Monday, November 30, 2009

Spin Cycle: Holiday Newsletter I know... ho hum

Jen over at Sprite's Keeper has this really cool gig every Friday called Spin Cycle.  She gives us a topic and we tell a favorite story on the subject.  This week is the Holiday Newsletter.  I think I've had a rather busy year, so here goes!

I started off the year with a cold that turned into bronchitis.  When I get a cold, it hangs on for weeks and weeks.  I think I coughed until June.

My kid went to Oregon to visit her friend between Christmas and the New Year.  When I picked her up from the airport, I didn't recognize her.  While she was in Oregon, she cut her hair, dyed it red and got her lip pierced.  She was standing right beside me and I had no idea it was her!  Sheesh!

We found out that John's cancer (Lymphoma) came back and he had surgery to remove his spleen.  He came through the surgery really well.

February was fairly uneventful.

March brought Round 2 of my cold/bronchitis.  And my dryer broke (it's still broken... I'm hoping to be able to get a new one after Christmas).

April and it's Round 3 of bronchitis. THIS was the one that lasted until June!  My doctor and I are practically on a first name basis at this point.

April also brought the death of the great Harry Kalas, the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies for 38 years.  He is sorely missed.

In April, Dani was in her last high school play.  Her school was performing Into The Woods and she played Little Red Riding Hood.  It was a great show and of course, she was fabulous! 

April also brought a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.  Great.

May arrived and we got some bad news... John's cancer came back, this time in his groin.  This was the 2nd relapse.  His doctor's decide it might be a good idea to do something radical.  We decided to do a high dose of chemo (R-ICE) to kill off the cancer and destroy his immune system and a stem cell transplant to basically give him a whole new immune system (Lymphoma is cancer of the immune system... it's a blood cancer)  Fortunately his bone marrow is still good and they were able to use John's own stem cells.  Testing got started but it'll be months before they actually do the transplant.

June and it's Dani's graduation from high school and the beginning of me getting my life back!!  Woo hoo!!!!
I realized that in 2 short months, I'll be able to come and go as I please for the first time in 25 years and that I'll have an empty nest.  Life is good.

John also got his first round of chemo in June.  It was a 3 day hospital stay and he handled the chemo really well!  The worst side effect seemed to be a loss of appetite (as well and a loss of hair after 3 weeks  LOL), but he did have fatigue that lasted for a few days.

July and it was Part 2 of John's chemo treatments.  It actually took 2 days to get John admitted to the hospital.  they were that busy!  He was in the hospital for 4 days and the chemo went very much like the month before.

After the 2nd round of chemo, John had a pherysis catheter implanted in his chest and on the same day, they harvested his stem cells for transplant.  They told him he needed to come in every morning for 3 to 5 days for the  harvest.  That night, he got a call from the hospital.  They needed 4 million stem cells for his transplant and he gave them 18 million on his first day!!  YAHOO!!!  John is Superman!

August.  Dani left for college (4+ hours each way) and I made the trip in 1 day.  We left at 7:30am for Indiana, PA, in the pouring rain, made decent time.  We unload all her stuff, get her room set up, sort of.  I couldn't afford to get a hotel room, so I had to drive back to Pottstown the same day.  I got home at 10:30 pm and I was completely exhausted!!!  I think it took several days to get over that trip!

BUT  I'm free!!  I'm free!!!  I have my life back!

August also brought the last round of chemo for John, this one a very very high dose that's considered dangerous.  As always, he handled it like a trooper.  He got 5 days of chemo, almost around the clock.  Then, after a day of rest, John got his stem cell transplant and his new life began!!  August 28 is John's new birthday!  They told him he would be in the hospital for about 4 weeks, then home for who knows how many weeks to recuperate.

September arrived.  As part of the transplant, John needed to have a couple of transfusions.  This is normal.  They  kept a close watch on John's blood count numbers. After transplant, his white cell, red cell and ANC numbers were ZERO!   He got daily shots of something called Neupogen to build up his red blood cells.  They watched his ANC (absolute neutrophil count) closely.  On day 8 after transplant, his ANC was 5.  Day 9 it was 50.  On day 10 it was 3050!!!  Simply amazing!  Did I mention he's Superman? 

