Saturday, December 29, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 26

Today was a good day. My labs showed that my neutrophil count was over 750 so I am allowed to go out! Normally we go out to dinner somewhere for birthdays in our family. I was not sure my count would be high enough so we postponed the birthday dinner till Saturday. We will probably make this a combined birthday dinner for Michael, our friend Gene Retzer and me. If you remember I was in the hospital for Michael's birthday and also Gene's which is two days after Michael's. Gene has always been like family to us. He and his wife Marilyn are adopted Grandparents to our children.

My birthday was a good day. My labs were better, my mom and brother called me and all my kids were here. We played some board games and had some cake and visited. What more can anyone ask for!

I will probably not add to the blog till after my appointment in Chicago unless something else comes up.

God continues to bless me. My family and I thank you all for your prayers and wish you a Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 25

Today was another good day. I got my labs done today and my neutrphil count is back up to 420! Hopefully by tomorrow it will be up to over 500 and I will be able to go out for my birthday! It is a good thing they let me out early or it would be tomorrow before I got released.

I am eating a little better but it is still slow and I still have a little bit of a sore throat. Otherwise I feel pretty good.

Next week we go to Chicago and the following week to St. Louis. Hopefully by then we will have enough information to make a good decision about the transplant.

May God continue to bless you all! He sure is blessing me!


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 24

Today was another good day. I had my labs drawn this morning and my counts all went up. I did not have to get a transfusion! My neutrophil count is still only about 200 so I still cannot go out or have company. I have to get a blood count every day for at least the next 3 days or till my counts are high enough.

I did get my appointment in Chicago changed to January 3. Then I have my repeat visit at Barnes in St. Louis on January 9. Hopefully after that I will have enough information to decide how to proceed regarding the bone marrow transplant.

I have been able to spend the day with Teresa and the kids so it has been a good day. The boys and I played some board games this afternoon. Kim, Jeremy and Ian were here for dinner. We had "finger foods" tonight for supper. We usually have them Christmas Eve but we postponed it due to my being in the hospital. Everybody enjoyed it and we will probably play more board games tonight.

Teresa and I and the rest of the family want to thank you all for your prayers. I am convinced that prayer and the Lord's hand is what got me home for Christmas.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 23

Merry Christmas everybody! The reason I am writing this post so late is that I got to go home today! My infectious disease doctor came in at 6 AM and said that since my temperature had been OK, he thought I could go home if my other doctors agreed. My counts came back and were not up as much as we had hoped so I was concerned. My hemoglobin had actually gone down a little, my platelet count was about the same and my neutrophil count was actually still less than 200. When my oncologist came in, he said I could go home if I followed several rules. I had to go straight home and stay indoors except for lab work until my counts got better . I had to have blood drawn today so that if I need a transfusion tomorrow they can have the blood ready by the time I get to Springfield. I have to have my blood counts checked at 8 AM tomorrow to be sure they are going up. I also cannot have any visitors till my counts get better which also means my kids cannot have anyone over either till then. I agreed to all of those rules without a problem. He came in about 11 AM and I was on my way home by 1 PM.

When I got home, I helped finish wrapping Christmas presents and we had a big lunch at 3PM. Teresa usually works on things the day before and the day of the big meal. She obviously did not do any of that ahead of time until she knew I was going to come home this year. Once I got the go ahead she worked like crazy to get our big meal done. Kim came over and helped her get things done. They worked miracles and we had a great meal! We had turkey and ham, sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes with gravy. We had vegetables, salad, jell-o and lots more. It was a wonderful meal and was especially good since all the kids and my grandson were here.

After dinner we read the Christmas story, then opened up presents and visited for awhile. It was great to be home for Christmas. Tomorrow I need to call Chicago and change my appointment to next week after I get my blood drawn. I am sure it will be another good day.
I will put more information on the blog tomorrow when I know more.

I hope you had as good a day as I did! God blessed my family and me and your prayers all helped. Thank you and have a great holiday season!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 22

Happy Christmas Eve to everybody! Today has been a very good day! No, I did not get to go home but it was still a good day. My throat is better today. I can talk some but I am not yet back to normal. It still takes me a long time to eat also. I have had no fever and continue to walk well.

My labs today showed an improvement in my platelet count and my hemoglobin. My neutrophil count improved to 138. That is more than double of yesterday. If I can do that again tomorrow I will be close enough to 500 for me to ask about going home. My infectious disease doctors have already changed one of my antibiotics to oral. They are OK with me going home whenever my regular doctors are comfortable as long as my temperature stays down.

Kimberly and Jeremy were not able to come up today because Ian has a cold , runny nose and fever. Teresa and all the boys came up. We played games all afternoon. Those of you who know me know I love board games. I did not win or even come close, but I had a great time with Teresa and the boys. It was a little more crowded than when we play at home but it was still great.

We almost did not get to play, though. Yesterday when David was helping clear the branches from the storm, he scratched his eye. It hurt for a while then got better yesterday afternoon and was OK when he went to bed last night. When he got up this morning it really hurt and he had trouble keeping his eye open. Reluctantly, he went to the ER and was found to have a scratch on his cornea and a little blister. He got some antibiotics and was told to rest his eyes. He also got some dark glasses to wear. He is concerned about the pattern he is developing as last year he was in the hospital on Christmas Eve due to kidney stones!

