Tuesday, July 31, 2007

beautiful places

Today was a day to catch up on some chores. I changed our sheets, did our laundry and gave Don a haircut. Then I napped. I still have hair, so I asked Don to take some pictures of me around some of the really pretty spots here. Doris has lots more pretty spots, but these are just a few.

I feel really good and have no complaints. I could complain about this bandage, because it is really itching, but I’m just counting down the days until we get it changed. (3 more days) In the mean time, I have other things to distract me. Luke (Doris and Jerry’s 3 month old grandson) will come Thursday for the day. That’ll make that day so fun! Tomorrow night is a night that they have a visiting preacher at church, so that’ll be interesting. There you go! Church tomorrow and Luke Thursday and then bandage change on Friday.

I think Friday might be the day I lose my hair, too. (My chemo book says 7-21 days and the wig lady says people report 14 days to her. Friday is day 14 for me.) I’m just ready for that to happen, so I can figure out how I will cope with that. I think it will be with hats. I have 3 with me, so I’m ready. The last time I lost my hair it came back curly; that’s been interesting. I never lost all of it because I had so little chemotherapy, but I expect to lose it all this time. I hope it comes back curly, again. That’s kind of a treat. Color would be really nice, too, but I think anything I get will be what God wants me to have, so it’ll be good for me.

God is great: I thank Him for the hope of treatment, for family, friends and beauty to enjoy all around me. Thank you for being part of that!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Today was a great photo opportunity day, but we let it slip! We went shopping for wigs and it would have been a great time to take pictures, but we just didn’t think to do it. I had the camera in my pocket, but our brains must have been taking the day off. I didn’t buy a wig; it just looked so silly. I imagine that’s because I have hair and when I go in bald, the wig will look really good! We’ll see. She did tell me that her customers tell her that hair falls out on the 14th day. That’ll be this Friday for me. So, maybe on Saturday (or Friday!) I’ll go back in and buy that wig. I have 3 hats with me, so maybe I’ll just be happy with a hat. We’ll see.

Anyway, the pictures on the blog today are Grace with Raynie and Garrett reading a book to Elena. How wonderful it is to have older siblings and new babies! We sure miss the kids and are so grateful for nephews here to share their babies with us!

Today I’ve felt fine. God is so good! I did a better job of managing my meals and rest, so I’m sure that helps. My arm is beginning to itch and burn under the bandage on my PICC, so I’m thinking they may have to go to yet another kind this week when they change it. I’m thinking the alcohol is going to be another trauma, too, but I’ll be braced for it this time. After tonight it’ll only be three more days until I get it changed. Even if I’m allergic to this tape, at least the bruising will be some better, so it won’t be quite as sore. Also, this week Dr. Don will be changing my bandage and I will know that he is doing his very best to be gentle with me. I’ll have to behave because I don’t want to freak him out! This bandage changing session is important; he has to pass it by doing it right so that we can go home and do it. No pressure on him at all; ha! God will give us the strength; He always has. Besides I have lots of people holding my hand through all this. I feel so blessed that we’ve made it through two chemo treatments and are doing so well. We’ll get through this next one and then after 4 days we’ll see the doctor. Then we hope she’ll send us home for the rest. It’s wonderful here, but home will be so sweet!

I still am in awe that Judy and Aki and Doris and Jerry have just opened their homes and let us homestead with them. What a blessing to not have to be in a hotel through all this! Each time I think of it I find myself in another moment where my breath is taken away. God has such a plan! Doris is Don’s sister, but Judy is my friend from 7th grade in Japan. How many kids get to go to Japan, let alone keep friends from that many years ago??? All I know is that God is so good to me! Look at the notes on my blog; if they write to Mary Jo, then they are folks from years I spent in Japan and you’ll see lots of support coming from those people. That so blows me away. All the support is awesome and means so much to me. I thank God and I thank you!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The real July 29

This is really the July 29 entry. I don’t know why yesterday’s showed up as the 29th; no doubt I did something wrong, and I don’t know how to correct it, except to say that this is the real 29th.

Last night I woke up at 1:30 feeling nauseated! I thought, ‘Uh oh, it’s here.’ I went and got a bowl to keep by the bed and went back to bed. Every couple of hours I woke up nauseated, but never vomited. I was scared to go to church, thinking any moment I’d lose my cookies, as my mom used to say. Everyone else went to church and I slept until 11. I’ve been fine all day, with only a threatening headache. Maybe that nausea was the nausea part of a migraine? Maybe it was nausea due to the chemo? I don’t know, but it wasn’t anything I can’t stand. It was enough that we were both glad that we weren’t packing to leave for a flight to Hawaii, though!

I took it easy all day. I didn’t eat until around noon and then kept it light all day. Ruthie called me at a little after noon and the cell phone was in the bedroom and I was in the living room. I ran to catch it before I missed her call, and it was really good for me to see that I could move quickly, plus talk. Everyone had been gone all morning, and I was thinking I was sick. Her phone call brought me out of it and I got progressively better all day. Amazing what a phone call can do, huh?

