Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas, Day + 240 Post Transplant!

"They will call him Immanuel" - "God with us".  Matthew 1:23

"Prince of Peace".  Isaiah 9:6

It's been just about 8 months since the transplant and Clif is regaining strength.   This past 3 months at home we have seen a steady progression of improved blood counts and physical ability.  Still being a high fall risk, life keeps all of us on our toes, literally.  Weekly visits to City of Hope continue, Clif has needed only a few transfusions of blood since discharge, platelets still remain low, but he has not needed a transfusion of those, thankfully!   We continue to look forward to a full recovery, God Willing.

Below, is a picture we took earlier this week at Convict Lake near Mammoth Mountain.  

Our lives during these holidays are busy.  Charlie is back home returning to ASU in mid-January.
Sydney has completed her college applications and the college return mail arrives daily. She is very popular and enjoys spending time with her boyfriend Alex.  William finished his 8th grade semester strong and earned his 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Doreene is our family's anchor and continues to be my advocate for everything important in life.  Honestly I do not believe I would be here if God, City Of Hope and Doreene were not at my side.

Physical therapy is going well and I plan to be at full  speed and at work soon.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  We all need to be grateful in 2015.

Clif Fincher

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day +180, Six Months Post Transplant!

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
JEREMIAH 29 : 12 – 13

Clif has been home for a little over a month now.  We are all adjusting to an ever changing health environment.  It has not been easy but we are all very glad DAD is home.   His attitude continues to be good and he is determined to win the race.  

His weekly routine incudes; Monday/Thursday visits to City of Hope (COH), and Tuesday/Wednesday/  Fridays he does Speech Pathology, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy at Winways Rehabilitation in Orange Park Acres.   

The hospital visits each time include a visit to the VAD (Vascular Assist Device).  Here is where the picc line is serviced.  Back on February 3rd, 2014 when Clif first arrived at COH a picc line was installed into his right upper arm to push or administer all needed medications in fluid form and also to pull blood draws.  He has a single line/double tubes which means 2 seperate access lines can feed into the blood stream.  The picc line itself is a line that runs straight to the heart for immediate access into the blood stream.  Each Thursday the device is cleaned and redressed.  The device will remain until we are absolutely certain we are in the clear.  Once finished with VAD we head over to Dr Snyders office, our oncologist for review of the blood counts that were just drawn minutes before and to discuss any existing or new symptoms (like a recent infection on his elbow).  This place has got it together!  These visits also include an in depth review of all blood counts, if something is minutely off in his blood, modications are made to the myriad of drugs and supplements taken.  Steroids, Immune Suppressants and Magnesium have been the most volatile.  

Clif has had some struggles this last month.  Several falls and one visit to emergency for observation.  Because of this, all walking requires a shadow, that means someone is behind him every step he takes.  We have hired an in home health care assistant (Lazelle, a wonderful Philippino helper) she comes at 9pm and leaves at 9am Sunday through Thursdays.  Clif is not sleeping well and  in order for me to give him my best, I need to get some sleep.

The Graft vs Host Disease (GVHD) is still attacking but we are managing it from home.  The Prednisone used to fight it after long term use weekens the muscles, especially in the upper quads of his legs making it a very difficult task to recover and rebuild strength in his legs.  So, while a fall risk and able to be home, sit out front, do homework with William, have meals with all of us, and slowly reclaim his life, careful mobility and strict discipline and obedience to NOT WALK AROUND SOLO  from Clif is required.

Folks, its not been an easy road and we continue to ask you to pray for all of us.  Charlie is adapting to College life, Sydney is now preparing College Apps and William has had some struggles at school but we are working diligently to improve his academics.  I am holding down the fort, my grip is strong and my strength comes from quieting my heart, sitting still and listening, it is not always easy.  Time is spent first thing with The Lord, it has been life sustaining to me personally.  I have found that a quiet spirit is of priceless value, stillness has allowed me to accomplish much in my days.

Thank you also for bringing meals, Clif has had some great food since being out of the hospital and we are all very grateful.

Our faith is deep and we are pressing on towards the goal of a God Willing full recovery!!!

Let us run with Patience.  Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day +145, "Celebrating and Praising Him Who Is Able To Do Immeasurably More Than All We Can Ask or Imagine"

“When I called, you answered me;
you made me bold and stouthearted.
May all the kings of the earth praise you, O LORD,
when they hear the words of your mouth.”
Psalm 138:3-4

Clif is scheduled for discharge this Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014, Praise God!!!

As I write this; many many thoughts swirl around in my mind.  Today is 145 days past the day Clif received his German stem cells, it is 231 days since he was admitted to the City of Hope.  It will be just about 34 weeks since he has slept in our bed, stood in our kitchen, pet Buddy & Cocoa our dogs, picked up his socks, got a glass of water from the refridgerator door, used our bathroom  and many other simple comforts that he will experience very very soon.  Clif is coming home, Hallelujah, yes their will be much rejoicing when he steps across the threshold of our home!

A recent week long trend of good blood counts has rewarded us with a departure that we have anticipated for a very long time.  We have possibly turned a major health corner, a corner we have been waiting and praying to see.  

Physical Therapy (PT) has been going very well.  Clif now wears Nike cross trainer shoes to walk the halls with his trusty walker that needs to be painted and customized with flames painted down its metal framework!  This past week PT has included practicing getting into a car.  Clifs first request as he approached the car was, "Can I practice sitting on the driver side"?  it was quickly squashed!  His reply, "Well I guess Doreene can drive me to work", hmmmmmm like I haven't done enough driving already!  This was revealing of where his mind is.  He remains on many drugs, ones that would prevent anyone from driving!  Although disappointed, he completely understands and will continue to wait patiently as life slowly returns some of the benefits he has not been able to enjoy.  PT will become much more rigorous, our hope is to immediately begin a very regimented schedule to reclaim the old body, "give it some new upgrades" but operate with an entirely new source of fuel, German Jet Fuel!

Health still has concerns;  fluid accumulation is still our main issue, elevated blood pressure is being addressed, pain in the tailbone area from a recovering bed sore continues to scream for the most attention and a few other things.   Fortunately, we will monitor these things on an outpatient basis, with bi-weekly visits to begin immediately this Thursday.

Today, the forecast is good.  God has been beyond gracious!  Friends and Family,  you have held us up and we are grateful.  We look forward to celebrating very soon with all of you!

A Dry Run!

“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31

Friday, September 5, 2014

Day +130, The Battle Continues.........

