Monthly Archives: February 2012

Boy Deer

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“Mommy, did you know that when a boy deer finds a home he rubs his antlers on a tree so when another boy deer sees the spot on the tree he knows it’s already another deer’s home?”

“I was singing to the moose on the deck and it wiggled it’s ears so I wiggled my hair back.”

“The bunny was outside the window watching me dance while I listened to Greig.”

“We found elk poo, horse poo, deer poo and moose poo.”

“Three plus three is six.”

“It’s 10:15.”

These are some of the things Solvieg has told me on the phone in the last few weeks.  They evoke a beaming smile, a warm swelling in my heart and delight in my mind.  Oh, how much do I LOVE that Solveig is learning about animal poo?  How much do I love that she is learning to add and tell time?”  How much do I love that she get’s to dance to Greig and enjoy the wildlife?  Solveig and Grandpa got to take a 2 hour snow shoe hike the other day around their house and down the hill to the neighbor’s to pet the horses.  Grandma is home-schooling Solveig while she’s in Montana and she has made so much progress in her reading.  She read me a whole book over the phone the other day and was telling me all about adding.  While I am so sad not to have Solveig with us, this sadness remains offset by the joy we have knowing she is experiencing amazing things!  How does one quantify the worth of a child knowing about the goings-ons of the natural world right in front of her – not just from a nature show on TV?  What does it do for a little spirit to be on the look out for wild animals?   How does a little heart swell from the adventure of trekking through snow and woods?  Somehow I just think this might be a whole lot better for her than video games and I’m so thankful she has the opportunity.  In just over 48 hours I know Solveig and JoMarie will be watching for Sten’s plane to land and then they’ll wait just outside the doors for him to burst through.  I wish I could be there to see their joy; they have not seen one another since Christmas eve.

Allistaire is doing a bit better today.  Her ANC was 44, so she continues her downward trend for which we are thankful.  Hopefully she’ll hit zero soon.  Today at 10:30 am when she woke up she got hooked up to her lines and for nearly 3 hours received a transfusion of platelets.  Immediately afterward she began getting her first of two pedi-packs of red blood.  By around 3:30 this afternoon she was done getting pumped up with blood products and slept peacefully at last until we woke her up at 5:45.  She ate a bit better today and we really had far fewer fussy times.  Overall it was a good day.  And I am so please to have slept pretty well the last two nights.  I swapped out my beloved pillow of probably about 8 or 9 years for the hospital pillow and had much less muscle pain.  Who would have guessed?  Somehow the thinner pillow seems to be better for my neck position so I’ll keep trying it and hoping for the best.  Thanks for all your prayers.  And for those of you who have brought us food – wow – we REALLY appreciate it.  It has been so fun having beloved faces show up and being able to enjoy tasty food.

{The following pictures are of Solveig at Sten’s parents house – yep that’s right – this is just around the house with the Spanish Peaks and Bridger Mountains in the background at different points.  Pretty incredible place}  Love you little sweets – mommy misses you!

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Check YOU Out!

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From time to time I have these moments where I just want to yell out loud, “Check YOU Out!”  Sometimes something happens or I come across something where I am utterly awe struck with who God is or what He has done.  When I was in high school, my friends would often mock me and called these “environmental moments.”  Just a few minutes ago this occurred but in a totally unexpected source.  Okay, so the truth is I’m sitting in Starbucks, enjoying some time crocheting and watching some Netflix while Allistaire is napping.  Looking through my Watch Instantly I saw a documentary called, “Between the Folds.”  Apparently I had watched all but about 15 minutes of this a long time ago, so I thought, hey why not.  The movie is about origami.  I know, what in the world?  Not what would immediately come to mind as fascinating or God’s glory inducing.  Yet, at the end of the film they start talking about how all sorts of things in nature fold including proteins.  They were discussing designing proteins that can fold in certain ways to very precisely target diseases.  I’m doubtful I need to remind you that I currently dwell in a land where disease abounds and where little changes in things like proteins have really big and disastrous effects.  The magnificence of the double-helix  of DNA came immediately to mind, as did one little fact I learned in my Biology 101 class in college.  We did a lab where we used detergent to pull out the DNA from onion skin.  While I don’t recall the specifics, I remember that the length of the DNA molecule so perfectly packaged up in a cell was mind-boggling.  Maybe you love math like I do.  Maybe you don’t but bear with me.  I just found this online about the crazy specific lengths of DNA:

“The DNA molecule is threaded so fine that it is only possible to see it under high powerful electron microscopes. To get a sense of exactly how long an uncoiled DNA molecule is compared to a typical cell, a cell is magnified 1000 times. At this scale, the total length of all the DNA in the cell’s nucleus would be 3 km — the equivalent distance of the Lincoln Memorial to the capital in Washington, DC.