Tomorrow morning there will be many who are looking under the tree to see what Santa brought them. I, too, will be like a little kid. Instead of looking under the tree, I will be looking to see what labs God decided to give me. I will be happy with whatever I get as He knows best!

May you all have a very Merry Christmas tomorrow. Please remember that this is the day we celebrate God sending his son to Earth for us, the greatest present ever!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 21

Today was a pretty good day. I have had no fevers and have been able to walk. My throat is still sore and I am having a hard time talking still. I am able to eat but it just takes longer than usual. I feel like I am eating all day as it takes me about two hours to eat a meal. The bump on my head is almost gone and my arm is getting better.

My labs today showed a slight drop in my hemoglobin (red blood calls) from 10.0 to 9.4. My platelet count also fell from 29,000 to 24,000. My neutrophil count, however, went up from 34 to 64. My monocytes also doubled and that is supposed to be a sign that my bone marrow is recovering from the chemo. My doctor today said I will not be going home tomorrow. He wants to be sure my platelet count and hemoglobin are going up and I do not need a transfusion. He also needs the neutrophil count to be at least 500 and he is pretty sure that won't happen by tomorrow. He is fairly sure I will be home by Wednesday but is not sure I will make it by Christmas.

Teresa was up here again today. She still looks very tired. Last night the wind was so strong that it set off the alarms at our house at 3 AM. Two of the boys helped her make sure it was nothing serious but it sure interrupted their sleep. Everyday she brings up the mail and we go over the previous day and discuss how the kids are doing, etc. This is similar to when we are home but usually it is me coming home and then we discuss things. We sort out what is garbage, what needs attention and what needs followup. After we go over that we both have things to do. The bills still need to be paid, and we have our own projects. Fortunately we have internet access and could do a lot of our Christmas shopping online. Unfortunately we cannot do everything from the room and that is one of the reasons Teresa is so tired. She has to do the running for both of us!

I mentioned yesterday that my family decorated my room. Today I had several nurses in to check it out. They voted my room as best decorated room on the floor!

I am a little disappointed that I won't be home tomorrow. We have a family tradition of me reading the Christmas story to everybody in the family (and any family we have in for Christmas) on Christmas Eve. Teresa also makes lots of little snacks for us to eat (she calls it finger food night). I will miss that, because she makes the best stuff. I am letting the family decide if they want to go ahead without me and have someone else do the reading or if it will be postponed.

I am sure my counts will improve tomorrow and Christmas day. It is up to God to decide when they get high enough for me to go home. As always, I and my family truly appreciate all your prayers.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 20

Today was a much better day. My temperature was less than 100 all day. I am still having a hard time talking and my throat is still pretty sore, but no worse than yesterday. I am still eating. It just takes longer than usual. I am still able to do my walking. The bump on my head has gone down and the arm is about the same. I have no new injuries today. For those of you who read the blog yesterday and the comments, no Teresa did not hit me!! It may have been someone from room service though. I am still having trouble with the service. It took a couple of hours today to get my lunch again and that was only after we called down a second time.

My labs today actually showed that my hemoglobin went up! (Praise the Lord!!) My platelet count dropped from 50,000 to 29,000. Hopefully that is done dropping. My monocytes( another kind of white blood cell) went from 0 to 26.(Praise the Lord!!!) That is significant as they frequently come back right before the neutrophils. My neutrophil count went from 12 to 34. These are not large increases but they are starting to go up. Hopefully the trend is up. There is still a chance I can be home for Christmas if my temperature stays down and the upward trend continues!

Kim, Jeremy, Ian and all four of the boys came up to see me today. It was the first time since Thanksgiving I had seen David or Jon and it was the first time I saw Kim, Jeremy and Ian since their California trip. They surprised me by entering the room caroling and they brought decorations! I now have a Christmas tree in my room with lights on it, a neon Merry Christmas sign hanging from the ceiling, multiple window decals on my window, my door and even on a picture in the room, a large Christmas wreath and a stocking hanging on the wall. My IV pole is also decorated with garland. It was great to see them all again but it was hard for me because I really could not talk much and had to write notes.

Both of my doctors are off for the weekend. The doctors covering for them said I was improving and when my counts were good enough I could go home if my temperature is down. I will probably have to postpone my appointment in Chicago for a week because it is taking longer than expected for my counts to get better.

I continue to appreciate all your prayers. God may still see to it that I am home for Christmas!
If not, my family says they will bring Christmas to me. Looks like I win either way!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 19

Today was a better day. I still can hardly talk and it still hurts to swallow. My appetite is still decreased but I have not had any nausea today. I did not eat supper but that is because I had trouble with room service again and by the time I finished it was almost 5 o'clock. I was not ready to eat supper by 7 PM when room service closes. I will try and have a snack before bed.

