Monday, November 30, 2009

Marvelous Monday,

This is going to be a short, but wonderful blog post for today. Day +52 since Bonnie’s transplant. We had a great Thanksgiving spending it at home. It was hard heading back to our apartment on Friday evening, but it was a little easier knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, the “light” of anticipating returning home to Lansing in the first part of December. Today was Bonnie’s weekly clinic visit and that little flicker of “light” in the tunnel turned out to be a blast of sunshine when the doctor said to Bonnie, “you can go home”. Four sweet words that stunned us.

Tonight we are packing up everything that has accumulated here in Sterling Heights and will head back home tomorrow (Tuesday). This doesn’t mean that Bonnie is out of the wood of potential complications, but she is doing well enough that they feel Lansing is close enough should anything crop up. We learned today that she can get a different type of mouth sore after 100 days as an example. We will continue to go to Karamanos once each week for Bonnie’s regular clinic visit as they monitor her progress.

Thank you for all of your prayers and praying us home. We are so grateful for the support. Please continue to pray that Bonnie’s recovery proceeds as it has, that she will continue to get stronger and will be protected from viruses and infections as she is very susceptible to this due to a very young (52 day old) immune system. Also pray that Bonnie can learn to say “no” and be content on letting others (the kids and me) serve her. Those of you who know her well know that “no” is not in her vocabulary. She will not be able to clean house, drive, leave the house without a mask, be in a lot of public places, or shop as a few examples. She can’t be around live plants and flowers yet, but she can exercise, do laundry, cook and hopefully get to some more of the books she has on her list to read.

Although God has taught us over these many months to rejoice in ALL circumstances, even the most challenging of circumstances, tonight we are combining the inner joy we have strived to have throughout this journey with the added emotion of happiness. We are looking forward to reuniting with our family and friends.

Steve & Bonnie

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


HAPPY THANKSGIVING! We have a lot to be thankful for as God continues to bless us during trials. Bonnie’s recovery from Bone Marrow Transplant continues to follow a path that encourages the doctors and therefore she did receive final confirmation and approval to return to Lansing for Thanksgiving. We will leave the apartment tomorrow morning and stay until Friday afternoon. Bonnie is so excited to be going home for a visit after being away for 55 days.

Assuming she continues to make progress over the weekend, Bonnie starts next week only one day in the clinic which means she is getting closer to going home permanently. She mentioned in the last blog post that the doctors projected going home to be the “first part” of December. We continue to pray that she doesn’t have any setbacks, as she is still in the critical stage of her recovery. Days 30 through 100 post transplant are critical and various complications can arise in a moment’s notice. Saturday Bonnie will be 50 days post transplant, so she is getting there one day at a time.

Once again we are so thankful for all the support many of you have shown to our family since May 12th. From prayers to encouraging notes/cards to meals, every gesture has been greatly appreciated. We would like to share with you one unique way of kindness being expressed towards our situation. Our cousin Susan has joined The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training and will be running a ½ marathon to raise support and awareness for the LLS. You can learn more about donating to this cause on Susan’s fundraising page.

Please continue to pray for Bonnie’s progress as well as her continued emotional stamina. We hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Steve & Bonnie

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Here we are a week and a half has gone by and no news on my progress. Remember, no news is usually good news! I have been reading the New Testament since I’ve come down for the BMT here in Detroit and I tear up at Paul’s words from various verses in Romans Chapter 1: “ I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you.” “I remember you in my prayers…I pray that now at last by God’s will, the way may open for me to come to you. I long to see you!”

I miss all of you so much and can’t wait to be back home for the rest of my recovery. Thank you for your continued support through prayer, meals , visits and helping the grandparents get our kids where they need to go each week. We couldn’t have done this without you.

My week consists of Monday and Thursday appointments in Karmanos. Those usually are three hours on a good day followed by another hour dealing with and waiting on the pharmacy for new meds or refills. We come home, eat lunch and then go for a walk. Steve has worked so hard to find some wonderful outdoor parks for me to walk in. Each one has its own delights and even wearing a protective medical mask, it’s a breath of fresh air to be outside. Yes, you heard me right; I am walking pain free once again. Praise the Lord.

