Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Try, try again

Still no luck collecting stem cells. Shots morning and night today with the hopes of a collection tomorrow.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Kids Take Fantasy Flight to North Pole

Part of the trip to the North Pole was captured on Fox 2. To view the video, click the link below and scroll down to middle of article and click on the video in the related items box. You can catch a glimpse of Lisa and I in the crowd if you pause video right after Santa comes in (I'm wearing a red/black shirt and Lisa is to my right).

MyFox Detroit Kids Take Fantasy Flight to North Pole

Also, I've updated the pictures on the blog....you can click the link called Lisa's Photos here or on the blog.

Happy Holidays

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and is enjoying the last few days of 2008. Christmas was nice and things actually felt like the good old days. We didn't have to make any unscheduled trips to Motts!! Yeah!!

Lisa was slowing down a bit by Saturday and not surprisingly she need blood and plasma when she went in for her blood work on Sunday.

We were hoping it would be enough to boost her levels for today so she could have her stem cell collection done...unfortunately counts weren't high enough. On a good note, she was able to get anesthesia and get her temporary collection line put in AND was allowed to go home for the rest of the day (normally when kids get a temporary line they make them stay inpatient). She will go back tomorrow morning and if her blood counts are high enough, they will do the stem cell collection.

So, Lisa and I are enjoying the sun and watching the water rise at the lake house while we wait for Mike to return from work. The other kids are hanging out at home with their cousins from Alabama. We've quarantined ourselves here in the hopes of keeping Lisa away from colds and other bugs that family and guests are passing around our Canton home.

Oh, by the way......did you know that Mike is awesome!! Not only did he take Lisa in for blood work yesterday, he also did me the great favor of getting her to Motts by 6:30 this morning (a feat I am not capable of) for her procedure. I'm sure I'll have to make it up to him somehow...but I just wanted it to go on record where he could see it that he is awesome and I truly appreciate what he did. Mike---you rock!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Mike here: It's Tuesday, almost 2:00 PM, and Lisa is sleeping. We're back at the lake after taking her to UofM for blood work. We thought for sure she was a pint low on something because she's had a couple small bloody noses and bleeding a tiny bit after we give her her daily shot. However when the results were in, and they checked them twice, all her counts were good so we bolted outta there before they changed their mind!
So Like I said, she's sleeping and the other kids are playing a board game. Later we'll head back to Canton where we'll host Linda's side of the family tomorrow. It could get a little hectic around here for the next few days so I'll say it now... Merry Christmas readers! Thank you for your support, prayers, meals, and concern. It's going to be great Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

We came home Friday

Things are going well. Lisa was discharged on Friday and we got to drive in all the snow.....it was good to be out.

She's been taken off the nutrition which makes things a little easier. Daily, we only need to give her a few pills and shots and at night we run hydration. She looks pretty good and is eating a little bit better.

Yesterday was the big McMaster party and we all got to go...yeah! The McMaster party is a rather large gathering including lots of good food, fun, aunts, uncles, cousins and a visit from Santa who brings gifts for the children.

As Lisa was waiting for Santa to call her name, things got a little scary. Lisa was watching intently as Santa called children's names and then held them on his lap while they opened their gifts. As Santa helped one little girl with her gift, Lisa scooted off her chair and started rocking back and forth one her feet... she seemed pretty agitated. I asked her what was wrong. She chanted..."that girl has my baby, she's opening my baby, she has my baby." I looked at the little girl on Santa's lap, what was she opening? Uh-oh...it did look like it could be a baby doll. "Lisa" I said, "Just wait, Santa will have a gift for you...that's the little girl's gift...Santa has more than one doll". Lisa started to skirt around her chair. "Lisa" I hissed. Suddenly the wrapper fell completely away from the girl's gift. Huge sigh of relief. "Lisa....she didn't get a baby, it's a Mr. Potato Head" I whispered. Thank goodness; order was restored. Santa soon called Lisa's name and lucky for him, the gift she opened had not one, but two baby dolls. I truly fear if Santa did not have those baby dolls, there would have been some bloodshed....and I'm pretty sure it would have been his!!

