Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Visions of Sugarplums

Christmas is in two days and we are trying to be festive in spite of living with Hospice.  The tree is decorated and we have a few things out and the stockings are hung over the fireplace.  Our friends still spend time with me while Marty runs errands.  In spite of their busy holiday schedules they still come by to help.  There is even a prediction we will have some snow around us on Christmas Day.  Its great to see the rain and snow in the mountains.  Very festive. 

The clot in my leg seems to have improved and is smaller and no longer painful. No morphine for four days.  I feel stronger today and able to turn myself in bed with no help.  I have a wonderful personal health aide who comes twice a week to bathe me and change my bed.  She is so caring and gentle. She came today and that makes me feel so good after she is finished.  With the help of our son Erik, he brightens my day and has made some of our work easier.

With my fickle taste buds and the light nausea I am hoping to be able to eat the seafood dinner Marty  is preparing for Christmas Day.  He is planning our traditional shrimp cocktail salad (Mother's recipe) and sautĂ©ed scallops.  Sounds yummy. 

This is not the Christmas either of us would have wished for but with the love of friends, family and even strangers, it will be  Merry Christmas.  I wish for all of you the best for you and your family.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like??

Well its been about 10 days since my last blog and much has happened.  Marty has been decorating for Christmas and preparing for the season.  It's not easy decorating around all of the equipment needed for me.  We've cut back on how we usually decorate.  Most of the stuff is still in boxes.  Christmas is a season of giving and our friends certainly have.  Chef Ben came over last Friday and prepared many meals for us to last a week or so.  He spent about 4 hours here cooking and putting the great food in serving containers so all Marty has to do is microwave it and serve it.  Hank and Thom brought a wonderful raspberry torte.  Mark brought us a Christmas tree and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Nancy and Lew brought us soups and lasagna.  Janet R sent candy canes and chocolate.  We are set for a few days.  Faithful Kirstin and Pat sat with me while Marty ran some errands.  We have received phone calls from friends across the country which filled our hearts with warmth and love.  Our church friends have been in high gear supporting us with communion and visits. We are in a pretty set routine with hospice and take care of Janet. 

Mr. Morphine has come out of the cabinet.  I have a blood clot in my leg that is extremely painful.  Walking is almost impossible.  I have done a fair share of crying and moaning.  Poor Marty is the one who has to listen to the bitching and moaning.  I know I need to move as much as possible to keep my muscles working. 

There is some humor in our life.  When Kirsten was sitting she drew bathroom duty.  As she was helping me get my underwear up it was not going well and she said "you've got your knickers in a twist".  Neither of us had used that word in a long time and we laughed and laughed.  Laughter is good. 

Today's post may sound down and whiny, but I am not that way very often.  Continued thanks and hugs to my prayer warriors.  We have been in this a long time. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Settling Into a Routine

After a little more than a week since I came home with Hospice, we have settled into a routine.  We have four days that Hospice comes in to help and the other days its Erik and Marty help.  You would not believe the equipment that we have set up in our living room,  Hospital bed, walker, compressed oxygen machine, tray table, etc. 

So how am I doing?  My torso is so swollen that if you stuck a pin in it I would fly around the room like a deflating balloon.  I am able to stand with a walker steadier than last week.  The further I get from chemo the more I can eat.  I am getting some of my appetite back.  My voice is still a little raspy but is a little better.  When I sit in a chair I feel pretty good but when I get on the walker I  feel so tired.  I have no pain just this bloated discomfort.  If I have pain, Mr. Morphine is in the cabinet. 

Healthy visitors are welcome for brief visits.  I enjoy them so much but talking wears me out.  I am rarely posting on Facebook or email.  Marty reads me the comments that I get.  So prayer warriors continue praying for Marty and me through this tough time.  GO WARRIORS!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Home Again

My last post had me in the hospital with the beautiful caring people at Kaiser's San Leandro hospital.  On Wednesday before Thanksgiving we decided coming home would be best for me.  No further chemo would help me and my oncologist Dr. Kuan told us home would be best.  We talked to Patti the social worker and she told us about the care we could get from Hospice. 

Our next thought was how we could maneuver the 26 steps into our apartment.  Gurneys would be too big and bulky to work.  I figured I would have two studly good looking men carry me up.  No, in fact two beautiful petite young women showed up.  They were strong as an ox.  We arrived at home and we waited for a handsome man to bring a special gurney chair.  They carried me upstairs backwards.  It was a wild ride.

After settling in I was transferred from Kaiser to Hospice.  Hospice came later in the day to make an assessment and go over procedures they would use.  4 days a week someone from Hospice will be here for about an hour to go over what has transpired from their last visit, bathe me and help with light housework.  The next two days we spent rearranging the apartment to accommodate a bed for me and other equipment.  Our son Erik helped with moving things around too.  On Saturday they delivered my bed.  The bed is electric and my brother and Marty bought rich red sheets to cheer me up.  Red matched other furnishings in the room that are red.

Every day my legs are stronger but  I am still very weak.  I'm trying not to be cranky but seems like everything upsets me.  Then I am  mean and feel like a bitch.  I am eating more day by day as I get further away from my last chemo treatment.  Little brother Hank and his wonderful wife nurse Ann have been a godsend to us.  They have taken care of me and helped us cook, wash dishes and clean the apartment.  When they leave it is going to really get hard.

Posts will be more irregular because we are overwhelmed with this change in our lives.  We want you to be informed about my condition but just check Facebook and my blog because it is difficult to keep up with all of the phone calls and texts.  If you are healthy and will wear a mask you are welcome to visit for a very very short period because my energy level will not let me be sociable for very long.  My voice is also very weak.

To all of the prayer warriors to pray for calmness bravery and acceptance.  Pray for Marty as my caregiver He has also been writing this as I tell him what to say.  God bless each and every one of you with much love.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Things Just Got REAL!!!

This is Marty and I am taking orders as usual. J Taking dictation.

Since I came home  from the hospital a week ago I just got weaker and weaker.  Noodle legs kept me from walking and my recliner became my best friend.  It’s a good thing it is electric so I could get in and out of it.  Marty had fun giving me a ride to each room of our apartment in the wheelchair.

Thanks to my friends Janet, Kirsten, Lourdes, Sue and Vallery for coming to sit with me while Marty could do some of his work.  I also had our Elders from church, Lonnie and Roy bring communion and a visit from my minister Russ.

This past Saturday my blood pressure was 70 over 60 and I was too light headed to do anything so it was back to the ER in the early afternoon.  They started hydrating me and giving me antibiotics.  Got moved to my new suite at the hospital later in the day.  From the CT scan the week before my Oncologist confirmed this damn cancer had spread to my liver.  It’s been a week of crying, bitching and trying to be brave.  It’s easier to be positive because I am using less energy.  

Even though I am weak I am stronger than when I came in and can walk short distances.  I am getting better each day and hoping to go home soon.  Every day they come up with a new test that I have never heard of.  I am getting tired of being probed, prodded, poked, stuck and bled.  I know all of this helps in my treatment but it can be annoying.

My brother Henry and his wife Ann flew here from Kentucky Monday to be with us for Thanksgiving.  We may have turkey day in the hospital.  They have been great support to both of us.

Marty and I have to make a lot of major decisions in the time I have left and I am asking my prayer warriors to continue praying that Marty and I can get through this new time in our life together.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Another Midnight Run - The Drama Continues

This week has been another week to try to get some strength.  It has also been one of more side effects of Chemo raising its ugly head.  I still have extreme weakness and dehydration.  I had blood work on Monday and then on Tuesday no Chemo but rather had hydration to give me some fluids.