I read in my chemo book that about 1/3 of all nausea during chemo is caused by anticipation of the nausea. I think that’s what I’ve had. I think I did too much yesterday and was exhausted; then I was too ready to have it. I’m hoping that tomorrow will be a regular day; I’m going to be sure I get enough rest and eat small meals during the day. Yesterday I didn’t eat right and ate a big meal in the evening. I’ll do better from now on.

Today I didn’t take any pictures, so there is nothing new to share. So, I've put on a picture of my precious PICC and then of the wrap I have for it. It needs to be wrapped enough to keep it from getting caught on things, but not enough to make me feel bound. God is good! The PICC works and I've found a way to live with it. I thank Him for it and for the wrap!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dr. Don

Today was supposed to be restful, but it went awry! We did sleep late, and that was nice. Then we went to the IHOP for brunch and that was nice. After that we intended to go to Wal-Mart and get heparin for my heparin flushes for my picc line. Wrong. They don’t have it. NOBODY has it! We looked all over at the Walgreens, CVS, and Krogers and nobody carries it. They could all ORDER it, but we had to have it today. You have to flush these deals every 24 hours. They made sure to tell us THAT, but they didn’t tell us we had to get them at the MD Anderson pharmacy. So, off we drove back to MD Anderson instead of taking a nap. Ugh. It takes an hour to get there no matter when you go, it seems. Anyway, we got the heparin and Don flushed my picc for the first time tonight.

We went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant tonight on our way to the Texas Opry Jamboree in Magnolia. It was a taste of small town Texas, sort of right on the edge of Houston. It was fun, but I was exhausted. We had great seats; right in the middle of the 3rd row from the front. A couple of Doris and Jerry’s friends have those seats regularly, but they were out of town this week, so we got to go get their seats. Way cool!

Two of the pictures on the blog tonight are of Dr. Don flushing my picc line. The picc line is doing just fine and Don makes a great doctor. I would really call it nursing, but he called himself the doctor and I’m not about to argue with him or demote him! He’s the best of whatever he is. God is good to give him to me! All of you, too! Thanks for being in my corner!

The other picture is my picc line all wrapped and ready for last night’s bath. I wrap it first in a plastic sleeve, which I tape around the edges. Then Jerry came in last night with an extra plastic bag and a couple of rubber bands suggesting that I make a second wrap just to give extra protection from water. If the bandage gets wet I have to go to the hospital to have them change it until Don gets cleared to do it. We couldn’t get that clearing scheduled until next Friday, so it’s imperative that I keep it dry. Jerry was my hero last night; what a great idea that was and it worked beautifully. God is so good to surround me with all this support! There was a lady in class with us the other day and she said she has to do all her own stuff because her husband can’t stand to look at anything medical or even her port. Man, sometimes you just don’t have choices and you make the best of situations, but you don’t leave your spouse just hanging out there alone! I felt so sorry for her and was reminded again how lucky I am to have Dr. Don! (I’m sure he’s not enjoying any of this, either, but he wouldn’t abandon me for a minute!)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Only one, fat, tired, real happy picture . . .

Man! I am SO tired, but happy and pleased with the day. The day started out with Donna writing to tell me that I was more like Kailan (her granddaughter who was diagnosed with leukemia at 4 and has battled it beautifully for over a year) because she had a picc. She said she hoped I didn’t cry every time they changed the bandage. Kailan hated it more than any of her treatments. It was the only time she cried, and she cried every time and Grandma and Granddad had to hold her down while they did it. LITTLE DID I KNOW! It was such a blessing that Donna wrote that to me!

I had suspected I was allergic to the tape from the bandage because it felt like I had a grease burn the whole time. Sure enough when they took it off it was all red. Part of the cleaning process is to rub three alcohol swabs around the whole area that was bandaged, starting with where the line enters and then in the three areas where it is stitched to my arm. Poor precious Kailan! Those holes would have been enough to make me cry, but when they went over and over all that area was irritated from the tape, I bent another bed rail AND cried. I didn’t sob and they didn’t have to hold me down; Don was standing behind me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t cry, too. He said, “You know what Donna meant about crying, now.” After we got past the alcohol it still was no picnic because she kept rubbing on iodine and then blotting and rubbing it dry. That’s a very sensitive spot!!! But it was way better when she put a DIFFERENT kind of bandage on that isn’t bothering me at all. If the worst thing I do is do anything like Kailan, then I’ll be proud. Jesus said to become as little children, so I’m going to call it good and thank Kailan for setting an example I could live up to! (I know that’s not what Jesus meant, but I’m going to grab for whatever I can to be pleased and still thank Kailan and God for her, her recovery, and her grandma and granddad!)

We went to two classes to learn how to take care of the picc line and we feel more confident about it. I did my chemo and the picc worked like a charm. It was so nice to just hook up and drip! I feel fine; exhausted but fine. One day the side effects will set in, but they haven’t yet. Tonight I’ve got a bandage that doesn’t hurt and a plastic wrap for it so I can take a real bath. Birdbaths are for the birds and people in a push. Now it’s time for a real bath (can’t get the bandage wet or we’ll have to change it; heaven forbid!!!) If I can make it until next week when we go back for chemo they’ll change it and I only have to squeeze the rail while they alcohol the place where the line enters and where the stitches are. I can squeeze the rail and get through that because God and Kailan will be holding my hand. I thank God for Kailan and all the others who have paved this road for me and who go along with me holding my hand like my Mom did when I went to kindergarten. God is so good.

We have decided to stay here until the 8th. We were going home tomorrow, but that was to pack to go to Hawaii. We aren’t going to Hawaii, so we’ll stay here until my doctor’s appointment on the 7th and then head for home on the 8th. That’s assuming all goes as expected, so cut me some slack here. If there are changes I’ll report them.

The bottom line is that I survived today with the help of Kailan and our Father. The picture is how it really is; photographers would be kind and get rid of the double chin and have me sit up straight; there were none here! Doris did the best she could with what she had to work with!

Thanks and Amen.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Baby fix!

Today has be a day of planning and unplanning! Yesterday we really thought we were going to Hawaii to house sit and do my chemotherapy. We even got the doctor part scheduled, but when I started reworking my airline tickets, the whole thing fell apart. It’s amazing the difference in the cost of tickets when the dates change. It got too complicated for me. The thing I’m supposed to be doing is de-stressing and suddenly it became a huge stress. That’s when I knew what we needed to do is go home. I had to undo all the plans we’d made for Hawaii and then start all over with plans to do my chemotherapy at home. I hope I can get all that done tomorrow.

I hesitate to say we will or won’t do anything because it seems like anything can change at any moment. I did talk to a doctor’s office in Lawton today that really impressed me with their compassion, so I hope we can schedule to work with them. Lawton is only an hour for us to drive and we only have 14 or so tarantulas to meet on the way instead of 14 million other cars like there are here! The drive to Lawton and home will be peaceful. It’s ALWAYS good to be home, too. I know people think we don’t like home since we travel so much, but we love home. It’s just that we love traveling, too. Right now, home will be a blessing.

It’s been such a blessing to have Doris and Jerry and Judy and Aki who opened their homes and made us feel so at home here in Houston! I don’t even have the vocabulary to adequately thank them. I’m really a poor guest because I’m either on the computer or asleep, so I’m not much company. They have been so good to just let me be and understand my comings and goings and time on the computer and napping. Besides that they take care of Don and FEED us wonderfully! Doris and Jerry have even shared their new grandsons so that we get our baby fixes. We miss all our kids so much. We hated missing the end of Bruce’s ball season. We’re missing a lot, but we got to see a lot before the season ended, too, so I aim to count the blessings instead of whine about what we’ve missed.

Pictures on the blog today are of Doris with their boys. Brett’s son, Luke was here today and napped on Doris’s lap and then later played in the floor in his own little ‘jungle.’ He’s such a sweet baby! The day before yesterday we went over to Stephanie and Gregg’s and caught Colter before he napped, but before I got smart and got the camera ready, he crashed on Doris’ shoulder. He’s a precious little guy, too. These little guys may be keeping me going. It’s sure hard to be here when we’ve only got to spend two days with our newest one! And Elena is growing up without us in Kentucky. That’s life and it’s sweet. We’re so proud of all of them and love these boys, too! God has so abundantly blessed us with family and friends. Thank you for being among our blessings.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Power Picc is a done deal!

Okay, I have little pride left (which is a good thing!), but I DO HAVE A POWER PICC! They can give me chemo or take blood without having to stick me, again, if I understand it right. I don’t mind having the thing sticking out on my arm, but I hate putting such sad looking pictures on the blog. I’m not sad, but I probably am as tired as I look. Anyway, it’s how the pictures report it, so it’s what you get, today.

I really feel fine, but I didn’t get a nap today. Putting in the Power Picc was an ordeal because they had to find a vein for it! They asked me if I needed a pill to calm me down and I said, “No, I think I’m plenty relaxed.” Famous last words! I need to learn that if they ever offer me a drug to relax me I should take it! They got a vein and the catheter wouldn’t thread into it (The vein collapsed.), so they had to find ANOTHER vein and go in with yet another catheter. All the while I’m squeezing the bed rail with all my might. After they finally got one threaded they told me what a strong woman I am; I asked, “Why, did I bend the bed rail?” So much for joking. Then they sent me for a chest X-ray to be sure the catheter was pointing in the right direction (toward my heart). It WASN’T! It had gone up my neck, so they had to do a power flush while I held my arm up and bent over with my head in my lap to make the catheter turn around and go down instead of up my neck. I didn’t even know I could get into that position! At least they didn’t have to stick me again! They sent me back to X-ray and the trick had worked, so I am the proud wearer of a Power Picc going the right direction, now! Whew.

Since the installation of the Power Picc took so long, I missed the chemo class, but they said if I read the book, I could be excused. Good deal. We already read the book. I did make my echocardiogram appointment and that went pretty well. It was more brutal than I expected because he had to push really hard on the left breast to get what he needed around the heart. I was so thanking God that the cancer is in my right breast because if he’d needed to push on my sore breast he would have had to sedate me. I didn’t have the energy to bend another bed rail! After he got off the top of my breast and was pushing around below it, it was interesting because I could quit grimacing and watch the ultra sound screen. He said my heart looked good and explained a lot of stuff as he went along; most of it went over my head and I’ll forget it, but it was interesting. The main purpose of this echocardiogram was to get a base for comparison as I go through the chemo because one of the side effects of the chemo is that it could damage the heart. God is in control of all this; I’m not worried about the heart or the cancer. If it’s time for me to meet my Maker, then I’m ready, but I believe He still has work and training for me here. This is all part of my training.

Don, Doris and Jerry have gone to church, but I stayed home to rest. Rest is good and I didn’t get a nap today; if I sat still for an hour in church I would surely go to sleep. We walked around the hospital a lot, so I did get some exercise. My arm is very sore; thank goodness my breast that had the biopsy is lots better and not so sore. I know there are lots worse things, so I’ve got to quit whining. We walked yesterday and a couple of huge dogs came running and growling like they were going to eat us alive. I almost climbed up onto Don’s shoulders! They stopped right at their gate, though! If they hadn’t stopped, then their attack would have been a lot worse than this ordeal today. God is so good; He knows I’m not up for a dog attack! (I was attacked 3 times my junior year in high school by a German shepherd [3 stitches], a pit bull dog, and a collie, so I lapse into terror when a dog runs at me growling and barking.)

A new blessing to count: the Power Picc! I hope you’re counting with me. I’ve lost track of the number, but I know it’s BIG because there are so many blessings for which to thank our Father. (That’s another one; we share the same awesome Father!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Today has been a really full day! I’ve talked to nurses all day off and on about first the port and then chemotherapy in Hawaii!

We scheduled the port to be put into my arm tomorrow. I think I know what is happening, now, but I’ll explain it tomorrow to be sure I tell you right. I believe it is a power picc that will be used for giving my chemo as well as for drawing blood and injections for ct scans. That’s my understanding, but tomorrow I should know for sure.

I talked to the nurse in Hawaii today and she was unclear about my orders, so I talked to the nurse here and got the two of them together so that they can get the orders straight. I didn’t even know what my orders were, so I learned that, too. My orders are for me to have a treatment each week for 12 weeks, and then I will go to a different kind of treatment, which will be a treatment every 3 weeks instead of each week. That second round of treatments will last for 12 weeks, too. I also talked to the nurse in Hawaii about Don’s fears about what if I have problems while in Hawaii. She assured me that they can take care of whatever complication might happen and that the hospitals there are very capable of whatever I could need. It’s not a DONE DEAL, but we’re leaning that direction, again. We had been leaning toward staying home for the treatments, but it’s looking more like we’ll go to Hawaii, now. I’m excited about that.

I figure I can lose my hair anywhere; Hawaii is good for that! I can be sick anywhere. When I was a kid I got sick every time I felt motion and my mom carried a barf bag everywhere we went. I can do that, again; I’ve had lots of practice. Maybe I won’t even get sick! The other side effects are joint pains and dry skin; why not Hawaii? So, we’re leaning toward Hawaii. We’ll decide for sure before this week is done.

The pictures on the blog today are pictures of Don and I as we hold Elena when she was about a week old (back in early March) and pictures of Don and I last week as we held Raynie when she was just about a week old. These have got to be the glory days for us! What a great year this has been; two new granddaughters and three new great nephews! God so richly blesses us and we give thanks for these precious little people in our lives. We thank Him for you, too. Thank you for your love and prayers.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Don and I walked today and spent some time sitting in the sun, so that was good for us. We haven’t had a chance to do either in a while, so it was refreshing.

I talked to a couple of people today about getting my port done this week. There is a chance it can be done on Thursday, and I am so excited if that can really happen! The port is a thing they install in my chest to use for the IV chemo treatments. That will be so much better than using my arm for a pincushion until they can get a vein that will work. Normally it takes a couple of weeks to get scheduled for a port, so if I can get one Thursday, that will be in time for Friday’s treatment and I will be so thrilled! If you want to read more about it go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port-a-Cath

I am not feeling anything more than tired right now, so I’m very pleased to report that! Let’s keep praying that my body will remain strong with these treatments!

I’ve pictured all the other kids on the blog, but I only speak of Mason. He is always on the move, so it’s sometimes hard to catch him still for the camera. Often he is a blur in our pictures. Also, he is fearless, so often he has a big cut on his face or something, so that’s another reason it’s hard to get a good picture of him. He has good looks to spare, though, so his scars will give him character and keep him from being too pretty. I went back and found some, though, so you can see the sweetheart that he is and have face to go with his name.
We thank God for Mason and all our family and friends. Each one is special and we can’t imagine life without any one of our kids or grandkids. It amazes me the capacity God gives us for love; I believe love is what He most expects and wants from us: love of God and love of our fellow man, not just family. Thank you for your love!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Some things never change . . .

Today I’ve been going through pictures and couldn’t believe how much little Raynie looks like Grace! I EXPECTED her to look like Grace, but I didn’t think she did so much until I went back and looked at these pictures. Mason was such a fat little guy that I keep thinking of him when I see Raynie and her little fat cheeks. But, when I look at these pictures I think I might be blind! There’s no doubt she’s one of the family; that’s for sure!

We miss them all so much. This is such a special time, and we sure hate to be missing it.

The pictures on the blog today are for you to compare the sisters. Grace is in the red white and blue outfit and the others are Raynie. See if you don’t see the likeness. Of course Don never changes!

I’m still feeling fine. I have no nausea and am eating with no sore mouth or anything. I still have all my hair! Ha! I guess I expect all the symptoms to hit me at once, but I’m feeling nothing different so far.

It’s wonderful to be with Doris and Jerry. God is good to put us in families, isn’t He? Then on top of that blessing He gives us friends! Wow! God is Great! To Him be the glory!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

July 21

We have enjoyed a day with Doris and Jerry. We moved here today from Judy and Aki’s house. It was wonderful at Judy and Aki’s house, but we thought they should have their house back after we had invaded them for the last two weeks. We are PROFUSELY grateful to them for opening their home and their hearts to us. Judy took us everywhere and sat with us for hours on end in the clinic! Word cannot express how much better they made this time for us! They turned what could have been very stressful into a great reunion!

I am feeling fine, only very tired. I say that, but I have to tell you this funny thing. I don’t eat much red meat at all, but Don insists that I start eating it to help to keep my red blood cell count up during this chemotherapy. So, Don’s favorite dinner is hamburgers and mine is pinto beans; of course Doris made that for supper tonight. I was amazed and remarked at how delicious my burger was for dinner. As we were cleaning up the dishes we noticed a burger left on the plate . . . I had skipped putting my burger onto my sandwich. I just had a tomato, onion, pickle and mustard sandwich . . . and LOVED it. Maybe the chemo IS affecting me! They talk of chemo brain around here and I think I must be getting it. If it gets no worse than this, I’m in good shape. I’ll be fine, anyway; I’m sure there will be worse days, but I’m braced for them and have great support.

We took pictures of us in Doris and Jerry’s back yard. We love it out there. They have mockingbirds that are really entertainers, but I couldn’t catch them with the camera, yet. Maybe I’ll get them before our week is done.

Thanks for looking and loving us. God is so great and we thank Him for you and all our rich blessings.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Day one of chemo.

We didn't think to bring the camera to the chemo treatment tonight, so I don't have pictures of that. It wouldn't be a pretty picture, anyway. They haven't got a port or central line in me, yet, so they had to poke around to find a vein. The nurse couldn't find one, so he had to call someone from the 'vein team.' She had to stick me twice before she got one that would work. (The central line means they install a port which becomes a part of me for the duration of all this chemo. Then they stick the port instead of me each time they need to drip something into me. That will be wonderful to have!)

As soon as they started the chemo and I wasn't having a reaction they said I could go to sleep. God gave me the gift of sleep, so I went right to sleep. It was hard to get up and come home.

I don't feel sick or anything; just sleepy. So, I'm going to pick out some pictures for the blog and go to bed.

Tomorrow we will leave Judy and Aki's home and go to Doris and Jerry's. We only have appointments at the clinic on Wednesday and Friday next week, so we can drive in from Doris and Jerry's house and return Judy and Aki's home to them. They have been so hospitable and have made this time so stable for us. It's been really fun to be with them, too. What a blessing! Judy has been terrific to drive us everywhere and even sit with us for hours on end. Tonight we went out to eat and then Judy and Aki dropped us off at the clinic and came back and picked us up after we were done with the treatments. We were supposed to start at 8, but we didn't even get started until 9:15 and then it was a half hour before they ever got the IV going. They have jigsaw puzzles in all the waiting rooms around here. That is right up my alley; I love working on puzzles. I'm amazed that they have those and it's something that I like so much.