So....today we are enjoying the beautiful snow from the coziness of the lake house. It's bright and white and warm inside and just the bit of R&R we need. Lisa is playing with her baby dolls...of course. And the rest of the kids are thawing out from running around in the snow and our playing some games.

As I count down the days until Christmas, I realize I better stop typing and better start shopping!

Sunday Morning

Mike here with my take on Lisa's homecoming Friday: Lisa came home Friday afternoon, after the snowstorm, wired and running. Sometimes the chemo does that. On Friday evening, the outside Christmas lights came on at 5:00 PM, and all the kids marveled at them and wondered where they came from. The lights were donated and hung by the Canton city firefighters. I can't thank them enough. With our schedules as they are we were lucky to get the tree up. The kids were very surprised and happy to see them. Thank you!

Saturday morning Maranda, Thomas, and Christina went to see them movie Despereaux. In the afternoon was the 54th annual McMaster Christmas party. Out of 150+, we had about 80 in attendance. Santa was there at usual and Lisa finally scored the baby doll she's been asking for and hasn't put it down since. Which reminds me, we had a visit from Santa at the hospital on Thursday. Lloyd Carr (previous UofM football coach) played the part of Santa as his wife Laurie assisted. Pretty cool. Lisa was received a Big House tee shirt, but later exclamed "where's my baby, why didn't he give me my baby?" Which is what she says after each visit by Santa - until Saturday when she got what she's been asking for. Good thing too because she wasn't going to let Santa out of there without a baby.

It's been a great couple days. Lisa is comfortable and energetic and active. It's great to have our Lisa back.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is she actually eating?????

They stopped the liquid nutrition and gave an appetite enhancer...hopefully we are starting something here!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Moving right along

So...things are moving right along. Lisa was admitted yesterday for chemo....normally this chemo would be done outpatient, but because of her contact precautions they decided to do it inpatient. Mike and I actually aren't too bummed...all the drugs and nutrition he was having to hook up, not to mention the numerous diapers and bedding we had to change was really starting to wear us out...it's nice to have the nurses here to help us.

Lisa still isn't eating much, hopefully now that she's finished her antibiotic and is on appetite enhancers, we'll see an increase in appetite. Hoping we can get her eating and off the liquid nutrition before we go home.

Other than that, just a normal day at Motts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chemo starts tomorrow

Assuming all Lisa's blood counts are good, Chemo will start tomorrow. Unfortunately we will be doing this inpatient because she still is on contact precautions and can't be in the outpatient area where there is "shared" space with the other chemo kids.

As much as I hate having to go back, it is probably for the best. While Lisa is doing good, she is still not eating regularly, she seems a bit more tired than usual and she is complaining her leg hurts again (a little panic races thru me whenever she complains about it!) Seems like we need the chemo to keep the cancer at bay. Being inpatient, while very inconvenient for the family, will mean the nurses can administer the nutrition and meds and give Mike a break...it has been no fun mixing all the meds and hooking her up every night and doing middle of the night cleanups! I'm sure we'll still be doing some of the work in the hospital, but there is a sense of security having a nurse there to help and who has also gotten some solid sleep.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursdays trip to the North Pole

The trip to the North Pole was awesome. We were dropped off by the airport shuttle at 9:30 in front of the Northwest terminal and were greeted by a friendly elf directing us into the building. More elves were there to guide the way as we got our boarding passes and met up with some of our fellow friends from Motts. The air was festive and the workers and the elves very welcoming. Once we had our boarding passes we weaved our way thru the Westin hotel to their security check-in. They handed a sweatshirt, a bag of goodies and a name tag to Lisa. Extra TSA security was singing Christmas Carol karaoke and there was a lion dancing away trying to get us to join him. Lisa was pretty skeptical of the Lion and wouldn’t go near him. I assured her he was harmless…he was wearing a Detroit Lions jersey for goodness sakes!

Once we made our way thru security we headed towards our gate. You couldn’t miss it. There were signs for the North Pole and red and white candy cane decorations and lots of clowns. The clowns were busy making all kinds of balloon creatures and Lisa and all the other kids were busy collecting as many as they could. Around 10:30, we boarded the plane. All the workers clapped, cheered and greeted each child by name as they stepped onto the plane. Now I understood why it was only one parent per child…there wasn’t enough room for 2 adults per child with all the balloon creatures, gift bags, coats, cameras and personal items!

It took a while to get the plane loaded. Lisa was very patient and looked around wide eyed taking everything in. Once all the passengers, clowns and elves were boarded, we got on our way. The ride was a bit bumpy, but once we “took off” it seemed a bit smoother. Lisa remarked more than once that we weren’t really flying…and that we weren’t very high. I finally asked her why she didn’t think we were flying up high and she just looked at me and said very matter of fact “because the balloons aren’t popping”. Huh? I stopped asking….not sure if she just got lucky with her answer or if somehow she really knew that the pressure in a flying jet would most likely pop her balloons. We were given sandwiches, crackers, and cookies during the flight and made small talk amongst ourselves.

We landed in the North Pole around 12:30. As we got off the plane and went back thru security, we were greeted with big welcomes. We weaved our way to Santa’s room (which looked very much like it could be one of the Westin hotel conference rooms) Once inside Lisa stopped, slowly looked around the room and than asked me what was straight ahead. I looked up and all I could see was the other side of the room where another set of doors were. I told her…just doors, honey. Her head nodded and she said…that’s where Santa is coming in. We put all of our goodies in a corner and got first row seats on the floor to watch the magician. Lisa was mesmerized by the bird that appeared with a shake of a handkerchief. I don’t think she watched any of the other magic, she just watched the bird. About 1/3 of the way into the magic show, the magician stopped and said he’d gotten the signal. All eyes turned and there HE was….Santa and Mrs. Claus had entered the room. The crowd went wild. There was waving and clapping and yelling. Once Santa shouted his hellos, he headed over to his chair with Mrs. Claus. As he got situated, the magician continued his show and kept the kids occupied. Volunteers came around and tapped two children at a time to go and see Santa. It didn’t seem like we were waiting very long before Lisa got picked. She did very well and almost made it all the way to Santa before she froze and grabbed for me. With me by her side she went up to Santa…but refused to sit on his lap. We took a few pictures and then Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas…and, of course, she said “a baby”. He asked her what else she wanted and she said “another baby”. Okay so she knows what she wants. He then proceeded to hand her a GIANT size IKEA bag. As we walked away from Santa, I started to go back to the magician, but Lisa made me stop so we could look at her gifts. There was a huge stuffed dolphin, a Barbie, a game and some other things. Lisa looked up at me and seemed close to tears….what’s wrong I asked her? Where’s my baby? she said. Uhhhhhhhhhh….I explained to her that these were just extra gifts and Santa would bring her a baby when he came to the house….sheesh…you can’t get anything past this kid.

We finished off the day with a few treats. As we were leaving the party, Lisa commented “I guess I was wrong” “What” I questioned? She said “I was wrong, Santa didn’t use that other door”. Man….when has this kid gotten so bright?

We made our trek back thru the hotel and got a ride on the shuttle back to the parking lot. Lisa was pretty tired and complaining that her legs hurt, but overall we were very happy.

Once in our car, we headed to the clinic for our 3:00 blood draw. When we got to the clinic, we were surprised to see Santa sitting in the waiting area. He was dressed incognito in jeans and a sweatshirt, but we knew it was him…he had white hair, long white beard, a bit of a belly, glasses perched on his nose and was sitting there “reading” a book. Lisa was a bit moody when we got there and I pointed him out. She quieted down. We kept taking peeks of him as Lisa got more sociable. We were laughing and giggling when suddenly Santa, stood up, grabbed his coat, winked at us and walked out the door. He’d never even been called into the lab! Wow…I told Lisa, they aren’t kidding when they say he’s watching!

The older kids were thrilled to hear Lisa had a good time and even more thrilled that they got a little present from Santa. Interestingly enough they all received letters with their gift that described very accurately their behavior this last year…..hmmm….it’s as if Santa had actually been in our house watching or perhaps some parent is in pretty tight with the old man!

