Monday, April 28, 2008


Which one of these is not like the others?

Good Morning, Dear Ones,

I apologize if I sound like some kind of numbers warlord, but Dennis’ stats are very lovely. I am going to relay these numbers and also give some explanation as to what it all means. Of course, these explanations will be dumbed down because that is how they were presented to me. I do not, however, take offense to that. In fact, in order for me to fully misunderstand the lab results, the nurse has had to go from dumber to dumberer. I’m comfortable with that. (One can only be insulted if one is clear on the concept!)

So here goes:

Blood pressure: 92 over 59 This means he must stand up very slowly or he will lose consciousness, fall down, get a concussion, and need stitches.
Oxygen: 98 This means he is breathing
Pulse: There This means his heart is beating. This is just what we wanted.

OK. Here is the pretty stuff:
Wbc: (also known as white blood count) 545. TA DAA! Last lab it was 251. This is very good.
Crit: This is the measure of the concentration of red blood cells. (When one’s crit is down, it is easy to lose one’s concentration) This went from 26-30!
ANC: This is the measure of neutrofils. (I’m pretty sure this is the amount of neutros added to glycerin to get an explosion…a favorite device of terrorists, but don’t quote me.) Anyway it took a quantum leap…1.6 to 3.7!
Platelets: 296
And finally
His granulocytes % …NOT APPLICABLE. Again, we are delighted!

We are so thrilled because with these numbers, he qualified for the full dose of chemo…plus saline solution. Now, I defy anyone to have greater cause for celebration than that! And, of course, as an added bonus, his frenzied follicles are not fading entirely. He has sustained constant hair production in at least two of them. We are so proud. They are visually apparent, but do not require any expensive maintenance. In the current economy, this is a great money-saver. This is all good.

In keeping with our efforts to transition from patient to survivor, the Clot decided to repeat Thanksgiving. Now we didn’t exactly kill the fatted turkey, but we did cook a roast and some potatoes in our new oven. Did I mention that besides getting some new toilets, we also got a new stove? It was not actually because we needed it…this was a “transition”-induced purchase. But the unit was 20 years old, and the girls thought it would be a good idea if we joined the 21st Century. I personally didn’t see the big rush, but sometimes compliance is easier that being mocked. As the installer was removing the old stove in preparation to put in the new, he complimented me on how clean I had kept it. I just smiled modestly… and unabashedly praised my own housekeeping prowess. ( I was just glad I had remembered to remove the packaging and bubble wrap from the oven before he arrived.) Bless his innocent heart. He obviously labors under the male delusion that I cook therefore I am! Not so, Wolfgang Puck Breath! But I figure with candles scented to smell like sugar cookies, candy canes, apple pie, and “Sunday dinner,” meal preparation in addition could lead to sensory over-load! Nasty infirmity.

Ah, but I digress. The whole family was there, and the aroma emanating from our house was because a real meal was in progress. And, as you know, when the whole family is assembled, stuff happens. As I was checking on the grandkids at one point, I noticed that the lid on our toilet had been “anointed.” In my best non-accusatory voice, I asked what happened. Josh, our resident comedian, said, “I did it, Grandma. You know when you have to go so bad there isn’t time to put up the lid? Well, that happened to me. But I’ll clean it up.” I was so proud of him for owning it, that I said it would be a privilege to take care of “incident management.” I also told him that happens to me all the time, and not to worry about it. It occurred to me that our new “transition” toilet had just been christened, and being semi-devout observers of the Word of Wisdom (if you discount bubble gum and Diet Coke) we did not have a bottle of champagne readily available… so Josh simply improvised. We are very proud of our grandkids’ ingenuity. So our potties have been properly launched. (Memo to self: KEEP TOILET LIDS UP!)

As you can see from the picture, Dr. Kate O and her husband are preparing for the LOTOJA on their custom, screamin’ purple tandem. If that doesn’t inspire covetousness! But not all things “tandem” refer to bikes. As you can see from the picture, Dennis is still in tandem with his feeding tube “pushee thingee.” If that doesn’t inspire covetousness! Will he ever walk alone? If we are what we eat, he is “canned Dennis” and I am a wired wad of bubble gum! But in the finest romantic culinary tradition of “The Rubaiyat” of Omar Khayyam, (and a galactic lowering of poetic expectations)…a can of Jevity, a box of Goobers, and thou, beside me in the wilderness! (Be still, my beating heart!)

If I haven’t mentioned this lately, let me reiterate: I hate cancer. I can’t concoct expletives bad enough to call it. (And as a West High grad who is also a card-carrying Dorrity, that’s something!) It is a disease of deprivation. But in an odd way, it is also a condition that elicits courage and dignity in its wake…and none more valiant than Rich Lloyd and his family. We have all been inspired by the grace of their example.

Last Friday, one of the patients in the infusion room had his last chemo treatment. The staff gathered around his chair, sang a song of congratulations, and presented him with a blanket. He got a sitting ovation from the other infusees. Since it is difficult to ovate with one hand when one’s arm is hooked up to a chemo drip, all the “chemo-sabis” applauded as he was saluted by those also afflicted. It is a privilege to sit among “the bald and the beautiful.” Each victory is our victory.

Dennis weighs in at a formidable 120…and that is an official “hunka” in our book. We will continue to work on our transition skills. And we will never forget the gentle angels that continually remind us that we are loved.

We love you,
The Clot


kate o said...

isn't it a little weird that I too bought new toilets today? Kate O

Deanna said...

It was sooo good to run into you BOTH at the store. You both looked good. I (and I think Alisha would concur (sp?)) would take your toilet christening any day compared to what 2 year old Jack is capable of--that is for an SF discussion. I'm very amused (that would be the right word, I think) to see this new wonderment in your kitchen............Love you

Anonymous said...

Hi Dennis and Joan-YAY on all the stats!!!! You are both constantly in our prayers. Joan, take it from me, hair on our men is highly over-rated!
Barbara H.