David Burge Updates

David Burge updates his journey with leukemia

Down, Down and Up

with 14 comments

It’s a rollercoaster ride, but not one anybody would pay to go on.

Short Version

Dave had a serious nose bleed due to inflammation in his nose and low platelets. He has had 4 days of being very seriously ill. However due to good care and a couple of “chance meetings” including with his consultant, Dave is now much better. The consultant suggested that the nose inflammation might be viral and prescribed large doses of antiviral medication. He also encouraged Dave that his blasts had come way down instead of continuing to climb.

Long Version (Warning: Not for the Faint Hearted)

It started with a small bruise on the end of Dave’s nose on Friday evening. By 1am on Monday we were in the emergency department of Auckland Hospital with Dave’s nose pouring blood, and blood running down his throat. Large clots of blood were dropping out of his nose, filling his nasal cavity and hanging into his throat making breathing difficult. We went into hospital. The nurse at the desk of the Emergency department called three times for an orderly to come and take Dave through to the assessment ward. This was first time since Dave was diagnosed Tarnya was really sobbing. She was not sorry for herself but for Dave. This has been a horrible disease and so far this was certainly the lowest point in our journey. The nurse gave up on the orderly and took the bed down the corridor herself with Tarnya’s help.

Tarnya spoke to the doctor saying: If there is nothing you can do for Dave, would you make him comfortable? He hasn’t been able to sleep for a couple of nights. He is in pain, struggling with each breath, blood running down the back of his throat making him want to vomit, clots hanging in his throat making breathing difficult and seeing your life blood pouring out of your nose is not a great experience.

There was plenty to be done however: Dave had 3 bags of blood; 3 bags of platelets and had his nose packed with self dissolving gauze etc by an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT). The ENT Specialist kept apologising for the pain she was causing. Dave only said that he wanted to stop and hug her. He was so pleased with the work she was doing. His throat was still very sore but even by what she had already done the pain was greatly lessened and Dave could see hope that it would get even better in the future. He was given extra morphine and other medication to make him comfortable. After all that treatment he was able to sleep. He had a fever.

Tarnya was given a referral to a palliative care doctor so that we could arrange things so that Dave could go home. The palliative doctor was wonderful and with help from hospice we have managed to get a hospital bed, syringe pain pump etc, organised so Dave could go home. Tarnya needed to pick up some medication from a local pharmacy before they shut. She was unsure whether she could get Dave in the car so she left Dave at about 4 pm (in Auckland hospital) with an ambulance booked to bring him home at 5 pm. She drove home very carefully since she had not slept at all the night before and only briefly the night before that. The ambulance was so late that at 7:30pm Tarnya started the drive back to Auckland to collect Dave. However before she got onto the motorway the ambulance did at last arrive.

There were some good things that came out of that delay: Dave’s consultant “happened” to be walking past and noticed Dave. They had a chat. The consultant noted that Dave was unlikely to win a beauty contest at this stage. If you could have seen Dave’s swollen face at this stage you would have doubtless agreed (Even before this time my chances were somewhere between zero and nil – Dave). The consultant recognised that the problem with my nose was viral and so added or increased another very important medication to Dave’s list of pills (Sometimes unusual diseases show up with leukemia because of lower immunity. We have noticed a significant improvement with the extra anti-viral tablets which Dave took through that night).   The Dr had some other good news to share too – Dave’s blast cells were down- that was encouragement to Dave to endure a blocked nose, considerable pain and great difficulty with getting any sleep over the next 2 or three days. Dave was dizzy, and frequently doing “the long blink.” We were told that when the body gets oxygen deprived there is something in the brain that should tell a person to mouth breath. So Dave would nod off, not breathe, then suddenly breathe through his mouth which would awaken him. When totally exhausted this sudden deep breath would not wake him and he would sleep for less than an hour mouth breathing. The pain medication also makes you feel disconnected and so he would feel he was drifting into unconsciousness. He was unable to eat anything solid. Swallowing was hard work but it was important to swallow those pills.

Tarnya has been wonderful. It takes nearly all her time to look after Dave. At night, when Dave wakes, she wakes. During the day she has help from the children. The emotional support is more important to Dave than the physical support. We couldn’t begin to describe what it is like, the pain, physical and emotional, is at times overwhelming, but we are at the same time closer to God and to each other than we have ever been.

Today, Friday Dave and Tarnya are feeling tired but rejoicing that things are better than they were.


Written by admin

July 2, 2010 at 10:55 am

Posted in Update

14 Responses

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  1. David and Tarnya, What an ordeal you have been thruugh — in general with this leukemia but particularly as reported in this most recent update! I grieve for you, pray with you, and love you from Texas in the USA! Thank you for sharing your ups and downs with us. Pleaae know that in heart we are sitting beside you, holding your hand, silently supporting (or speaking, if desired 🙂
    – Love in Jesus, Edward & Sara Faye

    Edward Fudge

    July 2, 2010 at 12:51 pm

  2. We continue to rememember you Tarnya & David & also the family.
    May the Lord continue to give you both strenght & comfort in times of such need.
    Great knowing you have a wonderful support base in family & friends.
    The blessings of a faith firmly centred in God.
    Our love
    Brian & Vicky

    Brian & Vicky

    July 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm

  3. Hi. That is great news that Dave is home. Has he been in a hospice or hospital. STill praying that he improves

    Barbara Pullen

    July 2, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    • Hi. That is great news that Dave is doing well today. Has he been in Mercy hospice or Auckland Hospital. Still praying for you and the family. All my love

      Barbara Pullen

      July 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm

  4. Thank you family for such detailed news, and to know that the Lord is holding you in the cleft of the Rock and covering you there with His hand. May you be “IN CHRIST” and find the rest you both need. May our prayers be as sweet incense,
    Hugs all round from Juliette

    Juliette Urquhart

    July 2, 2010 at 5:38 pm

  5. Hi David, Tarnya and family. We too, sense a closeness to you folk…..not in miles, but in spirit. Not a day goes by that you’re not in our thoughts and prayers. God will continue to give you a measure of strength, sufficient for each day. Our love to you all.
    In His great grace. Brian & Janet

    Brian & Janet

    July 2, 2010 at 6:51 pm

  6. Thank you for the update. We appreciate you taking the time to keep all of us in internet-land in the loop. We’re continuing to pray for you both and the children.



    July 2, 2010 at 7:58 pm

  7. Dear Dave and Tarnya, what a heart-wrenching time for you. You are in our thoughts and prayers, may God comfort and strengthen you all.


    July 2, 2010 at 9:29 pm

  8. […] friend Dave has leukemia and today on his blog he said We [Dave and his wife Tarnya] couldn’t begin to describe what it is like, the pain, […]

  9. You guys are amazing and you are doing so well, an example to all of us looking on, thank you! Like the others who have written here, we remember you daily and pray for rest every night, and for strength and encouragement afresh every morning. With love to you all, God Bless,
    Christine and Melly

    Christine and Melly

    July 2, 2010 at 11:14 pm

  10. […] friend Dave has leukemia and today on his blog he said We [Dave and his wife Tarnya] couldn’t begin to describe what it is like, the pain, […]

  11. This post reminds me of a lesson given by a very wobbly (now very wobbly and very sick) preacher years ago. Dave, be encouraged by the knowledge that at least one person listens to what you say 🙂

    Sometimes God allows suffering that we cannot endure

  12. We weep with those who weep.

    Russell & Noelle

    Russell & Noelle Carle

    July 3, 2010 at 1:10 am

  13. Love you!

    Aunty Linda and Uncle John

    July 3, 2010 at 10:25 am

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