The pictures on the blog tonight will give you some insight into the guy that Gabe is. He's amazing. I caught him in the first one, just laying on the sofa gazing at Raynie as she slept on the sofa. He is the 'nanny' of all the kids. They are all loving and love to hold the baby, etc., but he is the caregiver to the max, and has been with each of the babies born after him. It's amazing how sensitive and tender he can be, and still be the macho guy that he is. In the next picture he is down on the floor building with boxes I brought for them to use as building blocks. Nate is helping, but you see that Gabe is down there giving it 100%. Then in the last picture he is proudly showing off the lizards they have. I think they are named Chocolate and Chip. Gabe loves them just like he does his snake and all the frogs he caught at our house. He takes care of everything from creatures to baby sister and Mommy. Notice in all of the pictures he is wearing the pink hat he got in Mexico on the trip he took with his Dad last summer. That hat is nearly a part of him; he left it at our house the last time he was there and was really thrilled when I brought it to him this time. I wanted to wash it for him, but that would have ruined it in his eyes. :) He's one of my heroes. How lucky am I to have 15 heroes!

I'm disappointed that I hardly have any pictures of Nate and nearly none of Mason. Mason is always on the move, so it's hard to catch him in a photo. I'll have to concentrate on getting pictures of him the next time we see them. Gabe, Sadie and Grace don't mind smiling for pictures and stopping for them, so they are easy game for Grammy and the camera!

Thanks for checking in on us. Have a great weekend and count the blessings with me. God is great!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Whew; finally a plan is taking shape.

It seemed like the morning drug on until we finally left and went to have lunch at the hospital and then went for our appointment at 1 p.m. We got all the news, and then started scheduling and everything was happening so fast. I feel like I'm spinning.

The most important thing: all the scans were clean. There seems to be no cancer anywhere else in my body besides the one breast and the nodes under my arm.

Because of the cancer in the nodes under my arm (they tested one and it was positive for cancer; there are up to 9 more which they did not test but look suspicious, much like the one they tested), they feel that there could be other cells circulating around in my body. They want to begin chemotherapy as soon as possible to get any of those cells that could be loose and looking for a place to set up camp.

Also they want to do the chemotherapy before surgery because it may cause the mass in the breast to shrink. Cancer cells grow not only from side to side and top to bottom, but also from front to back. (Understand this is my lay terms that I offer to you from what I understood they told me.) If the chemotherapy can shrink the mass, then they won't have to dig so deeply into my chest cavity when they remove the breast. That struck a familiar note with me, because when my mom had her breast removed I remember they had to scrape the bones to get it all. I honestly believe this is an inherited cancer, so I like the idea of shrinking the cancer before they go in to remove it. Until she explained that to me today, I was very frustrated that they weren't doing surgery first. I get it, now. I'm ready to start the chemo tomorrow!

I will do 3 months of a Chemo called Taxol. Likely I will be nauseated and my hair will fall out. I was motion sick most of my life, so I'm good with a burp bag. About half my hair fell out with the chemo I had in Tijuana, and it came back curly, so I can deal with losing my hair. Maybe it'll come back curly and maybe even with some color this time! Besides, my favorite hair is gone hair, so I'm the best person in the world to lose my hair. I'm okay with it.

Then I'll do 3 months of another Chemotherapy that uses 3 drugs; I think it's FAC. I'll learn more about that when we get closer to that time. (By then it'll be winter and I'll get to wear some of those knit hats!)

With the Taxol they tell me comes steroids which will make me gain weight. Oh, joy. Well, at least I'll know what's doing it to me, and I've been battling the bulge for the last 20 years, so this won't be new, either. At least I have a villain to blame and battling the bulge is way better than being dead. I can deal with it.

After 6 months of chemotherapy I will take a month to build my immune system and then we'll do surgery. After surgery we'll do 6 weeks of radiation; I think one treatment a day 5 days a week. My mom did that, so I can do it. I have only great examples set for me.

We are working to see if we can get an oncologist in Hawaii to do some of my chemotherapy according to instructions my doctor here gives. If we can get the doctors to agree, then we will make it happen. If it doesn't work, then we won't. Our friend in Hawaii is open for us to come or not, so we will if we can. If we can't it won't be the end of the world. God will open the doors if it works for His plan. If it doesn't fit into His plan, then we're good with it.

All that is certain now is what I have told you. Tomorrow we will be working on scheduling to make it all happen. They are pretty amazing here. Today I had to have blood pulled since we're doing chemo tomorrow and the girl was real ugly and snappy to me. Of all the people I've seen since we've been here she was the first who had missed the bedside manner training. Everyone else has been wonderful to me. I felt sorry for her; she must feel so out of place!

