Sunday, February 28, 2010

Treatment #12

I talked to my sister who is taking turns with me this weekend sitting with Jeanine and she said that things are going well and that Jeanine had treatment #12. So far so good.

Treatment #11

Jeanine has now reached the minimum doses of her treatment and everything on out is icing on the cake. The maximum will be 14 doses and is she continues on schedule she will be done early Monday morning. That is a big "IF" though. As you may remember, she only made it to 12 last time.

Yesterday there was a little scare. She complained of heaviness in her legs and it was determined that she needed an ultrasound of the blood vessels in her legs to check for blood clots. Thankfully she had none.

Her blood pressure has dropped several times to the 80's for the systolic and 40's for the diastolic. She needed oxygen for a while early this morning to keep her oxygen level in the 90's. She still has a low grade fever. The other annoying symptoms such as vomiting, weakness, swelling, and needing the room down to 65 degrees are still there and her skin is starting to peel again. But all in all, it looks good on our end, but it is the blood tests that determine if she is allowed to continue. We'll see what the doctor says.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Treatment #8

Jeanine is on track with 8 treatments and so far she is pretty consistent with her reactions. She gets red, gets the chills (which are getting harder to control), and throws up and then sleeps in between. Her blood pressure is holding up well and she runs a low grade fever. Her pulse has been the most troublesome, but it hasn't stopped any of her treatments. GO JEANINE!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Treatment #5

I've just come home after a long stint with Jeanine. Yesterday, she officially worried the nurses. She counted four times they called the doctor. Several of those times I thought they were overreacting, but one time, Jeanine had me worried. Her temperature headed up to 37.7... not terribly high (around 100 degrees F), but her pulse was racing at 165. Her blood pressure has remained fairly stable. She has not dipped below 100 systolic and 50 diastolic.

She had chills for the first time, during this hospital stay, last night and we determined it was because the Demerol that is used to control them was not administered soon enough. If they do it exactly 1 hour from the time she ends her chemo, she gets cold, but not the horrible shakes.

Before I go back she will have had treatment number 6. She says that the time is crawling despite the fact that she sleeps most of the time. More later.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chemo starts

Jeanine's chemo began at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. Which means at this point, she has had 3 treatments.

She has so far managed to skip the chills with the help of medicine, but has added cold sweats to her list of symptoms. With her very 1st treatment, her first symptom was extreme tiredness. She has added nausea, vomiting, heartburn. Her blood pressure has been good so far and her pulse, not unexpectedly, a little high. Her temperature is normal.

Her doctor came to see her last night and told her that he had talked to the radiologist. There was no change in her tumors after the last batch of chemo.

I'm heading back to her bedside soon after enjoying a few hours of sleep at home.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


No chemo for Jeanine tonight. They will wait til the doctor sees her tomorrow.

Back to the Hospital

Jeanine was called at 9 am today and told to come into the hospital. She told them it would be 2 hours (she was just waking up after a horrible night's sleep). They sounded all offended and told her to get there as soon as she could.

We arrived about 11 am and spent the next 5-6 hours waiting. The doctor had left no instructions and was in a meeting. About 4 pm, things started happening... an EKG, some blood work and I left about 6 pm as she was heading down to get her picc line. We expect, but haven't been told, that she will start HD-IL2 (her chemo) tonight. She is not at all looking forward to it, but she has been so bored for the last 7 hours, I think that even chemo is starting to look good.

I will stay tonight and see how her symptoms are with this chemo. We have no idea what to expect. If she starts out with a bang, I want to be there to help her out. More as soon as I know and when I get home.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jeanine's Appointment

Jeanine went to see her oncologist today. The report from the radiologist said that nothing has changed, but... the sizes listed seemed to indicate shrinkage of the growths in the liver. The doctor was going to call and check which was right, but didn't get the info before Jeanine left.

Regardless, he suggested that she needed to go through the treatment again. He said that in his mind her body handled it well and he felt like it was the best course to take. She agreed and is supposed to be called by the hospital sometime tomorrow when a bed is available. So tomorrow is the day that she reports back to the hospital.

Once again she will be trying for 14 treatments. The only thing different is that she will probably start the treatments sooner. She won't need to do the stress test again. The doctor is unsure how her body will react to this second set of treatments. He says that there is a big range of reactions, from virtually no reaction to worse reactions than before and much sooner.

She is, of course, none to happy with what she heard and will probably have a restless night and a good cry. But she knew that this was the most likely scenario and will do what she has to do. I am sure she would ask you to remember her in your prayers tonight and, for that matter, the next 10 days.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Primary Singing Time

No pictures to go with this.

Last week I had the best idea for singing time. The almond trees were in bloom and when the weather stays cool as it has for the most part this year, they bloom with no leaves on the tree. They do look like popcorn popping. I had it all mapped out. I would ask someone in our neighborhood if I could cut off a branch or two and then I would show the children the flowering branches and we would talk about the song "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree". Afterward, I would pull out a branch loaded with popcorn balls and let the children pick popcorn balls (which they would be able to eat) and we would sing the song associated with that popcorn ball. Unfortunately my weekend last week was so busy, that I could not follow through with this inspiration.

Fast forward to last night. It was fairly late in the evening when I decided that I would try to do this activity. I tried to drive by the homes with the almond trees in their yards, but couldn't see if they were in bloom. I decided to do this activity anyway and I would go by around 9 am today, Sunday, and ask for a branch or two.

I got up at 7 am and started the popcorn balls. I used dental floss to prepare to hang them on the tree. I cut them, made loops and then formed popcorn balls around them. While I was making them, I made sure to make enough for all the children in Primary. So far so good. I went looking for flowers. Uh Oh! There are no flowering almond trees in my neighborhood. The rain yesterday washed off the last of the blooms. While I was out, I went to the Church and made sure the popcorn balls would stay on the tree branch I had cut last week and used and stored in the Primary cabinet.

New plan! I found a picture of a flowering apricot tree on the internet and prepared it for display.

I got to Church and went to hang the popcorn balls on the tree. The tree branch kept falling out of it's stand. Eventually, I was able to balance the popcorn balls and they stayed on the tree without it falling. Pretty frustrating, but success at last.

Primary Singing Time started and we practiced the current song and then I pulled out the picture and explained the song a little bit and then pulled out the tree. It kept falling down. Thankfully a very helpful teacher held the tree up for the entire singing time. Another problem, the popcorn balls kept falling off the tree. I had ended up tying them with ribbons onto the tree. Another issue, it was not impossible, but with my time constraints, improbable that I could affix numbers to the popcorn balls to match the songs we were going to sing (they were all numbered). Each child picked a popcorn ball and a number between 1 and 10. Despite all my issues with this project, it turned out fine and the children enjoyed it a lot and tried hard to sing well.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Sweet Surprise

Each year, I get surprised by these sweet hyacinths. I planted them long ago and forget about them after they bloom each year. They are a beautiful, sweet smelling, and colorful reminder that spring has arrived in Arizona.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

1000 Visits

There have been over 1000 independent visits to my site and I'd love to say that it was my marvelous writing skills, crafting skills, or ideas for church callings. I know better. Jeanine has many friends. Before Jeanine's illness I had accumulated about 300 visits in about 3 months. In the past 3 weeks, I have had 700 visits. Thank you for keeping track of her this way.

I talked to her today. She said with all the new skin that was under the peeling red stuff, it made it easier for her to get just a slight sunburn when she went out walking to get a little exercise. She has done some shopping and a few other things but she still finds herself tired.

She has been to get the scans of her chest and was told that they were able to get a complete picture of the liver also. She has not been to see her doctor for official results. That will be next Monday.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Update on Jeanine #1

Just a note: Jeanine's appointment with the doctor will be next Monday.

Update on Jeanine

Jeanine seems to be doing quite well. She has lost about 15 pounds since coming home, not due to her diet, but due to the swelling she has had in her body. It seems to be going away for the most part.

She called me today and told me that she will have a scan of her chest Wednesday morning and hopes to get an appointment with her doctor on Friday. I'll let you know what she finds out.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Sweet Surprise

I had a busy day today. It was my first grandchild's baptism and 5 moms and leaders and 5 girls delivered all our bouquets from our fundraiser and we, of course, partied after the baptism. I arrived home to this...

Thanks to you sweet people who heart attacked my door and made my day absolutely perfect.

P.S. I went into the house to get my camera and left the door open. When I came back and closed it so I could take pictures, about half of the hearts fell off. It doesn't look near as nice as it did when I first saw it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day #10

Jeanine is home and handling life on her own. She is tired, but so happy to be home. She is able to move around pretty well and so is planning on fixing her own simple meals. Her doctor has told her that there are no restrictions on visitors, so if you have been chomping at the bit to visit her, you can. Just give her a call first.

