Monday, March 06, 2006
March 6, 2006
Three days ago, I attended the Faculty-Waits-On-You Auction dinner at Fletcher. This year they decided to donate the proceeds to the Boston chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of Erica. WOW. This event was so amazing! From the moment I walked into the room, I was greeted by Dean Sheehan, Professor Trachtman, Professor Burgess, many of her classmates, and lots of her friends. I saw a poster that read, “Fletcher Supports You Erica” which brought me to tears… During the evening, our table toasted to her (each person in a different language!), the auctioneer raised his beer and reminded everyone of the personal connection to the cause, and many auction winners gave their prizes to Erica. Thank you to Marcin for inviting me and special thanks to Rose and Allison for making the whole event so special. [Pictures above are from that event. The hospital room can look equally festive at times, so I thought I'd better distinguish.]
On to more serious matters. Later that same night, one of Erica’s many wonderful nurses, Donna, noticed a bit of swelling around her right cheek and nose. An Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor was called in around midnight and decided to perform a biopsy in her right nostril that night. So, around 4am, Erin $maker arrived at BWH with the U-Haul, my car in tow, and Lola the pup riding shotgun. Thanks to Leslie, who is now chummy with the head security guy here at BWH, we were allowed to leave the truck in front of the hospital until 8am---with Lola still sitting shotgun. At 4:30am, the ENT performed the painful biopsy and Erica was given lots of morphine to sleep. Leslie and I took that as our opportunity to unload the U-Haul so we met our “moving team”--consisting of Kent and his roomies, Adam, and Marcin--at the new place. We were back at the hospital by 12:30pm when the WONDERFUL Adam and Marcin offered to take Lola to Tufts for the afternoon! THANK YOU! :) Nurse Donna and her four dogs are now watching Lola until Erica gets released from the hospital. Her flexibility and generosity is truly a blessing.
Later the following afternoon, the ENT docs decided that they wanted to go in to perform another biopsy in her upper cheek because of the swelling that was spreading towards her eye. Instead of cutting through her ‘smile line’ that would definitely leave a scar, they put her under general anesthetic and cut above her gums from the inside of her mouth. When they wheeled her down to the OR, there was some drama about her food intake. A team of anesthesiologists, ENTs, and oncologists were called in to do a risk/benefit analysis of whether the brownies (cookies, juice, soup) she had eaten an hour before would cause a problem during surgery. When going under general anesthesia, the patient should not eat 8 hours prior, but no one informed Erica of this! Basically, the huddle concurred that the chance of her aspirating (puking) into her lungs causing pneumonia or other lovely infections for a gal sans immune system was only a potential situation and was therefore less of an emergency than the fungal infection in her brain causing the swelling. How crazy is that: Erica‘s lying there hearing the docs say, “ok, we are just trying to decide which is worse: the pneumonia in your lungs that could kill you or the fungal infection in your brain that could kill you. Oh, and we should really decide which one's worse in the next five minutes.” Super. Thankfully, there were no complications during the procedure so it was a good thing they went ahead with it and we are simply waiting for the swelling to subside and for the pathology report.
She returned to the room about 10pm after waking in the recovery ward, but had a rough night with little sleep. The nurses gave her morphine every hour and her discomfort lasted until the morning. There is minimal swelling now on the right side of her face (but she won’t let it go that she thinks that she looks like a cross between a monkey and Lucy---yes, Lucy. The first primate to walk upright found in ice! Each time the name Lucy is mentioned, she breaks out into crying laughter!). After we showered, I shaved the last of her hair off and she is still gorgeous!
Today she received the news that her WBC count is now at 1310! Once her Actual Neutrophil Count (ANC) is above 500, she is able to be released from the hospital. DRUM ROLL PLEASE… her ANC is at 877 today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Granted with everything being so hectic this past weekend (the facial/nasal infection), we are going to stay here until the full 29 days. Which means, in five days, Erica may get to come home!
Needless to say, she has not checked her e-mail for many days due to the headaches and is pretty disconnected. Sorry to anyone who's been trying to e-mail her. Again, this blog is the surest way to get her a message. And, of course, the cards that continue to pour in from friends, old and new. Thank you! You make US so happy when her face lights up at visits, mail, and messages.
posted by Erica at 1:04 PM