Friday, February 27, 2009

The difference between a cow and a bean...

On the trek to the hospital today, Zoe, Erin, Elaine, and I stopped at Sonic Drive-in to bring Melissa a bite to eat. We, of course, had a few bites for ourselves as well. I cannot express the elation I felt a few months ago, a year after I found out that I was diabetic, to discover that Sonic has a low-sugar cherry limeade. It was an instant reaffirmation of my will to live.

Melissa is feeling pretty darn good today, all things considered. She hasn't felt any real nausea yet from the chemo, just a little tiredness. They wheeled her downstairs for a couple CT scans today, just to check things out. And then a leg ultrasound to make sure her recent leg pain isn't due to a blood clot. We're pretty certain they're just sore from walking around a bit yesterday.

I bought her season 3 of The Muppet Show, and I think she and her mom have really been enjoying watching them. We're still trying to find season 2, but my sister might pick that up today.

Still here

From Melissa, cross-posted from Livejournal.

So that's a hideously inappropriate title, but it's a fact. Leukemia hasn't kicked my ass quite yet. I'm not having a lot of fun hanging around the hospital all the time, but I'm here and in good spirits.

I understand Teddy's been keeping most of you updated, but here are the fast facts:

*95% chance one round of chemo will send this shit into permanent remission.
*I'm starting chemo today.
*Hospital food is pretty gross.
*I'm not wearing underpants RIGHT NOW. awwwh yeah.

I don't know how it happened, but it's pretty much the weakest leukemia ever. So hang in there; I am. And I'll try to keep you updated.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blood work

Well, there wasn't much sleep to be had last night. Melissa's nurse kept her (and me) busy with pumping in some plasma, platelets, etc. And then checking her vitals at intervals that seemed like she was in the room more often than out.

Melissa's platelets are up to 93, though. That's the highest they've been! For reference, she was at 21 when she first checked in and the doctors wanted her to be at a minimum of 50. (I believe the numbers are in thousands)

I know I've said this before, but she's supposed to start chemotherapy today. Here's hoping. Not that I want her to have to go through it at all, but better to get it done and over with as soon as possible.

As a final note, as much as Melissa would appreciate them, they do not allow live flowers on this floor. They deal with most of the blood cancers here and so the people are at a higher risk of infection or reaction or something. I've had to remove all the lovely flowers she has been sent so far (thanks Brian & Vanessa, Cheryl, and Erin & Elaine!) which stinks, but is understandable... I guess.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New room, again

Melissa has been moved to room 1009. I'm going to try and sleep.
Around 3pm, Melissa finally had the main line put in. She has been in a bit of pain all day from her swollen jaw, sore hip, and legs that are achey from too much walking around yesterday.

While she was downstairs, Erin, Elaine, Zoe and I went wig shopping. We found a nice pink and black wig with flippy ends & a big pink bouffant. I'll post pictures later.

The nurses are letting me stay the night, which is nice. Sadly, the doctor wants to move her room again. It's only down a floor - from the 'oncology' floor to the 'hematology' floor. The nurse says the floors are basically the same. She paged the doctor to ask why we're bothering with the move but the doctor hasn't called back in a couple hours. Melissa is, of course, frustrated at having to move again. This will be our 7th room in 8 days. It would be nice to ask the doctor about it, but I don't suppose I'll hear from her tonight.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Melissa is out of the ICU and onto a regular floor!
One of the doctors just called - they finally got the results from the blood test ('fish' test, they called it?)

They confimed the diagnosis of Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (type m3) which should be easily cured with a little chemotherapy.

During the bone marrow biopsy yesterday, I told Melissa that as soon as it was over, she could have some of the spaghetti that her mom made according to her Grandpa Carl's recipe. She told the nurse that she felt like Bill Murray in 'Little Shop of Horrors' waiting for a candy bar after he got his teeth drilled.

"If I'm good, I get a candy bar! CAAAANDYYYY BAAAARRRR!"

The nurses were cracking up. Melissa says it was the Morphine talking.

She's feeling great today and will move upstairs as soon as they have the room ready. They won't put the Main Line in until tomorrow, which is good, as I think she needs a day to eat.

Monday, February 23, 2009

After hours of hungrily waiting for the doctors to perform her bone marrow biopsy, Melissa had it done around 3 pm. She was cracking jokes and in good spirits during the entire procedure. She's still in the ICU, but will hopefully be moving upstairs soon. Her platelets are coming up nicely & her bruises are slowly fading away. Tomorrow is probably her first round of chemotherapy.

Our daytime nurse, Abbie, gave me a tube of lotion today and so, right before I left for the night, I rubbed Melissa's hands & feet. Her skin has been really dry, so she felt much better afterward. Sometimes it's the little things.