I probably won't update anything for a few days. She will be getting tests done next week and then visit the doctor to see where to go from there. I'll let you know what she finds out.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day #9

I have just returned from the hospital and all is going well with Jeanine. She is slowly regaining her strength and has lost some of her symptoms while others are "raising their ugly heads."

She has an issue where her reddened skin is now becoming a rash complete with the requisite itching. Jeanine says that it is tolerable. Less tolerable is her sore mouth which makes eating or drinking unappetizing and painful. She has found a magic mouthwash which makes those sores less of a problem.

We got more information on why her chemo was stopped. She was told that her oncologist felt that with one more treatment she would go septic which my dictionary says is a bacterial infection. It doesn't sound pretty. It would also mean that she would have been sent to the ICU and been in very serious condition. We have gotten copies of her latest blood work and have found that her white blood cell count is very, very low.

The doctor expects to send her home tomorrow, Wednesday, and she is hoping to go to her house. I think that she is capable of staying there by herself if she has some meals brought in to her for a few days. We are also looking for a shower chair for her to borrow for a couple of days until her strength is closer to normal.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day #8 - afternoon

When I got back to see Jeanine this morning, the nurse came in and said that Jeanine is done with her treatments until the next time she goes to the hospital. The doctor said that her blood pressure, temp, pulse and blood test results show that she is on the edge of things going very wrong and he doesn't want to take that chance. She was able to make it through 12 treatments which was 2 past the minimum of 10 (and 2 less than the maximum.)

So Jeanine is now in the hospital recuperating from her treatments. Her skin that was reddened is now peeling much like you would from a sunburn. She is exhausted and sleeps a lot. She also says everything just hurts.

We will probably bring her back to our house for us to take care of her until she is able to care for herself. We are not sure when that will be. When this first began, we were told that she would probably spend 24-48 hours recuperating at the hospital, go home for 10 days and then return to the hospital for another round of treatments. We will see, as you have seen over the last 8 days, things can change drastically at a moment's notice.

Day #8

Jeanine had a rough day yesterday. I was told by my sister who sat with her that there were hours of throwing up and discomfort. She completed treatment #12 at 2:00 am this morning. She had the chills for a while, but basically did ok. She was able to sleep most of the night. Her treatments have lengthened to 16 hours between each treatment (at least at this point). That means her next treatment would be about 6:00 this evening.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day #7 - midmorning

My sister is now with Jeanine and has called me and told me a few more things. Jeanine's blood pressure did not get as low as we thought. The nurse on duty was not an oncology nurse and did not feel that it was advisable to start treatment.

Jeanine started her 11th treatment at 9:40 this morning and things seemed to go well.

Day #7 - morning

Jeanine's status as a "rock star" has been rescinded. When they went to give her her 11th treatment at 1 am this morning, her blood pressure was in the dangerous territory and kept falling. They were preparing to send her to the ICU, but her blood pressure stabilized and she was able to stay in her room.

She is waiting now for the doctor to come. The decision will be his as to whether to do another treatment now, at some distant point in time or not at all. I've not seen her today so I can't say how she's looking. but she sounded very tired. She says it is because they monitored her so closely that she got no sleep at all last night.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day #6

It is official! Jeanine is a "rock star"!

I just got back from Jeanine's bedside and that is what the chemo nurse was telling her. The Oncologist has always said that 10 treatments are their preferred minimum with 14 being ideal. The nurse told us that most people cannot make it past 9. Jeanine has passed that benchmark. I left as she was preparing to receive #10. They have not had to postpone any of her treatments, so she is right on schedule and if all goes well she will finish her treatments about 1 am on Monday morning.

Her blood pressure remains stable. Her chills are less severe as they treat her with the Demerol. Her nausea is not too bad. Her biggest issue is just plain tiredness. She dozes most of the time being awake only when she is close to her chemo treatment. At that point, she will try to walk the halls or take a shower in preparation for the weakness to return full force.

She is also having a hard time eating. Her throat is very dry and the foods that she enjoys such as orange juice are just too acidic for her throat. In the last few days, I have only seen her eat a child's handful of food. She continues to sip water which is helping a great deal. She is also starting to swell a little. This is a major side effect of the treatment and one that they watch carefully.

She heard about the ward fast and is very appreciative. Family, let's join in!

Embroidered Pillowcases

We will have a station break while my sister who arrived last night stays with Jeanine. I will update you on her condition later on tonight.

Probably about the time Jeanine had her kidney removed 12 years ago, I started this...

Embroidering a pillowcase, tea towels or a quilt block was an activity that I saw my mother do whenever she was waiting at hospitals or in the doctor's offices. She taught me and I love to do it also, but I rarely do it any other time except when I am waiting in hospitals or in doctor's offices. It takes me a long time to finish a project and this one had been buried in a huge pile in my bedroom in a corner of the room that was rarely looked at. I dug them out a few months ago.

But look at them now! With the time I have spent in the hospital the last 5 days, I have actually been able to finish the second case. The first was already done. The first is lying on the sheet, the other is actually on a pillow (I bet you could have figured that out without me saying a thing!)

Thanks for looking!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Day #5

Jeanine has kept the status quo. Nothing was particularly worse or better. She tried some meds to help her feel better and they helped somewhat. She also is finding food very unappealing. She only takes a few bites each meal, but she is drinking water which is good. She has not had any issues with swelling for which we are most grateful. Her blood pressure which ranges around 100 over 55 is considered good. 80 as the top number is when the doctor will start worrying. She has a low grade fever most of the time. Unless she is in the middle of her chills, we are keeping the room at a balmy 63 - 65 degrees. The one thing I am noticing is that there is less and less time when she feels fairly good. What once was a 3 hour window has shrunk to a 1 1/2 - 2 hour period of time when she feels fairly good.

Even so, the Oncologist says that she is doing better than most of his patients who receive this treatment and we attribute it to your prayers and her name being placed on the rolls of many temples, plus the blessing she received. Thanks to all of you for your concern and prayers.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day #4 - evening

It seems that Jeanine's body adds a new twist to her cancer treatment each time she has one. At the 1 am treatment this morning, it seemed that all was going like it had before so I left about 4 am to get some rest. At 5:30, she added puking to the list of side effects. She was nauseated this afternoon also and even though she got nausea medicine, she still ended up throwing up. Sorry Linda!

She had another treatment at 9:00 am. This time she wasn't just cold, she had the shakes and ended up taking meds for that and adding it to the scheduled meds to help her through this treatment.

Even so, she tells me that it is still manageable and even though she hates the side effects, she is keeping her eyes on the goal. The Oncologist came in tonight and said that her body seems to be handling it as well as can be expected and she will stay on her schedule of every 8 hours unless something changes.

Day #3

Jeanine's stress test turned out great. The cardiologist said that her heart was in good shape and could handle the pressures that might be placed on it. So Jeanine started her treatments (and unlike what we have read and told others, it is considered chemo) on Wednesday at about 4:30 pm. Her reactions have been many.

It started about 1 hour after the first treatment. She, the lady who is always toasty, became very cold. She felt like it started in the bones and moved out. On the other hand, she felt like the skin portion of her body was hot. We covered her with blanket after blanket and turned the temperature way up. Her face has turned very red and they told us that by the time she is finished, she will look the color of a boiled lobster.

She became quite restless. She has had headaches. She has had issues with lightheadedness. Her blood pressure has dipped to about 110 over 54. Her pulse had risen to 150 at one point. All of these issues have come and gone with none staying very long (at this point.)

Yet, her nurse wrote on her white board hung in the room that she is handling chemo well and there has been little to no reaction to the chemo, whatever that means. I suspect that it means that their is nothing happening that is unexpected or is dangerous to her health. Everything we have heard indicates that the chemo will produce cumulative effects, so we think things might get worse before they get better.

I headed home about 4:00 am and will get back there before her next chemo treatment at 9:30 am. All the nurses have indicated that the expectation is that the 4th or 5th treatment is when everything becomes very, very difficult.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day #2 - Evening

Nothing much to report. I didn't end up going back to the hospital, but watched my grandchildren as their parents went to see Jeanine.

Jeanine had the first half of her nuclear stress test this afternoon and the second will be at 9 am tomorrow. Her doctor is expected around 9:30-10 am and we are pretty certain he'll get things started. I plan on being there to see the doctor and then stay. We'll see what happens after that.

More tomorrow.

DAY #2 - Midday

I went to see Jeanine today and so did many others. We had a great time meeting with some of the women from her Ward and with our nephew and his wife. Today she is open to visitors, though she did kick me out so that she could take a nap this afternoon.

