Wednesday, September 19, 2012

7 stages of grief...

Just for the heck of it, I decided to read the 7 steps of grief.  Very interesting and very different from what I have experienced.  One comment from below is 100%, “Outsiders do not understand”.  Then again, how could they.  It is said the only thing worse than the loss of a close spouse is the loss of a child.  It is also said the loss of a loving devoted spouse is a close 2nd.  Regardless, here is how I  have experienced the 7 steps.

1. SHOCK & DENIAL: Given my logical mind set and Karen’s long fight with cancer, I never experienced this.  Possibly also because I held her hand as she passed away.

2. PAIN & GUILT:

Over the first few weeks, I definitely experienced the suffering of unbelievable pain.  I was surprised at the level of excruciating and almost unbearable physical as well as emotional pain.  I do not think I experienced guilt.  However I did think about things we never got done together and wish we could had.  IE: trips to Ireland and Bermuda.  But I am comfortable in the wonderful life we lead and the many trips we traveled together.

3. ANGER & BARGAINING:

Today I find myself here.  I am definitely one pissed off dude.  I am not a man of faith or believe in a god and all that none sense.  So I have no one to bargain with or scream at.  But it does piss me off someone so wonderful suffered for so long and was taken from me.  It does tick me off that Karen’s best friend from college has not had the courage to talk to me about my loss.  Apparently as Karen suspected this person is mentally ill as the rest of her family is and thus cannot cope.  Yet it is I who has lost my wife.  It is this college friend that knows what it is like given she lost her spouse nearly 3 years ago.  Yet, not a single phone call.   Life truly does suck sometimes.

4. "DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS:

Not fully there yet.  I do experience loneliness on a daily basis.  How could I not given there is no one in my life.  There is no one to say good morning to.  No one to say how was your day.  No one to plan vacations, days, or life with.  I definitely reflect on the past 20 years.  What I did right, what I did wrong, and what I will do differently in the future.

As for depression, I’m not there and don’t plan to go there.   Possibly because I know this can happen.  I have been keeping myself very busy with friends.  I am very relieved to have such wonderful and supportive friends.  Thanks all.

5. THE UPWARD TURN:

Not there yet.

6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH:

I think I’ve already done this one.  Given I have no children, siblings, or parents, I find it necessary to occupy my time with something.  Otherwise my mind is filled with thoughts of Karen, etc.  So I have been working through the to do list including financials, etc. 

7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE:

In many ways I find myself here.  I ponder how I am going to live the rest of my life.  I know I do not want to go through life alone.  I know I will eventually want to fill my life with another loving wife.  I am pondering the qualities and characteristics I will search for in future prospective spouse.  But I am also careful not to jump the gun and move to quickly.  I will give myself a few months to outline my game plan.  But I will not waste years of my life in solitude wasting away my life in grief.  It is not what I want or what Karen told me she wanted for me.  We both told each other to move on and not waste our lives.  As we know, we have very limited time on earth.

 

Lou Ross

www.rossranch.com

Saturday, September 15, 2012

One Month Ago...

One month ago today the world I lived in was destroyed.  On August 15, 2012 at 11:15 pm ET the love of my life for 20+ years was taken from me.  Even though the battle lasted nearly 6 years, there is no way to describe the feeling when you love passes on.  No other loss that I have experienced - even the loss of my mother from cancer – can match the emptiness I feel every day.  There is no way one can describe the physical and emotional pain at the loss of such a wonderful and loving wife. 

Today I love and am frightened by our home.  The home we have is beautiful and in a wonderful neighborhood.  But it is the house we created.  Now half of that we is gone.  I dread coming home after an evening out with friends because there is nothing but silence to greet me.  I search and call out for my better half but know one responds.  This is the home we created and I do love it and can’t imagine ever moving.  But where is my better half.

I find myself trying to move forward because that is what Karen and I promised for each other.  But damn it to hell it is so painful.  I know that down the road I will need to consider the idea of dating.  For now, that is long long time away.  I can’t imagine dating as I feel that would violate my vows.  But I know eventually I will have to because that is what I must do and it is what Karen wants for me.  For now, it seems like infidelity.

