Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Day "44"

It's Official...Jeff is going home...AGAIN! :) What a way to start a NEW YEAR! The doc took the catheter out this morning, and lets just say that it was an eye opening experience for Jeff...literally! She didn't tell him she was taking it out, she just yanked! He has been able to go to the restroom on his own (with the help of lasix because he has gained lots of water weight). We were told that some bleeding is to be expected--just not big clots! So the bladder has been checked off the discharge list. The lung doctor stopped by this morning, ordered a chest x-ray, and scheduled a follow-up in January. He is not worried about the 2000 mL + fluid in there unless Jeff becomes short of breath. So the the lung has been checked off the discharge list. Jeff is about to receive a bag of platelets, and then his daily "filler-up" will be complete. So, I believe we are almost ready!
Speaking of blood products, I was looking through some blood work results from before transplant and I was amazed! When Jeff went to Dr. Graf in St. George back in May for reoccurring sinus infections and mouth sores, the doctor ordered some blood work to be done. When he got those results, he immediately called Jeff and told him he was concerned. A healthy young man with a remarkable medical history shouldn't have low blood counts. Amazingly enough, some of those counts were lower then than they are post transplant! In the beginning of all of this (Dr. Graf), his White Blood Count (WBC) was 2.1, his hemoglobin was 13.5, his platelets were 127, and his ANC was 1.15. At this point, he wasn't considered severe, and he was not a candidate for a transplant. However, right before transplant, his WBC was 1.3, his hemoglobin was 6.2, his platelets were 12, and his ANC was .2! THEN...we all know what happened when the chemo started! Almost all ZERO's! As of today, his WBC is 2.51, his hemoglobin is 10.6, his platelets are 101, and his ANC is 2.2. Two days ago, some of those levels were even higher. I guess my point is that his new bone marrow from Joel is definitely making the blood that his own body could not. What an amazing process!
I have included some cute of the breathing machine that has been and will continue to be Jeff's sidekick, and the other one is Jeff shaving his NEW peach fuss that was beginning to itch! HAPPY NEW YEAR...stick close to your loved ones! Let them know how much you love them, because you never know what next year (tomorrow) will bring! We love you!
NOTE: Chest x-ray just revealed a slightly less pleural effusion. Maybe the doc was will resolve itself with time!

Day "43"

Well, yesterday I completely forgot to post! The day was pretty uneventful. The urologist and pulmonary doctor both said Jeff could go home anytime. Jeff only has had sediment in his bladder (probably a result of the aluminum potassium sulfate mixed with sterile water that is irrigating the badder) and it bleeds occasionally. His lung cavity is still filled with fluid, but they have ruled out all the critical problems that could cause this and are assuming it is the bodies way of dealing with all the excess fluids that are being pumped through his veins. After talking with the doctor, I (the mean wife) decided that I wanted him to stay one more night for observation and until after the catheter is out and he is urinating on his own.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Day "42"

Today was nothing but bladder irrigation and the breathing machine! Pretty exciting stuff! The urology docs will try to remove Jeff's catheter tomorrow and see what happens. He is still bleeding, but not constantly. As for his lung, the pulmonary doc said that he did not want to remove anymore fluid until they figured out where the fluid was coming from--otherwise it would just fill up again. He was going to go over the results of the CT scan with another doctor and wait for some more lab results. And...I forgot to tell you yesterday that I noticed quite a bit of fuzz on Jeff's head! His hair is already growing back! It will be interesting to see what color it is!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Day "41"

Okay...we are back at the BMT Unit. Jeff's heart rate has lowered and he has got some life back in him! :) He still has a fever, so they have run blood cultures and started an wide spectrum antibiotic until they know where the infection is coming from. They have not had to do a bladder scope yet because the nurses have been able to release any clots he has had since last night. A CT scan showed that he still had a "moderate sized" right pleural effusion (fluid between his lung and rib cage), so I am assuming they will tap it again tomorrow! Hopefully the worst of bladder issue is behind us. I don't want to see Jeff in that much pain ever again...I felt completely helpless.
On a more positive note, Jeff has definitely engrafted! He has an ANC of 4.0 and a WBC of 4.75! He also has no sign of GVHD! I had to stop today and remind myself of all the amazing things that are happening because I have been focusing on the bad for the past three days. ALSO...I have been getting a good laugh from what I like to call Jeff's "morphine thoughts!" He has said some of the funniest things lately after taking pain meds! I am starting to keep a note of the things he says!

