Wednesday, June 29, 2011

::time ticks and fluids drip::

Hello, howdy, and hi!

Hope you are having a fabulous day - wherever you are.  While I was asleep, I was dreaming about Hawai'i and swimming in the ocean with turtles.  Then I woke up.  In Indiana.  Poo.

Kurtis is doing well.  As of yesterday, he was still at the bottom of the U, but looking good.  Just like a U has a line along the bottom, so does Kurtis' recovery, so it is expected that he travels along that line while he is getting better.  Any day now, he should start to trend back up and he'll start to feel better very quickly.  He didn't have to get any platelets or any extra anything yesterday, so the day seemed "short" at the hospital which as very nice. 

We're waiting on his blood tests to come back for today to see if he is on the upswing yet.  There is talk of us being able to blow this popstand by the end of the weekend, so that is absolutely fabulous! It will take us several days to get home (by choice and necessity) but we're thrilled that the chance of having half of a Fort Collins summer awaits us.  I know a lot of you are from the Fort, but for those of you who are not - Fort Collins in the summer is like a dreamland.  The sun is out and it is almost never too hot.  Old Town is free of the college kids (well, so is most of the city during that time!).  The river is running, Horsetooth calls out to be hiked, and many hours can be spent working and playing outside. 

Kurtis is sleeping right now, which is pretty normal.  He wasn't feeling too well last night, but still managed to watch Master Chef and the two hour almost-final show of The Voice before heading to bed.  I don't think either of us have really completely adjusted to the night news being on at eleven instead of ten, and shows running to's going to feel weird when we go home.  It seems like he has been sleeping well though, which is excellent.  The more his body rests and works, the better he'll feel faster.

I've been working on school stuff mostly.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to be teaching my English class using pirate books, so I've been cranking through those one after another - two down, three or four to go!  I've also been making some sock bunnies to take to the children's hospital before we leave.  My mom sent me some felt, and the one I made yesterday trumps all the other ones I'd made before...thanks Mom :)

Other than that, not too much to report other than a great win by the Rox last night.  Thank goodness technology is advanced enough that I can watch and listen to them out here!

Hope everything is well with everyone.  Sending our love!


Monday, June 27, 2011

bottom of the "U"


Welcome back to Indiana...but today I'm not writing from our favorite room six, but our hotel room instead. 

I was going to write earlier, but then I thought it would be best to wait for Monday's all important HCG number so that I could send that out instead of leaving everyone hanging.  I got caught up in a book that I started this morning and since I'm done with it now, Kurtis reminded me that I hadn't blogged for a few days. 

First of all, Kurtis' HCG is down to 27!  Although this drop doesn't seem to be very large, it actually is just what is expected.  Once he gets closer and closer to "normal" (zero), the number doesn't drop as fast.  His drop this week is roughly the same percentage drop as his first drop.  So - hooray! We're on track.

Right now, K is officially in the bottom of the "U" curve that happens with his blood counts.  The process goes something like this...
-K gets chemo
-chemo blasts away cancer cells as well as other healthy cells
-K's cells and blood counts steadily decline
-K's blood "bottoms out" or goes as low as it is going to go
-K's blood counts go back up

The stem cells that he got back are babies and it takes time for them to grow.  He's been at the "bottom" for a few days now, and in the next few days (maybe tomorrow or the next day) his counts should start to go back up.  Yesterday, his platelets (that clot blood) were too low so he had to have a platelet transfusion.  So far, no other transfusions have been needed which is great.  Throughout his entire battle, Kurtis hasn't needed any blood products except for platelets. 

We had a nice time with Kurtis' family while they were out there.  As I write this, they are on their way back to Colorado and they should arrive fairly soon at DIA.  It was good to see them, and I know that Kurtis got an emotional boost seeing them :)

Other than all of that, not much is happening.  We're really (really, really) ready to come home and the closer we get I think we both get a little bit more antsy.  Baseball and golf await! I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I get my kitchen back...besides have a field day!

Anyway - it's time for Master Chef (and some Ben and Jerry's Peanut Butter World Ice cream <-- apparently you can only get it at Target...but it is darn good!!) so I will leave you for tonight.

Hope everyone is doing well - sending our love!!

PS. Have you read any great pirate books?  If you have, please let me know! :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

day +3: Countdown Mode

and hello from Hoosier Land.

Where am I this morning? You guessed it! Room SIX. 
I am still enjoying the Rockies triumph over the Yankees last night [insert fist pump and taunting dance here].  Even if we can't pull out another W, at least we won't get swept by the scum of the earth.

I didn't write yesterday because I was too busy playing at the zoo with all the nice animals and Kurtis' sister (Heather) and her baby (Aubrey), and thought that if I were to write a post last night, it would have turned out terribly as I was quite interested in the baseball game.  Knowing that we had a little while in the hospital today, I thought it would be fine for you to wait and find out what has happened.  I know that some of you were devastated and probably spent the majority of the night crying when nothing was posted, but don't fret! Here is the lowdown!

We are now at day "+3" and that means that Kurtis is three days out of his stem cell transplant.  This time last round he was in the hospital with nasty stuff going on in his body and a button attached to a pain pump.  So far, he is feeling much better, and even though his counts are starting to drop (they're supposed to) his mouth is still doing okay and he is still feeling pretty dang good.  This morning he thought he had a little bit of a fever, but by the time we got to the hospital, there was nothing, so that's great!  He is currently plugged into the iPad watching some stand up comedian and laughing to himself.  It's quite funny since I don't know what any of the jokes are (he's wearing headphones) and the whole clinic is pretty quiet until he goes into a laughing fit. 

We've started to look at heading home which is nice.  When I first arrived in the land of hoosier, I tried not to think about when we got to go home.  Countdowns that get shifted to things you really want can be super frustrating, so I just tried to take it one day at a time.  Now that Kurtis is doing well, we have a pretty good idea of when we'll get to head home if things continue to go as planned.  It's going to take us a good amount of time to get home probably, but we've decided that if Kurtis is feeling up to it, we can see a few things on the way home. 

Although we're excited to come back home, we feel kinda bad for Chauncey.  He has no idea that his time at camp are limited and he has made some great "friends" including a big doberman named Zena.  He gets insanely excited when he goes everyday and he's going to be seriously bummed out when he doesn't get to see his friends or his camp counselors on a daily basis.  Poor little buddy.  That is, however, not enough to cause us to relocate...not even close.

AND NOW [drumroll] the funny story time.  Yesterday, Heather and Aubrey and I went to the zoo.  When we were done, we drove over to the hospital which isn't very far away at all, in fact, we pass the zoo on a daily basis coming here.  I pulled into the parking garage and was about a half-turn away from parking when Kurtis texted me that he was we went all the way back down the parking garage and pulled up to the window where you pay.  I handed this semi-grumpy looking woman my pink ticket that tells the computer in the booth how long I had been "parked".  I decided I could pay the dollar it was going to cost for the "under two hours" rate.  She took my ticket, scanned it, and looked back at me with raised eyebrows as if to say "why did you come in here to park for two minutes?"  and I looked at her with a nice smile as if to say "because driving around the parking garage is fun."  In front of us, the bar to exit was raised and we were free to drive back to the front of the hospital.

When you pull up to the front of the hospital, there is a little security guard guy with a radio attached to his shoulder.  This poor man's job is to stop every car that comes into the loop and make sure that they know they can't park.  If someone is here for the valet parking, he talks in his radio to the people twenty feet away to tell them that the "blue toyota corolla" is here for valet. 