The twenty six steps  have been a big problem getting me in and out of the apartment.  My legs are so weak it has been a major chore coming and going.  I am trying to walk more and more each day to build my strength back up.  Walking from the living room to the kitchen several times a day is helping.

On Thursday we had something else to deal with.  I was having shortness of breath  late in the day and by 10:00 it was so bad we called the advice nurse.  Must have been a busy day for them because after 30 minutes on the phone, she and the doctor agreed that  we should go to ER to be evaluated. Once again the Kaiser team went to work on me.  They immediately put me on oxygen and did a chest x-ray and an EKG.  IV with fluids to hydrate me and drained me of blood to start the detective work.  Also I did a 15 minute treatment of deep breathing with an albuterol brohodilator to relax my muscles in the airways and increase airflow to the lungs.  More than what you wanted to know right??

After that the doctor came in and said the words that I hate, CT Scan.  It hasn't been but five days since I had that done but they wanted to compare the two.  Since I had trouble breathing they wanted to check for blood clots in the lungs.  Thank goodness, no clots.

All of the problems relate back to Chemo, the tiredness and the weakness. It wan about 12:30 am that all of this was completed so I had to lay and wait for the evaluation.  At about 1:15 the nurse came in and asked if I was ready to go home.  Surprised I said yes.  All of the tests showed no issues other than what we knew so I was ok to be released.  I dressed and we got home about 2 am.

Today I feel a little stronger but it is just a little.  We will see what the next few days have in store as we prepare for Thanksgiving week with a visit from my brother and his wife.  Pray for more strength.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kaiser to the Rescue !!!!

This week has had more drama than usual.  Monday the lab work (blood work) came back with lots of different issues.  When they took vitals I had a low grade fever.  They told me to check my temperature every hour or so,  parts were out of the normal range.  Tuesday instead of chemo they hydrated me and gave a mineral cocktail.  They told me that if my temp got to 100.4 or more to go to the Emergency Room.  The fever was staying in the normal range, but it jumped into the dangerous Will Robinson land after 9:00 pm.  So off to the ER at 9:30 pm ( we had to get dressed from PJs to clothes).

They hydrated me on arrival and then took "gallons" of blood.  Some of the tests would take three days because cultures had to grow.  About 2 am they decided to admit me to the hospital because there were so many issues going on.  I was still very very weak like last week, and maybe even worse.

From early Wednesday through late afternoon Saturday I was in the hospital.  During that time I was hydrated, on antibiotics (IV) and many minerals that I was low in.  They also fed me antibiotics during my stay to fight the infection.  As usual, Kaiser provided fantastic care and attention to me as if I were their only patient.  The blood tests came back including the cultures and all were in the good range except for one minor infection that I am treating with antibiotics for the next week and a half.

After i got home last night, I am resting more because the noise level is lower and Marty does not check my blood pressure every two hours.  Also the moaning and yelling patient down the hall is not here with me.  I am trying to walk more (with a walker) to regain my strength.  I am forcing myself to eat more even though food tastes awful.  Not because of Marty's cooking ,but because of my taste buds.

Prayer warriors, its been a tough week and I appreciate it so much.  We do not expect it to get much better so I need you to kick it into overdrive,   God bless each and every one of you.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It has been a bad week

This week I have been weak as a kitten. We used a wheelchair to get me in and out of Kaiser.  I just couldn't walk that far.  Chemo went fine.  And they set me up to have two units of blood on Wednesday.  That was supposed to give me more energy.

I was a little nervous about the transfusion  First time things always scare me.  It went well and I had high hopes for a burst of energy.  Didn't happen, if anything I was weaker.   Blood pressure was low, I couldn't walk or stand without help.  Marty was wheeling me to the kitchen, bathroom, where ever I needed to be. He had to lift me off my chair which was hard for him.  I kept collapsing on him.

Then just to make thing better, I developed no warning diarrhea. Not a nice three days.  Today, Sunday, I am a little stronger,  I have walked down the hall several times.  No wheelchair today. 

This is short because it takes energy to think and write.  It is nap time again.

Friday, October 30, 2015

This week's update

Monday I saw the oncologist.  She told us the second tumor marker was lower, the bone density test was normal, and the CT scan showed no spread and the tumor was smaller.  Then she told us that it is very rare for pancreatic tumors to decrease.  They are happy if they can just hold them at the same size.   Prayer Warriors you are doing a great job.  She thinks I am anemic and suggested I have a couple of units of blood. 

Tuesday I had chemo.  I was nauseated before I got there.  They took my blood pressure and it was 99/67, not good.  That also explained being so tired.  I slept the whole time of chemo, I've never done that before.  The transfusion will take 5 hours, so an appointment was made for Wednesday.  Later we got a call, my hemoglobin is low, but too high for a transfusion.  They balance side effects I am having with possible side effects of a transfusion.  So the appointment was canceled.

Wednesday was a pretty good day. I went shopping with Marty and didn't fall down in a faint.  The nausea was very slight.  I had hope for a good week.

Thursday, nausea and so very weak and tired.  I could hardly walk down the hall.  I was holding on to everything to stay upright.  I slept all day long until Pat and Kirsten came by to eat supper with me.  I watched them eat the lovely Greek food they had brought and ate my stand by, peanut butter. 

Today I have slept nearly all day.  I just can't stay awake.  But around 5:00 I felt awake and a little stronger.  I haven't done my regular walking in a month, only  Kaiser halls and shopping on Wednesday.  So today I walked for 15 minutes, again holding onto furniture and walls.  I know I have to walk, but it is so hard. 

I am trying to eat something even if it tastes awful.  I am losing weight again and that is dangerous.  Since I can't stand chocolate anymore it is hard to get extra calories.  Marty treats me like a toddler and says no you can't get down until you eat X more bites.  So I try to eat. 

These side effects are not as awful as some I have had.   But they seem to make me more cranky and bitchy.  I go to bed tired and I get up tired.  I dread food.  But I am not in pain other than my old lady joints.  I  will just sleep and try to eat and maybe at some point I will pep  up again.

Friday, October 23, 2015

And another health update

This week more of the same.  I continued to be tired, sleepy, and nauseated.  No chemo this week, so I was hoping my body would pep up.  But it didn't really.

I would get up, clean up and dress and that would wear me out.  But I know if I don't dress I will feel worse.  But no make up, that was just too hard.  To add to being in pain from my back, my bad knee decided it needed attention.  Now that isn't a huge problem I just stay off it, rest it, maybe ice it, and take Tylenol which doesn't do much.  That didn't work Tuesday.  I had a lot of walking to do Tuesday.

Tuesday was CT Scan day.  First I had to go to oncology to have my port accessed.  Then I had to walk to radiology for the scan.  I didn't think I would make it, the knee protested every step of the way.  This added to my anxiety about the scan.  A couple of weeks before I had taken the blood test, tumor marker.  It was up, not much but up.  Dr. Kuan said it is only a clue and it will fluctuate, don't worry.  Well I did some. 

All went well with the scan until I tried to get off the table.  My back said I don't think so.  And I started crying. The tech helped me off and I was to go to the dressing room.   I asked if there any closer than the one I used, yes there were.  Then she and the transport guy saw how wobbly I was and said they would let me dress in the scanning room.  The men in the safe room for techs turned around and I dressed.  They insisted I use a wheelchair to go back up to oncology.  I accepted.  He wheeled me to Oncology and I went in to have them take out the access line.  I lost it again and cried all over the nurse.  All this drama paid off.  The tumor is smaller and there is no spread.  YAY Prayer Warriors. 