Day "40"

Yesterday was an absolute nightmare that began at 4 a.m. As we were talking to the night nurse the night before, Jeff and I decided that we needed to request a consult with a urologist about Jeff's bladder. He had lost so much blood since Christmas Eve, and the BMT doctors were sure that the problem would eventually heal itself. We never had to request however, because around 4 a.m. Jeff got a blood clot stuck in his urethra--he could in no way relieve himself. The nurses called the doc's, who called the urology department, who instructed them to place a three way catheter and start irrigating the bladder. After trying to release the clot several times unsuccessfully, urology finally came and cleared the urethra. However, it clogged again several times during the day...each time getting more and more and more painful for Jeff. Several times during the day he stated that he could not bear the pain anymore, and they gave him more and more drugs which still did not touch the pain. Several times urology was called, and they simply told the nurses to continue irrigating to move and release clots--"that is all we will do." Well, around 5 p.m. , Jeff again had a large blood clot which the nurses could not remove. Urology told them to place a different catheter and irrigate again. The nurse did that, released the clot, and then tried to place another three way catheter. Unfortunately, she could not get a new catheter in, called urology, and they told her to have another nurse try...still they didn't come. Meanwhile, Jeff's pulse rate increased, he got a fever, and he became pretty much lethargic...and then was rushed to surgical ICU. There, I was kicked out while they tried (unsuccessfully) to place the catheter. Jeff's parents and siblings (who were coming up for a Merry Christmas visit) arrived at this time, and his dad and brothers gave him a Priesthood Blessing. FINALLY, the urologist came in an quickly placed the catheter, irrigated the bladder, removed several blood clots, and got Jeff's urine (if you can call it that) flowing freely. During the day, he received 4 bags of blood and a continuous platelet drip. He is still in the ICU this morning, but his pulse rate and fever have lowered. They are still deciding whether to scope the bladder today, but they plan to draw more liquid out of his lungs--the pulmonary department believes he has another 1500 to 2000 mLs of fluid in there still. I will post later this evening with the results of the day.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Day "39"

Well, we are back. Ever since I brought Jeff "home," I have been worried that I wouldn't know when to take him in if there was a problem. However, today I knew it was time. He continued to pass a lot of blood all day yesterday and again through the night. Then, when I went to check on him this morning, he was taking small short breaths. I couldn't get him up and moving because he was so exhausted. So, when I saw a break in the weather, I drug him out of bed, loaded the kids in the car, put the chains on my front tires, and headed for the hospital. Upon arriving, Dr. Tsai and Latha quickly checked him out, and decided that the cavity between his lung and chest on the right side must be over half way full. A chest xray confirmed that, so a doctor came in to do a thoracentesis--they stuck a catheter into his chest cavity and drained the fluid. The bag Jeff is holding is that fluid. Over 2000 mL's...and there was still more. The doctor said that was all he would take out at this time to avoid other problems. Luckily he didn't think there was any sign of infection. They are keeping him over night to watch the bleeding. He received two bags of blood and three bags of platelets. They believe that the platelets will help the bladder problem. They believe he will get to go back to Park City tomorrow. At least we had him home for Christmas Day...that is all that matters!

Day "38"

MERRY CHRISTMAS! We hope you all had a wonderful day filled with family and fun! We had an amazing Christmas Jeff and I will never forget. Our kids were thrilled with the gifts "Santa" (with the help of loving family and friends) left them. It is a good thing they are so young-- they won't expect Santa to be this generous again next year! ;) What a wonderful Christmas Morning! The picture of Jeff asleep during Christmas Dinner is classic and common these days!
If it wasn't for the blizzard outside, I probably would have taken Jeff down to the hospital this afternoon. Although his blood levels were checked yesterday at the BMT Clinic, and he didn't need any blood products, he urinated a lot of blood clots in the night. He has been bleeding since the last day of chemo, but last night was different. He also has a new pain in his chest and a slight fever. Dr. Tsai said that it wasn't an emergency and that we could go tomorrow when the weather isn't so bad.

Day "37"

When Jeff was diagnosed in July, I thought that his transplant was coming quickly. I just knew that he would be home for our first Christmas in our new house. Then, when we were told that he wasn't considered severe yet and that his transplant wasn't going to be anytime soon, I just knew that his transplant wouldn't be until after Christmas. I kept telling people, "If we can just make it until Christmas!" I'm not sure why, but Christmas has always been a big deal for me. Then, in October, when Jeff's levels dropped into the severe category, and we began preparing for transplant, I prayed that he would be able to spend Christmas with my kids and I. My prayers were answered! Although there were several times I thought it may not happen, my little family was all in one place...a wonderful, snowy place...on Christmas Eve. I believe I witnessed a miracle! Jeff tried so hard to be involved in the Christmas Eve "duties"--although he fell asleep a few times while doing so! Merry Christmas!