One Month Ago….

Lou

www.rossranch.com

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It Is Over

Karen Granger Ross passed away this morning on August 16 @ 12:59 am.  Karen died peacefully in her sleep.  She went into a deep sleep around 10 am on August 15.  She never so much as moved a finger since that time.

I will miss my love of over 20 years.  I can’t express how lonely I feel right now.  I hurt so much and yet I must keep going for that is what Karen wanted.

Goodbye my love.

Lou Ross

www.rossranch.com

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

None Responsive

Today Karen went to sleep around 10 am.  She has not woken up since then.  We are unable to wake her up.  The hospice nurse said not to try to wake her up to administer medication.  If she shows signs of pain, then administer the liquid morpheme.  But at this point, pills cannot be administered.  The nurse said Karen is probably in her comfort zone and may not need any more morpheme.

The difficult part for me is the grunt Karen utters when she exhales.  It is very difficult to listen to.  Karen’s breathing continues to become more labored.

I will need to take a sleeping pill tonight otherwise I will have no sleep.

Lou Ross

www.rossranch.com

20th wedding anniversary

Today is our 20th wedding anniversary.  Karen and I have a wonderful life together.  Given the circumstances, I would love to be able to jump into a time machine and go back to that apartment in Kirkland, WA when we started out our life in 1992.  What a great life we had even though we had no money.  We just didn’t realize how wonderful it was.

We are celebrating our anniversary with Karen still in a hospital bed, on oxygen, etc.  She has very few moments of comprehension.  Most of the time she speaks in gibberish.  It is difficult to determine what she needs and/or wants.  She frequently moans, gasps, or grunts.  What a way to spend a 20th wedding anniversary.

I am holding it together because I have to.  Yes I continue to eat right, exercise, and not abuse substances.  Sleep on the other hand is very difficult.  I go to bed around 8 pm and craw out of bed around 6 am.  That may seem like a lot of sleep, but the reality is I get up every couple of hours to give Karen liquid morpheme.  At various times throughout the day and night I need to give Karen morpheme pills and anxiety medication.  In addition frequent checks on Karen to see if she needs water or other forms of comforting.  So in actuality I’m getting 5 to 6 hours of shallow interrupted sleep.  I’ll take what I can get.  It is difficult to get deep sleep when I am hearing moans, gasps, and grunts from my beloved wife.  It is even harder to shut off the mind when you are waiting for the last breath.

I try to work as much as I can to help distract my mind.  But it is difficult not to think about the end that is coming.

Happy 20th wedding anniversary to us.

Lou Ross

www.rossranch.com

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hospital Bed

This is Karens husband Lou. 

A hospital bed has been ordered for Karen.  Should arrive today.  Karen is much weaker and cannot get out of bed.  It is a good thing her parents are here to help.  This is the toughest thing Ive ever had to deal with.  Ill take a hip surgery and time.

I suggest you no longer leave comments on this blog.  Karen is not reading them often if at all.  I wont read them as I have other locations to read.  If you want me to relay a comment to Karen, please go to our personal website at

http://www.rossranch.com/

Leave a comment in the guest book.

Thank you all for your continued support, prayers, and good thoughts.

Also, if you have not, please visit Karens honor page at the American Cancer Society and if you would, please leave a donation.  The address is:

http://main.acsevents.org/goto/KarenGrangerRoss

I will try to update this blog until the end.

Thank.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bedridden

Sorry it took me so long to update here.

I am spending almost all my time in bed, asleep.

All my work friends lunches are already cancelled.

My hour visits are being cancelled.

All my weekend visits are being cancelled.


However, I have a backlog of lovely cheery photos to post here. Hope to do it ASAP.

Love you,
Karen


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Watching Olympics on DVR

I woke up at 3:00am feeling okay.

I stayed in bed for an hour and a half, but now I have been up for an hour watching yesterday's Olympics with Lou.

