Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Boys will be Boys"

(Wednesday, March 31, 2010)

“Boys will be boys”


Jenny and Emily are great moms. They watch what the boys eat and try hard to make sure they eat properly. But boys will be boys and recently we had a breakdown in discipline with one of our boys. Was it Andrew who ate what he knew he shouldn’t eat? No. Was it Austin who snuck a prohibited snack? No. If it wasn’t Andrew and it wasn’t Austin – then which boy did it? … GRANDPA??

Yes, I confess – it was me. But it felt so good.

When we were released from the hospital, the doctors prescribed a low salt diet because of the fluid retention and involvement of my kidneys. Patra has worked very hard trying to comply. It is very difficult when so many of our foods have high sodium contents.

Patra feels like June Cleaver. She says she needs an apron and high heels since she spends all day in the kitchen preparing meals. (Those of you that know Patra know that she is not about to voluntarily do anything in high heels.)

We had been doing so good on our new low salt diet. But there was a breakdown. When we were at the hospital Monday, we ate lunch while I was receiving my I.V.s. The hospital provides bag lunches at the Bone Marrow Treatment Center so Patra got me a bag lunch with a turkey sandwich. As she brought my bag into the room, her phone rang and she left to take the call. My nurse was very busy but set up a table over my bed so I could eat my lunch. As I opened the bag, I immediately spotted a bag of chips. POTATO CHIPS. SALTY BUT WONDERFUL TASTING POTATO CHIPS. It seemed like it had been years since I had eaten potato chips.

Yes, I knew it was wrong. Sometimes a man just has to do what a man has to do. So before Patra could get back in the room, I ripped open that bag of chips and ate the whole thing. I literally chugged a bag of chips in seconds.

As she entered the room, I knew I was in trouble. Maybe Andrew and Austin could help me out. How would they handle this?

Denial. Who? Me? Yes, I have seen those little guys with chocolate all over their mouths denying that they ate a brownie. I wasn’t optimistic about that defense, it had not turned out well for them. Besides, I had been caught in the act. I was sucking crumbs from the bottom of the bag when she entered the room.

If denial wouldn’t work, how about blaming someone else. Andrew and Austin weren’t there so I couldn’t blame them. How about the hospital? The hospital provided the chips. They put them in the bag. I had no confidence in that defense either.

No, my only hope would be to find a biblical basis. I reminded Patra that the Bible said we are the salt of the earth, and if food has lost it’s salt, then what is life worth?

She couldn’t believe her eyes when she walked in. Now she couldn’t believe her ears when she heard my wildly distorted version of scripture.

I was unrepentant. I was defiant. At least I was honest. I told her that I probably would have broken someone’s arm if they had tried to take away those chips. They were the best potato chips I have ever eaten and I only regret that it had not been a bigger bag.

After all, boys will be boys.

Bob

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Another Step Forward"

(Tuesday, March 30, 2010)
“Another step forward”


What a difference a day makes! What a difference prayer makes! A couple of you must have spent some time lifting me up in prayer because today was a very good day. Yesterday was a little frustrating. It seemed like all of my numbers (blood work) were low and not improving. I was dehydrated and required I.V. fluids even though we are still very concerned about swelling from excess fluid. To be clear, this is not a problem just for me, it is an issue for all amyloidosis patients. It really is a “nasty little disease.”

I woke up this morning and could tell that yesterday’s treatment had not resulted in noticeable swelling – in fact, there was improvement in the edema in my lower extremities. (If you looked hard enough, you could actually tell that I had knee joints.) I was also encouraged by the fact that I did not feel like I was “a quart low.”

So feeling better, off we went to Moffitt for more blood tests and a meeting with the doctor.

I don’t understand all of the numbers but I will give you two examples from my blood work because the numbers really do speak for themselves. There was noticeable improvement today.

My Neutro (Neutrophil) Auto count went from 870 to 4,090!

My white blood cell count yesterday was 1.25, today it was 4.74!

After reviewing all of the blood work results, I was told that I was free to go – no need for a transfusion, no need for an infusion, no need for an injection. Even my catheter (port) got to take the day off today. I will need to go to the clinic every day for the rest of the week to be closely monitored.

Patra asked me if I needed a wheelchair to go from the fourth floor treatment center to the parking garage. I told her no, today was a good day for walking out of the treatment center. Adam stopped by our apartment on his way home from law school and went with me as I again completed the entire route around the lake. (I felt so good after my appointment that I knew I would complete the route today!) More importantly, I didn’t need a nap when we finished – I felt really good.

Thanks for your prayers!

I think this Easter is going to be one of the most meaningful Easters of my entire life.

After all, this is the time we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death. And because of what He did, I can already celebrate my victory over these “nasty little diseases.” I just don’t know exactly what form my victory will take.

Bob


Note from Emily to Dad's Sunday school class: I know that you made a special DVD for my dad this past Sunday, and it was delivered it to our home! I have not yet been able to deliver it to dad as I have been dealing with a bout of strep throat this week (keeping me far away from Dad). I just wanted to let you know why Dad hasn't mentioned it yet - he has yet to view it :)

Photo from Emily: A terrible picture through a screened in porch, but if you squint your eyes, you can see Dad's Marathon Lake from his apartment.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

"Orthostatic Hypotension"

Monday, March 29, 2010)

“Orthostatic Hypotension”


Yesterday I titled the post “I have goals.” Today I was reminded that I may have goals and plans, but ultimately I am not in charge. “If you ever want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans.”

