Sunday, June 30, 2013

Plan B is Not an Option

The husband made a trip to Houston last week to meet with the new owner of the company that keeps him employed.

Norm has just recently bought the company. Again. He started this company over 5 yrs. ago and after owning it for 3 yrs. and building up a clientelle, he sold it for 10 million dollars and took a break from the work force. Part of the contract he signed when selling the company forbid him to start up a new one offering the same services. He waited. His contract expired and he bought the company back again and is now getting ready to kick it off again. The husband was employee 01 when Norm started it the first time. The husband was the first employee in the United States for this Canadian based company.  He was heavily recruited for his knowledge in the field and his client contacts here in the USA.

Along with this change in leadership, the husband was offered a healthy increase in pay and expenses. They want to make sure he sticks around. 

Through the years, though contact with Norm has been through the coordinators, messages have been delivered showing appreciation for his commitment to this company.

Norm is aware of my condition. He encouraged the husband to take all the time he needed to attend to my needs. He has offered an administrtive position to the husband to make his hours more regular during this time.  You see, Norm and his wife have recently walked the same path we are on right now.

During his meeting with the husband, he shared his story. His wife was diagnosed with lung cancer. Surgery and chemo followed. Part way through the treatment, she wanted to throw in the towel. The side effects were too much for her. Norm said to her "Plan B is not an option." There was only one thing to do and she did it. She finished her chemo just in time to support him when his diagnosis of prostate cancer  was received. Again surgery and chemo.

Plan B is not an option. When it's time for  my next chemo run, I'll do this chant. "Plan B is not an option."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Goodbye Xeloda

I did my Tuesday. "My Tuesday" otherwise known as chemo day, is now in the past and the side effects are current. I seldom communicate with anyone on the days following my infusion. I usually want to crawl into bed and ignore the world.

The 5FU was started this time. They did a bolus via a small bag that was infused over 15 minutes then hooked up the CADD pump, nestled it into a fanny pack like thing and secured it around my waist with a belt. I pulled my shirt over it and then ignored it for the 44 hrs. it had to be in place.

I much prefer this method then taking the pills for two weeks. The pump was placed on Tuesday afternoon and disconnected on Thursday morning at 01000hrs.

The sensitivity to cold things is much decreased. The reason being, with the infusion 5FU, the dosage had to be decreased on the Oxiliplatin. My hands still tingle and my throat still has spasms if I get in contact with cold liquids but it is not as intense as in previous infusions.

Two more trips or two more rounds and I'll be switched to something new for another 6 months. The doctor has ordered a breast ultrasound on July 11th. This signals to me a surgery might be in my near future. She hasn't really voiced whether the surgery will be after this first 6 rounds of chemo. I'm surmising the next two rounds completed and the surgery will be scheduled.

My neighbor just had her lumpectomy yesterday and the lump was noted as being the size of a golf ball. This woman just had a mammo last year that showed clear. One would think it would take more time for a tumor to get to be the size of a golf ball?

This makes me wonder if it was there on the last exam but overlooked. I know the yearly exams are the best we have for early detection but it still makes me question the accuracy of the tests we take.

It's raining. I would be really excited about the drop in temperature but I know that isn't going to happen. The sun is going to appear in all it's summer fury and heat up that wet ground causing intolerable humidity.
Death Valley is predicted to be 130 degrees....what global climate change?

I'll be in the house enjoying the air conditioning should you need me.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

We Are Very Proud of You

Maybe you take it for granted that your grown children will be there for you should you need them. Don't bank on it.

My daughter has been a rock through all the trying times lately related to my diagnosis. I hesitate to call it an illness as I don't feel "ill". I have a condition...a diagnosis of breast cancer and colon cancer, neither one exhibiting symptoms but found on exam.

Through all the tests, which seemed overwhelming and done while I was still in shock from the diagnosis, the daughter and husband have been there for me. The daughter insists she accompany me on every doctor's visit, every chemo run, every test performed and through all the surgeries and hospital time. My husband is very impressed with her dedication to my needs.

You may think I take her time and attention as a given. You would be wrong. Working in the medical profession and observing patients and family members, I can attest to the fact that some parents are ignored while struggling with an illness. Their children are just too busy to attend to them. I've seen it happen in my own family so I'm extremely appreciative of the daughter I have. Of her devotion to my well being. Of her protectiveness of me. Sometimes I have to reel her in a bit as she will quickly spring to a defensive mode on anything concerning other's treatment of me.

I'm dedicating this post to her. I could be writing the same things about the husband. They are both solid supporters and without them, I can't imagine what it would be like to go through this alone.

So to you both, I offer my humble thanks for being there for me. And to my daughter, I'm grateful that I have you and I love you very much.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I'm Hooked Up

 With much trepidation, I dressed and waited for the daughter to appear. She lives close by so it didn't take long. We left in the Grand Marquis with me driving. She takes over this chore on the  drive back after the chemo.\

This chemo has some very weird side effects and I think I have experienced most of them. Cold is the biggest nemesis. Walking on cold tile floors in bare feet will cause a tingling to begin which quickly turns into a burning feeling. The hands are the same. Gloves must be worn to touch anything cold. Cleaning the refrigerator was done yesterday before this visit to the clinic. Every liquid that is swallowed must be at room temperature. The throat closes up with anything cold. The sub mandibular glands clench and you know you have crossed the line on temperatures.

