Saturday, August 17, 2019

STARTING TO COUNT DOWN

Another perfect lake day up north. After I post this, I am going to get outside and enjoy it. We went to Duluth this week to say goodbye to some friends who are moving to Texas, meet our new great-niece, Margaux (who took to Richie like a duck to water....and apparently she doesn't do that with strangers). He lives up to his nickname, The Baby Whisperer. She is so precious. So glad my niece didn't have to work that morning and was home with the kids.

Then we went out to Morgan Park and surprised our dear friend Kay. When I went on bed-rest with Sam, Kay pretty much ran our lives. She took over as office director, (we owned a PT clinic), called me daily to encourage me, did library and grocery runs for us. We owe her so much that can never be repaid. 

We then drove up north to Ely to see my brother Mike and sister-in-law Shirleen. They have a cabin on Burntside Lake and had added an addition onto their log cabin we had not seen yet. So beautiful. Mike grilled us up lake trout he caught that morning and we stayed overnight. Left the next morning after he grilled us up a sumptuous breakfast. They have this huge deck overlooking the lake where we ate.

Sam came up for 2 days before we went to Duluth. It is always a happy time when he comes home. The Vikings had a couple of days off.

Getting mentally prepped for the brain and lung scans when I get home. I never enjoy them. But I am anxious to see the results of the gamma knife. Last week was my 9th year anniversary living with cancer. Praises to God for letting me live this long.

Enjoy your last weeks of summer.


Richie and Margaux

9 years walking with lung and brain cancer

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A NO-BERRY YEAR

I just ache to think of summer being so close to over. It has been a perfect summer. EXCEPT that the blueberries did not come out this year. Dick and some of his guy friends all checked out our blueberry patch and there was nothing but a berry here and a berry there. They all agreed it was not worth going back to check later in the summer. 

So for the first year in 32, we are not coming home with any berries. We had so many berries last summer that I had to give my last 4 packages to my friend Jill before we left. We did go over to our widower friend Bill's and picked a 13x9 size pan full of raspberries from his lush raspberry garden. So yummy with cream.

Had an accident the other day. Just shows my muscle weakness from the chemo. Got stuck in the lake. Could not get into a standing position from squatting or kneeling or sitting so Richie had to lift me out of the water and help me stand and told me to just walk up our 6-ft incline where we launch our fishing boat. I started up the tiny incline, and gravity simply overcame my weak legs and I stumbled and fell backwards into the shallow water onto my back and head. The mobility and stability and flexibility I have lost astounds even me.

Richie finished making his wood-chip path between the garages, he filled the two turnarounds on our land and it looks great. We still have enough chips to cover an acre, I'm sure.

I have read so many books this summer, I can't remember the names of them or the characters in them. My memory loss plays into this too. I finish one and start another within 30 minutes and then I think the characters from the book I just read are in the current book. I really should take a few days between books, but my reading addiction won't allow that!!

We are driving to Duluth next week to see our good friends Sandy and Darrell. They are leaving to move to Texas and we want to see them. Hopefully some of my family will be there, but the girls both work and my brother and sis-in-law might be at their cabin. We'll see what happens.

 Sam is coming up tomorrow for 2 days. Can't wait! Gretch can't take any more time off work right now.....we will miss her being here. 

Here is a shot of our wood chipped path down to the big garage.


Friday, July 19, 2019

LAKE LIFE IS GREAT

We are home from our Mpls trip. The Twins lost to the Mets, but we had fun anyway. Sam secured us great seats behind home plate and under a balcony in case of rain or bad sun. We also put in several hours picking ivy off a side of their house. It had embedded in the stucco and nothing but hand-picking works. the fingertips of both our hands were raw. Felt good to help the kids in their big project. They can't paint their new house until this job is done. We offered to come for a work weekend just to finish it all up.

It was a sauna in the Cities. It felt good to get back in the cooler northland without humidity and extreme heat.

