Friday, December 10, 2010

Diagnosis Cancer - November 2005

From March 2005 - June 2008 my blog was elsewhere.  I'm worried all the posts during my cancer diagnosis and treatment will be lost so I'm moving them over one month at a time.

Ultrasound and Colonoscopy

posted Tuesday, 1 November 2005

We went to the appointment this morning at 8:30 a.m. and I didn't get done there until about 1p.m. It took two sticks to get the IV started but it did work. They were extremely nice and knocked me out completely. Yay! So I remember nothing after she gave me the shot. I asked if I could be dizzy from it already, they said yes and that was it. Then I woke up and asked if they had been able to do the entire thing and they said yes. Thankfully. We then picked my mom up at the airport and in the morning I go for my CT scan, then the appointment with the doctor and surgeon telling us what we do next. More tomorrow.

I'm back!

posted Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Sorry for the delay in updates, I have been in the hospital this whole time and my mom has been with me and my husband was directed to update the blog but between working, seeing me and tending to house, dogs and kids he didn't get to it.

This will be short but I'll try to give you a more thorough update later.  I don't have very much strength still yet so this is draining setting at the computer.  My laptop crashed so I have to use my husband's desktop.  I got dismissed yesterday and was able to actually get home around 5 p.m.  I think I told you they did the ultrasound and colonoscopy trying to stage the cancer.  Well they couldn't get the probe into a good position to stage it.  The surgeon was basing his decision on the next step by this staging process.  We all suspected he would send me home for Chemo then surgery because of it's size.  But because of it's location he decided to do surgery first.

I had surgery last Thursday and everyone continued to be very nice and very concerned with my comfort mentally as well as physically.  I was given relaxing medication in the pre surgery room, before they wheeled me over to knock me out.  The nurses were great to hold my hand as needed and to just tell me to cry or whatever I needed they were there and great.

Gotta shorten this sorry.  Surgery went good and the doctor said it was Stage 3.  4 of the 28 lymph nodes taken out for evaluation came back positive.  Still in a lot of pain but hopefully that will pass soon.  My mom is here helping me until next Tuesday.  I have to meet with Oncology in a few weeks.  They want to give my body a few weeks recovery time before we start the Chemo.  So far the oncologist sounded like we may be doing two types of chemo.  He said they would both be done every 2 weeks for 6 months.  One of them would be at a facility for a few hours and the other one would involve a shunt and wearing the machine giving me an IV basically for 2 days.
More later, sorry.

Thank you everyone

posted Thursday, 10 November 2005

You have all been so caring and supportive, I just wanted you to know it has helped, is helping. It's great to have such wonderful friends supporting me through this. I think if I didn't have the internet and this blog to help me through I would feel more depressed and alone. It's wonderful to know so many people are rooting for me. Thank you!!

I am laying here letting the pain meds take effect so I can go take a shower. The Mayo called yesterday and apparently my next appointment is next Wednesday. I actually still have a lot of questions but I guess that's the day they should give some answers. That's the day we'll set up the chemo plan. It's still confusing to me how I got cancer in the first place. They didn't find any evidence of Crohn's or Colitus. So we still don't really have an explanation for it. One of the tests being done is to see if I have a gene that would make my kids need to worry. So far they're saying my kids should all start being tested at 25-28 yrs old.
Shower time. I'll try to get back
on later.

Cancer & House & Dennis & Lhasas

posted Friday, 11 November 2005

I had a pretty good day today, less pain, so that's great. With my computer messed up I don't have access to some email addresses and stuff saved on it but hopefully soon. Also, haven't even tried to get back on the groups yet to catch up but again I'll get there. I haven't been talking on the phone much to anyone, just don't have the strength believe it or not and am letting my mom carry my cell phone until she leaves to keep in touch with dad, so please don't be offended.