I've had one episode of vision change on the first run of chemo. I was grateful for the daughter being there to drive me home. On the way we stopped at McDonald's to get a little cheeseburger which caused the episode of lockjar.

The Decadron caused the "roid" feeling. I didn't get to the "rage' stage but I thought I was going to leap out of my skin. A klonopin fixed that feeling and now I know to take one about mid way through my infusions on chemo day.

I am no longer taking the Xeloda. We replaced it with the infusion medicine 5FU. The insurance companies won't pay for the Xeloda and my cost was five thousand dollars a month. 5FU is the old liquid form of Xeloda. The drug companies developed the oral form a few years ago and of course they spend millions of dollars on one page ads in the medical journals pushing it to the doctors to prescribe. They tout the fact that it is so convenient for the patient as they don't have to be accessed and have a pump in a fanny pack for 48 hrs to get the infusion. You come home with the pump and wear it for 44 hrs. Getting in the shower isn't a possibility but I think I have a bath. I'll just prop the pump part of this on a short table beside the tub and be careful around the mediport (infusion port). A sponge bath is an option too. For the cost of 5000.00, I can live with a little inconvenience. I also like the fact that I am not dumping all these chemicals into my stomach.

This pump should be disconnected at 01000 tomorrow morning. That means I wore it from 01400 hrs starting Tuesday to 01000 hrs to Thursday at 01000 hrs. Easy peasy. I don't mind at all. That saves me almost 10 days of swallowing those huge grey pills twice a day. Another upside to this is the oncologist lowered the dose on the Oxilaplatin because the liquid 5FU requires a lower dose of it. I am not having the same intense side effects this time. She (Dr. Johnson) also lowered the dose of the Decadron (the steroid) to half strength and that also cut back on the jitters. I took the Klonapin anyway. I wanted to be ready.

This has been mostly a boring post for those that aren't going through this but for those surfing for information on these drugs, it might help someone prepare and be aware of some of the side effects. Apparently I am one that is extremely sensitive to drugs (but then I already knew how drugs affected me ;-). I caught the tail end of the sixties)

In conclusion, I feel much better after Chemo 4 then after Chemo 3 and I'm so grateful. Today is the day after and except for my fanny pack, I would never know I had Chemo run number four. Hurray for me.

Dr. Johnson has ordered an ultrasound in July. I know what that is leading up to. 2 more rounds of this chemo and it will be time to address the breast issue. I'm sure she will wait until I finish this part of the chemo before she seriously considering my mastectomy. I get queasy thinking about this surgery. I likened it to losing a leg, or an arm. Body image is a strong part of our being. I have had people ask me if I were going to go through reconstructive surgery. Some have even mentioned my age and whether it was necessary.

Right now, the answer is "yes". I don't feel 64. I like to put on clothes that fit correctly. I won't have this same large bosom, and for this I'm REALLY thankful. A nice pair of C's or a single D cup would be acceptable. I'll have to let the plastic surgeon determine that based on my body size.

Enough about my day. I'm thankful I feel so much different today then what I anticipated! I'm thankful that I have a husband and daughter that keep telling me "you can do this" on the day before chemo when I get so emotional. They are ready to offer support because they know the day before chemo is a depressing day for me. I can ignore this illness for the most part but the day before chemo brings it all back in one big rush.

I'm making it. I'm going make it through this. I have no idea what the future holds after I'm finished with all this but I have only one choice and that is to Wait and See and keep on living as we all do to the end.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Chemo run #4 and 5FU being started Today

The best part of this announcement is I'm over half way there on this chemo. Two more runs after today then 6more months of a different chemo. I haven't been told what it will be but only that it will be aggressive. This makes me nervous.

I have a bottle of Klonopin in my purse. I'll take one about half way through the infusion to combat the Decadron that is run along with the chemo. The Decadron is to combat nausea but it causes me to be jittery. I get emotional on chemo day.

The husband made it in last night. I tried to talk him into getting a motel room in Houston but he opted to drive those 4 hours and get in by midnight. He has house repairs planned. The soffits and fascia boards are  being replaced around this house. I would have planned this job in early spring or late fall. I'm not a fan of working in this heat.

I'm off to get a hour of sleep before getting ready to make that trip.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Round 4....

It's about this time I start getting anxious. This coming Tuesday will be another chemo day. This one will be a little different then the previous three runs. Instead of having the Xeloda that I take in pill form, they will start an infusion of 5FU in addition to the Oxilaplatin. I don't know if they will run them together or separately but I'll get a loading dose of the 5FU and then the remainder will be put into a small purse size pump that I will wear halter style around my neck or by a belt around my waist. This will pump 5FU continuously over 22 hours. We are switching to this route believing that the insurance company will pay for the chemicals in this form. Keepin my fingers crossed on this maneuver....

I will eat a Klonopin before the treatment starts and another one at the end. That steroid makes me jittery and shakey. This time I will be ready for it. Let's hear a big shout out for Klonopin, my friendly Klonopin. (I sound like a hardened drug user here).

I know I've mentioned the heat as I do every summer. The weather forecaster says it's "time to move outside"....and I say, "Why the hell would I want to give up my pleasantly air conditioned house for a stint in the hot and very humid outside?"

