Thursday, March 15, 2018


We went to the city to get scan results yesterday. They were good. My brain only has 3 small tumors in the frontal lobe (down from 3 years ago when the radiation doc said,"You have too many brain tumors to count. Get your affairs in order). I have 1 tumor on the bottom-side of my left lung. It looks as if the rest in lung have calcified. Bottom line: "Stable disease." And I can stay on my half dose of chemo. My doc was pleased.

I had a light bulb moment on the drive home. I have total faith that God is going to heal me. But now, I believe He is not going to do a divine all-at-once healing. I think He is just chipping away at it little by little. Yahweh must have His reasons for this method. All I can do is trust Him. And I do.

We stopped at a car dealership on the way home. Painful. Richie liked a Subaru Outback. I did not. End of that story. The prices these days are staggering. Note the our most recent car-buying was in 2001, 17 years ago when you could still get a nice new car for $24000 or less. So we are skewed in our thinking, learning to accept that car prices rose significantly without us knowing!! It will be a miracle if we agree on anything.

In the meantime, one car is working out fine. We just took it in and Bob, our mechanic, gave it a physical, did $300 of change-outs (plugs, etc) and proclaimed it in fine shape. We are ready to take her on a road trip. Most people would not trust a 200,000 mile 17-year-old car for a road trip, but Rosie has never let us down.

God's fingerprints were all over our trip cancellation. We followed our route down (weather) and now are following what would have been our week in Florida. We would have traveled in rain 5 days out of 7, driving through the bottom edge of that Nor'easter, and ending up in an unusual week in Florida, with highs in the mid 60's and 1 day of rain. They only have 1 day this week scheduled for 70 degrees. I am too tense to drive in rain so my husband would have had to do nearly all the driving. Just like God told me to cancel our 2 planned trips to Savannah, both of which had hurricanes the weeks we were supposed to be there, I believe He saved us from a crummy and cool vacation.

I have GAINED 4 POUNDS!! Yippee! 5 more to shoot for!!

Happy St. Paddy's Day. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018


I am breaking through the gray and black and seeing the light above me. I feel so much better than when I last posted. Isolating myself and dealing with all this physical and emotional stuff has been good for me.

Between influenza, incessant coughing, and blizzards, I have had to re-schedule my brain scan 5 times in 3 weeks. I was on for this Friday, and very relieved the scan would be over and then they called yesterday and canceled because their radiologist couldn't be there. SO. Monday it is. Unless we have another snowstorm.

I did have another appointment with my palliative care team and the bottom line is that I told them I took myself off Hydrocodone completely and I feel so much better without it. The pain is not worse without it, so why take it? Nourishing my body is #1 goal. What they want me to eat goes against everything I believe in and the opposite of how I have cooked and eaten for 30 years. She wants me to bulk up on butter, whole milk (ugh), cream, high protein items, ice cream, Ensure shakes, etc. I have gained 3 pounds this week already, doing the diet. I have to eat every 2 hours, even if it is an inch of banana with peanut butter.

 She told me to make pies and cookies and eat them liberally (my husband, sitting next to me, grinned sheepishly and said, "Pecan pie?" and she laughed and said, "Yes, by all means, and put ice cream on it." Well, THAT is not going to happen. One night I ate a small caramel-chocolate ball and almost wanted to puke  from the sugar. When you haven't used sugar for as long as I have (4 months), anything sweet makes you sort of sick. Richie made me some pudding (cooked, not instant) and I can get about 1/4 cup of that down pretty easily. So we are keeping pudding on hand. I think pecan pie, the sweetest of ALL desserts, will have to wait. 

All of these suggestions were given to me days before by Anna, my niece, who works in palliative care and knew exactly what I needed to nourish myself. I am so grateful to her

Richie is done with his strong antibiotics to counteract the cellulitis and MRSA. His finger is better, but not healed yet. He thinks he is going to lose the nail.

