Friday, December 31, 2010

The End of 2010

The end of 2010...

It is always bittersweet when the year ends.  This year, I have to admit, I am a bit glad that it is over.  We have all suffered enough.  It is time to look to the new year with new beginnings and new hope.

Last year, brought an increased healing of my mother (who has been fighting some liver disease for quite a while), the death of my father, a biopsy, the introduction of cancer into our immediate lives, two surgeries, 7 doses of chemotherapy, the closer knitting of my family, and the realization that no one lives forever.  Through all this, God held us in His loving arms and comforted us all through the suffering.  We have come out on the other side with our sense of humor intact and our spirits lifted.

I don't know what next year brings but I believe that my mother will continue to heal, I am ever hopeful that the words 'remission' are included in our vocabulary, our family will become even closer, and death will not enter into our lives during these future 365 days.  No matter what comes in 2011, I know God will continue to hold us in His loving arms.  8-)

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Despair, Grace, and Conversion

Each day after chemo has it's own challenges.  This is day 4 and it is always one of the hardest.  It is a bit like slogging through molasses.  It was very difficult to wake up but I knew I had to because my temp was up because I was dehydrated.  I'm not quite sure how to avoid this because I have to sleep and don't drink while I'm doing that so, of course, the body gets dehydrated.  

Tom and I are connected with a messaging tool when he is on the other side of the house (on his computer) and I sent him a 'help' message this morning so he could get me kick started.  (My computer is back here in the master bedroom on a bedside tray table so all I have to do is reach over and roll it to me.)  He gets me Tylenol and water and then works on getting me some toast for breakfast.  He got his shower and then the dentist called to say they had a cancellation and asked if he could come early.  So, he is off to his dental and I am trying to stay awake so I figured blogging was a good way to do that. 

The past three days have been normal for this type of chemo.  No surprises...which is always good.  We only have one more treatment to go and then (I believe) the worst of this is over. 

I was touched profoundly by the Max Lucado reading today.  I have felt the despair and I have felt the Grace that saved me from despair.  Max captured it perfectly.   I'll share it with you.

"Meet the God of Encouragement

By Max Lucado

Has it been a while since you stared at the heavens in speechless amazement? 

Has it been a while since you realized God’s divinity and your carnality?

If it has, then you need to know something. He is still there. He hasn’t left. Under all those papers and books and reports and years. In the midst of all those voices and faces and memories and pictures, he is still there.

Do yourself a favor. Stand before him again. Or, better, allow him to stand before you. Go into your upper room and wait. Wait until he comes. And when he appears, don’t leave. Run your fingers over his feet. Place your hand in the pierced side. And look into those eyes. Those same eyes that melted the gates of hell and sent the demons scurrying and Satan running. Look at them as they look at you. You’ll never be the same.

A man is never the same after he simultaneously sees his utter despair and Christ’s unbending grace. To see the despair without the grace is suicidal. To see the grace without the despair is upper room futility.  But to see them both is conversion.

Come meet the God of encouragement. He loves you. He never gives up on you, especially when life is hard, because he has been there. The hand that reaches out to comfort you is a pierced one."

I have seen despair through these trials but I have also seen the Grace that God has given to carry me through them.  How amazing is it that He loves me?!

By Grace Alone - 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This...

For all who have been following this blog and thinking, "Wow, this girl is really brave.", I am here to confess something today.

I asked my husband to let me talk to the doctor alone today.  (He normally comes to the room with me and talks to the doctor with me.)  I had some 'personal' things to talk to the doctor about (some things I don't even want to share with Tom...TMI and all, you know) and I wanted to see if I could talk him out of the last two chemo treatments.  I couldn't talk him out of them...and not only could I not talk him out of it, but there was something in the blood work that sent him pinging and asking about lumps again.  He wanted to know what they did about the lump I found about a month ago in my other breast...I told him that it was fluid filled and I had opted not to go to the surgeon over it.  He wanted to see it and then he also checked the other breast and found the lump I hadn't told him about.  (This lump is in the same breast that the cancer lump was in.)  I found this new lump last week but figured since we were getting radiation, there wasn't much use (nor energy on my part) to stir anyone up over it.  He agreed to wait until the chemo is over but then assures me that we will be checking out this new lump vigorously. 

So, I'm not so brave after all...I cried so much in the chemo chair today that the nurse asked me if I needed a minute alone before starting the AC chemo.  She had already given me the Benedryl, anti-nausea medicine, and steroids.  I just caved before the chemo started.  I don't know why except I just didn't want it and felt pushed into it.  Yeah....wah, wah, wah...I am totally disgusted with myself for not being stronger.

I did have a really neat nurse today for the treatments.  We had a lot in common, both kill plants, both have curly hair that makes it hard to find a good beautician.  You have to be a very talented beautician to give someone with curly hair a great haircut.  She goes all the way to Jackson, MS to get hers done every month.  She had a GREAT haircut which is what started that conversation.  Believe it or not, we were joking around while she was infusing the medications.  I fell apart when she left while the anti-nausea meds were going in. 

Tom was very patient through all of it, as usual.  I can tell he is concerned even more than usual because all this is out of character for me.  It is probably all drug induced, Tom, please don't worry...you know I have days like this.  8-}

So...today isn't such a good day, but as the old song goes..."Mama said there'd be days like this..."

Love you all bunches...glad you are out there for encouragement.  I can really use some today.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

We had a wonderful surprise gift from God this morning for Christmas.  He gave us a white Christmas.  How cool is that?  When I got up at 6:30, I could tell something was different because the sun was not shining into the bedroom.  I peeked out the window and saw that there were big flakes of snow falling and the ground was covered in white.

This is what it looked like out back at 6:30 from different views of the yard:


This is our neighbor Tom's house.


There is a light dusting of snow on the Thuya trees ...(trees growing to the left of the shed.


You can see it's not sticking to the street at 6:30 this morning.


About an hour later, I am running around capturing pictures again to show how much MORE it snowed than it had when we first got up.  8-) 



You can see here that it is starting to really stick to the street:



The bushes are laden with snow.  (I always wanted to use 'laden' in a sentence..lol)


I love the photo below...I'm going to see about turning it into a real picture for my wall.  I love the way it looks like a black and white photo except for the brown from the gazebo.  The snow is falling in big flakes and so pretty. 



Look now at the snow laying down those branches of our little Thuya trees.


Right now (about 2 hours later) we are at about 2 inches of snow.

We had a really nice Christmas this morning (on top of all the excitement with the snow...we've never seen it 'really' snow here in the three years we've lived here).  My Mom gave me this beautiful yellow crystal paper weight.  (Looks like the hope diamond only in a topaz color.)  Very beautiful!  Thanks, Mom.  My sister and her husband gave me a beautiful red scarf.  Thanks, Carol and Daryl!  Carol sent me a little special gift that is our 'we all have one like that' gift of a snowflake necklace and snowflake earring.  Thanks, Carol!  Tom got me the two pieces of DVD furniture, a beautiful Necklace and Earring set in black and white diamonds to go with my black and white outfit.  8-)  Thanks, Tom!  My sister-in-law, Sharyn sent me an angel datebook that is adorable and will actually be very useful because I can write appointments in it and carry it in my purse.  Thanks, Sharyn! 

I have the turkey cooking away in the oven and the rest of the day is ours to play with.  Here is hoping everyone is having a wonderful Christmas day filled with the love of family and friends.  8-)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Allergies and God's Greatest Gift

It is amazing how many ways that my body can be allergic to different things.  I am allergic to all three of the chemos that I have been given.  Then the last treatment they figured out that I am allergic to the allergy medicine that they gave to me combat the allergy to the chemo.  (Yeah, I was choking...[throat and bronchials closing up like with asthma] - which was my allergic reaction that I have had to the benedryl - and laughing at the same time trying to get out the words, "I'm ALLERGIC to the ALLERGY MEDICATION?"  They were cracking up right along with me...although with very worried faces, if you can imagine that.) 

Since I had read in the book that it is possible to be allergic to aloe and that we should do a test prior to using the plant for real, we went to Publix, where we had seen them selling small leaves of aloe in the vegetable section last week.  I tested some on a bite I had and guess what...yeah...I'm allergic to aloe.  I ended up with a red rash right where the aloe had been applied.  No stinging or itching but definitely a rash.  When the time comes to use it on my breast, I will have to weigh the pros and cons of using it.