Right away, I had a bite of coffee ice cream. Nice way to start the day after not eating hardly nothing for a week.

Lou made me an egg, and I ate half. Waiting to see if I barf.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Test Post


Am I still having trouble posting from my phone?

Karen


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Feeling Better

Today I made progress and feel better.

Rough day though. Lots of stuff for my parents to help with. Don't want to be more detailed than that.

Also met and really liked Lawanda my aide. Helped me bathe. Oh how the mighty have fallen hee hee hee!

Watched about an hour of Olympics tonight with Lou.

Because I am unable to post from my phone I am using Lou's.

So if you want to see updates from me then you should scan the comments for the current post. I have no trouble with making comments from my phone.


Sent from Lou's Android phone.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Three Bad Days

Just wanted to get it out there that since Saturday afternoon, I have been miserable with nausea and stomach pain.

My friend Marguerite helped on Saturday, and today hospice nurse Judy set up new meds.

Hard to talk on phone when so miserable. Texts are easier.

Parents are here and Patsy babysat this aft.


Lou,
Sent from my Android phone.

Testing

This is a test to see if we can post from Lou's phone.


Lou,
Sent from my Android phone.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Used the Walker for Saturday Lunch Outing

Sue and Irv took us out to lunch on Saturday.

Originally, we were planning to try Irregardless Cafe in Raleigh. Although we've seen many rave reviews, neither Lou nor I had ever been. Sue and Irv have been and have enjoyed it.

But at the last minute, we changed the plan. Because it's a brunch, it might be a buffet, and that would have been impossible with the walker. (I have been awfully unsteady on my feet for the last few days. Thank God, weeks ago, Gerry lent us Joe's walker; it's a godsend.)

We went to Tripps instead.

Lunch was excellent. Conversation was excellent. And, although we made a flood of special demands, our waitress was excellent.

When I say the conversation was excellent, I mean so engrossing that our waitress found it near impossible to interrupt Lou and Irv when she returned with additional questions.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Editors Visit

On Thursday afternoon, my friends and editors, Tate and and Kathy, visited me. We had such a nice time! Tate brought gourmet peanutbutter dog cookies for Miss Bailey, who spent the visit hiding in the bedroom with Lou.

Here they are, pictured from left to right, Kathy and Tate.



It was especially funny to be receiving a visit from my editors who must "bless" the contents of my books before they can be published --- on the same day when I receive forgiveness for all my sins.

(I know which one is more important, but you've got to find the funny bits whereever you can.)

Anointing of the Sick

On Thursday morning, I received one of the Holy Sacraments, the Anointing of the Sick.

My hospice team found me Father David of St. Mary's. He was wonderful. I told him a little part of my story. I cried a little.

(Earlier that morning, as I reflected on what my expectations were for this appointment with Father, I realized that I was nervous! I decided not to be nervous. Instead, I would just follow Father's directions and let my heart and head both get whatever they needed.)

Father David explained the sacrament. What I took away was that the Holy Spirit would bring me strength and peace from Jesus, and absolution from God for all my sins.

I was very happy to be receiving total forgiveness for all my sins.

During the actual anointing process, tears streamed down my face. It was really a lovely experience. Then I received Holy Communion.

Of course, we sat in the sunroom. Talk about starting a room off right! Two sacraments in one day.

I mentioned to Father David that the room was being re-decorated and would be finished at the end of August. I got to articulate that my excitement was happiness in knowing that Lou will use this room for years and years, in maximum comfort and style, for conversations with friends, quiet contemplation of the different views of the golf course, reading books, and whatever else he comes up with...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sofa, Rug, Lamp, Cheerfulness

Loveseat

Lasagna and New Furniture

[This was written at noon but technical difficulties delayed the actual posting.]

Today most of the sunroom furniture arrives!

