Christmas 2016

Christmas 2016
Celebrating Christmas at Grandmor & Grandpa Bob's

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dad Update

Yesterday and today have been relatively quiet days. Dad has been very comfortable during the day. They have been able to wean his sedation a little bit, but he still is not yet able to wake up, open his eyes, or really respond to us. During the day, his temperature has been great, but at night he still is spiking these mystery fevers. Luckily, last night they were able to be proactive by holding his motrin and tylenol until he started to spike, which, along with an ice bath, seemed to help. His temperature only got as high as 102, instead of over 104 as it had the previous nights. The doctors are unsure if this is because the antibiotics were discontinued, if it helps to pre-medicate with motrin/tylenol, or if the steroids that were added yesterday are helping to control the fever. Either way, we are happy that his fevers at night seem to be better controlled, as the fever tends to set off issues with oxygen saturation and blood pressure. He still is very sensitive to being turned, but they were able to have him off the medication to keep his blood pressure high enough today as well as give him the diuretic to help get some of the extra fluid off of him. They have left his ventilator setting at an FiO2 of 55% for the last 2 days. This is below a toxic level, and so they have decided to let him rest for a few days before making any more attempts to wean the vent. Overall, he has made some good progress the last 2 days. Please pray he continues to keep up the good work!! Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Help with Meals

Many of you have expressed a desire to help out with meals and other needs that we have. Currently, we could use some help having meals delivered to the hospital. There is no refrigerator and limited microwave availability, so food than can be delivered hot or does not need to be heated (sandwiches, for example), as well as drinks would be very much appreciated. We have set up a caring calendar for you to sign up for specific dates. Most likely, there will be between 4-6 people eating each day.
Mike and I could also use some help walking our dog during the day in Forest Park, while I spend time at the hospital and Mike is at work. This errand is also listed on the caring calendar. If you are able to sign up to help walk our dog Daisy, please contact me for additional details.
In the future, there may be spots available on the calendar for rides to and from Park Ridge for my mom as well.
To access the calendar, go to the following website:
Calendar ID: 67413
Security Code: 4845

As our needs change, we will definitely keep the blog and calendar updated. Thanks so much for all of your care and concern for us during this difficult time.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

More of the Same

Not much new today to report. They were able to wean off the nitric oxide last night, but because of that had to increase his FiO2 to 75%. According to the doctors, they were happy to at least be able to get the nitric oxide off because that can be more difficult to wean off than Dilaudid. So we will count that as a positive thing for the day, even though they had to go up on the FiO2 to come off of it. Dad is still spiking super high fevers every night (104.9 was last night), and they are unsure of the source as all of his cultures have come back negative. At this point, they are considering that perhaps it is a side effect of some of the antibiotics he has been getting, so they are going to try stopping antibiotics for a few days and see if that helps the fevers. When Mike and I left tonight he was up to 103.6 again after remaining afebrile for most of the day. Unfortunately, he also had some blood in his stomach today so they are not able to give him ibuprofen to help with the fevers anymore. All day today his blood pressure was quite low and dependent on the medication to increase it; however, tonight he became quite agitated after being laid flat for a CT scan and became more hypertensive, so they stopped the pressor and restarted the propofol to help with the agitation/sedation. At this point, we know he gives his night nurses a run for their money, and they are used to it as well! His nurse tonight was going to give him a bath in rubbing alcohol and ice water- a very old school technique for lowering fevers. Hopefully it works. I was lucky enough to have one of my former DePaul teachers come to visit with me for a good part of the day, which was very nice. Andrew is also back in town, and it is great to have him here. I know Dad appreciates that as well! Our cousin John brought a delicious homemade meal to the hospital, which was so wonderful. I, for one, am growing very tired of eating out all the time! Dad's oncologist will stop by to see him tomorrow- he is happy that he is holding his own, but concerned that he is not getting better faster, which is the general consensus among the other doctors as well. They feel if they can find a way to control these fevers, it will help his oxygenation. Please continue to keep us in your thought and prayers. We hope that Dad will be back to write on the blog soon, but until then, I will continue to keep updating.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Quick Update

