Saturday, March 4, 2017

An OK week, I guess, for a chemo week…..

Last week off my chemo was sooooo nice.  I got to where I actually almost felt normal at times.  Oh, to be “normal” again……

This week did start off very well – OUR HOUSE IN ALABAMA CLOSED without a hitch!!  What a relief that is!  Every now and then I think about strangers living in “my house”, but try not to sad over that.  The check was deposited in the bank, but it will take 9 days to clear!  That seems a bit long to me, but I guess it is what it is.  The entire amount will be available next Wednesday, and that’s when our house here will close – 1:00 pm.  We are planning to move in the following Friday – 6 days!!.  The whole thing is just OVERWHEMING for me.  I’m not sure how it is going to happen with me not being able to do much more than fix a meal now and then.  We have hired a local moving company who will arrive at 8:00 am to move the furniture and the boxes that are packed.  Most of those are upstairs in the floored attic – that we never had time to get unpacked after moving in here.  I did have 3 large floor-to-ceiling bookcases that I had filled with my quilt fabric, books, and notions shortly after moving in here, back when we thought we would be staying here.  

How I wish I had never done that!  But today, Guy, bless his heart, helped me to pack that all up.  I would put a few things in a box, rest a bit, put a few things in, and rest a bit. We filled up 12 boxes!  

There are actually probably twice that many that just never got unpacked – thank goodness!!  Now the main thing left to pack is the kitchen.  Surely over the next 4-5 days, we can manage that.  It’s not like we have to have every single thing in a box ready to go.  Some things we can just take at our leisure, once we get the bulk of it in.  It’s only a few blocks across town, so a lot of the clothes can be taken in our car.  This current house is not going anywhere, and no one is pushing us to move in, so we can take our time with cleaning up the leftovers.  About all I’ll be able to do on the move-in day is point and direct traffic.  I just hope I’m up to THAT!  There are some days when I can do nothing but recline in my chair.  I will be getting my fluids on Thursday of that week, so that should help me for Friday.

I’m back to chemo on Tuesdays and IV fluids on Friday now.  I just took my 1st infusion of my 4th month this week.  I keep thinking – I could POSSIBLY have only 2 more treatments!!  I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but at the end of the month when I see all three doctors, I’ll find out.  I know they could say I have to go for 2 more months, but I’m praying that they will say all the cancer is GONE!!!!

I saw my oncologist here last Tuesday, and she added a medication to help with the neuropathy.  I really do think it might be working.  Most of the time when I’m on my feet, I’m “aware” of my numb feet, but the last couple of days, I haven’t been constantly thinking about my feet – not that it’s gone, but I do believe, it is helping.  This week, for the 1st time, I’m starting to feel some numbness in my fingers.  OH!  I had SO hoped it would not affect my fingers!!!!!  Our pastor asked me last Sunday if I could play my keyboard the 13th of this month.  I told him I thought I was ready to play again.  Then a couple of days ago, he texted me and asked If I could play this Sunday since the lady that was going to play is out of town with her mother who had a heart attack.  I told him I would, and he came by to give me a list of the songs.  I needed to go in to the church today to practice a little, but when I got up this morning, I felt so weak and shaky.  I couldn’t understand why because I got the fluids yesterday, and I went to bed at 9:30 and slept until 5!  I haven’t got that much sleep forever.  After eating breakfast, I could barely wiggle, so I just lay back in my recliner and slept some more.  About 11, I got up and felt pretty good.  I went to the church and practiced for a while – did fine, and then drove to the post office and got the mail.  I’m telling you – it’s just crazy – I never know from one moment to the next how I’m going to feel.  It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced!!  You just learn to go with the flow….

The weather here had been warm, but TERRIBLY windy!!!  It was gusting to over 45 mph today.  Yesterday when we went to Hutch to get my IV fluids, we could see that there was a large fire between LR and Hutch – down in the sandhills.  

Between LR and Hutch there are lots of very large pastures of tall grass.  They are called the sandhills because the ground is very sandy.  Every year when it is dry – and it is very dry here right now – there will be fires in these areas, and they are very hard to fight because of the spring winds.  I remember back to when I was a child, Carl and Dad were on the volunteer fire department here, and when they would go out on those runs, they would be gone for long hours – into the night, and it was always so scary for us – not knowing if they were safe or not.  Both fire trucks from LR were out fighting this fire yesterday.  We were hoping that we would not have to detour as we went to Hutch.  

