Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Living on the Wild Side

 Although I'm normally someone who likes to plan things in advance,  I've always loved the thrill of waking up with a fun idea for something to do, then making it happen with little to no pre-planning.   I guess you could call it my wild side.  Of course having a child in the hospital for weeks on end does not lend itself very well to either spontaneity, living wild,  or even day trips in general. 

  So it was fun to wake up on President's Day and realize that the kids were off school, the weather was gorgeous, and I was at home!  It was too perfect not to go out for a spontaneous fun day on the town.   

A couple hours later we were at the National Zoo with Ellie, Adam, Emma,  my 2 sisters and our friends, the Tapps.    It turned out to be four adults and five kids...a very nice adult to kid ratio. 

After polling the crew, it was determined that the main objectives of the day were to see the elephants, the pandas, and the bird house (and everything in between)....

We weren't in a hurry,  so we decided to go at the kids' pace, which at times was painfully slow.

In the end the slow pace turned out to be refreshing and I found it fun to explore the zoo on a chilly day (relatively speaking), because the animals were actually awake and active, a far cry from the lazy animals we see in the summertime...

Eventually we did find the elephants...
and the birds...

but the panda bears were hiding, so this statue became the next best thing....

And this is a little off topic from zoo animals, but since I have this picture with Sue and I from the zoo that day, I just have to add in how wonderful it is to have a friend like Sue.  Little did the Tapps know when they moved around the corner from us several months ago, what high maintenance neighbors we were going to be, but man, I have to say that it is a HUGE blessing having them live so close.  In addition to accompanying us on spontaneous trips to the zoo, Sue saves our hides at least weekly, gives our kids rides, picks up things at the store for us, as well as helping me maintain my sanity by going on long walks a couple times a week (or whenever we can) with me. 
And at the end of the day, Spence actually expressed a little disappointment about not being able to come with us to the zoo.  I guess that means he's been in the hospital for a long time, because he's been avoiding our zoo trips for years now.  :)


  •  Last round of chemo he was receiving  twice-weekly spinal taps, so in order to make sure his blood was strong enough for the procedures they transfused him with platelets whenever his counts got to 30.  He's not getting the frequent spinal taps anymore, so yesterday his platelet counts were the lowest they had ever been before (10).   Normal platelet levels are over 140. 
  • Platelets are instrumental in helping the blood to clot.  With his very low counts, his mouth was bleeding a lot (without any pain) yesterday and he had the petechiae rash in several places.  (Petechiae is a reddish, painless pinpoint rash that is caused by burst capillaries due to low platelets and is ofttimes a symptom of leukemia that brings people to the doctor in the first place).  
  • With the low counts and the symptoms, they did transfuse him with platelets yesterday, which thankfully has helped with the random bleeding. 
  • Like with the platelets, because he's not having the frequent spinal taps that required his blood to be kept at a higher level, his blood counts are lower than they've ever been.   Basically that means that he's tired, pale, and grumpy as can be.  I apologize in his behalf if you've visited the last couple of days and found him less than sociable. 
  • His entire body is uncomfortably itchy right now.  Apparently it's a common side effect of morphine, which he has been taking for his post-appendectomy pain.  Thankfully they are in process of weaning him from it now and we are hopeful that the itchiness goes away with the morphine.   
  • Despite all of that, Spencer actually is feeling better after his surgery.  His pain is lessened, he's moving around more, and if it weren't for the low blood counts and itchiness he'd probably be doing just fine. 

    His ANC is about 50 today, which means he's almost bottomed out and if you're sick in the slightest you should stay away. 
  • I've started calling around to bone marrow transplant centers to see if we could schedule a visit for a tour and visit with the doctors.  Most people in our area end up at National Children's Medical Center in DC (30-45 minutes away), Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore (a little over an hour away), Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (a little over 2 hours away), or Duke University Hospital (3-4 hours away).   We're still leaning towards the National Children's Medical Center, just for proximity's sake and making it easier for our family, but we feel like we need to explore all of our options before making a final decision. 

"Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important-and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, "They do not love that do not show their love."  We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us."
--Thomas S. Monson


K said...

Glad you were able to have a spontaneous day of fun! Also happy you have an awesome neighbor helping you out!

Sorry to hear Spence is feeling lousy. Hopefully the platelets and blood transfusions will help some.

Hope you get all the details worked out for the bone marrow transplant!

Love you guys!

Steve-Rosanna said...

What a blessing to have a friend like Sue. Of course, you can say the same thing about having your two sweet sisters nearby for support and friendship.

Always loved zoos, but haven't been to one in more that 20 years, so had a little pang of wishful thinking. Imagine, as many times as I have been to DC over the years and I have never seen the Washington Zoo.

Looked like so much fun.

Thanks for your post. And for the continued daily updates on Spence. The appendoctomy really took a lot out of him seemingly.

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