And What Followed...

Friday, December 29, 2006

From Carlos - Christine in Hospital for New Year's Eve

Hi, everyone.

I spoke to Christine this morning, Friday 12/29. She sounded not happy about still being in the hospital for obvious reasons. Overall she was positive though, said she was happy, pointing out that she reached the anniversaary of when the doctors told her she had less than a year to live. It's been a year, she is still here -- enough said, as she put it.

She's been in the hospital for 10 days now. She has "complications" but so far the docs have not been able to figure out specifically what they are. It's not a virus, it's not a bacteria, it's not GVH (thank God, she said). They have been giving her vitamins and minerals as they continue trying to figure out what's going on.

Most likely, she will still be in the hospital on New Year's Eve, as she was on Christmas. If anyone wants to put on a hospital mask and hang out with her, they are welcome to. She's thinking about escaping her room and partying on the roof. Or maybe holding wheelchair races in the hallway (winner gets hospital ice cream). She also pointed out that she can score pretty much anything from the pharmacy -- morphine, vicodin, or my personal favorite, codeine. If anyone has other ideas as to how she can ring in '07, she is open to suggestions.

She's also open to suggestions regarding a nickname that would reflect her recent weight changes. Before going back to the hospital she had lost 27 pounds, and since being in the hospital she's gained 13. She thinks she should have a nickname. She doesn't want to be called Yo-Yo Pechara because that's "too easy." She's thinking maybe Spongebob Pechera or Shrinky Dink Pechera.

In closing, she asked that I say to everyone on her behalf the timeless words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, everyone." Then she laughed, which was a relief because for a second I thought she was turning cornball.

Christine's friend, and possibly yours,


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

From JT - Christine still in hospital for holidays

I'm writing this for Christine because she's not feeling well enough. She remains in the hospital and probably be staying for longer. She's okay but still struggling with stomach and other complications. Her LA friends got her a big Christmas Tree and even stayed overnight to make sure she didn't spend the holiday weekend alone. She is in room #5105. Please keep her in your prayers.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

From Barak - Sitting on Santa's lap

This is Barak writing from CP's hospital room.

OK, so sitting on Santa's lap did not really happen. That would be inappropriate and would scare the little children. But tonight was about as close as you can get to that from here.

There was a Christmas party for grown-ups at the City of Hope. Santa came from the North Pole, bringing gifts and granting wishes. (Actually, Christine and I arrived after Santa had left, but someone paged his little helpers and Santa made a special second visit.)

All the patients got raffle tickets, and Christine won! I guess it's her special luck. Her prize was a gift card that she hopes to use after she leaves the hospital. The entertainment consisted of a guitarist, a Harpist and a banjo player, the perfect combination for Christmas carolls.

Then beauty queens from Miss Asia USA walked around handing out scarves and posing for photos. At one point, Christine had everyone pose with their arms outstretched like Broadway stars. The funniest thing was seeing Santa leaning over to Christine, clearly nervous about spoiling her imprompu Christmas photo shoot, and asking her for stage directions. (In the end, they all followed her lead.) We took a few photos and shot some video, sang some carolls and told a few jokes.

I think Christine forgot that she was still tied to an IV pole, because in the end she insisted on taking group photos with the carollers and playing the harp from her wheelchair. We got some candy canes from Santa, and in typical Christine fashion we were literally the last people to leave the party.

It looks like Christine will be here for a few more days, just healing and getting better. She's a little uncomfortable with cramps, but in very good hands and on very good medication. Christmas may be a little lonely this year, buy it'll be one heck of a good day to be alive.


From Jerome - Christine on 24-hour cocktail

Hey everyone, I'm in the room with Christine (wink wink)and she wants everyone to know that she's sorry for not being able to send Christmas gifts and cards. She's hoping to have a belated Christmas as soon as she gets better.

She's not doing so well. She's in alot of discomfort

She's on a 24 hour cocktail of morphine and ativan.

