Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Technical Difficulties

Tuesday August 31st, 2010

I'm glad you're able to find me again. I didn't know of the situation of my blog not being where it used to be, I was able to find it somehow until people started calling me. Ray fixed that problem. Thanks Ray.

My technical difficulties started Sunday where I was just VERY uncomfortable and my abdomen had been getting larger. Is it ascites again? Am I just severely constipated? I was still eating. I was checking my ankles for swelling and if I had wet lungs. I know I wasn't "moving" like I should, then again, I'm eating several small meals. I started taking my Colace and prunes and felt bad that I couldn't be peppier around our guests. I guess all the fruit and veggies I've been taking in isn't enough. Believe you me, this is the healthiest I've been eating.

Sunday during the night I was up more than not in the bathroom, moving and grooving. Yeah! However come Monday morning, I was even more bloated and boy was my abdomen painful for most of the day. That's why I didn't blog, I was worn out from the pain and discomfort and who wants a whole day of someone praying to pass gas? Sorry if I'm grossing you out again, I do cross the line once in a while. Maybe I should've asked my sister to pick up something for it. I don't want to be a pill popper, you take one pill for this but for that side affect, take that pill. Let nature take its course. Thank goodness my family is now out most of the day and my dad is hard of hearing. :o) Maybe I'm stupid because my symptoms could've been relieved a lot sooner if I did take another pill. Our dad had bought me a scale to weigh myself to see if I'm putting on too much weight too soon, I'm still 147 lbs, so I'm assuming it's not the ascites? I did finally put the puzzle glue on the 1,000 piece puzzle before that gets accidentally knocked over. I'd freak if it'd fall apart. I think the box cover had been tossed out. I put the names of those who helped me work on it on the back and the date it was finished.

Monday night, same thing, bowels moving in the middle of the night. The advantage, no one else is up and the bathroom is available. The disadvantage, I don't get my sleep. My belly was feeling less tight but it's still hard to sleep, I had the munchies again which I sated with a bowl of cereal and then this roundness of an abdomen is hard to get a comfortable position with. The back pain still creeps in and the "rubbing" of ribs against my insides doesn't help. I sat up and worked on my photo albums thus organizing some of the things I brought from home.

Today one of my coworkers came to visit, Paulette. She's such a sweetheart. She brought some bacon buns, peach turnover and flowers. She had brought a special gift which she had gotten 15 years ago. She blessed my liver with this gift. She had blessed her friend with a brain tumor with the same gift and now her friend's tumor is shrinking. While I was laying down to relieve my back pain, I told her that I felt a weird tickling, tingling sensation in my liver while we had been talking. I hope it's a good thing. After she left I laid down in the bed and was able to get some relief from my back pain. I did take a nap. When I awoke I was thinking about the lysing of the cancer cells and called the lab @ the VA. I asked Renee if they can pray for the hemolysis of my cancer cells and everytime they get a hemolyzed specimen from the ER that the tumors shrink. I should be cured by the end of the night, just teasing. I LOVE YOU GUYS!

It's funny, yesterday I was all bloated with abdominal pain, today it's all back and rib pain, both sides. The abdominal pain is there but not as bad as the back pain. I wonder if I get in a pool if all this heaviness inside would just float and I'd be relieved from pain and shortness of breath. Then I can get a big dunking tank and sit in there all day. I'm trying not to always use a pillow on my back or lie flat on my back but most of the time it's the only position that works. I don't need bed sores in addition to everything else I have going on. I try to lay on my sides as tolerated. Or I could just take the Tramadol I've been prescribed. Getting rid of the cancer would be the optimal goal. I would LOVE to have an entry like that, "Thanks for all your prayers, well wishes and kindness and FYI, the BASTARD has left the building."

I do hope to feel better, my brother asked if I'd be up for Taste of Polonia this weekend @ Lawrence and Milwaukee. We've been attending the fest for the past several years, as long as I got my ride, a wheelchair, I'm set to go. They used to serve Okachim (sp?) but they had a different beer last year. Either way, I won't be having any. They have platters you can buy with potato pancakes, pierogis, Polish sausage, and cabbage rolls. That'd be well over my 2gm Sodium diet but just a taste of everything would cure my craving. I'll leave you with the thought of good Polish food.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Time is a precious gift

Sunday August 29th, 2010

Hi, it's the insomniac here getting in my usual midnight bathroom runs and snacks. I forgot to mention yesterday something very important. It actually was told to me on Friday, after Marie's game. See, I knew how bad Marie wanted to be on her varsity volleyball team and how sad she was @ not making that team. Her mom told me after her win on Friday that she had missed a few days of tryouts for varsity to spend those days with me in Wisconsin Dells. That really touched my heart. I couldn't be more proud of her, someone so young making a choice like that, to give up something you set your heart on to be with someone special in your life. I never had a child but really enjoyed helping raise her. I told Joyce & her family what she had done for me and I couldn't help but praise her and hug her and of course I started crying. Marie came to me later last night and we talked about it and we held each other's hands. I told her that I wish I was her Godmom and that I'd be her unofficial one. I remembered when she was little and I had her out & about, she asked me if she could call me "Mom". I told her "no" at that time and followed, "because if you're bad, I can say, 'Wait til we get home & I'll tell your mom'", that way people would know the misbehaving child wasn't mine. To tell you the truth, she never misbehaved. I was there when she was born and I enjoyed watching her grow with all the milestones she's reached thus far and I hope to experience more. She has a lot of good values. One fun thing I'll always remember, she was way too young to see our brother and her "gumpa" (grandpa) when they were in the ICU's at their respective hospitals when they were ill. She didn't care what was waiting for her on the other side of the door, them with their tubes and all, she told the hospital staff, "That's my uncle/gumpa in there" and she wasn't going to let age keep her from seeing them. That's what you get by having too many medical people in the family. She's been very brave and comforting when I have my little breakdowns since I started this journey. Summer is over, school is in session, it's time to let her be a teenager. Don't get me wrong, I do love my other nieces and nephew, I just spend the most time with Marie.

We had quite a few visitors over today, and not just for me. My brother had 2 friends stop by, my niece's buddy down the street came to watch a movie with her, our sister came with her sister-in-law & her 2 kids and my friends Eric & Jane came with my goddaughter who I haven't seen in about a month. Marisa got a new haircut & she looks like an Asian doll. She's starting to walk with assistance and at first she was scared of our dogs but warmed up to them after a while. She's talking more and I swear she grew taller since I last saw her. I wish I could hold her and not be afraid of my swollen, tender belly getting in the way. It's nice to catch up with friends. Visitors are motivators to get my butt in the shower and I did get a few things tidied. If you look real hard with a microscope. I move like a turtle, slow and easy. I pray for more energy some days. Did I ever write that I wished my cancer was in my left foot? (I used to say right, but I'd need that for driving.) I'd prefer it there because I'd be able to breathe, eat and probably still fit in my clothes and not look pregnant. If they'd need to take if off, I think I'd handle it better.

I wasn't able to make it to mass today, but I did speak with my friend, Mac. He prayed with me over the phone and that seems to be his gift, he noticed it too. Since this diagnosis, he's been there for me and our other friends, to keep their spirits up, helping them realize not to forget the strength and love of God. He's going through his own painful moments but that doesn't stop him from being there for others and his family. There's a lot of special people in our lives, each one with their own gift and the best part is when that gift is shared.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Food fest

Saturday August 28th, 2010

This morning started with Jenny making Pillsbury Cinnamon buns and decaf coffee. How much salt is in a bun? I don't know and didn't care @ that time. Bad girl, I'll suffer when I'm bloated. I mostly ate the tops with the frosting. :o). Then Judy comes in with...Bagels and other baddies but goodies from Einstein Bagels. I was already full from the other breakfast items I snacked on, plus I only got an hour sleep since I had input my blog from yesterday.

Joyce & her family were coming later and was bringing lunch. I called Paul and told him NOT to bring anything. When they arrived, they had made 2 large dishes with rice and dessert. I don't think Paul got the call because he showed up with several Subway sandwiches. There's days where you wonder what your next meal will be, then there's days where there's more food than you know what to do with.

Later Cathy came by and nibbled on some adobo and believe it or not, we ordered a medium pizza, half pepperoni, half sausage. I only had 2 small pieces and an Ensure, the rest was eaten by Joyce's daughter & husband and Marie. One meal we polished off without leftovers.

Joyce showed me the new blog site and it's beautiful. Ray, did you do this? It's amazing. My coworkers are working on something for me and needed pictures of my cats. Gus & Joyce worked with the computer and were able to send them pics. So much for running a hard copy over, I really need to pick up on my computer skills and get over my fear of them. I guess since I accidentally downloaded "spyware" on an old one because it kept popping up & I thought it was important, I'm either gullible or stupid or both.

Just taking it easy tonight. Hopefully I'll have more energy next week. Taking a shower still takes about an hour, especially when I have to wash my hair. I wonder if it's thinning, when I comb through it with my fingers with the conditioner, quite a bit comes out. I still have quite a bit on my head so it could be deceiving. A lot of my white hairs are showing, why can't they all fall out & I don't have to worry about trying to dye my hair. It's been several months. I was told by our neighbor to check with the oncologist if the chemo I'm on allows me to get my hair dyed. If it's possible, maybe she can give me some color so I don't look my age.

I'm going to be bad and maybe hit a piece of leftover French Silk Pie, okay and I'll throw in a piece of fruit. Maybe that's the cause of my belly aching last night. I've been eating pretty decent most of the week, if you fall off the wagon, fall hard and do it with good food. Maybe I'm doing better, my bad appetite is coming back. Hey, food is my vice, I gave up alcohol back in May and I never smoked.

May you too enjoy lifes simple pleasures but don't overindulge.

First win!

Friday August 27th, 2010

This morning was another, "I had a rough night trying to sleep but now I'm hungry" feel to it. Yes hunger will keep me up even though I'm tired. I have to feed the beast. I'm still into my Malt-O-Meal phase, little did I know but I had dad pick up a box, not seeing the new box Jenny had bought. I'm set for a while now. I'm wondering if I'm getting constipated because of the chemo AND on the box it says it's that my breakfast of choice is a good source of iron. Could be? I am eating a lot of fruit too. I'm trying not to take many pills but those Colace tabs might have my name on them. Oh, the fun of it all.