My hemoglobin and my platelet count were better today due to the transfusions yesterday. My neutrophil count was 12. Hopefully it will start to go up tomorrow. My temperature was better today also. Most of the day it was less than 100. The highest it got was only about 100.5. I felt a lot better today because of less fever.

I did get a bump on the side of my head overnight. Nobody is sure what it is from. I guess I must have bumped it on the siderail while sleeping. There is no bruise, however and it has not gotten any bigger all day. I also have a sore left arm. I t hurts just above my elbow when I bend or straighten my arm. I get my blood pressure done on that side most of the time and that does not bother it. Dr. Lanzotti thinks I have a small torn muscle. There is nothing to do for either one right now except to watch.

Teresa was up here today and she looked better than when she left Wednesday but I know she is still sore and hurting as she was limping again and the pain shows on her face. She plays video poker and does real well but I suspect she would not do as well against someone who could read her face. She was hoping to see Dr. Lanzotti before she went home but it is very foggy tonight so I told her she should leave about 6:00PM. He came in about 6:30PM. I was able to talk to him by writing notes and it went fine.

My discharge will likely be decided by one of Dr. Lanzotti's partners as he is off the weekend and Christmas Eve and Christmas day. He will also be on vacation all next week. I sure hope I am home before he returns! I just have to wait and see what God has decided.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 18

Today has not been a good day. All my counts were down. My hemoglobin was 7.8 and my platelets just 19,000 so I got two units of blood and one of platelets today. My neutrophil count remains at 0. I have had a fever most of the day between 100 and 101. I felt bad when I had my higher temperatures and took several naps today.

My throat is more swollen and I can hardly talk and my swallowing is much harder. I continue to have a tickle in my throat that makes me cough so when Dr. O'Marro was here he ordered a chest Xray. I do not know the results of that yet. My appetite is worse. During breakfast I got real full and had to stop eating 3/4 of the way through. At lunch I still felt full and when my food came the smell made me nauseous. I pushed my food away and took a nap. At supper time I was still full and even before I ordered. I was nauseous and had to take something for it. Since then I have felt better but still have no desire to eat.

Teresa did not come up early today. . She had a lot of things to do at home to get ready for the holiday. After she was done with some of the more important things, it was late enough that I could convince her to stay home tonight. She really needed the rest, but really wanted to be up here with me. She sounded a lot better tonight than she did this morning.

It is definitely close to Christmas here at the hospital. There were some carolers earlier today down the hall and two of the nurses here made little goodie bags. I got one of the bags. It has cookies and candy in it. Wouldn't you know that I get it on the day I can't eat. I hope you all have a good Christmas. I still am hoping to get out of here in time to be home for Christmas.
I continue to appreciate your prayers and good wishes.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 17

Today was a little bit better. I am still having trouble speaking and still have a sore throat but it is a little bit better today. My labs today showed that my hemoglobin and platelet count both dropped a little today and my neutrophil count dropped to zero. I guess it can't go any lower!

My temperature went down overnight but came back up to just about 100 this afternoon. Hopefully it will go down overnight. Dr. O'Marro from infectious disease saw me today and increased the dose of one of my antibiotics and added a third one. Dr. Lanzotti came in tonight and told me he thinks I will be home for Christmas. Of course, he can't be sure, but based on his experience, he believes I will make it. I hope he is right!

Debbie McEvers (also known as Trouble) came to visit me today. She is a nurse at the hospital where I work and our birthdays are only 6 days apart. Of course, I am the younger one. We have been friends a long time. She brought me a bobble head doctor and painted it for me. It has my name badge on it and a list of orders that I frequently write. She also brought up some fresh bread. I was also visited by Pastor Albright from our church. He came when Teresa was here also. We had a nice visit and a prayer. It was nice to have both of these visitors but I would prefer not to have any more while I am in this time. My counts are very low and I do not want to take a chance of catching something that would prevent my getting home for Christmas. I am sure you can understand where I am coming from.

Jon made it home today but I have not talked to him yet. He was very tired when he got home as he was up very early this morning to get to the airport on time. He planned on a long nap when he got to the house.

We got our downed trees taken care of today. They have been cut down but now we need to get the limbs moved to the roadside for pickup. The boys should be able to get that done for us, I hope.

Teresa stayed home this morning to be sure all the work was done and to pay the man doing the tree work. Then she came up here to be with me. She was going to go home a little early but she wanted to be here when my doctors came in. Unfortunately, Dr. Lanzotti came in late so she got out of here late. Hopefully, she will sleep in tomorrow. She really needs the rest.

Hopefully, my counts come up and my temperature goes down tomorrow. We will just have to wait and see how God's plan works out. I just wanted to thank everyone again for all the cards, prayers and well wishes, they have really helped to keep my spirits up.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 16

Today was not any better than yesterday. My throat is a little less sore but more swollen. I am having a harder time swallowing and talking. My temperature has been around 100 all day. I have also been more sleepy with the fever. I do feel better this evening after napping some this afternoon.

My lab work today showed that I am getting a little more anemic. My hemoglobin was 9.0(normal is 14-16). My platelet count is 57,000(normal 250,000-400,000). My absolute neutrophil count is 10 today, quite a ways from 500(the minimum for me to go home). Obviously, my fever will have to be gone also.

