Thursday, September 30, 2010

Puppies, Platelets and Visitors

Look at the cool, weird fungus growing on a log in our backyard. :o)

Ron and I just got home from the vet's with Sister and Katy. They were past due for their annual vaccinations. They were both pronounced very healthy. They weigh exactly the same--50.9 pounds, and even their temperatures were the same. They were excited to go somewhere in the car, and were good in the car and at the vet's. I'm pretty sure they remember the vet.

I spent the morning at the hospital. I had a feeling I'd need platelets today, and sure enough I did. It seemed to take them forever to do everything today. I have to go back tomorrow morning, and probably one day over the weekend. I don't know my schedule for next week yet, but I'm sure I'll be there at least several times, if not every day. They are keeping a very close watch on my blood counts.

Yesterday afternoon was nice because I had several visitors. First Josh came by (it was his day off), then Kelly came over and stayed for a couple of hours, and then Josh brought Reece for awhile. Reece was so cute. When he walked into the family room and saw me on the couch he said, "Gramma, what are you doing here?" I told him that they let me come home from the hospital. Then he said, "They fixed you!" It was wonderful to hug him and watch him and listen to all he had to tell me.

I'm doing pretty good. I'm weak and get tired quickly, but that's to be expected. My appetite is good, although food doesn't taste quite right yet. I'm sleeping well without the need for the Ambien they gave me. I won't be taking that. Very little nausea, the diarrhea has just about stopped completely, and my world is looking brighter.

My doctors are pretty amazed by how well I've done. They don't realize what a prayer army I have with me. All of you who are praying, offering your Masses, your Adoration hours, your Communion, your rosaries, chaplets and sufferings--you are the reason I am doing so well. I am absolutely certain of that, and I can never thank you enough. Nevertheless, Thank You!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Thank you all for sharing my joy about being home. I loved reading your comments on my roller coaster post. :o)

The first thing I have to do in this post is apologize to my sweet Ron. When I wrote my post yesterday, I hadn't been upstairs yet, and I had said the house was dirty. When I went upstairs last night, our bedroom and bathroom had been vacuumed, dusted and scrubbed. It looked beautiful and showed me how much he loves me. I felt terrible for what I'd said. Sometimes I'm so thoughtless. He had also mopped the kitchen and breakfast area with bleach water to make sure all germs were killed. He is a treasure. Ron, I'm sorry I'm such a goofball.

It's another gorgeous day here. Ron drove me to Wilford Hall this morning and dropped me off. I had an 8 AM appointment for labs and to see my doctor. Everyone expected that I would be there at least half the day because I'd need platelets or blood, but the lab results came back and all was good. Some of my counts were normal, others only a little bit low. They just gave me some fluids while I waited for the lab results, and some magnesium tablets because my magnesium was a little bit low. I didn't need platelets or blood transfusions--yay! They think I'll need platelets by tomorrow, though. They were very pleased, and told me to keep doing what I've been doing. I called Ron around 10 AM to come and pick me up. He was at work, and surprised to get the call so soon. :o)

He came to get me in no time, and took me to lunch at Macaroni Grill at 11. I had pasta e fagioli and crusty bread. Ron had chicken parmegiana. Now I'm home and he's gone back to work. I'm full and happy and I might take a nap.

I'm still thrilled to be home. And Ron, I love you.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Emotional Roller Coaster

I'm home!
The day was an emotional roller coaster.
First they told me I was going home.
Then they decided to remove the Apheresis line in my chest first.
Then the doctors that were supposed to do it said my platelet count had to be at least 50,000.

I've received platelets every day since the transplant and the highest they had gotten was around 20,000. My nurse said there was no way we could get them up high enough before the IR clinic closed for the day. I said that was okay, I'd just have it done on one of the days when I had to come back for labs. (I'll be going back every day for awhile for labs and any transfusions I might need). She said that they needed to start the platelets around midnight to have me ready by the next morning. I was heartbroken. I had already packed my stuff up and was so excited to be going home.

I told her I wanted a pass and would come back at midnight. She said I'd have to be back by 9 PM in time for night meds, so I said okay. I just had to get out of there for at least a few hours. I called Ron and told him I could only go out on a pass.

Then the nurse came in and said my labs came back and my platelet count was 55,000! She said she would call the IR clinic and see if they could squeeze me in. I was excited again!

Then she came back and said they said no, I was already on the schedule for the next day and they were full. Hopes dashed again.

Then she came back again and said they had called back and could take me! They rushed me down there and they pulled out the line.

When I got back to my room, Ron was waiting. We got everything packed up, the nurse brought my meds and did the discharge papers, etc. and we were out of there.

