Saturday, March 24, 2012

Round Three Went Well!

I've had a fantastic three weeks since my last chemo on March 2. Lots of energy, very productive weeks at work and home. In fact, aside from my taste buds that continue to act very wacky, I've had very few negative side affects.  They include sore gums and itching on my arms and hands, but I continue to drink at least 4 16oz. bottles of water a day and that helps tremendously!

Went in for my third treatment yesterday afternoon and for some reason, it only took four hours instead of five like the first two.  Let's hope I got everything I was supposed to get. Ha! I'm sure they did. The nurses at the Cancer Center are great, but still ... the thought did cross my mind. After all, I've been living (and dealing) with Murphy's Law for the last 10 months.  Know what I mean?

The best part of this experience has been sharing it with my friends.   Shelia F, another dear friend from work who I've known for 33 years, accompanied me yesterday to chemo. Had lunch together first and then spent an afternoon doing some much needed catching up on life. Shared lots of stories, but I especially enjoyed talking with her about our mutual experiences as caregivers to our husbands. Trust me, care giving is not for the faint of heart and it's always good to know we're not alone in our day-to-day experiences. The amazing thing about Shelia is that throughout the years of her husband's long-term illness and more than one difficult situation, I never once saw her without her trademark smile and upbeat attitude. She said it was an honor to accompany me, but honestly, the honor was all mine.  It takes a special person to volunteer to take time to sit in a straight back chair for 4 hours for someone else. She's a trouper, an amazing woman and it was nothing short of pure pleasure to have her at my side.:)

The the immediate reaction to the last treatment was an incredible need to sleep. In fact, except to take care of life necessities, I slept for three days straight.  I expect the same to happen this weekend. So I don't know how long I'll be "conscious" today before I nod off.  I'm definitely taking it easy through Monday.  I have a few things to do this morning before sleep comes over me like going to the bank and the grocery. After that, all bets are off on what I'll manage to do aside from fluffing up my pillow and getting some shut eye. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Small Nuggets of Joy

The natural flow of life was quickly disrupted after my husband's stroke last June.  After a month in the hospital, he still couldn't get up from a sitting position on his own.  Even a trip to the market had to be carefully planned to ensure someone remained home with him.

What a difference a few months makes. Rick still has a feeding tube, but we are working with a dietitian to gradually introduce solid foods with the goal of getting him off his liquid diet of Glucerna.  Another huge improvement is that he now gets around with the aid of a walker and manages on his own quite well.

In spite of how chaotic our lives have been these past 10 months, at least we can't complain about the weather.  We only had a few days of snow and ice this winter which makes me think we must have broken a record or two.  I mean, here we are in the middle of March and it's 78 degrees tonight. LOVE IT!

My daffodils are all in bloom and within a few days, the tulips will follow. 
Yesterday we had the carpeting in our living room removed and to my surprise the hard wood floors are in great shape. I took this photo moments after our handyman took it up.  It took me 2-3 weeks to rip out the carpeting in our bedroom last fall and refinish floors so imagine how thrilled I was to know all this floor will need is a good wash and wax.  Needless to say, on my way home from work tonight I'd started to make plans to work on them. When I pulled into the driveway though, my thoughts wandered off  to my flower beds and how badly they need to be rake. Okay, so I can't do it all and certainly not at one time, but I'm full of energy right now and love home projects.

By the time I changed clothes, checked the mail, and grabbed something to eat, I decide the floors could wait until morning.

A wonderful breeze was coming in from the open windows, the sky was clear and it was just too beautiful outside to waste another minute indoors.  So after supper, Rick and I went to our favorite ice cream parlor.  It was only while we were enjoying our treats that that I realized this was the first time in 10 months that he and I had gone out to "eat" together.

Okay, so this is a seemingly small and perhaps insignificant thing. It's something we've done a million times throughout our 31 years of marriage, but this has been anything but a normal year and when it comes right down to it, it's the little things like the early spring weather, the daffodils, the great hardwood floors that don't need refinishing, and the satisfaction of enjoying a dish of ice cream with my hubby that helps get us over the next hurdle.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Good Bye, Sweet Candy

No, I'm not talking about chocolates, Candy was our very camera shy mini Doxie we rescued about five years ago from an abusive home along with our other mini Doxie, Moo.  At the time we had two  Boston Bulls and yes, although four dogs seemed like a lot, our home is large and the four small dogs had plenty of room play or hide. 