Every Wednesday we have lunch with our new friends from Karmanos BMT floor. One patient lives in Milford and got to go home because he was within the one hour radius. Steve, I and another BMT patient have to stay in apartments because we’re over an hour from our homes. It gives us a chance to get out of our apartments for a couple of hours. We encourage each other, compare our past treatments and really enjoy getting to know each other’s families.

We were blessed this past week to see Bible study friends, my Mom and the girls came for a few days. We even got to go to a movie with only 8 people in the theatre, which is important, as I need to avoid heavily populated public places. I have to wear the protective mask everywhere I go. My new immune system is like a 44 day only baby. Any germs/virus I pick up will put me right back in the hospital. I have a mild case of graph vs. host disease on my face and neck in the form of a rash. A skin biopsy confirmed that it is GVHD. It itches quite a bit so the doctors have given me some steroid cream and put me on 24 mgs of oral steroid pills a day. When I am on steroids, my new immune system is weakened even further, so I am more susceptible to picking up viruses.

On a positive note, we received some wonderful news at my last doctor’s appointment. If my graph/host rash continues to improve and no other symptoms appear, Steve and I will be able to go home for Thanksgiving! The doctor even said we could spend the night and come back on Friday! Boy do we have a lot to be thankful for. We will have grandparents, my sister and her two kids from Colorado with us. I will have to wear a mask, but it’s worth it!

The doctor said if everything stays as mild as it is, in a couple weeks she would reduce my appointments to once a week and talk about sending me home. So pray with us that this might be the case. I could be home the 2nd week in December! I realize that God’s in control and His timing is always perfect, but Lansing certainly sounds good right now.

So now that you’re all up to date, I will share some pray requests for the week:

-That my current health status doesn’t become worse which would prohibit me from going home for Thanksgiving.

-That my graph/host would stay mild and no new outbreaks would appear over the next 60 days.

-That my spirits would stay positive as I trust God and His timing for everything. One day at a time.

-That my itching on my neck and face would improve drastically. It gets worse at night and it is very hard for me to sleep even with some medication that is supposed to mask it.

-That our kids will be patient with each other, encouraging each other’s gifts, and demonstrating gentleness during this leg of our journey as we are absent from our home.

This Thanksgiving let’s all count our blessings and thank the Lord for His continued faithfulness in every circumstance.

Blessings to you all,


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Once again the time has slipped by us and it has been over a week since the last update. We appreciate your checking back to see the latest with Bonnie’s health. So, here is the latest:

First off is an update on Bonnie’s feet. If you recall, she has not been able to walk since we moved to Sterling Heights on October 31st due to the chemo burns. Our insurance company covered the cost to rent a wheel chair which came in handy to get Bonnie out and about. Our apartment is 3 miles from the Oakland Mall, 6 miles from the Somerset Mall and 10 miles from Lakeside Mall, so Bonnie has been wheeled around in the highest concentration of retail in Michigan. Wearing a protective mask and gloves did bring about a few stares here and there, but it was still worth it for Bonnie. In the last three days Bonnie’s feet have dramatically improved. On Monday she was able to walk into Karmanos’ clinic without too much discomfort to where today there was minimal to no pain. Thank you for your specific prayers on this issue.

Bonnie continues to experience nausea and it can come on without notice. Everything tastes like salt water from the ocean, which contributes to the nausea. Fortunately there is a medication that is fairly responsive in masking the nausea making it somewhat easier to cope with.

A specific prayer request now involves a rash that seems to be spreading on Bonnie’s face and neck. Please pray for the doctors’ wisdom in diagnosing and treating it. There are differing opinions on whether it is from an allergic reaction to one of the meds she is taking or if it is Graft vs Host Disease. The challenge is if she is allergic to one of the meds, it will be extremely difficult in determining which one due to number of meds she is taking. They have checked the stem cell donor’s record and have determined he does not have any allergies to medicines. In the interim, they have started Bonnie on a steroid to see if they can control and slow the rash down. Thus far there hasn’t been any improvement; in fact we think it looks worse.

In the midst of the ongoing drama, we’ve had some nice distractions mixed in. Callie came down with Grandma this past Thursday and stayed until yesterday (Tuesday) and went home with Grandpa and Grandma. On Saturday, Cassandra drove down and stayed through Sunday afternoon. It was nice having the girls here this weekend.

