Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Richard Update #8 - Scroll down for 7,6,5,4,3,2,1

Poor Richard. So, it's definitely a fungal infection. The very powerful meds that they will be giving him, will evidently have him seeing different colours!

His appointment today was for 12:00pm, so he and Norma left today at 10am.
I don't know all the details of the day. But what I know is:
*It was very busy today.
*They did some blood work.
*They had to do a cross match today.
*I think they were low on platelets and/or blood again.
*He's only getting one bag of blood today.
*He was getting his antibiotics today, and at only 4:30pm (after being there for 4.5 hours), he was only finally going to be starting to get his blood and platelets.
*Another long day for Richard and Norma and they won't be home until well after dinner. Norma is going to know Vancouver like the back of her hand soon!

Please send your good vibes, well wishes, love, and/or prayers for Richard to get better soon, and to at least be able to enjoy one week of feeling good and normal before the next and last round of chemo starts.

HUGS sweetie. Feeling badly for you. Kiss kiss.

My day?
It was Tuesday, so I had Erica's kids today. The boys had preschool in the morning and me and babies hung out. When I brought the boys home, it was the usual routine.
-babies at the table
-boys go play downstairs
-I start to prepare lunch to the babies and for the boys
-call the boys up for their 'picnic lunch' at the coffee table
-followed by nap for the babies and playtime for the boys
-then afternoon snack
-then play some more
-no outside time today though :(

Early bedtime for both boys tonight as I have school work to do.

7pm-Dex (normally 7:30pm) and 7:30pm - AJ (normally 8:30pm or so if he's had a nap)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Richard Update #7 -scroll down for 6,5,4,3,2,1

So, he's home. He's laying on the couch. He's sleeping. He's had a very uncomfortable day/night from laying in an emerg bed all day. He's sore.

You know, I don't know how all the rest of you feel about how Richard has looked through all this, but I've thought he's looked pretty good this whole time. I don't know if it's just the missing eyebrows making him look all 'Cancerie', but I would say that this past week is the first time that I've really thought of him as looking 'sick'. So, if you already thought he looked sick, now he REALLY looks sick. But to me, he's just starting to now. Maybe it's that he's acting and actually is more sick this time.

I hate to think what the next round will bring, since it should technically be worse each time. He hasn't been able to escape having to get antibiotics for any of the rounds so far.

Oh wait... some good news! Actually, two bits.
1. It just so happened that the particular nurse that Richard had at MSA today in emergency just happened to know about a Hickman Line. So, although they didn't take blood from it or do the dye for the CTscan with it, they were able to administer his antibiotics through this.
2. This fungal thing is pretty 'norm' for a Leukemia patient. Two friends had fungal infections when they had Leukemia (yes, I know people around my age who have had Leukemia), and when the emergency doctor was talking to the Leukemia doctor at VGH (Richard's normal doctor), he didn't sound very surprised or concerned. It seems pretty 'part and parcel' of the whole Leukemia-gig. Whereas, had Richard not had Leukemia, and had come in with these same issues into emergency, they would've given him some sort of lung x-ray or something. (and perhaps some of my Leukemia experienced friends like Aili, Bryan, or Dawn can add more to this topic in the comments area).

Richard Update #6 - scroll down for 5,4,3,2,1

Richard's on his way home now. His mom went to go pick him up. He's pretty tired after being up for about 30 hours. I'm hoping he had some time to sleep when they gave him the Benedryl before giving him platelets today.

I'll update more later or Richard will.

Another Thank You

Lisa (Richard's cousin!) - She sent really funny cards to both Richard and I, and once again, I was the spoilt one who got the Starbucks card and a bunch of great O.P.I. lotions and such! Wow, Lisa. I feel a little guilty though. She sent me those things for taking such great care of Richard through all this, but while Norma's here, she 'takes care' of Richard from about 8am-8pm if he needs it along with driving him to his appointments, picking up prescriptions, making sure he takes his medicines, while I look after the boys during the day, and Richard 'after 8pm'... (wink wink nudge nudge).
Needless to say, I'll try to 'earn' these lotions once Norma heads home, but in the meantime, I'll share them with Norma, as she's very deserving.

Richard Update #5 - scroll down for 4,3,2,1

Okay, so the results are back from the CTscan. It looks like a fungal infection in his lung. Nothing seems out of the ordinary in terms of a Leukemia patient.

Looks like he's getting his IV antibiotics at Abbotsford, as he won't make his 2pm appointment at VGH.

He'll be in at VGH for 12:00pm tomorrow.

I'll keep you all update as I hear more.

Richard Update #4 - scroll down for 3,2,1

Sorry I took so long. I took AJ to gymnastics and had to stop at the bank.

Since the last update, Abbotsford has done a CT scan to try to rule out the thrombosis going into Richard's lung. Last I talked to him about 30 minutes or so ago, he said he didn't know if it was pneumonia or what.

They were maybe also going to do his IV of antibiotics in Abbotsford too instead of at VGH, I guess just to keep him safely monitored.

That's good and bad, as it means that everything has to be done by actual IV instead of just simply through his Hickman Line. I'm assuming that. I should ask him when I talk to him next.

So, I'm just feeding the boys lunch right now, they'll go down for nap, and I'll keep updating you as I get new information.

Richard Update #3 - Scroll down for parts 2 and 1

He texted me at about 7:45am to call him for an update. He said that his doctors weren't in at VGH until 9/9:30am, so he wouldn't know what's going on next until then.

That episode with the shortness of breath is the only time his oxygen level has dipped down. By the time people came to help him in the emergency, the number had gone back to normal, and has remained so, since.

Not sure if he was sleeping in a way that had restricted his air intake or what the story is there.

Again, I'll update you as I hear more.

Richard Update - Part Two - Talked to Richard at Emergency

So, I called him for an update a short time ago.

He said, he was hooked up to all the machines and such, had gotten up to use the restroom, was feeling out of breath, hooked the machine thing back up (the one for his finger, I think), and his oxygen level was at 95%, then was dipping down and got to 76% and he was getting all flushed and the reading level was turning red and beeping, so he started calling for help with the call button and yelling.

I find it odd that the machine reading would not have called for help itself. Hmmmm.

Anyhow, he had to wait until 7:30am to call VGH, so I'm guessing he's done that now, and I'll call to bother him again for an update shortly.

****If you missed the first update, just scroll down a bit on the blog page to the next entry below.****

Richard Update

So, Richard spent the wee hours of the morning in Emergency last night in Abbotsford, and may be getting taking in an ambulance to VGH today.

Richard's fever was getting high 39.2 ish. He was on his second day of antibiotics. More importantly, his neck was painful, like when his thrombosis was diagnosed. He called VGH to explain what was going on and they told him (to my recollection, as I was falling asleep on the couch) that if it got worse or if he was having shortness of breath, to go to the local emergency.

At about 12:30am, Richard woke me to say he thinks he should go to emergency. We were going to need to wake his mom regardless, so I told him to tell her I could go and she could stay with the boys while they slept, or she could go and I could stay with the boys while they slept. I should mention the third option where Richard said he could just call 911 and get taken in by ambulance by himself, but I knew neither of us was going to go for that.

I stayed with the boys, and she headed in with Richard. They were going to keep me in touch via my cell.

Richard got in pretty fast. It may be posted at stores "no shirt, no shoes, no service", but I guess when you have Leukemia, you get the new motto...

"No hair, no eyebrows, SERVICE.. NOW"

Needless to say, my understanding is that he got in pretty quick.

Norma came home to sleep around 3am so she could pick him up around 7am to take him to VGH, but when she came to me in the morning, she had called Richard, and his oxygen level had dipped some and they were talking about taking him by ambulance to VGH.

I'll keep you all in the loop.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

As Norma Stands Over Me With "The Whip"....

My Boys.

So, Norma says I need to update the blog. She stands over me watching me type here, holding a whip to make sure I don't get lazy.

Of course, I'm kidding.

I brought up the fact that I hadn't updated in about a week, and from our conversation, I could tell that there were many people waiting with baited breath for the next update.

Sorry. School has started, and with it, comes lots of planning (new Science curriculum, and a split grade), gymnastics lessons, preschool, and watching Erica's kids once a week (she watches mine once a week too!).

Not to mention, despite Richard's hardships Richard's been looking so good, helping out lots, and only having to go into the hospital every couple days at the moment, so his 'condition' isn't pressing on my mind if that makes sense, and therefore, I didn't think to update the blog for his sake.

(I wrote that last part a few days ago, and today is Saturday, Sept. 26th. Richard's low grade fever just went up to 38.5 with Tylenol, so he and Norma headed off to the hospital to no doubt start a 6-day-in-a-row bout of antibiotics.....bummer).

So, firstly, Richard.

He updated his blog a few days ago to let family and friends know that he isn't feeling flu-ish anymore. However, there's a whole host of other unprettiness that comes along with having gone through Chemo for the third time, like hemmorrhoids, bad tasting food, aches and pains, diarrhea, and more. Norma's been taking Richard to his appointments still, except for this past Saturday. My mom took the boys overnight from Friday-Saturday, so on Saturday, I took Richard to the hospital and got lots of work done for school. Richard's mom had the day to relax and do things that she wanted to do or needed to get done. Richard didn't get a transfusion like we were expecting, so we left a lot earlier than we thought we would. Richard and I spent some ever-so-romantic time cleaning up our office downstairs. That evening, when my mom brought the kids back, her and Ken stayed for a nice visit.

Update to this - The hemmoroids are getting unbearable for Richard. He's uncomfortable just walking around. With the affects of chemo being cumulative, I can only imagine how hard the last round will be on him. He even had chemical burns on his hands this time. Geesh! (don't worry - he gave me the 'okay' to talk about this stuff).

And, he looks almost the same as the above pics, but now there's no goatee and mustache, and no eyebrows. Bye bye eyebrows! And he will not let me draw more eyebrows on! I thought, big fun, jack-o-lantern style, but he wasn't having it!


Norma is heading back home to Nova Scotia on Wednesday. I think the idea of her staying for an extra week has been floating around. I've left that as something for Richard and his mom to decide together. There's many reasons to stay here with us, obviously, but there are many reasons to head home to Nova Scotia as well, including seeing her mom who is not well, and packing up her house, as she'll be heading home to the Island soon, oh yes, and of course, her husband, Bud who I'm sure is missing her dearly.
As I said, I'm leaving that as a decision for Richard and his mom to make together, as I don't want to sway the decision one way or the other, but I'll use the blog as my sneaky way to say "Norma, you are MORE than welcome to stay with us longer (it's a giant help to have you here, and you are a wonderful house guest to have), but do what YOU want to or need to do."

What Will We Do

Some of you have already wondered "What will you do" once Norma's headed home? Well, once Richard finishes what I'm guessing will be a week of antibiotics, he should be well on his way to feeling better, mostly going in once a week to get 'checked' and can drive himself those couple times, or if it works, I can drive him.

Now, I'm only guessing here, but his next round of chemo could start as early as October 6th, and as late as October 14th. This is where is will get tough, but do-able. We always keep in mind that there are others who are in way worse situations than us. We've been VERY fortunate to have Norma with us, meaning that Richard has always had someone to take him to daily appointments, and we haven't had to worry about extra child care or anything.

We're thinking that Richard will in all likelihood, stay at the Cancer Lodge. Yes...lol... there is such a place! Richard knows and will hopefully provide more detail, but basically, for $30 a day, you get three meals, and shuttle back and forth to the hospital, plus you're surrounded by a but of people that totally know what you're going through. He will not have the added comfort of coming home to my cuddly arms, nor his playful boys, but what he misses in family contact, he wins back in undisturbed sleep!

Otherwise, when staying at our house during this next round, if I can't drive him to the hospital, he can take the volunteer driver service, or if you're looking to help, which some of you have already asked about, I may be finally calling on some of you to drive Richard to an appointment or two.

Then, it should be all done! Hopefully, forever. I'm sure there will still be check ups, but keep your fingers crossed, or pray, or send positive vibes for Leukemia NEVER returning.

Some Thank You's

While my mom is on my mind, I would like to thank her and Ken for taking the kids again. It's nice to spend some time getting caught up on stuff around the house without little feet trampling over your accomplishments...lol.

Also a thank you to my Auntie Brenda and Uncle Al who sent Richard a really nice card just a couple day ago, that came at a perfect time. Richard enjoyed that little hug-in-a-card.

Another thank you to Kay (of Bill and Kay - Norma and Bud's friends from the Island) who called the other day to check in on how we're all doing. What a really nice chat. She called at nap time, so it was perfect!

