Saturday, January 30, 2010

A little background

From our family blog. (only names removed) Originally Posted 01/30/2010 and transferred here 09/19/10.
Ok, since quite a few people have asked I've finally decided to get my act together and keep the everyday part of our blog updated… in English so for news in Italian go read The Husband in 18mq, for English it'll be me here. Obviously, I'll include some of what The Husband writes In his blog here and he'll include some of our news there, but really the only people who will know what is going on with any consistency are those that read both!!
The Husband's blog, from his 18 square meter room will obviously be more interesting than mine (well he does have A LOT more time to write than me!), mine will be a little more mundane… how the kids are, what's going on at the house… but I'll definitely be including information on how his treatment is progressing and how he's feeling.
Let's see… right now we're all home, The Husband included, so I'm just happy as a peach cobbler. You really don't appreciate the simple things, like the family all being together, until you've been forced apart. To give you an example, today The Husband drove me to Brico (kind of like home depot) and Euronics (an electronics store) he just drove me, couldn't go in cause he can't go to crowded places yet, but it was so nice just driving around with him, running errands, just the regular boring things we have to do every day; not doing them alone makes a huge difference! Or this morning sitting in the living room, The Husband reading, The Boy playing quietly with his new fire truck (ok, that's sort of a miracle in and of itself) while I was feeding The Girl.
So my thoughts today, as I take a minute to take stock of my life, is that we are exceptionally lucky people. I'm sitting on the couch with my pc, The Boy is on the floor in front of me making an epic mess with all of his toys playing with his Nonna (The Husband's mom), The Husband is upstairs having a therapy session with one of our neighbors, I'll explain what he does in the next few posts but suffice it to say that we are lucky to have found him, to have him as a neighbor and hopefully these sessions will help the Husband rid himself of this disease and hopefully not ever have it return, while the Girl is upstairs getting a bath from her nanny. We are extremely lucky because we have a great support system. the Husband's parents basically dropped everything and moved here when The Husband got sick and they are so good with the Boy, keeping him entertained and happy and also thanks to them I can leave for a few hours a day and hang out with the Husband in the hospital. My very practical mother, who couldn't come herself right away, sent us the next best thing last week, a wonderful Brazilian lady who used to work for her in Rome and who also had lived with us for a year when I was pregnant with the Boy. Loads of friends have dropped food off or gone grocery shopping for us (not a common thing here in Italy), and loads more have called, sent emails, texts and positive thoughts and prayers. We're lucky because the hospital here in Cuneo has a great hematology wing, the personnel is really nice, the doctors are good and the standard of care is great. The Husband reacted well to the first round of chemo, he wasn't too sick and they managed to keep him comfortable. We're lucky because in this day and age we've got the internet and cell phones and videoconferencing and skype so we can keep in touch with the Husband wherever we are, and he keeps sane cause he's got a window out of his 18mq (I'll be using the Italian abbreviation for square meter cause that's the name of his blog). We're lucky because there's been a lot of research on this horrible illness so the chances for recovery are better than ever. We're lucky because we've got two wonderful children and when the Husband gets discouraged he thinks of them and feels better and when I get depressed I have to be happy and upbeat for them so it gets me out of my funk. We're lucky because of the 10 wonderful years we've had together and all the things we've done.
There's another million reasons why we're lucky, and in fact, I'll try to add at least one reason why we're lucky at the end of each post.
I realize I've been droning on and on so I'll quit here for today, I'm adding at the end of this the text of an email I sent a few weeks ago explaining what happened, most of you already know or already received it so this is for those who didn't.
Email sent on Jan. 08th :
Dear friends, sorry about the collective email, I have some "not so great" news to share and it's easier to do it just once for everyone, this will explain why I haven't answered many of your emails and phone calls.
On December 23rd my husband, A, was admitted to the hospital and on the 24th he was diagnosed with acute leukemia. We found out because he had been having random small illnesses (swollen tonsils, a rash on his arms etc) and he was extremely tired, but we thought he was mostly stressed plus the cold weather hit so we figured everything was normal. After a couple of months of going back and forth to the doctor but never really feeling better he had some blood work done and when we got the results we saw that his immune system was completely shot. And that's how we ended up in hematology on the 23rd (the blood test results had just come in and a doctor friend of ours sent us straight to the hospital). On the 24th they tested his bone marrow and gave us the terrible news.
The Husband is now in a sterile room, he can only get one visitor at a time (and the visitor wears a mask, hat, shoe and clothes coverings), the visitor obviously has to be completely healthy (a great feat here in the middle of December, when literally everyone has some sort of cold or flu going on!), he can only eat food that's been cooked thoroughly, and the worst part he can't see the kids.
On a more positive note, his room is nice, the personnel here is really great (surprisingly well mannered and upbeat for an Italian hospital!), he's got both his pc and mac, his cell phone, ebook and a wii to pass the time, and he's not feeling horrible yet!
He did his first cycle of chemo and it went pretty well, this will be his worst week because they told us that the first week once you're done with the chemo is when the body reacts to all the chemicals. Now all we can do is pray that he starts producing good, healthy, working white blood cells!
We don't know for sure which type of leukemia it is, but we do know he will have to have at least 3 chemo cycles and a bone marrow transplant.
Obviously, this has shocked and scared all of us, but we are trying to stay positive cause he is young and healthy and his chances of recovery are very good. We have a long road ahead of us and we're counting on a LOT of positive vibes from all our friends and family. The Husband sent out an email much like this one to his friends right after we found out (it's taken me longer to be able to be rational about the whole thing, and also find the time to sit down and write!) and he asked his friends to set their alarms or phone reminders to a certain time each day and to just think of him in a positive manner or to sent him a quick prayer, since we are great believers in the power of positive thoughts and vibes, so I'm asking the same of y'all if you feel like it.
As far as the rest of the family is concerned, I'm home with the kids (for those of you who don't know The Girl was born on November 23rd, my mother in law has moved into my house (a great help, especially since I've learned to ignore half of what she says and does!), and that's about it. My days are divided between breastfeeding the baby (very time consuming) hanging out with The Boy, who really misses his daddy and doesn't really understand why he's gone, and hanging out at the hospital with The Husband.
As I said, we've got a long road in front of us, but the only thing we care about is that at the end of the road The Husband makes it home completely healthy.
I'm sure this email will result in a lot of questions from everyone, the only thing I ask of you is that you do NOT google leukemia, if you want information on the illness go to the mayo clinic website, or to the National Cancer Institute ( website or similar because they give you the information without freaking you out.
Talk soon and love to all and remember good, positive, happy thoughts our way!!!


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