Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Another rough day

Tonight Doc still isn’t up to writing this. He asked me if I would write it for him. (This is his wife Teresa.) Doc is about the same, maybe just a little better. He was up most of the night with diarrhea and some vomiting, but this afternoon it has calmed down. His temperature is still about the same. It has been going up and down like a roller coaster, but we are thankful that it hasn’t gotten out of control. His body is still worn out, so he is trying to get a lot of rest. He did seem to be a little bit better than yesterday. I know he is sorry that he hasn’t been up to writing the blog the last couple of days, but at least I am reading what everyone has written to him. He enjoys the humor, prayers and all of the well wishes. I know all of you have been a great encouragement to him and all of our family. Please continue to keep him in your prayers. We know in our hearts that they do help. We have seen in the past what miracles God can do when He helped him through the last cancer.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Good news and bad news

Today has been a mixed day. The bad news is that Dad is still not feeling well. He's been very nauseous and has actually vomited blood a few times. He is pretty weak and overall feeling lousy. I hope he gets to feeling better soon.

The good news for today is that my grandma, my dad's mom, was able to get on a webcam to see and talk to him from Chicago! If you have ever met my grandma, you know what a huge step this is. She has never wanted to own or use a computer at all. She was volunteering at the senior citizen center and some ladies offered to help her, so they worked for quite awhile to get everything set up. It worked, and it was worth it! I know it was a big encouragement for both my dad and my grandma. It's too long of a trip for her to make right now to come and see him, so this was a great arrangement. And now that it's set up, she'll be able to talk to my dad several times a week. She may even sign up for a computer class!

Keep the prayers coming. I know that my dad is doing as well as he is because of all your prayers. Thanks also for all the cards and comments on the blog-it means a lot to Dad, especially now that he's not really up for in-person visits.


Visitors on hold

My dad is having another rough day today. Even though the chemo is over, all the effects are still taking a toll on him and he is feeling pretty sick.

He has been so encouraged by all the visits, cards, and comments. For the next few days though, we're going to ask that you not come up and visit. He really needs the rest and even though he loves having visitors, it takes a lot out of him.

In lieu of visiting, please feel free to post a message on this blog-just click "Comments" below this post. He reads those every day and it really boosts his spirits to know you are checking on him and continuing to pray for him.

You could also send a note or card, either to the hospital address or to his home. Those addresses are:

Dr. Richard Fox
Room E266
Memorial Medical Center
701 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62702

Dr. Richard Fox
183 S. Grand Ave
Jacksonville, IL 62650

The cards are decorating his walls and really brightening things up, especially since he's not allowed to have flowers in the room. He keeps running out of thumbtacks and that's a great problem to have. The other day, the nurses said he won the prize for the most hospital mail that day. I know that made him feel good!

If you must visit, please call first (217-788-7962) to see how he is doing and if he is up to a visitor for even a few minutes.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for my dad and all you have been doing to encourage him. It is very much appreciated and hopefully soon we'll be able to post that he's feeling up to visitors again.

Monday, October 29, 2007

More Infection

I had kind of a mixed day today. My fever has gradually gotten worse and they grew some yeast out of my blood. Therefore they changed me to even stronger antibiotics. They took a chest XRay but I do not know what it showed.

My friend Doug came to visit today and we had a good time. Unfortunately, I had to take a couple of naps while he was here. He did get me set up to have video conferencing with a web cam on my computer. Hopefully we can visit face to face over the internet once in a while this way. It was great for him to take a whole day out of his busy schedule to see me on short notice. I am hoping to find a way to get my mom near a computer with a web cam so she can see me and talk to me without having to make the long trip down here.

Later this week, I get another bone marrow biopsy to see if the chemo is working, They will probably do that on Friday.

I had several more visitors today but it is getting harder and harder to see them when I am so tired and have a fever.

I did get another walk in today but can't quite stay strong enough or without nausea long enough to get more in.

