Monday, January 1, 2007

January 1st - 8th: The Mysterious Missing Tooth

MONDAY, JANUARY 01, 2007 09:34 PM, PST

“An old poet said, 'It's better to go to the Rose Bowl and lose than not to have gotten there at all.'” Lloyd Carr

Parent’s Note:

Personally, I still believe Keith and his cap played a key role in getting them there. Still, it would have been nice to notch a win. In spite of the numerous block M sightings reported, including schools of fish and cloud formations the Wolverines just didn’t bring enough today to pull it off.

More importantly, Keith enjoyed another feel-good day and got together with his friends for most of the afternoon. Tomorrow it’s off to school for Scott and off to Lucile Packard for Keith for his pre-op physical.

Vacation is over, time to get back to work.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 02, 2007 09:27 PM, PST

Parent’s Note:

Our first visit to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital of 2007 was uneventful. Keith passed his pre-op physical with flying colors, although he has been encouraged to eat as much fattening food as he desires in order to put a little weight on. So tomorrow’s bone marrow harvest procedure at Stanford should be almost an exact repeat of November 14th’s routine including setting the alarm for 3:30 am so that we can be first in line at the registration desk at 5:30. Ugh.

Keith has been through this once before and so there is much less mystery surrounding the procedure and his recovery routine. He seems so cheerful in general, and only gets moody when we talk about all of the treatment procedures remaining (so needless to say we don’t dwell too much on it).

Ann and Don need to head back home to Michigan soon after we leave for the hospital tomorrow and we will miss them greatly. We hope they are able to return soon.


“I really think everyone should have some of this stuff” Keith offered this recommendation - visibly glazed over after receiving some very potent “happy” medicine just before entering surgery.

Parent’s Note:

In many ways today was a re-enactment of the events of November 14th right down to the “Are you sure you are scheduled to have surgery here today? – I can’t seem to find a record….” and “I don’t have an insurance pre-authorization on file – you’ll need to sign this financial responsibility form…” All this while Keith lay comfortably curled up on a couple of chairs in the waiting room at 5:30 am.

Apart from the administrative glitches, everything else seemed to go more-or-less smoothly and Keith was his usual remarkably brave, uncomplaining self once again. The surgery went fine and we met up with him in recovery. He woke up quite comfortably and without much pain at all, but after a while his eyes got wide and a look of terror crossed his face. “My loose tooth! It’s not there!”

Sure enough, one of the three loose teeth in his head was missing, causing quite a stir amongst the nursing staff, who proceeded to call the anesthesiologist, who then quickly showed up concerned that Keith might of inhaled it during the operation, and ordered a chest x-ray – stat - to find out if he did or didn’t, causing Keith to freak out as he envisioned the possibility of having to stay overnight to find and possibly have said tooth ‘extracted’ from a place where teeth aren’t customarily extracted. The x-ray technician rolled up the mobile x-ray machine, situated Keith a bit and zapped him. When the film was processed it confirmed that the missing tooth was……..phew!, not inside him. So somewhere in a lonely corner of one of the operating rooms at Stanford Medical Center is likely a small, well worn baby tooth, unnoticed yet longing for a Tooth Fairy appearance nonetheless. A few laughs and a few wiped brows and Keith was soon on his way to the Day Hospital where he spent the next few hours under observation. It was quite a sight to see him being rolled down the long public hallway between the Ambulatory Center and Lucile Packard flat on his back on a gurney while thumbing a GameBoy between his hands held high above his head the whole way. “Thumb therapy” we quipped as we greeted the nurses at the Day Hospital.

The rest of the stay was uneventful and we were eventually discharged, driving the 56 miles back home to Orinda on pleasantly uncrowded freeways for a change.

Keith feels fine, albeit a bit stiff, and has only needed one Tylenol so far – and we had to force him to take that one.

Just another day in the life of Keith.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 04, 2007 09:34 PM, PST

Parent’s Note:

Today Josie transported Keith 112 miles to and from Stanford just to have his dressing removed. Granted it was a very large compression dressing, fondly referred to in our house and by the nurses as a butt pillow, that wraps around the full width of his backside. Let’s see, that works out to about 2.8 miles traveled per square inch of dressing removed. It took 30 minutes of patient prodding just to loosen all of the sticky stick’um holding it on (granted, it could have been removed faster with one robust yet excruciating rip but Keith requested the slow water-torture approach).

While loosening the bandages, Keith’s nurse Karen must have tripped his talk button, asking him a seemingly innocent question about World of Warcraft just to take his mind off the task at hand. Well, now this is a subject that Keith happens to know something about in the same way Edward Teller knew something about the hydrogen bomb. Keith launched into lecture mode and he proceeded to explain all of the ins and outs, nuances and strategies of WOW for the next half hour or so until the nurse pried the last bit of dressing off his hairy backside. Voilà, fini.