That afternoon friends Pat and Kirsten came to visit.  They always make me feel better.  We laughed, did some serious talking about our lives, and enjoyed being together.

I slept all of Wednesday and ate very little.  Thursday was the first time in a long time I didn't take a nausea pill.  I still didn't like eating but did, sort of. Thursday night my two wonderful crazy friends from The Marriage Factory came to visit.  We laughed like fools and it felt so good.  They told gossip about co workers, flying lessons, trips they have taken, and we talked about every day goings on.  I was tired but felt so happy from the visit.  Love you Christine and Lourdes.  That would be in alphabetical order so Lourdes don't get your nose out of joint.

This morning I had a bone density test.  This is to set a baseline and check a disc problem. This is a very easy test for the patient, no dyes, you don't even have to wear a hospital gown.  I was in and out in less than 10 minutes.  The only problem was getting there.  My Kaiser doesn't do this test, certain Kaisers do certain tests and have certain departments.   Anyway, we were 45 minutes away one way for a 10 minute test.  It could be Monday before I get results. 

I am not as whinny as some of the blogs lately.  My friends and the nurses told me I don't have to be brave all the time.  I am allowed to be mad, sad, and scared.  Yes, I am human not always a superwoman.  Some days more human than others.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Couldn't eat or drink, but still had a good time

The last month has been hard: tired, nauseated, chemo taste buds gone wild.  I have been a complaining mess.  Saturday we had some normal.  We hosted the A Team for an afternoon of wine and appetizers.  For new readers click here for info on the A team.

Friday, Marty and I made country ham puffs, a cold lemon soufflĂ©, and lobster cup.  Surprisingly I was able to cook  the first two dishes almost without any help.  We had champagne chilled, cute cocktail napkins and were ready to go.  Now the night before Marty had said we would cancel the party if I didn't feel better. 

Saturday I got up wobbly as a drunken sailor.  I could only walk holding on to walls, banisters, and furniture.  Not a good sign for partying.  The A team arrived and started pulling out food.  Oh my word, did we have food.  And more champagne and wine.  It looked like a party.

Some of the goodness we had to eat.

Many more dishes were brought in to eat.  So many they were crowded on the table.  We had cheesy olive balls, chicken satay, country ham, lobster rolls, figs wrapped in prosciutto, corn dip, tomato  jam, Almond Tart, creme fraiche dip.  I think that is all, sorry A Team if I forgot something.  Chalk it up to chemo brain.

I am sure you are wondering how much of that I was able to eat, precious little.  I tried things, but it all tasted wrong.  But I got enough to have a small meal, and at least did not have to break out the peanut butter.  Peanut Butter was covered in the chicken satay dish.

I pretty much sat in my recliner and let people wait on me.  They brought me food and water and wine.  I stuck with the water.  No champagne for me, dammit.  We laughed, discussed foods, my health, and the missing Texas couple.  Good conversation, good times.

In the top picture you can tell Lew and Hank are holding up.  I am leaning on Lew and Hank is holding onto my waist.  Thank you for not letting me fall.  The bottom picture Hank if still holding me  up.

I love my A Team, and we can't wait until the Texas couple retires and can travel to see us.  Miss you Karl and Deb.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Weekly or is it Weakly update?

This week has not been as bad as last week.  But it hasn't been a great week.  If you remember I hurt my back last week, not badly but it hurts.  That has been a large part of my problems this week.  For the last week I have slept in the recliner because I can't get comfortable in the bed.  I am not that comfortable in my chair, so broken sleep.

Monday I had lab work.  Also it was the first day in over a week I didn't need nausea medicines.  Nothing tasted right, but at least I didn't feel as if I was going to upchuck.  Energy level was low but I wasn't exhausted. 

Tuesday was chemo day.  No big deal, no extra nausea.  But food had become an issue.  I was hungry, but the sight, smell, and taste of everything is just terrible.  I could smell all my neighbors' meals simmering away.  Yuck!  Friends came by before going to Book Group late afternoon.  They  wanted to pick up supper for me as they bought theirs.  I told them no thanks, I would stick with peanut butter.   They had wonderful Mexican and I didn't.

Wednesday I was really tired and my back hurt.  I didn't feel like doing anything, so I didn't.  Erik was here and besides all he regularly does to help us, he gave me some computer help.  I don't know if he realizes how important his visits are.  We talk, he works, we laugh, and of course we all three are playing on our IPads and sharing silly things.  That night I did not sleep well, I hurt and there was no way to get comfortable. 

Thursday I was a mess.  So tired and felt as if I were drugged. I slept off and on the whole day, even up until bedtime.  The nausea was back and I hated the thought of any food, even my safe peanut butter.

I worried about things I need to do today, Friday. We have invited our A Team (a group of friends who cook and have fun together) for pot luck wine and appetizers on Saturday afternoon.  I told Marty I didn't feel like cleaning the apartment and wasn't sure if I could make my appetizer and a surprise dish.  And my protective hero says we can cancel if you don't feel well enough.  Not going to do that.  I want to visit with these friends and I want some normal.  Marty will get stuff done even if I do have to sit in the chair all day today and tomorrow. 

One awful thing this week, chocolate no longer tastes good.  Before, even if I had just thrown up, chocolate would taste just fine.  This week I did a study of all different types of chocolate.  I tasted expensive chocolate, Milky Ways, M&M's, lots of different brands.  Nearly all were icky, some so bad I spit them out.  My taste buds are very sad. 

The week wasn't awful, just tiring.  I can do this manly because I have no choice.  I will make the best of it, blog about it, and vent about everything.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

This week has kicked my butt

As I posted in the two previous posts, lots of tests, trouble on the home front, and I did not handle things well.  I really thought after crappy Wednesday, I could carry on as the brave strong woman I am.  Nope, did not happen.

Tuesday as usual I had chemo.  No big problems Tuesday or Wednesday.  Thursday I was nauseated, but not bad enough to throw up.  As my mother used to say, "I'm 5 minutes before vomiting."  This week instead of diarrhea, I was constipated. So I was getting the cramping but no action.  The nausea has continued up to this very minute.  The pills take the edge off, but the nausea never really goes away. 

I have had no energy all week.  I just sit in the recliner and watch idiot daytime TV.  Or I sleep.  Chemo brain will not let me read much more than the comics in the paper.  Add to that I have eaten very little this week.  Chemo nose and taste buds have kicked into overtime.  Just about everything smells awful, and I sometimes gag looking at food shows.  I know, I am a mess.  I'll tell you just how bad I am, my go to food chocolate tastes wrong.   

Friday friends came to take me to lunch.  I chose Chinese, for some reason that always tastes good.  Well, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't right.  I just picked at my lunch and brought it home to Marty for his supper.  At least my friends and I had a good visit.

The Blue Angels are in town for Fleet Week.  They fly over the house at least once a day (they are using Oakland Airport for home base, which is less than 10 minutes away.)  Marty and I wanted to go to one of the marinas and watch the real air show.  Well, I did well to dress yesterday. No sitting on the shore and watching the show.  I can't go today either. 

I am tired, puny, and whiney.  I don't feel bad, I just don't feel good.  My get up and go has got  up and gone. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015


I am told I am a strong woman, a brave woman.  I am handling my life like a trooper.  Well yesterday I was reduced to a quivering mass of tears.  I cried most of the morning, screamed and cursed and was ready to kill anything one or anything.  No, cancer had nothing to do with any of this.  Well a little, stress upsets me a little bit more now.  This will be long and ugly.  So bear with me.

