Saturday, August 8, 2015

Lasting Image

One of the lasting images of our kitchen will be me sitting at the kitchen table last Christmas season while Janine performed the weekly PICC line maintenance on me. Every week she would go through a rather lengthy procedure to change my dressing that covered and protected my arm and me from infection at the site where the catheter enters my arm. Every week for more weeks than I can count she did this.

She had to take a class and repeat the class to get certified in the procedure. "Nurse Janine" with this new credential stepped into a realm of new, unknown tasks with this effort. It started when I was hospitalized at MD Anderson back in July 2014 and began a clinical trial chemotherapy regimen. I received intravenous treatments twice a day and night along with several other drugs that were attached to me like a tree with branches and vines. Having a PICC line was sorta like a right of passage for leukemia patients. If you didn't have one you were not cool! The down side is that the dressing had to be changed on a weekly basis and my care giver, Janine was required to do this.

What started out in early August after my first discharge for her was one of the most dreaded difficult activities. In addition to removing the old dressing, cleaning the skin using several methods and swabs and solutions, applying the new dressing and label complete with written date and her name, she had to change the caps on the twin catheters. Invariably, one of these was so tightly screwed on that she could not get it to loosen. Janine and I would get so frustrated when we would have to go back to the MDA Infusion clinic to get one of their technicians to fix things. This happened several times. Once we got back to Jackson, we had to get the nurses at JOA to do it once or twice as well. They would always tell us to not get the new ones too tight when she put them on. Likewise, every day when Janine or other technicians would flush my lines they had to screw syringe like devises to the caps to do their duty. No matter how careful they were, the caps would tighten every day such that after a week these could be a nightmare to remove. Man she would get so angry when she could not loosen one and we would have to go to the clinics to do it. Never did Janine make the caps too tight. It was a poor design flaw that had two ends that twisted in the same direction. Thus when you attached anything to the one end it caused the whole cap to get tight. 

So as we pack and prepare for our move away from this Jackson home, this image will forever be one of lasting fun and misery. Thank heavens I no longer have to have that PICC line!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August 5, 2015 - Change of Venue

Last month's testing and examinations went well. My blood counts remained very good and my bone marrow aspiration continued to show excellent results with a "blast" count at 2%, well within the normal range of 0% to 4%. MD Anderson Cancer Center and it's exceptional team of Leukemia personnel continue to be my HEROES in health care. Thank you, thank you, thank you one and all.

We also rejoice with bitter sweet happiness and sadness because we have a signed contract for the sale of our house in Jackson, MS. We plan to close the sale by August 31 while continuing to pack and move out the week-end of August 28-30. Thirty years ago we purchased and moved into our property on Kings Place, a wonderful street and neighborhood. We have lived in Jackson a total of 40 consecutive years and now we will be leaving not only a house and city but our "home".

Our plan is to finalize our relocation to the Houston, TX area soon after the closing. Since we will be homeless for awhile until we find a house there, our move will be uncertain. We will continue moving our personal belongings into our Jackson rented storage facility near our house. From now until the 31st we will move it out with the help of family, friends and possibly a few hired hands. Several months ago we began serious purging, downsizing and give away efforts so the task at hand should go more smoothly. Our emotions will likely be the most difficult part for us to control realizing we will miss our good life here with long time friends and colleagues.

This move is all part of my health and healing process, however. As well as I have been doing these past few months we are not able to feel comfortable away from our medical team in Houston. The constant travel back and forth for testing and treatment has been increasingly hard. This MD Anderson experience will be a long term process and likely will continue indefinitely. We know it best to move and  we look forward to this new chapter and challenge in our lives. Like so many of us we have family scattered all over this great country. Our move to Houston will put us closer to Sarah, Ryan, Cason and Claire. For this we are very happy and excited. Sadly however, this moves us away from our beloved Mississippi and from James, Taylor and Modi in Hattiesburg. We will be even farther away from our granddaughter Helmi who lives in the Richmond VA area. Bitter Sweet, indeed.