Our designer, Celeste, has been here for almost an hour and a half, waiting for the moving truck. We have been chatting. Celeste also took the opportunity to walk around downstairs, looking for wall art to steal from other rooms and hang in the sunroom today. I am surprised that she found a metal-framed poster of a wheel-barrow filled with flowers. She and Lou think it will go great.

I AM SO EXCITED

But I ran out of steam and went to bed. I'll get up once everything arrives.

So, where does lasagna fit into the story? Tonight Darlene and Chaz are bringing us lasagna and the pleasure of their company for dinner. They'll be the first to see the new furniture.

We just need to keep the lasagna away from the sofa. No testing how much saucy pasta a Chinet plate can handle when held precariously over new uphoulstery...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fantastic Lunch

I have been fast asleep since returning home from my lunch out with 24 of the best colleagues and friends a person could hope for.

In this picture, Anya was trying to get people to raise their arms to show off their Team Karen bracelets.

At one point, I told them that of course they were happy to see me because for once they were guaranteed that I did not have a list of questions for them to answer! Or "just a few" pages of text for them to review!


(The crazy pouring rain, thunder, and chirping uninterruptible power supply (UPS) boxes just  woke me up, but I expect to have no trouble falling back to sleep. The power is out!)


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Firehouse Burger at Kickback Jack's

Before I fall back to sleep, here is Alex's picture of the delicious Firehouse Burger at Kickback Jack's.

A few of these were consumed (inhaled!) at our table, plus I got to bring one home to Lou.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Feeling Much Better

The additional pain meds have turned things around. I feel much better.

I am going to lunch today with friends from work!

Right now, I am about to take a nap. Need to rest after choosing an outfit to match my pink Team Karen bracelet!


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tough Times

I have been having a tough time the last few days.

For the past week, the tumor has continued to grow at a crazy pace. I maxed out my painkillers, but I was never actually pain free. That ate up my physical and emotional reserves.

Late Sunday morning, I crashed. I didn't even get out of bed to hug our dear friends goodbye.

We know how we feel about each other, and one missed hug won't change any of that. Thank God. Plus the entire weekend felt like a long sweet gentle goodbye.

I also cancelled two visits. I am not at the point where I want you to drop in for a visit so you can watch me sleep or or listen to me snivel :-)

Judy and Jenny (my hospice nurse and my social worker) came a day early because Lou asked them to.

I could not even get out of bed for them.

When they arrived, I was ready to barf from the pressure on my stomach.

Luckily, I had just showered and put on fresh clean PJs, so all I had to do was lie there and let Judy take vitals and ask questions.

Then I got new instructions. I am now taking the painkiller more often, and soon I will have a stronger dose.

Now, nap time.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Saturday, July 21, 2012

"Team Karen" Bracelets


Heidi and Anya have been secretly cooking up a plan to raise people's spirits at work. They had awesome pink rubber bracelets made up that say "Team Karen" and "Cheer Me On."

I guess they started selling them yesterday, for two dollars each. Anya said they are selling like hotcakes, and now there are a bunch of people sporting the bracelets, including my boss's boss's boss Deva.

There is NO profit being made, and NO money being raised. It's just a way to say, "I'm thinking about Karen!" --- or maybe it's just a way to say, "I sure like pink!"

Last night, on her way home from the office, Anya dropped by to give us some bracelets. I was getting a massage at that moment, so I did not get to give her a big thank you hug, and one for Heidi too. You remember Heidi was here last Friday night for an hour, and she never dropped a hint that there was anything secret and fun in the pipeline. Sneaky Heidi!

Do you want a bracelet?

They cost two dollars. Anya and Heidi are handling "sales and distribution." Please send email to this address:


Bob and Sally Arrived Safely!


Bob and Sally are here for the weekend!

So if you are wondering why it seems as tho your texts or calls have been ignored, now you know why.

They flew in a few days ago and did some sightseeing in Virginia (I think). I probably shouldn't blog in the middle of the night if I am sleepy and lack facts.

But now they are all ours.

OK, whoa, I just WOKE UP holding my phone! I'm going back to sleep now. Tomorrow you can hear about these wonderful friends from the Seattle area.

