Friday, June 24, 2011


 This week has been a little rough for Carter.  Ever since his shots on Monday, he hasn't walked much.  I've been carrying him to the bathroom, to the table, to bed, etc.  There was some of this:

But mostly a lot of this:

 And this:
He's been exhausted, falling asleep a couple times a day.  I'm having flashbacks of Induction.  It makes sense though, since it's pretty much the same medicines as he got that first month.  And he's gained a few pounds this week also from the steroids.  One other lovely side-effect of the steroids is that he sleeps terribly.  He wakes up at least 5 times every night and still wakes up for the day super early. It's really no wonder he's so tired.  He's off of the steroids for now until next Thursday so hopefully we'll all get some sleep around here! 

Anyways, to the clinic visit.  It went really well.  The port access was the best one yet by far.  I mean I wanted to cry it was so good.  I brought little brother along again this time and I think it helped Carter be extra brave.  When we got in the room I started reading a book to the boys.  The nurse came in a got all set up and I put Carter on my lap.  I started to unbutton his shirt and he said, "No, I want her to do it!"  So the nurse did it and I just kept reading.  He started chewing his gum (the stuff they use to clean the site is really strong and it's right by his face so he always has to have mint or gum or something to help) and he plugged his nose and we just kept reading and talking about the book.  Before I knew it, she had put the needle in and Carter gave a little, "ow" under his breath and that was it!  I didn't want to make a big deal of it so I just kept reading.  Once she was done getting blood and put the tape and stickers over the needle, she got up to leave and then I said to Carter, "Is she already done?!?!"  And he looked so proud of himself.  Then he wanted to call Daddy to tell him how brave he was.  It was awesome.  Then we hung out in the playroom while he got his medicine.  The de-access wasn't quite as smooth, but still not bad.  By that point he was really tired and a little grumpy so I don't blame him.  Overall, it was a really good visit.  His numbers are still really good, better than last week even.  White blood cell count of 8,800 with ANC of 7,900!!  Hemoglobin 13.1 and platelets 345,000.  The doctor said his marrow is probably still on the upward swing from the recovery period we had before this round.  They will start going down in a week or two.  But the rest of the day yesterday and so far today he's been doing great.  Running around, playing, and even doing stuff for himself that he stopped doing months and months ago:  Getting himself dressed, throwing his trash away, and getting himself a drink or snack.  And the boy doesn't stop talking!  I don't know if it's just coming with age or if all this craziness has something to do with it but he is becoming very talkative and outgoing.  It's so fun to see.  So this week has the potential to be really good, cross your fingers for us :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Leg shots

I was feeling REALLY brave today, taking all 3 kids to the clinic!

We went into the clinic for two shots of PEG-Aspariginase in Carter's legs today.  Before we left this morning, I was helping Carter get dressed and he told me that he needed to wear a button-up shirt instead of the t-shirt I had picked out for him.  Then he told me to put the cream on his chest (to numb it before his port access).  This was one of the very few visits when he would not get accessed and of course this is the time when he's super cooperative.  I am still very curious to know how it would have gone had he gotten accessed today.  Not curious enough to have them do it, though :)  Anyhow, his little brother was getting very sad about the idea of being left anywhere today, and knowing it would be a pretty quick visit with most of our time spent in the play room, I just loaded all of them up and took them all with me.  This was the first time I've taken all 3 by myself.  It went pretty well.  Carter was in a fantastic mood all morning until he got the shots.  Totally ruined his day.  We have to wait there for an hour afterwards in case he has a reaction to the shots.  He still hasn't stood up or walked since getting them 5 hours ago because his legs hurt too much.  Anyways, that was our day so far.  Back to the clinic on Thursday for more chemo.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Start of Delayed Intensification and Happy Birthday

Today was day one of "Delayed Intensification" and was also Carter's birthday.  It started off with a sedation for Intrathecal Methotrexate (injected into his spinal fluid) which meant no birthday breakfast.  When we first got there, the lady at the front desk (who has been kinda rude to us on a previous visit) gave me some attitude about being late.  I guess they had my appointment as being at 8:00 but my appointment paper and reminder call both told me 8:30.  Then the triage nurse came to get us and more attitude was thrown my way for being "almost an hour late!"  Carter was already really sad that we had to be in the hospital and that was pretty much the last place I wanted to be also, so by the time all this happened and we finally got to our room I was feeling very frazzled and upset.  The sweet nurse came in to do Carter's access and draw blood for the CBC.  She could tell I was on the verge of tears and asked me what was wrong.  I started crying and told her about the appointment mix-up and everything.  She was very nice about it all.  Anyways, then she needed to do the access and Carter was not having it.  He climbed under the chair in the corner to hide - that's a new one.  I had to move the chair to get him and hold him down for the access.  Now I have a few scratches on my arm, it was a rough morning.  During this craziness, my least favorite Doctor came in to do his exam.  The nurse told him she'd come get him when she was finished and he acted very put out - we were running late, after all!  I was not excited that we were on his schedule.  Once he was access and the blood was drawn and he was calmed down, our doctor came in.  Carter's official doctor.  I could've jumped for joy at the sight of him.  He talked with me for a little while and helped us both feel better.  Then we got some zofran and were off to the playroom.  He got to play for a few minutes before they came to get us for the sedation.  I had to carry him to the room because he tried to run away.  He cried until he finally fell asleep.  While he was sleeping I took a little walk outside to regroup (sorry, this is turning into a mommy-venting post) and when I got back, Carter's chemo pal was there.  We talked while we waited for Carter to wake up.  He got both of his chemo meds while he was still sleeping and started to wake up right as the nurse was going to de-access his port.  I told her to just hurry and do it quick before he was all the way awake.  She got the tape off and needle out so fast!  I picked him up and started talking about birthday cake and showed him his friend was there to see him.  He looked down and his chest and asked, "is my tubey out already?!"  From there on out, he was a happy little 4 year-old.  The nurses came and sang "Happy Birthday" to him and he had birthday cake for breakfast.  He played with his chemo pal for a little while and even got a few new toys from him for his birthday. 
Chocolate cake on his face and a new airplane toy
Then we had to go down and pick up some meds from the pharmacy.  We stopped by the fish tank and read a few books while we waited for it to be ready.

He wanted Carl's Jr's chicken stars and a milkshake for lunch so we picked some up on the way home.  He put the straws in like this and told me it was so we could both drink at the same time :)

We played outside, went to the store, visited the fish hatchery, had waffles for dinner, and watched the rest of the 4th Shrek movie.  The day ended well despite it's rough start.

Here's a list of the medicines he'll be getting this round.  He's had some before.  The ones he hasn't had are very similar to ones he has.

Vincristine - he's had this one every round so far
Peg-Asparaginase - leg shots, had first two rounds
Cyclophosphamide - all day clinic visit, has had before
Cytarabine - I inject into his port at home for 3 days, has had before
Intrathecal Methotrexate -  into spinal fluid, has had last two rounds

Dexamethasone - steroid, similar to Prednisone, some say it has stronger side effects
Doxorubicin - very similar to daunorubicin which he's had before
Thioguanine - I forgot to ask him about this since he won't get it til next month but I think it's similar to the Mercaptapurine that he's had before

He got Vincristine, Intrathecal Methotrexate, Doxorubicin, and Dexamethasone today.  He'll be on the steroids for a week then a week off then a week on again.  He'll get the leg shots on Monday, the Vincristine and Doxo again on Thursday.  A week after that he'll get them again and that will be the last of the Doxo.  Yay, that one sucks.  Next month is more craziness and I'm too tired to tell you about it now, you'll have to wait :)  Lots of drugs, lots of clinic visits, and like we tell Carter, it will all make his "dragon" smaller and smaller and smaller until he can finally squoosh it.  I think we'll have a giant party for that...

His blood counts, if you're curious, are looking awesome.  White blood cell 3700, ANC 1500, hemoglobin 12.8, and platelets 396,000.  I kept forgetting to post them for all of last round but they were always pretty similar to his - didn't fluctuate much.  They will start to go down again soon with all this medicine they're pumping into his veins.

Carter is the srongest 4 year-old I know!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Carter!!!

 Our Carter is 4!!  Well, not officially yet, but we pretended it was his birthday on Saturday.  He will be going back to the hospital on his actual birthday :(  We could've postponed the clinic visit a week but we really just want to get this round over with!  So we had a little birthday party for him and invited some little friends his age.  He had a blast.  Grandma even showed up for the occasion.

 I let him put the "Happy Birthday" candles on his cake all by himself.  I think he did an excellent job.

 This was the one thing he really REALLY wanted for his birthday.  A Spongebob fishing pole.  He played with it all day long.

Baby Carter

We had so much fun celebrating Carter's birthday.  Here's to many, many, MANY more birthdays for our awesome little guy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Round 3 - DONE!!!

 This is what Carter does to cancer

 We went to the fish hatchery over the weekend and he loved feeding the fish

 He looks good, he feels good, life is so good right now.

Last Friday was the last day of the oral meds for Round 3.  We're on our two week break between rounds and it's heavenly.  This also marks the end of our scheduled admissions!  Hallelujah!  Next round starts a week from Thursday.  The way our doctor described it was "the first 3 months smooshed into 2 months".  Sounds fun, right?  His counts will be pretty low for the majority of the two months and the chance of fever with neutropenia (ANC below 500) is high, which would mean at least a few days in the hospital.  It's going to be crazy and intense and we're already excited for it to be over.  Hopefully he will feel ok throughout.  He's such an amazing kid and I know he will continue to surprise and inspire the rest of us.

Delayed Intensification here we come!