---Just to be clear, this area is not big.  There is not enough room for a bunch of cars, and generally it isn't insanely busy.  It's a loop.  You give your car to valet or you drop off/pick up someone and that is all there is to it.   The purpose of this security guy radioing the people twenty feet for him are pretty much unknown seeing as: (a) twenty feet isn't that far, (b) there are no need for such descriptions of the cars seeing as there are usually like two cars and a taxi at a time and (c) there are approximately seven people working the valet station at any given time.  I appreciate your attempt to help the job market and the economy IU medical center, however, it doesn't seem like it is very necessary. ---

Anyway, we pulled up and told the guard (he should have a better name, so I am making one up) *ahem* so we told CAPTAIN FERGON the GUARD OF THE AUTOMATIC DOORS AND PARKING AREA that we were picking someone up and began to circle.  For the next ten or so minutes, circle we did.  We passed good ol' Captain Fergon a multitude of times which actually made our trips around the oval thing sort of awkward for him.  Especially when we were the only car left.  For about half our circles, there was a Jimmy Johns delivery driver who parked in a place people who are not delivering food can't park...and he stood outside his car, with a sandwich, and watched us circle.  We circled fifteen times.  I am now good at left turns.  I will be back next year.  I will win the Indy 500 using my turbo-infused Subaru.  BOOM.

I miss the security guard who instantly knew that white Subaru from Colorado (made evident by two Rockies magnets and a sticker on the back) knows the rules and I didn't have to roll down my window and talk to.

I know. Not that funny.  But sort of funny.  And when you're living in Indiana, sort of funny is REALLY funny.

ALSO (since you didn't get a post yesterday, I'm really just making this worth your time) through this blog, I am able to see "stats" which tell me how many hits we've had (over 3,000!), when people are looking at it, what browsers people are using  (43% of you use Internet Explorer) and where the hits are coming from.  We've gone international with hits from eight countries outside of the United States!  Some of them I know that it is someone who we know reading our blog, but for other places (Denmark?) I have no idea who might be checking us out.  When I thought about that, I thought about the fact that there are probably a lot of people reading in the US who we don't know either.  So, hi.  Hello to those people we don't know and if you're dealing with cancer, or this HD chemo, I hope that me writing about what we're doing helps :)  And if you're just curious, that's okay too! Welcome!

Okay, I'm done now.
It looks like the day might actually be nice, and yesterday they were finally filling up the pool at the hotel so I better get my work for school so I can play outside later.

Sending love to all!
GO ROCKIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

[day +1, round 2]

Good Morning and Greetings from Hoosier Land!

Here we are, again, in room six.
Kurtis is getting fluids.
Chauncey is at dog camp.
Indiana is humid.

Kurtis continues to do better this round than the last - he has been able to keep his mouth sore pain under control and thus remain outside of the hospital walls.  We're both hoping that he'll be able to stay out of the hospital for the whole time this round.  One thing that has really been helping him so far are some pain pills.  Last time he wasn't really taking them, but this round, he has been a lot better about taking the pills he needs to take in order to keep things under control.  Today he seems quite chipper and acting like his normal mouthy self, so that is refreshing.

Last night, Kurtis' mom, sister, and niece arrived and we were able to visit with them some.  Kurtis still gets tired easily, and since they got in sort of late, we didn't have too much time with them yesterday, but today when we're home from the hospital, we will get to see them more.

Yesterday went well.  Around lunchtime, Kurtis suddenly had an intense craving for chicken fingers.  It is my job to find such things and so after a list of daunting directions from one of the nurses on the unit, I headed off - toward the people mover - in search of the McDonalds that resides in the Riley Children's hospital.  I was fortunate and did not get lost in the twisting hallways or the large glassed in above ground walkways. 

While walking through one of these walkways, I pondered to myself why it was really necessary.  I mean, it gets cold here in the winter, but not that cold.  I mean, it's not like we magically transplanted to northern Alaska here, people.  But then, upon seeing a man walking in a full suit, it hit me.  It's not for winter.  It's for summer.  For the ungodly humidity-heat-of-death-why-do-people-even-think-about-living-here air.  It's not for the cold.  In fact, I am surprised that the winter here isn't celebrated for being at least the complete opposite of what is happening now.

ANYWAY.  I found my way down to the McDonalds which was completely packed with parents of kids, heath staff and kids in wagons. And Amish families.  Yep, small children running around in overalls or dresses, speaking the German-ish dialect that the Amish are known for.  Half of the 'patrons' of McDonalds were Amish.  So, while waiting for Kurtis' chicken (it had to be made fresh since he is so special) I took some "I'm a spy and can take covert pictures with my iPhone" pictures.  When I get bored, apparently I take on alternate personas.  Or I watch too many shows like NCIS and Criminal Minds.  Or both.

Eventually, Kurtis' magical chicken was done and I wandered back through the hallways and above ground walkways back to beloved room six.  The entire way, I went all history/social studies on myself and decided that I needed to know why there were so many Amish people in the hospital.  In my infinitely large amount of science wisdom, I decided that it must be a genetic issue since the Amish are basically all from one set group of German-Swiss that migrated to the United States with their Amish/Mennonite faith. 

I did some research and learned that there were only 150,000 initial immigrants and Amish people now suffer from something that is apparently called the "founder effect" - meaning that rare genetic flaws are able to show up since the marriage pool is so small.   I've read some articles about the strange genetic flaws that happen and the culture that keeps the Amish from preventing such flaws.  All quite interesting.  In fact, I am sure that is what everyone wanted to wake up to - a history/science lesson.  Next up - the Revolutionary War!  We'll learn all about the Stamp Act and the beginnings to the Sons of Liberty!

Just kidding.

Other than all of that, I'm not sure I have anything to report that is of interest.  We got to see a picture of our house today thanks to some of our lax girls that are taking care of the lawn (AND IT LOOKS AWESOME THANK YOU!!!) and that made us happy/miss home.  I'm ready to mow the lawn and trim the roses and eat my raspberries!

Looks like we're down to a few weeks here - a drive home with a crazy pup - and then it's HOME! :)

I think that's it. 
Unless you're sure about not hearing about the Stamp really is quite interesting....

Lots of love!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

::stemcell infusion complete::


Hello! How are you? We are fantastic, just back in room six (as usual) hanging out while Kurtis gets all of his nice fluids and medicines, etc.

Yesterday was fairly uneventful.  Kurtis got his fluids and decided to try another day out of the hospital.  When we headed home, he relaxed and I went outside to play my uke a little bit and hang out in the "sun".  After watching some show on the travel channel or the food network or something, Kurtis wanted to eat a burger and bacon -so I made him a burger with bacon and he ate the whole thing!  He hasn't been eating a lot lately, so I was pretty excited.

Today was stem cell infusion day.  Just like last time, it is quite the ordeal.  The infusion was set for 11 am, and the infusion team arrived at about 10:45.  They bring in a big black cart and a large canister where the stem cells are.  Once the cart is cleaned off, they get going.  From the large frozen canister to the heated water bath where they get warmed up and then put into an over sized syringe and pushed in to Kurtis through his central line.  When this happens, it can make Kurtis feel sick, make his chest hurt, and  make him taste garlic (the preservative for the stem cells is a "garlic derivative" apparently).  They gave him a pile of grape jolly ranchers and he got through it with absolutely no problems!

Kurtis had a room reserved in the hospital for today.  I headed out to the car to get some Advil (my elbow is hurting...stupid weather changing)  and when I came back, our NP was talking to Kurtis about not staying in the hospital tonight.  He's feeling good enough to go "home" which is great! I'd much rather he be in our "box" than in the hospital "box" <--and so would Chaunce!  Kurtis' family arrives tonight as well, so I am sure he'd rather see them today than tomorrow.  His mouth is still starting to "turn", but hopefully it won't get too bad. 

Other than that, I don't think too much is new with us.  Just living the good 'ol Hoosier life!

Love to all!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

...prelude to stemcells...

Good Morning!

I am again reporting from our favorite "newsroom" - room six.  Kurtis is already getting his fluids and (starting today) his antibiotics.  He's exhausted still, so he's all curled up under a sheet just trying to sleep this nasty feeling time away. 

Yesterday was one of the harder days that Kurtis has had while he's been here.  The chemo and fluids messed with his system and although he has medicine to help control the nausea, it doesn't always work...which means throw up time.  I think he actually feels better once he throws up, but it's not fun even if it does make him feel better.  He spent a lot of time in bed watching TV and sleeping yesterday and it looks as if he'll spend much of today sleeping as well. 