I am still unable to eat and therefore they started me on some calories IV today till I can eat again. Then this evening I had another episode of vomiting. I am hoping that stops soon.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day. God gives me the strength to get through each day but I am weak and need lots of help.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Vomiting Again

Not a great name for today's post but it tells my day. I started out fair and got permission to walk in the halls again. I was able to get one walk in before things went downhill. I got one Ensure down this morning and was feeling fair. This afternoon, however, I got sick again. It was probably the worst one yet. I actually took some antinausea medicine for it and it took most of the afternoon to get over it.

This morning, my platelet count was low so I got a transfusion. Platelets help keep you from bleeding. I got premedicated with Benadryl before the platelets and that may have made me a little tired today.

Dr. Dolz came up to visit me and so did two of my patients, Laura and Louann Lyons. It was good to see them. Unfortunately, when Dr. Dolz was getting ready to leave I got sick. I feel bad that he had to watch that. I also had several phone calls today and they continue to be an encouragement.

I fell asleep during the Bears game today. I understand that I did not miss much. I saw the first half, then heard occasional plays of the second half while sleeping.

I am watching the World Series tonight. It does not look good for the Rockies. It is looking like the baseball season will be over tonight.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Continuous chemo ends!

I finished my continuous chemo today but it hasn't been a great day. I did get some visitors and phone calls today but I still can't eat. I vomited last night and again this evening. My fever is also up a bit. I did keep down some ensure( A calorie supplement) earlier today. I am hoping I will feel better when the chemo gets out of my system.

I was able to play some strat-o-matic again this afternoon. Unfortunately, I lost 2 of 3 again. I did have fun. My family continues to be very supportive but I still worry about my wife and her rest. My best friend is coming in from Ohio to see me Monday. I sure hope I am feeling better by then. We usually golf when he comes here or I go there. I am hoping he doesn't expect any golf this time!

I have been having some loose stools so they checked me for a bowel infection called c. difficile. Fortunately the cultures came back no infection. My blood cultures have all been negative so far also.

I am watching the baseball game tonight but it is not much of a game so far. I may get to go to bed early! I doubt it. I am sure I will watch it to the last out!

More tomorrow

Friday, October 26, 2007

Chemo Day 7

Today has been an OK day. I broke my fever last night, but it came back later today. I had lots of visitors and phone calls today. Very encouraging! I still do not have much of an appetite and have asked to see dietary to see about supplements.

I started my last day of chemo this afternoon about 4 PM. Hopefully, I will finish tomorrow afternoon and get to feeling better. I still just don't feel as good as I would like but I guess that is supposed to happen when you are taking 2 kinds of poisin (chemo) and lots of antibiotics. I hope I get better enough to resume walking and getting out and about.

I was able to play some Strat-o-matic baseball tonight. That helped my spirits. For those of you who do not know what that is, it is a baseball game I have played for over 40 years. I play it over the internet and was able to do so from the hospital tonight. I lost 2 out of 3 but the games were close and it was good to play again.

I have been getting more rest but I am beginning to get worried about my wife. She comes early and stays late. She is not getting enough rest and is wearing down. After my passing out episode, I think she is afriad to leave me herer alone for very long. It would not matter how many people are here, she still worries about me. It is great to have someone that cares that much but I do not want her to get worn down, either. I guess I am going to have to get better so she can rest easier!

Well now I have to start getting my rest so will write again tomorrow!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chemo Day 6

Well, I am more than half the way through my continuous chemo. I hope to be done with round 1 by Saturday night. As I guess you know, yesterday was not a good day. I guess it was a full moon. I did not feel well most of the day and developed a fever. Then I guess I scared everyone when I passed out. I felt much better by last night. I was able to watch the World Series even though it was not much of a game.

Today started out as a better day. I am still running a temperature between 100 and 101 but it has been stable. It has been very nice to have all the cards and phone calls and visitors that I have had. People are really nice!