But I will say that Sally's cheerful, spiritual cards and notes over these years of chemo have certainly cheered me on.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fantastic Blue Diamond transportation

This has been an amazing trip. I feel really relaxed and happy --- and grateful.

I've already thanked Lou for being my perfect travel agent.

But none of this could have happened without my Blue Diamond limo.

Physically, I needed to be able to lie down and stretch out for the 3.5 hour ride. Scrunched in the back of a car would not have been good enough. Sure, I would have gotten here, but then I would've needed a day and a half to bounce back.

Fiscally, taking the limo would have broken the budget at $1800.00.

But our neighbor Bob is their Senior Driver, and he talked to Carrie Peele.  
Bob says that Carrie does a lot with the American Cancer Society in North Carolina, and knows how to deliver joy to a person in need.

I dunno if I'm supposed to spill the beans on the screaming deal she gave us, but we are basically just paying the IRS rate for the limo ($520), plus whatever we give our buddy Bob.

If you're in need of a limo, do me a favor and consider using Blue Diamond as a way to thank them for me.

www.BlueDiamondLimo.com


Oh great, now I am a little choked up.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Sunroom Update

Most of the furniture for the sunroom arrives on July 25.

The leather chair and a couple of end tables arrive mid August.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Restaurant Review

I am pretty much done packing up.

When you do no shopping during a trip, packing to go home is greatly simplified.

The lobby also has a coffee shop that brews Starbucks coffee. Every day, the Verona drip was available. Lou was so happy. He's been humming "My Sharona" the entire time.

The coffee shop also serves ice cream. Coffee ice cream is on the list. You know there must be something wrong with me, that I am only a little tempted.

Staff told us that they did a big refurbish last year. Well, it's nice. I love the variety of seating options in the bar and lobby. Several different couches and table/chair setups. You would be hard-pressed to not find something you found comfy.

Dinner last night at Vintage Twelve was super. Attentive but not annoying service. I ordered a lot and had a few bites of it all --- which meant Lou made out like a bandit.

I ordered the tuna tartare appetizer and the filet mignon entree with roasted asparagus and corn pudding. Everything was delicious.

I was nervous that the quail egg on the tuna tartare would be raw --- it was cooked sunny side up --- but I was confusing tartare with SUSHI.

I also got a bite of Lou's appetizer, an heirloom tomato and mozzarella on flatbread that was like a flying carpet to heaven. In exchange, Lou ate 3/4 of my steak!

Lou loved his shrimp and grits, but it was a small portion, so I think he appreciated the steak taking care of his big manly appetite.

All the food was "locally sourced." I don't know why I find bragging about that concept LOL funny, but I do. Why wouldn't you buy your tomatoes from Jim next door, instead of from Gary clear across the country in California? Your kids probably go to school with Jim's kids. Who's more likely to bring his wife for anniversary dinner at your restaurant, Jim or Gary? And which tomatoes will taste better, the ones that were rolling around in a truck for 3 days, or the ones that were still on the vine this morning?

Wow that was a rant.

I am 'sposed to be napping and charging my phone. In about 30 minutes, a bellboy comes for our luggage. Checkout is 11am.

Bob and the dreamy white stretch limo arrive around then.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jeff Realizes He's on Camera

So now Jeff looks up and realizes Lou is taking pics of him, not the dog.

Hey, not to distract you from my handsome brother, but look at that freshly-painted yellow wall! Celeste from Bassett sure has an eye for color. Soon the furniture will arrive...

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Jeff the Artist

At some point last weekend, the guys were hanging out in the sunroom-to-be and I was sleeping.

Lou started taking pictures of Miss Bailey, and then got a few of Jeff.

Jeff was drawing. He draws these awesome quirky sketches.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Pounding Surf vs Placid Pool

Yesterday morning, I tottered out onto the beach after breakfast.

The sand here is hard-packed and very flat. Even the dryest part of the beach is hard-packed, so I could walk on it without too much trouble.

