Abbot Steve is at home and stable, medically speaking. He is continuing with medication for his heart and blot clots and plans to resume chemotherapy after completing the current round of antibiotics for last week's infection.
Though happy to be home, he's surprised at how weak he is. His doctor visit yesterday was quite exhausting for him. He rented a hospital bed for his home, which he finds helpful. He has walked around a little but is still mostly in bed.
We will be watching to see how he does with the next round of chemotherapy and report here. However, whenever he is mostly stable, there will naturally be fewer reports. In the meantime, he feels very committed to the Zen Center community and plans to be in contact as much as he can, which for now remains rather limited.
Thanks to all for your various expressions of concern and admiration for Abbot Steve.
Abbot Steve returned home today, which for the last couple of days is what the medical team and Abbot Steve have been working toward. The intravenous fluids were stopped yesterday, and medications that had been delivered by injection have been changed to liquid or pill form. The cellulitis that caused this stay at the hospital is clearing up well. Abbot Steve is eating more through the day and feeling generally more at ease.
Through the afternoon he visited with family from the electrically adjustable hospital bed that has been moved into the house. At dusk he spent some time walking in the back yard, literally smelling the roses.
In the next couple of days he hopes to talk with his oncologist about proceeding with the chemotherapy treatments.
I spoke with Abbot Steve late this morning. He reported that he will be discharged from hospital tomorrow. I did not speak with him for long, as he was surrounded by many members of his family today, including two siblings, in-laws, one of his children, and grandchildren. Abbot Steve's return home is really good news because he very much wants to go home. I will see him in the morning and send an update as I can with more information about his current condition and plans for treatment.
Yesterday Abbot Steve said, "It is three weeks tomorrow that I started my new life. I am learning things every day, which is good." That struck me as an astounding statement. I will just say that these last three weeks have been sobering and wondrous for me. I recognize what a gift Abbot Steve is, and I am trying my best to take care of that gift for the benefit of all beings.
Summarizing a brief communication I had from Mary Stares this evening after her day in the hospital with Abbot Steve:
As mentioned in the last post, the infection in Steve's legs was clearing up, and Steve had a relatively good day Friday.
This morning, however, he had some heart arrhythmia. Beta blockers have been increased to resolve that, and now his heart rhythm again seems stable.
Also, although at one point this week his pain level dropped significantly, that level did not last, and pain management continues to be a major issue. He will remain in the hospital for at least a couple more days. It remains unclear when chemotherapy may resume at this point.
Thanks to all who are chanting often for Steve's well-being.
I spent some time with Steve and Lane today at the hospital. Generally speaking Abbot Steve seemed much more animated. The infection in his legs (cellulitis) is responding well to the antibiotics. Steve is off oxygen but is still receiving intravenous fluids.
The medical team is working to discharge Abbot Steve but will not do so until they have worked out some combination of medication that keeps the pain he is experiencing to a manageable level. So far this has not happened, although yesterday, for a few hours, Steve's pain did drop to a level lower than he has experienced for a number of weeks. Steve's heart has returned to a steady, normal beat since the episode of arrhythmia Sunday night and Monday morning. And he is eating and drinking small amounts.
The decision facing Steve and Lane is whether or not to continue chemotherapy. They are talking to the medical staff, family and friends in order to gather information so as to make an informed decision.
Thank you for the support and strengthening thoughts you are sending to Abbot Steve, Lane and their family.
Abbot Steve's pain level has come more under control, from an "8" earlier this week to a "2" late yesterday. It's the first time since his diagnosis that his pain has been so low.
Lane says he is doing well this morning, still in the hospital for now. They are discussing the next course of action. He did have chemotherapy planned for today but due to the complications over the last week, this will not happen.
We hope to be able to post more details later in the day or evening.
Yesterday morning (Sunday, October 13th) Lane took Abbot Steve to the emergency room because of fever and inflammation on his legs. After being assessed he was admitted into the hospital.
The medical staff found infection in his legs which they are treating with antibiotics, and also blood clots in his legs which they are treating with blood thinners.
This morning his heart began beating in an irregular pattern which they are treating and monitoring closely. Abbot Steve's heart has been working very hard as a response to the intense pain he has been experiencing. They are attempting to control the pain in order to give him more ease and lessen the workload on his heart. He is now receiving both oxygen and intravenous fluids because he is having difficulty getting a full breath of air and absorbing fluids.
Abbot Steve told me that it is a very good thing to be in the hospital at this time because they are best able to monitor and treat all these health concerns.
He asked me to again mention that all of your questions and well wishes should come to me.
Abbot Steve remains grateful for all of your support and well wishes. Most importantly he feels a tremendous sense of gratitude for his current ability to stick with his body's reactions to this condition moment by moment.
Expanded photo from the Compassionate Earth Walk last month, which Steve discussed at some length in his recent talk at Green Gulch Farm, titled Gratitude. To his right are Shodo Spring, who led the walk, and a participant.
Abbot Steve had his first chemotherapy treatment today at Kaiser in Santa Rosa. It consisted of two different chemicals, the combination of which does not usually cause nausea in the recipients. So far so good. The session went well and he is resting at home in Rohnert Park.
This is the beginning of a three-week cycle of treatments following a confirmed diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. During this period of time his immunity will be greatly compromised and visitors will be asked to take precautions.
Abbot Steve will be looking forward to visiting with family and friends next week but asks that you contact Mary Stares to make arrangements.
It seems impossible that only 10 days have passed since Lane and I received the report that the CAT scan results showed lesions and a mass consistent with pancreatic cancer.
Two days ago, October 8, that diagnosis was confirmed. A biopsy last Friday, October 4, determined that I have pancreatic cancer which has spread to the lungs, liver and spleen. As it stands I will start chemotherapy on Friday, October 11. I have been surprised by the intensity of pain that I feel, and we are working to determine what pain medication and what dose will help ease that pain. Another concern is my lack of appetite. Lane is working hard at tempting my taste buds, but this is proving to be a difficult task.
In keeping with my current, moment by moment practice of gratitude, I would like to acknowledge all those many people from the 10 directions who are chanting for my well being. I have been touched by the countless messages of love and support from family members, friends and sangha.