Sunday, November 30, 2008

Days "12 and 13"

Well, yesterday was yesterday...ENOUGH SAID ABOUT THAT!

Today, day 13, we received a picture from Jeff's cousin! It was titled the "Bald Mans Club!" We got a good laugh from it, so we thought you might enjoy it, too! I guess that Jayson, Jeff's brother, brought a shaver to the Andrus Family Thanksgiving Dinner, and people lined up to shave their heads for Jeff. The first, and most surprising, in line was Uncle Jim! Thanks for the gesture brought a good smile to my hubby's face!

Other than the fact that Jeff was stuck here in this room, his day went very well. His bone marrow is expected to begin producing by day 18, which is Friday! It sure will be amazing to see his blood levels rise without a transfusion! The best part of my day today was attending a little sacrament meeting here at the hospital! It only lasted for 30 minutes, but it was powerful! I really need a good spiritual uplift, and the speakers touched on everything I was struggling with! I am so grateful for the college students who volunteer here. The have brought the sacrament to Jeff each week, and he has been so grateful for it! Have a wonderful day! We hope to as well! :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day "11"

Today was the last day Jeff received methotrexate ... an immunosuppressive chemo! Yahoo! His new bone marrow should begin to produce blood cells by next weekend! We are praying for engraftment, and we are very confident that it will work, but we are still very nervous!

Last night and today have been pretty rough for Jeff. He has had some nausea and vomiting, leg and foot aches, and quite a bit of water retention! He has slept most of the day, but is beginning to feel better this evening. I have posted a picture of his feet because they look similar to mine when I am nine months pregnant! :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Day "10"

Happy Thanksgiving!
We hope it was a pleasant day for all of you! It was pretty quiet around here, but I believe that that was exactly the kind of day Jeff needed! He hasn't been sleeping very well...nurses in and out, transfusions, vitals, bathroom, etc. So, today, while I went down to Nephi for a few hours for turkey dinner with our kids, Jeff was able to sleep with very few interruptions. He was in good spirits when I got back! Sleep can do amazing things for people! :)

So, now that Thanksgiving dinner had been served, it was time to decorate for the holidays! I had to hurry and take a picture of our Christmas Lights, because our nurse said that the "uppers" might not let us keep them! So, for tonight, we will enjoy! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day "9"

Today, Jeff wanted me to tell you to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow while he enjoys his "low microbial" hospital turkey dinner! Yum, YUM! Also, think of him while your scarfing down your warm pumpkin pie, and he is chewing on his three day old pie! Really...don't feel sorry for him! He likes potato pearls instead of fresh mashed potatoes! :) On a more serious note, have a Happy Thanksgiving! There are so many things to be thankful for during this time of year!

New developments today? Well, he has the beginning stages of a common mouth problem after chemotherapy. I know that I am spelling it wrong, but it is called mucusidous. It kind of looks like thrush. It isn't to uncomfortable yet, but we are told it CAN be very uncomfortable in the later stages! HAVE A GREAT TURKEY DAY!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day "8"

For a long time now (like since Day "-1") I have been thinking that Jeff might be one of those small percentage of people who don't loose their hair during chemo...but I was wrong. Last night, while scratching his head, Jeff grabbed onto a little patch of hair and pulled it out with ease! I couldn't believe it, so I tried it myself!;) Sure enough, I pulled out the patch I grabbed onto! After showering this morning and finding hair all over his towel, Jeff decided to shave it all off to avoid the irritation of hair in his clothing. It's to bad Kaitlyn wasn't around...she would have enjoyed shaving daddy's head again!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day "7"

No, my camera doesn't have a "red eye" problem, those are Jeff's real eyes! They are the result of a low platelet level! Hence, the daily platelet transfusions! At first it was kind of spooky, but you get used to it after a while! :) Today has pretty much been business as usual, except for the fact that Jeff was unhooked from his med pole for like 15 minutes. He was able to walk around the unit like a free man, and then they hooked him back up for more meds!

