Monday, November 22, 2010


Hi y'all,

I've got my mottos to get me through this cancer ordeal. 1) "I'm hanging in there" and 2) "I'm doing the best I can". There are good days and bad days, mostly decent days, but I trudge through them, back massages, human contact is better than the massage chair with the help of meds, a fan to help cool me off & get some circulating air, someone to remind me to relax and coach me into deep breathing and to distract me.
Just a quick recap of my past weekends.

Back on Saturday, November 20, Cathy and Paul escorted me to the Anointing of the Sick mass at St. Edwards. At the mass we sat by Mr & Mrs Yumo. During the mass, at the point of the anointing, Mrs Yumo went up with me. The priest anointed Mrs Yumo and then turned to bless the next parishioner. I had to ask him to anoint me. (What’s up with that.)

Afterwards, they snuck me over to the Boy Scout’s Annual Spaghetti Dinner in the school gym. Jenny Schiller’s son Peter’s troop was sponsoring the dinner. The dinner was delicious. At the dinner, I ran into another St Ed’s alum, Sue Kurtzer. We took a picture that I need to post (amongst many others).

On Saturday, November 27th, if you saw someone that looked like me at Yorktown mall, then you saw me. Adam’s grandmother is a hair stylist there, and I went there to get my hair cut and dyed and styled. Jenny, Paul and Coye, then took me around the mall shopping to get some Christmas and birthday shopping out of the way. They chose to eat at Flat Top Grill (with their super sugary drinks which would cure a diabetic coma) at the other end of the mall. We froze our buns off. It was cold in the outdoors part of the mall.

Then on Sunday, November 28, I joined Lisa’s celebration of her BIG 4-0 (please don’t kill me for announcing your age) birthday at CafĂ© Ba Ba Reeba. The food was yummy. I was so tempted to have some Sangria. It was great to see everyone at such a happy time. I was also happy to see familiar faces at the party and at the bar. It brought back a lot of good memories.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fundraiser Pictures

Here are links to 2 sets of fundraiser photos. (Heads up - you need to have/create a Walgreens account to view them.)

BTW - who is with me on the thought that Bristol Palin should have been kicked off of Dancing with the Stars several weeks ago.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Move that tuchus (butt)

Wednesday November 10, 2010

Today's the day for the blood transfusions. I took a Tramadol with some cereal, I was hoping to avoid the back/stomach pain I usually get when I wake up & try to eat or move my bowels. Dad & I got to the oncology clinic around 9:15 am. So far, so good, no pain. He pulled up to the door in the circular drive & I took the wheelchair & our bags inside. I had registered while he parked the car. I need to get some exercise. Start small & build on it, as tolerated. He arrived and sat with the w/c when they called my name for vitals. I hobbled on over without the w/c. Vera was happy to see me move on my own. I got back to dad & got comfortable to wait for a room to become available. Shortly one did, it had the nice recliner chair but I had to share a bathroom with the pt's in the next room. This one had a tv that had regular channels as well as the VHS player. The tv had great reception, sometimes it's snow while trying to watch regular channels or when the VHS is on.

Before receiving the blood, they gave me Tylenol 1 gm and Benadryl 50 mg by mouth. A 4th year pharmacy student asked if some 2nd year pharmacy students could interview a pt. I said that I don't mind doing so. I miss teaching some of the new nurses, techs, doctors etc., @ the VA. Near the end of the interview with the 5 students, the Benadryl & Tramadol kicked in and I was getting tired, forgetful and was slurriing my words.

Dad then went to get us some lunch. I had requested that 4 berry smoothie, the small size this time and a salad. He returned shortly and boy was the food good. I ate the whole thing. After lunch, I still had another unit of blood to go. Gabe had texted that he could bring me home. I told dad, which was good because dad was falling asleep. By the time the 2nd unit infused, Gabe had just pullled up to the oncology clinic. Since I just received the extra fluid, I had asked Gabe if he wouldn't mind staying @ my dad's for a while & help "pump" me (my shunt), that and also to massage my back in case the severe pain kicked in. He saw how little I ate & that it takes a little longer to get the food inside me. He also got to see my pain exacerbation. The pain hit me around 8 pm. He tried the back massage, we tried the Morphine sulfate orally and he tried pumping. It took more than the 20 min. to 1 hr. and still could not get 100% relief. Judy came home shortly afterwards, after Gabe left, Judy tried her back massage and pumped my stomach.It was a restless and uncomfortable night.