So, the trip to the North Pole was a success and has put us in the mood for the holidays...if we can just get the tree up, presents bought and the stockings hung by the chimney with care, we might actually be able to have Christmas this year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday Night Update

Mike here: The girls have been doing just fine. Maranda has been relaxing and taking it easy and is healing quickly. Lisa has been doing great as well. IV feeding through the night and IV antibiotics for one hour, every eight hours. High maintenance to say the least but happy and comfortable and definitely her ol' self. Last night her IV pump only pumped about half of the nutrition in for some reason but she was more interested in solid food today so I think that was a good sign. We'll watch that and see if the pump hiccups again tonight and replace it if it does. Really, I'd be interested in cutting that off completely and see if her solids appetite comes back quicker.
Tomorrow Linda is taking Lisa to Metro Airport. Lisa was invited by the Child Life Specialists at Mott's to fly to the North Pole to see Santa. They'll board a plane and taxi to another terminal where Santa will be waiting. Pretty cool. I'm sure Linda will capture the moment and share some of the moments with us. Stay tuned for that update.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mike here: Here's a snapshot of the little princess in the hospital cafeteria the day we were leaving. Happy and eating. We were both excited about getting out of there. Before we left though we were trained for 2 hours on how to give IV nutrition (TPN) and antibiotics through the IV at home. After we arrived home the Home Medic company brought us a small refrigerator and stocked it full of supplies to get us through to Thursday. A short while later the nurse from UofM showed up and watched to see that I could mix and hook everything up properly. It's pretty intimidating to see all the supplies laid out on the table for only a few days. Amazing to think that people have to do this for years.
So its Monday morning and the mixing and hooking up went fine last night. It's when it exits the patient that it's "eventful". I think I remember changing her four times last night and the bed twice. So I think I'm getting less sleep here at home. Nonetheless, we're VERY happy to home.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lisa comes home today

Lisa is coming home today. Yeah! We will get training from hospital staff on how to give her the nutrition and antibiotics thru IV. Mike arranged for her to come home yesterday on a day pass (seeing as all the IV stuff is done at night while she is sleeping) so she was home for a few hours and was not happy to go back to the hospital. We told her it was for one more night and she needs to eat!

She did manage a few bites last night...so hopefully once she's home she'll get back to normal. We only have one week to fatten her up before chemo begins.

Ugh....it's hard to believe we are so quickly approaching Christmas.....seems like it should still be summer...where has all the time gone?!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Maranda is home

Yeah...one down, one to go. Maranda came home today. She did really good last night...didn't even take pain killers before she went to bed. Could have been the surprise visit she had from Mr. and Mrs. McCoy or the movie time she had with four of her friends, but even though she was still feeling tired and sore she was smiling.

When docs woke her up this morning she was able to turn her head. The doctor is very pleased with her progress.

Lisa looks great and is running around like a nut. She just isn't eating. They are cutting back her nutrition over the next two days so that they can send her home on Monday with a more manageable dosage. Yeah.

They've already scheduled her next chemo for Dec 15----sigh---it should be done outpatient which is good, I just wish we could have more of a break---but this cancer is strong, so we need to keep hitting it so it doesn't keep growing. Lisa will have stem cell collection Dec 29 in preparation for "big" chemo and bone marrow transplant in Jan. That will be at least a three week stay.

I'm going to bed right now and not leaving until I have to go relieve Mike at the hospital tomorrow evening...it's so nice to be home!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Time flies

Well the day has gone by quickly. Maranda is doing good...sore and grumpy....but she got moved to the same floor as Lisa. They are actually on opposite sides of the unit from each other so we can just cut thru kitchenette to go from one to the other. Lisa is up and about, having less pain and is being much nicer.

Neither of them are eating....unless you count putting the smallest morsel of food in your mouth, gumming it up and spitting it out.

Docs are actually thinking Maranda might be released tomorrow. So long as she is eating, peeing and can get up and walk about they think she'll be good to go. Lisa docs are considering trying to release her as well....but she would come home with some heavy duty antibiotics and possibly liquid nutrition. Seems a little soon to me and hopefully I've made it clear I'm not in any rush....certainly don't want to take kids home to have to bring them back.