Today would have been my mom's 99th birthday. How I wish she were here and waiting for her party to begin. I miss her so deeply. She called me every night at about 8-9 "just to talk." When I'd answer the phone, she would always say, slyly, "This is yo mama." Said in jest, as if I would not recognize her voice!! Being motherless has left quite the hole in my heart.

We had 21 "widowmakers" taken down around our woods that were in danger of hitting the cabin or blocking our driveway if they were to fall. Fun to watch those guys climbing those huge popples and pines with dexterity and cut the chunks off from the top. Dick grubbed out the brush from around where they cut and it really opened up our driveway and valley. 

Right now he is outside creating a long curvy path from the concrete sidewalk down to the lower garage. He is lining it with bricks and making the path out of wood chips. The woodcutters left us two truckloads full of wood chips. Leave it to my husband to find a functional use for them.

I am studying the book of Kings right now. Interesting. I have no memory of what I read the day before, but I am enjoying it day to day. All the killing is a bit disturbing, but that was the life of the Israelites.

I just finished a great (and awful) book, GRACE WILL LEAD US HOME by Jennifer Berry Hawes. It is the saga of the Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard Journey to Forgiveness. It was unbelievable reading the details of Dylan Roofs intentional evil acts and the drama of the aftermath. Richie is reading it now. It is graphic and raw, but very real and authentic in terms of what survivors and family members went through. The book spans from the day it happened til the trial is over.



 The cedar shutters Richie made for me for the cabin







The four of us at the Twins game.


The summer is flying by. Enjoy every day. The 20-below days will be upon us soon enough.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

JUNE IS SADLY OVER

I am sort of sad today, thinking that we only have 2/3 of the summer left to spend at the lake. It has been so perfect. We do not have that horrific heat that is at home. The air is clear and refreshing and the breeze off the lake is daily.

The only fly in the ointment are the mosquitoes. When we've had no rain for 6-7 days they die out and then after the rain, a new batch hatches out. Today I haven't felt one on me. We did however have the biggest, fattest, grossest spider in the house we have ever seen. I saw it on the window ledge in our bedroom, and it must have been 3 inches in diameter if not more. I reacted like a typical "girl" and ran outside to summon my husband to deal with it. It was one of those many-legged creatures that runs away from you if you miss swatting him dead. I'm glad we have one brave soul in the family! Though even he admitted this one was not pleasant.
  
I have been sleeping a lot. At least one 1.5-2 hour nap after lunch, and sometimes before dinner. Maybe I'm just overly relaxed, but it does make me feel like I wish I had a hobby up here. I've also been reading some really good books from the library. I just started my 3rd book for the week.

I have been trying so hard to gain weight this summer.....whole milk, butter, etc. but I just can't put the pounds on. I can eat until I am sickly full but by the next morning, I remain the same. I guess I inherited my mom's high metabolism. My doc in SF wants me to have a blood test in July just to check on everything. He's letting me off of my scan cycle for the summer and not making me come back to SF so this is the least I can do!

Richie made me beautiful cedar shutters for the cabin and also 2 fences, one at the entrance of our drive with our name on it. That man works his tail off out here. Wish I had half his stamina. He caught a nice 3-4 pound bass the other morning, and he cooked it up with beer batter, and I never eaten such a delectable piece of fish. I could not stop oohing and awing with every bite. I would eat beer batter bass fresh out of the lake 5 days a week.

Sam came up last Friday to spend the night with us and drop off his dog to dog sit for a day and a half while he and Gretchen went to her big family reunion an hour away. Their Captain loves coming to the lake, running around the acreage, wading in the water. He is a sweet dog.

Do you know what I love about being in the woods without anyone around? I can wear the same clothes (baggy and definitely worthy of the Civ) for a whole week, then wash them and wear them the next week. It is nice not to have to think about how I look (usually like an old haggard woman)!!!!!

We are headed to a Twins game with the kids in a couple weeks. Too many injuries......they need to get the roster full again and start playing like they did in May and June.

Hope the summer is going well for anyone who is reading this.