Blessed are all who wait for Him.  Isaiah 30:18

In our last update we shared an upper/lower GI was being performed to hopefully shed light on why Clif was having a large degree of stomach cramping, abodmenal distention (again) and plumbing issues.  The findings were nothing.  There has been a great degree of mystery the last 2 weeks but today we feel a new discovery was made.

Dr Ali, one of our "Team 5" of oncology/transplant doctors shared a new word; Serositis.  He explained this was a manifestation of GVH.   Serositis is the medical term for an inflammation of the lining of the lungs, heart, or abdomen and abdominal organs.  In a nutshell, Clif is accumulating fluids again around these areas.  The treatment;  marketly increased steroids over the next 3 days and administer a new drug called Rituximab (Rituxin) delivered once a week via IV for the next 4 weeks.  Prayerfully this issue will not slow his progress made with Physical Therapy.

Today, he was introduced to the Viking Lift (see picture below), a piece of equipment with wheels and a sort of Jumpy harness that allows Clif to walk with a walker but be a little lighter on his feet.  It continues to require 2 assistants but definitely gives a more liberating feel to the art of walking.  Yes, it is much like the jumpy swing we all used with our babies, only it is not stationary this one travels.

Good friend Steve Fodor just couldn't stay away.  He joined us this week as an inpatient and Conqueror of "Colorectal Cancer"!  He is a very dear friend and we continue to pray for his successful recovery.  

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.”
Psalm 130:5

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day +120, A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Smiles!

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
JOHN 14 : 27”

Pictured above is Joe Maiolo bringing the joy!

We've had a few more challenging days, both physically and mentally.   "Recognizing Change" is the  banner over my head, literally.  When appointed caregiver, you actually become an extention to ones body and their mental perspective in some cases.  For Clif, since he has been here for so long and taking such a variety of drugs, one is likely to get confused, lose track of time or sometimes hit rock bottom.  Many of the drugs that are meant to help with anxiety, nerve issues or even help you sleep all affect the mind.  So when we see the mental behave out of the norm, the red flags go up.  A slight form of depression was starting to reveal itself, but I think it's been addressed quickly with much wisdom and thought.

A blessing this past week was having Holly here, Clif's sister from New Hampshire.  I must say, she is insightful with her observation of the mental.  Her husband Peter, an ER doctor has also been an extra benefit and their collective wisdom has been comforting for myself and has allowed the three of us to make some pretty good deterrminations that have benefited Clifs overall health.  Having them to turn too daily has made us a great team!  God really has provided some extra special support in this area.  I am truly thankful.

Clif had an upper and lower GI yesterday, results will be forthcoming.  Having recent and new abdominal pain called for further investigation.  With this, his appetite has decreased over the last week and we have seen a bit of weight loss.   Being creative on the food menu has also become increasingly boring!  We need to be gentle on the intake, so any thoughts on gentle menu items safe for the intestinal system are completely welcome.

As he continues with rehab, he attempts to take "one step up".  Jose pictured to the right of Clif has a certain gentle spirit and the strength of Hercules!  Knowing this, Clif trusts him completely to be his strength.  Yes, we will leave here with people who have deeply touched our lives and that we will keep in touch with.

Thank you all again and again for encouraging us to win this battle, for praying for our strength and courage, for routine emails and texts that keep us integrated with people, for meals in abundance to the house and for bringing joy and company and much more.

“You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.”
Psalm 119:114

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Day +108, Some Good News

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path.
PSALM 119 : 105”

Praise God for good  bone marrow results!  

The cellular content that makes up the marrow looks healthy and appears to be producing all donor cells.  This is very good news.  We are still waiting to see how much fibrosis is in the marrow, but the current cellular and fat percentages that are in there look good.  There is some fluid in the sack around the heart but it is a small amount and they are not concerned.  The aspergillus in his left lung is slightly improving, not currently concerned.  The spleen is reducing in size, there is still a possibility of removal but we will watch and pray that God continues to heal it on its own..  There are no traces of leukemia, big sigh of relief.  There are intermittent stomach aches possibly from an ever growing menu of food items or could possibly be gvh.

God willing, things are winding down on our stay.  We are fast approaching 7 months.  Since Clifs platelets remain low and the need for transfusions continues daily, the idea of moving to a lower level of care type facility or an Acute Rehab hospital will not happen yet.  The goal is to get him medically healthy enough to relocate to a facility that can whip his physical body back into shape.  So as we remain, we will continue to work diligently at strengthening and relearning the body to do the things it needs to do; like walk.

Rehab continues daily, a walker is placed in front of Clif and from his bedside each therapist places a hand on a belt that is placed just under his chest, on Clifs count of 3 the three of them gently lift him to his feet, he grabs the walker, steadies himself and once standing and knees gently pressed in by one of the helpers the very careful first step is made, slow but steady as we go.  Someone follows  behind him with a wheel chair to be a safeguard for him if he is getting to tired and to give him a break when he needs it.  Progress is being made.

Thank you all for a very happy birthday last week for Clif!  His spirits were lifted and it took 3 days to read through all the uplifting and encouraging notes.  There were many happy tears.

Another mile stone has come, I will be taking our son Charlie to ASU Polytechnic on Monday, a very exciting yet saddening moment, I was very much hoping Clif would be on this road trip!

One last thing, two days ago Clif made his first visit outside the walls of City of Hope in 6 1/2 months, what you and I take for granted he was able to enjoy in a very moving way.  

“My heart is steadfast, O God;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.”
Psalm 108:1

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day + 97, Happy 53rd Birthday Clif!!!

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

1st Corinthians 16:13

Yes, today August 4th, 1961 your friend Clif Fincher turns 53.  He shares this same day and year with President Obama!  If you want to text him a bit of encouragement or wish him a happy birthday that would be a great gift.

A huge "Thank You" too Lee & Associates in Orange for hosting a very successful blood drive in Clif's name,  we understand somewhere around 60 people donated, truly a blessing and what a selfless sacrafice!

Clif has been making good forward progress.  Although a bit frail in his appearance his determination to press on and finish strong is impressive.

It seems the focus this past week has been to get as much fluid off his person as possible.   A diaretic drug call Bumex has been given daily since his departure from ICU, I think he has probably lost 10-15 pounds in just fluids in the last 2 weeks.  

Some health specifics include;  the spleen continues to decrease in size, another big encouragement knowing a splenectomy will probably not be part of our future.  Clif continues to need blood products  daily.  Rehab has been tough, rebuilding quad strength is the primary goal.  Steroids which have been given daily since transplant are harsh on the muscles.  When our most recent battle of GVH appeared, a dramatic increase in steroids took place.  A gentle weaning back is happening but the cost of all of this is weakness to his muscles.  Clif is also off TPN (nutrition on an iv drip)  his appatite has been hardy and a favorite food right now is Vanilla flavored home made protein shakes, a good 450 calories in each one.    Pain meds are being reduced daily which has been tricky, the goal is to get him on all pill form drugs and eliminate all iv drip drugs.  Some pain meds like fentanyl only come on a drip, this drug is very friendly to the brain (little to no confusion or delusion), whereas dilauded reaked havoc on Clifs mental abilities, we will definitely keep that drug at a distance.  A CT will be performed soon to give assurance that the abdomin is free and clear of any concerns.  He also continues to take anti fungals for the continuing lung issue that was discovered way back in February.

Our hope for Clif is to be deemed medically ready for discharge, soon!  We are uncertain of our departure, but we do know that rehabilitating Clifs body will become our next mountain that we fully expect to conquer!  Although still unable to walk, we are in the planning stages of what to do next, inpatient or outpatient rehab will take place God Willing very very soon!!! 

Doctors continue to be amazed by Clifs progress, he truly has been an "Extraordinary" patient.  

Never lose Hope!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Day +83, Improvement

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths† straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trusting Gods hand in all that has happened and continues to happen has not been easy.  But I must say loudly, it has been the hand that has sustained both Clif, myself and our family through this almost 6 month stay at the City of Hope!  Do I think it is a City of Hope?  Absolutely!!!

Clif has been here in ICU for now 17 days, this is our 3rd stay in this unit.  I have seen amazing things here and I cannot say enough positive comments about the care and treatment received.  

Since the last update, 6 more liters of fluid off the abdomen and 754cc's of fluid off from around the heart and lung area.  He looks very good and is improving.  He complains of some chest pain, so I will ask for another ECCO just to confirm nothing is building up again around the heart.  I am told it is common to have this type of pain after draining like this occurs.

Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are back!  Memories are a little scrambled but some of the most recent ones of what he doesn't remember are worth the loss.  

The doctors collectively believe the fluid build up is caused from Graft vs Host.  In slang language; Clif has a 28 year old, untamed wild horse living in his barn.  The problem is everytime we think we get him harnessed and somewhat tamed, he busts out of his stall again and messes up the barn.  The graft is attacking the host!

Thank you again for continueing to pray us!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day +76 & 77, Prayer

"He knows the way that I take,  when He has tested
me, I will come forth as gold."  

Job 23:10

Slow but sure progress has been the path for the last 10 days, however new pain has arisen,  uncertainty of its cause and many more tests and scans .  Yesterday, Clif was having terrible pain in his entire abdominal area, a procedure was performed by needle to remove fluids that were building up (3+ liters).  One of the complications for the last 6 weeks has been an irregularly large and distended abdomen.  

An ECCO was performed, CAT scan, Ultrasound and X-rays yesterday.  

Something I failed to mention on the last blog was that Clif was intubated when readmitted to ICU back on July 5th.  Fortunately, his kidneys have been strong and no dialysis was required.  July 11th, the intubation was removed! , the next day he asked for a bagel with peanut butter &  jelly and a piece of turkey on top, yes this is something he likes.  Although, unable to give this, we took babysteps and introduced popsicles and ice chips.  Slow progress was continueing.

So today, we wait expectantly on The Lord to reveal and prayerfully heal.  The next couple of days I am asking for very specific prayer;  to determine the cause of pain and to relieve it!  for all internal unknowns to be revealed & treatable and for continued forward progress.  

“Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

PSALM 62 : 8 (NKJV)”

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day +70, ICU Stay #3

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us.

Psalm 67:1

On the evening of July 4th Clif spiked a fever of 101.9 and was having a problem breathing.  Protocol on transplant patients is to order blood cultures when a fever exceeds 101.5.  This is a very good plan.  Because of this plan Clif was diagnosed very quickly with a blood infection called Gram Negative Bacteria which caused Sepsis.  There are many strains of this bacteria and treating it is not usually that easy.  He was actually diagnosed with 2 seperate strains. The antibiotics used are effectively treating and reducing the infection.  The origin of these bacterias is not exactly known; could be from the bowel, the picc line or the bed soar, for examples.

Early morning July 5th at 2am Clif was transfered to the ICU unit.   At about 3:45am he went unresponsive.  I am assured this was not cardiac arrest.  However, do to a very low to no pulse reading, CPR was administered.    

Since this event, Clif is improving.  He was never sedated but because of the toxicity of bacterias in his blood, it acts as a natural sedative and he is slowly coming out of it.  There is some fluid around the heart but they are not concerned and feel it is from the chest compression performed when the initial "Event" occured.  

Please continue to pray for his total recovery, again, Nothing is impossible with The Lord!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day +63 & 64, Vaccination's, Enlarged Spleen & Rehabilitation

This week Clif was given 5 vaccinations, the exact same ones a brand new baby gets!  It's been 24 hours since injections were given and no allergic reactions have occured, good news.  More often, vaccinations are given at about 12 months post transplant.  The reason for early injection will be explained in more detail below.

Enlarged Spleen;  We mentioned last week that the ultrasound revealed an enlarged spleen.  We have discovered that his spleen began enlarging when Nuprigen was increased a few weeks ago to boost his White Blood Cell production.     Since this discovery, we are holding off as much as possible in using this drug.  It's still necessary at certain points when his counts are too low.  Remember, WBC's help fight infection and we still have the lung issue, aspergillus which is currently under control but we don't want that to become a problem.   Unfortunately, what they thought was a distended abdomen and excess fluid was also his spleen enlarging.  By the time we learned this, concerns started to mount of what the next step should be.  A Splenectomy is definitely a possibility in the future.  If indeed that should happen, Clif needed early vaccinations.  Our doctor is tilling the soil and preparing for what might possibly happen and being vaccinated is necessary.  We are 50/50 on whether the removal of the spleen will occur and if it does, Clif needs to get stronger.    

This has been a difficult week for both of us.  We were moving in the direction of a rehab hospital and hopes of coming home were in view.  When the recent findings of the ultrasound took us to such disappointing news, neither one of us were prepared to deal with this.  We still do not know the path of treatment we will be taking.  We are waiting and trusting the wisdom of the team of drs and surgeons on our case.

Rehabilitation continues;  although not able to stand on his own, Clif works diligently and daily at strengthening his entire body.  

“Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.”

Psalm 63:7-8

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day +56, Forging Ahead

“So do not fear, for I am with you; 
do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; 
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
ISAIAH 41 : 10”

The above verse is a passage that Clif has memorized and uttered many times over the past 12 years since this affliction began.  It has always given us something very tangible to hold on to.  

Yes, we are in need of further "unexpected" prayers.