This afternoon I got a little nauseated. It started out a little like yesterday so this time I asked for something and almost headed it off. At least I did not pass out. After about an hour, I felt better. I had another CAT scan tonight to make sure I am OK. They have not come rushing in here since so I guess it is OK. Interestingly enough, my CAT scan tonight is being read by Dr. Shawn Vasireddy. His father is a radiologist at the hospital where I work and he used to be our next door neighbor. He has grown up quite a bit! Hopefully, he will like what he sees on my scan.

I am still waiting for the fever to go away, but it is not any worse so I guess that is good. I am still not sure when I will get to go home. I guess it will still be a couple of weeks.

I am going to try and watch the ballgame tonight and hopefully it will be a more interesting game than last night. Thank you all again for all your kind thoughts and prayers. More info tomorrow hopefully.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Some setbacks

Today my dad isn't feeling well, so I (Kim) am writing for him.

This morning he spiked his first fever, which is a sign of infection. This was fully expected since the chemo wipes out his immune system, and the doctors had warned us several times that it wasn't a matter of "if", but "when" he got an infection. Still, I know Dad was discouraged by the fever and by how much sicker he felt today. They started him on antibiotics for the infection.

Later today he actually passed out at one point. You can just imagine how panicked my mom was when suddenly he wasn't responding to her anymore. The doctors said it's just a side effect of all the medicine he's on and the stress his body is under fighting everything, so while it's scary, it's normal. But as a precaution, they put my dad on bedrest so he doesn't get hurt if he passes out again. That was another discouraging thing, since my dad is such a huge advocate of walking in the hospital and had been making sure to take several walks a day. But honestly, I don't think he'd be up to walking with the fever anyway, so it's probably good that he doesn't even have the temptation to feel like he should.

He had several visitors today, which definitely cheered him up. Elaine Robinson from our church came by, as well as Dr. Trace and Dr. Dolz from Passavant. Even though he wasn't feeling good, I could see that he really appreciated people coming to visit. He's already run out of room on the bulletin board for his cards. That's really nice, especially since he's not allowed to have flowers in his room. He enjoys looking at all of them.

Dad was watching the World Series tonight. He'd never be too sick to watch the baseball game! He just misses having his Tivo to skip all the commercials!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Day 4 of chemo

Nothing real new today. My chemo is going fine. I have less of an appetite than a couple of days ago and got tired a little sooner this evening but otherwise I seem to be doing OK. Dr. Vasireddy(Radiologist at Passavant hospital) visited me today and brought some Swedish fish and a nice coffee cup. He is a nice man. My office nurse Sarah was up to see me tonight with gifts from the office. That was very nice. My best friend Doug called today as well as Dr. Mahmood(Radiation therapist from Jacksonville). It is nice to hear from all these people. Time to get some rest and get ready for another busy day tomorrow. The World Series starts tomorrow night as well! Thanks for all your prayers.

Getting Sicker?

I wonder if they think I am getting sicker. The last two nights I was only awakened once at 5 AM to do my vitals and draw blood! I have slept in till almost 8AM both days. We all know that they have to wake you frequently at night in the hospital when you are trying to get well. So I must be getting sicker. Surprisingly I feel fine and I have no fever. I continue to walk a lot and seem to be doing well. I think it must be due to all the prayer lists I am on and all the prayers that I am getting from family, friends, patients, colleagues,etc. and all the well wishers I have heard from. I know the power of prayer worked for me last time and am counting on it again this time! Keep it up!

By the way, You will see something new on the blog site when posting a comment. There is a place to add comments to a comment and to vote thumbs up or thumbs down on the comment. This is thanks to some revolutionary software developed by my son, Jon. He has been trying to tell me all summer how it works. I guess I had to get sick and need this blog so he could finally show it to me in a way that I can understand!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chemo Day3

Today is my third and final dose for this round of one of my chemo meds. The premedication has helped so far. I have had no nausea but have noticed the last day or so that my appetite is a little less. I now have 4 more days of continuous therapy of my other chemo drug to go. Then we see how low my counts go and what kind of infection I get. They tell me that everyone gets some kind of infection. It usually takes a couple of weeks to get everything cleared up from that. When that occurs I may get to go home.

