Friday, February 27, 2009

Freaky Friday...

Late this afternoon, Jeff and I took Chance to be put to sleep. It was a very emotional trip for us. Afterwards, we picked Michael up from his after school program and brought him home to break the sad news to him. As expected, Michael didn't handle our loss very well. The 3 of us sat together on the couch until the emotional storm had passed. Then I went to the kitchen to start dinner while Michael and Daddy sat quietly together watching one of Michael's favorite cartoons.

Off our kitchen is our laundry room and off the laundry room is our garage. While I was making dinner, I thought I heard an animal scratching at the laundry room door. I started towards the laundry room and all of a sudden a dog jumped up in the window of the door that leads to the garage.

I threw the biscuits I was making and immediately started screaming and crying. My emotions were still raw and a dog at the door totally freaked me out. Jeff came running to see why I was so panicked. He looked out the door and there was a dog looking back at him. He went out and checked the dog's collar. She had a license and a tag indicating that she has been micro chipped. But when Jeff called the microchip company, he was told that the owners never registered the dog so they couldn't tell us who she belongs to.

So, we have brought her in the house for the night since it is snowing and the temperatures are supposed to drop below zero tonight. Tomorrow we will call the SPCA (she has a tag from them also) to see if they can help us track down the owners. In the meantime, she is pretty comfortable with us. She went to Chance's toy basket and out of all the toys, picked up Chance's favorite. She also laid down in front of the fireplace where Chance always laid.

Now, she is cuddled up next to Michael in his bed. I think it has eased Michael's pain to have a dog with him tonight. Jeff and I are wondering if she was sent by Chance as a sign that she is okay. I know not everybody believes in that sort of thing, but we do.

My Aunt Florrie believed when you lost someone you loved, a dog came into your life. For instance - when my mother passed away, someone gave my Dad a stray dog that has totally taken over his life. Aunt Florrie believed that Girl was sent to Dad by Mom. Now that Aunt Florrie recently went to heaven herself - did she send this dog to comfort us in our grief?

Even if we find her owners and return her to them, she has made this first night without Chance easier to bear for all of us. Please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers, JoAnne.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Today was a no go...

Michael and I went to chemo today but unfortunately his counts were too low to receive treatment. The good news is that there were no problems with his port. And, he is totally recovered from whatever knocked the wind out of him last weekend.

We now have a 2 week break before we go back for chemo and then it will be the beginning of our last round. Funny thing is - Michael is not dealing with the end of treatments very well. I know that probably seems strange to everyone but Michael doesn't take any kind of change well. And this has been his routine for over a year. On top of that, he has become very attached to the doctors, nurses and staff he sees every week. We will keep him talking about his feelings and hopefully he will work through them.

Unfortunately Chance has taken a turn for the worse and tomorrow we will be taking her to the vets office to be put to sleep. Jeff and I have very heavy hearts tonight. We haven't broken the news to Michael yet but I am sure he is not going to handle it very well. Please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers, JoAnne.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I hate to say "I told you so" but...

Remember the other day when I said that I was not comfortable with the way the nurses handled Michael's port when we were in the Emergency Room on Saturday? Well, this morning I was replaying the whole ordeal in my head and I thought, "They didn't flush Michael's port with Heparin before they removed his needle." I called Jeff and asked him if he remembered the nurses giving Michael Heparin and he said he didn't. (Heparin is a blood thinner which is injected into his port before they remove the needle to prevent clotting and to keep it working correctly.)

So, I called Syracuse and talked to Jen, our nurse, and asked her if it was a big deal if they didn't use Heparin and she said it was. Then Jen called our local ER and asked them to check Michael's records to verify if they gave Michael Heparin or not -and they didn't. So - off to Syracuse we went. Jen accessed Michael's port (perfectly). She was able to draw a clot out of the it so I am really glad we made the trip to Syracuse. Then she flushed it well with saline and Heparin and we were back on our way home.

