It’s not always smooth sailing

Ok I really need to get better at posting, I’m kind of slacking and I’m sure you are all wondering how it’s going. I’m going to keep you in suspense for just a bit. Let me start by telling you why I posts there are a few reasons. When Kelli was first admitted I told her I wanted a way to let everyone know how she was doing, as we learned this was going to be a long process. Those who know me know I don’t or ever will do facebook, so that was out. Then my sister in law Brooke set up this blog for us to share the experience. At first I thought this was great, Kelli could write her thoughts down, and have something to keep her busy. Wrong. This was going to be for me to write on. Again those who know me know I’m not a great communicator, I can hardly find enough words to entertain Kelli, let alone write a blog. Trust me I was just as surprised as the rest of you that I could actually communicate by writing, and while I need to be better at posting I really do enjoy writing on the blog. Probably the most important reason for me writing came to me after I had already been putting Kelli’s journey down in words for quite some time. I didn’t realize it at first, but what a great way for her children to read about their mothers experience, and to have to share with their families someday. I hope as they read this the truly realize just how tough and special their mother is, and how hard she fights everyday.

Now it has been pretty busy since the transplant. As you read the transplant itself went very smooth, and still as far as that goes there are no issues. Kelli as expected did develop mucocitus, which is a big word,that I probably spelled wrong, for mouth and throat sores. This was very miserable for Kelli and eventually it got to the point to ear she could no longer eat. The pain was so bad that the doctors put her on a pain pump so she could better manage her own pain. She also had to go on a I.V. diet. This stuff looks like a vanilla shake, but I doubt it tastes like one. Kelli has been on that for about a week and a half, and finally I think her mouth sores are going away.

Things were looking real good until Saturday when Kelli developed a fever. We knew at some point she would get an infection so we kind of expected this as well. The doctors and nurses began to treat the fever with antibiotics and Tylenol, however, this thing would not go away. It would occasionally break, but within an hour or two would be right back. Saturday night they took blood cultures from each of her three ports to see what they were dealing with. The initial results showed an infection in her blood, and another in her port. Saturday night was rough for Kelli but with the help of an outstanding nurse, and charge nurse they were able to keep the fever low and Kelli somewhat comfortable. Sunday was a horrible day for Kelli, I had been up for over thirty hours watching her and had to go home to sleep. Kelli’s dad, and sister Jolie volunteered to stay with her during the day and through the night. Let me stop here and thank them both again. When I arrived back at the hospital Monday morning Jolie informed me Kelli had a rough night, and at one point her fever reached 105.8, no that’s not a typo.

Kelli was in no better shape Monday, but again a great team of nurses was able to get her fever to break, and Kelli felt good enough for a walk. We thought we had the fever beet Monday afternoon. Again I was wrong I left briefly for dinner and when I came back Kelli was in bed shivering uncontrollably, the fever was back. Kelli had another rough night Monday night and today the doctors asked the infectious disease doctors to take a look at Kelli. We won’t have definite answers until probably tomorrow, but it sounds like Kelli’s port may have to come out as this is where the infection is starting. They have amazing people here at LDS hospital and we have no doubt they will get to the bottom of it. So I will keep you all posted with what we find out.

Transplant day has come and gone

Ok so I was going to post yesterday the actual transplant day, but to be honest there is so much to tell and I was to tired after a long day. So on what they call day plus one for Kelli, I will fill you in on the miracle that happened yesterday.

Let me back up a little first and tell you that since Monday Kelli’s sister and donor has been under going painful shots to put her bone marrow into overdrive so there was plenty to harvest. Then on Thursday she went in for her first of two days of withdrawing the T cell that would become Kelli’s new marrow. This is a long process of drawing several liters of blood from Jolie running it through a machine, extracting the bone marrow T cell, and then putting Jolies blood back in to her body, minus the T cells of course. Friday Jolie again repeated this process for a second time and then we went into wait mode. We were told that it would most likely be late afternoon before the transplant would happen, and we were all anxious, nervous, and excited. Did I mention it was Friday the 13th, no worries 13 is our lucky number.

