Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20, 2009

Well, here I go again not "blogging" for a long period of time again. Sorry about that. I'm not sure if not writing is a good thing or a bad thing. The good thing is that it means not much is going on in the "Anne front" (Praise God for that), and the bad thing is that I guess I'm pretty lazy, or too many other things have taken control of my time.

Anne was discharged from the hospital July 12th from her "febrile neutropenia", and has done remarkably well. No complications like further fevers, nausea, vomiting, etc, but she has been a bit more tired lately. I actually took last Wednesday off rather than go to Traverse City to watch some guy (an orthopod) do a couple of surgeries I'm thinking of adding to my toolbox. Under the circumstances, I thought that could wait, and I thought I could better use my time by giving it to Anne. She was unfortunately unable to get her chemo last Monday (her birthday!) because Dr. Balcueva wanted to give her body a rest after the fevers, and because she was on some antibiotics. The good thing about that was that we got to go out to dinner for her birthday which we wouldn't have done had she gotten the chemo. Her parents had made the trip to be with her for the chemo, so they got to be with her for her birthday as well, which was nice. Her parents went home on Tuesday, so we had the day to ourselves on Wednesday (Heather had to work). We went down to the Sommerset Mall (they call it a "Collection" so they can charge more), and Anne was able to get some new clothes. I had hoped it would raise her spirits a bit to get some new stuff as well, as the time in the hospital got us both down a bit. Unfortunately, the trip pooped her out so Thursday she didn't do much, but had a nice visit from one of our friends who brought us some mighty-good tasting home-made manicotti and brownies.

Anne did get her chemo today, probably in record time. It seems that they are able to give her the stuff faster, so she spends less time at Dr. Balcueva's office, because she tolerates it so well. Anne's labs were good--white blood cell count and neutrophil count were normal, and her hemoglobin was only a little low (for her) at 10.7. Unfortunately, the woman sitting next to her was a pessimist, giving her all sorts of bad news about colon cancer that no one needs to hear. All I can think is that this lady has no faith in God. Too bad for her, but it may be an opportunity for Anne to witness to her. (Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.~1 Peter 3:15, NLT)

Here's a reading from 2 Corinthians 1:4-6 that addresses this as well:

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.

I have been hoping that this blog has helped someone out there to be comforted by what we (mostly Anne) have been going through and that they will give themselves to Christ to take on the burden of their problem, whether it be cancer or some other medical issue, or a troubled family, or anything that they can't (and shouldn't) try to face alone. I had to watch a Woody Allen film for the Centurions titled "Crimes and Misdemeanors". It was a typically slow Woody Allen film with lots of dialog and some action, but not much. He says in the movie at one point to another actor who had recently conspired to kill a mistress, who basically told him he didn't believe in God: "Why would you want all of that responsibility for yourself". In other words, God is big enough to take our trouble on His shoulders so that we can be lifted of that burden and don't have to carry it ourselves. To me, that is so awesome. Now, when people ask how I'm doing, I can honestly say I'm doing well, since God is taking care of Anne for me. My "yoke is light". I only have to concentrate on making her comfortable, and making sure she gets the best attention here--God will take care of the rest. Jesus is the "Great Physician"--I just work for Him!

God Bless,

Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 12, 2009

Thank God! Anne's home! And doing well, I might add. Her fever has broken, cultures were all negative, and she feels well. Her "febrile neutropenia" is what caused the fevers. Her neutrophils and WBCs are way up. She will hopefully be getting her 6th chemo treatment tomorrow, which, by the way, is her birthday. 39 (again!). Her nurses were wonderful, and as much as I'm partial to the orthopaedic nurses I usually work with, these women were excellent at their jobs, caring, loving and very professional. They spent a lot of time with Anne making sure she was comfortable and well-taken care of. God Bless them. They made a long hospital stay (at least it seemed long) very comfortable.

