Tuesday, July 9, 2013

We have Engraftment!

Is that even a word?

In any event, there are now signs that Ken's Stem Cell transplant is working, and his body is now producing new red blood cells, new white blood cells, and new platelets.  The last few days, there have been small but very real increases in his blood values - very good signs!

At the same time, the last few weeks have not been without trial - Ken has had several complications post- transplant.  These complications are not unusual, but still make recovery that much more difficult.  On top of the Mucositis, Ken has also been retaining fluid - about 10 kilograms worth.  His doctors and nurses have been treating him accordingly, and have reduced the amount retained by several kilograms (about 2 litres of excess fluid).  Unfortunately, this isn't the same as retaining water around that time of the month... this excess water impacts blood pressure and heart function too.  Slowly, I believe the doctors are getting it under control.

Although Ken's discharge date is still very much in the air, it is in the foreseeable future, and I'm hoping to bring our sons with me when he's released - he will need 24/7 care for the first 14 days after release from the hospital, to ensure that no new complications arise.

This has presented yet another challenge - finding affordable family lodging near the hospital.  The Cancer Lodge is not 'child friendly'.  The Ronald McDonald House only houses the families of sick children, not sick parents.  The Easter Seals House will take us, but they are currently booked, and have put us on a waiting list.  I am very hopeful that space will open up - I love my young sons dearly, and want to have them with me.  And Ken misses them terribly.

Any prayers/positive thoughts sent our way are greatly appreciated - we've come this far, the end is now in sight!!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I never thought...

I never thought in a million years that the Stem Cell transplant would be more difficult for Ken to deal with than the massive doses of chemotherapy.  But I guess you learn something new every day.

The anti-rejection drugs are brutal.  One is a chemotherapy agent that he previously had at a far higher dose... but also had it counteracted with another drug at the same time to minimize the effects.  As part of this blog, I feel I have to be brutally honest about some of the things Ken's going through... it's pretty much common knowledge that chemotherapy causes nausea and vomiting, right?

These drugs cause mucositis - an inflammation and sloughing of the mucus membranes.  The inside of Ken's mouth is peeling away, painfully.  So are other areas that have mucus membranes.  He is currently on fairly high doses of pain medications to make life bearable.  He wasn't able to eat, so they had to start giving him nutrients though his Hickman line.  Coughing hurts horribly, so he uses a suction tube to try to gently remove loosened phlegm from his mouth and throat.

I know, awful.  And there's much more, but for now, I need for us to focus on the positive.

Ken is holding his own.  He is strong, and I know he'll keep going.  With any luck, his daily blood tests will start to show that his new Stem Cells are doing their job, and Ken will be back on track to coming home in time for his son's 3rd birthday - I know it's important to him because he missed his 2nd birthday last year because of the cancer.

Love. Hope. Courage.