Of course, I am also allergic to dust, various pollens, dogs, cats (yes, cats too but can't give up my cat...pros won out over cons on that one), tomatoes, and according to a doctor who treated me for allergies when I lived in Texas, I am allergic to Texas.  Yeah, Carol, now you know why I never took a job there...lol.

Here is a uTube Christmas message from Max Lucado:


BONUS CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM MAX:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arerWqz5y2A

Very fitting for my life and I hope you see the correlation to yours as well.  Amen and Amen.

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!  May you center your life around God's Gift to each and every one of us during this season.  8-)

By Grace Alone - 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to Care for Your Aloe Plant Book

I THOUGHT this was going to be an easy week at work.  Obviously, I thought wrong.  Why didn't those people take this week off in conjunction with the holdays?  Crazy people.  They have been ringing my phone all morning with one problem in the software after another.  Sigh.

I am thinking we are going to have pizza tonight.  I don't really feel like cooking.  My turkey for Saturday is thawing out quite nicely though and after we get a pan to cook it it, we'll have us a fine turkey dinner for Christmas. 

Tom bought me an Aloe Vera handbook which will be quite helpful with the plants I will have to take care of.  (ugh...)  The books says that the older the plant, the more potent the stuff inside is.  Here are some of the things it can be used for:

Burns and Scalds
Sunburn
Cuts and Wounds
Digestive Problems
Hair and Scalp Care
Hemorrhoids and Bleeding Piles (TMI)
Infections
Poison Ive, Oak and Allergies
Psoriasis and Eczematous Rashes
Scar Removal
Stretch Marks from Pregnancy
Varicose Veins (hmmm)
Skin Cancer (double hmmm)
Stings by insects, jellyfish, stinging nettle, etc (wish I had had some when I was stung by all those jellyfish)
Arthritis (wow...they drink it for this)
Ulcers (ugh...drinking it again)
Brown Skin Spots (triple hmmm)
Acne (HA..past that)
Sinus (They are spraying it up the sinuses here...yeah...I'm not doing that)
Asthma (breathing in the vapors when boiled in water)
Sore Throat (gargling it..ugh)
Eye and Ear drops. (Nope...don't think so)

Finally, I get to the part of the book where it tells me how to care for the plant.  Basically, keep it indoors in indirect sunlight during the winter, water lightly in winter (OH, I'm good at this...lol).  I don't have to repot because it loves to get root bound.  If it gets top heavy I have to repot.  If it gets root-bound, it will send out more new shoots or pups.  If these aren't taken out for replanting when they are 3-4 inches high, they will suck the life from the mother plant.  (I'm sorry in advance, Mommy plant.)

HA HA HA...now it gives me the symptoms of poor plant care.   They should have just titled that section, "What Will Happen to Plants that Teresa Owns"!!!! 

The good news is that they only have to last through 35 radiation treatments...basically two months starting in January.  I can do that, surely.  8-)  Overall, it is a very informative book.  (Thanks, Tom!)

Hope everyone is having a great day!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ready For Christmas

We (Tom and I) are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ready for the holidays to get here.  Starting Friday we will be off of work for eleven days.  YEAH!!!  Five of those starting on Monday will be heavy duty Chemo days but at least I don't have to take sick time for those days.  That leaves me six days of feeling 'acceptable'.  

I am finally past the nausea for this chemo round.  HURRAH!!! Another milestone behind us.  

One of my Christmas presents from Tom got here this week.  Since we don't do cable, we tend to buy movies and series to watch.  After many years of this, we have quite a collection.  In the exercise room, we have walls of movies in bookcases and in one piece of furniture specifically made to hold DVDs.  Since I like that furniture so much (It turned out to be very well made and out of real wood as opposed to pressed board like this type of furniture usually is) I asked for more of it to replace the two bookcases in that room.  Plus a single unit for growth.  The one we currently have has three units in one.  The ones I asked for are a two unit and a one unit to fit the open wall that is remaining.   (See visual below for the three units in one and a cat in the lower left hand corner that wanted in the picture. She tried to blend in unobtrusively, but I SEE YOU SHADOW!!)


Below are the cruddy bookcases that don't even match that will be replaced with the matching two unit piece and then there is room on the other side of the window for the one unit piece that matches.  You can also see our two treadmills that are currently getting no use because of my lack of energy.  We will get back into that when this is all over.  8-)  (Yes, Tom...you too, dear.)



Anyway, kind of excited about the new furniture for Christmas.  (Thanks, Tom!!) 

Last year when we went on our train trip to North Dakota to see BJ for Christmas, I got Tom hooked on Starbucks coffee.  Since then, he has become a regular customer for 'my' Starbucks store that I used to stop at every day.  I used to think I was special because they all knew me and came over to chat when I drove up.  I haven't really been there since September when the chemo started and he has taken over my 'special' status.  Especially since they found out that we are a pair.  (We drove through together once on the way to chemo and they got the connection.)  Amber (one of the girls that works there) sent home presents of VIA coffee to he and I yesterday.  (She sent me the caramel flavored and him the extra bold coffee)  I told him she was his girlfriend now that he has my 'special' status.  I told him I didn't feel 'special' anymore because now I know they treat all regular customers that way.  HA!!

Here is another excerpt from Max for you to enjoy.  He has a great perspective on the night Christ was born.

"No Ordinary Night

By Max Lucado

I came to give life—-life in all its fullness.

An ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds.  And were it not for a God who loves to hook an “extra” on the front of ordinary, the night would have gone unnoticed.  The sheep would have been forgotten, and the shepherds would have slept the night away.

But God dances amidst the common.  And that night he did a waltz… The night was ordinary no more." 

I love Max's visual of God dancing.  The "I came to give life----life in all its fullness" is a loose excerpt from John 10:10 even though he doesn't reference it.  I am ever so thankful that he gave us such an extraordinary night out of the ordinary when Christ was born.

By Grace Alone...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Geek Speak and A Trip Out

So...a little geek speak coming.  (Feel free to tune out this portion of the blog if you don't like geek speak.)

We have wireless internet at home and, as I said in another blog, we just upgraded our router and modem (all one piece of equipment...Netgear RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router with DSL Modem.) a few weeks ago.  (ref para 6 of blog titled, "Moods, Moods, and More Moods"  found at http://tnt-teresa.blogspot.com/2010/12/moods-moods-and-more-moods.html)

In order to utilize the Wireless-N (which is an upgrade from Wireless G/B protocols) we needed to purchase another item for each computer.  A Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter.  So we got one for each computer. Wireless G only got us 54 Mbps (this is the speed of the connection).  Wireless N gets us 300 Mbps.  I couldn't believe it.  Our hard line only gets us 100 Mbps.  But...I was noticing how quick it was so I went to check the status and saw the following:


I am like, "Tom, Tom....I don't know what your speeds are like but LOOK here."  He just gives that little sideways smirky grin of his and said "I wondered if you would notice."   Merry Christmas to me...HA!  (Oh, and him too...lol)  Then he proceeds to tell me how he changed the settings on the router.  Yeah, HIM!  We've always been a good computer team...he is Mr. Hardware and I am Miss Software.  Of course he is good with software too...ALL RIGHT...he is Mr. Computer and I'm really his sidekick but he lets me play too which is very important.  8-)

Subject change for those that want to tune back in...

I got to play in the grocery store on Sunday before all the people got there.   We decided after listening to the sermon online to quickly get ready and head over to the grocery store.  I desperately needed to get out of the house (Since I had been holed up for 10 days).  I had a grand time picking out fruits, vegetables and meats.  Found a really good rib roast that I am cooking today and also found a nice turkey for Thanksgiving.  I thought I would crock pot the Turkey but it is a bit (sarcastic voice) big for the crock pot so I am actually going to have to cook it in the oven.  It is currently thawing in the fridge and has been since Sunday.  Hopefully, it will be thawed by Saturday.  

