Devine site

A little bit about my day, my family, and my knitting.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Temporary Parole

Today was a GOOD day! Gerry was released from the hospital this morning and if he could run (which he couldn't, of course) he would have. We are in the hotel where he slept for 4 1/2 hrs this afternoon (and I got in 2 1/2 hours). Then I helped him shower (and we all know how wonderful a nice, warm shower can be), put on his new pjs and now he is relaxing and watching an OLD movie...12 o'Clock High with Gregory Peck!

A funny little aside: On Friday afternoon Gerry was sleeping and the room was pitch black except for the light from the TV on the wall (which I kept on to partially drown out the hall sounds) and the laptop,which I was using with earphones. All of a sudden, from somewhere far away, I heard Xmas music/singing. I looked at the laptop and then the TV - not coming from either. I quietly went outside the door and there was a chorus...all dressed in costumes straight out of a Dickens story. Their voices were beautiful. They go onto various units in the hospital and sing Xmas carols. When they finished the song I went back into the room (they sang one or two more). As I entered the room Gerry woke:
Gerry: Honey?
Me: Hi, Honey. I was outside listening to a chorus sing holiday songs. You should see their costumes.
Gerry: (big sigh) - oh, thank goodness. I heard the singing and thought I had died and was in Heaven. (and he was serious, too)
So I reassured him that he was still very much apart of this world!!!

It is so nice to have him here, with no tubes, no peeing in a bottle, no flimsy, open "gown," no obe coming in every hour or two for this or that.

I have to express my sincere appreciation once again to everyone who works at MD Anderson Medical Center and the Jesse Jones Rotary House for all that they do for both of us. And my thanks and love to everyone who reads my blog and my personal e-mail updates, for all the care and support given. Most of all...thank you Alison and Becca, my girls, (and their husbands), my mother and my brother for the phone calls at all hours to check up on us, listening to me vent, and just being there for us (not just now, but always).

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I Am Not Even a Sun Worshipper!

Last week I went to the dermatologist for a checkup. Everything looked great. Just before I left I remembered that for the past few months I have had a teeny weeny little bump on my right colored, small, round. I mentioned it to the doctor. He looked at it under a magnifying thing, said it didn't look like anything but he decided to remove it "In case it IS something, it's good to get it early." He told me to call in a week because they don't call patients with results unless the biopsy is positive. Weeellll - I got a voice message today to please call the dr's, what does THAT tell you? Of course, I knew. I called the office and lo and biopsy was positive. I have a basel cell cancer, caught early. They want me to have Mohs surgery. The doctor they are referring me to did surgery on my mother's chin and let me tell you....she did an amazing job. She ended up taking a quarter sized piece out of my mom's chin (and Mom has a very tiny chin). It took over an hour, but you would never know that any surgery was done at is not noticeable and Mom is fine. I am not concerned at all, but...if this isn't a wake-up (stupid) call to wear sunscreen (and to put it on my face EVERY morning because I live in Florida and get exposed to the sun just going to my car) then I don't know what is. I was talking to Gerry's nurse practitioner today about it (she is part of the melanoma team) and she suggested that I get moisturizer with UV/SPF 15. For good measure, when we return at the end of the month I will mention all this to Dr. Kim, Gerry's oncologist...couldn't hurt!!

The Worst is Over - For Now glad yesterday is over. Gerry had such a tough day. They did not give him the 1 AM dose and decided this morning to stop the treatment for this round. His kidney and liver functions as well as his platelets indicated that he had had enough. YEA!! My poor sweetie looks a bit like the Pillsbury Dough Boy - strawberry flavored. His arms, hands, legs and feet are swollen (like an overstuffed sausage) - a gain of about 20 lbs (all fluid) and he has a flat, itchy rash on most of his body - all standard fare. He was moved to a "regular" room on the Melanoma unit tonight and begins the process of losing the water weight and hopefully getting those other levels to a better place.
I did spend the night in his room in ICU last night, sleeping on a recliner. Unfortunately, it was not one of those big cushy ones. I was up every hour to hour and a half either to help Gerry to the "bathroom" or awakened when nurses came into take his blood, check his meds, etc. However, I am glad I stayed for he wasn't steady on his feet and really needed my help. I left him around 10:30 AM to return to the hotel where I slept for 3 hrs and showered before returning to the hospital. After dinner (I ate, he took 3 bites) I came back to the hotel around 7:30 for an evening of....nothing to do!!! It feels sooooo good!
We are hoping to see Gerry discharged by Sunday the latest. He is also really, really tired as his hemoglobin is low, but he's getting pretty used to that as well. I am so happy that we will be home soon and get to enjoy the holidays in S. Florida before returning to TX at the end of the month.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