Today we had a wonderful lunch and visit with two of Bonnie’s fellow transplant patients along with their spouses that we got to know during the hospital stay. It was encouraging and therapeutic for Bonnie to hear how they are progressing since their transplant which both were two days prior to Bonnie’s. When you travel the road we have been on, it is easy to bond with others traveling the same road. We are thankful to God for these new friendships and we are also thankful for your longstanding friendships as well.

Steve & Bonnie

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Thank you for your faithfulness in checking for updates. We haven’t been as faithful providing updates since Bonnie was discharged last Wednesday, so this is long overdue.

After being discharged on Wednesday evening, we changed rooms within “Guest Housing” right on the Detroit Medical Center campus where I (Steve) had been staying since October 2nd. We moved from a typical “hotel” style room to a one bedroom suite, which was more like a college dorm. Using the word “suite” does not necessarily mean “sweet”, but it was adjacent to the Karmanos outpatient clinic so we can't complain too much.

On Thursday we had a day off from the clinic, so we had time to drive up to Sterling Heights to sign an open-ended lease on the apartment where we now reside. We also took time to grocery shop to stock the shelves with all the necessities needed. I did the shopping while Bonnie rested in the car.

Bonnie has been instructed to avoid crowed public places for the next several months. She basically has an immune system of an infant that is 25 days old, so she is required to wear a protective mask every time we go out the door. Even alone in the fresh air she has to wear a mask as the wind can stir up various molds and pollens that can easily cause infection.

Thursday night we had a nurse visit our little “suite” to give us instructions on how to self administer an “in-home” daily IV bag of Magnesium mixed with Sodium Chloride that runs for three hours. Combining the IV instructions along with the class/instructions on how to change Bonnie’s central line dressing as well as keeping all her medications straight is quite the challenge. She has three specific meds that are taken at 7:00 a.m., a different one at 8:00 a.m., another kind at 10:00 (actually it is 10 capsules currently, which can increase/decrease depending on her twice weekly blood lab levels), one med at 2:00 p.m., one at 6:00 p.m., and three at 10:00 (one of three being the 10 capsule med again). Including the IV bag of Magnesium from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., as well as all the optional meds for pain and nausea, a degree in Pharmacy is not too far in the distant future.

On Friday, Bonnie had her first visit to the clinic as an outpatient. We were there for six hours or so, as in part, she needed a four hour IV infusion of a special immune booster which is determined by blood labs. Whatever the doctors look for in the “immune” area of the blood labs was lower than they would like to see, thus the booster.

On Friday Bonnie also took a little turn for the worse as it relates to some delayed chemo side effects. The doctors are leaning more towards chemo effects and not Graft v Host Disease, which normally starts showing up after 30 days post transplant (which is this coming Sunday). The side effects are puffy swollen eyes and lips as well as red blotches on her face. This she can deal with. The one thing that has become problematic is the bottom of her feet, which limits her walking because it is so painful. The chemo more or less burned the bottom of her feet, primarily thus far her heels, but it is now spreading to the underside of her toes. Imagine a giant water blister encompassing the entire underside of your foot beneath several layers of skin. The pain is quite unbearable for Bonnie and the pain meds barely touch it.

On Saturday we moved out of the “suite” and into a very well maintained, fully furnished, two bedroom apartment which is only twenty minutes away (non-rush hour) from Karmanos. If we have to be away from our "home" home, we couldn't ask to be in a better spot and are thankful for the friends who have made this available to us as long or as short as we need it.

The foot problem has temporarily ended Bonnie’s walking which is an important aspect of her recovery from the bone marrow transplant. Please pray that her feet will heal and return to normal so she can get out and exercise to continue the progress she has made thus far in the recovery stage of this journey. We did get a wheel chair so she can get outside of the four walls for a change of scenery.

We have had a number of people ask how I (Steve) am doing, so here is an update. I feel great, have a lot of energy to attend to Bonnie’s needs, my hair is growing back and the numbness in my fingers and toes seems to be less. In summary, I feel as close to normal as I have in a long time. Thank you for your continued prayers and interest. We will continue to update you as we have new information.

God bless you all.

Steve & Bonnie