Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cycle 2

Okay so we made it through cycle 1 of Chemo!!! Hurray!!!! At the end of the cycle Randy was hospitalized for 3 days because his neutrophils had taken a nose dive, leaving his immune system severely compromised!!! They finally decided to let him go home Saturday afternoon and told him to be careful and use common sense: wash hands, avoid being around sick people, wear a mask, etc. He was soooo glad to come home! He had to go in the next morning to the hospital here in town to have his blood drawn to check his levels. Miraculously they had gone up significantly from the day before!!! Yes!!!

Monday morning, we were orginally supposed to be in SLC for the start of cycle 2 but they delayed it because his blood levels were so low. So he called monday morning to give the Huntsman doctors the results and they were pleased with how well the numbers looked so they scheduled his next cycle for the next morning!!! So we rushed to get things together and headed up!! I was so relieved they didn't delay his treatment an entire week!!!

Cycle 2 started and the first two days went pretty good. However, by day 3, Randy was starting to feel the effects of the chemo and it wasn't the greatest of days. His veins were starting to get hard and it has been really difficult for the nurses to get the IV in. Some days they have had to poke him 2 or 3 times to try and get a good vein. This is so hard for me to sit and watch him endure the pain. In all our marriage he has never been one to hate needles but he is sure getting sick of them really quick. The exhaustion set in by about mid week and also his appetite has been non existent, and the nausea has kicked in. However, despite feeling rather crummy, he was able to get a lot of work done throughout the week while sitting in his recliner in infusion. I try to make it sound glamorous, but really after spending so many days there, we are utterly sick of the place. Although, this week was interesting because we were able to spend some time on each day chatting with some friends from Richfield who are great friends with Randy's parents.Their diagnosis is far less fortunate than Randy's and my heart goes out to them and their family. But it is nice to see a familiar face in such a gloomy place.

Friday, we celebrated our 11th anniversary in the infusion center! Out of all of our anniversaries, I think I will remember this one the most. It was actually kind of cool to sit there and look over the valley and see the Temple in the distance where we were sealed for all eternity. Never, since our wedding day, have we been back to the SLC Temple together and I have always wanted to go back. The only thing that would have made the day better was if we could've gone to the Temple. If Randy would've been feeling better I would've suggested it, but I didn't, knowing that if I would've suggested it, he would've gone despite how he felt. We were able to go to the Oquirh Mtn. Temple a week or two prior so I guess I will be grateful for that. But just seeing that beautiful Temple in the distance that morning, and being with Randy was enough to remind me of that special day 11 years ago. For not dating longer than a week before getting engaged, and spending our entire engagement 1,000 miles apart, I would say we have beat all the odds and done pretty well. Randy is such a special guy and I realize more and more each day how lucky I am to be his wife. He is so patient with me everyday and NEVER raises his voice at me or yells at me. He always is willing to wait on me hand and foot and never once complains when I ask him to do things. He is such a great Dad to our three beautiful children. He loves playing with them and teaching them every opportunity he can find. He is the best husband I could ever hope for. 

Okay, enough of my sappy love story. We eventually survived the long week and headed back home with a box of injections that Randy has to give to himself on certain days of his cycle to avoid having his white blood/neutrophils from nose diving. We are so glad about this for two reasons: we don't have to drive 4-5 hrs. for each shot, and he hopefully won't have to be hospitalized for the low blood levels!!! But it sucks he has to give himself a shot practically everyday. I couldn't do it. I don't know how he does it.

We were only home a couple days from his long week and had to turn around and head back up for his Tuesday infusion. I was really nervous about this one because I didn't know if he was going to get the high fever that he tends to get. So we got to the hospital and of course they had the hardest time getting his IV in. They drew his blood and we had to wait for the results before they could order his chemo. His blood results came back great so the shots must've helped!!! Hurray!!! But then we had to wait another hour or more for the pharmacy to bring up his chemo. Once it came, it was a quick 15 min. infusion. All the waiting is so exhausting.

The whole drive home I just kept waiting for the fever to hit. I felt like an over protective mom asking Randy every 5 min. if he felt okay. Honestly, the guy handles this all so great and doesn't complain about anything. If it were me I would be whining every second!!!

That night he didn't feel great, but the fever never came!! Nothing is worse than seeing him suffer with the high fever and chills and not knowing at what point do we call the hospital. I really did not want to have to take him to the ER again.

So here we are midweek of week 5 and half way through the chemo!!! Only 4 1/2 weeks to go!!! Somehow I have a feeling these next weeks to come are going to be more taxing on his body. It makes me grateful that he entered into this whole thing physically in the best shape he's been in in his life. I think it has helped him endure the side effects of the chemo so much better than others who aren't so great in taking care of their bodies.

