Friday, July 31, 2009

Big fun vacation day.

The vacation is going really well, everyone is in a great mood and making the best of our time. Yesterday we didn't get much done, it was in fact the coldest July 30th in recorded history in Denver, and up here in Breckenridge. There was fresh snow on Mt. Baldy and the Continental Divide that the 10 Mile Range. It also rained mixed with thunder and lightning. Despite that picture we still had a great time poking around downtown Breckenridge. The girls found sweatshirts and T-Shirts they wanted to get, and Tracy and I did some window shopping. The sun was actually out when we were downtown. We had to reschedule our horseback ride to today. We just had a good family time together all day. In the evening Emily and I went in the hot tub, and after dinner the whole family did a mile long walk to a park and the girls played on the playground. Despite it being 25 degrees lower than the average for this time of year everyone was happy with the day.

This morning we woke up to sun, mixed with clouds. We wanted to make the best of the weather, so we made breakfast and headed up to the Breckenridge ski resort area. During the summer they have all sorts of outdoor activities. They have a maze, trampoline, mini golf, etc...but what we were there to do is something called "Alpine Slides" It is basically like a Tobogin (sp?) on wheels on a track. You ride the chair lift up and ride down on a slide. You have a break in case you want to slow down. Emily and I each rode our own slides , and Haley and Tracy rode together. This also marked Haley's first chair lift ride. We all had a lot of fun, it's really exciting to do. Then almost out of no where a rain storm rolled in and we were worried that we may have to cancel our horseback ride. We decided to just "go for it" and it was a really great call. No one else was as daring as us, and when we showed up to the stables, we were the only people who showed up for the ride, and I have to admit I was worried it was going to pour, it was lightly drizzling. Well the opposite happened, about 50 yards up the trail the sun popped out, and we were off on a 1.5 hour trail ride up into the Rocky Mountains. Emily led the way on her horse named "Biscuit", I was on "Captain" and Haley and Tracy took up the rear on "Rudy". I was nervous at first, Emily was really on her own on the horse, but she did REALLY well. These were trail horses who were trained not to run, and to follow the trail. There are usually 15 maybe 20 people on one of these rides, and it was just our family and the guide, on a perfectly sunny afternoon ride. If you have ever skied at Breckenridge we essentially rode up Peak 9. We didn't ride up the ski slopes themselves but off on trails in the trees, it was exceptionally beautiful with green grass, quakeing Aspen trees, and tons of wild flowers along rushing mountain creeks. The ride lasted about an hour and a half as promised and we headed into town for another round of shopping and an early dinner so we could get Haley to bed early. I don't feel sore yet, but Emily and I are going into the hot tub again a little later on.

Tomorrow we pack up and head down to Boulder. We have decided that we want to come back to Breckenridge next summer, but that time we want to do a full week up here.

I was interested in what was going on a year ago, so I looked at some posts I did in the blog one year back. Last year today, Emily had a 100 degree fever and was too sick to be admitted for high dose methotrexate treatments, and then on August 4th was hospitalized for treatment. It's a point I keep making in the blog, but I am blown away by the stuff we are doing this these days when last year we were just struggling to get through each day. I think it was harder to go through than I could ever have really explained in the blog. I also wanted to keep the blog positive so I could stay positive back in those days. Today just seeing the smiles on Emily and Haley's faces during the horseback ride was enough to keep me going for a while.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We got here, 9600 ft!

Today was a big travel day, for our Colorado trip. Last night I flew by myself from SFO to Denver. Tracy, Haley and Emily were using miles and left at 6am this morning. It would have cost me more to fly with them than the flight I took, that's why we traveled out here on different planes. Tracy, Emily and Haley caught a 6am flight out of SFO, made a stop over in Las Vegas, and then onto Denver. I was at Denver Airport with the car already rented. Once they arrived we grabbed our bags and headed up I-70 to Summit County. We are staying in the town on Breckenridge which is around 9600 ft above sea level. You can really feel the altitude.

We are staying in a great house, that I have actually rented before on a ski trip. It is also owned by some family friends of ours. Once we got here we explored the house. Emily and Haley were excited about the bunk room with bunk beds. Em, Haley, and I played a few rounds of hide n seek, this house is pretty large and new to us, so it was actually a lot of fun. The rest of the day we unpacked, shopped for food and made dinner. Tracy and Haley crashed early and Emily and I are up watching a little TV.

Tomorrow we have reservations to go on a 1.5 hour horseback trail ride. Emily also wants to rent bikes, so we will probably do that on Friday.

We are all having a really good and fun time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Emily is cleared for the plane

Today Emily had her labs a day early so we could leave for our vacation to Colorado. she isn't going to need a lab draw for 8 days which we think is the longest she has gone without a needle since we started treatment. We will be in Colorado for the week, half the time up in Summit County in Breckenridge, and then had the time in Boulder, where I went to college.

Emily's lab results were good, her ANC was only 1080 but high enough to get on a plane. We hope she doesn't get sick while we are on our trip, but that is just a risk we live with daily.

Hopefully I'll post some pictures from the trip this week on the blog.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Emily's lab results were great !

