Emergency Room Escapades

Wheee! And yet another adventure!

In Mexico I was told to run—not walk—to the closest ER in the event that I have a suspicion of a thought of an idea that I could conceivably have something wrong  and, as it rolled out, my almost perceived bladder infection decided to show itself on Sunday night when all the storefront commercial urgent cares had locked up and sent the REAL emergency cases to the real hospital.

Of course, this is also where the real germs are. And, I’m probably not sick. But! I’m allowing myself every opportunity to amass a fine collection of exotic, common and even long since eradicated diseases. So help me, I’d better have a good reason to be here.

David just mouthed, “This SUCKS.”

I think what he really meant was, “We’re not in Mexico anymore.”

There’s a baby who can’t take her eyes off me. I’m not quite sure why.


The place to be!

All good things must come to an end and this one did not end nearly soon enough. We were up there for 2 1/2 hours, screaming babies and all.

Just as I had suspected I have a garden-variety bladder infection which is not something to play with in my condition. Regardless it’s all over. I’m showered. I’m home. We are in bed. Life is grand.


Almost September?? Really??

As most of you are aware, this has been a year that I would never chose to relive.  However, I am aware that God works ALL things together for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose, so that means ME.  STILL…The third week of August?

I am flipping 63 years old and ideally, I won’t lose years like I’ve lost this one.  But, I have to consider again that God has chosen to let me go through all this, yet made it as brief as possible.

Weeping may last for the night, but there is a song of joy in the morning.   Ps 30:5

Last night I started reading a book given to me by my dear friend Debbie, who also lost her son this year.

I approached Getting Through the Night: Finding Your Way After the Loss of a Loved One  very cautiously since I felt as though I’d reached a bit of equilibrium in my emotional self-control and more exploration could rock the boat. But, I reluctantly moved forward.

I learned that grief is very different from missing; I will get past grief, but I won’t get past missing JohnHarlan.

My response to writing what I just did tells me that I am nowhere near the end of grief, yet I have grace to endure it. I still cry, mourn and grieve, but I am beginning to have perspective that JohnHarlan is his whole self in the presence of God.  He is fully known and fully complete at this moment.  

Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as he really is.  1JN 3:2

That blows my mind!  JohnHarlan is LIKE Him, because he sees Him as he really is.  When I consider that, it’s almost silly to miss the JH who was here.  But, since that’s the only one I ever knew, I will always miss him.  I’m confident I will make it to the other side of grief.

Ok, enough of that.

I am not sure you were all aware that I have been honored as the Patron (Matron?) Saint of the Rooftop Terrace of the COR Building of Puebla City.  Quite an honor.  St. Letabelle.



Home again, home again!

The trip back was pretty uneventful with the exception that MEX was a little difficult to navigate. At one point, I was wheeled into a big open area and left.  I mean deserted with no idea if we’d be directed to another place or not.  I finally spoke into Google Translate (where was Hana when I needed her?) and said,”We need go through security, then to our gate.”

It was as though it was complete surprise.  The woman looked at us like, “OH! Why didn’t you just say you were here to catch an airplane?”

The remainder of the trip home was fine–great weather, no delays.  One of our kids picked us up in her SUV.  (Bless you, Raye!) and drove us straight home to what turned out to be the most heavenly night of sleep I’d experienced in over a month.

The cats were actually happy to see us.  I know that.  I know cats.  HA! Regardless, they’d been so well taken care of that they were a little bored with all the unpacking.

OH!  I joined the ranks of the be-wigged. I shall name her Little Fuzzball.


Now I really have a problem: Little Fuzzball looks better than my natural hair ever has and I am faced with a decision: should I ever let my own hair regrow or wear this dead animal on my head for the rest of my days?  I suppose it it not a question that needs answering at this moment.

So how am I feeling?  OK.  I’m very, very tired and I find that if I don’t sleep when I’m sleepy that I won’t be able to.  Yesterday I ignored the exhaustion and then couldn’t sleep when I went to bed at 10:30.  That’s ok.  I’m learning how to traverse these totally non-productive days and make myself realize that I have to rest.  Sheesh.

I also have these weird red spots on my face.  They aren’t hot or inflamed, they are just ugly. It’s amazing what the body does in response to being pumped full of toxic chemicals.  First it was random, un-provoked bruising.  Now that’s settling down and I have a herd of red spots I’m trying to corral.




7F6D69E9-94E0-4269-B3A4-37054B827319Wednesday, August 15

I have been at Camp Chemo now for nearly a month and our exit will be none too soon.  I am tired of everything, but mostly not being home.

So what’s the presentation?  My numbers are 5,800!  Neutropenia is officially 400-1000 and look at me now! 5,800!  I went down to 300 at one point, but apparently that wasn’t low enough to get alarmed about.  I believe Dr. McDreamy.  Here’s McDreamy2. Do I need to point him out?


Monday, August 13


From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.  Ps 113:3


What the what?  It was around 55ºF this morning and I was too chilled to go to the roof terrace for one of the few remaining sunrises I have left. By the time my noon dr. appt rolled around, it was again pleasantly warm–around 73º.  What a strange phenomena to exist in a temperate climate.  Houston was the beast.  Asheville was good, but is warming, and Greenville is becoming more like Houston every year.

