Thursday, July 31, 2008

Good Days

     The blissful days are coming to an end. We have enjoyed the extra time between the third and fourth chemo cycles, but now Maura has to get back to work.  Today she spent the day at the hospital. Tomorrow, too. Her central line will be re-inserted tomorrow. Chemo starts on Sunday. 
     She took advantage of her extra energy this week, after her blood counts went up, starting out slowly, with a trip to the movies. Then, a couple of short, focused shopping trips. The most draining activity? A few hours at the beach--the last time she will be able to totally immerse herself in the ocean or any water until after treatments are over and the central line comes out for good. The wildest day? Wig shopping and an evening out with her friends. Yes, she finally decided to wear a wig instead of scarves and caps for a change. So, she picked out the cutest wig, a short bob. Pink. Magenta, actually, and she looks fabulous in it. That evening, she and her friends went out to dinner. Maura in her pink wig; Katie in a green wig; Kara in a black , spikey Sharon Osbourne/Liza Minelli freaky wig. What a trio!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Parents will understand this. You know that perfect peace that you feel when you watch your children sleeping? It's a feeling that doesn't disappear as they grow older, and, I admit that I still cry when I think about the Munsch children's story Love You Forever. He captured that slice of joy in his simple tale. This morning I stood at Maura's doorway, studying her even breathing. She was splayed out, stomach to the mattress, arms and legs akimbo. How wonderful that she can, for a few days, sleep in her favorite position, without having to worry about tubes or chemo pump. And there I found myself softly singing the Munsch verse: I'll love you forever/I'll like you for always/As long as I'm living/My baby you'll be.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sigh of Relief

     Things are so much better! Blood counts are way up. Feet and hands, less purple, less painful. She cooked a meal on Thursday. Yes, Maura's famous vegetarian chili accomplished so much more than just satisfy our hunger--it cheered our hearts and comforted our souls. Oh, and we went to a movie last night. That, too, was wonderful.  Right now, every activity, every smile, every moment gives us so much joy. I hope that even after she is cured, that this heightened sense of appreciation for life stays with us all forever.  
     We still don't know when the central line will be reinserted or when the next chemo cycle begins. Should be sometime next week.  Maura is basking in the freedom from tubes and toxic drugs.   

Monday, July 21, 2008

I (we) Told You(them) So

Maura's central IV line has been taken out and will have to be re-inserted. After two months of telling "them" that it leaked, and having them check it three times and telling us that it didn't, it turns out that we were right. At first we thought that I wasn't doing a good job of putting a protective layer of plastic over it when she showered; then we thought that maybe she just sweat a lot; but we quickly realized that the darn thing leaked for real. Today, Maura talked to the IV therapist who we've known all along to be the most competent one they have, and she knew just by Maura's description what the problem was. "Oh, you have a duct leak." Yep, when she had the catheter inserted into her vein in May, they apparently punctured a lymph duct, or something like that, and it never healed on it's own. The doctor immediately agreed (I don't know why we never told him about it) and will schedule a new date for her CVC insertion when her white blood cells and platelets go back up. In theory, the frustration of this not having been caught earlier should be completely dwarfed by the immense satisfaction of being right. Unfortunately, Maura has to suffer because of it, so the satisfaction is short-lived. She's determined that this time she's going to ask to be put to sleep (in the unconscious sense, not in the veterinary sense) during the procedure. As usual, her attitude about the whole thing is great, and she's happy not to have those tubes hanging on her chest for a few days.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Feeling Better

She's feeling better tonight. When she feels good, it's just easier to deal with anything, including endless blood tests!  She blew off the blood tests she was supposed to have both yesterday and today, but can you blame her? She has to be at MD Anderson so-o-o many days that even a weekend off is a luxury she treasures.   Tomorrow she'll be back on track for blood work. We expect blood counts to be at safe levels later this week. 
She can't walk much. The burning foot has turned into burning hands and feet==it's like a bad sunburn from the inside out.  The right foot is a mottled red and purple. Anytime she walks or puts pressure on her hands, you can actually see it get worse. So she stays in one place most of the time, and we treat her hands and feet with hydrocortisone and lotion. Adam carried her to and fro for a couple of days. That was kind of fun to watch. Did anyone see the episode of Arrested Development where Martin Short is carried around by some guy named Dragon? It was sort of like that for Adam and Maura. Just kidding. 

Friday, July 18, 2008


Fever of 100.4. Burning feet. New pain med that makes her throw up.  Feeling yucky. Leaky IV port. Blood count is low all around. 
Platelets are too low, so they want her to go in for daily blood tests over the weekend. She's thinking about it--she's thinking it sucks.
Things will be better on Monday. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Oh, joy. A new side effect:
The sole of her right foot burns as if she had stepped on hot coals. Just the right foot. Just the sole. Weird.
White cells are down to 0.1, so no visitors for a few days.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

From Jesus' Side to Maura's Veins-John 19:34

So, yesterday was supposed to be a simple disconnect-from-the-chemo-pump day, which isn't so simple anyway. Instead, we got home this morning at 2:30. When her blood pressure plummeted to about 50/30 (yes, you read that correctly), and her heart rate hovered around 130, they pumped her with fluids, gave her two units of blood (her first blood transfusion), and, later, hooked her back up to the pump with a nice three-liter bag of fluids with electrolytes to take home. Unfortunately, her hospital-free weekend is out--we have to go back both tonight and tomorrow night for another big bag of fluids for the pump. Oh, and the catheter site has a little infection, so that means cultures and blood tests and daily dressing changes and multiple visits to IV Therapy this coming week. I'd like to say that the blood perked her right up, but she is too exhausted to tell. Her blood pressure did go back up to an acceptable level, and her pulse is normal. Today, we have so much to be thankful for.

Friday, July 11, 2008


It's been a rough couple of days.  Round 3 is causing her to feel pretty crummy.--really bad, in fact. We're at the hospital now. We came in this afternoon for the last of chemo, and to get disconnected from the chemo pump, and to receive her post-chemo meds, but her blood pressure was very, very low and  her pulse rate was very, very high---a treacherous combination--so they're not too anxious to clear us out of here just yet. Sigh. 

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Round 3

Here we go again. Round 3 of Chemotherapy starts in the morning. 

Friday, July 4, 2008


Oh, how we long for normalcy. Through any crisis, I suppose our perception of normal changes; so, too, our perception of good news or hope.  This week Maura received a healthy dose of all three. As I mentioned in the last post, her CT scans from Monday showed continued improvement.  And she has had more energy during this post-chemo period than the last one, at least during the day. So, on Wednesday, Maura went to a morning movie (Hancock-- Maura commented that the movie was "just okay", but that it had been so long since she had been to a movie or to anywhere other than the hospital that the excursion was great). On Thursday, she made it through a daytime Astros game (a disappointing performance by the Astros, but, a stellar effort by Maura). With the help of close drop-off points, a wheelchair, a discreetly worn mask, convenient benches, a makeshift bed in the van, some planning, and the help of family and close friends, Maura enjoyed herself, got some exercise and a little sunshine, and drew encouragement from normal. 
Today she begins pre-chemo treatment, and Round 3 is upon us, which is not yet normal, but certainly it's good news and hopeful. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

CT Scans

Results of yesterday's CT Scans are in: Tumors are still shrinking! Hurray! Seeing the side by side comparison of the scans--before and after pictures, so to speak-- is very encouraging. 
Platelets are low. If blood tests results are better this Friday, July 4, then she'll start chemo prep for Round 3 on the same day.  Aggressive treatment for aggressive tumors. 
We thank you for all the prayers and visits and help and cards and concern. We are blessed in so many ways.