Saturday, February 28, 2009

"I have knee socks taller than those little kids" comment overheard on edge of trail

Opa and I took the three 4 year olds up to Bogus Friday afternoon. They were so ready to go for a ride in the motor home that they helped get everything loaded up.

Once we got up to Bogus Basin, the first order of business is to eat a good lunch!Next we have to load the candy snack bags so that they have treats to eat on the chair lift.
Next all three got themselves ready to ski- including putting on their own ski boots.So here we are on the Cabin Traverse cat track below Shaffer Butte. Look at the blue sky and feel the sunshine on your face! For those that know Bogus, these skiers did upper Nugget and Lower Alpine and Showcase. Opa got the best work out when they wanted to do the jump trail. They all needed a human tow up the slope and rescue in the deeper holes. It was really fun.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Some of the joy's of our lives

Baby Ellie (5 mo) has discovered her hands and loves to hang on to things, Uncle Kurt's nose came in quite handy.
And Opa with Bree, Aspen and Jake all wanting his attention. The back pack is their favorite place to go for a ride.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stuck in the Mud

A week ago Friday was a beautiful day. We sent the little boys outside to ride bikes and to play with the admonition to stay out of the muddy pasture. Kurt & Carlee went to play tennis and as they came home, they heard two little boys yelling: "Help we're stuck" "Dadddy - Help me" "MOMMMMM" There were some tears too. Sure enough two little cousins were stuck in the mud. Carlee ran for the camera and Kurt got some boards to keep his feet somewhat out of the mud. Carter was sitting down, trying not to actually sit in the mud, with his cowboy boots and hands immersed in the mud. Tyler was still standing, very stuck and very wet. Kurt rescued the boys and talked them into running to the house "If you run fast, you won't get stuck again." As soon as the boys got to the house, the tears started again. That turned to laughter as they got to wash out on the porch and then go get into the tub. Sadly Kim and I didn't even hear the boys from inside the house. They had kicked a ball into the pasture, and just went to get it-clear across the pasture.
It reminded us of Thanksgiving about 15 yrs. ago when two little cousins, Jordan and Landon, also got stuck in the mud of our front yard and Kurt rescued them too.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Nitty Gritty of Chemo therapy - my version

