Click on picture to read Chaco's poems

Friday, July 31, 2009

Public Enemies

Today we had no treatments or any appointments so we went to the early bird special and saw Public Enemies. It was a good show but not as good as I thought it would be. There was only one other couple in the theater so we had it almost to ourselves. Tomorrow we have to be at the hospital at 9:30AM for a blood transfusion. Sheila is doing better washing her arm in the shower. It has taken a couple of days for her to get used to exposing the wound to the water but it is looking pretty good and healing up. Monday when we see the oncologist we should find out about the next series of chemo treatments. Sheila is doing great although she gets tired out quickly but I am sure the transfusion of blood will help.

The above picture is of Public Enemy #2 .......Sheila (Rocket Girl) Black on her Kawasaki Ninja (get-away) sportbike with Joe Rocket riding gear disguise and Nolan (bank holdup) flipface helmet.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Three Day Weekend Canceled!

Oh well.......we went to the clinic today just to get Sheila's bloodwork done and the results were that she needs a transfusion on Saturday! Her counts must have come way down (we knew they would, but not this quick) after chemo. It will be done at the hospital and we need to be there at 9:30AM on Saturday. We were hoping to have a few days with no treatment before we see Dr. DiStefano on Monday. Oh well, as they say, " you cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails". The good side is that any new blood they give her can only help her arm heal up quicker. Thats about it for an update, its just getting to be our routine now...we were used to getting up and hiking all day, now we get up and go to the clinic or hospital. We used to be surrounded by the most fit and healthy people around, now we are around some of the sickest. It has been an eye-opener for both of us. It just goes to show you how little control you really have over what happens to you. I am reminded of our 25 year old friend Low Impact who hiked the entire 2175 mile AT last year and this week just competed hiking the 500 mile Colorado Trail and is now hitch-hiking his way to Alaska. He used to tell me that he sometimes felt he should be back to school and work toward a more "responsible" and conventional life. I say "GO HUGE" it ALL while you have your health and your youth. To paraphrase Henry Thoreau...many people waste their lives "getting their living" and because of that never really live!

Note: The picture today is one of my favorites. Sheila watching the sunset over the dunes at Monahan Sandhill State Park in far west Texas.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Surgeon Says Arm Looks Very Good!

We just returned from seeing the surgeon and he said Sheila's arm looks very good and that she can now shower and wash it and try and use it as much as possible. He said the worse thing you could do for it is not use it. I still need to change the dressing once a day but it can now be washed in the shower. He also said that although the wound is about an inch wide and four inches long that it could heal up and close all on its own but to keep in mind that it may require a graft sometime in the future. All in all very good news! Tomorrow we have to go to the Arlington Cancer Center lab for blood work then we have a 3 day weekend and do not have to see the doctor again until Monday when they do more blood work.

Note: The cover picture today is of a blaze (trail sign) on the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. Sheila and I hiked 6 sections of the ICT last winter in the snow. The tree had grown up all around the sign and made for a good picture.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Zero Day

Did nothing today, slept till 10AM then we went to RED, HOT and BLUE for lunch. Sat around the house, did some laundry and generally "vegged" out. We have to go see the surgeon at 10:30AM tomorrow and find out what's next for Sheila's arm.

Note: Cover pic is of Toesocks in a "debris" shelter along the Appalachian Trail on this years hike somewhere in New York State.

Monday, July 27, 2009

More Chemo, More Chemo, More Chemo.....

Well we went to the doctor's this morning and Sheila's blood work all came out with good results. Now that round 2 of chemo is complete her counts will start dropping and the doctor said she will have a few more rounds of chemo, one or two more exactly like she just had and then one or two more of a different kind of chemo. They will be a couple weeks apart and in between we are hoping that her arm may begin to heal up. We see her surgeon on Wednesday and I am guessing that he will talk about some kind of skin graft to close up her wound. I hope not, but judging on the size of the opening I do not see how it could close up through healing alone. Will just have to wait and see. So now we have tomorrow with no appointments and we may try and get out and see a movie.

P.S. The cover pic today is of Sheila on top of "The Lighthouse" in Palo Duro State Park in the Texas panhandle. Here is link:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Breakfast at IHOP!

Today we have NO doctors, NO appointments, NO chemo, NO blood work, nothing to do at ALL! We slept in late, went to IHOP for breakfast and Sheila ate pretty good...pancakes and poached eggs and bacon. She has not gotten sick in more than 24 hours but feels weak and listless. I hope eating good and resting and NO doctors or treatment for awhile will get her strength back up. Last night we changed the dressing on her arm and it went surprisingly good. The surgeon has taken more skin away from the site and removed a little muscle tissue and vein. It was not too deep though and looks better, as in no infected looking areas but the wound is now larger and was left open to let it drain and heal from the inside. My thought at this point is that it will require a graft to close it up and let it heal completely but we will see the surgeon again on Wednesday and I will ask him about that. It is great that right now she is getting no chemo and does not have to lug around the fanny pack where ever she goes. I am going to take a couple pics of her wound when we change the bandage tonight and if they are not too graphic will post a pic on this blog. As it stands right now all we have ahead is to see the oncologist, Dr. DiStefano on Monday and get some blood work to see about the next step treating the AML, then on Wednesday we see the surgeon, Dr. Bower to determine what next to do about her arm. In the meantime I guess its hang around the WE CARE house and let Sheila rest .

P.S. The cover pic today is of me and Toesocks at the start of our 2009 AT hike. My sister Sue and her husband Mike drove us to the Belevale, New York Creamery, the site last year where we were forced off the trail by a broken leg. Little did we know that this year and 50 odd miles later we would be off the trail again due to Toesocks having leukemia!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chemo Round 2 Done!

This morning we went to the Arlington Cancer Center at 8:30AM to have the fanny pack of chemo disconnected and done with. Sheila has been not feeling too good and has not eaten much the last few days so it was good to get this round over and done. There was still 6.3ml of chemo left in the pack so they infused it into her through her CVC port and it only took about 30 minutes to complete. Then the nurse changed her CVC dressing and let us go. Now she is free of the chemo, at least until she goes back on Monday for lab work and to see Dr. DiStefano. Hopefully she will not need another round of chemo anytime soon. She is still taking four antibiotics and an anti-fungal medication. She also has some anti-nausea medication and two pain prescriptions. Thankfully she has not touched either pain medication yet. Her arm dressing will need to be changed tonight and it will be interesting to see how much the surgeon had to get into it yesterday. I am hoping they did not do much more cutting as I do not want to have her go through me hurting her when I clean and change the dressing. Sheila came home and drank some Ensure and went to sleep. I hope she feels up to going out for a good nutritious meal later!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Surgery Finished!!

Doctor Bower the surgeon just came out to see me. He finished the surgery on Sheila's arm and said he had to take it back to fresh, good tissue and took some more of the vein out. He does not think there has been any further infection but said these things can be a real problem with the low white cell count and with chemo going on constantly. He wants to see her back in his office on Wednesday to see how it looks and has given me written instructions on how to change the dressing daily. He has left the wound open again and said I cannot be too gentle with it when I clean it daily, to make sure it is cleaned back to fresh looking tissue, rub it clean with gauze each time and rinse it with saline and put the special silver gauge on it each day. I am just hoping that tomorrow when we get the chemo pack off her that Dr. DiStefano can give her a good week or two break from any more rounds of chemo if they will be required. I think she really needs a few weeks to get her white count back up and get her strength back, eat good meals and get plenty of rest! Hopefully this next week will be one of recuperation and not much medical treatment!

Hurry Up and Wait!

Well here it is 3:34PM and we are still waiting for Sheila to go into surgery. We got to the hospital by 12:45PM today just as directed by the pre-op nurses yesterday and have just been sitting in Sheila's room since then. I guess other surgeries earlier have taken longer than expected. She has antibiotics in her CVC port and just waiting her turn I guess. The surgery should only take about an hour so we are hoping to get out of here later today and if she feels up to it get a spaghetti dinner later tonight. Sheila has not had any solid food since yesterday and yesterday of all days was the first day she has thrown up since being in the hospital. She started throwing up around 7:00PM last night and we called Dr. DiStefano's office and they called in an anti-nauseous prescription (phenergan) to Walmart for her. So last night I went to Walmart and picked up her medicine and also some sherbet, goldfish and jello for her. She was sick and did not eat much at all last night so she is really hungry right now. (The nurse just came into the room and informed us that the surgeon is running about one hour forty minutes behind schedule and she should be taken into surgery in about forty more minutes) Also last night Mike and her husband Craig at the house had a rough night. About 11:30PM I heard them talking out in the foyer and went out to see what was going on. Mike grabbed my arm and I knew she was upset. Her husband Craig was all dressed and determined to go out in the truck somewhere and change a flat tire! I could see that he was not himself and had gotten it into his head that someone he knew needed his help with a flat tire. I guess the medication he is on plus the chemo and radiation that he is having was making his reasoning erratic. After some coaxing and talking by Mike and me he finally went back to bed and I guess slept through the night. I talked to Mike this morning before he went in for a transfusion and she said he remembered nothing of last night. I know this must be rough on her as they have no family nearby and now she also has to deal with this added problem. I am glad we are there in the house to help them when they need it. That's about it for now, I will put up another post tonight after we get home from surgery.

P.S. The cover picture today is of Sheila on one of our full moon night paddles across Joe Pool Lake. We paddled across the lake at night to the Oasis for dinner and a cold beer and then paddled back to our camp at Cedar Hill State Park. We have been doing this for years and it is fantastic to be out on the water at night under a full moon with the lake to ourselves and guided back to camp only by the full moon and of course a reliable GPS!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Presurgery Assessment Today

Today we went back to Arlington Memorial Hospital to do Sheila's Pre-Op assessment. She had to go through her entire medical history because the hospital had already deleted all her info from just a few weeks ago and put it into their microfiche system. I would have thought all this info would be more accessible in this computer age! Anyways she had to have a EKC and more blood drawn and was given instructions on what to eat and not eat and when to eat it and not eat it. Also what time to be there tomorrow (2:15 PM the surgery is scheduled). The surgery to clean and debrade her wound should only take about 30-45 minutes. It is day surgery and she will be able to come home once she is out of recovery. That's all we did today except check our PO box and have lunch with my daughter Jacki who we met at the Post Office. We went to Wendy's and Sheila had a baked potato because she says fried or greasy food has been making her feel nauseous. She is sleeping right now since we got back to the house. A new lady has checked in here last night. Her name is Cathy and her husband is being checked for cancer at the same hospital. Mike (the wife) and Craig are still here and they were hoping to go home to Nebraska next week for a one week break if he does OK this week. They have been here for 4 months! Sheila is scheduled to have the chemo pack unhooked this Saturday and after tomorow's surgery maybe we will get a break for awhile from all this treament.
P.S. Today's cover picture is Toesock's on the Appalachian Trail looking out over the Great Smokey Mountains after the morning sun came up when we were leaving the shelter to start annother long day of hiking.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Isn't it unnerving that doctors call what they do "practice"?

Just returned from seeing the surgeon and Sheila will have to have another surgery on her arm to remove dead tissue, clean the wound and maybe remove some more of the vein. All this because of an IV needle put in by the ambulance in New York. They need to do this on Friday while her white cell count and platelets are still not depleted. Other than that we have no other appointments until Saturday when they take her off the chemo and disconnect her from the fanny pack pump.

Winds Headed in a Northerly Direction

Today Sheila had day 2 of consolodation chemo. It requires her going into the infusion center on day 1 and 2 and staying there until a red colored chemo is given through her CVC port. At the same time she is connected to a fanny pack with a 5 day drip going all the time until it is finished on Saturday. She can go where she wants with this pack of 5 day chemo and even has to have it connected while she showers. So far things are going good and she has to go in tomorrow to see the surgeon so he can look at her arm and see if if needs debraiding and/or a graft to heal it up. We are hoping that after this round of chemo she will be given a break so that her white cell count can come back up and let her arm heal properly. Also today her sisters, Ulonda and Arlene flew back to Michigan. They have helped out tremendously, cleaning, shopping and doing laundry and just visiting has been good for Sheila.

P.S. The cover picture this time is of us sport touring Colorado on the Kawasaki.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back for Chemo Today...Round 2

Well today it is back to the Arlington Cancer Center for Sheila to start the second course of chemo. We dont know yet if it will be a 2&5 day schedule or a 3&7 day schedule. Will have to wait and see what the final results of her last biopsy was. Also they need to look at her arm to see if the surgery wound is healing properly. It doesn't look any worse but it doesn't seem to be healing any either. We think her chemo will be given as an outpatient and she will be hooked up to some kind of backpack or something so that she can leave and come back later in the day or the next day. We will see.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Day of Doing Nothing

Well today we did nothing......went out to eat breakfast at McDonald's and then dinner at Jack-in-a-Box. The rest of the day was spent watching TV (yes we now have a TV in the house) and resting. Sheila is feeling great and eating well. I went for a couple mile walk and checked out the Arlington library. Not much to write about. Sheila's two sisters have a 1000 piece puzzle just about completed.
Tomorrow Shiela may try a short early morning walk with me before the heat sets in.

P.S. Today's cover picture is of Toesocks on the summit of Mt. Guadalupe 8749'

Friday, July 17, 2009

North Winds Blow into Texas

Last night two of Sheila's sisters flew in from Michigan. They are staying at the WE CARE INC. house with us and Carol gave them their own room. This morning we all went to IHOP for breakfast. They brought Sheila a couple of hats and a bandana to wear. We are hanging out at the house just resting and snacking. I have kept busy by cleaning out the gutters on the house for Carol. It is fantastic for Sheila to have some of her family here to laugh and joke and talk with. I just got done changing the dressing on her arm and it seems to be actually healing now that she has white blood cells to fight off infection and help her heal. All that will change once she gets back on chemo Monday as her white count will go back down to zero. For now though its good to see her having a good time with her sisters!

P.S. The Cover picture is of me and Toesocks paddling on Caddo Lake in East Texas with our new Spadderdock (lily pad) sun hats! Somehow this fashion statement never really caught on.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

100 Degrees and Walmart

Two things I hate are Texas summer heat and a trip to Walmart! Today we are settled in our new room at another one of the WE CARE houses. It is much better than the last room we had and left because of mothball odors. This house does not have private entrances but it is very nice and plush and comfortable. Our room is like a motel room in a nice hotel and the common areas are very comfortable and nicely decorated. Carol, who owns these houses and runs them has done an outstanding job. Right now we are sharing the house with "Mike" (a lady) and her sick husband who we have not seen yet. He was not feeling well yesterday and today they left before we got up. I am guessing he had to go in for chemo treatments today. Sheila and I splurged and went out to breakfast at Cracker Barrel Restaurant (since the doctor said she did not have to wear a mask anymore). It was a nice treat except the overweight lady who sat at the table next to us had enough perfume on to make me feel like I was back in the mothball fumigated house! We had a good breakfast and Sheila ate more than she had in days! After breakfast we got directions to the nearest Super Walmart and went and bought food, drinks and snacks for the house. Our plan is to just sit back and rest up as we have no doctors, nurses or anything to do till Monday when she starts round two of chemo. She still has five prescriptions (mostly antibiotics) to take and we have to change the dressing on her arm from her surgery. It still beats the hell out of staying in the hospital! That's about it...nothing new and exciting but that's OK with us for now.

P.S. The above picture was taken when we hiked and camped at Palo Duro Canyon in west Texas a couple of years ago. It shows Sheila looking out at Capital Reef. It was 26 degrees at night and about 85 during the day. We slept under the stars and had coyotes howling not 100 feet from our sleeping bags! We were just starting to get into ULTRA light backpacking and were testing our first lightweight kit. It was a great trip!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In a New House Today!

Today was a very busy day. We went to the Arlington Cancer Center for Sheila to have yet another bone marrow biopsy and more blood work. They had the results of the blood ready in one hour and her white count and platelets have more than doubled in one day! Her white count is now 1.6 or 1600 and that is close to normal! Her platelets have skyrocketed and everything looks as good as can be. She will not have to go back till Monday when she starts consolidation chemo. It will be one week of daily outpatient chemo. She also scored a free hat (see pics) that a local church makes for cancer patients at no charge. It it not to hide her bald head, she goes everywhere with her Appalachian Trail haircut! It does keep her head warm in all these freezing Texas air-conditioned places. We had been staying in a room we rented from "WE CARE, Inc.", a local non profit outfit that helps cancer patients. The lady who owns all the houses had put mothballs in the attic of the house we were staying to get rid of raccoons that were in the attic. The fumes were unbelievable so she moved us to a new house near Lake Arlington and it it also much nicer! Sheila has two sisters flying in from Michigan tomorrow night and Carol is letting them stay in the same house with their own room.

It has been great to have her finally get out of the hospital after almost a month and be together in our "own place"! Tomorrow and the weekend we do not have to be anywhere and will just enjoy the new house and taking it easy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Today Dr. DiStefano said Sheila is going to go home! That's the word that's come down from the nurses. We have no idea why as her white count yesterday was only 800 and needed to be 15-1600. We have a suspicion it has to do with the insurance company?? Will know more when the doctor makes his daily visit to see Sheila. He told the nurses ahead of time so we could prepare to get her things together and I also went to our storage and dug out some clothes for her. She has only had either hospital gowns or the clothes we were on the trail in. She has been in the hospital for one month today! We are wondering about the antibiotic IV, chemo and changing the dressing on her open wound from the surgery....I guess it will all be explained when the doctor get here. At least it looks like we will get outta here!!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Good News From the Doctors!!!

Doctor DiStefano just left and said Sheila is doing great! Her white cell count keeps coming up, her platelets are coming way up and the doctor said if this trend continues she should be able to leave the hospital this week sometime. He wants to make sure her white count gets up to about 1600, its at 800 now and has been increasing about 100 per day. The Doctor said it should jump way up pretty soon and not just by 100 per day. Everything so far looks good and she will require several rounds of consolidation chemo before its over but it should be able to be done outpatient! This is the results we have been waiting all weekend for and it is GREAT NEWS!!

Toesocks Broke Her Leg..... year ago today thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail! I cannot believe it has been a year already.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Taking Zero days at the most EXPENSIVE hostel in the world!!

Well the doctor filling in for Dr. DiStefano just came in and said Sheila is doing fine but thought she will still need future chemo. We dont know when that will happen. Hopefully not too soon.

This picture is Sheila reading up on Low Impacts blog "Finding Phillip". He is passing the halfway mark on the Colorado Trail and we have been following his blog and Facebook entries.

Other than that we are just killing time till we hear what comes next from Dr. DiStefano on Monday.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Finding Phillip...Low Impact Hiking the Colorado Trail

Since we are now off the Appalachian Trail due to Sheila's minor setback of having leukemia we are now hiking vicariously through our good friend Low Impact. He is currently hiking the 500 mile Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango. He has just hit the halfway point and is hiking with his friend Bones. It has been great for me and Sheila to follow along on Facebook, his blog, and through his mobile uploads. I have included a couple of his videos incase anyone was curious about long distance hiking. I have to warn you that one of them is very graphic and shows what happens to some...ok.....many hikers after going hundreds of miles through the mountains! Here are some of his links and videos:


Descending Mt. Ebert....

Toll of 250 Miles......
Warning!!! This one is GRAPHIC!!

Good News!

Dr. DiStefano came in and had the preliminary results of her bone marrow biopsy. It is JUST the preliminary results...but...there is no sign of leukemic cells in her marrow!!! We will have to wait till Monday when the FINAL results are in should be the same results, meaning she will not have any more chemo in the near future and if the infection and the white cell count improves she MAY be able to leave the hospital and have all her follow up treatments as an out- patient! This is such a big relief! Keeping our fingers crossed till Monday but it all looks good so far.

New AT (After Treatment) Haircut

Well here it is Day 24 at Arlington Memorial Hospital plus 2 days in Vasser Bros. Hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York. What was supposed to be a summer spent hiking on the Appalachian Trail with a new view everyday, we are stuck here with a great sweeping view of the hospital roof! Instead of the twinkling of stars at night its the faint glow of the IV machine and instead of moonlight its the glaring sickly light of hospital flourescents. But on the bright side Sheila is doing great, feels great and so far no bad news from the doctors. We just have to wait on the results of the last bone marrow biopsy to see if more chemo is required right away. The open wound on her arm has healed up a little or more accurately it has dried up because it cannot properly heal until she has white blood cells in her blood. Her white count was .6 today and it was .5 yesterday so it is VERY slowly going in the right direction. Another round of chemo right away would wipe that small gain right out though. We just have to play the waiting game until Monday or Tuesday.

P.S. We just had to revise this post to include this picture of Sheila with her new haircut AND the FANTASTIC card sent by my sister Sue and her family! It was the biggest laugh we have had since in the hospital!! Thanks Sue!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Busy Day Today

Nine AM this morning Dr. DiStefano came in to give Sheila a bone marrow biopsy. This is her forth bone marrow biopsy. The results of this, which will take a few days to come back, will determine the next course of treatment. Most likely it will be another round of chemo. She also received one unit of platelets because her count was only 14 thousand and should be 19 thousand or more. The biopsy was done in the room in about 30 minutes and went quite well considering this time all she had was a local anaesthetic. We also cut off all her hair right down to the scalp because it was all falling out anyways. This way it is all gone at once and she doesn't have to watch it get thinner and thinner and then all fall out.

What is a bone marrow biopsy?

What are platelets?

What is chemo?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Have a Game Plan Now

Dr. DiStefano just came in for a visit after being out of town for a week and the plan is to give Sheila another bone marrow biopsy at 9AM tomorrow. The results of that biopsy will determine the next treatment, most likely another round of chemo. He did say that if the arm had not got infected from the ambulance IV in New York that we would most likely be looking at outpatient chemo at this point. So much for taking the easy way around this one.......just like on the trail , no slackpacking for us.....its "white blazes" all the way to the end!

Waiting Game

Well is is now day 11 after Sheila's first round of chemo ended. Her regular oncologist has been out of town to his daughter's wedding and I think the doctors filling in for him are unsure or afraid to do anything until he gets back. He should be in today and we hope to hear what comes next. She is still being pumped full of antibiotics to fight off the infection in her arm and the open wound left after the surgery is looking a little better. They say she has to stay in the hospital until her white cell count improves as she has no immune system still. We also heard that another bone marrow biopsy will probably be next to see if chemo round number 2 is in order. The worse part is just sitting here day after day not knowing what comes next. Sheila is feeling fine and her hair is starting to fall out from the chemo. Her appetite is good and she is out of bed all the time but cannot leave her room due to being neutropenic.
That's about it for today, just wanted to give everyone an update. Well we were wanting another adventure and we sure got one. Just be careful of what you wish for. Hiking to Mt. Kathadin in Maine seems like a walk in the park compared to this!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

HUGE News! Phone call from Low Impact from the Colorado Trail!

Well today was a slightly better day for one spent at the hospital. First my brother Dan and his girlfriend Yolonda visited Sheila and brought a cheesecake (which we dug right into in the afternoon!), then I went out for awhile and met my daughter Jacki for dinner at Ton's Mongolian Grill, then just now we got a phone call from Low Impact. Low whom we met last year on our AT hike is right now out on the 500 mile Colorado Trail at mile 180 and took the time to check in and see how Sheila (Toesocks to him) was doing. It was great to hear from a trail friend since we had to quit our hike again this year. We wish him the best and think of him daily since he is still out there "crunching" out the miles! Sheila was especially thrilled that he took the time to call and see how she was doing. It was funny hearing how his beloved INOV8 shoes gave him blisters and really tore up his feet and that he was now hiking in Chaco sandals!! Sheila wishes she could send him some Injinji toesocks!
We also discovered that today Sheila has started to lose her hair from the last week of having chemo. I will have to find her a pink stocking hat to match her new pink ("arm warmers").

P.S. Just got a clip of LOW descending MT. Elbert, Colorado's highest peak:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independance Day!!!

Well here we are spending the 4th of July at Arlington Memorial Hospital! Sheila is doing great, we are waiting a few days to have another bone marrow biopsy done as right now the word from the doctors is that there is still "blast" in her marrrow. Depending on the results of this next bone marrow biopsy (number 4!) she may need another round of chemo. We are hoping that if the infection and resulting surgery on her arm starts looking better, than maybe the next round of chemo could be as an outpatient! As you can see Sheila still has her AT haircut and has not lost any hair due to chemo. If you are wondering about the pink arm "warmers" they are something new that the hospital just started doing to show that she cannot have any IV's, blood drawn or pressure checked in either arm. Sheila I think likes them as a fashion statement because they go so well with her hiking fleece sleeping socks! Thats about it for today, I think they will give her another unit of platelets today. Thats the part of your blood that makes it clot. She also has continous antibiotics to fight the infection as her immune system is at zero right now.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pics from the Appalachian Trail

Chaco and Toesocks at Belevale Creamry

Mike and Toesocks and sister Sue.....They drove us to the trail

Toesocks at first real climb of the day

Toesocks contemplates climbing up side of waterfall

Boardwalk thru the Bog

Toesocks found shelter for the night

Toesocks going thru the Lemon Squeezer

Chaco in the Lemon Squeezer

Trail Sign.....Only 793 miles to go!

Nice Bridge

Our first real shelter

Toesocks takes a break

Is this Low's famous Eddie Bauer poles from '08?


Toesocks in Harriman State Park ..we HATE roadwalks!

Toesocks proves you CAN get a blister in sandals

Crossing the Hudson on Bear Moutain Bridge

Chicken Bone (yes trail dogs get trail names) has a rest

Hikers at the Monastary

Another tired trail dog

All tucked in for the night

Great view from the bedroom

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Indian Givers

Today the oncologist came in and took back the good news he gave us yesterday. Yesterday he said that the "blast" (leukemia imature cells as I undestand it) was absent in Sheila's blood samples and that was great news as she would not need another round of chemo right away. Today he said he was waiting on the results from the latest tests as some of the preliminary tests did show blast cells in her blood. This was a let down for us but it is still in line with normal treatment and is nothing to be alarmed about, at least not yet. The final tests will come back in a couple days and we hope it will be more good news.
Also this morning when they changed and repacked the open surgery wound on her arm they debraided it (removed some dead tissue) and repacked it with a special gauge that has silver in it to fight any bad microbes. It will also turn into a gel to keep the wound moist as the nurse thought it was drying out alittle more than she liked. Sheila takes a shot dolotin (not sure of spelling) before this procedure and it usually makes her sick to her stomach. Today it went very good and she is trying to sleep until it wears off and before her lunch arrives in the room.
So it looks like we are back to waiting on results from the tests and to see what comes next. Sheila is in good spirits and feels good most of the time. I know it is hard for her to be cooped up in this hospital. She cannot even leave the room for fear of catching an infection. Hopefully we will get more encouraging news tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Completing the LT (not the Long Trail) but Leukemia Treatment

Well it has been almost a month since I updated this blog. My last posting was titled " No Rain, No Pain, No Maine"........well we sure got the Rain, it rained every day and night that we were on the trail.......we sure as hell got the Pain, Toesocks got weak and out of breath as we hiked and had to be taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia, and so...we also got NO MAINE! To make a long and scary story short she has been through one ambulance ride, countless blood tests, a hospital stay in New York, a flight to Dallas, a trip to the Emergency Room in Dallas, a hospital stay in Dallas, three Bone Marrow biopsies, 6 blood tranfusions, one infection, one surgery for the infection, continual antibiotic infusions and so far, 2 weeks in the hospital here in Dallas. I thought after breaking her leg last year on the AT and hiking out five miles on it that she was tough...but after all she has been through this time, all the while keeping a positive attitude and sense of humor, I know she is FAR tougher than I could ever hope to be!
We just got the results back this morning after she had a bone marrow biopsy and it looks like the first round of chemo has done its job and she does not need another round, at least not right away. Maybe this break will let her get her white cell count back up to fight off the infection she got from the IV needle they inserted in the ambulance in New York. She is in great spirits and after the good news this morning I think we can all breathe a little sigh of relief!
I do want to take a moment to thank all our relatives and friends who have helped out and offered support and encouragement. We are not the kind of people who are comfortable accepting help from anyone or putting people out so it has been humbling to see all the help that has been offered from everyone we know. Hiking the Appalachian Trail has renewed my faith in people that had been sorely tested living in the ratrace that is Dallas, and now to expirience all this outpouring of support from friends and family has been truly a blessing! Thank you all!