Sunday, July 25, 2004


Week #8 of DI #2

We are leaving in the morning for our stay at the Light House Retreat in Florida. Although I’m concerned we won’t have enough suitcases to pack all the snacks we are taking, we are all excited and looking forward to this time together as a family.

The timing worked out perfectly. Kendrie’s blood counts on Thursday showed her hemoglobin to be at 7.4 and the clinic cut off for transfusion is 8.0, so on Friday I drove her up to Atlanta for a transfusion. Many thanks to my friend Kelly E. who watched Brayden and Kellen all day so they didn’t have to tag along.

Transfusions are a time-consuming thing. First Kendrie gets her vitals taken, then her port is accessed and a blood sample taken, then it’s an hour and a half for them to cross-type and match the blood and get it ready, then she gets pre-medicated with Benadryl and Tylenol, then the blood takes three hours to go in. Add to this a two hour drive TO the clinic, an hour wait in the waiting room before we even got called back, and a three and a half hour drive HOME from the clinic (damn the Atlanta 5pm traffic!) and it made for one freakin’ long day. 8 am until 9 pm, to be exact. I was prepared, though. You should have seen me, loaded down like a paid-Sherpa on Mount Everest. Blanket and pillow for her, sweater for me, bag of snacks, bag of drinks, backpack of games, books and puzzles, and the DVD player. And how much did Kendrie appreciate my forethought and planning???? Well, thanks to the Benadryl, she slept through the entire transfusion and only needed the blanket and the pillow. Oh, well.

So part two of the “Will her blood be ready for a trip to Florida?” question is her ANC level. The technical definition of ANC is Absolute Neutrophil Count. Or, in laymen’s terms, “blah blah blah something about infection fighting ability”. Hers right now is 50, which is a very low number. During the school year, if it falls below 500 then I will keep her home to avoid general germs and bugs and the like. "Normal" ANC for kids on chemo is between 1000-1500. So obviously 50 is a little low for a vacation. But, at the recommendation of her oncologist (and just because we really want to go!) we’re taking a gamble and going to the beach anyway. Think of it like this: If Kendrie were a car, then on Friday, she was running on empty and needed a blood transfusion to fill up her tank. She’s rarin’ to go, now. An ANC of 50 is a little like driving on the spare donut-tire. There’s a chance you’ll hit a bump in a road and it’ll pop, but there’s also a chance it will get you there ok. As her immune system recovers, that ANC number will start to rise. (And more practically, there are oncologists and nurses at the retreat, and a Children’s Hospital nearby, so it’s not like we’re taking her on an African safari with no medical care for a 500 mile radius, right? And seriously, no kidding aside, if her oncologist didn’t give his blessing, in fact, his encouragement, we wouldn’t go at all.)

So anyway, we’re excited and crossing our fingers she stays healthy the whole week.

***Funny note*** Kraft Foods Inc. announced Monday that its second-quarter earnings fell 26 percent, its fourth straight quarter decline. OK, we are SO not taking the bullet on this one!!! Imagine if Kendrie hadn’t eaten enough Kraft Mac & Cheese the past few months to keep the entire South Eastern Production Plant in over-time, how much MORE their earnings would have fallen!!! Perhaps Kraft employees everywhere should thank her for keeping their business afloat in this carb-avoiding world!

***To the gentleman driving the yellow Xterra on Ga. Hwy 400 North on Friday morning, tailgating me the entire way: The speed limit was 55 and I was driving 70, you moron. Unless you want people to think the “Be Bold” sign painted on the front windshield of your car is synonymous with “Be an Asshole”, I suggest you learn what the brake is for.

***Sitting in Kendrie’s treatment room on Friday, decimating the bag of snacks while she slept, I was again struck by the complete kindness of whatever total stranger donated the blood she was receiving. To the person that gave up an hour of their day to sit in a chair and donate …………………. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. (And the bottom of an empty snack bag!)

***While we are gone next week on vacation, I won’t be able to update this journal. After you’re done drying your eyes from the disappointment of that news (ha!) take the next few days and visit some other sites, since there’s no need to come back here again until next weekend. Overall, Kendrie has had an easy time of her treatment. Almost embarrassingly easy, compared to some others. (Not that it keeps me from whining and complaining about it, but still, you know what I mean.) Some of these kids are struggling with illness, treatments and side effects, and it would be great if you could stop by their sites and drop them a note of encouragement, just like you do for us.

Ali's Page Ali is a teenager who has ALL, like Kendrie. Ali suffers from back spasms due to the levels of Vincristine in her treatment plan, and her insurance company (Pacificare) has denied her the botox injections she needs to treat the back spasms, so she is forced (by Pacificare) to lie around in pain for weeks on end. (Did I mention that Pacificare denies her doctor's request for her pain management?)

Colin's Page Colin also has ALL, like Ali and Kendrie, but he is now following a relapse protocol. Colin is doing well, but hit a bump in the road and was admitted a few days ago for fever and infection. I'm sure a note of encouragement would mean a lot to him.

Julianna Banana's Page Unless you live under a rock, you already know Julianna and her crazy dad, Terry. What you might not realize is that Julianna will begin her radiation treatments for her leukemia relapse in a few weeks. I know this is a scary time, even for a brave banana, so stop by and wish them well.

Spencer Rocket Spencer is doing great after his transplant for leukemia relapse. But, he and his family are still stuck in North Carolina where he had the transplant, far away from home in California. We are talking MONTHS of living in a strange place, in a constant state of wait-and-see. Drop by Spencer's site and say hi!

Carter Martin We met Carter and his family at Camp Sunshine last April. Carter has Ewing's Sarcoma and relapsed in February. Recent scans show the cancer is spreading and pain management is a real concern for them right now, not to mention the on-going prayers for a miracle for Carter. Please stop by his site and wish his family well.

Zach Bunnell Zach is a friend of a friend ... one of those Caringbridge connections that I don't know personally, but am praying for. Just one month after Zach finished therapy and began his Cancer-Free life, his cancer returned. Please stop by his site and let his family know you'll say a prayer for him.

Haley's Page And just in case we forget that cancer isn't the only battle a young person can be facing, visit Haley's site, also. She is preparing for a liver transplant and having problems with cough and fever, so stop by and cheer her up!

I hope everyone enjoys their week. I'll update with lots of pictures when we return!



WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Mom and Dad wouldn't take me to Sunday School because I can't be around a bunch of runny-nosed hooligans (er, Mom is shrieking "Pleasant children -- call them pleasant children!" at me)

The general air of excitement around our house today in preparation for our trip tomorrow ..... or maybe the chaos is normal and I just haven't noticed it before?

No comments: