Barb McCall

First post: 3/11/2017 Latest post: 3/26/2017
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting and offering a piece of yourself to me!
Today is March 10, 2017, and I set this page up over the last couple of days not only to inform all of you of what's going on daily, but as a platform for you to ask questions that maybe I haven't asked the doctors, express your concerns, send pictures, cry, enjoy jokes, and praise God!  I have felt the love that all of you have sent via your call, texts, emails, positive thoughts, and prayers.  Thank you all for that as that is my power to get through this issue one way or another whatever the outcome.
Here is my journey starting back in December (really)!  I started bruising very easily around Christmas and thought that I needed more iron and vitamin C as I hadn't really been sticking to my good eating habits since I got laid off on 12-16-17 after 20 years with Western Technologies, Inc.  (Really!)  So, being the responsible anal person that I am I started looking for a job right away and filed for unemployment benefits through the State of Colorado.  I carried on through January, working as much as possible at Durango Quilt Company, (my fun job!), while collecting unemployment benefits.  
At the beginning of February, my hand doctor decided we needed to redo the ring finger trigger release on my right hand since it was not successful on the attempt in November.  I have had 5 fingers released with surgery since August 2016. So, on February 10, 2017, Dr. Butzen, released the finger with surgery.  He was incredibly kind and said, "this one is on me, since I didn't get it right the first go around", and I was so relieved since I had been trying to get medical insurance since the end of December when mine expired from WTI.
A few days later, I contracted a sinus infection that would come and go, for 2 weeks, getting worse each bout.  My hand was not healing either.  It struck me weird that I even got sick in the first place as this was only my second sinus infection in my life, I don't typically get colds, or flu, and am pretty dang healthy!  By February 25th, I was really in bad shape, but refused to go to Urgent Care over the weekend.  My throat swelled up and I couldn't swallow, or hardly breath, could cough it out, and my tonsils and sinus all swelled up.  I looked like Frankenstein! 
So on Monday morning, February 27, 2017, I told my dog Mel, that I was throwing in the towel to go get antibiotics and that we were driving to town to see my Primary Care Doc,  Dr. Lavengood.  I called and they said come in right away and see Dr. Kearney since Dr. Lavengood was out that day.  I went in the bathroom to get my teeth brushed, and gagged and coughed up two bloody mucous globs (sorry...graphic), and felt like a million bucks after that.  I almost redialed the doc to cancel my appointment.  It's a good thing that I didn't cancel, because God needed me to hit a brick wall to go see the doc.  Dr. Kearney saw me and took a strep test, did a general physical, and drew blood, as I pointed out that I had bruising going on, and recently some little red dots on my feet and ankles.  He came back in three hours later to tell me that I did not have strep, but I did have sinus infection, AND a form of acute leukemia.  I looked around the room, and couldn't figure out who he was talking to.  Very surprising to me!  He said he wanted me to walk down the hall and see Dr. Cathcart right away at Southwest Oncology, and not to be surprised if they airlifted me out that evening to Denver.  Of course, I said, "Good thing I have my dog with me!"  He said, "go walk your dog, call a friend to come comfort you, and then go to SW Oncology.  So I did.  Dr. Cathcart did another blood test to confirm and said she wanted me at the best place possible for this wicked blood cancer, thus Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in the heart of Denver.  I told her I couldn't go that night as I had critters to arrange for, etc, etc, etc.  My dear friend, Cindy Amidon, offered to drive me up very early on Tuesday, but we made the decision that morning to not drive due to the big storm that ensued over the whole state.  Why make an 8 hour trip into 12 or more hours while taking a chance of something happening to me on the way?  So we called Dr. Cathcart early that morning and she said had Flight For Life already scheduled anyways.  We waited at Mercy ER that morning for the Flight for Life to get clearance to fly their fixed-wing private jet from Centennial Airport in south Denver to Durango that morning.  The arrived around noon and Durango Fire Authority transported me via ambulance to Durango LaPlata Airport.  I boarded the plane on foot and felt like I was on an ironing board in a tin can!  I asked to sit up since I really didn't feel bad.  They re-adjusted my belts and between the 2 pilots and 3 flight nurses I could see I was in good hands, so I said, "ya know guys, what more could a girl want...to be with 5 great-looking guys, in a private jet, and at my beckoning call!"  They all burst out laughing and we had a very fun flight together.  My cudos go out to Maya Airlines for operating the Flight for Life organization as they are a class act.  Those gentlemen unloaded me at Centennial Airport and we traveled to Presbyterian St. Luke's via ambulance transport.  They got me into my room in the bone marrow unit (which was unknown to me for a few days that it was ICU).
That moment, my journey with a whole new family in my life has started with the 11 doctors of the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute which work in this facility with all the great nurses, floor docs, therapists, social workers, housekeepers, room service delivers, and volunteers.  Their care has been exceptional and all their faces exude the love and compassion they have for their patients on this floor.  I am currently in Room 501 on the Oncology unit.  
My dear friend, Monica Peterson, has agreed to be a coauthor on this site for me in case I am unable on any day to find the energy to let you know what's going on.  She even has directions with the medical facility to find me if you have time to visit.  Don't feel bad, or guilty, or otherwise if you can't visit because you may instrumental on a home care team that will need to be developed as it gets closer...like cleaning out the litter box!
My immunity is suppressed significantly, as is any patient on this floor, so don't come even if you have the slightest snivel, as one germ can change everything for everyone on this floor.  If you are fortunate enough to come and get past my guards, you will still be required to put on a gown and gloves to see me.  Every time I leave this room, for walking the hall, or riding the bike, I have to gown up with gloves and a mask!  Good policy for the conditions.
So, over the course of this past week, I had a bone marrow biopsy to determine which type of blood cancer...acute myloidal leukemia.  More results come in every day from that biopsy last week and the doctors are gaining info for the game plan.  I have had an CATSCAN on my head to eliminate any problems or complications from the sinus infection, I have a PIC (peripherally inserted catheter) in my right arm to give blood to the mosquitoes whenever they are hungry and to receive my fluids to include the 7 days of chemo kid drugs that ended yesterday!  I fainted on Tuesday and thus had to have many more tests to confirm it was not a seizure and just my body trying to accommodate all of this junk.  So I also received an MRI and EEG on my head, and now 48 hours of EKG, in addition to a yellow bracelet that says "Fall Risk".  That has reduced my independence greatly, so I am striving to not get light-headed and definitly not faint again to get that independence back.  
Today is Day 9 and on Day 14, I am schedule to have another bone marrow biopsy so the doctors can detail out further treatment or any complications that may be interfering with the cell kill.  All (good and bad cells) have to be killed, so that is why this observation period is a roller-coaster.  
I will get more details in here tomorrow.  I decided to continue this into a daily journal which you will find on this website...so read on...

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