Today was another quiet day. Last night, Dad's temperature spiked to 104.9. They were able to cool him down fairly quickly with a cooling blanket, ice, and motrin, but this did concern them again for possible infections, so antibiotics and different antifungal medications were restarted. His blood pressure also dropped a little low last night so they had to restart the pressor at a very low dose. That was able to be discontinued during the day, and giving the motrin round the clock kept his temperature much lower throughout much of the day as well. They are working on weaning the nitric oxide and hope to have that turned off tonight. After that, they can hopefully concentrate on weaning down his oxygen more. He still is very fluid overloaded, but they have had to be careful with the diuretic since he has been having low blood pressures. Today he also got a PICC line (a longer term IV), so they will be able to pull the IV they put in his neck last week, which is a greater risk for infection. They will also talk to oncology about pulling the large IV that was placed for his stem cell harvest just in case there is an infection there. Otherwise, not much changed today. I have enjoyed reading him all of the messages you have been sending, and I believe he is enjoying them too, so please keep sending them!!! Prayers tonight for a quiet night without fevers. Thank you so much for all of your love and support. I know it means a lot to Dad and to us.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Quiet Day

It's Liz again. Today was for the most part a quiet day. We are still dealing with the same issues: sedation, trying to get the fluid out of the lungs, weaning the oxygen and nitric oxide, high fevers and low blood pressures. I think Dad's fever reached an all time high of 103.9 last night- I was in the room helping the nurse pack him in ice and give him a cool bath. We were able to convince the doctors to allow him to have a one time dose of ibuprofen, which finally did the trick. They are hesitant to use ibuprofen (Advil) in ICU patients because of the risk for kidney damage and bleeding ulcers. Dad's kidneys are working great, but he did have the scare with blood in his stomach the other day, which is why they are hesitant to use it more often with him. But it seemed to work this time and overall his fever was lower throughout the day (101-102). Sedation continues to be an issue. When he is not sedated enough, he really fights the ventilator which decreases his oxygen saturation, so they are continuing to work on that. He did have a few episodes of coughing up a large amount of fluid several times today. They are hopeful that indicates that he is finally getting some of the fluid that has been sitting in his lungs out. They are continuing to give him the Bumex (a diuretic) to help pull more fluid off of him, but have some trouble with that because he has occasionally been dropping his blood pressure too low. Overall, not many changes were made today. The doctors this morning said that they felt perhaps he was nearing the end of this acute phase, as he has settled out on his oxygen requirements. He remains on an FiO2 (amount of oxygen the vent is giving him) of 55% and his blood gases today looked good. The wonderful nurses in the MICU have been taking good care of him, and we hope that perhaps he is starting on the road to recovery. Weaning the ventilator will most likely take some time, so we are trying to be patient, even though it is hard! He is still not really able to respond to us, although I noticed that he seems occasionally to squeeze his eyes shut or grimace at appropriate times when I am talking to him. If you would like to send him a message, feel free to email it to me and I will read it to him. My email is I know he appreciates all of the thoughts and prayers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

This is Liz again. Sorry for the delay in updates. I know my Dad would be amazed to know how many people are following his blog, as well as annoyed that I have not been better about keeping everyone updated. :)

The last week has been filled with ups and downs. Every time we take one step forward, it seems like shortly after we take 2 steps back. At this time, Dad is still intubated (with the breathing tube), on the ventilator, and heavily sedated. On Saturday, it seemed like he was doing a little better. They were actually able to wean the oxygen on the ventilator to 45% (goal is 40%), take off the paralytic, stop the medication to keep his blood pressure high enough, and start some feeds through the feeding tube in his nose. Unfortunately, on Saturday night after being turned, he had a period of the oxygen level in his blood being too low, so they had to turn the vent all the way back up to 100% and re-start the paralytic. He also spiked another fever. Sunday was a long day, as his fever was as high as 102.9 for most of the day despite decreasing the room temperature (we were sitting in here with coats and gloves), tylenol, and packing him with ice packs. When they were checking his feeding tube, they pulled out blood clots, and they became concerned about a bleeding ulcer or other type of GI bleed, so the feeds were stopped and he was started on a Nexium drip to protect his stomach. They are unsure as to the source of these high fevers, so Infectious Diseases was consulted today. It is most likely that they are still related to the H1N1, but they also need to look at other possibilities. They started a new antibiotic called Merepenem to make sure they are covering for all possible bacterial infections. They sent out a lot of blood work to look for potential fungal infections as well. They also did an ultrasound of his gallbladder and pancreas today to rule out a gall bladder infection or pancreatitis, as many of the medications he is receiving can cause problems with those organs. They gave him a medication called Bumex, which is a diuretic, in hopes of getting some of the extra fluid out of his lungs.