After eating, I made plans with my sister, Cathy, to come get me. We had plans to visit my cats, she had to go grocery shopping, she was making dinner for us & her sister-in-law, who's visiting with her kids and I needed to run to the bank to make a house payment. Our niece was playing her 1st volleyball home game which I wanted to catch later in the day. It was about 9am & now sleep was calling me. I fed the animals and gave Widdo his am meds. I slept until noon when of course my appetite woke me again. By then, dad had left to spend more time with his girlfriend. I ate some leftovers for lunch and when Cathy arrived, I felt safe enough to shower. The bodyaches from chemo had come back and my legs were feeling a little heavy, so I used the shower stool. I'm all for any assistive devices that'll make life safer & easier. So many injuries occur in the bathroom. Keep the door unlocked in case someone has to come in & get you.

We got to the bank and when we finished, we were in the lot. Cathy got a phone call & was talking on her cell phone for a while. I gave her one important lesson, once you leave a bank, leave right away, verify everything inside the bank before you leave. My good friends parents didn't do that ONCE, their mom wanted to go and their dad wanted to make sure everything was in order when someone approached their car to rob them, right in front of the bank. The thieves got their money but they had their lives. Cathy soon hastened off the phone & we got going. You never know who's watching. Her car also doesn't have air conditioning. If anything should happen to me, I'd like her to get my car. Yeah you have to crank the A/C up to #3 for it to work, but it works. She needs the A/C, especially when our weather hits the 90's plus. Sweating out major electrolytes never did anyone any good. I know Marie's learning how to drive but I'm sure her parents will take care of her car needs when the time comes.

When we arrived to see my cats, boy Mr. Elston and Mr. Thumbalino would not stop bickering, it had been almost 2 weeks since I've seen them with all the appt.s the previous week and getting over my new chemo. It was a pleasure to see them. They had gotten mad @ me and had knocked down quite a few things off shelves and cat hair was rampant. I wanted to do laundry but there wasn't enough time to do it before Marie's game. I'll have to come back with more energy. I did manage to sweep up some major dust bunnies and use the rolling tape thing to clean off some furniture. I was feeling woosy so I had an Ensure and rested on the futon. Miss Cleo decided to come upstairs and I picked up her purring self. We went to the bedroom & I laid down with the 3 of them before it was time to go. Don't worry, my sister checks in on them for me, she feeds, gives them water and changes their litter boxes for me. She also waters my plants.

We left to go to the game. Jenny said she'd meet me in the lobby if I needed help climbing the stairs @ the school. I arrived first and let her know that I'd do it on my own. I had my pillow just in case my back or butt hurt from the stands. Slowly but surely, my heavy legs got me up there. The game was already in progress and our team was ahead. I made a mini-Flip video, since our cousin Viki gave me one @ the family picnic. Jenny soon arrived and then we were joined by our dad & Joan. They fought traffic tooth & nail to get there. Jenny was able to find a cold water bottle, I didn't care if it'd cause me throat cramps, I needed it. I took small cautious sips and nothing severe happened. It's the best of 3 sets and we won in 2. I was so happy because the balcony was HOT & HUMID = making me even more woosy, so we got to leave early. I'm so proud of Marie, she's on junior varsity and she had a lot of playing time. She made some great hits & serves. She had to stay for the varsity team to play but she came to us after her game & we were able to take pictures. Jenny stayed with her.

Dad, Joan & I went home to have Shepherd's Pie that Cathy made. Our version is cooked ground beef, layered with cooked mashed potatoes, green beans and tomato paste. I'm not sure how long or what temp. you bake it at afterwards, all I know is that I haven't had it in years. Of course Cathy made some with low salt and I snuck a little tomato paste. It was GOOD! It's a good thing we eat in shifts because by the time I finished, the guests arrived & they had room to eat. More family had come by too.

Paul helped me figure some things that Gabe had set up with my pictures on the computer and we hung out with the in-laws. I don't know if French Silk Pie is in my diet, but it was last night. I was pooped by 11pm and went to bed early. It took a while but I did fall asleep. Of course nature woke me several times during the night and a 4:30 am snack. I read a few more pages in my "Soup" book, my belly was aching so now I'm catching up on my blog. I'll finish up and hopefully get some shut eye. Insomnia is not fun. Good morning everyone, as you can see, it's now 0700 on Sat.

I know some of you want to contribute to this blog, I wrote to Ray, he'll need your e-mail addresses to add you to the contributor list and you can add your pictures and stories & they won't just end up in the comment section. If it's okay, let me know & I'll give your e-mail address to him. Thanks. :o)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Feeling better

Thursday August 26th, 2010

After another restless night and having some breakfast, the weather was beautiful outside, sunny and cool. I wanted to try and go back to sleep, but the sun kept me up. The bodyaches I had the day before weren't so bad. I had to sneak Widdo his pain medication in his moist food. At first he wasn't having it, and danced around his plate, then Buddy and Hairy started circling like sharks, that's when Widdo dove in. The fun part later was getting the liquid Clindamycin in his mouth. It's one cc which doesn't seem like a lot, but to a Chihuahua that hates meds, I don't know if what he's flicking out of his mouth is medicine, since it's clear, or saliva, because he needs to puke. His snout is doing better and he's growling @ Hairy & Buddy when they chase each other. You think it's for cute play, then they get into the "position" and that's when we interfere. "HEY, HEY, HEY!" Why you may ask? Because they're 2 male cousins dogs, enough said. When I lived at home and we only had Miss Cleo, my black female cat, and Buddy was a young one, about 9 years ago. We'd catch Buddy doing my cat. He'd be going to town with this big ol' grin on his face and she'd have this look on her face like she'd rather be doing the New York Times Crossword puzzle (smart cat). Anyway, I told my coworkers and they'd ask, "So did your cat have any puppies yet?"

Dad went to spend a day with his girlfriend, Joan. He deserves it, he spends so much time caring for me, I know he's not sick of me, but he needs time for himself and for her, so basically I had the day to myself. I spent the day on the phone, it was a VA phone marathon. I usually see my coworkers 40 hours a week but I haven't seen some in over 2 months. We'd talk every day, all the different departments, it's nice to catch up, some good stories, some not so good, but we're one big family and pray and support each other through our rough times. We especially miss each other's laughter and smiles.

I did get a few rows done in my latch hook project. I'm not sure that I'm putting all the colors in the right spot, we'll see how the finished product turns out. It's a floral print and maybe I can fudge the top with all the left over yarn that I misplaced earlier in the design. Somehow I don't recall these being this intricate with a color chart and guide, then again, our mom had gotten us panda bears, cats or more simple designs.

I had some of Jenny's cheese ravioli leftovers for lunch, I scraped the excess sauce off the top but dug out some tomatoes and tiny bits of meat. It's from Amici's on north Milwaukee. I've driven past that place a few times and she finally went with her friend the night before. That food was good, F.Y.I. She said that the interior was nice too.

David came home around 2pm so my "Home Alone" time was over. It was peaceful, I didn't have an appt., I didn't have to run anywhere, I wasn't achy, like the song says, "Enjoy the Silence". We'll it wasn't too silent, I love CSI: Las Vegas with William Peterson (a Chi-town native that Paul has seen in a few grocery stores nearby & my coworker Bill saw in a few plays) and the Miami one. The New York one is so-so, but it does have Gary Sinise. I had put on the Spike channel and got hooked.

This is what you get when you're raised by a pathologist and a nurse that liked true crime magazines, black & white gruesome pictures and all. Mom let us read them when she took us on errands. She's also was the one who raised us on horror films and would take us to the Riviera, when it was a theater, at night: a) It was cheap tickets for 10 plus kids, she'd take the neighborhood kids too, and b) they're would be double features like, "The Chilldren", "Prom Night", "Don't Go In The Woods Alone", etc.. She'd take us to the Luna too, old theaters that were scary, and it was terrifying just to go down the dark, carpeted spiral staircases to the basement to use the bathroom. Once our dad dropped us off @ the Riv, we had to step over a bum lying on the sidewalk and while in the theater, mom told us to keep our feet up, rats were running up and down the aisle. She also had pointed out that people were doing drugs behind us.

This was fun for us, now everything is so sterile and only "happy thoughts" are allowed in homes. My siblings and I used to stay up scaring each other with stories of "Cat Woman" not the Batman version. She'd come into your room @ night and claw @ your feet with her sharp nails. I believed she existed, we had kittens and one would attack your feet constantly through the bedsheets. I put it out of the room & woke to find my feet bloodied again. 20 plus years ago I was telling this story to Jenny, who's bed is directly across from the door, feet first. Then we heard someone come in the front door late @ night, then silence, we were quiet wondering who it was, we whispered that it's Cat Woman, then our sister Cathy opened the door and yelled. We screamed so loud, then we started laughing enough to wake our brother a few doors away, who got pissed. We used to make haunted houses in the basement or someone's bedroom, we'd watch scary movies in the basement, before it was refinished and the t.v. was in the corner furthest from the stairs going up. One sucker would be left behind to turn off the t.v. while the rest of us would run to the stairs. Our older brothers with the longest legs would make it to the top of the stairs, turn off the lights then yell, "THE DOOR WON'T OPEN!!!" and the younger ones stuck @ the bottom would start screaming and crying, or maybe that was just me.

Gabe had come by after work to help me with my pictures that didn't download from the other day. I really have to pick up more computer skills with all the folders and c drives, so simple for many, worse than a foreign language to me. I'll have to take notes or maybe he can start me off with the basics. When I graduated nursing school in 1993, we had floppy discs. I had a project to do @ work a few years ago and had to deal with a memory stick. Thank God my coworkers worked on that project with me, I knew how to stick the darn thing in & that's all about it. Gabe had to go back to work later that night, I offered for him to take a nap, he started dozing while working on the computer, but he said he'd be fine. He had taken me to get Brown's chicken for dinner for my family. I offered him some grub but he's a 2 meal a day man. He did take a corn fritter and had some water. Don't worry, I took the best part of the chicken off before I ate, the skin (grumble, grumble, low salt diet), and had some cole slaw which I mixed in the warm mashed potatoes, no gravy, in case I couldn't tolerate the cold. Somehow I don't think that's affecting me as much, but I don't want to experience the severe discomfort I've been warned about with the throat cramping and cold food items.

