continued……………….. sigh – June 28, 2013

Sorry. my little notebook sometimes gets a wild hair and deletes entire paragraphs. The keyboard is super sensitive. I seem to have deleted a paragraph and posted just by passing over the button. One more time.

Early June brought my regular 3 month check up with Dr. Smith. I had a PET scan, routine now to check progress. The results were about the same. I am blessed that it still has not gotten to the organs. The tiny spots on my lung that I have mentioned in earlier posts have not changed, and he is certain they aren’t cancer. Probably good old histoplasmosis. (I have no idea how to spell that and it’s not in the dictionary on my computer. Sorry) This is very common in our region. Blackbirds, folks. Blackbirds. This said, my skeleton is pretty much covered, with hot spots here and there. OK, we can deal with it by starting the new meds. He checked progress on pain (bone pain is always a concern). At the time of the visit it was about the same. Low dose hydrocodone controlled it with dosages as needed. Fine. Well, about 5 days after seeing him I started having a twinge in my right side. I’m 62. Who doesn’t have twinges, right? But soon the twinge became a pain. Still having my appendix, I went back to my primary physician. Multiple tests later all she saw was a spot on one of my right ribs. The advice was to increase pill dosage. I’d been doing that. In fact, I had been up to twice my dosage (I know when to quit–so I wasn’t worried about overdosing). Needless to say I had to call Dr. Smith first thing Monday morning. He was with a patient in the hospital so I saw his nurse practitioner. She was so thorough and patient. She explained all my test results from the previous week, and then asked questions that helped pinpoint the pain. After consulting with Dr. Smith (who was rather surprised and distressed at how quickly this had happened) they changed my pain medicine. I have several hot spots, as I said, and the one on the rib had flared up. I cannot do any more radiation, as it will be harmful to bone marrow, so the only alternative was the upgrade in medicine. Low, low dose morphine. I am taking it for a week and keeping a journal of how often and when I take it. From there they work out a time release dose to be taken twice a day, with something to handle any “break through” pain. But they don’t expect that to occur for a good while.

The reason I go into this is to explain the psychological effects you go through. When I heard the word chemo, and then had to upgrade to morphine it took a toll on the mind. These are words I’ve gone 5 years without hearing, and I admit you’re never quite ready for that. Cancer is not only a physical illness, but very much a psychological journey. After a week to adjust, I have settled down a bit and realized that I’m still holding my own in so many ways. I’m so blessed that any of this type of progress has taken 5 years. And it can go quite a bit longer with proper care. That being said, we’re back to one step at a time.

Now for the last “when it rains it pours” thing that’s hit this month. When I had my original surgery they removed lymph nodes in my left arm. That always leaves patients at risk for a condition known as lymphedema–a swelling of the limb because there is nothing there to fight the infection. It’s been 10 years. I thought I was doing well. Still being careful not to carry heavy things on that shoulder, get a needle stick, or work with thorny plants. Low and behold I got a scratch (from my charm bracelet of all things) that became infected. Next thing we knew my arm was twice its normal size. I have a friend who is a physical therapist. She advised me how to get a compression sleeve (which Dr. Reed has prescribed). It was helping the arm, but then my hand became infected and swelled very painfully. So I got Dr. Reed to write an order for PT and we began that on Monday. Why do I even bring this up? Well, after the massage on the arm to move any remaining poison over to lymph nodes on the other side of the body, the arm is wrapped in multiple layers of bandage. Yep. You got the picture now. It looks like I got in a fight and lost. Yesterday at a local restaurant I noticed a gentleman looking at it. When we got closer together in line he smiled and asked if I’d given up my karate career. Good tension breaker. He was caring and concerned, but not afraid of it. That’s a good approach. The sympathy looks are sometimes hard to take. I’d rather joke about it. Keeps you from crying, lol. We’ll do 2 weeks of therapy and see where we need to go from there. It has been caught early, so hopefully we can bring things down to a reasonable size. No more charm bracelet on that arm, though. That’s for sure. I wanted everyone to know what the bandage was all about, though. Maybe I should have kept it quiet and listened to see what the rumors would be. I had a bad day years ago during treatments and the rumors started. I actually got cards expressing sympathy for my set back. All of a sudden folks were writing the obituary. Let’s nip it in the bud!

OK, I see clearly by the length of this post I need to be sure and post more regularly. This has to be the longest update ever. Epic proportions. Sorry.

Let me close by saying how blessed I feel by all the prayers of friends. They are felt and appreciated. Mike and I feel the love and support every day. Mike is my earthly rock, for sure. Pushing me when I need a push, lending a hand up when I need that. He deserves all the pats on the back you can give him. Another thing–he catches the crap when I do have a bad day. I don’t know why we take things out on the ones we love. We just do. Caregivers are our heroes.

Please send prayers to our family in NC, who are dealing with many trials of their own. Including the death of Mike’s step-sister this winter. Her brain cancer returned last fall and moved rapidly. She fought hard, but it was just too much. Send her mother, husband, and children special prayers. They are needed.

Love to our family in Tennessee. Though we don’t see you often, Bob and Bev, we think of you often. And to my extended adopted family from home–the Prices, Debbie Y., Ruth R., and all the dear friends I’ve connected with on FB, love and good thoughts. Please pray for my good friend Doug. He fights with diabetes every day and recently lost his leg below the knee. I don’t dare whine about a swollen arm. He is so strong as he fights this battle.

We continue our adventures. I mentioned we went to NY to see VCU play in the Atlantic 10 conference. Wonderful trip, even if it was colder than you know what up there! Brrrr…………… This summer we will see a childhood friend of Mike’s (they are traveling to Louisville and we’ll get together so the guys can catch up). Then return to Banner Elk to be with dear friends I taught with in Martinsville. In the fall we go camping (yes, camping. but I have a bed!) with great friends and their extended families. I expect long nights in front of the campfire and watching the kids play. And then the biggie. In October Mike, Debbie Youngman and I will go to the Grand Canyon. How exciting! This was a trip that my mother took and talked about all her life. I am so excited to see this wonder. A beautiful creation of God’s that I know will reinforce His wonders. And to those of you that know me well and my notorious fear of heights: It’s pretty big. I’m fairly certain I can stand far back and still see what I need to see. Just kidding.

Let me close with love to my church support group. What would we do without you guys? I ask for special prayers for our adopted granddaughter at church. She continues to struggle and try to overcome all the adversity she has faced in her short life. At times she has had to face the realization that she wasn’t wanted. Until she was taken in by Julie and Charley. Please life her up and send her love. It will be felt and it will help.

Prayers for all of you that have unspoken prayer needs. and again, love to you all for the support. Go out and give someone a hug today. Or just a smile. and just maybe someone will do the same for you when you need it.

I will do updates more often. No more novelettes.

Love, Anne