God bless




Monday, June 10, 2019

ALMOST MOVED IN

We are back up north. And NORTH it is. We've only had 3 days that have hit 70. It gets plenty cold at night....the propane furnace goes on quite often. But still, just looking out at the lake warms my soul.

I started my vacation with 6 days of chest pain. I ended up in the ER in town where they did every test imaginable on me and were able to rule out a heart attack and a lung clot. I left with probably a $20,000 ER bill and no certain diagnosis. She guessed maybe "esophageal spasms." and gave me an RX.

I sent out a mass email to my prayer warriors and within about 48 hours, the chest pains were greatly reduced and within another day of that, they were gone.

I have the most powerful group  of prayer partners you could ask you. They are incredible intercessors.

We didn't have mail until Saturday. The Vermilion PO had a snafu in their forwarding system and were a week late in getting our stuff sent out, but at least it is here now. Our USA Today newspaper even got screwed up and was sending our copy to our home everyday. We finally got that resolved.

Sam was free for 2 days to come and help Richie with the heavy-lifting in getting the place opened up, dock in, boat lift in, boats in the water, shutters carried down to the garage, etc. 10 years ago, I was still helping him but cannot do anything like that anymore. Sam was a godsend.

We are still not 100% moved in and organized, but getting there. It is getting to be quite daunting to pack up our lives and come, and then pack up our lives to return. It is no longer easy.

A bright spot was stopping by Brad and Karol Broderson's new cabin on Marion Lake on the way up. We stayed overnight with then. Their new digs are beautiful. 

Well I have a bunch of business to tend to online, so must go now. We got fiber-optic cable put in and now have email and Wi-Fi. Still no cell service so texts rarely come or go, but the internet is great. I hope you are all enjoying your summer.

M.

Friday, May 17, 2019

WARMTH HAS ARRIVED


This will probably be my last post before moving north. The house is total chaos as we gather things out of closets and drawers and set them all around so we remember to pack them. While gathering up stuff, I am able to purge along the way. A line from my purging bible helps me let go: Use it up, wear it out, make it work or do without. Much of the stuff we have saved is already used up and worn out!!

Spring in Vermillion is beautiful. Our grass is so green, all of the fruit trees have the most fragrant blossoms that waft through town. Daffodils and tulips are up and so colorful. Lilacs in bloom. Can’t get enough of sitting on the deck, reading, and taking deep breaths of God’s fragrances in nature.

My eyes are still adapting. I badly need a good pair of cheaters (I have 6 pair from the Dollar Store, and have no idea what the strength is. In another 2 or 3 weeks they should be able to determine what I need. I no longer can see the computer or my cell or anything else within about 18”. But boy, is my distance vision unbelievable! There hasn’t been a day yet that I haven’t gone to the bathroom to take out my contacts. I can’t seem to break the 50-year habit of doing it. Muscle memory is tough to break.

I bought a car for myself (Richie approved). I have resisted getting a car to replace our 18 year old Caravan, because I think she could go another 50000 miles (she is at 200000). Car shopping was horrendous last year, but by a series of God-directed fingerprints, I found a used Odyssey that is like absolute new-from-the factory. 

Immaculate, no bells and whistles (which I didn’t want), simple dashboard buttons and knobs. I cried when we gave our keys to Rosie to the salesman. She has been dear to me through all the years of Sam’s growing up years and she has held some of our most precious memories. When I see her in the used car lot now, I wince. BUT, within 2 days, I was all about my Odyssey (as yet unnamed). Tears dried up and all smiles for the new wheels!

I saw my oncologist on Tuesday. I refused to come back to SF for scans in July. I said I was going to wait til September and he agreed to it. The only medical task I need to do is have a blood draw in July. First year I have not gone back. Be bold about your own healthcare.

Well, I will miss our work at the Food Pantry every Wednesday. Dick and I have enjoyed the “giving back” by serving shoppers who can’t afford food. We have met so many great people, shoppers and volunteers alike. And we will miss the move to the newly constructed pantry downtown, ready for move-in in a couple of weeks. We will appreciate all the extra space.

