Today SCCA called me to schedule some appointments that would begin the tissue typing of her siblings for a possible bone marrow transplant. I decided that right now was not the time to take on that particular challenge. It is calls like that which bring into the glaring light the reality of what we are faced with as a family.
Our mother has been such a strong and constant presence in our life that it is difficult to fully grasp that it is now her that needs us to be strong. I guess it’s also a testament to how she raised us to find that, somehow each of us possess that inner strength, it has been a silent gift living in each of us.
There may be many of you who do not know the whole story and so I thought I would just post a very quick timeline leading up to where we are now. Very sadly for all of us who love mom it has been a very quick decline in her health.
~20 September – Mom had been having back pain for several months and had been trying physical therapy, rest, heat, cold, pain medication and more to combat the pain. Nothing worked and after landed awkwardly from a high step she finally figured that she had really injured something in her back. She could not drive her car and so Joe and Laura went and picked her up from her house and brought mom to live with them.
October 6th (her birthday) – Mom’s pain got worse and she was finally able to schedule a detailed MRI with Group Health. The diagnosis shocked us all, mom had Stage 2 Multiple Myeloma. A few more tests and the diagnosis was confirmed and we had the information that we needed to formulate a plan.
1 November – 12 November – Mom undergoes a 10 day cycle of radiation in an attempt to shrink the tumors in her back and help to limit the pain. By the first of November mom had already lost a lot of weight and was not walking very well. The pain in her back is limiting her movement so much that we want to try to control that pain before we begin chemotherapy.
14 November – Slightly more than a month from the initial diagnosis we had moved mom to Seattle to begin chemotherapy treatments. There are a lot of reasons for this move to Seattle. Myeloma does not affect all people equally and mom had some genetic markers that would make her treatment more of a challenge. The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has a top notch Multiple Myeloma clinic that sees many cases of complicated Myeloma each year and in cases like mom’s, experience matters. So on November 14th Mom begin her treatment for the Myeloma with day 1 of a 21 day chemotherapy cycle.
19 November – We had already been the the ER once this week after monitoring blood sugars and discovering that the chemo drugs and steriods that mom was taking were causing her blood sugars to spike. We got some insulin and were working with the doctors to develop an insulin schedule that would work to keep her sugars down on the days when she is taking the most steriods. Now we were back in the ER because mom had developed a fever on Saturday.
One of the side effects of both the chemotherapy and the myeloma is that moms immune system was very compromised and she has a difficult time fighting off infections. This means that every fever is a potentially big issue and unfortunately that was the case here.
24 November – After being admitted by the ER docs to an observation floor at Group Health and later transferred to Virginia Mason mom was finally diagnosed with two different infections in her lungs. She was treated with the proper medications for these infections but once the antibiotics began to work on the virus, it caused a tremendous amount of inflamation in her lungs. At about noon on Thanksgiving day our mom was intubated (breathing tube placed in her mouth and down into her lungs) and she was placed on a respirator and sedated.
Her prognosis at this moment is unclear. She is getting the right treatment for the infections and is being monitored intently for any change in her condition. Mom’s blood counts are improving and so she is more armed to fight the disease but this is not an easy fight and the side effects of the fight itself will take a toll on her recovery.
We are there with her daily and we appreciate all of the kind words that you send. We will pass them along to mom and we believe that she can hear us and knows that all of you are pulling for her.
We will all continue to update this page with any information on her condition and very much appreciate all of the support from each of you.
With extreme gratitude