I began the day by picking up (like an idiot) a large piece of art glass.  So I messed up my back a little.

Then I did laundry.  Or I tried.  The second load did not spin out of the soak cycle.  This is a regular problem.  I had dirty wet towels.  I  tried to wring them out and threw them in the dryer (which I ran twice) and ended up hanging on a make shift line.  I talked to the landlord and he called a repairman. I have two more loads to wash.  The repairman won't be here until Monday.

I tried to give myself my Lovenox shot.  The syringe wouldn't push.  I pulled it out pushed and it worked.  I stuck myself again, and it didn't work.  I got a new syringe and this one worked. 

People it is not 10:30 and all of this is making me crazy.  I am upset, I hurt, and I can't fix anything.  Then I made a butt call to my brother.  This scared them because I never call early in the day.  We nearly always talk around our supper time and just before their bedtime.  Anyway, they called me and wanted to know what was wrong.  Bless my heart, I told them and cried some more.  They calmed me down and I moved on to my next task.

Background: And this is the short version.       For 40 years I have paid for a cancer policy.  Most women on my Mother's side of the family had one.  It was a cheap policy and after 40 years the pay out has not kept up with inflation.  But they owe and I have tried since October 2014 to  make a claim.  First I was told no such policy number existed, then they found me and after a couple of months they gave me my agent's name and phone number, a woman in Virginia.  She was very nice, but their computer system would not let her access my records in California, which is not her territory.  It took until June 18 to get someone in the Bay Area to help me. 

A lovely man came to my house, filled out all the forms, had me sign release forms for health records, copied my flash drive with all my Kaiser bills from 2014 to present.  He sent that in to headquarters. He told me Kaiser sometimes is slow releasing data if the insurance company needed more info.  He told me to wait a couple of months then do a status check. 

Okay, yesterday I decided 3 1/2 months was long enough for me to have heard something.  I called, they said my policy number did not exist.  Finally after I explained the last year to them they found me.  And then all hell broke loose.  She said I had not sent in complete records.  I asked why they did not contact me.  Why didn't they contact Kaiser?  Well they said I should have gotten a letter, but looks like it was never sent.  They didn't contact Kaiser because there was no release form signed.  I started yelling and being one of THOSE customers.  I told her she had just read what I had sent in and she said I had signed a release form.  Oh, right.  They should have contacted Kaiser. 

I now needed to re send everything to them.  They would MAIL me forms and information on what they needed.  I was reaching through the phone for her throat at this point.  She wouldn't let me talk to the person who was handling the claim.  I started yelling and crying.  Get me your supervisor.  Same crap from the supervisor.  All my responsibility, even though they had lost the forms and had not contacted me or Kaiser.

I told her off, yes there was cursing and crying involved.  I explained they are dealing with very sick people and they should care a little about us.  The whole time she talked over me with her set spiel.  I then told her I would be calling 7 on Your Side and would see them on the news. And I hung up.

I called the lovely man who had helped.  I am not one of his clients, he just agreed to help when asked.  He had kept all my records, and had records he had sent the information.  He sent everything in again.  He told me to wait until Monday to call for a status report.  And if they didn't have their act together, to call the TV station.

I felt better after talking to him and thought maybe I could finish the day as planned.  I was emotionally and physically exhausted and the day wasn't over yet.  We were taking a friend out for a birthday dinner. I really was too tired to go.  But I did.

We go to the restaurant and have octopus stirred fried and calamari deep fried.  It was delicious and I had no problem eating it.  I ordered a safe pasta dish not wanting to push those chemo taste buds.  Well the server set my bowl down and I nearly gagged.  The smell and taste was awful, to me.  So no main course for me.  Marty gave me some of his wonderful pork chop and always, pork tastes good to me. 

And that was how I was reduced to a puddle of tears all day.  Today I am calmer. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Monday at Kaiser, scary

Big spoiler alert I am going to tell you all right off the bat, I am OK.  You don't  need to sweat bullets as my family and a couple of friends have.   Now for the gory details.

Less than 2 weeks ago I found a lump in my breast, right about where I had had a lump removed two years ago.  I first went into panic mode, so many women in my family have had breast cancer.  And many of them died from it.  I emailed my oncologist and saw her last Monday.  She felt the tumor also and put in motion for me to have a mammogram and possibly an ultrasound, needle biopsy, and maybe surgery.  In 6 hours I had my appointments set up and felt something was being done.  I was set up for Lab work on Sunday.  If my blood work wasn't in the normal range, they couldn't do a needle biopsy.  We only told a small group because I had no game plan.  We decided when we had a game plan, then we would ask for prayers if needed. 

This afternoon I went to the Women's Center in another town from my Kaiser.  They did a mammogram, yep there was a tumor.  Then the ultrasound. Text book tumor.  Not to worry.  But glory to be, no needle biopsy.  I have a Fat Necrosis that was caused by the trauma of the surgery 2 years ago.  The tumor is right where my scar is.  It rarely happens after surgery, but you know me, gotta keep it interesting.  Since it is all my body cells, it doesn't have to be removed.  It is not a foreign body as the other tumor was. 

Now this is probably really over sharing.  But I need to put it out there and let people know to check all parts of their body.  Saturday I found a lump, yes another lump, in my, shall we say, Lady Parts.  I was pissed.  What is wrong with my body to be growing lumps suddenly?  Isn't the one on my pancreas enough trouble?  I talked to the Advice Nurse, watched for more swelling, infection, whatever. I did warm compresses and hoped for the best. No one said to check for bleeding, should have.  Minor bleeding this morning,  not normal.

I was given an appointment for this morning to see a gynecologist.   Lovely woman, who had read my record and contacted the oncology department before checking me. The lump was a little painful, but not awful. Even though the lump was a little bigger than a nickel, it falls in the pimple category.  I never had a bleeding pimple, but that is way better than what I feared.  She excised it and gave me follow up instructions.  She said women just develop them and it is no big deal.

Again I received quick care, and good care.  All who worked on me were kind, informative, and patient with my WHY questions.  I do love Kaiser.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Once again a health update

I have some good news and some bad news.  Let's do the bad first and reward ourselves with the good.

Throw back Thursday almost was throw up Thursday.  Again the Thursday after chemo I was sick.  Yes that awful word diarrhea entered my life starting at 4:30 in the morning and was not controlled until around 10:30.  Of course there was great nausea to go with it.  As I have said before, I do have a cast iron stomach and rarely throw up.  Yesterday I wanted to throw up hoping to feel better.  No such luck. The nausea pills sort of made me  more comfortable.  And I was so terribly tired. 

For lunch I had maybe a quarter cup of applesauce and some water.  I had nothing for supper.  I slept from 11:30 until 9:15 that night.  The only reason I woke up was because my alarm went off to take my meds.  I stayed up a couple of hours and then went back to bed.  I slept 10 more hours. 

Today I feel much better and was able to eat some peanut butter and a chocolate chip cookie for lunch.  For supper I am going to try grilled cheese and tomato soup, the perfect comfort food.  I think this is going to be a way of life again. 

Chemo side effects are accumulative and I have been doing this type since January.   As yucky as yesterday and the other Thursday were, I will take this.  It isn't as awful as last year at this time.  We must hope it says at this level.

Now for a little good news.  Last year early Fall I was told I couldn't go to church.  I was too sick and too many germs to jump on me from bulletins, chairs, friends.  This week(because it is now flu and cold season) I asked when to stop going to church and the lovely Dr. Kuan said keep going as I feel able.  Just no hugging or kisses.  So FCC friends, I will be there hit and miss and we can elbow bump or wave to each other.