Monday things seemed a little better. They were been able to wean his oxygen down to 60% and were able to finally turn the paralytic off. He still had a fever, but it seemed to be a little lower. They resent a culture of the secretions in his lungs and he still is positive for Influenza A (H1N1), which was to be expected, as it usually takes over 14 days to clear out of your system. He has received a lot of blood because his hemoglobin is still low from the stem cell transplant. They are hoping by increasing his hemoglobin a little higher that they will be able to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of his red blood cells throughout his body. They did another doppler scan of his legs and arms and found that he had another new blood clot in his leg, so they are started him on a heparin drip for that. Sedation started to be a big issue for him, as he has a high tolerance for many of the sedation medications because he was taking so many opiods for his back pain and vertebral fractures. Monday night, however, was not a good night. After being turned, he dropped his blood pressure again and needed to be started back on the pressor (medication to keep your blood pressure high enough). His blood gas still did not look good despite being on 100% FiO2, so they re-started him on nitric oxide (NO), which is an inhaled gas that acts as a vasodilator to help open up the bronchial passages. Luckily, he responded to the NO right away, and his sats increased from the low 90s to 96.

Tuesday he made a lot of progress. By agreeing to try to wean down the FiO2 before weaning off of the NO, they were able to wean his FiO2 down to 40%, which was their goal. His sats remained in the mid-90s, and his blood gas Po2 level continued to be in range. He continued to spike high fevers (103 F). Infectious Disease met with us again and said that they were almost 100% convinced that all of this is definitely related to the H1N1, and we were able to convince them to give him scheduled Tylenol around the clock to help control the fevers instead of always waiting to let him spike a fever first before treating it. They are keeping the temperature in his room at 65 F or lower, packing him in ice packs, and giving the Tylenol. His oncologist came by to see us and gave the doctors several other drugs to try to help boost up his immune system, including another round of IVIG, a medication to help potentially decrease the inflammatory response, and a course of a different antifungal just IN CASE there was any possible fungal infection brewing. He also started moving his secretions out of his alveoli and into the central airways, so for the first time, they were able to suction some mucus out of him.

Wednesday was for the most part a quiet day. The doctors have finally realized that moving too quickly with Dad does not work for him, and have agreed to try to wean things a bit more slowly. Now that his FiO2 is decreased to 40%, they are less worried about weaning quickly. They were going to try to start to wean the NO this morning, but Dad had a lot of issues with sedation so they decided against that. Dad is still very sedated but has started to buck the vent and stack his breathing, which means that he is trying to work against the machine and his breathing often becomes out of sync with the vent. When this happens, his sats go lower. This is often an indication for more sedation; however, because of all of the pain medication Dad was on prior to the transplant, he has a very high tolerance for opiods and therefore they have been having a difficult time with sedation. He is maxed out on his fentynl dose, but does have room to go up on his ativan. They tried to start propofol (another sedation medication) today, which seemed to make him more comfortable. The problem was that every time they went to turn him he dropped his blood pressure, so they were unable to continue using it. They also started trying haldol, an antipsychotic, to see if that would help with some of the agitation. He has not opened his eyes or responded purposefully to us yet, but he does appear to calm down when we are in the room talking to him and reassuring him. They also have him on a Bumex drip (a diuretic) to help decrease some of the fluid in his lungs. Because of all the problems with sedation, they decided to wait to try to wean the NO until tomorrow. He is still spiking very high fevers to 103, but for the most part they are able to control them with the Tylenol, ice packs, cool baths, and cold room. As his nurse today said, there is no need to rush him: slow and steady wins the race.