I should be able to post FROM HOME this summer. We are getting fiber-optic cable on May thirtieth. No more library trips, an hour away, to have to email someone!

May God bless your summer in every which way, and rain down safety and peace and good health to you and your families.




                                                               





  First pic is of Rosie and me  before we left to adopt her out. Second is the new used car.                                                         

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

HAPPY MAY DAY


What great author said, “These are trying times?” Oh, yes they are. My two cataract surgeries are over and now I am in the healing/adjusting phase, still needing to patch my eyes at night, still needing to do eye drops every morning, and still adjusting to being able to see. It is not 100% clear yet and I have some double-vision that may or may not get better. I can’t do much for 2 weeks so I spend a lot of time sleeping and laying on the couch listening to music. I did conquer a pot of potato knofle soup for supper tonight.

It is sort of weird. I keep wanting to go and take my contacts out and be able to see up close like my watch and computer, crosswords, cell phone and remote  (I need cheaters for all that). There was something great about seeing under your fingernails or file a fingernail with no glasses on.

Patience, Mary, patience. It could take up to a month for total healing. I am praying God will work quickly on that. We have a date with the north woods in 3.5 weeks.

My skull numbness has improved but the right side of my head is still numb and hard. The front and back and left side are ¾ “thawed.”

Dick and I are still purging the house. We went thru our bookshelf and packed up 60 books that we will not read again.  They are like new; I wish I could have a book yard sale. Finally able to part with clothes that I’ve had for 25 or more years. It leaves me with very little, but I HATE shopping. Don’t need much at the lake; maybe this fall, I’ll be able to see well and feel like getting some new stuff.

Bless you for your prayers.
Happy May Day!! 
 They wanted me to wear these goggles to bed for 2 weeks, but I had to switch to an eye patch 
on both eyes because they were just too uncomfortable







This is my night-time eye attire. On both eyes.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

HAPPY EASTER

Yesterday was the last day I will ever wear a contact lens in my right eye. I started wearing contacts at the end of 8th grade, 51 years ago. I have to wear glasses for 3 days before my surgery. It will sure seem strange, but wonderful, not to have to put them in my eyes every morning!!! Surgery on right eye is Monday at 6:30 AM.

Richie just arrived home from Kansas City after golfing with his brother-in-law the past two days. Nice for him to spend time with his family and just get away. They found close to 100 balls!!! He won't have to buy golf balls for 5 years!! We'll give a bunch of them to Sam.

I finished purging our bedroom and was going to start on the bathroom closet today, but have been busy all day with other things. Tomorrow I will tackle that. If you need motivation to lighten your load, please read a short book called Outer Control, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin. She is an amazing motivator for being able to let go of things you don't use, or need, or want or love. Just because Mom and Dad or my grandparents had it, it doesn't mean I need to keep it....that is what has tripped me up for years.....I'm sentimental. No longer. Thank you Gretchen Rubin.

I just finished 2 great books. I don't know if you are a fan of Michelle Obama or not, but her new autobiography BECOMING is one of the best non-fiction books I've ever read. Very raw and authentic, enlightening and inspiring. The other is called GIRL UNBROKEN by Regina Calcaterra and Rosie Maloney, about the true story of a girl (now woman) who finally got up enough courage to write about her horrific childhood of gross abuse and neglect. It's a hard book to read, but very inspirational . Right now I am reading the companion book (I didn't know one came before) of one of her sisters telling HER story. The 5 kids were consistently split up in different groups. It is Etched in the Sand by Regina Calcaterra

It makes me appreciate so much the loving foster home that my niece Rachel offered to maybe a hundred or more kids over the years. She loved and cared for them so well.

It is 85 degrees and I am headed out to the deck to read. WINTER IS OVER!!!!!