We could see the smoke not far from the road we were on, but we never saw any actual flames.  On the way home from Hutch, however, we did have to detour – 4 miles to the east.  We saw flames shooting into the air where we had to turn off onto the detour.  Those flames were pretty near the road and not all that far from a farm house.  This afternoon, as I let the dogs out, I could still smell smoke.  Guy learned from his coffee buddies this morning, that crews were out all night fighting hot spots.  Thankfully, it was not anywhere near our farm.

Mark and Dylan arrived Thursday evening on their way to a soccer tournament near Dallas.  They stayed overnight and left the dogs here for the week.  Next weekend, Mark will load up a UHaul and bring us the rest of our furniture.  Our king size bedroom suite has been at his house in Overland Park because we did not have room for it here.  Now that we’ll have a master bedroom again, we can use it.  There are a few other things that he has of ours that we can use now, so he will arrive with both boys on Friday and be here for the weekend.

Then next week, Jeannine and the girls will arrive during their spring break to help me unpack.  I need her to help me organize and put my kitchen together.  You know, if your kitchen is all together, it feels like your whole house is done. 

I just hope I’m able to pull this whole thing off.  I guess I just need to remember to take one day at a time and try not to look ahead too far. 

I decided to crochet this cap.  It is a very simple pattern – just double crochet stitches – two rows of red, two rows of gray and repeat.  

The first time I got nearly done, it was just way too big, so I ripped it all out, and decided to use a smaller hook, because I guess my tension is a little lose. This time, it was still too big.  So I ripped it out again.  Then I realized I was making the adult big size, so I went to the adult medium size.  I ended up ripping it out a couple more times.  I was determined to get this hat done and wear it!!  I think it is still a bit big, but I’m NOT going to rip it out and start over.  I want to put a little scalloped edge on it, so I’ll need to rip out at least one row or it will be down over my eyes.  I crocheted Annie a little coat, and it was too small – she growled at me when I tried to get it one her.  😀  I didn’t really like the plain worsted yarn I was using – seemed too stiff, so I got some that was softer, and made another one, thinking it was a little larger, but I don’t think it’s going to fit her either.  Oh, well, winter is nearly over anyway!  It never really got cold enough here for her to need one anyway.  I just thought it would be fun to make one, but my luck in crocheting something that actually fits is not going very well.  It’s been more just something to keep my hands busy, I guess. 😀

Since I have nothing earth-shaking to share this week, I’ll end with this from Jesus Calling, which I certainly need to remember:

“Refuse to worry!  In this world, there will always be something enticing you to worry.  That is the nature of a fallen, fractured planet.  Things are not as they should be.  So the temptation to be anxious is constantly with you, trying to worm its way into your mind.  The best defense is continual communication with Me, richly seasoned with thanksgiving.  Awareness of My Presence fills your mind with Light and Peace, leaving no room for fear.  This awareness lifts you up above your circumstances, enabling you to see problems from My perspective.  Live close to Me!  Together we can keep the wolves of worry at bay.”

And as always……..I remain in His hands…..

Sunday, February 26, 2017

My week off chemo……

Overall, I’d have to say that this has been a pretty good week.  It’s been a “draggy” week, but for the most part, I’ve felt pretty good.  It started out a bit rocky.  Last Sunday, I got up, got ready for church, and went to Sunday school.  During church, I just had a hard time focusing and was very sleepy.  I just figured it was the side effects of the gabapentin, because I’ve increased it to twice a day, and I know the SE is drowsiness.  I couldn’t wait until lunch was over and I could get to my recliner to take a nap!  I slept for over 1 ½ hours.  When I got up from my nap, rather than feeling refreshed, I felt really weak and a bit fainty once.  I was sure glad that Monday was a day to get IV fluids.  I’ve pretty much learned when I need them now.  I’ve found out that taking chemotherapy is a lot more than just taking the drug.  Fluids are super important and so is the lab work that you get weekly before your chemo.  And it is pretty amazing how those labs can fluctuate.  It would be nice if on your week off, it really was a “week off.”  However, when you need the fluids, you really . need . the . fluids!l  After getting them Monday morning, I felt so much better.  We went to eat at the Olive Garden.

Tuesday, we did’t have to drive to Hutch!!!!  Woo hoo!  So we went to Lyons to get tags for Guy pickup.  I didn’t really feel like driving my car so we could get tags for it, so we just did Guy’s.  Having come from out of state, we had to have the vehicle inspected at the police station - $20 – cash!  All he did was check the VIN to be sure it wasn’t stolen.  Then we went to the court house to the treasurer’s office.  You are supposed to get your tags within 90 days after moving here.  Well, who’s going to know when you moved???  It had certainly been more than 90 days, but we had already paid for all the days until March (when our tags are due) in Alabama.  If we got Kansas tags before March, Alabama was certainly not going to give us a refund!  And then we would be paying double taxes!  So we put it off until now.  I’m not going to do mine until near the end of March, because I’m not going to pay any more than I just have to pay.  The Kansas taxes are so much higher than Alabama taxes anyway.  ARGH!   Thankfully, we are not driving new vehicles – no more new vehicles for us!

