David Burge Updates

David Burge updates his journey with leukemia

Archive for the ‘Medical Update’ Category


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We saw the consultant yesterday. The chemo is no longer working. He estimates that Dave has about 2 weeks left.

We have been blessed by many comments on the blog; by the assurance of your prayers and thoughts; and by some very thoughtful and practical gifts.  Thank you.

Thank you to those who have written beautiful letters of  tribute. Dave has appreciated these.

Only visits from immediate family from now on please.

If you have anything that you still want to say to Dave please pop it in a card, comment on the blog, or send a private email. I will be reading all Dave’s  mail to him.


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June 25, 2010 at 7:56 am

Medical Update

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Dave went into the Day Stay for a blood transfusion on Tuesday. He rang me to tell me his blasts (cancer cells) are very high, up from 68 (Monday) to 109 . They have given him platelets as well as the blood transfusion because his gums and nose are bleeding a little.

Today the blasts (cancer cells) have climbed to 160 even with an increase in his chemo tablets. He is taking morphine every 2 hours during the day. He tried to write this morning but was not able. Hospice rang today and someone is coming in the morning. We have an appointment with the consultant in the afternoon.

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June 23, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Phone Call

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The consultant rang at 7:30pm last night (Friday), not something he usually does. He asked me about Dave’s quality of life. I told him apart from those couple of days with the infection where Dave was coughing all night and blacking out etc that it has been good. He reiterated that it is getting increasing difficult to keep Dave stable.  His instructions were that Dave was to  start the chemotherapy tablets again that night. He will probably need to see Dave early next week.

Later that evening Dave had a terrible headache (probably a side effect of high blasts) and took some morphine for this. He managed to sleep all night but is not particularly well today. But his head is feeling better and he is able still to write 🙂

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June 19, 2010 at 12:21 pm

More coughing

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Dave has been coughing on and off through the night. Yesterday evening during one of these coughing fits he blacked out for a few moments. He was safely in the lazy boy at the time. This morning, though, he was working at the computer when a similar thing happened. Tim came to me to tell me that Dad needed me because he was lying on the floor. Dave had blacked out at the computer and fallen on the floor. Dave has a very nice egg-shaped bruise on his head. He went into Day Stay for his IV antibiotics at lunch time and was checked over. The doctor thought that maybe they should admit him. Dave and I had already discussed this and agreed that the floors at the hospital are just as hard as they are at home. There is no extra treatment they can give to prevent the blacking out so there seemed no advance to going into hospital. Dave did offer my suggestion to the Doctor that we could keep the light on all night and I could wake him every 3 hours to take observations ;-). We will keep someone with him all the time at home so in fact he will be safer here. The doctor was happy with this. After all there are 9 other people living in the house whose job it is to look after him.

Dave is feeling pretty miserable. He is coming off one medication that can affect mood so this has added to the feeling of helplessness as his body seems less reliable than usual. Tomorrow I shall rearrange the computer so he can sit at the lazy boy and work at the computer if he feels well enough to write. That way if he blacks out he will not fall out of the chair.

This evening Rachel is sitting with Dave watching TV and keeping him company, a hard job but someone has to do it 🙂

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June 15, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Parenting with Wisdom and Grace

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Dave was mildly unwell last night. He has had a cold for a couple of days but it seemed it was developing into more than that. He was coughing a great deal and felt under the weather. I rang the Day Stay in the morning seeking advice; stay home unless Dave has a fever. By about lunch time he had a mild fever so I took him in. We would both rather go into Day Stay during the day than make a visit to the Emergency Department in the middle of the night. They gave him a chest X-ray (which was clear) but the Doctor agreed that Dave was unwell: slight fever and elevated pulse. He was given extra fluids and started on antibiotics. Within a couple of hours his pulse had come down a great deal. His platelets were very low so he was given some of those. It took some persuasion to allow him home, though.

The system is funny: it is hard to prove that you are ill enough that you need attention, but once you have provided sufficient objective evidence (i.e. elevated pulse, fever) they don’t want to let you go home.  Dave will have this course of IV antibiotics as a day patient, travelling into the hospital each day. Dave was very glad to be coming home. He was not wanting to spend several days in hospital.

[I realise that we did not write about our last visit to the consultant. He reiterated that this last course of chemotherapy has worked very well. That Dave is to stop taking the chemo drugs for a while. He plans to resume chemotherapy when the blasts again start to go high. He did not give a time frame for this. Dave will have 2 weekly blood tests to monitor the levels. There were a few minutes spare for the consultant to tell Dave a good joke and to have a brief chat about a branch of economics that Dave and consultant share a common interest. The consultant has been a great blessing to us.]

Today is World Blood Donor Day. We are grateful to everyone who gives blood. I understand the NZ service needs 3000 donations each and every week.

I have been listening to “Parents, Teens and Reasonable Expectations” while I fold pamphlets for our deliveries. In one of the talks the speaker mentions R.C. Ryle’s ” Two Bears” on 2 Kings 2:23,24. Ryle writes “I believe some people think that it does not matter how children behave, and that God only notices grown-up men and women. This is a very great mistake. ”  In I Kings 1:6  we read that King David did not question his son about his behaviour : “His father had never crossed him at any time by asking, “Why have you done so?”. The speaker rightly, points out that it is often the way that we communicate,  that is often the problem, not that we set high standards.  I was reminded of James 1:19-20 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

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June 14, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Visit to the Consultant

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The consultant is working hard to tailor the chemotherapy to Dave. He made some changes last week and again this week. It is a delicate balance to maintain Dave’s quality of life and still keep the leukemia at bay. At present he is succeeding well. Dave takes a number of tablets, some are chemotherapy, others are to control symptoms. The breathlessness was caused by low haemoglobin (no sign of problems in Dave’s lungs), so Dave is going back to the Day Stay tomorrow to get some blood products. We will see the consultant again next week.

If we think too much about what may be ahead, it can threaten to overwhelm us, so we  focus on today. “Do the next thing”.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I don’t think Jesus is saying that we should not make plans for the future. We do make plans. For we are taught in Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

We talk about decisions that will need to be made in the future. But we try not to dwelt on what if, what if…

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June 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm

More time :-)

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We saw the consultant today. The vincristine is working and so Dave should have months rather than weeks. We are excited about this extra time. Dave has finished one book he was writing. He has several other writing projects he would like to finish and is pleased to have the opportunity to do this.

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May 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm