Missy's Story

Her Progress - Her Triumphs
Via her mother's journal 

     Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway. - John Wayne 


    May 2004 

    Missy with Michelle (left) and Bonnie (right)

    If you have never accessed this page before, and wish to read the updates in chronological order, you will have to start at the bottom. The newest information is at the top of the page, because most visitors are friends and family, who frequently access this page.

    Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. 
            - Soren Kierkegaard

    May 16, 2004 Day +12

    Today, Missy's ANC (white count)  is over 6.000 (six thousand). It more than doubled. Such an improvement from ZERO. Her hemoglobin is over 9, so she doesn't need red blood. Her platelets have dropped to 19, so she will need platelets today. She put out over 5 liters of fluid from the Lasix that she had yesterday and last night. The swelling has gone down a great deal. Her breathing is much better. They are going to cut back on the Lasix. The only IV input that she will have today will be TPN, platelets, and the antibiotic Zosyn. Dr. Keith told me that it's a new antibiotic that is in the penicillin family, that's only in IV form.

    I am concerned that Missy is confused. The doctors feel that with all of the Lasix that she has had that her electrolites are off. She has done things like try to get out of bed by herself and try to get out on the opposite side of the bed from where her IV lines are. I will try to get her to drink some Gatoraid today. All that she wants to drink is plain, icy cold, Aquafina bottled water.

    She got upset with Bruce when he noticed a bruise on her inner arm. He was worried that we had bruised her helping her up. She said that it was from a shot. She doesn't get shots in her inner arm.

    Sarah is back as Missy's nurse today. As I am typing this at 9:30 A.M., Sarah told me that she just removed the last antibiotic, the Zosyn. It's finished. She said, "We're stopping all of the antibiotics. That was the last one, the Zosyn."

    May 15, 2004 Day +11

    Today is a momentous day. Missy is no longer nuetropenic. Her white count is great. Everyone is very excited about it. Sarah told her that she could have a salad to eat if she wants one. (Missy still doesn't want to eat yet. She sipped a little milk, which I had laced with 2 Carnation Instant Breakfasts and 2 scoops of protein powder.)

    Her ANC (absolute neutrophil count) is 2.792. Normal is between 2.200 and 7.600! Dr. Brunson had predicted that her white count would double from yesterday but it went up about 7 times more than it was. Her hemoglobin is 10.3. Normal is 12.0 - 16.0, so it's a little below normal, but high enough that she doesn't need any transfusions today! Her platelets are at 40. They still need to go up, but that number is much better than 17, which is where they have been. They have told us that the platelets take the longest to recover. Dr. Myer told us this morning that today is the turning point. The blood work shows that the stem cells have engrafted and are working. She will begin to feel stronger each day. Valerie told us that once the blood counts are where they are now, that it takes a couple of days for the body to catch up with realizing it and start feeling stronger. Her mouth sores are already much, much better. The plan is to cut the TPN (IV nutrition) back to half, to encourage Missy to eat. (They have told us that when a patient is on the full dose of TPN for 24 hours, that they just do not feel hungry. It provides the calories and they just don't feel the desire to eat.) All that she wants to eat right now is ice. 

    The problem today is that Missy still has some fluid retention. Her left arm and hand are very, very puffy. (This is due to poor circulation in her upper left body because of the previous blood clots on that side.)  With her white count up and her mouth better, they will stop giving her antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals by IV and start giving her more meds by mouth. So for today no transfusion, no more IV antibiotics, and a half dose of TPN will cut out a lot of the volume of the fluids that they are pumping into her, which will balance the  fluid problem.

    Missy's pulse rate is still much better than it was earlier in the week. Her blood pressure is higher. (Hers is usually low.) That may be from having so many fluids in her body or a medication may be causing that. Her temperature is staying at or a little below normal. Today, Sarah and Jeanette are taking care of Missy today.

    Jeanette, always  sweet and always smiling :)

    Miss Hattie, always has a kind word.