The human genome comprises the information contained in one set of human chromosomes which themselves contain about 3 billion base pairs (bp) of DNA in 46 chromosomes (22 autosome pairs + 2 sex chromosomes). The total length of DNA present in one adult human is calculated by the multiplication of

(length of 1 bp)(number of bp per cell)(number of cells in the body)

(0.34 × 10-9 m)(6 × 109)(1013)

2.0 × 1013 meters

That is the equivalent of nearly 70 trips from the earth to the sun and back.

2.0 × 1013 meters = 133.691627 astronomical units
133.691627 / 2 = 66.8458135 round trips to the sun

On the average, a single human chromosome consists of DNA Molecule that is almost 5 centimeters.”

The point just being – wowzer?!  Can you believe how smarty pants God is to have designed something so ridiculously long and so important to be compacted/folded down to fit in such a tiny space?  Check YOU Out God!!!!  I wonder how much He smiles, how giddy He must get when He considers the wonder of this bit of His creation.  If it were me, I’d be pretty proud of myself.  It is me that is pretty impressed with you God.  Way to Go!!!  You’ve got SKILLS!

Miss Fussy Pants

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Today has been a day.  I know in the scope of those battling cancer, I’m having it easy, never-the-less, Allistaire has become increasingly challenging in her fussiness.  She has bits of time where she’s happy but it is punctuated by a lot of throwing fits.  I can honestly say I do not ever remember being angry with Allistaire until today.  Whether she is feeling crummy from her chemo or is moving  into 2 year old reality, I do not know.  Perhaps some of both?  Every meal is a challenge as her absolute uninterest in eating is met with my absolute interest and sense of responsibility in getting her to eat.  This adds stress to our day for both of us.  The rest of her awake time she does great until her will comes into conflict with mine and then a temper tantrum ensues.  It is always a challenge to know how best to discipline, but this environment and her situation makes it even tougher to navigate.  I think I may need a plan in place for when she starts to throw a fit.  I’m thinking we may need to just plan to stop what we’re doing and take a time out in her crib when this happens.  The other part of this challenge is that she seems tired but hasn’t always been sleeping as long as it seems she really needs.  She did not wake up this morning until 10:30 but then woke up early and cranky from her nap.  Last night I heard her moan/whimper several times.  I cannot imagine why she might be in pain so we are trying some additional anti-nausea medicine to see if this is the issue.  My hope is that this is a phase that will pass as she gets to feeling better.  Her blood levels are looking like they should.  Her ANC (Absolute Neutrophil Count) was 312 today which is a much more suitable level.  Her hematocrit (red blood count) and platelets are getting close to the threshold where she will be needing a transfusion of both in the next day or two.  Thanks for your prayers.  The following video is from the end of last week, so imagine this one fit times about 12 and you’ll have a better picture of our day.

Enchanted Afternoon

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Sten and I had a lovely Saturday.  The day was a glorious 65 degree, perfectly sunny, fresh, exhilarating day.  Despite a late start, we enjoyed a hike for the first time in a very, very long time.  We hiked just shy of 7 miles up and down one of the trails on Tiger Mountain.  It was exactly what we needed.  We pushed our bodies up the mountain and jogged all the way down.  There are few things on earth I love more than ferns and moss which were parading their happy, enchanted selves all around us.  The distinct smell of cool, wet forest caused joy to well up inside us.  It is a smell as old as my childhood.  Everywhere we looked, sun dappled through trees, new little sapling trees grew up on nurse logs, moss gathered in every nook, ferns laced out at every height, blue sky over head, birds twitting in the trees, an occasional gurgling steam, the soft ground under our feet.  We breathed deep the woods.  Just as the sun was dipping low over the reflecting waters of the Puget Sound, we came up through the trees onto a point in the late sun, the wind whipping up the ridge.  Later in the evening I could feel the salt crystallized on my face from a good exertion.  We could not have asked for a more wondrous afternoon.

The robins and red-winged black birds have returned.  There are buds swelling on the smaller trees.  Spring is not far.  I am both eager for it and a bit melancholy.  Seeing that a season is turning only makes it more obvious that time really is marching forward.  It is one thing to be in a hospital when it is cold and wet and dark outside.  It is a whole different story when you know you should be taking your two wee girls to the park.  We are doing well overall.  Sten is has booked his plane ticket to go visit Solveig.  He’ll fly out on the late Thursday night flight this week and then return the following early Tuesday morning.  Solveig is super excited as you can imagine.  Allistaire is doing alright though we had a very strange lab result today.  Her ANC (Absolute Neurtrophil Count) was 1624 today after being around 750 yesterday.  We’re hoping this is a fluke given that her ANC should be plummeting to zero any day now.  Up is not where we want to be headed at this point.  Hopefully it is a mistake but if not, please pray the doctors will have the ability to know how to interpret it.  Sweet Allistaire continues to be grumpy but pretty active.  Because her fluid requirements are much lower this round she has been able to be unhooked from the IV at night which makes for a more enjoyable night for both of us – she can move much freer and neither of us will be woken up by an alarming IV or a nurse coming in to clear pumps – yeah!