We did get the call from Chicago today. My appointment there will be December 27th as long as I am home and my counts are high enough.

Teresa has arranged for someone to cut down all of our damaged trees. She had to split herself up today. She had to be home this morning for the bid and then had to hurry back this afternoon to be sure everything was going as planned. In between, she was here with me to make sure I was doing as well as possible. I sure wish I was home and could help her out more. She has had a lot on her plate with the typical holiday rush, all the weather related problems and my illness. Her arthritis has to be bothering her but she does not complain around me. I am sure she does not want me to worry but I worry anyhow.

Jon is coming home tomorrow. His girlfriend will be picking him up. Finally everybody will be home. Hopefully God will let me be there soon.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 15

Today was not as good a day as I have been having. During the night I developed a much worse sore throat. It feels like I might have a sore at the back of my tongue. During the day today my temperature went up to about 101 degrees. The doctor started me on antibiotics after that. With the fever, I did not feel as good. I napped much of the afternoon. I felt bad to sleep while Teresa was here, but I know she understands. We got a few things done, so it was not a totally wasted day. I had a chest Xray done that looked fine and had some blood cultures done as well. I was also seen by Dr. Malone, an ENT doctor. He saw me last time when I first came in. He looked in my mouth and thinks I might have a yeast infection in my mouth and started me on oral and IV antibiotics. This evening, I feel better but my temperature went up to 102.3

My absolute neutrophil count was 20 today and my platelet count was down to 19,000. I also had a little blood in my throat and a little from the nose. I was given platelets to prevent any further problems. I have not seen any more blood since.

Jon is due in town Wednesday morning and I was originally going to be the one who picked him up. That does not look likely now. We will just have to see how God's plan works out. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We will keep you in ours.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 14

Today was a fairly quiet day. I did not get to go home. My platelet count was down to 30,000. My hemoglobin is stable at 9.7. My white blood count actually went down. The neutrophil count needs to be 500 for me to go home. Yesterday it was 100. Today it dropped to 2! I guess it is getting as low as it can go. The last three evenings(including today) my temperature has gotten near 100.0 but has dropped during the night and remained normal during the day. They have not put me on any antibiotics at this time. Hopefully my counts start to go back up in the morning and my temperature stays down.

I can still eat and I continue to make 20 or more laps around while walking. My throat is still sore and if I talk much I cough.

The church had it's Christmas musical today. Kim and Jeremy were not in it as they were traveling from California. Teresa taped it for me so I can see it. Michael had a jazz band concert and 2 showings of the musical so he was very busy.

It looks like the weather has settled down for now. Jon is due to fly in from Colorado on Wednesday and the weather looks OK for now. I should also get my Chicago appointment arranged this week. It is to be between Christmas and New Year's day. My family and I continue to wait for God's plan to play out. We continue to appreciate all your prayers.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 13

Today was a fairly uneventful day. My white blood count is pretty low today and my neutrophil count (the wbc s that generally fight bacterial infections) are down to 100. Dr. Giannoni is covering for Dr. Lanzotti this weekend. He did not want to let me go home today. If my neutrophil count gets up to 500 tomorrow he may let me go home if I am otherwise, still doing well.

I still have no fever and can still eat well. My sore throat is a little better. I still have a tickle in there and if I talk too much I cough. I am still walking a lot.

Kim and Jeremy will be spending an extra day in California as their flight for today was canceled. They were able to change their flights for no charge and should get home tomorrow night. The church musical from last weekend was rescheduled for tomorrow. It looks like it may have to be changed again due to the snowstorm we are having. I guess God is still going to consider letting me see it live even if I cannot get out tomorrow!

Teresa is getting worn out trying to do all the things we generally both do since I can't help. She shoveled snow this morning. I am sure her arthritis will be bothering her a lot. She doesn't sleep well when I am not home and with all that is on her mind these last couple of weeks, she is not sleeping well. Please pray for her as well as me. Hopefully, I will be able to go home tomorrow or Monday and give her a break.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 12

Today has been an interesting day. My counts have dropped some more and are nearing the bottom. Dr. Lanzotti is going to give me some platelets as my count is down to 14,000(usually 250,000 or more is normal). He also spoke to the doctor in Chicago. He would like to see me between Christmas and New Year's. His office is to contact me to set up the appointment. St. Louis called me today and said the preliminary report on my brother is that he is NOT a match. They will not get the final report for 2 weeks or so. They are going to pursue checking out the bone marrow registry to see if I have any near matches there. In order to do so, they need to do some further testing. When my WBC gets better I am to give them the sample and they will test it. Then they will be able to check the registry.

Otherwise, I am doing well. I have a sore throat still and it makes me cough some at times. I have no fever and am still able to eat. I am still keeping up my walking. Daniel got back from school yesterday and came up to visit me this afternoon with Teresa. David got home from Law school this evening. Kim and Jeremy are due to come back tomorrow, weather permitting. The forecast is for 3-5 inches of snow here and 6-8 inches of snow in St. Louis. This is to fall from 6:00 a.m. Saturday to 6:00 a.m. Sunday. They are due in to St. Louis at 7:30 p.m. or so if all goes well. There are also supposed to be 30 MPH winds tomorrow night causing blowing and drifting of the snow. We will just have to see what God has in store for them. They may be spending some time in Dallas, Texas(their stopover on the way home).