Anyway, I'm dancing all over the grocery store like a little girl in a candy store and then we are done and I get in the car and WHAM...totally wiped.  We were only in there for an hour.  I didn't recover until Monday morning after a good night's rest.  I can see this stuff is gonna slow me down a bit for a while.  I wonder how I will do teaching my eight hour classes when I get back to active work.  Those classes were exhausting prior to chemo...can only imagine what it will be like now.  AH, but those are future worries...can't worry about it today.  8-)

Here is our Max Lucado fix for today: 

"Have Faith
If your faith is as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move.  Matthew 17:20 

Don’t measure the size of the mountain; talk to the One who can move it.  Instead of carrying the world on your shoulders, talk to the One who holds the universe on his.

Hope is a look away."

By Grace Alone ...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Today is a Good Day

Today is a good day.  (Yes, Tom...it is...ref blog called "Is Today a Good Day?" http://tnt-teresa.blogspot.com/2010/09/is-it-good-day-today.html)

I woke up today feeling alive in spirit and body.  These days are so rare and wonderful.  It's like the clouds are hanging over me and all of a sudden the sun peeps out from between the clouds and shines exclusively on the little piece of land where I live.  God is so AMAZING to me.

Sometimes, it is good to have been knocked down and taken out so that I can appreciate the beauty that is all around me.  8-)  I would not wish cancer on anyone, but it is definitely life changing to one's attitude about life.

My sister turned me on to her church's live sermon (which is very cool...thanks, sis).  Being home bound doesn't allow me to get out and go to church so this was good news.  The website for anyone interested is http://www.countrysidebible.org/live/ and they not only have live sermons but they have past sermons.  I didn't figure it all out until after I had listened to the 12/12/10 sermon on the helmet of salvation.  GREAT sermon that talked about the way Satan attacks our 'mental health' and makes us think we could lose our salvation but if we put on the helmet of salvation that God has provided for us that we will be protected.  I have had several times in my life where I have doubted my salvation (and was even baptized twice, once when I was about 5 and then again in 1991.)  I have also had many crisis of faith during the years when I have been tempted to do some very wrong things.  God has forgiven me through the salvation that Christ provided for us but I can tell you that those were some hard times for me and probably those that loved me as well.  I can be a very strong willed person and God has had his hands full with me over the years.  (sheepish grin)  I am sure I was given the helmet of salvation but didn't put it on all the time as I should have.  We need that helmet to protect us against the temptations and trials that Satan puts us through.  I am so thankful that he is a patient and loving God.  Anyway...great sermon for anyone interested.  Their pastor is a great speaker/teacher.

I need to go make a grocery list now for Tom to take and fill.  8-)  Hope everyone is having a great day!!

By Grace Alone...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Two Days of Random Musings

Hot, cold, hot, cold...no wait...I already talked about that...HA.

I figured out my neck pain a couple of days ago.  (No, it's not Tom)  Another exciting thing brought on by low immune system and stress to the body...shingles.  They gave me an antibiotic and I am feeling a bit better than I was.  Other than the pain, I knew something was wrong when I found blood all over my pillow where I had scratched them in my sleep.  Apparently, I am a pretty aggressive scratcher...LOL.

Today I am working on the last of the laundry and cleaning the house.  I'll leave the master bath shower for Tom because it is too hard on my neck to scrub the shower.  We were going to do it all together but I really don't want him working all weekend cleaning the house.  He really needs a break after the care taking he has had to do during the last 8 days.  I don't want to 'use him all up'.  8-)

(Side Note)  All of the above diatribe reflect yesterday's thoughts and am now finally getting back to it.  I started it during a break in cleaning but by the time I finished cleaning I was too exhausted to finish it.  I am learning to do what I can and not worry about what I can't during one single day.  I sure hope this attitude lasts past the chemo recovery.  8-)

We got the nicest Christmas card from my sister-in-law Sharyn this morning.  She said she reads my blog and she is glad that I am her sister-in-law...what a NICE present.  I'm glad she is mine too and I had no idea she was reading my blog. (HI Sharyn)  It's funny how encouraging it is to know that people could possibly be interested in this silly blog.  Tom's sister has the sweetest heart.  I guess his mother did a great job with the whole family.  Tom has three sisters actually.  Probably part of the reason he can put up with me.  8-)

I am having a bit of a weepy day today.  I probably didn't get enough sleep.  I was awake by 3:30 this morning so I'm going to blame it on that.  The taxotere chemo was much worse on the emotions so I really shouldn't complain about it.  Poor Tom though, he had just gotten out of bed and I came in the kitchen pouring tears all over him.  (For absolutely no reason at all)  He hugged me and said all the right things to pull my emotions back in check.  (I require much comforting and reassurance right now.  I am so glad he knows me so well!)

My mom and sister both chatted with me this week (which was awesome).  They are a great support system.  They both have a great sense of humor which keeps me laughing and improves my spirit.  (yeah, yeah...it's all about me...lol)  I have heard my sister doesn't think she has a sense of humor.  Not so, dear sister!  You make me laugh a lot.  8-)  I get to live vicariously through them also.  They both have such active lives.  My mom just had a friend visit that she has known for a gazillion years.  She stayed for a week and they did all kinds of things.  My sister had them over one night and then another night she and Mom went to a 'tea' which sounded like a lot of fun.

Hope everyone is having a great day!  It is about time for me to get moving around here and get some stuff done.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weather, Hormones, and Facials

Gloomy Gloomy Gloomy Day!

We're supposed to get ice storms here today.  Someone (before me) had my cell phone number and every since I got it, I get a phone call from one of the school systems when they let school out early.  (Lucky me...)  I turned my phone on this morning for the first time in 3 or 4 days and found three messages on there from them stating that school would start late on Monday and Tuesday and today they are going to let out early because of the ice storm that is coming.  Yeah...delete, delete, delete.  But at least I know what the weather is doing now.  HA!

I talked with my cancer nurse last night and about the way that this chemo is speeding up the onset of menopause.  (Anyone who feels uncomfortable with this conversation can close out now...8-)  Part of the purpose of the chemo besides getting rid of cancer cells at the cellular level is to deplete estrogen and progesterone from my body.  Since I was estrogen and progesterone positive (which means my type of cancer is fed by estrogen and progesterone) they work to deplete my body of those hormones as much as possible.  So...goody for me...I get to go through early onset menopause.  With Taxotere, I had hot flashes and night sweats only in the evening and at night.  (not sure why only then)  NOW...with the AC chemo treatments....goody, goody, goody, I get to have them every hour on the hour.   Yeah, nausea is bad, exhaustion is bad, mouth sores are bad, but this menopause stuff...I had to know when it was going to end since I am getting it in full doses as opposed to the normal person who might 'occasionally' get a hot flash. 

So, when she called, the first question out of my mouth was, "How long will these hot flashes last?"

She actually laughed.

I couldn't believe she laughed but then she clarified her laughter with, "I wish I had a nickel for every breast cancer patient that asks me that."  OK, so shoot me for being the normal breast cancer patient. 

She also filled me in on the fact that they would be testing my FSH, LH, and some other hormonal blood test to figure out where I am hormonally about 6-8 weeks after chemo is complete.  They will also start me Tamoxifen which is supposed to keep those hormones out of my body.   I get to take that for five years. 

She never did answer the question about 'how long'....whatever.

We talked about the harsh affects to the skin that chemo has and she gave me some good recommendations for unscented lotions and talked about getting a facial for Christmas to pink up my face.  (Because of inability to expose oneself to the sun during chemo, it leaves us a bit pale and the drying of the chemo is hard on the skin too.)  She said that would show me how much better my skin will be after chemo is complete and would boost my morale.  She said to find someplace that uses all natural products that have a fruit or vegetable base.  I've never had a facial and it might be fun to go do when my blood counts are up and before the next treatment.  Products suggested were by a company from Hungary called "Eminence".  I looked them up online and will research further later on.

Not much else going on here except catching up with my regular job.  Lots of work going on there.  It keeps me out of trouble.  8-)

Hope everyone is having a great day! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Update

I've been trying to think of something positive to tell everyone in this blog for two days.  No luck. 

This dose of chemo is worse than the last one.  I remember now why I said during the last treatment that cancer was better. 

Much like childbirth, I had forgotten how bad it is and went right in to get another dose of it.  Idiot.

