The final countdown

Kaiser Hospital is the happening place! Anybody who is anybody goes there and only the most beautiful of people roam these hallowed halls of floor number five. Checking in today felt so normal, familiar like one feels when putting on their pants. Pulling up to the front, participation for all aspects of moving into Chez’ Kaiser no longer requires attention from both parties. Previous trips required my service in moving luggage, assisting with check in and holding her hand all the way into what ever guest suite we had been assigned. But no more! Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how your perception clarifies this murky glass, my role has been downgraded to nothing more than that of husband dropping wife off for work status. Not that I am any less important, it just seems as though our journey has over time become routine.

Once inside her luxury suite, smiles laughter and hugs are had by all who grace this threshold. It really is like coming home from an extended journey. That is if home has an adjustable bed, vinyl curtains, bleached floors, IV stand that looks like R2D2’s anorexic cousin, a really small TV with a channel solely devoted to showing some random nature picture luring your delirious mind into believing one day you will get outside again. One cannot discount the three square meals a day, nutritionally balanced to meet your every carbohydrate need. Yepper it is just like home!

I know I have said this before but I feel the importance to reiterate just how much I love the staff here at Kaiser Vallejo! They are some of the warmest, kindest human beings in medicine! It is obvious it takes a special person to handle cancer patients, let alone continue treating each and every patient as though they are family.  I have never feared leaving my wife here, not one time! My wife means everything to me and you cant put a price on that type of mental security.

Dr. Truong arrived a few minutes after Jacy settled in, it was great to see her! Dr. Truong has a genuine smile, a kind heart and has been the largest advocate for my wifes care. She also leaves us feeling like we are part of her family. Jacy and I are always super happy to see her; she gives us straight facts, tells us what path we are on, and listens to any concerns we might have with a kind ear.  Jacy has felt blessed from the moment we connected with Dr. Truong and that has been a blessing as well. Nothing beats having the utmost confidence in your doctor and the care you are receiving!

After a brief rundown from doc, it finally hit home for us both this is indeed the final countdown! 5-7 days of chemo with Kaiser, a couple weeks at home with a few blood transfusions thrown in for good measure, then on June 22 it is off to Stanford for another bone marrow draw, chemotherapy and finally the big day! July 2nd, is bone marrow transplant day! Many more trips to the hospital, days with allergic reactions, blood loss, crazy cell counts, weakness, weight loss, hair loss, hives, nausea, weakness and anxiety have all led to this final countdown of healing and redemption!!

Becoming cured from this dreadful disease is going to be an ongoing uphill climb! 4 months of separation from the ones she loves, four months of crazy stuff that is going to happen to her both mentally and physically!  Through all of this there is one thing I know for sure; if anybody can beat this horrible disease it is my stubborn, gritty, ornery beautiful wife!

So please say a prayer, hold a kind thought, it is definitely going to be a long screwy, jigsaw puzzle of a summer and we could all use the good mojo you can muster to get us through!!

more to come…..

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We have a match!!

Time is fleeting and days roll by like road signs on a freeway. Moments consisting of only a glimpse, a stare, are gone as fast as they arrived.

We are counting down days as this weekend rapidly approaches. Tuesday Jacy readmits herself for another round of chemotherapy. 5-7 days hospital bound. So this weekend is all about family. Cody is home and all of the kids have been pestering him, hoping for one on one time with their older brother. To Cody’s credit he has taken the time, spending it carefully with each one of them, letting them do what they want to do and fostering a fun, over the top attitude. We are proud of this boy, he went off to college and came back just a tad bit grown up and is becoming one heck of a man.

Counting and counting, days, hours, minutes and seconds. One more day till chemo, many more days till total sickness, and a few more days until blood transfusions; then just as you start to feel like yourself again, hives! Or headaches, or difficulty breathing, or the inability to stay awake because you need Benadryl for the hives, or blood transfusion or because you just need to sleep.

Once all of these medical cocktail concoctions are hammered out, it is time to throw in a Bone Marrow Transplant. Speaking of a Bone Marrow transplant, we learned on Thursday of this week a match had been located, identified, notified and accepted! Not just any match mind you either, this match was a 10 out of 10!!! Pretty super great news! Some really awesome person took the time to get swabbed and now will inevitably change the course of both their life and my wife’s forever! Thanks to this angel, Jacy now has the best recovery chances yet! In case you were wondering or asking yourself right now; what does ten out of ten really mean? 10/10 is part of HLA matching for a suitable donor and here is everything you need to know about matching and the importance of that donor via my favorite web site: Be The Match!

HLA MATCHING

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing is used to match you with a donor for your bone marrow or cord blood transplant. This is not the same as ABO blood typing. HLA is a protein – or marker – found on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses HLA markers to know which cells belong in your body and which do not.

Be The Match Registry® is a listing of potential donors and cord blood units and their HLA types. The best transplant outcome happens when a patient’s HLA and the donor’s HLA closely match.

HLA matching basics

Half of your HLA markers are inherited from your mother and half from your father. Each brother and sister has a 25%, or 1 in 4, chance of matching you, if you have the same mother and father. It is highly unlikely that other family members will match you. Under very rare circumstances, family members other than siblings may be tested.

About 70%, or 7 out of 10, patients who need a transplant do not have a suitable donor in their family. If you do not have a donor in your family, your transplant team may look for an unrelated donor or cord blood unit for you on Be The Match Registry. When a search is done on the Be The Match Registry, it includes a search of more than 22.5 million potential adult donors and more than 601,000 cord blood units on lists from around the world.

Role of HLA matching

HLA matching is important because a close HLA match:

  • Increases the likelihood of a successful transplant.
  • Improves engraftment—when the donated cells start to grow and make new blood cells in you.
  • Reduces the risk of complications after transplant, especially graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). GVHD is a potentially serious complication. GVHD occurs when the immune cells, which are part of the donated marrow or cord blood, attack your body.

HLA matching requirements

There are many HLA markers. Each HLA marker has a name. The names are letters or combinations of letters and numbers. Doctors review at least 8 HLA markers for these minimum requirements: two A markers, two B markers, two C markers, and two DRB1 markers. Some doctors look for an additional marker, called DQ, to match.

An adult donor must match at least 6 of these 8 HLA markers. Many transplant centers require at least a 7 of 8 match. Because cord blood cells are less mature than adult donor cells they have less strict matching criteria. A cord blood unit must match at least 4 of 6 markers at HLA-A, -B, and -DRB1. These guidelines are based on scientific studies of transplant results.

Example A shows that the patient’s markers match the donor’s. When HLA markers A, B, C, and DRB1 from the patient and the donor match, it is called an 8 of 8 match. When A, B, C, DRB1, and DQ markers all match, it’s called a 10 of 10 match.

Example B shows that one of the patient’s A markers does not match one of the donor’s A markers. Therefore, this is a 7 of 8 match or, if the DQ marker matches, a 9 of 10 match.

Confirmatory HLA Typing

HLA typing is a complex process that can be done at different levels of detail. Patients always have HLA typing done at a high level of detail. Blood is tested using laboratory methods that check the exact HLA markers.

Every potential donor has a special type of detailed HLA typing (also called confirmatory typing) done before being chosen as the best match for a patient. Confirmatory typing is done to make sure the patient and potential donor match at a detailed level.

 

 

Other factors for a successful transplant

HLA matching is the most important factor but not the only factor that can affect your chances of having a successful transplant.

  • The number of blood-forming cells needs to be suitable for the size of the patient. Larger patients need more blood-forming cells. Cord blood units have fewer cells than adult donors. Sometimes, more than one cord blood unit is needed for a patient.
  • Different donor characteristics have an impact on a transplant’s success. These include the donor’s:
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Blood type
    • Body size
    • The number of times a female donor has been pregnant

If more than one well-matched adult donor is found for you, your doctor will look at these factors.

  • Infection history can also affect transplant outcomes and choice of a donor. Before transplant, doctors test patients and donors for a common virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Finding donors for patients with less common HLA types

Transplant centers may face a greater challenge finding a match for some patients because some HLA types are less common. HLA types are inherited, so the best chance of finding a suitable donor may be with someone of a similar racial or ethnic background. Some people have very diverse tissue types that reduce the chances of finding suitably matching donors.

You can see how a “10 out of 10” match is pretty darn great!!! We also learned the tentative date for her transplant is scheduled for the 22nd of June. Then things get turned a little further upside down here on the ranch. We as a family had a long talk about everyone’s responsibilities while mom was away this summer. Three months is an eternity in a child’s mind and that time frame really hit Parker hard. Through a few tears and a lot of hugs he came to realize the importance of mom’s latest adventure, and even though he didn’t like the idea, he agreed to be the best strongest little dude he could be. I cannot imagine being a young guy trying to process all this information in conjunction with your mom declaring she will be absent for the entire summer.

Other than one small emotional blip, everything else seems to be coming together just fine. We all know our roles, and Jacy know hers is to do nothing more than heal, get better and come home to her family.

Only time will tell what our summer brings..

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A Mystery is afoot!

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Two days ago while speed shopping through our local grocery store, my eyes cruised the ever dreaded ice cream isle. Now being one that doesn’t particularly follow any diet fad, weight loss program or calorie counting insanity. It has come to my attention that this particular body no longer holds that stealthy shape once honed through hard work and persistence previously acquired prior to Leukemia invading our household.  Although my weight does fluctuate pre and post beer consumption the true curse ensnaring my ever rising muffin top is ice cream! MMMMMMMM Ice cream! That frozen tasty, melty goodness oozing with everything from strawberries (a fools trick towards health) to salt, caramel and chocolate! If it wasnt a frozen item I would believe the devil conjured its ingredient infusion himself.

Staring at a thousand or so manufactures of ice cream, much like micro brews these days it seems everyone is an ice cream perfectionist and or connoisseur. This steely glare caught a reflection of something different, something attractive and suave. Its packaging reeking of taste and elegance. Gelato!

Oh yes, I have heard of you gelato! Many a times while strolling some special event or walking through the inner workings of our local college town this confectionary dream buzzword arises! Gelato! Have you had some? Oh my goodness I just paid $5.50 for a teaspoon sized scoop but it is soooo worth it!!! Gelato; Its Italian obviously, so therefore anything Italian must be good right? No wait, anything Italian must be GREAT! Italians are the true inventors of exceptional culinary delights much to the chagrin of all Frenchman everywhere! Of course being an Italian creation, backed by the mass consumption of anyone either in college or living superbly, comfortably inside a tax bracket that none of us will ever see, well then Gelato must be that river of gold we should all heartily dip our cups into while the dippin’s good!

Oh by the way before I go any further, Gelato is just Italian for Ice cream, so drop all the pretentiousness while eating it in front of your friends. It was and is pure marketing genious but from an Italians standpoint (uh me) it just makes you look really dumb. Although amusing, dumb none the less..

Gelato it is; my wife is craving some ice-cold sweet goodness for her throat which remains sore from having a breathing tube inserted during her operation. It is also just the excuse I need to purchase me some fat building frozen calories! Hey its bulking season and that waistline isn’t going to grow itself!!

Two tubs purchased, one for me and one for her. Both lovingly cradled and carefully placed inside our freezer on the top shelf for all to see. That is right little Timmy we dont have ice cream here at our house we have Gelato!!! Hee hee..

A few days go by, my wifes tub of caramel and sea salt goes unmolested. Placed neatly below her popsicles it is very clear this tub belongs to her and no one else. On the other hand my tub of strawberry (yes I fell for the health trick thing) chocolate truffle is decimated. Empty container lying in the trash, there is no hiding the fact you can probably hear my fat cells expanding, bursting as I walk through the kitchen.

Then comes yesterday. A text, just like the thousands of texts I receive on a weekly basis pops onto my phone. Casually glancing my phones direction, its (the texts) words confuse me, as though I am four years old trying to learn the alphabet my eyes blink rapidly working overtime at shape recognition!

Jacy: Did both ice creams get eaten?? I’m craving some and its gone??

Ok no time to panic, you got this, a simple answer, I mean it was there last night right? RIGHT? Oh yes I remember, My middle son grabbed it and asked for some, seeing it was unopened he was asked to put it back and remember that particular bucket of Gelato (said with a snobby undertone) was for mom!

Betty: No the other one was there last night unopened.

Phew, maybe she just didn’t see it.

Jacy: Its gone!!! I can’t find it!!

There is no way its gone! What the hell is she talking about!! Maybe Leukemia or Benadryl has her seeing things, maybe the freezer has become like the Mojave desert and she is only seeing a frozen mirage!! It was there, unopened, sealed tighter than fort Knox, at eleven o’clock last night!!!! Crap what do I say?

Betty: Ah second shelf? It was under the popsicle??? (Three ??? means sheepishly asking)

Jacy: GONE!

And so the mystery began! First order of business was find where the ice cream went or at least where the remnants (the body if you will) of the ice cream was disposed of. The body was found sometime later in the downstairs freezer, the top portion of Gelato mercilessly scraped away leaving nothing but the soft underbelly exposed for consumption. I now had something to go on.

After throughly questioning myself without a lawyer present because I hold no guilt and really I am not much of an interrogator anyways, it became clear we had two main suspects.

Middle son and youngest son.

Now the daughter was off at science camp but I was fairly certain somehow her name would arise as a suspect regardless. Both boys when questioned held to their stories.

Youngest son: uh, I was asleep? Plus I am scared of the dark so there is no way I am going downstairs into the dark kitchen to eat ice cream. No way!!

Middle son: why would I steal it? I would just tell you I ate it and take my consequences!

Both held compelling arguments.

The youngest had opportunity but no real motive as fear restricted his very movement. The middle child had motive and opportunity yet the whole owning up to it portion threw us for a loop! Could it be a ploy? A distraction keeping us from the truth?

We threw every tactic we knew the middle boys direction; from good parent bad parent, mom sweet and innocent; you wont get in trouble honey, honest, just tell mommy the truth, with me scowling in the background, arms crossed ready to slam my fist on the table at any moment! (I KNOW IT WAS YOU!!!!) To confused Jimmy Stewart parents; Well, well gosh little buddy none of this is making sense; shucks you got us in a real pickle here; maybe, just maybe you could help a feller out with a decent explanation? We even resorted to consequence parents; Just tell us you took the ice cream, oops I am sorry, the Gelato and we will just chalk it up to poor judgement on your part. If you dont tell us you took it, you can’t go to State for rodeo. NOTHING!!!!!

None of it worked! Nothing worked on either of them!!! Holy crap, either we live in a house with the very best liars in the world (seriously we couldn’t get a read on either one) Or a ghost ate it, then levitated the Gelato to the freezer downstairs where it was carefully placed to look like it had been there nestled amongst the Ego’s all along! These boys should work for the CIA!!!

Of course the best explanation offered came from the youngest. Maybe just maybe the middle child was sleep walking, (yes he does sleep walk to the amusement of the youngest and myself) his sleep walking self finally figured out how to get downstairs where he opened the freezer door, took out the ice cream (we are calling it what it is now) opened it, found a spoon, then took it downstairs to eat it amongst the laundry in the basement where no on would find him sleeping and eating. When he was finished he placed it back into the freezer so he could sleep walk to it later? Yep that sounds plausible. All I could picture was the sleep walking scene from Stepbrothers and sorrow for the future wife of said middle child. images-5

In the end the investigation hit a dead-end.  We determined someone ate it, someone moved it, someone tried to hide it, and Gelato is really just dumb old ice cream.

Rubbing my head the case is placed into the unsolved files.

Maybe somehow my daughter teleported her ice cream eating skills from 200 miles away really did do it!!! Stranger things have happened right?

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Another crazy week

A week gone bye.

What’s in a week? 7 days, Mon-Sun, 5 days dedicated to the working machine, school, children, and so on. This last week has been one hell of a ride let me tell you! Starting the Friday before last Jake and I packed the rig with gear and horses; pointed east we headed off for the last CHSRA D-3 rodeo of the year! Jake was looking to score at steer wrestling and maintain a second place standing in cutting. His team roping partner Breanne and he were hoping to finish the year without another goofy mishap!

Saturday and Sunday went by in the blink of an eye. When it was over, no steers hit the ground, Jake slipped from second to fourth in cutting and he and his team roping partner finished the year the way they started, laughing at each other’s crazy luck. Now it seems as though the weekend could be interpreted as a bummer, but nothing could be further from the truth! All the kids had a great time, points were tallied and when the dust settled Jake made state finals in Steer Wrestling, Cutting and earned the Rookie of the year All Around Cowboy award! To say he was excited would be an understatement! He put on a tough face, but smiled his boyish smile all the way home.

Speaking of home, the wife had enough strength to take our daughter to her softball game on Saturday. This of course left her drained on Sunday, but it was a great outing as she finally was able to see and converse with people wondering about her condition and how she was doing overall.

Monday arrived leaving us scrambling once again as fair time was upon us. Being a ranch family all three kids had entries in the fair. Jake-a lamb, and a welding project, Jessica-a pig, Parker-two pairs of meat chickens! Washing, trimming, cleaning tack, moving equipment and working horses were all part of a very long or short depending on how you perceived it, day.

Tuesday, we moved all the animals onto the fairgrounds an so began a long week of 6am to 8pm days. Feeding, fitting, showing, and generally watching our children have the time of their lives! Nothing beats fair time when you are a child. I remember quite well how I looked forward to fair week, showing my lambs and hanging with all my friends from around the county. It’s a time of freedom, competition, hard work and all the corn dogs you can shove into your gullet! If you are lucky at the end of the week your animal sells at auction, leaving you with a budget for next year’s project.

Jacy couldn’t attend the fair as our fear of contamination from an unknown source lingered like a dark cloud. It was hard for her to stay home, not able to participate in her children’s adventures during the week. I tried my best to send her pictures and keep her updated, as did every other person with a camera from our loving little town. She had planned on attending show day with a HEPA mask, but other people from medical places had different plans for my wife unbeknownst to her. So pictures continued arriving via text from many of the moms wanting to ensure house ridden Jacy wasn’t missing a moment with her children. Small towns are a blessing.

Now if being stuck at home for this week wasn’t enough; Jacy’s doctor called to say her results from the last marrow draw we good. Residual Leukemia remained in small numbers so the best course of action was to move up the hysterectomy by a week!! Wait? A week? Yep you guessed it? That placed the surgery day smack dab on top of show day at the fair! The “other people” had spoken! Dream killers! So with a phone call, Jacy’s mom took the day off work, dropping everything to ensure her daughter was taken care of and her grandchildren had their father by their side on show day! I love my mother in law. Not many guys can say that I think. But I do. I think she is a pretty cool, whacky, funny lady who would do anything for her children.

So that brings me to the real gist of my reflection. The hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. It may also involve removal of the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes and other surrounding structures.

Usually performed by a gynecologist, hysterectomy may be total (removing the body, fundus, and cervix of the uterus; often called “complete”) or partial (removal of the uterine body while leaving the cervix intact; also called “supracervical”). It is the most commonly performed gynecological surgical procedure. In 2003, over 600,000 hysterectomies were performed in the United States alone, of which over 90% were performed for benign conditions.[1] Such rates being highest in the industrialized world has led to the major controversy that hysterectomies are being largely performed for unwarranted and unnecessary reasons.[2]

Removal of the uterus renders the patient unable to bear children (as does removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes) and has surgical risks as well as long-term effects, so the surgery is normally recommended when other treatment options are not available or have failed. It is expected that the frequency of hysterectomies for non-malignant indications will fall as there are good alternatives in many cases.[3]

Oophorectomy (removal of ovaries) is frequently done together with hysterectomy to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer. However, recent studies have shown that prophylactic oophorectomy without an urgent medical indication decreases a woman’s long-term survival rates substantially and has other serious adverse effects.[4] This effect is not limited to pre-menopausal women; even women who have already entered menopause were shown to have experienced a decrease in long-term survivability post-oophorectomy ~ Wikipedia

That’s right, in the middle of all we as a family had going on this particular week, combined with the fact my wife was just starting to feel better, a hyterectomy was thrown into the mix! Why? Because she cannot have the Bone Marrow Transplant without it! Why? Because she has Polycystic Ovary Syndrome!

I know right? So what is Polycystic Overian Sysndrome?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also called hyperandrogenic anovulation (HA),[1] or Stein–Leventhal syndrome,[2] is a set of symptoms due to a hormone imbalance in women.[3] Symptoms include: irregular or no menstrual periods, heavy periods, excess body and facial hair, acne, pelvic pain, trouble getting pregnant, and patches of thick, darker, velvety skin.[4] Associated conditions include: type 2 diabetes, obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, heart disease, mood disorders, and endometrial cancer.[3]

PCOS is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.[5] Risk factors include obesity, not enough physical exercise, and a family history of someone with the condition.[6] Diagnosis is based on two of the following three findings: no ovulation, high androgen levels, and ovarian cysts.[3] Cysts may be detectable by ultrasound. Other conditions that produce similar symptoms include adrenal hyperplasia, hypothyroidism, and hyperprolactinemia.[7]

PCOS has no cure.[8] Treatment may involve lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercise. Birth control pills may help with improving the regularity of periods, excess hair, and acne. Metformin and anti-androgens may also help. Other typical acne treatments and hair removal techniques may be used.[9] Efforts to improve fertility include weight loss, clomiphene, or metformin. In vitro fertilization is used by some in whom other measures are not effective.[10]

PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder among women between the ages of 18 and 44.[11] It affects approximately 5% to 10% of this age group.[6] It is one of the leading causes of poor fertility.[3] The earliest known description of what is now recognized as PCOS date from 1721 in Italy.[12]

When you have a bone marrow transplant in conjunction with heavy doses of chemotherapy the whole “heavy nonstop menstrual cycle” has life threatening consequences. So no argument to be had, out with that Uterus! Buh bye!

Now this particular operation seems simple enough, it is an outpatient procedure after all. Go in at 2pm be out and home by 8! Whoo hoo, like going out for dinner, only there is no food, no wine, no husband and only 6-8 of your not so closest friends turning your guts into a Jacy frappe!

8 pm became 2am when she arrived home it was obvious she was dealing with incredible pain. After helping her upstairs, getting her settled into bed, I knew it was going to be a rough night for us both. She slept most of the next day as the children and I ran back and forth from the fairgrounds. But with her mom at her side she was well cared for. Day two led to a Pit Viper like attitude due to swelling, pain and a resurgence of hives covering her body or more specifically the incision sight. Day three brought a few smiles and a lighter attitude. Today the swelling remains, her body aches and the hives just refuse to subside.

So we continue to take each moment one day at a time. It sounds as though once healed up from this latest procedure she will head back to the hospital for five more days of chemotherapy in preparation for the bone marrow transplant which should take place sometime in June.

That was our week, glad I could bring everyone up to speed. Just another notch on the old day to day, week to week, month to month belt. Our spirits are still high as we march forward towards complete remission.

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I sit alone

Face cleanly shaved, hat pulled down tight, good mornings shared with warmth and glee. 

I have found myself sitting quietly on a bench inside the livestock area of our local fair. It is that time of year and with three children left on the ranch all three are proudly placing thier animals on display for all to judge and see. My wife can’t make it this year due to this whole “Leukemia” thing. So it’s just me, myself and I. 

I sit alone.

Like I said; clean shaven, hat pulled down, my world has turned into a vacuum, a void. I most likely know or are acquainted with 70-80 percent of those roaming this small town within a town. Yet quietly, peacefully I sit as it all rushes by like that of a busy city street filled with animals not cars. 

People watching can be fun when you’re camouflaged into the fabric of your surroundings. There are many groupings to witness. Parents worked up over nothing herding animals from one place to the next. Kids rolling their eyes while turning away from mom who obviously needs an Ativan.  Dads running to and meeting their daughters every needs. (I am no exception to this rule) and of course putting all kidding aside those uber competitive parents who are really reliving their former glory days through sheer frustration of their own child. 

There is also a small faction who actually enjoy just being here. They are usually the new families, eyes wide open, yearning to learn and grow, expanding upon this experience purely by being a part of an annual pilmigrage. Suckers! Little do they know next year competitive mom/dad will emerge from under that sweet sappy exterior!!!

Goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, rabbits, steers, quail, turkeys and dairy cows oh my! All that’s needed is an arc and a man named Noah. It really is an amazing feat when you think about the logistics of running this very operation. And even though I am poking at the proverbial ribs of its existence, there is no better place for a child to learn about animals in combination with enjoying the fruits of labor. 

I feel sorry for every child not lucky enough to raise animals, show animals ,developing a life long bond forged together with other like minded children.  Oh there are those who say they’ll find it in baseball or soccer, football or track. But I beg to differ. There is something about raising an animal to the best of your abilities, caring for and showing that animal that creates a different adult out of a child. Just my opinion. 

I am one of those parents who raised animals in 4-H, it changed my life. My parents raised animals in 4-H and it changed their lives. Hopefully my children will carry it forward into their lives. If they do I am fairly positive somewhere along the way my four children will grow into fine adults and even better parents who I am sure will be, competitive, animal rushing, a tad bit psycho, reliving the old days parents who are just happy to be here, at the fair supporting thier children. 

Oh well more to watch…

I sit alone…..

And now to the anchor desk for an update!

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Wednesday morning we arrived inside Kaiser Vallejo room H22 at 0600. Jacy signed herself in and before long an elderly volunteer attendant called our name. She was in her 70’s and struggled a bit to stay on task. Her manner was direct as there was an apparent agenda to follow judging by the clipboard she maintained a death grip upon. It was obvious with her demeanor we were one of her first for the day but definitely wouldn’t be her last. I tried my hardest taking her seriously but every time we made eye contact I swear her wig moved a tad off kilter from one side to the next. She was sweet, a bit confused at times, but doing the very best job she could. I pictured her as a young military nurse either late in WW2 or during the Korean War. She just had that way about her. It was definitely a pleasure meeting her.

She scooped Jacy up and the two scurried away towards a prep room, her finger pointed my direction ordering me politely to sit and stay inside the waiting room. There was a large television inside the waiting room showing a row of numbers on the screens left side with colored bars running towards the right. These numbers were very reminiscent of college I.D. numbers used for testing purposes. Each number was assigned to a patient. A color bar associated with each number identifies which stage of treatment your loved one (patient) currently resides. It was a nice little system, allowing family members to know exactly what’s happening without constantly barraging the attendants for answers.