So...we just play the waiting game and see how they are both doing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yeah..she's out!

As of 3:30, Maranda was out of surgery. The surgeon came up to Lisa's floor to give us the report. He said everything went as planned and she did very good. We're sitting outside of recovery waiting for them to come get us.

The surgeon said she'll be on ICU today and then they would move her to the floor tomorrow. She could be out as early as 2 days depending on how she feels. Her return to school will be based on her own judgement and pain threshold.

Ok....I'm now sitting beside her bed in recovery typing. She is still out of it, but has squeezed my hand in response to questions and whispered she was thirsty. Yeahhhhhhhhhh......it feels like it has been 20 years since I've seen her....I'm so happy. She's here, she's sleeping, she's breathing. Life is good!

1 hour and counting

I can barely breathe. It's one hour until Maranda has to be at the hospital and I have to keep reminding myself to breathe and to slow my thoughts down.

Sleep was tough last night...Lisa was tossing and turning and we it felt like someone was checking something every hour of the night. The 7:00 am blooddraw was our wake up call....no way I could go back to sleep after all Lisa's fussing and my thoughts racing. Not to mention our favorite tech did the draw but forgot to give us her signature "God Bless" as she left the room...what? where is she? I told two people in the hall to tell her to come back...no such luck...I needed that blessing!

So now I sit here and watch the clock and try not to pace too much while Lisa watches tv. Neither of us feels like eating this morning.

I'm counting the minutes until I can see Maranda and kiss her all over.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pray for Maranda Wed 9:30 am (updated)

Maranda's surgery is scheduled for 9:30 am....so please offer up a prayer at that time. I just found out that they have set aside 6 hours for the surgery....they originally told us 3-4 so let's hope they just allowed a lot of clean up time.

Have to admit, I'm pretty anxious about this one...more so than Lisa's. Probably because with Lisa we been through a lot of other procedures with here and knew that surgery was a must if we want to beat cancer. With Maranda, while the surgery will make things better so she doesn't incur problems as she grows older, there is a whole lot of things that could go wrong and make this normally healthy kid (who hasn't even had a cavity filled) worse......okay....I'll stop that line of thinking!!

Just got to keep my mind in the moment and stay focused and keep praying. No matter what happens, that's life and we will deal with it (I hope!)

Lisa ate some cheez-its last night and today....yeah!!! Still no fever and she's up and about...double yeah!!! They may not be able to share rooms but maybe they can go home together---soon!!

Keep praying everyone and thanks!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Literally! Lisa gave the second sample today and unfortunately it tested positive. Ugh. That means anyone with a compromised immune system, including an 11 year old sister who is having surgery on Wednesday, can't be in contact with her.

So....Lisa and Maranda won't be in the same room while they are both inpatient. I'm sure everything will work out and I don't want to dwell on it for fear I jinx Maranda and she ends up in intensive care until Lisa is off restrictions....so I'm not hoping or wishing for anything except for both girls to get well quick and get the heck out of here.

Oddly (and sadly) there is another family 3 doors down from us in the same predicament. Their youngest is here because of neuroblastoma and their oldest is getting bone surgery tomorrow. They were going to have their kids bunk together, but the youngest is on restrictions. The mom and I are discussing having Maranda bunk with her older son so then we could at least have them close by and know the other family they are rooming with. It's usually against hospital rules because they are opposite sex, but we'll see what happens. I'd rather have her 2 doors down than on another floor.

Lisa had a good night last night (only waking at 3, 4, 6 and 7). She is back to her normal happy self today sans eating. She's been out for a walk around the halls, she's done arts and crafts, played with her dolls, watch movies and hasn't screamed too much at the nurses. We just need to clear up her infection and get her eating and then hopefully she will go home. There was supposed to be chemo this week, but given the circumstances they've postponed it. Hopefully we won't end up doing chemo Christmas week.

We still don't know what time Maranda's surgery is on Wed...it will take about three hours...and we hope that the prayer chain of all our readers will be working away. While Maranda's condition isn't cancer (as one doctor said) it is some pretty serious surgery and will carry many risks. So we gladly welcome all prayers this Wed.