Tuesday night we attended a Bible study that is being taught by our pastor.  There was quite a large group in attendance.  They are studying the book by Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline.   That is a quite old book that I read many years ago, but I guess this is an updated version.  I couldn’t begin to find the old one, so I had to go to good ole Amazon.  Us and the UPS guy are getting well acquainted.  And I just love it when I go to the post office and in my mail box, I find a KEY with a number on it!!  That means that there is a package that was too big to fit in the little box.  So I take that key and go to the “big boxes” and insert it in the box with the number that matches my key.  The other day, I got the mail, and as I started to leave, the post mistress said, “Oh, Sheryl, you have a package here that I hadn’t got put up yet!!”  And she handed me my package.  Some days, it is just like Christmas!!

Wednesday was ladies Bible study.  I always look forward to that so much each week.  What a wonder group of ladies we have!  The oldest is the pastor’s mother-in-law, and what a delightful lady she is.  She always decorates the church for each season or holiday – a table just inside the front door, our SS table, even a little area in the ladies’ restroom.  Everywhere there is a table, she has something on it.  She is so talented and creative.  Once we get moved, she will almost be my neighbor.  She lives in one of the independent living apartments of the nursing home.  She is quite an active lady, and I just love her!  The youngest is maybe in her late 30s, early 40s.  Anyway, it is a very spiritual group of ladies, and most of them I  knew when I lived here during my growing up years.

While I was gone to the Bible study, I got my first delivery from Home Chef.  This is a home delivery of meals that are all ready to prepare.  Each meal is packaged with all the necessary ingredients along with the recipe cards.  You can choose the number of meals you would like for the week, and you can even edit what will be coming the next week, and choose from a list of other meals.  I chose the 6-meal plan.  You can cancel at any time, and you can skip a week of you want to.  The first two meals I’ve fixed from it were really good.  The first was a sirloin steak with garlic and blue cheese butter (I left the blue cheese out of mine), fresh green beans and fresh tomatoes, and fingerling potatoes baked in the oven.  It was great!  The next night it was parmesan chicken with mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce and steamed kale and spinach with fresh garlic.  That was great, too!  So far, so good.  No more, “What’s for supper?”  It figures out to be about 9.95 a meal.  You can hardly go out and eat anywhere for that amount anymore.  And this keeps you out of the grocery store where you will always buy more than you went there for.  You still have to buy soap and toilet paper, ets.  But for now, I sure like the convenience of it – and the variety – because I get stuck in “cooking ruts.”

Thursday, it was back to Hutch of an appointment with an ENT.  This appointment had been made by my primary care doctor when I had that awful sinus infection.  I didn’t figure by that time I would need anyone, but I had been blowing out bloody mucus (sorry, my non-nurse friends!!), so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to see one.  The nurse squirted an afrin/lidocaine solution in both nostrils.  She said this was because he would want to take a look in there, and that it would taste nasty.  She was right about the taste – and made my throat numb, too.  I sat there wondering what “taking a look in there” exactly meant!!  Just HOW FAR in there????  I had seen the LONG flexible tubing with a camera and light in the end, and it made me just a bit nervous as I waited for the doctor to arrive – who, by the way, could have been my grandson!  Boy, they are looking younger and younger these days!  After he heard my story and saw my scared head – which he was very interested in, because the ENT guys are the ones in Hutch who do these kinds of surgeries – he turned on the little TV screen barely inserting the camera to look in my nose.  He determined that there was nothing sinister going on – “I see nothing that would require any surgery”.  THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!  The bloody mucus was most likely due to the cold dry air of Kansas winters.  Coming from 85%-humidity-Alabama, the Kansas winters are indeed dry.  I was to continue the saline spray I had started to use and use Ary saline gel on a Q-tip several times a day.  I has seen that in Walgreens right next to the Ary saline nasal spray, so I knew right where to go.  I picked up two, one for me and one for Guy.  Guy really likes it, too.  He says it seems to make him breathe easier.  I’m not sure why, but if he thinks it does, then that’s great.  He has more sinus issues than I do!

