Saturday, December 1, 2018

FIRST MONTH OFF CHEMO

I've been a month off chemo and have welcomed the small changes. I am steadier on my feet, have had less vertigo, and a little more energy. Unfortunately I thought I would gain an appetite and put on some pounds, but I've only gained 1 pound. Maybe in December. I eat every 2 hours and eat at meals as much as my stomach can hold, but still no luck. I inherited my mom's high metabolism, I guess.

My doctor wanted to try me on a drug, a marijuana-derivative, which increases appetite, but when I found out it would cost me $400, I pulled the plug on that. I am searching OTC appetite stimulants.

I've had some stomach issues; frequent belly aches which have required lots of Tums. I am ready to go in to my family doctor and make sure I don't have an ulcer.

So 4 more weeks off chemo. I am hoping to see more change for the better. I did have a "moment" yesterday when I found I could step out of the shower (tub) without holding on to the towel bar. Haven't been able to do that in years. And I was able to put on my underwear without leaning against my dresser! Small, but great victories for me!

We loved having Sam and Gretch here for Thanksgiving.  We connect too rarely these days. They had a wedding in northwest Iowa on that Saturday so we babysat the dog. Captain decided that Richie's "man cave" was his new place in the house and laid all afternoon at his feet watching sports. In fact, when Richie went upstairs to get anything, the dog would not follow him. Well, it is the only carpet he is allowed on in the house and it is pretty plush. He's a smart dog. They even slept down in the man cave that night!! Pretty cute.

Today has been our first snow storm. I think we are going to by-pass the predicted 10-12 inches. So far, we have about 4-5 and it is slowing down. Back to snow-packed roads.

I have been able to lay aside all my fears about tumors growing during this drug holiday. I guess I am just so assured in my faith that God has me protected that fear (Satan) had not been able to get a foothold. I trust that lasts through December.

I wish you all a very joyous Christmas and I hope the love of Jesus finds its way into all your hearts.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

BOLD DECISION

As of 30 minutes ago, I took my last chemo pills for the next two months. Bold-----and yet not.....decision. My scans of last week were unremarkable. Minute changes. I was going to ask my doc anyway for a drug holiday for a month, but circumstances changed it up.

I found out last week that the Plan D drug plan I chose was very unethical and on the day I was to use them for the first time, they doubled what they had quoted us TWICE. So when we started looking at new Plan D companies, we realized that if were to use it, the deductible kicks in right away of course and those large monthly co-pays. Then in January it all resets and I have to pay the deductible all over again. 

We're talking thousands, not hundreds here. Honestly they "punish" people with pre-existing conditions and expensive drugs. Someone needs to do something about drug costs. I would vote for anyone.....Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Alien.....if they were dedicated to Pharmaceutical Reform. So, for financial reasons, I am holding out til January (my doc really has no say in my decision...I sure it would be AMA).

The bigger factor is my faith. If I believe that God is healing me and will totally heal me in His time (He has kept me alive with stage 4 lung and brain cancer for 8 years), then I should not have to worry or stress that I am not taking these drugs for 8 weeks. I believe God has me covered and delivered and doesn't need any assistance from the medical realm to keep my tumors from growing larger or proliferating. I am at peace with the decision. My bigger fear is that I will feel so good OFF the chemo, that I won't want to go back!!!

I had a rare burst of energy today and spent about 5 or 6 hours purging my bedroom. Cleaned out every drawer and my closet (after which my dear husband said, "You really don't have any clothes, do you.?" I have only 26 hangers of all my clothes including pants, sweaters, dresses and tops. Richie has begged me for years to go buy some clothes, but the process of shopping is so distasteful to me, I can't get up the verve to do it.

But I do love to purge. Decided I am holding onto some items way too long. I finally put in the Goodwill pile, an old green acrylic sweater that my sister-in-law Margie handed off to me from her Goodwill pile about 10-12 years ago, so I am making progress. My Goodwill pile is overflowing from today. Never been so proud of the way my dresser drawers and closet look!!!

BEST NEWS EVER:THE POLITICAL ADS ON TV AND ROBOCALLS FOR CANDIDATES WILL BE OVER IN 72 HOURS!!  YAY!! They tax my brain.

I will let you know how I am doing "drugless." Praise God that He is sovereign over chemotherapy. Pray that I remain peaceful about my decision and not start fearing.


I had to get a shot of how I looked on
Medicare Day!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

HOME FROM THE SPRINGS

I got over a week of vertigo in time to take our trip, only to return home and find myself down with it again. That stuff is so life-altering. Cannot leave the house, laying down most of the day, loss of appetite. No fun.

Our anniversary trip to Hot Springs, AK was OK. We had 3 bad days and 2 good ones. Travel on each end was horrible. We spent both ends in a plane, an airport, a car, dealing with gate changes (multiple) and delays on flights for 10-12 hours. The 2nd day bad was when we drove into HS to check into our luxury motel in the historic district. After waiting in our room for over 2 hours, and having several men checking it out, we realize we were not going to have any heat (it was cold in HS) in this place and so we left. They gave us our money back. We were so counting on staying in the historic district near the bathhouses. A great disappointment. We ended up at a Holiday Inn 7 minutes down the strip. No hot-tub, as an added jab.

The first good day was our couples massages (which were heavenly) and then after lunch we went in the mineral springs in the bathhouse. My expectation for the springs were outdoors and rural. These are all in a large room, divided according to the spring temperature. It was enjoyable to soak for an hour.

