Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Enjoying the Sun in California

Poor Lourdes has been laid up with a compression fracture in her back ever since she fell on our stairs during a visit in February. Jo called me on a Wednesday to see if I could get down there with the boys for a little pick-me-up for Lourdes. We were there by Friday afternoon, and it was all a surprise! We had SO much fun!!! It was perfectly sunny and 85 degrees there. We spent many hours outside. We were there for three days, and we had three picnic lunches in parks. We played at the pool for two afternoons. Lourdes had to retreat to the house for long afternoon naps, but she was able to play a lot too.

Here is a picture of Owen and Lourdes playing "Aomatsu." (Aomatsu is a Japanese restaurant here in Corvallis, and it's Owen's favorite place to eat). They played sushi and tepanyaki grill chefs for hours at a time.

Here are some pictures from Pioneer Park, which is right by Lourdes and Jo's house. It was Quincy's first time playing in the sand and the grass. He loved it!

Santa Rosa has a wonderful park that has the best play areas, as well as a train to ride, a carousel, pony rides, a small lake with paddle boats and kayaks. We went there twice, and both boys loved it! Yea for Howarth Park! One day there, we ran into Jo's niece and family, so Owen got to play with Julia and Brady.

Here are Owen and Noni Jo taking care of their race horses.

Here's Quincy enjoying his first watermelon. He loved it--even the rind!Here are Owen, Julia, and Brady waiting for the train.

Here's Owen on the carousel.Feeding the geese...
Owen and Lourdes made a delicious smoothie one evening. This was an extension of playing Aomatsu.
Lourdes needed to rest by lying on her back, so here is a picture of Owen helping her do that. They are watching Marry Poppins together.
We had SOOOOO much fun! We can't wait to go back! Thank you Noni Jo and Abuela!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Bone Marrow (warning...long story)

8 years ago, when I was working at Chemonics in Washington D.C., the National Marrow Donor Program had a drive at our office to get people on their registry. It was something very simple, like a cheek swab or a finger prick (I can't quite remember). Anyway, over 7 years passed, and during that time I got married and changed my name, and moved 4 times.

Last summer, when Quincy was about a week old, I received a letter from the NMDP saying that I was a potential match for someone and requesting that I contact them right away. Before I got to make the call, I received a phone call from them. My mom fielded the phone call and explained to the NMDP person that I was 9 days postpartum. They said they would put me on the unavailable list for the time being and keep searching. After a while, I forgot about it.

Last November I got a call from the NMDP telling me that the search had not turned up any other potential donors for this little girl and asking if I would be willing to undergo further tissue testing to see if I was, in fact, a match. Of course I agreed.

After extensive tissue typing, it turned out that I was a match for this little girl. After many, many blood tests, a physical (including chest x-ray and EKG) by the physician who would be the bone marrow surgeon, giving unit of my own blood in case I would need a transfusion after the procedure, it was finally time to have the little surgery on April 2.

I was a little nervous, even though I knew the biggest risk was the anesthesia itself. I was so relieved to wake up and have it over with and to hear how well it went. The Dr. told Delores (the NMDP coordinator) that my cell count was so rich that he only had to take 2/3 the requested volume of marrow.

I spent a pretty comfortable (thanks to morphine) day in the hospital before being discharged to come home that night. The next day Delores called me to check on my recovery and had a message to share with me that had been sent from the NMDP headquarters in Minnesota. It was timed almost exactly 24 hours after the end of my procedure and said that my marrow had arrived safely at its destination and that the cell count was so rich that they were able to save some and freeze it in case she needs more later. What great news!

It turns out that the recipient is a 5 year old girl in Germany. She has Fanconi's Anemia, which leads to Aplastic Anemia, which is fatal when your marrow stops producing blood cells and platelets. The good news is that as long as the transplant takes, she should be completely cured and lead a healthy life. I continue to send prayers her way that it will be a success. I will get to see a report after 1 month, 3 months, and 1 year. At that point, depending on the transplant center's protocol, we may get to have contact with each other.

My family, friends and coworkers have been so supportive, and I really appreciate that! Thank you to the entourage who showed up at the wee hours to help with everything from childcare to just plain waiting in the waiting room!

It's amazing to me that people have seemed so impressed by this. I have been called a "hero" by so many people throughout this process. Whereas I do feel really good about what I was able to do, I guess I just feel like a regular person who made the only reasonable decision that could be made in this situation. If that's what it takes to be a hero, then I'm sure that given the opportunity, every one of you would be a hero too. In light of that, please consider joining the bone marrow registry. You never know when you will be the one in 11,000,000 people who could save someone's life through such a relatively simple procedure. I feel like I'm sounding like an advertisement, but for more information go to the National Marrow Donor Program's website at