Friday, May 4, 2018

TWISTS AND TURNS


I don't even remember April....it went so quickly.....a month of hope and then snow.....hope and then snow again. An April 14 blizzard. It is over 70 here today and I opened a few windows. Feels like heaven.

My uncle Bob died a couple weeks ago and Dick and I spent last week driving to Midland, Michigan for his funeral. His death is a big loss for me and my 2 brothers and cousins. He was the patriarch of the Hieb clan. His death passes down that term to my older brother Mike and to me, as the matriarch. We're the trunk of the tree now, not the branches. Not a designation that either of us wanted. In my own nuclear family, my only nephew (a Hieb) is having his first baby in June. If he ends up having girls, the Hieb name ends in our branch of the Hieb family. If he has a boy, the name endures for another generation.

We were gone for a week and Dick had a recurrence of the clostridium starting on the 4th day of travel. (again, REALLY?) He dealt with it for 3 days before we decided to leave earlier than expected, after the funeral and dinner, so that we could get a jump on getting home to his doctor. We opted for the ferry across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee to save some time and he was able, finally, after 4 days of symptoms, to get into the doc and get started on yet another (3rd) round of antibiotics. It doesn't even need to be said that he regrets going on the Haiti trip for what it has cost him and caused him.

After a month of looking and talking, we decided on a car to replace the totaled Envoy. Sad to think of our beloved "Fred" sitting in a salvage yard in Minneapolis. We took our 17-year-old Rosie to Michigan, her final road trip before she becomes the town car. The looking is over and that makes me enormously happy. A painful process.

I have been going to physical therapy with a PT who is specially trained in vertigo/balance issues, which I have. He has to INDUCE those symptoms in me to do the necessary work and it is not fun. But I hope to progress. 

When I reflect on this cancer road and how it has twisted and turned, I feel like such a different woman than I was in 2010 when they gave me 16 months to live. I cannot do a great deal of what I used to be able to do....those are losses I live with daily. On the other hand, my faith is stronger, my belief in healing is real, and I think I have become a softer, more compassionate woman. I ask God every day to show me where I can be a blessing to somebody else experiencing grief, loss, sickness, alienation, fear, anxiety, depression or
hopelessness.

When I was working at the food pantry the other day, a client came in who I had never seen before. She was a beautiful cocoa-skinned woman with a "chemo hat" on her head. I heard one of the other volunteers mention cancer and I felt like I could be bold enough, as a fellow cancer patient, to introduce myself and ask her how she was doing. She introduced herself to me and gave me a summary of where she was at. I told her how well I understood what she was experiencing.....from the chemo fog to hair loss to memory loss. We talked at length. 

She was encouraged that my hair grew back (as ugly as it is). I asked her if she had a faith she could rely on. She is a Christian and an avid pray-er. We promised each other to put each other in our prayers. I got her phone number, and after running into her twice at Walmart and once again at the food pantry, I feel convicted that the Lord wants me to do more. I am going to invite her over for tea on a day when she is not reeling from chemo side-effects.

I am not a Mormon but I do appreciate what the LDS president said to Mitt Romney's mother, who was going blind at the end of her life, "Only the wounded can fight in the Lord's army."  I am one of those wounded warriors who wants to fight with and for others, especially those who are experiencing the same issues I have dealt with over the decades.

Moving north for the summer is only a few weeks ago and I am FAR from ready. But whatever I forget to pack (and my compromised brain promises I will), if I have some good books, flip-flops, sunscreen and a brimmed hat, I should be good.

I saw on Facebook: The governor of MN has ordered that all residents must remove their fish-house off the lake by July 3rd so they can set up for fireworks. I am not laughing too much. Last week we heard that our ice is still about 30 ft deep!!

May your May be full of sun and warmth. We ALL deserve it, no matter where we live!!



Our very comfortable ferry across Lake Michigan


Nicer than a plane for comfort!! There were only about 15 people on the ferry. It had only opened for the season the day before!


Lake Michigan. 

All the Hieb cousins (2 could not come)

All the Hieb cousins with several of their spouses and my Aunt Nancy. We know how deeply she is missing Uncle Bob.






Saturday, April 7, 2018

MY 5 GIRLS

Going through piles of stuff, I came upon these pictures from 2014 at my nephew's wedding. It made me stop and pause and think about how blessed I am to have my "girls", my nieces. They are pictured here with Sam at the reception. As I have been so close to them, I regret that none of them now lives close to Vermillion. They are all happily married and 4 of them have children of their own. The youngest, Maddie, is getting married this summer, and then the era of Hieb grandchildren weddings will be over.

God did not give me a daughter, but he gifted me with these five sweet girls who feel like daughters to me. When I used to live in Duluth, I got to babysit ALOT for the oldest two. I was single and it became like an adjunct job. (I should remind my brother how much money I saved them all those years!!! Ha.) 

I loved every second I spent with them. I "claimed" Anna, the oldest, as my own when I would take her shopping with me and people would comment on how cute my daughter was. I just smiled and said, "Thank you."

My mom was the caregiver for her aunt, who lived to be 102. One of these dear nieces of mine may end up being my caregiver some day if I am alone. Who knows? All I do know is that they love me dearly and show it/say it and I am so blessed they are in my life. 

From left, Kate, Betsy, Gretchen, Sam, Maddie, Anna






Me with Anna, my first niece, my "goofy twin", as we still call each other.
Our baby pictures look very similar.



Me with Anna, Gretchen, and Betsy



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A TOUGH WINTER AND SPRING

Another road trip delayed....this time by Dick's health. Another tough break in this long, cold, incident-filled winter (yes we are still seeing snow). He has felt lousy for a week and finally went into the clinic yesterday. Ironically the Haiti mission trip has come to bite him in the rear once again. The powerful antibiotics that he had to take for the MRSA and cellulitis he came home with have created a virus in his bowels called clostridium difficile. Now he has to take more strong antibiotics to get rid of this. He has felt really lousy and tired and spent about 9 days on the sofa. I pray these meds will alleviate it. Apparently many people who take it have a recurrence. I so don't want that for him.

I have turned into chief cook and bottlewasher, along with handling all the affairs around the house and errands/shopping. I do so with a generous heart full of gratitude for all the times he has taken over for me these past 7 years. 

I do not know if we will take the new trip or when.

Car? Nope. Too dang cold to wander around outside looking at cars. Tried 2 Fords here in town. One is a contender. Someone needs to develop a facility with ALL brands/models of cars which are all INSIDE of an enormous showroom. A couple of airplane hangars??

I am up 6 pounds as of today. YAY!! I look forward to the day when I can lose the butter and whole milk and large amounts of proteins. Back to 2% milk (though I really haven't minded the whole milk----it really is tasty. I may keep the ice cream in my diet!!

Sam came home for a day and a half and it was so special, as always. We fall into all our old routines and traditions and it feels like the family is whole again for that time. He adds such energy and humor to our lives. So wish he lived closer.

Yesterday was a fun day, as 3 of my friends had babies within hours of each other. One was the daughter of a dear friend. This makes 6 babies of friends/nephews in the past 2 months. 

I am trying out a new pair of hearing aids....to compare.....and they have a third pair ready for me to try out. If I am gonna shovel out this much cash for them, I better get the best I can get! I am adjusting as well as I can. 

Please send a prayer up for Dick's infection and that healing would be rapid. Thanks.




Thursday, March 15, 2018

STABLE


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

COMING UP INTO THE LIGHT

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

BREAK

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.