And an ongoing thank you, as well as a 'today' thank you to Norma.
-Norma's continued to do all the driving back and forth (as I mentioned above), helped entertain the boys, do grocery shopping, pick up prescriptions, and have I ever mentioned that she cleans up under Dexter's highchair which I often neglect? Yah, she continues to be an awesome houseguest.
-Today, Norma had really wanted to take the boys out with me to buy them a special toy of their choice. They each got TWO new toys and have been playing with them all afternoon. AND another big thank you to Norma who treated me to two new hoodies for the boys! She 'gets' my addiction.


Well, not much to report, really. I totally haven't been keeping up to date on my calendar of words and such. Dexter's been great, happy as a clam, and having lots of fun climbing, riding, laughing, sandboxing, playing hockey, baseball, soccer, wrestling, and such. His favourite toys right now are his car ramp and cars and AJ's figurines (like his Rescue Heroes).
Jen and I braved Starbucks again the other morning after dropping the kids off at preschool. The four babies (Emerson, Jaxon, Dexter, and Rya) were angels for about 1.5 hours, then it was getting loud, and we took that as our cue to pack up, head out, and take them all to play in my backyard (my new favourite 'relaxing' spot). We repeated this the next week too.

Dexter's been using more words lately. Some are not so great. I'd say his favourite words are 'bad' (which comes with a table slap and a pointed finger at whoever's ticking him off) and 'mine'. Other words that have shown up newly or more often are 'gun' (isn't that great), 'crazy' (which at our house means wildly awesome or silly), 'snacks', 'cow' (more pronounced than before), 'car' and 'truck' (more pronounced than before), and others that I can't think of because I haven't been keeping track. Oh yes and 'brush teeth'. He's saying some sentences to me too, but I can't figure them out.

That's my baby boy, Dexter, shooting my camera with a ray-gun. Great. He even makes a little shooting sound that sounds like 'pshht'.

He's still a climbing maniac and is almost to the top of AJ's loft bed (which will not be a good day), and he's starting to jump off of surfaces more, like stools and ledges of assorted heights.

Underwear hat anyone?


AJ's been loving his scooter rides and bike rides. He's gotten to go on a few with me without Dexter. He really wants a 'two wheeler' (bike and scooter). I've had to break it to him a couple times that he won't be getting those until he consistently keeps looking in front of him when he rides instead of watching scenery...lol. I'm glad I slipped on my socks and sneakers before we headed out last night, as I had to full on sprint to keep up with AJ on his bike going down the hill. He can almost make it up all three hills to our bike path without any 'assistance'. I usually have to give him a little push on the seat nearing the end of the last hill because it gets really steep. However, on the way home, no help needed, he goes full tilt, down hill, even pedalling to go faster! YIKES! Just what we need; a speeding toddler on a bike who doesn't look where he's going.

AJ's reading is really wowing me. I can't even keep track of how many words he can sound out! It's basically any one syllable word that 'makes sense' phonetically (sounds the way it should), including some 'extras' like words with 'ck' and words with double consonants like 'tt' or 'dd' (he gets that concept that he only needs to say the sound once). As for sight words, he probably knows around 30 or 40, I'm not sure. I haven't counted them. He's enjoying the fact that he can read some books himself. I 'caught' him reading Ten Apples Up on Top to Dexter the other day. Too cute.

Those pics are not of AJ reading, but getting to use Daddy's ds.


I took the boys to the zoo yesterday (Friday). It's funny that I can talk to the boys about all the exotic animals there and yet, they spend the most time watching the ducks in the pond.

We go to a playground pretty much every morning that I'm not working.

The backyard has been a favourite play area as of late. I just wish I could access the backyard without having to go out my front door. Aaaahhh. Maybe someday.

Playing downstairs has been an option lately too, including Dexter. AJ is always allowed to play in the play room downstairs. A week or so ago, I finally got my hands on (used of course) a long extendable gate that could block off the laundry room/cat litter box area, yet still allow the cats to get through. This means that Dexter can have opportunities during the day to be allowed to freely travel from upstairs to downstairs. I have to check on him way more often than I would with AJ or Jack, but still, it's nice for him to get to go somewhere else.

