This message is being sent on Tuesday, February 24, 1998 (Happy Birthday, David!). Ashley has now been in the hospital for two weeks, and it is still not certain when she will come home. I was up at the hospital for a few hours last night, and Ashley kept saying things like, "I want to go home. Let's go home. Can we go home now?" Her spirits are really down. Please say an extra prayer for her today.


In my last update, I mentioned that the doctors suspected Ashley might have developed a fungal infection, and so they started her on a strong anti-fungus medication through her IV. Some of the side effects of this medicine are constipation and an adverse effect on the kidneys. After just a couple of doses, Ashley became constipated and quit urinating, so the anti-fungus medication was stopped. A renal doctor was called in to check Ashley's kidneys, and said tests showed that her kidneys had come pretty close to failing. Besides stopping the anti-fungus medicine, several of her other medicines were also either stopped or modified (Sudafed, Robitussin, Morphine, and Ativan) in order to allow her kidneys to recover. At this point, the kidneys don't seem to have received any permanent damage, and they do seem to be recovering well. The doctors now suspect that Ashley may have picked up some type of viral infection, possibly the flu.

After the anti-fungus medication was stopped, Ashley's constipation was replaced by severe diahrrea beginning Saturday afternoon. This caused her bottom to get raw again. We have been treating that with several different topical creams, which seem to be helping.

Ashley began complaining of severe pain in her back and shoulders about the same time she was having the problems with constipation and an inability to urinate. She was also still experiencing occasional sudden, intense pain from her Shingles. A heating pad was used to help relieve the pain in her shoulders and back, and that helped some. After a couple of days, the back and shoulder pain subsided, and her Shingles attacks are coming less often now. She is still experiencing intermittent fevers, but they are mostly low-grade, below the benchmark of 101.5 degrees. These are all encouraging signs.


Another source of encouragement is the fact that her blood counts have finally begun to rise. After having absolutely zero immune system protection for about a week and a half, her "ANC" (a calculated number which indicates the immune system's strength, based on several individual numbers from a Complete Blood Count) finally made it up to 140 on Sunday, but was back down to 100 on Monday. These are still very low numbers, but hey, they're better than zero!! Over the past five days, Ashley has had to receive blood infusions three different times, and platelets once. Saturday morning she had a really bad nose bleed, but it finally stopped.


We are still having problems with leaking around Ashley's "button". Her stomach has been drained several times to help prevent bloating. Feeds through the button were stopped temporarily, and have now been restarted on a greatly modified schedule. The doctors are carefully monitoring her intake and output, as well as the bloating of her stomach and the leaking around her button. Her skin under the plastic feeding button has become red and irritated and raw, and this causes her pain at times also.


As you can see, it has been a pretty rough two weeks for Ashley. Susan has lived at the hospital for the past two weeks as well, and it has been a rather trying time for her, too. Justin and I have been playing bachelor here at home, and have been making regular trips back and forth between Waxahachie and Dallas. Life around the O'Rear household can get pretty crazy at times. But June is in sight! By the end of June, Ashley should be finished with her chemotherapy protocol, and this part of our lives will be history!! She will still have to go back every few months or so for check-ups, just to make sure the cancer doesn't sneak back in. But I am convinced that, come July 1, she's got the cancer monster defeated FOR GOOD!! I really believe that, and that keeps us going. Thanks to all of you who continue to pray for Ashley. We are constantly encouraged by your love and support, your e-mails and cards and letters, the monetary contributions, the phone calls, the Beanie Babies and other gifts, and every other way in which you so marvelously show your love. THANK YOU! May God richly bless you and your family.

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