-Although things are hard, the good news is that his HCG dropped to 37 in just two days!-

In addition, it looks like he may get checked into the hospital today or tomorrow.  He's just not feeling well at all, and I think that sometimes it is easier for him to be here and know that if anything goes wrong, the nurses are here to handle it.  Some of the medicines he gets while he is checked in help him too.  Once our nurse practitioner comes to visit today, I'll know more.  Don't worry though, the hospital isn't a negative thing - it's just helpful right now.  Tomorrow is stem cell day, so we'll be headed up and up from here!  It will probably be kind of a rough week, but it will be over soon enough :)

Chauncey loves camp more than ever.  He has a great time going every day and is always exhausted when he leaves.  I really like taking him there because I know he is having a good time and that he'll be tired for us when we bring him "home". 

I've mostly been working on school related things while I'm at the hospital with Kurtis.  There isn't a lot that I can do otherwise that is a productive use of my time.  I've got some new classes to teach next year and it has been nice to crank out some of the stuff I know I am going to need.  I can't believe that we've been out of school for about a month now - I love summer but I work at such a great school with wonderful people that it is hard to not want to go back all the time! 

So far, the storms aren't rearing their heads today.  The storm that came through yesterday was pretty loud and nasty.  Some places around Indy got around four inches of rain - and there are places that are flooded because of it.  It looks like we'll be clear today until the afternoon when it all starts back up again...yay.

In addition to that weather problem, I've learned that the Indy weather reporters have a different view on some of the "normal" weather terms...for example:
 Sunny = the sun might peek through the clouds for up to a minute at a time
Mostly Sunny = cloudy, but sort of bright
Mostly Cloudy = death clouds

Today I don't have anything positive about Indiana (I know, you're really bummed out...sorry...) BUT instead, I have a very special news story.  Last night, after watching TV, the news came on.  I decided that I would watch and find out about the weather, the latest on the missing IU student, and see if they had anything exciting before the first commercial break.  I'm tired and not really paying SUPER close attention when the news says something along the lines of "brampbrampitynewslalalaIndianastuffIdon'tcareaboutblahblah and today, an Amish man was busted for sexting a twelve year old girl."  Excuse me, what?! So I watched.  Low and behold, the Amish man was lured in by police who set up a sting operation.  The man thought he was going to meet the girl for sex...and pulled up in his horse and buggy.  And to think- I thought it was weird here before... want to read about it?

Anyway - I think that is all from Hoosier land for now, so I'll let you head off into your exciting day instead of continuing to babble on for no apparent reason.

Love to all!

Monday, June 20, 2011

scalloped clouds and thunderbooms

Hello -

We woke up this morning to a barking dog and thunder.  That's right, it's raining again here in Indy...woo.hoo.  For those of you who know me well, you know that rain is not my favorite type of weather.  I don't mind it in small chunks, but this day after day grey sky stuff really messes with mood.  Although, I was thinking about it, and it wasn't really all that "nice" even on "sunny" days.  Apparently, if it is moderately bright and the sky is only mostly covered in clouds, it is considered to be "sunny" here.  Anyway, we're on a flash flood warning today due to the rain - and we'll see what else is headed our way later. 

Indiana...the gift that keeps on giving!

It's easy to see that Kurtis' chemo is working because he's started to feel worse with each passing hour.  Mostly, he's just plain worn out so he rests/sleeps a lot to combat it.  Yesterday, he had a battle with feeling sick to his stomach all day and still managed to eat some pizza rolls and most of a baked potato.  During the day yesterday he watched some tv and played on the ipad before sleeping in the office for a long time.  Then it was time for the trip home...not my favorite part of life when Kurtis feels bad.  The roads out here are extremely rough (lots of cracks, potholes, and fixes to both) and when Kurtis feels sick to his stomach, I know the ride home is rough on him.  I try to make the ride home (about fifteen minutes...) as smooth as possible, but I can't do anything about the rough roads.  Yesterday was one of those days I wished that I could just teleport him back to the box. 

Once we got home, Kurtis ate some lunch and then slept for the majority of the afternoon.  I did my best to be quiet (and so did Chauncey!) so we hung out on the couch and watched the Rockies which was nice.  I love being able to watch them on the's like a perfect mini TV!  I've also discovered that I can watch OLD games, so when the game I'm watching is over, I can just pick a different one I haven't seen and watch that. 

We've been enjoying Food Star on Sunday nights, and yesterday was no different.  Fortunately, Kurtis was feeling good enough to be up and we watched as the chefs made dessert.  The episode was great and we're already looking forward to next week!  It's nice to have a little bit of normalcy, even when it is just watching a specific TV show. 

This morning, he had blood drawn and they're checking all of his numbers as well as the tumor marker (HCG) so we'll have a new number to report here in a few hours.  No chemo today since yesterday was the last day! HOORAY! 

Hopefully everyone is doing well - we miss you all and hope that your day is less full of thunder and lighting than ours is!

Sending love,

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stormy Sunday

Good Morning and Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers...but especially Kurtis' dad and my dad who we both miss very much.  We'd love to be with our families celebrating today, but instead, it is back to work with the last day of chemo!
Sportscenter is jabbering in the background as I update you from a dark room six this morning.  The machines are hooked up and the fluids are running.  As the days go by, Kurtis is feeling worse and worse.  We knew that this was going to happen, but that doesn't really make it any easier.  It's hard for him to go through all of this and difficult for me to watch him go through all of it.  However, this is about the time I arrived during the first round, so at least we know what exactly is coming. 

Today Kurtis will get the last bit of his chemo and he'll get his remaining stem cells on Wednesday.  His mom and sister will arrive on Wednesday and I know that he is really looking forward to seeing them.  Overall, he's mostly just tired and his appetite has taken a dive bomb - the chemo really makes his mouth taste weird and then he doesn't want to eat very much :(

It is super grey today.  As we drove into the city the skyline was popping out from the pink colored "sunrise" type was 8:15... instead of melting into a dirty white haze.  It's now around 9 and the clouds have settled in for the duration of the day.  Currently, the humidity is sitting around 90% and the day is supposed to be met with thunderstorms and possibly severe weather.  I grew up in Colorado Springs, so unlike Kurtis, I don't have a good perception of "severe weather".  The weather report mentions the word tornado and I have a mental freak out.  I'm trying to remain calm, but I'm not too fond of the idea of twisting winds falling from the sky. 

Other than all of that, nothing much is new here.  We'll see if Rory can hold on to win the US Open and watch the Rox later hoping they can continue their streak!

Sending love from the stormy midwest -


Saturday, June 18, 2011

chemo day 2.2


Welcome back to good 'ol room six. 

Yesterday we found out that Kurtis' HCG number is all the way down to 65.9!  We were very excited about this...especially after the doctor made sure that we knew it was okay  if the number went up a little bit before chemo round two.  This time, while playing our guessing game, we were hoping for something around one 65.9 was fantastic!

The chemo hit him pretty quickly yesterday.  I headed out to get us lunch from the BBQ place (one last lunch before his taste buds go again...) and we had a nice lunch.  About an hour after that, he started to feel kinda queasy and tired along with the overall feeling of "yuck".  The tiredness has definitely set in, and he said that this round has hit him a lot faster than the last round.  One of our nurses said that people tend to do better with the second round, so we are hoping that is the case with Kurtis too.  Yesterday Kurtis made a good point - the first round of chemo took his HCG down about 9,000 and the second round only has to take it down 65.9.  On Monday morning, he'll have a blood test for HCG and we'll get a new number which we're already looking for.

Today and tomorrow Kurtis will get chemo.  He then gets two days of fluids and then will go through his stem cell process again.  Once that is completed, he will be going through the same process that he did before - all leading back to Colorado.  We're anxious to get home...both starting to miss Fort Collins and our house a lot - not to mention our families and friends.

It's a rainy day this morning in Indy and is supposed to rain all day today and tomorrow....good thing we're stuck in the hospital anyway.  Chauncey is at camp (his favorite place, ever) getting himself completely worn out...apparently he doesn't stop playing the entire day which I think is great.  When he comes home he sleeps and walks around in "tired" mode which is amusing.