Overall doing well.  Not thrilled with Thursdays now, but I've been through much much worse.  I can do this as long as all my friends, family continue their prayers.  YAY Prayer Warriors!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chemo nose and chemo taste buds strike hard

Last night we prepped a wonderful dish, mussels and clams in broth.  (the mussels and clams weren't cooked until today).  Friends were joining us for lunch Sunday. Well, Marty prepared the broth and I washed a gazillion bowls, utensils, pots and pans.  He does love to drive me crazy dirtying every dish in the house.  While he worked on the broth I sat in the living room, the smell, aroma to him, was ticking off chemo nose.  I would go to the kitchen every 20 minutes or so to wash more dishes, then rush back to the living room. Marty also made an Angel Food cake which he iced this morning. 

Our friends brought a wonderful salad for us. It even smelled good, and was beautiful. Marty said it was really good.  I wouldn't know,  I forgot to tell them I can't eat raw veggies. 

This was a mussels meal I had asked Marty to make for our friends.  It is a recipe Marty developed. The broth is so rich with all the veggies cooked in it.  I love this meal.  So the meal began with me watching all eating the salad.  I could smell the broth and mussels cooking and knew this was not going to end well.

Marty filled the bowls with the dish and then put one in front of me.  I almost screamed, no take it away, I can't eat this.  I was gagging, but I didn't throw up.  The smell was just awful to the chemo nose.  I watched them eating one of my favorite meals and having to smell it.  I ate peanut butter on Zesta crackers with applesauce.  Not great, but doesn't gag me.

Then he cut the Angel Food cake and served us nice big slices.  Chemo nose said more, more. Chemo taste buds says this is good stuff.  It tasted normal, which would be wonderful.  So many things if they don't gag just taste wrong.  Love the cake and will have some for supper too.

I had planned to take pictures of food and chemo brain forgot.  Trust me, this chemo stuff is disruptive to my life.  But it also is giving me life. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

No Chemo Week

A week ago as I blogged I was one sick chicken.  Things improved, but for an off week, not much.  I still have light nausea, very tired, no energy to do anything.  I take the nausea pill and it helps.  But food has not interested me this week.

Chemo nose and taste buds are back with a vengeance.  Some foods smell so awful I think I will throw up.  And then I taste something and it is just wrong.  Sometimes it tastes really bad, and sometimes it is just is a little off.  Marty keeps cooking stuff to tempt me.  I have even cooked.  Didn't even really like what I cooked.  The really sad part, sometimes this is food I have raved about in the last couple of weeks.  Some days no problem, some days trouble.  Peanut butter and Honey Nut Cheerios still taste fine to me.  Cold milk is good.  Some nights a little wine, some nights I pour mine in Marty's glass.  Every meal is an adventure.

What did I do this week if I am so tired?  Well this was Erik's off week and I did the laundry.  Not a big deal for most folks but it is for me.  I dusted the apartment Friday, we have guests coming today and tomorrow.  Marty is doing the floors and heavy hard stuff. After my little bit of cleaning I was done for the day.   Some days just showering, dressing, and walking take all my energy and I am done before noon, in the chair resting. 

Monday I see my oncologist and will have lab work.  Tuesday I see my  primary care doctor and then have chemo.  If I feel like it my chauffer of the day Kirsten is taking me to lunch. 

So in summary, I am tired, nauseated, have low energy.  This is normal for my condition.  I still am much healthier than I was in December.  In fact to be so sick I am really doing well.  I just have to accept I can't do everything I want to do. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

What do I do all day?

So I can't volunteer anymore and I can barely stand daytime TV.  How do I keep from being bored?  I play on the internet, do the social media thing, or play solitaire. Every now and then I clean.  But mostly I read.  Of course that depends on how chemo brain is doing.  If I am not tracking well, I can't read "good" books, so I read what I call light garbage.  Lately I have been able to read and keep up with the plots.  I recently finished a really fun well written book by Jack Fredrickson.

Disclaimer:  I consider Jack a friend even though we have never met.  I write him fan letters and sometimes we email back and forth.  He also is a Facebook friend.  When I was so very sick in the hospital, he emailed me regularly.  I was too sick to type so Marty would email him back .  That said, if Jack wasn't such a good author I would not be recommending his books.

The Confessors' Club is the latest in the Dek Elstrom series.  Dek's ex father-in-law, who hates him, hires him to investigate the deaths of some powerful men.  Accident, natural causes, or murder?  Well it is a mystery so murder sounds right.  There are lots of twists and turns.  Relationships are pushed and pulled.  We deal with his ex wife and his girlfriend.  We have a high body count, which blood thirsty me always enjoys.

Dek lives in a multistory turret that he is trying to finish up.  And what is the fun of living in a medieval looking building if you can't protect yourself and friends with a medieval process?  Just one of the fun parts of the book.

We have the IRS, local police, out of town police, and the FBI involved.  Dek is pulling the strings together to find who is the bad guy, or is it bad guys.  One of the most tense part of the book is a search of the Confessors' Club.  Will he be caught, shot, or get away with it?

A tree is a character in this book.  And you will really care about the tree.  This is one of Jack's cool touches, he  makes you care about something in the middle of murder and mayhem. 

Jack has a great way with words.  He paints pictures, he keeps us tense, he makes us laugh.  And it is a really good mystery.  The link above is to Amazon, so read the free chapter and get hooked.  Then buy the book.  I do recommend you read the books in order.  Dek and his friends evolve over the several books. But this book and all of his work as stand alones.  If you can't buy, go to the library and have them buy the series. 

I hope you will read this book.  It is very good and well plotted. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Oh Hell, I said it out loud, then . . .

I keep saying don't tempt fate, don't say it out loud.  But I did, I said several times how great I feel, how nice not to have real icky side effects.  Yesterday it bit me in the butt. 

I felt fine when I got up.  I ate breakfast, made the bed and started my walk.  (I walk in the house because I am too wobbly to walk alone on the sidewalks. Thanks goodness I was home when all hell broke loose.)  Marty was taking a shower and 15 minutes into my walk suddenly I have severe cramping.  We are a one bathroom home. 

I kicked Marty out of the bathroom and try to live through the cramping.  I was also very nauseated.  And then I broke out in a sweat.  Sweat was pouring down my body just to add to the discomfort of diarrhea and nausea.  I took meds for nausea and diarrhea.  I looked in the mirror and I was white as a sheet.  Let's just say I looked like death eating a cracker. 

Finally the meds kicked in and I was not so uncomfortable.  The nausea was not gone, but was bearable.  I slept off and on all day.  I was exhausted.  I couldn't stand the thought of food and only had broth for supper and a little water.  I took meds again before bedtime and slept fairly well.

This morning I feel better, but still have some nausea.  I have taken my meds and plan to sit in the chair and sleep most of the day.  This is all was normal for chemo.  But it really threw me for a loop.  Denial had cropped up in my life.  I was thinking I could sail through this type of chemo with minor side effects forever.

I just hope this is just a one time awfulness and I go back to my side effects of minor nausea and tiredness.  This episode scared me and scared Marty.  He was to give a presentation and was worried about leaving me.  I sent him on.  I was sick but not as sick as last fall.  And I knew if I texted him to come home he would come running.  Plus I always have the Kaiser Advice Nurse and 911.

So friends, I don't know what time will bring.  Next week is a chemo off week.  Maybe things will settle down.  Keep your fingers crossed and keep those prayers going.  Also thank you for letting me vent to you. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Update on chemo and other stuff

Monday I had lab work as usual.  I was really hoping for normal ranges.  It worries me if things are too low to take chemo.  I know the tumor won't gain on me in just one week, but I still worry.  Luckily all was in an allowable range and I had chemo on Tuesday. 

I am having more tingling and numbness in different parts of my body.  The doctor is surprised I haven't had more problems with neuropathy.  I hope it doesn't get worse.  I could have problems just feeding myself if I can't feel the fork.  Also sometimes there is pain involved.  I don't want to be drugged up on Mr. Morphine again.  I know, I'm borrowing trouble. 

Lack of sleep has been a problem this week.  I always have a problem sleeping the night of chemo.  But this is all week.  The question is, is it chemo or the heat wave we are enduring?   I am betting on the heat. This Victorian house has no insulation in the outside walls, so it doesn't cool down at night.  It just holds the heat in.   The house has been over 90 degrees at midnight, outside 70 degrees.  The fog is coming in and today is cooler.  Maybe I will sleep better tonight.  I do know I am really tired and really cranky.

In spite of being tired and having chemo I have done some normal things. I wash dishes, and make the bed everyday.  I changed the sheets, did the laundry (Boy did the hung up laundry dry quickly! 10% humidity and 101 degrees.  My own dryer inside the house.) 

Yesterday three friends took me to lunch.  We gossiped, talked about my Kaiser interview, caught up on their lives, and laughed a lot.  It was a lovely time and I hope we can get together more often.  They are busy ladies, so often probably won't happen.

It has been way too hot to cook, so I made Benedictine  and pimento cheese for Marty.  I can't eat the Benedictine, which I love, because of the raw ingredients.  As for the pimento cheese, chemo taste buds hate mayonnaise, so it tastes awful to me.  Two of my favorite foods, and I can't eat them. Peanut butter seems to taste OK and is my food of choice.  I have had bacon and tomato sandwiches.  We blanch the tomatoes and peel them, then they are safe for me to eat.

I don't feel bad, just really tired.  I napped this morning and plan another nap for this afternoon.  I am doing really well and about to mark a big anniversary.  Next week will mark one year since the tumor was found.  And I am still here.  Thank you to all who hold me in their prayers and who have helped get me through the dark hard times of the last year.  Hang on and watch me go for year two.  We can do this!


Friday, September 4, 2015

Yesterday at Kaiser

First off blood work would not allow chemo this week.  I feel fine, just tired some days.  The post below was very hard to write and will be hard for some to read.  Feel free to skip it.  It was written more for me than anyone else. 

Marty and I were asked to be interviewed in a new program at San Leandro Kaiser.  It is called the Lunchtime series.  The series is for Kaiser staff: social workers, nurses, doctors, techs,  dieticians, chaplains,  most anyone who interacts with patients.  The purpose is to help staff understand the emotional side of a deadly diagnosis and what more they need to do once we leave the hospital, ER. office visit, whatever. We were interviewed for an hour for the interviewers to learn about us.  Then yesterday was the real show.

I was really dreading this.  They had asked us to talk about some hard stuff, like death, what had we lost from the illness, and what had we gained.  Could I do this without breaking down, could I stand to watch Marty talk about what it had done to him?  This was going to be emotionally draining.  We wanted to do it if it would help one person see what goes on when the patient is home. 

Being the vain creature I am, I obsessed about what to wear.  Staff would be in "medical" uniforms, so I shouldn't be fancy.  This is California everything is pretty casual.  At the same time I was being interviewed and should not be real causal. Being a Southern Belle I was taught to dress for the occasion, and never go out of the house looking "like something the cat drug in".  I try to live up to the Southern standards. 

Marty wasn't home and I wanted to send this a picture of the outfit to some friends and family.  So I took the dreaded in the mirror selfie.  Tacky, but it worked.  Everything was built around the hat and glasses.  As I posted on Facebook, I think I look pretty kick ass.  

We get to the conference room and it looks nice.  Since it is lunchtime there was food for the audience, and us if we wanted it.  We didn't want to be eating and talking at the same time.  So we ate earlier.  

Getting ready to start.  I was a little nervous.  What if chemo brain struck and I couldn't make a complete sentence?  

We began with my family history, both sides, of cancer.  My father, mother, grandmother, sister, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, niece all had cancer.  Some made it some didn't.  We talked about how in the 40's and even up into the late 60's you didn't talk about having cancer.  It might be catching, it made you different, there was almost a shame to having cancer.  It was all very secretive.  Except in our family.  

We talked about it.  As a 5 year old I knew how sick my father was.  We discussed Grandmother's treatment.  And Ernestine's, and Mother's,and the lady's down the street.  Talking helps to grwo a scab on the hurt in your heart.

They asked how I handled all the sickness and death growing up.  Well, you only know what you live with, I thought my life was normal.  Other people have doom and destruction in their lives too.  You just keep on keeping on.

There were questions about what I had lost (I didn't mention no hair, but they showed a picture of Marty shaving my head) and what I had gained from having cancer.  I lost a friend, I lost freedom because I can't drive.  I lost my two fabulous volunteers jobs. marrying couples and working with first graders.  I lost a way of life.

I gained an even stronger marriage.  Some spouses can't handle sickness and disappear.  Marty has been incredible.  Our son has really stepped up and helped us.  I gained deeper friendships in many areas of my life.  People have helped us in so many ways.  My Prayer Warriors all over the world, my babysitters, the ladies who drive me everywhere, my phone friend who is 88 and can't drive to me. I have my friends who visit me.  Friends brought meals. I have friends who check on me on Facebook, email,or texting. I have friends who protect us from too much friendship and put the word out don't bother them now, we will let you know when things are better. I do feel the love.

Finally they asked the big question, how do I live with knowing I have a death sentence, how do I keep going on.  I did break down a little then.  I told them we live day to day and we do have a good life.  But I also told them this is not just  my death, it is Marty's too.  It is the death of a marriage, but not of love.  It is the death of a way of life. 

I told them I have a little bit of denial still, this isn't real.  I have hope, cures are found everyday, so I have to still be here when they find one for me.  I told them I do believe in heaven, read my Bible, go to church when able and when the doctors will allow, 

There were a lot more areas covered.  Afterwards was Q n A  from staff.  They were so grateful for us sharing our story.  They came up and hugged us, told how touched they were by our willingness to share.  They also were happy we were pleased with the care I receive from Kaiser. 

This was hard to do and hard to write.  Today is maybe a bit of me venting my emotions.  This wasn't as funny a post I have done.  But trust me I made them laugh, more than once.  And I made some of them cry.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Health Update

We got back from Louisville on Wednesday, August 19.  I was fine on Thursday, still pumped  up from all the goings on in Louisville.  I crashed on Friday, and slept most of that day and Saturday.  Sunday  I was still very tired, but almost back to my normal level.

Monday I had lab work and also saw a different oncologist.  My oncologist had a family emergency and was off this week.  The new doctor was nice, and explained some things we had never thought to ask.  I have chemo brain and Marty gets overwhelmed sometimes with all we are told. 

The doctor told me when I was diagnosed with cancer the tumor marker ( a blood test that checks the protein the tumor puts out ) was over 1000.  You want low numbers.  He said the one a few weeks ago was only a little over 100.  Very impressive he thought.  Again we were reminded this is only a clue to how I am doing.  He showed us the graph on the tests and it looks like a nose dive from October to August.  Very very happy on this one. 

Tuesday I had chemo.  It went well, no surprises with vitals going crazy.  There has been light nausea, but controlled by meds.  I also have been tired all week and having trouble sleeping.  So am I tired from the chemo, or from not sleeping?  Am I not sleeping because of the chemo?  We will never know.  As I say, I have no endings. 

Sunday was a big day.  The longish drive to church.  The church service, then we had a church lunch to kick off the new year in the educational program.  I was tired.  But we weren't done yet.  Marty had a quick meeting with his committee on the renovations.  I said I would rest in the car.  Well, that didn't work out.

One of our members, another Janet, brings an older member, Annabelle, to church each Sunday.  Janet was in Marty's meeting and her teenage son was keeping Annabelle company.  They were talking about TV, the early years.  I hung out with them and we talked about me seeing jet planes as a child and it being a huge deal.  Annabelle talked about going to the airport just to watch planes taking off or landing.  I said I took my first graders on a field trip to the airport.  It was a big deal.  We discussed other things we old people remember. I told him how big the first cell phones were.  I am sure Janet's son was convinced we were older than God.

Today was lab work again.  Tuesday chemo if the all was OK. 

I have felt pretty good this past week.  As I said I have been tired with some nausea.  But I have been able to cook, and wash dishes.  I have walked my 30 minutes everyday.  I am not terribly active but I am not sitting back and giving up.  Tuesday I will begin my 12th month since the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.  I have made it this long because of prayer warriors, wonderful Kaiser care, Marty, Erik, family, church family, and my incredible friends.  I plan to stick around much longer.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Colonel Sanders

Colonel Sanders name came up during my time in Louisville.  Some of us were talking about how disgusting the new ads for KFC are.  I said they were an insult to his memory.  I don't think my great nieces and nephew knew till then that Colonel Sanders had been a family friend.  So I told a couple of stories.  My niece, Lisa Kay, asked me to write about Colonel Sanders so I am.

This link  and this one for the Colonel are pretty good, not surprisingly KFC's link is tacky.  So I left it off.  Some of the history I knew, much I did not.  I knew he wasn't a military colonel but a Kentucky Colonel, an honor in our state.  In fact Marty and I are both Kentucky Colonels as are others in my family.

The Colonel I knew was Daddy's friend. And after Daddy's death, the Colonel and his wife, Claudia, remained friends with Mother. our family, and Papa Jack. The Colonel went to our church in Corbin, the First Christian Church.  I don't remember much about him and church work just seeing him there.  But I do remember one church story he told at our kitchen table.

Now the Colonel was known for his shall we say colorful language.  There was an international convention in Australia for the Christian Church, in the 1950's 0r 60's. Colonel Sanders went to it with some Kentucky ministers.  It was winter in Australia and the hotel's heat was not working.  Minsters called the front desk begging for heat for a couple of days, nothing happened  Then Colonel Sanders took over.  He walked up to the front desk and yelled,  I am not one of those soft spoken mealy mouth fu*#+ng preachers.  Fix the fu*#+ng heat.  And they did.

Our family had a tradition around our Christmas tablecloth.  Who ever was with us during the holiday season signed their name on the cloth with pen or pencil.  Later the names would be embroidered.  Over the years as cloths filled up with names another one would be brought out.  Colonel Sanders signed our cloths several years.  But my favorite was the year the cloth was on a pine kitchen table.  Pine is soft wood.  After the cloth was taken off, his signature was pressed into the wood.  Best autograph ever.  The sad thing is no one knows where those tablecloths are now.

Colonel Sanders was proud of his chicken and demanded the franchises meet his standards.  He traveled the country and did spot checks on stores.  He told us one night about tasting gravy and chicken that was shall we say awful.  He picked up the pots, walked out the back door, and threw everything in the garbage.  That was not the only time he did that.  His name was on the product, it better meet his standards.

Colonel Sanders' restaurant was a nice place to eat.  They had lots more than chicken, steaks, pork chops, scallops, shrimp.  Parties were held there, you went there after Sunday church for lunch, it was a special place.  Everything was well cooked and it had good service.  My Sweet Sixteen Party was held there.  I don't remember what we ate, but I felt pretty special having the party there.

And yes he dressed all in white, he looked like the Southern gentleman.  He was good to his friends, gave to charities, and rough as a cob as we say in the South. 

One story I always heard, but not from him was about his daughter.  The story goes that when she married he gave her the state of Florida's franchise.  I do know Florida was not part of the KFC deal, so it may be true.

As I said he was a family friend, close enough that he was invited to the weddings of my sister, me, and my brother.  He gave my sister and me silver tea services, and my brother a covered silver casserole.  I am pretty sure he went to my sister's wedding.  He was out of town when I married.  And he didn't make it to my brother's weddings.  But he would have had a good reason to miss the wedding.   Little Brother and Ann married in the middle of a snow storm. 

So Lisa Kay I hope this gives you some information about Corbin and the Colonel. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mary Turpin Edwards, our Grandmother

I say our because I had to share her with my sister, brother, and sometimes with cousins.  My family lived in Corbin the same town as Grandmother did.  Today for some reason I was thinking about her and want to share.  She was an amazing woman for her times.

Grandmother was born on a farm in the Bluegrass part of Kentucky in 1890.  Her father was a fairly prosperous farmer and had tenant farmers as workers.  She told me one time she wasn't allowed to wear shoes to school until after a killing frost.  That was because the tenant farmers' didn't buy shoes for their children until winter.  Grandmother said she would run through the pastures and walk where the cattle had slept the night before, the land was warmer there.

Grandmother was an excellent horsewoman and she had her own buggy.  Once her buggy caught on the train rails and tipped over.  The men around the area pulled the damaged buggy off the tracks.  One of the men was going to take her home, because she was a "frail" woman.  Not my Grandmother.  She pulled her horse out of the traces, jumped on him bareback and rode home. 

She met my grandfather in school.  He was her teacher and at least 10 years older.  He waited for her to grow up and they married when she was 22. During her growing up period, he went to medical school at the University of Louisville.  He took a practice in Corbin and they moved from the Bluegrass to the Mountains of Kentucky.  There were no roads in part of the way and they drove on the railroad track to cross rivers and creeks.  I don't know if this was by car or horse and wagon.

Grandmother graduated from high school and then became self taught.  She was well versed in many areas.  She wanted to go to college but that didn't happen.  But she was learning until she died.

One of the greatest gifts my grandmother gave me was a love of books.  She read to us everyday. Not just fairy tales sometimes grown up books.  Every year she placed a huge order with a bookstore in Louisville for that year's supply of  books..  They were Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, and some were saved for when we were sick.  Then books came out to occupy the sick cranky child.  I was the bad child who so loved getting those books that I held the thermometer against the light bulb.  I would have recovered but I wanted more of those wonderful books.  I was smart enough to only go to 100, more than that and they would know I was faking and send me back to school.

She believed if we could read it, then it was okay for us to have.  She knew we would ask questions about parts that were difficult.  That caused a problem in the library.  Our library had a children's side and an adult's side.  You could only check out maybe two books at a time.   I would devour the books and walk to the library every two or three days.  I eventually ran out of books on my side.  So I went to the adult side.  NO children allowed.  Go back to the other side.  I told Grandmother and she walked to the library and explained I loved to read.  And if the books were not fit for an advanced child to read, it should not be in the library.  I got to check out anything I wanted after that.

Grandmother was a lady raised in the Victorian era.  If she walked to the grocery, bank, drug store, where ever, she wore a hat and white gloves.  We were taught proper lady/gentlmen rules. We were taken to church every time the doors opened.   We could set a formal table, walk with a book on our head, only crossed our ankles (away from home the knees were crossed much sexier)  how to get in and out of a car, how to walk in our first pair of heels (if you wobbled you could not wear them out of the house) and much more.