Now let me paint the picture for you all as to how this went down. It just so happened that our absolute favorite nurse Lisa was working Friday and we requested and were able to have her take care of Kelli and administer the transplant. This is very significant as Lisa has a knack for reading Kelli and knowing what she needs. Plus I did say she was our favorite, and we have no problem telling everyone that. Lisa is truly an amazing nurse and person, she truly has compassion in her care and if we could we would have her take care of Kelli everyday. Lisa has also been Kelli’s nurse on some significant dates. Lisa checked Kelli in the hospital for her first stay, she was Kelli’s nurse when she was released after the first eight weeks, and it’s fitting she be the one on transplant day.

Jolie had made the decision and told her husband she was not leaving the hospital until the transplant was done and wanted to be by Kelli’s side all day, and during the transplant. So I willingly gave up my recliner and that is where Jolie stayed until the transplant was over. It was a long day of waiting and we had many visitors. My mom and dad came down and brought our two youngest children with them so they could see their mom and give her hugs before the transplant. My only brother and his wife stopped in and visited before the transplant. Both of those visits meant the world to Kelli and I.

Kelli’s room then started to fill with her other siblings. Ashley, Becky, Joel, and Kelli’s sister in law Kandis, all showed up to be with Kelli during the transplant. Kelli’s two younger brothers Christian, and Brayden could not be here physically due to work, but I know they were with Kelli. So as you can see we had a full house, which seems to always happen with the Woodall’s for the mere fact there is a lot of them. It was awesome having everyone there and it made the day that much more amazing. We all sat and patiently waited for the bone marrow to arrive. Lisa then entered the room at around 440 pm to prepare the room and Kelli for the transplant. Then, how cool is this, Lisa receives a call from the nurses station while in the room, and over the speaker we hear them tell Lisa the Red Cross is here. The time had come the bone marrow was here.

Two bags of what I call life were delivered to Kelli’s room by the Red Cross, the ultimate gift from one sister to another. As the bags lay on the table a quiet calm came over the room then it was time. With everyone mentioned above in the room Lisa prepared to hang the first bag. Jolie sat to Kelli’s left, and Lisa hung the bag of life in between the two sisters. I stood to Kelli’s right and watched as the two shared a look and squeeze of the hands. Kelli was then hooked up to her new bone marrow and it began to flow. Lisa pointed out you could actually see the cells traveling through the line. Before we knew it the first bag was in and the second bag was hung. Kelli’s mom and dad arrived just in time for the start of the second bag, and about one hour later it was done.

This now begins a long journey for Kelli transplant day is referred to as day 0, and for the next 100 days she will be closely monitored for any problems associated with the new bone marrow. This doesn’t mean a 100 day hospital stay, Kelli should be able to go home within three to four weeks and just be monitored at home. Now the questions have been asked what about remission, and of course Kelli asked when is she done completely. The answer if all goes well and there are no signs of leukemia in two to three years they will give Kelli the remission stamp. As for being done completely, the answer is never. For the rest of Kelli’s life she will have to periodically check in with the clinic to make sure she is still in remission and everything is going ok, which is fine by me as long as I get to bring her back to the clinic for many many years.

Well quite the long post and hopefully I was able to paint a picture as amazing as it was in real life. Kelli and I again would like to thank both of our families for all they have done and continue to do for us, they are all amazing people. A special thanks to Jolie and her family for giving life to Kelli, and allowing my family to keep a mother and an amazing wife in our lives. We also can’t thank Lisa enough for all she has done, as well as the many doctors and nurses at LDS hospital that have been involved in Kelli’s care and treatment. We are by no means out of the woods, but are confident with a support group like this we can make it through all that is to come.