I've noticed lately those misters that surround the exterior edge of the outdoor eating places here. The first time  I saw them was years ago Arizona. The strip malls have them and as you stroll the sidewalks, the mist provides a cooling fine spray over the shoppers. They have finally arrived here though not in great quantities yet.

We have a new Mexican food place here in town and finally, one that is worth patronizing. It's a busy, busy place and the prices are reasonable. Every corner here has a new building going up. More banks, restaurants and apartment buildings are springing up. Houses too, are booming. Construction workers and painters flood the local mini marts that offer cold beer and hot chicken at 1700 hrs. You can gauge the industries represented by being in one of the stores at "closing time" marking the end of their work day.

The husband is still in Midland. I want him home. Too many people have been killed on that rig he is on. Night before last a worker had his foot crushed and a rig down the road from them claimed another life of a young man. Safety measures are non existent on that rig. There isn't an supervision on site. The husband gets text messages from the supervisor he never sees.

Something fell out of the derrick a few days ago. The crew was gathered on the "floor" when something came plunging down to the rig floor. No body was hurt but my question is "Is it part of the rig that came apart? and if that is the case, when is the derrick folding in?"

The husband thinks he will be finished up by Monday and be on his way home. It can't be soon enough. Every "boom" this happens. Inexperienced people can get a job on a rig and those new workers are unaware of the dangers of rig work. The number of incidents of injuries skyrocket. The experienced hands know to watch everything going on but being around those newbies can be dangerous to your own well being. 

I must get a move on. Going back to sleep sounds attractive but only because I have sat still way too long.

I'm up and moving as soon as I close this laptop down.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's Hot and so Am I

How did people ever survive without air conditioning? I sprint from the air conditioned house to the air condtioned car to the air conditioned store. I still manage to sweat.

We thought we might make it to Galveston today to do the water park. I made room reservations and within 4hrs tried to cancel them. My afternoon yesterday was spent napping. My stomach feels queasy and I was tired. I suppose it's the effects of the chemo. I'm afraid I won't be doing the water park this year with the family.

Add that to the fact that April gave up cigarettes at midnight night before last and last night at midnight she was still smoke free. 24hrs down. She had a little meltdown yesterday afternoon. We went to the tobacco store and bought her a "E-cigarette". It delivers a vapor nicotine. I don't want her to get the nicotine. It keeps the addiction going. I offer her much encouragement. She has made it to the two week 'quit" then she tells herself "one little puff won't hurt"..and there goes the "quit".

It devastates me to see a young person light up. With all the education out there now, it's hard to comprehend their decision to smoke. When we started smoking, there was no information on the impacts on health nor the addiction of them. You could walk into your doctors office and sit and have a cigarette with him.

(continued a day later...6/20/2013)
Poor April. She is having melt downs. Of course I was in the midst of one and she rushed up here to console me and shortly after the hugs I received, she had a melt down of her own. Big tears rolled down her face; the addiction to nicotine was shaking her viciously. It is vicious, breaking the hold it has on you.

She is hitting all the trigger points. Those times when you reached for a cigarette. The first three days are rough. The nicotine is leaving your body while the brain is screaming for nicotine to release the dopamine into your system. The dopamine is the calming feeling one gets when they take a puff off that cigarette. I explained to her what her brain was doing and how I used to have conversations with my brain when I was quitting. I threatened. "you are NOT going to win this time. I know what you are doing and what you want!"
I tried not to have this conversations in a public place. Sometimes they could get quite loud and ugly. I did my share of crying and having the jitters so I know what she is going through.
I am amazed that there isn't clinics for smokers as there are for alcoholics and drug addicts. Research shows it's the hardest of all addictions to kick. Since cigarettes were my only addiction, I can't testify to that as a truth but I will never forget the trip down the "quit path". I don't ever want to have to travel that road again. I'm hoping she makes it this time.
I administered .50mg of Klonapin yesterday. Yes I'm a drug dealer now. She halved it and took it and said it helped. I advised she take another 1/2 this morning. She may need some help to get through the next two weeks.

On another note, the granddaughter (the older one..Lessie) is leaving for Florida on Saturday. She asked if  I would like to help her catch up on her laundry. Yesterday afternoon (late!) she delivered to me about 8 loads of clothes. I started on them last night and got a few loads done and on the line. I hang the heaviest stuff and she had a lot of jeans and sweat pants. Why sweat pants in June? Me thinks the young lady neglects to do her laundry. Her roommate was doing laundry at their apartment while I was gazing at the 8 loads I had to do here. Amazing. I'm so OCD that I wash every day or at least every two days.

I had to rush out to the line and take down the clothes; the rains are coming in. The first clue was the thunder rumbling above. I barely had time to get outside and get them to the patio. I have sweat pants draped across all the patio furniture and it will stay there until it dries. I doubt Lessie needs them for her vacation.

I spent the night with the daughter. Carrie wasn't allowed to spend the night with me so I took her up on her offer of a sleepover. We slept on the futon in the living room. She said "Nana, are you going to be here for breakfast in the morning?"
I told her I would but I might have to go to my house for a little bit but that I would be back for breakfast.

I've been here since 0500 hrs doing laundry. I can see the light at the end of the laundry tunnel and..OH! can you hear? The buzzer just went off on the dryer which is my signal to leap up and dash to the dryer so I can empty and load it again.

