Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Feel Like Devr's!!!

Devree’s doctor decided to have her switch the appetite stimulant back to Marinol (The derivative of Marijuana.). It worked!!!

Devree said that she thought of something that she was in the mood for. I asked her what it was and she couldn’t remember. So I handed Devree a menu of all the things she could order from room service. I told her to take a look and see if it would help her remember. I went to the bathroom and when I came back Devree had ordered, mashed potatoes and gravy, tater tots, and fresh strawberries.

Much to my astonishment, Devree ate 3 tater tots and a spoonful of mashed potatoes. She wasn’t too interested in the strawberries, because they weren’t very ripe. “I was hoping for fresh pineapple”, she said. So we ordered fresh pineapple (She ate 1 ½ pieces when it came.). While we were waiting for the pineapple, Devree ate 4 more tater tots and 2 more spoonfuls of mashed potatoes. I was so excited; I called Shana up to share the news (She was entertaining the boys.). Shana started crying tears of joy. That is more than Devree has eaten in 2 months. I have been here since June 6th, and I have only seen Devree eat a corner of a saltine cracker and 3 bites of a corndog. It was wonderful to see her eat a Thanksgiving Day feast.

We took the boys to Uncle Breck’s and Aunt Celest’s yesterday for a Family Home Evening. Dinner was scrumptious, and the kids loved swimming in the pool and roasting marshmallows for S’mores. I’m not sure how Dane managed it but he fell from the diving board onto the deck and got scraped up on both knees, both hands, an elbow, and one spot on his chin. He went to Shana and Celest to get help with all his battle scars. In a groan, he told Shana, “I feel like Devr’s!” Poor Daney Boy!

I think Dane just coined a new hamblin saying. Instead of saying, "I feel like I just got run over by a truck", we will now say, "I feel like Devree!"

All of the Hamblins!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

FAMILY -The Spoonful of Sugar to Help the Medicine Go Down.

I think that Devree’s first day of the third round of chemo went good and bad. The bad part is that Devree didn’t fall asleep right away, so the nausea got her. She is given a lot of fluid with the chemo drugs, so she would need to visit the bathroom every hour or so. The nausea bothered her during bathroom breaks too. The good part is that all of her nausea cocktail drugs worked and she was able to sleep most of the time (Like 90% of the time she slept.).

Devree has loved having the whole family here. We saw “Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian”. When you go to the movie with a mask on and no hair, everyone knows that you are one of the kids at St. Jude’s. Dev’s doesn’t usually like that kind of attention. However, she didn’t let it stop her. She has really been looking forward to having a family outing like that. She got some kind smiles as some people wished her luck.

We have been concerned about Devree because of atrophy. I didn’t realize that you could lose a significant amount of strength by just staying in bed without movement for a week. Devree exercises by walking around the nurse’s station, and by riding a stationary bike. This is really miserable for Dev’s when she isn’t feeling well, so she hates it. She says that there is a conspiracy against her, and even both of her parents are involved. 

Well, all of the boys and Dad went down to the Target House lobby to play foosball and video games. Devree couldn’t bear the thought of having everyone together, but then miss out on the fun. So she got Mom & Noble at each arm, and she walked all the way down to the lobby. Shana and I were amazed to see so much activity from Devree. Devree also discovered a way to get all around the apartment. She sits on the rolling desk chair and rolls herself everywhere.

It is exciting to be clearing the 75% point. We truly appreciate your comments and support.

All of the Hamblins!!!

Wow! Weekend!

Shay makes a wish and blows out the candles.

Callie & Shay think that the picture is just of the cake and not them. :-)

Jackson in the baby pool with Kallie on the other side. Dane on the pink floaty and Shay submerged.

Dane and Kallie at the edge.

Tayzia and Shay swimming with the too bright sunshine.

Shay's birthday present...a Nintendo DS that he has been asking for awhile.


Devree got lots of fun stuff from Aunt Celest through Girls Camp. Tayzia made her a cute little hanging thing to hang the little Mormon ads.


Aunt Celest out of the pool and giving Devree all of her fun camp stuff.
Talon and Breck BBQ'ing.
Todd and Noble out of the pool and by the BBQ.
I will have to get Todd to put pictures on later because of my technical difficulties. We have celebrated Shay's birthday for a few days and even today. Devree got out of the hospital Friday afternoon and we went to see "Night at the Museum 2". It was cute and funny. Because Devree chose to stay in the hospital for so long, her body has deterioted even more. She can't walk on her own and she has lost lots of muscle tone and even gets out of breath for very short distances. Shay commented "She walks worse than Grandma now." It is sad to think that Devree will have to work that much harder to retain what little she did have. Devree had on her cute earrings from Aunt Danawn but didn't mind going in her Barney P.J.'s and having most everyone stare at her bald head and P.J.'s. at the theater.

Shay also commented that "Memphis is a STEAM POT!" At over 100 degrees with something like 90% humidity, we are getting steamed. Our car after a 20 minute ride to the theater never did cool down. I felt sorry for all of Germantown ward that were at Girls Camp in that kind of heat. Tayzia and Celest got home just as we arrived at their house on Saturday to celebrate Shay's birthday with them. We had brought everything for a BBQ and we swam in the pool and ate and Devree stayed in the house with air conditioning and watched movies and talked with everyone. Shay even thought up his birthday cake. He wanted mint/chip ice cream between brownie covered in chocolate ice cream. It was delicious! I loved Breck and Celest's pool because it felt like bath water. Shay and Dane could not be pulled out of the pool because of playing with cousins so much. We let them stay the night. I heard they partied till 1am. I went over early with their church clothes and the boys and I attended Germantown Ward. What a wonderful ward. We appreciate being able to go there very much. The boys fit right in and enjoyed it.

