Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Today I was able to go and visit Melanie and my mom for a bit. Melanie was still having a downer attitude. She told me that she wished she hadn't left the hospital for the one week, because it made it so much harder to go back in. She had a feel for what it is like to live outside the hospital again, and she is very ready to get back out! I was able to get her up and walking for a bit, so that was a plus. The doctor came in and talked with us while I was there. He said that she will be able to leave tomorrow! That was great news for Melanie. So, tomorrow she will get her things at Greg's house, and then she will head down to stay with me for the next 21 days. Since I am home, this will give my mom a chance to go home, work some days, be with my dad, and just be normal for a bit. They will all still come down on the weekends.

I took a few pictures:

This is how my mom looks at this moment. She had a tiny surgery on her big toe the other day. She had to have her nail removed, so she has this nice boot that she gets to use until it heals a bit. She is still hobbling around and being mother extraordinaire.

This was Melanie's new New Year's Eve hat. I thought it was really cute! They both said they would probably be asleep by midnight. They decided they would wake up right before and walk down to one of the windows to see the fireworks in Salt Lake. I told her to make sure she bangs on the wall of the man next door. I guess he is always loud and the nurses say he is not very nice. I'm sure it will be a nice, quite New Year's Eve in room 814.

Here is to 2010, and a great new year Melanie!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A "Horizontal" Day

I asked my mom how today was, and she described it as a "horizontal" day. Melanie was really nauseated from the all the chemo. She wanted to get up some, but whenever she stood up, she felt the wave of nausea take over. They asked her if she wanted this really good medicine that helps with the nausea and increases your appetite. After they explained that it was a sister to marijuana and that it can cause you to have hallucinations, she declined it!

Melanie finished the Methotrexate this morning, and they will start the rescue medicine tonight. Hopefully they can get it out of her system quickly! She was having a difficult day. She was really emotional and just kind of tired of the hospital, the chemo, and the sickness. I guess it was kind of a downer day all around. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Hang in there, Melanie! We will have lots of good fun, when you arrive here soon!
Love you!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Here We Go Again

Chemo is back in full swing. Mel was really tired and nauseated today. She is being hit pretty hard with some toxic and lethal stuff. She received methotrexate today and will continue to receive it through a drip for the next 24 hrs., then they work hard to get it out of her system because it is lethal...scary stuff I think. She has been on my mind non stop as I'm sure she has been for a lot of you. Pray that she can make it through this week, it is going to be a tough one. We are all behind you Mel!! Hang in there and remember all of the prayers being offered in your behalf.

Here are a few more pictures from Mel's week of freedom. There were lots of fun times and laughter. It was like a family reunion for many of us, especially Mel's nieces and nephews who hadn't seen her in over a month.

Mel's smile is the best!!

Dad, Kaden, Mel Kim

Kim and Mel.

Mel wearing her halo! I think this hat is so cute!

Kim, Ethan, Mel, Kaden

Melanie finally had someone with the same hairstyle! We had fun taking pictures of her and Eric (brother in-law).

Mel and Eric.

Cute bald heads!

Mom and dad buffing them up! Never a dull moment with us!

We want to thank all of those who contributed to Kaden and Melanie's great Christmas! you will never know how deeply appreciated you are! Tricia, thank you from all of us for working with Sub For Santa on Kaden's behalf. You brought many smiles to Kaden on Christmas morning. Although we had a different Christmas this year, it was one that we will never forget! We saw the pure love of Christ!! A very sincere thank you again to all of you!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

We're Back

We are back from our Christmas break from blogging. It was a great Christmas!! I have pictures from Christmas Eve, but not from Christmas day. We'll have to get Christmas day pictures on here tomorrow. Until then, let's talk about our Christmas Eve party (at least the part I was there for).

We started out watching the Christmas classic "ELF". The party list included Melanie, Kaden, Peggy, LeRoy, Kim, Greg, Charise, Angie, Steve, Chase, Brooke, and Austin.

After the movie, we played some games. Melanie was the official spinner for TWISTER!

My dad brought some presents from Melanie's classes and some relatives. Her classes gave her some great ornaments and a class picture. She loved seeing the pictures of each child! She loves her students and misses them so much! Melanie's cousin Nancy and her family sent some nice cards and treats. Her aunt Arlene also sent a present down. So thoughtful of everyone!

She had some help opening gifts from her nephew Austin! Greg can never resist getting in a picture!

Dinner was delicious! Way better than anything she would have eaten in the hospital. It was fun to finally get to see some nieces and nephews. They were super excited to finally get to see their aunt Melanie as well! Kaden had the privilege of reading the Christmas story from the scriptures this year, and I hear that Santa did make it there that night...

I know Cami and her family and Mike and his family came down over the weekend. I think everyone was able to see Melanie sometime over Christmas. Kim left to go back to Colorado today. Once again, she was such a help while here! She will be missed until she returns sometime next month.

Today, Melanie checked back into the hospital at 8:45 for some more chemo. First thing, they drew some blood to check, and all of her counts were up really good! She received quite a bit of chemo today. They put some in her spine (by way of another lumbar puncture), put some in her central line, gave some through a drip line, and then she took some in a pill form. We'll see how she is feeling in the morning. She was pretty good tonight, just tired.

My mom explain that tomorrow she gets a high dose of a chemo called Methotrexate. They give it to her for 24 hours. This chemo is lethal, so after the 24 hour period, they do something called a rescue. They basically give her some kind of a vitamin that gets the Methotrexate out of her system. They have to test her several times a day, and then once the chemo is out of her system, she can check back out of the hospital. They say it could take 4-5 days, but it varies depending on the individual. Hopefully she will be 4-5 days and no longer! She is now in room 814, which is right next door to the room she was in before.

We will pray for a quick hospital stay, Melanie!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Another great day gone by. Four more days out of the hospital. I will check in on Monday at 8:45 for my next round of chemo. The stay shouldn't be too long. I have to stay in until one of the medications clears my system - maybe 4-5 days.

Unless something eventful happens, we will be taking a break from blogging for the next few days. My family and I wish you all a super, fabulous, wonderful, merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Got My Boy!

Hello my wonderful friends and family. I am posting before I am too tired to do it. Life is good at my brother and sister-in-law's house. It's nice to be able to move around with out "shi-thead" hindering the distance.

Kaden is here now. Thanks for bringing him down Jacqui! It will be great to be able to spend some time together outside of the hospital. I think he was pretty bored today, but boredom is much better when at a house.

Nothing new has happened. Just plugging along and eating too much. You know, the usual holiday stuff. I think I may go back to the hospital 10 pounds heavier. My doctor may be pleased, or shocked.

I'm trying to build up strength in my legs and arms. I am amazed at how quickly you lose muscle and strength. Going up and down the stairs is a challenge; so, my new routine is to go up and down Greg's stairs a few times a day. It kind of feels the same as running 5 miles.

I have a new-found appreciation for my kindergartners and the struggle some of them have with handwriting at the beginning of the school year. If you don't write for 2 months, you're hand just doesn't write the same. I've thought a lot about how I tell my students that some students' hands are still trying to get strong and so coloring in the lines and writing on the lines is harder. I can't color in the lines! Luckily, I know that my hands will get stronger. :)

Thanks for all your love, prayers, support . . . I am very blessed and lucky person!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Boy blood

Just wanted to let everyone know that we found a ride for Kaden. Thanks for your responses :) Let's just hope that the weather cooperates.

It was so nice to be able to sleep without being woke up all night. Although Melanie did wake up at 4:30..... I guess her clock was programmed. haha It was really nice for her to be able to move more than just in a hospital room. She felt like she had a bit more energy too. It was great! She had a couple of visitors as well. Grandma & Grandpa Perkes, her friend Jackie, and also her friend Suzanne and her girls.

Melanie's Coordinator (LaDee) for her transplant called today. There are 3 perfect matches for her! Amazing! They are 3 young males. The interesting thing about this process is that if they check her blood after the transplant, it would say that she was male..... She was bit concerned at first, she didn't really want to grow chest hair. haha But LaDee reassured her that her blood will be the only thing male. :) The hormones are not going to be affected. LaDee will get with Melanie's doctor to go over the donors and pick which one will be the best fit for Melanie. We are all so very grateful for their generosity.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers! I know Melanie and our family are truly grateful for everyone. :)

It has been a great day hanging out with you today Melanie! I love you! sweet dreams......

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Picture Updates and FREEDOM

As stated earlier today, Melanie is free from the hospital for a week. What a wonderful Christmas present! She wanted me to put some pictures from yesterday, and then I can talk a bit more about today.

This is Pam and Jenny. They are Melanie's friends, who came to visit. They brought her a nice SOFT robe. She keeps calling it a towel...chemo brain.

Melanie's brother Greg is an amazing singer with some amazing singing friends. They came yesterday to sing Melanie some Christmas songs and some hymns. We have known Brian Monson for years. The women are DeeAura Thompson and Aubrey Morrill. Melanie said they brought a great spirit into the room. They all sat and cried throughout the personal concert.

A big thank you to the group! It really lifted Melanie's spirits!

Melanie's good friend for years came to visit as well. Stephanie and Mel had a nice visit. She left Melanie with a guardian angel.

Today, before Melanie checked out, we were able to get a better picture of her and Andy Williams. What a great guy! Notice the t-shirt? No hospital gowns for a week! Her neutrephils were 2,100 today!! Yesterday they gave her a shot to boost them...I would say the shot worked. The great numbers were her ticket out!

Melanie was a bit anxious at first. After 38 days in the hospital, it is kind of scary to leave. Once she settle and relaxed, she was great. She was getting all of her pills organized in her new pill organizer. She takes about 10 pills a day right now.

She left her little table tree for a bigger one at Greg and Charise's. She was excited to wrap up in their nice cozy blanket as well.

Here she is enjoying a REAL dinner. She loved the salad, which we washed well so she could eat it. She will enjoy a variety of food this next week, without having to look at the same menu! Prayers have been answered! Melanie had so much energy and a new vitality for life being in a brighter and better setting (and a bigger TV).

Is anybody from Cache Valley coming this way Tuesday afternoon? Kaden was going to come down on Thursday with my dad, but Melanie would really like him to come earlier, if he can. It would be nice for him to get to spend more time with her, while she is out of the hospital. She will be back in for more chemo next week. Give Melanie a call or leave a comment. Thank you!

Enjoy the freedom and all it entails, Melanie!!

A Week of Freedom

Melanie was able to leave the hospital today. Not just an hour drive, but she is now staying with Greg and Charise for a week. It is going to be a very Merry Christmas indeed! She will start round two of chemo on the 28th. Until then, she is feeling great not having to be attached to shithead and having nurses poke and prod. We will post and add some pictures tonight!

A very HAPPY day!!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Skype

So Melanie had quite a busy day today. She had quite a few visitors which she loved. She was also allowed out for about an hour today. My mom and dad took her for a drive. It was nice for her to get out for a bit. Hopefully in the next couple days they will know if she can leave and go to Greg's for a couple days.

Also today, Greg and some of his friends came up and sang for Melanie. I wasn't able to get many details as Mel is asleep. So I will have her post some pics tomorrow.

Tonight was our Perkes Christmas party. Uncle David set up Skype on his laptop so that everyone could see and talk to Mel. Isn't technology great! I think it was fun for everyone as well to be able to talk and wish Melanie well. She was missed at the party, but that was the next best thing.

Sorry not much of an update. We will know more after they have a chance to see her blood counts tomorrow. As usual, we will keep you all posted. :) Thanks again to everyone and all your thoughts and prayers!

Sleep well my sister! Love you!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tender Mercies

Melanie had her lumbar today. So she has been poked and prodded pretty darn good the last couple days. She is feeling pretty tired and has had a chemo headache. But it all went well. She is just a trooper. She was going to do the post tonight but is pretty beat. So, I just typed for her. Below is her post. :)

(Posted by Melanie)
Bone marrow is juicy and looks good! So things are considered to be in remission at the moment. Which means the leukemia is clear but there is still work to do to ensure it doesn't come back. My platelets are finally in the normal range. They were 178,000 today. The red blood cells are winning the fight over the white blood cells still. So we are still waiting on nuetraphils. In all this means that I will be able to spend a few days at Greg's if those nuetraphils come. I should know in the next couples days when that might be. Th second round of chemo should start around Dec 28th. They should know about donors by Monday or Tuesday.

Thanks so much for your prayers, cards and everything else. Some of you have mentioned that you were unsure that I know who you are, I do. :) Keep the prayers a comin. Thanks so much to you all.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bone marrow biopsy

Wow, I knew my sister was strong, but watching her today, I realized just how much. The biopsy was pretty painful. Melanie was so brave! I was with her when she had it. She held her worry stones tight. I watched as they did several shots to numb her and then use this devise to bore through her bone to draw out some marrow and a piece of her bone. I felt so sorry for her. It was quite an ordeal. I could tell that there were some really painful moments. She did GREAT though! As you can imagine she was pretty tired and spent after that. She is so very thankful for everyone's thoughts and prayers. I know all the words of encouragement go a long way. So we should we know tomorrow what the next phase of her journey will be. We will keep you all posted.

Her counts are continuing to go up. Her platelets were at 142,000 (8,000 below normal), and she had 300 neutraphils. That is some good news. The doctors are pleased with how the numbers are going. Keep it up Mel!

Get some sleep my dear sister........ You are so brave & inspiring! Keep up your fight! We are all behind you! I love you!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Patience is a virtue

Another day of waiting.... But tomorrow will be the test. The bone marrow biopsy. The results will tell what the next step in this adventure will be. We probably won't know anything until Friday though. We will keep you all posted.

Melanie is feeling okay today. No code blue's on the floor! Yahoo! She even tried on her new Pearl Izumi shoes to walk in tonight. She has not worn shoes for a good couple months. She is still staying strong and trying to have patience. The nights can just be sooooo long and drawn out. Thank goodness for Adavan (not sure how to spell that. haha)

Here are a couple pictures from the day. One is with her nurse Dasha. Mel was in the middle of her walk and had to come back so Dasha could scan her ID band. So she had her face mask on top of her head so she could breath. She looked kinda like a "conehead". We have to find humor in whatever we can these days. :) The other is a picture of one her cool hats that she has been given by her friend Diana Hatfield. I just love it!!!