This past Monday in our quest for reaching and sprinting for the goal of Acute Rehab, a bone marrow aspiration and untrasound of the abdomen were performed.  I believe these tests were probably precursor necesseties to attempt to close out our case and move us into the new venue of Inpatient Rehab most likely at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena.  

The Bone Marrow results returned and we continue to be Leukemia free.  Praise God!  The ultrasound results revealed an enlarged spleen. This is being addressed, and until I have further concrete evidence I'm not quite sure what the path of treatment will be.  This may or may not keep us here longer.  

I apologize for such a delay in posting.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day +50, Making Progress

My Hope comes from Him.  Psalm 62:5

Prayerfully, we are nearing the goal; to discharge soon.   The last few days we have seen a healthier looking, sounding and feeling man!  

Being uncertain of the next steps, there is a good possibility that Acute Rehab may be coming soon.  That means Clif will possibly transfer from City of Hope to a place that he will stay to rehabilitate.  The process of reversing the atrophy in the legs is taking longer than I would have ever thought.  We are still  working on getting up and down from the bedside.  Yesterday, Clif was hoisted from a sitting position onto a chair that is made of thick PVC plastic pipes, durable and perfect for sitting and taking a shower.  It's been about 50 days since he has had the luxury of taking a shower, another simple indulgence that put quite a smile on his face.

A metal hanging triangle was placed above his bed to allow him to use his arms to lift himself and sit up more freely.  Yesterday, he was showing me his muscles that have developed in only a few days of having that installed.  I highly recommend in a sitiuation where one is bed bound like Clif to have this installed, it will speed recovery and strength!  You need upper body strength when getting up on your feet, to pull yourself up onto a walker.  Core strength follows.

Clif is doing well!  The Saran Wrap, was less evasive than thought.  He still wears it, but in segmented places on the body, the places that need the most attention.  But it has worked beautifully.  His skin currently looks 20 years younger.  Meds are reducing or exchanging from iv drip to pill form.  The blood counts seem to fluctuate and platelets are still needed daily, another reason why a medical rehab facility may be in our future.  Platelets can only be distributed by a medical facility, which might rule out at home physical therapy.  

Clif has a great appetite and is eating and drinking all of his diet.  He is regaining lost body weight and looking more stealth.

A field trip to Tustin, CA today for our sons graduation ceremony today was ruled out! The doctor was brutally honest with me and would not entertain any discussion of taking Clif offsite.  Fortunately due to technology, it will be live streamed right to Clif's tv in his room.

Grateful for your prayers!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Day +44 Post Transplant, Saran Wrap & Relocation

On Wednesday of this week, for the first time in over 45 days, Clif with assistance was seated in a wheel chair and we went out to the lobby and sat and talked for an hour.  Being free from his room of white walls and a view of the roof tops of the neighboring medical bldgs, we enjoyed the view from the 4th floor lobby.  It was pleasant!

Tonight (Thursday) before bedtime, Clifs body was wrapped in Saran Wrap!  Today, a dermotologist was inspecting the rash that has developed over his entire body, the treatment; two different creams and wrap him in that plastic wrap you use to keep your foods fresh.  For the next three days, Clif will undergo a very creative method to help heal the skin and prevent scarring and itching.  The wrapping will be changed 3x a day, yes he will sleep in it, he will rehab in it and pretty much most of the time be sealed tight from exposure to whatever.....I am certain some really great jokes will arise from this.

We have also been relocated back to the 6th floor!  Since telemetry (heart monitoring) is no longer necessary he was moved back to the transplant floor.  This is the 9th room we have had since the beginning of our stay.

Clif is eating very well, getting PT Rehab 2x a day and overrall feeling pretty good.  The intestinal bacteria he has been fighting since transplant has tested negative twice now, one more test will be performed or is possibly in the works and if it tests negative he will be considered clear.

Many meds have been removed, he is regaining strength and we continue to have great hope for a full recovery.  
This picture was taken last week before the rash and swelling.  A good visit with business partner Dave Newton!

Graduation for our son Charlie is next week, not sure what that holds for Clif.  One of his nurses, Sobha who I spoke of months ago, she was the one who informed us of our 10 point match, she has become a very dear treasure.  She has offered to ride along to graduation and care for Clif should he need any medical assistance while parked on the field at the graduation ceremony!  Still holding loosely but praying continuously that this might be a field trip that he can take.

Talk of near future rehab and what that might look like outside the walls of COH is in the works, will keep you posted.  

Let us continue to haggle with God for his mercy and healing for Clif.   

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Day +38, 39 & 40 Post Transplant, Rehab & Graft vs Host

Rehab is underway!  The upper body is coming around much faster than the lower, patience is required.  Physical Therapy which takes place diaily,  brings in 2 and sometimes 3 guys to work with Clif, since his leg and core strength are virtually gone, they lift him from bedside to standing.  Standing up in one position is taxing but we are seeing progress.

As Clifs body becomes more familiar with his new dna, or better said his donor dna  becomes more familiar with his body, not all is expected to be harmonious.  Graft vs Host (GVH) is the most frequently talked about symptom at this stage of the game.  GVH is expected yet it is unknown in how it will present itself.  Like any new relationship, the exciting newness of the dating phase has calmed a bit and now the reality of body chemistry accepting or rejecting is taking place.  

Clif started swelling on Friday and a rash immediately followed.  By Saturday he swelled up to such a degree that his eyes were barely opening.  Sunday showed some mild relief.  As these symptoms began, the counter effects of different drugs to treat symptoms also began.  This is GVH, so we are told.  The doctor said this is about the time when one will start seeing effects of the transplant.  

The orchestration of delicately balancing drugs and adding new drugs is here.  This is what City of Hope is known for, their ability to manage and navigate bone marrow post transplant medications.   Please be praying that their wisdom is equal to or better than the task ahead with Clifs current and possible future symptoms.

“Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders† you have done.
The things you planned for us”

Psalm 40:5

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day +34 & 35, DNA Change, Nasal Tube Extubated and Catheter Removed

Yes, much is happening very quickly!

Last Thursdays DNA testing was performed and returned showing Clifs Blood DNA is 100% from our German donor!  As best as I can explain, Clifs new bone marrow, now creates new blood cells that are all the same as our donor.  His saliva, tissue and teeth however will remain the same as always.  So in a nutshell, you and I when we get a swab in the mouth cheek area, our dna will match up to our own blood.  Clif however will show 2 seperate dna's, one from saliva (revealing his old dna) and one from blood (revealing the donors dna).   Sorry if I am being very wordy here.