DING.....round 2

Here we are, folks, back in the ring...Gerry is in his corner...and while it seems that he is getting his butt kicked (and certainly feels that way) he is putting up a strong fight. As I write this he has just been given the 4th dose of IL-2. They gave the first two doses 8 hrs apart, then Gerry asked them to delay the third, preferring to have it at a 12 hr interval. This morning the doctor (whose turn it is in the barrel) told him that it is better that the doses be 8 hrs apart, unless the body dictates otherwise. While difficult to take, all of the side effects that Gerry has been experiencing have been normal so far....fever, chills, nausea, vomiting (just once so far, thank goodness), headache, exhaustion, and now his body is retaining fluid (also quite expected). So after that 12 hr stretch, it went back to 8 hrs b/t doses. After this dose they will check his "levels" again to determine whether or not to give him dose # 5 at 1 AM. He has slept through most of dose # 3 and so I am hoping that he is that lucky this time.

As for me...we have Gerry's laptop in the room so I periodically get on the computer. I read a whole book (though not a long one) For One More Day by Mitch Albom....EXCELLENT!!!! and quite a tear jerker (well, for me it was). I highly recommend it. I do various word puzzles. And I watch Gerry and the monitors. Today was not an easy one (though it got better each time he slept).I hate to see him like this, hurting, hot wired and such! And I am thankful to my two daughters for being there to listen to me vent when I have to.
Gerry's usual doctor just stopped by and told Gerry (as Gerry barely kept one eye open) that it he is in agreement with the other doctor as to how to admister the IL-2, that Gerry is tolerating it well, yes, the side affects that he is experiencing ARE normal, and that they will watch his kidneys to see if they get too stressed, at which time they will slow down or stop the treatment for this round. Hopefully Gerry will remember the dr. stopping by and all that he said!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


I am sitting in the ICU at MDAnderson Medical Center in Houston TX. Gerry has been sleeping for 2 1/2 hours. We got here Sunday night, Monday morning he had his chest x-ray (to make sure the port is still in place....and, it is), bloodwork and dr. appointment. We had lunch at Jason's Deli and were going to go to a movie...but the movie didn't start for over an hour so he elected to return to the hotel to wait for his admission to the hospital (they admit him after 7 PM). Once upstairs they hooked him to his IVs...the nursing staff is wonderful here. They didn't even balk when I turned the bed and moved the chair to accommodate my TV watching hubby. I stayed with him until around 10:30 last night and then walked back to my room in the Rotary House (hotel). I was up at 6 AM as Gerry likes me here by 7 so I can see the dr, hear what they hae to say, etc. I did get out around noon, had some lunch and went to Target to get him pjs. The Rotary House has a free shuttle that goes within a 3 mile radius, which includes Target, and then they dropped me off right at the Medical Center.

The first dose of Interleukin-2 was given around 9 AM. Gerry slept from 11:30 until 3 PM. He was a little light headed within the first hour of the treatment. After he slept he took about 20 minutes to perk up, and he steadily felt better (not great, but better) as time went on. The usual start to this treatment is to give it every 8 hours. The last time (3 weeks ago) Gerry took a dose every 8 hours for 5 doses and the last two were given at 12 hour intervals. He had gotten sick after the third dose that round. So this time he swore he was going to insist on getting the doses every 12 hrs. He kept saying, "They said there is no proof that more is better, " - which is true, but in his mind, by giving him the doses every 8 hours he thinks that the drs want him to take 7 or more doses. This is NOT the case. I tried to explain it to him that they give it to him every 8 hours until they feel that his body cannot do that anymore...even if it's after 3 or 4 doses. And if he gets the doses spread out at 12 hr intervals, he will fill up with that much more fluid since it's over a longer period of time and will take that much longer to lose it (at least, that's what the physician's assistant explained to me). He was NOT too happy with me..thinks I am on THEIR side. I swear, it's like dealing with a little kid. I know he is scared, frustrated that he has to go through this (with no guarantees) and since he got sick the last time, the anticipation is scary too. He did get to eat a decent dinner (which is good since he did not eat a thing since breakfast) - mostly pasta with a little butter/cheese and a little taste of apple pie. Then he worked on the computer for a bit (isn't it great....they have wireless here for our laptop) and got groggy. He told me to go back to the hotel at 6:30 PM and I was about to, but figured that I had better stay. So he's still asleep and I am glad I stayed. He woke once with chills so I was here to cover him with 3 blankets. The night shift nurse came in but I was able to keep her from waking him for temperature or anything else, and she was wonderful - she came to change the IV bags and did so ever so quietly. Meanwhile, I watched the episode of Desperate Housewives that I missed on Sunday. I can' t read cause the lights are out (I knew I should have brought my new little book light). There isn't much on tv that is interesting either, tho I might watch the rerun of last week's Grey's Anatomy. Hopefully Gerry will sleep through most of the discomfort, and then I can leave around 10:30 again.