AJ and Dexter's other favourite pastime recently is 'camping out'. They bring pillows and blankets to the living room and sprawl out. I've been a really bad mommy and have never taught them how to 'make a fort' before. I may have to do that tonight.

I've really regretted not breaking out the camera more often. The brother fights are equally matched with brothers playing and bonding. AJ truly sees Dexter as a playmate now, as does Dexter, of AJ.

Here are some pics, from the Tuesday before last, when I had Erica's kids, Jack and Rya for the day.

Some couch-jumping fun for the boys.

Rya was under-the-weather, so she had a good rest on the very same couch.


Not much to report really. I'm really liking my new school, my job-share partner, my principal, my co-workers, having non-mom topics to discuss, and my students. There's some real personality in there.

I'll leave you with some bathtime fun. All our bath toys, and boy oh boy, these big cups are definitely the favourites.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Last Few Days

Richard has said that this has been the worst round of Chemo so far.
He feels fluish.
He's wiped.
He's nauseous.
He's tired.
He has a stomach ache.
He can't taste anything.
He feels horrible.
His intestines are getting pretty rough, and probably with the mouth sores to come.
He's having trouble finding things he thinks he could tolerate eating.
He's just run down.
He looks bummed.
Cute, but bummed, nonetheless.

Still a trooper though. He still walks around. Slowly, but gets through.

I had a whole whackload of work to do for planning Science for my new class and was desperate to get to the library (I don't work well at home).

Richard let me head out on his day off, yesterday (Monday), to the library, just after I put Dexter down for nap, knowing I would not be back until well after they woke. He was just going to 'suck it up' and deal with it.

I was at the library from 1pm until 4:15pm. By the time I got home at about 4:30pm, Norma had just arrived home, and Richard was just starting to get the boys' dinners ready.

I finished that off, let him try to relax, and thanked him profusely for the amount of work I was able to get done.

This afternoon, Richard was back at the hospital to 'check in' and see how his numbers are doing. They are going down, but they're not low enough for a transfusion yet. Probably Thursday.

Today, I had Erica's kids, Jack and Rya. Jen and I decided to 'do like old times'. After dropping off the big kids at preschool, we went to Starbucks with her twins and my fake twins. They were all really well behaved. We had time to spare. We let them play outisde in the sandbox, picked up the big kids at preschool, and headed home.

Lunch, naps, playtime. It was a really great day.

Well, for me it was. Richard.... not so much.

Norma's day wiped her out too. She's ben doing loads of walking during Richard's appointments. Today, just when she got to Winner's, Richard called her to say his appointment was over, surprisingly, so she had to head back. I think the time change is getting to her too.

I need to head to bed now. I just finished my last minute stuff for work, ironing a shirt (if you can believe that), and my sister's just arrived to sleepover to nanny the kids tomorrow.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday


Thank goodness for good friends working together to make things work well.

Jen dropped off Makenna in the morning at our house on the way to work. Erica came later, dropped off Rya with me (for a playdate with Dexter), and in turn, took Makenna and AJ with her and Jack so she could take the three toddlers to 'preschool orientation'. Jack and AJ are at the same preschool as last year, and Makenna is there this year too.

The following three pictures are just before the big kids headed off with Auntie Erica.

Auntie Erica was kind enough to take and share pictures of the kids enjoying Orientation Day. Here are those pics.

While the big kids were away, the babies played really wonderfully together, mostly with the shape sorter, and later with the piggy bank that counts.

Thanks Erica for taking the kids to orientation!

******Richard was supposed to get his 'retry' on the needle in the back this day (with the guidance of an x-ray), but it got postponed until Thursday. His taste buds were already bothering him Wednesday morning.


I worked this day, and Kim came over the night before so she could be my nanny this day which was going to work very well for the first real day of preschool for all the kids. This is just a crazy week for Erica, Jen, and I, in general (first week of school). For Kim too! She started university this week!!!

So, Kim had an early start to the day at around 6/6:30am when I headed to work. Jen dropped off Makenna with Kim on her way to work. Later, Erica came, dropped of Rya with Kim, and took Makenna, AJ, and Jack to preschool. Rya and Dexter played wonderfully for their playdate. Thanks Kim for doing that. Thanks Erica for the Frappe you brought back for Kim! Erica brought the toddlers back, picked up Rya from Kim, and left AJ and Makenna with Kim. Kim was watching Makenna and the boys for today. Thanks Kim!