After a good weekend, we were scheduled to go to Moffitt this morning for blood work and a consult. It looked like it would be a pretty easy and quick day. As you probably already surmised, nothing goes quite like we planned. Patra and I got to Moffitt about 9:00 a.m. and back to the apartment about 4:45 p.m. It was a long day.

The problem continues to be fluid levels which result in orthostatic hypotension. The amyloidosis is causing me to retain fluid, primarily in my lower extremities. Unfortunately, at the same time, I am losing fluid in other parts of my body. So I get to the point that I feel “a quart low.” It has already caused me to pass out on several occasions.

The quick diagnosis is made by doing orthostatic blood pressures. The nurse takes my blood pressure while lying down, then while sitting at the side of the bed, and then while standing up. As I move from one position to another, my blood pressure goes down but my pulse or heart rate goes up rather significantly. I get dizzy and light headed. The significant increase in heart rate indicates a compensatory effort by the heart to maintain cardiac output.

That’s where I was when I got to the clinic this morning. Unfortunately, the blood test results are not showing the type of improvement we had hoped for. My white blood cell count and basically every other important number was low.

So today ended up being busy and long instead of short and sweet. Several additional blood tests and blood cultures were ordered to make sure I don’t have some rare virus causing my numbers to remain low. (When you have amyloidosis, which is very rare, you don’t consider anything else too rare, so I will feel better when these tests come back and hopefully rule out any rare virus.)

I was also given a shot of Neupogen which hopefully will stimulate my white blood cells. (Unfortunately, the Neupogen previously seemed to exacerbate my nausea so I am praying that I will not relapse with respect to the nausea.)

Thank you for praying and keeping in touch!


Additional picture from Emily:

March 16 2010 145


Grandpa, Megan (5 months) is completely exhausted after hearing about your long day at the hospital. Keep getting better. We all miss you at home!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"I have Some Goals

Update from Bob:


(Sunday, March 28, 2010)

“I have some goals”


Today is a milestone. We are 30 days out from the bone marrow transplant. I thought I would just share some miscellaneous thoughts with you.

Today is another Sunday where I didn’t go to church. It has nothing to do with having to be in church, but it has everything to do with missing the fellowship and friendship of others and hearing a message from the Word of God. One of my goals is to be able to go to church again.

Today I walked all the way around the lake here at the apartments. It probably is about ¾ of a mile. I could not have been more proud of myself if I had run a marathon. I know pride doesn’t sound good, but when Patra and I got back to the apartment door, I wanted to raise my arms in the air and pump my fists – and I would have if I hadn’t just finished that marathon. I also could not have been more exhausted if I had finished a marathon. When she opened the door, I collapsed in my chair and took a nap. I am really excited about reporting this to my doctors tomorrow. Walking is a very important part of my therapy and one of my goals is to be the best walker I can be.

My wife is incredible. I would write about Patra everyday but you need to understand she is the great censor of all blog posts. (I’m going to need Emily’s help getting this one past her.) There were only a couple of moments when she left my side during the entire hospitalization. She was there every step of the way and did everything to help me through the days. Those of you that know Patra have no difficulty understanding how blessed I am that she is my partner. Many nurses told me they had never seen a better primary care giver – she made everyone’s job easier. We are going through this together and together we will grow closer through it.

Among her many duties, Patra has reminded me on several occasions to find the humor in the day so that I would benefit from the medicine of a cheerful heart. One day she and I started talking about a humorous event and we soon lost it – we couldn’t even talk, we were laughing so hard. The problem was that my platelets (which control blood clotting) were low and so pretty soon, the laughter caused me to have a nasty nose bleed. Fortunately, the doctors gave me a transfusion of platelets. So now we have a double blessing, laughing at the original event and laughing at the impact laughing had on me. One of my goals is to be a worthy husband to a terrific wife.

Out of the mouths of babes. When I was released from the hospital, all of the kids made sure that Grandma and I got to see the grandchildren. Grandma got to hold them and I just waived from the other side of the apartment. Please understand I love them but they scare me to death right now. The girls are still infants but the boys are regular little germ machines. And I am in the middle of germ warfare. One of my goals is to get strong enough to wrestle with Andrew and Austin.

We were very curious about the reaction of the boys to Grandpa’s new look. Andrew (4 years old) seemed a little surprised by my baldness, but quickly rebounded and overall seemed not to be phased by it at all. Austin (3 years old) seemed to be affected a little more. He sneaked his looks at me and didn’t want to deal directly with the whole issue. We kept asking him what he thought about Grandpa’s new look and finally he said, “Grandpa looks weird.” We all laughed and from that point forward, he seemed totally back to normal with me. Hey buddy, I agree – I look weird to me too. One of my goals is to get back to normal.

Everyone that reads my blog is special to me and an important part of my healing. But there is a very special group of people that reads my blog. It is not large in number but these people mean so much to me. It is a group of cancer survivors – people that I have prayed for in the past – and now they are praying for me. For many reasons, they are special. We have a bond that causes us to identify with each other. They have shown me the grace of God in their lives. They have modeled for me what I now hope to be able to model for others. Their victories give me hope and when a day goes bad, I am reminded by them that a new day will dawn. One of my goals is to be to someone else what these special people have been to me.

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Austin on the porch of Grandpa's new apartment. This was his face after seeing Grandpa for the first time without hair.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Vital Signs"

Update from Bob

Saturday March 27, 2010 “Vital Signs”

After 30 days in the hospital, I look terrible. It is amazing how much atrophy took place in my body. It is also amazing how many mirrors the apartment has in the bathroom so that there is no way for me to miss the changes I have undergone.