Right now he is tucked in and being cared for by a great nurse. The ICU has been great with helping to make sure that we have good continuity of care with our nurses, which has really helped. Several of Dad's favorite people from the stem cell unit also came over to visit him today, which I am sure he enjoyed. I will try to be better about updating the blog daily (until he is able to again do it himself). ARDS is a very serious condition, and he is not out of the woods yet, so please continue to keep him in your thoughts and prayers. His oncologist really put it best when he said that, for all intents and purposes, he is fairly certain that my Dad right now is cancer free. He was a low risk stage I myeloma and he feels he responded well to the transplant. So the big hurdle now is for his new immune system to continue to fight off the H1N1 and for his lungs to recover from the damage from the ARDS. My Dad is stubborn and he is a fighter so we are encouraging him to keep up the good fight. I know that he would appreciate any comments or well wishes here, as he is unable to check his email right now (and we have no idea what his password is!). Thank you for your continued support and prayer for Dad's recovery!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Hello everyone.

This is Liz writing for Terri. Unfortunately, my Dad had more serious complications yesterday and today resulting from the H1N1 flu he was diagnosed with on Tuesday. Yesterday he started having some difficulty keeping his oxygen level above 90, so he was started on oxygen through a mask. However, just like Dad, he had a positive attitude and was not complaining about any discomfort all day, which was leading his nurses and doctors to believe he was not as sick as he actually was. He did ok overnight with the mask, but today when I arrived around 9:30am his oxygen level was only 85% on the maximum amount of oxygen available on his floor. His nurse called the ICU to come and look at him, and when they checked the oxygen level in his blood it was only 50, which is very low. His chest xray from last night showed a lot of fluid in his lungs, both from the H1N1 flu and the resulting pneumonia. The ICU doctors made the decision to put a breathing tube in while he was still on the floor because they were worried he would not make it to the ICU without it. Once they got him over to the ICU, they had a very hard time getting him sedated enough (because he takes so many pain medications for the myeloma), and they also started having a hard time ventilating him on the ventilator and keeping his blood pressure high enough. They had to start him on medications to keep his blood pressure high enough, as well as play around with the ventilator to try to get his oxygen levels up high enough. He has been diagnosed with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) which is a very very serious respiratory complication from the flu. He is medically paralyzed and sedated, so he is not able to talk to us or respond to us right now. The doctors and nurses are working very hard to stabilize him, but he is definitely in need of many prayers right now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday, February 15

Today Bob learned that he has the flu! They are giving him different treatments to help him feel better. He is a little discouraged but his doctors have said this isn't that unusual. The other infections that were diagnosed yesterday are still being treated with some heavy antibiotics. Today with these medications, he mostly felt like sleeping.

The good news is that they are planning on sending him home on Friday. Also, Bob has a little bit of an appetite but has difficulty with any foods that are too dry. So, he's still eating soup and jello! Loves that red jello!

If any of you have e-mailed or called Bob, he told me to tell you all that he apologizes for not answering your messages but as he starts feeling a little better he will get back to you. He so appreciates the love and support you have given him AND me. We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other. This kind of healing takes a lot of patience. Thanks be to God!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Spent time with Bob at the hospital today. It was another not so good day. His temperature continued to be high this morning so they ordered two CT scans. They showed a couple of infections so he is on two new antibiotics and hopefully in 24 hours he will be feeling much better. His blood counts are coming up nicely and the doctor's say he has handled the transplant well. These are two setbacks but nothing that they are overly concerned about. They say this happens quite often.