The old dame came back into the waiting room after around fifteen minutes, staring at her clipboard while trying her best to pronounce my last name. (Good luck right?) Reaching my feet she wanted confirmation that I was in fact Jacy’s husband? My first instinct was to remind her we had in fact talked not more than fifteen minutes ago and at no time during those fifteen minutes had I rushed out, found an attorney, judge and open courtroom to obtain a legal divorce! Anyways my mother taught me better, so politely I smiled and nodded yes! Yes I was still Jacy’s husband. Her retort was: phew! I almost had you confused with that gentleman over there who is wearing a shirt similar to yours. Watching her wipe her brow and shake a little more it was then I decided I loved her, she was perfect and nothing could possibly go wrong today! She motioned for me to follow her. She walked quickly and with purpose down a long hallway, explaining hospital rules for visiting; where I should sit, what I should say, while pointing out every door, corner and hallway, so when the time came I could find my way back. I bit my tongue for I didn’t want her to see me chuckling as she was quite serious and still cute as a button!

Moving into the prep room area which consisted of a long rectangular room housing multiple cubicle style, curtain separated mini rooms, lining the walls all the way around its corridor. A bed was placed inside each cubicle complete with computer, I.V. stands, oxygen, Sp02/heart monitor and so on. Jacy laid upon a bed, I.V. in place, one piece backless gown, the fashion rave of all hospitals, securely affixed and a hair net. It was quite odd a woman who holds not one scrap of hair to her body needed a hair net? But I suppose rules are rules.

Jacy smiled, I sat beside her and listened as her anesthesiologist went over procedures, how she would feel, along with what to expect. He was a curt German man with a fairly strong German accent. Now every German I have ever met has an incredible dry sense of humor (which I LOVE) and after a few moments of my wife and I winking at each other while dropping one liners his direction, he proved to be no different. He was witty, charming and an very interesting man to talk with. I was sad we didn’t get to spend more time with him.

Dr. Truong arrived, all smiles as always. She is hands down the coolest doctor I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I cannot believe how above and beyond I feel she has gone with my wife. They have created an actual friendship outside of the doctor/patient relationship. Of course once you meet my wife it is very hard not to become her friend. We chatted about the marrow draw, how long it would take under sedation and she reaffirmed how sorry she was Mondays draw couldn’t be completed back in her office. It was understandable, Jacy just could not take any more pain, and with 6 prior draws from the same site, number 7 just wasn’t going to happen. We all kept talking as supplies were gathered and everyone laughed at a few self-deprecating jokes targeting us both. We laughed and told stories about our families and when the doctor gave her a dose of Versed which he explained allows the patient to forget the surgical experience; I looked him in the eye reiterating the whole she’ll forget everything portion to which he looked confused and stated; yes she will forget. Not wasting any time I grabbed Jacys hand announcing loudly there was something I needed to tell her! (Pause for effect)  Everyone started cracking up and Jacy nodded off to sleep with a smile on her face!

40 minutes later Dr. Truong found me to report everything went as planned. She gave me a giant hug and asked how I was doing? I said fine, she smiled and we talked about what the future held for our girl. Basically it comes down to this marrow draw and the panel being tested. If Leukemia has resurfaced, off to chemotherapy we go. If little to no Leukemia is present, then off to receive a hysterectomy, followed with a few weeks rest and then? ANOTHER ROUND OF CHEMO!!!!! YAYYYYYY! Dr.Truong says Jacy is the perfect candidate! She is young, strong, and has handled chemotherapy better than most patients. Jacy also has a type of Leukemia which is chronic so the transplant is a must. There are some interesting markers hidden within her Leukemia cells or blasts that could be cause for concern, but doc thinks they are very manageable and if they become unmanageable there are some new experimental drugs with great success rates! So all things look great!

Once the final round of chemo is finished, we set the date and prepare for Stanford and a Bone Marrow transplant! Best case scenario we are looking to be in Stanford around the middle to end of June!

So keep the prayers coming! We feel them, Jacy definitely feels them. We are continually grateful to all who are following us in this journey, holding us and our family up in prayer.

God bless you all..