Marc Steinberg from Passavant was up to see me tonight. He is one of the administrators and has been a good friend. His wife helped us buy our first house in Jacksonville and sold our last house for us. They have been trying to get together with my daughter and her husband and Teresa and I to take us out to a Thai restaurant in Springfield. They would like to see if Kim thinks it is close to what they had in Thailand. When they first offered last year when Kim came home, she had appendicitis and then was still pregnant. After Ian was born, she did not feel she could leave him for very long while she was nursing and did not want to take him with so we have been waiting to get together. Now that Ian is over a year old, it is easier to watch him for a longer time and he could have his food with so now we are just trying to find a time that works.
Maybe when I get out of here we can do it!

Peter Trace also called me today to offer his best wishes. We started at Passavant Hospital within a month of each other and shared office space in the beginning. He also delivered Jon, Daniel and Michael for us and also was Ian's obstetrician! He is a Cubs fan like I am and a good friend.

Dr. Walter Meyer also called today. He is a retired doctor in Jacksonville. He is very well respected and we served on the board of directors together for more than 10 years. I remember when I first started that he was an Icon for Jacksonville. He was one of the docs who made house calls, delivered babies and saw a hundred patients some days between the ER , the office and house calls and covering for other physicians. It took me over a year before I was able to call him by his first name instead of Dr. Meyer. I knew I was accepted in Jacksonville when he started to refer patients to me. He is my hero also as he got to practice in what I believe was the golden age of medicine. There was plenty of new technology like the CAT scanner but it was before the takeover of medical care by government bureaucracy and insurance companies. He also retired while he still had a good reputation and has stayed involved in medicine in many ways including a stroke support group among others. While on the board we worked for many years to try and get a shortcut from the ER to the radiology department. The last couple of years, they remodeled part of XRay and we got them to put in the shortcut! I am not sure whether we decided it was the Fox-Meyer hallway or the Meyer-Fox hallway but it is there and we are both happy because it cuts down the time an ER patient has to spend traveling to and from the CAT scanner or ultrasound and that can be important for a sick or injured patient!

Teresa and I spent some time on the computer today. I am teaching her how to keep track our home and office finances on the computer. She used to do it all when we just wrote checks. When we switched to computer, I did it all. I showed her how to do it before when I was sick but that was 10 years ago and she needed a refresher course. It was something we've been trying to do for a long time but just had not gotten around to it. Now seems like a good time for the computer class!

Now it is just the waiting game, waiting to see what the final bone marrow reports show and waiting to see how low my counts go and what kind of infection I get. Those of you who know me know that I am not a good "waiter". So I am trying to keep busy with other things. I walk 6-8 times a day and have been using my breathing machine(spirometer) to help lessen the chance of blood clots and pneumonia. I am also writing this blog, checking email and keeping track of things at the office. I want to be sure my patients are being taken care of while I am "on vacation". Phone calls and visitors have also helped pass the time as well as reading comments on this blog. Thanks to all who have been a part of that. Got to get my rest now. More tomorrow!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chemo Day2

Today has been a pretty good day. I tolerated the chemo from yesterday pretty well. My counts are holding so far and I have not had any nausea. I got my second dose today and all has been well so far! I was able to get a little work done this morning on my computer also.