I'm really glad we went to the Mayo Clinic instead of waiting for everything to be done here. I would just be having my next test tomorrow had we waited and then there was still another one after that. So, I'm very glad we didn't wait, just imagine, in a few weeks maybe the verdict would have been Stage 4 instead of Stage 3. But then again maybe if I hadn't put off getting checked, waiting for the house to be done I would have been at Stage 2. Do you know the 5 year survival rate for Stage 2 is 90% while at Stage 3 it drops to 28%! Ouch. The Chemo supposedly is supposed to better my odds of the cancer not coming back by only about 10-15% according to the Oncologist so you kind of wonder if it's worth it. Then you decide it is, any percent is better than nothing.

Dennis is still hard at work on the house and things are coming slowly together. He's got the boys helping and his son has been coming to help too. He has almost all of the siding and soffits up and built a small fence for the doggies. The radiant floor is going; seems to be working. The doggies are enjoying warm paws. The garage we started building got blew down in a wind storm we had a couple of nights ago. So that's a mess and a big set back. I think the goal for tomorrow for the men (and boys) is to get the yard cleaned up, scrap stuff put into dumpster and finish siding. Hopefully they'll be able to rebuild the garage this weekend too.

Just hate that all this has been put on Dennis's shoulders. I was carrying my share of the weight until now. Now he has to work, finish the house, take care of the kids, the dogs and me and currently my mom. He has to take my mom to the airport next week and me to the Mayo again as I'm not allowed to drive yet. Somewhere he has to be able to find time to work and keep that paycheck coming in. :) As well as finishing this place, hoping for appraisal next week so we don't loose the rate we locked in at. Just way overwhelming and he seems to be hanging in there. I get bored laying in bed or sitting around so he makes sure I can go to the store with him or just get out of the house for a while. Luckily most places have wheelchairs and he seems to like pushing me around.

The lhasas all seem to be fairing well even though they aren't getting much of mama attention. I can't pick any of them up but it seems they understand and are being less demanding of me. I'm not supposed to pick up anything heavier than a gallon of milk for a few weeks or they said I could cause a hernia so I think I'll listen. The pups all seem to enjoy their new little fenced in area although they'd prefer to be chased all over the acres. (sidenote: at the time we had four lhasa apsos, we had taken in two pups - brother and sister - that at some point in all this I had to give up)

Just one more set back

posted Saturday, 12 November 2005

While I was in the hospital, let's see it was Saturday night (I had surgery Thursday), my blood pressure dropped enough to effect my breathing I guess. All I know for sure is the nurse would check vitals during the night a couple of times and that night she checked and came back with the machine that measures your oxygen. After a bit I had several nurses and blood pressure being taken every thirty minutes or so and they hooked me to the oxygen machine overnight. I kept setting the machine off because my oxygen levels kept dropping. I know the next morning, my blood pressure was 76/56 and she said it had come up. I had to be on that oxygen alarm thing for the entire next day and night. My blood pressure gradually came up although they did skip my blood pressure medication that day. But all through the day, anytime I got relaxed or started to fall asleep the monitor would go off, I had stopped breathing and my mom would say, Breathe Lisa. Over and over she told me to breath. I would have to move, adjust myself and almost hyperventilate to get the oxygen rate to go up enough the machine would shut up. I know all this kept me in the hospital an extra day.

On the day I was dismissed they had some discussion about my incision and the possibility of it being infected, maybe cutting it open, etc but they ended up deciding I was ok. Last night I had a lot of drainage and my gown got very messy, whereas my drainage had just been a small amount. This was a large amount and I was uncomfortable all night and the incision looked red again. After calling Mayo it was decided I would go to our local clinic to get checked. The doctor tried to determine if the infection is only on the surface or goes deeper because that makes a difference in treatment. My blood work looked pretty good. He is not positive the infection isn't deeper but he gave me antibiotic and I see the Mayo doctor next week.

