Friday, September 10, 2010

Bone Marrow Transplant 2010

As most of you know, Mom's cancer fell out of remission last fall and she has been going through a bit of a rough patch with chemo and prep for the bone marrow transplant her doctors told her to expect. This isn't her first rodeo. In 2001 Mom was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma initially. It was discovered in the later part of stage 3 and was very serious. SHe was very weak and sick, but with determination, prayer and the grace of God, she made it through chemo and a bone marrow transplant at the University of Louisville Hopsital, Brown Cancer Center. She received that transplant in May of 2002. Later in 2003 she reached remission status and had, up until last fall, been steadily improving. While there isn't a 100% cure for Multiple Myeloma, Mom has been extremely blessed to live the last 7 years in maintenance in what would seem like perfect help aside from the severe bone pain she hides on a daily basis. She would tell you she is blessed!

Skip ahead to fall 2009. Mom's blood counts began slipping and her Oncologist Dr. Smith, an amazing person, began the tests and procedures she required. Mom's cancer was indeed back but they caught it very early. While we don't know for sure, it seems that increased stress could have played a role in her cancer's spread. In November, Mom began chemo treatments with a drug called Velcade. She received those treatments once a week in November and December. In January some complications developed that caused Mom to be hospitalized off and on for a few Months. She picked back up with her chemo as soon as she was cleared from the complications, and continued it until the end of August.

U of L Brown Cancer Center will be Mom's home for the next week. Her appointment for the "Bone Marrow Harvest" was yesterday and she will be there until Wednesday the 15th at least.
The purpose of this week stay is to collect the cells that will repopulate Mom's body after her slate is wiped clean essentially. She will be brought to a level of health where she is kept alive with assistance. At that point her treated cells will be reintroduced back into her body in hopes they will repopulate her, with a Cancer clean body, at least as much as is possible. I hope this makes some sense to you, because I have to admit, it is way over my head.

When Mom goes back October 1 for the Bone Marrow Transplant, she will be in the hospital for at lest 2.5 weeks; however the average time in the hospital for this procedure is 4 weeks. We're praying little Cole will be patient and wait until his Nana is home before he makes his entrance. But we won't think about that right now...

Yesterday, Mom and I made plans to meet at 7:00 and I would follow her to Louisville for her initial Education and Orientation with the Cancer Center. She would also receive the first of 4 growth hormone shots for the harvest.

We met and were set to leave after we gassed up the vehicles and got some breakfast. My car has been acting funny for a while, and Clint and I had plans to sell it. It just so happened that I was still driving it as of yesterday. It idled in a weird way, I have no idea how to describe it other than the RPMs went from 1000 to 3000 while sitting still, and then it would die. If this was the only problem I could have dealth with it. I had to get to Lousiville! But once I got on the interstate and reached a speed over 65 it sounded like something was rubbing. I immediately got off the interstate and called Clint.

Mom had to be at her appointment by 10:00 our time, and she would need her vehicle while in Louisville for the week, so I wouldn't have been able to ride with her and drive her SUV back. I had to have my own ride there and back. Clint told me to just bring the car back to the office and we would figure out our next move. So, I sent Mom ahead of me to her appointment not knowing how I would get there myself.

Clint drive a large lifted trcuk, I can't crawl into it anymore being that I am rather large and 7.5 months preggo. His Corvette sits too low to the ground and isn't exaclty easy to get in and out of as well. Our Denali was at the shop getting tuned up in Franklin, and everyone else I knew didn't have a spare for the day. I was stuck and about ready to resign. I called Mom in tears and apologized for not being able to come. I wanted so much to be there, but didn't know how it would have been possible. CLint was afraid I would be upset with him, but I assured him it wasn't his fault. It was no ones fault, just bad luck with vehicles. Then, my knight in shining armor (Clint) suggested I rent a car for the day. I love that man!!

Debi drove me to Enterprise, I rented a Santa Fe and was on the way to Louisville in 20 minutes, only 1 hour behind schedule. I have to say it was nice to be driving a new-ish vehicle. I called Mom back to let her know I would be right behind her. She said she could have shook a knot out of my tail for worrying myself over it so much, but when its family, that is what you do! No matter what it takes.

I arrived at the Brown Cancer Center only 20 minutes late. I hurried upstairs where Mom was already having her blood drawn and tests run. The nurses were extremely nice. I believe with all my heart God has special angels on Earth and they are called nurses!! After her tests were run, they sent us to a private room where Mom got to lay down and rest with a warmed up blanket. It felt great to prop my feel up on the side of her bed and cover them with her blanket! We chatted while we waited for the Education and Orientation.

Jill R., a pharmacist for Dr. Herzig, the bone marrow doctor, came in and explained the procedure in depth. She answered every question, and listened while Mom went on about her grandson (to be born). I think it takes a special person to be able to speak with cancer patients everyday about the scary procedures they are facing. She did it with grace and made us both feel comfortable as much as possible. She even gave us inside info about a great place to eat for lunch, and printed us directions to get there!

After the Education and Orientation, one of the nurses came in a gave Mom her first Growth Factor shot. (she will be receiving 1 per day over the next several days). We set up Mom's appointment to come back in the morning for shot #2 and spoke briefly to Dr. Herzig. I'm so glad her Doctor is a kind man. I'm telling you, the Brown Cancer Center rocks!

Two vehicles navigating the streets of downtown L-ville isn't smart when you have no idea where you are going! We decided it best to drop off Mom's car at the hosptiality house she would be staying at, and she would ride with me. I thought the house would be a few blocks away, but it was more like 10. Thank goodness for GPS on my iphone. We never actually found it, but I got Mom to the address, and figured we could worry about fine details like the exact location of the house after we filled our bellies. It was already 1:30 by this point. We fed the meter some quarters and headed off for our next adventure; Ramsi's Care on the World.