This lovely woman basically raised me, my sister, and my brother.  My father was ill from the time I was 5 and died when I was 10.  Mother was busy with his care the early years.  After his death she was in and out of our lives.  Grandmother was always there.

We were lucky to have her the short time we had.  She died when I was 17.  She is still missed and loved. 

Monday, August 24, 2015


As you all know I hate flying.  I flew a few times and felt I would die if I didn't get off the damn plane.  I reached a point I didn't even like Marty or Erik to fly.  And then I said no more planes.  When CHEVRON transfers us, it better be on Amtrak.

For ten years I rode Amtrak or drove to our new city.  If we had a convention in Las Vegas, Reno, Tahoe, we drove.  Then Marty's mother died and I couldn't make myself get on a plane and go to the funeral.  I was a failure at supporting my husband at one of the worst times of his life. 

I knew I had to do something and went into group counseling for people with phobias.  They told us they couldn't cure us, but would teach us how to live with our fears.  Then came the big test.

CHEVRON had a convention not on Amtrak or drivable.  It was in Hawaii.  I had to fly over the ocean.  And I did it with good drugs.  Of course the whole time we were there I worried about flying back home.  I found out later there were all kinds of bets down on whether I would get on the plane or not.  The people betting I would fly made good money.

So since then I have flown on a need to basis.  Still hate it.  The trips this summer were not as awful.  I balanced cancer/plane crash.  One or the other was going to get me.  I might as well hope cancer and go see friends and family.

Now I am sure there are folks out there who still doubt I flew.  They might think we drove or went on Amtrak.  So a little proof of my flying is below.


Coming into Chicago over Lake Michigan
Over Chicago
So yes I really did fly.  A little valium, a little calming music, some prayers, and strong hand holding by Marty.   

Thursday, August 20, 2015

CT Scan

For readers who don't do Facebook:   Today at 2:30 had my regular CT Scan.   I figured I would get no results until at least Friday afternoon.  I was nervous about results and hated to wait for results.  Well, as we got home after Kaiser and an errand my phone rang.

The doctor's office called with results.  The freaking tumor is stable!!!!   Chemo is doing its job and not killing me at the same time.  Marty and I think other good helpful factors are chocolate, Bourbon, and Butter Cream icing.  What do you think?

Monday, August 17, 2015

This was great for me, probably will bore all of you

Friday night we went out eat in Indiana,  just across the Ohio River from Louisville.

Not a bad view of Louisville 

Saturday we had a wonderful day.  We gathered friends and family from all walks of our life.  No we couldn't have everyone we wanted.  But we did get most of our family together. I have pictures of my family.  Marty hasn't shared his pictures of  his family yet.  So maybe later I can get those posted.

I as always have lots and lots of pictures.  I am going to put up way more than you'll want to see.  But this post is for me.  This is for me to remember that special day.  Feel free to skip through it.

The party has begun.  Marty, nephew A.J., me, and Holly.  This was the room with the champagne punch and the ginger ale punch.  Guess which one I drank.
Dining room table with some of our "light" hors d'oeuvres
Ann ordered a chocolate cake with butter cream icing.  I cut the first piece, a corner piece. This icing was wonderful, rich and gooey.
Little Brother and his pal Louie
No Belinda and I are not sitting down.  Kiel is my tallest nephew, 7 foot.   He just signed a contract to play pro basketball.  Belinda was excited to meet him.  She had had college classes with his father, who also played pro ball. 
Friends Marty grew up with.  Left to right, me, Ronald, Beverly, Billy, Marty
Friends I grew up with.  Left to right, Joyce, Wanda, me, Peggy.  Joyce and Wanda drove several hours to come visit me. Peggy lived within an hour or so from Louisville.  They are part of my Corbin Prayer Warriors. 
Below are several pictures of my side of the family.  We had nieces, nephews, spouses, great nephews, great nieces, Papa Jack and Yolanda, partners, and Friend Mark.  Did I forget anyone?  Oh Marty was there too.  Love my crazy loud family.

We laughed, told tall tales of family happenings. We told tales of my late sister, Maryann. Story were told that were new to some of the family.  Like one person had eloped and her children didn't know that.  It was such a wonderful day. 
Sunday we were again doing a family tradition.  Church and then out to breakfast at The Big Boy.  After breakfast we had to take pictures, lots of pictures.  And where did we take them?  In front of the Boy of course.
This should have been a video.  Getting this group together was like herding cats. 

This is all without me.
One of the waitresses came out and took a picture of all of us with me. 
The last few days have been a huge love fest for me to them, and them to me.  I do love these wonderful crazy fun people.  Hope you got through most of the pictures.  You can see how happy we all are.  
If I can get Marty and Mark to send me the pictures they took, I will post them and bore you all some more. Two more days and we go home.  Then we will be back to health updates.  Not as much fun but just as important.  Much love to all my friends, family, and Prayer Warriors.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Chemo, flight, all kinds of stuff

Tuesday morning I took chemo.  All went well, and I felt pretty good.  That night at 9:15 we left for the airport to take a red eye to Louisville.  Now to get from check in to the gate was a mess.

Friend Mark noticed during the day, United did not have Marty and me on their list, even though we were pre checked in.  He straightened that out, we thought and checked our luggage.  Marty was still not on the list.  With a lot of help, he was found and added to the flight.  We walk to security, as a precheck in we get the short line, don't have to take off shoes and stuff, or pull out our computers.  Well, Marty was not on the pre check in list.  So he was sent away to the looong line.  Mark and I breezed through and sat down to wait for Marty.

Since we were done showing ID I was going to put mine back in my wallet.  It was gone!  I had my tickets, I had the need a wheelchair card, no ID.  Mark goes looking for it after I had dumped my purse twice looking for it.  Nope, he couldn't find it.  I was having a sh*t fit.  I see a TSA guy walking around and asked if he had found an ID.  He asked my name, and handed it to me.  He had found it on the floor by the moving belt thingy.  Great relief.

We finally get on the plane, I take my valium and sort of doze after we take off.  All is nice and dark and quiet on the plane.  Then the attendants come down the aisle hawking their wares at 1:30 AM.  Really?  Any way I did fine on both flights and we arrived in Louisville safe and sound, and on time. Thank you Prayer Warriors.

Then we kept a family tradition. 

WHITE CASTLE!!!!!   We met Hank, Ann,  Papa Jack, and Yolanda and ate well. We always go straight from the airport to the Eastern Parkway White Castle.  Then we go to my brother's.
We are having a great visit.  Last night we walked up to a lovely neighborhood restaurant, Buck's.  My family has eaten there for years.  Wonderful place.  We were in the back room so that we wouldn't annoy others. 
Papa Jack and Yolanda ( Mama Yo)
Little Brother and Ann.  Hank just had eye surgery so he is still a little puffy.
Hank, Papa Jack, and Ann
Left to right
Papa Jack, Yolanda, Me, Ann behind me, Hank, Marty, Mark.   And the wonderful food ready for us to eat.  Of course we took this into the sun, so not a great picture.
Today Marty and Mark are off to Mammoth Cave and the Bourbon Trail.  Ann and I have pulled out bowls and plates for tomorrow's party.  We both love to make lists and mark things off.  So I made a list of all food and then we put sticky notes on each plate/bowl to show what would be in/on it. Then we marked it off.  Tomorrow we will mark off as food is put out.  Love marking off what we are doing.  It feels so hard working. 
We are having a great time, and look forward to the rest of our time here.  I will post more through the week.  For my worry wart friends, yes I am resting and listening to my body.