The pictures on the blog are Don and I dipping sukiyaki last night and then us at dinner tonight with Jim and Ann Nelson. Jim is another Itazuke alumni and his wife Ann is here having radiation treatments. It was wonderful to get to join them for dinner tonight at the Black Eyed Pea. God is so good to put precious people in our lives when we need them. He is so amazing! Thank you for being some of those precious people who God gives us right now. I thank Him for you and our many blessings!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hello from Houston! We made it all the way here in good time, today; we were surprised how easy the trip went. Maybe we’re getting good at this trip! Our appointment with the oncologist is tomorrow at 1. I expect to be spending most of the afternoon at the clinic, but that is likely another case of faulty expectations. I hope to be able to give a good report on tomorrow’s blog.

We know that I have cancer and we know that I am likely to lose both breasts. I only have cancer in one breast, but the kind I have has a tendency to recurr in the other breast, so I'm so ready for both of them to be GONE! I don’t consider that a loss. I consider that a fight in the cure. I didn’t have breasts before I was 12 and I can remember those were great times; I’m not afraid to go there, again! We expect to have chemo, we just don’t know if it will be before or after the surgery. We don’t know what particular chemo will be prescribed nor what the time schedule will be; it will depend on the specific kind of cancer I have and what my receptors are. (I don’t even understand what it is I’m saying, so if you’re confused, join the crowd.) I don’t know if they will recommend radiation or not. Whatever they recommend I will do to the best of my ability and give thanks to God for their expertise.

I miss Summer Rayne and all her siblings so much! I think I talked to them two or three times today, and they are doing fine. The good thing about visiting is that it was so awesome, but the bad thing is leaving is so hard!!!

We talked to Davy today and he reported that the guys are doing great at their world series in Memphis. Man, we sure hate to be missing that! It’s good to be able to get the reports from Davy, though. The boys are playing well. They’ve lost one game, so they can’t lose another, but they are a great team and they have the ability to recover from a loss, so we’re very confident. Of course they’ve done well to have come this far, but I’d love to see them go all the way; they are so awesome in my eyes.

Aki and Judy prepared Japanese Sukiaki tonight for our dinner. We even used chopsticks! We took pictures that I will put on the blog tomorrow if I get time to do that. My basket of blessings is so incredibly full and I give thanks! Thank you for keeping up with us! The pictures on the blog tonight are Sadie holding Raynie, Gabe holding Raynie while we play canasta (Nate overseeing) and Grace overseeing as Trish feeds Raynie . . . great memories for Grammy and Poppy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's been another way full day of fun with the Oglesby clan. I found out that Mason's job is to take the dirty laundry down to the basement for Nate's management. He has to gather it from the upstairs bathroom and take it down two flights, so that's a big help to Mommy! He does his fair share of catching bugs to feed the lizards, too. I'm sure he's really good at that task!

Raynie is doing beautifully. She is a really good baby. The first picture is of Rob and Trish with her and the next two are just her. She has had some trouble latching onto the breast for breast feeding, so Trish has been faced with the challenge of pumping and filling bottles for her to eat. It's working great and all the rest of us have sure enjoyed feeding her. We never got to do that with any of the other kids because they all readily nursed. This is more work for Trish, but it's a joy for all the rest of us.

We have the clock set to get up at 4:30 in the morning to get us all loaded and out of here before the traffic gets heavy here and arrive in Houston before the traffic gets heavy there (is THAT possible???). It's a longer drive from here than from home, but interstate all the way. It'll be some new area for us to cover, so that'll be kind of interesting. Don will let me sleep right away and then I'll be ready to drive if he gets sleepy along the way. We do good trading the driving . . . since he takes the biggest shifts by far!

We are anxious to get to Houston and get with the program, whatever it is! I'll report to you on this blog as soon as I know any plan. I'm ready to start whatever they want to do yesterday! God is teaching me patience, but I have a lot to learn! I am thankful, though. I know that we are so richly blessed and I give Him thanks! I thank Him for all the distractions to help me since I'm not so good with the patience demand! Thanks for looking and thanks for praying and counting the blessings with us! God bless us all!

Meet Summer Rayne!

This day has been so wonderful for us. It started out a little hairy because we had mail that really needed attention, so we left Hobart about an hour later than we wanted. It was good that we came home and got to that mail, though. (Just tax issues over our business; nothing all that hairy, just details that needed to be addressed and we did it.)

Once we got to OKC, though, and go to the Oglesby house it was so wonderful. We had stopped and brought sandwiches for lunch and they eat anything, so that made it fun. Then getting to hold Raynie was so special. I never can understand how we have the capacity to love yet another child! It's such a lesson to me in God's love. I think that's how He wants us to love everyone, not just our grandkids. I hope I can grow to be that kind of person because it sure feels good.

All the kids are amazing. Sadie cleans the sink and loads the dishwasher. Gabe takes out the trash, Nate clears the dishes and cleans the table and totes the laundry up and down the stairs and manages the laundry downstairs. Grace folds and delivers laundry. Mason . . . I'm not sure what Mason's job is, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't do it until he's been told a million times. Maybe his job is to wash his hands and stay out of trouble because that seems to be the instructions he's getting a lot. He's a case and we'll figure out his job. They all are special. They all love the baby, and they are all good to each other. They are good eaters and they give great hugs and kisses. They never seem to be tired of seeing Grammy and Poppy, so it's always good to be in their presence.