Michele, we actually bought some pomegranates the other day. I love them but I'm not allowed to eat any fresh fruit or vegetables for at least another week. After that I'll give it a shot. :)

Back at Mayo

posted Wednesday, 16 November 2005

The last few days have been pretty eventful. After getting on the antibiotics I continued to have drainage, in fact the next morning I woke up looking like I had been slaughtered. My gown covered in blood so once again we were on the phone with the Mayo. They again discussed possibly cutting the incision back open but were not definite. They were comfortable having me watch it and go to my local clinic if things got worse. I had bloody messes for about 24 hours but it did quit.

I'm still having pain but saw the surgeon today and he assured me that it's okay. He said they actually tear some muscle during the surgery so it's not uncommon to still be in this much pain 2 weeks later. He also said the incision is looking good but finish the antibiotics. There's still some redness but it should go away as the infection leaves. He gave me permission to take a bath instead of shower so I enjoyed a nice soak and my book earlier. :)

We saw the oncologist, I really liked him. He was informative although I didn't like some of the news I got. I know this sounds nuts but I'm still having a hard time with this cancer thing. I think I'm walking around in shock still yet, maybe denial and I know my kids are still in denial. It's just so unreal. Just hasn't all sunk in.

Anyway, the dr says there's a little better than 50% chance of my cancer coming back if we did nothing else. He wants to do Chemo and possibly radiation to make those odds drop to a little under 50%. Seems like such a small difference it makes you wonder if it's worth it but. . . I go in two weeks to get the shunt. I will get the two hour treatment and the 2 day treatment for 6 months. Then because of how low the tumor was it sounds like I get to have radiation therapy for 5-6 weeks, Monday-Friday. this sucks.
I want to post so much info and hopefully will eventually get to it all. I so thank you all for being here and caring like you do, it makes a difference in my heart.

On the note of lhasas, and I probably need to devote a detailed post for this but for now I want to mention that Amber and I are needing help transporting our babies, Samson and Delialiah back to her in Miami, FL from Marshfield, WI. As you can probably imagine 4 pups are just too much for me right now. And according to the oncologist my next several months will be ate up with doctor visits and therapies and the pups need more attention than I can give right now.

Our first snow

posted Thursday, 17 November 2005

Hey guys, I was only at Mayo for the day and on my way home now. My husband has to work today in a town that is between the clinic and our house so we stopped overnight. He's still sleeping so I'm sitting in the bathtub, trying to keep from waking him. During all of this he has been so great. He's very attentive and doesn't mind wheeling me around in a wheelchair and I got a bath pillow from Bath and Body and another robe. :) He just keeps getting me things, you should feel the robe he bought me for the hospital stay. It's pink and SOOOO soft. I love it!

Sounds like I need to get some thermal socks and lots of gloves because according to the oncologist cold feet and hands are a side-effect of the chemo. He doesn't know if I'll lose my hair or not. I've been picking out hats just in case. :) I actually went to the beauty shop and got my hair cut shorter. I told the lady I wanted something that was basically wash and wear and shorter than my shoulders. She cut off about 6 inches and so far I have been able to just wash and go. Makes wearing my winter hats easier too. :)

Oh, we got snow. I guess I didn't mention our first snow started Tuesday, the day my mom had to fly home. It didn't interrupt her flight though. It was great having her here. She was so much help and company and Haden loved playing cards with her every evening. None of us wanted her leave but Dad sure needed her back home. They have 3 dogs and one of the Yorkies, Tessie had surgery for bladder stones, right before my surgery. Dad has been having fun cleaning up messes because she got an infection and keeps piddling everywhere. I'm sure Dad and the dogs are just as happy to see her as we were sad to see her leave.

I have just sat here for a good 5 minutes stumped of what to write next. My mind got side-tracked on oncologist visit and books I'm reading and while I feel there are a million things I want to share I can't seem to figure how to get them all out. I'll keep trying.

We got a three week extension on the house so Dennis is feeling better about that. The bank also seems to be willing to let us have a few things unfinished but we have to talk with the appraiser to get definites.