Unfortunately, I had to cancel my trip to my Centurions residency this weekend. I was supposed to leave Friday morning and return Sunday night, but I couldn't leave Anne. Actually, I was then able to spend all 3 days with her since I wasn't supposed to be here anyway. I was worried that I might have to resign from the program since this was a very important residency, but thank God, they totally understand, and I can get the lectures on-line that I missed. It'll take quite a bit of time to make it all up, but I'll get it done (with God's help).

A dear friend, Lois Dewald, sent me the following poem:

The Mystery of prayer .
Beyond that
which words can interpet
or theology can explain
the soul
feels a " shower of refreshment "
that falls like the gentle rain
on hearts that are parched
with problems
& are searching to find the way
to some how attract God's attention
through well- chosen words as they pray ,
not knowing that God
in his wisdom
can sense all man's worry & woe .
For there is NOTHING man can conceal
that God does not already KNOW ....
so kneel in prayer in his presence
& you'll find no need to speak
for softly in silent communion
God grants you
the peace that you seek ,,

I am totally convinced that even though God knows all things, including our fate, I do believe that He hears our prayers and will certainly answer our prayers if they prayed in faith.

God Bless,

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 9, 2009

Hello. Sorry I haven't been doing much blogging lately ( but there fortunately hasn't been too much to report on. Anne has been doing very well. Her liver is shrinking in size, 3 out of 4 of her liver function studies are normal (one of the enzymes is still slightly elevated), and her CEA level (a cancer marker) is down from nearly 3700 to in the 200's--a dramatic decrease. In fact, Dr. Balcueva, her oncologist here in Saginaw, thought we should go back out to Mayo Clinic to have them reassess things--instead of palliative care, I believe he thinks we can go for a cure--which of course, we know will happen, thanks to God, and all of your prayers. Anne got her chemo on June 29th without any problems. She has been having a bit more abdominal pain than usual, but other than that, everything was going along as planned.

This past Tuesday, her WBC count (1.9) and neutrophil count (0.6) were pretty low, but she has otherwise been feeling fine. Last night, however, she developed a fever of 102.5. It improved with tylenol, but during the night, it went back up and she had shaking chills. Tylenol helped again, and I tried to make her warm by cuddling (I'm good at that--thanks to being the hot-blooded Italian that I am). She did eventually get up for about 3 hours, read some, then fell back to sleep. I tried to get her to go to the emergency room last night, but she refused. I did get her to call Dr. Balcueva's office this morning--and he's out of town! But, thankfully, they recommended she go to the emergency room. Heather wasn't working this morning, so she took her mom in. They ran a bunch of tests and decided to admit her to the hospital for further workup and antibiotics. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, a dumb orthopod, this is not an uncommon event in the lives of chemotherapy patients. We had not experienced it before (thankfully). It's a "neutropenic fever" or something like that. It is treated with antibiotics and fluids--she was pretty dehydrated from the fever. They also started the Neupogen again to build up the neutrophil count. She feels fine, and in fact, her belly pain is gone as of tonight. I was worried about sepsis, an infection of the bloodstream, so I'm happy they're checking for that and using a potent antibiotic as well. When we left at 10:00 tonight (Heather had stayed all day except for a short time to take a shower at home, and Michelle drove up from East Lansing after classes), they were taking her to get a followup CT scan of the abdomen.

She should be in the hospital (Covenant Harrison) until Saturday or Sunday, or possibly even Monday when Dr. Balcueva gets back. I was supposed to go to my Centurions Residency in Lansdowne Virginia in the morning (Friday) until Sunday night, but I've cancelled that. Fortunately, since I'm not working, I can spend all day with her, as will the girls. Her parents will be coming on Saturday instead of Sunday as they had planned, and Greg will be coming tomorrow night, so she'll have plenty of company.

Please pray for her rapid recovery. She needs her white blood cell count up as well as the neutrophils, so that will give you something specific if you want. Pray that she doesn't develop any infections.

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

~ Romans 12:12, NLT

God Bless,