Update from Keith: August 17th, 2008

Taylor is a very sick little girl. She has been in the hospital since early Thursday morning. Last night (Saturday night; technically Sunday morning), Taylor was transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). When we got there, Taylor turned to us and said, "I'm scared."

It's a scary place. For some patients, the PICU represents the last stage of a declining life. Taylor arrived with an extremely elevated heart rate, one lung full of infection, and a fever so high it maxed out the thermometers the hospital uses. We were scared, too.

Taylor's fever began at 4 am on Thursday morning. I had to fly to Phoenix later that day, so my Dad went down with Kris to the Emergency Department. They spent most of the next 12 hours there. Taylor's fever remained strong despite doses of antibiotics. This is abnormal for Taylor; generally her fever recedes not long after she gets antibiotics and fluids. Nothing seemed to work this time.

That night, my Mom stayed with Taylor. Early the next morning, Taylor threw up violently. So violently that she threw up her NG tube. This is a significant problem. Not only was the NG tube the only source for Taylor's nutrition, but it is the only way to deliver oral medicines to her. With her fever continuing to rage, she needs Tylenol through her tube. That has not been an option since Friday morning.

Taylor's fever consumes her platelets voraciously. Her platelets have been far too low to attempt surgery for placement of a new tube. I can't say when it will be replaced. For now she gets nutrition intravenously. Intravenous feeds are a long term problem but a short term solution. Hopefully her platelets will improve and they can replace her tube this week.

After her fever continued unabated Friday, the doctors took a chest x-ray on Saturday. I spent most of Saturday with her. For most of the day her fever exceeded their ability to measure it; the thermometers they use to record her vitals only go to 40.5 (104.9) and it recorded that level for her nearly every time. We used cold packs and cold washcloths to try and cool her off. She suffered chills, though, which made that difficult. While her trunk and head are burning up her extremities are cold to the touch. Her feet, especially, have been cold. They gave her medicine to try and reduce her chills. It worked intermittently.

She went back on Dilaudid for her pain starting Friday. She has the ability to push a button every 30 minutes which will deliver her a dose of Dilaudid. She's clearly uncomfortable all of the time because of her fever, but the Dilaudid has seemed to help her head pain.

When the chest x-ray came back on Friday night it showed one lung with considerable infection. Her platelets are way too low for anyone to send a tube into her lungs to identify what infects her. They believe it to be fungal so they have started her on anti-fungals. These fun drugs have symptoms not unlike chemo. Following that diagnosis, it became clear that she would need anti-fungals, red blood cells (to help her infected lung carry oxygen around her body), platelets, antibiotics, and close monitoring because of her fever. The sheer number of nurses needed to care for Taylor (she had three for most of the evening Saturday), combined with how sick she was necessitated the trip to the PICU.

In the PICU T developed diarrhea (who knew that was possible even without anything going through her gastro-intestinal tract). This just added further insult to injury.

Taylor turned a bit in the PICU, though. Enough that they sent her back upstairs earlier today. She's even had a few readings that are not considered feverish. Her heart rate has slowed from a resting rate in the 160's to the 110's where Taylor has often been during her cancer. She is still uncomfortable. This has been really hard for her.

Both Kris and I spent Saturday night at the hospital. I stayed by Taylor's bedside; Kris went to a parent room and caught 3 and a half hours of sleep. I slept during the day and went back to the hospital. Kris is spending the night there again tonight.

Poor Charlie has been lost in this. It breaks my heart. Every time I come home I get huge hugs. When I look to leave, he clings close by hoping I'll stay. I'm sure it's even worse for Kris who's Charlie's favorite. He's off of pre-school the rest of the month. It's going to be hard for him.

I have no idea how long Taylor will be in the hospital. I've heard 10 days is a possibility. That would take us virtually to the next scheduled chemo. I just want her to get better.

Everything had seemed to be going so well. This is a terrible reminder of what can happen. Everything feels like it did back in January, February, March. Hopefully they are right and this is a fungus which the drugs, along with her white blood cells (which should rebound soon), will resolve. I can't consider the alternatives.