I'm gone for a little while. It's breakfast time at Carrie's house!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

And The Days Roll on By

It appears that I may appear as a slacker. I haven't posted in days and days. I've been busy.

Boring stuff has been going on around here. The husband and his truck returned intact. No hail damage or tornado touches, he did stay overnight in the town in Oklahoma that was devastated by the tornado a few weeks ago. Fema was evident; cars were being towed with warnings to the owners to either get them or they would be towed to crushers. He photographed the hospital close by the road, the entire top floor gone except for the metal beams that supported the structure.

Since he has been home, he has begun replacing the soffit and fascia boards on this house. It won't be done overnight but in spurts; between jobs and between rain showers. HardiPlank is going up. Cement infused material that won't rot. Home upkeep is definetly a labor of love...and one that keeps on giving.

I'm sitting on the front stoop, laptop on the little glass table, sipping my coffee and listening to the sprinkler as it drops water onto the edge of the roof in part of it's rotation cycle. The flower beds look great even in this heat. Right now it's a pleasant 70 something degrees. The ferns in the planters across the front of the house are finally full and lush. The husband's green thumb is evident. He repotted them for me a few weeks ago. They have now doubled in size.

I used to walk with my grandmother around her  yard every morning. She would inspect each flower and bush on this walk. I now understand the pleasure she received from her morning meanderings. As a child, I looked on this as boredom. As an adult, I relish the peace she must have felt on this journey.
Today is the last day of the Xeloda; at least for the upcoming week. I'm on it for two weeks and off for a week. The next visit to the oncologist, should have me switching from Xeloda to 5FU. The same chemical but in a different form. I'm hoping that if it's infused, my insurance company will cover the cost. The Xeloda is not covered and it's 5000.00 a month to fill the prescription. Thus far, the clinic has supplied me with 3 months of it for a savings of 15000.00. I have 3 more months on this stuff. If I switch to infusion 5FU, I will wear a Cadd pump, the size of a mini iPad, in a halter type purse around my neck. It will be injecting the medicine into my mediport. I must call the doctor this week to make sure she orders the infusion as she will be having me see the physician's assistant next visit and it will demand a doctor's order to change the route of the chemical.
In the medical field, it's everyone's job to check; preventive measures to ward off failures or gaps in patient care.
On a more positive note, I spoke with brother Bob and Joe. They call often to check on me. Both seem to be doing fine; both busy with their jobs and no major health problems to report for which I'm grateful. An old friend from the past was also contacted. Roger E. who lives in the same town as brother Bob and is now one of Bob's lawn clients, enjoyed a nice long chat via phone. Roger has had some major, major health issuses and it was great to hear his voice and know that he was still among us.
It's medicine time and I've just consumed my boiled egg on a slice of toast to prepare my stomach for the avalanche of medicines I'm about to pour into it. Not having an empty stomach helps.
I'm off to do some more boring house stuff. I'm sorting my clothes.....stacking to the right all the "best" stuff..and to the left all the "you look like a rag muffin, cleaning the house, washing the car, and painting" stuff. I'm going to do a little pitching out ..much needed task and that should keep me in the closet all day!
Have a great Sunday.

Friday, June 14, 2013

June 14th, and Thirty Five Years

Where to start. Thirty five years ago, I was in Golden Colorado along with April and the husband. The travel trailer was parked beneath the cliffs and the free jumpers were sailing off that cliff and spiraling their way to the ground. The year was 1978 which seems so far away now. I can still remember the warm weather, the water in the stream beneath those cliffs and the lazy days of reading novels for entertainment. There was no cell phones nor Internet. Time was spent outdoors as long as the weather permitted. We are in the Rockies and the summers are short and not to be wasted cooped up in an enclosure with walls and ceilings. That will arrive soon enough with snow hip deep, biting winds and below zero temperatures.

And mostly that's how it began. Today is our 35th anniversary.  The next twenty years would find us all over the USA. Eventually we arrived here in Lafayette, Louisiana, a home, grandchildren and settled. I still like the road but I like it even more that I have a home base now.

 I  got a new Garmin 50 Nuvi. How appropriate for someone that likes to be on the road. You might have thought a nice diamond ring or bracelet would have been warranted. I have those. I wanted a GPS. A new one. My old one is dated and can NOT be updated. This new one has lifetime updates via computer. I'm happy and satisfied.

The only other acceptable and desired gift would have been a trip abroad. We will do that but it will be delayed until I am finished with treatment and strong again.

Speaking of treatments, my next door neighbor appeared at my door last evening. She came with her husband to tell me of being newly diagnosed with breast cancer. This woman came to console me when she found out about my diagnosis.

Thankfully, hers is in the ducts only and she will have a lumpectomy and radiation. It still jars one when the label of "cancer" has been applied to you. Amid moments of  tearfulness, she told of her appointments, biopsy and scheduled surgery.

In moments of jocularity, she comments, "I guess we now have something more in common!"

As they left she looked over her shoulder, smiled and said "Geeze, couldn't you have had something like the flu."

She is a very positive person; a lover of a good bottle of wine and a story teller. Things are always poppin when she is around and laughter is plentiful. She will have her moments when the laughter dries up but I don't think it will be for long. She will bounce back and move on. We just don't have a choice with this.