I am not going to push to go home tomorrow due to the weather. I will just have to see how the weather and my blood counts do and wait for God's plan!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 11

God gave me another quiet day today. My counts were down a little but not too bad. I do not need a transfusion. I can still eat even though I do have a sore throat. I continue to walk. I actually have a little bit of a sore right heel from all the walking I have done.

Dr. Lanzotti came in tonight and said he is glad I am having a "boring" round of chemo. He implied I might be able to go home over the weekend but, he would not commit to it. He wants to see how my counts do first. I also, do not want to go home till it is safe but, I also do not want to be here a day or two extra "just to be sure". I told him that if I ran a fever I could probably get to Passavant Hospital in Jacksonville and get a dose of IV antibiotics in me and get back to Springfield before they could get it to me even as an inpatient here due to the fact that things are just slower because of how big it is here. My "stat" venous doppler test the other day took over three hours from when it was ordered to when it was started. Obviously, I would have pushed harder if I thought it was a real problem but, it gives you an idea of what I mean. Even if I needed a transfusion, I could be back here in less than an hour and if I needed "stat" blood I could get it in Jacksonville to hold me over till I could get here or be transferred here.

Daniel got home from school today and David will be home tomorrow. Kim and Jeremy are having a good time in California and will be back on Saturday. Jon gets back next Wednesday. I hope my counts allow me to go home this weekend.

We still have more branches falling every day but hopefully the ice will melt now and the trees can get back upright. After that we can sort out what needs to be cut down and what just needs to be trimmed.

No news on my Chicago appointment yet. I just have to be patient and see how each day plays out. Thank all of you again for all your prayers, thoughts, cards and well wishes, as you can see the Lord is listening.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 10

God gave me another good day today. No, I did not get to go home but Teresa and Michael were able to come up today and we celebrated Michael's birthday. We had our Olive Garden dinner and it was very good! It was nice to see them both again! Our power went out at home again last night but was back on today. The weather is supposed to get better and even though we may have some snow flurries tonight, we should be able to keep the power on.

My counts continue to slowly drop but I did not need any transfusions today and I still have no fever. My appetite is still good. Dr. Lanzotti told me today that everyone going through this kind of consolidation chemo takes about the same amount of time to get better. On average, that is about 2 weeks. He said that some people have a rapid decline in their counts and some have a slower decline. Those with a slower decline tend to get less sick. I am hoping that is true and that I have a slow decline. I am hoping that when I hit bottom and start to go up that I can talk him into letting me go home.

David and Daniel are finishing their exams tomorrow and hope to come home the end of the week. We still have no internet at this time so both of them say they may have to stay at school another day or two!

I spoke to my brother John again tonight. He confirmed with Barnes that they received his blood sample Monday. They told him it takes about two weeks to get the reports back. I do not know if that will be delayed because of the holidays. They said my doctor in St. Louis would get the report and let me know. We are still waiting to hear about the second opinion in Chicago also.
The next couple of weeks will be quite busy and lots of things are still to be worked out. I am glad that God has a plan and I do not need to work out all the details. I just have to eat, walk, and listen to my doctors for now. I will have a few more responsibilities when I get home, but having the kids home for the holidays will make it all worth it!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 9

Today has been a good day. I can still eat and walk and my leg swelling is improved. I am hoping I will not get any worse in my mouth and I will continue to be able to eat and swallow. My platelet count was down a little bit today again so I received a platelet transfusion to prevent any bleeding problems. I am just waiting for my counts to bottom out now and then come back up. Then I can go home! Perhaps I will be fortunate enough to not get a fever this time. Dr. Lanzotti does not think I will go home till next week. I hope he is wrong as David and Daniel finish their exams this week and will be home for Christmas by the weekend.

Kim, Jeremy and Ian made it to California without a problem today. They were concerned when they first got to the airport as so many flights were canceled or the gate changed. They were happy when they got to their gate and a plane was waiting for them. I am sure they will have a great time in California! They will be back Saturday evening if all goes well. The Christmas musical at church should be this weekend and I am still hoping God will let me see it live instead of by tape.

We lost power during the night at our house again and there are more trees and branches down but it does not appear as though there is any new damage. We got power back on this afternoon and it looks like the worst of the storm is over. There is still a chance for some freezing rain tonight but it does not look like that will be too big of a problem. Hopefully the weather man is right. We still have no cable so no internet at home but I still have it here at the hospital.

I have been able to get some work done for the office and home while I am here and I think I am pretty much caught up till I get home.

School in Jacksonville is canceled again tomorrow so Michael gets his birthday off. He is having a couple of friends spend the night tonight to bring in his birthday! Then tomorrow he is planning to come up here, weather permitting. I am getting hunger pains for the Olive Garden supper already.