More family came home just in time to eat & watch "Jersey Shore", trash that we got hooked on. I gave Widdo his evening dose of meds and went to bed early. There was a part of the night after I got up to use the bathroom when I started having stomach pain and couldn't sleep for a while. Again, I'm praying that it's the chemo killing the cancerous cells, they say that one way they can tell is if my liver is getting softer. Please let it be. I did fall asleep again after changing positions several times and repositioning my pillows. I get a wake up call when Jenny gets Marie up @ 6:15, sometimes I'm able to doze off again, sometimes not. UGH! I'm more vampiric now than ever, dark circles around my eyes, pale due to low blood counts, up @ night, I resemble Nosferatu (except I have pink nails with smiley faces on my toes rather than his nasty nails) more those glamourous vampires in Twilight. Have a good day/night, whatever time it is. :o) ZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why I love Jessie...

I would like to start a new thread, just as a change of pace;

I would like anyone who has an interesting Jessie story and share it on this thread.

I'll start.

(It's not exactly a story, but it's one of the first thoughts that come to mind whenever I think of Jessie.)

One thing that always amazes me is that Jessica has an amazing memory - people's names/events/what they were wearing. At least to me, she could be a walking version of Facebook.

There have been countless times, when we're attending parties, and the names of people whom I don't see on a regular basis, escape me, and I always have her at my side to remind me who they are.

She also has the ability to recall very obscure (at least obscure enough to me) stories when we're chatting about something, sometimes out of left field, but it almost always starts out, "...oh, wait, this is funny..." - and it always is.

And one last thing, I can always count on Jessie to have a camera. I'm ashamed to admit this, but a good portion of the pictures from my 20-somethings have been furnished from Jessie's camera.

I love you Jessie - and I hope you beat the snot out of this "Bastard".


A day of rest

Wednesday August 25th, 2010

I had a rough night sleeping. I woke @ 2 am to use the bathroom and couldn't really get back to sleep. My stomach was having odd uncomfortable sensations, is it the chemo working? Then again, my Widdo was spending the night @ the vet and was feeling sick. Hairy was sleeping on their bed on the floor next to me. Ah, I put him in the bed with me. I still couldn't sleep well, even after having a small snack with an Ensure.

I did doze for a bit on & off. When I got up around 8 am I ate a little Malt-O-Meal and an Ensure. I started to organize the new latch hook project that I bought, there's 20 colors of yarn and some are quite similar, they recommend you tape one strand to the instructions so you don't confuse them while doing it. This will be a project, it's 20"x 30". I hadn't done one in over 20 years plus. Believe it or not, I'm reading the directions and even showed Marie how to do it. I think it's easier to do than the crocheting that her mom picked up again. Cathy, my sister, had been getting on me to call my classmates friend, who had kicked this cholangiocarcinoma in the butt. I told her that I'd give her a call today.

I called the vet, my dog was in line for his surgery, they informed me that they'd give me a call later when it was over. My body was aching, especially my back, arms, legs and again, my facial cheek muscles. I did fall asleep again for a few hours. Dad came home with some lunch and I didn't have much of an appetite, Ensure's been a big part of my diet. Maybe my body was too tired and sore. I laid down again to get more sleep.

I woke up around 4:30 pm, the vet called & said Widdo was a little sleepy, he's doing great and that he's ready for pick up. I was feeling wiped out but that was one of my goals today, to eat, get my dog & take a good shower. There's days after chemo where you feel so run down. By then, dad had made dinner. Afterwards, he drove me to pick up my dog. It's a good thing I threw on a house dress that I wore previously, Widdo had tinkled a little on me on the way home. While I was @ the vet, the one who took care of him is our family friend & I was given a discount, thank you. There's a lot of maintenance I have to do with him when I get home. Everyone there was very supportive of my condition. I perked up once we got him home because he was happy to see his brother & cousin and quickly ran to the backporch to baptize the puppy pad. He was more responsive and I knew he wanted to eat, he went to the food bowls after relieving his bladder. I was told to wait another hour before feeding him.

I took this time for my shower. I used the shower stool just in case. It's a good thing I did. When I was finishing, my gait was a little off, but the hot shower relieved some of my bodyaches and it just makes one feel refreshed. I guess it also stimulates blood flow. I still wonder about the amount of hair that comes out when I comb through it with my fingers and hair conditioner. To me, it's seems a lot, but I still have hair on my head.

I had the energy to feed the dogs. Oh, did Widdo eat well. I hope it wasn't too much for him and that he wouldn't be nauseated from the anesthesia. He was able to keep it down. Yeah, one less worry for me. This evening I worked more on the latch hook project, taping the edges and starting putting the yarn on the graph.

I did get a very nice phone call from Susan, my role model for surviving our cancer, she called me back. She first let me tell her of my journey, then she told me about hers. She also gave me great advice on getting to the Northbrook Wellness Center for counseling, she told me that they see the pt., family, caregivers, friends and that they're very good @ what they do. She said that she too was hesitant to talk to someone with our condition, like me, I don't know why it took me so long to call her. Maybe I was scared, but whatever, I'm glad I reached out to her. She told me to continue asking a lot of questions, to take charge of my care, she had gone to 4 hospitals to get where she is today, and that it really helps when you have a medical team that won't give up on you. I told her that I'm getting my care @ UIC, and on my last visits, how we came up with multiple plans after we discovered that the Cisplatin wasn't doing what we hoped. She shared her treatments and she told me that she had undergone surgery with the robotic knife. I told her that I'm scheduled to see those same doctors. I was told by my NP that even though they're cowboys, they'll only do it if they believe it can cure. I got off the phone feeling better and hopeful.

I continued to work on my project into the night. Again I had a difficult time sleeping, starting off that Widdo kept crying so I put him on the bed with his brother. Also the bathroom kept calling, as long as my elimination prevents me from getting my abdomen tapped again or from being constipated. Why my bowel regimen decided to switch to the middle of the night, I have no idea. Maybe it did to accomodate everyone getting ready to go to work & school in the morning hours. When I lived @ my own home, I didn't have to compete for the toilet. Also I've been getting the munchies in the middle of the night, I had a plum. I still couldn't sleep so I picked up my "Chicken Soup" book, and I got through another chapter and a half before dozing off with the light on. Sleep, yeah!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New chemo day

Tuesday August 24th 2010

I had a pretty decent sleep, I got up once to use the bathroom during the night instead of 3-4 times, then again around 6 am, even while sleeping with the portacath accessed last night. My aunt had given me a vial of Holy Water from Fatima. I slept with it on my bed. Did that have something to do with it?

I then woke to get ready and munched on another one of Paul's famous Rice Krispie treats. He's the only one I know who can make them without them getting hard. He's got the Krispie, butter, & marshmallow ratio down to a science. Maybe he just knows how to read the recipe the best. The last cold meal before the new chemo, Eloxatin.

I had dressed warmly, a) it was only 67 degrees as we headed out of the door, and b) the rooms are usually well air conditioned and this med will make me intolerable to cold. I had brought a room temperature Ensure for later.

They checked my vitals, I was still 147 lbs., but my heart rate went back in to the 120's. Not good. I told Vera and the pharmacist about my Gemzar fever the previous night, my current temp. was 99.4 F. So I'm losing more water with the fevers which might worsen the constipation that comes from the chemo and if I take in more fluids, it might third space again = ascites. It's a hard balance but they keep a good eye out for me. Vera also reminded me to take my Colace, stool softeners, twice a day.

By the time the chemo bag was prepared, I was already being hydrated with D5 W, which the chemo is more stable in, there's sugar in there. I'm also being given Dexamethasone tablets which could also raise my sugar, it aids with the Aloxi, the anti-nausea medication. If I'm not too salty, I'm sweet.

This was a 2 hr chemo. Dad was reading the magazines from the front lobby, I started reading "The Chicken Soup for the Cancer Survivor's Soul". I do recommend this book for anyone going through, survived or anyone close to anyone with cancer to read this. I read 86 pages when I decided it was movie time. I took a potty break and picked up "City of Angels" with Meg Ryan and Nic Cage. It's another beautiful tear-jerker love story and the soundtrack has great music. I got dad involved into watching it and cried when I explained certain parts to him. I'm a mushy nut @ times. This angel gives up being one just to become human and experience all that we do, to feel the joy, happiness and pain, the taste of food, what it feels to love, to be loved and lose that love. My chemo finished before the movie but I told dad that we had it @ home.

I can tell how this new neuropathy could affect me. Just using the hand dryer before leaving, it was cool air, not warm and my hands felt different. When we got home, I had one red grape that had been sitting out and it made my throat feel odd, weird little cramps. Dad did warm up other food that I was able to eat, no problemo.

Widdo Poopie, my problem dog, had some more swelling in his upper jaw starting over the weekend. He was able to eat breakfast but when we came home, dad let them out to go potty, he had spunky energy when he went out but when dad tried to give him a snack, he wouldn't eat it. Sign of a sick dog in my house. My vet closes early, so I called the vet that makes housecalls & she told me to wait until the morning, so I took him to a 3rd vet and not the emergency vet. This facility has plenty more doctors and they're open until 8pm. Plus a friend of the family works there and she'll be doing his oral surgery tomorrow. They kept him overnight to start IV antibiotics. My little hot dog, he had a fever too.

We came home and a friend of the family, Ann, stopped by to visit. She brought some yummy cupcakes from a relatively new cafe by her house, which is across the street from my dentist's office. She also brought some lemon tea biscuits and dark chocolate. Yum. We discussed some Asian therapies that oncology pt.s use, ie. accupuncture, herbs, etc., what she's getting her education in. She too has family that are dealing with their cancer battles. We caught up on old times, she still shares her dog Scrappy, with our brother, Joe. Scrappy, he's a little trooper too. He's had spinal surgery a few years ago after an injury that left his back legs limp and incontinent, having difficulty controlling his bladder & bowels. That little dog couldn't walk but he's been through therapy and his will to live, man, his back legs would be limp & he'd drag his little butt all over the apt., he learned to eat on his front paws, to this day, he's still full of energy even if his lower half does not want to cooperate all the time. Even animals can teach us about the will to live, even though there may be setbacks. He's even older than me, he's about 9-10 y/o which is about 70 y/o in human years.

So now I'm on a low salt, high protein, no cold diet. You're talking to a girl who used to eat everything. I'll see if my nutritionist's appt. can be moved up from October. Jenny said she saw some Nesquick milk that's on the shelf so hopefully she'll be able to pick it up rather than sitting the milk out of the fridge and we all get sick. Not only am I having food issues, because of the swelling in my belly, my underwear elastic is leaving indentations into my hip regions, my sides and back and I don't think the flow to & from that region is all that good 'cuz I've got swelling where I never knew it could swell (without getting into too much detail). Wassup wit dat?!? Do I call Dr. Lam again, do they drain that region? Jenny suggested I get "granny panties", do I go "commando"?, then she showed me some Hanes panties without elastic and maybe she'll get me a larger size. I'll call Dr. Lam in the morning & see what he has to say. I told you I'm a problem child.

Thank you God for letting me make it through yet another day. Thank you for all my family, friends and coworkers do to get me through my days and to keep my spirits up. Thank you too for a medical team that's working hard to get me through this process. And please take care of Widdo Poopie during the night and his oral surgery tomorrow. Good night to everyone.

Monday, August 23, 2010

2 fer 1

Sunday August 22nd, 2010

The day started off with a big bowl of Malt-0-Meal. I never measure when making it and didn't realize how much I made, until it was done and I got full half way through it. Don't worry, I didn't add the salt like they recommended.

Cathy came by & we attended mass. The gospel was about getting into Heaven. The priest said it's like a big stadium like Soldier Field with all these different entrances, one is dark, narrow & not well kept, the others are huge, like the the Arch in St. Louis with vendors, beautiful entryways, etc.. It depends on which entrance you choose, the path to Heaven would be, of course, the dark, narrow one = more difficult to enter, but worth it, & the other entryways would lead to Hell. Then he went on to say how the people in Hell would be gnashing and grinding their teeth. He told us how a lady in the front row, without teeth, went up to him and asked, "But what if you don't have any teeth?" He replied, "Teeth will be provided."

After mass, Cathy & I, had asked the priest if he could bless me. He brought us to the sacristy and annointed me with oil and said prayers for the sick. We told him a little about my cancer, he told us that we cannot cry for what has already been done but to pray for what CAN be done. We thanked him profusely and went home.

Today was the day for our mom's side family reunion @ Whihala beach in Whiting, Indiana. Our grandma & grandpa's sides get together. Relatives came from Texas, Ohio, etc.. People of all ages. Some came for the first time. Our cousin, Damon & his wife Patti, found some old black & white pictures to see if relative could identify who's who, they had fun trying to figure that out & it brought back good memories. I LOVED the wedding picture of my grandparents, who were also my godparents. It was in a beautiful wooden frame. Another relative was working on the family tree. It's so great to see all the faces of loved ones. Tons of yummy food, yes, I watched what I ate. Thanks Viki for the special chocolate chips cookies, they are moist. Everyone was very supportive of my journey with cancer. We were supposed to end @ 5pm, some of us were there until 6:30pm, we didn't want to see each other go. One cousin, Carol, had left early to go help out @ work. She returned later on her bike and was surprised that we were still there. I told her how she reminded me of Father Joe, he was our mom's cousin & he was a priest @ St. John's. He'd show up and say mass, then we'd eat. He'd go back to the rectory and come back on his bike, nibble some more, then go back. Then he'd show up in a car with another priest to eat some more. We did the potato sack race, water balloon toss, had some kid games, a few cornhole games were set up, and of course, the goodie bags with bubbles. We had great weather, not too hot or cold. Some people strolled to the beach, to the pier or to watch the trains go by. We kept getting checked out by different officers, some rental cops, to check if there was alcohol. Of course there was, so we (not me) started putting it in Dunkin Donut coffee cups.

We got home & they unloaded the cars. We dined on leftovers. My back and ribs were killing me since I had been upright for over 6 hours straight. The lawn chair & pillow I had used @ the picnic only provided some relief. I laid down for a while. Later my friend, John, came by to visit for a bit. He left around 11pm and I crashed once I laid down in bed.

Monday August 23rd, 2010

Today my sister, Cathy, accompanied dad & I to my oncolgy appts. I had labs, then vitals. My weight today was 147 lbs. I was put in a room and Vera discussed the options that Dr. Mehta & she came up with. First, I was going to continue with the Gemzar and the other new chemo, which is a 2 hour one, will be the Eloxatin, that one that'll make me sensitive to cold so everything I touch, eat or drink should be @ room temperature. If I drink anything cold, I'll get spasms in my throat & it'll feel like I can't breathe. If I touch anything cold, I'll have to wear gloves & stay out of the air conditioning. It'll be temporary and last a few days. the good thing is, it's not as harsh on the kidneys, like Cisplatin. She also said that I should keep the appt. with the surgeons in Sept. who work with the robotic knife, they're a little more cowboyish. We also discussed that if the Eloxatin doesn't seem to work, we can try chemo pills but they're expensive, even after insurance. We discussed my nutrition regarding the low sodium diet and I was given an appt. to see a nutritionist. I wish my Aunt Remy was still alive, that was her profession. There's a new Ensure that came out with Revigor, and it's supposed to be better for me so I won't lose more lean muscle mass. Vera and Cathy were going to work out what'd be the best way for me to get it. Cathy checked if Walgreens carried it & I'd need a prescription.

I did receive a Zofran (anti-nausea pill) and a dose of Gemzar today. I popped in "Ever After" during my treatment. I love that movie with Drew Barzrymore, the updated version of Cinderella. Yes I'm a wimp, but it makes me cry and laugh. They'll give me the Eloxatin tomorrow so I could have one last day of cold things. I'm glad they did.

On the way home, we stopped @ JoAnn the craft store, for puzzle glue, an new cardboard for the puzzle Viki gave me and I found the latch hook yarn thing to keep me occupied while Marie's back in school. My friend, Adriana, also sent me some scrapbooking materials in the mail. Paul just has to show me how to unload my pics from my camera to get them developed since I can't sit @ my spot in Walgreens to do it, like I used to.

We got home & I ate a good late lunch, it was almost 3pm. I went down for a nap and slept until 6pm. I needed it. BUT I was feeling the slight bodyaches like I did the last time I received Gemzar. I checked my temp and it was 102.5 F. I took a Tylenol like the doc told me to last time. I'm writing to you now still sweating but feeling better. David made some Tombstone pizzas for dinner. I had one decent sized slice of the sausage. I figured that my sodium on my labs was a little low today, plus while breaking this Gemzar fever, I'm perspiring. I drank a few cups of ice water and nibbled on grapes. I'll wash up later, I can only do certain parts. My portacath is still accessed for tomorrow.

FYI, I'm getting a new cell phone, same number, the other one was too complicated for me with the sliding screens and something from MSNBC got on there & we couldn't get it off. I also have a request from you who call me. Not all the phone numbers transferred over from my original phone with names, so if you don't leave a name on your message, I'm not sure who called, and if you can say your name loudly, because I'll get messages and some names are similar or muffled then I'm not sure who to call back. I can pick our certain voices. Maybe my hearing is going too.

Paul just got home with my new phone, I like it already. He's showing how to work it. I learn better by demonstration. Manuals are not my thing. I'll bathe after this. Wish me luck tomorrow with the new medication. Thank you all for being here for me and my family.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Waaaah! Ricky!

Saturday August 21st, 2010

Boy do I need to see a nutritionist. I have to take in calories to keep my strength up to deal with the chemo BUT I have to watch my salt intake. You don't realize how much it's in your favorite foods until you're told not to eat it.

For breakfast Jenny made Malt-o-Meal. I LOVE that stuff and gobbled it down. It's been a long time since I ate it.

I took a nice shower, since my belly went down, I was able to shave my legs while standing up. I had given up on shaving them for a while. Not to gross people out but I was also having a hard time wiping front to back, it'd take me several times but I'd get it done. How do pregnant women or people with big bellies do it? Is there a piece of equipment to aid in that simple everyday action, a hand extension? Maybe that's why bidets were invented.

My coworker, Kerry, picked me up to attend lunch with other coworkers @ Longhorn Steak House by the HIP, that's Harlem & Irving Park Plaza on the northwest side.I brought my pillow for my back and shawl, since my back still hurts for being upright too long & I get cold easily. Oh, it was so good to see coworkers again. Happy tears. I was given an inspirational journal by Evelyn and our boss put together a photo album together with some nice words from other coworkers. Dalla was funny, she wrote, "I hope your strength & smiles will help you fight "The Bastard". She also had given me a nice bracelet with an strong message. I ate something safe I think, glazed chicken with asparagus. It was nice chitchatting with everyone and their smiles and hugs keep telling me to hang in there.

Evelyn and her husband dropped me off and assisted me to the door. I was resting when Norine called to see if she & her husband could drop by since they were coming to the city for a gathering. I had known Norine since our UIC days. I was able to catch a nap before they arrived. She let me know that her mom survived breast cancer which inspired me too. Positive attitude, have something to live and look forward to.

Dad had made some spaghetti and garlic bread. Woo-hoo! However, my salt gestapo, Jenny, was home and monitored what I ate. I ate some noodles with a tiny bit of sauce & Italian sausage, with literally morsels of tomato and a light sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. OH THE AGONY OF NO FOOD! I followed it with peaches and washed it down with water. Somehow some Garrett's caramel popcorn jumped in my mouth too.

I rested again while my family prepared the goody bags for tomorrow's family reunion. Somehow a lot of religious items were sent to the house that Paul did not order. Jenny then took me shopping @ Carson's. Some special people's birthdays are coming up soon and I'm not sure how strong I'll be to go shopping after I get more chemo on Monday.

After we got home, I was working on my blog when "Single, White, Female" came on. Do you remember that flick from the 90's with Bridget Fonda? It's a disturbing film but I remember how people talked about it when it came out. Didn't every chick want the short red hairstyle she sported?

I'm back in touch with a cousin, she's my age, and had recently found a lump in her breast. She'll be having a biopsy this week, please keep Eileen in your prayers. She's also a bright, cheery person.

