July 8, 2008

Life Has Been Busy With A Diagnosis of Leukemia

Life has been busy!
My husband was diagnosed with (CML) Leukemia in April '08 and to say it has been life altering would be an understatement. For 3 solid months I was never in my studio, just taking care of him as best I could, living at MD Anderson and traveling back and forth. My forum friends were a real comfort to me during this really hard time, sending RAK's, phoning me to find out how we were doing, and generally keeping in touch. It made a world of difference in my world. Because I was never online, I had no idea what was going on, so they were my link to the outside world. Inky, PurpleRealm, Jean, Seraphic, ArteDar and Adriayna kept me updated or just called to give a hug over the phone, and that was a good thing. My close friends at home have been great, too, calling or emailing to see if we need anything, not wanting to be in the way or interrupt us. I need that hand reaching out to remind me not to hibernate so long in my studio. I get on the computer or start a painting and hours go by and I need to start thinking about making dinner. I am as shocked as anyone that knows me, I am cooking? I know, right? Of course I fry too much, but that is what I am better at... He is on what I call Super Drug #2 which is more specific to his type of leukemia and seems to be working on a chromosome level. We still travel to MD Anderson on a regular basis but he has started going back to work for meetings a couple of days a week when his stamina enables him to go. Life is nearly back to normal. Well, more like life is calm.

I had been consumed with helping set up and manage/moderate my new site that I am a co-owner of. The old ATC trading site that I was a moderator on was closed very suddenly by the owner, so a few of us scrambled to get another one set up. It took hard work, little sleep, countless hours and devotion of the old mods (and some new ones) to get the new place up and running. We managed to keep folks in communication in a Flickr group while we were setting it up, and now we have over 1,000 members! The name = ATCsForALL.com. We trade ATC's, altered art, Inchies, Chunky Book pages, postcards, recipe cards, rolodex cards, journal and altered books, you name it, we trade and swap it! I trade art at another juried ATC site that is mainly hand-drawn-painted called IllustratedATCs. The artists there are spectacular, and many of the artists on my list of fav's are there. Check it out!

The Start of Our Life-Changing Journey

21 April 2008, a day I will never forget.

My husband A. C. was diagnosed with CML (Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia) on Monday, 21 April 2008 by our dear friend, Trevor From, M.D.  A. C. hadn't felt well for several weeks thinking it must be a bad case of the flu.   After traveling to Houston for Mimi and Scott's new baby's baptism and his only getting worse by the minute, I insisted he see our friend and A. C. called the office and was seen very quickly.

Trevor saw him, drew blood, then shortly diagnosed him. What a shock! We sat there in disbelief.  He said that was all he could tell us, it was not his specialty, and asked A. C. which oncologist he wanted to take care of him.   I think that is when it hit me over the head, hard. Oncologist?  What? A cancer doctor?   Are you kidding me?  This isn't happening... just kept running through my head.

Trevor immediately admitted him to A. C.'s own hospital, Rapides Regional Medical Center, where he underwent tests for several days.  A. C. started swelling up, his legs, his stomach, his arms, everything just got huge.  They said his spleen was 3 times its normal size, his blood pressure was getting higher and he would not eat much of anything.  It turns out, he doesn't remember much of anything, either.  He acted coherant, but 10 minutes later he wouldn't remember a conversation he had just had.

It was only when on about the 3rd day (I don't remember details like dates very well during this time) my rector, Fr. Fred insisted I talk with the oncologist about moving him to MD Anderson in Houston.  I assumed docs would do the next step on their own without prompting.  I talked to A. C.'s COO Cheryl Wilson and an RN that I adore, Beverly Lowentritt, who counseled me and said they would set up a conversation for me with the oncologist. Apparently they talked to him at length, he walked in and said "I think we need to transfer him to MD Anderson".

That next Friday they transported A. C. by ambulance, he was too sick and swollen with edema to fly on his back in a fixed-wing aircraft (plane or helicopter) so a dear friend, Bulldog (John) went with him because I had to stay and wait for my daughter Shannon and my sister Carolyn to arrive at the airport that afternoon and evening.

Here is what I have been doing lately (this is the original post, I have added the details of A.C.'s illness at a later date):

I started my own Etsy shop where I make and sell Acrylic Stamps - it is a blast! I either use my own drawings or vintage photographs from my hubby's side of the family - there are a ton of them. I have made several sales. Check it out - www.LisaBuchanan.Etsy.com

The little girl is my grandmother, circa 1893 when she was 3 years.

I also sell note cards of my work and just started selling Art Pins that I make. I joined an Art Pin swap and fell in love - I could not stop making them, I was hooked!

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