The nasal tube running down to his stomach was removed yesterday.  Clif passed the swallowing test late afternoon yesterday and has graduated to eating foods that are pureed.  Although his appetite is still very low because he has been and still is receiving TPN (nutrition in an iv line), he will be weaned from the TPN to bring his diet back to solid foods.  

Finally, the Urine Catheter has been removed this afternoon.  Challenging as it may be since Clif is unable to stand, relieving his bladder is our next hurdle.  Please pray everything works as it should.

Clif has been working with Physical Therapy to get him up on his feet.  Each day we see a little progress.  His room has been a swinging door of medical personnel of all types.  He counted in the night a total of 9 different people entering in between the hours of 8pm and 6am.  Yes, fabulous treatment, but you absolutely get no rest at this point.

He is still very weak and we very much covet your prayers!  God has been amazingly merciful in our last 4 months, and not a day goes by that we give thanks for all that we have!

“May those who delight in my vindication
shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, “The LORD be exalted,
who delights in the well-being of his servant.”
My tongue will speak of your righteousness
and of your praises all day long.

Psalm 35:27-28

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day +30 & 31, Moving On Up!

We have moved from ICU to the 4th floor, Hallelujah!  This is Great News.  We are on the cautious Road To Recovery!

Clif continues to make forward progress.  The catheter in the right leg artery has been removed because his kidney function is returning to safe and normal levels.  The last 4 days of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy have been helpful.  He is determined to recapture his lost strength.  On Sunday, he couldn't lift his hands; today he extends them high into the sky.  His legs are cooperating (unable to stand), but I am hopeful that is only a matter of time.  

DNA testing was done Thursday and results will be available this Monday.  We are looking to see the percentage of occupancy of our donor and the residual occupancy of what is left of Clif's original DNA.  Exciting and sad all at the same time.  The car is the same but the type of oil has been changed and upgraded to a new (German) quality.  Sporty sounding isn't it?  

Clif has missed some momentus occasions in our family life during his 4 month stay, but I am hopeful he will get to participate in seeing our oldest son Charlie graduate from Foothill High School on June 18th, so please, that is a big selfish prayer request on my part.  I am also looking forward to he and I taking our son to ASU Polytechnic this August. Good goals to look forward too. 

“Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me;
O LORD, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.”

Psalm 30:10-12

Monday, May 26, 2014

Day +27 Post Transplant, A Good Miss

Remember the previous days Dialysis Machine Mishaps???  What appears as a big problem, turned out to be a Big Blessing.  The machine has been left off now for about 24 hours and Clif is making his own Pee Pee!  Simple as that.  The catheter should be removed today, hopefully.  Big Praise God!

Clif is anxious to get going on physical therapy.  I worked his legs, feet and arms a couple of times yesterday and will increase as the days go forward.  He will formally start therapy on Tuesday.  Clif's physical condition is extremely week.  He has no muscle mass in his legs, we will turn that around as quickly as possible.

He remains stable & calm.  His vitals are good and he is now off the levophed for increase to bp.  So this past week we have seen three drugs removed; versed (sedation), fentanyl and now levophed.  The vent is out, he remains off dialysis  and is making 100cc's of pee every hour, a very good number.  He again has not had a fever.  He is swelling a little due to 3 bags of blood yesterday and possibly the transition of the kidney function.  His breathing is good and steady.  Clif took one shot of pain med last night, his bottom is very sore and took an Ambien to sleep (which he did).

WBC 3.4, HGB 7.6, PLT 20  (I forgot to get the creatanine level)

The Creatanine is important it tells you how the kidneys are doing.  A miss on my part.  The catheter in his right leg artery has not been removed, since his platelets are still a little low, I know that will be discussed first thing and quite possibly may be gone by the time I  arrive.

Happy Memorial Day!

“Wait for the LORD;”“be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.”

Psalm 27:14

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Day +25/26, Post Transplant, A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

God is Good   No He is Great!

The Ventilator was successfully and effortlessly removed at 9:30am Saturday morning.  It was a part of his life for more than 2 weeks.  Since removal, he continues to breath on his own with no problem.  He has had a great attitude all day, even though very tired.  

Currently, the two biggest hurdles are; lungs & kidneys.  Saturdays WBC count of 15.3, it is most likely  reflective of infection due to the C Diff in the intestines, the aspergillus in the lungs and the injured  kidneys.  The increased cell count continues to reveal something is amiss within.  Clif is already taking 2 or 3 antibiotics, so whatever is cooking we are on it.  The cells are also going to the front line to give assistance.  We will continue to fight.

I continue to ask for no visitors.   Immediate family will see him Sunday, but visits will be brief.  Doctors would like to maintain no visitors for at least the next 5 days through Friday May 30th.  He is very weak and very tired.  When with him in the room, the monitors tell a constantly changing story.  The heart rate, oxygenation, blood pressure and breathing stats are the indicators looked at for stress patterns. If they move to any dangerous levels brave me is running for the hills.

This mornings call, Sunday  5/25 revealed lower blood counts, but still fairly good.   The dialysis machine may be the root cause of some of his count reductions.  At this point I am skeptical if there is equipment failure or does Clif move around too much.  The  filter changes needed 3 times in the night, were a very long process.    When changed,  good  amounts of his blood is lost, very concerning.  His HGB count today is 6.3 down from yesterdays 8.2.  That count reduction is most likely the result of the dialysis filtering issue.  If Clif makes the slightes moves of his right leg, it creates differing pressure issues to the catheter and these types of issues arise.  It is difficult, we will be discussing reinserting a new catheter line, if safe.  Yes, I will be speaking long and hard with the doctors on this issue.  Otherwise, his evening showed no fever and a continueing calm and non agitated Clif.  His vitals are stable and his blood pressure is still on the lower side.  His WBC is 6.4 and Platelets are 18.  All sedation and all pain medication is turned off, two less drugs in his system!!!

“Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”

Isaiah 54:10

Happy Memorial Weekend, thank you for thinking and praying for Clif!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day +23 Post Transplant, The Weening Continues

Today has been a good day!

I continue to wave the banner of caution, however, when blessings come it is necessary to share them.

After the earlier blog posting today, we received some disappointing news from the night nurse.  At 12:40am Clif's heart rate made another sudden drop.  This prompted the doctor on the night shift to have the nurse get forms ready for me to sign to allow for a pace maker installation.  I arrived this morning at COH, heavy hearted knowing what was awaiting.   Fortunately, God provided a way out.   I ran into the cardiologist getting off the elevator, we both arrived at the same time, I mentioned the above information and asked if there were any possible safe ways to avoid the device, he said, let me go back and check him out.  I remained in the waiting area for about 10 minutes then went back to his room in ICU and met up with the cardiologist again.  His first words were;  No Pace Maker!  The low Electrolytes and high Potassium Levels he feels were causing the sudden drops in the heart rate.  All was immediately adjusted and Clif has remained consistent.