Well, thanks again to you all! Melanie, Kaden and our family have the best friends and family anyone could ever have!

I love you Melanie! Sweet dreams.....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Low- Key Day

So today was a low-key day, as Melanie put it. My mom spent most of the day at Greg's, wrapping Christmas presents and then doing some shopping. Kim and Melanie watched some movies, went for walks, and just chilled. It was a bit of an emotional day as well. I guess that there was a code blue on the floor in the morning. The person ended out alright, but it was kind of scary with all the running around and noise going on outside Mel's room. Code blue is not a great thing to hear in the hospital.

Today Melanie's platelets were up. The doctors said this was a good sign for positive things going on in the bone marrow. She will have the bone marrow biopsy on Thursday. Depending on how it turns out, they will either go right into her next round of chemo (consolidation chemo), or wait for her counts to come up some more. As my mom put it tonight, "It is all a waiting game and patience."

Patience is a great virtue that we are all learning to acquire.

Sweetest of dreams, Melanie! Thursday we can dream of a "White Christmas". Love you!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Grandma got ran over by a rainbow?!?!?

Kim here, back in Utah and so glad I can be. Being Mel's big sister, it has been so hard to be so far away. I am so thankful to Joanie for taking care of things in Colorado (especially the cats) so that I can be here. All my friends in Colorado who have been so supportive and wishing the best for my family. Also to my work for letting me be away and being so understanding.

Another day of waiting. Mel's platelets were up to 74,000 (they were 56,000 yesterday) but no darn neutraphils.... The doctor came in today and said that they will do the bone marrow test on Thursday. They will then be able to decide what they want to do next. We hope that the leukemia cells are no where to be found....

She has done pretty good today. Did some walking and breathing exercises and all in all it was good. The waiting game is such a hard thing. Mel is staying strong and is so thankful for all the support and wonderful friends and family. It has been just overwhelming.

Mel's friend Jan Triplett came to visit her today. They had a great visit. She brought Mel some new music and brought Kaden a special gift that will just bring him some fun in these rough times. She also Skyped with Angie, Steve, and their kids (Chase, Brooke, & Austin). It was great for Melanie to be able to do that. She is such a great aunt and it has been hard for not to be able to see her nieces and nephews. So it was a great treat for her.

As you can see from the title, we had some good laughs today. Mom is soooooo funny sometimes. She meant to say "Grandma got ran over by a reindeer". You probably had to be there, but we were laughing pretty good today. It is so good to see Mel's smile and hear her laugh! Gotta love those good days!

Hope you sleep well sweet Melanie. I love you so much!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Wonderful Sabbath Day

Melanie had another great day! She did have some nausea and was really tired, but she always has a positive attitude. She seemed to have a good night, just the usual night sweats. The nurse gave her a full dose of anti- nausea medicine and it knocked her out pretty quick.

The doctor came in and talked to us. They have such good doctors taking care of Mel...what a blessing. Her Neutrophils went down to 200, we were pretty bummed but the doctor said it is normal and to not worry. They are hoping to do Melanie's bone marrow test on Wed. or Thurs. We are praying that there will be an absence of Leukemia cells.

Mel had lots of visitors today. Her home teacher Mark Daines and his wife Judy came, Aunt Eva came as well as Grandpa and Grandma Perkes (maternal grandparents). Later in the day she had a visit from Liz and Rich Mitchell (Angie's brother and sister in-law) who brought her Holiday Inn...a huge favorite of Mel's. She also was visited by Alean and Diana who she worked with at Providence Elementary. Mel enjoys the visits, especially on her good days. She was in such good spirits today.

There have been several donations to Mel's charitable account. We can't begin to express the gratitude we feel. There are tears of joy every day because of the many generous people who we feel lucky to call friends and family. Thank you from our whole family...are hearts are full to bursting!

Here are a few pictures from today.

Mel wearing her new hat from Grandma and Grandpa Perkes.

Melanie showing off her delicious pie cakes from Grandma Perkes. Right before I took this pic Mel said, "I get more than one". Our cousins will know what she means by that. ;)

This is the nativity lovingly given to her by a student.

The bear given to her by Carson, a former student of hers.

A basket of goodies from Uncle David and Aunt Cindy. It was full of some yummy treats and snacks...Mel was really excited to get this! She has had a huge sweet tooth lately.

Mel with Grandma and Grandpa Perkes.

Keep smiling Mel, it lights up the room!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Changing of the Guard

Our mom and dad are having a night out and I get to stay here with Melanie tonight. My dad and I rode down with grandpa and grandma Perkes to Salt Lake. We had a white knuckle drive. The snow was really coming down and the wind was blowing. Thank goodness for four wheel drive. We made it here safe and sound.