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As my doctor explained, my body has been through a lot over the past month, and now I need to relax, rest, and slowly build back my strength and endurance. There will be time later to consider issues like the effectiveness of the transplant and the status of those “nasty little diseases.”

Approximately 6 times a day, every day for 30 days, (including midnight and 4:00 a.m.,) a nurse or technician would enter my room to take my “vital signs”. It became a dance – especially the middle of the night checks. Without any verbal communication, as they entered the room, I would raise my left arm about 6 inches off the bed so they could attach the blood pressure cup and then about 30 seconds later, I would open my mouth like a guppy so they could insert the thermometer under my tongue. After a few seconds the thermometer would beep and my mouth would fall open so the nurse could remove the thermometer. I’d raise my arm 6 inches and off comes the blood pressure cuff. In short order, I knew my blood pressure and pulse, and whether I had a fever. Many times they would also draw blood (always at the 4:00 a.m. time), so that the lab could complete the analysis and have the information ready for the doctor’s rounds in the morning.

From the moment of my diagnosis, I have wanted to be sure that I do not “waste my cancer.” I firmly believe that there are lessons God wants to teach me through this process and I don’t want to miss any of those lessons. Checking “vital signs” may be one of those important lessons.

They didn’t just take my vital signs on Day 1 and say, "everything is good so no reason to continue checking." No, everyday they checked vital signs, and then they reacted to the present status. Sometimes, they would add a medication, sometimes they would stop a medication. Blood work usually resulted in a transfusion of red blood cells or platelets. Constantly, the information from my “vital signs” was used to make important decisions about my health care.

I need to continue to check my “vital signs” every day with respect to my faith, my family, my friends.

I believe there are some people who years ago had a real spiritual experience and at the time their spiritual “vital signs” were good. And they have relied upon those old tests. It could be that if they took their “vital signs” (spiritually) today, they would need to make some adjustments.

Since we were released from the hospital, I have gone back to waking up about 2:00 a.m. and staying awake for a couple of hours. I am not upset by this, it has been a wonderfully fulfilling time of prayer, meditation and listening to my ipod. For the past 2 nights, I have tried hard to analyze and measure my relationships with God, my family and my friends. When I am stronger and healthier, there are some things I need to do, especially with respect to my friends. This experience has been blessed by the response of friends – I have told Patra that it is difficult to read emails or comments without becoming emotional – my friends have responded in such encouraging and thoughtful ways. Thank you! I want to be a better friend in the future.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Facts

Update from Emily

(March 25, 2010)

We all have different gifts... and different writing styles...

Jenny is wonderful at turning a situation into a word story or devotional. My Dad is just funny. I am good at providing you with pictures and facts. So, until Dad has internet access again - and until Jenny's life slows down a bit... here we go - here are the facts.

Mom and Dad finally got a decent night of sleep last night! Yeah! They spent the morning at the hospital meeting with doctors and getting blood work done for Dad. He is doing well - continuing to move at a turtle's pace for his numbers, but slow and steady.

Unfortunately, Dad's amyloidosis took a huge toll on his kidneys before his original diagnosis. He met with a nephrologist yesterday morning who has him on a new, very strict diet and some experimental treatment for his kidney failure.

This new diet places mom in a new role - cooking everything from scratch. All salt needs to be eliminated from Dad's diet - and we are quickly discovering how much salt is added to EVERYTHING! Mom spent the afternoon at the grocery store - reading labels of spaghetti sauces before eventually just starting from scratch.

After their appointments, Mom and Dad returned to their new apartment. This apartment has a beautiful lake view and Dad was even able to take about 300 steps around the lake.

So, as my three-year-old told me the other day when I was impatient in traffic... "Slow and Steady wins the race, Mom."

And...to my three year old I write: "Austin, although I wish you didn't talk to me like you were thirty instead of three - you are right."

"Slow and Steady wins the race, Grandpa!" Keep it up.

And here is a new picture of that precious three-year-old. Just because I am good at adding things like that :)

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Austin floating a newspaper boat in Grandma and Grandpa's pool

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

He's Out!

Update from Emily:

(March 24, 2010)

On Monday morning, I took this picture of Dad as he walked for the first time (outside of his room) with his physical therapists. They slowly walked down the hall and back to his room.

DSCN3234

Now, I am happy to report that he no longer even has a room at the hospital!

As of five o'clock this evening, Dad was released (once again) from the Bone Marrow Unit of Moffitt. We are all very excited - especially to see Dad in such great spirits.

We are working on getting internet set up at the transitional housing unit, so Jenny and I will try to keep you posted until Dad can write again.

Thank you so much for ALL of your thoughts and prayers! We are praying specifically tonight that Mom and Dad will finally get a good night of sleep!

"I'm Back"

UPDATE FROM BOB!!!!

"I’m Back”


(Wednesday, March 24, 2010)

It has been a long time since I wrote a blog. Unfortunately, these “nasty little diseases” have put up a good fight. They landed a couple of good sucker punches that I wasn’t prepared for. Using nausea like a weapon of mass destruction, I was knocked to the floor and it has taken a while to pull myself back up on the ropes. My nausea was so bad that for several days I wouldn’t allow any food into my room. If anyone mentioned food, it would make me sick to my stomach. There were several days when I could not open my eyes because I needed to use every part of my concentration to keep from getting ill.

Just in the last couple of days, I have felt much better. The nausea medication protocol we are using is working much better. I am no longer repulsed by the thought of food.

Jenny and Emily have done a great job keeping the blog up to date. Thanks girls!

