Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Rambling #1: Yes, everyone, we successfully moved to our condo! It took us a week (or more) to get moved but, hey, I didn't have any deadlines to meet. I am so grateful for my amazing family and friends who helped us move our stuff from my parent's house and my storage shed. There were times when I was sleeping and others were working. Thanks for the love! Kaden and I are both loving our new place. I'm sure I'll post some pictures eventually.

Rambling #2: Hooray!!! I know why I am still so tired all the time, why my muscles are so weak, why I've gained so much weight so darn fast, and a few other "whys." My thyroid is not working. Apparently, it's a common post-transplant issue. My radiation killed my thyroid. Plus, my vitamin D level is very low. Both issues can be taken care of with some nurturing, time, and meds. Patience will be required.

Rambling #3: My stem-cell donor has a name - Jordan. I do have his last name, phone number, and e-mail address, but that is all I know at the moment. Oh, and he is now 28 years old. I sent him an e-mail and hope to here back from him soon. My emotions are overwhelmingly full when I think about him and what he did for me. A definite tender mercy.

Rambling #4: Kaden will be playing with a super-league baseball team. I am beyond excited for him. He loves baseball! We are hoping he will be able to play with the city league too. There is no such thing as too much baseball. We love it!

Rambling #5: A lot of people ask me about my plans for teaching. I am not teaching at this time, but plan to go back next school year (2011-2012). I don't know that I will be teaching at Providence. I will teach where the District needs me and the grade the District needs me to teach. So exciting!

Much love,

Friday, March 4, 2011

An Update

I haven't posted on Mel's blog for awhile now. Mel wanted me to post about her last two visits to the LDS Hospital. On February 11th, Mel had her one year (since transplant) check up. She seemed so calm. I was so nervous for her. She had labs drawn, a chest x-ray, a respiratory work up, a bone scan, and a bone marrow biopsy. I told her how brave she was and she told me that you just do what you have to. I was able to watch the bone marrow biopsy and it was fascinating. They had Melanie pretty much out of it, thank goodness. It looks very painful. I asked the nurse if bones numb and she said that they don't. Here are some pics from the visit on Feb 11th.

*** Warning: If you are faint of heart, or don't like needles or the sight of blood...skip these pics.

Mel was really tired and did lots of waiting around for doctors and such. She was able to catch a little sleep before the biopsy.

Mom and I. There for support and encouragement.

The down side of having Mel's central line removed is the need for IVs and needle pokes. They tried to put the IV in her hand, but they collapsed a vein. This IV was really uncomfortable for Mel and was just in a bad spot.

Can you believe Mel is about to under go a bone marrow biopsy? Look at that smile! She is amazing! Peter is in the background. He is the only Dr. that Mel will allow to do her biopsies. He is so kind, patient, and knowledgeable. He is a very likeable guy.

First, they get Mel comfortable. She was in this position for quite a while. They used pillows and such to get her aligned just right. They prepped the spot on her hip/low back with iodine and injected lidocaine in what seemed like a dozen different spots. This was the only part that made me a bit woozy. It was a long needle !

Once she's numb, and the verset is in her system (anesthesia), Peter put this long needle about the thickness of a knitting needle into her back. The needle has to be into the bone in order for him to get the sample of her bone marrow. He took several tubes of fluid. Once that was done, he used a different instrument to get the bone sample. It is hard to explain how that works. It took a couple of tries, but he finally got a good sample. After they got the samples they needed, they applied ice and pressure to the injection site and had Mel lay down until the anesthesia wore off enough for her to walk.

A lab tech was present in the room during the biopsy. She put different amounts of fluid on these slides which will be analyzed.

We went to Greg's house for a few hours so Mel could sleep off her anesthesia. Charise made us a yummy dinner (thanks Charise) and then we headed back home.

The Results

Today, Mel had a meeting with Dr. Hoda and Ladee. We were really anxious to find out the results of her tests. Dr Hoda had a binder that contained all of the results. The news is beyond miraculous!! Mel's bone marrow is clear. No leukemia! The trans location is gone. This is where her chromosomes 4 and 11 switched places and mutated. Mel's blood levels look good. Her hematocrit is still a little low, but MUCH better. Her bone scanned looked fine, her respiratory function is great and a lot better than it was when last tested. Her percentage of donor cells went down . It appears that the donor cells did exactly what they were supposed to do, but the graft has failed. It isn't necessarily bad news given the rest of the report. We are forever grateful to her donor. Without his cells, Melanie wouldn't be with us today. Mel's iron is high due to all of the blood transfusions she's received. They will be doing a scan of her liver to make sure it isn't in danger. At some point they will have to do blood letting to get rid of the extra iron. They just drain blood from her, which her body will replace.

Because Mel's immune system was wiped out in preparation for the transplant, she started to receive her immunizations again today. She will be getting all of the vaccines that she received as an infant. Her arms were really sore from all of those shots. She got three in each arm. She mentioned that she knows how her kindergartner's felt now when they got all of their school shots.

Ladee talked with Mel about her donor. After a year, you can request information from them. Mel filled out a form and specified what info the donor can receive about her. I would love to meet her donor! Ladee said that she thinks he has already requested Mel's info. It will be exciting to know more about him.

Dr Hoda said that Mel will be at the biggest risk of relapse for the next year. We have faith that Mel will be fine. Melanie has tremendous faith to be healed, it is one of her gifts of the spirit. She is so optimistic!

It was fun to see the staff that cared for Mel on the 8th floor of LDS Hospital They are second to none! They had plenty of hugs and words of encouragement for Mel.

Ladee, Mel, Dr Hoda.

This has been such a journey! It has also been an incredible testimony builder for all of us. We as a family believe in miracles. We know the power of prayer and fasting. Thank you to all of those who have cared so much for Mel. I know that your kindness really lifted Mel's spirits in her darkest hour.