We were able to give back the wonderful car to Bill and Brenda Griffin. We can't say enough how kind and generous it was of them to lend 2 cars to Devree and I while we have been here. Without a car, I would have gone crazy a lot sooner! A car meant freedom to get away and do things and especially to visit Germantown when we wanted to. THANKS so much!

Well there are many things planned for these next few days. Devree started her 3rd round of Chemo yesterday with puking results. We are hoping that she will be feeling good by FRIDAY because that is her BIRTHDAY! Celest has BIG plans for that day.

We love all of you and are grateful for all of those that keep up with the blog and we feel your prayers for us daily.
Love, Shana and the Hamblin Family

Friday, June 26, 2009


Today is Shay's Birthday!!!

Well we made it through 4 long days of driving. The longest day was from Henderson to Albuquerque. We did enjoy our little stop at the Petrified Forest and the boys watched the movie and Dane even became a Junior Ranger. He was very proud of his little pin and patch and was serious when the guy made him take a very long oath. I loved that part of the oath included "I will hug and kiss my mom and dad everyday and always keep my room clean."

Dane doing a "Chip'N Dale's" stretch.

Last night we had the Target House monthly birthday dinner and Shay won a bingo prize and then there was a pinata with lots of candy. The Target House is a boys dream with all of the game systems everywhere and partying. There is another dinner on Saturday night.

We woke up Shay with breakfast in bed. Noble and Todd slept at the hospital and Shay and Dane loved sleeping at the Target House. It was good to get laundry done and grocery shopping done so I could slip into bed about 11:30. It is so great to all be here as a family.

Shay's Breakfast in Bed.

All Of The HAMBLINs!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Devree Doesn't Like Her Choices Sometimes

Yesterday was a wonderful day for Devree. Grandpa Hamblin and Aunt Paula came to visit. Uncle Break came by to visit us. Brittany Giddon and her mother gave Devree a cool book about Twilight, and visited. Devree loved her new book called, Twilight –The Directors Notebook. She devoured that book from cover to cover. It told how all of the special effects were done.

Today it is hard to be in the hospital. If you are in the hospital they can give you your drugs through your IV. Devree really likes that, because when she is at the Target House she has to take them in pill form. Most of the pills she is taking are for nausea. The process of swallowing pills makes Devree throw up half the time. So Devree prefers being in the hospital because she hardly throws up at all here. There is one problem though.

When Devree is in the hospital, she has less freedom. Today she was faced with two choices and she didn’t like either one. So she had a good cry because she didn’t like any of her choices. She wished her brother Noble was here, because he can always help her find a smile. I held her and let her have a good cry. Sometimes you just have to let all of those feelings out. She got it all out and now we are focusing on happy things.

Tonight Shana will get here with the boys, and we are ready to be together as a family. Devree is really looking forward to having them here. I know Dev’s loves being around family. During her break when she was able to go home, Devree would sit on the couch just listening to the sounds of her family. She liked sound of Shay & Dane playing, and conversations between Noble, Shana, and I.

Sunday the 29th Devree gets her 3rd round of chemo. That means we are 75% of the way through!!!

Love you all!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Devree Is Feeling Good Enough To Be A Tease!!!

Today is a good day for Devree. Her Grandpa Hamblin and Aunt Paula drove from St. Louis, MO to Memphis, TN to visit her. Having visitors is always great, because it mixes things up for a change in Devree’s day. Memphis is experiencing a heat wave, and everyone tells us how hot it is outside. It is so nice to be in an air-conditioned room with a great view of the hospital grounds.

We went to a pulmonary guy to test Devree’s lungs. He is a smoker though so Devree had to give him a bad time about that. She had to ask him if he believed in lung cancer, he said that he was planning to stop. It will be his 60th birthday present to himself.

Devree has also been teasing her nurse. We told the nurse that she should watch this scary movie called Disturbia. With her wonderful Southern accent, she said, “Now Devree, I don’t watch scary movies.” Devree got a smirk on her face during the whole explanation of what a fraidy-cat her nurse was. So in classic teenager style, Devree says she is going to put on a scary movie today, so she can tease her nurse a little more about that. I love it!!! To me it means that Devree is feeling better, and having higher spirits.

Shana and the boys are safely making their way to us. Last night they stayed in Albuquerque, NM. Devree is excited to have us all together as a family, and so am I. Our little Hamblin family will have a joyous reunion on 6/25/2009, in the evening. We are sooo excited!!!

Love you all!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Update on Devree's Hearing

Devree got a hearing test. It is a standard procedure before every round of chemo therapy. The report is that she has mild hearing loss. As parents Shana and I are concerned about Devree’s hearing. So we raised those concerns with Devree’s doctors. Her pediatric neurosurgeon/oncologist, Dr. Armstrong came by to visit with us in person. He told us that he didn’t know that Devree was in the hospital, and that we should let him know so that he can come by and visit in the future (He is very personable and caring.). His clinic has passed the baton to another clinic that specializes in chemo therapy and in the process of using stem cells to heal. Dr. Armstrong gets high level reports about treatment, but not about Devree’s day-to-day schedule.

He visited with us about our concerns. In a very considerate way he told us that he recommended that we not cut back on the cisplatin (The element of chemo that can cause hearing loss.). Our concern was brought up with the team of neurology/oncology doctors. They feel that if there was a relapse the options are limited, so they want to stick with the protocol (medical treatment plan). If there were a recurrence, Dr. Armstrong said that he didn’t want to have any regrets about the treatment plan.

You know… I really appreciate his kind way of being straight forward and frank with us, but it made my poor heart ache. We all know that a relapse is possible, but we try not to think about it for 3 reasons. 1) There is plenty of time to worry about that later, if it happens. 2) If we worry now it won’t change anything. 3) The thought of a reoccurrence is not positive.

Now that I’ve shared our concerns, I have to end on a happy note. We are not sad here, and we are planning to have a lot of fun when Shana gets here with the boys on the 25th. Shay’s birthday is on the 26th, and we want to have fun then. Devree has also been looking forward to doing things as a family. So we plan to go to a movie or see some of the wonderful things to see around Memphis.

Old Picture of Devree with Dr. Armstrong.

Devree showed me this picture that was on her Facebook. Dev’s thought that was cool of course. Can we get pictures of everyone in their Team Devree shirts? We decorate Devree’s hospital room with Jonas Brothers, Twilight, MormonAds (cute posters about Christian values), Window Painting, and cards from all of you (We have 2 more cards from Gerry Anderson. Thanks Gerry!!!). I was thinking that it would be great to print out Devree’s “Team Devree” pictures and add them to our walls. That will help Devree remember that she has a lot of friends and family that are cheering her on.

(Left to Right): Chris, Uncle Brownie, Aunt Jan, Trisha, and Cindy

This is a link to the pictures from the DHS Cancer Awareness Week. That is where the "Team Devree" T-shirts came from:

We love you all!

Monday, June 22, 2009

No Signs of Cancer Still

Last week Devree was a busy patient. She had a bump on her leg. The bump was poked at by lots of doctors and nurses. Then there was an ultrasound and an MRI of the bump. A biopsy was scheduled for the bump, but the bump healed and went away so there was no need for a biopsy. Then a MRI was done of Devree’s head, and then of her spine the following day. A lumbar puncture was done to test her spinal fluid for traces of cancer. The results were that there appears to be no signs of cancer activity.

Devree wanted to go to church on Sunday, and she was given a 4 hour pass. The Germantown Ward is wonderful to us, and Devree enjoyed seeing everyone.

Aunt Celest, Uncle Breck and cousin Tayzia came to visit Devree in the evening. They brought me a lovely Father’s Day dinner. While I enjoyed shrimp cocktail and chicken cordon bleu, Devree visited. It is wonderful to have the Rice’s here.

I talked with Shana for a little bit this morning before she started on her road trip with the boys. They will spend the night in Las Vegas with Aunt Kaleen and Uncle Cody, and then continue on to Memphis taking the lower route. Our boys absolutely love road trips. They like to stop at McDonald’s for the playland, and they love swimming at the motel pool. We look forward to seeing them on the night of Thursday the 25th. Shay’s birthday is on Friday the 26th.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Jonas Bros. & SIMMs Party.

Devree’s spirits are better today.

We just got 2 new surprises in the mail. SIMMs 3 arrived, and Devree’s pre-ordered Jonas Bros. CD also came in the mail. It’s like Christmas in June. It makes me smile to see her devouring the lyrics to her new album. Its 10:30 PM and the Jonas Bros. new album is playing. I’m loading SIMMs 3 on our laptop, and the nurse enters carrying the IV bag of Devree’s meal. She says, “You’re having a party and I brought the pizza and ice cream! Am I invited?”, she says holding up the IV bag. Devree answers, “Of course, you brought the pizza and ice cream. lol

She started talking to the nurse about her dog, and her family coming to visit. All the happy stuff has bubbled to the surface. I’m so glad to have Devree perk up. When Celest and Brenda Griffin came to visit, they could tell that Devree was struggling a little with gloomy feelings. Today we have our Devree back. I’m loving the party right along with Devree. The nurse is visiting with her and Dev’s is teasing and laughing.

I wish I had a camera to take pictures of the hospital room. She has a Jonas Bros. poster, and cute mormon ad posters, Meghan Jones’ Fox in Socks drawing, Jackson, Celest, and Tazia Rice’s drawings on the windows, cards from Gerry Anderson, Nica Scott, Debbie Fauvell. Grandma Rice, Jeanni Jones. I think Devree Hamblin has the most cheerful room in the hospital. It is no secret that this girl is very loved. These are just the latest cards, when you visit her room in Target House II, there is a whole wall of cards that just lift our spirits.

It makes me have misty eyes and a lump in my throat to see how much love and support Devree and Shana have received. Our girls have been away, but they definitely are not alone and forgotten. Thank you to each and every one of you that have done so much to love and lift Devree and Shana.

I love you all tons!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Brush With The Blues

I guess we won’t find out about Devree’s mysterious bump. The anti-biotics are working and the bump is almost gone. So there isn’t really anything to get a biopsy from.

Devree told me she was feeling a little sad today, but she didn’t know why. So we decided to look at the clues and figure it out. I asked her what she was thinking about before she got sad. She said thinking about the doctors pulling her line was sad and confusing. She didn’t fully understand all of their reasoning for pulling her line, but she knew that they would do whatever they wanted to.

Going on walks around the nurse’s station made her sad too. There is a condition with her toes that is making them hurt, she is taking medicine for it. So her feet hurt when she walks, and she has sore shoulder and ribs. On top of that, the anti-nausea drugs make her sleepy and a little unstable when she walks. However, her parents, doctors, nurses, and physical therapist all want her to walk anyway. They tell us it helps her lymph system, muscle tone, and respiratory system.

The bottom line is… poor Devree doesn’t have very many choices. She has to do things that are not pleasant, and she doesn’t have a choice about it. Her whole life has been St. Jude’s since February 2009, and it just seems soooo long to her. She just wants to have her life back so she can be at home with her family and friends. I pointed out that Shana and the boys would be here in Memphis with her a week from today.

We also talked about how she did have some control. She told her Nurse Practitioner how she felt about her line being pulled. The nurse practitioner presented Devree’s case to the doctor, and the double-lumen line will not be pulled. The staff infection is very treatable with anti-biotics. Policy also says that Devree can’t do her tube feeding through and IV. The Nurse Practitioner pointed out that Devree has not been eating food or water, and that it was possible that she could go 3 to 4 days without eating before they got the line back in. The doctor said it was best practice to replace the line, but in this case they would just treat with antibiotics. (Thank heavens!!!)

The thought of our Hamblin family being all together at St. Judes was enough to blow away the clouds of sadness. Well, that is our report for today.

Love you all!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mysterious Bump in Devree's Leg

Devree’s Blood Stats:
ANC = 9600
Hemoglobin = 9.1
Platelet = 111

You and I have an ANC that is between 1800 and 8000 to help us fight off everyday bugs that we come in contact with. Devree has to wear a mask if her ANC is below 1000. Right now Devree’s ANC is above normal because they have been giving her a drug to stimulate her bone marrow.

Today’s plan is to get a biopsy of a bump Devree discovered in her leg (hamstring muscle). She asked me if I could see a bruise because that is what it feels like. We mentioned it to our Nurse Practitioner 3 days ago and it became a curious thing that all of the doctors wanted to look at. They talked about it in their daily pow-wow, and have a theory about it. The bacteria that is causing her fevers when her ANC drops to zero, might be hiding out in that bump. So now they are pursuing that theory. They have done an Ultra-sound of the bump. Then they did a MRI of the bump. Today they will be doing a biopsy of the bump. We will let you know what we find out about the mysterious bump as soon as we get the news.

Devree is also turned around on her nights and days. If she has a problem with nausea, she gets anti-nausea drugs that fix the problem (Yeah, they still work!!!). The downside is that they make her sleepy. So slept 6 hours through the day, and couldn’t sleep so well at night. Do any of you have some ideas about how we can get back on a good schedule?

Love you all!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Back in the Summmer Saddle!

I had a great flight home. My plane was delayed for an hour in Denver so my plans of going straight to the movie with the boys. It was 2pm and they were starving for lunch. We drove straight to the movie in Carson and grabbed some Wendy's for the boys to eat in the movie. In my purse it went. I told Noble to dump out my purse and put everything in carefully. We get in and one of the drinks had popped open and there it was all over everything and still some items left in my purse. We went and saw "Imagine That" and it was funny to see my boys get embarrassed by the antics of Eddie Murphy. It was a clean movie and not violent but uncomfortable to watch. Thomas Hayden Church had an irrtating role that was too much.

So we get some groceries and finally get home I saw a few people at the grocery store and we finally get home to a beautiful clean house with flowers and a card on the table. Thank you Dayton Ward for cleaning the house TWICE in a few days. You are AWESOME!

Koe had helped Dane with his dirty moldy clothes from Camp Hobe but Shay had hidden his in the bottom of his sleeping bag. The aroma hit me immediately as I walked into the laundry room. Laundry was started and I was beat with the 2 hour time difference and not sleeping the night before. I go to sleep and Manny calls and the boys don't ever answer the phone. So I can't get back to sleep because my bedroom has the aroma of something like rotten meat hidden under my bed. I am going to have the boys get under my bed and see if the dog left a tidbit. It's always something exciting at our house!

Something funny about Devree. It was about 2 days after Keith Utban's visit. The nurse was going to change Devree's bedding and she said "Leave the top blanket on because it still smells like Keith Urban."

Love, Shana

Excitement in Memphis!!!

The Doctors are Scaring Devree.

Devree is doing great today.

Blood Stats:
ANC = 4000
Hemoglobin = 9.4
Platelet = 90

The doctors did give her a little scare. First Devree was told that she was doing so well that she could go home to the Target House. She took a nap and when she woke up, the doctors reported that they had a meeting (They all get together daily to decide the plan.) and changed their mind. “We want to remove your double-lumen line, and then put a new one in at the end of the week.”, they told Devree. That caused a few tears.

They want to do everything they can to make sure Devree doesn’t get a fever every time her ANC count gets to zero. Their idea is that the bug is hiding in Devree’s double-lumen line. Devree remembers how the nurse missed her vein when putting in the IV. (That hurts.) She also remembers how tender it was after the surgery to install the double-lumen line. The nurse practitioner had the doctor for infectious disease come up to talk to Devree about her concerns. He didn’t realize that changing the line out would bother Devree. This bug is very easy to treat, so he said that they could give her anti-biotics for longer to get rid of it.

Shana got home with the boys, and the fun has already started. Mom is too cool. She had Noble take the boys to High Ballocity to play before picking up at the airport. The flight was delayed, so Shana had the boys stay and play for an extra hour. Then after her long flight she went to a movie with the boys. My good wife is planning to pack a whole summer into one week. Shana absolutely loves summer with the kids!!! She also has fun plans for when we get the boys out here to Memphis.

Devree’s Aunt Celest is coming to visit with Brenda Griffith today. Both Celest and Sister Griffin went on the Trek with the LDS youth (about 200 kids). I believe they were at Jackson, Mississippi. I asked Celest if the tornado warnings and rain affected them. She said that the humidity was near 100% and the temperature was in the mid 90’s when the women reenacted history and pulled the handcarts by themselves. Then things got exciting and 3 tornados were cited in the Mississippi area. As Sister Griffin was transporting people to shelter, a tree fell on her car. Everyone was ok, but it was scary. The rain was coming down so hard that 19 of the kids went missing when they took a wrong fork in the road. They located the kids, and got them to shelter. Then a ranger came by an said that a tree had fallen on a silver vehicle in the parking lot. It turned out to be Breck and Celest’s car.

There were trees down and power out all over Memphis. Devree had sent Shana and I out on a date to the movies. The storm came up suddenly, so it was sunny and nice when we went in the theatre. An hour into our movie the lights flickered and the projector went off. Then a theatre employee asked us to move into the hallway so we would be safe during the tornado warning.

Love you all,

Monday, June 15, 2009

Great Start of a New Week

When I told Shana about the possibility of trading places, she immediately told me no and shared all the reasons that it wouldn’t work. Shana has really learned a lot about medicine names and what they are used for, as well as side effects (Drowsiness, loss of balance, nausea). She has also learned procedures like how to work with Devree’s IV and change the dressings on her double-lumen line. I haven’t learned everything yet, but I am getting up to speed.

I am happy that Shana is flying home today, but it was sad to see her go. Devree was telling me about a letter Dane wrote 2 weeks ago. He told Devree, “I’m lonely, oh so very lonely!” Then he told her all of the things that they could do together. I had to think about that a bit. I know I played with Dane, but there were times when I was making dinner or doing bills when he wanted to play. It’s hard when you get home and only have a few hours to make dinner, do laundry, bills, etc.

Anyhow, I am glad that Shana will be home playing with the boys. Her goal is to pack a whole summers worth of fun into one week. They will go swimming, see a movie, go to Sand Harbor at Lake Tahoe, etc.. Shana is a fun mom, and she really knows how to plan fun things for our family.

Today is Devree’s 3rd day of no fever! Her doctors want her stay 2 or 3 more days to ensure that the numbers on her blood reports have a good trend. Her ANC count for immunity is 1500 up from 400 yesterday (It needs to be 500 before Devree can go home). Her hemoglobin is at 8.9 (That number is a good enough to be at home). Her platelet count is 65 (That number is a good enough to be at home).

Devree is doing great! She just needs to eat just a little bit. Her doctors want her to be able to eat something to keep her digestive track working, but she is getting her nourishment from the TPN bag on her IV.

Love you all! Thank you for your prayers.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Celebrity Visits Devree "FIRST"

We had an exciting day yesterday. Devree was asked if she would like to meet a celebrity and they make us sign all of these forms because when a celebrity visits they take lots of pictures and so since Devree hasn’t had a fever since Friday morning at 4 am, we said yes. The celebrity was not coming to our room for a couple of hours so Devree had to get an x-ray to make sure her lines do not have an infection in them and then she had to have an echo as part of her protocol to get her ready for the next round of chemo. So we get back to the room and got her a bath and here comes KEITH URBAN into our room. We were the first room he came in and he started chatting with Devree and asked where she was from and the exact town and if any of her friends have come to visit her and she said that sometimes friends don’t understand about cancer and they can be dumb. He really laughed at that one and he chatted about his little daughter and his wife (Nicole Kidman) who is doing a 5 week shoot for her next movie in New York. He plans his concerts to do 3 days then he flies home for 4 days. His Australian accent came right out and we talked about how he is the only Australian, Country and Western singer. He was very personable and we could have talked to him for a lot longer but he had to be pushed out of the room and keep his schedule because he has a concert tonight here in Memphis. He gave Devree a 2 handed shake and I GOT A HUG! He also shook Todd’s hand. He is way short and very skinny. He was wearing a baseball cap so he wasn’t really recognizable. But you know what we forgot. . . ? An AUTOGRAPH!


Friday, June 12, 2009

School is in Session for Nurse Dad.

All of my training so far has been from Nurse Mom. Shana trained me on how to change the dressing on Devree’s double-lumen lines. It was so easy when Shana showed me how, but 2 days latter I felt unsure of myself. There is a certain way to do things to prevent kinks in the line and to keep things sterile. There were also some line ends that needed to be changed. So I had to have the nurse help me. As she went through the steps, it all came back to me. The nurse left and as I was thinking that Shana did a much better job, Devree said, “That line looks pretty iffy. I think it is going to get a kink and cause problems.” Within 5 minutes the line kinked and set off alarms at the nurse’s station.

The staff at St. Jude are now aware that Dad is on the job, but needs some training. I was unable to do the job on Wednesday night. Thursday I was enrolled in class. A trainer came by with all of the appropriate equipment and showed me how to flush the double-lumen lines. Then she watched and coached me while I opened all of my materials. A Band-Aid, saline solution syringe, syringe , alcohol swabs, line endings, and bottle of ??? that keeps blood from coagulating in her line. (I’m still in training. Go easy on me. LOL) There is a special way to draw liquid from a bottle that you jab a syringe into (You set the plunger on the syringe, then inject that much air into the bottle. The fluid in the bottle will then push plunger back out and fill the syringe with. Don’t forget to tap the syringe to get the air bubbles out. Don’t forget about the clamps on the IV tubes. Remember that the tubes are connected to Devree’s arteries and if you forget the clamp blood will spurt out. Count to 7 seconds each time you use an alcohol swab. I opened 3 alcohol swabs and had to think to remember what should be cleaned and in which order.

It seemed like a lot of steps and I definitely didn’t want to forget the clamps and have Devree’s blood spurt out. Shana comforted me by saying that it wasn’t that hard, and that I would get used to it. I felt more comforted when my teacher told me that I would have lots of hands on experience before I was left to do the task alone.

As soon as I got done with the first session another woman came in that represented an outside company that is in charge of TPN (tube feeding). She trained me on how to unhook Devree’s tube feeding backpack and flush the lines. There were not as many steps in that process, and a lot of the procedure duplicated things that I had learned in the earlier session.

Yesterday was mostly wonderful.

I woke up at about 6:30AM and Devree was sleeping peacefully. Then my heart began to skip and pitter-patter. I had slept so soundly that I was worried that I maybe I wasn’t there for Devree when she needed me. So I decided to try to sleep lighter so I could be aware if Devree made a sound. I stirred at 7:00AM, 7:30AM, and then at 8:00AM I got up (That’s 6:00AM Nevada time so I guess that means I haven’t adjusted to Memphis time yet. I also couldn’t fall asleep until 12:30AM). Anyhow, I went to go say, “Good Morning”, to Devree. She was awake and fine as could be. I asked her if she needed me in the night and she said, “No”. Then she told me that she had called to me sometime in between 7:30 – 8:00AM and I never heard her. (Note to self. Buy Devree a siren. Just in case.) Devree rang for her nurse, and got the eye drops she needed.

Devree did a few things yesterday that were exciting for us. Her nausea cocktail is still working. She didn’t need it until the evening though.

Exciting thing #1: Devree’s temperature got down to normal today, with the help of Tylenol and a mixture of broad spectrum anti-biotics. Woo Hoo!!!

Exciting thing #2: Devree asked if we had given her medicine to stimulate her appetite. The answer was no. She said that she was asking because the commercials about food were making her hungry. Woo Hoo!!! She was in the mood for corndogs. We got the message to Room Service and they quickly brought her 2 corndogs. The exciting part was that she was still in the mood when they got here, and she had 2 or 3 bites. Woo Hoo!!! (I guess it doesn’t take too much to make us happy. LOL)

Have a great Friday everyone!!!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Parent/Nurse pop quiz

So this is Shana. I went back to the Target House to sleep. I tried to get back to the hospital before the nurse Kim came to see Devree, but I missed the shuttle. Todd has me on speaker phone and I didn't realize it because I said I wanted to be there before Kim and I could hear her laughing in the background. She told Todd lots of information and then asked Todd if he was going to remember everything to tell me when I got here. He called me and gave me the full report. I was very proud of Todd.

The report is much better this morning. Kim said that because we have the super nurse Beth she was able to get enough fluids pumped into Devree quickly, so Devree didn't have to go to ICU. Devree has not had anything by mouth and with the fever, she was extremely dehydrated. Devree is hovering around 99 now and they have limited down to a family of bacteria that they don't know where it is. The staff thinks it could have been by mouth or an infection in her lines that waits until her counts are 0 and pops out all of the time. We have talked to Lindsey Gruwell and she says it is possible to have 0 counts and not get an infection and have to go to the hospital. She has been able to do it twice. Lindsey is the 20 year-old girl that is back for the third time with leukemia. She has just had a bone marrow transplant from her oldest sister and she has to be here in the hospital for another month or so to see if the transplant will take. She is such a beautiful person and it has been fun to get to know her family. Her 2 older sisters are married and one lives in Bartlett and the other lives in Birmigham, which is a few hours drive away. Lindsey's Mom and Dad have been chatting with us quite often.

Well Todd is learning the ropes and I am happy that he is looking so forward to staying with Devree. Although he doesn't waken at 5:30 am when Devree is puking her guts up and he seems to get a good nights sleep in the hospital, I am glad he is a fresh person to take on this load. I cannot wait to go home and hug my boys and I am even looking forward to going home to my CLEAN house that wonderful Dayton ward has come and cleaned yesterday! Since Shay and Dane get home on Saturday, I think it will still be pretty clean when I fly in on Monday. I want to take the boys to Lake Tahoe, because that will be my only time to go for the summer. I look forward to taking them to movies and having lots of fun and then driving the whole way back out to Memphis. Does anybody have good books on tapes for the wide range of audience . . .you know a 7 year-old, 12, 17 year -old and a Mom?


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nurse / Parent in Training

My turn to Blog. Although Shana is still with me, Devree and I have been doing the routine so that I can learn my new job.

One of my assignments for today is to do the Blog. However, today was a little difficult because of all the excitement. Devree has a 103 degree fever and we have been going through the process of getting admitted to the hospital. I thought I would share my experience with all of you. Devree and Shana have been through all of this, but I thought I would share my perspective.

*** Everything is new! ***

Ruth (Nurse) met us and got Devree a room and took her vitals and blood. Then Franja (Nurse) came to help Ruth get the IV going and get all the materials to start anti-biotics. In the middle of all the preparations Dr. Richard (Really a Physician’s Assistant) came in to ask questions to make sure that there wasn’t anything extra going on in addition to her fever. Then Lee, Devree’s Nurse Practitioner came in to check on her, and then Dr. Heartford (The Attending Physician) came in to actually do all the in depth testing.

In the middle of all the flurry of activity, Devree had an attack of vomiting. I call it an attack because… Well, you and I… We hate to throw-up, but we do it and we are just done. It is way different for poor Devree. She hasn’t been eating anything so she threw-up about ½ cup of stomach juices. Then her poor body continues to try to bring up contents of her empty stomach. The attack is over when she runs out of energy. Then she has a listless expression on her face, and she is wishing to sleep until she can wake up and feel better.

On the positive side, I think we have found the magic combination of anti-nausea drugs. We call it our anti-nausea cocktail. The side effect is that it knocks Devree out cold for about 2 hours. When she wakes up, there is no nausea and Devree can read her book or watch a movie.

Anti-nausea Cocktail Recipe:

Note: Devree loves the side effect of sleeping for 2 hours.

Signing off for now.

Todd/Shana & Devree

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Party without the person!

Here are Tayzia, Breck, Celest, Talon and Kallie after our wonderful BBQ. Jackson was too busy playing on the playground and going around and around on a 3 wheeler.

We planned to have a wonderful steak cookout and FHE together but Todd and Devree didn'.t get out of the medicine room until after 8 pm. So the Rice's went and visited Devree there. Devree got platelets, blood, ativan, vincristine, andancetron, benedryl and they changed her TPN. Basically Todd and Devree were in the medicine room from 3-till after 8pm. Breck had to cook the steaks and we had rolls, corn on the cob, from us. Celest made an awesome pasta salad and lovely fruit pizza. I had to call Celest to bring steak knives, forks, some worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. Celest brought better paper plates too. So basically she brought just about everything including drinks. It is hard when you are not your real house, because there are always something you are missing.

We had a fine time down in the BBQ area of the Target house and I showed Tayzia, Talon and Kallie all of the new video game areas and the touch table computer with games etc. So when the boys come, we will have cousins over so they can play on all of the game systems.

Shay and Dane are having a blast at Camp Hobe. Koe put pictures of them on her blog. You can click up on the upper right part of this blog and you can see their pictures. Shay was worried that he would be in the same cabin as Dane but was ecstatic to find out he wasn't. Shay has really tried to be more mature and responsible especially since he has to be more in charge of Dane.

This is from Bishop Richard C. Edgley. He tells a story from Pres. Monson about a man affectionately called "Little Ed" because he was small in stature. A retired executive that helped people find jobs. "He showed his love by helping those in need. He restored human dignity, He opened doors for those who knew not how to do so themselves." That is my desire to help my family when they can't help themselves.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Marvelous Monday

So we are doing well. Todd flew in Saturday evening. Breck and Celest drove me to the airport and we went to the Red Lobster for dinner. Devree felt just barely good enough to go to sacrament meeting. Then back to the medicine room for the anti-nausea meds and her TPN changed. Then we went back to Breck and Celest's and had a BBQ.

Todd has been learning all of the schedule for Devree and all of the caring. I will fly home next week and be with the boys for a couple of weeks and then we will drive back out. Todd has a wonderful boss and let him take his family sick days and stay here. I have debated and debated about going home because it will be a little embarrassing for Devree, but I think we have figured things out for Todd to do the care.

Today Devree gets another dose of Vincristine. That is another chemo drug that she gets in the hospital during the chemo and then a follow-up vincristine. Todd will get to take Devree to all of her appointments and see how everything goes.

Devree is feeling better because she is reading a book. This morning she has been chatting and animated. I got her a book at the library that I thought she would like.

We feel really loved because we have gotten so much mail. Packages from Huessers, Danawn and Summer, Debbie Fauvell, and lots of letters from the young women in both wards. That was fantastic, but whoever did the address labels, doesn't know that I am Shana not Sharon. Ha! Ha!

Thank you everyone for fasting and praying for us. We appreciate all of the love and prayers.

Elder Boyd K. Packer "The certainties of the gospel, the truth, once you understand it, will see you through these difficult times."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday is Better

We talked to the doctor about getting some IV anti nausea meds and so we will go to the medicine room everyday for some ativan, kytrill and today we might ask for finergin and benedryl. Devree still dry heaved last night and this morning but it is much better than doing the v thing. She already lost 2 more pounds and she looks like a halocaust victim. Her hip bones stick out and her eyes are sunken. She has no meat on her bones. It seems I find whatever she looses. She also is starting to get little freckles all over her head. I noticed on another medulloblastoma patient that she got huge brown spots all over her head. I am going to ask the doctor today. But I already know it ia a side effect of the chemo. The poor girls have definitely not been in the sun to get spots. And if it is sun damage from earlier years, it doesn't make since to have them all over your head that was covered and protected by hair. Just another interesting thing about cancer and the side effects of the treatment.

I started feeling better and I know it was because of your prayers. Today I could sing "There is sunshine in my soul today!" It is a brighter sunnier day. I was able to read a whole Nicholas Sparks book yesterday. That shows you how much we wait around for stuff. I was able to get a library card because I opened a bank account here. The Library card was almost like applying for a credit card and in Memphis, you have to rent DVD's' CD's etc. It is a great library and the biggest public library I have ever seen. The sad part is, while I was at the library, I missed the Germantown Relief Society Presidency. That was the day that my cell phone didn't work. That was so kind of them to visit me.

Elder Russell M. Nelson said "Prayer begins with individual initiative." May we always have that initiative.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Misty Memphis

Today is a misty morning in Memphis. I think that kind of reflects what Devree and I feel today. We are a little misty eyed and trying to cope with Devree just feeling like crap. She asked me yesterday if I would truly take her place, because I have told her that I would if I could and she said "Well maybe for an hour." I told her that I would take her place for as long as she needed me too, so her body could have a break and some rest. I guess we should not complain. I found out one little 7 year old from Puerto Rico with medulloblastoma was on his second round of chemo and he had a violent reaction and he passed away, a couple of days ago.

After 24 hours of not having a network for my cell phone, I was suddenly inspired to turn it off and leave it off for a few minutes. When I turned it back on, it worked perfectly.

I was trying to keep a surprise, but as I read a letter that I had written to my nephew Chase, that is in the army, I accidentally spilled the beans. We found a last minute flight on United - Reno to Memphis for $238. Todd will be flying in for a few days on Saturday. Then some very kind people wanted to pay for Shay and Dane to fly to their cancer sibling camp so as Shay and Dane fly out for 1 week, Todd will be flying here. People are so kind and generous. Our neighbor across the street saw that our front yard needed to be mowed, and he just came over and did it. Thanks Eric. Thanks Carrie for all of the rides you helped with the boys getting to school too. Robbie has been a good playmate to Dane too. We will miss you guys when you move.

Well Shay and Dane are out of school today at half day. They are very excited to be out too. This year has been a hard year to have them go into Carson Montessori with me being in Memphis and not being able to help with rides etc. Thanks so much to the Voigtleanders for all of their help with everything. Since next year Shay will be in 7th grade, he will have to go to the dreaded middle school. He has improved immensely in all of his subjects and tested way up so maybe he will be in gifted and talented. I have been bribing him to work harder, because I knew he was smart. I guess my bribe worked! Dane excelled at math, but is still a non-focuser. Miss Crow in first grade kept talking to him about focusing and one day as she caught him staring out to space she asked "Dane what are you doing?" Dane replied "I am focusing.... on focusing." Dane excells at math and is getting along in reading and spelling. His writing is atrocious and we will be working on all subjects when he is here with me this summer because next year in 3rd grade is a big jump from second to 3rd. I am looking forward to Dane going to Riverview next year. All of the 3rd grade teachers are wonderful and there are so many teachers at Riverview that are awesome. People ask me why I pulled the boys out of Dayton last year and I have told everyone that it was the dreaded middle school. If Shay was going to Motessori than I might as well have Dane go too. But next year, it will be back to Dayton. I think that the Montessori school was great for both of the boys. They did quite well considering their Mom and sister were not around since January.

We love all of your prayers. Please don't stop praying for us now. We still have some hard hurdles. Here is my quote for the day. Elder Richard G. Scott told in General Conference of losing his wife over 14 years ago. Then he said "I have never asked why but rather what is it that He wants me to learn from this experience. I believe that is a good way to face the unpleasant things in our lives, not complaining but thanking the Lord for the trust He places in us when He gives us the opportunity to overcome difficulties."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wednesday isn't for Wussies!

So I started to feel happy that we were on a good roll of Devree not vomitting for 9 straight days until this morning she is making up for it. She was feeling pretty well yesterday when we came home from the hospital. She hasn't been napping and finished her book and watched some TV. Her rancid cream corn smell from the stem cells didn't seem to bother her either. As soon as she got up this morning she told me she thought she had the flu because of both ends having problems. I told her "No that is just the chemo." She is just trying to relax in her bed and listen to her ipod and try to get through the nausea. She threw up some of her nausea meds, and now doesn't want to try again or take a bath.

Then I have no network on my phone, right here in the Target House where I usually have a good connection, there is nothing. We don't go to the hospital till 3pm to get some GCSF, but I was so happy to see that her ANC had not dropped like last time when we left the hospital. I thought this was going to be an easier time. I guess I never should think "Hey we are over this." At least I have time to do some laundry today and maybe go to the library and find some good books for Devree and possibly me.

Here is my quote today. This is by Elder Rafael E. Pino. "If we live our lives in accordance with teachings of the Savior, we will surely find the peace and consolation that only God can give.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Second Sci Fi with pictures this time.

If you look closely you can see the fog coming off the metal envelope.

This is what it is like to get your stem cells back.

Lots of people ended coming in the room to watch. There is a Dr. from Las Vegas that is visiting and started saying that his children's hospital has the same methods as St. Jude's. But you know I just can't believe it is as good because it is a children's hospital that is not as specialized as here.

Why go anywhere else when you know that you have the best? Dr. Gajarr has spent his life's work on medulloblastoma. Where else can they say that?

Sorry I was late in posting today but as you can see, this is a unique process and one not to be missed. Getting your own stem cells back is quite the process. She only had one syringe this time instead of 2.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday not Sunday = Day of Rest

Devree has had a lot of nausea yesterday and today. She says she feels like she has acid reflux clear up her throat and then she asked the nurse for some maalox and then we have to okay it with the doctor etc. Devree had a fall this morning and they check everything when that happens. She fell on her bum and back and she just doesn't have much meat on her bum. Therefore she will have a big bruise but no open skin thank goodness. We worry about any open wound, no matter how small because she doesn't have the right blood to fix it during and after chemo.

Saturday I noticed that she was retaining fluid. I told the nurse and at about midnight they gave her a diaretic. She was up urinating all night. Yesterday she looked puffy again. But she hadn't made the scales think she was retaining, so no diaretic at midnight- thank goodness. She has lost some more weight this time in spite of not doing the "v" word, but the other end has been making up for the weight loss.

Back to something more upbeat, Thank You Koe for the wonderful package. We put up the Mormon Ads right away. Thank you Debbie for the great movie and the books. Thanks Gerry for the great idea about eyebrows. I have shared it with many others that needed it. Some girl patients miss their eyebrows so much and work to make them look okay and still the eyebrows might turn out to look like "Spock". Devree's look natural and they don't rub off either. Gerry told us that she went to a "Look Good" makeup class for cancer patients and they told her to draw on your eyebrow with the flat part of the eyebrow pencil and then take a tissue and rub up gently. It looks like hairs growing and blots off the pencil so that it doesn't smear and they stay on quite well.

We had wonderful visitors yesterday even though Devree was highly anti-nausea drugged up. The drugs make her very sleepy, but at least she isn't loosing her cookies. Thanks Val and Kat for the lovely slippers, poster, magazine and quote. I loved having both of you to talk to even though you came to see Devree. I should have taken your picture! I forgot. Then Breck, Celest, Talon, Kallie and Jackson came and gave me a strawberry shortcake. So delicious! Jackson thought it was so neat to make Devree's bed go way up in the air. We missed Tayzia. Tayzia comes home today from Cheer camp.

Here is my quote for today. This is by Elder Kevin W. Pearson. "In a household of faith, there is no need to fear or doubt. Choose to live by faith and not fear."