It had been 11 days since I'd been outside (when I was out on a pass one Friday). The weather was perfect, the day was beautiful, and it felt so wonderful to be out. I was so sick of the hospital smell. I immediately felt 100% better breathing fresh air. I even enjoyed the drive home in rush hour traffic. :o)

Ron went to the store and got steaks, some sweet potatoes, stuff to make a salad, some sourdough bread and we had a feast for dinner. It was so delicious after eating hospital food for three weeks.

I've been resting since dinner. The house is dirty, but I'm not supposed to clean, so tomorrow I'm calling cleaning services to get some estimates. I am washing our mattress pad and sheets right now.

Guess I'd better get out my meds and see what I'm supposed to take tonight. Then I'm having a bath, climbing into my freshly made bed, and I hope I'll sleep like a log.

God is good.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Big News!

Well, my big news today is that I might get to go home tomorrow. It will depend on my blood counts, but they've been steadily increasing. Other criteria the doctor gave me is that I eat enough, and am able to take my meds by mouth (they've been giving me many of them through the IV because I've had trouble keeping them down).

I'm determined that I will do whatever it take to go home. I just need my body to cooperate and get those counts up high enough!

The thinking seems to be that if my counts are okay, I can do the things I'm doing in the hospital just as well (or better) at home. I know I'll eat better. The food here is atrocious. The nausea has abated, so I think I can keep my pills down. I just took 6 potassium tablets over a 30 minute period, and they haven't come back up.

My potassium has been low and they've had trouble getting it to come back up, because of the diarrhea.

Anyway, I'm excited and hopeful. I will be so disappointed if I don't get to go!

In other news, I had a very peaceful night last night. My room was filled with guardian angels sent by loving friends and family. My dreams were of bountiful feasts (I so need good food) and Christmas! Very sweet dreams. Thank you all for your prayers, your loving support and your angels!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another Day Almost Over

One more day down. I won't lie; it's been a trial, but I keep looking forward and leaning on my Jesus.

I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and while I was in there I suddenly thought to myself, "Hey, I feel better!"

I ate a tiny slice of a biscuit with some butter and jam for breakfast. My doctor came in while I was eating and asked if that was the first food I'd had in days and I told him it was. He said my white count had gone up a little, to 0.07, so we're headed the right direction now! A normal white count is 4+.

I ate the mac and cheese that came with my lunch and one bite of cheesecake, and was sorry later.

Ron brought me a sugar donut and a mocha frappachino this afternoon (cause that's what I wanted and I'm spoiled). I had about 1/4 of each. He finished my frappachino after having one of his own, and was wired for the rest of the afternoon. :o)

Now the diarrhea is causing me untold troubles, but they don't want to give me anything to stop it because it is getting out the chemo and dead cells. It's not a pretty situation.

Ron went to Mass while he was here. I didn't go because of the aforementioned problem.

I know I've asked so much prayer from you, but I am under spiritual attack and really need them now. I may write more about it tomorrow, but if I do half my readers will think I'm insane. Besides, I don't want to give it too much attention.

Thanks, dear ones!

PS: Johnnie, I'm fighting like a girl! :o)

PPS: Mike L, thanks for sending your patron saint to my side.

PPS again: Jennifer, I need your Angel tonight, please. Thank you!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday Summary

I didn't realize it has been so long since I blogged, dear ones. I apologize, but have been on the very bad side of things here. I can't focus on TV, reading, the computer, or anything else. Typing is very hard for me. Thought is very hard. :o) Nothing seems to work the way it's supposed to. The feeling is one of being very kind of unfocused, fuzzy---off? My head hurts.

They want to me to walk, but I'm afraid to go out into the hall to walk because I might loose control of bladder or bowels. Sometimes barely moving results in a change of underwear or scrubs.

They want me to eat, but eating the smallest bit of something causes nausea like crazy. Today I am able to sip on a coke and ice. They have tried just about every nausea combo they can think of--it's not for lack of trying.

There is a little light at the end of the tunnel. Today is Day 9 after the Transplant, so the ingrafting should happen soon. Did you see the comments in the last post? I have a couple of new readers--one a transplant nurse, the other involved in an organization that helps cancer patients, treatment through recovery. Thank you both for taking time to comment!

I'll try to post again tomorrow.

Monday, September 20, 2010


The Little Cake Boss post happened to be my 1,000th post. I had planned to do something special for the 1,000th post (like a giveaway), but being in the hospital put a damper on that plan. Maybe I can do it later, for the 1,100th post or something.