They are starting to talk about going home. They haven't given an exact day but just talking about going home makes Bob feel much better! He finally was able to shower this evening, Skype with our little Anna and even do one walk. The most tasty food today was a grape popsicle! When it was time for me to head back home, I could tell that the antibiotics were working. That makes it easier to leave. Next year we'll have a little more fun on Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Change of Plans

I got to the hospital today and Bob was not feeling very well. His white count had gone up to 1 which was great and the other count that was TLTC on Saturday was 0.9. His hemoglobin was low so he had a transfusion red blood cells. These carry oxygen to his body so hopefully tomorrow he should be feeling much better. Platelets are close to needing a transfusion but we'll wait and see what tomorrow brings. Platelets help with clotting. He had a low grade fever all day and some nausea again. They're checking his blood often to make sure there isn't an underlying infection.

We didn't do anything that we had planned. Bob really just felt like being in bed. He didn't eat anything but a few noodles and a couple bites of pear at dinner but at least he ate something. This was his first meal of the day. He slept through breakfast and lunch! We did walk a couple of loops around his floor but that was the best he could do.

I'm going back to the hospital tomorrow afternoon to spend a little time with my honey on Valentine's Day. :) Will take some cupcakes to his nurses, who have all been wonderful. Bob has had tremendous care. For this we are so grateful!


Like in the chaplains prayer, she prayed for patience for Bob as he waits for healing.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Bob's counts were at their lowest. White cells at <0.1 and another count was too low to count (TLTC). Platelets and red bloods cells very low and today, Sunday he will probably need both transfused. We are waiting patiently for those numbers to start going up. The nurse said hopefully they'll start on Sunday, day 11. Patience is sometimes difficult for Bob. He wants so badly to be feeling good AND going home. I found these words in something I was reading and I felt they were truly meant for us. Those who can see God's hand in everything can best leave everything in God's hand. Patience!

Yesterday, Liz, Mike, Andrew and Katie were down at the hospital with us. It was great to have us all there together. Bob seemed to be feeling a bit better. He enjoyed his day and even started to eat a little bit. (Not much, but more than the days before! ) This was the first day that I could see he was on the road to recovery. It will be small baby steps, and maybe a few steps back but he will get there. After all he is only 11 days into his new life.

I'll go to the hospital today, Sunday. We are looking forward to listening to St. Olaf home concert this afternoon. Yesterday Bob thought today would be a good day for a shower and we will try to take a few more walks and maybe I can even encourage him to eat a little more. We need to be patient and remember all the blessings that are pouring down on us!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Prayer for the Blessing of Stem Cells

After Bob's stem cell transplant, I asked the chaplain for a copy of her prayer.  We received it today so I thought I'd share it with you.


Most Merciful God, Creator and Sustainer of LIfe,

We come before you today, humbled by your great gift of life.  In your infinite love, you planted within us these tiny cells that have the power to heal and renew.  For giving scientists, physicians, and nurses the knowledge to use these cells for our well-being, we give you thanks.  For having brought us to this special day, we give you thanks.

Today, we ask a special blessing on Bob as he receives these life-giving cells.  Let him trust not only in their power to heal, but in Your invitation to new life and new birth.  Grant Bob patience and hope as he waits for the restoration of body, mind, and spirit.

And now, send your spirit upon these cells, blessing them with your love and healing power.

In Your Holy Name, we pray.  AMEN

Bob's new birthday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 6 and 7 after transplant

I went to school half day on Tuesday so I could spend the rest of the day with Bob. The mouth sores are getting a little more intense. Bob says it's like a really bad sore throat. He was able to eat some soup and a little more of that Swedish cardamum coffee cake. He wanted me to bring some noodles so he could add them to his broth. I'll bring whatever he feels like eating!

Bob had two very special visitors. The hospital chaplain, who he has become good friends with and our pastor from our church in Michigan. It was a beautiful day and the sunshine filled up Bob's room.

Today, Wednesday, February 9, day 7, when Bob called me before I left for school he sounded terrible. His throat was so bad and he compared the way he felt to how you feel with a bad case of the flu. He thought he would stay in bed and just sleep. When he called me at lunch he said he had an infection and a fever. I got really nervous even though I knew this would probably happen. The nurses said he didn't have to worry about walking or showering. He was happy his nurse was the same nurse he had on the day he had the stem cell transplant. We both thought she was wonderful. Today Bob found out she was an Augustana graduate and a Phi Rho!! I knew there must be a connection! Bob's brother John spent the afternoon with him. Around 4:00 the fever broke and he felt much better. He took a walk and even ordered a little supper.

I talked to him again this evening and again he had a fever but he has great pain medication now and that is really helping him to feel like he can manage his symptoms. In fact the sore throat didn't feel that bad! He was sure he would sleep well tonight.

I'm going to go to the hospital tomorrow morning just to check things out and see how Bob is doing. I have Open House in the evening so I'll go back to school later in the day. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other. I know Bob is in very good hands and therefore I too will try to sleep well tonight.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Weekend

Bob and I spent a quiet weekend together at the hospital. Church friends offered to drive me down on Saturday and then pick me up on Sunday. No need to worry about another CTA experience. Also my neighbor agreed to be on top of Wesley's needs. They also brought me dinner when I arrived home on Sunday. People are so kind!

On Saturday Bob and I played a game of Scrabble. I can tell he's not feeling 100% since we put the game away and I was winning! It's good to be there with him so I can encourage the walking and make suggestions for meals. He really has no appetite and today the first mouth sore appeared. I hope he doesn't get too many! He had a little bit of nausea this weekend too but they have great medications that help.

The doctors want Bob to walk outside of his room 3-4 times daily. They don't care how far but so far we are doing 3 to 4 loops 4 times each day. I've also found a stationary bike that looks out at the lake. Great place to make phone calls as well as get a little exercise myself.

When you are in the hospital you are up early. So Sunday morning we enjoyed some Swedish coffee cake that Bob's sister sent us. This triggered Michigan memories with its wonderful cardamum smell. Bob said maybe we can go in a couple weeks. That's Bob, always very optimistic. I sure do hope he's right. We went to church by watching one of the services at St. Olaf but for the rest of the afternoon I did school work and Bob napped.

Most times when you are in the hospital, if you've had a procedure, you hopefully start getting better the next day. With Bob's stem cell transplant, days 7-11 are considered his hardest days. Today, day 4 he is doing ok. His biggest complaint is being tired. The nurses feel he is a low maintenance patient. What will tomorrow bring? We don't know what reactions Bob will have with the chemo as he gets to days 5,6,7,8,9,10, 11 but we do know God will be watching over him. I reminded him that by next Sunday, day 11, each day he will be getting better. :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Transplant + 3 days

I've learned that once you have a transplant, every day after that time is based off your transplant day. So today, according to the doctors I am on day 3 of my new life. The days since the transplant have been quite uneventful filled primarily with tiredness and lethargy. Don't quite have the energy to read or write and I've discovered that the hospital's choice of TV stations is rather weak once you get past the major networks. Mostly they have movie channels which seem to show a number of rather dark movies. Seems to me that a couple of channels with light sit-coms might be more appropriate for the patients on these floors. Oh well, I can tell you that I have become an expert on the news of the week--both local and international--as I am amazed at how often the stories are repeated verbatim--day after day!! How many of you heard about the 76-year old Texas woman who was trapped in her apartment in Cairo but ready with her rolling pin to take on any protesters who might harass her?

From what I understand I have entered the calm before the storm as it relates to the side-effects from the chemoblast I had this past Tuesday. They usually kick in around day 4 and can run through day 11 and can include loss of appetite (which I already have), nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and, of most concern to me, mouth sores, which I understand can be quite nasty. If you are so inclined, please pray that I am spared being walloped by them. At the same time, all of my red and white blood cells and platelets are going down until the reinfused stem cells find their way back to my bone marrow and start reproducing. I guess around day 12 or so is when they should have regenerated enough to overcome the chemo side effects--or the side effects will have run their course. I'll be most glad as I approach that day-- which is VALENTINE'S DAY! How appropo! Terri and I can really celebrate this year! If all goes well, I should be discharged a few days after that.