Happy Resurrection Sunday! So blessed are we that our Savior loved us so much that He would die for us and rise up again in glory!!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

CATARACTS SCHEDULED

Two weeks now since the gamma knife procedure. I still have a numb skull and experience moments of panic when I think it will always be like this. But they said "weeks to months" so I just need to wait out the time. The peg holes are scabbing over, still hurt, and Richie found two more in the back next to the other ones that nobody said anything about. Did they hit the wrong spot and had to do it twice?? I will ask the radiation oncologist when I see her in 2 weeks.

The two peg holes on my forehead are starting to scab and heal as well. One is barely visible.

Today I had my 2.5 hour evaluation to see if I am eligible for cataract surgery. I am and decided to go forth with it. I spent most of that time testing with opticians, optometrists and technicians who did tons of tests on my eyes. The best part of the eval was that  my choice of surgeon was available at the end of my appt to come and talk to me. I chose Vance Thompson, the internationally recognized ophthalmologist and surgeon. I cannot believe how laid-back and warm he was. So reassuring, helping me decide what lens will be best for me. Asking me about myself. He said at the end that it was going to be an honor to work on me and that he promised me a great outcome. I have total trust in his care.

This will happen on April 22 and April 29. I wonder how many miles over the 8 years we have racked up driving to Sioux Falls for for hearing loss, cancer, scans, scan results.  So tired of the drive. Good thing medical mileage is tax deductible.

So now I have 3 weeks and I refuse to worry about it. God tells us in scripture that we need to lay our burdens on him, and he will give us rest. And so I will.

That's it for tonight. I only slept last night from 5-7 AM due to the stupid decision to eat something sweet before bed, which I have vowed not to do. I was buzzed all night. I am WAY behind in sleep and am going to bed right now----at 10:00-----way earlier than my usual 12-1 AM I hope I can sleep for 10 hours.

Goodnight.



Thursday, March 21, 2019

READY FOR HEALTH AND RESTORATION

Well, I promised a report on my Gamma Knife radiation and here it is: I SURVIVED IT! God showered me with a peace and calm that truly did pass all understanding.

The neurosurgeon, who told me he was from Cloquet, MN, came into my room and inserted 2 of the pegs (pins I guess they call them). (Yes, they numbed me up well.)




This pic is of half the "cage" they locked me into. The other half is attached like a football helmet with another two pins in the back of my skull. They did not give me sedation for the Gamma, but a sedative enough to make me dopey and mostly unaware, but I could still talk to them. I laid there for 2.5 hours without moving. That is another God thing. When it was over, they bandaged me up and sent me on my way.

I must say I had the greatest nurse ever. She stayed with me for the entire day, (as well as the day before when we did a CT and an MRI), tending to my every need with a huge smile and oodles of sweet compassion. She and I just clicked......we hugged when I left and she told me to "ring the bell" for last treatment. (from her lips to God's ears)




So, the life after Gamma Knife:
1. My entire head/skull is completely numb. I can't feel a thing, not even my hair. It may be weeks or months before it comes back. It is, friends, the weirdest sensation I think I've ever felt.

2. I have to sleep on 2 pillows for at least a week to keep my head elevated. For someone who uses a limp goose-down pillow every night (which means I'm almost flat), this is a real challenge. I have maybe gotten 3 hours of sleep each night. After tonight, only 5 more nights to go. 

3. My son has aptly dubbed me "Numbskull."

4. My skull itches and I have to rub anti-itch cream into my hair and thus making a mess when I lay against anything. I carry a towel around. Interesting that an unfeeling scalp can itch and that the cream temporarily helps.

5. Today I am in a new phase of beauty. The med is running down and pooling under my eyes giving me a lovely blue/purple hue and I have my 2 pin scars on my forehead that have to heal up and I have very trendy yellow betadine highlights around and on my hairline and eyes. (Scary mommy)




6. I have to rest and elevate my head for a week. I have not left the house for 6 weeks between the bronchitis and vertigo and bad eye problems. Why should I let Richie have to give up the honor of frequenting Walmart and doing almost all of the cooking.????

