This word I like... We architect our life...
A song, a sigh... developing words that linger...
Through fields of green, through open eyes... It's for us to see.
Interanimate: To animate or inspire mutually

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Day +39 Good Progress but Everyone Sick

Good report this week.
Still no sign of the dreaded post-transplant complication known as Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD). All internal functions appear to be normalizing. There is a blood test panel called 'blood chemistry' that reports on various levels of enzymes related to functioning of the liver, kidney and pancreas. I get this test every time I get the regular 'Complete Blood Count' (CBC). Some of the fluctuations of enzymes levels on the Chem test have made me nervous at times, but the numbers appear to have settled into the normal range over the last couple weeks. I think the doctors keep eagle eyes on these numbers. If they were worried at any time they didnt really share their concerns with me, so I took it on myself to worry for all of us. Tummy organs seem fine now so my worry is disappearing. This old body is really trying to get back to normal after January's chemo assault.

My CBC counts improve or remain stable.

Feb 07Feb 11Feb 14
WBC: 4.5-11.0)
Hgb: 14-18)
Plt:525989(normal 130-400)

The nurses say it will take months to get these counts into the normal ranges.

After reviewing the meds I'm taking, the doctors are starting to scale some back. Next week I'll probably start scaling back on the drug that suppresses my immune system, Tacrilimas. They give xplant patients this kind of drug to prevent the new white blood 'T' cells from attacking organs in the body. Over a period of 2-4 months they scale back the drug and observe the consequences. If GVHD does not develop then they continue scaling back until the drug is not needed. However, while the drug may be a great thing to prevent your new cells from bullying up your organs, it also means that they are more likely to give legitimate germs and viruses they encounter - a free pass. Thats why the battle at this point post-transplant is like walking a tight rope. On one side, GVHD, on the other; opportunistic infections.
That brings me to my last piece of topical news worthiness. Everyone here at home, except for the dogs and I, have had medium/bad colds this last week. Another tight rope to walk. If I were to pick up a cold virus it could become a serious issue. To combat the threat I have taken extreme counter measures. It may not sound like much, but I wash and sanitize my hands even more frequently than I used to, and I wear a N95 rated respiration mask inside the house. The family has tried their best to reduce close contact with me and to employ their own regimen of extreme hygiene. So far, so good. Knock on wood. Everyone is getting better now.

Thank You!
On Valentines day, I received 68 valentines day cards from the Penasquitos Lutheran Sunday school class of 5th and 6th graders. These are the same kids that created the Get Well artwork we taped on my inspiration wall in my hospital room last month. I posted a picture of that wall a couple posts ago. Every one of the cards was very uplifting for me and the family. These are terrific kids. Some of them shared their philosophy and poetry. All of them shared hope for the future of my family and I. Some of the simplest, yet most useful and poignant perspectives can come from those of us with the least experiences in life, our kids.

"Always do what you are afraid to do." - Sarah
Sarah, the only thing I'd add to this is "... if doing it will make you stronger."

"A friend is dawn at the beginning of your day." - Lisa

There was a nutritional warning from Shakura. "...if you eat fruits and vegis it can lower the risk of cancer and if you drink wine, beer or any other alcoholic drinks you can get it." Shakura should know that alcohol is off limits to me now. Hopefully my 3-4 beers per week pre-transplant had nothing to do with my illness.

JR, who's father has been through an experience similar to what I am going through now. And he is doing great!

"Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I see a happy future, for Jim & Cathie too." - Calico

Thanx Sarah, Lisa, Calico, Shakura, JR, and all the rest of the class. And special thanx to teacher Adriana! I love you guys. You give me strength!

And thanx to everyone who have sent their inspirational thoughts and messages to me in other ways! I cherish them!


Anonymous said...

WOW... those kids are too sweet. Its cool to see the community come together to pray and wish you well! I am glad to hear the family is getting better, and you too. It was so nice to talk to you the other day. Hope everything stays on the up. Take care love always Shelli

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,
Your progress continues and we are grateful for the good news. Hopefully the rest of your family has recovered from their little bugs, without infecting you. No buggers here, it's too cold. What with 2 feet of snow on the ground and temps 10-20 below zero, nothing can grow. Needless to say, thinking of you walking around the block in sunny CA, warms our hearts. Keep it up.
Katy & Larry