Monday, February 20, 2006

Cardiology Visit + Parent's Weekend

The last few days have been very busy. On Friday, I arrived down at Claremont and took Adrienne to City of Hope for her cardiology visit. "Dr. Ven" has a pretty abrupt bedside manner, quite different from what we're used to in pediatrics, but he is very knowledgeable. He was surprised to see someone as young and petite as Adrienne and kept remarking on how small she is. He did a very thorough exam and history and has ordered additional tests including a MUGA scan, additional blood work, EKG, and blood pressures in her legs. He feels that all of Adrienne's symptoms, particularly the edema in her feet and ankles as well as blue toes and lips (cyanosis), are definitely related to her heart. He seemed particularly concerned that the pulse in her feet and legs was very weak for an 18 year old. All of this is a sign that Adrienne is probably in congestive heart failure. It's sort of a good news/bad news story. Congestive heart failure can be reversed with medications including an ACE inhibitor, beta blocker, and maybe digoxin. The problem with these meds is that they lower blood pressure and Adrienne already suffers from low blood pressure. It will be a tough balancing act to get the right dose of medications to help her heart function better while making sure she doesn't pass out. The doctor wants her to take the first doses of the medications in the clinic and to stay for awhile to make sure she is okay. This all sounds fine to us and we're happy to have found a doctor that is doing something, compared to the other cardiologist who kept saying Adrienne's heart was unchanged despite increasing symptoms and echo reports that contradicted that. I had some questions about the correctness of the diagnosis (dilated cardiomyopathy) but Dr. Ven felt that was probably correct and a result of all of the treatments (chemo and radiation) that Adrienne has had.

The rest of Parent's Weekend was fun, filled with presentations and spending time with Adrienne and her friends. We were so impressed, once again, with the college and all they have to offer, as well as the students. Today, I went to two of Adrienne's classes: calculus and lit. The calculus looked like something I did in a past life though I couldn't really follow what the prof was doing. Lit was another story. They were discussing a Salman Rushdie book and the time in which the book takes place: 1991. I thought it was funny that the 18 year olds didn't know that the first Gulf War took place that year. They didn't know what the movie "The Magnificent Seven" was about, and one young lady thought it was a television show. Another student even referred to a character in the book in his forties, the same age as I am, as middle aged. Okay, yes, I'm definitely feeling old.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Yesterday, February 13, was Adrienne's third birthday since her second bone marrow transplant. In the past, I got her a little kids card (1st birthday, 2nd birthday) and a cake to celebrate. Since she's at college, I had to improvise. They have a cake program at Claremont McKenna so I ordered a chocolate cake (her favorite) and her friend Ashley from high school picked it up to surprise her. She doesn't want everyone to know about her cancer so the cake just said "Happy Day." By all accounts, she was really surprised and had a good time. She said I shouldn't do it again next year because she's eating too much, but I think we should continue to celebrate this important day.

The Lacrosse team at CMC shaved their heads last weekend in honor of a team member who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Adrienne isn't sure what type of cancer he has but it is most likely Hodgkin's Disease since it is the cancer that most affects people from age 14 to 19.

We are excited to visit Adrienne for Parent's Weekend. I will fly down Friday morning so I can take Adrienne to see the cardiologist. Curt will fly in Friday night from Las Vegas and we'll stay until Monday afternoon. We're looking forward to seeing how she's doing in person.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Business as Usual

Things are pretty quiet for us. Adrienne is doing well at college, of course. Academically, she's not finding her classes particularly difficult just yet. Her favorite activities are her social dance class and The Ath. She learned the Cha Cha, and as soon as she was feeling comfortable with the steps, they started the Foxtrot.

The Athenaeum is unique to CMC and something that makes this college really special. They have speakers four nights a week, along with a dinner. Adrienne met the Rev. Al Sharpton a couple of weeks ago, probably the most famous speaker they've had since she's been there, besides Mark Geragos last semester. She usually goes to The Ath at least once a week. If you're interested, you can read about the upcoming speakers at

We are looking forward to visiting CMC on February 17-20 for Parent's Weekend and meeting the new cardiologist. Hopefully we'll get some answers then. Adrienne's next checkup with the oncologist is on February 24.