I'm feeling pretty yucky today; can't seem to get rid of the nausea, even with meds. In fact, it's hard to even take my meds because they make me gag and heave. They gave me Zofran through the IV, and just brought me 2 Compazine, which are very tiny so I was able to swallow them.

My doctors were in this morning and said that these will be the worst days. I'm on day 4 after the transplant, and my stem cells should "ingraft" with my bone marrow between days 10 and 14. I don't know if that means I'll feel better, but I hope so! At least then I'll know that my cells are beginning to come back. For now, they are still expecting me to have the mucousitis, vomiting and diarrhea, which hasn't happened yet but I guess is coming. :o( That last chemo causes it, and evidently everyone gets it.

They also told me that the lower half of my lungs are collapsing a little bit, so they want me up more, moving around and using the spirometer.

Ron and Josh both called to chat this morning, and it was nice to hear their voices. Both of them called from work. Ron will be here this evening and is bringing Rudy's Barbecue for my dinner. I'm hoping I'll be tempted to eat the creamed corn. :o) It is out of this world delicious (but more like dessert than a veggie). I've lost about six pounds they don't want me to lose just now, but I'm sure that's not unusual, and I'm sure I'll lose more. Good thing I wasn't a frail little thing coming in. ;o)

The picture above was taken by Ron a few days ago; he emailed it to me. He was doing a walkabout. :o) Those moss roses (portulaca) just keep coming back in that pot, year after year.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Little Cake Boss

Cake Boss is one of Reece's favorite TV shows. He is always asking me if we can bake, and he longs to make certain kinds of cakes, like the ones on Cake Boss. We took these pictures awhile back, before I came into the hospital for the transplant. He chose the cake pan and used gummy candies to decorate his cake. It was delicious!

I had a much better day today. I'm still really sick, but not as sick as I was yesterday. I've been able to eat a bit, and that seems to help the nausea some.

Ron was here this afternoon. He went to Mass in the chapel, but I didn't go with him this time. I was afraid I'd get sick. So while he was gone, I took a shower.

Ron has been busy designing a new cabinet for our hallway, using yet another piece of glass from our old front door in the design. It's going to be so pretty!

Kelly came over around 4 PM and brought me some smoked grilled chicken and potato salad. It was so good, and I ate all of it! Ron left around 5, but Kel stayed until 6. We watched an episode of--guess what? Cake Boss! :o)

I want to say a special thank you to all of you. I certainly didn't expect to feel better today, and know that it is because of your prayers that I'm doing well. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Summary

Back at Wilford Hall, feeling the worst I've ever felt during this whole ordeal. :o(

When I first got back, they said I might get to go out on another pass, but when my lab counts came back I was already neutropenic, so I'm stuck here for probably a couple of weeks, maybe longer, until my counts start to come back up.

I've spent most of the day just lying in bed watching TV. I ate breakfast at home (waffles with raspberries), but couldn't eat much of it. Lunch was a few potato chips, a vanilla pudding cup and about 4 oz. of Coke Zero. I can barely stand the smell of food. Even non-food smells make me gag and heave.

I'm using the Zofran, but it's not helping much right now. Too much ick in my body, I guess. The taste in my mouth is nearly unbearable.

The picture is of Reece last night when I was home. It was all rainy and windy outside. He looked so sweet and cozy curled up on the couch watching Little Bear. I'm so glad I got to spend some time with him.

Lyssa, are you praying for me? I love you!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Home On A Pass.

I am home on a pass from the hospital this evening! It's so wonderful to be at home. But I have to go back first thing tomorrow morning. :o(

I am just starting to exhibit some of the side effects the doctors and nurses have been warning me about. There's a horrible taste in my mouth, so I am almost constantly nauseous. I've been brushing my teeth often, and rinsing my mouth to try to keep the mucousitis away, but I can feel some sensitivity beginning in my mouth. The dreaded diarrhea has hit, but not to the extent that I feared--yet. :o\ I'm weak and tired, sick and pale, but I'm happy because I know this is part of the (rocky) road to good health again.

Ron and I left the hospital around 1:30 PM. It felt good just to be outside! I still had an appetite at the time, and was sick of the awful hospital food, so we went to Macaroni Grill for lunch. I had chicken marsala and it was so delicious!

When we got home I was happy to see the puppies, and they are happy to see me, too. Both of them, and Maggie, smelled me for a long time. I know I still smell weird--like chemo and stem cell transplant. They were very interested. Katy seemed worried, and looked at me with her ears down and sad eyes.