Looking forward to having this chapter in my life behind me, but until then, we are going to keep fighting!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Chemo Week 2 & 3

I forgot to update last week about how week 2 went. Basically, Randy was feeling good after his first long week of treatment and started week 2 off good. He was able to go into work on Monday and get a lot of things accomplished. That night we headed up to Salt Lake (actually Herriman) to visit some friends or ours. We had a good visit and Randy was feeling really great! We were able to stay with Randy's sister who lives right by the Huntsman South Jordan Infusion center where we were able to schedule all his Tuesday infusions. Since these are short infusions, only 1 day a week, it made sense to schedule them closer and save 1 1/2 hrs. of drive time. We got up Tuesday morning and Randy showed up early and they were able to get him right in. The nurses did some blood work to make sure he was healthy enough to get chemo, and all his levels looked good so they did the infusion, which only took about 10-20 min. Overall, the whole thing with waiting for the blood work and the infusion only took about an hour. I was able to take care of some appointments of my own while he was in infusion and we finished about the same time! After his treatment he was feeling good so we headed home. We actually were regretting not having our Temple clothing with us because we had some family names we wanted to do the work for and really felt like we needed to get the Temple. We were right there next to the Temple and Randy was feeling so good we wished we were better prepared. We decided on our next Tuesday appt. we would try to be more prepared.

A little over two hours later we arrived back home and Randy had some pressing work issues he needed to take care of. I was so extremely exhausted that I sat down on my bed and immediately fell asleep for a much needed nap. After he had worked for about 3 or 4 hours, he finished up what he needed to and then suddenly he wasn't feeling very good at all. He started to get the chills and decided to rest a bit. One of the things the nurse tells us to watch for through all of this is a fever. They like to be notified if his temp. gets above 100.5. So we kept a close eye on his temp and as soon as it got to 101+ we decided we better call the on call oncologist, since it was after hours. The on call dr. was pretty concerned about his temp. and the fact that he had had a cough and a slight cold the last few weeks. She called in a script for an antibiotic and I rushed off to the pharmacy, barely making it there before they closed for the night. That night he slept pretty good and the next day he was feeling a lot better. The rest of the week he felt pretty good and decided he wanted to plan a rock climbing trip. His doctors said that if we was feeling good that he could maintain normal routines and do the things he is used to doing, as long as he listens to his body. So, he had a great weekend and was feeling pretty good for the most part. His cough was clearing up and he was ready to head into week 3!

Chemo week 3:
We woke up Tuesday morning and we were scrambling to get out the door on time. Trying to get kids ready to drop off at the neighbors and getting things in order for the day always takes longer than we think! Randy was working on some reports for work and I was scrambling trying to get ready. We finally got on the road, a tad bit late, and even had to turn around and go back for things we left. I hate when that happens!!! Anyway, we got on the road and of course I had to stop so many times to go to the bathroom. (If you know me at all, this shouldn't surprise you!!!) Story of my life!!! Sorry TMI, but I think some of you who have ever traveled or gone anywhere with me when I have one of those days where I have to pee every 5 seconds will get a laugh out of this. You know who you me sometime and I'll give you more details into the story that will have you laughing!!

We finally make it to the hospital and they get his blood sample. We have to wait a bit for the results, but not too long. The nurse comes back and says that his white blood count is low and she needs to check with the doctor before they can give him Chemo. It takes FOREVER to get a hold of the doctor. We sat there for over 2 hrs just waiting!!! Luckily I had a good book with me, but I forgot my jacket so I was freezing. They keep those infusion centers sooooo cold. I'm glad they have heated blankets or else I would've been a popsicle by the time we left.

The doctor finally called back and said he could have the Chemo treatment but that he had to come up for the next three days to get a shot that was supposed to help his bone marrow create more white blood cells. BUMMER!!!! Driving 4 1/2 hrs. everyday for the next three days was not sounding fun to me. They were trying to figure out a way for us to administer the shots on our own at home, but we had to get the insurance to pre approve it and we didn't have enough time for that. was looking like we were going to have to make the drive everyday.

They gave him his infusion which took about 15 min. and we were back in the car. This time however, we had remembered to take our Temple things with us so we could go do a session while we were right there so close. We weren't planning on his infusion taking soooo long but we decided we had enough time to get a session in at the Temple. As soon as we finished the session, Randy was feeling awful. He started getting the chills so we decided we better hurry and get home. When we got home, he immediately went to bed and stayed there all night with a fever and chills. This time he didn't call the nurse because he figured it was just a side effect of the chemo treatment and that he was already on an antibiotic so he should be fine. He woke up the next morning still feeling awful and stayed in bed until we had to leave to drive and get his shot. He took some Tylenol and his fever dropped a little and we headed up. When we got to the hospital, we told the nurse he had a temp over 102 the night before and she said we should've called the Dr. the night before to let them know about the fever. When they took his vitals then, his temp was 99 and the nurse didn't seem too concerned and gave him his shot. We got on the road again, after only being at the hospital for 20 min., and immediately he started getting the chills again. We had to stop at Target to get a blanket because he was so cold he couldn't stand having the AC on. And of course, with it being a hot summer day, I couldn't stand to drive in a steaming hot car!! The blanket was perfect and we were able to make it home without too many stops. This time I stayed away from drinking water so I didn't have to pee near as much that day, ha ha!!!