Tom has been doing some wonderful care giving.  He's done laundry, changed my sheets, listened to me whine, taken my temp and BP at regular intervals, and makes sure I eat and drink water.  He has even gotten intuitive on occasion and not waited for me to ask but checked on my needs.  He is the 'happy' to my days if there is a 'happy'.  Keep praying for him, this isn't easy.

BJ (our son) is wanting to come home and see us for Christmas and I really am not up to it but how do I tell him in a way that he will understand?  If I had some real 'recovered' time in between I would say yes but as soon as I recover, I am doing it again.  He keeps texting me.  As soon as I get some energy, I am going to have to call him and chat about it.  I can't explain things in text messages. 

Well, I just wanted to let everyone know I am still alive since I haven't posted in several days.  Still begging for prayers here...

A little peace found through Max Lucado:  He is talking about God's Love...

"His love covers all things.

Let it. Discover along with the psalmist. “He…loads me with love and mercy” (Ps. 103:4). Picture a giant dump truck full of love. There you are behind it. God lifts the bed until the love starts to slide. Slowly at first, then down, down, down until you are hidden, buried, covered in his love.

“Hey, where are you?” someone asks.

“In here, covered in love.”

Let his love cover all things.

Do it for his sake. To the glory of his name.

Do it for your sake. For the peace of your heart.

And do it for their sake. For the people in your life. Let his love fall on you so yours can fall on them."

I praise God daily for His and everyone's love...you are getting me through this.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Deed Is Done

All done.

AC chemo number two is complete.  My blood-work looked really good.  The doctor was so excited.  I just told him, "Don't I have an amazing body for healing!"  God gets all the credit for this one.  Your all's prayers are working.  THANK YOU!

After it was over, we went to 5 Guys Burgers and Fries for a really good hamburger.  Then we went to a store in Huntsville called Lawrens that is a supplier for Crabtree and Evelyn 'stuff' that my cancer nurse suggested to get for the house.  I was looking for some good scents for the house to maybe take out the chemo smell that seems to follow me around.  I didn't like the scents by Crabtree and Evelyn that they carried (not very many and they were all flowery...ugh) but I did find a nice Christmas scent that I didn't seem to be allergic to.  It came with a beautiful bottle to put the scent and wood sticks in.   I've put it on the mantle over the fireplace.  We'll see how this goes.  Here is a picture of it.  I showed this picture to Tom and he said it looked like a hoola girl and I said...THOSE ARE TASSELS...now it will always look like hoola girl to me.  HA.



After that trip, we went to the Madison Wal-mart.  (I am still amazed that there are four Wal-Marts within spitting distance of our house...so we choose a different one each time so that we can see what is new in them.)  Then we made a small Publix run to get some luncheon meats and bread so Tom won't starve while I'm down for the count for the next 4 days.  It is already hitting me hard (it is four in the afternoon so it has had 5 hours to slug me.) and I am probably heading to bed after I get this done.

We took a little detour before I could get to bed.  When we got the new DSL Modem/Router the other week, the printer wasn't connecting to the network for some reason and it was just too much to deal with at the time so we had put it off.  On Monday, I got it to show up on the network but we were still unable to print a test page.  Neither could Tom.  Grrr...Finally, we reset the printer to factory settings, let it pick the IP address (Tom had put in a stable IP address previously which it was balking at.) and wala...printing again.  

I am feeling very humbled and not so positive I can do this again but like I told Tom, "it's in me now so there isn't anything I can do about it."  Oh yeah, 6 hours ago, I was all bubbly and telling the doctor, "How cool is this?  I only have 3 more treatments to go..."  Yeah, not so bubbly now.  HA  Humbled again...

Please keep the prayers coming...4 more days of really 'bad' coming.

By Grace Alone...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tomorrow Is C Day and Humble Ramblings

Tomorrow is C day.  (Chemo day)

I'm not nervous this time because I know what to expect.  There is much comfort in knowing what is around the corner.  I'm ready for the next 10 pound weight to be added to my sack.  (ref blog titled "Crisp and Cold Wintry Day" ... http://tnt-teresa.blogspot.com/2010/12/crips-and-cold-wintry-day.html)  I know it will be bad starting about day 2 when the steroids wear off.  I am ready for it.  I've already prepared my boss for day 5 to be a sick day because last time I couldn't even wake up on day 5.  If it isn't so bad, then all the better.  8-)

Pray for Tom, he's going to have a rough care-taking weekend...

I read today's Max Lucado and wonder if God gave me cancer to steer me towards humbleness.  I am not always as humble as I should be.  I have found having cancer to be a humbling experience.   Sometimes, I wanted to be the center of attention.  Not so much now...I find myself not wanting anyone to notice me. 

There is a girl with down's syndrome that works at our Publix.  She came right out and asked me, "Do you have breast cancer?"  At first I wanted to act like she hadn't asked but then I realized that she seemed to need to talk about it.  I said yes and asked her how she knew.  She said her mom lost all her hair too and is currently going through chemotherapy for breast cancer.  (If her mother had had cancer of the liver then I am sure she would have asked me if I had that...it was just what she knew.)  She was very open about it all and I learned from her that it is OK to talk about it to strangers.  (I still don't think I would initiate the conversation but I won't be as embarrassed to discuss it.)  She was very concerned about her mother and wanted to discuss it with someone. When it was over, I was glad she asked me. 

Here is today's devotional: 

"God Loves a Humble Heart
God…. gives grace to the humble. 

The apostle Paul was saved through a personal visit from Jesus.  He was carried into the heavens and had the ability to raise the dead.  But when he introduced himself, he mentioned none of these.  He simply said, “I, Paul, am God’s slave” (Titus 1:1, The Message).

God loves humility."

Lord, help me to always be humble.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It Is Well With My Soul

There is an old hymn called "It is well with my soul".  I think we spend a large portion of our lives looking for that place where we can say "It is well with my soul".  I feel that way today and I was kind of singing this to myself as I showered this morning and wondered what the background to the song was.  It is very interesting, actually.

The song was written by Horatio G Spafford in 1873. (I kid you not, that was his name.)  Here is the synopsis of when and why he wrote it (taken from http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/t/i/itiswell.htm).

"This hymn was writ­ten af­ter two ma­jor trau­mas in Spaf­ford’s life. The first was the great Chi­ca­go Fire of Oc­to­ber 1871, which ru­ined him fi­nan­cial­ly (he had been a weal­thy bus­i­ness­man). Short­ly af­ter, while cross­ing the At­lan­tic, all four of Spaf­ford’s daugh­ters died in a col­li­sion with an­o­ther ship. Spaf­ford’s wife Anna sur­vived and sent him the now fa­mous tel­e­gram, “Saved alone.” Sev­er­al weeks lat­er, as Spaf­ford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daugh­ters died, the Ho­ly Spir­it in­spired these words. They speak to the eter­nal hope that all be­liev­ers have, no mat­ter what pain and grief be­fall them on earth."

The words to the song and a midi file of the music can also be found at that site.  The part I remembered and was singing though was:

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul."

I found myself wondering as I read the history of the creation of the song, if Horatio could lose four children and all his finances, who am I to not feel that it is well with my soul when these simple trials fall upon me?   I know that is what God has taught me and I should follow His guidance.  It IS well with my soul and I am once again ready for the next chemo treatment in two days.  It feels like my white and red cells have rejuvenated, the nausea is gone, the mouth sores are healing, and my energy is up.  It IS well with my body and soul.

By Grace Alone

Monday, December 6, 2010

Selfishness

So Max Lucado  had some good words for us the other day.

I worry about my preoccupation with this illness and how withdrawn (physically) I have become from all my friends but I don't think I have become totally selfish.  I'm just in survival mode.  I know this will pass and I will be able to get back out into the world and focus more on others.  But Max gives us a good definition of selfishness and a good look at what God has to say about it.

"Avoid Selfishness

By Max Lucado

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.  Philippians 2:3, NASB

The word...for selfishness shares a root form with the words strife and contentious.  It suggest a self-preoccupation that hurts others...Selfishness is an obsession wiht self that excludes others, hurting everyone.

Looking after your personal interests is proper life management.  Doing so to the exclusion of the rest of the world is selfishness."

