Difficult Side Effects and Treatment Detour

I went from strong old man to a weak old man in a couple of days.

Bullet Points: (1) my nasty rash went away; (2) Muscle weakness in my neck and back made me a stooped man; (3) Doctors and scans found no cause for this debilitating reality; (4) I have tape holding up both eyelids and walk with a walker to reinforce my weak back.

The Story: It began when I noticed a drooping right eyelid as I was combing my hair on Thursday Jan. 20. I enjoyed teaching my all day Leadership Cohort class but the droopy persisted. As I walked to my office at break i noticed that I was looking at the floor while I was walking. It was quite difficult to straighten up. This precipitated conversations with the advice nurse at Kaiser. As I described the continuing droopy eyelid and head along with blurred vision, she decided to check with the doctor. She soon called back and asked “can you come in for a CT scan tomorrow (Saturday)?” I told her that I had a cancelable trip to Southern California scheduled. She counted asking , “Can come in this evening (Friday)?” I accepted, ended class an hour early and drove to Kaiseer Interstate. The doctor did a variety of tests and noted “You don’t have Bell’s Palsy.” I said “That’s good.” She gave me a very sobering reply: “Maybe not – that points to a stoke” and sent me off to get the CT scan. I soon got the results: No stroke or brain bleed and released me.

To celebrate that, I went to So Cal and did a ministry weekend at Collective LA and my classes Tuesday – Friday in Costa Mesa which went very well and flew home Saturday. .

The students were wonderfully supportive in my weakness. They brought me lunch each day since my usual practive of going with them was not possible. They wrestled with difficult topics and took me down most valuable bunny trails. Both clsses gathered around me and prayied for me as their two day session ended. On Friday, the day I officially reached my 3/4 century mark, Criag brought me a delicious birthday cake to center the celebration.

Walking with my upper body stooped over is exhausting so I got a foam neck brace and a walker which eases difficulty a lot. You know it’s bothering me when I tell you I got wheel chair assist to the gate to deal with the difficulty of walking more than a short distance

Monday’s full ophthalmology work up found nothing. The follow up MRI of my brain, like the CT scan, was “unremarkable” which has become a favorite word! That left no answers for the cause of the muscle weakness other than some sort of a side effect of immunotherapy.

The Nurse Practitioner in today’s (Wednesday) pre-infusion appointment was baffled when I explained my droopy eyelid and fally down head. All she could say was when you turn the immune system on, you just don’t know what might happen.

She reported the symptoms and the highly elevanted aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and Alanine Aminotransferease (ALT) (liver damage indicators) to Dr. Mashru who suggested that I have hepatitis because the immunotherapy drugs have had negative impact on my liver. That was a shocking word to me to say the least.

Conclusion: The cancer focused treatments are on hold while the focus turns to my immunotherapy damaged liver. Thursday morning I will start taking 80 mg of Prednisone each morning (that’s a lot!). I still walk with the walker and wear the neck brace not knowing what is causing the muscle weakness. My eyelid droops so I am following my niece’s example: she used tape to hold her eyes open. Sherry is adamant that she will take care of me and is doing that in very concrete ways. I am laying aside my “Of course I can do it” conviction . . . to a degree.

Finally, Thursday is my Pretty Wife’s birhtday which we will celebrate in a different way this year.

40 thoughts on “Difficult Side Effects and Treatment Detour

  1. Hi Gerry,
    Elissa Starks here. I was so deeply sad to hear about what you’ve been going through and all the time, right beneath my nose! (I work for Kaiser 😉) Please know I’m praying for you and your fam., you are so dear. -Elissa

  2. Gerry,
    The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and be gracious unto you, and give you shalom.

  3. Happy Birthday to you both, Gerry. And I’m glad to see your sense of humor hasn’t dropped like other things may have. Love you, pray for you and think of you daily with a smile—despite the circumstances.

    Miss you but thanks for keeping us in the loop.

    • Thanks for your greeting, Wes. I do miss our times – gotta get them going even if you aren’t a Western guy any more

  4. I haven’t checked in with you for awhile….and was saddened to see what’s been happening with you physically for the past few months. I have also been encouraged and amazed by your attitude. You amaze me in so many ways. I am so grateful for the influence you have had in my life. I know so many others feel the same. God bless you Gerry….and keep you….He does and will. I will try to send an email to you (I have a few for you sooooooo….). Much love from me, more from God. Bless Sherry too.

