Monday, May 22, 2017

CHEMO REPORT

I had a good first week on the chemo. Then they had me double it. Nausea kicked in right away which is the symptom I so hate. Nothing worse when you are trying to keep weight on. I lost 5 pounds that week, but then the nausea started lessening. On this past Wednesday, I had my first nausea-free day. And 2 more after that. And I have had pretty good days since, with just a couple of low-grade nausea hours. I am trusting that it will continue with more thumbs-up days than thumbs-down.

Richie has been on a fishing trip for 7 days and should be home tomorrow. My best friend Susan from Georgia flew in for 3 of those days and we had a great time together. It is hard to be so far apart, but it is what it is. We generate lots of telephone time!!

I am the worst selfie-taker EVER.

Susan arrived on her birthday and requested REAL chocolate mousse!

Finally, I have a shout out for my young friend Jocelyn who is doing such a fabulous job losing her baby weight. I hadn't seen her in about a month and her ongoing path to getting fit and trim again post-pregnancy is really paying off. Her face even looks different. I love encouraging these young women to do the work to get it all off.  She doesn't have far to go! Way to go, Jocelynn!! I see trim, fit and healthy just around the corner for you!!

Thank you blog readers, for your prayers for me in this long-enduring walk with cancer. You have been persistent and generous in talking to the Father about me and I am so grateful!!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

BOTTOM OF THE TEAR BARREL

I took a short walk at 9 last night. Beautiful, balmy, birds still singing. I wasn't thinking about my folks at all when I walked out the door. And then, so out of no where, grief descended like an angry storm cloud. And the first tears fell before I was past my house. And then came the aching, the longing, the deep deep yearning to hold them and talk to them/hear their voices and joke with them and love on them. I cried the whole walk. Grief, which lives so close to the surface of our souls, had wrapped itself around me and wasn't letting go. Dick held me for a awhile when I got home, but my heart seemed to need a grief explosion. I cried and cried, til there were no tears left. I was at the bottom. 

I don't think if you had a tight bond with your parents that it ever gets any easier. My brothers both have those moments too, they've told me. We all have an emotional hole---even some of the grandkids have expressed it. How hard it is living without them in our lives. How blessed we Hiebs all are to have had two people so loving, so generous, so full of wisdom, so fun, so giving to others, so full of goodness as Eddie and Pat.

All I really know is that the best parts of who I am were created from the best parts of who Mom and Dad were. They live within me. I feel them. And if in honoring that love we shared, I need to spend a few nights sobbing out my grief, then so be it. 

Happy Mother's Day and Happy Father's Day, Mom and Dad.

Friday, April 28, 2017

I GOT THE CHEMO

I got approved for the chemo and I was able to get my first dose Thursday. Surrounded by the prayers of so many trusted prayer warriors, I felt God's peace as I took the first pill. I kept it down without any nausea at all. PRAISES TO MY LORD for that. Susan, Risa, Julie, Mary Ruth, Margie, Jackie, Cole, Sarah, Penny, Ann, Peg, Lee, Jackie, and Earleen, you guys ROCK as prayer intercessors and doing spiritual warfare against the enemy. You well supplemented  Richie's and Sam's prayers. I felt angels surrounding me, battering down the fears and anxiety that day. How can I ever say thanks? I will just have to pay it forward to y'all when your needy times come.

I double the dosage in 1 week. I am hoping that doesn't change anything in terms of nausea.

The final 2 weeks of getting approved for the program to get the drug early was highly stressful. When I came home Friday after being in SF 3 times that week, probed and tested and picked and tapped and scanned and MRI'd, I walked in and promptly slept for 6 hours in 2 different afternoon naps. THAT's how wiped I was. I admit I am still not back up to snuff. But the wait is over and now my prayer is for the effectiveness of the drug to be evident.
I'll welcome any prayers for that. This drug is my last hope (medically speaking). My real hope lies in Jesus and His mighty healing power.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

ENGLISH

I am a grammar buff, and proud to be one. I had no choice in the matter. Spelling and grammar were areas where my parents were not lax. They wanted their kids to be articulate. We all had our grammar corrected immediately upon using the wrong word. They had a great deal of help from the Catholic nuns who educated us, who were nothing if not rigorous in teaching us the King’s English. Every grandchild, when visiting, got corrected as well. I thanked Mom and Dad many times for the gift of that early correction. Sam has thanked me many times for the same.

If a wine snob is one who appreciates fine wine, I must be a grammar and spelling snob. I like “buff “or “aficionado” better. My brain lights up when I see misspellings and hear bad grammar! I want to rectify both! I have many friends who use poor grammar and I always notice it. It is all over TV; even my favorite reality TV host uses it. Sports analysts (and Sam would agree) and broadcasters are not known for good grammar. The morning talk shows are sprinkled every day with grammar missteps. Yes, I notice every one.