I am going to try and get to bed early tonight as I am hoping for a busy day tomorrow. I can't wait to see Teresa again as she has not been able to get here since Saturday and I feel so bad for all she had to put up with. I have not seen Michael since I have been in the hospital due to school, his schedule and the weather. I am sure God will give me a good day tomorrow even if I cannot be home.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 8

Today has been an interesting day. My counts are going down as expected. I am getting two blood transfusions today to keep from getting too anemic. My platelet count is down to 38,000. I will get platelets tomorrow if it drops to less than 20,000. My temperature has been OK so far. I have a sore throat from the chemo but I am able to eat still. The lining of my mouth is peeling like a sunburn in places but it is still better than the first round of chemo. Once my counts hit bottom and start coming back up, I will be able to go home if all continues to go well. It is looking less likely that I will get home for Michael's birthday but hopefully I will still be feeling fine and he can come up here and we can still have our Olive Garden dinner on Wednesday. Dr. Lanzotti is still trying to get my appointment set up in Chicago but the doctor is off at the moment. Hopefully we will get that set up soon.

Things at home are a little better today. Teresa got someone to fix the generator and we got it back this afternoon. We lost some refrigerator things like milk, etc. but most of the freezer stuff seems OK. Wouldn't you know that Illinois Power got our power back on less than an hour after we got the generator working. We are ready for the next storm now at least. We are supposed to get more ice tonight, then freezing rain till Wednesday night when it turns to snow. Then it is supposed to be better the rest of the week. David and Daniel finish their exams this week and will be home this weekend. Hopefully, I will be there, too.

Kim and Jeremy got their power back on today also. They were able to go home, do some laundry and pack their clothes for the trip to California. They decided to drive to St. Louis tonight and stay in a hotel so they did not have to worry about the ice and other weather in the morning. It will also allow them to sleep later than if they left from home.

This afternoon, I developed some swelling in my right leg. They decided to do a venous doppler test(Ultrasound of the veins of the legs) to be sure I did not have a blood clot. I passed the test and there were no clots. It is probably from how I was sitting in my chair. I had my computer on my bed table but had my leg crossed so I could use a notebook in my lap. I will try to avoid that from now on and will be getting some compression hose tonight to squeeze my legs and prevent clots and get the swelling down.

Unfortunately, Kim and Jeremy came up tonight to see me before they went to St. Louis just about the time I had to take the test. We met in the hall as I was going to the vascular lab and they were getting off the elevator and coming to see me. At least I got to see them and Ian and say goodbye before I went down. I am glad they were not a few minutes later or I was a few minutes earlier.

We did find out today that when the tree hit my car it bent my antenna and broke my windshield. If that is the worst of things from this storm, we will be fortunate.

Michael is a little frustrated at this time. School was cancelled so he could be home but our cable is out so we have no internet. He was hoping to play a game called World of Warcraft with his brothers but with no internet, no game. His girlfriend also was giving him a hard time for staying at home and helping his mom instead of spending time with her. She had power the whole time and minimal damage and just did not comprehend what he was going through. He has been a real big help for Teresa with me here in the hospital. I am so proud of him! I know this has been hard on him but God is sure using this to help him mature in ways we could not have expected!

God is good and we just have to see how his plan plays out!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 7

Well today has been more exciting at home than here. My day has been fine. I am still able to eat and am still walking. My platelet count is dropping as expected from the chemo and I will likely need a transfusion tomorrow or Tuesday. We will just have to see.

God did force postponement of the church musical till next week so I guess there is a chance I will get to see it live still.

The ice storm has affected us quite a bit today. When my daughter and son in law got up they had no power. There were power lines down in their backyard. They had borrowed my car for choir practice yesterday so that if they had to go separately they would each have a car. The car was in their driveway. The weight of the ice caused the tree in their front yard to break and many branches fell on my car. We invited them to our house initially when their power was out but this prevented them from being able to get out. Teresa was able to drive over and get them and bring them to our house. They are worried since there are tree limbs on their roof and they do not know if it caused any damage. They are also supposed to be flying to California on Tuesday to have Christmas with Jeremy's family. They are concerned they may not be able to get there. They called American Airlines to see if they could get a weather related change in flights but they said no and the change fee is exhorbitant. Our cable was out at home so we had no internet and the ice covered our satellite receiver so we had no TV. I have internet here at the hospital so I was the go between for news and used the internet to look things up like the phone number for the airlines.. When Teresa went out to walk the dog and get Kimberly and her family this morning we realized that we had many tree limbs down at our house as well. There are limbs on the roof as well and we can't tell if there is any damage from that. My son John's girlfriend goes to Illinois College(Here in Jacksonville) and he called to say that her power was out also. We invited her over to the house. As of this writing, I am not sure if she took us up on it or not. Unfortunately, this afternoon, we also lost power. We have a generator that we have in the garage but usually I run it with my older sons. With me here and them at school, there is no one with experience to use it. The manual is lost and we had trouble trying to start it. I looked for a manual online but it is too old. It is very hard to try and help someone start a machine that they have never used when you try and do it over the phone. I finally found an 800 number for them to try. As of this writing, I still do not know if they ever got the generator going or if our power is back on. They are trying to conserve their cell phone batteries. Our regular phones usually require power but we can run a line from the basement to an old analog phone so I will be calling them later.

