Friday, August 24, 2012

Better Safe than Sepsis

It's me again, sharing the last two weeks' chaotic experiences in our world.  I'm writing to you from my usual spot next to Danny's hospital bed as he sleeps to the sound of his trusty pump running a variety of antibiotics and fluids.  Why are we back in Georgetown Hospital, you ask?

Two Mondays ago we heard the news that the chemo regimen in Seattle wasn't working and that we'd have to explore other options to get Dan's leukemia back into remission.  We met with our doctor out there who was, shall I say, no Dr. Broome, and filled us with fear, sadness, and PANIC.  After a brief phone call with Dr. Broome, my sister, and my mom (the usual suspects), Dan and I packed our apartment and we took the red-eye home to Camp Hill.  In a mere 12 hours, we were home and greeted by our smiling moms in the Harrisburg airport.  We were exhausted, traumatized, upset, and worried, but instantly knew we made the right decision in coming home.  After some rest and family time, two days later we were back at Georgetown meeting with our familiar team of doctors and nurses who gave us hope and offered a reasonable regimen to fight off the cancer.  

The chemo lasted 5 days and is a type that treats leukemia differently than previous therapies.  His leukemia has become resistant to "standard" treatment and has outsmarted, in typical Dan fashion, the usual chemo therapies.  He slept a lot those days and experienced some of the nausea, vomiting, and other unpleasant side-effects we so commonly associate with chemo.  The wonderful nurses took care of Dan and made sure that both of us were as comfortable as could be in this disruptive place.  Did I mention we sublet our apartment?  Our friend's cousin is taking care of our place while we are away so Dan and I were left homeless for our short stay in DC.  Luke and Meghan O'Connell so graciously offered me their home on campus in Georgetown, so I was able to get a good night's sleep and fresh cup of coffee every morning just a few steps away from the hospital.  We were also around to see sweet little Faith Mariel O'Connell in her first hours of life and congratulate Luke and Meg on their second child.  The hem-onc unit is right next door to labor and delivery! Little ones lift the spirit and spending time with 2 year old Clare and baby Faith rejuvenated our hope every day :)

Dr. Broome gave us the okay to head home to Camp Hill on Tuesday and we spent a day and a half enjoying my parents' empty house.  The Gabler clan was on vacation at the beach so Dan and I relaxed utilizing the tivo, blender, refrigerator, one big bed for the both of us and all things a home has to offer.  As is the drill when going home with a compromised immune system, Dan diligently took his temperature and closely monitored himself for any possible signs of infection.  Sadly, yesterday morning Dan developed a low grade fever and some chills, so we hopped in the car back to Georgetown where we now sit.  We are waiting to hear if Dan has an infection, but in the meantime he is being treated with antibiotics.  We didn't want to come back to Georgetown so soon, but as my witty husband said yesterday, "better safe than sepsis" - SO TRUE.  The last thing we need is another weekend in the ICU.  We're glad we're here.  The biopsy will still happen today and we will still get the results Tuesday. 

We aren't looking at this as a set-back, just a shorter "vacation" than we expected.  Go figure, you get infections when your immune system is shot.  We would have liked to avoid this, but Dan is in good hands and we'll put this behind us just as we've done so many times before.  We're nervous and anxious about the biopsy today, about the results coming Tuesday, and this brewing infection, but we continue to believe that a transplant is in our future.  School starts back next week and I won't be joining my friends and colleagues, but I am so blessed and fortunate to be able to take the time off to take care of my Dan.  There is no place I'd rather be than right by his (bed)side.   


  1. Hey Dan,

    This is Mike Scerbo from Fordham and team GO! Guat. I saw this post pop up on my facebook feed and instead of working, i've been reading posts in reverse-chronological order for the past half hour.

    I haven't had a chance to meet the mrs., but hopefully that will change one day; she seems amazing.

    My family has been going through some difficult times lately, but nothing compared to what you've been going through. Reading your and your wife's posts has reminded me to put things into perspective and to thank god every day every day for what everything I have.

    I miss you man...I'm still sitting like a girl (and getting made fun of for it)...pound it up!! stay strong brother!

  2. I love you both and am continuing to pray and recruit others for this prayer chain! You are in our hearts and prayers always.

  3. Hi, I have Google Alert set up for mention of "sepsis" because I work with Sepsis Alliance. It told me about this blog post so I came to check it out. Would you mind if we used that phrase "better safe than sepsis"? I think it is great - it really captures the spirit of what we are trying to do.

    You can email me at if you would like.

    THanks for mentioning the word, seriously. Too many people don't know what it is!

  4. Lyons, buddy -- we genuinely missed you and your usual upbidding of every single Eagle in the draft the other day. Brent Celek, $68? What a steal!!!! We are praying for you all the time and can't wait until we see you use every possible Eagle to defend yet another league championship (though not before I get a few more under my belt).

  5. Hey Dan,

    Hold strong, God only puts obstacles in the way of those he knows are strong enough to overcome them. Hannah your love is an inspiration to everyone who knows you and it helps others learn to love too. Be strong, both of you, and as always love from New Hampshire.

  6. Dan Hanna, very sad about the setback but am very happy for your spirit and attitude, the road is not straight there are lots of twists and turns and yes sometimes detours, but I feel in my heart and with my entire being you will get to the place that will make all of these journeys a good conversation while sitting with a beverage of choice with the the people who care for you the most.
    God Bless you

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  8. Hi Dan and Hanna, this is Nicki, Dawn's sister. She told me about your blog, so I stopped by to read a bit. I'm sorry that you didn't get to spend as much time away from the hospital as y'all wanted, but on the other hand, I'm glad that you caught this quickly!

    I tried to imagine what it must be like to walk a day in your shoes, either one of you, but I just can't even imagine. Please know how much Dawn cares about you both, and how much our entire family is pulling for you. Dan, you will get that transplant, you will.

    I've been thinking about creating my own sign to ward off the person who wants to stop by at 5 am. It's not as polite as having Dawn intervene, but then again, I have a potty mouth. ;-)

    Hugs, love, and respect from the Betters family.