Anyway, it was a good day despite my liver, rib & back pain. I saw quite a few faces that I hadn't seen in a while. I did get to eat some foods I love. And I made it through yet another day. One day @ a time. Thank you God.

5 liters

Friday August 20th, 2010

Today was the day I had my paracentesis, the draining of the fluid from my abdomen. Our brother, Coye, came with dad & I. It was done in the liver clinic by Dr. Lam, a PA, physician's assistant.

Dr. Lam started off by explaining the risks and benefits of the paracentesis and sign the consent. There's alway a risk for bleeding, infection and in this case, perforating my bowels. Then he went to find the best side to work from by using the ultrasound machine. He showed me how to read the screen, the fuzzy image on top was my skin, the black underneath was the excess fluid, and the fuzzy image on the bottom was my intestine. The left side of my abdomen had more fluid fill space than the right, and the site was right above my left hip.

He cleaned the area off and showed me the prefilled syringe with topical lidocaine. He told me how it'd be a burst against my skin and it would numb the area. I warned him that I tickle very easily. It was a quick, harsh, cool burst against my skin. He cleaned the area again and then used the next syringe, with a needle, to inject more lidocaine. I did feel a slight discomfort but it was tolerable. I've seen my patients @ the VA getting this done, if they could tough it out, so could I. He then showed me the pointed scalpel, I think it's a #11 (different numbers = different shapes of the tips), and he showed me how deep he'd be inserting it. It would help get the last needle/catheter in better. I wanted to see all this so I could share it with you and educate myself. The last needle was the one that made me go, "Wow". It reminded me of the one in Pulp Fiction, the length was about the size of the one they used to revive Uma Thurman's character after she overdosed. The bevel or sharp angled tip was retractable after he first inserted it to pierce the skin and then it'd be a dull tip catheter. The catheter tip had little holes in it to suck out the fluid. He showed me all this before he put it inside.

Once he got the big needle in, it was attached to a 60 cc syringe where he drew out the yellow fluid, which he'd send to the lab to make sure I didn't have an infection, otherwise I'd have to be admitted for IV antibiotics. Then he attached the suction tubing which led to a Gumco suction machine that helped drain it quicker than by gravity. It quickly filled the first collection bottle, and was replaced by the 2nd bottle. My brother, Coye, was allowed to come in. I want to document my experiences and we took pictures of my belly, the collection chambers and the catheter in my stomach. By the 3rd bottle, my stomach was getting flatter and the fluid was coming out slower. The catheter in my abdomen had to have the suction disconnected while Dr. Lam readjusted the catheter before restarting it, it was sucking intestine as the fluid decreased. He also pushed softly on my right abdomen to get the fluid to the left side. By now I was having severe right sided back pain. They tried to make me comfortable with an extra pillow behind my back.

The nurse had come in to start an IV on my left arm. I was to receive a substance called albumin. Dr. Lam said that when there's a big shift in fluid, sometimes the kidneys can go into shock and this to prevent that from happening. It was a pretty packed room with everyone present. The fluid finally stopped coming out just under 5 liters. He removed the catheter. The albumin finished @ the same time and the IV was taken out. I could see how flat my stomach became, I could also feel my enlarged liver better, and Dr. Lam joked that he gave me a 6 pack abdomen.

Then I was asked to sit up. I had a hard time breathing and the back pain was awful. Coye & Dr. Lam assisted me in sitting up while I tried to catch my breath. I was informed that with all that fluid that was drained, my insides have to readjust themselves, and that it was stretched out for so long, that I'll be sore for a while. It took a while for me to catch my breath and for my body to get used to being, what, 11 pounds lighter. He gave me 2 cups of water. I hadn't eaten before the procedure, I wasn't sure if I should or not, some you're supposed to be NPO. He told me that I could've eaten beforehand. I had an Ensure in my purse which I also drank. They assisted me into a chair and slowly but surely my breathing did get better and the back pain, but not entirely. He said that there was no rush. My oxygen saturation, which they measure on your fingertip, was 99% on room air, which is great. It was a big adjustment for my body. I also felt a little woosy. I sat a while longer until I felt a bit better and my breathing became slower.

I was given the number to call back if the swelling comes back. I was told to ask for Diane and not go through the answering service if he wasn't available. I was also told to eat a low salt, less than 2 grams/day, diet but if I should have a craving, to eat one piece of pizza instead of three.
Coye was my crutch and helped me get back to the lobby where dad was. Dad went to get the car while we waited in the waiting area. Once in the car, I tried to lay down to ease my back pain, no luck. I did sit up with the pillow behind my back.

Once we got home, I rested until dad made a salad with chicken for lunch. I laid back down and took a nap after making the round of phone calls.

Later that day, we got a nice surprise, a large tub of Garrett's popcorn, caramel & cheese, from my friend, Suzanne. LOW SALT DIET popped in my head. So I nibbled on the caramel ones more than the cheese. Oh, the cruelty of it all. She & I spoke later, she told me to be an non-compliant and to eat a handful every hour. Later dad had made Hamburger Helper, I LOVE that stuff. Jenny called home and told me not to eat it. Dad said that the whole box was less than 2 grams of salt, so I had a few forkfuls, WAH!

Later, Gabe & Lisa came by to watch a movie and to eat more Garrett's popcorn. We watched the Bounty Hunter with Jennifer Aniston & Gerard Butler, it was okay. Jenny, my sister, can't stand to watch her films, she's pretty much the same character in everything she does. Gabe was able to get all my phone numbers off my old phone & onto the new one, the lady @ Radioshack wasn't able to do that, yeah, that saves me a lot of time by doing it manually. By the end of night my back was having pain but I was standing more upright and breathing easier. I still have some rib pain but it's lower, not by my sternum, and I know it's due to my large tumor-ridden liver, again, I'm able to feel it better.

I wished my friends "goodnight" and walked them to the door. Boy was I tired, it was kind of late and I had a long day. I went to bed and zonked out with the light still on, while laying on my side.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Plan B

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

After waiting in the waiting area for over an hour, believe it or not, I was on time, with Viv. For all of you who knew us in high school, there were quite a few times where we were late & we'd be getting our tardy slips from the office. Darn CTA buses (yeah, that's the ticket!) Okay, going back to the appt., I wrote down my name on the check in list. We waited for a while, then I asked a clerk if she needed me to fill out paperwork, she said she was working on it. A while later she asked to see my insurance card. About an hour after we got there, Viv went up and asked when I going to be called. The clerk replied, "I'm not even sure why she's (meaning me) here?" DUH! If she looked in the computer she'd see that I was scheduled to see Dr. Warso. Why didn't she say anything earlier when she was checking my insurance card? The world may never know. Anyway, she told Viv to check with another person in room A. She didn't tell her that she had to go around the corner to find room A. So Viv asked these ladies at another station who directed us in the right place.

This lady called me right away and got my vital signs and weight. I had put on 13 lbs since last Monday. I know it wasn't because of me eating, I don't have much of an appetite and the contrast yesterday cleared me out bowel-wise, sorry if I grossed you out. She then brought us to another room to see the doctor. Viv figured out how to raise the back of the exam table, I was happy because by this time my back was killing me. Thank goodness they had a pillow there for extra comfort.

Dr. Warso came in, smiling with a cheerful personality. He asked, "Guess who I saw this morning?" I replied, "Dad". He did see him but he hadn't looked @ my findings to discuss with him @ that time. He went to examine my abdomen and I warned him about my hairy legs, he and Viv got a chuckle out of that. When he touched the growth between my ribcage, oh did that hurt. He then went to look @ the CT and get the final reading on it. It took a while. We were hoping that all this bulge was ascites, excess fluid build up in the abdomen which is usually drained and the person gets relief. There's different reasons why people get this, I've seen the drainage procedure done in my ER and sometimes the patient gets something called albumin infusions afterwards. Again, we were hoping it'd be ascites.

The doctor came back and made a drawing. Drawings, in my case, mean that it's not good. He did say that I had some fluid in my abdomen, which he was going to call Vera, my NP, to get a paracentesis (the procedure to get it drained by sticking a needle into my abdomen and the excess fluid drains into these glass containers) scheduled ASAP, BUT, and here's the big BUT, the big growth between my ribcage is my liver with all it's multiple sized tumors. He said that even if I had the surgery I might not survive it and the "better" half of my liver still has small tumors in it. He too agreed with the Mayo clinic surgeons that even debulking would not be an option. He gave me a big hug and I told him that I'd prefer if he could speak to my dad about the findings. They can get as clinical as they want. I had to explain things to Viv and we both started crying.

We went down to see Vera in the Oncology clinic, thank goodness these clinics are in the same building, my back started hurting again. Vera came to tell me that she was able to get me scheduled in the liver clinic, where I first started my cancer journey, and they'll drain my abdomen tomorrow. They'll use an ultrasound machine to visualize it better. She also said that we'll have to come up with a plan B since the other chemo meds didn't seem to be shrinking the tumors. I joked @ home that maybe it was Miracle Gro instead. She offered me pain meds but I told her that I just want to be alert to experience life around me while I can but when that time comes, I'll start using it, just not right now. We started crying and she told me that I don't have to be so tough and she gave me a hug. I called my cancer a "bastard" and said that "this sucks". I guess I have a right to say so.

Viv went to go get the car so I wouldn't have to walk all the way back to the lot. I had to get my coags done, that's the bleeding time labs, for tomorrow's procedure. If my levels are high, I can't get it done. That's the lab that usually goes high after my chemo but usually bounces back the week later. Viv & I discussed that we have to keep our hopes up, that the paracentesis will give me relief and that the new chemo regimen will work. We got home in pretty good time, she had to get her boys to football practice by 6pm, it was already 4pm.

David was home to greet me and we started with the round of phone calls to family. I spoke with my friend, Suzanne, from Wisconsin. She plans on visiting soon and keeps asking if I need anything. I recommend a new liver and bile duct. She told me how she ordered some Garrett's popcorn to be delivered to dad's house. Her fellow Wisconsinites never heard of it and wondered why she was paying so much for popcorn and complained how expensive it was. She told them, "No, it's worth every penny, you have to try it." Another doctor vouched for her. Then she told me how they asked her if she could order it for the clinic. She responded, "I can't, it's just too expensive." :o) Then she told me how she asked her cancer patients what's a good cheese to bring to me, they gave her their recommendations, I guess one of them ate it so much, they kept their weight on. So she's like, I don't know what else to do for you except bring you popcorn and cheese. That's fine with me.

