Emily’s treatment is continuing according to the original schedule, which is good news after the fear the recent infection might put a delay in things. We are still awaiting results on the exact nature of the infection but we now know that it has not reached her blood stream and lies instead in the red lumin, one of the tubes in her Broviac line. She is on a strong antibiotic which will take TEN days to run its course. Ten days in which Emily and Christina will have to remain at U.C. Davis Med Center. The doctors are also performing a “lock” on the line, in which they cleanse it with alcohol for 5 to 6 hours a day for five days, in order to kill any bacteria in the tube.
During her spinal tap on Tuesday, the doctor turned to Christina and said, “I know you are terrified and this is all very hard right now, but she will get better.” It is reassuring for Christina, and all of us, to hear this but we remain concerned about Emily and all she is suffering through.
Emily’s Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC) is going to be an important number throughout her treatment. Neutrophils are white blood cells that are key components in the bodies defense against infection. A scarcity of neutrophils (known as neutropenia) makes a person vulnerable to infection. It is normal for a person to have a low ANC as they go through chemotherapy, as the bone marrow is recovering and new blood cells are beginning to grow and mature.
Emily’s ANC is currently at 10. A “safe” ANC – one which would indicate it is safe for her to go home and have her activities less restricted – would be 500 to 1,500. This is a big gap to close before Emily can leave the hospital but the doctors assure us that the number will rise slowly at first and then rise quickly to where we need it to be. In the meantime, the best things we can do are to take extra care when being near Emily, always washing hands and ultimately not visiting when we are sick or feeling ill.
Christina reports that Emily is a Trooper. She is coming to accept the inconveniences of her new life. When it is time to take her blood pressure or temperature (two things she has despised the past two weeks), she now holds her arm out and stays still with no fussing as the nurses perform their tasks. Christina was blessed by the gift of an ergo carrier that she can now use to hold Emily on their many laps around the hospital corridor. Praise for this gift that is going to help save Christina from a aching back!
We continue to be thankful for all of the support and prayers offered by so many. The family is doing well under the circumstances and remains faithful in God to heal Emily in time. Below are some specific prayer requests made by Christina:
- Prayer for Christina as she misses her other children (and they miss her). She hopes to take a few hours here and there to leave the hospital and spend time with the older kids.
- Prayer for Christina as she misses her husband (and he her!). The babysitting tree has allowed Jason to spend some time at the hospital but the couple needs all of our prayers as they keep their marriage strong through the challenges ahead.
- Prayer for Emily as she begins to accept the changes to her life. She is a “trooper”, according to Christina and is already learning to cooperate with nurses and doctors, but she is woken often from sleep and very much wants to go home.
- Prayer for Christina as she struggles with feeling overwhelmed by Emily’s illness and all that it means for her life. Christina knows God has Emily in his arms but it still breaks Christina’s heart to see her in pain.