I digress.

Got my numbers again today and my white blood count is 400.  Dr. Ruiz said that I will have around 48 more hours of exhaustion, then the levels will begin to rise.  Some other patients who went before me are well out of neutropenia and are able to very cautiously navigate life with no mask! Its a beautiful thing.

The hair thing is beyond whacked.  First, it began to fall out. A little.  Next came the cathartic day of shaving in which all my best feature hit the floor with an audible thud.  I am sure you wonder how hair hitting the floor could make a sound.

It’s a family thing. My mother, my brother and I all have hair as thick as ultra-deluxe-high-pile-super-plush carpet.  JohnHarlan’s was truly something to behold before his hairline receded.  All that to say that I routinely have large  portions thinned in order to maintain any semblance of sanity and it’s still more hair than anyone could imagine.

So…for some reason I thought the shaving it meant it was gone.  Oh no, no, no.  It simply meant that all that deluxe, super plush stubble would flee my head en masse and embed itself into pillowcases, necklines, collars, bras, and anywhere else it could cause the maximum discomfort.  I made the mistake of touching a bar of soap to my scalp in the shower and it looked like a Tribble. When I dried myself I felt like I’d had my hair cut with no chance to clean up afterwards.

It itches, so I sent WunderMensch down for corn starch and that seemed to calm it down a bit.  Trying to figure out corn starch in español was a real trip in itself.  I told  David it would be a breeze to find: just look for a yellow box with an ear of corn wrapped around a Indian squaw. All pretense of PC flew out the window  I did not recall that all reference to “Indian” or “squaw” were banished decades ago.



Sunday, August 12

Yesterday Dr. McDreamy told me my white blood count is 300 and that by Monday it will REALLY drop.  That’s apparently already pretty low, so when the stitch from my pic line began to feel a little sensitive, I ran down to the medical floor (actually took the elevator) like hell on wheels with my hair on fire.   McD, in his finest suave-ness reassured me that there was no problem.  However, while I was there, I had my WonderMensch-Husband snap a pic of him, Lupita, and me. I love Lupita. She is hilarious; speaks absolutely no Ingles but still cracks me up.

Neutropenia (look it up if you haven’t been paying attention) makes you feel like you have been unplugged.  My legs are so heavy that it’s hard to walk and I lean against the elevator wall from Floor 4 to Floor 1.  But, it’s just part of the process. Unfortunately, sleep does not appear to be part of that process, and I really enjoy sleep.  A lot.  I’m having to stay awake during the day in order to grab a couple of hours at night.  Ah well…notice that the Bible says, “And it came to pass…”  It doesn’t say, “And it came to stay.”


Speaking of David, I haven’t bragged on him enough.  God knows that this whole thing has been stressful, but he’s soldiered through it.  Hana got the good part–getting to go out to eat, visit the museum, shop, and do a little sightseeing.  Poor David got to hear me wretch and help me put my water to my lips.  I thank God for him.


This is my bedroom after the maid’s DAILY visit:

w55Z3BoURLii85jMz3xq0A5Adf9CWUToycOEeABF1u+w The picture above is my view.  The volcano is behind the clouds, to the right of the skyscraper.  Here are some wonderful shots I’ve taken first thing in the morning from that window:


Wed, Aug 8 – Sat, Aug 11

Well, it’s been a while.  LOTS has transpired.

I know I’m not supposed to add all this stuff at once.  That’s the purpose of a daily journal, but I haven’t felt like writing.  So sue me.

Lots of us shaved our heads at the same time.  At first it was emotional, then it wasn’t. Hair, schmair…



I’ve been all over the map about how I feel–up, down, crosswise, and everywhere in between.  The emotional roller coaster has been as dramatic as the physical one, if not more so.

The bond between our group members and their caregivers is palpable.


We have been so blessed to fall in love with each other!  We not only sit on the roof terrace, we eat together and exchange convo and stories.  Is really been amazing. Last night we stayed up late (I was in bed by 9:30) and had what closely resembled a large family dinner on the roof. This has truly been magical.



A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Proverbs 17:22

My birthday!!! Tuesday, Aug 7



“Rejoice in the Lord always;again I will say, rejoice.”

Phil 4:4

Yeahhhhh!!! 8:30am. Just woke up.

Had an adventure last night. Apparently one of my blood vessels at the pic line just decided to explode and was bleeding everywhere and I ended up in the hospital where they took the whole thing out. No worries.  They can just give me all my stem cells this morning in an IV.

It was like I was the most important patient on the planet. A doctor, a surgeon and our care coordinator (in PJ’s) met me, David and van driver extraordinaire  Lorenzo at the emergency room at 11:30 PM.


Amazing! No big deal. Very painless procedure and the surgeon even gave me a little kiss on the cheek when he was done. This was not included in our regular plan, so we had to pay. Are you ready for this?  US$97. We would not have been able to step into a U.S. hospital for less than $10K for the same thing.



Meet my stem cells and Dr. McDreamy.  You will notice that I took a covert shot. It’s great: even some of the guys in the group call him McDreamy.  I believe they must think that’s his name.  Oh well.