One of the things we noticed on Candy when we brought her home was a small spot in the middle of her back where the hair hadn't grown correctly.  Our vet indicated it looked as if she'd been hurt at some point. The thought of an animal being abused makes my blood boil.  

The reality of that injury came two years later when we were getting ready to walk the dogs in the morning before work and Candy couldn't get up.  She pulled herself out of her bed with her hind legs dragging. That was the most horrifying thing to watch.  Thankfully, she didn't seem to be in pain--never once cried out.

It turned out she had a badly damaged disk that required immediate surgery. The vet was able to repair the damage but in spite of everyone's efforts and continued of work outs, Candy never walked again. She also lost all control of her bladder and stools and bladder infections were a constant concern. Over time several have asked why I hadn't put her to sleep.  I couldn't. Candy was four years old when that happened and if there was the slightest chance she would eventually walk it was worth a try.

We kept her in a clothes basket filled with towels that had to be changed on a regular basis. The up side of it was that we could take her wherever we went without worrying about accidents. She especially loved going outside and laying in a sunny spot on the grass. 

Sadly, in recent weeks her bladder infections became worse and she seemed to be constantly crying. It got to the point where we had to consider her quality of life and so this past Saturday, I took her to the vet one last time.  I took this photo just before we left.

Moo seemed to know what was happening and acted very lost without her pal. But soon, Izzy will be home again, and things will be hectic again.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Note to Self ...

... Don't panic if you wake up in the morning to find your tongue has turned black!

Last week I developed a small rash and a bit of swelling on my right arm at the bend of the elbow for which my oncologist prescribed a mega dose of antibiotics.  I was warned to eat at least a 1/3 cup of food with it to avoid nausea.  So ... last night I got into bed and after a few minutes remembered I hadn't taken the last dose of the day.  Having eaten a good dinner and later a snack I thought I had enough food in my stomach and took the pills.

With in minutes, I started to feel a bit queasy and decided a small dish of cereal and milk would do the trick and it did.

Happy that the relief was almost immediate, I got back into bed and waited for my new best friend, sleep, to come. It wasn't long though before heartburn started to squeeze my chest. Ugh. Another trip into the kitchen for the Pepto Bismol.

I finally went to sleep and woke up this morning to the 5:30 AM alarm feeling really good. Good, that is until I went to brush my teeth and noticed the black coating on my tongue.  I admit, my first thought was, "Oh, hell, what now?" Tongue fungus is a side affect of the chemo, but it's supposed to turn the lining of the mouth white, so needless to say my mind raced backwards to the what I'd eaten the night before: Milk, tuna casserole, broccoli, pears, water, pills, cereal ... Pepto.  Ah, mystery solved. So, note to self,  there's always a logical reason when your tongue turns black. :)

Another thing I discovered this week was the need to conserve energy after a chemo treatment. I was fine Friday night and Saturday morning, but by 1:30 in the afternoon, a blanket of sleep came over me that lasted through Monday evening.  In those three days, I only woke up to eat and take care of life necessities.

I went to work yesterday feeling a bit tired, but that's okay. On those days I just take it slow because the weariness does pass and this morning, I'm feeling pretty much like my old self and ready to go!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Round Two of Chemo

I went in for my second round of Chemo yesterday afternoon. It took another five hours. Thanks to my good friend Gayla B., from work who "sacrificed" a half day of vacation to have lunch with me then keep me company, the time flew.  Just for the record, we solved the problems of the world, the treatment went well, and I'm doing fine this morning.

While waiting to go in for my treatment yesterday, I ran into a friend of over 30 years, who was waiting for some paper work for her husband who had been diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer this past June. Sadly, while I was writing this post, I received a text from her that he passed away early this morning.  We're very saddened by his passing. Pete was a wonderful husband, father, coach, and friend.

When I was in the hospital the week of February 13, I was basically treated for my cold. Granted, once you are taking Chemo the rules change. Infection of any type is very dangerous and taken seriously, but the point is, as I walked down the halls some patients were waiting for Hospice while other families were gathered around the clock by their loved one's bedside. I truly felt that I was taking up a bed that someone else needed more.