It looks like we may get another ice storm tomorrow and schools have already been cancelled so it looks like it will be more exciting at home than here. I expect my counts to be down but hopefully no other problems like infection or anything else. We will just have to wait and see what God has in store for my family tomorrow!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 6

God continues to bless me this round of chemo! I continue to be able to eat and be up and about and feel pretty well. My counts are starting to drop today as expected. I will not be going to the musical tomorrow but it looks like it will be postponed another week due to the ice storm we are having. God may let me see it live after all! It just goes to show that he has many ways to make things come together, even if it's not the way we originally hoped for.

I talked with Dr. Agamah (who is covering for Dr. Lanzotti for the weekend) today about my options. He believes I should not do the transplant at this time since I am in remission but agrees that seeing the doctors at the University of Chicago would be a great idea. He thinks if they believe a transplant is still the right thing then I should do it. We are still trying to get that appointment arranged for the end of this month.

My brother got his blood work done today to see if he is a match to be a bone marrow donor. The results should be available about Christmas time. Those results could be quite a Christmas present!

After talking to Dr. Agamah today, he thinks I should stay in the hospital till my counts recover.
He believes my counts will drop low enough next week to require platelet and possibly blood transfusions. The risk of infection will be going up as my count goes down and I may require antibiotics. In view of the bad weather expected this week, going home and waiting to see how I do could be a problem if I get a complication. Apparently, bleeding and infectious complications can occur quite quickly, even if they are not common. He thinks that my counts will bottom out at 7-10 days. Once that occurs, it will be safer for me to go home. Therefore, I guess I will stay here till my counts start to recover. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.

Michael will plan to come up here on Wednesday to have dinner with me as long as I can still eat. He was hoping to have dinner at the Olive Garden but we will try to do it as take out instead. That way we can still spend his birthday together. I guess that is another example of how God can make things work, even if it is not how we originally planned. That shows me that I just need to have faith in his plan and let it play out.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and kind thoughts. May God bless you all also. May you all have a joyous Christmas season. Let's just remember that the reason for the season is the birth of Christ, not the presents!


Friday, December 7, 2007

Chemo Round 2 Day 5

Today has been another good day. Dr. Lanzotti even gave me a day off from blood draws today so I will have to wait till tomorrow to see how my counts are doing. I am still doing 20 laps a day of walking and continue to be able to eat. We will now just have to see what happens when my counts drop. It looks like it will be next week when that occurs. They tell me I can get sick pretty fast so I need to stay here even if I feel good. Our church is having it's Christmas program on Sunday. I will miss that. My youngest son, my daughter and her husband are in it. I am hoping I can at least get a copy of a video of it. It also appears that I will miss my son's birthday as well. He is disappointed, but he does understand. He is planning on coming up here to spend time with me if I am not too sick to have visitors. What Dr. Lanzotti told me tonight was different then what he led me to believe when I started this. He now says that I may get as sick as last time and may be in here as long as then. This of course was very disappointing to me, especially since I don't have any control over what is going to happen. No doctor can be right all the time. I am hoping this is one of the times he is wrong!

Not much else to say today. We are just waiting to see how God's plan works out.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Chemo Round 2, Day4

God's blessings continue. I have now completed 4 of my 6 doses of chemo and am doing well. My counts have dropped a little bit today but not too much yet. Of course, it took 5 days for side effects to kick in last time. I am hoping it will be easier this time, of course.

I am still walking. I made 20 laps yesterday and am on pace to do the same today. I continue to be able to eat although I am beginning to get tired of hospital food. (What a surprise)

Sleeping was a little better last night as I had fewer interruptions.

I am still waiting to find out about second opinions. I should know better by next week. In the meantime I will finish this course of chemo to hopefully stay in remission.

I am still hoping to get home by December 12 for Michael's birthday. We will have to just wait and see what God has in store. I guess I will just take it one day at a time. I can't worry about what might happen. As I tell my patients, I have seen plenty of patients worry themselves sick but have never found one who worried themselves well!


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Chemo Round 2, Day 3

God has been blessing me so far this time. Today is day 3. I get my next chemo tonight and tomorrow morning. This is officially "hump" day for me as I will have 3 of my 6 doses of chemo finished by the end of the day. So far I have tolerated it well. My appetite and my counts are OK with no other problems yet. Hopefully there will be less side effects than last time and I can still make it home next week for Michael's birthday. Dr. Lanzotti is still working on getting my second opinion in Chicago and should be able to make the phone call Friday. I hope to know when my appointment is by the time I get discharged.

I have been able to keep up my walks and breathing without too much trouble so far. I have been here long enough to have gotten to know some of the nurses and aides now and they know me. There are enough people here from Jacksonville or who know people from Jacksonville that I have met here as well. When I had my port put in, for example, one of the techs was a grand daughter of Helen Samples, who worked at Passavant for over 50 years! When Dr. Lanzotti was arranging my admission, the admissions clerk asked if I was the Dr. Fox from Jacksonville as she had lived there and heard I was a good doctor. I realize that I have spent 5 of the last 7-8 weeks here at Memorial. Hopefully when I go home this time, I can be home a little longer than I was over the Thanksgiving break.