I've enjoyed a couple of cups of coffee, sweetened with liquid Hazelnut creamer. I have almost given up coffee. When the husband is out of town, I neglect to even brew a pot electing to go through the drive through at McDonald's and get a "senior cup" of coffee. Forty cents lighter, I'm sipping my favorite coffee and I don't have to pour away most of what's left in a home brewed pot.

I've consumed my boiled egg and a slice of toast, two cups of coffee and now it's time for medicines. I'll be dressing soon to make a trip to the mall. I want to get the husband the foot massager they have at Brookstone. Happy Anniversary Baby! It's been a most interesting ride!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday and Grocery Day

The sale papers arrived yesterday. The sales start today.
I peruse the papers, circling my needs with a yellow marker or sometimes transferring to a sheet of paper the name of the store and the sale item I'm interested in. It is less confusing when I make the list and follow it.

I'm watching the weather channel and the report on corn yields and the market price on feed corn and how it affects our food supply and the cost of what we are buying. I'm sure we are all aware we don't eat field corn but our beef, chicken and pork supply depends on it. If the price of field corn is high, it will be transferred to our meat  prices.

This means, I shop the sales and our menu depends on what is on sale. I would much rather do our shopping. The husband isn't as attentive to prices and sales as am I.

I want to get an early start this morning. The high is 93 and I don't tolerate heat well.

A short clinical note here: My stomach remains queasy. I am going to get some Pepcid today and try to remove the acid feeling. I ran the roads most of the day yesterday which keeps my mind occupied and distracted. If I sit around too much, I dwell too much.

I'm dressed and ready to go and that is my plan for today!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What to Do? When in doubt, go Shopping

During my early morning shower yesterday, an expected thing happened. I was facing the shower spray rinsing the shampoo out of my hair. Taking my hands, I ran them through my hair to help distribute the shower of water. I felt a veil on my face. Being abnormally fearful of bugs, I quickly swiped my hands over my face only to find my hands now had this veil on them. Hair. My hands were full of hair.

Losing hair is not a new event here. The difference is, there was so much more yesterday.

I'm going shopping. A blonde one day, a brunette the next, different lengths and different styles, I'm going to work it.

I might even like the "shiny head look"; a few scarfs, some hoop earring and a long colorful skirt paired with a white peasant blouse, I could dance in the streets of New Orleans and collect coins.

 Note to self: 1. learn to dance.

Today has been one week post chemo run. My stomach feels a bit better today and my throat is feeling much less sensitive to cold foods and fluids. My feet don't tingle when walking on the tile floors and yesterday I was caught in a spray of water as I was watering the garden and the flowers. No reaction at all.

I plan on being on the move today. I have to clean up the patio and the carport and put some tools away. The husband may be leaving the location tomorrow. I will have two days to clean up my mess. He won't be driving straight through but will get a hotel room on the way. I have plenty of time to clean up my tracks.

I'm going to put on a pair of raggedy shorts and t shirt and get outside to do some trimming with the weed eater before it gets hot.
I'm gone for a while!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Radiator Love

It's late. I'm tired. This will be a very short post. The husband is still in Kansas. He calls at least twice a day to check on me. Sometimes the conversations are short as he is on the job and busy.

I ordered a radiator for Elise's car, the Toyota. The Toyota used to be mine until Elise took it over a couple of years ago. Lately it had sprung a leak and Lessie (Elise) had been babying it along by putting in antifreeze frequently.

The plan was to start working on it this afternoon. I would buy the part and Elise would supply the friend that was to show up and work on it. Early this morning I pulled the radiator out of the car and then ran down to Advance Auto Parts to pick up the radiator. I had it in the car and almost all hooked up. I was having trouble with the lower hose getting the clamp in place. Her friend showed up and finished the hose and putting in a few more screws. I wanted to use my steam cleaner on the engine but it didnt' get done. The next time I have that car here, I'll clean it.

I'm about to drift off here. I keep backspacing to clean up my typos so it must be time for me to climb into my bed.

That's my update for today. Night....

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Stormy Weekend

I've spent most of this weekend doing nothing. I've been resting; it was mandatory. I'm hoping today is a day of activity for me. I don't want to hike a mountain or swim in the ocean. Going to Walmart and picking up a few groceries and other supplies would be enough of an accomplishment. If I feel really brave, I might try a trip across town to Sam's. You would think that this meant walking instead of just driving a car and getting in and out of the damn thing.

The husband left for Kansas a couple of days ago. The rig is having some problems so he is catching some free days right now. He calls a couple of times a day to check on me. Right now besides being tired a lot, the other complaint is the queasy stomach. I'm sure this will pass in a few more days. Tuesday will be a  week since the last chemo run and usually it takes about 8 days before I can drink cold fluids and touch anything cold with my hands and feet.

This coming week, I am going wig shopping. Just to get an idea of what's out there. I might opt for a scarf and big earrings or a baseball cap. I want to be mentally prepared for the next part of this journey and though it will still about three more months before I reach this part of the treatment.

Have I mentioned the garden? The husband has tried for years to grow vegetables. I've waited all those years for a bright red tomato to emerge. I absolutely love warm tomatoes from the garden. I could slice a few of them and eat only tomatoes every day.