    Missy's night nurse is Nicole. The nursing assistant is Tim. We have never met him before. I left the room to use the computer in the family room for the BMTSupport.org chat. Bruce came to get me when I was just getting off of the computer. He said that Missy was sitting in the recliner, on top of her IV lines that Nicole needed to change and that they couldn't talk her into getting up and off of them. I went back and talked her into getting in bed, so that Nicole could hook up her TPN. I just don't take no for an answer.

    "Every life has dark tracts and long stretches of somber tint, and no representation is true to fact which dips its pencil only in light, and flings no shadows on the canvas." ~ Alexander Maclaren 1826-1910, British Preacher 

    May 14, 2004 Day +10

    She had more of a white count today, about 480. Dr. Brunson expects her white count to more than double each day. Missy is retaining some fluids. Her face and arms got round over night. Dr. Keith checked on her at 8:00 and ordered some extra Lasix. Having so much extra fluid staying in her body makes it hard for her to breathe. She doesn't feel well today, and is spending a lot of time napping (in between Lasix trips). I have noticed that her pulse rate is lower than it had been being in the past. It's around 100 or even lower at times, around 80 something. That is much better than 130 or so for a resting rate.

    Her platelets were down to 17 today, so she needed platelets. She didn't even run a temperature after receiving the platelets today.  Her hemoglobin was over 9, so she didn't get any red blood cells today. Sarah and Minerva are taking care of her. Tonight, Haejoung and Angela will be here again.

     "I can be changed by what happens to me.  I refuse to be reduced by it." Maya Angelou

    May 13, 2004 Day +9

    Dr. Brunson said that Missy may be able to go home sometime next week. That would be wonderful.
    She had a small white count today, a little over 200. Dr. Brunson excepts her white count to be double tomorrow. 
    Jenny was her nurse again today. Arlene was here too.

    I walked over to Hollings Cancer Center today and went into the Looking Glass shop. It's a shop for cancer patients. I was looking for some little cotton/polyester light weight knit caps for Missy. They didn't have any, but knew what I was talking about. I bought a little white tam

    Seems that physical therapy forgot to come see Missy today and yesterday. I'll have to get someone to find out why.

    Missy was very restless again during the night. Haejoung gave her some Ativan by IV to calm her down.

    Mr. Timmons went home today. I took pictures of the Timmons, waving goodbye, going through the doors leading into this unit.

    Sharon, whose husband, Dennis was here in the unit for about a month of Missy's current stay in the hospital, came in to visit this afternoon. It was good to see her. Dennis had to come for doctor's visit today. He needed platelets, which take about an hour to infuse, so while he was having that done in the day treatment center over at the bone marrow transplant clinic, Sharon came to visit us. The plan is for Dennis to come in for another induction chemo soon and his transplant should be in July. I hope that he gets this big room again.

    Our 8 West friends, Mr. and Mrs. Timmons, heading home to Florence.


    More 8 West friends, Sharon and her daughter Kristan.
    Sharon's husband Dennis will have an allo BMT in July.
    She came to visit us, while Dennis was in the day treatment clinic today.

    May 12, 2004 Day +8

    After the "flying" trip home to work today, I arrived back in Charleston about 6:00. My Jeep seems to know the way. Missy still doesn't want to eat anything. Her mouth still hurts, but not as much. She is only drinking a little water. She is back on full TPN because of her mouth.  More platelets and whole blood today. She got her 2nd nuepogen shot tonight. Haejoung was Missy's nurse tonight. She checked on Missy a lot. Missy had a very restless night. She seems very, very anxious. 





    May 11, 2004 Day +7

    Missy's SCT was one week ago today. Her mouth is still full of sores (mucousitis) but she is tolerating it better because of using the suction, 1 to 1 to 1 mouthwash, and the salt and soda rinse. Havng a morphine pump also helps. They upped the amount of her TPN last night because she has not been eating or drinking her milk with Carnation like she was. The mucousitis is all down her throat also, so it hurts to even swallow.  She drank a little milk today. During the night last night, she had a cherry popsicle.

    Dr. Brunson asked her how she likes her "super hero" boots. She was talking about the peach colored heel protectors. Jill brought her a cushion to hang her feet off of so that she doesn't have to wear the foam rubber boots so much. Arlene was back too. She took some time off to go to Boston to be with her daughter, who was in the hospital.