Looks like someone sort of fixed the Rockies :)

Hope everyone is having a great day and we'll update again soon!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Good Morning!

I'm back in my big chair in room #6 for this morning's report. 

Yesterday, Kurtis and I headed down to Louisville which is about a two hour drive south on I-65.  We didn't run into a lot of traffic, so the trip was pretty quick.  On the way down, we talked about how neat it is that as you get closer to the east coast that the cities are closer and closer.  Heading into Louisville, there is a big bridge that we drove on while going over the Ohio River.  I like rivers out here - they're really big and since that isn't how they are at home, I like to see them.

Our first stop? The Louisville slugger factory! We parked in a lot and the parking attendant person was fixing the machine, so we stood around and waited and waited.  A family from Missouri came out and gave us their parking ticket so we didn't have to pay which was great! Once in the factory, we bought tickets for the tour and had the chance to go through the factory and watch as bats were being made from billets (the circular logs taken out of the ash or maple) to bats.  They showed us the machines that cut the bats from the billets.  Instead of using lathes like they used to, the billets slide into the machines and get spun so fast  that in one pass, the machine shaves off all the wood!  The shavings all get sucked up, so there is very little sawdust - all of the sawdust goes outside into a truck and is sold to a turkey farmer in Indiana.  We also got to see the machine that makes all the pro bats, watch them stamp things into the bat, and see how they finish up the bats.  Touring the factory was quite enjoyable and we were both glad that we went. 

For lunch, we tried to walk to a brewery, but were completely thwarted because we didn't read "east" main street (we were on west) so we ended up at a little mexican place, Los Aztecas.  It was exceptional and soothed Kurtis' craving for Mexican food.  We then headed back north, picked up Chauncey from camp and had a laid back evening - watched a few episodes of Iron Chef and did laundry. 

Today, we're back at IU.  Kurtis had to have his labs drawn before we got to meet with Dr. Hanna.  So, around 8:15, Kurtis got his blood drawn, and then we waited for about an hour before heading up to meet with Dr. Hanna.  The Simon Cancer Center is so nice, but I always get sort of nervous when we head in, and it only gets worse when we get back into the rooms.  Once Kurtis got weighed, etc., we were taken back to one of the consultation rooms where we patiently and nervously waited.  Once Dr. Hanna entered with a smile on his face, we both felt more at ease.  One thing we've learned while fighting cancer is that the first few seconds when the doctor enters the room usually tells us if we are going to be smiling or really upset in the minute following.  Today was a smiley day.  Just as we were, Dr. Hanna was thrilled with the progress of Kurtis' HCG.  We were given the go-ahead to start chemo today, which is great.  We're ready to get back home :)

So, here we sit, watching Maury (because we've pretty much exhausted our HGTV and Food Network choices...and it is is DNA test date, so we've been betting if so-and-so is or isn't the father...haha) and the US Open waiting for Kurtis' chemo to get going.  They weren't sure if he was going to start today or not, so that is why it takes a little bit longer than normal.  I'll go get some good lunch here in awhile since Kurtis won't feel too much like eating in the next day or two.  It sure feels good to have the okay to get going so we can get home.  Kurtis is feeling good and had a little swagger walking back to the infusion center after meeting with the doc :)

We are still waiting on his HCG for today, but I'll report that out once we find out :)

The most recent Indy observations...
-Apparently, people here take the "white boarder on a stop sign means it's optional" as a literal statement
-The sky is almost always white, not blue
-The temperatures aren't too bad when it isn't humid (which isn't very often)

Today's positive thing about Indy...
7. Um. It's close to Louisville? And Louisville is really cool...

That's all for now folks - more later!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Morning with a side of thunderstorm

Good Morning!

Well, this morning I was woken up by someone's furry little face nudging mine... "mom, I need to go to the bathroom. PLEASE."  Chauncey knows who to wake up to take him out (me) and is too cute for me to ever deny him.  So, I stumbled around, still basically asleep, got him all hooked up into his harness and we headed outside for his morning sniff around and pee.  As soon as we stepped outside, there was a crack of thunder and I knew that the pup had about 88 seconds before the rain followed.  Miraculously, he found a place to pee, and we trotted around the building to the door.  Once we got inside, there were several other cracks and booms and then the rain started to fall in sheets.

It has been over an hour of sheet rain, and it is still coming down with force.  I'm not used to thunderstorms in the morning, so the whole weather 'activity' that is happening right now feels quite strange.  The weather (be it rain or lighting) has knocked out the TV signal, so Kurtis has hunkered back down into his bed, Chauncey has taken over "his" couch and I'm left, wide awake, to busy myself quietly - which I don't mind. 

Yesterday was quite lovely.  The temperatures were fairly mild again, and even though the humidity was back up (dang-it), the day was still more like "home" than a lot of our other days have been.  Kurtis and I decided to take a trip downtown, so around noon we headed down to the underground parking facility for White River State Park, and walked for awhile along the canal.  We then rented a paddle boat for an hour and paddled up and back about a mile down the canal.  Kurtis was able to paddle now and then, and I think the physical activity was probably good for him.  We saw a lot of baby ducks of various ages as well as a whole area of 'bachelor ducks'.  It was quite amusing to see about twenty male mallards in a line just watching the other duck families going by and quacking.  We worked up quite an appetite and then headed to lunch on the way home.

In my research of Indy - believe me, I've done a lot - I found out that there is a BBQ place called Judges' Tip of the Rib that has gotten rave reviews. So, seeing as it was near the hospital on Michigan, we gave it a try.  Kurtis had brisket with mac and cheese on the side while I had pulled pork and baked beans.  Everything was fabulous and we had the opportunity to speak with the owner who was really kind and wanted to make sure everything was perfect.  They must have a fairly consistent clientele as he knew right away that we were new. 

After that, we came home.  Kurtis was, of course, exhausted so he went to bed.  Chauncey and I went to other places in the hotel and Chaunce napped while I prepared for the US History class I'm teaching next year.  I'm pretty much out of control excited about teaching history again and bought a bunch of books the other day about the American Revolution (my class will focus on the colonies to the Constitution) and I have been reading the biggest one while making notes and creating things for my students along the way.  As soon as I start reading historical stuff, I'm pretty sure I start to drool and then get this insane desire to tell people all of these new facts I've learned.  I feel bad for Chels who had to live with me in college because of that. 

We had dinner consisting of baked potatoes (the toaster oven is awesome again!) and this great bacon/parmesan dip that comes from Target.  We also watched Master Chef and the Voice which has become our Tuesday routine.

Today will probably be pretty laid back.  The massive amounts of rain falling from the sky make any outside activities a no-go and Kurtis has a nurse coming to change the dressing on his catheter sometime in the afternoon.  Last time she came she was late like three separate times, so we're not expecting she'll be here in her two hour time window...haha.  Also, we want Kurtis to rest so that we can go to Louisville tomorrow.  We'd love to see the Louisville Slugger plant, so we'll just have to see how that goes.  If tomorrow doesn't work, we'll surely see a lot of stuff on the way home :)

I think that's all for now, although it seems like a lot.  Hopefully you enjoy reading about our time in this strange state and our "box."

Sending love -

Monday, June 13, 2011


Helllooooo -

We are officially on break! Hooray!

Today we went over to IU as usual and Kurtis got his labs drawn.  We then waited for the results to see if he needed to get any potassium or magnesium, and it turned out that he did need that mag, so we hung out for another couple hours.  We found out that we're free - FREE - for a few days while Kurtis' body is on a break.  We both feel pretty excited about having a few days off.  During the week when you're working - or going to school - there is always the weekend to look forward to.  Get through five days, get two off.  Cancer doesn't work like that.  Work for a month, get three days off - haha. 

I think we're going to get in a paddle boat on the canal sometime as well as take a little trip down to Louisville, KY which is only a few hours away.  If nothing else, it will be nice to hang out without HAVING to head downtown to IU. 

