Archive for November, 2020

NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey

No Limits- The book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

The Time Between and the 2nd Stem Cell Transplant- Chapter 10

After leaving the Cleveland Clinic on that 1st week of April , our hopes were high. Although  Chris looked dreadful the doctors were very  pleased with how he rebounded and his body  was recovering. The next stem cell transplant would take his level down ( chemically) even farther than the first one. They  hoped that this would eradicate any  of the cancer cells left in his blood.

The weeks of recovery were rough, he obviously  had very  little appetite . I would go to  his and Angela’s apartment every  morning  in Cleveland Heights  whilst she went to  work at South Pointe Hospital . I would stay  until she  would come home in the afternoon. The rest of my  family  were having to  fend for themselves, I  felt very  guilty  I  couldn’t help  my  daughter more with  her new baby. My  90  year old mother was  looking after my  husband and cooking for everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would take Chris his food or cook for him during the day. I knew more about where things were in my  daughter- in- law’s kitchen than I  did in my  daughter’s.

 

 

 

 

I hated all the poisons that were supposedly  killing the cancer because I  knew they  also  killed  healthy  cells and I was scared of the damage that was being done. However, you  take the chance that being young your son can overcome  and heal. I had said to  :

 

Brad Pohlman, MD, is Vice Chair of Operations at Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. DrPohlman is a member of the American Society of Hematology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation.  when we had  met with  him about the double stem cell transplant”

“What are the side effects or dangers in this and would you  recommend this if Chris was your son?”

He smiled and said:

” Obviously  I  would recommend this procedure  and the main issues with  the stem cell transplants is that  it can cause problems in the lungs, but we can fix that with  steroids “

I thought at the time I hoped the risk was minimum  as he  didn’t seem concerned and we were ready  to  try anything to  get rid of this damned cancer. Still as he mentioned the lungs my  chest tightened and warning bells went off again in my  brain, but what was the alternative?

The days went into  weeks and Chris progressed really  well, he got the color back  in his face his eyes no  longer circled with  darkness, he was of course completely  bald .  He came to  Nikki’s one day had his black jacket turned backwards and declared as he came into  the room:

Uncle Festus has arrived!

 

 

 

 

He still had an irreverent sense of humour and could laugh  at himself  and a temper and that calmed me  because I  knew how he would fight. And so  the 2nd stem cell transplant began.

This time they  took his levels down to  almost zero , it was horrible. He never complained but the pain was excruciating, they  pumped him full of drugs and the creamed corn radiated cells, His vision was effected  and basically  his nails stopped growing for those two  days leaving a line where they  “died” and then were” resurrected”. His mouth  was full of ulcers  and his throat.  He could only manage water  and milk with  ice cubes. I  had my  mother make him his favorite orange whip, with  orange jello, double cream and mandarin oranges whipped together.

 

When he could manage whipped potatoes I  whipped them with  butter and an egg and cream.  Funnily  enough  he got a craving for Corn Dogs of all things , maybe it was the smell of the creamed corn but much  to  the annoyance of the “nutrition specialist” I would get him whatever he desired and so  corn dogs it was. Eventually  , having brought in an electric kettle  I  could make him tea, the cup  that cheers as my  mum always said and we would share a cup or two  in the afternoon with  a few of his favourite English  biscuits (  cookies) I am not sure what the staff thought of me but I  didn’t care, I  knew what he liked and how to  make my  son comfortable .

I would once again, change the bed, read whilst he slept. and leave about 5 . I  rarely  bumped into  Angela I  thought she was working. Apparently, I  learned later,   she was not   most of that time. Yet my  son thought she was and felt badly  she  was working all day  and having to  come and visit him at night. I am grateful he didn’t know what we now know. Came the day  he was released once again !

He had decided after weeks of being in isolation he wanted nothing more than the get out into  the outside and breathe the air.  He bought a 4 wheeler which  he kept at his sister’s , Nikki. They  have woods behind their house  and every  moment he could he would be  riding the four wheeler for hours . He loved it and being alone in those woods, free…… !

I  had also  given Chris  my  Pontiac Trans Am and he was able to  use it as a down payment on a Ford F150 black truck, his father and I  made the payments  . Chris   he was still getting pay from his job and Angela was working but I felt the young couple had enough  on their plate so  we paid the truck payments and insurance. Fortunately  ALL the medical costs were covered under Angela’s Cleveland Clinic Insurance ( all but the parking fees) 100%of all medical costs were covered. The Clinic has some great perks!

Sue Lombardi  made a great deal of fuss to   people of my  acquaintance saying how much  everything was costing. One of my  friends  asked , after having a discussion with  Sue, if they  could help  in anyway with  the medical bills. I said what bill? Chris is covered under the Cleveland Clinic  they  are paying for everything under their insurance. The answer came

” Sue, led me to  believe the cough  medicine alone  was $350.00 you  mean they  aren’t paying that, why  would she lead me to  believe they  were going in debt” 

I said

” Well  she is right the cough  medicine is $350.00 a bottle but she and her family  aren’t suffering any  out of pocket expenses for Chris’ treatment, I  don’t know why  she is telling people that”

 

 

A year after his first diagnosis of the Refractory  Hodgkin’s  – June 2009 – finishing up the tandem stem cell transplants – found Chris given the all clear once again. We celebrated with steaks and good wishes, Chris hosting the barbeque at Nikki’s house inviting the “Lombardi in- laws”.

Luckily  for me , my  new little grandson   Gavin, was fussy  so  I  was able to  excuse myself with  the baby and spent a great deal of the time trying to  get him off to  sleep.

You  see, I  did not have the strength  to  maintain a façade, I  could not look at the Lombardi  family  without the picture of them in my  dream  standing  around my  son’s casket , warning bells  kept going off in my  brain. Illogical though it was, I could not get over looking at them and seeing the death of my son.

My body  and soul were torn between hope, happiness and dread………

 

To  be continued………..

 

 

November 3, 2020 at 1:43 pm 2 comments


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