Unfortunately, Michael had to miss most of the 100th Day of School Celebration at school. But, I have to admit that my mind is a lot more at ease tonight knowing that his port was checked by someone that works with children's port-a-caths everyday, all day. I will keep everyone posted of any new developments. Please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers, JoAnne.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Today was a little bit better day ...

Michael had another restless night last night. He tossed and turned but when I asked him if his belly hurt, he said no. I think he was afraid to admit to the pain since he thought he would have to go back to the hospital. But at least the pain wasn't anywhere near the level it was yesterday morning. The good news is that he hasn't thrown up since before he fell asleep last night.

He also started out kind of slow this morning but picked up a little speed as the day went on. He laid in bed watching cartoons and sipping on cranberry juice as his day began. By late morning, he was hungry for french toast and had ventured out to the living room. We kept him as quiet as we could for most of the day but by late afternoon, it wasn't easy. And, his appetite was down but at least he ate and drank some today.

He is now laying in bed but is again restless and can't seem to fall asleep (he is usually asleep by 8 pm at the latest). He's still very pale. Tomorrow is his first day back to school after last week's vacation. It is also the 100th Day of School Celebration which he has been looking forward to. Let's hope he feels well enough to stay all day and participate. Please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers, JoAnne.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A little bump in the road...

Earlier this week, I traveled out of town for a few days for the funeral of a truly wonderful lady, my great-aunt Florie. While I was sharing many tears and a few laughs with family I don't see often enough, Michael and Daddy were on their own. Apparently they had fun together and even went to Friendly's for dinner - where Michael got to make his own sundae.

I returned home on Wednesday night. My Dad and I drove through snow for most of the day and the last 70 miles were especially nerve wracking. It was snowing heavily and the snowplows didn't seem to be ahead of us anywhere so it was hard to tell if you were in your lane and sometimes if you were even on the road. On Thursday morning, Michael and I retraced that route to make our way to chemo. The trip down was uneventful but the ride home was again stressful as all the snow that had fallen the night before was being kicked up by high winds and was being added to by another snowfall.

Chemo went without a hitch. Dr. Kennedy was on vacation and we saw one of her colleagues, Dr. Sills. Michael's counts were down to 38,000 but Dr. Sills gave Michael his treatment anyway. He just warned me to watch for any signs of excessive bleeding and to call if I noticed anything.

Michael had a good day on Friday. It was the last day of his mid-winter vacation from school and it was Daddy's day off from work. When I got home from work, they were both tired from a day of playing long and hard. When we sat down to dinner, Michael said his stomach hurt and he didn't want to eat anything. Jeff said he had eaten well all day, so we let him go and lay on the couch.

Around midnight, Michael woke up and vomited for the first time. He then woke up frequently during the night to be sick - complaining each time that his stomach hurt a little more. When morning came, we coaxed him into eating a little toast and some Rice Krispies hoping the pains in his stomach were just hunger pains. But by 10 am, Michael was holding his stomach and screaming out in pain (which is not something he had ever done before). He would doze off to sleep only to be awaken by the excruciating pain.

Whenever we mentioned calling the doctor, he said his stomach felt better and would settle down for a little while. Around 1 pm, we realized that he wasn't getting better and called the doctors in Syracuse. They told us to take him to our local emergency room and they would be in contact with the ER. So, off we went.

When we got there, they took some chest and stomach x-rays. Michael was so sick, he had a hard time sitting up while the technician snapped the pictures. And for a few minutes, she had to wait while Michael was sick to his stomach.

Then a nurse in the emergency room accessed Michael's port and drew blood to have some lab work done. Next, they gave Michael some IV fluid with both a medicine for the nausea and Morphine for the pain. The Morphine worked quickly and Michael was finally a little more comfortable (even though he continued to throw up all day and into the evening).

All of the test results - blood, urine and x-rays - came back normal and the doctor feels Michael has some sort of stomach virus aggravated by the chemo. He gave us an anti-nausea drug to give our little buddy in addition to his Zofran so hopefully his stomach will settle down quickly. We also have to keep him on clear liquids for a while.

