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February 02, 2008


6:45 PM (Central time): Well, we lost our kitty this morning. All of our kitties have been losing weight and vomiting lately, so we hadn't been too concerned (and our veterinarian wasn't either--these things happen with older cats). But for the last couple of weeks Hannah (18 years old) had a really sharp decline. We took her to the vet on Monday, and he ran lots of tests, suspecting hyperthyroidism. She was home with us Tuesday-Thursday, but then she got much worse on Thursday so we took her in for observation. He started her on medicine for her thyroid when the test results came back, but it didn't seem to help, and she wouldn't eat. He suggested we bring her home last night to see if being at home would perk her up. We made an appointment for her to return today if she was still having problems.

I could tell as soon as we took her out of the carrier at home that it was just a matter of time. She could hardly walk (just a few weak steps before she would collapse and rest), and her eyes were weird. She made it through the night--in fact, she went from our bedroom all the way across the house to the area where we keep the kitty litter and food, used the facilities, vomited (that's how we know she was in there), and walked all the way back to our bedroom at some point during the night.

I slept in this morning, and after I woke up, I just held her and petted her for well over an hour. We had a really sweet talk with Elisabeth, who was concerned that Hannah didn't know about God and wouldn't go to heaven and Elisabeth would never see her again. Randall talked to her for a while and she seemed reassured.

At some point, Hannah started sort of panting, and I thought for sure death would come in moments--but it didn't. I took a shower and got ready to take her to the vet for her appointment (and was mentally preparing myself for what I knew we would have to do). She was still the same when I got out of the shower, so I put her in the carrier (no easy feat since her limbs were already kind of stiff), loaded her up in the car, and took off. When I got to the stop sign to turn on to the highway (five blocks from our house), I checked and she had stopped breathing. We called the vet, and they said to go ahead and bring her in so we could discuss our options.

The vet was wonderful and spent a lot of time with me talking about what had happened and saying really comforting things. He laid out our options, and I chose to have her cremated--it costs a little more than burial at the pet cemetery in Clovis, but I'd rather not bury her in a place I know we'll be leaving at some point (although hopefully not any time soon). Her body will be picked up from the vet on Thursday and her ashes returned the following Thursday.

It's been a sad day, and I'm physically and emotionally exhausted, but I'm relieved that her pain and suffering has ended, and I'm glad the vet was so supportive.

I am really sorry we haven't posted updates more frequently. We're all doing fine--other than some minor illnesses. Sophie goes in for her monthly checkup and blood test tomorrow. Thanks to those of you who continue to visit and keep up with us. We'll try to reward you by posting a little more often....

February 05, 2008


2:45 PM (Central time): Sophie had a good trip to Lubbock yesterday for her monthly checkup. Her blood values were good, and there were no problems with her physical exam (still no reflexes, but the doctor said that can take up to a year). During the drive to Lubbock, she claimed she would not be afraid, and in fact she left her blankie in the car when Randall went to park. When the needle appeared, though, she started to get upset and a second nurse had to come in to help hold her still. Afterward, she said the needle hurt this time (to which I replied that she got upset BEFORE the needle touched her!).

We spent some time talking with the doctor to clarify our follow-up schedule for the next few years. She confirmed what I was assuming: Monthly visits for the first year post-treatment; every two months in the second year; every three months in the third year; every six months in the fourth year; and every six-twelve months every year after that. She said the likelihood of relapse really goes down after the second year post-treatment, and by that time she would be considered "cured." I also asked her about longer term considerations, including secondary cancers and long-term side effects. She said most secondary cancers happen much later post-treatment, usually after ten years, but that she doesn't expect Sophie is at high risk for secondary cancers. She didn't take the chemotherapy drugs that are consistently associated with secondary cancers, and she didn't have radiation as part of her treatment. As far as long-term side effects (other than the cognitive delays we already knew about), one of the chemotherapy medicines she took is associated with heart problems, so she will have echocardiograms every five year to be compared against the baseline reading they did early in her treatment. All in all, a very positive visit.

Speaking of cognitive delays, we will be meeting with the psychologist who did Sophie's cognitive testing in December to discuss the cryptic results we received. I am looking forward to an English translation of some of that jargon.

February 18, 2008


9:47 PM (Texas time) Last Monday, Susan and I visited with the Cognitive Psychologist that did Sophie's testing back in December. He was very helpful in explaining the various tests and the results that he came up with. Overall, he described Sophie as a very intelligent child, with average to above average intelligence in many areas. He does diagnose (?) her with some developmental delays or cognitive problems, however.

In particular, Sophie seems to have trouble with rote learning techniques (memorizing things just for the sake of memorizing them) or repetitive tasks and time constraints. His recommendation is that we make sure that Sophie receives instruction using a variety of techniques (Sophie can easily compensate for this issue with the areas where she excels) and try to ensure that she is given "extra" time as needed.

It's a little challenging swallowing all of this, but I guess I'd rather know now than see problems develop down the road and wonder why they're cropping up. Our hope, of course, is that this diagnosis is not a sign of future cognitive issues that stem from Sophie's treatment. We're going to stay on top of this, though!

On a sad note, my grandfather (PaPa) passed away over the weekend. He was 93 and lived a very full life. He was blessed to live in his own home up to the very end, and with the help of my dad, was able to keep up his garden (somewhat) even last year. I'm thankful that we got to visit with him last summer, and I will always cherish this photo of Sophie spending some quality time with her great-grandfather:


February 26, 2008


6:45 PM (Central time): Not much to report here, but I figure it's been a few days, so I ought to report something! This past weekend, I traveled to Washington DC for a work trip. It takes all day to fly across the country, and the 90-minute meeting was in the middle of the day on Friday, so I was actually away from home for 3 days. It's nice having some time to myself, eating good food and staying in a nice hotel, but I sure did miss my family and friends.

Sophie lost her front tooth while I was gone--she looks so different without it. We haven't taken a picture of it yet, but when we do, we'll try to post it. She also got her report card on Friday, and she made all E's and E+'s (usually she has more than a few S's). I was so proud of her! The little sheet that summarizes all the things she can do is really amazing. Elisabeth (who says "hello"--reading over my shoulder as I type) has not yet brought her report card home yet (although she says she got all A's). She can't get it until she pays an overdue library book fine. That girl is a voracious reader. She's just consuming the Lemony Snicket series (she's on the 12th book), and she's reading at nearly a 7th grade level. I'm so glad she loves to read. Sophie has really taken off with reading too and is able to sound out words and read basic books by herself. It's amazing when that light bulb goes off.

Randall leaves tomorrow for a pastor's group meeting in western New Mexico. He's actually going to fly into Tucson and stay with our friend Greg (Elisabeth's godfather) and drive over the meetings in Lordsburg each day. Meanwhile, on Thursday, I leave for my Walk to Emmaus. Randall went on his walk two weeks ago, and I can't wait to go on mine. Who is taking care of the girls--you might be wondering? They'll be staying with our friends Glen and Freda until Randall gets home on Saturday (I get home Sunday night).

In other news, I got e-mail from a visitor to this blog who was searching for pictures of kids undergoing cancer treatment (how they look on steroids, in particular). After spending several days reading our whole blog, she e-mailed me to share information about her niece who is six weeks into treatment. They just today got news that her leukemia is more complicated than they originally thought, and it looks like the treatment will last a lot longer than normal. This is beyond anything we had to face, and our hearts ache for the family. Please keep this little girl and her family in your thoughts and prayers.