Dr. Dolz, Dr. Hinchen and Dr. Russotto stopped by from Passavant hospital today to visit me. It was very nice to see them and nice of them to take time to come all the way over here to encourage my recovery. Dr. Scott also came up to see me after they left. He was a big encouragement for me from my first cancer so it was great to see him as well. John Green from my church was also by to send along his prayers as well. Dr. Malcolm Schulz also called me tonight. He was a surgeon that I worked well with at Passavant till he moved away about 5 years ago. It was great to here from him. I am still trying to talk him into coming back to Jacksonville! Maybe I can get a sympathy move now that I am sick! The Bears also managed to pull out their game with an exciting finish that I was able to watch today.
Tomorrow I get my last dose of one of the induction chemo drugs. I am using an incentive spirometer(a device to encourage deep breathing) and walking at least 8 times a day to try and decrease my risks of infection. My finger infection seems to be getting better also. I am trying to get to bed early enough to get a good night's sleep. Normally I am up pretty late but have been getting to bed before midnight here in the hospital and "sleeping in" till about 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning(at least as much as you can in a hospital where they have to wake you at night to see if you are still breathing and have a pulse and blood pressure).

I am gratified by all the good wishes I have gotten from friends and colleagues. My wife has been here most of every day( even though I keep trying to get her to stay home longer and get more rest so I don't have to worry about her) My sons have been very encouraging and my youngest has really stepped it up in helping out at home. I can't say enough about my daughter and son-in-law who helped set up this blog site and have been able to get copies of my TIVO recordings(TV shows on a DVR) up here for me to watch. And best of all they bring my grandson up to see me! that really cheers me up and keeps me excited about fighting this thing. All I can do is take it one day at a time and see what God has in store for me. Thanks to all of you who have taken time to pray for me, send me your best wishes and are interested enough to ask or read about me on this blog!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Chemotherapy starts!

Today was a fairly easy day. I had some blood drawn this morning and that was OK. My blood count is holding up so far. I have a small hangnail on my little finger and it looks like I am getting a felon. No that is not a legal term from some criminal. It means a small infection around the bottom of the fingernail. I was started on some antibiotics for that today. This afternoon I started chemotherapy. I got some premedications to help prevent any nausea. Then I got a dose of Daunorubicin. I will get one dose of that for the next three days. I also started a continuous dose of cytarabine. I will be taking that for 7 days continuously. They give you all this information to read and list all the possible complications. There is obviously no real choice. You take take the medicine and possibly have some serious side effects or you can not take the medicine and avoid the side effects but you will die! It did not seem like a hard choice to me! Well, I am sitting here watching the American league championship series and Boston leads 10-1 so it is easy to take the time to write this as the game is not quite as exciting as I had hoped it would be. I may have to switch to the Illinois-Michigan game. Unfortunately the hospital TV controller only goes channel up so it is hard to flip from one channel to another and back. That game is at least close at 17-17 so I may try and switch to it if the Indians don't get something going soon. More tomorrow!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Day Two

Well it has been an interesting day today. Before I tell you about today let me tell you about yesterday evening. I passed my MUGA scan( the heart test) and my CT scan. I got two more transfusions last night. Today my blood count is up to 10.8 and I am feeling stronger. I am trying to walk alot. Those of you who know me know how strong an advocate of walking that I am.
Now about today. I was awakened at 5:30 this morning by the ENT resident. I was to be checked out by them to be sure there is no sign of my old cancer. We talked for about 30 minutes and then she left and I went back to sleep. Of course, you know that can't happen in a hospital. I was awakened at about 6:15 by the man who had to draw blood. Once that was done, I went back to sleep. That lasted about 30 minutes. Then I was awakened by a call from Passavant(the hospital I work at).They wanted to check the speakerphone connection so I could do the tumor board today. At that time, I just decided to stay up. The tumor board worked well and I got my 3 patients taken care of. It ended a little before 8. I tried to get a quick shower but did not have any towels in my room and they also called for me in the special procedures department of radiology. I went down there to have a Hickman catheter pu in. It is a special IV put in under the skin and tunnelled into the jugular vein. This allows access of 3 IVs without having to get stuck every 3 days for a new one. They will be using it for my chemo and in case I need to have antibiotics.
The procedure went well and I was back to my room before 10. I decided to order a late breakfast. I just ordered some cereal and fruit. A little while after ordering, they changed my room. I am now in an isolated wing to try and decrease the risk of infection. I waited an hour and still did not get my breakfast! To make a long stry shorter, I had been listed in the computer as NPO(nothing by mouth) in preparation for my Hickman caatheter. Somehow between moving and being busy around here they had not lifted my NPO status, so the dietary dept. refused to send my breakfast. Eventually they got it straightened out and I got my food about noon! I started to eat and got a phone call from my dear wife and we talked for a while. (Good thing all the food I ordered was cold!) I got started eating again and the ENT staff man Dr. Malone and the ENT resident came by to check me over. They did their exam and then did a pharyngoscopy at the bedside. This involves numbing up the nose and putting a flexible scope up my nose and down my throat to be sure there was no sign of my old cancer. I passed this test with flying colors. When they left, I was finally able to finish my breakfast! I had held off taking my shower till my food came(thinking it would just be a couple of minutes) I finally got my shower done and was ready for the rest of the day!