Such a fine line between looking after our personal interests and being selfish but I believe I understand what he is saying here.  I need to take care of business for myself and my family but I also need to step outside of self and help others when they need it.  I can't let my own personal wants take away from helping others.

Max left off the last part of that scripture that is to vital to the first though.  "Do nothing out of selfish abmition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."  To expound on this further, my Life Application Bible (NIV) talks to Philippians 2:3.  It says:

"Selfish ambition can ruin a church, but genuine humility can build it.  Being humble involves having a true perspective about ourselves (see Romans 12:3).  It does not mean that we should put ourselves down.  Before God, we are sinners, saved only by God's Grace, but we are saved and therefore have great worth in God's Kingdom.  We are to lay aside selfishness and treat others with respect and common courtesy.  Considering others' interests as more important than our own links us to Christ, who was a true example of humility."

I pray that God will keep my eyes open to my own selfishness, that He helps me to consider others' interests as more important than my own.  I know I'll never be that perfect but I continue to strive for it.  8-)

By Grace Alone ...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Moods, Moods, and More Moods

Yesterday, Tom and I were not having a particularly good day.  (I could stop right here, but nah...you know me...I can't stop there.)

In his defense, he'd had a really bad week.  They had laid off 35 people at his company and he had to take them out of the software that he is responsible for which created a lot more work for him and he had to take half of the work that one of the laid off guys used to do.  Funny how just because someone gets laid off, the work doesn't go away.  You would think they would be laying them off because there wasn't enough work.  While I know that he is thankful he didn't get laid off, more work at this time in our lives makes it even more difficult.  So, suffice it to say, by Saturday, he was beat and cranky.  I don't blame him at all.

As for me...I had been in the house for about 2 weeks straight with only a trip to the Cancer Center for chemo and then another one for Neulasta.  I'd also had a hard week because 'thinking', on this new chemo, is an increased challenge and there were lots of problem tickets to work through with the software that I am in charge of.  (Most of them were users that were idiots, but they still had to be worked.  I had to verify they were idiots before letting them know there was nothing wrong with the software.)  PLUS, depression had set in because I was exhausted all the time and I had really wanted to get out of the house yesterday.

So, suffice it to say...yesterday was not a good day for either one of us.  That being said, I didn't blog on Fri or Sat because I heeded the wisdom of my Grandmother who used to say (over and over), "If you don't have anything good to say about someone, don't say anything at all."  I also made up a new twist (in my head) on my Grandmother's saying "Things that you do, do with your might, things done by halves, are never done right."  My new saying said, "Things that you do, do them yourself, because they aren't getting done by any little elf."  I was feeling like I couldn't trust anyone to do anything right for me so I just had to do everything myself.  wah wah...I WAS in a mood.

Today, I got up and said, "Let's go to the grocery store this morning before anyone else gets there with germs."  HA!  We went at about 8 this morning and I had the best time. Of course, as always, my good mood fed his good mood which fed my good mood.  I got to pick out lots of fruit. (It is very hard to send someone else for fruit when you don't know what looks the best in the store that day.)  Plus I got to whimsy shop.  Almost 200 dollars later, we left refreshed and loaded with good healthy food. 

Next was the conquering of one of our Christmas gifts.  I KNOW, I KNOW...it's not Christmas yet, but we ordered this new Netgear Dual Band Wirelss-N Router with DSL Modem online for Christmas and we only had thirty days to return it and that would have fallen around Dec 23rd and since we have been having so many problems with the one we got from AT&T (piece of junk), we decided we needed to install it and test it BEFORE Christmas got here in case we needed to return it. 

When he started the job, I went off to do our Christmas Cards for the people I had addresses for and left him alone.  Well, I finished that and decided maybe he needed my support in there to help him along.  (BIG GRIN)

I won't get into a lot of Geek Speak here but suffice it to say, while the box advertised, 'Push "N" Connect' for connecting all your devices with the touch of a button...suffice it to say, there was a whole lot of entering of security encryption keys (22 characters, of which some are upper case and some are lower case, each time) for all of our devices.  (And we have a LOT of devices)  I kept saying "Can't we just push the button?"  Which I'm sure was totally annoying to Tom, bless his heart.

Now he is dolefully watching his Redskins lose to to the New York Giants.  (31 to 7 in Giants favor at the moment which has seconds left to the game)  He keeps muttering things as he looks at his computer screen (which is total entertainment for me as I write this).  I don't think this is putting him in a bad mood but I know he is always happier when the 'Skins win.

Hope everyone is having a great day...I need to start thinking about what great thing I'm going to make for supper from the food we bought.  8-)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crisp and Cold Wintry Day

It is crisp and cold here today.  I took a picture of the frost this morning...you can see it on the trees, grass, and the top of the gazebo.  (I don't know if you can see it or not in this picture, but those flowers that were magically growing out there in the boxes...yeah, they're dead now.)

The sun is just rising in this picture.  It isn't quite over the treetops yet.  In the distance you can even see some of our mountains.  There are others about 20 miles northeast from us.  (Hey, Tom...aren't you proud of me?  I used directional words like 'north' and 'east' properly in a sentence.  I hope anyway...lol.  One of my personal deficiencies is the inability to find my way out of a paper bag with only one hole in it.  Yeah for a GPS!!!!)  These mountains aren't as good as TN mountains but they are still pretty to look at.

It was funny...I took this picture for the blog today and not 10 minutes later, Tom sends me an email and talks about it being cold this morning but that he liked it this way.  We think so much alike.  It has been wet and cold here lately and we don't like that kind of weather.  This feels like Christmas is really on the way.

As I've talked about on the blog before, I have a Boeing Wellness Health 'person' that calls me and discusses ways to relieve stress (meditation was one of their suggestions...I tried it and told them..."Yeah, good luck with that...I can hardly sit still for 5 minutes, what else have you got?").  They hooked me up with a cancer nurse who answers all my questions pertaining to what I am going through right now.  

So, she called me yesterday and we discussed 'Cancer stuff'.  I almost didn't answer the phone because I wasn't in the mood nor did I think she could provide me with any info that I hadn't already researched and figured out but, actually, she was a wealth of information.  She had a good analagy for why chemo seems to hit me harder each time I get another dose.  She said it was like I started out taking chemo with an empty sack.  Then with each dose, 10 lbs of weights are added to the sack.  So, now I am up to 50 lbs of weights that I have to drag around with me.  She also said it takes about 6 months (on average) to recover from chemo.  So, by next July I should be feeling like my old self.  Hope, hope, hope...there is always hope that keeps me going.  8-)

I asked her about the 'smelling weird stuff' problem I have.  I smell chemo everywhere I go, all over the house, and my sense of smell is so heightened that I can't even stand my husband's cleaning solution for his electric razor.  (This currently resides in the garage because it was so nauseating...sorry, honey.)  She explained that not only have I lost all the hair on my head but also in my nose, which filtered out smells, so now I am getting them full force.  I had never thought about losing the hair in my nose...good grief, I never even thought about having hair in my nose before.  That also explains the increased allergies since chemo to some degree probably. 

Anyway, we talked about other stuff too but suffice it to say that she was just a wealth of information.

My cousin Andrea is going to send me some aloe plants.  I didn't even know she was reading the blog and poof, yesterday she posted that she has an entire yard full of aloe.  She lives out west and I don't know if it grows wild or if she just grows it because she likes the plant.  God is always preparing ways to meet needs, isn't he?  I am so blessed in so many ways that I can't even count.  (Thanks, Andrea for helping out!)

Hope everyone is having a great day!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Massages and Stuff

Last  night, Tom was giving me one of his famous massages. (Only famous around here...thank you very much).  (Hey...just my shoulders and neck...this is a G rated blog.)

I'm going "Mmm...so much power in those hands...I feel so relaxed now."

He responds with "Power just like a race car...except I don't have a clue what I did with the key."

Ha HA...funny guy.

He has a fine sense of humor...one of the reasons that I married him.  Isn't it funny how we gravitate to people who make us laugh?