Around 4 PM, Ron went over and got Reece. He was going to come to the hospital to see me today, but since I got to come home, he came here, instead. He was glad to see me, and I was overjoyed to see him! He said to me, "Gramma, did they fix you?" :o) I told him that they were still working on it, but I was going to be okay. He knows I have to go back to the hospital, and has agreed to come visit me there again. :o)

Just after Ron left to pick up Reece, the sky opened and it absolutely poured rain. I had to hurry out and get Katy from the dog yard so she wouldn't be soaked. The pic at the top is our front room window late this afternoon.

Reece and I played quietly for a few hours, then Ron took him to HEB with him. He was going to drop him at home, but the kids had gone out to eat, so Reece wound up back over here for awhile, until his parents came to pick him up. Ron got him some little plastic animals at HEB, and Reece wanted to look them each up on YouTube. So we watched a black bear, a gorilla, a tiger, and a jaguar on YouTube. He had some other animals, too, but daddy and mommy came to get him before we found all of them.

I really dread having to go back tomorrow, but the doctors say I'll probably be neutropenic by then, and they need to keep a very close eye on my cell levels for the next two or three weeks. At the hospital they can also give me meds to help control the awful side effects, too. So I guess as much as I hate going back, it is necessary. :o(

Thank you all once again for all your support, caring and prayers.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Last Update Today

So far, so good. The stem cell transplant went well. I had seven bags of stem cells, totaling over 3,000,000 stem cells in all, which is about 1,000,000 more than the low end goal.

Now the stem wells will migrate into the bone marrow and start making the red cells, white cells and platelets that my body needs. I'll be extremely low on cells for awhile, thanks to the high dose chemo I've had all week, but the doctors are watching me like hawks. They can give me red blood transfusions, platelet transfusions and Neupogen (I think) to stimulate white cell growth as needed.

They gave me Ativan to calm me down, some anti-nausea pills that I absolutely hate because they knock me out and make me feel loopy the rest of the day and some other stuff. I slept most of the afternoon after the transplant.

There were about 8 people in my room for the transplant, with a big tank that held the frozen stem cells. The doctor would take one bag out and thaw it in a bowl of water, a nurse would attach it to the pump, and in it would go. When it was infused, my face felt flushed and I'd get a funny, bumpy feeling in my stomach. I did throw up once, but I think it was because I was a little nauseous and they kept taking my temperature. When they put the thermometer in my mouth, up-chuck! It only happened once, though. They were also taking other vitals every 5 minutes. My BP went up, but I think it was more the stress of so many people in here than anything else.

The stuff they mix with the stem cells has a funny smell. One of the night nurses said she knew as soon as she came on the floor that a stem cell transplant was done today. Some people think it smells like garlic, but Kelly said it smells like soup. Funny, huh? :o) Anyway, I'm probably smelling a little bit funky right now, but I don't really notice it.

Ron and Kelly both came over tonight. Ron brought rice and beans that Cyrise had made and sent for me. They were so delicious! Thank you, sweet Cyrise! We had dinner in the family room kitchen, then watched TV for a bit, and talked, in the family room. It was pleasant to spend time with my honeys, and get out of the room for awhile.

Kelly brought me some bags of different kinds of tea. I'll enjoy having those with my breakfast. She's so thoughtful and sweet. Ron left around 8:45 to go home and take care of the puppies.

Kelly stayed until close to 9, and went walking with me. We walked 5 times around the ward, which is 1/4 mile. I try to walk it 4 times a day, which is a mile, but don't always have time to do it. Today I walked 3/4 of a mile.

Well, that's been my day. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, dear ones! I can never thank you enough for all you do for me.

They Say It's My Birthday

Today is the big day--bone marrow (or stem cell) transplant day! They will be here in about an hour to do the procedure. I'm a little nervous, but it sounds like a simple enough procedure.

The staff calls it a new birthday, because it's the beginning of a new, healthy life. I like that! :o)

I know I keep asking for your prayers, but I still need them. So far the side effects from the latest chemo have barely affected me, and I credit that all to you who are praying for me! There are some bad side effects from the stem cell infusion, too, so please keep it up. Your prayers are so powerful!

Ron is on his way here, but called to say he is stuck in a traffic jam because of a wreck. I wanted him to be here for the transplant, but if he's not it won't really matter. I have plenty of people taking care of me. :o)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spiritual Lifts and Prayer Request

Yesterday morning one of the chaplain corps volunteers came by my room. I've mentioned her before; she's a darling little German lady. She asked if she could do anything for me, then offered me Holy Communion. I usually don't receive Communion from the volunteers, but yesterday I wanted it very much. She prayed with me beforehand, and it was quite lovely, and left me feeling happy.

