Happy New Year, Everyone! – January 13, 2014

Hi all. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukah, whatever you celebrate at this time. Winter is so bleak otherwise, I think that’s why our happiest holidays come then. They bring hope and a new uplifting spirit to us. Think how dreary those gray days would be without all the happy music, decorations, and cheerful greetings.

Mike and I had a terrific holiday. As I’ve said before, to friends and on Facebook posts, it was relaxing and renewing. Debbie Youngman, my friend from teaching days in Martinsville, came out a couple of days prior to Christmas and spent the holiday with us. It is like having your sister with you. You don’t have to worry about cleaning up or fussing with how things look. Everyone just enjoys themselves. Before Christmas Day the three of us did a little last minute shopping, then made plans for church on Christmas Eve and a gathering at a friend’s house afterward. Christmas morning we went over to more friends’ home for Christmas breakfast (complete with a very happy two year old), came home and everyone went to their respective space for a good old afternoon nap. When we got up we put together Christmas dinner. Debbie had ordered little pork loins and specialty Mac and Cheese, and Mike picked up sweet potato casserole and had made an ambrosia. Plus Marty’s green beans from the Madrigal dinner–yum! We took our time, cleaned up, and then opened our gifts. What a nice relaxing time. And what a blessing to have Debbie to share it with.

Mike got back in the routine of work and Debbie and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting around, drinking coffee, watching all the good ol’ morning TV shows. Michael and Kelly, the View, The Chew, the Talk………….. lol. Then if we wanted to go out and do a few things we did. Otherwise we just chilled. Yep–totally relaxing.

Now, fast forward to January and Anne getting back in the routine. I did my 2nd treatment at the beginning of January. Last week I went back for Treatment #3. Dr. Smith was not pleased with lab results. The first treatment was showing promise of getting rid of the fluid in the lungs and making me feel better. The markers had even gone down a little. Well, not so with this one. Just to see a clearer picture of what was going on I had a CT scan last Friday. Yep–a good bit of fluid on the lung. So the taxotere had done all it could. Not every drug works for every patient, so Dr. Smith said we need to get right onto another drug, without wasting any time. I was really disappointed at first with the delivery of the news. And Dr. Smith was aware of that. But after a week to think about it, and the realization that even though I felt better at first, it wouldn’t last. This morning Mike and I went back to Dr. Smith to talk things over. Realizing the fluid was building up again, he sent me over to Dr. Lanier, the pulmonologist, for a decision on how to get rid of it. There are two methods. Do an in-office needle drain, or another procedure (which I will not even attempt to spell) that would be actual surgery and result in a week’s stay in the hospital. We don’t know how fast this fluid came up–it’s been three months since the first draw. The whole hospital procedure may not be needed, so we opted for the in-office procedure this time. We’ll keep a close eye on it to see if the other procedure becomes a necessity. Probably should have done that at first. But hindsight is 20/20. He drew it off this morning, so I’m home doing nothing that requires a lot of movement. While it really didn’t hurt much while he did it, afterwards I was plenty sore. I’ll be taking a good nap in a while. Sure not going to be moving around a lot. 😉

Wednesday I will start the new drug (No, I don’t remember its name offhand). From the paperwork the side effects appear to be much the same. At least I’ll know what to expect, right? Right.

With all this said, I have to say that over all I still feel pretty good. Yes, I nap a lot (even for me–the nap queen). But that’s probably normal with the chemo. But pain is not a huge issue–it’s been very controllable since we started this regimen. And I have cared enough and have felt like helping put away Christmas and getting things back in order. I even attempted helping with meals. Not my best idea, but more on that in a bit. I knew my breathing was slipping–I’d begun to wheeze again, and I was short of breath after moving around or walking even the shortest distance. After I had made considerable progress. I was even going up the stairs in one attempt. That was beginning to slip a bit. Hopefully the start of this new drug will stop the decline before it gets away from us. As Dr. Smith said, feeling good is a big part of the equation.

As I said, I had attempted cooking. I did a pot roast one day. However, I had to go without my O2 while I prepared it to go in. That led to being pretty uncomfortable for a couple of days. I can help with assembling things and getting it all together, but actually cooking (not just heating up) wasn’t going so well. I don’t even seem to have the concentration to get things together. That left Mike in charge again. And since he is doing virtually everything else I hated that. Along comes the knight in shining armor. Lee sent a timely text asking if we needed food again. (We had stopped during the holidays–plenty of food and not being here much.) We cut back on the schedule and the choir has stepped in to fill in gaps again. They are such a blessing to us. We don’t have lots of family to help out, so the choir is our family. The prayers and virtual hugs, along with those wonderful meals, have gotten us through some very rough spots. It means we don’t stand in the middle of the kitchen looking at each other blankly and finally opening another can of soup. 🙂 Thank you, friends. Thank you.

I don’t know if I’ve related the O2 story. Thad and First Choice got us the battery pack rechargeable O2 machine, that we keep downstairs. No more carrying Big Bertha up and down; she is in the sitting room where the hose reaches to the bed, the bathroom, and across the hall in the little bedroom, with ease. I can also take the battery pack in the car, in case we’re going to be out for any length of time. It is a little loud, though, so if we’re headed to church or any other situation where it calls for quiet, I take the tanks. Which First Choice delivers to your doorstep if you can’t get there to trade in. The Home Health businesses are a God send, folks. I can’t imagine what people did for things like this before these businesses existed. And they are so good to us, and so caring there. They are always checking to see if we need anything else, or if things are going well with what we have. They’re definitely an arm of your healthcare. Thanks, all.

Well, as usual I have gone on forever here. I get on a roll and, well, you know……… I can’t stop myself.

I am blessed to have a wonderful church family and circle of friends. You are all such a blessing to Mike and me. I know this support is a big part of why I feel as good as I do. The love seeps in and acts as good medicine. Remember all the people who need your prayers now. A lady I used to work with is going through a particularly rough time in life. I think she feels that nothing is going right for her, and with all that’s hit her I understand. Please sent prayers to Diane Turk. And Bill and Anna Russell continue to need your prayers every day. The son of one of Mike’s co-workers has been diagnosed with a rare lung cancer. Dallas Kendall needs all our prayers. My brother-in-law, Bill Bayley, needs prayers as he deals with bladder cancer. As well as the anniversary of the death of his wife last year. And my sister-in-law, Lynne, bears the brunt of much of the care of Mike’s step-mom, as well as her own private cares. She is a tower of strength to all of us in the family. We often forget that she is doing much of this on her own and she needs our support. She is bound to feel it weighing heavily on her, too. I think of her often. Send prayers her way. I know all of you know others that need our love and support, and I wish them all the best. And also, you. Every one of you who reads this, everyone that you meet on the street, has their own set of challenges. We may not see them. We may think that person could not have a care in the world. But everyone has something. Try to remember that as you go through your day and I will do my best to do the same.

The windbag is done now. 🙂 We love you all, and we cherish you all. Happy 2014 and blessings on everyone.

Anne and Mike (forgive any grammar errors! I tried to catch them, but even the Grammar Nazi, as I seem to have been dubbed, screws up! hee hee)