Well, I have to make more phone calls & e-mails for those who don't have computers or have access to this blog. I wish I had better news for you. Pray that plan B works and that I get some relief from the paracentesis tomorrow. We have a family reunion on Sunday, I'd love to be able to enjoy it without much pain and shortness of breath. Thanks everyone for your well wishes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

CT fun

Wednesday August 18th, 2010

I was told I couldn't eat anything 3 hours before my test, usually it's 8 hours or nothing by mouth after midnight. If you see NPO on your orders, that means "nothing by mouth". They might say "except meds". If you're diabetic or just to be on the safe side, check with your doctor, you don't want to become hypoglycemic, meaning having a low blood sugar. My last snack was around 4 am. My dad & I arrived on time @ 10 am, but my test was only for a CT of my pelvis. We had to get it specified to include my abdomen to check the progression of my cancer, that's the main region of your liver, not like on Beavis & Butthead. If you didn't see that episode, they had gotten into an accident. One of them kept saying, "Oh, my liver!" but he was holding the wrong parts of his body, he had even grabbed himself "down there" when complaining. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be sure to know about your anatomy, especially when tests are being ordered. They were able to make a few phone calls and got it corrected. I do not want to have this test repeated if I could prevent it.

So once I had my new order, we went to the radiology dept. waiting area where a nice tall liter of CT oral prep was waiting for me. It's cold, clear and doesn't really have much flavor. I had to drink a tall cup of it every 15 minutes. With my big belly the prep was getting harder to get down as I neared the bottom of the bottle. Just to warn you, this stuff will make you pee and move your bowels, so if you're constipated, you might get relief, which started to happen right before I was called into the scan room.

Inside the room it was very chilly, I had to remove my sweat jacket because of the zipper, otherwise I had a sleeveless dress on. BRRRR! Now I had to lay flat on the table. Oh boy, with my belly, and it was full, the technician had to assist me down. It really helped when they placed a wedge pillow underneath my knees. It eased the back pain and my breathing. They velcroed a strap over my belly attaching me to the table, I guess so I won't run away. They were kind to place a sheet over my chilly hairy legs. Sexy. This table will raise up and pass through a "donut" shaped apparatus. It's open, not closed like an MRI.

Now comes the fun of trying to start a heplock, that's the short nubby thing that sticks out of your arm so they can give medications, fluids, the IV contrast dye & sometimes draw blood from. Remember how cold this room was, I had goosebumps. They placed the tourniquets on really tight to bring up my veins. Now I know how my patients feel when we'd do the same. If you have hard to find veins, try to remember where they're located. It'll save you pain in the long run from unnecessary pokes and misses. With certain tests requiring IV contrast, the access has to be above the wrist. Of course my hand's veins were visible but with me lowering my arms and pumping my hands, the one on the back of my arm finally cooperated and popped up. You can tell that it's in properly because: a) blood will flow out b) when it's flushed it won't swell up and c) the patient has a salty or metallic taste in their mouth.

The technician then hooked me up to the IV contrast and went into the next room. She started the CT machine. It did 2 passes where I had to hold my breath on the way out. Then I felt a cool sensation go through my left arm, not too soon afterwards I felt a warm sensation in my bladder region which added to the "I have to urinate now" sensation. They did a 3rd pass, again holding my breath, then the technician came out and said that they had to wait 5 more minutes for the last one. I'm thinking, "FIVE MORE MINUTES?!? What do I think about to forget that nagging feeling in my bladder?" I'm laying on my back looking @ the ceiling tiles noticing that they're off because the CT machine is placed in the room @ an angle. You start reading any label on the machine and just when you're about to give up, the machine starts moving for the final pass, also while holding your breath AND your urine. Hallelujah! :o)

Now you're waiting for them to come through the door to release you from the strap, unhook the IV tubing, remove the heplock, and help me up. It took both ladies to get me off the flat bed. One assisted me with my jacket and directed me to the nearest bathroom. I could've put out a small fire, okay, a medium fire. Since I've had this test before, I knew that I had to make a few more pitstops before heading to the garage. We got our parking validated and visited another bathroom closer to the lot. I knew there was one more potential stop after that but I felt I'd be alright.

Needless to say we were well into the parking garage when a filling feeling hit me. I'm thinking, we'll be home soon. Traffic had some nutty people out there but we passed through safely and rather quickly. Then I had called home to see what Marie wanted for lunch, she replied, "Mc Donald's". Now I'm thinking, "Can I hold it til home? Should I go at McD's?" No line in the drive through, yeah!, and we were able to get home lickety-split. So maybe 3 bathroom stops would've covered the bladder situation. Now I just have to wait for tomorrow and see what the results show and what the game plan will be. Again, I'm hoping for relief of some of my symptoms, I wish for all of my symptoms. You guys and gals are great for rooting for me. I appreciate it, it helps me deal with my fear of the unknown. You know I'll keep you posted. Thanks. :o)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Salted strawberries

Tuesday August 17th, 2010

I forgot to mention one funny thing last night. Our dad had cut up some fresh strawberries and had sprinkled, what I thought, was sugar on top. I had pulled the rest of the yummy looking bowl of strawberries over and had planned to polish it off. I had one bite and then I realized that something was wrong. I had to ask dad, "Did you put SALT on these?" His reply was, "Of course." Yucky! Cathy & I couldn't believe that he thought it'd taste good and laughed. We know of other people that put salt on their watermelon. Why?

This morning I had received a call from Vera, my nurse practitioner. She gave me the good news that I'm scheduled for a CT tomorrow with an appt. on Thurs. with the oncology surgeon. Boy was I relieved. I don't think I'd last until Sept. 13th for the other one. The discomfort and swelling in my abdomen that I'm having is getting to be ridiculous.

My friend, Odette, came by and we went to lunch @ Cafe Selmarie in the Lincoln Square area. I had last been there over 15 years ago when it was just a small shop. It's really expanded since then and the food was wonderful. We shared a warm ham & cheese sandwich and salads with warm goat cheese. I felt good & I ate all of my portions. Then we picked up desserts for later. They have a very cute assortment of sugar cookies. I picked up the last smiley face one, little dinosaurs, tulips, ice cream cones and daisy shaped cookies. She had picked up a slice of cake for later. We then stopped by her parents home to surprise visit them. Her dad had recent surgery so he was in a recliner. My back was really hurting by this point so Odette put me in another recliner, which was super comfortable too. Her mom needed to run some errands so they left the two of us. We had a good time talking, I almost fell asleep that chair was so comfortable. After Odette returned with her mom, we chatted a bit more before she took me home with some more goodies, her dad makes homemade pickles.

She stayed with me for a bit longer after we returned to my home. I had to take a nap before dad served dinner. Paul was taking me to get a new cell phone later. Since my diagnosis, my cell phone bill has doubled and then some, going over my minutes in texting & calls. He & I got to the store around 8 pm, for some reason, my back was very painful and I had told the saleslady of my condition. She gave me her boss's chair to sit in. Then she saw how I was short of breath & they got me a cold cup of water. She told me that her mom was sick for a long time so she's used to giving sick people comfort measures. She was very helpful and had to call her boss to ask some questions. We told him how I was sitting in his chair & he told me I had to run his store. I'd be the last person qualified to do so, electronics and I don't mix, unless you want it broken. So my old memory card would not transfer into my new phone, meaning I have to manually put in my old numbers or if you can, call me, because I figured out how to save contact info. that way.

While we were in the store, our cousin, Claire, called from the Philippines. She had just gotten the e-mail that I sent earlier telling her of my pending CT & surgery appt. I was SOOOO happy to hear her voice, I miss her so much,that I started crying. The special saleslady got me some tissues too. Claire is the cousin who's an oncologist out there. I told her how my stomach is and that I wish she could come back to take care of me. She said that she'll look into it. She reminded me how they're all praying for me and that she too has some contacts in Chicago, oncology-wise. I had also picked up something so I can take my pictures off my camera, since I could not located my camera box @ home with the attachments to do so. More electronic stuff I get to play with. Great, I'm not a manual reader, I try to figure stuff out by myself but these things seem very complicated.

Thanks everyone for your well wishes with my test and appt. You know I'll keep you posted with the results. I hope there's a remedy to my situation. I don't want to take meds for pain relief, my body is going through enough with the chemo and cancer. I'm dizzy enough @ times with my vertigo and when I'm alert, I want to stay alert to take in life while I'm here. Goodnight.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hope for my big belly?

Monday August 16th, 2010

I had spoken with my oncology nurse today. She had called last week to check on me while I was in the Dells. She too had been out for a few weeks, I thought for a vacation but she told me it was for a procedure. I told her how large my abdomen had become, about my worsening shortness of breath & decreased appetite and that I had an appt. to see a surgeon on Sept. 13th. She told me that that was too far away and that they're going to try to get me to be seen sooner than that.

Today I also broke the news to two other people who have been a part of my life. Sara, my physical therapist, who got me back on my feet when my vertigo hit. If anyone needs physical therapy, she's the best. She's very patient, encouraging, supportive, knowledgeable and always smiling. She's great with her patients and doesn't mind hearing or seeing them again after they "graduate". I let her know how my vertigo gets worse with the chemo but it does seem to taper down after about a week. She let me know that her other cancer patients had reported the same thing and reminded me that certain meds can make it worse too. She offered that if things get worse to contact my neurologist and she wouldn't mind seeing me again. I told you she is great.
The next one was my dentist. His office had called to see if I'd be able to make a different time for my appt, that's when I told the receptionist of my condition and asked if I could speak with my dentist. He picked up his line and it was really hard telling him. He's known our family since he took over for our original dentist way back when. He's known how I was having symptoms but he couldn't believe the diagnosis. I told him how the chemo knocks down my platelets and I'll have to get back in touch with him depending on my chemo schedule & if I get to see the surgeon. They both gave words of encouragement, neither had never heard of my cancer, and both offered their help. I told them how I'm thankful for them taking care of me and will hopefully continue doing so.