With his WBC jumping into the 14.6 range, the first thought is.......... infection.  New antibiotics are presented and others discontinued.  Todays counts also include a stealthy HGB of 10.3 and  PLT's of 27.   He remains on .5 of Levophed to increase bp.  

Now for the good news, Clif has been breathing on his own (yet with the vent still in place) since 10:30am this morning, 5/22/2014.  He has been fairly alert and answering some questions with a nod or a squeeze.  The Versed sedation has been reduced to 1.6 and the Fentanyl pain drip should be to zero by tomorrow morning.  

Because we have reached such a delicate time in reducing meds to get him off the vent, I must stress that we are restricting all visitors for the next 2 days (5/23-5/24).  Clif is coming off some serious drugs, keeping him calm and non-agitated is a must.  Determining if delirium and hallucinations exist will be monitored closely.   Today he was seeing things on the walls, I assured him what was real and what was meds playing tricks on his brain, but still, he has to be talked through it to believe what is and isn't real.  

Attempts to remove the intubation should be happening tomorrow, God willing.  It's a very tricky process to eliminate the vent while still somewhat sedated and having a catheter in the artery of his right leg.  The slightest movements to the catheterized leg causes the dialysis machine to ring out loudly.  If Clif does not do this slowly and patiently they will increase sedation and continue at another time when he can better handle it.  

Please pray for continued positive results.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

PS.  This morning @ 5:39am on 5/23, Clif had another calm and uneventful night.  WBC 8.6, HGB 8.6, PLT 31.  Praise God!

Day +23 Post Transplant, Efforts to Ween

It's been 2 full weeks in ICU now, and the graft from our donor has taken.  Clif's WBC count yesterday was 6.3 (thats normal range) oxygenation is 100%, platelets are 23 and his hemoglobin was 9.7.  The WBC and hemoglobin counts are very strong indicators that our German donors dna has grafted and not rejected.  

Currently, attempts are being made to reduce sedation and bring him slowly and gently out of his deep sleep.  The sedation level for most of his stay has been set at level 6, today it is at level 2.  The type of sedation Versed is one that takes a while to work its way out of the system.  The Respiration settings are being gently manipulated to allow Clif to exercise his diaphragm, not only is his body week, but his respiratory system is week as well.   The Respiration Machine was adjusted such that he was breathing on his own for 4 hours, it was than reset back to the assisted 12 breaths per minute and later adjusted down to 8 breaths per minute.  I am told this is like a gentle workout on the lungs.

During this time Clif has been opening his eyes, responding to commands to wiggle his toes or squeeze hands.  He has clearly communicated he is in no pain.  

His heart rate has been tackicardic (spontaneously fluctuating between 110-120) sinus rhythm is what we want.  He does have good periods of time where his heart rate slows to a normal pace.  But, he also has had 2 incidences where for a short period of one minute it dropped below a safe number.  For this reason the cardiologist on our team has set up a sort of external pace maker (a small leather pad about 6" in size that lays ontop of his chest) to monitor his heart while we continue attempts toward removal of intubation tube.  This is a safety measure to keep a very close eye on the heart activity.  They believe this inconsistant activity in the heart rate has occurred due to unbalanced electrolites caused by dialysis.  The electrolites are measured daily and watched closely as well.

The kidneys have not been inviited to ween yet.  I will keep you posted.

Because Clifs blood counts are in a range that is safe for him, some visitors have been allowed to come in his room.  Currently, anyone who enters is required to wear a yellow robe, mask and gloves due to previous C Diff diagnosis, a bacteria in the intestinal system.  For the duratioin of his stay, all guests will be required to suit up.   Dr Snyder our head oncologist/hemotologist shared this because It's a vey transferable bacteria for low immune persons.   I do ask that all visitors check in with me before coming.  Some stimulation is good, too much can be dangerous to him.

Thank you all for your prayers.

“Even though I walk
THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me."

Psalm 23:4  (Day 23) 

"Please note, I emphasize the word through, because we are not called to stay in the valley but to walk through the valley."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day +19 Post Transplant, Still in ICU

Good Morning,

The last few days have had there ups and downs.  The theory in medicine here is to project the next move before the play is made.  There is no waiting, if they suspect something might be brewing they move before the volcano erupts.  It is quite encouraging.  Clif is holding on, bravely and with good color.  He is responsive when asked to wiggle his toes or if he has pain.  He recognizes me and knods his head or squeezes my hand to answer my questions.  He is critically stable.

Clinical Update;

WBC 4.8, HGB 9.3, PLT 15
Fever maxed at 38 or 100.8
Heart rate is in the 110-120 range
They are giving him extra fluids but not taking extra fluids off him.
Gave him some extra pain meds in the night, felt he was breathing faster.  The nurse said his eyes were wide open and alert so she increased his sedation from 5 to 6.  He is at .60 on the fentanyl.

Emotional Update;

We went into this knowing great difficulty awaited us.  Clif is in the valley of this entire affliction.  Keeping him encouraged is my job;  praying, reading and singing & listening to music, reiterating over and over where he is, the day of transplant he has achieved, his vitals and all the good things to remind him to continue to fight the good fight!

It has been 8 days today that he has been on intubation and 7 days of dialysis.

The kids have been a great source of strength for me.  They intercede in daily living needs along with the droves of friends and family who have brought dinners and snacks throughout the months.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Psalm 19:14  (Day 19)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Day +15 Post Transplant, The Soldiers Arrive In Force

The BATTLE is at hand,  Prayer is our plea!

To date;  two words clinically describe our health condition;  Critically Stable

The graft has taken.  His WBC or I prefer to call them the soldiers have arrived in force and plenty and are setting up camp to go to the battle front for him.  He has fought an amazing battle and I am weary on the sidelines.  I just keep praying Clif keeps his feet firmly grounded and holding on.

Clif is stable, resting peacefully.  Creatanine is 1.68, WBC 3.3, platelets 13 (recvd a bag this morning 5/13), hemoglobin 8.8, vitals are good.

We are praying fearfully for Gods will to be in harmony with my/our hearts desire.  It has been a one week stay in  ICU and there has been improvement.  I was told they would be working slowly and gently with his kidneys and a bronchial lavage took place yesterday and showed clear fluid with no yellow or green color, this is good.  They also took cultures of the fluid to ensure nothing else is in there.  