Melanie and I on one of our walks. We enjoyed serenading the nurses with Christmas songs.

Mom and Dad before they left for their date.

Mel was really tired when I first got here and so she took a nap. She got some good news today about her Neutrophils...they are up to 300! That is some really good news.

Mel and I have had a fun time together. We watched a few episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, went through Mel's mail, walked the halls together, sang Christmas songs, talked a lot, laughed, watched The Parent Trap and I gave Mel a massage. Melanie added a gratitude list on the side bar of this blog where she will add things that she is grateful for. She tires really easily and after going through her mail and going on walks, she was really wiped out.

I brought Melanie a wig to try out and it looks awesome!! It looks so much like her real hair. It is like it was made just for her. Thank you to Jocelyn from AZ for donating the wig to Mel. It was fun for Mel to look in the mirror and see cute hair in her reflection.

I took some pictures today...enjoy. :)

One of the card walls in Mel's room. She loves to read every one's cards, they really boost her spirits.

Here is a picture of Mel with her picture that was just added to the picture wall.

Melanie and shithead on one of our walks.

Melanie with the new wig on. Doesn't she look so cute? This is even without the wig being styled.

Mel and I.

Mel and her nurse Dasha.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Chemo Blah

I was able to finally go up and spend some more time with Melanie. She was feeling nauseated this morning. She has noticed that 6-7 days after getting chemo in her central line, she feels yucky. They gave her some great anti-nausea medicine that helped! She was even able to get up and walk around the halls a bit today. I shouldn't say halls. It is actually one hall that she goes up and back down on.

Just a little story for us to remember in the future: Today Melanie was trying to decide what to eat for lunch. She has had the same options for 29 days now, and is pretty sick of it. My mom and I decided we would go to Paradise Cafe and get her a sandwich and soup. It sounded yummy to Melanie! Melanie is on a low microbe diet, so we explained very detailed to the boy taking our order that we didn't want lettuce or tomato. We also asked him to use some of the meat that is still in the cooler, instead of the stuff that has been sitting out. He was great, and I watched him fill out the order correctly. Too bad he wasn't the one making the sandwich. We made it back to the hospital and were so excited to eat our yummy sandwiches. However, Melanie's had tomato and lettuce!! Now she wasn't going to be able to even eat it. I am not one to complain very often, but I called them and told them how mad we were. At least we had some soup for Melanie to eat, and we got it all for free (granted that they really do credit my card back).

I made sure to bring my camera today, so I could take a couple pictures of Melanie's smile.

This is one of the nurses that takes good care of her. Her name is Shawnna. My mom and Melanie really like her, because she is so on top of it and always gets what Melanie needs promptly.

We had a great visit, with a bit of laughter! Melanie and I especially liked to tease my mom when she talked about "Subway for Santa"! Ha Ha...we love you mom!

Melanie wanted me to tell everyone that she is so grateful for all the help in moving her. are the man!! A big thank you today to Cami, aunt Eva, cousin Jen, Kristie Theurer (a student's mother), Stephanie and her mother Jan, and cousin Preston and his wife Natalie. They are getting closer to being done, and then that weight can be lifted.

Melanie just called me, while I was writing this post. Please remember Kaden in your prayers. He is having a hard time right now, and really misses Melanie being with him. It is hard for Melanie to hear his tears and not be able to comfort him. It is a long road ahead, but they will make it through and be stronger on the other side.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 27

Melanie had a good day...we really like those! Our mom was able to leave for several hours to do some Christmas shopping and to shower and get some laundry done. She was gone for most of the day which I'm sure was a nice break for her. Mel had a visitor from her ward, Janet Benson. Other than that, it was a quiet day. Mel continues to have cold sweats at night and is not getting a lot of sleep because of them. She is catching some sleep whenever she can. Her blood levels are holding pretty steady, but we are still hoping and praying that the Neutrophils will get higher so we can't give her a break from the hospital.

Here in Cache Valley, we have been working on getting Mel moved. A HUGE thank you to the Elder's Quorum in her ward!!!!!! They helped Mike in packing two trailers full and taking it to a storage unit tonight. Your help was heaven sent...we can't thank you enough! I am so grateful for all of you who have left a comment saying that you are willing to help. Stephanie (Mel's sister in-law) and I will be at Mel's place tomorrow at 1 pm to finish boxing up and start cleaning. If any of you can make it, we would love your help! If you don't know where she lives, call me at 435-770-0432. We will be there for a few hours. Even if you only have a short amount of time, we will still welcome you! :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Do We Have a Match?