    Octavia from physical therapy came in today. She got Missy up and using the walker. Missy told her that she wants to walk. Missy went forwards and backwards from the recliner about 4 or 5 feet, 3 times and was then exhausted. Octavia showed her some more exercises to to with the dynaband. 

    She ran her first much of a fever since transplant. It was 100.5, so Dr. Brunson ordered her back on the Vancomycin. She also ordered a blood culture and a chest xray. Going for the chest xray was Missy's first trip out of her hospital room in weeks and weeks. She was very nervous. They thought that it would be ok for her to go without her oxygen for the trip to xray and back, but Missy felt that she needed it, so they got a tank to carry along. It took too folks to wheel her, along with her IV setup down to xray.

    They let me stay in the xray room with her. They put an apron on me and I stood so that I could hold her from behind for the first one and she rested her hands on my shoulders for the lateral view one. When we got back to the room, she needed a nap. I left for Sumter a little while after the xray, so that I could work on Wednesday. Her Granny Opal stayed with her until her father got there to stay the night with her. She got her first after transplant nueopogen shot tonight.

    Cathy from dietary.
    She always has a kind word for Missy.
    She has Missy in her prayers, and lets her know whenever she brings her food tray.
    Missy loves to see Cathy.

    The heel protecing boots or as named by Dr. Brunson, Missy's "Super Hero Boots."

    May 10, 2004 Day +6

    Tynetta and Carmen were with Missy today. Missy sat up for hours in the recliner today. She was in the recliner when Dr. Brunson came in and when the physical therapist came in. Dr. Brunson promised her that the Growth Factor shots (Nuepogen) will start tomorrow and that will be the beginning of her mouth getting better. Missy drank an entire carton of milk today which I had laced with vanilla Carnation Instant Breakfast and 2 scoops of protein powder. (That gave her 15 grams of protein.) She made a try at eating some canned peaches, but could only get a few bites in. She can't really chew. She had a grape popsicle and drank almost 500 mL of water today. They are still giving her Lasix, so she put out more than she took in.

    The physical therapist got her up on the walker and she walked from the recliner to the bathroom door and back. She did some sitting down exercises with the exercise band that they gave her to use. The PT noticed that her heels are breaking down and recommended something to cushion them. Later on, these big foam rubber, peach colored, ski boot looking things came it. The look on Missy's face was priceless. She told Tynetta that only her heels hurt, not her entire leg. She let Tynetta put them on her, but won't let me take a picture. Opal was here and we got so tickled at how Missy reacted to those big boot things. We had Tynetta laughing too. Sometimes you just have to have a good laugh. I haven't laughed quite so hard since Missy told Dr. Green when he asked her which was worse, the nausea or the diarrhea, that the diarrhea was just the icing on the crap cake. I told Tynetta about that today and had her laughing up a storm too.

    I worked on grading lots and lots of papers today. I got all of my papers graded and all of 1st period's grades entered on the laptop.

    I uploaded my College of Charleston classes' grades yesterday. That was a relief. That 's all done.

    Nicole and Mark are taking care of Missy tonight. Nicole was happy to let me take her picture. I already have a few of Mark from the night that he helped move her bed into this bigger room.



    "Don't let life discourage you, everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was...." Richard L. Evans 

    May 9, 2004 Day +5 Mother's Day

    Sarah and Carmen took care of Missy today. Missy's mouth and throat are still very sore, but she says that her throat is better. When Dr. Hall looked in her mouth, she just winced, and told the nurse that she was going to up the morphine dose so that Missy would be comfortable. She has seemed more comfortable today. She drank about 1/2 a carton of milk with Carnation and protein powder and later she drank white cranberry juice and  she has sipped on water. She sat up in the recliner chair for hours today, occasionally taking a little catnap.

    Her hair is starting to fall out again. There were clumps on her pillow today. Bruce and I went to Walmart to get her some new scarfs. She wants me to go to the Looking Glass at Hollings Cancer Center tomorrow so that I can get her a net to catch the falling hair, so that it doesn't end up in the bed with her.