Thursday November 11th, 2010

Coye, Judy, Odette and I went to check out Gilda's Club, the support group that came through fruition from the loved ones of Gilda Radner, the comedian, from Saturday Night Live who was married to Gene Wilder and she had ovarian cancer. There's 2 locations, the one downtown and the one across the street from Illinois Masonic. My siblings and I hope the rest of our family would be able to attend some sessions. My legs were very swollen and I rode in the wheelchair inside, I didn't know how far the path would be to the room. On the way out, I walked back to the car. It was a little cool outside, the sun was shining and helped warm us up. I'm glad because I had worn a nice house dres. Odette, Coye & I ended up having lunch @ Selmarie Cafe in Lincoln Square. We shared the ham & cheese sandwich with the salad with goat cheese. We picked up some pastries before we left, some sugar cookies and chocolate scones. Too much fresh air & good food, I zonked out when we got home.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"We will pump, you up" - Hans und Franz

Thursday November 4th 2010

Well, I've been laying around dealing with this lovely cramping in my back which can be severe at times and has me taking my Tramadol around the clock, every 6 hours. Sometimes I oversleep and miss that 6th hour dose. When it gets to be more than I can handle, I'll break out the morphine liquid. FYI, the latter has a nasty super bitter taste that makes your face cringe. It also gave me heartburn if I don't chase it with lots of liquid or I lie flat right after taking it. It does knock me out for several hours plus. This pain also comes when I eat sometimes or right after I have a bowel movement. The cramping also goes to my abdomen. Again, it can be so severe that after I take my pain meds, crawl on the heating pad & try to catch my breath, it still doesn't go away. It happened this morning after I moved my bowels twice. It doesn't help to moan out loud or cry, which I did and it just made my SOB worse. I was home alone @ this this time. I called our sister, Cathy, who happened to be off today & asked her to talk me through the worst of the storm. Distraction seemed to help, she talked about our cats and her pending trip. It took about 20 minutes for the cramping to subside. I've had this pain even before my surgery and when I just started dealing with the cancer.

Not only am I dealing with the cramps, I'm also dealing with my swollen belly, swelling in my hips and down to my toes, and the shunt. I have to pump the button on the left side of my abdomen several times an hour. One gets tired after doing it for a while. It works better while I lie flat rather than sitting up. My belly flattens out and the pumping is easier. I showed my sisters, Judy & Jenny, where it is. It actually feels better when someone else does it, like when someone else gives you a massage. I want to show my brothers but they're like, "no way". Sometimes pumping stimulates my bowels to move and to pass gas. Unfortunately, the pain meds I'm on slow down the bowels. To counteract that, I'm on Lactulose and Colace, eating my Frosted mini-wheats, drinking water and I've gotta move around more.

When I'm having this discomfort, it's hard for me to eat. So it's either small portions then I make up for it when the pain is gone. Sometimes we'll have something I haven't had in a while and I'll dig in, and despite how uneasy I feel, I'll get a decent portion down. If not, there's always my Ensure to drink on ice or I'll make myself something with ice cream later. Dad always has some fruit so I'll nibble on that or cereal. Mind you, I still have to have a 4 gram sodium diet. I'm on one med which says to drink plenty of water and I'm on another pill which makes me urinate, still trying to find the perfect balance. Like Alice in Wonderland.

Friday November 5th, 2010

I was in a lot of discomfort today, belly-wise, bloated and no BM. My brother, Tim, called to see if he could stop by, I said, "Only if you pump my belly". He agreed. Paul had come by with gyros for dinner. He not only brought the tzaziki (sp?) sauce, but King's onion rings and their other special sweet basil sauce for the gyros. As good as they smelled, I couldn't eat just yet. Thank goodness that Tim & his wife Cathy took turns pumping my stomach. It felt so much better as it flattened out and I got up attempting to eat. Lo' and behold, they had the magic fingers to relieve what was ailing me all day and after visiting the bathroom, I felt good enough to eat. I ate half of the gyro and a few onion rings, these were not salty and I fell in love with the new basil sauce.

Paul had rented a few movies, the one we chose to watch with David was a movie about the haunted house that was supposedly built on the site of John Gacy's old house. The footage reminded us of the Blair Witch Project which didn't help my vertigo, so I worked on my rug and listened and glanced up once in a while. The movie was like those paranormal shows where they hear the odd noises, some old expert dispells them, a couple makes out in one of the bedrooms, not much happens for the first hour of the movie. It's the last half hour where bad things start happening to the small cast, we hear the demonic moans, of course the female psychic had to show off her boob job not once, but twice before dying @ the hands of the evil spirit that plagued the house. Supposedly the original house was torn down in the late 1970's and the new house was put up in early 2000's. This house looked older than my house. If it's a cheesy film, someone in our house has seen it at least once.

