Thursday, June 28, 2012

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 11

Today we played two fun games which are great for number recognition and learning to count.
Last night a visitor taught us how to play this German game called Mensch ärgere dich nicht. The name translates to something like Don't let people bother you. This is a common game in German pre-schools. Players try to be the first one to get all their pegs to their home base. If one player lands on another player's peg that peg must start over. This happens frequently - hence the name of the game. There is probably a similar American game. Maybe Sorry?

Jemma taught me how to play the second game. She said she played it in pre-school with her French teacher. The goal is to be the player with the tallest clown. On the picture below you can see sketches of dice on the right-hand side of each piece. The play starts by organizing the game pieces into groups with the same dice sketch. (ones together, twos together, etc..). Players take turns rolling the dice. At each turn the player works to build his/her clown by selecting a card matching the number on the dice. When all players have their clowns built they are measured to see which one is the tallest.

Today Jemma had very low energy. Her expression while playing the clown game really explains how she felt. We went outside to see the helicopters again, but she was ready to go after only about 10 minutes of sitting on the bench. She cried when she had to walk the short distance from the bus stop to her building. I offered to carry her, but she didn't like that idea either. Once we returned to the oncology ward we spent most of the day in the room. She spent a lot of time coloring and playing a prime number game on the i-pad.

She complained about pains in her mouth while eating. The chemo destroys mucus membranes and cuts or scrapes can be very painful. Think of spilling lemon juice on a cut. The doctor says it's pretty early in her treatment for this complaint and it could get worse. One of the medications she is taking causes strange sensations in the legs because it causes muscles and nerves not to work properly. The longer the medicine is taken, the worse the symptoms. This hasn't been too much of an issue yet, but she also complained of foot cramping. 

On a good note, her appetite is huge. The steroids are making her hungry and she has been filling up on healthy foods; raspberries, green juice, cucumbers, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, meat, pasta and yogurt. She has been able to go and hasn't yet needed the stool softeners.

Tomorrow morning Jemma will have another lumbar puncture. This means she will be given anesthetic, the doctors will put medicine into her spinal fluid and they will check her fluid for blasts (bad white blood cells).


  1. So hard to read the side affect that poor Jemma has to go through at such a young age. Both of you are handling so well, I admire your strength

  2. I'm praying for Jemma..... sweet girl. I can't imagine how hard this is for you, but I'm thankful you can blog through it and share with us - let the blogging community support you.

    I'm glad you linked today. Hugs.

  3. I'm so sorry to read that Jemma has to go through all of this! I am glad that you are able to find some positives...and, I agree that your strength is admirable.
    Thanks for sharing the game. It must help a bit to have distractions like this to keep Jemma occupied.

  4. Sorry for my english. I'm Anne-Gaëlle, the french teacher. We played the clowns game together. Maybe can Jemma still sing "petit chapeau, grand chapeau" with the clowns? I give for Jemma the french lyrics we sang, for more distractions.
    Jemma knows what she wants, and I hope, that her willpower help her and your family through all of this.
    Je t'aime Jemma!

  5. Anne-Gaelle - Thank you so much. I studied French in high school, but now my German is better than my French. I was delighted when Jemma recognized this game and taught me how to play. She enjoyed French class and would talk about it at home. Usually she would say "Dad, you don't know what "chevall" means". Then she would laugh.

    Jemma is extremely tough. She is determined to to speak to anyone and hasn't yet spoken to a doctor or a nurse beyond a head shake for yes or no. They think she will be the first patient they have ever had who will not talk.

    Thank You


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