For those of you who have asked, I can have visitors as long as you are healthy since I am at a risk for infection. You will be asked to wash your hands as you enter and leave the room. If you are planning to visit, please call ahead to see how I am feeling (312-472-1589). While I would  love to have you visit, please do not be offended if I turn down your visit should it not be a good day for me.

I'm waiting for Terri to arrive shortly. She will spend the weekend down here with me. We'll find some things to do like playing games on the internet, watching some light-hearted DVDs, playing a little Scrabble, and, of course, getting in my daily walks around the floor which are so important. The Family Room on the floor also overlooks Lake Michigan so we'll stop down there for awhile and watch the various lake moods. They actually have been quite interesting over the past few days given the huge blizzard and extreme cold we have been experiencing.

Thanks to all of you for the care and concern you have shown to Terri and me in so many ways over the past few months. We feel so blessed!

Peace to you!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February 2, 2011: A rebirth

Today I had my stem cell transplant, or reinfusion of my stem cells, and it was most certainly a powerful experience. After a couple hours of IV hydration, the frozen stem cells were brought into my room in a dry ice container. Vapors poured out of the container as it was opened and the burgundy-colored stem cells removed to be placed in a warm tub of water and defrosted. The hospital chaplain quietly blessed the stem cells as Audrey, my wonderful nurse, held them in her hands over my bed. Then Audrey hung the bag of stem cells on the IV pole to begin the flow into my body. As they did, we all held hands and recited the Lord's Prayer. Audrey mentioned that she had prayed last night for a successful infusion of my stem cells as well, even though I know she had to battle blizzard conditions to get home last night and back to work this morning. The medical profession looks at this procedure as a rebirth and I guess I would have to agree. It was a very moving experience for both Terri and me. From now on, I will celebrate two birthdays, March 29, 1951, and February 2, 2011, as my new life has begun. Praise the Lord!

Blizzard of 2011

Son-in-law Mike helps Bob get settled in Monday night
What a way to begin this major event in our lives. We began on Monday with a doctor's appointment and because Bob wasn't able to check into the hospital until later in the afternoon, they didn't want to begin the chemo until Tuesday morning. So I drove home Monday evening thinking about how I would get down to the hospital on Tuesday morning. Not so much how I would get down but IF I could get home Tuesday. It was major for me just to get comfortable driving down to Northwestern, parking in the garage and then getting around the hospital. Now, a blizzard! I drive cautiously in the snow but I really don't like it one bit. So I made the decision to take the Blue Line (Subway) down to Chicago Ave. and take the bus to Michigan Ave. and then walk over to the hospital. I would spend the night in Bob's room and not worry about having to get home. Now you also need to know that taking the Blue Line and the bus is a bold adventure for me too.

Bob's sister got me to the Cumberland station and now the next thing was to get my ticket with transfer. Again, doing this puts me way out of my comfort zone but I'm never afraid to ask for help. Most people are really wonderful. I asked the attendant how to add money to my card when he told me my card had expired! Who knew!!! So, with his calming words I got on the train and headed downtown feeling pretty relaxed. Now I just had to watch for Chicago Ave. Here is the great thing. A few years ago I did this same trip when I went to meet Bob at his office. So he had written me step-by-step directions which I had saved and they came in very handy. Bob's directions were like GPS directions on paper!!!

Well, I got off at Chicago, worked my way up to Ogden Ave. and Chicago and waited for a bus. Figured out how to put my transfer in and found a seat on a very crowded bus. I had a pretty heavy overnight bag with me so I was glad for the available seat. Being a suburban gal, even riding the bus in the city is taxing for me! I got off at Michigan Ave., walked over to Prentice Hospital and immediately got a cup of coffee. Oh was I relieved and very proud of myself. :)

Bob and I spent a very nice day together. We were both very relaxed and happy to be inside watching and listening to this weather event together.