Christmas Cactus

posted Friday, 18 November 2005

Last night my husband was so intent on getting the tv hooked up in the bathroom for me so I can lay in my whirlpool and watch tv.  Aren't I spoiled?!  :)  It took a couple of trips to Menards but he did get it up and working and looking good too.  I'll take a photo if I can figure out where he's put my camera.  I feel lost in my own house right now.  :)  I usually know where everything is but, not currently.

On the second trip to Menards I went with him and spied some Christmas Cactus.  Some had blooms like I hadn't seen before and as I looked at them I thought "life".  Needless to say when he came back with the needed screws, a purple one and a yellow one had found their way into the cart.  I told him they made me think of life and one was going in the bathroom by the whirlpool.  I picked two that are full of buds and I can't wait to see them all open.  The first Christmas that I was a mother my dad brought me a Christmas Cactus and I enjoyed it for years, hated to lose it.
Also, last night we called our friends, Mark and Helen to see if they could go to a movie with us.  Mark said he'd give us a call when Helen got home from work.  He wanted to go but she may have a lot of work so he had to check.  When he called later to say they couldn't go, I teared up.  I'm still trying to figure this one out.  I was okay, I had an enjoyable evening but for that moment when he said they couldn't I almost cried.  Big Baby! (sidenote: we no longer are in touch with them at all, they’re older than us and I think my cancer affected her a little much)

I spent the evening reading one of the Cancer books we got and have spent most of today reading it too.  It's very informative; it's about 1,000 pages long and I swear it's over my lifting limit.  But it's full of a lot of good information, tips and strategies. It's written by Peter Teeley and Philip Bashe and has foreward by George H. W. Bush, The Complete Revised and Updated Cancer Survival Guide covers the 25 most common forms of cancer.  I'm 650 pages into it but I've skipped things that don't currently pertain to me, still that leaves me with having read hundreds of pages.  I had no idea that Mrs Barbara Bush sits on the board of trustees at the Mayo Clinic, nor that they lost a young daughter in the 50s to leukemia.

Another great book I'm enjoying is help me live: 20 things people with cancer want you to know  by Lori Hope.  It's aimed at the loved ones of people with cancer and much shorter than the previously mentioned book.  If I'm not careful I'll have all four books read by Monday and have to twiddle my thumbs.  Luckily, I see my regular doctor on Tuesday so I can always go to the library for more, just can't highlight in them.

What I'm seeing in these books is these people knew people with cancer before they were diagnosed and most had a family history.  I don't know anyone but me with it.  I talked to the Cancer Hope Network and they set me up with a survivor to talk with periodically.  I was amazed at how well they matched us, she's 37 and had colon cancer at 32.  She has given me some food for thought and some ideas (we've spoken twice) but I don't think I'll hear from her again unless I call and make the request.  I wonder if going through this with me has brought back her own fears and worries.  I sure hope not.  She suggested, and I love this idea, that each time you go for a treatment you treat yourself to something nice.  You're doing this crappy thing, that you have to do but is not enjoyable so you must make time to do something enjoyable too.  Made sense.  I'm thinking of places I can go to take photos on days I feel good.  I'd love to get a new book each time but that could get costly.  We're looking at about 8 months of treatments, I need to figure out at least a few cheap or free ideas.  Especially since we'll be spending so much on gas and hotels just getting the treatments. (sidenote: At the time I was going through all of this I really hated for any money to be spent on me - I didn’t think I would live much longer and didn’t want any money wasted on me.)

I am laying around here, bored bored BORED out of my mind so I've been digging up things to do, like sew, read, write, etc.  I'm hating this feeling of helplessness right now and I need busywork.  My husband and kids are running all over doing things and I've been pushed to the role of doing nothing.  I've labored hard on this house too and it's driving me crazy to just sit and wait for everything to be done and not lift my own finger to help.

Oh, the appraiser has decided to come next Wednesday by the way.  So you can imagine the scurrying going on here.  Dennis has to be out of town Tuesday and Wednesday so I get to show him through the house and I'm going to have to have Haden and Khris be my arms and dust, mop, etc Tuesday evening.  I need them to bathe dogs too, they are smelly puppies.  I can't lift the dogs and no one else seems to know how to bathe them.  Hopefully, I can get Haden to lift them to the kitchen sink then I can bathe them.  It would be nice.  I just wish he wasn't coming so soon.  Peter (at the bank) sounded like it would be a couple of weeks before he came.

I can't wait to decorate for Christmas.  I love going to get the tree and this year I can have a really tall one.  I'm so excited.

Passing the time with Counted Cross-Stitch

posted Sunday, 20 November 2005

Not much exciting happening but I thought I should let you all know I'm still alive.  :)  I'm feeling less pain each day but still can't stand for long periods.  I promised Amber I'd take pictures of the puppies in the snow.  Well, I found my camera and it's charging so I'll send my son out in a bit to snap some of them.  The snow is melting a little so grass is starting to show.  It sure was prettier with the whole yard covered in white.

I'm still reading the books and actually have been laying in bed sewing.  I've done counted cross-stitch for years although I haven't done any since moving up here.  All my sewing supplies are packed but I had Dennis help me pick out a kit that has the pattern, floss, material and needle in it so I could lay around and sew.  It feels good to be stitching again.  I used to love to pass the time that way, have just felt guilty and lazy trying to do it these last few years.  But, as I said I'm bored out of my mind so I can be comfy in bed and stitching away and not have to feel guilty right?  :)

Other than that, the most exciting thing to happen in the last two days is that I shaved my legs.  :)  First time since before surgery so that's an accomplishment too.  In fact I apologized to the oncologist last week that I hadn't shaved under my arms recently but assured him I had put on deodorant.  I'm finding that none of the cancer doctor's have senses of humor but maybe I can change that.

Shunt/port for chemo

posted Tuesday, 22 November 2005

I meet with the surgeon Monday afternoon to get a port placed in my chest (or arm) that will remain there for the duration of chemo.  Through this port they can do IVs and the chemo and draw blood so I don't have to be stuck continually.  From my understanding it can be hard to find a vein after a few chemo treatments and I have bad veins to begin with.  They will teach me how to care for it and such so I don't get an infection that would make it necessary to take it out.

Tuesday morning I will get the port placed during an outpatient procedure.  This line leads directly to the heart.  Some ports are completely under the skin and others have the cap sticking out.  Either way it's supposed to be easier on me than a regular IV done each time.

Tuesday afternoon I meet with the oncologist once again and he will start my first chemo on Wednesday morning.  Sounds like most of my week is taken up.
They say that you should be actively involved in your cancer treatment therefore I have been reading a lot and learning much.  I know this is what the experts believe to be best but I think maybe it instills a little more fear, at least right now.  Supposedly, it should lessen fear of the unknown but instead I find out side effects and dangers that I didn't know existed.  I do really well day to day just living and reading and learning but I still have difficulty with the reality that what I'm learning about pertains to me.  It's possible to "forget" or "ignore" the Cancer day to day but when I get a new appointment the panic sets back in.  As it gets closer to the appointment I really feel like running away but know I have to tough it out.  When I get back to the hospital my anxiety gets greater and greater and as each procedure happens I am really wiggin out.  Then they're over and I can go back to pretending I'm normal.