On Friday, we'll start back up again.  Kurtis and I will head in to floor five (where he gets all of his stuff done) and have labs drawn.  Next, we'll head over to the cancer center to meet with Dr. Hanna who is our oncologist here.  I may have said this before, but your doc at home, Dr. Marschke, has been absolutely FANTASTIC about working with the folks out here.  So, wayyy back in December when we made our first journey out here, we met with Dr. Hanna for the first time.  Since then, he's been working with Dr. Einhorn out here and helping us make sure that the cancer is kicked out of Kurtis' body!  I haven't seen him since Kurtis' surgery (I wasn't here yet when he met with Dr. Hanna at the start of this treatment) so it will be nice to see him again.

So, everything is on track and Kurtis is looking forward to starting the chemo, round two, on Friday.  Neither of us are really excited about him going through the process again since it is rough ... hard on him and hard for me to see him like that ... but we are excited about getting this stuff taken care of and heading back home to spend the other half of the summer in good old FoCo :)

As with every Monday, today was "tumor marker day"  where they test the tumor markers along with the other blood counts.  Last night, Kurtis and I played "guess the HCG" count" game.  At times through the adventure of cancer, we've played this game.  Other times, the count number seems too important and cancer to be joking around or playing games.  Anyway, his last count was around 1,000 which, as many of you know, is still quite high.  We've learned throughout our time with this disease that the closer we get to normal (1) the longer it seems to take. 

So, in the midst of our evening, we made guesses - both landing somewhere in between five and six hundred.

Today, the results came back.  They were not what we all.  Kurtis' HCG is now at 173!!  That's right!



So, to celebrate, I made insanely good hamburgers (bacon, cheddar, avocado, cream cheese mix...yea, you can stop drooling later) and mini cupcakes.  We had a great evening - Kurtis watching some TV and me diving headfirst into a pile of American Revolution textbooks in preparation for the class I'm teaching next year.

Last, but not least - today's Indiana positives (and one for yesterday)...
5. There are parts of rural America we would have never seen.  Yesterday's trip out to Parke County was a nice snapshot into midwestern farm country which included beautiful scenery and some big red barns.
6. The Camp Bow Wow here is FANTASTIC.  All of the workers are kind and take great care of Chauncey.  He is always insanely excited to go and tired from playing when I pick him up.  We're thankful for such a great place and fantastic people to take care of our pup. :)

That's all for now!
Love to all!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day off!


I'm happy to report that today has been a day off from treatment for Kurtis.  Today has been glorious on many levels and for the first time, I actually enjoyed more than fifteen seconds in Indiana!

Since we didn't have to go to the hospital today, we had the opportunity to sleep in.  I say "the opportunity" because someone apparently didn't think that sleeping in was a good idea.  He wanted to go to the bathroom...and his bathroom is outside.  We call Chauncey "morning dog" anyway because he has this insane burst of happy in the morning to a point where it is really quite ridiculous.  But since his ears and his long greyhound face is so adorable, it is impossible to be annoyed for more than .23245 seconds.  So, I took him out and he (thankfully) peed without having to sniff every SINGLE blade of grass at least four times which is usually what happens. 

Seeing as we were now awake, the morning turned into a movie and read fest - with a side of chocolate chip cookies and Cap'n Crunch.  We watched the Patriot on TV and I finished a book I started a couple of days ago and around lunchtime, I finally decided that I needed to shower and actually maybe do something so that I didn't feel like a big pile of goo (aka a "hoosier"...okay, not really.  There are plenty of nice people here.  However I am thankful that people from Colorado are not called "Hoosiers" because it is really kind of weird.)  By the time I was clean (and covered in powder so that I feel like I'm in CO, Kurtis was itching to get out as well.

After careful consideration, we decided to drive west to Parke County, IN.  They have a lot of covered bridges, so we drove out of Indy, through Avon and out into rural Indiana.  The farm country is quite different here than at home.  Seeing as Kurtis is from Holyoke (which has lots of farm stuff for those of you who don't know...) it was easy for us to compare.  The trees are huge and there are a large number of big red barns.  I like the barns.  We also spent some time learning (from Wikipedia...via Kurtis' blackberry) about Indiana's role in the Civil War.  Many of the small towns we were driving through had Civil War something or other.  Neither of us have really studied the Civil War in depth - I really love the Revolutionary War period while Kurtis loves the 1960s so we spent some time learning some new history.  Great thing that we both like the same thing that so many other people would be put instantly asleep.  Haha. 

Once in Parke County, Kurtis and I pulled out the "bridge map" and decided that we would take the "black" route which took us by several covered bridges.  We made a stop at each of them to take some pictures.  One was quite new and we spent the most time there - looking at the water and having lunch.  Even though he's still tired, riding in the car was fine for Kurtis and he felt like he was able to get out of the house some which has lifted his spirits. 

Today has been beautiful.  The humidity has been low (by midwest standards anyway) and it hasn't gotten any hotter than like 75 which was great.  Fort the first time since I've been here, the sky was actually blue ALL DAY which was a nice change from the perplexing white haze that seems to linger over Indy all the time. 

Tonight we're hunkered in watching the Mavs/Heat game - right now Dallas is winning and we're hoping that the Mavs can pull out a win.  Later, we'll watch Food Star since we're both suckers for competition style reality TV.  I think mac and cheese is on the menu for later (or as soon as I finish this) and it should be a nice, relaxing night in.

Tomorrow we'll head back to IU to see what is going on.  We're not sure if Kurtis will be getting fluid or just labs, but we've gotten pretty good at going with the flow, especially when it comes to the doctors and hospitals.  Hopefully tomorrow's weather is as nice as the weather today and we don't have to stay in the hospital too long.  There are some boats on the canal that I'd love to rent for an afternoon.  Kurtis can sit and relax while I get a workout (since lax is not happening right now) Yea!  So we'll see how he's feeling.

Hopefully everyone had a great weekend - and as always - thanks for stopping in!



pps - there are new photos up on Flickr (or soon) of our trip! Check 'em out!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

one fluid bag day!

Greetings from afar!

Well, here we are.  In the hospital.  Could you have guessed? :)

We got some good news yesterday - Kurtis' white blood cell count went from 900 (or .9) to 3,000!  This has really helped him feel better and he is acting more like his "normal" self.  Yesterday was the first day in awhile that he didn't crash and take a nap for several hours in the afternoon.  This doesn't mean he isn't tired, but it means that things are a little bit easier for now.  Due to the rapid increase of white cells, Kurtis has been taken off of his IV antibiotics and has been reduced to one bag of fluid at the clinic today!  Even better...he doesn't have to come tomorrow which means that we get a day off! Woohoo!

Kurtis' hair has started to fall out again which is a bummer.  Yesterday he decided it would be good if we cut it so I went to Target and got a clipper and a shower curtain and shaved his head down to 1/4''.  It feels better for him and there won't be quite so much hair everywhere as it falls out.  Thankfully, he wanted it all cut the same length ... because I have no business cutting hair - haha.

The IU Medical Center goes basically comatose over the weekend, and it seems quite bizarre.  There are no people wandering around, all the food places in the hospital besides the limited cafeteria are closed, there is no one being picked up or dropped off, I magically can park in a really close to the door spot in the garage and the infusion clinic is exceedingly empty.  This morning we discussed how strange it is that a big hospital in a big city shuts down so much over the weekend.

Chuancey is doing well at Camp Bow Wow and the people who work there are very nice.  They keep a blog about the dogs who go there (mostly just uploaded pictures).  This week, Chauncey is featured in several pictures that really bring out the hilarity of who he is.  Check out Chaunce here! If you go back a few pages you can find more pictures of him as well as an adorable foster dog named Penny who they sponsor (she gets to live there until she finds a home!). 

So, our life out here is moving along.  We're adjusting to living in a box, but missing Fort Collins.  I'm learning to use our toaster oven so well that I'll probably never use a normal oven again!  We've got one pot and one pan which makes creating food a bit challenging at times.  However, it is no different than home as I've made lasagna and a breaded chicken in the past few days (by the way, if you like making bread crumbs/cracker crumbs and then putting it on chicken - "munchables" which are made by Ritz are great!  They are half cracker and half pretzel and work really well - there you go - your food advice today).