To date, everything within him is reversible and there is hope.  These next 5 days require much prayer  on our part and much perseverance on his.

Specifics to pray for;  Upper respiratory to be protected while he is on his back and fluids have the opportunity to creep down his throat and camp, for his kidneys to heal completely from the drugs that have injured them, for his strength to be equal to his battle, for me to maintain my sanity and remain very near to The Lord, He is my stronghold through all of this.  For my kids, that their emotional, mental, spiritual and physical needs are being met and overall that we are hemmed in both before and behind.  We know His grace is sufficient for us. 

Not that Clifs battle should be compared to JOB in scripture, but from where I sit, the following scripture is very suitable;

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him;
I will surely defend my ways to his face.
Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance,
for no godless man would dare come before Him!

Job 13:15-16

Monday, May 12, 2014

Day+12, Post Transplant, Ain't No Mountain High Enough!

Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Todays White Blood Cell (WBC) count is 2.4 (that deserves a big shout out) and  his hemoglobin is 9.8.  Doctors did stimulate the WBC growth with a bit of Nuprigen because we've got some other complications.

ICU.  We have been back on the 3rd floor since Wednesday.  Today is Sunday May 11th and Clif has just successfully and unfortunately been placed on Intubation and Dialysis.  This has actually reduced my emotional stress load, seeing him struggle while breathing and experiencing delirium was tough.  This is needed because the kidneys again are not up to par.  Other complications include; Distended Abdomen; this is caused from the chemo upsetting and stripping the entire intestinal system, causing it to swell and hold fluid.  Basically, the mucous lining throughout the instestines is gone, expected, but gone.  It has caused great pain, inflamation, burning, swelling and a host of other difficulties.

Clif is resting very peacefully now.   Another 3-5 day stay to allow the kidneys to rest again, and hopefully allow other things internally to heal.

Again, transplant has no real symmetry.  It does what it will.  Clif and I went into this knowing difficulty was ahead.  Many thought the toughest difficulties were behind, let me tell you......They were wrong.   I have never seen someone work so hard at recovery as I have seen in this affliction.

Please pray that this setback can be conquered in the next few days, that his new white blood cells become a strong ally in his fight against all the complications, that his kidneys do what they did in February and heal mightly, for his other organs to remain strong, for the swelling and inflamation to reduce as expected by this stay in ICU.  Yes, we have mountains to climb, but nothing is impossible with The Lord.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
MATTHEW 11 : 28 – 29”

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Day+9 Post Transplant, Confusion

Yesterday was a difficult day.

Clif is experiencing some serious delusion.

His brain is adversly influenced and there is much confusion.  When taking grafting drugs, toxicity can take place and adding, reducing and even taking away drugs takes place.

Clifs kidneys, are experience a bit of distress, with the body producing to high of a creatinine level, blend that with the high level of grafting drugs, his mind has literally been taken to a place called delirium.  He also has a bacteria in his intestines which is being treated with antibiotics.  They have changed him from Dilauded to Phentynol pain control because the new one is more friendly on the mind in his circumstance.

Yesterday Clif became a difficult patient, it was all driven by drugs and all currently is still treatable.  He is downstairs as I write having a CT on his abdomen, please pray those results come back favorable.

The issues are being addressed very quickly and it will take a few days for his system to flush everything out.

Specifically, please pray for his kidneys.  They would rather treat the kidneys with drugs to level him out as opposed to dialysis.  Dialysis is still a possibility, that the bacteria in his intestines can be resolved, for the blood count levels of concern can be balanced, for the dilirium to reduce quickly, that the white blood cells return quickly (this will help him recover much quicker).

Thank you all for praying.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Day +5 Post Transplant

Hello fellow blog watchers.  Writing is not easy, sending updates routinely takes creative discipline which I find quite challenging.

These last 2 or 3 days have been days of not knowing if symptoms are normal or not.  Everyone responds differently to transplant, there is no specific list of absolutes when it comes to symptoms.  

Communicating with nurses moreso than with doctors has been stretching and has required much prayer on my own part.  Typicallly, the nurses work 3 days max with a patient and rotate, they begin the cycle again and eventually we see many of the same nurses.  We don't always see things the same; although there point of view is more clinical and it should be, this person in their care is very near and dear to my heart and wanting and expecting only the very best care is my goal.  Discerning that and keeping my mind focused on asking the right questions at moments of concern is something I pray for daily and I ask that you pray that for me as well.

We have had thus far a very trusting and comforting experience here at City of Hope.

There continues to be no rash, no fever, no nausea, vitals like blood pressure are good and stable, oxygen saturation is good and weight has been remaining steady.

Clif has experienced: swelling so they give lasix, problem urinating so they catheterize, pressure in the lower abdomen, while the plumbing in the back is working just fine.......many drugs are given to try to control out put.  Intake and outake of fluids and foods is very carefully and precisely measured.  He is on a drip program for pain with the option every 30 minutes to push for more pain medication.  Many of the drugs he takes for Graft vs Host (GVH) causes dilerium, now add pain medication on top of that and Clif has mild hallucinations (doctors say this will pass as meds are adjusted).  It is all expected yet each case is different.  Because each case is different, you have no template, no history of what to absolutely expect.  This is very foreign territory.  I do not like being in this mental place of uncertainty.  

For those of you looking for a projection or timeframe of when Clif should be more stable and out of the red zone, heres my best guestimate;  from day of transplant April 29th,  2-3 weeks of up and down unknowns and God willing we may arrive at calmer seas.

We have and continue to receive excellent medical care.  The team of doctors we have and who give deep insight and decision making into Clifs future health are experts!  I do not doubt at all that we are right where we are suppose to be.

Forecasting accurately and not knowing what will happen next are stark contrasts, although we may be uncertain of the next step, we are certain that God does and we rest.  We are not uncertain of God we are just uncertain of what He is going to do next. (excerpt from My Utmost For His Highest)

"We live by faith, not by sight"    2Corinthians 5:7

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day +2 Post Transplant

This is really the dialing in phase.

So many drugs at doses that will need to be adjusted one day at a time.  The graft vs host (gvh)drugs being the biggest initial adjustments.  The 2 GVH drugs that began last weekend, pre transplant, started some minor twitches that became mild to moderate tremors.  As they have reduced the dosages, the symptoms have improved, they are still there but at a much lessor frequency & strength.

Last night and today were not necessarily days of rest.  Clif is in need of pain medication again to help ease the discomfort of his burning urination, lower abdominal cramping and other creative things that I will leave to your imagination.  Pain relief is given very liberally at this point of treatment.  The chemo really takes a toll on the gastrointestinal system.

