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T-1: Thankful!

Quick update….Surprisingly, Todd slept well last night without any side effects from the chemo. Yay God! A day of rest was scheduled for him, though he did get his pneumonia medication which is administered via IV every 28 days. He slept most of the day as they still have him on antinausea medications around the clock which make him groggy. His body needs as much rest as possible.

Please pray……tomorrow is TRANSPLANT DAY!!!! This is it!!! Around 2pm ( I think), Todd will get his new cells. We pray for a smooth and BORING day, without a seizure or a trip to the ICU! 🙂 We also pray for the transplant to be successful, of course. There are a few groups meeting to pray specifically for this event tomorrow. Would you set aside time in your day to meet with God on Todd’s behalf? HE has given us the amazing gift of prayer. Let’s participate in it together! Will you join me? 🙂

Lord, I’m so thankful for these struggles that you’ve brought us through which daily present a better awareness of who you really are and your deep love for us, and a better understanding of what is important in life; loving You and loving others. I give you my husband, Todd. I can do nothing to control this situation, and choose to trust You and Your perfect plan for his life. I will continue to put my hope and trust in You, the one and only God regardless of the outcome of this transplant.

T-2: Chemo, we’re done with you!!!

Last night was a pretty rough night for Todd. I can’t imagine you’ve got much in your stomach after having the opportunity to expell its contents approximately eight times. Ugh! The nurse moved him to his permanent room (#4326) around 10pm, where he spent the next several hours being sick until eventually falling asleep early this morning. The nausea and vomiting subsided this morning so he decided to eat breakfast and slept a majority of the day. His face is slightly swollen from the big push of hydration in his system. The Cytoxin can cause bleeding of the bladder, so they’re making sure they flush his kidneys really well. I suppose we can expect the same effects tonight/tomorrow morning? Although, Todd should be feeling better by Friday, Transplant day!

Today marks a pretty significant day….the LAST time Todd will ever receive chemo!!! I have confidence that this transplant/boost will be different. That’s a God thing; let me tell you!

I brought Darby into see Todd yesterday, and she got a chance to get a few snuggles in while reading a book.

And then later, Mommy got her photo opportunity with Daddy! 🙂

T-3: “Near to the Heart of God.”

Frequently, we receive great words of encouragement from friends and family via email, a phone call, and comments on this blog. These words lift us and make us feel loved. Today I was touched by something my Aunt Marie sent, which encapsulates how we should live our lives especially during challenging times. Tell me what you think about this…..

Dr. David Jeremiah’s devotion encouraged my heart today…I hope it encourages yours, as well…

Near to the Heart of God

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.
Hebrews 10:22 (NIV)

Recommended Reading
Hebrews 10:19-23

One day in 1901, the much-loved pastor of Chicago’s First Presbyterian Church, Cleland Boyd McAfee, was shaken by the news that his two beloved nieces had died from diphtheria. Sitting down in pain and in prayer, he penned the words and music of “Near to the Heart of God.”

There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God. A place where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God. A place where we our Savior meet, near to the heart of God.

On the day of the double funeral, McAfee sang his newly composed hymn outside his brother’s quarantined house. The following Sunday, the First Presbyterian choir sang this song as a communion hymn. It expresses a great truth. In our search for inner peace we often go to resources outside ourselves, but real peace with God is found on our knees as we draw near Him and near to His heart.1

O Jesus, blest Redeemer, sent from the heart of God, hold us who wait before Thee near to the heart of God.
Cleland Boyd McAfee

1Adapted from Near to the Heart of God by Robert J. Morgan (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010), installment for September 25.

Todd’s thoughts:
I must say that I feel more at peace now than I did in August/September. Over the last few months, I’ve been wrestling with a lot of questions, most of which start with “why?” I’ve questioned my own performance as a Christian and even my salvation. I’m slowly re-learning that I can’t earn it; it is God’s gift of grace that we can choose to accept. As someone who is stubbornly self-reliant, it is very hard for me to accept something without doing something to earn it or work for it. The more I read, the more I understand what God wants from us. Through this, I feel nearer to Him.

Other updates:
My cold turned out to be not the whopper that many of you out there have experienced. I had a few days of congestion and phlegm production, but it didn’t get into my chest. In fact, I blew my nose a few minutes ago and it was mostly clear!

On the chemo front, I’m just waiting for the Cytoxan side effects. The infusion went fine today, and Dr. Carroll said that most patients experience the nausea on the day after infusion. Tomorrow will bring something, for better or worse.

Location: I’m told that a room is being triple cleaned for me over in the BMT unit, and I will move over there later tonight or tomorrow. My preference is tomorrow, since I’m settled in nicely here for tonight. Once I get moved, I’ll have a room number for those who want to send cards.

T-4

Things continue to go smoothly for Todd. Thank you, Lord! Today, Todd completed his fifth day of Fludarabine and Campath chemo. Tomorrow and Wednesday will be very large doses of Cytoxan, a pretty potent drug which has nausea and vomiting as the main side effects. It also suppresses the immune system. Todd reminded me he received this same drug as a chemotherapy last January, and recalled that he tolerated it (a much lower dose) fairly well with the exception of occasionally feeling nauseous. In the morning, they will start him on a high dose of hydration to get his kidneys ready to flush the Cytoxan out of his system, which will start around 12pm and will finish two hours later. At this high dose, this drug is also known to cause bleeding of the bladder, so they keep a heavy and steady amount of fluids pushed through his IV. They also monitor his urine output for blood content.

