Friday, October 30, 2009

A little better...

Jennifer was feeling much better last night when we had a chance for a quick chat. She said she finally beat her fever, but said it was a rough night on Wednesday. She had sweats and chills and sweat and chills. I can only imagine how poorly she felt. She said the nurses came in around three in the morning to change her sheets and bedding because she sweated so much everything was soaked. Jennifer said at one point her temperature was plus 40. I know she is feeling better now because she said she was able to eat half a hamburger. That pretty darn good for Jenn. I will be pleased to see her tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jennifer is fighting a fever

Today was a rough day for Jennifer. She has a fever and feels very sick. She was not able to talk on the phone, just a quick hello. I hope she sleeps well. It makes me remember when she and Neil were kids and how I would peek into their room and check in on them every night before going to bed. I don`t know why but it`s comforting to watch a child sleeping. Sweet dreams Jenn.
On another topic, I got my H1N1 flu vaccine shot today. I was covering the opening of the flu clinic and was in the clinic before the public was allowed in. I was speaking to the woman in charge of infection control for local public health. She said anyone who comes into contact with a person undergoing chemo-therapy should get the shot because the chemo patient is especially vulnerable to flu germs. I rolled up my sleeve and got the shot right away. I feel much better now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just yukky sometimes...

I spoke to Jenn awhile ago and she said she's actually feeling yukky right about now. The effects of the chemo-therapy are now coming around and, once again, there's just nothing pleasant about it. I hate to see it happen, but on the other hand, Thank God for the treatments. She's one tough woman, but I can tell by her voice when she's hurting. I told her I just wish I could take the pain away. "It's okay, this is supposed to happen." she said. I can't for the day when this will be all over and she will be up and around.

Good for morale

Jennifer has been feeling pretty good the past few days, despite the fact that she has just come through the second session of chemo-therapy. She said the med team has given her a new medication to help fight some of the nasty side effects from the first session. In simple terms, the new meds are designed to help stabilize her white blood cell count. I don’t know much about that, but Jenn assures me that she is feeling better. I guess that’s one of the benefits of Jenn having the same people looking after her for so many days and weeks now. They doctors and nurses are learning exactly how her body chemistry responds to every type of medication they give. She knows she is in for some rough days ahead, but she says she is ready for it. Of course Jenn has become the darling of the Oncology floor because she has been there for so many weeks(Since early September) and everyone knows her and everyone drops in to say hello. I think that’s pretty nice and pretty good for her morale.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Jennifer deals with things her way ... that's okay.

Well Jennifer has lost most of her hair, but she is dealing with it with the help of some nice hats and scarves. Candace and I were with her several days ago when Jennifer decided to cut her hair. And as she was brushing it out, most of her hair came out in clumps. I am sure it was a tough moment for her, but it was a private thing and she dealt with it her way. As we mentioned here weeks ago, losing hair is part of the process of chemo-therapy. And yes, Jennifer has lost weight too, but that had a lot to do with the digestive problems after her first round of chemo. Jenn is keeping a lot of these things private. It's her business after all. Jenn and I talk several times a week, sometimes twice a day. If she doesn't want to talk about any certain subject, or a private thing, that's her decision. Jennifer is very strong mentally and amazingly strong emotionally. She is confident that with time, she will be physically strong once again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Scott remembered...

Jennifer has completed her second round of chemo-therapy and she was a bit nauseous today. She says she is ready for a few rough days but her spirits are good. I would do anything to take her place for her. Jenn's legs are still getting spasms, but they've given her new medication that should help control that. Let's hope so. I mentioned that Oct. 21 is a special day for Jennifer... actually it's a special day for Jenn and Scott. It's their wedding anniversary. Scott remembered, and showed up at the hospital Wednesday with flowers, their wedding photo and a lovely diamond ring. How nice is that?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jennifer and diamonds

I had a nice chat with Jennifer this morning. She is on day-three of her new round of chemo-therapy and she says she feels okay, and she sounded okay, but we both know that the chemo will make her feel poorly in a few days. She did sound a bit tired today, but I think that’s because I called earlier than normal and woke her. The encouraging thing is that the chemo sure seems to do its job in killing the leukemia cells in Jenn’s blood. The med team has added a new tube to Jenn’s body. They’ve put a line into her belly and they’re giving some sort of a pain medication. This one is to help her cope with the pain in her legs. It’s a recurring pain that is more like a continuous ache. Jenn says she doesn’t know if it’s a good or bad thing yet, since there was a period when she had no feeling. Let’s hope for the best she says. This is also a special week for Jenn and October 21 is a special day for her. More on that later this week. I had to cover a little story with De Beers Canada this week… they have a diamond mine near Timmins and they’re donating a beautiful one-carat diamond to the Timmins hospital as a fundraiser. I don’t know much about diamonds, but the one they’re donating is a Princess of Hearts cut, valued at $20,000. That’s kind of cool. As part of the announcement, the De Beers people handed out these big fat, fake diamonds … but jeez, they sure look impressive don’t they.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jenn's chocolate brownie breakfast...