Finally, the year of the garden is here. All that money poured into the previous gardens only to watch the tomatoes get too much water or not enough, this year's garden is fabulous!  The plants are huge. Squash plants balloon out and cover the center part of the garden with their huge leaves. The tomato plants are drooping with the weight of the green tomatoes hanging from them. I have already collected one ripe tomato. Squash,cucumbers and tomatoes..this garden is a success story. This can be attributed to the fact that the husband has been home for the past 3 months. His job has been slow so he has had time to instigate an irrigation system and keep it watered. Rain has been frequent which has helped. As he left town for this job, he cautioned about letting the garden die so each morning I wade through the wet grass in my stocking feet to check on it. We have had light sprinkling of rain daily so I havn't had to water it. The big fake owl what sits high on a metal pipe placed squarely in the middle of the garden watches over it for birds and squirrels. The temperature gauge points out the temperature in large red letters and the little picket fence gives the cucumbers a place to climb. Stepping stones surround the perimeter buried in a mulched walk way that gives access to the whole garden. The husband was meticulous in his garden planning. No mud has to be waded to get around in his area. I don't want to tally up the cost of this little hobby. I'll just enjoy the tomatoes and be grateful this garden is doing so well. 

I'm off to get dressed and get some things done before the sun rises and smothers us with heat and humidity.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Best Plans

I thought I would be up and about yesterday, not succumbing to the chemo run I had on Tuesday. I was sure I would be able to continue along on my normal routine so I made a date with April and Carrie to go shopping, have lunch and then to the movies. I stayed in bed until noon. I was just exhausted and sleepy.

I assumed that would be enough rest. It wasn't. We shopped, had lunch and then to the movies as planned. I felt so bad all I wanted to do was to get home and into bed.

The neighbors stopped by with a plate of food. I managed to make it to the door wrapped in a blanket and accept their offering though I had to turn down a visit so I could crawl back on the bed and sleep.

Neuropathy remains evident in my hands. My lips feel numb also. This is the third run of this chemo. I'm wondering, with these side effects, will it be changed to something else? The throat still feels closed up when drinking or eating solids.

I'm back to bed for a while.

Addendum: I phoned in to the clinic. They have 3 nurses on staff that man the helpline telephones. These nurses are there to take calls from patients regarding what is going on with them. I called and spoke with them about all the symptoms:
1. fingers on right hand float into strange positions.
2. calves of legs sore
3. lips feel stiff ..
4. nausea
5. tired and sleep all day

She said she would speak to the physician's assistant to assure me that there was nothing critical to be concerned about. I will report in again next week with the status of these symptoms.

She did say that the effects of this chemo is cumulative. Each time I get a dose, I might feel different as it builds up in the body. I thought I would be able to continue on my normal routine after this run but that proved to be a fallacy.

I have three more runs of this before I change to another. Knowing what to expect, I won't become so depressed when I have to rest more. It's normal and that's what I needed to know.
Hanging in's my only choice.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


The husband just left for Kansas. Am I worried? Well HELL yes! He is heading right into tornado alley. I will be very concerned until he finishes that job. He thinks it will take a full week and if the job comes up in west Texas, he will move to that one before coming home.

I had my chemo yesterday and the yesterdays post was about my reactions to it. Another thing I've noted is the loss of dexterity to my right hand. I remember thinking at the clinic it felt strange and the RN asking me if I had noticed in difficulty in buttoning clothes or doing things that required using my hands to pick up small objects, etc. I didn't have any problems until this time. It seems that this time I'm more sensitive to cold and walking across my tile floors in bare feet will set my soles to tingling. My throat reacts to anything I swallow. It feels as though there are scratchers lining each side of it and it drags on liquids or foods that I eat. I dread putting anything into my mouth because of this.

I'm dressed and making myself move. It would be so easy to climb back into bed and stay there the remainder of the day but I won't be caving into that desire. The more I move the better I will be. Proven fact!
I'm off to get showered and dressed. That's my update on the chemo run this week. The next time I go in, I will be getting an infusion to replace the oral meds I am taking. Same medicine but in infusion form and I'm hoping my insurance company pays for it. The infusion of Oxalplatin is 23,000.00 per run. That is totally ridiculous! I've already had 3 runs of it plus the three rounds of Xeloda at 5000.00 per run. Tell me the drug companies are making a fortune. I can understand why they are fighting so hard against Obama's "Affordable Health Care".

Before I climb upon that soap box, let me move away from this area and get a shower.
Happy, happy, happy...from Uncle Sy and Carrie.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Steroids and Roid Rage

The visit with the doctor went well. We got more infomation on what was to come. When this six months is up, I''ll have another six months of AGGRESSIVE chemo. I nodded as she said this and I knew what this meant. That chemo will wipe out WBC's, platelets and RBC's. I''ll be sick on thiis one and the least of it will be the loss of hair, eyebrows and eyelashes.

April has a plan for my bald head. She wants to use it for ads, sayings, jokes, etc. I'm listening to her proposal and it might add some fun to an otherwise grim six months. Of course the stuff will be washable and even some temporary tattoos stating, of course "I hate tattoos" or Tattoos are dangerous, Look what they did to my head." I'm sure April's twisted mind will generate better things for my head then I ever could compose.

