Day 1,067

If this post had a sub-heading, it would be “Five Slice Tuesday”. First, though, a little context. Yesterday, Amy and I watched an episode of “Unique Eats” focused solely on Pizza. They went around the country (and even up to Montreal) and highlighted a few of the most interesting, unique pizzas being made. They all looked delicious, and put me squarely in the mood for pizza. However, we were having friends over for a cook-out, so pizza wasn’t on the menu, and the craving had to take a back seat for a while.

Well, once we got into the hospital today, they informed us that my first chemo regimen wouldn’t start until 9 pm, well after dinner time. So, the choice for dinner was obvious – we were getting pizza. There’s a Mario’s Pizza right across the street from the hospital that serves pretty decent NY style pizza, and it reminds Amy of what she ate growing up in upstate New York, so it’s the easy choice for when pizza is on the menu. Whether they just made an especially good pie today or my craving from yesterday had only grown in the past 24 hours, it was one of the best pizzas we’ve had in a while. So I just didn’t stop eating.

Five pretty substantial slices and one disgusted wife later and I was a pretty happy camper. I don’t normally polish off over half of a good sized pizza by myself, but I figured that I might as well go out with a bang. The chemo is likely to do a number on my appetite, but at least I got one pretty great meal before that kicked in.

We also got a bigger room than last time, which is nice, and have had a pretty relaxing first day back here at The Resort. So far, nothing but good news to report. We’ll see how my mood is tomorrow after a night of eye drops though.

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Day 1,066

It’s been a great couple of weeks of sleeping in my own bed, eating good food, and hanging out with beloved friends, and so, it is with great memories that I head back to The Resort at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. I’ll be checking in at 8:30 tomorrow morning, getting my blood tested, and then headed for surgery at 10:00 to have the portocath installed. Is installed the right word for having something implanted in your chest? I’m not sure, but we’ll go with that for now.

After the morning fun, I’ll be admitted into the hospital to begin a six day stay. It is yet to be determined how I’ll feel after surgery tomorrow afternoon, but my goal is to begin writing on the blog every day once again. After all, there’s not much else to do in there.

I’m certainly not looking forward to another hospital stay, but we do enter this round of chemo with lifted spirits. Not only have we spent the last few weeks being encouraged by our great friends and family, but my body was also able to sustain itself pretty well while I was home, and we only had to deal with a few days of feeling less than 100 percent. For the most part, the fungal pneumonia and the lessened immune system didn’t seem to have any adverse effects, and we’re encouraged that my body seems to be doing well at keeping infections at bay.

Since I’m now in remission, infections are really the main source of concern going forward. The consolidation rounds of chemotheraphy are designed to help decrease the odds of recurrence, but they essentially have to wipe out my immune system three more times before I’m done with treatment. During these next three months, staying free of any outside infection is going to be the real key – those are the actual threats to my health, as the actual leukemia is no longer present and is basically a non-factor at this point.

So, for those reading this who are fans of prayer, that’s where we would ask you to direct your prayers – that my body would fight off infection well and that I wouldn’t develop any more illnesses as a side effect of having a depressed immune system. For those of you who aren’t so big on prayer, you can call it rooting and we promise not to mind. After all, we’ll take all the well wishes, support, and love we can get, no matter what form it comes in.

Finally, Amy and I would like to thank you all for your generous outpouring of love over the past month or so. We’re remarkably lucky to be surrounded by so many great people, and the care that we have received even from afar has been fantastic. We’ve never felt like such a part of a community as do now, and we look forward to continuing to grow in relationship with all of you. To have such great friends and family is truly a gift, and we are truly grateful to have such great people in our lives.

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Day 1,060

So, I took a week off from the blog. Hopefully you didn’t miss me too much.

We’re now officially a week away from my next hospital stay. Next Tuesday morning, I report back to the hospital for what should be a fun day – I’m having a portacath surgically inserted into my chest in the morning, then getting admitted back into the hospital in the afternoon to begin my first consolidation round of chemotherapy. The portacath gives them easier access to my veins so they can draw blood, push various drugs, and generally just poke holes in my chest for the fun of it. From what I’ve been told, I won’t even be able to tell that they implanted a button into my body. I don’t believe them.

Also, in the list of things to look forward to during my next visit, the dosages of the cyterabine that I’ll be receiving is changing, and thus, so are the side affects. While my first dose of cyterabine was an around-the-clock drip, I’ll now be receiving it in a three hour burst twice a day. This higher dosage of medicine comes with the nifty side effect of irritating your tear ducts, however, so during next week’s hospital stay (and the two after that), I’ll be receiving eye drops every two hours. Around the clock. For six days.