I spoke with Melanie this evening, and she informed me that they have 2 of the possible donor's blood samples in. I guess they get current blood samples from the possible donors, and recheck them. Another sample is suppose to be in later this week or next. So, we should know about a match in a week or so! We are praying that one of them is still a match for her. Also, a prayer for the wonderful strangers who are willing to give their stem cells for Melanie!!

Melanie sounded pretty upbeat today. She was kind of tired and explained that she hasn't been sleeping very good at night. She is up all night with cold sweats. This Friday is day 29, and was going to be the big LP and bone marrow biopsy. I guess they are going to postpone it until next Friday, or until all of her counts are up. If they take the biopsy when her counts are down, they will most likely just have to do it again.

Melanie's aunt Lana came and visited her today. She brought some lunch, which is always so much better than hospital food. Mel said they had a nice visit. We are blessed with an amazing and supportive family! Cami mentioned the visitor she had yesterday, and I got some more details about it. Janet Blad, who is a mother of some of Melanie's students brought a lap blanket she had crocheted, and also a scarf for my mother. She also brought along a package from the Gunnell family that had a Christmas CD and something extra special. One of Mel's students named Avery Gunnell sent her nativity set down for Melanie to have. How sweet is that? Melanie has such amazing students and parents that she works with!

I wanted to mention a bit about what is going on up in Logan. My aunt Eva and Cami went over to my parent's house today and set up a Christmas tree and some decorations for my dad. Thank you, Eva! Also, Cami, Mike, Stephanie, and my dad are in the process of trying to pack up all of Melanie's things from her apartment and get them in storage or my parent's house. Since they are not being good about asking for help, I am asking for them. If you live in the area and would be willing to box some things up, or clean a little, or anything, it would be so appreciated! Everyone has been doing so much already, it is hard to ask, but I know they could really use the help.

Thank you, once again for all the support, love, and prayers for Melanie and the family.

WE LOVE YOU, MEL! Hopefully you can feel that love all around you!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day 25

I talked with my mom very briefly today and I'm trying to remember all that we talked about...bits and pieces are coming to me...Melanie had a super rough night with little sleep for her and our mom. She was sweating really bad and shivering, at one point her body temp dropped to 94.5 and her blood pressure was low. The long night of course finally ended and a new day began. Melanie got her walking done in the morning. The 'wig lady' (how would you like to be called that) came by with wigs for Melanie to try on. My mom said that there were some red ones...funny! There was also a blond one which Mel thought made her look too much like Kelly Osbourne. I will be bringing her a wig down on Saturday which was donated by the friend of a dear friend of mine from Arizona. I think it will be a winner, it is close to Mel's hair color and a super cute cut...we'll see.

My mom told me about a special visit from a Providence mom...I wish I could remember the name. She brought some really neat things for Mel that brightened her day. Her children have been blessed to have Miss Melanie as their teacher. I will have to write more about their visit tomorrow after I talk to mom again.

Tomorrow's post should be a better one, I promise to be more prepared. :)

I love you lots and lots Mel!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Better Experience

Today Melanie had the Lumbar Puncture she missed on Friday. It was a much better experience for her. They did it on a different floor with a tilt table, which was a lot more comfortable. They also did conscious sedation. There were no tears this time! The chemo she received through her central line on Friday is causing all her levels to be low. She had no NU's today, which means No immunities. Her hematocrit was 22.7, which means transfusion. They gave her 2 units of blood. At 4:30, she started a fever again. This was kind of frustrating, because she thought this had finally past. The doctor thought she might be having some kind of reaction to the blood, because she also had some redness on her neck. So, they gave her some Tylenol and Benedryl. The fever went away and hopefully that was the culprit. They didn't find anything in any of the cultures to make them think she has an infection. They did some more cultures today, just to be sure.

Melanie is getting a little taste of what it is like for my mom as a diabetic. The Prednizone she takes effects her blood sugar. She has to prick her finger and have her blood checked a few times a day. Her sugar was up to 200 this evening, which means she will get a shot of insulin. It is different to hear HER say, "If I eat that, my blood sugar is going to go up."

Melanie has not been out walking the halls since last Thursday. With the fever, low blood levels, and fluctuating blood sugar, she has just not had the energy to do it. Hopefully, levels will start coming up, fever will go away, and she can feel a bit better.

Hang in there, Mel! We will pray extra hard for you this week!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Some Words From Mother Balls

Melanie and Mom

Hi Smile emoticon, it's me, Peggy. I think it's about my turn to write down something on this blog! This has been quite the experience. I went to Logan Regional Hospital on Friday, Nov. the 13th with a Wal-mart bag full of pajamas, a toothbrush, brush, make-up and a clean set of clothes. I thought maybe Melanie would be admitted to get a blood transfusion and maybe stay for a couple of days. She looked like someone who was in a casket, but was walking! Little did I know that I would be riding in the front of an ambulance with her in the back, arriving at Intermountain LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. When I questioned the ER doctor about what they suspected we were both shocked and scared when they said they thought it looked like leukemia. This is my twenty-fourth day here in Salt Lake with Mel. It has been like a roller coaster ride. I've learned new medical terms, met four of Melanie's kind doctors who are up on the latest treatments for leukemic patients. We've experienced so many wonderful nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants, Physical Therapists, social workers, diabetic counselors, dieticians, physician assistants, bone marrow coordinators, housekeepers, and of course, all of the food service people. One of the nurses, Vicky, crochets different hats out of yarn for the patients on this floor. I sleep on a long fold-up couch. With a pillow underneath one leg, and pillow between my legs, it isn't too bad. The only problem is I feel like a new mother! They always come in at different times all during the night to check vital signs on Mel. Also, the IV pumps alarm all of the time. Especially when you just get in bed and get settled. I walk the hall to get my exercise in. They're remodeling so it's a really small area. I'd go stir-crazy if I couldn't walk! We have our moments of tears and moments of laughter. Melanie is trying to be positive even when she's had fevers for four days! I miss all of my Greenville students and all of the staff. I also miss my ward members and my Relief Society sisters. I have found comfort in the LDS Hospital Branch. It's called the Salt Lake Ensign Stake. The Branch President is Rhett James. He used to live in my parent's ward in Logan. I think he was a former LDS Institute teacher up at USU. I've learned many spiritual things while here. There are kind Relief Society sisters here just like at home. The church is the same wherever you go. There are always people to lend support. Thanks to all of you who are praying with us and for us! Thanks to the students at Providence Elementary and all of the staff. We appreciate all of the kind tokens of appreciation, and the cards and visits. Thank you to our children. They are the best of the best. They always pull together and help each other out. They show their love for me and their dad all of the time. WE LOVE YOU! Each of them has helped out in their own special ways. Kim...many thanks for some much needed breaks! Cami...thanks for taking care of finances for Mel and watching out for Dad and Kaden. Angie...thanks for caring to share with us, your home, food, and money. Greg...thanks for offering your home and food to us and motivating me to learn to drive to and from your house. (I did it!) Mike...thanks for doing the electronic work and moving for Mel. Thanks to Steve, Eric, Charise, and Stephanie for supporting their spouses in this cause and accepting us as their mother and father-in-law. Thanks to my brothers and sisters and parents for providing Melanie with a wonderful lap top. Sid, Eva, Kevin, Heidi, Brett, Lana, David, Cindy, Pam, Mom and Dad, WE LOVE YOU! Thank you to the relatives on LeRoy's side. WE LOVE YOU TOO! We can feel you rootin' for us. Thanks to my hubby. He's taken on a heavy load. Pray for him! This is a big post. Sorry, but I've been holding a lot in for a long time. It's time to say good-bye. We'll hang in there as long as it takes.

This is Mel waiting to be taken down for her lumbar puncture. She is holding a rock in her hand. She gave Kaden this "worry rock" a while back and Kaden brought it to the hospital and gave it to sweet! My mom told me that she always knows when Mel is worried because she will have this rock in her hand.

I want to say something about our mom. I often call her our "angel mother". She is always there for us and is so happy, fun and comforting. I know that she will be blessed for staying by Melanie's side through all of this. We love you mom!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Special Visitor

Melanie was still running a fever today. They haven't found anything from the cultures yet. They took a sample to check for H1N1, but that could take a few days to get back. My mom said that the nurse explained it is good if they don't find anything. We don't want it to be an infection or virus of any kind. Hopefully it is just a neutropenia fever, which is simply caused by having low NU levels.

Despite an off and on fever, Melanie had a great day today. Her and Kaden had a very special visitor! Andy Williams, who is #77 on the ReAl soccer team shocked them with a visit. My mom said that both of their eyes were so big when he walked in the room. One of the nurses told him about Melanie and Kaden and what big ReAl fans they are. Andy's wife has AML. She had a cord transplant and was in Seattle for 5 months. She has to come into the hospital every week to get some platelets. Andy signed the pendent hanging on Mel's wall. They all talked about the soccer game and he mentioned that he would stop by again. COOL! When I talked with Kaden about it, he was grinning from ear to ear. That really made the day bright!

Kaden, Andy Williams, Mel. We'll have to take a picture next time he comes for a visit. This one is pretty darn blurry.

Melanie also had a visit from her Principal, Curt Jenkins, and his wife Melanie. It is so nice of people to travel so far to see Melanie. One of her former student's mom stopped by and brought Melanie a special gift. The student's name is Carson. His sister passed away from a brain tumor, while he was in Mel's class. Melanie gave him a teddy bear to help him through the ordeal. In a note he sent to her today, he explained that he still sleeps with his teddy bear and he thought she needed something to comfort her as well. He had sent a big teddy bear for Melanie. What a sweet boy. Melanie was truly touched by his thoughtfulness.