I saw my regular doctor this morning and she gave me ambien to help with sleeping from time to time.  I'm having trouble sleeping so she said I could use this as needed, especially the night before procedures when my anxiety is the highest.  She also gave my husband and me flu shots and I need to schedule the kids to get them too.  Since my resistance will be down during chemo it's very important I don't get sick.  The oncologist already told me I have to take my temperature regularly because any trivial infection has the potential to be life threatening during this time.  She also gave me the pneumonia vaccine.  Looks like I'm set to start chemo whether I want to or not.

a little miffed

posted Tuesday, 22 November 2005

I asked my regular doctor today if I should increase my calcium or do anything to help the osteo during the chemo, to keep it from getting worse.  Her response was that I should concentrate on the cancer and the osteo will be okay for the 6 months of chemo, then I can deal with it.  I don't want to do it that way.  I want to do whatever I can to keep it from getting worse during the chemo because I think the potential is there to get worse.  Believe me, I will be asking the oncologist the same question.  I comprehend that my life has to revolve around the cancer currently but I think I shouldn't let other things slide because of it or I may have bigger issues to deal with later.  Also, I'll admit that maybe focusing on the little things, where I can have some control, keeps my mind off the bigger problem, where I have no control.

Worries and fears

posted Wednesday, 23 November 2005

You all amaze me with your dedication to checking in on me and giving words of support.  I hope you all know how much it means.  We've only lived in WI for 2 years and due to the fact that I don't work and my husband works all over the state we haven't made many close friends in our area.  Some days I wish I had a friend to hang out with and cry with and laugh with - in person - I know you guys would be here if you lived closer and that's a comfort.  I'm okay with any of you having my address and it would be wonderful to hear from you that way too.

I hate heaping all of this on my husband and kids.  It feels so unfair for my teenagers to have to think of my health at a time when I should be helping them spread their wings.  I'm sure it would seem unfair no matter what their ages were but I hate it that it's Mikal's Senior year and we have a hard time thinking about the things he needs to get done in amongst everything else.  I'm still recuperating from the surgery and am having yucky days now, I dread to feel the yucky days of chemo.  I want to be an ostrich and just bury my head in the hopes it will all go away.  Can you believe I still keep asking the doctors if they're sure it was cancer?  I'm sure they've dealt with all kinds of people, so I'm probably not the first.  I don't want to do any of this.  I want to throw a temper tantrum and have my husband and mom wrap me up in their arms and tell me I don't have to but they're here doing the right thing and saying they understand but I still have to.  It's so tempting to run away before Monday.  I don't want to do this and I don't have a choice.  Well I guess I have a choice if I want to die soon, same as not having a choice.

I hate that my family is so far away and they're worrying about me and feeling helpless with the distance and it's my fault they're far because I moved.  They didn't.  Yesterday I couldn't reach my mom or grandma on the phone and I was worried that something had happened to one of them.  I worry that if something happens to one of them it will be my fault because of the stress of worrying about me.

I worry about putting information on here that will further worry my family if they read it.  Especially my daughter in Pennsylvania.  I try to make sure I've talked to them all about my different feelings and such before posting it so they won't be scared reading it here instead of hearing it from me.

I worry that my kids don't understand the gravity of the situation or that they understand it too well.  And I'm sensitive to the way people, especially the doctors, relate to me.  Like yesterday, when the doctor was suddenly unconcerned about my calcium (a few months ago she was concerned and adamant) I felt she was giving up on me.  I don't want to hear the doctors giving up on me.  I haven't.  I'm sure that's not how she intended but I actually almost snapped her head off right away because that's how I took it.  Like, don't worry about the osteo, the cancer's gonna get ya long before that.

Haden is my babysitter today and he's been doing great.  He's 13 and taking care of me.  Should be the other way around, shouldn't it.  I spent most of yesterday shaking and chilling - nerves I think and with Dennis gone working he wasn't here to lean on.  Finally, Haden helped me bathe Fibi and she spent the evening in bed with me.  She brought me great comfort but don't tell her that JoZe would have brought more.  JoZe would have laid beside me through all this and never left my side.  Fibi on the other hand wants to get up and down off the bed which is a production because I have to get up to put her on each time she comes back.  And I don't trust her on the floor because she's been having too many accidents since I got sick.  While Fibi brought me comfort I also felt guilty that I didn't have the strength to bathe all the others and get their lovings too.  I asked my oldest son to bathe a dog - I figured 3 dogs and 3 kids, they could surely do that but you would have thought I asked him to cut off his arm.  He unloaded the dishwasher without being asked but no one else got a bath yet.
I wonder when I'm going to find the time and energy to take the kids for their flu shots.  I don't feel like leaving home some days and my husband is loaded down with work and the house.  It's important they get them though.  Mikal asked if his girlfriend should get one too.  She's here a lot so I told him it wouldn't be a bad idea.  Mostly I told him if anyone was sick they wouldn't be able to come over.  He has a cold right now, hopefully it clears up soon.  Usually during December or January I get a sinus infection and I usually wait so long to go to the doctor it becomes an upper respiratory infection and ear infection as well.  Hope that doesn't happen this year.