Saturday November 6th, 2010

Again, I'm not doing much but sleeping like a koala during the daytime, eating and catching up with some phone calls when I can. Sometimes I'm up all night zoning like a zombie in front of the boob tube trying to get comfortable to sleep or during the daytime I can fall asleep with the remote in my hand raised to change the channel and I'm frozen in that position. Jenny asked me, "Are you going to change the channel or what?" I fell asleep doing my rug and I had the latch hook in my hand raised and David asked it I was going to sleep, if so, I should put the potentially harmful instrument down.

Now you may think that I'm obsessed with my belly issues, well I am. It's the most painful area of my body and every pain episode I'm trying to figure out what the cause is to relieve it. Paul came back again to visit and was in the dining room. I was resting on the couch. Dad had come home from Joan's. I'm not sure who else was in the dining room but I can understand why I'm a big gas balloon, but so were the family members out in the other room. We're family and if you can't pass gas in front of your family members, I feel sorry for you. Anyway, I guess we were going back & forth between the 2 rooms. Dad asked, "Are you all communicating by Morse Code?"

Uber moist brownies. Paul's cooking is 99% of the time makes great whatever he touches. He had bought a brownie mix & we all learned something. There's 2 sizes of brownie mix so READ the cooking instructions well before you bake them. He had bought the smaller box but used enough water for the bigger box. Jenny said that they looked yummy but didn't have the same flavor. We'll do our best to save food, she put ice cream on top & still ate it. Once I made Stove Top Stuffing but didn't follow the instructions correctly. It was watered down, Paul & Jenny soaked up the excess water & still tried to eat it. They ended up watching Mirrors 2 that night. It was a gore fest. I didn't watch it but at least it had more action than the Gacy film. All their screaming & laughing was funny. Coye & his friend, Bryan, came by. Marie & Bryan were getting kicks off of some youtube videos, ie. a super chubby guy dancing to "My Lovely Lady Humps".

Sunday November 7th, 2010

I had a hankering for taffy apples but our dad kept bringing home ones with nuts. He finally brought some home without nuts and I was very happy. He had found one 3 times the size of the "Affy Tapples" that he got from Mariano's his place in Arlington Heights. Jenny woke me to help her, Dave, Paul, & Marie to eat this one. Oh, I got my 2 slices together, took a few slips of milk with my meds, took a bite or 2 of the caramel apple and next thing you know, my cramping back and abdomen kicked in. "NO, NOT NOW!!!" I ran to the recliner & heating pad. I think they even gave me some morphine too. I zonked out for a while when the pain subsided. When I woke, I went to check on the caramel apples slices, which were gone. I just hope someone ate them and that they didn't end up in the garbage.

I called our friend, Sue, in California. It was her 40th birthday. I left a message. Paul came by yet again, he made beef stew with Bisquick biscuits on top. It's yummy and it amazes me how the biscuits develop on top of the stew. Paul made one more dessert, the Halloween Funfetti cake with homemade icing, half vanilla, half chocolate.

I had a bit of energy and I wanted to have a good shower. It was late, siblings were catching up on laundry and dishes were being done. I finally got my butt in the shower @ midnight. I thought they'd all be in bed and wouldn't use any other water source. The shower changes even if someone washes their hands in the basement. Using the stool, it took a while, but I was able to get in a full shower, shave my legs & pits as well. Had a hard time bending & I hope I was able to get my back. Near the end of the shower the temp. kept fluctuating. It turned out that David had gotten up and was using the water.

Monday November 8th, 2010

Dad took me for a follow up appt. with surgery, Dr. Simpson. He told me to stop my antibiotics, increase my diuretics (water pills), and to keep pumping my shunt. He had also checked my labs that I had done earlier in the day. It showed that my hemoglobin is low 7.8 which means I'll be requiring some blood transfusions again. He called Vera in oncology & she told me to come by when he's done with me. Dad & I travelled over there where she had a Type & Cross tube drawn. I'll be going in on Wednesday for 2 units of red blood cells. I hope I don't get too overloadeed with fluids. Our brother, Coye, would like to attend a session @ Gilda's Club in Lakeview on Thursday. It's @ 11 am. It was started with Gilda Radner and she had ovarian cancer. They provide couseling for cancer patients, families and friends, they have activities ie. knitting, yoga, etc..

I'll let you know how things go. Again, sorry if I take a while to get back to my blog. Let's give a shout out to Marie, she had her sports dinner and received the coache's award. They spelled her name right too. YEAH! Oh, some other cute videos you might want to check out on youtube. "Fainting goats" and "Fainting kittens". They're adorable and cute. See ya.