This afternoon, Dr. Lanzotti( my cancer doctor) came in and we discussed my treatments. I am going to be enrolled in a study for trial of a new drug to use with the usual drugs for my leukemia. I was to start treatment today, but Dr. Lanzotti had several other things come up today and he felt it would be best to start tomorrow morning. It takes about 45 -60 minutes to write out all the orders for my treatment and he did not want to rush it and make any mistakes today. I will be on IV chemo continuously for the next 7 days. After that, I will probably develop an infection due to low blood counts. I will be on IV antibiotics for another 2-3 weeks until my infections resolve and my counts get better. With any luck, I should be able to go home then. I will need to do another bone marrow biopsy at 2 weeks to see if the chemo is working. I am still trying to understand all of this. Since this is not a surgical disease, I am not nearly as familiar with it as I am with the diseases I deal with every day.

I did get a call from Dr. Russotto( a foot doctor I work with) and from Dr. Prabhakar( an internal medicine doctor who helped me get started on my treatments) this afternoon also. It was nice of them to take time out of their busy schedules to check on me and offer their support. Dr. Plummer( who I work with in the wound clinic at the hospital and who plays a baseball game online with me) also sent me a very nice email. I am lucky to have such good colleagues and friends!

It is time for me to take another walk and try and get some rest tonight. Tomorrow will be a big day so I will sign off for now!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Not just an overnight

Originally we were hoping that Dad would be able to go home after 24 hours, but it turns out that was just a mean and dirty trick by the doctor to make sure my dad came in sooner rather than later. Dad tried to talk him into letting him take a break for the weekend, but his blood counts are a little low so they think it's better if he just stays here.

We're waiting to find out more results from the tests right now, but we have had some encouraging news. The doctors said that except for this little cancer, he's perfectly healthy! That is really good news! Dad has received some transfusions and is feeling and looking much better than yesterday. It sounds like he should be feeling good for at least another week or so.


Day One!

My leukemia vacation started last night! I was admitted last night and received 2 units of blood. I started at a blood count of 5.9. (Normal is 14-16.) Then today I had a bone marrow biopsy(where they take a sample of the bone and marrow out of your hip bone.) That was fun and I get to do that again in a couple of weeks! I still have to get a CAT scan of my head and neck and a MUGA scan(a heart test) later today. These will make sure my head and neck and heart are healthy enough to have the chemo treatments. I had 17 tubes of blood drawn last night and 11 more today. I will probably need another transfusion! They have room service here at the hospital. You just order food off the menu and they bring it to your room. It took a little time to get soap for the shower and Kleenex and slippers to walk around in but I am figuring out who to talk to in order to find what I need. I have about 100 pages of info to read through to decide if I want to enroll in a study. I am getting a lot of information, probably more than I want to know. I am also getting ready for Tumor board tomorrow. I usually am head of it at Passavant Hospital. This week it is supposed to be on Friday AM at 7. I am going to try and run the meeting over a speakerphone and to present my cases over the phone as well. That should be an interesting experiment! Well, my room service lunch arrived so I have to go for now. More to follow!