And now [drumroll] the positive thing about Indianapolis for today....
4. Drivers out here make it so I'll be much less likely to have road rage at home.  If I can put up with what is going on here, I can put up with anything!  I've almost been hit by a bus, two semis, as well as an old lady with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth.  All in the past week...yay.  Yesterday, I also watched a woman go halfway through a red light, stop, put her hazards on, wait, put her car in reverse as the light was turning yellow on the other side, reverse, put the car in drive, and zoom off...


Anyway - that's all I have to report for now.  Hope everyone is having a great weekend :)


PS - The nurse just came in and his white cell count is now at 9,000 (9)!  Hooray!

Friday, June 10, 2011

thoughts from room six

Hello and good morning!

Today, Kurtis and I are back at the hospital (yes, still as outpatient) and we're hanging out watching Sportscenter and Throwdown while Kurtis gets his fluids for the day. 

Yesterday, Kurtis' mom headed home and is now safely back in Colorado.  It was difficult for her to leave, I think, but I'm sure it feels good to be home with the rest of Kurtis' family.  In the morning, Kurtis and I came to the hospital and did what we're doing right now...spending endless hours in a small room at the hospital watching mindless TV that either makes us want to go to the ball game, fix up our house, or cook food - none of which we can do at the moment...haha.  We found out yesterday that his white cell count has gone up which is great! They've told us that when the white cell count starts to go up that it tends to go up quickly.  As his cells normalize, he'll start to feel better.  Hooray!

Some of you, I'm sure, have been wondering what happens now, so here is an outline of the basic schedule:
-Finish up fluids tomorrow (hopefully)
-Take a "break" so that Kurtis and his body can recover a bit from what's been happening
-Begin chemo round II (currently looking toward the 17 or 22)
-Get stem cells
-Do what we've been doing
-GO HOME!! :)

So, Kurtis is about halfway through this whole process which is fantastical.  We're both starting to really get homesick at times and it is hard to know that we've got another chunk of time out here before we can go home.  However, last night we were able to hang out at "home" with the pup and finally felt a little bit normal and at home which was very, very nice.  Not that we did anything interesting, but it was quite enjoyable for all three of us. We were also able to watch part of Mavs/Heat game.  Neither of us like Dallas, but we're really not interested in having captain "the decision" and his silly little friends win the championship which left us rooting for the Mavs.  A week ago, neither of us could stand Dirk Nowitzki, but now we find ourselves not only cheering for the Mavs, but actually unable to hate Dirk.  This morning I realized that in the past year of championships we've cheered for the Rangers in the World Series and now the Mavs - - - I feel like we're cheering for Texas teams a little too often here...

So, now to your favorite part of the blog...the "what the hell did Liz find to be positive about in Indiana?" section.  Here are the most recent uplifter!
3. The lightning bug count is at one.  I am officially a lot happier and content with life after spotting the neon-green blinking behind of a lighting bug.  Apparently, you have to be talking to a friend back home while sitting at an awkward table at around 12:15 and one will go buzzing by!  At least now we know that there is, indeed, at least one lighting bug in the Hoosier state.

Well, I think that's it for now - not a whole lot of interesting news to report!  Thank you to those of you who have sent cards/packages!  They really brighten up our day :)

Sending love!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We live inside "people of walmart"...

Hello and warm (or hot and steaming) greetings from your favorite place to read about and not to visit!

I realized today while talking to one of my friends back home that I feel like I am living inside the website called people of walmart.  Never seen it? Love it? Well...hope your schedule is clear for the remainder of the day as I know the website is strangely addicting.  Visit the Indiana page of people of walmart...and get a serious look into our current daily life.

Well, it's still hot and humid...and there are still questionable things happening all the time.   Today, on my way to the hospital, I was almost run into by the bus that runs around the IUPUI campus.  Amusing and ironic part? IUPUI's "slogan" is IMPACT.  Ha.

Kurtis has been sprung from the confines of his really nice hospital room.  Fortunately, he is doing well enough that he doesn't need to remain in the hospital which is great.  Even though he was able to escape, throughout the day, he had to get his fluids and other things before he could leave.  I know that is makes a big difference for him when he finally gets disconnected from the "tree" that holds all of his IV bags. 

While Kurtis was finishing up all of his treatments, I went to Target and gathered up some good food for us as our "apartment" (that's what we've been calling it...makes it seem like we're not living in a mini hotel box that happened to have a sink and some kind of stove) was pretty barren.  I also changed Kurtis' sheets and cleaned the half inch of counter space that we currently have.  We finally have staples like flour, sugar, etc. and I almost feel like a real person again.  Tonight I made "white" lasagna and that was fun for me.

Kurtis is now resting.  Although he is getting farther out from his treatments, he is still completely worn out almost constantly.  On the way home today, we stopped to pick up Chauncey and the dog pretty much lost his mind when he saw Kurtis.  Chaunce didn't seem to mind (or notice) that Kurtis was wearing his mask so he doesn't get sick which was good.

Tomorrow, Kurtis and I will head back to the hospital, but this time as an outpatient!  He'll get his stuff tomorrow, and then we'll be able to come back home which will be great.  Kurtis' mom will be leaving in about twelve hours from when I'm writing this.  Unfortunately, she has a really early flight so she's going to have to get up really early in order to catch the shuttle to get over to the airport on time.  It's not overly terrible though as she'll face no security lines and be back in Colorado (with the dry air!!) really early which will be nice I'm sure.

Chauncey wants to tell everyone that he loves camp bow wow.  Thanks to some of your donations, we're able to take him every day and it really makes a difference in his life.  As I was telling my mom today, it completely wears him out and I'm so glad he is here with us instead of with someone else all summer.  Today he tried to pretend that he was going to play, and he was practically falling asleep on his toys, which was funny. :)

In attempt to make Indiana a little bit more bearable, I am going to find at least one positive thing about Indy per day.  I figure:
A) It may actually make me a little (even if microscopically) less cynical about Hoosier land.  Wow, Hoosier land sounds like a theme park that went terribly, terribly, TERRIBLY wrong.
B) Seeing as there are so few positives, it will give me something to do.

So, here are the current "positives"
1. One of the newscasters on channel 6 is named "Myrt".  This amuses me daily and makes me laugh no matter what I am doing.  Want to see Myrt? Simply click HERE! Yay Myrt.
2. There are lots of trees here that we do not have at home and that is interesting for a little bit.  Unfortunately, it can't be really interesting because any time I venture outside to visit the trees and use the new handy app on the ipad to identify and catalog them...I am reminded within fifteen seconds that the hot humid air is practically murderous and that I should return inside as quickly as possible in order to avoid further peril. 

I guess that's the episode for the day folks!  Thanks for stopping by... :)


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

update from white-skied pasty land

Good Evening -

It is hot here.
I don't think I've ever fully had an appreciation of what "hot" meant until this week.  I'm not sure that everyone reading this has had this opportunity either, so I feel it necessary to describe the experience of "hot".  I've been struggling to come up with the right handful of syllables to accurately portray what it feels like, and today while walking up Michigan, I had an epiphany!  Living in Indiana in the summer is like baking something that has a fair amount of liquid in it and being so excited to see if it turned out that you get your face too close to the steam.  Your initial reaction should be to rip your head backwards and cough while thinking (in your mind) something along the lines of "wow, that was dumb."  However, when you go outside here there is no ripping your head backwards because it is completely and utterly surrounding.  AND, if you spend more than half a microsecond outside you have sweat dripping from places that you didn't know sweat could even come out of.

The lightning bug count is still at zero.

So, Kurtis is still in the hospital.
He's doing well though, so it isn't a negative thing.  He is mostly fighting low blood counts and fluid loss/retention, so he isn't stuck in there for anything major.  I keep thinking that he's going to get sprung the "next day" so I'm not going to say anything about it now, and I've pretty much decided that I have no idea when he'll be able to escape.  Not that he wants to escape into the death heat...

His spirits are high and his blood counts continue to rise which is all positive.  Tonight his mom is staying with him again as she's running out of time here with us before she goes home to Colorado. Tomorrow I'll head back to the hospital and hang out for the day while good old Chauncey goes to get his little self worn out at camp bow wow.