After showering, Marie took me on my errands, to return the bent clothing rack & to pick up some b-day gifts, to visit my cats, and other places. I had received a hospital bill and it was AFTER insurance. Wow. Luckily I saw the notation to call a number if we can set up a payment plan, interest free. I'm all for it.

After returning back to dad's, Gabe called and made plans to come by. It's been quite a while since I saw him, he was dealing with his own family issues for a while. He rode up on his CBR. The first thing I did was show him was how big my belly grew since I last saw him. He couldn't believe it and I started crying. He held me and reminded me to take some breaths and to try to calm down. I told him how it makes sleep, eating and breathing difficult. For the duration of his stay, he might have realized how much so, I had to keep changing positions to try and get comfortable, which he helped me get in & out of with our low lying couch;he saw how little I ate @ dinner, but I did eat; and my short breaths, he tried to have me take deep ones, but I can't. He also helped me look up potential new cell phones. I'm using one of Paul's from 3 phones ago. Hey, the battery lasts, it makes calls & I receive texts. I do need a new plan, since my diagnosis I've gone over minutes with calls and texts. It was getting dark & I get concerned about him driving home especially since he doesn't wear a helmet. As he was leaving we hugged for a long time, as close as my belly would allow and we shared some tender moments. I had asked him if he could take some of my tumor & throw it out all over the Kennedy. We did speak later & obviously he made it home safely. I really appreciated his visit.

I finally opened Ray's blog with the video he had made for me several years ago. I still have the DVD near my t.v. @ home. It brought out, as Jenny called them, "Happy tears". I hope to continue making more good memories with my loved ones. I told you I'm not materialistic. Family, friends, coworkers, pets, etc., those are the real treasures.

Video Montage for Jessica's Birthday back in 2002


While cleaning house on my old computer, I found this...thought it was worth a post.

This was made I think 8 years ago?

I remember enjoying making it, so hope you will as well.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm baaaaaaack!

Sunday August 15th, 2010

There are zones in Wisconsin without service, computer and cell phone-wise. We experienced both so that's why there were no entries for a few days. The modem worked the first day then died, according to Paul. All I know is that normally the little light was green but it was red the rest of our trip. We arrived late last night so I was too tired to blog. So let's play catch-up. Be prepared, it's another long blog.

Thursday August 12th, 2010

We had breakfast @ Paul Bunyan's. I guess on vacation, it doesn't matter how old you are, but we had asked for Babe the blue ox ears and horns paper hats. Paul took a little encouraging but eventually he succumbed to wearing them so we have pics with them on our heads. I'm glad this restaurant is still there after all these years, some places aren't there anymore ie. Xanadu. The food was served buffet-style but they bring it to you. Jenny fell in love with their donuts, cake-like and sugar coated. Yum! However they have this ketchup which made a few of us go, "blech", it's called "Chef Mike's" or something like that. It made the hash browns taste bad. Where's the Heinz?

I believe we went back to the hotel room so J, M & P could hang out in the pool for a couple of hours. Again, I rested inside in the air conditioning. It was 105 F with the heat index. After they came in & showered, we headed over to Circus World in Baraboo. We rolled in a little late but were able to catch the one ring circus act. Paul liked Elena, the aerialist from Siberia. He was lucky to get a picture taken with her afterwards. P was also busted for video taping, we missed the announcement earlier. Did they mind me getting two photo shots in while he taped? We laughed @ the lady in the audience who freaked out while watching Elena perform on a rope in the air without a net. She screamed like someone was stabbing her, "AAAAH!" "AAAAH! Three elephants perfomed, one being Isabella, the only elephant who can walk on a ball and she did it. Amazing. We saw the old wooden circus cars restored, just beautiful; we got some funny pics with the warped mirrors; nibbled on cotton candy; and were able to see a magician. I should've asked him to make my cancer disappear.

We had a buffet dinner @ Crabby's, a seafood/pirate themed place. Talking fake parrots wearing crab hats, pirate mannequins hanging from ropes in the dining area and tropical drinks. I had a virgin drink but boy was it sweet. We got to keep our glasses & coconut shaped cups from there. Lucky for me they had non-seafood items. It was there that I realized with my small appetite that maybe we shouldn't hit buffet places, pay a lot of money and I can't take advantage of the portions. I didn't want them wasting money. Paul had accidentally spilled some roast beef juice on his shorts near his zipper, which led to a lot of jokes. My back was really hurting and for some reason I was very cold, even with my jacket on. I had asked for the keys to warm up and to rest my back in the car. Next thing we know, Paul is searching for the car keys and ended up pulling out a steak knife from his burmuda short's pocket. WHAT!?! He had put it in there while in the buffet line since he got roast beef. I missed getting pics with the family in their pirate hats, since I was already in the car, but we did bring some pirate hats home.

We ended up the night @ Tommy Bartlett's waterski show. Not only did we see the water skiers do their awesome stunts, but also a few comedian/jugglers and a lady and a gentlemen climb up these two severely tall poles, which bent and swayed the higher they climbed. No nets mind you. They switched poles mid-air. "AAAAAH!" They ended the show with a laser light tribute to our troops, very touching.

Friday August 13th, 2010

Raining cats and dogs all day. We decided to go see the House on the Rock, in Spring Green, an hour away from Wisc. Dells. We ate @ Perkin's, the Denny's wait was extremely long & crowded. We got seated right away @ Perkin's but our server was forgetful and slow, no creamer for the coffee and she had to be reminded of our needs, barely checking on us. Well it's a good thing she was slow because the downpours kept coming back outside. We finally were able to finish our brunch and were able to load up with gas & hit the road. It would've been nice to have phone reception in some the of high & steep areas we had to travel through. As we passed through this little town called Reedsburg, the radio was up but we were able to hear the tornado sirens go off. We were hoping it was a firetruck or ambulance. We pulled over believe it or not, in front of a place called "Touchdown Tavern". It was called "touchdown" because it was a football themed bar. The sirens did turn off after a while and we continued our journey. We saw a lot of new & old farms. Very scenic.

We did make it to House on the Rock, I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind a little musty odor and a LOT of walking. We spent about 3 and a half hours there, a little kid complained to his parents asking if they could go home, they were there for 5 hours. You won't believe what's inside, the largest indoor carousel, musical instruments that played themselves, a 4 story whale, the Infinity Room, outdoor gardens, dolls, doll houses, mini circus displays, knights in shining armor, Asian art, every mode of transportation inside, cobble stone streets designed from times past, everything you could think of and more is inside these three houses up on this hill. We were in awe. My family really got a workout pushing around me in the wheelchair, the ramps were spiral, carpeted and steep. There's 2 places to eat inside, bring extra bills to get tokens to play their little displays and in one of the gift shops they sell fudge and t-shirts that say "I survived the Infinity Room". Paul & Marie made it to the mid-point, Jenny never entered the room and I made it 3/4's of the way in when Marie noticed how the room swayed due to the vicious storm. I froze in my spot as Marie ran past me, Paul had to come & get me moving again. Again, if you're up in the area, check out this 50 year old place.

We headed back to the Dells & dined @ the Famous Dave's which was a block & a half away from our motel. For some reason I really had no appetite. I ordered the Mac-n-cheese from the kids menu & a corn bread muffin. I was only able to eat half of my food. Argh! The corn bread muffin was actually very tasty, and a little sweet and moist. My back was killing me, I guess from the long car ride & sitting in the wheelchair for 3 hours. I waddled back to the motel, stopping frequently to catch my breath. The three of them returned not too soon afterwards, they went shopping on their way back to the motel. Later they went to see "Step Up in 3D". However it was only in 2D, false advertisement.

Saturday August 14th, 2010

We woke and packed up the car. We went to check out and say "bye" to Margaret and Gene, the owners. Margaret is so sweet. She had given us a discount, gave me a hug and told me that I'll be alright, she survived her stomach cancer & so can I. She said, "Everyday is a good day for a smile." She really practices what she preaches. I couldn't help but start crying. It was so nice to finally meet the people who have taken care of my family & friends for all these years and to hear her words of encouragement just really touched me.

Paul took us to this little place called Stuffy's for brunch. I asked if we'd get sick eating here, he said that he's eaten there before & it's a place that the locals eat at. The coffee urn looked like it was wet when a cat rubbed up against it. I warned Jenny that she might get sick. I barely ate half of a scrambled egg with maybe 3/4 of my toast and milk. I had eaten a banana earlier in the motel.

We went to the Deer Park & had fun feeding the goats & deer. The weather got warm again and I had to walk this route. It had gotten down to 70 degrees F yesterday and it was supposed to be in the 70's, it felt like it was back in the 90's. Anyway some deer were so sneaky, they have these gumball dispensers but it dispensed deer feed. Marie went to put coins in to get the feed, when she lifted the door to get it, two deer stuck their mouths & tongues in there before she could get it. We saw bison, turkeys, 3 little pigs, and some other animals I've never heard of, some kind of fowl.

After that, Paul & I dropped off Marie & Jenny so they could go horseback riding. He and I went to the Indian trading post. I picked up a pair of moccasins and dream catcher, Paul was able to get his letter openers. It's like 4 stores in one, so we took our time. We went back to pick them up and he was able to get them on video upon their return on their horses. J&M had a great time.

We ended up going to Monk's were I dined on the appetizers and tried to eat some of Marie's Philly cheese steak. I was getting a bit frustrated that I couldn't eat that much this trip. Before heading home we had one major last stop, the outlet mall. We shopped until past 8pm. It was good, I was able to get more loose shirts and comfy pants that will stay up on my bony butt and not bother my belly. I also got 2 more loose dresses. Jenny & Marie had the bigger bags and Paul got quite a few purchases too.

One last meal, we stopped @ Culver's. I was very happy, I was able to eat half of a Reuben sandwich, it was pretty tasty, some fries (they have good fries) and almost half of a small vanilla shake. That was the most I ate on this trip. We jammed to a Glee soundtrack, Marie's I-pod and Jenny's CD this trip. We didn't get home until after midnight. Dad woke upon our arrival and we shared some stories before heading to bed.

