as if it went really well, and everyone is so happy that you’re back!

  4. Thanks for the posting. I am so glad to hear that the treatment is working. Please know that we are thinking about you but we do not want to call because we do not want to disturb Dave’s rest. We miss you all and hope that Dave continues getting stronger so he is ready for round two 🙂

  5. Rest and healthy food is a must! We’ll keep those extra prayers and good thoughts headed to you all!
    Love, Lexie
    PS GO TIGERS!!

  6. Welcome home! It sounds as though things went well, and now that you are familiar with the hospital routine as well as the area, your next trip should be easier on all of you. We continue our prayers for David’s recovery and strength for the entire family.
    Love,
    Elaine and Richard

  7. Love the update (I keep forgetting to check this site)! We are all keeping you guys in our prayers. Remember to take care of yourself too, Connie!

    Love, Jane & Jerry & kids

  8. Connie, so glad the trip went well and that David got the treatment he needed. We are thinking of you!

  9. Connie,

    Reading your post is like reliving my trip. It’s really neat to see it in your eyes. Tell David to keep fighting for all us carcinoid patients.

    Sunny Carney


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