Trish seems to be doing really well, but she's really tired. We had a chance for me to trim her hair tonight. She just needed the dead ends off, so we got that done. Tomorrow we're going early in the morning so that she can get a good soaking bath before we go run some errands. We are staying at a motel nearby because taking me anywhere is like taking a baby there is so much to take. We didn't need to be dragging in more stuff to their house. We're close, so we can go if she needs us, but they've got it all under control.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It's good to have all this great activity and love to fill our time waiting for the appointment with the doctors on Thursday. God is so smart! I thank Him for being in control. I thank you for caring enough to read our details and Him for you.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Today was a wonderful day to be at home. The sun was shining and everyone was so kind and gentle and loving. It was great. The basement remains dry. Whew!

I did laundry from last week's travel and got us ready to go again. We're so excited to get to go meet our precious Summer Rayne tomorrow and see all her siblings and mom and dad! We can't be more proud . . . but tomorrow I'll have pictures and THEN I bet I'll even be more proud! It's amazing how good God is to us. We'll get up early in the morning and load the car; go eat breakfast (Dorothy and David are joining us.) and then we'll collect the mail and head for Oklahoma City. Don says we'll bring most of the mail back here and leave it; good idea, but it'll take time, so I'm not liking that part. I'm in such a hurry to get to OKC!

We'll spend Monday and Tuesday in OKC and then we'll be on the road to Houston, again. I remember when we used to travel for the fun of it. Now we have fun in spite of the reason for our travels. Friends and family make it fun even if we're going to see doctors. It was more fun traveling to Branson to see Pierce Arrow. Oh, well. Times change. We do what we have to do. God takes care of us and sends us where we need to go and puts the right people in our lives at the right times. Thank you for being some of those people. God bless. I promise pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Praise the Lord! We made it home without a problem. On the way we called home to see if our Canasta buddies wanted to join us at the Mexican restaurant to eat supper since we don’t have any food in the house. Bingo! They had all planned to get together and play cards, so they came into town and joined us for dinner and then we played at our house. We only played 2 games, so we’re about to hit the sack.

After the games I gave Don a haircut, so we got that detail nailed. Now, Don gets a shower and I get a bath. The basement is dry! Bill did a great job vacuuming out about 80 gallons yesterday, and it has been good since then! We thank God, again for wonderful friends and no more rain!

It will be good to go to church at home tomorrow. Then I’ll round up all the things I wished I had in Houston and we’ll be ready to head for OKC. THEN we’ll get lots of pictures of Summer Rayne and her brothers and sisters for the blog.

Today’s blog is Summer Rayne and sweet Grandma Rosie turned up right. Now we can all look at her without looking crooked. I should have done that sooner, but I couldn’t think how to do it. The other pictures are of me drinking the barium junk before my cat scan and then right before they started looking for the veins. I was pretty happy because I had all 3 cups of barium consumed and I didn’t know I was about to be a pincushion. I loved over it. God is good and we’re almost there to see the baby. Oh, happy day! Count the blessings with me!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Yeah, right! Judy was acting like she'd drink my icky stuff (barium) that I had to drink before the cat scan. I got it down. Then they had a hard time getting a vein for the cat scan. Judy was taking a picture of my grimace, but it looks like she got me asking for God's help in the other picture; He got 'er done.
Judy has been so awesome to take us there and stay with us all day! It is really such a comfort to have her with me in those ugly times, like when they can't get a vein. It's also a comfort to know that she's out there in the waiting room with Don when she can't be with me, too.
We don't have a thing planned for here until next Thursday when the appointment is with my oncologist. They didn't have anymore pathology report to give us today and they didn't have any results from any of today's tests. They just kept saying, "Your doctor will go over all this with you in your appointment." So, we're not staying. We're leaving for home in the morning. We'll go re-plan our packing; check out the new water in the basement; go to Tricia's on Monday after we get the mail; stay there until Wednesday morning, and then head back to Judy's house Wednesday night.
Our next door neighbor and preacher, Bill has pumped 80 gallons of water out of the basement today. We fear there might be lots more and really don't want to monopolize his time; everyone in town leans on him and his expertise is much more valuable than to wear him out pumping water out of our basement! We have our taxes waiting for us in the mail, too. We'll get them out of the mail on Monday morning at 9 and then beat it to see that Summer Rayne and her family!
We're in good shape. We are leaning toward doing the chemo here. We'll just have to wait and see what all the doctor has to say on Thursday. The waiting is a bummer, but we'll stay distracted. I'll keep you posted the best I can.
I love you all so much for caring enough to constantly check on us. God is so good. Count the blessings with me.