Day "36"

After doing some serious grocery shopping, I left Jeff in Park City, and drove down to get my kids from my sister, Suzanne...bless her for taking them overnight so I could get Jeff in and comfortable! I took this picture of the condo we are staying in as I was leaving--the snow is beautiful! Home health came for the first time tonight. Our nurse is the cutest thing! For all you Juab Wasps out there, her and her husband own the pizza place in Kamas (South Summit)...most of you will be familiar with that! Anyway, she taught me how to hook up Jeff's iv meds (1000 mL's of fluid over eight hours each night) and flush the lines on his port. The kids were completely out of control...welcome home Jeff! I hope you can handle the noise level! :)

Day "35"

Thanks for the post, Suzy! Here are some fun pictures from the "Big Day" that I thought you all would enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It is official--Jeff has left the hospital!!! Kathryn asked me, her sister Suzanne, to post tonight. They are hoping to get internet access very soon so she can keep everyone updated on Jeff's progress. Kathryn said that after two units of blood, two units of platelets, a kidney ultrasound and a bladder ultrasound Jeff was finally given the green light. Way to go Jeff!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day "34"

GREAT NEWS!!! Jeff is breaking out of the hospital tomorrow! His (and Joel's) amazing bone marrow actually increased a little instead of decreasing without the neupogen shot (ANC=1.5 and WBC=2.37)! He has no sign of GVHD, and that is an amazing thing in and of itself! Now...I have to add that anything can change between now and tomorrow afternoon. So, I have given myself a pep talk about keeping my composure if they decide not to release him! :) SIDE NOTE TO ALL THE REGULARS...I know for sure that I will post again tomorrow, but after that, I will not have Internet access for a little while. I hope you can find something to replace your morning blog break!:) Thanks for your support! We love you!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Day "33"

Today we are approximately 1/3 of the way through our "Winter Holiday!" Time flies when you are having a blast! :) Actually, time is passing rather quickly--I only speak for myself...not Jeff! Jeff's count did not change much today. Is this good or bad? I am not sure! He did not receive a neupogen shot today, so tomorrow we will see how far his counts drop. That will give us a good idea of a release date. The fact that he didn't get a shot should also make him start to feel less pain! I am crossing my fingers on that one. Enjoy your Sunday before Christmas. It should be a special one!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Day "32"

Jeff exceeded my expectations today! When I called first thing this morning, he reported that his ANC was 1.2 (yes, more than doubling yesterdays count) and his WBC was 2.08! They are hoping that today was his last neupogen shot...only Sunday's 4am blood work will tell! :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day "31"

Yahoo! Jeff hit an ANC of .5 today, and he has a White Blood Count (WBC) of 1.0! I don't know what the nurses did, but I did my own "happy dance" here at my sisters house when I heard the news! That was still not the ticket to go home, but the doctor said that Christmas Eve was a realistic release date! :) He still has some issues to overcome--lung, kidney function, potassium level, bladder, neupogen, etc, etc, etc! He received platelets and blood and had the usual nausea and vomiting. Seriously, I don't know how he does it!
Oh-ya...more good news! As of today, all of Jeff's medications have been switched to PO (which just means they are taken orally)! So, he only needs his med pole (aka his second wife) when he receives blood products! Other than that, he is a free man! The trips to the bathroom just got a little easier! :)
One last thing...I put a hit counter on this blog last Friday morning, and as of tonight (Thursday) there have been 2158 hits! Thanks for the overwhelming show of support! You don't have a clue how much it brightens our day! Thanks!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Day "30"

Jeff has officially been in the U of U BMT Unit for five weeks today! If his counts continue to rise as "scheduled"--.1 each day, we shouldn't be here much longer. His counts were ANC=.4 and White Blood=.79! He looked and felt better than he had in at least a week. The pain and nausea were still there, but they were able to control it better. He barely squeaked by without blood or platelet transfusions, which meant he had a quiet, peaceful day. As far as the collapsed lung goes, the doctor is not going to worry to much about it unless Jeff gets a fever--because that would be an indication of an infection!

Just in case you are unaware...there are eight days until Christmas! :) And...we are missing a very unusual St. George snow storm! :(

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day "29"

Quick Stats: White Blood Cell Count = .57 and ANC = .3 YEAH!!

