Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Low Blood

After such stellar blood counts on Friday, Maura's blood counts tanked on Monday. Low white blood cell count--0.1--led the way for a 101 fever that came down a bit after drinking plenty of fluids. She was miserable all day, but the fever broke overnight.
Her platelets were at 14 today, only slightly above mandatory transfusion, so they went ahead and scheduled her transfusion for tomorrow anyway. That's a good idea, so we know she'll be okay on Thanksgiving and the day after. In fact, I'm kind of hoping they go ahead and give her a bag of red blood cells while they're at it, so she'll have some energy for the holiday. We'll see how things go tomorrow.
The fever, fatigue, and the low blood counts are to be expected. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good Blood

Maura had an uneventful 8th cycle (Thank heaven!) and is recovering. Her blood levels were pretty good Friday; so good, in fact, that I began to doubt that they were even hers!
Bianca has been the focus of Maura's energy and attention this week. She sits with Maura for hours and follows her everywhere.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chemo Puppy

Chemo Cycle 8, Day 1.
Maura slept through chemo and came home to sleep some more. That, by the way, is the best way to go through chemo--wish it could be like that each time.
While she slept, both at the hospital and at home, Joel took a trip to Mesquite (east of Dallas) to pick up a rescued one-year-old Maltese/Poodle mix we'd picked out online. Originally, we were going to get her a dog for Christmas, but we both felt we had found the perfect match for Maura, so, why wait?
The rescue people shaved her coat when they took her in a few weeks ago, so, although she has beautiful blond, wavy hair, she is currently mostly bald. Hmm...sounds familiar.
Maura was surprised to see the dog when she woke up and even more astonished when she realized the dog wasn't just a visitor but her new companion. Bianca (newly named) padded straight to Maura, whose eyes welled up with tears as she hugged Bianca to her chest.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Maura had a great weekend and a very newsy doctor visit on Monday.
She hung out with her friends most of the weekend, going out as much as possible, knowing that next week she'd be feeling pretty lousy again. it was great to see her feeling so well and energetic.
On Monday, the doctor let us know that she was scheduled for chemo to start this Saturday. That's good because most of the bad days will be over by Thanksgiving.
Maura learned that the Heart Scan showed that her heart is in great shape, which means that she can continue to receive chemo. That's good news.
She also learned that her tumors--the ones that were once called "too numerous to count' are now probably countable. In fact, the doctor took a few minutes right then and there to start counting and he only came up with five. Just five. From "too numerous to count " to "count on one hand" in only six months.
He also said not to get worried about the marker tumors (the ones that are tracked from scan to scan--I think I made up that term, but it's a good term) not decreasing much in size this time. He said that as long as they are decreasing at all, that it is good, and that we should remember that a lot of the total tumor mass is dead tumor, not live tumor. He did add, however, that if they were to open her up, they would find more than five--the buggers hide.
That brought up another subject. We now understand that the ultimate goal is for the tumors to get to a point of containment where they are 100% resectable (removable, operable). So now we know what the goal is: surgery to get rid of the last traces of Toby's evil spawn. When we tell you that Maura is scheduled for surgery, that will be great news.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Well, we didn't exactly get heart scan results. The nurse called and told Maura that she could skip one day of lab work. Yippee! She seemed a bit confused when Maura asked about the heart scan results, but came back saying they were fine and blah blah blah (a bunch of stuff that Maura didn't understand). We figure that's not bad news, but we'll have to call to make sure.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Heart Scan

Maura had an early morning heart scan, which turned out to be a much simpler procedure than a CT-scan--mostly just waiting. The nurse injected her with a special dye, hooked her up to electrodes like an EKG, and then tried to point out different parts of the heart on the screen. Maura said she couldn't identify anything she was seeing as "heart."
Tomorrow evening we will get the results, we think. The scan is necessary to check for signs of damage to the heart muscle, caused by the cumulative dose of the doxirubicin. The scan and the obligatory "transfusion watch" routine were all finished by noon, giving us a short hospital day.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Flu Shots

Maura's doctor has told Maura not to get a flu shot, but he has recommended that those in contact with her get one.

Busy Week

We have an internet connection--hooray! It's been an eventful week.
Sunday-Maura was in a lot of pain. She didn't sleep because of abdominal pain.
Monday- We went to the emergency room early in the morning. They quickly admitted her to an E.R. bed and ordered tests. Thankfully, her tests showed that the pain was from stomach ulcers, caused by the chemo and aggravated by too much stomach acid. A prescription and a couple liters of fluids did the trick and she was released that night.
Wednesday--CT Scan and other tests
Thursday- The doctor told her that the tumors are still shrinking. Yippee!! Blood levels have been low, so she is again under "transfusion watch" (my term, not theirs) which requires daily blood work and consultation with a nurse until further notice.
Friday--Transfusion of platelets, but she got home in time to pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters
Saturday--Feeling pretty good, she and Kara went to see the opera at Sam and attended a Halloween party afterward. She dressed as a Golden Fairy. Kara and Matt ran interference, keeping away all those who looked like they might be carrying germs. And the party's host made everyone use hand sanitizer. Way to go, Colin!
Sunday--None of us expected that her hemoglobin count would go too low today, so we came to the hospital for her lab work and consultation, fully expecting to be able to leave in an hour or two. Oops. Surprise! Instead, she was given two units of blood, and we got home about 9:00 pm.
Tomorrow--a heart scan is scheduled. One of the chemo drugs begins to damage the heart after awhile. It is time to start monitoring her heart for signs of such damage.