A brilliant piece of nursing distraction strategy I must say. Or in eBay feedback terminology: Effective communication, careful (un)packaging A++++

FRIDAY, JANUARY 05, 2007 10:29 PM, PST

“Ok, I’m ready to teach one of you how to play World of Warcraft” Keith, tossed a look at Josie and me. “Who’s it gonna be?”

Parent’s Note:

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I spent an hour and a half on the couch with Keith advising me on the necessary aspects of the game, from creating a character to battling Thistle Boars and Webwood Venom Spiders. In exchange for my superlative combat skills, I received some ragged leather boots and leggings that I think really accent my green hair nicely. My character is a Night Elf Druid named Zephlon and by anyone’s appraisal he’s one baaaad dude. Well, at least I think he is. Keith, good sport that he is, offered a few encouraging words when I leveled up and turned in a couple of quests. The rest of the time he was yawning I’m sure.

Anyway it was fun to have the master teach me a thing or two.


SATURDAY, JANUARY 06, 2007 10:55 PM, PST

Parent’s Note:

A quiet weekend pattern has set in and no medical events to speak of. Keith feels good and his backside is almost back to normal after surgery on Wednesday. We took the opportunity to give Keith a physical workout of sorts by taking him to the UC Botanical Gardens in the hills above Berkeley. A beautiful day to be outside and Keith was quite interested in the whole experience but especially with the many varieties of cacti and carnivorous plants.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 07, 2007 10:35 PM, PST

Parent’s Note:

A fun day for both boys. Keith was invited to a friend’s house, and reported back later that he had a lot of fun exercising his friend’s two guinea pigs “Snicker Doodle” and “Tiddly Wink” in their back yard. Scott was invited along with his friend to go ‘bouldering’ at a local rock climbing establishment. His fingers were throbbing afterwards but he was able to complete some challenging climbs.

As Keith was getting his Broviac dressing changed tonight we noticed the old dressing was a lot more difficult to get off than it has been lately. Keith was complaining that it was pulling his hair. Hair? What hair? Upon closer examination we were surprised to notice the beginnings of fine little hairs on his body and head – even short little eyelashes. It’s been six weeks since his last chemo cycle so I suppose it makes sense.

Sadly, we are expecting a call from Children’s Hospital requesting Keith to check in for his sixth cycle of chemo sometime this week, so whatever hair is pushing it’s way out is probably in for a bit of a nasty surprise.

So speaking of hair, I’m reminded of one of my favorite adolescent silly poems fashioned by George Carlin. Thanks to a quick Google search I was able to recover it for your enjoyment. And while I love Keith’s bare head, as far as I’m concerned when he gets through all of this he can have “hair down to there” for all I care.


Hair Poem--George Carlin

I'm aware some stare at my hair.
In fact, to be fair,
Some really despair of my hair.
But I don't care,
Cause they're not aware,
Nor are they debonair.
In fact, they're just square.

They see hair down to there,
Say, "Beware" and go off on a tear!
I say, "No fair!"
A head that's bare is really nowhere.
So be like a bear, be fair with your hair!
Show it you care.
Wear it to there.
Or to there.
Or to there, if you dare!

My wife bought some hair at a fair, to use as a spare.
Did I care?
Au contraire!
Spare hair is fair!
In fact, hair can be rare.
Fred Astaire got no hair,
Nor does a chair,
Nor a chocolate eclair,
And where is the hair on a pear?
Nowhere, mon frere!

So now that I've shared this affair of the hair,
I'm going to repair to my lair and use Nair, do you care?

MONDAY, JANUARY 08, 2007 09:19 PM, PST

Parents Note:

It was a long day at the office for me today so unfortunately I can’t give a detailed first hand report of Keith’s day but he seems to have enjoyed himself and feels good as well. I did take his lab draw this morning and the results came back as expected – good enough to be admitted for cycle 6 of chemotherapy at Children’s. So tomorrow morning Keith’s busy schedule will include a post-op check up from his tumor resection surgery, yet another special genetic blood test that is needed by Stanford in advance of the autologous bone marrow transplant (BMT), followed by what will likely be a 4 to 5 day inpatient admission and what should be his last chemo cycle before his BMT procedure at Stanford later this month or early February.

We are working to prepare ourselves for the logistical challenges of the BMT, as Keith will be required to spend upwards of two months away from home – one month inpatient at Stanford and another month after discharge in an accommodation within 20 minutes of Stanford. And this assumes no complications.

For anyone who would like to know a bit more about this procedure, the following link will take you to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital site.

Bone Marrow Transplant (Autologous)

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