I could have got my other bag of fluids that day, but I didn’t feel bad, and I thought I should get them on Friday, and that way I’d for sure get through the weekend OK.  Plus, I was schedule for lab work on Friday.  So, BACK to Hutch we went on Friday.  I got my labs done and got my fluids.  I don’t remember that I got labs during my week off before, so thought that was a bit strange, but no one else thought that, so I just went along with the orders.  I guess it was a good thing I got them – many of my counts had dropped considerably.  My white count was cut in half!  It went from 7.6 last week to 3.2.  I asked the nurse about that, and she showed me this little formula – 3.2 (x10) x 33 = 1056.  The 33 was the immature white cells.  As long as the number was above 1000, it was OK.  This formula had a name – some letters I hadn’t heard of.  Maybe some of my nurse friends who learned their lab values better than I did will know what I’m talking about.  Anyway, she didn’t seem concerned about it yet.  My Hbg was 10.1 (normal 12.0-16.0) and Hct 31 (normal 36-48).  These are the lowest I’ve had so far.  I was even UP a little last week on these two, so as I looked at those, I thought, “Well, no wonder I felt draggy all week!”  Except for that one week when the Hbg went up 0.6, it has steadily been dropping.  I really hope I don’t have to take any shots for being anemic or for have too low a white count!  What was strange was my magnesium level.  It was 1.6, dropping from 2.2 last week (normal 1.8-2.4).  So they added some magnesium to my IV on Friday.  I had been taking 250 mg of magnesium orally, and she told me to double that.  I had been having some cramping in my toes at night, and had been having the 1st fingers on both hands just lock up when I wanted to bend them.  I thought that was really strange!  I don’t know if that was due to the low mag, but since they added mag in my IV, I have not experienced that.  One just never knows what weird things are going to occur next.

Probably the biggest thing bothering me right now is the neuropathy.  I definitely have that in my feet – the numbness and discomfort when walking.  I’ve tried several different combinations of essential oils, and I can’t honestly say that anything helps it.  I just PRAY that the nerve damage is not permanent!  That is my biggest fear!!  Well, other than not being cancer free…..  Next Tuesday I have an appointment with the oncologist.  I haven’t seen her for a month.  However, the nurses are in contact with her each time I’m there for fluids or chemo to tell her my latest labs, complaints, issues.  They told me that she would probably be adding another medication for the neuropathy at my next visit.  I wonder what that will be and what the side effects will be.  Most of the time, with most meds that I’ve ever taken, the SE are very minimal, but with these drugs they are having to give me at this time, the SE seem to be a big deal.  Adding another drug with more SE is not something I’m looking forward to.  BUT I don’t like or want this neuropathy either!!  I have a whole month’s worth of questions written down to ask her.

Saturday, I was getting ready to go out for breakfast to our favorite place in Lyons – Scrambled Sams.  I was feeling OK and had slept well.  All of a sudden, I had a weak spell, and just had to sit down.  I got some orange juice, and after a bit decided to go ahead and go - thought I probably needed to eat.  As the day progressed, I did get to feeling better.  It’s just frustrating – to not know from one minute to the next how you are going to feel – and it can happen in seconds.  Makes it kind of scary to drive by yourself – which I don’t do unless I just have to right now.  I do drive around town to the post office or the grocery store.

Today, Sunday, has probably been my best day this week.  I’ve felt great all day.  We had a pot luck dinner at the church, and I always enjoy those.  I especially enjoyed it today because my taste is good and has been all week.  I hate it when everything tastes bitter the days after chemo.

Tomorrow our Alabama house closes!!!  I got the contract Thursday by email.  I printed it out, we signed all the papers in front of a notary public, and overnighted them back the same day.  Now we are just waiting for the MONEY TO HIT THE BANK!!!!  Then we start on the closing here.  I hope it only takes the week our banker said it would take.  All the paper work is in here, and we are just waiting on our money.  Then we can start moving some of our things.  I can’t wait to get in there and get spread out.  This afternoon I was looking through some of my quilt things – just itching to get that room set up!!

Next week starts my 4th month of chemo.  I do hope that 4 months will do the trick.  If I have to go longer, OK, but oh, how I wish it could only be 4 months – 3 more times.  I’m so anxious to see my Kansas City doctors the last week of March!!  I want to have those CT scans and MRIs!!!!  And I PRAY PRAY PRAY they are clear!!!!!    just want this to all be over!!  I want to be healed and get on with my life!!  I know God has a purpose in all this, and I certainly do not want to step outside His will for my life, but……God……I’m really tired of this…….I just want to be healed completely……I’ll continue to serve you…..I just would prefer to do it cancer free….

And as always….I remain in His hands….