Which bring us to Sunday. You think I'd sleep the whole night? No, I woke @ 3:30 am, David was up, I ate and he showed me the latest "Jersey Shore". That did it & I was able to sleep @ 5am for a few more hours. I wasn't able to make it to mass, too tired. It was like this for most of Sunday. David had bought my clothing rack and had already set it up in the back room. I emptied out my duffel bag and was able to put the shoe & clothes sectionals on for my shirts, undergarments, etc.. Now there's more room in Marie's room & I'm not cluttering her floor. Since I'm having trouble bending, I won't have to since everything is off the floor.

Judy came by for a surprise visit. I was able to shower late in the afternoon. Then after dinner, friends and more family came by for wrestling Sunday. I was still very tired and had napped on the couch even though everyone was screaming around me. I woke around 8:30 pm and Jenny, my friend from grammar school stopped by to visit while her son watched wrestling. We also celebrated our friend, Randy, and his daughter's birthdays with 3 different types of pie. Which pretty much brings us up to par.

As you can see, it's late again. I'll go to the bathroom, snack & hopefully hit the sack & stay asleep. Good night y'all.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wisconsin State Fair

Wednesday August 11th, 2010

After wishing our dad & our respective doggies "goodbye", Jenny, Marie, Paul & I loaded up his big car for a road trip to Wisconsin Dells. Our second stop would be the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee, the first was Cracker Barrel near the Illinois/Wisconsin border. Food, even though we were headed to a place that had PLENTY of food for us to try.

As we went through Milwaukee, it was nice to see the places that my sweetie and I had hit back in May, ie. the Miller Brewing plant, the Harley Davidson store, etc.. As we got closer to the fair, we didn't realize that it was right behind the racetrack that Danica Patrick & I'm guessing other Nascar people raced at. We got to drive on the actual racetrack & park in pit row. My family was ecstatic and we video taped it. Sweet. Marie was excited to see all the markings left on the walls of the racetrack left by cars that had scraped along side it.

It was funny, on Facebook, a classmate of ours, also named Jenny, from high school, Good Counsel, had mentioned that she was also going to the Wisc. State Fair. So here we are, standing in line for tickets when we heard, "JENNY!" being shouted. Sure enough, Jenny was right behind us with her son & her entourage. Okay, this fair is going of for 11 days and we happen to be in line, all the way from Chicago, at the same time. But I'm not so surprised, Jenny, had worked @ Bamboo Bernies where my friends and I were regulars. Years later I bumped into her @ Crate & Barrell, other friends see her @ Costco. She always seems to pop into our lives. I think it's pretty cool.

Boy was it HOT, 90 degrees plus. It took forever for me to waddle, yes that's my strut now, a waddle, and huffing & puffing to get into the fair after going through an underground tunnel. Luckily under the stands there was the Mile Market, in the shade, where people sold their wares and cool breezes came through. Paul asked if I needed a wheelchair, it didn't take me long to agree to that plan. They should've had it by the entrance, not @ the other end of the park. We made it to the wheelchair rental booth, thank goodness. We rented one for $15.00, the motorized scooter would've been $45.00, plus I don't think I'd be able to drive it very well, but it did come with a basket. My family took turns pushing it. At first I was embarrassed to ride in one but since this mass is causing me so much discomfort and as short of breath that I get, I'm all for wheelchairs. Sometimes the concrete wasn't always smoothe = bumpy and I had to brace myself for those. Ugh. I was still able to see the animals and my family was kind to take pictures for me. I did get up in one of the exhibits areas to try and walk around, my butt started to get numb. I was able to hold the bags we accumulated from shopping & eating.

Speaking of eating, they had tons of fried foods. My family tried the fried Snickers, fried pickles, fried cheese curds, fried cauliflower, fried Oreos, we had begniets, we also ate cookie dough dipped in chocolate. Our plan was to have salads for dinner. Our sister started Weight Watchers and was proud of the weight she had lost. Think she put it back on? Some of us stayed well hydrated, others had a few beers.

We saw the little pigs race, got to see the world's tallest horse, Big Jake, bunnies, chickens, cattle, more horses, pigs, goats, sheep, llamas and alpacas, etc.. The animals were so close, if they decided to evacuate their bowels or bladders, you better not be close behind, some of the display cages were open and there was nothing separating you from their backsides. The baby ducklings, piglets, chicks, calves, etc., had us all saying, "AWWWWW, they're so CUTE!"

They dropped me off @ the exit and Paul went to return the wheelchair. Jenny & Marie stayed with me while I waddled & puffed my way back through the tunnel. I made it to the entrance of the parking lot but now my back was hurting too. GRRR. Jenny & Marie went to get the car. It was still very hot outside. I'm glad I brought a specific throw pillow from dad's, it really helps ease the pain in my back. When they came with the car, that's the first thing I put behind me. The air conditioning in the car helped too.

We were on our way to the Dells. An hour or so later we pulled into Fitzgerald's a little motel on the strip where my family and a good friend of the family stay when they visit. It's been 20 years since I've been here and two years since they were last here. Paul knows the owner so they chatted for a while. As soon as we hit our rooms, Jenny & Marie changed to go into the pool. I rested my back & got online. Paul went to the store & bought a fly swatter, there were 2 in our room & I think they liked me, they kept landing on me. We ended up killing both flies, on Paul's blanket. EWWWW! After the swimmers finished cooling off & showered, we went to dinner @ Carvelli's, an Italian restaurant across the street from the motel. Yes, salads came with our dinners. I really can't walk long distances unless the day trip took a lot out of me, plus the heat. I hope I'll recuperate tonight and have more energy tomorrow.

Paul & I came back to the motel, Jenny & Marie went for a walk. They didn't get far because the key to our room wasn't working. Luckily we had adjoining rooms and J & M came back to get us back in. There's a trick to the lock that Paul figured out. Yeah, for some reason, my back was hurting a lot. After washing up, we ended up watching "Clean House" with Niecy Nash, I love that show, until we fell asleep.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Driving Miss Jessie

Tuesday August 10th, 2010

Today was a day spent with me niece chauffeuring me around, getting more driving time in. We started off @ the Chinese Restaurant where we've been ordering food from since we were little. I miss eating their eggrolls. Since developing shrimp allergies, ie. itchy tongue, a few years ago, I just watch the ones I love eat the things I loved eating. Sigh. I get the fried wontons instead. I showed her how to make iced tea, we ask for a huge glass of ice & pour it from the teapot. It's great on these hot summer days. By the way, this place makes a really good sweet and sour sauce with real fruit bits. YUMMM!

We then walked over to the nail salon where we both got mani-pedi's, lingo for manicures and pedicures. This couple have been taking care of me for the past few years, they know of my plight and the sweet lady always puts a smiley face on my big toes. I get lots of compliments on them and when I'm feeling "blah", I look down & they perk me up. The guy reminds me to "keep my head up" and to "hang in there".

We then headed to Target to get a rolling clothing rack so I'm not living out of a suitcase & can get to my clothes easier instead of bending down all the time and my dresses won't be hanging in the dining room. I also got the hanging shoes and clothes pockets so my shoes aren't cluttering the floor & that way no one has to create closet or drawer space for me.

We stopped off @ my pad to play with the kitties. Marie had a good time teasing them with one of their toys on a string, they became kittens again. She did that while I laid on my back to ease my back pain and shortness of breath. Some semi-reclined positions make me bring up some nasty phlegm, I get into these hacking fits but I'd rather get that crud out of me than have it sit in my lungs. It doesn't help my belly pain one bit. Am I a martyr taking all this pain? Back pain, rib pain, hacking cough, gas, etc.. I'm one big "Owie!"

After leaving there we hit Walgreens to get more ice cream, it's a staple in our home, we go through vanilla ice cream withdrawals sometimes. It went really fast the day our sister brought home the root beer, it didn't stand a chance. Even in the middle of winter were chowing down on our chilly treat. One doesn't have a nice cup of hot chocolate in 90+ degree weather, do they?

We got home and our brother was going to put my clothes rack together when he noticed a bent piece. He's like, "That's cuz it from Target." He works @ KMart. This project will have to wait a bit longer. I hate returning items. Once I leave the store with my purchase, that's it. Sometimes it's like jumping through hoops to get your return and you have to sign like 5 pieces of paper. Like my purse isn't cluttered and heavy enough. I can lose a small person in there and if anyone tried carrying it, you know how heavy it is. It's all that loose change needed for these darn meters.

I took a nap before dinner, I really don't sleep well @ night anymore, it's broken up: a) having to use the bathroom throughout the night; b) trying to find a comfortable position with my large belly; c) I get hungry sometimes & have to eat; and d) I get very hot, they said that chemo will make one pre-menopausal. Not to gross the guys out but my menses are already very minimally spotty and unpredictable and one night I had to sleep with the air conditioner AND a fan on me. Just one restless HOT and BLOATED mess. I get my most exercise @ night. Up & down, rolling this way & that, supporting the belly with a blanket, nah, it doesn't help, remove that, & hoisting my upper body off the bed/couch. I found myself growling, cursing and talking to myself, I'm becoming a crabby person, the dark circles under my eyes have only gotten darkener. So if you see me nap during the daytime, leave me ALONE. Do not disturb. I may awaken for food though.

Take care y'all, I hope you're doing better than I.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Monday August 9th, 2010

My sister, Judy, & I went for my repeat labs and my platelets bounced back, however, my hemoglobin went down to 9.2. I was able to get the dose of Gemzar today. I also discussed possible debulking, removing part of the tumor, with my oncologist & nurse practitioner, they both noticed how large my abdomen has gotten. I was given the referral.

I did receive Gemzar today. While waiting for it & receiving it, we watched "The Empire Strikes Back" and shared a ham sandwich on a croissant. We got home and I felt a little achy, which normally happens during my chemo sessions, I feel warm, then the "fever" breaks, & I sweat all over the chair. So I laid down and fell asleep on the couch. I woke around 8:30 pm and still felt the same way. I checked my temp and it was 103.2 I was told if I spiked a fever to call the on-call oncologist. He recommended that I take a Tylenol, which I did, 500 mg. I also showered to see if that'd help. After my shower I started sweating and the doctor had called me back. He said to come in if anything gets worse. He also said that Gemzar is known to create fevers that don't have to do with an infection. By then my temp went down to 101.6. The latest was 99.4 about 30 minutes ago. I hope the rest of the night goes by smoothly.