WBC 4.3
Hgb 11.4
Plt 408
ANC 3090

This all means she continues at %100 dosage.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What didn't Emily do this past week?

Emily had her labs late this afternoon. It was so late we don't have the results back. I think she's going to be OK based on the way she is acting, but she thinks she is feeling a cold start to come on. Once I know the results I will make a quick post about it.

This week Emily was up to a lot. Just last week she was feeling sad about not being able to do some of the things other 7 and 8 year old's are doing, specifically swimming and riding a bike. She wasn't very accepting of the excuse we offered her....that she has been in the hospital and in therapy every week and there hasn't been time. She just wants to be "normal". This week she made tremendous progress at "catching up". Over the weekend Tracy, Haley and Emily went up to Auburn to visit Tracy's parents. They have a really nice home in the rural part of Auburn and one of the more exciting parts is the swimming pool on the property. The pool actually belongs to Tracy's Aunt, who lives next door to Tracy's Mom. Emily and Haley swam a lot over the weekend and Granpa Steve taught her how to dive, and also jumped off the diving board. She also treading water in the deep end of a pretty deep pool. As if that wasn't enough to convince everyone she could swim, the other day she passed "the deep end test" at her friend Julia's swim club. The life guard makes sure kids can swim across the pool.

Then tonight she learned how to ride her bike with no training wheels. It took her about 30 minutes (not exaggerating) to learn how to ride. Now she's really excited to do it more. Luckily we are going to Colorado next week and can rent and ride bikes in both Breckenridge and Boulder.

I am really happy she's doing these things. She look so healthy, she is more tan than I have ever been in my life, has curly bleach blond hair. It is hard to forget she is still on chemotherapy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another monthly chemo.....DONE

It seems like time is flying because today was Emily's monthly IV chemo. She is also on her 5 day course of Prednisone. So far she is reacting reasonably to the Prednisone. She seems a little more irritable than normal. Things went well at the hospital today. Her exam was unremarkable, in fact we talked to the NP more about what is going on in our lives, than talked about Emily's specific issue. She's doing well, still is the main point to take away.

Her IV stick was a little rough at first, the nurse didn't hit the area that the patch had numbed. It was ok though and they were able to get the IV in to take blood out, and to put Chemo in. Emily stared at the TV most of the time through the procedure and didn't even realize she was done when it was time to go home.

I get exhausted on Chemo day but not Emily, she's off to the pool AGAIN.

8 more IV chemo sessions and she will be complete with Chemo. I almost don't want to say this because I seem to jinx myself from time to time, but I can see the end finally, wow.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

4th of July fun and wonderful lab results

Our camping trip over the forth went really well. The kids had a blast and Tracy and I had a great time too, though the kids exhausted us. We were at Big Basin up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. If you like to camp and haven't been there I highly recommend it. The camp sites were nice and the bathrooms were clean and had showers. We were out for two nights which was nice because it takes a long time to setup and take down a camp site. We were there with our friends the Scotts and Emily, Olivia, Haley, and Stella had so much fun together. We went on a fairly long (4mile) hike on the 4th and for the most part didn't need to carry anyone, though Haley and Stella needed some help the last 1/2 mile or so. It was a great way to celebrate the 4th, though there was not one firework to be seen, which was totally fine with us, nice and peaceful and quiet.

Yesterday Emily had her weekly labs. I left work early to take her, to give Tracy a break since she goes nearly every week. I was nervous because last week was our first week back on %100 dosage and I worried that her ANC may have dropped. The great news is that she completely handled going to full dosage and her ANC was at 2400, which is PERFECT for being on her level of 6MP. This means we stay on %100 dosage. She also cleared the tests so she can get IV chemo next week. I can't believe how fast time seems to be flying in between monthly IV treatments.

This week besides labs Emily is getting in some swimming, so much that she is totally tan, which in our family is a rarity as Tracy and I burn. she and I also went to Ice Age 3D last night after the labs. Today Emily, Tracy and my Mom were given tickets to see the King Tut exhibit up in San Francisco at the De Young Museum. This weekend I am going to attempt to teach her to ride a bike without training wheels. That was supposed to be last summers project, but she was so sick it had to be delayed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

She's back to %100 dosage

Today Emily's ANC was around 2600 which means she can go back to %100 dosage. It's been a good 6 or 8 weeks since she has been able to be at this level. We will all be extra good about washing hands at home, and really consider where we take Emily and the risks of being exposed to sick people. This week we will see how it goes and if she can keep her levels up it will be good for her treatment.

Today I was thinking about Independence Day coming up this weekend. It got me thinking about what was going on a year ago. I remember we were going to be in the hospital for an in-patient high dose methotrexate treatment. Those were tough days, I have a picture of Emily on the roof top garden at the hospital, her hair was really thin and she looked much more sick than she does now. She's gone through so much this past year, but also come through so much and thankfully she is responding well to treatments and her body is holding up.

This weekend we are going camping at Big Basin State Park, which is just over the hill from us in the Santa Cruz Mountains off of Hwy 9. We are going camping with our friends the Scotts who we camped with last October. Emily is excited that her "best friend" Oliva will be camping with us. I will be thinking about our independence from the hospital this year as I enjoy the redwood forest.