    She has really been using the suction to keep her mouth cleared. She says it's like being at the dentist. She swishes with Magic Mouthwash, called 1 to 1 to 1 by some nurses. (1 part benedryl, 1 part lidocaine, 1 part Maloxx). That numbs her mouth. Then she uses the salt and soda rinse and then to uses the suction. 

    Michelle and Melissa are with Missy tonight. We got really tickled tonight because there is a gentleman in a room down the hall who keeps taking his hospital gown off. Michelle and Melissa keep having to go into his room and get him dressed. I just happened to overhear one of them asking him to please stop taking his clothes off because there are ladies on the hall. I told Missy about it. When Melissa came in to check her vitals, Missy said to her deadpan, "I promise to keep my nightgown on." We had to explain why she said that and we just all laughed and laughed.


    Carmen, always smiling.

    Sarah, newly engaged.

    May 8, 2004 Day +4

    Today Missy's nurse is Renee and her tech is Betsy. Betsy lives on a boat. That sounds like so much fun. Missy knew from talking with Betsy before that she has a dog. I should ask her what kind of dog, so that I can picture Betsy and her dog living on the boat. Sonia and Tammy both came in to visit with Missy. Tammy said that they have her working way at the other end of the hall.

    Missy can't eat or drink a thing now. She had had  few sores in her mouth the past few days, but when she woke up today her mouth and throat were full of sores. This is called mucousitis. 

    She was spitting out a lot of blood tinged, sticky, stringy mucous. They gave her a new medicine to try. It coats the mouth and throat. Only thing is, Missy couldn't swallow it. She choked both times. She can't take her pills because she can't swallow. Yesterday, Michelle had all of the meds that could be changed to IV changed, because she saw this coming.

    Missy worked hard with the physical therapist today doing bed exercises. The plan is to get her out of bed, using a walker on Monday. I will work with her some on Sunday. The PT brought in a stretchy band to use for resistance. She told her to try 10 or 15 reps of each exercise. Missy went for 15 each time.

    Lucy and Melissa were with Missy tonight. Lucy is always so quiet, I hardly know that she is in the room. Missy's mouth is very painful still. She hasn't been able to eat or drink all day. She can't take her by mouth , pill medications.

    She got a unit of platelets during the night. At least they can give her the benedryl for that by IV. The Tylenol does have to be given by mouth, but they have some childrens' Tylenol in liquid form.

    Melissa got Missy a popsicle at 5:00 A.M. Missy told her that she was hungry. Missy was able to eat about half of it.



    Tammy is always such a sweet lady.
    She is another one who comes to visit Missy, even when she is not her patient.

    May 7, 2004 Day +3

    Michelle and Tracee are with Missy again today. They take such good care of her. Missy will get another pint of blood and some more platelets today. Dr. Brunson is pleased with her progress. She says that she looks great. When Dr. Brunson told Missy that she wouldn't be here over the weekend, Missy looked so disappointed. We assured her that Dr. Brunson would be back on Monday, that she couldn't work every weekend. (There will be a different attending on Saturday and Sunday.)  Pam, the nurse practitioner told us during rounds today that when she was at the weekly bone marrow transplant meeting yesterday, that Dr. Frie-Lahr asked her how Missy is doing. Pam told us that she was very happy when she was able to tell her that Missy is doing well and improving each and every day.



    Tracee is always lots of fun!

    Lucy and Melissa took care of Missy tonight. Lucy gave her a unit of blood. She will give her platelets early in the morning. Lucy is like me, when Missy's head tips over to the right when she falls asleep on her banked up pillows, she wants to get her head straight again. She doesn't want Missy to be uncomfortable.



    Melissa, who often takes care of our Melissa.


     Roses from Missy for 8 West in Honor of Nurses Appreciation Week

    Last night was a very good night. Missy only needed to get out of bed 3 times to use the rest room (bedside commode). We both got a lot of sleep. Jen gave Missy a bag of platelets early this morning.

    A male patient fell in his room this morning, about shift change time. He was on fall precautions, but got out of bed by himself anyway. He ended up in ICU. I don't know if he is on the ICU on this floor or whether he went to the 4th floor. He already had a broken wrist. That was probably from a fall also.