Then this morning, the chaplain for this floor came by with her piano keyboard and played 3 hymns for me, and a song she wrote for the nurses on this floor. She has a beautiful voice, and can play beautifully, too. I very much enjoyed the little impromptu concert.

I'll be getting the dreaded Melphalan chemo today. Please pray for me that the side effects will be well tolerated. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday With Reece!

I'm just finishing up my second round of chemo today. There are 2 different kinds, each takes about an hour to infuse. So far no nausea or other problems. I'll have these 2 kinds again tomorrow at 8 AM and 8 PM, then another one on Wednesday. Thursday is the day I receive my healthy stem cells back. The staff tells me that will be my new "birthday." :o)

I'm told to expect diarrhea any minute now, and possibly mouth sores, possible fever and lack of appetite beginning a day or so after the transplant and lasting for awhile. Ugh.

Being in the hospital is a real lesson in humility. There is no point in trying to be modest or private. They want to know everything, they measure everything that goes into your body and everything that comes out, they help put plastic over my picc line and Aphersis lines before my shower, and they see me in all my baldness because I can't stand to wear a hat all the time. But oh my goodness, they do take such good care of me! I'm still in awe of the staff here; they are all so patient, efficient and kind, all the time.

Reece was here this afternoon with Ron. It was so wonderful to see him! He was a little quiet and subdued at first, but it wasn't long before he wanted to explore and ask questions and make me draw swimming wolves and other Peter and the Wolf characters. :o) We spent some time in the family room, where he found a pair of pewter pheasants on a table and loved playing with them. He thought they looked like "mean birds," but he was pretending to feed them "doodleberries," some fake berries that were also on the table. Everyone up here thought he was the cutest thing ever. :o) He and Papa brought me chips and queso from Taco Cabana, and we had a mini-feast in the room. He and Papa had root beer and I had cherry coke zero.

Since we're on an air force base, Reece saw some huge planes flying around. They do touch and goes around the hospital and are fun to watch. I'm looking forward to his next visit. He is going to bring a few toys to play with the next time. This time he brought a tiny Buzz Lightyear.

Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tuesday Chatter

Pics that make me happy. Jakie and an acorn, and Lyssa with a cute smile. :o)

The social worker here at the hospital loaned me a little broadband modem, so I'm able to get online tonight. Yay! I'll try to catch up with some of your blogs and the Catholic board. I've been able to see email and post comments to my blog from my iphone, but trying to post from it is not fun.

I had a rough day today. The chemo is affecting my lungs, and I've had some shortness of breath. Then I threw up this morning. The nurse gave me compazine for the nausea, which made me so zoned out the rest of the day, while still trying to breath. Whew! I'm feeling a bit better tonight, and the night nurse brought me a spirometer to help me get rid of the congestion.

Ron is here with me this evening. He was going to come up earlier, but I suggested he wait until this evening, when I might feel better. I'm glad he waited. It gave me time to walk around the hall for awhile, and take a shower.

Tomorrow he is going to bring Reece up with him! We are missing each other so much. I've talked with him on the phone every day, and he always says, "Can I come see you?" Today when I told him I was still in the hospital, he said, "Ooooh noooo!" so sad.

Our AC went out at the house, so Ron has been dealing with having that repaired. Poor guy had to stay in the hot house over the weekend because they couldn't get the parts we needed until Monday. But it's fixed now, and he said the house has cooled down.

I'm missing my dogs, but Ron says they are doing fine.

Ron and I went to Mass yesterday in the little chapel here at the hospital. It was nice and I really needed it! The priest who celebrated the Mass was the "new" priest from our old parish where Ron and I went through RCIA. He seems like a nice guy.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support! Much love!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Promised Update

Sorry it has taken a few days to update, but we've been really busy. I still can't get online at the hospital, but the social worker told me she could get me a wi-fi card on Monday. (I'm not counting on it, but I'll keep my fingers crossed).

On Friday they gave me the first chemo—called BCNU, or Carmustine. The nurse asked me if I drank alcohol, and I told him very rarely. He said that the drug is mixed with alcohol during the infusion, and would probably make me feel drunk—slurred speech, facial flushing, light-headedness and dizziness. It did all that, and I was glad when it was over. My doctor came in afterward and said he could probably ask me anything right now, and I'd answer it. :o) It took a couple of hours before I started feeling better. So far I haven't had any of the bad side effects it can cause, but those usually occur a few days later.

Today (Saturday), Sunday and Monday, I'll get Etoposide (VP-16) and Cytarabine (Ara-C) twice daily. I got the first doses this morning at 8 AM, and will get the next two at 8 PM this evening. (Got them and tolerated them very well so far).

Then on the last day of chemo, I'll get an infusion of Melphalan, which they tell me is the “bad one.”

All of them can cause all sorts of side effects, but so far I've gotten through them okay. The doctors and nurses are good about giving drugs to keep problems at bay. The doctors and nurses have been telling me that the worst time will be after the transplant, and the worst side effect is usually mucousitis (not sure of that spelling).

I've had lots of company today. Ron was here at lunchtime and brought me a chicken basket from DQ. One of the nurses came in and said, “Oh, DQ! Is that what you like about Texas?” :o) She's cute. Ron told her that was one of the things he likes about Texas. (It's a little ditty from a commercial, for my non-Texan readers—DQ, that's what I like about Texas).

Ron left, and within minutes Kelly came in. She said she saw her dad driving out of the parking lot, but he didn't see her. We talked and walked around and around the ward a bit. She brought me two more books from a series she loaned me. After she left, I found a little handmade bookmark in the book that says, “I love you, Mom.” My heart melted. I love you too, Sweet Girl.

Then I took a shower, and had 2 phone calls while I was in the shower. And when I got out, Sandi and Mom were here. My nurse had put them in the family room to wait for me. I really enjoyed their visit. They just left to go to dinner. Sandi likes coming on the AF Base, or on Army bases. She said today that the military is a whole different world (true). They had to go to the visitor center at the gate to get a pass, and she enjoyed seeing the guys in fatigues and hearing someone ask where the latrine was. She said, “Army talk!” Ha! She is so cute. It's fun seeing a world we are so familiar with through her eyes.

Sandi is taking Mom home with her while I'm in the hospital. It is such a huge relief to know that Mom will be okay. Ron and the kids are wonderful to help with her, but they are dealing with enough right now, and this will be a load off their minds, too. Mom loves going to Sandi's beautiful apartment, and Sandi has planned lots of fun things for them to do. Kelly will be keeping Teddy for Mom, since pets are not allowed at Sandi's apartment complex. Family is wonderful.

My first phone call this morning was from Ron, then Cyrise called to tell me that Reece kept saying that he wanted to talk to Gramma. It was fun talking to him, and when he was finished talking he said, “I love you, Gramma. Bye-bye!” :o) I found out that he can come up to visit, after all! Yay! I think he and Josh are coming on Wednesday (Josh's day off). The baby girls are too young—you have to be over 2, so they will stay home with mommy.

I talked to Father Kloster today. I called him to get his advice on the Advanced Directive they want me to fill out. It was so nice to hear his voice, and of course his advice was very good. I wanted to make sure my thinking on it was in line with Church doctrine. We chatted for a bit, and he said that he is doing well. He probably thinks I'm nosy, but he reminds me of our oldest son, and I wanted to make sure he's okay.

And Josh called and chatted for awhile. He was on his way home from work and just called to see how I was doing. He said that he sometimes gets jobs near here, and if he gets a chance he will come and have lunch with me. I love it when someone brings me food, because the food here is bad. It all smells the same, and tastes the same. I always love to see Josh, even if he doesn't bring me food.

They are having trouble getting my blood sugar down—it's been in the 300s. Lots of things can raise it, but the main thing causing the problem right now are the steroids (and the chemo and the stress). So they've changed the plan a bit, and are giving me a slow release insulin along with my Metformin, and they took me off the Januvia, at least for now.

Sorry for the long, rather scattered-thinking post. You are all in my prayers, and I'm offering up any suffering for your intentions. Thank you for your continued prayers for me!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Countdown to Transplant

We had the Family Conference this afternoon. Ron, Kelly and I met with my transplant doctor, a social worker and a data collection clerk. Dr. W had already told me that much of what he would talk about was the "scary stuff" that probably won't happen, but it is necessary to discuss it just in case it does happen. I warned Kelly (our daughter) that he would talk about that kind of stuff, so she would be prepared to hear it and not get scared. She did great, and asked some good questions to be sure she understood all that was going to happen. When we left she said, "I'm just glad I didn't burst into tears in the middle of everything!" :o)

Dr. W discussed the side effects of the high dose chemotherapy, how it could affect my organs and my cells, the possibility that it could damage cells which could cause other cancers in the future, the possibility of having to go to the ICU, what would happen should I need endotracheal intubation, that I'll probably have a reduced appetite and maybe sores in my mouth, whether I have an advanced directive, etc. etc.

It turns out that I'll be in the hospital much longer than I had anticipated. The bone marrow transplant unit counts the days like this: the day I receive the transplanted stem cells will be Day 0. So tomorrow will be Day -6, Saturday Day -5, Sunday Day -4, etc. Day 0, transplant day, will be a week from today, Thursday September 16. The next day will be Day 1, Day 2, etc. They will keep me in the hospital to monitor me until my cell counts begin to go back up, which normally happens around Day 24, but can be as long as Day 30. :o( I hate the thought of being in the hospital that long, but I'll probably be there for at least 3 weeks, maybe longer. I may be able to go out "on pass" for a few hours or overnight sometimes, if I am doing well. I'll likely get red blood and platelet transfusions during the first couple of weeks after chemo, and there are even risks with those, especially with no immune system.

It all sounds pretty awful, but what I am dreading most of all is that I won't be able to see my grandchildren for so long. :o( Reece stayed overnight last night because I knew I wouldn't be seeing him for awhile. I didn't know it would
that long, though! I could just cry when I think about it. I told him that I would call him, though. I'm so glad our other grandchildren were here over the long weekend!

This is going to be the hardest part of my treatment. Dr. W said there were 3 options. I can stop now, and the cancer might not come back, or it could come back in a year or two (likely with mantle cell lymphoma). I can stop now and get Rituxan (chemo) every six months or so, to "beat it back," and maybe get a few more years. I can go ahead with the stem cell transplant and have a better chance of it not coming back for a long time, and possibly curing it. I am definitely going for the cure.

So, dear ones, I need your prayers more than ever! Please pray for a complete cure. Please pray for me and my doctors, nurses and techs. And please, pray for my family that they won't be afraid and worried, but will instead be comforted and at peace.

If you'd like to pray the Novena to Blessed Stanilaus Papcyznski, you can find it
here (thanks again, Angela). I will consider it a miracle if I am cured of mantle cell lymphoma, because my doctors keep telling me that it most always comes back.

St. Peregrine is the patron saint of cancer, so I'd appreciate prayers for his intercession, too.

But most of all, please beg Jesus for His Mercy for Sharon, a sinner in need of His love and forgiveness.

Thank you so much, dear readers! I will pray for you, and offer any suffering I may experience during the next month for your intentions. Hugs!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

To hear the beautiful music on the video, please turn off my Playlist player in the column on the left by clicking on the double vertical lines.

V. Today is the Nativity of the holy Virgin Mary.

R. Whose glorious life is the ornament of all the Churches.

Antiphon at the Magnificat:
Thy Nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, was the herald of joy to the whole world: since from thee arose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God, who, destroying the curse, bestowed the blessing, and, confounding death, brought us the gift of life everlasting.

Bestow upon Thy servants, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the gift of Thy heavenly grace: that as the childbearing of the Blessed Virgin was the beginning of our salvation, so the solemn feast of her Nativity may bring us an increase of peace. Amen

Happy Birthday, dear Mary, our Mother.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Wow, we are right in the eye of tropical storm Hermine and we are getting drenched and windblown.

We needed the rain, but it came down so hard and fast, I'm sure there are flooded areas all over the San Antonio area. We always have flash floods when it rains hard for a long time because our ground is dense clay and rock.

Ron came home at lunch time. I was going to take him back to work and go to Mom's, but he didn't want me to drive in this weather, so he took her meds and stopped at her place on the way back to work.

I gave him a turkey sandwich and potato salad for lunch (and a Little Debbie cake for dessert). It was kind of nice to have him home for lunch. I hated for him to have to drive back in the storm. It was even worse then than it is now.

I worry about our trees and the fence in this kind of weather. We've lost huge limbs from one of our trees in similar winds, and one tree blew completely over a few years ago. We're at the top of a hill, so we get the full force of the wind.

The pictures are from our local newspaper, The San Antonio Express News.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Guys



Ron and Jacob


Brother love. Josh came by when he finished work to say good-bye before Jason and family left for home. I love seeing my boys hug each other.

Jake in his swim goggles.

Reece with one of his alligators.

They had so much fun in the pool.

The Girls

I didn't get pictures of all the girls.

But here is sweet Aubrey with her hair in a ponytail.

And here is Lily in the pool. She spent the whole day in the pool on Saturday!

Here is Ahlyssa, playing Lily's recorder.

And here is the birthday girl, Great Gran.

Lily, Aubrey and Ahlyssa in the pool with Aunt Kelly. She is so wonderful with them.

I didn't get any pics of Cyrise and Camryn alone, but here they are with Josh and Jason. That's Aubrey, Cyrise sitting next to Josh, who is holding Camryn, and Jason on the far right.

Gran's Birthday Party

It was so much fun to have my family here over the long weekend. It's always kind of wild and hectic when we all get together, but we have a ball.

