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Because she has done so remarkably well in her recovery from her blood cancer, we are going to be entering a new phase.

Next Wednesday we will spend a day getting trained for dealing with the next phase of her treatment.  Assuming no obstacles are found as a result of a series of medical tests next week -

the first full week of October she will spend four days having stem cells extracted from her bone marrow.

On Sunday October 13 I will take her to Fairfax Hospital.

The next two days she will undergo a blast of massive chemotherapy to eliminate all of her white blood cells.

The following day she will be injected back with her own stem cells to rebuild her white blood cell count.

She will be hospitalized for at least two weeks, perhaps more.

While some people do this largely on an outpatient basis, given our cats that did not seem feasible to do.

Once she is discharged, after her white blood cells haves been sufficiently regenerated, she will still need full-time care for several weeks.

All told, she will be out of work for almost two months.

Let me explain why she has chosen to go this path, and what it means for the two of us.

Her most recent bone marrow biopsy showed no signs of the cancer, but it is still in her body.

This approach, which is strongly recommended by her primary oncologist, has based on the track record a good chance of extending her remission by several years.

The transplant doctor is a part of the oncology practice, and he and the practice are highly regarded for what they are doing.

I will miss probably 5 and maybe six days of teaching -

I will be out next Wednesday to get trained in giving her care.

Of course I will be in the hospital as much as I can those first three days, of chemo and getting her stem cells, even though I will not be able to directly touch her, will have to be gowned and masked when around her.

I will be with her the day she comes home (which might be a weekend) and perhaps the next day.

The rest of the time I will fulfill my teaching responsibilities.

We will arrange for a caregiver once she is out of the hospital and home for as long as is necessary.  Basically she cannot be left alone, because in any possible crisis she will have to immediately return to the clinic.  

Our insurance will NOT cover the cost of a caregiver, but the fact that I have a salary on top of my pension and social security means we should be able to cover the additional costs we will incur, which will also include some cab fairs in the preparatory treament:  on the days they are extracting her stem cells she has to be at the doctor's office at 7 AM and I have to be at school by 6:45.  I will be able to leave school in time to pick her up and bring her home  (she is NOT allowed to drive herself on those days).

The risks to her are considered minimal, primarily the risk of infection until her immune system is built back up.

She has thought long and hard about this, and has a clear sense that if there are no medical obstacles this is the route she wants to go.

We have discussed how we will handle the caregiving, and as of yet have no definite plan in place, although we are exploring a number of alternatives.  

As I write this we are approaching midnight on Wednesday night.  On Thursday I will appear at the annual DC fundraiser for Netroots Nation.  That will be the only political event / fundraiser I attend this cycle, despite elections in Virginia.

We are also keeping an eye on one elderly cat who is having some difficulties, but we believe we have him stabilized.

My students and my school know I will be out.  Now that I have specific dates I am able to plan my instruction, including constructive lessons that can be done by a substitute, for those days I will be out.

I will be able to be online, especially on those days I do not go to school, more than I have been recently.

I will make every attempt to keep friends and family and various communities informed.

Otherwise, other activities will simply have to wait.

My primary concern is the well-being of my best friend and beloved spouse.

I have a responsibility to my students.

And of course I will care for our cats.

The rest of life?  It will have to wait.

We ask again to keep us in your hearts, minds and prayers.

We will let you know the results of the tests, whether we are able to proceed or not, when we receive them.  

Thank you for your continued support.

teacherken & Leaves on the Current

Originally posted to teacherken on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 08:47 PM PDT.

Also republished by Positive Intention and Lovingkindness.

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