This post is essentially for me, to give me the little details to remember, oh yeah, that's the way it was- a year from now when I am saying to my self - Did I really do chemo-therapy? If you are not interested in the nitty gritty, don't bother to read! So the synopsis is that on Sept 30th 2008 I thought I had appendicitis and Gil took me to the emergency room. The CT scan showed that it wasn't the appendix, but either diverticulitis or colon cancer because what hurt was a burst abscess. Surgery turned out to be removal of a section of my colon& surrounding tissue and I wound up with a colostomy with a stoma on my left side. (that means a bag to catch the poop) The pathology report came back that yes, it is colon cancer and 1 lymph node was involved - which makes it stage 3. The good news is that they got all of the bad stuff out -technically I don't have cancer but I have to do the chemo because 1 lymph node was involved and the cancer did pierce the colon wall and caused the abscess which left a lot of puss in my abdomen and could have left little nasty cancer cells to develop into nastie big cancers on my liver or lungs or other parts of my body. Which would still be called colon cancer because that was the original cancer. Before I started chemo they did have me do a full body ct scan which showed no other abnormalities. The total number of treatments they do now for colon cancer is 12 - one every two weeks. I just finished my 6th , so I am 1/2 done. YES! The only complication I have had is that after 2 treatments my white blood cells were too low so I had to wait a week for chemo. The 2nd time it happened they started having me get shots to jump start the marrow making white blood cells. The 3rd time was just before this treatment (low white blood cells and somewhat anemic) and to be honest I was disapointed because it put 1/2 way done, another week away. Plus the schedule put me having chemo the week end Gil is going to the UT meetings and I wanted to go see Jessi/James and my parents. On the other hand, now I won't be having chemo during Gil's birthday weekend so I can go with the family up to the ski area to celebrate his birthday. I am very happy about that.
On the day before chemo- I go to the local emergency room/hospital and have my blood drawn for 2 screenings. It breaks down the makeup of my blood- how many white blood cells of each type and how many platelets and how many red blood cells. The results are emailed to the cancer center and put into my chart- I useually call in the afternoon to have the nurse look at them so if I don't have chemo the next day, I don't make the drive across town.
This is where I spend 4 hours every two weeks. After checking in, I go to the 2nd floor where
This beautiful young lady, Amy, shows me into the Dr. offices. She tells me I look nice, thinks I'm young and doesn't see the wrinkles in my face. She takes my temperature, weighs me and takes my blood pressure. I haven't lost any weight (darn) and my temp is always low and I do have blood pressure, it's just not high. The nurse comes in and goes through a list of questions. Do I have pain in my sternum? NO. Do I have shortness of breath? NO. Do I have any diarrhea or bleeding in my stool? Not really - How would I know- it goes into the bag. etc etc. Then the Dr comes in and looks over my blood labs and tells me they look really good this week. I wondered if the chemo stays longer in my body or if the white blood cells are just slow. He said a little of both. He reduced the chemicals in my cocktail just a little bit, hopefully we can finish the treatment with out other little week long delays. He listens to my heart and lungs and checks my glands for any swelling.
This is Lindsay, my favorite nurse. She played softball with Kim & Kristen so I've known her since she was in high school. She hooks me up to the IV, brings me drinks, gives me my schedule and takes care of me. They aren't assigned to patients, but to rooms, so who ever is in the room at that time, is her patient. All of the nurses are nice but I have had Lindsay the most.
First she pokes a 1 1/2 inch needle into my port (upper left side of chest) It's pretty deep so I get the longest needle they have. Most ports are 3/4 in needle deep- so this is another lucky thing for me. A port is about as big as a quarter, 1/2 inch deep and hollow. It has a plastic tube that curves up and into a vein that goes directly into the heart. The "poison" goes from the IV into the port, into my vein, heart and through out my body - just like that! (I had the port put in just before I started chemo) The nice thing is that I can shower and swim (if I want) with out worrying about getting it wet or infected.
Next I get 5 pills. All to prevent nausea. The Dr. changed the nausea RX because it gave me big headaches - these are much better. I do get dizzy and blurry vision if I get up fast, or move my head too fast.
The first IV I get is 1/2 hour of calcium magnesium mix. It is to help prevent some of the side effects of the next drug. They flush the line with dextrose
After I go to the bathroom. I get hooked up to two drugs. Oxaliplatin (poisen to kill fast developing cells) and Leucoevora - a B vitamin to help prevent side effects of the next drug. This is for 2 hours. And every 45 min. the pole and I go for a walk to the bathroom.
One nice thing, a volunteer brings me lunch. I usually go really light because I didn't enjoy the headache/rolling stomach after a big lunch -2nd chemo and discovered my digestion stops for the day of chemo, so now it's yogurt or soup. I usually bring a project to work on. Otherwise, I can close my eyes and rest. The view from the window is of the hotel next door and the Fairview/connector roads. The mountains when it's clear and sky. About 1/2 hour before I finish this cocktail I take a couple of Advil -just in case- I do get headaches from the chemicals.
Next we do a second flush of dextrose and a second 1/2 hour of calcium magnesium. I get unhooked from the IV, but the needle is left in the port with a little dangle.
Another flush and then the nurse pushes a "bolnus" of F-5 - the second "poisen". I go to the bathroom and take my stuff and go ...
To another clinic where I am hooked up to a
pump with more F-5 that is put into my system over the next 46 hours. I wear a fanny pack and the tube goes into my port. Its just inconvenient. I have to remember at night to take it with me when I go to the bathroom
side effects: The first bite of food while I am on chemo makes my glands under my jaw hurt. Just the first bite and chew and swallow. The second is fine.
My saliva is thick and coats my teeth, tongue, roof of my mouth and makes things taste metallic. Milk doesn't taste good, but I drink it anyway. I also have a reaction to cold. especially hands, feet and mouth and throat. The mouth sensation is not as bad, it's weird to drink a cool drink and have my throat feel tingly and like the drink is crystallized and thick. So I avoid cold until just before the next treatment, then I have a milkshake.
I have had a lot of heart burn, so for the first time in my life I am popping zantac and other otc heartburn meds. I eat tums and rollaids.
Sometime in the week following chemo- I excrete the cells that slough off from the intestines, stomach, throat etc. These tissues are affected.
I have lost some hair. Especially the 3 times I had chemo delayed because my white blood count was so low. I still have hair and its just thin- especially in the back. I am happy because it will grow back. I felt a quarter inch stubble last week. YEAH!

Blessings: I am not sick. I do not feel bad. I have not gotten the flu, or colds, of cough because I have been really blessed. My family is very protective and avoids wearing me out. They are tender and incredible. I feel loved and that is really a positive experience. My boss (Gil) is very understanding and never complains if I don't make it to work or do all the laundry or other short comings that I have. He is the best and my hero. Many people are praying for me and I feel their love and best wishes. I have received lots of cards, and still get cards from caring friends - I really appreciate them.
Bottom line: Chemo is inconvenient and somewhat of a bother and very very expensive. I will be very happy to be done and happier still to be through with a 2nd surgery to get the colon hooked back up and get rid of the bag! That will be about a month after I finish chemo to get my immune system up and running before traumatizing it again.
Next: After the 46 hours of the pump Gil will take out the Needle and I take the pump back to the Critical Care Center. Then for the next 4 days, I drive to the hospital for a shot. Its a stinging one that goes into the back of my arm - I refuse to let them poke my belly - but the stinging goes away about the time I get back to the house.
The two days after the pump is done are my slow, lethargic, no energy days. Then for the next few days it should gradually get better. I actually have more energy during the 2 days after chemo then I do for the whole rest of the week. Go figure. The week after that is supposed to be regenerating cells and I gradually start feeling better.
And then we start over again.