    Dr. Brunson told us that Missy's hemoglobin is 8.0, right on the borderline, so she ordered a pint of blood for today. She said that Missy will get another pint tomorrow. She will be getting another bag of platelets late this evening or early in the morning. Here white count is 0.2. Michelle joked and said she's got about 5 nuetrophils floating around in there.

    Missy stayed awake from about 7:30 until after lunch. Physical Therapy came in and worked her out before lunch, so she was ready for a long nap.

    I found out that it's Nurses Appreciation Week, so when B.J. got here to visit with Missy, I went shopping. I found a card and bought a vase for the dozen pink roses that I purchased as a gift from Missy for the nurses. (They are just about the same color of pink that Joan's famous shoes are.) I also picked up 2 big bags of popcorn from Walmart. One bag for day shift and one bag for the night shift. I'm missing a lot of the Teacher Appreciation things going on at school this week. I know how nice it is to be appreciated by the PTSA, and we really appreciate the nurses here at the MUSC Hospital, so, that's the only way that I could think of to show our appreciation that's not really fattening, like a cake or candy would be.

    Mrs. Timmons told me that Mr. Timmons' central line (Hickman) is infected and they are going to take it out tomorrow. The nurses were having a hard time getting an IV in his hand. Michelle wasn't his nurse today, but she was helping. This will be the first time that Mr. Timmons' has had an infected central line. I hope that it's the last. Missy knows what a pain it is to keep having central lines taken out and new ones put in. I'm so glad that I have gotten to know Mrs. Timmons. She and I are able to share the ups and downs, and give each other support. I think that a patient's primary caregiver must feel things in a way that no one else can know. I feel it and I see Mrs. Timmons feel it. We have talked about how we feel to each other and how we have come to feel about each other. She and I have become very close. It's a very special bond, like family. When Penelope saw the picture of Mrs. Timmons in the room while Missy's transplant was going on, she was surprised. She recognized and asked me how was Mrs. Timmons there. I told her that I went and got Mrs. Timmons and brought her into the room. I needed to share with her.

    Missy still isn't eating much, but today she did take in 2 cartons of milk, both reinforced with vanilla Carnation Instant Breakfast and a scoop of protein powder. That gave her 20 grams of protein. Plus, she is getting TPN. She only ate a couple of bites of fruit today. Her mouth and throat are very sore. Dr. Keith ordered her some of the Magic Mouthwash that we have heard about from the Hodgkin's listserv. The pharmacy mixes it up. It's made from equal amounts of  Maloxx, benedryl, and lidocaine.

    Lucy is with Missy as her night nurse. I need to get a picture of Lucy. I need more floopy disks for my Sony digital camera. (Yes, it does take regular floppy disks. They are very popular with schools and teachers.) Lucy plans to give Missy a bag of platelets at 11:20. That will take about 30 minutes. Then she will give her more Lasix. (The Lasix is keeping her output great. It was 850 cc, almost a whole liter a while ago. (That was from 2 bathroom trips.)

    Ashley came in to visit with Missy, so I was able to get a picture of her. While Ashley was in here, I got a shot of Lucy too. She and Ashley are both great. Clarice, the tech is always very kind to her too.

    Missy with Ashley


    Clarice with Missy

    May 5, 2004 Day +1

    I worked today. It felt so strange to be there. I told Cheryl (assistant principal) that I must feel like someone coming back from a war to their normal world. You feel sort of dazed to not be at the hospital. It's almost like the hospital has become your world. I had a hard time getting to sleep last night, even though I  was in my own bed. I didn't hear the fan or the IV machine clicking. I'm used to sleeping on the air mattress now. Home was so quiet. It even felt strange to have Bruce there beside me and my little Yorkie, Molly, snuggling up next to me.

    School is almost over. The last day will be May 21.  Len and Opal stayed with Missy while I was gone. Len told me on the phone that she wouldn't eat (drink her milk with Carnation and protein powder this morning). He couldn't get her to eat all day. She is very tired. She sent the physical therapist away after about 2 minutes, telling her to come back tomorrow.

    I got back to MUSC between 6:30 and 7:00. Michelle was her nurse today. She saw me coming down the hall and said that Missy had been waiting for me. She was asleep when I got to her room. When she finally woke up, I'd been there for a couple of hours. She seemed a bit stronger getting out of bed to the bedside commode than she did yesterday. Still wobbly, but not as wobbly. 