Ok, you would think two educated women with a GPS could figure out how to foillow a map. But throw a GPS that won't update as you drive into that equation, and you have a problem. I finally pulled over, restarted my phone and read the map old school. Our, what should have been, 7 minute drive took at least 20, but we made it. The trouble was so worht it. Ramsi's is nestled in an older neighborhood mixed with homes and quaint shops. We parked along side a residential street and walked to the cafe. We passed an awesome coffee shop, cool book store and some gorgeous brick planters with wild flowers growing. Unlike anything I have ever seen, the purple blooms on this plant looked like something out of a science fiction movie, and the bumble bees loved them!

Ramsi's had a gorgeous old laid brick patio covered by lattice and real grape vines that stretched up the sides of the brick entryway. The inside of the patio had a lovely old water fountain, and the table directly in front of it was open. Mom and I helped ourselves. It was so nice to sit down and take a load off after our crazy morning. The menu featured dishes from around the world, I guess that's why they call it a cafe on the world. It didn't take us long to find something we both wanted. Mom talked about how she would paint the things she was seeing in the patio area, and I just listened.

After lunch, we headed back to the hospitality house. I called ahead of us to speak with the desk about where exactly they were located. We had only been a block past where we should have been and quickly got the there. The current location for the HH was being closed, and they were in the process of moving to a new location. Mom was the last patient to use the old HH and will be the first in the new one. But for last night she stayed at the old location. It was time to gop home for me, so I hugged Mom and told her I loved her. She admitted fianlly that she was very glad I came. That she was scared to have done it by herself. Not that I would have needed those words, but it made me feel better that I could help in some way.

I began the drive back to Bowling Green. I forgot Lousiville was an hour ahead of us, so I hit rush hour traffic at 4:30. It wasn't too bad actually. Not until I looked down at my phone to call Clint did I realize I had less than 10% of my cell phone battery left. GREAT! I didn't have my phone charger, so I decided to take a pit stop half way home and grab one in Sonora at the travel center.

We always stop at this Travel Center, not sure why. Its just a nice place to stop in between L-ville and BG. They have everything we need and then some. I was getting a bit sleepy on the road, so I took advantage of the opportunity and grabbed some M&Ms for the sugar/choco caffeine rush. Any excuse right, ha! I also grabbed the phone charger. Once I got in the car, I realized it was one of those packages you couldn't get into if your life depended on it. So, I crawled back out of the car and waddled inside to ask the man who checked me out, if he had scissors. Back to the car, to plug in my phone, easy enough, right? No. The charger didn't work. I tried plugging it into the second receptor, and disconnecting my phone and then plugging it back in. Still no juice. Back inside to see the man again. I apologized but told him I would have to return this one and get another charger. He had me check the second charger in the car to see if it worked. I tried receptor number 1 and 2. No juice, but then remembered the back seat in the SUV we rented had another receptor. IT WORKED! I went back inside, exchanged the chargers and headed home. Ordeal #300 for the day resolved and I was on my way home yet again.

Once home in BG, Clint had me drive my car (the one that caused so many troubles earlier) home and empty everything out of it. It went straight to Franklin last night, where it will be promptly sold at auction as is. I guess he's done fooling with it. I must say, good riddance!

After the long day, Clint and I ate at Pizza Hut and finally got home at 9:30. I was OUT 5 minutes after my head hit the pillow.

I spoke to Mom this morning and she is doing well. The side effects from the Growth Factor shots have begun. Mainly bone pain. She has already moved to her new room in the new HH and will be there until Wednesday at least. She's found a way to give back while at the hospital. She will be volunteering at the Mint Julep Club at the Brown Cancer Center Saturday. I'm so proud of her!

More info to come as I receive it.

Not until after

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Childbirthing Classes Have Begun!

Last night Clint and I rushed like mad people to get home, get showers, grab a few pillows and head to the Medical Center for the first class of our 6 week course in childbirthing! Nothing funnier than a pregnant woman waddling down the hallway with two pillows tucked under her arms. Of course, we weren't the only ones that arrived a few minutes late. Thankfully, our good friends the Whitfields saved us some seats.

I must say our teacher, Mrs. Martha Houchin is wonderful. She has all these lovely abrreviations after her name; RN, MS, MSN. It makes me feel she is very qualified. Seriously though, she has been in the business of taking care of Mom's and newborns, and teaching nurses to do the same for over 40 years. I feel we are very blessed to have her teaching the course.

Last night we covered the third trimeseter of pregnancy, Labor pain, signs of pre-labor and breathing and relaxation exercises. At one point she turned off the lights and prompted us to try the progressive relaxation technique. Slowly we relaxed out heads, neck, shoulders, chests, and so on a so forth until we reached our toes. Clint just about had me rolling. Have mercy! This man is supposed to be my relaxation and breathing coach! HA!

Mrs. Houchin gave us a list of 10 things Dad is not supposed to say during labor. I thought I'd share them with you all (by the way, she's heard them all personally come from Daddy's mouth):

1. I've seen puppies born hundreds of times.

2. I'm getting worn out, I might take a nap.

3. I'll ask my mother to stay with you while I go eat something. I'm really hungry.

4. That contraction didn't look too bad (while looking at the monitor).

5. My ex-wife didn't take this long!

6. What's that smell?

7. Where is the remote, she's too busy to change the channel.

8. Just push a little harder, one more time!!!

9. Ugh! That looks gross!

10. Hey Doc, could you put and extra stitch in that thing for me?