Early Tuesday evening I decided I wanted to go outside and really experience the blizzard. I walked over to Superior and then over to Michigan. I walked north on Michigan to Walgreens where I purchased some snacks for us. Bob's appetite is wonderful, which is great. As I was heading back to Prentice, the winds were unbelievable. I had to grab onto a street sign so I wouldn't blow on to Superior. As I was doing this a young man was behind me and told me he would grab my arm and help me across the street. What a good Boy Scout! When did I get so old!!!!! He was a new daddy so what a happy conversation we had until we got back into the hospital. People are good.

Bob and I had a quiet evening on his floor. We walked a little and watched out the windows. The lightening was incredible. The sounds of the windows rattling was a little scary but we felt very safe. The nurses brought me bedding, I pulled out the little bed next to the window and when we turned out the lights, I watched outside a little bit. We are on the 15th floor. Finally sleep came and both Bob and I slept pretty well until about 6:00. His nurse came in during the night to do some things but they are so quiet and gentle that sleep is barely disturbed.

We got up at 6:00 and began preparing for the day. I went and got coffee and got locked out of the floor. Again, I had to learn to be a bit bold and look around to figure out how to get back on the floor. The person who sits at the desk wasn't due back in until 7:00 if she was even going to make it. I found a phone number to call on the hospital desk phone and eventually got back to Bob's room. Bob ate a good breakfast and we have taken a couple walks. He has a hydration drip before the stem cell reinfusion at 11:30. Soon they will bring in two bags of his frozen stem cells. There will be a blessing of them and then they will be placed in warm water to defrost right here in his room. It is all so amazing! Then the transplant will begin. It will take about 30 minutes and then more hydration. He is given some medicine to help him relax so he will probably be napping more this afternoon.

I planned to take Monday and Tuesday off of school but when the transplant was delayed until Wednesday I was very lucky that we had a snow day! I'm always just as happy as the kids. In fact, I'm really hoping that we have another one tomorrow, maybe because of the cold 'cause then I'll stay here another night. Remember, now I have to figure out how to go home again! All these new things! Oh my! Doing things the first time is always more difficult for me. We have a wonderful neighbor that is taking care of Wesley. Imagine, volunteering to walk a dog in this weather. Last night she even came over and sat a bit with him just to give him some human companionship. What a great lady. She also has a dog, but her husband will walk him. Thanks for both of these caring people! People are good!

So now Bob and I are going for a little walk. He has to try and venture out of his room four times a day. It doesn't matter how far he walks, just so he exercises a little. It will make his recovery much easier. Then will come the reinfusion. Elizabeth and Michael will be with us for this wonderful event. Thanks be to God. I'll write soon. Bob is a brave man to let his wife write on his wonderful blog!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A New Look on January 25

I'm glad I had a week to rest after the harvesting. I can't believe how fatigued I was. It was good just to relax and build up my strength. The only thing I had to deal with was a new look as you can see. I made an appointment with Pino, my barber, who helped me out. What do you think?

After the Harvest: Jan. 21-23

Fell behind in my blogging last week from feeling very fatigued so I'm playing catch up today.

Was so glad to get a little r & r after the harvesting of the stem cells. Celebrated my sister Susan's 70th birthday on the 21st at our local Chinese restaurant. We've celebrated a number of special occasions there because it is convenient, usually empty (aren't most Chinese restaurants?) and the food is EXCELLENT. It was a favorite of my Mom's so, in a sense, we could honor her as well. The owners know us well and set up a nice arrangement for all 16 of us, including my brother John who came down from the Twin Cities. We could easily get up and move around to keep the celebration going and our chorus of Happy Birthday sounded like a church choir. A good time was had by all and it was great way for me to end a week of harvesting, feasting on egg rolls. Chicken Almond Ding, Beef with Sweet Pea Pods, and Sweet and Sour Chicken.

On a lark Terri and I decided to go to Michigan for the weekend. Snow gently falling on the deck,  a roaring fire in the fireplace, a walk in the woods, worship with our friends at Harbert Community Church, and a brunch of Swedish pancakes at Viola's, the local restaurant, made for a very restful and relaxing time. Too bad the Chicago Bears couldn't have made it a perfect weekend by winning the NFC championship! Oh well, there's always next year.