Monday, January 17, 2011

First Day Update

Day one of five-day-chemo-hospital-stay two. We felt like old pros at it now. We've been through this part of it before, so we pretty much knew what to expect. Got settled in and Julia was bombarded by the usual deluge of health care professionals. Periodic check-ins by her nurse, psychology visit, dietitian, music therapy, nurse practitioner, and others that I don't recall exactly what the reason was. I'm not really complaining, it's all for Julia's well being, it's just that it's hard to get her to open up in new situations and so with constant new people, she doesn't give much of a response. Still, everyone always has high praise for how things are going and how well Julia handles it all.

Things didn't go quite as smoothly as they could have though. A blood test came back with low hemoglobin: 6.7k rather than the >7k that they want. So that meant Julia got to have her first blood transfusion. Besides the normal screenings that are done on all donated blood, blood for oncology patients is irradiated to blast away any random antibodies or anything else that might offend a weakened immune system. She's finishing up getting the blood as I type.

There are a number of side effects they watch for during the transfusion, including spiking a fever. Interestingly, Julia spiked one before getting any new blood. That's not good, but we were glad it happened then, otherwise it would have been assumed it was a reaction from the blood and that could have clouded the real cause (which is yet unknown). So the 103.5 temperature was a little alarming. She took some Tylenol and it's been down now between 100-101. Some blood was taken and it'll be watched over the next 48 hours to see if anything grows on it. If so, they'll treat her with the needed range of antibiotics. Right now she's already on an broad spectrum antibiotic. Hopefully it's just something that simply goes away. I recall when she got her port installed, the surgeon talking about a chance of infection just because of nature of it, i.e. a piece of hardware installed under the skin. I believe he said about half the people with them will have an infection at some point and most are easily treated while others require a new one put in.

"Took some Tylenol" doesn't really do justice to the process. The very mention of "medicine" triggers tenseness, fear, and a stubborn attitude. She chose mixed with applesauce over liquid or chewables and that still took 20+ minutes of crying and pleading and gagging to get it down. From a parent's point of view it's very frustrating. I think (and by "think," I mean, "scream inside my head") to myself: "Damn it! People stab you in the chest, inject crap in your arm and you grit your teeth and bare it. Someone mentions applesauce mixed with something and you freak out?! Julia, c'mon, you CAN do this!" It's hard on me because I hate seeing her in so much distress.

She ate a decent supper while we watched Despicable Me. It was a pretty funny movie and it was awesome that Julia let out a few bust-out-laughs. I laughed along with her because it made me so happy to hear those sounds come out of her.

Oh, and her room has a better view this time. Rather than just the back of the building, she's overlooking the Minneapolis skyline. She doesn't seem to care one way or the other, but I really like it.

I usually come up with a blog post title that I like by the time I get finished writing it, but I got nothing this time.


Torey said...

I stand corrected about the skyline. After going back to her bed after a bathroom trip, Julia saw the lights outside from the skyscrapers and said, "Whoa." So I shuffled her over to the window for a better look.

Duane said...

Julia, Mandy, Torey and of course Finn:
Although I am unable to join Gr Beth and assist with the various family duties, I am always thinking of my River Falls' Family of Four.

Julia - Congratulations on having a chance to cheer for the Packers for a portion of Saturday's game. Gr Beth and I mentioned your name everytime that we saw a play made by Gregg Jennings. It will be fun cheering for #85 and the rest of the Packers on Sunday against the Bears.

All - Take it easy while driving and walking on the new snow - Be safe!

Love, Gr. Duane

Anonymous said...

Glad Julia is able to appreciate the view. I hope her fever spike is nothing serious and she does as well this week as she did the last time. We're keeping all of you in our thoughts and prayers, your updates are most appreciated. ((Hugs))to all.

Jayne & family

Anonymous said...

Hang in there everyone. Our prayers, and many from the outside, are there to help keep everyone focused. There is so much love coming from everyone. We are constantly amazed at the outpouring of prayers and help from everyone. Hang in there Julia, you are learning more than all of us. Mandy, Torey and Finn are a great support for you; along with your family and many friends. Love you, Grandma Beth

Aunt Cheryl said...

Thanks for the latest update. I feel for you all. I'm happy that Grandma Beth is able to be there to assist. Prayers, prayers, and MORE prayers....I know that someone is listening up above :)

Anonymous said...

My daughter had a hard time taking pills at first too. It would take us hours to get meds down and she also didn't like mixing it with anything ~ especially applesauce. Since I knew she'd have to take a lot of medicine (she has leukemia) I told her she was going to learn to swallow pills. We started with mini-M&M's. We practiced for over an hour trying to swallow them different ways. When she finally did swallow one, I had her swallow 20 more just to make sure she had it down. We also practiced with the bigger M&M's and Tic Tacs. I am telling you (and I'm sure you can imagine), it has made our life so much easier. Maybe you can tell Julia that Paige learned and that will inspire her. Thinking about you always!

Anne, mom to

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your continous updates on Julia. Being able to express your thoughts and frustrations are such an excellent way to keep yourselves mentally healthy as well. Our prayers are constant for Julia and Grandma Delores for their strength and recovery. When I'm out at Sigel helping with preparing meals, staying with Grandma so Grandpa has time to run errands and get some things done he needs to do in addition to his caring for Grandma, I reflect on how VERY IMPORTANT the LOVE and CARING for our family is. Uncle Dennis hasn't been feeling well and Grandpa Ronnie informed me that Uncle Dennis went to the Emergency Room today and has now been admitted to the hospital in Appleton. I think he might be having some tests performed that are heart related. God must be putting in "overtime" with all the prayers coming from our families. With all my love, Aunt Diane

Anonymous said...


I can't wait to come and visit you tomorrow with my mom. I am glad that you got a better room too and one with a better view! See you soon!!!(around 4:30 unless my mom's bus comes in early, then it may be earlier) I hope your fever is still down and you are up for company.

Mrs. Andersen

Anonymous said...

I am happy to hear that things are going relatively well this go around. An improved view is a nice perk, i bet the skyline at night is just lovely to look at. I know there was lots of fun stuff to do last time you were there, hopefully it is just as much fun this time around. We are thinking of all of you and am constantly amazed at the strength and determination your family has!!!

Karen Sizemore

Anonymous said...

It was very nice to see both Kauth ladies today. Julia you looked lovely in you tutu and new shoes. Thanks for letting me visit, and I look forward to seeing you at book club- hey and no one is going to care if you don't read the book;)

Book club Beth