[stanford_status] Dec 22, Fri - Tired but recovering from chemo

John R Larsen john at larsen-family.us
Fri Dec 22 12:46:46 EST 2006

Hello Everyone,

This is the first status email since Tuesday afternoon, Dec 19th.  
As expected, it has taken a couple of days to recover from the chemo 
he received on Monday.  Starting Tuesday at 10:00 PM he started 
experiencing break through pain mostly in his right shoulder.  
Controlling the pain required two 2 ml doses of the liquid oxycodone 
(ETH) on Tuesday and three doses throughout the day Wednesday.  He 
hasn't required any since then.  This is similar to the week before.  
He hasn't felt nauseous at all and hasn't needed any Zofran.  Four 
days after the first round of gemcitabine he puked three times in a 
24 hour period.  He didn't ever feel nauseous.  He just simply 
puked.  We're at that same time frame now, but so far he hasn't 

We've been working to get his schedule swung around so that his best 
awake time is when everyone else is also up.  It has been very 
frustrating for him to be most awake when everyone else is headed to 
bed.  Stanford has been sleeping better at night.  He takes an 
Atavan around 11:00 PM, which helps him sleep.  If he wakes up 
during the night and is unable to get back to sleep then he has 
another one.  In the morning he takes a 2 mg tablet of 
dexamethesone, which helps him perk up some and is supposed to help 
his appetite.  He takes another one around 4:00 PM.  He is still 
taking 80 mg of extended release oxycontin twice a day to maintain a 
base level of pain control.  He is mostly pain free, but it still 
hurts in his right side when he breathes in more deeply.  

The oxy pain meds and the gemcitabine chemo both have the side 
effect of constipation.  He has been taking three senna tablets each 
morning and two each evening to help with this, but also needed some 
bisacodyl to really get his system working.  

We're also still dealing with swelling.  There isn't much that can 
be done to alleviate swelling except positional changes such as 
putting his feet higher than his head.  There is a drug, Lasix, that 
helps eliminate excess fluid, but this wouldn't work in Stanford's 
case.  The excess fluid is a result of the liver not doing its job.  
His albumin is low.  Low albumin directs the cells to retain water.  
If lasix were given it would simply eliminate the water in the blood 
dehydrating him and leaving water in the cells.

Stanford returns Thursday, Dec 28th, at 10:45 AM for his next 
appointment with Dr. O'Shea and his third round of gemcitabine, 
assuming his counts are okay.  There was no need for a blood 
transfusion this past Monday, but if lab work shows his HGB and HCT 
numbers are low then they might do another transfusion on the 28th.  
I put scans of his June 23rd, Nov 15th and Dec 18th blood work on 
the http://StanfordLarsen.org website.  His HGB and HCT were already 
low in June.  Of course they are much lower now.

Wednesday, Dec 20th, was a busy day.  The Elm Street Middle School 
jazz band and the Elm Street Beat performing group came at 1:00 PM 
to perform for Stanford.  This had been arranged in advance and the 
weather cooperated nicely.  They set up in the backyard.  Stanford 
was a member of the Elm Street jazz band when he was in 8th and 9th 
grade.  The kids performed several numbers and then crowded around 
Stanford as he opened up some presents they brought and read some of 
the many cards they also brought.  He really enjoyed the visit.  I 
took pictures and videos of the numbers they performed.  These are 
all on the http://StanfordLarsen.org website.  

Wednesday afternoon Mr. Heaton, the NHSS gaming club advisor, came 
over and played some games of Magic the Gathering with Stanford and 
his brother Bradford.  At 7:00 PM Stanford attended the annual Santa 
Fund concert at Nashua High South.  He had been looking forward to 
this for several days.  He was somewhat tired, but enjoyed hearing 
his friends sing and play in the very well attended concert.  We 
appreciated very much the help from the school administration in 
reserving some seats for us so that Stanford and family could arrive 
close to show time and slip right in.

Thursday was a recovery day from the busy day before.  Stanford 
really didn't perk up until around 4:00 PM.  His goal for Thursday 
was to go with friends to see "Happy Feet" at the Cinemagic theater 
in Merrimack, NH.  We didn't know how he would do at a movie, but he 
was able to stay awake and sys he enjoyed the show.  The stadium 
seats provide pretty good support so we parked his wheelchair down 
below and walked up to a better viewing position.  Next week after 
Christams he wants to go see the movie Eragon.

It has been one month and a day since the emergency room crisis when 
the doctors told us Stanford was going to die.  We're grateful for 
miracles along the way that have kept him with us, and we hope and 
pray that he will be strengthened and that the chemo therapy will 
work.  Thanks for all your encouragement, support, and prayers.


John R Larsen <john at larsen-family.us>

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