What a difference a day makes…
After four straight days of testing, we came home last week with Jack in the best spirits and physical shape he’s been in, in a long time. I posted the last journal entry at the end of that day… and the next day Jack woke up with the now-familiar step backward: lots of lethargy and intense pain. He slept for 16 hours, woke up for breakfast, and immediately fell asleep for another 9 hours. Yep ~ after 4 days of testing, he was just drained... and a week's worth of stress didn't exactly lessen his weariness. Now.... add to that....
Last Saturday, I started giving Jack horrific twice-daily injections that burn like heck. We both end up in tears. The injections contain a chemical that causes him to grow new bone marrow cells by the millions (literally). Those bone marrow cells are actually stem cells: they don't know they're supposed to be bone marrow yet, though - sort of the proverbial "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up" problem. Eventually, they figure it out - but until then, they just float around in Jack's blood vessels. It sounds like a good case for psychoanalysis, if you ask me! Particularly when they are about to discover that a sneaky little doctor is going to use Jack's catheter to steal them from Jack's blood stream and stuff them into a deep freeze for a couple of weeks. How's that for a gotcha?!
On Monday, when they first measured Jack's blood to see if the shots had caused him to grow enough stem cells, we were told that he only had 20 percent of what was needed. We were both very disappointed -- we had so badly wanted for him to start the harvesting process, but it was not to be. Today, we drove into town again at the crack of dawn to have his blood tested. And once again, Jack was short of the goal, having only about 2/3 of the stem cells in his blood that they need for harvesting. We are hopeful that tomorrow the great folks down at MD Anderson Cancer Center can start the stem cell theft-by-catheter process. In the meantime, those shots that I started giving Jack have made him hurt all over and feel feverish and nauseous. Tonight he could not even look at food on the tv without feeling sick. None of this is unexpected - but that doesn't make it any more pleasant.
The past several days have exhausted us. We have come home and immediately fallen asleep for 2 or 3 hours. It often feels like we are a couple of ants in a giant ant pile, and the pile has been kicked: we are scurrying here and there, madly trying to figure out what we need to do next. Everything Jack has to go through, combined with all of the functions on my plate, have me totally stressed out. I figure that on a scale of 1-10, my stress level is… oh… hovering somewhere around 4,500. It just goes with the territory so I continue to adjust to the "new normal." I cannot imagine where Jack is on the stress scale; this is so hard on him and we fret over continued disappointments. The good news is that there is a reward at the end of the process. I am counting down to the day we reach "the other side." Between here and there, Jack has to cross a deep valley that will bring him crashing to earth for several weeks. But when he rises up afterwards, he will be in remission for an unknown period of time. Keep him in your prayers -- we still have plans to grow old together.
Many, many thanks go to those who have helped us in the past few days -- Co-pilots Jim J and Susan B, who make my life SO much easier on the drives to MD Anderson; Dan and Dee B who brought us a stunning bouquet of blushing pink tulips -- they have brought smiles to us every time our eyes light on them; a special thanks go to those who have sent Jack emails and left messages in the guestbook; Jack truly enjoys hearing from folks, even when he's not feeling very well. Thanks also go to Mary and Terry W for continued attention/care/support - and all of you who have continued to say you are standing by to help when I call you. Just knowing that I only have to lift the phone is enormously comforting. Please forgive me if I have failed to acknowledge anyone; sress plays terrible tricks on the mind, but no matter - I hope you know that Jack and I are both thankful and so fortunate to know all of you and know that you care about him.
With much love from both of us -
Sue and Jack