That's all for now :)


Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Morning Update

Good Morning and Hello!

Weekdays are far busier in Indianapolis than weekends which is quite odd.  Yesterday, I went wandering around downtown for a few hours attempting to discover something worthy of being excited about only to come up completely empty handed.  What's more, no one was really out in the city on a weekend which seemed really odd.  I really love cities - all the people, the busy hum of cars, chatter flowing out from outside lunch spots, cracked sidewalk, construction, and the sun reflecting off of a skyline.  That being said, I am endlessly completely underwhelmed by Indianapolis.  It seems to be lacking the city "vibe" that I love so much.  I'm sure there is a pocket of it somewhere, even if it is half a coffee shop.  There's got to be a little bit of Lodo or Old Town here somewhere...right?  ...maybe not...

Anyway...I guess I'll spend some time talking about what Kurtis is up to because I'm sure that is why you're actually reading my word strings right now...not to find out about my failed attempt at finding the "Lodo" in Indy (and, for those who want to know, I still have yet to see a lightning bug...lame).

Kurtis is doing really well today.  His mouth pain has greatly diminished and he actually ate breakfast today at breakfast time which is a first in the last few days.  He's had a few helpings of Lucky Charms the past few days, but today he had pancakes and sausage.  Although his mouth and throat don't hurt as much, he is still dealing with some severe stuff called "mucositis".  This means that he's got thick stuff in his mouth all the time, and that makes it difficult to eat. 

Yesterday was a good day for the most part - Kurtis rested and got his fluids and we found out that his counts are doing what is expected which is always nice to hear.  After spending the day at the hospital, I went "home" to hang out with Chauncey who had spent the day at his new favorite bow wow.  A few days ago I posted a link to see him on camera, but I found out that it didn't work, so I'm trying again.  Check out Chauncey!  He generally seems to be on camera 3 and camera 6, although he's shown up on some of the others as well.  You can easily find him by his tail :)

This morning the nurse practitioner who we've seen up in the transplant unit came in to check on Kurtis.  His numbers are good and she is pleased with how he is doing right now.  His platelets are low so he just got a bag of platelets.  It's always weird to me when they give him platelets because they're yellow, not red.  I took a picture of them that should show up on our Flickr photostream for those of you who have never seen platelets!  They go in pretty quickly and seem to help him, so that's good.  We also found out that his cells have started to turn into what he needs and his white blood cell count has gone from 0.3 (Saturday and Sunday) to 0.4 (today).  As his stem cells figure out what they're doing, this number should only go up and up!

Even though all of that is great news, the best news of the day is that Kurtis' HCG has dropped again! Before this round of chemo, his HGC had risen to 9,000 and last week, we were celebrating a drop to 6,000.  So, today when his results came in, Kurtis and I were hoping for another 3,000 point drop which would put us at 3,000 - a dramatic improvement.  Kurtis' body didn't feel like making a 3,000 point drop thought at 5,000 point drop would be better!  So, his overall HCG is now at 1,000 and we are very excited.  When we get news like this, that the chemo is working and killing his tumor it is a burst of wind in kinda droopy sails.  So, wherever you are today - raise a glass of milk, a lacrosse stick, a garden shovel, a chipotle burrito, a cupcake, a Sunshine Wheat, or whatever else you might have handy and celebrate!

Hope everyone is doing well... today's forecast is 89* and about 65% humidity ...woo.  Oh how we miss the Colorado dry air and sunshine!

Sending love -


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Thunderbooms in the background

Hello :)

Today's update is coming a little bit later as I've gotten in the habit of writing them in the morning, but It might have a little bit more information than it would have before!

As I'm writing tonight, a dark grey storm is rolling in from the (hold on while I check the compass feature on the iphone...) north.  Before I was here, there was a nasty storm that Kurtis and his mom had to go through and it included the additional bonus of tornado sirens.  I'm watching the clouds roll in like they're racing to first place, and hoping that we are not "lucky" enough to have a bonus this time around.

That aside, today was a good day for Kurtis.  He is still in the hospital, but his blood counts are "good" meaning that they are at or above what the doctors want/expect based on his treatment.  He got platelets yesterday, and as I expected, it seems like it has made him feel a little bit better.  Since his mouth and throat are the biggest reasons for his discomfort and pain, he has a button he can push about every fifteen minutes and it keeps his pain level low.  Over the course of the day, he has spent a lot more time talking and moving around the room (sitting on the couch even!) and has shown a few more of his ornery colors throughout the day.  I imagine that he'll be getting out of here in the next day or two which is great! 

we interrupt this regularly scheduled program to bring you...
Today, Kurtis was feeling good enough that he wanted to eat.  So, he looked at his lovely menu and had me call down and order a bowl of cereal (Lucky Charms, to be exact) and then, we waited.

and waited.

and then,
we continued...

and wait and wait and wait.
and wait.
and wait.
and wait and wait.

At this point, Kurtis said that he wasn't feeling hungry really anymore and was concerned that once his bowl of cereal actually got there that he wouldn't feel good enough to eat it.  I then went and talked to the nurse who said that this isn't uncommon and is the biggest complaint from people who stay at IU. We then continued to wait and wait - and at the one hour and twenty minute mark  the nurse got mad and got the cereal up here.

Other than that, our day has been pretty simple.  I've been working on a puzzle in the room, Kurtis has been watching TV and playing with the ipad and his mom has been reading.  Chauncey spent the day at camp bow wow (which he loves) and is now back at the hotel hanging out with Kurtis' mom.  As I said before, the rooms here are really nice and comfortable and we're happy to be able to spend "hospital" time in such a nice place.   

I went to Noodles for lunch today.  It is not even half a mile from the hospital, so I decided that I'd walk.  This was a mistake.  It was about 94* and the humidity was around 45% - which surprised me since I felt like I was basically taking a bath.  So, after "finally" making it to Noodles, I headed in and ordered all three mac and cheeses and then waited for them to be packaged up so I could trek back to the hospital.  On my way out, a man was sitting at a table eating and drinking a Fat Tire.  This intelligent person noticed my Broncos shirt and decided that he needed to tell me that..."the Broncos suck, " which, if we're honest is pretty true right now.  However, he was not content to end his insult package there instead continuing with "nothing good comes from Colorado, name one good thing that comes from Colorado."  So, I did.  I told him that "the food you're eating and the beer you're drinking come from Colorado." He didn't like that and told me that Noodles isn't from Colorado - so I just pointed out the sign that said that Noodles was founded in Boulder...smiled...and headed out on my way.


The lightning and thunder are starting to arrive and have brought their friend pouring rain.  They're a little bit late to the party - and not exactly welcome...but they're here none the less.

Thank you for your continued thoughts, prayers, and positive energy.  It really means a lot :)  If you are interested in sending us any mail, shoot me an email ( and I can send you the address!

Lots of Love!
Liz (Kurtis and Chauncey)

Friday, June 3, 2011

hello from the Simon Cancer Center :)

Good Morning -
Today I'm writing you from a beautiful room in the Simon Cancer Center. 

As I wrote (and tried to post yesterday) Kurtis is currently checked into the hospital.  He just wasn't doing well yesterday and it was important for him to get some rest, have some pain medicine, and be in a place where he could be monitored.  After he was done with his fluids, we waited for several hours while another patient was discharged and his room was cleaned.  He was then taken from the unit where he goes to get his fluids/stem cells to the Simon Cancer Center.

The SCC is beautiful.  It is new and the different floors are all beautiful.  There are small things that make the place comforting including amazing pictures of nature (trees, flowers, other plants), a nice "family" center with puzzles and places for people to relax a little, and absolutely outstanding rooms.  I've posted some pictures on our flickr feed so that you can see.  There are small things here that make a big difference for cancer patients.  They have the right kind of shampoo (baby - it is gentle) and a fridge in the room.  There is also a tv and dvd player, a couch that turns into a bed, a chair, and electric shades (one is "light filtering" and the other is "blackout") that move up and down and are quite nifty. 

