Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Presents

I have always been a big fan of Christmas.  Early on I'm sure that presents had a lot to do with that.  But my early memories included the joy of the big family gathering on Christmas Eve.  All my cousins on my Mom's side of the family were there.  Such great fun!

As we grew older with families of our own, the cousins celebrated separately.  Dottie and I have been hosting Christmas Eve quite a few years now with my siblings and hers, and other family and friends.  It still is a highlight of the year for me.

This year, as we started to get ready the the party, I was having trouble swallowing.  I could not even get a drink of water down.  It never had been that bad for that long before.  You could imagine my dismay when I envisioned having to call off the party and go to the emergency room.  YIKES!  Luckily, after my nap, the pipes opened up again.  But that was not the end of the evening troubles.  As everyone was arriving, the fire in the fireplace was lit and we soon discovered the flue was closed.  The house was filling with smoke and people at the same time.  YIKES, again!  Luckily with the help of the attic fan and open doors and windows, we were able to clear the air and proceed with the festivities.  We ended up having a wonderful time with everyone.

I am still counting my blessings for my early Christmas present (swallowing) and sharing a precious evening with our loved ones.

More pictures to illustrate the presents that brought Dottie and I joy.

Lucy with that smile for grandpa dyno

The joy in Lucy's face playing with her new Elmo doll.

We hope everyone was able to find love and joy this year.

p.s. I have been able to swallow much better since Christmas Eve.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Waiting Rooms...

…can be tough too.  Here is our experience this last week: 2 Rooms, plenty of waiting.

Last Wednesday I had an appointment with my dermatologist.  Dottie decided to go with me since we were running errands afterword.  That was a big mistake.  We waited an hour and a half in a small fairly crowded waiting room.  That was bad enough, but Fox News was on their TV the whole time.  Those of you that know my political leanings can imagine how this compares (for me) to some of the treatments I have been through.

That shot was of my last skin treatment this past spring.  Ouch! Forehead only so as not to break the blaug site.

On a side note, this visit reminded me of an old George Carlin routine where he talked about cancer.  He maintained that if you had cancer, you needed another kind so they could kill each other off.  I must be in great shape.

This Wednesday, Dottie and I spent about 5 hours in the Barnes Jewish surgical waiting room.  It was a much better room than last week, but still a long time.  We were there because our son, Nathan had surgery to remove part of his colon.  While our wait was tough, Nate had a harder go of it.  Luckily, the surgery was a success. He'll be in the hospital 5-6 days and will be somewhat recuperated by the time I have my surgery in mid-Jan.

That is enough for now, but I'll leave with a couple of shots of what I do when I'm not in a waiting or treatment room or fixating on music?

   Watching birds from my kitchen.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Beginnings and Endings

Radiation - While the number of treatments decreased this week, the side effects escalated.  The  swallowing problems became more like I was warned about.  They dogged me most mornings this week and the pain level increased.  The pain may have been partly from my frustration and anxiety.  I know I must have scared Dottie with some of the faces I made.  Sorry honey.  I guess I knew it wouldn't be a cake walk - I would like to have eaten some of the cake.  Luckily, during each day, things got better and by dinner, I was able to eat solids fairly well.

Today, Friday, was my last treatment.  Hooray!  I was able to eat breakfast.  Woo Hoo!  BUT, I was told this past Monday that "the effects from the treatment will continue to work for approximately 5-7 days."

Be that as it may I was upbeat on the drive in.  As usual Outlaw Country (music) came through from the start.  "Joy", by Lucinda, "You took my joy.  I want it back!"  Great song, upbeat.  I AM getting my JOY back.  Next up was "Movin' On" by Justin Townes Earle.  Another great song.  It made me think about Beginnings and Endings - one thing Dottie loved about teaching.  I ended Chemo.  I am ending Radiation, Movin' On to healing.

Next up… We'll talk about that later.  Gotta enjoy the moment. 

Speaking of that, check out the quote on the Radiation Bell I rang today.

I want to thank the Doctor and Radiation Therapists for getting me to this moment, this Ending.  Great people.  Great Job!

In fact, one of them, Ben had this very cool display up in the waiting room…

...and now, Let the Healing Begin.

Thanks again!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Next Steps

Getting tired is getting old, or is it getting old is getting tired.  Swallowing has been easier this week: hydrate, hydrate, chew, chew.  Side effects continue of course, but they are definitely manageable.

From here we have 5 more days of radiation and then some time to heal.

I met with the Medical Oncologist this week and he set up a couple of follow-up dates.  Jan 10th for the next PET scan.  This will help staging for the upcoming surgery.  I will meet with the oncologist again on Jan 13th and then the surgeon on the 15th.  The surgery should be very soon thereafter. 

While we are anxious to get that done.  We know it will be tough.  All I can say is, "Bring It On!"  We have so much support from everyone, cards and letters, thoughts and prayers.  We know we are not alone.  Thank you ALL!

Our diversion this weekend, besides the weather, has been Lucy.  Such a cutie.

She also some how wangled a new addition to our animal crew.

Al need a little company.

Monday, December 2, 2013

One Down…

Monday was my last scheduled chemo.

I got a nice send-off from the Infusion Center crew as we thanked them and I rang the bell signifying the final treatment.  It was kinda weird, kinda bittersweet.  I didn't mind the actual treatments, the staff and volunteers were great, very positive and caring.  Side effects were not as bad as I expected.  They still suck.

So what else do I say about it?  I keep thinking of the others in the large treatment room:  older, younger, too young.  Everyone calmly (probably gladly) accepting their drugs.  The loved ones hanging out with them.  Everyone working towards their goal: Cancer Free!  I feel like I may miss the place - and miss it for a long time;)

Check out the IV break in the Infusion Parking Lot.

I celebrated my last chemo with an order of sweet potato curly fries from the cafeteria as I was being infused.

My condition is relatively the same.  Still suffer some swallowing problems and I get pretty tired during the day.  Emotionally we are hanging in there, staying positive.  I still have 9 more radiation treatments to go.  Those are quick and easy.  Later comes the surgery.  We press on.  … Two to go.