  5. Gerry, Carol Ellis here, a blast from the past I think the saying goes…I have been praying for months and hoping for real healing for you…this setback sounds so much like the symptoms a friend of mine developed this past year.. The very first problem was one droopy eyelid…then extreme muscle fatigue. The eye dr. she went to right away called it after one exam…myasthenia gravis. Would your dr.s consider checking for that? Still hoping and praying for God’s own hand of healing,

  6. You continue to make a meaningful influence in the hearts of so many. I’m reminded of the wisdom you shared when going through difficulties. Look for “burning bush” moments, don’t play the “what-if” game, and look for Jesus, he’s easy to miss. We’re so appreciative of you, your life is an encouragement to countless people! We’re believing for a miracle in your body! Boise loves you and is praying for you and your family!

  7. Thank you for the update Gerry. Glad you have so much love and support in your life, cool story about your CA cohorters. And happy birthday, Sherry!

    Thankful for all you do,


  8. Hi Gerry, Sorry for the setbacks. One knuckleball after another! We love you and are certainly praying for you and Sherry and the family.

  9. Oh Gerry,
    Piper and I love you so much and we are continuing to intercede!
    I am encouraged to hear of the ‘unremarkable’ scans, and that you have such an attentive health care team! Please let us know if there is any way we can help alongside prayer.
    Stopping to pray right now, and invite all reading this to pray with me too:

    Oh Father,
    I thank you that You are the One true God who sees and knows and has a plan for all things,
    You are worthy of praise in this moment, and every moment.
    I lift up Gerry again to You.
    Will you encourage him today, and give him exactly what he needs?
    Will you use this time of break from immunotherapy/focused treatment on the side affects to restore him in every way- his eyelids, his neck and back and liver, fatigue, and whatever other effects he may be facing, that You would provide beautiful healing mercies that would bring much glory and praise to Your name—complete healing from any cancer itself—that would provide Gerry with yet another story of Your grace to share as he continues in all the wonderful gospel tasks You have gifted him to do?
    You have made it known that to live is Christ and to die is gain, and one day that day of gain is coming for all us Your children—but for Gerry, I selfishly ask that his day of gain is not for a long, long time! I know as I pray this, I cannot possibly know Your plans or Your definition of best case scenario in all of this, but I will continue to intercede and ask You to help me trust You with the outcome. You love him infinitely more than I, or any earthly one could, and I am resolved to know that even if You allow him to continue experiencing such things, You are immeasurably good and trustworthy and more than able bring about unthinkable good from that too.
    Even so, I intercede.
    In all good faith.
    Purify my prayers, O God, I do not fully know how to pray as I ought.
    I also ask that You encourage Sherri now, and give her all that she needs. Thank You so much for their love for each other— let them cling close to one another and closer to You.
    I ask for peace and love and joy and goodness and kindness and patience and gentleness and self-discipline and faithfulness as they go, and for their family and friends and all us who love them so dearly.
    Again I ask, refine my prayers, and help me know how to continue to pray for them well, how best to press in and intercede.
    Thank You for seeing my heart and for seeing all the hearts of those praying for them,
    that You see their hearts as they cry out to You.
    Give them what they need.
    Heal, revive, minister and provide in all the ways you choose, according to Your perfect will.

    With much love and praise and hope I lift all this and more up to You, Father,
    in the name of Jesus, with the help of Your Holy Spirit,

  10. Wow Gerry, the saga continues! What a bummer… I sure appreciate you sharing this journey though so that others can pray – I am and will continue to! Let Sherry take care of you 😉

  11. I had an MRI for my brain once and the clinician reported, “We found nothing.” My husband has not let me live that down 🙂

    I am praying for you birthday celebrities! 75 years of wreaking havoc for the enemy! YEAH!

    • Thank you, Jane. My MRI resulted in the doctor saying, you there is indeed a brain in your head, but we can’t certify that it’s functioning.

  12. Wow…that’s a big journey you are on. May you have a different but lovely time with your pretty wife on her birthday today!

    I always appreciate your and sherry’s willingness to be authentic.

    I have continual thankfulness over my life crossings yours, in the struggles as well as the joys.

  13. So appreciate the continued updates Gerry, and praying for you and Sherry as you navigate the new challenges. I think of one of your last lines “laying down my of course I can do it conviction…to a degree” and it brings me back to our last class when we talked about how God moves using his people, and what an opportunity to see Him care for you through the tangible hands of the people around you who love you – like your pretty wife in those concrete ways! We love you Gerry – praying for a straightened back and open eyes !

    • Thank you, Bria. Yes Sherry and I are doing this together. It is life building. But I don’t like not being in control!!

  14. Gerry, so much love and appreciation for you as I read this update. Thank you for involving us in your journey. And of course we are praying with you!

  15. Oh my, this is unexpected news. You and Sherry are always in my prayers. I know that Sherry will take good care of you. God has blessed you with her presence and love.

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