If Michael doesn't get better, the doctor told us to bring him back and they will have to admit him. If it comes to that (and we are praying it doesn't) we will probably take him to Syracuse. I wasn't comfortable with the way the nurse accessed his port (you could tell it wasn't something she did every day) and I would just feel better if he was under the care of Dr. Kennedy and the nurses at University Hospital (and I know Jeff feels the same way).

Michael has been sleeping peacefully since we got home around 8 pm. Let's hope he sleeps through the night. He had terrible black circles under his eyes and he looked so exhausted today it was heartbreaking. Jeff and I could use a good night's sleep, too. I will keep everyone updated. Please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers, JoAnne.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A half-dozen treatments and counting...

Yesterday was Michael's chemo treatment and everything went smoothly again. Dr. Kennedy said Michael's counts were down so she thinks he may be coming down with something. But so far, he has been healthy. We were happy to see one of Michael's regular nurses, Sharyle. Between her vacation, our going on Mondays for a while and the holidays, we hadn't seen her since November.

Michael had a great day today. He feels perfect and enjoyed his Valentine's Day party at school a whole bunch. Now he is giving Chance a physical. He has declared she needs Vitamin C for her bad leg and there is nothing he can do about her bad breath. Chance is just happy for the attention.

Michael has treatment on Thursday again next week and I am considering keeping his treatments on that day. He doesn't seem to be getting sick so Thursday treatments shouldn't interfere with school on Friday. And, Jeff & I met a little boy and his mother at clinic yesterday that I would like Michael to meet (he was busy sleeping). You see, Trevor is the same age as Michael, is on the the same chemo regimen, has an Astrocytoma brain tumor and a port and even has glasses like Michael. Michael has met other kids at treatment but Trevor is the first child Michael's age that has so much in common with Michael. I think it would be good for him to meet and spend some time with a little boy "like him" and Trevor gets treatments on Thursdays.

I will post if there is anything new. In the meantime, please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers, JoAnne.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Catching up a little...

I know I didn't post last week like I should have but I have a good excuse. Since we saw that last MRI and we know that the end of chemo is in sight - Michael's tumor is not the only thing on our minds for the first time in a long time. We actually feel like a horrible weight has been lifted from our shoulders and life has begun again. The 800 pound gorilla that has been sitting in the corner of our home has moved out!

We did start Michael's second to last round of chemo last Thursday and everything went great. We had to reschedule from Friday to Thursday because of Michael's busy social calendar! And since school was cancelled on Thursday due to the funeral of a former administrator, he didn't have to miss school.

Friday was the annual sledding party at school which Michael missed last year because of chemo (and he has reminded me often that he missed it). Then after school, he had a "soccer" birthday party at the YMCA for one of his friends. On the way home from the "Y", he told us that it was "a great day". Then later, he was laying on the floor with Chance and he was smiling.

Jeff said, "You look happy, buddy."

And Michael responded, "I am happy, Dad." I thought my heart was going to burst with joy.

Michael went through an angry period a few months back but seems to be over that. Even his teacher commented on how happy he seems now. And of course he is looking forward to the end of chemo. Every morning he asks me how many more treatments he has left - and after last week it is 7.

Since our good report a couple of weeks ago, it has been easier to think of life beyond chemo. We even booked a house on one of the beaches in Cape Cod for a week in July! We are going to sit on the beach and play in the surf and sand for a week and do nothing but have fun.

Michael's chemo is on Thursday again this week due to the Valentine's Day party at school on Friday. He's excited and counting the days. He bought a box of Transformer valentines for the boys in his class and a box of Disney Princess valentines for the girls.

I am happy to report that Michael hasn't been sick once since his treatment last Thursday (and that's a first). Let's hope he feels as well this week. Please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers, JoAnne.

P.S. Michael brought his 2nd quarter report card home last week and Daddy & I are very proud of him. He got the highest mark in every category except "cuts accurately" and "traces patterns correctly" where he was marked "shows improvement". His teacher commented "Michael seems much happier and seems to be enjoying himself more. It's great to see! He has mastered 23 sight words! Great job!" In fact, when Michael and I were reading his bedtime story last night, he said "Let me read it to you, Mama." And he did.