Thank you, Lord for the peaceful reentry into this transplant process, and for the wonderful, friendly, and familar nursing staff with whom we’ve been reunited. We pray for continued strength and trust in You only, for we don’t know what the next few days or weeks will bring. Although we pray for an uneventful stay, we recognize we have no control over the details and desire to put ourselves in Your hands.

T-6: Yawn.

This is Todd, filling in for Jen today. I know it’s strange to be hearing from me at this point in the process. What’s even more wacky is that people might be used to hearing from Jen at this point, since this my third transplant.

Today was another uneventful day, and we praise God for that! The way this week started, I/we weren’t looking forward to being back in the hospital for 3-4 weeks. I remembered how I felt after chemo last time, and I’m thankful that so far it has been quite the opposite. We’re told that most patients don’t have the same side effects if they’ve had Campath before. As Jen mentioned, I did have chills and nausea on Thurday with my first dose, but the last two days have been pretty smooth. I sleep a lot because they give me 50 mg of benadryl before I start, once during the 6-hour infusion, and once after. So that’s why I don’t remember everything right now. This is different from the confusion that happens with engraftment after the transplant, which is another bundle of fun by itself. I can’t wait to find out where my brain takes me this time!

I’m also happy that these 5 days of Campath and fludarabine are relatively easy, because I’ll have two big days of Cytoxan coming up. I’ve had Cytoxan before, but at a dosage that’s 1/6 of the dose I’ll be getting this time. This dose is standard for bone marrow transplants. Dr. Carroll thinks that this combination of drugs will give us the best chance for a durable engraftment. Cytoxan also has a side effect of suppressing the immune system, but it doesn’t have a long-lasting damaging effect on the bone marrow function itself. The addition of Cytoxan is the reason for the extended hospital stay beyond the shorter 2 weeks we were initially told.

T-7

Well, Todd survived day one of chemo (yesterday) with only a few side effects. About half way into the Campath he experienced chills, fever, vomiting, low blood pressure and a high heart rate. According to the nurse, his symptoms were pretty mild and didn’t require additional medication to be managed. Apparently there are some patients that have chills that are so violent you have to hold them down in bed so they don’t fall out. Yikes!

The doctor increased Todd’s hydration this morning because he believed Todd was slightly dehydrated. The IV hydration was started late morning and has been running all day. There have been lots of opportunities for Todd to try out his handy-dandy urinal 🙂 This makes the nurses REALLY happy!

Right now, he has approximately an hour of chemo remaining and he’s been tolerating it very well. Yesterday should have been the worst day with the following days of chemo being better tolerated. No chills, no fever, no vomiting, etc. today, so it’s been nice to see him not suffer as much. Although, he did inform me this morning that he doesn’t remember anything about yesterday other than being cold. I guess that’s a good thing. I’d rather him not remember some of these details anyway.

Some people have been asking about Darby and the people caring for her during this time. My mom willingly took off work and flew up to watch Darby this weekend, as the grandparents are in the process of driving out. My mom says that Darby has been a delight and super fun to watch. She also says that Darby definitely knows what she wants such as certain books of her choosing, as well as things that she doesn’t want such as mushy blueberries. It’s been a great peace of mind knowing that Darby feels comfortable with grandma, so that I can spend as much time here with Todd. Thanks Mom!

The grandparents will arrive this evening to be here to support and encourage us for as long as we need them 🙂 Thanks Gpa and Gram. We appreciate your willingness to drive out to California again and put life in CO on hold for us! We love you!

Here we go…T-8.

Todd was admitted this morning at 7:30am. Obviously, there was no postponement of treatment or transplant due to his cold. Although the doctor is aware, there is no major concern at this time. I will trust that God manages Todd’s cold because this aspect of the transplant process still makes me nervous.

Todd will begin chemo this morning with a regimen of Fludarabine for 30 minutes and Campath for 6 hours. He will receive these two drugs for the next 5 days. Side effects include low blood pressure, chills, fevers, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Needless to say, he’s not entirely looking forward to this aspect of treatment.

Currently, the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) unit is full, so he has a private room on the oncology unit which overlooks Sutter’s Fort (kinda cool! I’m watching the horse and carriage move by as I type). Next week, once a patient is discharged, Todd will be moved to a room on the BMT unit which will overlook the construction site where the enormous red cranes reside. He will have BMT nurses and only Dr. Carroll following him throughout this entire process regardless of the room he is in.

We are both feeling tired, but ok. Last night we enjoyed an incredible meal (Thanks Laurie!) and some great time sharing our hearts and needs, followed by a great time of prayer. I can’t explain how comforting it is to be surrounded by people who love you, while spending time in prayer with our Father. We are carrying that peace with us this morning as we, yet again, start this hard process. We don’t know what the next several months hold, but have confidence that God does. And, we’re so thankful for God and the hope that we have in Him. Without Him, I think times like these would be unbearable.