Every time I go to the Cancer Center, I see new faces--some young, some old. Each has his or her own story to tell that we'll never know about. Some may be an open book like me, but too many others refuse to talk about their condition which makes it difficult for friends and family to help them get through the tough times.

For this reason, I'm truly touched and humbled by the many warm comments I received on my post of February 27. In truth, however, my cancer is nothing more than a bump in the road compared to what thousands of other people have gone through or are going through now.

I'm not courageous or a hero. I'm simple one woman sharing her story in the hopes that through my strength others will find theirs.

Our prayers are with the Cook family.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

A Review From a Fellow Writer and Friend

I was very pleasently surprised to open an e-mail earlier this week to discover that my good friend and fellow author, Ron Adams, had written a reivew of my first novel, "Silenced Cry."  Goodness, this novel was published in 2007! So, yeah, very pleased!

Ron is one of the authors in my collective writer's bog, Murder By 4 who says of himself, "I'm writer, author, part-time home cook, fulltime dad and physical therapist."  

Like Ron, I too snatch precious minutes from a busy day to write. Sadly that's been impossible for me for several months. But his review makes me realize that I need to hurry up and get back in the writer's chair.  If not for my readers (of course, it's always for my readers), for the sake of my soul. :)

Ron is the author of two mystery novels. Both are available on

"Key Lime Squeeze" - Buffalo PI Joe Banks travels to Key West in search of a runaway husband, but nothing is ever that easy...

... and

"Lake Efffect" The first Joe Banks novel pits the Buffalo PI against a family full of deadly secrets.

And now, Ron's thoughts about "Silenced Cry."

I last wrote about my 50 page rule, how I give every book 50 pages to capture my interest. However, every once in a while in a while, in the very back of my mind, there comes this wee soft whisper that says, “Go ahead, try that one again. You’re ready.”
I was in the middle of editing one novel, still working through another in progress, and wound up picking up a crime/mystery novel of such depth and complexity, I was too distracted to appreciate it. So, following my own advice, I put it down after the obligatory 50 pages. And then came the voice, and I have to tell you, I’m so glad I listened to it.

In the interest of full disclosure, “Silenced Cry” is the first in the Sam Harper mystery series by my friend and colleague, Marta Stephens. You who have read her many contributions here know what an extraordinary talent she is. Trust me, her novels are even better.
When Detective Sam Harper's partner, Frank Gillies, gets a tip a suspect in a high profile drug case they’ve been following is hanging out in a seedy dive bar, they hurry to apprehend him. In an instant, the bust goes sour and faster than anyone can think, Gillies and the suspect are lying on a rain-puddled street, awash in their own blood.

To prevent Harper from going off on a vendetta against the drug kingpin responsible for his partner’s death, the precinct captain transfers him from Narcotics to Homicide, trying to bury him away under a pile of cold case files. But even the new assignment doesn’t deter Harper from sticking his nose in the investigation that killed his friend and mentor. Each discovery leads to another unanswered question about Gillies' past and his connection to the criminals they were chasing.  Sam tries to move forward, but becomes irate when he's teamed with a new partner, David Mann, who hails from a notorious precinct, ripe with corruption. While not convinced of his new partner’s honesty, Harper and Mann learn to tolerate each other. Their first case calls them to a construction site to investigate remains found in a sealed up wall, a baby placed in the concrete casket shortly after birth.
The case begins to consume Harper and Mann, who dig into the past with a new found determination. Not content to let his old case die, he finds strange connections with his and Gillies' past, and soon learns there is a connection even to the dead baby in the wall. The search for answers brings the readers along for a breakneck rollercoaster ride, where nothing is as it seems, and Harper is forced to stand alone as everything he thought he knew is called into question.

The climax is among the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had at the end of a book. In the end, I broke my own rules to come back to a book and character I truly have come to admire, and an artist and wordsmith I respect and learn from every chance I get.

For more information about me, the writer, visit"Silenced Cry" and "The Devil Can Wait" are available in paperback and downloadable e-book.  Visit my publisher's site for the best price.