We finally, after 3 weeks, got resolution from the insurance about the totaled car yesterday. They are not quick to act when they are paying out......

We stopped at 2 dealerships when we were in the city one day, and looked at a few things. If we ever agree on an automobile, it will be a miracle. Truly. We are looking for such different things. Oh, I detest this car shopping. I think we are doing fine with our one 17-year-old Caravan, and I don't see the need to hurry the decision.

Sam got the call for 2 of the quarter-final and 2 of the semi-final games (in the top class) at the MN State Hockey tournament starting tonight and tomorrow night. And then he got the call to broadcast the championship game in the class below the top class. We are so proud. We can't wait to hear him on live stream radio.

We canceled our trip because we were both not 100%. And for the 3rd time, God's fingerprints were all over that decision. We would have been traveling this whole week in a SE direction. We have tracked every day where we would have been traveling, and it has been cool and 80% rain in every location. I don't drive in rain other than a drizzle so Richie would have had to drive most of the way. We would not have enjoyed any of the scenery at all. The other two times we had plans to go to Savannah, God gave me the impression I was supposed to cancel. Both times, there was a hurricane the week we would have gone.. SO thankful for His guidance.

When we are both 100% healed in every way, we are going to drive down to the Grand Canyon, which neither of us have seen.

I thank all of you who prayed for me in this gray season. I felt your prayers.

When I get my scan results, I will let you know.

God bless you all.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


I'm going to take a break, friends. I have so much going on physically that is not right, and I am battling this depression again. I have scans rescheduled once again for next week. I have 4 medical appts within the coming 6 days and I know that has added to my anxiety. I hate the scans. I feel as if I need to just isolate myself in the arms of God and work on this. I am so weak and malnourished right now that I need to concentrate on food. Anyway, I will see you on the backside of all this.

Satan is trying hard to "kill, steal and destroy," (John10:10) but I have faith that he will have no victory.

Friday, February 23, 2018

13, 14, .....

Today has been no better.

13. Snow was the culprit this time for having to cancel for the 2nd time, all my scans. I got up at 5:00 and checked the road reports and the trip to the city said,"Ice, slippery, snow." We checked again just before we would have had to leave and it was unchanged. After you total a car on black ice 6 days prior, you are no longer foolish about taking the risk. So.....folks....I may never get scanned.

14. Felling lousy again today; stomach problems, down, major lethargy.

15. Dick got a phone call from the doc who did the path report on his infected finger. He has  MRSA in his system! Lord, that was not what he needed. He went in to have his excised hip checked but he can't remove that bandage off til Sunday. He cannot do anything with that hand with the finger pain. I pray these strong antibiotics can wipe out the MRSA.

16. I spent over 4 hours on the phone with my phone company today trying to troubleshoot another problem. I got a new phone 1 week ago and spent 2 hours troubleshooting a malfunction. I sent it back and they sent this new one, which I activated today. Then spent 4 hours trying to get the text function working. My body ached from sitting that long. They erased my new phone and I told them I would try to get it going on my own. Low and behold, I solved the original problems all on my own. Me, the techie-zero.

17. I am so weak and malnourished and my husband is now forcing me to eat every afternoon and every morning to supplement my 100 pounds. Maybe my palliative care team will help me with this too. Since the flu, I've just had no appetite.

I am hoping my laundry list of woes ends today.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


If you think you are having a bad week, think again. I feel like our Ekstrom blood is cursed at the moment:

1. Dick came back from Haiti with a sore finger.  

2. He went to Mpls to go to a Wolves game with Sam.

3. On the way home, he hit black ice and snow and went into a guard-rail at 65. He was protected by angelic pillows because we were driving a car whose airbags never deployed. It was totaled. We are very grateful for Dick's life. His life has been saved 3 times in 3 years by angels...miracles, all.

4. I proceeded to completely screw-up his flight arrangements home from Mpls by not looking at am vs pm. He had to stay another whole day there because of me when all he wanted was to get home. I had so much guilt in my lack of being diligent about things like that.