Not too much going on here today.  Yesterday was a very hectic, brain taxing, body breaking work day.  I was SO glad when it was over.  The simplest things tax my brain to the max right now.  The good thing about being work busy though is that it takes my personal focus off of the chemo and puts it back out into the world.  That is important right now.  I try to make the only time that I focus on what is going on with me is while writing this blog (It is still a therapeutic outlet according to my health coach so I keep writing in it) or telling Tom about my day in the evening...then I am less self-absorbed and probably less apt to feel as badly as I might if I just sat around and said "Woe is me" all day.  Yeah for work!

My sister calls me the other day and starts talking about getting an aloe plant to treat my breast after the radiation therapy each time.  I had already gotten something bottled from Walmart that said it was 100% Aloe but she says that doesn't work.  I'm thinking..."I'm never gonna find a REAL aloe plant at this time of year..."  I'm spazzing out in my head because it's only about 8 weeks until I start that.  In her no nonsense fashion she just states that they'll take care of it for me...(She is such a take charge person).  She says it won't be any problem to find one at all.  It's funny  how the littlest thing seems like a mountain that can't be moved (to me) but others just think, "No biggee."  I appreciate her help with this one because I would just use the bottled stuff and if I hurt...o well...too much trouble to get a real plant.  (Which definitely isn't like the 'normal' me...lol)  I really hope she is right and it isn't a big deal to get it.  I had already looked at a ton of stores around here and did not find a plant and I didn't think of ordering online because I figured it would be dead by the time it got here (or dead after I TOUCHED IT - [Reference blog entry "New Life When You Least Expect it"  http://tnt-teresa.blogspot.com/2010/09/new-life-when-you-least-expect-it.html] to understand this statement...HA!).  I am sure that she is way more resourceful than I am right now. 

Hope everyone out there is having a great day!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Comparisons

Dark and gloomy outside...warm and happy inside.  8-)

Almost sounds like something to eat, huh?

Nah...just the difference between the outside world and my disposition.

I am feeling like a conquerer today.  Yeah, I still have that nagging nausea and a slight temp, but my energy levels are returning and I'm all showered and clean and feeling happy inside.  God is so GOOD to me...and I don't even deserve it. 

We are now in day 6 after chemo.  I am feeling hopeful that I will feel good enough in a week to do it all over again.

In retrospect...Taxotere drags you down for a longer time but AC hits you harder at the beginning and then tapers off quicker.  (I guess if I were to give an analogy, Taxotere would be like being beaten up in the ring for 5 rounds and AC would be a knockout in the first round.)  Hard to say which one is preferred.  I like that the AC doesn't make me a mean chemo drunk or give me the emotional draining that I got from Taxotere but I hate that I am disabled for about 3 days after the steroids wear off.  I am very much a self sufficient person and hated to depend on Tom so much for EVERYTHING for those three days (and I DO mean everything).  But he was there for me and I salute his ability to take care of me.  There wasn't a single need that went unmet.

I was really thankful that this was the Thanksgiving holidays and I didn't have to try to work until Monday.  I  think next time it will probably cost me two sick days instead of just one on the chemo day.

Just wanted to share today's Max Lucado with you guys...it's a good one.  I never feel worthy of what God has done for me...here is a wonderful reminder that while I may constantly strive for perfection (and Lord knows that I do and never achieve it), I don't have to be perfect and why....  8-)

"Cleansing Blood

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Ephesians 1:7, KNJV

The blood of Christ does not cover your sins, conceal your sins, postpone your sins, or diminish your sins.  It takes away your sins, once and for all time.

Jesus allows your mistakes to be lost in His perfection."

Such a statement of HOPE!  8-)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Visitors

We were sitting in the living room watching TV and Tom hears Shadow going spastic in the dining room window.  (For anyone that hasn't been following this blog...Shadow is a very fat nine year old cat that is part of our family.)  We get up and look outside and there is a young cat (less than a year but more than 6 months I would guess) sitting outside the dining room window trying to get to Shadow.   Shadow is very interested in her but we aren't sure if it is "I like you" interest or "Get off my turf" interest.  So I go to the front door and the kitten is standing there and tries to come in when I open the door.

Obviously, this isn't a feral cat.

When I open the door a little wider, she just prances in like she owns the place.

"Well", I think, "we'll see how this goes."   We needed some new entertainment, anyway.

The cat is a very pretty and clean gray striped female.  I'm thinking that two female cats in one house probably won't go over so well. 

The kitten is walking around the living room as if she owns it and Shadow (of course...the BIG CHICKEN) is hiding behind the couch and growling.  I thought, "Too funny...she was all over that kitten when the window was between them but put them in the same room and she is 20 pounds of a cowering 'fraidy' cat."

I wish I had thought to get a picture.  But alas...chemo brain didn't even think of it.

This morning, Shadow had about 1000 other visitors.  One of the things that I found odd and beautiful when we first moved here was that early in the morning, in the fall, absolutely FLOCKS of birds gather in one place and talk to each other.  I have no idea what type of birds these are, but from Oct - Dec, you will, at some time, see literally thousands of them congregating in a group of trees.  It is as though they are migrating and they all stop to rest.  I used to see them out where I worked (just when I would arrive at work) but this morning, they were all in our backyard perching in the trees along the property line.  Shadow (of course) spied them and sat totally entertained for the 10 minutes or so that they were resting.  It was kind of like the scene from the old movie "The Birds" which I think was an Alfred Hitchcock directed thriller where all these birds were gathering and attacking humans.  EXCEPT, when they gather here and I see them, it always leaves me with a peaceful feeling instead of the scared feeling you get in the movie. 8-)

Of course, again...I didn't think to get a picture. 

Back to the kitten though...

She obviously belonged to someone because when it came time for her to go back outside (which was within a couple of minutes of entering since Shadow was saying quite vehemently, "Get that Cat off of my turf!"), Tom was able to pick her up and put her gently back outside. 

A couple of hours later, the neighbors came by with the cat wanting to know if she was ours.  (I guess we are the cat people in the neighborhood.  Everyone else has dogs and they all like to use our yard...go figure.  No leash law where we live in AL...can you believe that?  Well, it IS Alabama.)  We assured them that she wasn't ours.  8-) 

That's about all that is going on here...hope everyone is having a great day today!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Recovering

The past 44 hours have been challenging. 

OK, I'm done with the blog...that sums it up.  (Just kidding but (really) unless you want to read a lot of whining, close out the blog now.)

I was a little tired when I went to get my Neulasta shot two days ago but when I got back, I was totally drained.  So, I did the only thing any self-serving person would do...I went to bed.  That was around 11:30 am on Friday.  When Tom got home, around 4:30, I made myself get out of bed and spend some time with him and eat.  Then I went back to bed and stayed until this morning.  (about 32 hours later) 

Yesterday, I couldn't walk without help.  Today, I'm walking very well.  My BP was 98/47 this morning which is a bit low even for me but since I am up and moving around then I'm not too worried about it being low.  (AND I'm playing Farmville and blogging again...that's a good sign I'm on the mend since I could have cared LESS about any computer business for about 44 hours.) 

Tom did a great job taking care of me yesterday...he washed the chemo out of my sheets, helped me through the showering business, fed me, made sure I drank water, took my vitals, and even called the nurse on duty when he was concerned about my temp and lethargy. 

Of course, yesterday, I was saying, "I'm not doing this again.  Are they TRYING to kill me?  Sure seems like breast cancer would be better than this."  Today, I am thinking I will do it again since it is really just a couple of days of really BAD business and it DIDN'T kill me.  Today, I feel like I did on Taxotere...just tired and beaten down. 

I am very thankful that I didn't have to work for the last 4 days.  It would have been impossible.  I have even considered going on short term disability to get through this since my company offers it but today would be the "Monday" on my next treatment and I could probably work through this tiredness and nausea.  My next treatment will be on the 9th and then I get to do this the day before Christmas.  O JOY.  8-)

Okay...another thing to be thankful for...I have not had bone pain from the Neulasta shot this time.  I think my white count was low enough this time for it to have made a difference.   You may remember from much earlier blogs that they gave me the Neulasta shot with the first Taxotere chemo and I had terrible bone pain.  (After that, I told them I would not be taking the Neulasta with any more of the Taxotere treatments which they agreed to but made me understand that I have no choice on the AC Chemo.)  I looked back at my white counts prior to the shot and they were actually already high (probably because I had just had surgery to put the port in and I'm sure my body saw that port as a foreign body and sent white blood cells in to the rescue...so they were already producing in full force.) and this time, they were actually borderline low when I got the AC Chemo.  WHO KNOWS...all I know is that the pain is absent and I'm very happy about that.