As you can imagine, I’m very excited about this upcoming stay. I can do anything for less than a week. I can do anything for less than a week. I can do anything for less than a week.

We’re not just sitting around dreading next week, however. With my counts mostly recovered, we’ve tried to engage in social activities here at the house as much as possible. We had friends over and made them dinner on Saturday night, marking the first time we’d used our kitchen to host guests. Last night, more friends came over and brought dinner to us, which was really nice. We also have visitors lined up for the end of the week as well, and it’s been nice to not feel quite so isolated even as I try to do my best to stay infection free during my time home.

In terms of overall health, I’m happy to report I’m still doing well. I had a bit of a downward cycle over the weekend, with a lack of energy on Saturday and a near-fever on Sunday, but those symptoms are both gone and blood tests on Monday morning confirmed that there’s still no leukemia in my system and all appears somewhat normal. However, like any disease that comes with a significant risk of recurrence, we’re learning that one of the main obstacles that we will have to overcome is analyzation.

I know that’s weird to say for a guy who spends his days crunching numbers and trying to interpret convoluted formulas, but we’re also realizing that there are going to be opportunities to overreact to any small deviation from normal in how my body feels on any given day, and that fear is going to try and turn every one of those into a chance to worry that the leukemia might have returned. This is, after all, the great deceit of fear – it only has power corresponding to the amount of faith you put in it. Fear offers us the chance to worry every time my neck hurts or my leg twitches, but we have determined that we will not live in fear of leukemia returning, but will live in faith that its time has passed and it will not return.

If it does come back, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but we will not worry about bridges that are not in currently in sight. This isn’t always an easy battle, and because of the mysterious nature of cancers in general, it is easy to give validity to fears that come. However, how we respond to fear a choice, and as for Amy and I, we have chosen that we will simply give fear no credit. We place no trust in what it offers, and we disregard its opportunities for worry.

Cancer diagnoses offer a prime breeding ground for fear. Thankfully, we don’t have to cultivate it, and we don’t have to let it overtake our thoughts. It’s not always the easy path, but a month after the original diagnosis, I’m proud to say that Amy and I are still here, still standing strong, and our faith is not wavering. Hopefully that’s still true when the nurses are waking me up every two hours to put #$*!& eye drops in my eyes.

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Day 1,053

We’ve made a lot of references to the housing remodel we were in the middle of when this little leukemia speedbump reared its ugly head, but we haven’t actually shown many of you what our house looks like. So, because Amy is so proud of the kitchen her husband so expertly designed, here are some before and after shots of the best room in the house. And also of one of the bedrooms that Amy made in her style. She likes green.

Enjoy!

BEFORE…..

The Kitchen Before

and AFTER….

And one of the bedrooms BEFORE….

And AFTER….

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Day 1,052

Just a quick update for those who love updates – we got the results of Friday’s bone marrow biopsy back, and the results were good. The doctors will now agree that I’m officially in remission. My blood cells have grown back with no signs of leukemia in them, and while that doesn’t mean they can’t come back in the future, we’re encouraged that they have not yet returned, and continue to believe that they never will.

We don’t have an official schedule yet, but it sounds like I’m going to get two more weeks at home before I head back for my first round of consolidation chemo. That there won’t be any leukemia to wipe out is certainly good news, and we can hope that these rounds just serve to give my body the boost it needs to keep the leukemia from ever returning.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take about six hundred pills. They switched from me from a liquid medicine to a crushable tablet for one antibiotic today, and upped the dose I have to take in the process. The good news is that I was told that I can crush the pills into “chocolate pudding”, and we just so happen to have some homemade chocolate ice cream in the freezer. Pudding, ice cream, it’s really all the same, right? I’m going to have so much ice cream the next ten days…

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Day 1,050

Dave and I just returned from being out on a date. It is so much fun to be together again. And it was a country date at that. We went to the movies and then he took me to the Dairy O for soft serve. There is something nostalgic about the Dairy O. It brings me back to my roots. A soft serve twist with rainbow sprinkles, county music on the radio, small town people. Reminds me of Westmoreland, the town I grew up in.

Today was the first day since Dave’s admission that I didn’t have to crawl out of bed and drive to the hospital. It has been sweet. Dave is taking full advantage of his diagnosis. He will sit and ask me to do something that he could clearly do himself and then when I ask him to do something he responds with, “I’m the patient.” So I guess for now I will let him be the patient and I will tend to the little things:)

Dave did have another bone marrow biopsy yesterday to confirm he is in remission and we will have the results on Monday. But for now we are trying to focus on enjoying each other, family and friends and trying to live life as normal as possible. As his blood counts are now at safe levels we look forward to great fellowship over the next few weeks and as his appetite has returned, great food as well!!

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Day 1,047

We are home!!!! God is so good.

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