Because of the problem I had passing out last week, I am known in the hospital as a falling star. I get a nice colored poster on my door so that the entire staff knows I am a falling star. I have been instructed that I am not to be out of bed or walking to the bathroom without assistance to guard against a fall. Adam has been the big physical presence helping me get through the hospital. Yesterday, Patra and I were in the bathroom and she confessed that there was no way she could help me if I fell. The best that would happen is if I fell, we would both fall and I would fall on her, softening the blow. Unfortunately, she is right and that gave us some funny moments to think about how it would appear if the dominoes fell while we were in the bathroom.

But I also noticed the difference when Adam was my escort to the bathroom. He had a hand around me supporting me. He is big enough and strong enough to actually keep me from falling. I would have hoped that it might have been another 10 years or so before it was so obvious who was taking over the supportive role, but it was a real encouragement now.

I do need to take up an issue with some of my friends who commented on my picture. You know who you are – trying to be nice. “You don’t look so bad bald.” “You remind me of an actor.” Just remember, someday you are going to have to give an account of every word. I intend to be standing just off to the side laughing at your feeble attempts to justify being nice with being truthful.

Now for the reality. When I first looked into the mirror after losing my hair, I couldn’t believe it. Who is that old guy standing in my mirror? I found myself playing that silly cartoon game where I would slowly move off the side of the mirror and then quickly return and see if the image was still there. It was.

The good news – how many people get a chance to see what they will actually look like if they live to be 100? I have, and it is not pretty. I’m not ready to totally give up the movie role possibilities. Maybe there will be a role for me in some of the recent teenage vampire – twilight movies.

Today I will need two units of blood transfused. And then later today, they will do another round of diuretics to try and take off some of the swelling. I thank you for your prayers.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rocks in the Jordan

From Jenny:
(Warning.. I didn’t really follow my dad’s instruction to try to keep it light today. Perhaps, Dad, this post will serve as a challenge for you to get well enough to take back your blog before we get REALLY sappy on you!)

You should see my notes from church this week. The pastor was preaching a great sermon on heaven, but my scribblings say things like “Rocks in the Jordan!!!” and “Need picture of Dad’s bald head!!!”

What in the world, right?

Two summers ago, I did a Bible study called “Believing God” by Beth Moore. And in it, we studied the story of the Israelite people crossing the Jordan River in the book of Joshua.

It's another miracle like the parting of the Red Sea. The Jordan River stops in it's tracks while the Israelites walk across it's dry river bed safely to the other shore. And before they move on with their journey, God gives them very clear instructions.

Joshua is to choose twelve men to walk back to where the priests are still standing on dry ground and gather stones from the floor of the middle of the river.

And this is the part that gets me every time. Seriously, I cannot read this passage out loud without getting choked up.

Joshua tells them each to take a stone, “to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7)

These people didn’t have diaries or scrapbooking albums, digital cameras or blogs
to record the amazing things God was doing in their lives. But they sure had something compelling. Rocks from the middle of a river that dried up right in front of them so they could cross safely! Evidence that God had been there and once again delivered His people through an otherwise insurmountable obstacle. Stones their children and grandchildren and generations beyond could look at, touch, and ask about so they, too, could hear the stories of God’s faithfulness to His people.

I think the imagery is so powerful and emotional to me because I all too often forget some of the amazing and miraculous things God has done in my life. I need to document His faithfulness so my kids will know what He has done for me!

So, with each post on the blog, each picture that documents a stage of this fight, each verse of Scripture, we are scooping up stones from the river bed.

The most recent picture of my dad feels (to me) like a rock from the smack dab middle of the river.

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Looking behind him, he’s made it a long way. Looking ahead, there’s a long way to go.

And, at the conclusion of this “story”, I know his heart will be to pick up these figurative stones and show them to his children and grandchildren.

“This is when we started out.”

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“This is when it got really hard.”

“These are the people who became our ‘bridge’ of support.”

“This is how God saw us through.”

When they ask what we believe about our God, this will be a part of our family’s story of faith.

Beth Moore puts it this way in “Believing God” :

“You and I are living stones. We are living reminders to the world that Jesus was here.”


So, Andrew… Austin… Avery… Megan – let these thoughts and pictures and comments be a reminder to you that Jesus was here. He has been our source of comfort and hope throughout your Grandpa’s hardest moments.

And since He never ever changes, He will always be that God for you, too.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dad's New Look

(Sunday, March 21, 2010)

"Dad's New Look"


Update from Emily:

Yesterday, I was able to spend some time with Mom and Dad at the hospital for Mom's Birthday! I was excited to walk into the room and see Dad's bed empty and Dad sitting up in his chair. (He asked if I wanted to take a picture to share his "bald look" with you.)

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Yes, he looks thinner, but if you squint your eyes and picture him with hair, it is still the same Bob Bugg! Today brought more encouraging news. Dad walked the floor of his hospital room twice and new medications were able to get the nausea under control. Great news!

Thank you so much for your specific prayers.

I just wanted to also say thank you to so many of you for your comments. I know that many of you email my mom privately and for that we thank you as well. For us as children, it is nice to see the comments on the blog and know how many of you are praying for our family. We feel as if we are getting to know many of you through this blog, and for that, we thank you.

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Dad's Safety Belt"

(Friday, March 19, 2010)

"Dad's Safety Belt"

Update Novel from Emily:

I will never forget the first time I walked down the bone marrow transplant unit at Moffitt soon after Dad was first admitted. A man was walking down the hallway with a safety belt around his waist. A nurse held the back of the belt to make sure if the man fainted, he would fall safely to the ground.

"Wow, I thought to myself. That man must be really sick."

Only seconds later, I saw my dad and brother emerge from Dad's room... Dad wearing a big pink safety belt around his waist with Adam holding on securely from behind.

We all laughed about it that day. "Emmy," Dad said, "I am just glad to be walking!"

On these days I understand Dad's words. Dad is unable to walk now, spending most days asleep in bed. I am grateful for the rest, but at the same time, I wish we were able to buckle that safety belt and take one more lap around the wing.

On Wednesday, I walked into Dad's room to see a bald man sleeping in the bed.

"Oh Sorry," I whispered as I backed out slowly. And then I realized. That bald man fast asleep in bed is my dad! I had yet to see him without a hat and the baldness truly affects a person's look - the chemo look.

It is hard to know exactly what to write to you these days. I will never forget Dad's instructions as he entered the hospital. "If I get too sick to write, girls," he said to Jenny and me. "Keep it light. Tell the truth, but keep it light." (Can't you just hear my Dad saying that to us?)

Now we walk the balance beam - trying to help you understand Dad's condition in the most effective words for prayer, but also knowing that someday my Dad is going to read my words and I want to honor him by keeping it light :)

So, tonight I will try to give you some facts about his condition.

In addition to cancer, Dad has a rare blood disease called Amyloidosis. This is a protein disorder that attacks various organs and starts shutting them down. Dad's amyloidosis was detected in his kidneys several months back. Therefore, his kidneys have pretty much stopped functioning properly. They don't filter as they should. SO.... Dad has extreme swelling (almost 25 pounds or more of fluid buildup)! This fluid buildup is preventing Dad from sitting up, bending his knees, etc. Can you imagine gaining 25 pounds in fluid???

The doctors have given him diuretics to stop the fluid buildup. Unfortunately, the diuretics are causing dad to become dehydrated (leading to the fainting!) So, it is this game right now... Try to drain the liquid, Dad gets dehydrated. IV fluids, Dad gains 17 pounds. Diuretics... dehydration...

And until his kidneys start getting some control (hopefully as a result of the Bone Marrow Treatment) this crazy cycle will continue. While we asked you to pray over his WBC Numbers for a quick release from the hospital, we now understand that we need your prayers in a different way.

Please pray:
For some control over this weight gain/ weight loss situation. Kidney function. No more nausea! Wearing that safety belt again!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's the little things

(from Jenny)

Sometimes, it's the little things that really count.

Like the ten minutes we got to spend with Grandma today while we cleaned out the apartment they lived in for less than 24 hours.

Like the small patch of grass in the aforementioned apartment's parking lot that the boys got great delight running back and forth across (why can't I get my son to play that well in our big backyard FULL of grass??).

And like those microscopic white blood cells that, despite how bad my dad still feels, are still moving up, up, up!

Dad's ANC is now at about 1500 (remember, the first goal was to reach 500 so he could fight infection) and his white blood cells are at 1.69. This is good news!

Other good news today included clean reports from the xrays and CT scan done yesterday.

Swelling, nausea and fatigue are still big problems. He received a platelet transfusion today along with IV fluids for dehydration. Tomorrow promises a round of diuretics to combat the swelling.

As always, we're so grateful for your faithfulness in prayer!

(I want you to know that I've been watching this cursor blink for several minutes as I tried to find a good way to tie together the beginning and ending of this post. But nothing was coming to me.

That is, until my five year old walked into the room and blew a big old raspberry at my 5 month old. That's all it took for her to erupt into a big old belly laugh.

And there it is...
sometimes, it's just the little things!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Back to 3W of Hospital

(March 17, 2010)

Quick Update from Emily:

Today as Mom and Dad went back to the hospital for routine follow-up/ out-patient procedures, Dad passed out. The doctors have readmitted Dad to the Bone Marrow wing of the hospital. He is having a series of tests run to determine the exact cause of his fainting spells. (My non-medical self wants to suggest that perhaps it could be related to the extreme chemo, the bone marrow transplant, or his lack of appetite... but the doctors are trained and very good at their jobs, so I will let them diagnose).

Dad will remain in the hospital for now, and we will start the process of moving things back from the apartment for the time being. Whew. We are all pretty exhausted - mostly from the sheer emotion of it all.

Please continue to pray for our family - particularly Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Good News!!!

If I had only known - that you, Dad's friends, just needed an explanation of the ANC, I would have explained it weeks ago... because...

(Tuesday, March 16, 2010)

Update from Emily:


Dad is out! Thank you so much for all of your prayers! He has been released from the bone marrow unit wing of the hospital. His ANC numbers went above 500 this morning (WBC: 0.91), and that meant Dad could be moved to the "transitional apartment."

Since none of us were quite expecting the news this morning, the day was spent getting everything packed, moved, bought, and ready for apartment life. As I delivered some things to mom at the apartment tonight, I asked her if they had a "cleaning service" to help keep things sanitary for Dad. Mom and I looked at each other and laughed. "So you are now the maid and the cook - as well as the primary care giver?" I asked smiling.

"Yes... maybe we shouldn't have prayed to leave the hospital so quickly" she replied in jest.

Dad will continue to visit Moffitt everyday for IV fluid, tests, and other procedures.

Thank you again for your prayers! We rejoice in Dad's numbers, and ask for your continued prayers as Mom and Dad adapt to phase two of this process!

Monday, March 15, 2010

"The Technical Side of Things" - and some Pictures for Fun

(Monday, March 15, 2010)

Update from Emily:

Dad's numbers continue to climb (0.50 this morning), and for this increase (however small) we are thankful. Many of have asked what count Dad's white blood cells need to reach in order to leave the hospital. Technically, it is not up to this white blood cell number alone, instead Dad's release from the hospital depends on what is called an ANC (Absolute Neutrophil Count). This ANC calculates the number of white blood cells that are actually neutrophils (the key components to fighting infection).