5. When he got home, his "sore" finger was wrapped in small cords of pus, very swollen and untouchable. He went right to the ER (this is midnight now), had it drained and was given antibiotics. They called it cellulitis. Dick has since studied up on this, as he has gotten 5 other Cellulitis pustules. It is a Haiti-originating condition from being in dirty water. (other countries too). NOTHING was clean there.

6. Still waiting on insurance information. Hard when they are making judgments without you being there.

7. I slipped into 3 days of anxiety, stomach trouble, fear and depression and cried for 2 days, Prayer has been tough and hope tougher, that it will end.

8. I cancelled my scans once again due to continued cough and may need to do so tomorrow because we're getting snow.

9. We made the decision together to scrap our trip, planned for 6 months. Neither of us is physically or emotionally in a place for a road trip and a week in Florida.

10. Putting our timeshare up for sale ended up with Dick taking 2 trips to FAX places to get 
correct info in.

11. Our one dear 17-year-old car had a deflated tire this morning that we to get to the station and Dick had to walk all the way home cuz I had no way to get him.

12. He went to a doctor today and she excised a large cellulitis on his hip. She packed it well and it is not comfortable. He can't even lay on that side of his body.

There was only one thing that made me smile today, or maybe in the last 6 days: Sam got the play-by-play gigs for 2 quarter-finals, 2 semi-final games of the big-time MN State Hockey Tournament plus the Championship game for Class A. So proud of that kid.

I truly hope all of you had a better week than we did.

PS. Shopping for cars, for me, is like having a root canal. Cannot think of anything I like less and now I face this task, later rather than sooner, which gives me gut balls and high anxiety.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


So I'm sure you are wondering about my brain and lung scans. Results would have been today, had I HAD the scans. My body, instead, opted to contract influenza A and I spent all last week fighting this horrible illness. Never moved off the couch til bedtime. Fever broke on day 4, but today, even on day 10, I am coughing--------and oh so weak and without energy. I lost the 4 pounds it took me 7 months to gain and the body aches from the flu haven't all gone yet. I guess it doesn't matter. I have those aches even without flu!!

I went outside awhile ago, first time in 10 days, and walked to the corner. I can sure tell I'm not ready to go to the health club yet! I walk like a 100-year-old.

I am so grateful that I was not among the hundreds across the globe who have died from this. I actually wanted to, during the worst of it!

I am also abundantly grateful for a husband who tended to my every need, without being asked, and did so with grace and love. He took over every aspect of the home as well and kept things running like clockwork. He is the very definition of a servant-spouse.

I will report when I get the scan results.

Thanks for the prayers.

Sunday, February 4, 2018


I had my palliative care appointment on Monday. Met with the doc, pharm, nurse and soc wk. Had a real nice round table mostly about who I am and where I'm at medically. Bottom line decision was to double my hydrocodone. After 3 days, all I can tell is that it has made me so drowsy that I can no longer read at any time of day for more than 10 minutes without falling asleep. They said this would probably be a side effect. I have 4 books to read for the this rate, it will take a week to finish the first one!! Pain level? Not sure yet. I'm sure the increased dosage needs to start circulating for a few days.

My hearing aid adjustment is slow, but it is happening. Trying to get used to the loud noises (running water, keyboard strokes, putting on glasses) that are all new to me.

Richie had a good trip to Haiti. He went without all creature comforts (including hot water) for a week and came home with bed bug bites and dust mite bites from the mattresses on the floor where hygiene was minimal (and other inconveniences like a 3 hour bus trip on deeply rutted gravel paths)-----but he served and blessed the patients the best ways he knew how----I so admire him. Glad to have him back.

My scans are next Thursday and the following Wednesday. Results by Thursday. I am so hoping that being off sugar for these 8 weeks might make a difference in tumor reduction.

We are starting to plan our March Florida week. I am soooo ready to leave this Deep Freeze.

Happy Valentine's Day.