Mom's birthday was Sunday, and I think she enjoyed being here with everyone. We had a cook-out with lots of food. My sister Sandi was here, and brought a birthday cake that she baked for Mom.

Mom enjoyed her presents, her cake and ice cream and her grands and great-grands

And she enjoyed a beer. Here's my 84 year old mother having a Coors Light on her birthday.

She thought it was hilarious that I was taking her picture with her beer. :o) Isn't she just the cutest little Gran ever?

Happy Birthday, Mama!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wednesday and Thursday with Reece

My afternoon snack--hot fudge sundae. Mmmm.

It's hard to believe that it is already September. Of course it still feels like summer here well into October, but I'm looking forward to autumn. There is a different feel in the air.

Reece spent the night. His smile, his chatter, his beautiful presence makes everything more joyful. He told me, "Gramma, I missed you!" Later he was rubbing my head and said, "I got a cactus." :o) I'm still bald, but have lots of little 1/4" hairs sticking up all over my head. Reece thinks it looks like a cactus. I love it when he rubs my head. :o)

He went with Papa to the pool supply store for shock, to PetsMart for Blue Buffalo for the puppies, and to the grocery store. They came back with rainbow colored goldfish crackers, gummi bears, Little Debbie cakes, and a red velvet cake from the bakery. Papa buys him whatever he wants when they go to the store. :o)

He was supposed to sleep with Papa in the spare room because I had that radioactive stuff on Tuesday when I had the CT scan. But he let us know in no uncertain terms that he wanted to stay with me. So I explained that he had to sleep on his own side of the king-sized bed, and we put a pillow between us. He did fine all night, but I kept waking up, afraid he would fall off the bed on the other side. Usually he sleeps smack up against me all night, so I know where he is. This morning when I woke up, he was on top of the pillow I had put between us, with his arm around my neck. I moved him over, but even in his sleep he was reaching for me.

As I was lying there looking at him (I love to watch him sleep; he is so beautiful and peaceful) the phone rang. It was Jason, calling to let me know that he and his family are coming to visit this weekend. It's a good time for them to come, since I'm in between chemo treatments and feeling pretty good. I've been missing them so much, and I'm thrilled that they are coming. Reece is so excited that Uncle Jason is coming. He kept saying, "I want to see Jakey!"

When we left Great Gran's apartment today, Reece said, "That was fun!" He loves her so much, and she is crazy about him. They drew pictures, played with her little glass animals, and took Teddy for a walk.

Sunday is Great Gran's birthday, so we will have a celebration here after Mass. She will be 84 years old.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oh, I forgot to tell you something!

I forgot to say that Dr. W wants to have our family conference on Thursday, September 9th at 1:30 PM, and I'll go into the hospital for the deep chemo on September 10th.

The family conference is so that caregivers and family will know what to expect after the chemo and transplant. Since the chemo will destroy most all of my cells, I'll be very immuno-compromised for quite awhile. They will return my stem cells shortly after the chemo ends, but it will take awhile for the cells to regenerate. From what I understand, I'll be weak and sick for awhile, but if things go as they have thus far, I will bounce back pretty quickly. I'm praying that my harvested stem cells are healthy and strong and will make lots more healthy and strong cells!

Thank you for your prayers.

Some Very Good News

This was the fortune from my fortune cookie on Sunday. I saved it. :o)

My BMT (bone marrow transplant) doctor called me this morning. He wanted to know about the CT and PET scans, and I was able to tell him that they were done yesterday.

He said that the flow cytometry results had come back (from the bone marrow biopsy), and were clear (no cancer cells seen). He said that the results for the solid stuff (bone and bone marrow) would probably come back tomorrow. I'll see him on Friday and I'm hoping for even more good news!

My cancer doctor called at lunchtime. He said that Dr. W (BMT doc) has been keeping him up-to-date about my progress. He said that he got the results of the CT scan today, and that he could see "no signs of disease." Whoo hoo! (If you could see my heart right now, it would be doing a happy dance).

Dr. B (cancer doc) said that I am right where they want me to be. I asked (because I always have to ask) if he still thought I needed to do the stem cell transplant, and he said yes, that I need to go ahead with it. He said that with the transplant I have a much better chance "that the cancer will not come back for a long time, or hopefully for a complete cure." I love this young doctor. He has given me hope since the very beginning that I will be cured.

So, super news from my wonderful doctors! And I am thrilled! :o)

Almighty Father, you are lavish in bestowing all your gifts, and I give you thanks for the favors you have given to me. In your goodness you have favored me and kept me safe in the past. I ask that you continue to protect me and to shelter me in the shadow of your wings. I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.