Jeff had a "hopefully" minor set back today. After talking with a nurse about some pain around around his shoulder blade, she decided to suggest a chest x-ray. That x-ray showed that Jeff's right lung has quite a bit of fluid around it and that his right lung is also collapsed. Right now, they are just having him exercise and use his breathing machine more often to try to fix the problem. I am sure the doctor will have more to say about it tomorrow.

Every year, the patients who are here around Christmas donate an ornament for the BMT Unit Christmas Tree. I included pictures of the ornament we added today! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day "28"

Happy four week BMT Birthday Jeff! We celebrated with an ANC of .2! At this rate, we should be out by Christmas! When we leave here, we will be going to a condo in Park City for the remaining days (until Day "100")! I am going to call it our "Winter Holiday!" At Day "100," Jeff will be evaluated, and they will decide whether he can go home to St. George! I have been told that Huntsman is pretty stuck on the "100" day thing, but we will see! We'd be glad to go home early! :)
When Jeff's blood counts reach a certain level, they won't give him the neupogen shot anymore. I hope it is soon--I hate to see my husband in pain! Pain = pain pill = nausea = anti-nausea medicine = long naps during the day = long sleepless nights!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Day "27"

Jeff's white blood cell count dropped a little this morning, but his ANC stuck it out! Platelets, vomiting, sleeping, football...just another day in paradise! According to Jeff eating, drinking, and taking pills were optional today! :) Better luck tomorrow!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Day "26"

Hooray Daddy! Jeff's ANC actually showed up on his morning blood work today! It was 0.1! His nurse , Chris, came in at 6 a.m. doing her best "HAPPY DANCE!" His white blood cell count also came up to .37...a big jump from yesterday's .08! Things are beginning to work--now we wont have to make threatening phone calls to Joel's house in the middle of the night! :) The doctors want his blood counts to rise slowly or he will have an increased risk of graft verses host disease (GVHD). It is a miserable thing to live with as it can cause skin rashes and problems with the liver and stomach. I am finding that a lot a patients who are readmitted to the BMT unit are struggling with GVHD. Since Jeff had a bone marrow transplant instead of a stem cell transplant, his odds of getting GVHD went down to about 50%. GVHD is helpful to patients who have cancer because it also fights cancerous cells, but it will do nothing for Jeff but cause him to feel awful.'s to a slow and gradual climb to an ANC count of .5! Congrats Jeff! We are so excited for you!

Day "25"

Sorry...Sorry...Sorry for not posting yesterday! It was one of those days, but I posted a picture of what Jeff did pretty much ALL day...SLEEP! The neupogen shot they have been giving him has a tendency to make your bones and joints ache quite severely. Finally, Jeff asked for some pain medication to dull the pain. It worked, but it also put him to sleep for most of the day. It seems like everything that is good also brings something bad along with it. Also, his white blood cells came up to 0.08 and his ANC came up to .017...again a small change, but a change indeed!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day "24"

The only news of today was that Jeff's white blood cell count increased from .04 to .06! That increase was most likely a result of the neupogen shot he is receiving in his stomach each day now. Other than that, there was no change. Although Jeff slept through most of it, today was a good day! :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day "23"

For the first time in four weeks, our little family was in the same place at the same time! :) After realizing that I hadn't wiped either of my kids noses once this morning, I quickly packed them up and headed to the hospital! Jeff didn't know they were coming, so we totally surprised him! I was so proud of Kolten... As soon as he made eye contact with Jeff, he ran to him with open arms! Jeff has been so worried that he would forget him since he was so young and it had been four weeks... but that was NOT the case! He wanted to stay on Jeff's lap for most of the visit. Kolten's reaction helped Kaitlyn warm up a bit today as well! She is still a little distant, but Jeff found that gummy bears make a big difference--"Give me another hug and I'll give you more!"

As far as blood cells are concerned, there was no change today. That was a little bit of a downer! However, we still have fifteen days until Christmas, so we can procrastinate a little longer! :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day "22"

Jeff called me this morning around 8 am sounding frusterated. He had just gotten his blood results back and his ANC (absolute neutrophil count) was still at 0.0! The ANC has to be .5 for three days straight before he can be released from the hospital. Again, he expressed his concern that his transplant wasn't going to work! However, when Dr. Cao came in for morning rounds, he gave us some semi-good news! :) He looked at some of his blood sample under a microscope and found 12 teeny-teeny-tiny neutrophils! Which means that his ANC is now 0.0012--yeah I know it's pathetic, but it's a start! Also, Jeff was unhooked from his "second wife" (aka his med pole) all afternoon today! He loved it! I couldn't get him to sit down because he could move around his room so "freely!" It's the simple things that bring lots of JOY these days!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Day "21"

