Sunday, March 15, 2009


Today was a big day for Elle. After another dose of Irinotecan (the fourth of her first five-day cycle) and a healthy round of coloring pictures (most of which related to her new favorite DVD - Barbie and the Diamond Castle), Elle and I, along with her mom and Elle's favorite doctor (Dr. Katie - a great 4th-year resident who has a natural rapport with kids) went for a walk outside!

Maine Medical Center is built on a hill in Portland overlooking the Fore River where it empties into Casco Bay. That part of the hill is called the Western Promenade and it is a beautiful place to walk with a lot of old houses. The view...well, if you like watching planes take off it's not too bad. The river is nice, but you also get an eyeful of the fuel depot in South Portland.

We walked to a bench on the Western Prom, no more than a quarter-mile from the hospital. And Elle was a real trooper; she walked most of the distance. I carried her now and again but she wanted to walk most of it. And that is important because it works that right lung of her that was compressed for so long.

I don't think I ever went into why we came in originally. Elle was having trouble breathing and the X-ray showed that her right lung was essentially compressed into a small useless ball by a god-awful amount of fluid. Fluid we later found out was the by-product of the cancer. There was so much fluid that Elle's bronchial tube and heart were pushed from their proper center position into the upper-left part of her chest. Her attending doctor said that if you or I had that much fluid in our chest, we'd be dead.

Elle wasn't because kids have an amazing ability to adapt. The fluid had been building up for a period of months and her body simply worked around it until it couldn't any more.

Now that the fluid is being drained off (and the chemo should limit, and hopefully eliminate, future production), that lung is learning to work again. But it takes time and usage. So every time Elle goes for a walk, that lung gets stronger and stronger. So hopefully as the weather improves there will be more walks on the Prom in Elle's future.

The other big thing for Elle was her first blood transfusion. This is necessary because chemo slows down the production of new blood cells in the bone marrow. And since Elle is usually slightly anemic to begin with, it hits her a little harder. So every now and again chemo patients get a transfusion. And I have to say, it does a lot of good. Elle looked better, with a glow in her cheeks and a lot more energy.

It was a good way to end the week.


Anonymous said...

keep on truckin' baby girl!!


Kevin Smith said...

All good news. Hope the transfusions go smoothly.

Dave said...

So far so good. And it made a big difference. Much more up and about today.

Dave said...

So far so good. And it made a big difference. Much more up and about today.

Anonymous said...

Day, What a great day to take a walk. And very good for her respiratory status. Even with the premies, it is amazing how far a little blood will go. We read up every day, and Maya gave a LOUD "yea Elle" when she heard she took a walk.
Keep on writing. I've missed your writing skills.

Dave said...

Thanks, kiddo. It is amazing about the transfusion; it's like night and day.