It was good to talk with Jennifer last night (Thursday). She sounded in good spirits despite the fact she had some digestive cramping. She is also getting ready to start her new round of chemo therapy. I think the real reason she was in good spirits was because she had a chocolate brownie that Denise picked up for her at a bake sale. Jenn got a kick out of letting me know. Just to keep you in the loop, I have a habit of having chocolate cake for breakfast… I just find it improves my whole outlook for the day. Jenn was pleased to let me know she has picked up on some of my good habits. I was busy all day Friday, but I will chat with her again Saturday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More chemo-therapy on the way

About time I updated things here. I have been busy ever since I got back from Sudbury on Monday, because I have decided to sell the house. I had a good chat about it with Neil and Jennifer and I decided I just don’t need a house anymore. It takes more time and effort to keep this place going than I am willing to commit to, so I am going to find a new apartment where I don’t have to shovel snow, cut the grass, work in the shed, fix the faucets or look after the thousand-and-one other things that need attention. The real-estate lady is quite excited … she says I could be out of here in a few weeks. So it should be interesting in the coming weeks and months to see how things unfold. I will be sure to get a two-bedroom place so there is always room for visitors.
My visit to Sudbury was excellent. We had Thanksgiving dinner at Jenn’s place with Scott and Jennifer, Neil, Candice and Gee. It was just perfect. Of course there was way too much food, but just enough wine.
Jennifer is going to be on a new regimen of chemo-therapy treatment on Friday. The med team says it wants to be absolutely certain that all the leukemia cells are gone, so more chemo is prescribed. Jenn has mixed feelings about it. She knows its going to make her feel terrible, but she says she now knows how effective the treatment is because the first round of chemo-therapy resulted in zero leukemia cells when they did the bone marrow test last week.
But the oncologist explained that just because there was no cancer found in the sample, it doesn’t mean that a cancer cell is not lurking somewhere else in Jennifer’s body. Of all the billions of good cells in the body he said, all it takes is one bad cell to grow a tumour.
That’s the reason why the med team is being so aggressive with the chemo. You can’t argue with that. I chatted a bit with Jenn tonight, but she was struggling with an upset stomach that was quite irritating for her. She thinks it may be due to the fact that she is now allowed to eat solid foods again and her stomach is taking awhile to get used to that. I hope she feels better soon.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A nice day in the North

It's another nice day in Northern Ontario. I actually slept in to nine o'clock. Wow... I never sleep that late. It's so quiet in the country. Plus, there's the fact that I don't have a scanner with me, which likely helps out too. Woke up to find that Scott had returned from Westree with some carrot cake that Denise had baked. Hello breakfast! I put the coffee on and made enough noise that Scott got up. Hegrabbed a coffee and put the TV on the check out the hockey news from last night. So we've got the turkey ready for the oven, the stuffing smells great and Scott just headed to town with a long list of errands ... including a stop at the liquor store. It's going to be a grrrreat day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Good, good news

Apologies for not being here sooner, or more often this week. So many good things are going on. Just got back to the house after spending the most of the day with Jennifer. Actually I am not at my home but at Scott and Jenn's place. Jennifer had a good day today...thanks to so many good people. I hadn't seen her in awhile, but it was nice to see how much better she looks now that things are improving overall. So that is hugely thanks to Denise, Jenn's mom in law, and Candace, Jenn's cousin. Jenn is also blessed with a fabulous medical team. And of course, there is a steady stream of visitors from Jenn's friends and co-workers. It was nice to meet Jenn's longtime friend Nikki once again, who was at the hospital when I arrived. Oh, I sucked up today... I showed up with a couple of boxes of butter tarts from the amazing Vicki D'Amours bakery in Timmins, and dropped them off at the nurse's station in the oncology ward. There is nothing sweeter or more mouth-watering. The nurses loved them. Tyler and Nathan both had hockey games today and then they're heading up north to Westree to spend some time at camp with Don and Denise, and cousin Victoria along with Christine and Dimitrios. It was nice to chat with the boys for a bit. They're looking great. We also had a chat with Neil on the phone today... he is flying east at this very mnoment and should be landing at Pearson sometime around midnight. He will be arriving in Sudbury tomorrow and we'll all have a very nice Thanksgiving dinner.
Michelle and her husband Neal in Timmins are going to be checking out my house today and suggesting some improvements ... Michelle is the real-estate lady who will be selling my house. Yup, time to change my lifestyle... Hopefully I will be in some new digs before the snow flies. And I have no plans of shovelling driveways anymore. So we will see how that all unfolds in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Jennifer is improving