When we returned home, he ate some dinner and took his temp. and it was 101 or 102. He took some Tylenol and decided he better call the dr. It was the same dr. that was on call last week when he called.  She was worried he might have pneumonia or neutropenia and wanted him to go to the ER and have the ER doctors in town call her. Oh Goody!!! Back to the hospital! This time we just went to the hospital in town because it was the closest. We sat there for a few hours in the ER and they took his blood, did an xray of his chest and monitored his vitals. Of course the second he got there his temp dropped and he was feeling just fine. However, his blood work was not good at all. The dr. at Hunstman requested he stay at the hospital for a few days to monitor him and get some fluids and antibiotics into him.

Here it is Friday night and he has been in the hospital for 2 days. He has felt fine, but his blood count is too low. His immune system is extremely compromised and he's at a great risk for infection. They decided not to do any more of the shots, not sure why, but his oncologist said that the one dose he got was sufficient. After two days in the hospital, his white blood count has actually gone up a tad bit, however his neutrophils have decreased and that is what they are worried about.

I understand neutrophils to be immature white blood cells. I believe they are the cells in your body that first respond to fight infection. While getting chemo treatments, these blood count levels drop and need to be monitored rather closely. When the levels drop too low, it is called neutropenia, and your body is at high risk of infection. I think I explained this correctly. If there are any nurses or doctors out there who are reading this and wish to correct me if I'm wrong, please do!!! This cancer business is a whole new ball game for us! Sometimes I don't understand half the things the doctors explain to us.

The oncologist has delayed Randy's next cycle of treatment because his body is too weak, or rather his blood count is too low to do another round. They have to wait for his levels to go back up before they can treat him again. They told us yesterday that hopefully he could come home today, but that didn't happen because his neutrophils dropped, so we just have to see how each day goes. I've taken the kids up to the hospital to visit a few times, but it's hard because they have to wear a mask so as to not give him any germs.

I'm a little frustrated that his treatments have been delayed because I had everything for the next 6 weeks planned out. But  I'm glad they have such a close watch on him and want him to be as healthy as he can. Besides, it will be good to be home for a few days and get caught up.

Just being home the last two days has been wonderful!!! Braylee has been having a really hard time with me leaving her so much. When I'm here, she clings to me and gets so whiny about everything. Also, her nap schedule is totally off and I'm afraid she won't have naps anymore. Nooooooo! I love her afternoon naps! It's the only time I can really have to myself. I'm hoping if I can be home with her this next week we can get back in the groove of things. Ryker has also had a little bit of a hard time. He gets really emotional when we have to leave Randy at the hospital and he misses his daddy so much.

It has definitely been a challenge these last few months but it has also strengthened my testimony so much. As some of you know, it has been a real challenge for us to get pregnant with our last two kids. Earlier this year we decided that since we hadn't gotten pregnant on our own these last 3 yrs., that we would try some medicine that would possibly help. As soon as I started taking the medicine Randy had surgery and we found out about the cancer. Obviously the whole chemo thing has put a damper on the plans to get pregnant, which has been so hard for me. I have always wanted my kids to be close in age so they could play with each other and it just hasn't happened that way with any of our kids. They are 3 and 4 years apart and just when I get totally out of the baby stage, I have to start all over again. Why can't I just pop them out like so many people I know?

Seven years ago, I learned the hard way while trying to get pregnant with my second child, that it doesn't matter what I want. Heavenly Father has a plan for me and it isn't always what I want, but it's what is best for me. Learning that lesson so many years ago has made it easier to deal with this time around. I'm not saying that it isn't hard to come to terms with or isn't painful, but it is easier to understand and to find comfort in the fact that I have three wonderful children that I love and will forever be grateful for. It's also comforting to know that if I had gotten pregnant a year ago, I would have a new born I would have to be taking care of through all of this and that would not have worked at all. Heavenly Father really does have a plan for me, he knows my strengths and weaknesses and what I can handle and what I can't. I truly do believe that and I hope that as Randy and I go through this next phase of life, we can be strengthened through our trials and grow closer to each other.

I also want to mention what wonderful neighbors and friends Randy and I have been blessed with. They truly have made this whole ordeal manageable. We have had meals offered exactly when they were needed the most. We have had neighbors just show up and mow the lawn. So many people have offered to watch the kids when we are at treatments. We had a pipe break and water leaking in our basement the weekend before Randy's treatments started and so many guys showed up to help Randy get it fixed in record time! We have had thousands of dollars donated from family, friends, friends of family and strangers who don't even know us to help pay for the high medical costs and gasoline to drive to appointments so far away. As exhausted as I am these days, I'm so grateful for the help that has been offered, because without it, I would probably have mental break down. Thank you all so much!!

I'm really hoping Randy can come tomorrow and that chemo treatments can resume quickly so we can get this thing over and done with!