One final thing, Tom has confirmed that I am not a mean chemo drunk on AC chemo.   Nor am I particularly emotional...just wiped out.  The mess around the bedroom that I continued to generate didn't bother me either which is pretty amazing.  (Being as OCD about clean as I am...) 

Well, I'm going to go lay down for a while since I have now expended what energy I had stored up and then later today I need to wrap the Christmas presents to send off to people as soon as I have some more stored up.

I hope everyone is having a great day....mine is certainly better than yesterday.  8-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

More Random Musings

So...here is a funny thing.  I am going through my old  posts and I see one that was just a draft and it was titled, "I Get So Easily Distracted" and there was nothing in the body of the posting.  Wow...was that an apt title, or what?  LOL  (Yeah, I deleted that one...as well as several others I started but didn't finish.)

A lot of this cancer business is just waiting around for stuff.  Today I am waiting to go get my neulasta shot.  That is the shot that helps the bones produce more white blood cells.  I really dread this shot because it causes such severe bone pain.  I got out of it for the last three rounds of Taxotere, but the doctor says I have to have it for the AC chemo.  Nothing I could say could convince him otherwise.  Hmmph.  I can usually talk my way out of anything...very disappointing that I lost this battle.

The AC chemo definitely hits harder than the taxotere because I've already had the bloody noses and broken blood vessels in my hands that I usually don't get for about a week after Taxotere.  Small fever this morning which I have to watch and some slight nausea.  All of this is manageable though.

I guess I forgot to tell how the MRI of my head came out.  The good news is there are no tumors in my brain.  YEAH!  He didn't say whether I had a brain or not so I am just believing that it is so...lol.  The bad news is that the cyst that they removed from my nose last November has grown back and is probably what is causing my headaches.  He felt the Taxotere was causing the blurred and double vision and since that has cleared up now, I would guess he was right.  He said when the chemo is over, he'll send me over to ENT to get the cyst removed.  Maybe I'll get a better ENT doctor than I had last time.  He wasn't bad, but I went to him for an earache that wouldn't go away and he just focused on the cyst he found in my nose. The earache never has gone away but I've learned to live with it.  There have obviously been more important things than a silly earache to take care of this year.  HA.

We had a great Thanksgiving yesterday.  The meal plan came out perfect.  I warmed up the turkey in the oven while the rolls were cooking, made the velveeta cheese potatoes at the same time and 5 minutes from completion put some steamer veggies in the microwave.  After we ate all that, we had blueberries in lite cool whip.  We were definitely stuffed Turkeys when it was over.  My favorite was the Mrs. Shubert's rolls.  I LOVE bread.  The blueberries came in second but really...it was all yummy.  It was a good day all around.  8-)  God is so amazing to us.  I don't care what the rest of the week brings as long as Tom had a good Thanksgiving.  It would have been nice to have been with more family but it was great to at least share the holiday with my honey.   8-)

I hope everyone else had a great Thanksgiving also.  You were all in my prayers for safe travel and a great day!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chemo Update and Talents

As I lay (absolutely not sleeping) last night, I thought I should make a sign to hang down from the office doorway that said "Beware the tired and irritable chemo woman within this room.  Enter at your own risk."  Then Tom would have a warning for my mood for today.  Unfortunately, he got out of bed when I did so I just warned him verbally.  8-)

The AC Chemos and steroids do a lot more 'body bloating' than Taxotere.  I was up 5 lbs on the scales this morning and I feel like the goodyear blimp.  My face has the steroid round to it.  Ugh.  Well, all this will pass...the good news is that I haven't thrown up once.  I haven't even felt nauseous so the anti-emetic medicine is working just fine.  Extremely tired would be the basic feeling for the day...lead weights all over my body making moving undesirable.  Other than doing laundry, making beds and cooking lunch and supper, I don't plan on moving around a whole lot.

So, Carol, here's something for hot flashes and blood pressure.  (Other readers, feel free to skip this boring paragraph)  Last week I checked my BP without hot flashes and it would run around 97/69.  I would have a hot flash and the systolic (top) number would rise to 139 but the diastolic (bottom) remained in the high 60's and low seventies.  Not sure if yours are just systolic jumps or both systolic and diastolic rises.  There would be a very slight increase in pulse rate.  I have been having hot flashes every hour since I started this new chemo (hence the lack of sleep last night) and was doing BP checks during that. While not flashing, it is my normal 97/69 but during a hot flash, my BP is dropping really low (89/50 range) but my pulse is racing like crazy (Jumping up to the 80s).  From what I read of the anti-emetic, it causes a lower BP and dizziness.  That may be the reason it is dropping.    Who knows since they dumped so many different medicines (aka poisons) in me yesterday.

Max Lucado's inspirational message for today says:

"Concerning Talents

You made me and formed me with your hands.  Give me understanding so I can learn your commands.  Psalm 119:73
God has gifted you with talents.  He has done the same to your neighbor.  If you concern yourself with your neighbor’s talents, you will neglect yours.  But if you concern yourself with yours, you could inspire both."

I've never felt I had any real talent.  I've always seen myself as a medium person.  I can do just about anything set in front of me but I don't particularly stand out as having talent for it.  I had to work hard in college to get all A's.  But there was no talent to that learning.  No gift there.  At work, I have been recognized as a scheduling Subject Matter Expert (SME) and am the only one of my kind in the Huntsville Boeing Facility but I have to work hard to stay on top of all the changes in the scheduling arena.  Usually, people send me an email question and I have to research to see what the latest ruling on it is.  Something that they could have done themselves, but I am there to utilize, so they do.  It's easier for them to do this because I can give them the answer in a nutshell after I've deciphered it.  Anyway, the medium thing goes for any facet of my life but I'm ok with being medium.  I have never seen being medium as having talents so I guess I'm still looking for the 'talents' that God has given me.  8-) I'm sure they are there if He promised them.  8-)  I just need to stop and listen for a while...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

AC Chemo #1

Today I learned what AC stands for. The 'A' is for Adriamycin' and I am not allergic to that one. It is red chemical that they give directly from a syringe into my port. The 'C' is for Cytoxan. I AM allergic to that one. I actually thought I was going to get through this one without the allergic reactions. I was very hopeful when we got through the adriamycin with no reaction. O well..it is what it is.

Both of these chemicals fight a lot of other cancers also. Too many to list in this blog while typing on my iPad. Ha!  However, of interest to my sister, they are also used to fight Multiple Myeloma.   Did Daryl take these?

I am in the same chair I had last time. Number six. The nurse first directed me to number four which kind of excited me because it is next to the window and because that number is closer to number one which psychologically makes me feel 'more special'.  BUT there was someone in number four when I went to it. Then I was in a quandary...should I tell the guy that he is in my seat or should I go back and tell the nurse that someone else was in MY chair.  Hmmmm...

Ok, I opted to tell the nurse and she was like, "WHO took my number four chair?" (Imagine the story going like Goldilocks and the Three Bears...WHOSE been sitting in MY CHAIR?)  and I got to see the two nurses duke it out. My nurse lost but I really was ok with not getting a window seat.  So, here I am in chair number six again. 

When the allergy kicked in, it was different than the last time. My allergic reaction to the Taxotere was itching on my back and a beet red face that acted like sunburn.  I hated the flushing face.  It lasted for about three days and then the skin on my face peeled just like with sunburn.  This time, just my chest itches with no face involvement. 

We are home now after doing a quick Walmart run to find some new movies to watch and some cat treats. (Must have cat treats...must keep cat calm and happy...)  I am very tired (I'm not getting my usual steroid high like I usually do...bummer.) but the nausea medicine seems to be working because I was able to eat a sandwich for lunch with no repercussions.  Tom picked up my prescription for the nausea medicine that I have to take tomorrow and Friday so we are good to go with those.   (YEAH TOM!)