Mom and Dad raised an S & G buff. I raised an S & G buff, and I have no doubt that if Sam has kids someday, their speech will be readily corrected by their papa. Because Sam had college journalism classes, he is even more knowledgeable about high level grammar rules than I am.

I have been able to use my particular area of passion in my job. My subbing in the schools was a prime place to make a difference. I swear parents don’t correct poor speech anymore. When a student asked or told me something like, “Can him and me go to the library?” I would just calmly say every time, “Ask me again using proper English.” It may have taken 3 or 4 tries, but they eventually got it right. And then I told them how they could not make that mistake again. Of course I was there only one day at a time, and without daily reinforcement, I’m sure my efforts to teach a few grammar rules went by the wayside, but I put my due diligence in anyway. I never let poor grammar slip.

In 20 years, I’ve rarely heard a teacher correct grammar in a student. Many of our teachers themselves have poor skills. THEY never learned well. One day a classroom teacher said in a conversation with me, “Him and Gary played tennis with I and Ann.”(names changed) I honestly cringed to my core. I went home and told my husband that our schools are failing our kids through parents who don’t care about speech and through many of our teachers. Not all of them. But definitely some of them. How can they turn their students into well-spoken adults when they themselves are not articulate?

My biggest bug-a-boo is with pronoun use. Learning how and when to use nominative pronouns and objective pronouns correctly should be taught from 2nd grade on. If kids learn it early----and it’s so easy to learn---- they will know it forever.

The second thing that I hear way too much of is using an adjective where an adverb should be: “He drove real careful.” (carefully, not careful) “He did good in that game.” (well, not good).

Then there is the “like” word that has permeated our culture, used multiple times in a sentence before verbs, nouns, adverbs and adjectives. What a meaningless word. Nothing sounds so “backwoods” to me as someone who cannot form a sentence without using “like.” I just like hope it is like just a fad and that it like eases its way out of our English vernacular like very soon.

Once I was subbing and saw a notice I was to send home with kids for their parents to sign. I read it and found 4 spelling and grammar errors in the notice. I left a note for the teacher and did not send it out. Our college education classes need to stress good grammar and spelling so that these young educators can pass that on.

Okay, this has become a lecture and I never intended it to be that. What I want to say is: Parents and grandparents, if you notice poor grammar, correct it. Teach it to your little ones. Pass on the gift of becoming articulate. If you don’t know good grammar, there are hundreds of resources where you can learn it! Turn your kid into a grammar and spelling buff!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

POSSIBLE EARLY USE


There is a possibility---a good one--- that I will be eligible to get the drug I need (before it is available through the FDA on May 15) now through a program called Compassionate Use. God's fingerprints were all over how I heard about this. I won't go into all the drama and detail of how it came about, but let me just say that I have passed Steps 1 and 2 out of 4 for final approval. Next Friday I will have brain and chest MRIs, as well as 4 other tests/labs to get an idea of my condition for the research team. If I pass, I could have the drug as soon as 12 days from now.

You may ask what the benefit is of getting it so close to the day I could get it on the open market. I realize there will only be a 3-week differential and perhaps to some it isn't worth going through all this protocol to get the drug early.

Let me tell you, when you have been sitting idly waiting since Feb.1 for the only drug that can extend your life, you grab at ANY advantage. The saddest part is I would have been eligible for Compassionate Use back on Feb.1. Needless to say, I fired my doctor and have hired a new oncologist. 'Nuf said on that.

I trust in God's providence for me. If I am supposed to be approved, I will be. If not, I wait. God is the same either way. When you trust God to order your steps, you have a peace that passes all understanding.

I remain hopeful and I will let you know if I am approved!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

LIVE AN UNSTRAPPED LIFE

I am not a person who cavalierly recommends things to others. I do so primarily with books, and not even just good books. For me to recommend a book, it has to be a great read. I may have recommended a terrific movie or two over the years. But this may be the most excited I have been over suggesting something.

Dick and I have just finished watching a 4-part sermon series called Unstrapped. The preacher is a pastor from a large church in Omaha. Even though we have loved every one of his archived sermons, I wasn't sure I wanted to watch four about money. We almost chose not to delve into this series, but something in our spirits compelled us to start the first sermon. And we were totally hooked.

We finished the series in about 8 days (watching about a half hour a day) and the fourth sermon was as good as the other three. Friends, I urge everyone to listen to this series. It is about so much more than money. It is about a new lifestyle choice, your heart, what you worship, your stewardship, obedience, tithing, the way you view your life, and blessing yourself and others.

Dick and I agree that we have NEVER heard a sermon about money like this one. Six decades, and finally, a series of money sermons that felt like fresh oxygen. Each one touched us down to the marrow. We could hardly stop watching the streamed video each night. Pastor Les is so easy to listen to, so authentic, and yes, funny too.