Thank you again for all the comments and emails! Our goal, is to eventually respond to each of you...but it is going to take a little while! But, please know they are appreciated and they mean more than you will ever know!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beauty and the Beasts

Bald is Beautiful

Bald is Beautiful

Day "6"

It has been an long day for Jeff, but he is still doing very well. After drawing blood this morning, the doctors decided he needed to have two red blood cell and two platelet transfusions. They have a certain level that they don't like patients to fall below. If Jeff didn't have a central line (as pictured), transfusions would be a much bigger deal! So, he received blood products all day and then his third dose of methotrexate tonight...right through his central line! In a diluted dose, methotrexate is not considered a type of chemotherapy. I guess that the concentrated version...the type Jeff considered chemo. Right now, he has a white blood cell count of 0.03, which is why he has such a great risk of infection. The chemo and immunosuppresive drugs target white blood cells, so right now a low blood count is a very good thing! Once his new bone marrow begins producing cells (which won't happen for another week or so) we will see all his blood levels rise! Jeff is constantly tired and usually nauseated, but those are his only beefs right now!

Joel is still in quite a bit of pain! I saw some pictures of his lower back, and he really does look like he has been beat! :) Feel free so show him as much sympathy as possible...sometimes he feels like his pain and suffering are being overlooked! :) On a more serious note, we are so grateful for Joel! I know that there are many who match but are unwilling to donate! Bone Marrow is not an easy thing to harvest. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Had I have known how many people would be reading this blog, I promise I would have taken some writing and grammar courses to brush up on my skills! :) Please ignore my grammatical errors!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day "5"...The Holy War 2008

I know for a fact that my husband has been a "True Blue BYU Fan" for thirty-two years now! The man graduated from the "Y" for heaven sakes. I thought he bled blue, but something went wrong today--the day of the "Holy War 2008"! After showering this morning, he asked me to get him his RED scrubs that the pres. of the university gave him on transplant day. I told him that he should probably wear blue on the day of the biggest football game of the year, but he again asked for the U of U paraphernalia! When I asked why he was going to betray his alma moder, his answer was simple..."These people saved my life!" Okay, so he's got a point! Or...maybe he feared what the nurses might push through his central line if he didn't root for the correct team! Fear can do funny things to you!:)

I don't know what these U of U doctors put inside Jeff's veins last Monday, but it couldn't have been Joel's Bone Marrow...He "bleeds blue" as well! I guess the university president was right when he wrote in his card, "eventually everyone becomes a Ute!"

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day "4"

Well, I wasn't here to witness it myself, but I hear that my husband ate like a horse tonight! He is really trying to stay away from IV nutrition for as long as possible--it is no good for the digestive system. Tonight he ate some soup, toast, crackers, rice, a twix bar, and apple juice. Yes, that is right, he ate something other than cereal! He also decided this morning that he was beginning to look like a grizzly bear, so he decided to shave his beard that had been growing for a week and a half. He has managed to keep his hair so makes me wonder if he will actually lose it! Only time will tell! I can't remember the actual percentage of people who don't lose their hair as a result of chemo, but I know that it is extremely small! Good Luck, right?

Also, some of you might have noticed that I have a spot for a slide show, but there isn't a slide show! That is because I am what I like to call a "Cyber Dummy!" If anyone knows how to make it work, please email me at: :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day "3"

There is really no big news to report today...I guess that no news is good news! Jeff had his second dose of methotrexate (a heavy immunosuppressive drug) which is totally wiping out his white blood cells. He has two more doses--one on the 6th day and the last on day 11. I guess the big news for today is that Jeff talked to Kaitlyn on the phone for the first time since he was admitted! Their conversation was limited, but I think it was good for both of them.

I have included a picture of what one nurse, Bob, told me was Jeff's second wife. When I asked why, he told me it was because it was always following him around! Yup...that is pretty much what both the med pole and I do all day...follow Jeff around!:)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day "2"

Well, Jeff developed pneumonia on Monday, and they began medicating him that day! Today, when Jeff actually left the unit for a chest x-ray, there was no sign of infection! Thank you for your prayers and fasting! We know it helps and works!

The doctor and nurses told Jeff that if he will get up and exercise, try to get some food in his stomach, and keep up on his oral care, he will get out of here sooner than later! So, Jeff jumped up and rode the bike and then did his oral care! Then, he ate a twix candy bar and some sliced peaches! Thats my man...only the good stuff! He has had a great day, and he is really trying hard!