7. My vertigo is getting so much better. Praise God for that.

God gets all the glory for a good outcome to the Gamma Knife procedure. We won't know how effective the treatment was til my next scan. I was anxious about it and God's fingerprints were just all over it, giving me a great team, his amazing grace and peace, and a successful outcome.

I will have Richie take a picture of me post-recovery!! I am so ready to be healthy, feel healthy, and live a restored life!

Thanks to you all for the multitude of prayers for me before and during this time of stress.

Happy April. Let spring begin!!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Gamma-Knife

It has been a tough month....maybe the worst since I had my brain radiation in 2015. Just before we were to leave on our Florida trip, I came down with a severe case of vertigo. Richie had to carry me to the bathroom. The spinning was awful. I threw up twice the first day and prayed like mad I would be over this in 5 days so I could pack. 

The flight came and went without us. By this time, I also had bronchitis and Dick had an URI. We loss our deposit, we disappointed Sam, we disappointed ourselves and I have been battling guilt because it is all due to me. I have been planning this vacation for a year---only to lose it.

I spent the next 3 weeks basically fighting vertigo, for which there is no cure. I have not been out of the house in 4 weeks, sleeping most of the time. That is my escape, the same one my Dad used. 

On the 3rd week, I developed diplopia/convergence insufficiency in my eyes and see double. This put an end to my beloved books which kills me

On Monday I will go for my scans------that would not phase usually put they are making me use a traditional MRI----the long tunnel-----which I know I couldn't get through without total panic so they have agreed to sedate me for that one. If my brain tumors are growing, they will do gamma-knife radiation on my brain the next day. I would take 10 root canals over this. I told them they will have to give me the strongest shot of sedative they have. I want to remember none of this.

I won't get into my cataract worries yet. I need to live thru the next week. You could join me in my prayers for peace and calm and no shaking from fear. I know a half dozen "DO not fear" scriptures which I'm trying to memorize. I do trust that God will put the contingent of Ekstrom angels around me both days. I will write when its all done and results are known.

Dear Sam and Gretch, who just 2 days before sold their house so they could move into the new one, got the worst news. the basements of both the new house and their own house were getting wet in this flooding. Some of my friends in Vermillion can't even get out of thie own house. Water surrounds them.

 She is alone......Sam is working in Chicago......and if I didn't have vertigo, I would be up there in a flash. A friend has been helping her. I so pray they the water damage doesn't ruin new dry wall and that they can get the carpet restored in the old house, so they can show it again. The first buyers backed out. Just ache for them.

Love to all...(ignore all the typos today. Am too weak to edit)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

HAVE HAD BETTER WEEKS


If ever there was a bad week, I am having one. On Tuesday, I was told I will need cataract surgery. This, folks, terrifies me. Always has. The thought of anyone cutting on my eye gives me all-out anxiety. And I know I need it....my vision keeps deteriorating in my right eye, more to chemo side effects than normal aging. I deferred the big 3-hour evaluation til after Florida since I can't wear contacts for 2 weeks prior to the eval. If they could just knock me out.....but I understand I will be awake, but unaware. What if I do become aware? O, man, this is not what I wanted to hear. I could worry myself into a total panic.

Then the next day, I woke up with a raging case of vertigo. Richie had to carry me to the bathroom. I could not sit up, walk, bend or turn on head. It has never been this bad. I finally vomited at about 10:00 from the spinning. Needless to say, I spent the entire day on my back, mostly sleeping and watching the ceiling. It was slightly improved the next day but even today I still am woozy, unsteady on my feet, and feeling as if my head is unattached to my body. I am praying so hard that God will heal the vertigo totally before we leave on our trip. I could not go like this. I'd be a liability.

I spent Valentine's Day in bed again, and was once again reminded what love really looks like. It is not flowers and chocolates and fancy dinners out. It is having a husband who meets your every need, bringing me a vomit bowl (then, without a word, taking it and dumping it out, cleaning it, and returning it to me), wipes to clean my mouth, gum to take the edge off my rotten breath,  a phone to have next to me, ice water, bathroom carries, holding me up by the armpit when I tried to walk. This, friends, is true love. You newlyweds are rolling your eyes now, but your time will come when this becomes a reality for you too. Real love, real commitment.  I am so blessed with Richie.

I am able to sit still on this computer chair and type this without spinning today. I am grateful for that. It feels like improvement.

If you are a pray-er I would relish your prayers for quick healing of this awful vertigo.

Thanks.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

NO BIG SNOW HERE

I officially hit a sad low in my weight today. Haven't been under 100 pounds since I was a "tween."  Looking back over the last few weeks, I haven't really liked any of the hamburger dishes that Dick has made and have eaten less than usual. I SO need to put on 5-10 pounds. It's so hard when you're not supposed to eat sugar or white carbs in any form.

We still hold out hope that Sam and Gretch will get a unit at our place. Another week to 10 days is all we have before flights for them would be all filled up. I pray boldly every day.

My Ancestry results were underwhelming. I know more from the research I did many years ago when I wrote books on each side of my family's history than I learned from them.....much more. The only matches that were close were my first cousin Nancy and 3 of my second cousins and about 500 6th-8th cousins. Why no just go back to Adam and Eve? Pretty worthless. They did not even get the breakdown right. I am 25% Irish and they got that close, 22%. But they missed our ancestral home, Castleblaney in County Wexford. They said we came from County Cork.. They had me for 33% German and I am 50% German. They gave me 31% English and I am 0% English. So anyway......it was not an enlightening report.

4th day without a headache!!!!!I am no longer using my new perfume and it has made a difference.

We got a snitch of snow last night. We've had brown grass and dry roads it seems, for weeks, even as our neighbors to the north of us are getting inundated with snow. I like brown grass. This morning there is a light covering of snow....maybe an inch. My heart aches for all of you who are getting dumped on in the past couple weeks.

I am not a political person, but New York's new abortion laws have me thinking that we have a nations of barbarians. That a full-term pre-born baby can be murdered just minutes before she is born ........they are no better than the Nazis. That a big crowd of people cheered outside the NY capital when it was signed makes me sick to my stomach. Instead of this heinous procedure, why don't we have a nationwide push for ADOPTION?? Have the baby you do not want and give to a waiting couple who is yearning for a child. Maybe the government should give a sizable check to women who choose to have their child and agrees to give them to an adoption agency?? Could that change their mind?  I'll step down from my soapbox now.

Off to take a nap.....I have learned to love them!! Stay warm and safe.

     Delayed answers to prayers are not denials. Many prayers are received and recorded, yet underneath are the words, "My time has not come." God has a fixed time and an ordained purpose, and He who controls the limits of our lives also determines the time of deliverance.  (From Streams in the Desert)             



Thursday, January 31, 2019

DECISION MADE

My decision as to what option to take was actually made for me, and I think it is the best one. I called my Denver doctor's staff to set up a remote conference with him, and they never did get back to me. I don't know if my note was lost or if God's hand made it  disappear, but that week of waiting gave me discernment. I knew I was supposed to go back on the chemo that I was taking before I took the drug holiday.

My SF doc wants to re-scan me (read: dread and sighing) in 2 months and see what this chemo is doing. If the new tumors are increasing, we will have to either go up in dosage or try the brand new targeted therapy for my type of cancer. Or I will need to have the radiation again to the brain which makes me quake with the thoughts of needing steroids afterwards again. I believe I would consult my University of Colorado doctor. He is a world -renowned expert in my strain of cancer.

I keep reminding myself that God has the final word. Not drugs or radiation. I keep my eyes on Him and His Word.

We have been in the polar vortex like the rest of the midwest and east coast. Yesterday we had 45-below (wind chill temp) which I realize is warm compared to northern MN temps which got down to 64-below. Our little cabin is creaking and shivering. I am sure that the lake has frozen clear to its bottom and that ice won't be off the lake til well after fishing opener. 

We have been pretty much inside for 3 days. The whole town pretty much closed down for Tuesday and Wednesday. Today is 6 degrees and we had to get to Walmart for groceries. We were out of nearly everything. By Saturday, it should be 40!!! Break out the cut-offs.

We are still prayerfully waiting for a condo unit for Gretchen and Sam in Florida the same week that we are there. But few people have released their units for rental. I will feel so sad if they can't come.....they make Florida vacations so much more fun.  I will get on next year's waiting list this month. A year in advance puts me pretty close to the top of the waiting list. Sun and warmth can't come soon enough for me.

We have a new baby in the family. Margaux Bea was born to my niece Betsy (Mike's youngest daughter) and her husband Michael about a month ago. Can't wait to meet her. Wish we didn't live 9 hours apart.

I hope you all survived the past week without frostbite and a greater sense of gratitude for being able to afford the gas/oil to heat your warm homes.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

SCANS

The results of my lung and brain scans were mixed. From the neck down, little has changed except for more fluid around my lung (it is already about 2 qts I'm carrying around) and the fact that my lung is getting smaller and has a tough cancerous rind around it so it could never descend into the lung cavity even if I had an effusion.

The three brain tumors n my brain all grew in these 2 months off chemo. There is even a new one bigger than the previous 3. One doubled in size and 2 went up about 2/3 as big. This is not great news. I had been hoping God would show His hand while I was off my chemo so he would have ALL the glory for healing.

I am faced with two options. Go under radiation again to get those tumors....which freaks me because of the steroids I would need afterward. It was the steroid use after my first round of brain radiation that ruined by body permanently. Pain and weakness in all my muscles, vertigo, imbalances, no appetite. I can hardly listen to this option. The other is to start up again on the same chemo I have been on for several months.

I pray for discernment about what to do. I want to hear God clearly in my spirit and obey. Maybe He won't weigh in on this issue, but I hope He does. I am asking boldly in the name of Jesus for clarity.

That's all I've got for now.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

GRACE FOR PULLING BACK

Just got home from church and am contemplating baking some bran-date muffins for the freezer. Richie is going to be ushering at the USD-SDSU games today and will be gone from 11:30 til about 5 or 6 so I have lots of me-time. I started a new book last night and most likely I will retreat to my "girl cave" Lazy-Boy rocker and settle in to read for some of the day. Wish the EWU-NDSU championship game was today instead of yesterday. I miss football. I miss Vikings. I will have to settle for watching the Bears push around the Eagles. Go Philly!!

Richie got me an ancestry DNA kit for Christmas. He is intuitive.....I never told him I've always wondered what mine would show. So I excitedly sent in my spit and can't wait for results in 6-8 weeks. Wouldn't it be cool if some Czech 4th cousin is seeking a connection and they match me?? Or if they found the name of my 5x great-grandmother on my German side? Or discovered that my 4x great-uncle was the mayor of a little Irish village??

As I sit and write this, my niece Betsy (who wrote the kiddie book with me) is in labor in the hospital so even though our books are done, we will be on hiatus for a few weeks in finishing the details. Can't wait for the 6th great niece/nephew to join the Hieb clan.

I get my scan results tomorrow. Anxious to see what God has done in these two months without chemo.

My body bumps are almost gone. They went from raised bumps to bright red dots that resembled acne to lighter red dots and now are disappearing. Thank goodness, the cream the dermatologist recommended to my doctor to give me worked. I would guess in another week I will be bump free!! 

I end with a poster my best friend sent me this morning. She knows me so well and we have both struggled with issues that make us need to protect our energy:

It's okay to cancel a commitment. It's okay to not answer a call. It's okay to change your mind. It's okay to want to be alone. It's okay to take a day off. It's okay to do nothing. It's okay to speak up. It's okay to let go.

She and I often talk about how God has grace, abundant grace, for people like us who for a season need to pull back and be honest about how much we can do. Our mutual pact: do one thing a day and be satisfied with that.

I will let you know my scan results. Happy New Year!!