They are still managing to make sure I do not get any prolonged sleep at night here. Last night I went to bed about midnight. They woke me up at 2 AM for my eye drops. Then they woke me at 4AM to weigh me and do my vitals. Then at 5 AM it was time to have my blood drawn. The next thing you know, it was morning and time to have my vitals and more eye drops. Oh well, that is what happens in the hospital. More encouragement to get well enough to go home. We have a cat and dog who wake us up at night a lot to prevent us from getting real rest! They have a habit of scratching at our bedroom door wanting to come in at all hours of the night. At least I am used to that!

I know they say that God only gives us what we can handle. I am just hoping he doesn't think I can handle more this time. It would be nice to have a little bit of a break after how sick I got the last time.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Chemo Round 2, Day 2

Well I have now had 2 of my 6 doses of chemo that I will get this time and things are going well so far. I can still eat and feel OK. Of course it took about 5 days for me to get sick last time, so I may just be in that "good window" for now.

My labs all look Ok and my Hickman is working well. I did have some trouble with my meals yesterday, just like after I got my port put in before. I came back to my room to order some lunch and they took my order. No food came for over an hour so I called to find out what was up. They said they could not send my food as I did not have a diet listed in the computer. I told my nurse what they said and she had the secretary enter my diet. That is where I made my mistake. I assumed that would get me my food. I then waited another 30-40 minutes. When my food still didn't come I called down to room service again. This time they told me they did not have any order from me! I reordered and finally got my food. Mind you I didn't eat breakfast since I new they had to put in another port. The food was supposed to be my lunch but it eventually turned out to be supper. I wish they had a little better system since this is the same thing that happened the last time I was in here. It is hard to keep your weight up if they aren't bringing you any food.

During the night my minor problems continued. I was supposed to get a chest X ray last night, so I stayed awake for it because it was to be done around 11:30 PM. When it was an hour late, I checked with the nurses and they said the ER was very busy and X ray was overwhelmed. I went to sleep after I heard that and it was a good thing as they did not do my X ray till morning. I was awakened at 2:00 AM for the eye drops I need to have every 6 hours to protect my eyes from the chemo. I slept until 5:00 AM when they drew my blood and weighed me (of course this meant getting out of bed and walking over to the scale over by the door). I went back to sleep and they woke me again for my x ray at 6:30 AM. I went back to sleep again for a few minutes when they woke me up for repeat labs. My labs they drew at 5:00 AM were off and they thought it might be an error so they wanted to repeat the tests. Thank you Lord for my port!!! Everyone knows how hard it is to get a good nights sleep in the hospital I guess it is a good thing that I am not sick yet and need the extra rest!!!

I am up walking and doing my deep breathing (I am trying to be good). I will try and keep that up till I get too sick to do it (which I hope does not happen this time, of course). I am still hoping to be home for Michael's birthday on the 12th. If not, my 2 sons away at school will be home on the 14th or 15th and I would like to be home before them. I will just have to wait and see what God has planned for me this time! Thank all of you again for all your prayers, cards and well wishes! They still have been a great encouragement to me and my family!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Back in the Hospital

Well, today I am back in the hospital for another round of chemotherapy. I did not know till this morning that I was coming back today for sure.

I had my appointment in St. Louis at Barnes last week. They reviewed my records and recommended a bone marrow transplant. My doctor (and Teresa and I, too) would like to get another opinion before we decide what to do. Dr. Lanzotti is trying to get me an appointment at the University of Chicago with a Dr. Larsen, I think. He is a big researcher in Leukemia. My friend Doug is also having somebody at the Cleveland clinic look at things and after all that we should be able to make a better decision. We are going ahead with having my brother checked to see if he is a match. He said he would be happy to do it. There is a 25% chance he would be a match for the donor. If he is not a match they will check the National Bone Marrow Registry to see if they can find a match. As a white male, there is an 80% chance of finding a match there.

Whether or not I do the transplant I was due for another round of chemo. This is called consolidation therapy. It is designed to keep me in remission. If I do not do the transplant, I will do three rounds of this about a month apart. If I do the transplant, it will depend on how long it takes to find a donor to decide if I get a second or third round. They expect me to be in for about 2 weeks or so. Since I had such a hard time before, it could be longer. I am hoping shorter as my youngest son, Michael, has a birthday December 12. This time I get a 2 hour infusion of high dose chemo twice a day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They expect my counts to go down and I can get a fever again. How my temperature is, how my counts are, and how well I can eat will determine when I can go home.

My triple lumen Hickman catheter( a special IV into my jugular vein with 3 channels for IV fluids) came out when I was at home. I am not exactly sure how that happened but it did. Therefore, I am getting a new one put in today.

I would like all of you to keep me in your prayers again. I will try again to keep this blog updated daily, now that I am back in. Hopefully this stretch will be a short one and soon I will be back home again with family and friends.