If more believers (and non-believers for that matter) could hear this, how different things might be. We could see altered lives, and marriages coming together and restored families. If these principles were taught in churches, we would have a revival which could change the lives of many people in our fellowships, and by extension, in the community.

Friends, I am inviting you to try out the first sermon. If you don’t buy into it, don’t watch it. If you finish it and felt as inspired as we were, share the series with others. Tell people at your church about it.

Living the unstrapped life matters. Check this link out and please let me know what you thought.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

PATTY

I waited in the shade in front of the cafe for her. When she walked up to me, after 33 years, we fell into each other's arms. We both had tears. Nearly simultaneously, we said "I would know you anywhere." I looked at her and said, "252-2218." And not skipping a beat, she answered, "252-4598." Our childhood family phone numbers. Decades later, fresh on both our tongues.

My long-awaited reunion with my best friend from grade school was the highlight of my trip to Florida this year. Life and careers and distance kept us apart for all that time, but to hug Patty was coming full circle.

Patty and I met on the first day of kindergarten and became best friends. Our parents were going to send us both to the small parochial school in town so we maintained our close friendship all through school. Together, we did life through spelling bees, sleepovers, grade school dances, piano lessons, dance lessons, 60's music (the best ever), 6th grade boyfriends and the horrific day in 3rd grade when JFK was shot. 

We spent lots of time at each other's houses playing....she had the most awesome Barbie set-up under their basement stairs complete with a Barbie and Ken house and car where we spent hours. My Barbie and her large case of clothing was always in transit between houses. She remembers thinking our basement as the coolest thing ever. Until she told me why, I had never realized that Mom and Dad had, indeed, designed a perfect 2000 sq ft space for kids and teens downstairs. As a kid, I had taken it for granted.

She spent summers with her mom at their lake cabin and her dad would often bring me out on weekends. We played "house" in her bunkhouse and spent time on the beach.
As we got older, we had crushes on lake boys and would take her boat and cruise around the lake. 

One day, the girl next door said she couldn't go swimming with us and we pressed her into telling us why. That was the day Patty and I learned all about menstruation, which sounded really gross. When the 4th grade girls had "the talk" with their moms, Patty and I had a pact to act dumb so our moms wouldn't be upset that someone else had told us.

Oh, yes, we shared many secrets. Isn't that a hallmark of a bestie?

Patty considered Mom and Dad her second parents. She was a later-life bonus baby with 4 siblings much older than herself so I think she enjoyed being part of the chaos at our house. When Dad was dying, she wrote a letter to my parents telling them how much they meant to her growing up. It meant the world to them, because they always had loved Patty. Dad never did stop telling the story of scaring her to death when he jokingly told her that if she didn't eat her creamed peas, he would give them to her in an IV. Patty well remembers it. He loved to tease.

Patty and I were best friends but we were friends with others. Colleen and Mary Kay were another set of best friends that we did things with together and individually. But we always gravitated back to each other. In the 8th grade, our school closed its high school, which meant for 9th grade, we would be going to the huge public high school. The only thing that made that less daunting was knowing Patty and I would navigate it together. Going from a class of maybe 25 to a class of 350 made me tremble. I was so shy by nature. I needed her for this big transition.

Weeks later, my universe shattered. Patty was moving to a city 90 miles east. I will never forget sobbing in my mom's arms the day she told me. It paralyzed me.

We tried to stay in touch as much as possible. In those days it was mainly by a monthly phone call and written letters. Lots of letters in the beginning. We both made other friends in our new high schools and our connection got stretched out. We saw each other a few times during college years, but didn't really re-connect again until I moved to Minneapolis (where she was living) for a 3-month graduate internship. She was newly married (yes, I was her maid of honor) and we started seeing each other regularly again. 

I got a faculty position at the University of Northern KY and moved there. And eventually landed back in Duluth which was only 3 hours away from her, but our careers, life, kids and commitments got in the way. I had no idea that my wedding would be the last time we would see each other for 33 years. 

At the cafe, I pounded her with questions about everything in those intervening years. Tributaries of our memories came rushing forth. She has experienced so many losses but Patty exudes a joy about her that is infectious. I couldn't get enough of her. She was always my leader and I always looked up to her for wisdom. Our lives have taken very different trajectories, but that didn't matter at all.



My beautiful lifelong friend Patty



Our reunion was indeed the high point of my week in the sunny south. After being with Patty for 15 minutes, I knew that if we had continued to live in the same city, we never would have lost our connection. For at its foundation, it is deeper than the roots on a North Dakota oak tree.

On that day in 8th grade, when my heart cracked open at her leaving me, a hole was created in me that I didn't even know I still had. In Florida 2 weeks ago, she returned that piece of my heart to me. For me, Patty was and always will be home.