Bring on the SNOW! While I was raised with lots of snow in the winter, I have a love for skiing and snowmobiling, and I spent about seven winters driving in the snow, I am completely scared to death of the stuff! I have "Dixie Blood" now, and I am a serious cold weather pansy! As I left my sisters warm house this morning and began driving to the hospital in what I considered a white out, and what the rest of the drivers probably considered a mild winter storm, I decided that I must really love my husband! And then, when I left my sisters house for the second time tonight and found ice on the roads, I decided that I was a complete idiot! All in the name of LOVE! Well, that and the fact that Jeff had a craving for apples and microwave popcorn! After a series of Connect Four games in which I lost 2 to 3, some microwave popcorn, a good foot rub, and writing this post, I have decided that it is time to go back out on the icy roads with a prayer in my heart that my reaction skills are up to par!

No cells today, but they started Jeff on nupigyne (spelling?) shots which are supposed to stimulate white blood cell growth. He will receive them daily until he begins producing his own blood cells!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Day "20"

Nope, no blood cells yet, but lets look at the bright side...Jeff didn't have any transfusions today! Unfortunately, that means that he will probably end up having both blood and platelets tomorrow, but that is a good twelve hours away! :) Kaitlyn was able to visit again today for a few minutes! She is not sure what to think about this place or the things that her dad is hooked up will take some time to get used to! Kolten is still a little under the weather, but I hope to bring him to see Jeff soon!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Day "19"

Today, a visit from a very special person made Jeff's entire week! Although Kaitlyn was not what I would consider healthy, Jeff just had to see his little girl today! It is amazing what a little girl with a cute little smile can do to brighten your day! It had been three and a half weeks since he left her at my parents house, and he has been aching to see her since! The fact that Jeff has absolutely no immune system meant that our visit was short, but it was very sweet. Healing for both of them! :) Happy Day 19!

Day "18"

So, I apologize for not posting yesterday! It could have something to do with the fact that I left Nephi at 6 a.m., drove to St. George, picked up my kids from Jeff's sisters house, got some "stuff" from my house, had the kids play with our dog Rustee who is across the street, drove to Nephi, picked up my kids' stuff from my parents, and then drove to Farmington to a Christmas Party at 6:30 p.m.! My dad accompanied me on this trek, or I probably would have given up half way through! By the time the Christmas party was over, and my kids were still wired until about 11 p.m., I couldn't focus long enough to post! Jeff's parents stayed with him all day yesterday... Thanks Jay and Jackie! From what I hear, the day was very uneventful! Jeff had a wonderful nurse, Louisa, who made the day go smoothly! No platelets, no blood products...good day! :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Day "17"

Today the BMT unit had their staff Christmas Party! When we heard the caroling, we walked outside Jeff's room to gain a little holiday cheer! Jeff has been in a rather good mood today--even with three transfusions! He even let me take AND post a picture of him and his 90% bald head! :) I think he is still as handsome as ever!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Day "16"

Today was a good day of rest for Jeff! He didn't have any transfusions...which was a big surprise! No transfusions= no vitals every fifteen minutes! :) We officially got the kibosh on the Christmas Lights, but they were fun while it lasted! At least we had a weeks worth of holiday cheer!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Day "15"

Two blood transfusions, one platelet transfusion...just another day in the life of Jeff Andrus! A blood test showed that Jeff still had methotrexate in his system, so the Doc told us not to be alarmed if he didn't start producing bone marrow this week! It may take a few days longer! Only time will tell.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Day "14"

I can't believe that it has been two weeks since Jeff's Bone Marrow Transplant--the transplant that Jeff really doesn't remember! Jeff might disagree, but time is passing rather quickly for me. Joel, our BM donor, came to visit tonight. He still has a hard time bending over and lifting heavy objects, but he seems to be on the mend. Forgive me for the monotonous posts lately, but we seem to be in a holding pattern. Jeff is not getting better, but he is certainly not getting worse at this point. Some how, he has been able to avoid IV nutrition. I was told today that ninety percent of patients end up on it because of nausea and mouth sores (mucosidous)! Jeff is pretty much surviving on cereal, peaches, crumb donuts, bananas, sun chips, apple juice, and Gatorade, but it is doing the trick! It can't be easy... shoveling down food when the smell, let alone the taste, make you nauseous...but he is doing it! Way to go Jeff! It just might make all the difference in the road to recovery!