Reflections on the Day
It is almost midnight and all is well. Mom came for the day and played card games with Ellie - it was a nice low-key way to spend the day. Even with the transfusions, Ellie's energy was very low, so she even napped a little towards evening. I was able to get a THREE hour nap...pure heaven...so I'm actually vertical and somewhat coherant tonight. The magic will likely wear off soon and I will fall into a coma, but for now I'm treasuring the few moments alone while John and Ellie are sleeping.
There was kind of a scary time earlier this evening when Ellie woke up from her nap talkng nonsense...she couldn't find the right words to explain what she meant and what she did say made no sense at all. She came out of it, then fell back asleep again only to wake up and do it all over again. They ran tests on Ellie's blood to check her electrolytes and a resident came to look her over. The blood work came back fine, and the neurological checks that the doctor performed showed nothing wrong, so it's possible that Ellie was just coming out of dreams and seemed more awake than she actually was. I don't know, but it was very unnerving and I didn't like it at all. The rest of the evening was pleasant and uneventful.
Someone asked why Ellie's counts drop so quickly, and rather than answer it in the comments, I thought I'd mention it here as others are probably wondering the same thing. Chemo drugs target the fast growing cells in the body, which is why they kill off cancer cells. Unfortunately, cancer isn't the only type of cells that grow fast - hair cells, the lining of the throat and stomach, and blood cells end up getting caught up in the fall-out from the drugs. Because of this, after every cycle of chemo, Ellie's hemoglobin, platelets and white blood counts all drop rapidly. This can cause dangerous problems, so they give transfusions as needed and we give Ellie a shot every day for a couple of weeks to make her white blood cells increase rapidly. These measures basically rescue her body from potential danger, but in order for Ellie to go through another round of chemo, her body must be able to keep the blood counts high enough on it's own - without outside help from transfusions and injections. Usually it takes at least a week for all of her counts to bottom out. We spend the next week building the counts back up, then during the final week there is usually a small drop in counts, as her body takes over and begins to build them back up on its own. That has been the basic pattern over the past chemos. This time the counts fell faster and lower than the other times, so that was kind of a surprise to us. It is very possible that after having four rounds of chemo, Ellie's body is getting tired and there is a build up of toxins that are taking a toll on her. Also, the third round of chemo had completely different drugs than Ellie had ever gotten before, so I've wondered if those drugs had a longer-lasting affect on her counts...perhaps there was still some fluctuation going on when she went into the last round of chemo and the combination of the two bottomed everything out more severely this time. I don't know...I guess it's all speculation. Whatever the reason, it has been sobering to watch Ellie's body labor under so much stress this time. It feels like such a balancing act...to push her body to the breaking point, then try to get it back just in time. As unsettling as this all is, I must admit that it has been absolutely amazing to have a front row seat in watching how wonderful the human body is! I can't help but marvel at how God created such an intricate machine with parts so interconnected and interdependent, with the ability to right itself and compensate for losses and changes...always trying to restore balance and health. It's nothing short of a miracle to watch Ellie's body, frail and cancer-ridden as it may be, continually fight to do what it must do to not only keep going, but to actually try to heal. Due to the extreme nature of the cancer and chemo, it often takes medical intervention to turn things around, but every chance it gets, Ellie's body seems to jump in to do it's part to take over and restore balance...and every chance I get, I let it. These are the things that help me to hope...
Thank you all for faithfully checking this blog for updates on Ellie. We so appreciate the time that you take to read and care about our sweet girl, and our whole family. We are overwhelmed and humbled that you would choose to go on this journey with us. "Thank you" just doesn't seem like enough.