Since many of my Dad's friends enjoy the technical side of things, here is the process of finding the ANC:

Sample calculation of the ANC:
WBC count: 6,000 cells/mm3 of blood
Segs: 30% of the WBCs
Bands: 3% of the WBCs
Neutrophils (segs + bands): 33% of the WBCs
ANC: 33% X 6,000 = 2,000/mm3 ANC of 2,000/mm3, by convention = 2.0 Normal range: 1.5 to 8.0 (1,500 to 8,000/mm3)
Interpretation: Normal

In order to fight infection, Dad's ANC needs to be above 500. I will ask my mom what his current ANC is and will report that back to you.

And, if that meant absolutely nothing to you (as it did to me), then I will leave you with my Bible verse for the day:)

Psalm 1:1-3

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

------------

And a special extra for Dad.

Dad,

I know that you miss seeing all of your grandchildren, so here are some pictures just for you today:)

We love you,

All your kids and grandkids

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Avery and Megan (4 months) at Adam's Birthday party. Megan is staring down Austin's chocolate cupcake!

February 27 089
Andrew after his t-ball game

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Jenny with her hands FULL! Holding Avery and Megan

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Austin and Emily at the duck pond this weekend

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Adam, Sharon, and Avery celebrating Adam's birthday

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Day by Day"

(Sunday, March 14, 2010)
"Day by Day"


Update from Emily:

I was hoping that Dad would feel well enough to post his own blog today. The effects of chemo, however, continue to keep Dad weak - giving him very little strength to read or write. We are excited that his numbers continue to go up (today's WBC count: 0.37), but we also continue to pray that they would multiply at a greater rate.

This morning, I read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

My prayer for Dad today is that though he feels like he is wasting away outwardly due to chemotherapy, that God would do a work in his heart and body in these upcoming days - and he would truly feel renewed day by day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"He Still Makes Me Laugh"

Saturday, March 13, 2010
from Patra

"He still makes me laugh"


When we started this journey Bob wrote on this blog that we could always find something everyday to laugh about. When you are in a hospital for 19 straight days, the humor often resembles kindergarten humor, but we find that we can still have "cheerful hearts" most of the time.

The last several days have been Bob's hardest. Yesterday, he couldn't even get out of bed. He hasn't spoken a complete sentence in a week, but just now I convinced him to take a short walk in the hall. As we fumbled with his walker to get the door of his room open he said to me, "How does my hair look?" And then he smiled. I laughed out loud (he has no hair). That dry "Bugg" humor that his dad had - love it, love it. That's my man - he's coming back to life.

Bob's white blood cell counts are basically still at zero, but in one day we went from 0.11 to 0.27 - more than double. If the count doubles again tomorrow, it won't not be long before we reach the point where his body can fight germs a little. A friend wrote "slow and steady wins the race" - next time I read the "Tortoise and the Hare" to my grandkids, I may use Grandpa instead of that turtle, (he actually is looking a lot more like a turtle these days).

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Maybe Tomorrow?"

(Friday, March 12, 2010)

"Maybe Tomorrow?"


Update from Emily:

I just wanted to send out a thank you once again to everyone who has posted a comment, sent a card, or left an email for Mom and Dad. I know that your communication has been a great source of encouragement to the entire family during these days... especially during these days when it doesn't seem like Dad is going "up" very well.

This morning, Dad's WBC (White Blood Cell) count was 0.11 (only up 1/100 of a point from yesterday morning). The doctors told mom that although it is very abnormal to engraft this slowly, it is not altogether unheard of. Please join us in praying that his numbers will start dramatically improving over the weekend.

I cannot wait to start posting some better numbers - hopefully tomorrow:)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"A Bugg Birthday"

(Thursday, March 11, 2010)

"A Bugg Birthday"


Update from Emily:

Tonight all the "Bugg" children and grandchildren met at my sister's house to celebrate my brother, Adam's, birthday. We had a wonderful time eating, laughing, talking, and telling "remember when" stories. Austin (3) and Andrew (4) sang a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday for their uncle before consuming their chocolate cupcakes!

My dad was very specific about Adam's presents this year - and lest you think that we are getting too sentimental or sappy during these days, I am happy to report that Dad wanted to make sure that I picked up two Wii controllers for my brother's 29th birthday. We took videos and lots of pictures, and I can't wait to go to the hospital tomorrow to show them all to Mom and Dad.

Dad is doing okay this evening. His WBC (White Blood Cell) count this morning was 0.10 (another rise of .03 of a point!) We continue to pray that they will increase more. Please join us in this prayer. Please also pray for Dad to gain some relief from nausea and weakness. He is currently unable to stand without feeling faint.

Thank you again to everyone for joining our family in both times of celebration and prayer. Happy Birthday, Adam!


*** I will post some pictures tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quick Update

Update from Emily:

Dad's white blood cell count this morning was 0.07! I am going to celebrate that 7/100 of a point.

We will post more later. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"How are those White Blood Cells?"

(Tuesday, March 9, 2010)

Update from Emily:

I woke up early this morning eager to call mom ... I have been praying specifically that Dad's white blood cell counts would start rising once again.

"Sorry, Emmy," she said as I asked about his numbers this morning. "No change. His white blood cell counts are still at zero."

This is the sixth day that Dad's cell counts have remained at zero, so we are praying that they will rapidly start reproducing! The doctors do not seem alarmed and told Mom this morning that they have seen the white blood cells stay at zero for three weeks!