Sorry for being so longwinded I guess you all are catching it since Dennis is gone.  He'll be home tonight and tomorrow we're going to Mark and Helen's for Thanksgiving.  We're taking the turkey so I get to look forward to smelling it cook all morning.  :)


posted Thursday, 24 November 2005

This morning is heaven smelling cooking turkey while being kept company by Fibi and Dennis. All the boys are enjoying fresh coffee while I enjoy a diet coke - I don't drink coffee. Doggies seem happy and content. So far this morning, Life is Good!! I hope everyone else is experiencing a life-is-good moment as well. Have a wonderful holiday full of family and friends.

Running away from home

posted Friday, 25 November 2005

I keep trying to get my husband to help me run away so I won't have to go to the doctor Monday but so far all he's offered is to take me up north or to get a Christmas tree and with either one of those I know he'd still drag me back for Monday.  :(  Yesterday was very nice, even though we couldn't be with my family in Missouri I knew that my family was all together celebrating while we were celebrating up here.  They were thinking about us while we thought of them and I imagine they had many laughs because my dad and Uncle Larry love to make them all laugh.  We had a good time here at Mark and Helen's.  The kids (theirs and ours) all scattered after eating leaving Mark and Dennis watching the game in the family room while Helen and I enjoyed the fireplace in the living room.  Unfortunately, when they bought furniture for their new house they got totally comfortable recliners and couches and it was hard for all of us to not fall asleep.  Helen gave me a new book, The Lovely Bones, which she had told me about a year ago and I've been wanting to read it ever since.  I started it this morning and it's very good so far.  Helen says it's a kind of mystery.  The story is told from the view of a 14 yr old girl who has just been murdered.  So far it's really good.

Dennis got me a book a couple of weeks ago I'm anxious to read too, it's a Koontz book so I know I'll love it.  I kept looking at it and thinking I wanted to get it but then it looked like it was just  Tick Tock renamed so I didn't buy it.  After exploring a little more it appears to be a continuation of the story, or at least has the same characters.  I guess I'll see when I get around to reading it.  Oh, the name of this one is Life Expectancy.

Another recent addition to my library is a book Helen got a couple of weeks ago called The Kite Runner.  She had to fly to PA for business and some people on the plane were talking about it and what a great book it was so she got it for me.  I figure Dennis and I will read this one together when we're done with Dust to Dust by Tami Hoag.

Ok enough about books for now I guess, don't wanna bore you all.  :)  I have convinced Dennis that it is imperative for us to get out in the snow and go get some ice cream.  He's now made mention of it to the boys and the youngest is running through the house yelling, "Yay ice cream" so i guess I better go if I want him to shut up and believe me I do.  Don't worry Haden, mom still loves you!

Christmas Tree

posted Sunday, 27 November 2005

Saturday morning we piled into the car to get the Christmas tree.  It has been a tradition that every family member living in the house goes to get the tree.  But this year was different.  Mikal and Khris didn't go and I couldn't take four dogs myself so it was only Dennis, Haden and me.

We went to the same tree farm we did last year, about 30 minutes away.  There was snow on the ground but no snow in the air and the sun was shining so it was warmer than last year.  We sat on a hay bales on a trailer pulled by a tractor and got dropped off by the "good" trees.  We began our search for the perfect Christmas tree.  I worried I wouldn't be able to endure this task but I did.  I was very happy to find the perfect tree and I kept finding them so we could be done sooner.  And very happy to get back to the car.  But very glad I got to be a part of it.

In past years, I have had to be reminded of ceiling height and width of room as the trees always look smaller in the field than they do when you get them in your living room.  However, this year we have a vaulted ceiling and the ceiling height in that room measures 9-14'.  So we began our tree judging, trying to remember where potential ones were (yeah right), while searching for "better" ones.  Several trees appeared to be perfect then Dennis would declare they were only about 10' tall.

Finally, we found our perfect Christmas tree.  Dennis and Haden sawed it down and we dragged onto the trailer when it came to pick us up.  It was the biggest one we saw getting stuffed through the netting machine after being shook.  And a lady teased us that we would be like the Griswold's (National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation) when we unwrapped it.

We picked out a pretty wreath and a couple bunches of boughs.  Each year we buy at least one new ornament at the tree farm and this year I found a cute snowman and a stocking.  Although, the size of this tree is SO much greater than past trees I think it's going to look pretty sparse or we're going to have to load up on ornaments.  In the past, we've used candy canes as fillers on the tree and the children have gobbled them down.  But, we have discovered that the children doing the gobbling must have been the children who moved out, as we still have most of the canes from last Christmas.

Khris and Dennis managed to get the tree off of the Durango's roof and into the living room but here came the tricky part.  Into, our tree stand and upright.  Remember, we've had smaller trees before - about half the size of this one.  This perfect tree is about 13' tall.  So, being the brilliant people we are, it hasn't occurred to us that the stand we have might not be able to do it.  But after the tree is in the stand and upright we discover no way to make it stay upright.  Ever the improvisors we have Khris hold it up while Dennis climbs a ladder and ties the tree to the wall.  Hey, it worked.  I just have to figure out a way to cover the twine and next year we'll have to get a bigger stand.  If only we had been thinking Christmas tree when we built this house we could have made the floor lower in that area and watertight and had a permanent built in stand, covered by flooring the rest of the year.

Doctor's notes

posted Monday, 28 November 2005

Yesterday, against Dennis' wished I climbed the ladder and put boughs along the top of the wall that divides the kitchen from the living room.  I was able to place a bough just so, so the twine is fairly covered.  I have taken photos and will get them on in a few days but right now I really am supposed to be packing to go to the Mayo again.  Short recap:

today 2:30 - department of surgery consult - i think surgery is in the morning

tomorrow 11:15 - blood work and 1:00 division of medical oncology evaluation

wednesday 8:00 - chemotherapy

According to some paperwork i got from the oncologist I will be undergoing "FOLFOX for 6 months and possibly radiation for a 5-6 week course in combination with concurrent infusional 5-FU"  I'll also be getting Oxaliplatin when I'm not getting radiation.  In reading the doctor's notes it was pretty hard to read the following:

"It is our hope that with the combination of aggressive chemotherapy and possibly radiation that we may increase her survival chances to over 50%"

It's one thing to hear it, even to read it in a book, it's quite another to read it in doctor's note referring to you.  your name throughout the notes and your information, there's no denying he means your survival.  Whereas in the books, you can safely think well, that percentage is reached from people older than me or with other issues or blah blah blah.  There's no safe place in doctor's notes.

port installed

posted Tuesday, 29 November 2005

Just a short note to say I got the port put in this morning. Lots I want to say but I'm not feeling real whoopy tonight so it can wait. The surgery went fine and I go in the morning to begin the Chemo. There were 2 small incisions made to install the port - one near my collarbone on the left side of my neck and the other on the left side of my chest. My neck hurts a lot. I had issues with the anesthesia this time making me sick. Unfortunately, a couple of parking lots were witness to this but thankfully not the inside of the car.
Plan is to go home tomorrow once they get me all hooked up to the chemo pump so I'll be talking to you all then.

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