    I visited with Mr. and Mrs. Timmons for a few minutes. He has a gash on his head where he feel during the night, getting up to go to the bathroom. He looked ok, except for the place where he hit his head. Today was their 43rd wedding anniversary. They had a cake and Mrs. Timmons had saved some for me.

    Missy received  a pint of blood during the night. Jennifer was her night nurse. She always perks Missy up. She won't be back for 7 days. She told Missy that when she comes back that she expects to see her dancing down the hallway.

    Kim was Missy's tech tonight. She only works here occasionally, because she is going to nursing school. She is the one who took care of Missy back in January who told Missy that she had been a patient on 8 West. She had luekemia. 

    Kim, nursing student
    Leukemia Survivor!


    May 4, 2004 Day 0 Missy's Re-Birthday

    "The past is but the beginning of a beginning and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn." ~ H.G. Wells

    Todayis stem cell transplant day. Missy woke me up about 7:45,  saying, "Mama, it's time to get up." I hadn't even heard the dietary people bring in her tray. She had the peach yogurt smoothie with 13 grams of protein for breakfast, before she took the morning pills that Joan brought in at 8:00. Later, she ate a little watermelon. Her back is much better. 

    Dr. Keith came in around 9:00 and checked her over. She has some reddened skin on her back, under her arm, and on the top of her legs. He made a note for Dr. Brunson to check her for that.

    When Dr. Brunson came in and checked Missy, she told us that the reddened skin is a fungal infection, caused from when she was perspiring so much. She ordered a powder to be used 3 times per day.

    Missy had some extra company today, wishing her well. The infection control lady (comes around swabbing noses and hinneys upon admission and once a week if a patient is here that long, to check for staff infections) came by and wished her well. (It wasn't Missy's day to be swabbed.) She told us that she had looked at Missy's website. She is always so cheerful and kind to Missy when she comes by. Later on, a friend of hers who also works in infection control, came by too. We had never met her, but she wanted to meet Missy and wish her well also. One of the volunteer ladies came by to visit.

    I asked Joan what time she thought that the transplant would start and she said about 11:30. She got some things going before hand. She had to unhook all of Missy's antibiotic lines, the TPN line, etc. The only thing going in during the transplant will be Missy's stem cells.

    At 11:30, a lady wheeled in a cart, bearing a styrofoam cooler with Missy's stem cells inside.  I didn't catch her name, but I will try to find out. She told us that she runs the lab where they handle the stem cells and the donor cells when they have an allogenic transplant. She has been doing this since 1991, here since 1995.

    She removed them from the cooler and started thawing them out in some water. She said that they just needed to get to the point to where they were no longer cold to the touch. Lots of folks were in the room, Missy, Joan, Betsy, me, the lady who brought the cells, Lendon, Opal, Jon, and Dr. Brunson came in for a while too. Cathy, the charge nurse was in for a while. There were two bags of stem cells. Each took about 30 minutes to infuse. Joan did this by hand, timing the infusion. Betsy stood by to take Missy's temperature and to keep her other vitals checked. Jon (nursing assistant who wears the Tennessee orange, came in to help out, but he hasn't been working here long and this was his first transplant.)

    There was a smell and it's still in the room, 2 hours later. It reminds me of marsh when the tide is out. Like pluff mud. A strong sulfur smell. Other transplant patients have described it as garlic or burned creamed corn. I didn't smell a garlic smell while it was happening,  but the burned creamed corn smell is close too. It's like the odor changes with each breathe that I take. Missy doesn't know it, but her breathe smells of it. She sucked on hard candy during the transplant: Jolly Ranchers and Cream Savers. Her skin does smell sort of garlicky to me now. I just helped her to get up and could smell it. 


    At first I had this sign hanging in Missy's room.

    She had me hang it on the outside of the door to her room.

    Click here more more transplant day pictures.