Speaking of Abbie, she has been a truly fantastic nurse. From answering any dumb question that I send her way to making sure that Melissa is comfortable at any given moment, she is really helping all of us with this rough time. If I can't be there at any given moment, I feel better knowing that Abbie is there, looking out for Melissa. Honestly, I'm just glad that she puts up with my bullshit. Someone has to!
Melissa should be getting a bone marrow biopsy today. She wanted to participate in a study where they take a little extra marrow and use it in their research, so they'll be doing that. They took her to get a 'muga' scan now, which is a fancy heart scan.

She might be starting chemotherapy as early as tonight.

I'm headed up to the hospital. She should be getting a bone marrow biopsy today or tomorrow. We're hoping she'll be moved out of the mICU today, too.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Okay, so, here's the latest.

Melissa's doctor's are pretty sure that she has Acute Leukemia. She wasn't responding to treatment as they hoped and so they did some more tests and attempted a bone marrow biopsy. The blood tests indicated Leukemia, but her bone was too hard to get through to get the marrow.

On a lighter note, after her biopsy, Melissa refused morphine so that she could propose to me when she got back to the room. We're engaged now.

She has been moved to Rush Medical in Chicago. They're going to attempt another Bone Marrow biopsy tomorrow or Tuesday to make sure completely that it's Leukemia before they start chemotherapy. The doctors think that it's type "m3" which is, they tell me, the easiest type to cure.

I'd write more, but Melissa's mom is glaring at me with contempt because I'm typing and not eating the spaghetti that she cooked.

Friday, February 20, 2009

If I haven't told you yet, Melissa has been in the hospital for a few days.

Tuesday afternoon, Melissa was admitted to the hospital. For the past month, she has been bruising without apparent cause (she's self-admittedly clumsy at times, so she didn't think too much of it) and getting really bad nosebleeds, sometimes lasting up to an hour. We made a doctor's appointment for the first available time (in two weeks, of course Rolling Eyes )

The night before her doctor's appointment, she fainted. She told me she felt light-headed and, though she's never fainted before, felt like she might. I caught her and lowered her down to the ground as she blacked out. After a few seconds she was conscious again. We decided, with the help of my sister (who is a nurse), to wait until the next day and go to her appointment instead of heading to the ER.

The next day, talking to a nurse while signing in at the Doctor's office, we were told to go across the street to "Urgent Care" because that's all the doctor would tell us to do after he heard she had fainted. Urgent Care seems to be like an ER-lite. They got her in pretty fast, checked her out and took some blood. We waited around for an hour to get the blood work back and found out she was severely anemic. (which is what we expected) As we were headed out of Urgent Care on our way to the hospital, Melissa fainted again. She was already sitting, but this time it took a little while longer for her to regain consciousness. The doctor's and I moved her to the bed and they called an ambulance to move her to the hospital (which is, again, right across the street)

In the hospital they took more blood, ran more tests, and started her on a blood transfusion and iron supplements. The hematologist came and told us that it thought it might be ITP (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura) which is a big, long word that means she's bruising, has a low blood platelet count, and they don't know why. Commonly, it's immune related, so her own body might be eating up the platelets that it's making. They started her on an IVIG drip (Intravenous immunoglobulin) and Prednisone (a steroid) to suppress her immune system. They also gave her a couple units of platelets through an IV, to try and boost hers.

This morning, she was feeling a lot better. She was sitting up while eating, and not feeling dizzy. She ever walked around the floor, which is about 100 times farther than she was able to walk the previous day. Strangely, her platelet count wasn't rising from the treatment as it should have, so they think it might be a similar, but different thing called TTP (Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura) - and they wanted to do a bone marrow biopsy for diagnostic purposes and start her on Plasmapheresis, which is basically taking out her blood and putting it through a sort-of dialysis machine to take out the plasma & mix the rest of the blood with fresh, clean plasma before putting it back in her. They didn't have the big machine to do the Plasmapheresis at this hospital (They're a pretty small, but very nice hospital) so in the afternoon they moved her down the road to a bigger hospital.

Right before I left, at the end of visiting hours, they were re-doing the blood screening (I guess they can't take the other hospital's word that she's O positive - they have to find out for themselves) and as soon as they got the results from that, they would start the first round of Plasmapheresis.

The funny thing about these disorders is that the only way you can tell which one you have is by what treatment they respond to. There's no test that says "okay, you have this." So it's a little maddening, just waiting around and trying to figure out what's wrong.

Melissa is generally in good spirits. She's really being a pretty good sport in light of all the needle-poking, and bitchy nurses (that's a WHOLE other story.) Her mom and one of her sisters are flying in from Seattle (actually, they just landed at O'Hare) to be with her. I took off of work and have been with her as much as the nurses have let me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm starting this blog with a few backdated posts from my personal blog.