Her Oncologist and his PA stopped by and explained a little more about the process. From the sounds of things once she starts the treatment, she probably will want limited visits and will spend most of her time sleeping.

The Oncologist's PA put it this way.... "I talked to the doctor and he said that you are a very nice women. He wondered how you would be later on this week." As they explained, it is a very, very unpleasant treatment.

We also spoke to the caseworker who said that one of the side effects of the treatment is extreme tiredness. She said that for the first little while after she returns home, she will be so tired and exhausted, that she will need to have her basic needs taken care of for her. She will need help preparing food, etc. We'll see if we think she needs someone there or if having meals delivered and people stopping in will be good enough. We should know by the end of the treatment.

More this evening.


I am going to take a short hiatus from Jeanine's treatments to talk about my problems with my Ipod.

I normally charge my Ipod through a speaker system. I rarely connect it to my computer unless I want to change what is on my Ipod. Just like many people, I have way too many songs, photos and videos to all fit on my Ipod at once. After Christmas, I needed to take off the Christmas music and get more of my movies on the Ipod. I hooked up the Ipod as normal and got a message which, of course, I can't remember that basically said that it couldn't find the device. Now what? I searched the internet and found someone who said that they disconnected their Ipod, restarted the computer, reset their Ipod to factory settings and then was able to reload the music, videos, etc. back on to their Ipod. I did that and it worked!!!

Fast forward to yesterday. I had decided to load different things on my Ipod and connected it to the computer. Same error message. I forgot about restarting the computer, but followed the other processes. I wiped out my entire Ipod and tried to get it to sync, but after hours nothing. I then remembered to restart my computer, but had to leave. When I got back home, I decided to check for updates before working on my Ipod problem and... What was this? There was an update for Itunes that fixed the inability for the Ipod to be recognized. I loaded the new software update, hooked up the Ipod and it synced as smoothly as it ever has.


Day #2

It looks like Jeanine's treatment will be waiting another day. She had an echocardiogram early this morning and they told her that the nuclear tests on her heart will need to be spaced over two days. She'll have the resting test today, then do her treadmill stress test tomorrow. After that hopefully this all will be started.

She said she had a rough night with little sleep. I suspect stressing somewhat about what was to come, being in a different place, the hospital bed, the noises and the hard pillows are all contributing factors.

More later!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day #1 - the end of the day

As we were told, today was a preparation day. Jeanine called me at 3:00 pm. The hospital had finally called. She was in her room by 4:00 and spent the next hour unpacking and setting up the room how she wanted it.

Her first order of business was an EKG and that was followed by visits from the Cardiologist's Nurse Practitioner and then the Cardiologist. They informed her that she needed a stress test. She opted for the treadmill stress test over the chemical stress test, though if she is unable to do the treadmill test, they'll switch over. She didn't want any more drugs causing stress to her body than is already expected. They also talked about a ultrasound of her heart. Those will be done tomorrow morning.

Next an orderly came and took her to get her PICC line. It is a catheter that is placed in a vein in her upper arm and feeds into a large vein close to the heart. I suppose it makes it easier to disseminate the chemicals throughout the body, though I don't know for sure. She said it was one of the easier pokes she has had since it was guided by ultrasound and lidocaine was injected to ease the discomfort. She has horrible veins and typically has been poked between 3-8 times before someone can get blood. A PICC line allows them to get blood from her without her being poked over and over again. Her only problem from this procedure is an ache in her arm and when they inject saline in the line she gets a funny metallic taste in her mouth.

On that same trip, Jeanine also got a chest x-ray.

Except for a urine sample and vials of blood, that is all that was done to her today. She did not see her Oncologist, but expects to see him in the morning.

Many friends dropped by to see her today and she enjoyed their visits. When they start the Proleukin, though, we are not sure what kind of reception she'll give to visitors. Everything we've heard and read has led us to believe that she will be pretty miserable.

We are expecting that the Doctor will start the doses pretty quickly after the stress test (if all is ok.) She is nervous, but handling things well.

Day #1

You know the old adage, "You hurry up to wait." That is what is happening now. Jeanine is waiting for the hospital to call and say they have a bed ready for her. She was up at 5:30, had her house cleaned, her laundry done, beds made, and bag packed early this morning. She's threatening to go to the movie and I don't blame her. More later.