    Every time you meet a situation, though you think at the moment it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you were before. 
    ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

    May 3, 2004 Day -1 Sean's 22nd Birthday

    We met the new resident, Dr. Keith this morning. He is from Cheraw and his wife is from Sumter. He told us that her father, Dr. Byrd, was a plant doctor for some of the industries in Sumter. Missy asked him right away about getting the foley out. He promised her that he would see about getting it out as soon as possible. The fellows have changed too. On the marker board the hematology fellow is listed as Dr. Sahwney and the oncology fellow is Dr. Myers (who was here over the weekend). Missy is still having back spasms from the pulled muscle. It's just awful at times. When the muscle relaxer kicks in, it's better.

    She is still working hard at eating. This morning she had a carton of milk mixed with vanilla Carnation Breakfast and a scoop of protein powder and about 1/2 cup of watermelon. She doesn't seem to have any nausea right now. That's great because she had her share with that bacterial infection. This morning she talked about having to relearn how to really eat. She said, "I'm eating like a baby." (She meant milk and fruit.) I know from the Bone Marrow Transplant Support group on line and the Hodgkin's mailing lists, that many of them are amazed that she is eating anything at all. Many of them could eat nothing. They had mouth sores. Missy has diligently used citrus Listerine and believes that she has not gotten mouth sores because she has been careful to use it each time that she has ever thrown up and when she brushes her teeth. We also keep her toothbrush soaking in Listerine when it is not in use.

    Tomorrow will be transplant day. We know that she may have some nausea then. After that day, it will be a matter of gaining her strength back. I am going to talk to them about physical therapy for her. Maybe they would have an idea about how to strengthen those back muscles. Getting the stomach muscles in shape would probably help her back.

    Missy told me again that when she gets better and is allowed to go to a restaurant, she wants to go to Outback for prime rib, a stuffed baked potato, and a big salad. (She can't have salad or any raw fruit where you  would eat the peelings on the nuetropenic diet.) 

    Joan was Missy's day shift nurse. She will be Missy's nurse tomorrow for transplant day. We have a plan, wearing pink. Joan is the nurse famous for her pink shoes and scrubs with pink to match the shoes. Missy will wear her newest pink nightgown that her MeMaw got her, I'll wear a pink top, and Joan will be pink from head to toe.

    The physical therapist came when Missy was asleep. She left a page of exercises for Missy to do in bed. She also suggested that Missy keep a pillow under her knees in bed, to help keep her back aligned.

    Missy is still drinking her milk with Carnation Powder and a scoop of protein powder. Each time she has one that's 10 grams of protein. She ate a Styrofoam cup full of watermelon cubes. This evening Lendon brought her a yogurt smoothie from the grocery store. It has 13 grams of protein. Her uncle Stan found it by looking at all of the labels and finding the one with the most protein.

    Missy's night shift folks were Jennifer and Mark. It was very quiet night. Her temperature is great. She slept through the night, except for the 12:00 and 4:00 vital checks.

    Dr. Keith and Pam Ellison (nurse practitioner)

    "Pain nourishes courage. You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.... " Mary Tyler Moore.

    May 2, 2004 Day -2

    Katina was Missy's day nurse. She didn't wear a frog top today. That is the first time that I have seen her work during the day.  She said that she usually works at night. Tracee was the nursing assistant today. She is always kind too. She told me that she has been reading the webpage. She signed the guestbook. When Missy found out, she wanted to read it right away.

    During the night last night, Missy seems to have pulled a muscle in her back. She is having spasms in that area today that are really painful. We told the doctors about it and they felt that a muscle relaxer would help. Dr. Brunson told us that her white count is lower, as well as her other counts, but that is to be expected from the chemo. When the doctors were here, Missy's oxygen saturation was great. Her blood gases are much better, so they didn't put her back on any oxygen at time of their morning visit. Later on about lunch time, she fell asleep and was mouth breathing. When her vitals were checked at noon, her oxygen saturation was low, so Dr. Myers came in, checked her out, and put her back on the oxygen. I noticed on the board that Dr. Smith is not longer listed as the hematology fellow for the floor. It's Dr. Myers. We'll miss Dr. Smith too, but we do remember Dr. Myers from the clinic. He was there with Dr. Frie-Lahr the day that Missy went in with that awful fever that lasted from March until April. A new resident will come on board tomorrow. Dr. Redding assures us that he is a great person and that we'll like him. I'm sure that we will, but we will all miss Dr. Redding. I'll have to get used to a new resident coming in early in the morning and seeing me in my flannel kitty cat or polar bear pjs. He'll have to get used to it too. Dr. Redding made sure to come in and tell Missy good-bye before he left tonight. Then her got her some medicine ordered for her irritated bladder. The foley catheter is driving her crazy, along with the hurting back.