Now to the Roid stuff. I get a heavy dose of Decadron to combat nausea at each chemo run. It is infused before the chemo. The last time I had chemo three weeks ago, I had forgotten how I felt when I got home. I was ready to climb the walls. I was on Skype with my nurse friend Kathy and she could see how I was behaving. Immediately she asked where the Klonopin was and instructed I take one immediately. Within 20 minutes I had started to lose the jitters and calm down a bit.

  • Today was not a good day. Again I felt my throat start to spasm and I knew what was coming. I was in the business office; April had went to get the car. The first thing that showed was my right hand. The fingers on it were not in alignment and I couldn't get my hand to flatten out. The RN had me sit down again and wait. I assured her I was fine, April was ready to escort me to the business office. I felt the jitters and the shakes. The business office is not accustomed to patients paying after treatment so usually it's difficult to find someone there during lunch hour. To make a long story short on this subject, it became a bit tense in that office and my anxiety level, already stimulated by the steroid Decadron, set me into a spin. April had went to get the car after asking me if I felt alright. She didn't believe me when I told her I was fine but she left anyway. Shortly after that my throat started spasming and I immediately clamped my hands over my mouth and nose and started breathing warm air into them and inhaling it. The   billing person called for the RN's and they arrived with warmed blankets and towels. Of course I was held for observation, while someone went to the front of the hospital to bring April in.

We waited for a while in the treatment room per doctors' orders.  As soon as I got home, I swallowed a Klonopin and waited for it to do it's thing. Eventually I was able to relax enough to take a nap.

I'll carry the Klonopin in my purse on my next chemo day and take it about half way through the infusion

That's my day. How was yours?.

Once Again, It's That Time

At 0400, I made my trip to the sofa. There is no reason for me to arise that early; it just happens.

I thought I would just check online, mail and FB and one thing lead to another and I was surfing the net for news, both world and local. More strife in Turkey. I wanted to find out what was going on as I kept getting clips of it on the TV but I was on the move lately and finally found the time to check it out. I posted a link from the Guardian to my FB page. I've read most of that article but posted it so I would have it to read again.

Today is chemo day. I know I've mentioned it in an earlier post. I have a few hours until my appointment. The first thing that will be done is a blood test to check my levels. If all goes well there, I will then visit with the oncologist and then be admitted to the outpatient area for the infusion. April and her laptop will sit beside me and my iPad. The nurses stop by to visit. We have a history together and I have worked with a few of them in the past.

The remainder of my day will be spent napping. I don't think it's the chemo but the fact that after getting up at 0400 hrs, I'll be ready to sleep this afternoon.

I've been watching the news reports on Michael Douglas and his throat/jaw cancer. I was amazed that it took so long for a doctor to find it and only after he went to Canada did a physician there detect it. Didn't someone here want to order a CAT scan and a PET scan? I'm confused about that part of his intervention/treatment.

I'm off to get a shower and drink something chilled. I won't be able to have anything cold for a while so I'll gulp a big glass of orange juice this morning and remove the remainder in the gallon jar from the fridge to the counter to let it warm up for this afternoon when I get home.

I'm gone.....have a great day..enjoy every hour..every minute..time is precious.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Escape for a Day

Carrie spent the night. By the time she got to my house, it was almost bedtime. I was tired and ready to crash and Carrie was worn out from spending all day in the pool.

This morning we headed for Baton Rouge. I packed a small suitcase in the event that for some reason we might not make it back. I like to be prepared. Carrie might spill something on herself or for some other reason need a change of clothes. I packed my meds and a change of clothes for me. Did I mention I like to be prepared?

We sailed down the highway, Carrie in the back seat writing in her journal. She had her iPod and plenty of entertainment. Her Poppy had Sirius radio tuned to a kids' program and she sang along, high and off key.

"Did you see that?" the husband questioned.

Just as I looked away, my brain recorded something on the highway, white and elongated. We passed by quickly before I could get another look at what lay on the shoulder of the interstate.

"It was an alligator!" the husband said.

I have NEVER seen a dead alligator on I-12. In all the years I have lived here and traveled that interstate, this was a  first. I still don't know what to think about this. What is going on in the swamps? We moved on....

Our first stop was to see Tiger Mike. He didn't want to cooperate and get up and walk around in the heat. He hid himself beneath a rock ledge and took a nap. Who are we to argue with a Tiger. We whistled and sang out his name. He rolled his eyes, swished his tail and ignored us.

The mall was our next stop and what a nice mall it was. It is so much bigger then the one here. Free face painting for the children, cookies and food samples, and a carousel that was another freebie today. The mall was packed. Doesn't anybody work anymore?

Our first stop was Sears and only because it was the closest store to where we entered the mall. Carrie wanted to shop for shoes. WOW....Sears had all their shoes on sale! Not only did Carrie buy a pair of shoes but her Poppy found a pair of sandals for himself.

Carrie had to wear her shoes out of the store so we boxed up her flip flops and let her prance along in her wedge sandals. Did I mention the large clear glass medallions that decorate the front of the silver sandals with the wedge soles? I thought she might be encouraged to get something a little more practical but I was wrong.

Carrie had a ride on the Merry Go Round and then.....

Lunch! Carrie and I shared a Mandarin plate while the husband had pizza. Eating at the mall is great. Everybody can have what they want for the price of a small walk around the food court.