Christine's thinking about you and she misses you. But she still has a fight ahead of her, so please keep her in your prayers!


p.s. An elderly woman stopped by with a beautiful blue afghan that she hand knitted for Christine. They were strangers to each other but the outpouring of love was immeasurable. I was honored to be a part of that.


been on on morphine/ativan cocktail all day & heaading into motphine lala land onight..
hey, i see double. Quick! There goes the whitte rabbit,
TERRIBLE news. I will Most likely be in hospital from now throughon Chritmas. (Wwhhhhaaahh!) EMOTIONS RUNN HIGHER

MyHOLIDAY cards and giftsi are just collectuing dust home.sorr;y;;; I' so ou t of it. did i kiss someome last nght?

does anyone vwant t rent cozy cute a cabin idyllild got this weeken. strwberry crek, Arr: Sat23 Dep25

Me cant go no more :(



Wednesday, December 20, 2006

From Barak - From Christine's hospital bed

This is Christine's friend Barak writing from the hospital room. Christine is currently recovering from today's General Anesthesia, as well as Ambien and Ativan. The doctors have been supplying her with saline and electrolytes to rehydrate her body and replenish her with nutrients.

Her IV tree has several bags to supply her with everything that's been depleted. She's feeling like a jellyfish on ecstasy, filled up with fluids and rolling on cloud nine. In short, they are taking very good care of her at City of Hope. The biggest discomfort is a nauseating tummy ache.

Tomorrow, Thursday, we expect to get the results from today's tests and procedures, and I'm hoping that she gets to go home real soon. Christine hopes she can still go to Idyllwild this weekend, where she was planning to spend a relaxing and quiet Christmas making s'mores and throwing snowballs.

Your prayers and support are very important to Christine, and she holds you all close in her heart. She feels blessed to be able to share her updates with you, and wishes everyone a safe and joyful holiday season.

- Barak

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Set Back - Back in the hospital

Hey guys, sorry to keep this short but here is what's happening. I was admitted to City of Hope today for dehydration and severe weight loss and other related complications. (Lost over 20 lbs in one month... not good for the kidneys.)

Gonna have a bunch of tests & procedures tomorrow, which includes an endoscopy... which means I'm going to be put under (woo-hoo! I LOVE general anesthesia). The results of tomorrow's tests will tell us what to do next.

Graft-vs-Host is the suspect in this latest bout.

It's no fun to be tethered to an I.V. again, but thankfully they are just pumping me full of saline tonight.

much love,

From Den - Emergency! Pray for Christine!

Just got a text message from Christine, who was apologizing for having to postpone our planned Thursday dinner because she's just been admitted to the hospital for dehydration and severe weight loss. She asked me to update everyone.

She says: "Not exactly sure what is going on, just know that I'm in a dangerous situation. Heading to the emergency room right now."

Super-strong thoughts and prayers time, kids.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

165 Post Transplant - Happy Hanukah!

Happy Hanukah! (And only 7 days until Christmas!)

JC brought a very cool silver-blue Christmas Tree to my apartment this week. Not having any ornaments on hand, we put butterflies on the branches. Looks tres chic. My brother in NYC has a: ChristmasKwanzaaHanukahPanchaGanapatiSolsticeIdal-AdhaSoyalOmisokaYule Tree. That's his way of not keeping any of his friends out of the celebration.

We are 165 days post-transplant and counting down the 15 days to Day 180. Less than 50% of patients who make it through the type of procedure I went through actually survive past 180 days. "Fortunate" doesn't even begin to describe how I feel. By sheer coincidence, Day 180 will be NEW YEAR'S DAY. Pretty awesome serendipity, if you ask me.

Actually, yesterday was the anniversary of the biopsy that started this whole rollercoaster ride. It's amazing even to me, that I'm above ground. I had a quiet celebration and then snuggled in bed for the rest of the night.

I hope everyone's holidays have been effervescent, magical and candy-cane blessed so far. And if it doesn't seem that way yet, just open your eyes a little wider. The world can only be as beautiful as you allow it to be.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Losing too much weight

I've been reading the concerned e-mails of the last few days and I am truly humbled by the responses for help. Today, blood levels nudged up just a wee bit, which brought me breathe a sigh of relief and made my doctor very happy.

I am "active" for 3-4 hours a day. The rest of the time I am conked out. The fatigue is not just "feeling tired": it's complete and total physical, emotional, mental drainage of chi and stamina. (Though I am in total denial of it sometimes.)

I may have lost a considerable amount of weight in only three weeks, but I like to think of it as my old "cancer weight" shedding away. The weight is actually back to where it was BEFORE diagnosis. My "Beyonce butt" has sadly melted away and now baby ain't got back, but a pair of old tight jeans that I haven't been able to fit into for years, hung loosely on me the other day. (I can see it now… the new Hollywood diet craze: lose weight fast by having a marrow transplant.) Seriously though, if I lose more weight, my doctor is going to force feed me enough steroids to make me eat like a horse and will start infusing me with lipid (i.e. FAT) bags. When they infuse you with one of those babies, you gain poundage in only a few hours.