I'm sure there is going to be a lot of fasting on Melanie's behalf tomorrow. May we just say Thank you, Thank you!

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Rough Day

Melanie's fever lasted through the night and most of the day. Her fever broke at one point, but was back when I last talked to my mom at about 5:30 this afternoon. The doctors decided to skip the lumbar puncture and just gave her chemo in her central line. She had a CT scan to check out her sinuses and a chest x-ray to look at her lungs. They are trying to determine if there is an infection somewhere. They took a culture last night, but my mom hadn't heard if it showed anything. Mel has been shivering a lot...thank goodness for those warmed hospital blankets. With her immune system being suppressed, it is really important that the doctors find the source of her fever, hopefully we will know more tomorrow. Keep on praying for her.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Another Day

Today started out good. Melanie's blood counts were up, and she was able to go walking and do some leg exercises. Rocky, the PT, was happy when he showed up, because she had already accomplished what he was there for. Way to go Mel! The doctor talked to my mom a little more about the donor. He said that 4-5 years ago, it would have been hard to find a stranger who would be a perfect match. However, now they are able to get down to a molecular level, so a perfect stranger can be as good a match as a sibling. That is great!

At 6:30 tonight, Melanie started a fever. They said it is not uncommon for someone to get a fever, when they are having chemo. They did some cultures to make sure it is not an infection of any kind. They will know the results tomorrow. Melanie took some Tylenol, and the fever went down. Hopefully, it will stay down! Tomorrow she has another lumbar puncture. They are going to do conscious sedation, so we are praying it will be a better experience then the last few. They are also going to give her some fluid tonight so she will not be dehydrated like last time, and they will be able to get some spinal fluid easier.

Melanie's aunt Arlene and cousin Tricia came to visit her today. I'm sure it was a great visit. They are both such amazing people! It was when she had her fever, so no pictures where taken. They brought Mel a really cute, quilted bag that had a nativity scene on it. It was full of CD's, books, movies, and some chocolate cinnamon bears. Do you hear that Kim?! Maybe now she will share with you. :)

Good luck on the LP tomorrow, Melanie! Our thoughts and prayers will be for a quick and easy experience. LOVE YOU!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 20

Mel had another tired day. Her red blood count was low and so she got a transfusion of two bags of blood. Hopefully by tomorrow she will feel more alive. I have a new appreciation for people who donate blood, what literal life savers!

Mel's good friend Suzanne spent a couple of hours with her today. She gave our mom a much needed break to shower and take care of some things. Suzanne brought Mel lunch from Kneader's along with several desserts, I can only imagine how yummy it must have been after weeks of hospital food. Mel and Suzanne had a nice time visiting.

Mel also got a phone call from a sweet little friend that she enjoyed a lot.

Not too much to report, just one day closer to the bone marrow check. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Some bad news...some good news.

Mel had a hard time sleeping last night so she was really tired. The doctor visited with her today. We found out that none of us siblings are donor matches (that's the bad news). We are all half matches. We were all really bummed out about that. There are 4 donors in the national registry who are perfect matches, that is amazing! Who would have thought that a perfect stranger could be a match over a sibling. There are 2 international matches and two domestic matches. They are contacting the international donors first, I guess less red tape? We are all hoping that the donors will be able and willing to follow through. We will keep you posted. Mel received good news about her blood counts. Everything is up and she now has 100 Neutrophils, she need 500 to have the possibility of leaving the hospital for a couple of days. The doctor said that the levels don't usually come up this quickly...the power of prayer! Thank you everyone!

Mel had two visitor today. Our aunt Heidi visited a long with Shari Carling. Shari brought Mel a keyboard, a Reader's Digest Christmas Songbook and hymnal. Thank you so much!! This will be great therapy for Mel's soul. She has always used the piano as a way to escape. I know she is so appreciative and it will get lots of use.

Melanie has received lots of cards from members of her ward. We hang all of her cards up so she can have a reminder of all of the people who love her and are rooting for her. All of the prayers, thoughts, well wishes, cards and gifts means so much to all of us, thank you!

Mel wanted me to post these pictures from the last few days. The captions under the pics are from her.

Kate, my dear friend from work.

One of my best friends Jen delivering all those wonderful hats, scarfs, bandanas, and Mary Tyler Moore DVD sets.

This is the hat Caesy - Jen's daughter picked out for me.

Greg trying on one of the hats and scarfs I got from Jen.

Flowers sent from Keith and Nancy.

Shari Carling was my wonderful visitor today who brought me a keyboard and Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook to help pass the time.

My dear friend from work Rebecca Olsen.

Theo will kill me if this is posted, but I love her and this picture.

Looking at the Sunshine Book from Providence Elementary.