Two days later, they sent John home, a mere 12 days after transplant!!  The record is 11 days and John is the star patient right now!  He recuperated at my house for 2 weeks and returned to work on September 21, which also happened to be my 54th birthday! 

John had a small setback when he developed a fever out of nowhere and landed his ass back in the hospital for 4 days or so.  This sometimes happens with cancer patients.  We took him to Abington Hospital (it was closer to his apartment) but if it happens again, he's going to Penn where his doctors are.

I was thinking October was a boring uneventful month.  Then I remembered the phone call I got from VISA and it was discovered that someone had stolen my credit card info and wiped out my checking account.  I thought it was some internet scam, with a guy in Indonesia on a computer watching my account.  I just so happened to deposit a sizable check from my ex-husband the day before the theft.  This was nothing so intriguing.  It turned out that the shop across the hall from where I work hired a gal who's whole career was scamming people.  I bought a Vera Bradley wristlet for my work wallet and she stole my numbers and shopped until they told her there was no more money left.  She got caught because she's not really that clever.  She's in jail and I got all my money back (the arrest actually happened in November)

October was also John's 57th birthday on the 23rd!  Happy Birthday!

And that brings us to November (are you asleep yet?)  So you know about the arrest and all.  I have to go to court this Thursday to testify. 

November also brought a road trip for my daughter, Gina and I as we traveled to Indiana, PA to see Dani in her first college play!  Dani did great, playing a dead girl, in a morgue who had committed suicide and the morgue guy happens to be a necrophiliac!  So so so proud of my little girl!!!

Thanksgiving and my kid was home for a week and my house was trashed again.  But she went back to school on Sunday and I'll have a clean house again!!

So that's my year in review.  Good Lord, I can sure go on and on and on!


Garret of Jim and Garret said...

A busy busy year for you!

Sprite's Keeper said...

Wow, what a year! I love how it ended for you and John! You're linked!

lisleman said...

wow I was worn out before March. Well who knows how it will go but our last bird out of the nest did some type of loop-d-loop because she's been back but is planning a second leap soon.
all the best to you and yours

Joanna Jenkins said...

Wow Joanie-- You've had some year! I knew a lot of this but seeing it all in one place is just plain WOW.

I hope next year is easy-peasy in comparison!


Julia@SometimesLucid said...

May the rest of your and Johns years be uneventful (at least these types of events).

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Man, Joanie, you've had one eventful year! Here's hoping for a little "peace on earth" for you and yours this holiday!

Eternal Lizdom said...

What a year!! Did you go back and use your blog to keep track of everything? I've never done the holiday letter thing but... it would sure be easier this year with my blog to go back and pull from!

Joanie M said...

Liz, that is exactly what I did! What a better record of this year's personal events than my blog!

Joanie M said...

Jen, the year isn't over yet! John gets a PET scan tomorrow and a doctor appointment on Thursday. Keep your fingers crossed!!!

Lisleman, my son might come home after graduation this year. The kid is broke. He's not sure what he's goign to do other than find a job, but he knows he's welcome here. I think his Dad is pushing for him to move to NJ with him too.

Joanna, from your mouth to God's ear!

Julia, yeah, 10 years or so of boring would be nice after these last couple, at least medically speaking!

Maureen, right back atcha, girlfriend!

Joanie M said...

Garret, you've had a busy year also! Are you bored with staying in one place yet?

Garret of Jim and Garret said...

Yeah, I wanna move. :-)

Heather said...

New to your blog, sent over by Sprite's Keeper.

The portion of your year dealing with John's cancer, reminds me of the year I went through that with my best friend, back in 05'. I think I'll be calling her today! Thanks for sharing.

Joanne said...

Oh My Goodness - that was quite the year!!! Just glad I found you this year and lets hope for a much more peaceful year in 2010.

Jan said...

Good grief, girl - I'm exhausted just reading this!!

JHS. said...

Wow, you've had quite the year! Glad to hear that John is doing well, as is your daughter. Enjoy your clean house & solitude: You've earned it.