I am trying to get a slide show of all the bald head going around! So, if you have one, please email me a picture at! I read your comments and emails to Jeff each day, and he loves to hear from you! Sorry it takes us so long to respond! We'll get better at it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day "1"

Is that what I think it is? A SMILE! Yes, that is right! Jeff actually smiled today! I am going to attribute that smile to the seven pounds he lost last night, and the fact that he hasn't thrown-up in 24 hours! Around Saturday, his body started absorbing fluids. He went from weighing 180 lbs on Wednesday to 205 lbs. yesterday. Dr. Tsai was very concerned and put him on lasix to draw the water out of his tissues. Joel was able to visit before he headed back down to St. George today. He said he feels like he has been kicked by a horse! Imagine that! I hope he survived the five hour drive home! Jeff agrees that today has been the best day he has had yet! Which reminds me...we have been here for a week already! Time flies when you are having fun! :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day "0"...Jeff's New "BM" Birthday

Around 4:15 p.m. today, Jeff was given "new life!" Since the bone marrow creates all blood cells needed to sustain life, Jeff's bone marrow was litterally reborn! We will now call November 17, 2008 Jeff's New "BM" Birthday! Thanks to Joel Andrus and his donation of a little over a liter of perfect 10 out of 10 matched bone marrow, my husband will be able to continue to be here with us on this earth. I know that it wasn't an easy thing for Joel to do. It taxed him both mentally and physically. There are not words to express how grateful we are for this act. Joel had a needle pushed through his hip bones over 250 times in order to donate bone marrow today. He is incredibly sore...we are so sorry for that.
Unfortunately Jeff was pretty much unaware that the transplant was taking place. After a fairly rough morning with several doctors and nurses in and out of his room, he could barely open his eyes. It is expected that his health will continue to decrease for another week or so since he is on heavy immunosuppresive drugs (these are needed to aviod a regrection or graft verses host disease). However, in about 9 to 13 days his new marrow will have settled into his kidneys, liver, and bone marrow cavities and begin producing new blood cells. At that time, we should see his health increase.
Jeff received some birthday gifts today...some coming from the office of the President of the UofU, Mike Young. In his hand written card, President Young assured Jeff that, "eventually everyone becomes a Ute!" Tim Anderson from St. George, who sits on the board of trustees here at this university, has made sure we are receiving VIP treatment. We appreciate the special care so much.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Day "-1"

JOEL MADE IT BACK FROM HAWAII...that is the best news we have had today! Since he did not manage to get stung by a stingray or contract any crazy diseases while on vacation, the transplant is on for tomorrow! This is a picture of Joel's tatoo he got in Hawaii. He wanted to make sure the surgeon cut open the correct side...the back side and not the front side!:) I am not sure of the schedule for it all, but I know it will be a huge day for all involved! I guess Joel has to check in at 6a.m. Check the blog for a "NEW BIRTHDAY" (Day "0"--Transplant day) post!
Today has been an extremely hard day for my husband. Around four this morning, he woke up with excruciating pain in his abdomen. As it turns out, the mesna (a medication that is supposed to bind the chemo before it reaches the bladder to prevent the bladder lining from being injured) did not do its job. Therefore, the doctor believes the chemo reached the bladder and caused the inner lining to slough off and cause lots of bleeding. Since his platelets are so low, his body is having trouble clotting the blood. The doctor said he would be in pain and experience bleeding for the next couple of days. So, Jeff is receiving morphine shots every two to three hours to keep the pain under control, plus he has been transfused with three bags of platelets.
As I was typing this post, I watched a life flight helicopter land on the top of Primary Children's Medical Center. The smallest of beds was taken from inside and wheeled into the elevator. I had a feeling of overwhelming gratitude for my little ones! They have been watched over and protected. The only thing I can think of that would be worse than seeing Jeff go through this process would be helping one of them through something like this! Thanks again for everything each one of you have given to us! Take Care! GOOD LUCK TOMORROW JOEL!