Jennifer got more good news today. Her doctor said the bone marrow test from earlier this week was negative, so far, for leukemia cells. So it appears the first session of chemo therapy was doing what it was supposed to. Jenn says it means her medication is heading her in the right direction. It doesn’t necessarily mean all the cancer is gone. It means there’s a whole lot of new hope today that she didn’t have a week ago. Whew! Her oncologist says now that the marrow appears clean, a new procedure will begin Friday. They will begin a series of chemo-injections directly into Jennifer’s spine to make something of a direct attack on whatever is left of the original tumour that was located on her spine. Jennifer says at some point after that, the med team will initiate another round of direct chemo-therapy. She says now that she sees how good the results are she isn’t too worried about coping with the next round. Jenn says she is determined to fight to get better. I think that slice of pizza she had on the weekend really perked her up eh!
~ ~ ~
On another note, my little brother Ronald is back into the thick of it again with some army buddies. Ron, who lives with his fabulous wife Loni (the air force gal), on the west coast is this week heading to Afghanistan. He will be going with another bunch of young soldiers to a hole in the ground known as a Forward Operating Base (FOB). So be sure to add him to your Christmas Card list: Sgt. Ronald A. Gillis, C-company, 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, Afghanistan. That’s the place there, Sperwan Ghar, in the photo. Photo Credit: Canadian Forces Combat Camera.
Someday I will tell you the story of the time I went to see Ron on a winter military exercise in Northern Ontario where a thousand soldiers para-jumped in at minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit. He convinced me to sneak him out so we could go for a beer. So he lay down on the floor in the back seat of the car while I drove through the military checkpoints. That was fun. Stay safe Bro!

Monday, October 05, 2009

A grreat day for Jennifer ... at home!

What a fabulous weekend for Jennifer. She is indeed feeling stronger and more energetic. You can imagine my surprise when I got a call from her on Sunday, saying not to call her at the hospital… the doctor had agreed to let her go home for a few hours! Jenn says she was just as surprised as anyone. Her doctor was visiting Sunday morning and Jennifer asked when it might be possible to get out of the hospital and spent a bit of time at home. The doctor said “how about today?” Jennifer burst into tears and before you knew it, Scottie picked her up, put her in the truck and they drove home. Jenn says it was an excellent day and of course, she was also pleased to see Buddy and Lucky, the dog and cat. So they ordered pizza, which Jenn says she was able to eat. How cool is that? Jennifer also gave a bone marrow sample from her hip this morning, so sometime this week, she will get news on how effective the chemo therapy was in killing the cancerous blood cells. Jenn says she was told to expect another round of chemo-therapy regardless. The success of the first chemo-therapy session will likely determine the exact nature of the drugs used on the second session. Let’s keep a good thought.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Some good news

It was so nice to chat with Jennifer this morning. She picked up the phone and was having a hard time moving it to the bed -- and I could hear her whispering some nasty words … So I knew that was a good sign! We both laughed about that. But today seems to be a good day for her. “I feel really good Dad,” she said. “ I think I’ve turned a corner…”
You can imagine how good it was to hear her like that. This is four days in a row of no fever and the med team is cutting back on her anti-biotics. The doctor told Jenn that her blood counts are coming up really well. That is also restoring her strength and energy.
She is still on the liquid nutrients through the I.V. tube, but she is also allowed some liquids by mouth now. Yesterday she had chicken broth. Today she has had apple juice and cranberry juice and they’re urging her to drink lots and lots of ginger ale. It seems that ginger ale has lots of phosphorous which is something the body needs. The pain in her back, the radiation burn, is still annoying her, especially when she moves. But she says she doesn’t think about it that much and that she can take pain medication if its really bad. So Jenn is having a better time right now. She’s hoping to get back to a more regular system of physio-therapy so she can hopefully get feeling and strength back in her lower body. Hope is such a good thing.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Holding hands will make you cry...

I had mixed feelings when I chatted with Jenn tonight. She was feeling pretty good she said. But we watched the last of the Toronto Maple Leafs game together and just when we thought it would be a win for the Leafs, Montreal scored and tied up the game. “Welcome to the Leaf Nation” Jenn sighed. Then we watched the overtime period together and with seconds left to play, Montreal scored again! Oh, oh ... What a letdown eh. Anyway, Jenn says she thinks she is getting a bit stronger each day. And there is no fever. Today the doctor let her drink some apple juice. Eventually, she will be able to drink broth and then some soft foods. She says she is sure looking forward to that. The MRI imaging she had earlier this week shows nothing new and the doctor told Jenn that is good news. She says she still feels pain in her upper back and the doctor thinks it is a radiation burn from the intense radiation therapy. It’s like a really severe sunburn. So we will follow that. Scott treated Jennifer today by showing up with a photo of their front yard. They live in the country and have a nice big parcel of land with beautiful trees and shurbs, all surrounded by forest. Scott tacked the photo up on the wall in her room. How nice is that! Another good thing is that Jenn’s isolation rules are being relaxed. Scott brought Tyler and Nate to the hospital and Jenn told the boys to go and make sure they washed up their hands really well. When they came back into the hospital room, Jenn said she was able to touch her little boys and hold hands for the first time in many, many days. She said she started crying when she held their hands because she was happy. I cried when she told me. Funny what we take for granted eh?