Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Daily Grind of Day 17 (Transplant +8) and an 11th to Celebrate

The last two days have been largely the same story. Esther's ANC is still under 20. She needs platelets once a day. Her mucositis is a little better but largely still painful in her throat. But, although she has had a few fevers here and there, she has not had any other residual infections or illnesses. She has definitely been pretty fatigued between all the medicines and the harshness of the chemo on her system but she still has been relatively talkative and playful. Yesterday, I woke her up at 10:30 and today Sam tried waking her up at around 9 while I was donating platelets downstairs. I'm not sure how long she would have slept yesterday or today had we not woken her up! The doctors were encouraged by this though because it means her pain is probably at a manageable level and she's been comfortable enough to sleep that much.

The Daily Grind

Everyday amounts to mouth care 3 times a day (takes about an hour, most of it waiting before rinses), bath time, platelets time (see the picture below), some play time, 2-3 movies, trying to swallow a few meds, and lots of Mr. Thirsty (her suction tube that helps clear her mouth since it's so painful and difficult to swallow).

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"?

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:27-31)

Right now, I think Esther is probably the only patient on this unit that is not in isolation (because she is infection/illness free), which is pretty crazy and a testament to God's grace on her situation. Pray that she stays that way! The doctors anticipate that her ANC should start to come up at around transplant plus 10-14 days (today is transplant +8). That is pretty near and I'm praying she starts to come up tomorrow. They're saying it's likely she gets discharged by the end of next week.

However, things can change quickly. She is in such a fragile state right now. We're very hopeful but I'm trying to not put my hopes in how she's doing. I'm trusting God to still get her out of here by the new year. Today we went through our discharge training but there are 4 conditions to discharge: 2-3 days with an ANC above 500, no infections, can go 2-3 days without a transfusion, and she's eating and drinking. There's some fudge factor with those (who enjoys hospital food coming off her treatment?) but those are critical guidelines.

Sam and the older 4 got back to Brent's Place last night and had a fun day today doing chores and even working hard for Brent's Place helping sort and organize old and new toys.

An 11th to Celebrate!

Tomorrow (the 28th) is Sam and I's 11th anniversary. This is not exactly the way we envisioned it, but do you normally have much of a vision of what your 11th looks like? Hopefully we can enjoy lunch or dinner together tomorrow.

Either way, I could ask for better friend or partner through this season, or any season for that matter. She is honestly my best friend. I have missed her greatly the past 6 months through the many days of split parenting and even in all of this with Esther and what our older 4 are going through, I think about her the most of anyone. I am so grateful to have her as my wife. With all of the stress of this season of cancer, the pivot point of it all has been on our marriage. You can hide it with Esther or with our kids or with other people, but you can't hide it in your marriage. It's easy to reflect that stress to each other probably because it is our safest relationship.

But I can't imagine all of this without her. I have seen faith and a trust in Jesus in her deeper than I have ever seen. Even in all of this, I am amazed at how her heart still pushes outward to how she can bless others while I just want to crawl into my shell. She has such a love for our kids and is a true refuge and comfort to them. And I am blown away by how hard she has worked to still maintain our home(s).

And I'm not joking when I tell you that the nurses all just love and adore her! She brings them gifts and treats and really has taken a vested interest in their lives. Our nurses absolutely love Esther, but Sam has been such a fragrance of the gospel on this floor of sickness and harsh realities.

11 years is not enough with you, sweetie. I look forward to whatever God has for us together. You are my earthly refuge and best friend. I love you. There is no one else for me but you.



  1. I love to read how well Miss Esther is doing - all Praise to God! Congratulations on your 11th anniversary. That is such a milestone in todays "disposible" marriage environment. You're children are so blessed to have parents as committed as you two seem to be. Continuing to pray for you all.

  2. What a great example of a wife and mom!

  3. I'm keeping you in my prayers with every breath Esther! All of us Birkmans are sending you TONS OF LOVE!!!!

  4. What a tribute to Sam and to what true love looks like. You've brought tears to my eyes and softened my heart. With love and prayers from Amsterdam!