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8 Days of Round 2 Chemo Done

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Today Allistaire had her last doses of chemo for this second round, called Induction 2.  Just like last time, she has done incredibly well.  She has not thrown up and continues to have a ridiculous amount of energy.  While she is sleeping a bit longer at night and taking 3-4 hour naps each afternoon, she continues to go buck wild crazy on the bikes.  She has made a lot of progress in her coordination on the bikes and now knows all the little tricks.  Just yesterday she learned how to push off with great force on the scooter and then put her feet up on the front and glide along the slick floors.  Today she has added screaming while driving to her repertoire.  She whips around the corners and today in an especially vigorous gliding session, she nearly rammed the Transplant Team with the scooter, while screaming at the top of her lungs, as they were doing rounds.  They are an especially serious group which only amplified the hilarity of Allistaire.  Now that Piper is gone (she got to leave on Tuesday), Allistaire cruises with her newest friends Allison and Stellablue.  For some of you the name Stellablue will be familiar.  She and her family are from Bozeman and we had the delight to meet them and take some laps around the Unit with them.  They’ve been our next door neighbors since we returned last week.  Can I just say that it is such a joy to have a little Bozeman come our way!

There are ways though that show us the chemo is having an effect.  Though Allistaire remains undaunted so far in her enthusiasm for the bikes, she has developed quite a fussy, grumpy-pants attitude the last day or so.  She has taken to stomping her feet and hitting her arms against her chest in demonstration of her angst.  We are working with her to articulate her wants and needs with words rather than in grunts and whines.  Her vocabulary has grown so much.  She continues to put two words together and occasionally three.  In the last week she has begun repeating nearly anything you say.  She has learned a few of the nurses’ names which melts their hearts.  It does not seem that the chemo has stunted her development.  She loves so many of the medical practices that she has become familiar with.  She loves to “wipe, wipe,” the end of one of her lines with an alcohol wipe while the nurse cleans the other line in preparation for flushing it.  Anytime a doctor walks in with a stethoscope she wants to listen too.  She is especially amusing in her joy for shining the light in her mouth.  She won’t budge open her mouth for the doctor to shine the light in but is happy to do it for them.  This is quite handy as they are regularly checking for mouth sores which are a common by-product of chemo.  We are working hard to keep her eating.  Every day it is a challenge to figure out what array of food to put in front of her in hopes that she will eat it.  So far she is maintaining her weight which we are thankful for as we would really like to continue to avoid the feeding tube.  Today, in fact, she had her first Frappaccino.  I had yet another headache and thought that given that it was a gorgeous 60 degree day, I would get some caffeine into my body with my first Frappaccino.  Allistaire loved it and had a great time drinking out of the straw.  Lastly, Allistaire’s counts have begun to drop as they should as a result of the chemo.  The day before she began chemo her ANC (Absolute Neurtrophil Count), was 1386 and is now 858.  Her hematocrit (red blood cell counts) dropped from 33.3 to 24.6, which means she’ll probably be needing a blood transfusion in the next few days.  Her platelets have dropped from 395 to 63.

From this point forward everything is really just a waiting game.  First we wait for her ANC to drop to zero which should occur sometime in the next several days.  Once it drops to zero it will probably stay there for 1-2 weeks.  When it begins to rise it takes 1-2 weeks on average for it to get up to 200.  Two-hundred is the level it has to be for us to leave the hospital again.  So from here we’re looking at about 4 weeks until we can go home.  Please pray that Allistaire will be free of fever and infection so that she will be as healthy as possible during this time that she is so vulnerable as her immune system is suppressed.  Pray too that she will keep eating enough to maintain her weight.  I too would love your prayers.  I have been struggling with nearly daily headaches which really makes it a lot harder to be here.  I’ve been trying to get more sleep (which is part why there have been fewer posts – sorry) but even on nights that there are relatively few interruptions, I have a lot of discomfort while sleeping and end up with muscle pain which then turn into headaches.

As before, I’m having some issues with getting some longer videos to post properly.  I’m going to get my techno husband on the task as he’s far better at this sort of thing than I am .  The following photos are of Allistaire sporting her “Angry Birds” hat that someone made.  A whole bag of them showed up the other day and the very cutest one was left for last and so it became Allistaire’s.

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