There is really no easy way to write this sooooo… Here I go:
After three awesome weeks in Alaska, Sam has found himself back in the hospital. He started feeling unwell late last week and finally by yesterday things got completely out of control.
Sam had a racing resting heart rate (it capped out at 157), dropping blood pressure, rising temps, low oxygen, pain at a 9 on the 1-10 scale, vomiting, etc. etc. It was a bad day. Today though, they’re managing all that really well and trying to, “get the horse back into the barn,” as our Alaska doc just said.
They think Sam’s symptoms are consistent with recurrent graph versus host disease. If you remember, GVH was what had him in the hospital for 60-some days this winter. However, he’s already back on the drugs that controlled the GVH last time around (which he had tapered off of two weeks ago). And, last time, he got worse and worse every day, and today he is already doing better than yesterday. But that could be just because he’s on alllllllll the pain/nausea meds. So, as with every other thing, we’ll just wait and see.
The scariest part is that his blood counts took a dive. The docs here don’t think that suggests recurring leukemia because the GVH could explain them, but Sam’s Wisconsin doc thought they dove a little more than would be expected with GVH. So that is nerve-wracking. The plan is to see what his blood counts do over the weekend and do a biopsy on Monday if it’s necessary. Hopefully it is not.
So, here we are, back in the hospital again. Luckily, we know the drill and have exceedingly thick skin at this point. And we have mountains outside our window this time.
Thanks to our amazing friends who have already stepped up to bring clothes, food, entertainment and take care of Birkie. You’re the best! But really, we appreciate your help more than you know. XO
The day I used Pledge to clean out the inside of my ski box on top of my car, I realized I was turning into my father. It has been a long, steady process. Whereas in my childhood I would complain at length on our annual garage-cleaning day about how the very purpose of a garage is to be dirty, now my garage is hyper-organized, and garage-cleaning day are four of my favorite days of the year.
In recent years, I’ve noticed that it goes well beyond habits, quirks and traditions. I can recognize my dad in my voice, mannerisms, movements, smartass jokes, and the laughter and sideways smirks that accompany them.
Most people can relate to becoming their parents. However, last October my transition to becoming my father took a turn toward the literal.
As my bone marrow donor, billions of Dad’s stem cells were put directly into my blood stream where they found their way deep into my bones and began making new cells, bone marrow and blood. Dad’s cells succeeded where all of the best chemo and radiation doctors could give me had failed – they knocked back the leukemia that was killing me.
His cells gave me another (third) chance at life. They are the reason I was able to have one of the best road trips of my life (more on this later), catch my first grayling, float the Kenai with Jenny and Birkie this weekend, finish my truck camper, and generally return to the life that I love so much.
Today my bone marrow – the thing at the very core of me – and the blood that courses through my veins are the same as his.
This Father’s Day, I’m reflecting on how grateful and fortunate I am to have a Dad that I am so proud to become.