A little of the disappointment for our family, however, lies in the fact that dad's hospitalization depends on his white blood cell count. We want him home - or at least moving to the transition home before he can move home!

Before Dad's transplant, the doctors explained that if his numbers were good, he could leave the bone marrow wing of the hospital by the end of this week. After leaving the bone marrow wing, Dad will be moved to a "transitional" apartment until his immune system is strong enough to be back in his own home.

Many of my own friends have asked about Dad's recovery. How long will he be hospitalized? When will he start working again? Etc. Those answers vary so widely from person to person after having a bone marrow transplant. Due to his compromised immune system, he is not allowed to be home due to dust, risk of infection, preschoolers!, etc. until his immune system is stronger. There is an apartment complex on hospital grounds that Mom and Dad will move into once Dad's numbers start increasing!

So, we continue to pray for those white blood cells.

And tomorrow morning, I will wake up and call my mom filled with hope once again, "How are his numbers today?"

Thank you so much for joining my family on this journey.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The God Of All Comfort

From Jenny:

Yesterday, the teacher of our Lifegroup class (Sunday school, small group, etc.) led a discussion on the discipline of prayer. He challenged us to pray according to God's promises in the Bible and the example Jesus gave in the Lord's Prayer.

This was a timely lesson for me. I hung on every word, taking notes, blinking back the tears as we went around the room and shared our prayers and praises, then held each up to the promises of Scripture.

When I mentioned my dad and the latest on his condition, our conversation turned toward a passage of Scripture found in 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 1:2-4

2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The God of All Comfort

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

I love these verses. They're part consolation (He is the God of Comfort!) and part commission (there's a job for us to do, too!). And I can't tell you how amazing it is to see that kind of encouragement working itself out in the body of Christ... especially in the midst of Dad's current condition.

Many of you have read this blog regularly and left comments of encouragement based on how you have been comforted in your own troubles. Thank you!

I have a friend from church who's dad was recently diagnosed with cancer as well. Yesterday, we sought each other out just for a quick hug. Not much needed to be said or done. But the embrace gave us a common comfort.

God has clearly given us a job to do now. So when we pray, we pray that whenever this particular season ends for our family, we never let the opportunity pass us by to extend the same level of consolation to another person who might be walking into a time of "trouble".

We're also praying tonight that the season of "living at Moffitt" will be over soon. The last 24 hours have brought a bit of good news! After several days of not eating, my dad finally got a little bit of food in his system. He had a platelet infusion today which apparently really boosted those platelet numbers.

Another huge accomplishment was a short walk with the physical therapist this afternoon.

We are still waiting and watching for the white blood cell counts to rebound from zero... but they haven't made the turn yet...

I sure hope that I got all that information right. In the grand scheme of things, our sister Emily is definitely more of the "details" person.

My mom shared this information with me earlier today, and before REALLY concentrating on the facts, I came away with:

This morning: BAD
This afternoon: GOOD
The blog should say: Keep up the prayers!

Just be glad Adam hasn't written a post yet. After almost a full year of law school, there would be a whole lot of "aforementioned"'s, "herein"'s, "pursuant to"'s, "whereas"and "I object!"'s to sort through before you got any news on Dad!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Praises and Prayer Requests

(Sunday, March 7, 2010)

Update from Patra

Every Sunday morning in our Bible study class, our friend Linda writes down all our prayer requests and praises. Later that day, she emails the class so we know how to pray during the upcoming week. My favorite part of Linda's weekly emails are the PRAISES. God's answers to our prayers are such a blessing. I'm glad Linda writes the praises first, and I actually go back to the top of the page and read them last too.

My praises for today are for our family and friends who continue to uplift us in prayer. We are also so thankful for this cancer center where the staff have become like family (they are the best). I am even thankful for the large window in our room that faces west (we have seen some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen - they certainly cheer us). Since we are on the 3rd floor, we overlook the tops of the trees and I find the bird watching fascinating (our kids think I'm "loosing it" when I start telling them about the birds). On this beautiful Sunday morning my mind has a tune that replays over and over - the doxology. "Praise God from whom all blessings flow...".

Our primary prayer request continues to remain that Bob start the "turn". His white blood count is still at zero, and he is now having trouble standing - it makes him feel like he's going to pass out. He hasn't been able to eat anything for the last 3 days because of the nausea, and he remains hooked up to IV's most of the time. At the time of this writing he is receiving a blood infusion. He has difficulty opening his eyes, but he never forgets to thank the nurses and techs when they leave the room - his kindness makes me love him even more.

The grandkids are healing, so it won't be long until they can come to the hospital and I can go meet them outside and get my grandma hugs - now that's a PRAISE!

Friday, March 5, 2010

He Will Sing

(Friday, March 5, 2010)

"He Will Sing"


Update from Emily:

Several days ago, Dad wrote a blog called "Scriptures and Songs." In this particular post, he mentioned how wonderful it is to recall songs during times of treatment. As many of you know from my recent posts, the chemo is definitely working and Dad is at the bottom right now. His white blood cells count remains at 0.0. Dad is not allowed to walk today due to dehydration and weakness. Mom says that they have resorted to holding up fingers (1 finger for yes, 2 fingers for no) so Dad won't even have to talk. I have a feeling that he is not reading and doesn't even feel like singing right now.

That is why the Scriptures are so meaningful. This morning as I was reading, I came across this familiar passage from Zephaniah:

Zephaniah 3:17 (New International Version)
The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

My prayer today is that Dad will feel God singing over him in these moments when he is too weak to recall the songs for himself.