But I am confident that this weird transition of sluggishness and rabid anorexia is only temporary. Each day there is a little bit of progress. Each day there is another joy. Despite the limitations of post-transplant-ism, I've been able to sneak out of the house to see the Philharmonic, have three TV interviews, enjoy some lovely dinners, and attend the Video Game Awards
(which had me practically bedridden for 3 days after). On Sunday, BR came over with a shopping bag full of ice cream, chocolate bundt cakes and whipped cream in an attempt to fatten me up. On Monday, RB grilled shish-kebabs to help with the blood cell count. Baby steps, ya know.

Much love this holiday season,
Christine P

Thursday, December 7, 2006

From Jennifer F - It takes time

i had a bone marrow transplant in april and it is really important that people around the area help christine out. i actually had my mother live with me for the first 100 days and i have my girlfriend who lives with me. things are very tiring and trying.

i don't know how her platelets are doing-but if she is getting transfusions and also if her platelets are not above 50,000, she should not be driving.

i cant believe people cannot drive her back and forth to her hospital appointments that is very serious to have someone there.

i live in new jersey. if i lived closer, i would try to help her out. i always make someone go with me because it is hard to go do that alone also

even now my counts went down yesterday and in two weeks when i go back, i have to do all these tests..

when i watched her on the news. i thought it was great they were following up, but i also thought the clip was deceiving. this is not over-and for at least a year to two, things can be hard. they might get a little easier, but things spring up.

thank you

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

From Colleen B - The best way to help

This holiday season we joyfully celebrate Christine’s release from the City of Hope. As everyone reading the posts knows, she went through the fires of hell and came out the other side.

Unfortunately, many seem to misunderstand her current status. Yes, Christine is out of the hospital, but she is not out of the woods. A cold or the flu, even exhaustion, could send her right back into hospital lock-up.

Christine is now in a new and in some ways equally difficult space. She is responsible for cooking, cleaning and managing her life. And she needs to do all of this with very little stamina. Tasks that would take a healthy person ten minutes take her an hour, because she needs to stop and rest so often. The process she is in now is critical. If you see her and she looks grand, know that before she saw you and after you run off to your next activity she will be in bed resting for several hours.

Those of you who know her, know Christine does not like to complain or whine. But her hold on life is still very fragile. Her job right now is to heal and rebuild her immune system. There can be no dancing, no books written, nor movies produced, until this major job is complete.

She absolutely needs all of us to continue to help in any and all ways we can. Our dear saffron butterfly still needs a lot of time in her healing cocoon before she can fly freely and do the thousands of things her soul is crying to do.

It may seem like the crisis is over, but it is not. Christine must stay well, rebuild her immune system and bring her body back to health. The goal was not just to survive the transplant; it is to get back to a healthy life.

Christine thanks God every morning for the gift of a new day. Going out on a simple errand she is thankful to be healthy enough to wait in line and be out in public. The tiny joys most of us overlook are huge to Christine. These outings also deplete the energy reserves she needs in order to heal.

Please keep Christine in your daily prayers and offer her help this holiday season (and beyond). She is alone and still in a serious phase of recovery.

Another way we can all help Christine is with gift cards. She is on her own without an income. Some ideas are gift cards for Trader Joes, Whole Foods, CVS (a local drugstore), maid service, gas, clothing stores (the poor woman has a cancer patient wardrobe, everything she owns holds memories of what medical appointment she wore them to). Or donate time to help
her clean, cook, do laundry, run errands or offer rides. During this season of joy and giving, please check her on-line calendar for ways to help. Offer whatever you can.

Our outpouring of love and support helped Christine get to this place in her recovery. Now let’s help her in this next stretch.

Blessings for a happy holiday season,
Colleen Bollen

Monday, December 4, 2006

Happy Holidays

I went to my first blow out holiday party this weekend at TC's and felt so blessed to see friends I haven't seen since the transplant!

I couldn't believe my own words as I stood with sparkling cider in one hand and bundt cake in the other: "I just got out of the
hospital three weeks ago." My acupuntcure doctor was there and serenaded me. Later I was in a fourway karaoke duet with EK, JW and SG to "Tubthumper". And I got behind the wheel of a Fire Truck, got to turn on the lights and got hugs from strapping firemen.

"I get knocked down
But I get up again
You're never gonna keep me down..."

We all toasted to life numerous times between hugs and welcomed disbelief that I was standing there to raise my glass along with everyone else. Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season so far!