January 12, 2007 , Day 87
The last two days have been difficult trials. But before I cover that, I would like to tell you about a friend.
Linda had a stem cell transplant for leukemia several months after my first transplant. We met at a (Bone Marrow Transplant) BMT Support group meeting. She became sort of the Grand Lady of the group, always upbeat and helpful to everyone. When we were training for our first Solvang Century ride, we announced it at the group meeting, and Linda pulled out her checkbook and wrote us a check on the spot. Every once in a while Menchie and I would run into her and her husband at the bookstore or at Rubios, where we would have a fun lunch or dinner telling lies about our treatments. After my relapse, Linda and her husband even came to visit me in my hospital room. Then suddenly Linda was back in the hospital getting chemo again due to some complication of her leukemia. Linda's husband kept coming around to visit me when he got the chance. When I got more mobile, I kept asking to go see Linda, but it was never a good time.
Linda was in the hospital around Christmas time, and enjoyed the carolers who came to her room. Yesterday, Menchie and I found out that some time around Christmas, Linda passed away quietly in her sleep. Another great lady gone before her time. Would she still be here if there were better chemo agents, protocols, procedures? I guess we will never know. But for those of you who work so hard to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, we would like to thank you for your efforts on Linda's behalf. We need to redouble our efforts. If you are asked to support a runner or rider for a TNT event, I would ask that you all give most serious consideration to donating generously on behalf of wonderful people like Linda and her husband. There are millions more fighting the same battle, of all ages who need your help.
Now to the rest of my life this week. I have been eating pretty well, and my tongue is recovering from GVHD with remarkable speed from the new drug, so my eating horizons have been expanding rapidly. Wednesday morning after a huge breakfast, we went to the store to get food for lunch. First stop was Henry's market for some specialty items we needed. I walked around in my walker, but became exhausted again. Sitting down didn't improve things again, and I passed out at Henry's. Menchie got a couple of cashiers to help me lie down on the floor, where I started to recover. By then, the paramedics were there, and they discovered that my pulse was 40 and I was experiencing something called "PVC", which is some kind of heart arrhythmia, Premature Ventricular Complex (PVC). Anyway, as they worked me over, they also discovered it is almost impossible to start an IV on me. By the time they were ready to put me on the gurney, my pulse and heartbeat were back to normal.
So instead of lunch, I got another trip to the emergency room. They brought in an IV specialist who had an ultrasound machined to help find the veins. Even with that, the first try got into the vein, but he couldn't get the catheter threaded. It was excruciating down to my toes. When he pulled the needle out, it was bent! The second try, in my upper arm went flawlessly. Then they started hydrating me. Prior to that I told them to give me some water or gatorade and I would start hydrating myself, but they said that hydrating by IV was much faster. My response was that IVs work for hydration only when they have one operating so they immediately got me a gatorade.
After about 6 hours of waiting around, they decided to move me to Scripps Green Hospital, so I was back on the ambulance for a nice long ride. They wanted to figure out why I was fainting. Yesterday, after talking to cardiologists and other doctors, the consensus remained that the Metropolol was probably the main culprit so they discontinued that. The EKG revealed another arrhythmia, called Bigemini. Then the cardiologists gave me the rather devastating news that they thought I might need a pacemaker put in. This was not part of my plan at all. Then they thought they would give me something called a Holter Monitor, which records heart activity over a 24 hour period which is then analyzed by cardiologists. Finally they decided to give me a monitor which apparently I will only use for short periods, and then upload the information from it to the cardiologists by phone. For some reason, about 1pm, they decided to give me a transfusion, so we had to try to find some blood. In the mean time, they gave me an echocardiogram, and found out that my heart was MUCH stronger than it had been in the previous test. Because of this, they said I could go home after the transfusion. They finally got some blood later in the afternoon, but it was the wrong type, so they had to send it back. They gave me some new blood pressure medicine, because my blood pressure was still pretty high most of the day. Finally at about 7:30pm they got the right type of blood, and they promised I could go home after the transfusion was done. We finally got home around 10:30pm. We will be getting the heart monitor fitted next week, and I will be seeing a cardiologist the week after.
All of this has taken a huge toll on both myself and Menchie. We try to operate as a team, walking side by side through life. I always think of the story about the person looking back at the tracks left by their walk through life with God, and complaining that in many areas there was only one set of tracks. The implication being that God abandoned them. God points out that where there was only one track was where God was carrying the person. I think of Menchie and I walking down the beach together and seeing similar results. Yesterday, I really stressed Menchie in many ways, but one of them was where she had to carry me (emotionally) down the beach of life. This morning, I returned the favor. I think we are both recovering pretty well, but as I said, I have severely stressed Menchie, and it will take some time before she recovers completely. She is amazing. The really hard thing is that I am going to continue to push myself too hard and cause Menchie more stress. I am so sorry, Menchie. We still haven't gotten the rest of the fixins for lunch! We may eventually ask our friends for help in taking me for walks.
On the medical front, Metoprolol has been discontinued. The new medicine is Lisinopril. I am still taking Cyclosporine, Magnesium, Folic Acid, Diflucan, Nystatin, Budesomide, and Protonix. I still have about 6 days to go on the Levaquin.
Lab results: The last few days have continued to wreak havoc on my blood counts, but the doctors are not concerned.
Blood Cell Type
Have a great day everybody!
Ted and Menchie