Thank you for your prayers. Please pray that Dad will get the fluids he needs, his white blood cell count will start increasing, and He will feel hopeful. Please pray for Mom to have stamina during this time of caring for dad. My son, Austin, was diagnosed with a viral infection called "Fifth Disease" this morning... keeping my sister and I far away from the hospital. We are grateful for our brother, Adam, who visits dad daily. Please pray specifically that Dad would not be exposed to any "outside" germs.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Brief Update

(Thursday, March 4, 2010)

Update from Emily:

Dad's doctors say that he is doing "great" or perhaps it would be best to say "doing well under the circumstances and side effects of chemo!" Food is no longer of any interest to Dad and he spends most of the day feeling sick to his stomach. The nursing staff is trying to find the best balance of drugs for Dad - something that eases the upset stomach but doesn't make him sleep all day. He is able to drink protein shakes and had enough strength this afternoon to take a short walk down the hallway. Mom also reports that he hasn't lost any of his hair. We are hoping and praying that tomorrow will be a turn around day - that Dad will now start feeling better each and every day.

Jenny and I have both stayed away from the hospital due to illness at home with our own children. I apologize for the brief post with facts alone, but this mommy needs some sleep!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"When the Heat Comes"

(Wednesday, March 3, 2010)

"When the Heat Comes"


Update from Emily:

I just got off the phone with my mom. She asked me if I would mind updating the blog. "Of course not!" I replied. "Is there anything in particular that you would like for me to share?" We were both silent for awhile. It has been a long two days in the life of our family. Yesterday afternoon we received word that our neighbor of 23 years, Mr. Port had passed away.

Earlier this week, I went to visit Mr. Port and his wife, Jay. I knocked lightly and the hospice nurse opened the door.

"Hi." I said. "Is Grandma Jay at home?" I asked while standing on the front porch holding my three-year-old's hand.

The nurse got a huge grin on her face. "Oh, you must be family!"

"Well, actually," I replied, "we are really neighbors and have been for 23 years..." and then I stopped. "Actually, yes, can you tell Grandma Jay that her family is here." Little did I imagine that my short time with Port this week would be my last. Please pray for this extension of our family this week as they grieve.

My mom also received word this morning that her Aunt Marcelle, another beloved family member, passed away in her sleep last night. I know that Mom longs to go to South Carolina during this time to be with her family, but we also know that she is needed exactly where she is - right by my dad's side.

Dad is at his low point. We are hoping that this will be the lowest of the low. While reading Jeremiah this morning, I was reminded of both Mom and Dad.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV
"But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

When the heat comes... We have definitely had a season of intense heat this past year. I am honored to watch both my mom and dad as they stand under this time of difficulty. In my opinion, they continue to bear much fruit! Yesterday, Dad was feeling well enough to walk the corridor of his hospital wing. As we walked, I noticed the demeanor change on several nurses' faces. "Mr. Bugg," they would say with wide grins. "So good to see you today!"

I met one nurse for the first time. "We love your parents." She said. "They are really great people." Fruit. Bearing fruit even in the midst of heat. Hopefully reflecting Christ in the midst of very difficult situations.

Please continue to pray for both Mom and Dad as they try to reflect Christ to all they meet.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Looking Forward to Going Up"

(Tuesday, March 2, 2010)

Update from Emily:

I just wanted to post a quick update for those who follow dad's journey on a daily basis.

I am at the hospital right now with dad and he is sound asleep. We are grateful for the rest. As his numbers continue to drop (due to the chemo from last week) Dad grows a little more sick everyday. His numbers are now at 1 (I think that refers to his white blood cell count, but please don't quote me on that)... but need to get down to 0 before they start going back up. I heard a quote yesterday that reminded me of this process.

In her series called "Stepping Up," Beth Moore uses the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120- 134) to describe an individual's pilgrimage in growing closer to God. In her introduction to the study, she states...

"In God's economy, one must go down in order to go up."

As I listened yesterday, I immediately thought of Dad's journey of cancer so far. One must go down in order to go up. We pray for a full recovery for dad. We pray that he will be back at work soon. We pray that he will be watching his grandsons at t-ball games before the season is over! Up... Up... and Up. Right now, however, dad is going down. We covet your prayers this week in particular as Dad continues to fight these diseases.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sometimes You're the "Bugg"

March 1, 2010

(from Jenny)

You know, I love the title of my dad's blog, but before he settled on "A Cheerful Heart is Good Medicine", there were a few other contenders.

For instance, someone in the family thought we should call the blog, "Bob's Bug". We also considered the lyrics to the Mary Chapin Carpenter tune "The Bug", which points out that...

"Sometimes you're the windshield.
Sometimes you're the bug."


This week, my dad's doctors expect him to feel a little less like the windshield, a little more like the bug.

His counts are dropping each day, and this leaves him tired and nauseous. But he has good moments, too. The swelling seems to have dissipated a bit, and the doctors this morning were pleased with what they saw in that regard. This means the regimen of diuretics will continue for now.

I was able to visit him briefly today (something I am not at liberty to do very often. I have 2 children under five years old, which means my house is a GERM FACTORY most of the time).

Brightly colored family photos adorn the walls of his room, along with every card he's received. And today, when the doctors came in for their "rounds", we were watching home movies of my Andrew's first t-ball game on the television (Yes, he made the doctors watch a little, too!).

And speaking of baseball, the lyrics of "The Bug" song make another comparison that I'll leave you with for now.

"Sometimes, you're the Louisville Slugger.
Sometimes, you're the ball."




Dad, we're all praying that you knock this one out of the park! And soon!
 

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