There is a store called Brookstone that caters to adults and toys. No, it's not that sort of adult store.

It's full of neat gadgets, electronics and foot massagers. Ok, not full of but it does have things you won't find anywhere else. This is the store where the husband buys his helicopter toys that Carrie so loves. Remote controlled, he chases her around the house with the helicopters until he crashes into a wall or a sofa or the ceiling. Today he bought a case/keyboard for his mini iPad. He thought I should have one too for my full sized iPad but I had to decline. I like the keyboard I have and it's all I need.

Carrie and I wandered around and found ourselves at the massage chairs where another apparatus sat in front of them. A foot massager. Three different models and we tried all of them. One massaged only the feet. It was the cheapest one, while the other two did foot and leg massages. They were 400.00 and 600.00 respectively. When the husband found us, we were adamant about him trying them. He slipped off his sandals and took a seat. The three of us sat there and oooooed and ahhhhhhhed. It was great and later Carrie said it was her favorite thing we did that day. I asked her if we could return her sandals then. She grinned and walked away wearing her sandals.

A good time was had by all. The ride home was more of the kids' channel on Sirius. Poppy caters to Carrie's wants. He is the "fun" person while I'm the one that gets to do all the "unfun" things...clothes, cooking, baths, etc.

Tomorrow is chemo day. I dread it and it's not because of any adverse effects or reactions. It's a big reminder of what is going on with my body and it's a depressing day for me. The following three weeks I can usually put it some where back in my brain and carry on with living.

It's part of the diagnosis I suppose. It's always there and the worry is always there waiting to crowd back in to one's thoughts.

I'm off to visit the daughter. She is cooking. I'm eating. Sounds fair to me!

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I have always been a restless sort and a bit of a loner. I'm guessing those two attributes compliment each other.

While I'm here, I'm forever dreaming about being "there". Sometimes the gypsy in me makes for some lonely times but it doesn't stop me from wanting to climb upon the ribboned highway and speed away to parts known and unknown.

I plan most things and organize accordingly. I like my house to be tidy and organized. I have no patience for looking for my things. I want to know exactly where they are and I want them to be there when I need them.

Into the wind? That's another story. I could grab a suitcase, stuff it with clothes appropriate to the climate and nose my car up onto the ramp to the interstate. I don't always travel the interstates, the by ways are scenic and a place I like to loiter. Sailing into a small town and stopping at small shops beside the highway is a break time for me from traveling.

My gypsy feet are itching. It's summer and I want to be on the road. I've talked about Myrtle Beach, WV and closer to home, Galveston for a day or two. It's only a matter of time before something moves and I suspect it will be me.

I'm restless and I need a nice long road trip to blow some cobwebs from the brain. Sometimes I travel in silence; the radio turned off and my brain turned on. It's a great time for sorting and tidying up the grey matter.

I'm off to the shower and to get dressed. I don't want to spend today indoors. Happy Sunday to everyone.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

OK City is not OK

The husband received a call from  the coordinator that sets up the jobs and calls out the consultant and alerts them of a job that is "up" and to get prepared. He lives in Oklahoma City and this is how it went last night.

He has an app on his phone that sends out a warning when a tornado is eminent. He received the warning. It hit 30 minutes later.

Receiving the warning, he left his apartment building in his truck to look for shelter. Heading North was not an option so he turned south only to be informed via his app a tornado was on the ground there also.
The traffic was too much so he turned back and arrived at his apartment. Leaping from his truck, he dashed into his building just as his truck was picked up, spun around and slammed engine first into his apartment building. The damage is extensive. Hail damage pock marks the entire vehicle.

Pipe that was in the yard and used on the rigs is now a mangled mess, what can be found. Much of it is scattered around the city. I can imagine all the oil field equipment, pipes, pumps and other rig supplies that are indigenous to that area, being picked up and hurled through the air.

There is no electrical power, it's hot and humid. The husband invited this coordinator to head this way. We have plenty of room and plenty of air conditioning.

We know all about loss of electrical power and humid conditions after a storm. It's a miserable time.

Our hurricane season starts soon. We get a week's notice should one blow up and head our way. Tornadoes aren't so accommodating to the people in their paths. I'll take our hurricanes any time.

3 More Days

Clinically speaking:
Wooohooooooo, Chemo day on Tuesday! And I'll start back on the Xeloda for two weeks.
8 days post the Chemo day, I'll be back on room temperature everything. No more cold drinks or standing in front of the a/c vent. It's the type of chemo infusion that causes this. I have to say, it has not had as many side effects after that first dose. My submandibular glands no longer clench when I drink something that is not quite room temperature. My fingertips still tingle for those 8 days post treatment.

This treatment will mark the halfway point in the infusion of Oxalablatin (sp). There will be another infusion but I don't know what it will be. I'll continue on with the P.O. meds of Xeloda for the same amount of time. The Femara that halts the production of estrogen will be continued for 5 yrs. My hair, nails and skin remain intact. I'm waiting on the doctor to order an ultrasound of the breast which I'm sure will be followed closely by surgery. I'm waiting.

It's time to go fry an egg and have a slice of toast. I don't take any meds on an empty stomach and then I'm out of here to do some shopping!

Have a happy happy happy Saturday (Carrie loves to say "happy happy happy" from the reality show Duck Dynasty and Uncle Sy.