    Missy is not eating much but, she is eating some. Milk with Carnation Instant Breakfast and protein powder a couple of times today. Yogurt with a scoop of protein powder mixed in, and she ate the bowl of peaches that came with her supper tonight.

    Theresa is here tonight. I finally figured out, by asking Katina, that Theresa only works here on Sunday nights. That's why we don't see much of her. She works over in the Bone Marrow Transplant unit at Roper Hospital (across the street) on Fridays and Saturdays. She started over there in January. She had worked here for 7 years before changing to 
    working in both hospitals.

     "Faith sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible." ---Unknown


    Dr. Redding, Dr. Myers, and Dr. Brunson

    May 1, 2004 Day -3 Last Day of High Dose Chemo

    Dr. Brunson in the attending for May. We remember her from when she was the attending in December. Dr. Redding came in first thing this morning. Tomorrow will be his last day on this floor. Missy has gotten quite used to him and will miss him. Dr. Myers was here today. Dr. Smith and Dr. Dunder must both be off this weekend.

    Dr. Redding told us that Missy's lung is much better. She is looking better. Her oxygen saturation levels have risen as time goes on and the oxygen can be cut back each day.

    Keri got the chemo going at about 11:00 today. Missy is still very tired. She got out of bed to use the bed side potty, but got right back into bed.

    Dr. Brunson has ordered that the TPN be started back again tonight. It will be in a more concentrated form, so as to not give so much in fluids. Missy has eliminated a great deal of fluids, but she still has some to go. The protein levels are up in her bloodstream so they can stop the albumin. We have the protein powder, which I am mixing in with her milk and Carnation breakfast.

    Dr. Brunson has also ordered a unit of blood for today, to be given later on, very slowly.

    It is raining in Charleston today. I guess that we won't be going out, but will eat downstairs. I sure wish that I hadn't eaten a Chic Fil A sandwich last night. I may have to settle for another one today. The rain is coming down too hard to walk to Roper Hospital for a full meal. (The hot meal line is not open at MUSC on Saturdays.)

    Later on:

    The rain slacked up some, but not enough for us to really walk anywhere. Bruce and I decided to go to Northwoods Mall. We ran into Dr. Frie-Lahr and her husband at the register in the men's' department of Belk. We'll miss Dr. Frie-Lahr, but Missy and I know Dr. Brunson (the attending for the month of May) from when she has taken care of Missy in the hospital before. She will be a familiar face. The mall was full of people. Must have been the rainy day, nothing else to do.  I called back to the hospital to check on Missy. Keri said that she was still sleeping.

    Bruce and I ended up going out to eat after all. Lendon visited with Missy. We went to the Crab House. You can see it from California Dreaming. The was a fancy sort of place with white table clothes and napkins. The service really was fantastic, but we are used to the light Low Country style breading for seafood and were sort of disappointed that it was beer batter style seafood. The deviled crab was great, but the fish was cod and I prefer flounder when I have a seafood platter. It was good, but not what we are used to at Hyman's.

    Jennifer was Missy's night nurse tonight. She gave Missy a unit of blood. Missy is also back on the TPN, but in a smaller dose. We got to talking after Bruce and Missy had gone to sleep. I didn't realize that Jenny is from Ohio. There are so many nurses here who are from somewhere else. Jenny said that she wanted to move here because of the weather. Her family would come here on vacation and she really likes it. She looks somewhat like Bruce's niece, Jen.

    Last day of high dose chemo!


    Keri, getting ready to hook that last chemo up.
    Chemo bunny still looks on.

    Missy, patiently awaits the last 30 mL of Etoposide.
    Keri is reaching to hook her Hickman up.

    "Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible." Mary McLeod Between

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