Sunday, July 17, 2005

An update from Anna

Hello again friends: John & I wish to thank you for your non-stop concern and loving gestures---a singing get well CD, a cookie bouquet, blueberry sodas, books and music CDs of all kinds including "John's Chill-Out," Indian prayer chants, Dave Van Ronk, Prairie Home Companion, a local French folk dancing band called Rumbullion, healing flute music, an Umberto Eco novel, many mysteries and much much more. A special thanks goes out to Sharron Rush for obtaining for my laptop--and to Celia Hughes for installing--a Sprint wireless card that allows us Internet access from John's room (no hotel-style access available from this hospital :)

Countless hours have been spent here by sweet sweet people, some of whom have spent nights in the camp style cot by John's bed during the first 10 days he was here (when he couldn't walk or feed himself)--while I actually got good sleep in the rollaway. And deep gratefulness goes to Morgan who still has Dillon in his family. We love all of you and have learned lifetimes worth about the power of love!

As I sit in his room today (2:30 pm on Saturday), John is dozing from Tylenol & pain medication to reduce the fever which has been coming and going for a few days. He often has chills and shivers (which are considered "normal" for this phase) but most of the time is quite comfortable for someone with a temperature that rises to 103.6.  The oncologist who made rounds this morning reminded us that this is "Day 20" as counted from the first day of chemotherapy. Although the actual chemotherapy I.V. was completed on Day 8, there is a time lag of about 2 weeks between halting cancer cell production and John's re-generating his own disease-fighting white cells. During the time gap, John's immunities are pretty much absent. The infectious disease specialist, who also follows John daily, due to John's susceptibility to catching infections, has escalated John to 4 anti-infection drugs --one anti-viral, one anti-fungal and two antibiotics. Blood cultures are sometimes ordered, and have so far always resulted in "negative"--or no known infection--which is common in this phase of therapy and is therefore dubbed "neutropenic fever" (neutropenic meaning no natural immunities).

The great news is that the results of the bone marrow test this week were very favorable--No more cancer cells! So he is officially in remission. This hospital stay will not include another round of chemotherapy--only that John's blood cells, both white and red, normalize. We have early indication that the cell-normalizing process has already begun but may require John to be here another 1-2 weeks. Dr. Tucker promises "before the 1st of August." I sort of think it will be earlier, given how well John is doing but don't know. Apparently some in this current phase of treatment have to be fed intravenously and can't eat on their own. John, having been told that he has "high caloric requirements" has requested milkshakes 2 days in a row--(I went out to a place called EZs that makes homemade shakes I've always coveted). Breakfast requests have included an almond croissant from Sweetish Hill Bakery, and cinnamon rolls, blueberry
muffins, and a ham and cheese croissant from Texass French Bread across the street. Last night he had a cheeseburger from Hyde Park Bar & Grill. John has lost 20+ pounds but doesn't recommend this as a weight loss technique!

It has been a pleasure to see various wonderful people in person more than we ever have the chance to do under ordinary circumstances. John's father, Myles,is here for the second time in 2 weeks from Buffalo, NY.. A former graduate student of John's who now runs a university graduate program visited today along with his wife and a former colleague in a business venture. Current UT colleagues brought lunch and another trio of close friends in the Austin arts community all came by today. We are so blessed.

May all of  you guys stay healthy so we can just keep celebrating a whole lot more!
John just told me he plans to write the next update!!...So stay tuned.........
Anna and John


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