Kurtis' mom spent the night with him last night while I went home to take care of the creature.  We weren't expecting Kurtis to be checking into the hospital, so I brought Chauncey into the city yesterday and we hung out around town while Kurtis was getting his fluids.  When we found out that he was going to be admitted, I took Chauncey home and put him in his crate.  Due to the fact that last time he was left in his crate at the hotel he hurt his nose, I was a little worried about him.  However, when I got home last night, he was okay.  He isn't eating much right now which is both logical and not a problem.  Due to the chemo, his mouth and throat are hurting a LOT and, as you can imagine, eating stuff isn't really very high up on his "to-do" list.  It isn't something to worry about though, as he is getting what he needs from his fluids.  He was feeling good enough to have some toast yesterday after I left, so that's good.

I got up this morning and took Chauncey to Camp Bow Wow.  The first day I took him, I was a little nervous about it - I'm not sure why...since that seems so much nicer than leaving him in his crate all day.  When we drove over today, he knew right where we were going and as I turned onto Raymond, he started bouncing around the car like he was about to win the Milk Bone lottery.  Once I let him out of the car, he pulled as hard as his little fifty-five pound self could pull and jumped up on the counter as soon as we got inside.  If you want to see him, you can go to here.  Click on "camper cams"...he generally is on Camera 3 or Camera 6. 

After dropping the dog off,  I headed to the hospital, picked up Kurtis' mom and took her back to the hotel so that she could eat breakfast, get cleaned up, and have some quiet relaxation time.  I'm hanging out with Kurtis in his room now - watching sportscenter and updating you!  Later today, he will get some platelets since his count is too low, and that should make him feel at least some better since it is an immediate boost in something. 

From this room, you can see out of the window toward the city and the IUPUI campus.  It's nice to be able to watch the cars go by and watch the people who are walking around. 

Hope all is well -


...checking in...

 This is from yesterday...apparently, it didn't post...sorry about that :)

Hello from Indy (I don't known why I say that -where else would we be?)

Today has been a tough day for Kurtis.  His counts are way down and he is feeling particularly crappy.

I talked to the nurse who is sort of in charge yesterday and asked her a lot of questions about the therapy and what is exactly happening in Kurtis' body. Here is what I learned...

When chemo is given, it rushes throughout the body and kills fast growing cells. This is why people lose their is a fast growing cell. Once the chemo is in, if it is working, the tumor markers are going to fall.  Thus, Kurtis' initial HCG decline is due to the "burst" of chemo.  Although the chemo is out of his body now, he is still fighting the tumors and the HCG. Think of the HCG like it is floating around his body, and it, just like other things that our body doesn't has to be sent out. Good news is that even though the chemo is out of his body, the tumor is still melting and should continue to go down.

Got that? is the next part...

While his chemo raged through his body, it also killed some (or a lot really) of his good cells.  So, even though he is several days out from getting his chemo AND he has already gotten his stem cells back, his other counts are going to continue to fall and hit rock bottom.  At this point, Kurtis is going to feel the worst.  His energy will be (and is) completely depleted and he is just going to generally feel like crap...and he does. He is also the most vulnerable to infection during this time, so he is required to wear a mask in and out of the hospital and is also not allowed to eat certain foods.

Today he is feeling quite terrible, which sucks. I spent most of the day outside wandering around Indy with the creature while Kurtis' mom stayed in the hospital with him. I think I wore my dog out ... hopefully. When he was finishing up his fluids for the day, he spiked a little bit of a fever. It is back down from last time they checked, so that is good. However, he Is currently waiting to be checked into the hospital. He is feeling really bad, and feels like it is time to be in the hospital for a few days. Although I hate to see him in the hospital, I feel like it may0

It's actually a good thing at this point. He will be able to be monitored as well have access to some hefty pain mess that should make his life a little easier.

He'll be in a room in the Simon Cancer Center which is nice because we've always found that oncology floors are amazing places filled with caring people who understand what we are enduring.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

...adventures continue

Good Morning from Indy!

I know I didn't post a lot last night, but I thought it would be nice to at least make sure you knew about the photos and that Kurtis' stem cells have been put back in :)

Yesterday was really interesting.  In order to fully understand what was going on yesterday, here is a quick rundown of the process:
-Kurtis gets shots of a drug that causes his bone marrow to create cells
-He gets the shots for five days in a row
-Next, it is "harvest" day where they hook up a machine to his catheter (it is placed near his port and allows them to take blood out/put chemo in/put cells in, etc...he didn't have this until this trip to Indy)
-During the "harvest" they remove stem cells in blood - take them out - and then put the blood back in
-Next, Kurtis gets "blasted" with chemo.  The chemo is high-dose so it causes his bone marrow to quite functioning well or at all
-After they let the chemo "sink in" a little bit (two days or so), Kurtis gets some of his cells back. 
-The cells run around in his body creating the cells that he needs.  He won't feel better right away, but will be feeling better soon when the cells grow into what his body needs.

So, yesterday, stem cell infusion time was 11 am.  They team of two arrived at about 10:50 with a large cart and a cylinder on a dolly.  They did some prep - cleaned the cart - hooked up some stuff to Kurtis, etc.  At 11, the woman (let's call her Maroon since I don't know her name and that is what color scrubs she was wearing) opened up the cylinder and pulled out a small rectangular silver box from the dry ice storage on the inside.  While doing this, she was wearing blue gloves that were basically as big as my legs.  If you check out our photos, you can see the stem cells in the bag that they were stored in.  There was a bath contraption to warm them up and we waited somewhat patiently not really knowing how long it would take.  Once the cells were warmed up, they were connected using clear "hospital tube" to a big plunger (if you were getting an injection with that thing, I imagine that the needle would be bigger than anything you'd ever want in your arm).  Once the cells were all hooked up, the plunger sucked them out of the bag, Green (the man) then flipped the blue switch and began to push the cells into Kurtis.  This process takes about 25 minutes overall and there are two bags.  Once the cells are in the plunger, it isn't immediately pushed really fast, but rather slowly moved from the plunger into Kurtis.  He did an excellent job - some people get really sick it sounds like and he didn't seem to have anything.  Oddly enough, when the cells go back in, they often taste weird - like garlic.  In order to combat that, Kurits ate Jolly Ranchers.  I've posted pictures so you can see some of the steps of this process if you'd like :)  It is a pretty neat therapy and even though Kurtis isn't feeling great right now at all, it is making him better, and we're thankful for that!

When we came "home" yesterday, Chauncey had hurt his nose.  Normally, he does a great job in his crate, but I think he got completely freaked out.  His nose had a big scrape from trying to get out of his crate.  I'm not sure what caused him to have a freak out, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had something to do with the people who are next door to us.  There is a fair amount of yelling, and they've got some dogs that bark all the time (Chauncey doesn't bark much at all).  Fortunately, there is a dog daycare called "Camp BowWow" that is super close to our hotel.  I went over there yesterday and filled out an application.  Today is his "test run" for Camp BowWow and for us.  He'll go and they will make sure that he gets along with other dogs and stuff before they take him on as a "camper".  I think he was really excited when we got there... he was sniffing around like the little maniac that he is, jumping up and "dancing" for no reason, among other things.  When the worker (camp counselor?) took him back, he was a little confused as to why I wasn't going, but I hope that doesn't inhibit him from having a good time.

We were in a thunderstorm warning last night - and from what I can tell (I do tend to sleep through things...) we didn't get anything from it.  The humidity is down today to a much more survivable 43%...we'll see if that lasts all day or not...and the sky is actually out.  Out here, the buildings are air conditioned so heavily that I am wearing a sweatshirt inside and practically die before I can get it off when I step outside.  Every minute longer that we're here makes me grateful for Colorado and the dry weather.

Kurtis is doing well today. He said this morning that he feels like he's been "hit by a truck" which he basically has...but it seems like his nausea is under control and he doesn't have a fever, nor is he in massive amounts of pain.  Over the course of the next few hours, he'll get "fluids" that include an antibiotic, etc.  Currently he is sleeping and seems like he's actually getting some rest, so that's positive :)

I'm not sure that I have much else more to report as of now.  Hope everyone is well and I'll write more later :)