13 November 2009

Three Days Out of the Norm

Time to update.

Tuesday was blood draw day. The lab results were frankly quite surprising. His sodium had dropped another point and his WBC, RBC, and hematocrit levels were all low. Definitely not what we were expecting or hoping for. (Oh, and his CO2 levels were high which indicates dehydration. This has always been a mystery because of his high amount of fluid intake. Go figure.) We got an email off to the nurse at HCI, but I am sure because Tuesdays are immensely busy for them, we did not hear back.

On Wednesday morning, Ford woke up with a fierce headache, body aches, and a slight temperature. My heart sank and the dread began. I prayed that he was not coming down with the flu, especially H1N1. This time I called our nurse at HCI. She was with patients and another assistant took the message. As Ford's fever began to rise, I sent another email. Then I began to do my own remedying.

Many who read this may poo-poo the idea of homeopathic, naturopathic, and "grandma's" remedies (even Ford sometimes calls it "witch doctoring"). With the direction health care, insurance, and pharmaceuticals are heading, someday all of these may not seem as foolish or ineffective. I could editorialize quite a bit on this topic, however, I will refrain and continue with the update.

After the first few things we did, his fever began to subside and his headache started to ease up. Then after another hour or so, the body aches were gone. His temperature remained stable most of the rest of the day.

The nurse at HCI got back with us and we kept in touch throughout the day to watch his progress. Nurse Debbi really is remarkable! She was good enough to give me the reassurance that I needed at the time.

Except for being tired, Ford seems to have recovered from whatever it was that was going on. It may have been a mild virus. Or it may have been from the lower sodium levels. It may even have been a lack of sufficient water intake and soreness from an over-aggressive Frisbee workout the day before. Nevertheless, we cleaned and sprayed around to try and keep germs at a minimum.

Yesterday was Ford's appointment with the pulmonologist, Dr. Alward. I enjoy the visits with Dr. Alward. He always wears shirts that make a statement, definitely not the normal standard issue for doctors. It's great and makes me smile. Dr. Alward is a pull-no-punches type of person. He tells things straight out and seldom leaves us guessing about the situation. He checked Ford out and reviewed what has gone on from the beginning of Ford's blood clots. He told us that with the Factor V Leiden issue and history, Ford has a 7-fold increase for blood clots over the normal person. With his history, he also is at greater risk for Coumadin failure, i.e. having blood clots even though he is on the blood thinner. With that said, Dr. Alward recommended that Ford begin taking Coumadin and when his INR levels are within the right range, he can stop receiving the daily Lovenox injections. Neither one of us will be sorry to see that daily routine go! And Coumadin is quite a bit less expensive than the Lovenox. Dr. Glenn at HCI gave her approval with that recommendation so Ford will begin that transition today. Hoorah! Also, instead of the weekly blood draw, he will need to have his INR checked (a finger prick) every few days until the INR is okay and then it goes to weekly, then spaces out from there. Because both of us are now on Coumadin, we asked about a home testing INR kit, but Dr. Alward nixed that idea. Too bad. Dr. Alward also told us that there is a new medication that has been used outside the USA for three years now that is having better results with less monitoring necessary. No info on how long it will be before it will be used here.

Ford stayed home again today just to give himself enough recovery time. He has pushed himself quite a bit after his chemo treatments to keep a full day at work and to get his physical activity level up to par and keep it there. In my meager opinion, he needed the break.

Other than all of this, all is well. We are greatly blessed!

03 November 2009

November Update

As Ford's health has improved, so has his activity level which means that we haven't posted as much as we have in the past. So just to bring things up-to-date, here is some of what has happened and is happening...

Each week since the 17th of March 2009, Ford has had a blood draw in order to keep tabs on what his body is doing. Except for the weeks that he has had appointments up at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, those labs have been done at the Intermountain Health Care Lab next to Utah Valley Regional Health Center. This means that we have gone in every week for almost 8 months. The patient service people, the dear phlebotomists, and even the volunteers have come to know us by name and by sight. Each one has been wonderful to us. They have endeared themselves to us and we are appreciative and grateful to them.

Each week we make two trips to the lab. The first is to take the blood test. The second is to retrieve the results in order to
see, as Ford puts it, " if I passed the test." Each week there have been H's and L's beside some name and number indicating that his levels in that area are either high or low. Many weeks this have varied as to what was out of the normal range. Most always it has been the WBC (white blood cells), the sodium levels, and the CO2 levels (which indicate dehydration). Sometimes it has been bilirubin, RBC (red blood cells), lymphocytes, or a variety of other things. Last week all of the levels were in the normal range! What a great surprise!!

Within two weeks (actually 9 days and believe me, we are indeed counting), Ford will return to the pulmonologist to make a decision whether to make the change to coumadin, thus ending the daily Lovenox injections in the stomach, or whether to take him off blood thinners altogether. This will be another big step toward his recovery. Hurrah!!!

Ford has been able to ride his trike to work the past few days and will continue to ride as long as the weather holds out.

His brain processing ability is a little challenging to him still, but I see improvements a little at a time. Chemo brain is one of the negative effects that he has experienced.

At work and at his Temple assignment, he has been given challenges that have pushed his capacity and this is good.

For Halloween, we treated ourselves and went shopping for some much needed clothing for Ford. Along the way we did some Christmas shopping. With the bit of shopping I had already completed, we are almost done with Christmas shopping. We have simplified in so many ways and our daughters have made it very easy on us. For the past few years, the two older daughters, with their spouses, have decided to ask for gifts that help them in their emergency preparedness. Our youngest has been very modest in her requests. They all have let us know far in advance what is on their "wish lists" and this allows us to budget much better. We have made some of the gifts we exchange standard traditions. One family has prepared photo calendars with pictures of different family members for each month. We also have received beautiful photo books of our first granddaughter with pictures from the whole year. And, we carry on a tradition that Nannie and Poohpa blessed our own daughters with which is princess dresses for the granddaughters. We had one to buy last year, we have two for this year, and next Christmas, it will increase to three. That is very exciting and we feel greatly blessed for this opportunity.

Our family loves games and there seems to be at the very least, one game given to someone. Last year's favorites turned out to be Robo Rally and Bohnanza (fondly called The Bean Game). Each of our families have our own collections and we really enjoy getting together to play. There is definitely a great variety to choose from.

In the coming weeks, we will have the opportunity to be with a lot of family and friends. We have a nephew coming from Texas to enter the Missionary Training Center. Ford's sister and her husband will be accompanying him. We also have a nephew coming home from a mission to the Phillipines. One of my college roommates is coming from California to bring her daughter to SLC for a medical visit and will stay over for a couple of days. And our newest granddaughter will be blessed in a couple of weeks. Oh, and of course, there is Thanksgiving.
I believe that Thanksgiving and the 4th of July are two times of the year that rank at the top as favorites for me.

That's all for now. Looking forward to hearing from many of you as throughout the holiday season from now to the new year. WOW! is it ever coming fast!