The nurse told me that the Adriamycin is a vesicant and, if put directly on the skin, will cause your skin to die and they have had patients that had to have surgery to remove the dead skin after it leaked out of the IV.  I asked her about the veins and arteries and she said that the walls of the veins and arteries are stronger and can take the medicine fine.  I find that amazing.  Veins and arteries are apparently built to take a lot of poison before collapsing...well, that is good for me, huh?  LOL

Well, I believe I've probably bored you guys enough with chemo talk.   I'm going to call it a day and go vegetate in front of the TV with some movies. 

Hope everyone is having a great day...mine really hasn't been all that bad for a chemo day.   8-)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ready for Turkey Day!!

My son called me last night.

I LOVED hearing his voice.  I laughed so much my sides hurt.  He has my sense of humor and when we get together, the jokes go on and on. 

He is doing well and surviving the winter weather in North Dakota.  They had snow before Halloween up there.  That's just wrong.  I know he will be glad to leave that weather when his time to move comes around.

He told me my granddaughter (his daughter) Alyssa has juvenile diabetes.  From everything I've ever read about juvenile diabetes, this means that she will have to take insulin for the rest of her life because juvenile diabetes is type 1.  Keep her in your prayers as she and her family adjust to this disease.

Talking to him is like opening up my heart and getting it filled to the brim.  He says he might come down this summer.  I think he wanted to come home for Christmas but he understands that this isn't a good time to introduce new germs into the house. 

I got some groceries this morning.  (Yeah ME!)  I finally figured out what we're doing for Thanksgiving.  I got some boars-head maple cured turkey breast meat (already cooked and sliced so all I have to do is heat it up), some Sister Shubert's rolls, some mixed veggies, and I'm going to make some Velveeta cheese potatoes.  This way, it is all easy and if I'm not up to it eating it, at least Tom will get a nice turkey meal.  I've been worrying over what I was going to do for Turkey day for him.  I feel much better about going into the next chemo round now that I have that planned. 

Hope everyone is having a great day! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Something Usable?

All I can think about today is that I only have two more good days left before the AC Chemo starts.  Ugh.

Panic mode...I hate this.  I go into a fight or flight mode every time.  (Flight is looking pretty good right about now.)

Shadow doesn't look concerned...OH for a cat's life...8-)  Of course they don't live that many years, so I guess I'll continue to feel blessed in that regard.  8-)

Yesterday's Max Lucado Daily Devotion was based on Romans 8:28.  "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called to His purpose."

Max's part went like this:

"Everything?  Everything.  Chicken-hearted disciples.  A two-timing Judas.  A pierced side.  Spineless Pharisees.  A hard-hearted High Priest.  In everything God worked.  I dare you to find one element of the cross that he did not manage for good or recycle for symbolism.  Give it a go.  I think you'll find what I found - every dark detail was actually a golden moment in the cause of Christ.

Can't he do the same for you?"

And I wonder...can he?  Can he take this dark time in my life and turn it into something usable for the good of Christ?  Is it possible that I can come out on the other side of this being more and not less than I was before?  I don't care about the external scars left behind.  Can I get past the internal scars that say I am susceptible to something that could kill me? 

I believe I can and will.  I believe I have what it takes no matter how hard the road gets.  I have felt God holding me in His arms, caring for me, and loving me through this so far and I know he isn't going to stop now.  (That doesn't mean I won't whine and moan along the way...I have to vent or go crazy.)

My thanks to everyone supporting me out there because you are just an extension of God's arms around me.  Don't stop now...we're heading into the hardest part.  Please keep those prayers going up...they are the most important part of this fight.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas Shopping Day

Well, we had quite a day yesterday.

This is the last weekend that I'll be able to get out for the next ten weeks so we were trying to get all the Christmas shopping done.  Didn't quite make it so I guess I'll be doing some online shopping.

We did get my car oil changed and tires rotated which was a big accomplishment.  Since they gave us a free package for all the maintenance when I bought the car, I had to take it to the dealership.  That shouldn't have been a big deal except I bought the car in Fayettesville, TN.  Yeah, about 45 miles away but we chose this particular dealership because they gave me 120% of the blue book value on my Solara when I traded it in.  Anyway, you have to make an appointment and ours was for 9 am.  We got there about 8:30 because I wasn't sure how long it would take us to drive it.  They took it right in and had us out by 9:20.

Then we headed on to shopping.  We hit one store in Fayettesville and got a couple of presents but then we decided that it was time to eat.  We headed back to Huntsville and ate at Cheddars.  We hadn't eaten at Cheddars before (It just came to town about a year ago and we've been meaning to try it out but it always looked too busy.) so this was a new adventure.  We didn't have to wait for a seat so that was a plus (of course, it was only 11:15 so not many people were eating lunch yet.) and we got a really nice waiter.  We decided on the the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich and fries.  The Philly Cheese Steak sandwich is supposed to have thinly sliced rib eye steak on it and I was a little disappointed in the amount they put on it...there was more cheese than meat so I probably wouldn't get that sandwich again if we go back.  Tom's had more meat on it but it was because he asked for no mushrooms.  We were definitely FULL by the time we left though...if you are looking for a lot of food for a really low price, Cheddars is the place.  The taste was good too...it just wasn't made the way I wanted it.

We took my car home after that, got the truck, and headed to the base because they have some really good unique items that I wanted to look at for Mom and Carol.  I found those as soon as I walked in so that was two off my list.  I found Daryl's in several different stores.  8-)  I found one of Tom's while we were out but would have to order online because they didn't carry the exact one he wanted.  When we got home, we realized that one thing we bought wasn't what we thought it was so we headed back to Walmart to return it.  By the time we got home, we'd been going for about 9 hours.  Suffice it to say, I was one beat puppy when we got home. 

Christmas shopping is a lot of work but also a lot of fun.  Always trying to decide if what you see if the 'right' gift and if they'll see it the way you do when they get it.  Wondering if it will just be something else that gets shoved in a closet and never looked at again.  I think the main purpose is just to let them know you are thinking about them during the holidays. 

Hope everyone is having a great day today.  I am going to recover from yesterday and mostly relax today.  8-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

All About Time

So...here we are...ready to shop for Christmas presents again.  It's almost Christmas Time.

This year has absolutely FLOWN by. 

I can remember being a child and wishing my life away.  I wanted to be 13 so I would be a 'teenager'.  I wanted to be 18 so I could move out and live on my own.  (I was an idiot...why would I want to give up lack of responsibility and free room and board?)  I wanted to be 21 so I would be considered a 'legal' adult.  Time passes so SLOWLY when you are young.  I thought those 'milestones' would never arrive.

Next thing I know, I'm wanting to put the brakes on and slow time down.  I didn't want to turn THIRTY.  That was almost dead in my head.  I literally went into a deep dark depression for my thirtieth birthday.  My sister sent me black balloons for that birthday...(Nice, Carol).  I imagined all my cells were dying and I had one foot in the grave.  (Still an idiot)

Then I had my son.  I wanted to see him walk, talk, start school, grow up.  (Again with the rushing time thing...still an idiot.) 

Now, I just want it to slow down.  I want time to really get to know my family and let them get to know me.  I want to understand how my son's head works and get to know him better than I do right now.  I don't want work to be the focus of my life.  (In fact, if I could afford to retire this next year in June, I would do so but I have bigger plans for our retirement so I will keep working for about 3-4 more years, which, according to our accountant, should leave us sitting comfortably.)

One thing I have learned is that, during our retirement years, we are going to need to get some hobbies to keep from getting too housebound and driving each other crazy.  (I've learned this to be true during this 'housebound' time.)

Anyway, back to Christmas.  Carol invited me to be part of their group in Giftsters.  Yeah Mom for telling me about it and Yeah Carol for adding me!  I put what I wanted in there.  I want no more chemo and hair...I wonder if anyone can get those for me?  lol  I had a lot of fun looking at what everyone else wanted. 

I guess I'll have to come up with something else so Tom can get me something for Christmas...I just can't think of anything I need or want right now.  I mostly want him to be happy. 

Originally, I planned to go to Carol's this Christmas, before all this cancer stuff hit.  We were saving our vacation so we could go out there for a few days and visit with everyone but we'll have to wait until next year now.  Sigh.  BUT...as fast as time is flying, it will be here before I know it.

Hope everyone is having a great day!  (The picture still has a sunny look today, Sis.)