Clif has been in bed all day, no walks today.  Tired, pain and no energy.  He continues to need platelets, but.......his hemoglobin for the past 2 days has been 9.5 which has not required a blood transfusion. His white blood cell (WBC) count is 0.1 (neutropenic), which we are told to expect this for another couple of weeks.  His platelets are also very low at 11, so he still needs platelets.

His desire to eat has lessened significantly.  Cream of Wheat seems to be a favorite right now, as well as PB&J sandwiches and misc. soups and crackers with peanut butter.  Dairy is not friendly to the gastrointestinal track either, good bye cereal for awhile.  Clif has not drank a diet coke in over 3 months, and I don't think he misses it.  Water has pretty much been his only drink.

Thank you for your constant encouragement, prayers and donations of blood and platelets.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”
LUKE 12 : 25 – 26”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Day of Transplant

At 9:35pm, April 29th, 2014 Clifton B. Fincher had a stem cell transplant.

We are elated and tired, Praise God!

Will post more specifics tomorrow.  Thank you all for praying for us, to get us to this point.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Day -2 And Counting

Clif is hanging in there, enduring and persevering,  yet keeping his eyes looking up!

He has finished the chemo, now let the symptoms begin, or not...........

On Friday, April 25th the final bag of chemo, The Mother Lode, The Big Kahuna was hooked up;

Seriously!!!!  This little bag about 5 inches in length, maybe 4 inches in width dripped for about 25 minutes.  It's suppose to pack a powerful punch, to prove strength really does come in small packages.  

About one hour before the drip began, he started eating ice chips to allow his mouth to get really cold to avoid Mucositis (sores in the mouth).  At onset, they gave Clif Ativan to relax him , we turned on some good music and allowed this highly toxic drug to drip its way into Clif's bloodstream and travel within to do its God willing good work.  He rested quietly through the day.  He did lose his dinner, but in a very gentle and sudden manner.  Nausea is expected.  His sleep that night was restfull.  

The following day, Saturday, he began the day like most others, with a bag of platelets and a bag of blood.  Awakening to nausea but it was quickly knocked down by Kytril, anti-nausea.  A graft vs host regimen of drugs to ready him further for the transplant was introduced.  His appetite today has been stellar, probably got down at least 2000 calories and we walked 8 laps around the floor, that my friends is 1 mile!  Before I left that night, we read a couple of devotionals and Proverbs chapter 26, we prayed and quieted our hearts for another hopeful uneventful night.

Sunday morning, I just spoke with him, he sounds rested and ready for breakfast.  The doctor was just in, asked if there was any pain in the right side (gall bladder) or the left side (left lung), no pain.  He asked how his cough was, his answer was "it has not increased".  Clif's blood counts are back down to the neutropenic levels, where expected.  The doctor will allow us to walk the halls again today assuming he is up to the task.  Typically, when your numbers hit rock bottom, they want you to stay in your room with the door closed, but in Clif's case, because of his long stay, they want him to exercise to build strength.
Many of you have inquired if there is still a need for blood and platelets, simply, yes.  He receives them daily.  Thank you again, it sustains him and keeps him on the playing field.

Please pray for another good day and for the vast array of possible symptoms to be harnessed and held at bay.

“He gives strength to the weary 
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, 
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD 
will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles;”
they will walk and not be faint.
ISAIAH 40 : 29 – 31”

Thursday, April 24, 2014

5 Days Until Stem Cell Transplant!

Since we last posted, eventful things continue to happen.

On Easter Sunday we began receiving a 6 day regimen of chemo to condition Clif's bone marrow and ready him for transplant, he is doing well and has experienced no nausea to date.  On that same day he began experiencing a new pain, since that pain was not subsiding, a CT scan was performed Monday afternoon on his upper right abdominal region.  The results returned with sludge and a gall stone in his Gall Bladder, surely never a dull moment.  We will leave it alone and pray the pain continues to lessen.  Dilauded is a big help!  We will deal with this much later, hopefully.

The lung continues to improve so that does not appear to be an obstacle at this point.

Today, Thursday Clif received his last day of the low dose chemo, tomorrow however will be the Big Load.   This different and heavier chemo called Melphalan is the most common chemotherapy regimen used to kill residual myeloma cells just before stem cell transplantation.  So please be praying this aggressive and stronger drug does only what they intend it to. 

Saturday, Sunday and Monday he will begin drugs to minimize graft vs host symptoms and Tuesday he will be infused with stem cells from our donor.  

Tuesday, April 29th is the Big Day.

Though I walk through the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.
Psalm 138:7

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Because We're Happy Happy Happy!

Much good news has transpired this week!

Since the needle biopsy last Wednesday on Clifs lung, doctors introduced  new effective drugs to treat the unwelcome visitor; Aspergillus.  Fortunately, the meds are working great!  A CT scan was performed again yesterday and the findings have shown positive results.

Clif's lung is healing well, so well that we are going to TRANSPLANT as previously scheduled.  This Sunday, April 20th a new chemo treatment will begin.  This time its purpose is to condition his body for the new stem cells that will be placed on or about April 28th.  Please be praying for our donor, (our 28 year old, male, 10+ match, German donor) for his health, his continued willingness, that the stem cells they collect are sufficient and they only need one collection (sometimes they need more if the recipient is a bigger guy, like Clif) and for blessings to be heaped into his life.  His sacrifice is a treasure to us, we hope to meet him someday soon on the other-side of this transplant. By the way, every year City of Hope hosts an annual celebration where donors are introduced to recipients for the first time once the required wait time has matured.  That date this year is May 9th.  I hear it is an amazingly emotional event!

Today, we said goodbye to the 4th floor and the many nurses who have become very dear to our hearts but we now say hello to the 6th floor!   If I remember correctly, they can take up to 35 transplant patients at a time, and they are always at full capacity!  In the waiting areas over the past 75 days, I have met medical travelers seeking treatment from Dubai, Afghanistan, Mexico, Israel, Canada and Egypt.  Serious stuff takes place here and the long time nursing staff are well prepared for the variety of concerns that take place during and after transplant.

Visits to see Clif will virtually come to a stand still once the stem cells are in place after April 28th for a few weeks.  During this time, the orchestration of drugs and remedies really begins.  Daily blood draws reflecting high and low counts and addressing each one independently will start.  The art of careful observation by experienced eyes will occur throughout the initial few weeks.  Fervent prayer for Clifs body to welcome his new German companion are our plea.

Every person responds differently to stem cell transplant, some have little problems while others have great struggles.  We have left this in The Lords capable hands!

Please click on the attached video From; DOREENE FINCHER! Click to View Or copy and paste this URL in your browser: