Friday, July 29, 2011

A Family Weekend

Tanner comes home this weekend and we are going to try and have a "family weekend" with his brother.  We'll see how much time we actually all spend together (you know that saying about the "best laid plans") but I do know that the plan is for us to all go and see the last Harry Potter movie.  We've seen the whole series together since they were very young boys, so I guess we'll see this last one together too.  I told them I've read the book and can just tell them how it ends, but they say "no way"!

Tonight, I think they are going to go night fishing with their dad.  It's way too hot here in Texas to do much outside during the day right now...

I took Tanner to his chemo appointment on Wednesday and he was walking with only one crutch but his left leg was still swollen and was hurting.  He said that he thought he was going to have to get the other crutch back out for a while.  I'm still not use to seeing him without his leg brace!!

Surgery on the femur is usually more painful than on the tibia, but the fact that the left leg was broken for two years and had a bone graft made this last procedure a more invasive surgery - and it's just taking him a while longer to recover.  He goes to see the Orthopedic Surgeon in Dallas on Tuesday for his follow up appointment, Wedensday is chemo in Fort Worth, and then Friday he goes back to Dallas to see Dr. Berryman.  It's going to be a busy week!

After his chemo appointment on Wednesday at Cook's Oncology Department, we went over to the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and met with Terry Purdom, a man who was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2004 ( 

Shirley Casey (our friend from OK who also has MM) hooked us up with Terry and we all decided it would be a good idea for he and Tanner to meet.

Tanner was very impressed with Terry and while we were there, the doctor came out and met with us also.  He said that he was in no way a "specialist" in Multiple Myeloma, like Dr. Barlogie or Dr. Berryman, but that he would be more than willing to treat Tanner here locally under the supervision of either of the other doctors. 

They gave us a tour of the facility and Monday evening, Tanner plans to attend a seminar that is to be hosted by Terry -  "I Can Cope, Keeping Well In Mind and Body".

I'm so glad Tanner had an opportunity to meet Terry and I'm glad Shirley "introduced" us - from all the way up in Oklahoma (by way of Facebook)!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Slower Than the Hip

Tanner's Painting for New Ward at Cooks
 Tanner is doing well - though the recovery from surgery on the left tibia is taking longer than the recovery on the right femur.  I guess it's because the bone has been broken so long and the surgery to place the rod in the left leg was more invasive than the hip.

He's been staying with his Granny and Grandfather again this week and yesterday he texted me a photo of himself on their recumbent bike.  He said that riding the bike seems to be helping him and that he's been able to walk around the house a little bit without his crutches (he was off the crutches when they put the rod in his femur within three days).  I'm sure it will probably be okay by the time his college classes start on August 29th.

I received an email from Make A Wish and they wanted to schedule his trip to Hawaii from August 20th - August 27th but I had to email her back and ask about the time of the flight on the 20th since college orientation is that morning until noon.  I guess we'll see what they can work out but I think he's running out of time to make the trip work out since classes will soon start.

He's spending next week with his dad so I'll have another week of quiet before he comes home and we start getting ready for school (and possibly Hawaii - LOL).  The first week of August he has three doctor's appointments and none of them could work out their schedules so that we could see multiple physicians on the same day.  So, we'll make a trip to Dallas early in the week to see the orthopedic surgeon, then mid-week he will have his chemo in Fort Worth, and then later in the week we will head back to Dallas to see Dr. Berryman (the new Oncologist).  Busy- busy with lots to do before he settles down to school four days a week!

I actually received an email this week from D'Juanna at MIRT asking how Tanner and I were doing and have been considering how to reply.  The thing is, when Bonnie (Dr. Barlogie's right hand assistant) emailed months ago asking if she needed to be looking for a job for me, I emailed her back about my concerns regarding Tanner and I living in Arkansas, practically on our own, and that I was considering finding a doctor here locally.  I never heard back from her so I've basically just stopped communicating with them; they don't even know about Tanner's recent surgeries.

I guess I'm going to go ahead and email Dr. Barlogie and let him know what is going on and leave the ball in his court.  When we were last there in Little Rock, he made it pretty clear to us that he wasn't willing to work with Tanner having his tests here in Texas and gave us the ultimatum of moving to Arkansas before he was scheduled to return for his follow up tests in August.

He basically put it that if we wanted Tanner to have the best chance at a long life, we needed to live in Arkansas.  The thing is, Tanner doesn't want to live the rest of his life in Arkansas - and though I'm his mom and my instinct is to always take over and make all of his decisions (even his medical decisions), this is his life, his disease, and his decision.

We talked to Tanner's counselor at the Oncology Department at Cook's Hospital and she made some calls and the lady at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society said there are lots of places other than MIRT where you can get quality Multiple Myeloma care. 

Tanner and Dr. Albritton

When we visited with Dr. Berryman at Baylor Dallas, he seemed to know all about the kind of treatment that Dr. Barlogie had given Tanner.  He said that he wouldn't change any of Tanner's regimen and that he would be willing to work with Dr. Barlogie.  I just don't know if Dr. Barlogie would be willing to work with Dr. Berryman.  He just wants Tanner in Little Rock...

So...  I'll email Dr. B this weekend and will let him know everything that has been happening and we'll see how it goes from there...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Internal Brace

Tanner had surgery yesterday to place the rod in his left tibia and everything went off without a hitch.  The surgeon said he had to make an extra incision on top of the leg because of the bone graft that was performed two years ago but that the rod went into place without too many difficulties.

The pain seems to be a little more intense than when they put the rod in the hip but, all in all, Tanner has been in good spirits since we made it to his hospital room.  I can vouch for the fact that his appetite hasn't been effected at all.  He had part of a turkey sandwich, half of a club panini, roast, broccoli, potatoes, and spice cake between the time he made it to his room around 4 p.m. yesterday and bedtime last night!

The nurse practitioner came by this morning and has already written orders that he can go home today as soon as physical therapy comes by and gets him out of bed to walk.  She said he can put as much weight on the leg as he can bear and that he doesn't have to wear the leg brace anymore!  He has an internal brace now!!

Once we get through these initial few days of the worst of the pain, he should be set to get on with his life!! 

College starts August 29th!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Another Surgery

Tanner heads back to TCC in the morning to meet his granny and they are going to talk with the counselors and get things ready for him to start school in September. He’s already completed his FAFSA paperwork so now they can get started looking into grants and assistance.

We are so excited that he’s finally reached a point that he’s ready to move on to this next phase of his life. Tanner… College!! Future independence…

Thursday is surgery day again. They are going to go ahead and put the rod in his left broken tibia. Tanner is quite excited since this means he can get rid of the leg brace immediately after surgery. Just think, two years in either a full leg cast or brace! He just wants to feel confident in the strength of his legs and not be in constant worry about them breaking.

He’s working with me at the office this Monday putting labels on some of our newsletters. Between staying with Granny Jane for a couple of weeks taking care of business and coming to work with me, he’s getting a taste of what it’s like to have to be up and focused for hours at a time. It’s been over a year since he finished his home schooling so now he’s going to have to get used to having a daily schedule once again.

I’ve never heard back from Bonnie at MIRT since I emailed her about our concerns in regards to moving to Arkansas. August would be when we are supposed to head back up there for a follow up appointment, so I guess it’s time for me to bite the bullet and go ahead and contact Dr. Barlogie directly and let him know what has been going on. Heaven knows what his reaction will be. .. I guess we’ll soon see.

Hopefully, this surgery goes as well as the last surgery did and Tanner will be well on his way to a more normal teenage existence.

He and I both know that college won’t be easy, but he’s ready to face a new challenge. He faced cancer and look how that’s turned out… Yes, there were plenty of bad days – and yes, he made some mistakes while trying to get back to his life, but here he is… ready to move on.

If he applies himself to school with as much courage and determination as he did his treatment, he should do just fine.