Ok I’m back

Well it’s been a long time since I posted on the blog. Honestly I’ve been enjoying Kelli being home and just needed a break from all of this. The break is now over on June fourth Kelli was re admitted to LDS hospital to begin the bone marrow transplant process. It started with six straight days of total body radiation, today being her last day. Kelli handled this very well except for today it caught up with her a little. The biggest side affect has been nausea, but the nurses have been good to keep up on the anti nausea medication which is a big help. With the radiation finished the nausea should improve over the next couple of days.

The next phase begins tomorrow with two days of low dose chemo. This is done to prepare Kelli’s cells for the new bone marrow. After that Thursday is a rest day in preparation for transplant Friday. Friday is also the beginning of Kelli’s 100 day journey. For the next 100 days after Friday Kelli will need 24 hour monitoring, hopefully while she is at home. This is needed in case Kelli gets a fever or has an issue with the bone marrow, and has to be brought back to the hospital. After that 100 days she is considered safe but not out of the woods, but I will explain more about that later.

Well that’s where we are at so far hopefully Kelli keeps it pretty boring and sails through this as easy as she can. We love everyone’s thoughts and prayers and well wishing s lease keep them coming.

I would also ask that everyone keep Jolie in their thoughts and prayers as she has started her part of the transplant process today. This can get very painful for her, but Kelli and I hope it goes smoothly for her as well. We again want to thank Jolie, Kevin and their kids for their willingness to help Kelli we truly are blessed with a wonderful family.

LDS Hospital is full of suprises

Okay so its been an interesting busy week. Kelli was supposed to go to the hospital last Tuesday to meet with the doctors and get the results of her bone marrow biopsy. Well she got a call from the coordinator changing her appointment to last Thursday. Oh and good news no signs of leukemia in her bone marrow, so we were told that her outpatient chemo would start Thursday as well. We were both really exited to begin the outpatient phase of chemo and even more excited that the leukemia was in remission. So on Thursday we set out for LDS hospital in pretty good spirits. Don’t get ahead of me, I’m not setting the stage for bad news don’t worry. We get to the hospital and meet with the Physicians assistant who tells us leukemia is in remission and blood counts are great. Then the doctor comes in and repeats this, making us feel warm and fuzzy all over again. Then the doctor excuses himself to write the orders for the chemo so we wont be there forever, or so they told us. Then as Kelli and I sat smiling in walks the coordinator, okay she kind of skipped in. She starts the conversation by repeating the good news about remission, then without taking a breath says prepare for your bone marrow transplant in the next thirty days. HUH!

Well like I promised not bad news, just took us a little off guard. If you all remember from previous posts there was a plan of outpatient chemo for 57 days followed by more chemo for 57 days then possibly a transplant. True to form the plan has changed again. So to the why, it was decided by the Doctors that because Kelli’s leukemia was so stubborn in the hospital it would be best to move quickly to transplant. Now the transplant does bring with it a whole mess of potential problems. We will have plenty of time to go over those because it also brings with it a six to twelve week hospital stay. Awesome! We are still learning and waiting for all the details so I will post them as we know. Let me bring you up to speed with what has been happening over the past few days. Kelli got a round of chemo on Thursday, then again on Saturday, and her last one today. So no more chemo, hopefully for good. In between now and the transplant she will have her usual clinic visits to see her blood numbers, and possibly two more spinal taps. As you can see they don’t like her to get bored so they keep her schedule pretty full. After all this Kelli is doing really well. She has managed to stay healthy and is slowly building some strength back up. The only real side effect has been fatigue, but that should improve as the chemo leaves her system.

We are both excited and a little nervous to begin this next step, but are excited that she is in remission. We would also again like to thank Jolie and her family. As the talk of transplant has moved closer to reality she has remained determined to help her sister. I know she must feel anxious and nervous about what is to come as would anyone. Kelli and I want her to know that her desire to help and give that kind of gift to Kelli is something we could never thank her enough for. We are both extremely blessed by not only Jolie but all of our family, and friends for everything they have done and continue to do. It truly does make this journey a lot easier for Kelli, the kids and I. Thank you all again from all of us.