Day "-2"

Today was the last day of CHEMO! Hooray!! It was a very long day for Jeff. He received several transfusions, had a reaction to to an immunosuppresive drug to caused severe back pain and a rash, plus he had some nausea (and everything related to it!) I, on the other hand, had an amazing day with my kids! Jay and Jackie stayed with Jeff while I went to see my kids...on Jeff's orders! It was very important to him that one of us saw them, and since he had no options, I GOT TO GO! It was a wonderful day. I stayed with them until I put them to bed tonight, and then returned to the hospital to relieve his parents!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day "-3"

Today has been a quiet day. Jeff felt fairly good this morning, and he slept for most of it. After his third dose of chemo tonight, he vomited a little. The pharmacist was here yesterday, and Jackie asked about the chemo. She said that they rate chemo from 1-10...10 being the strongest. Jeff is receiving about a level 8 each day. The name of the chemo is cyclophosphamide. Jeff can feel when it is going in him! It is a feeling he can't describe and no one will ever understand unless they experience it for themselves.

I have been sleeping here at the hospital with Jeff while my kids are in Nephi with my parents. There are several interruptions during the night, but the small fold out bed isn't to bad. I was able to go home this afternoon (well to my sisters house in Bountiful) to shower and take a nap while Jay and Jackie spent the morning and part of the afternoon here with Jeff. I guess I shouldn't have left, because when I did, the clippers came out! Jay was completely bald when I returned! Jay makes a good bald man! I think he could probably get used to not using a comb. Jay's not the only one sporting a bald head! Jayson, Joel, Quinten, Carter, Bradley, Peyton, and Jacob are shiny on top as well! As soon as I get pictures of all of them, I will post them on this blog! It will provide some comic relief to you! :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day "-4"

Well...last night started out great, and then the nausea kicked in around 4 am. The rest as they say is history! Jeff has not been able to eat much today, but he did eat a bowl of cereal before his second dose of chemo tonight. Jeff also received his first dose of ATG, which is an immuno-suppression drug. I had to take a picture of Jeff's med pole because it seems to grow every time I walk into the room! More and more fluids...more and more drugs! Hang in there Jeff!
I think the best thing that has happened to us since yesterday was the fact that Jeff was moved to a new room. Now, I say new, but that simply means a different, bigger, nicer room...not a new and improved room. The U of U BMT unit is quite old and out dated, but the nursing staff makes up for any discomfort! They are amazing! We have had so many little miracles in our short stay here in SLC. We have been blessed with everything from wonderful living accomodations offered by others and extra special care from doctors and nurses to pictures of shaved heads to lighten our mood (which I plan to post on this blog for your enjoyment as soon as they are emailed to me). Thank you, thank you, thank you! We could not do this without the help of our support system!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day "-5" was a big day! After seven and a half hours of transfusions this morning at Huntsman, we drove over to UofU Hospital for a Line Placement. The Central Line was heaven sent! NO MORE POKING! Everything goes in through the ports on the central line...chemo, meds, fluids, and the transplant itself. Around 7pm he started his first round of chemo, which went rather well. They say the worst side effects wont come for a couple days! Jeff went through a lot today, but he managed to keep really upbeat! So far we have had amazing nurses and we have had some great visits from doctors and hospital administor assistants. Joel...please don't feel guilty that you are sitting on a beach in Hawaii and driving down the coast in your convertible. Jeff is comfortable in his deluxe twin bed in the UofU BMT unit! We'll see you on Monday...after your relaxing vacation!

Day "-6"

So, we have been told that children deal with the hair loss from chemo better when they help cut the parents' hair in the first place. Therefore, Jeff let Kaitlyn start the process on Tuesday! She took a couple swipes and then wasn't too sure about it! So, Jeff took a turn and then I finished it off! Jeff actually handled it very well...and I don't think he looks to bad as a bald man!:) Every time Kolten saw him, he giggled! It was a lot of fun for our family! Bald is beautiful!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day -7

Jeff will officially be admitted to the U of U hospital on November 12, 2008. He will receive four days of chemotherapy, and then have one day of rest. On Monday, November 17th, Joel Andrus will donate, or harvest, a liter and a half of Bone Marrow which Jeff will recieve that day. That is Day "0," and it will be considered his "New Birthday!" From Day "0," Jeff will remain in the hospital for 5 to 8 weeks, and then in the Salt Lake Valley until Day "100," when he will be evaluated and hopefully released to go home to St. George!