Makenna and AJ played well and played downstairs a lot, leaving Kim some special time with Dexter.

Here are a couple pictures of crazy lunchtime with Kim. Dexter fell asleep at the table, so he is not present here.

BIG THANKS to Kim and Erica for helping Jen and I work that all out. I feel like breaking into a song about co-operation.

I had a long day at work, and came home to happy children who had eaten their dinner (thanks Kim) and leftovers for dinner for me! Thanks Kim! Richard and Norma came home shortly thereafter. It was a nice night. Kim stayed over a second night so she could just head to school the next day.

*****Richard had his needle in the back today. Wasn't as painful as the five attempts the day before when they hit a nerve, but it was still long, like 45 minutes and they had to switch to a different needle. He has some strong bones. He came home feeling pretty crappy yesterday. Suffice to say, he's sick now.


-I took the boys along with me to my brunch with my old (as in previous) sorority sisters. We try to get together once a month. Gosh darn it if the boys weren't angels for 2 hours for me!! I actually got to visit. Very nice.
BIG THANKS to my sorority sisters, Jen, Chrissy, and Jill for treating me breakfast today! Awwwww. Sweeties.
-Here's my funny AJ story. Remember a little while ago, I mentioned AJ saying that something wasn't fair. Like I was getting a coffee from Starbucks, but not him? Well today:
As we pull into the restaurant, AJ sees Starbucks, and he says,
"I would like a kid's hot cocoa with whip please mom".
I said, "Well, I'll tell you what. I brought your waters to drink at the restaurant, and when we're finished there, you can get a hot cocoa when I pick up my coffee."
During brunch, he says, "Actually, I think I want a drink from here instead of Starbucks. I really want an apple juice with no water." (I almost always water down his apple juice).
I say, "Are you sure? Wouldn't you rather have a lemonade or hot cocoa from Starbucks?"
He says, "No. I want an apple juice from here."
So, I order him and Dex an apple juice to split.
After brunch, I head to the Starbucks to get my coffee. He says,
"I would like a lemonade with a half shot of raspberry please."
I say, "Ummm, no, you said you wanted an apple juice at the restaurant. You get one special drink."
He says, "But that's not fair. How come you get a drink from the restaurant AND a Starbucks drink, but I don't?"
Obviously, I felt compelled to get him a drink (and Dexter's ice water).
I could've just said, "I'm the mommy", but frankly, I was impressed by his recent care for things to be 'fair'.

*****Richard's day was just a normal chemo day. He was surely sleepy. Dexter had a bunch of crazy wakings this morning. I think I was up with him 5 times from 3am to 6am. It was so weird. I may have been getting up with him, but it definitely woke Richard each time. Richard came home feeling pretty darned sick today. He was good enough to take AJ to wash his hands and brush his teeth before bed, but otherwise, was pretty well K.O.'d on the couch after getting home. Norma did some big time walking today from the hospital to Granville Island and back. I think she's going to be paying for that tomorrow!

I ended tonight by taking AJ with me to pick up some supplies for my classroom. He was a good boy for the venture and I treated him to some Gelato. He got cookies and cream called Strattachello or something like that. He loved it. He wouldn't stop talking about it the whole way home while he finished it off. I've never seen him love and appreciate the taste of something so much in his whole 3.5 years. "mmmmm, wow, this is soooo good mom" over and over again.

More Thanks to be Given

Norma - Thanks again for coming back to help for these couple weeks! It's a tremendous help and relief. I can't imagine how we would've worked this rough spot again without you.

Elva, Tony, and Family (Norma's cousin and her family) - Thanks so much for the beautiful card and the Costco gift card. It will be put to very good use! So thoughtful. I know you read this, so I'll also take this chance to say that Kadin is a handsome little doll!

Jess and Bev (Norma's cousin and her husband) - Thank you so much for lovely card and the monetary gift. This is just so kind of you. Thank you very much.

Continued thanks to everyone who continues to check in on how Richard is feeling and how we (our family) is doing through this. Thanks to everyone for continued well wishes, good vibes, thoughts, and prayers. It's been so helpful to have such an outporing of love from friends and family.