The next day, we had a couples massage again and then opted to have facials. I was so limp from relaxation, I could hardly walk. Richie told his masseuse that it was the best deep body massage he had ever had. Ever.

We drove into the HS National Park (short loop), took a walk up the hill behind the bathhouses where we found a natural mineral spring steaming out of the ground. Maybe 5 feet in diameter. Maybe 105-107 degrees. I was unable to immerse 1 finger, it was that hot. It was in a cove of natural rock and it had been exactly what I THOUGHT we were getting when the literature talks about "the springs."

Trying to get rid of the vertigo so I can get my scans done next week. Always anxiety-producing. My faith in healing doesn't waver, but my feelings sure do. I will let ya'll know the results.



You can barely see the steam in this mineral steam.

The grape vines outside our 3rd story motel (which we had to leave)
Richie at HS National Park (at the tower)

Two of the long row of bathhouses in the historic district

All ready for our couples massage

Right after our facials. Are we not "glowing?"

I will blog my scan results, friends.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

EIGHT YEARS

I was off the grid and could not post my "prognosis day" picture in August. But now I am back on earth and wanted to simply document it for myself. Eight years of living with stage 4 brain and lung cancer. Praise God.









Happy 35th anniversary to my wonderful husband!!







Sunday, September 30, 2018

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN

Recommended:

If you have a couple hours of free time, go to Christopher Robin in a theater near you. The moral of the story is for adults, but the kids will be focused on the animals. It brought Dick and me back 25 years or so when we would sit and read Pooh bear stories to Sam, rocking him and cuddling him. He had a tiny golden Pooh that he carried around, with a golf ball in the other hand!! The songs you will recognize and they will pull right into a state of nostalgia. The "animation" of the gang of friends is beyond amazing. Bring a tissue. Some of Pooh's words will make you "leak."

Saturday, September 29, 2018

HAPPY FALL

I am not looking forward to winter. The more weight I lose and the colder the temps get, I shiver a whole lot. I am trying to put on pounds, even by having an occasional sweet, but I cannot get enough calories in, no matter how hard I try. It is SO frustrating. I'm sure my lack of a hearty appetite is chemo-related.

Richie and I went to the Bills/Vikes game last Sunday. Sloppy game, but win or lose, we always enjoy the atmosphere and energy of US Bank Stadium. My daughter-in-law gave me a very cool Vikings sweatshirt as a birthday gift that I wore so I was purple too!!

We are back in the groove at long last. Getting back to volunteer work is meaningful. Getting back to our church family is even more so. Starting next week I am  volunteering at the elementary school with kids who need help with reading or groups who are gifted and need more stimulation and challenge.

We got back into our wellness center workout schedule and while it just counteracts the chemo's side-effects, working out helps me not lose more strength. My muscles are so frail that it becomes a given that I will pull or strain one of them several times a week.

I brought home a little bookcase from the lake that I am stripping and refinishing. Like an airhead, I painted it green one year and stripping has been quite a challenge, but we are finally ready for the sanding man (Richie) to start the next step with the electric sander. I have special plans for it.....it has a special origin.

In 35 years of marriage, Dick and I have never indulged ourselves in any way. Well, we've purchased cars when ours tallied 16 and 17 years but that is more a necessity. We are nothing if not on the bottom of the scales for treating ourselves over 35 years.. We are the couple who eats out maybe twice a year (unless we travel); the couple who will turn down the heat in the house and use a space heater in the room we are in, rarely exchange birthday or anniversary gifts.

Well, we decided 2 days ago to dip our toes into the cream of indulgence and take a 35th anniversary trip to a mineral springs spa. It has been a dream of mine for many many years. We are going full-tilt and getting massages, and facials and we intend to sit in the hottest springs we can stand.....several times each day. I can't wait. We spent many hours researching the country for the one we wanted. It took a whole day. But reservations are now made and confirmed!! I have never done anything this spontaneous before!! I may never return!!!

My doctor scheduled my next lung scan for the end of October. I suggested we wait another month for the brain scan. My eye doctor reports that I am about a year away from cataract surgery. The chemo has taken much of my peripheral vision. And the center vision is getting worse. She ordered me a higher RX on my right contact which has really  really helped. 

My ENT finally diagnosed an ear issue I've had for 6 weeks where my hearing one one side suddenly goes into a tunnel and I feel like I have to pop that ear but can't. She said my Eustachian tubes have atrophied since chemo and I need to counteract that by eating more food and hydration plus sinus spray called Ipratropium Bromide. It is meant to make my tubes more pliable and soft. Hope it works.


Have a wonderful fall!!








Monday, September 10, 2018

PART 2

 I finally got the pics downloaded but this blog would only allow me to put these 5 up. Rats. I do not like when methodologies change when I am off the grid.  Well, I am gonna ask around and see if anyone can tell me what to do to get the rest of these from my download file to this blog. Anyway, before they shut me off, here were the first 5.




Boating on the lake with Sam



Mandatory rest period for my woodsman



The day I planted my very first garden



The day I had to pull up my pretty garden.


While we were taking shifts power washing the deck, Dick left me a sweet
"Dick loves Mary" message for me to see when I went out to take my shift.
Can you tell how much ground-in pollen and dirt we had? We do it every year

because of the buildup. The pollen in the north woods is heavy.

Sam and Gretchen got us this wonderful tent which we used as a game room,
reading-the daily paper room, and also put a gravity chair in there for naps.
 It was such a nice addition.