Lou picked up one tiny perfect shell for me. Usually I spend hours hunting shells or rocks. But I don't feel bad about not being able to do that. With my stomach so swollen, I cannot bend over.

We dumped our stuff and went straight into the water. I hung onto Lou when waves crashed into us. We walked quite a way in and never really got deep.

When big waves hit us, I clung with two hands and turned sideways. I didn't really want to get knocked over.

We were laughing pretty hard.

Eventually, I floated for awhile with Lou as my anchor. I got battered! I got ground into the sand when the outgoing wave stole all our water!

Then a quick succession of three huge waves tossed me magically back onto my feet, and I was ready to get out.

We rinsed off the sand, got clean towels, got drinks, and found comfy chairs in the shade. Eventually we ate lunch. Then we went to our room and I think I slept all aft.

My pain is under control, but I am taking a lot of it. Thank God for painkillers.

Today, we are not going into the ocean. Today we will do pools. There will be no big waves or sand, but there are kids. Jumping, splashing, yelling, fun!

Plus, I downloaded 3 Nero Wolfe audio books (that I have never read) to my phone. Heaven.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Weather Report


The app on my phone says it is 72 degrees and cloudy, but that it feels like a party!

Lou and I are going down to the coffee shop for a hot beverage. (Usually I would run down alone.)

Talk to you later.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Monday, July 16, 2012

Headed to Myrtle Beach

We are headed in style to Kingston Plantation Resort at Myrtle Beach in a fabulous Blue Diamond limo driven by our neighbor Bob.

The only way we could make this trip was for me to be able to stretch out. Lou just snapped this picture where I am lying on the comfy bench and I am reading another Nero Wolf mystery.

I was disturbed by the picture at first because it really shows how extended my stomach area is. But it is what it is.

I will post later to describe the kindness and generosity of our driver and of Blue Diamond. This company has strong ties with the American Cancer Society and does a lot of good works.

Sent from my Android phone.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Early Breakfast at Brigs

Breakfast was fun, and now I'm sitting in the air-conditioned car outside Bruegger's Bagels.

Lou and Jeff are in there picking up bagels so we can re-stock the freezer.

John's driving Jeff to the airport at like 4:15.

Got to make the best of these 6.5 hours!


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Massage at Home

Martha from Avante Physical Therapy does massage house calls!

On Friday, I could not get into the office, so she came to me. (She has her own business as well as being an employee of Avante.)

Because I cannot lie on my stomach at all anymore, I thought that I'd have to have the massage sitting up. Instead, she had me lie on my side (first on the right, and then on the left).

It worked great.

She used less pressure than usual but still worked out all the knots. I felt wonderful afterward.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Saturday, July 14, 2012

No Time to Post!

I am having so much fun with Jeff, I don't want to waste any time telling ya about it!

I'll give you all the details later.

Oh, and I also need to mention how much fun it was to see Heidi, Chris, and Gul on Friday evening.

Right now I am sitting in the air conditioned car in the Harris Teeter parking lot while Jeff runs in for oyster crackers for our lunch, New England clam chowdah that he hand carried onto the plane from Massachusetts!



Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jeff Arrives Today

Was I tempting fate when I asked my brother, Jeff, to fly to see me on Friday The Thirteenth?!

Yikes. Let's hope there are no mishaps, misunderstandings, misadventures, or misrepresentations.

I am totally psyched about seeing Jeff. I am so excited I am about to fall asleep.

Really. I need a nap.

Around lunchtime, John is dropping by for a quick visit --- then he and Lou go to the airport to get Jeff.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Dinner Guest Does All the Work!

Thursday is, of course, Poker Night for Lou, so I made plans for my good friend, Barbara, to come to dinner and hang out with me.

I was TIRED (but not in pain) when she arrived close to 6:00pm.

The menu was seared salmon and French green beans from the Kitchen Miracle (or Miracle Kitchen?) dinner service.

Meredyth and other friends from work sent me dinners weeks ago, and so we are finally eating them. Yesterday I had soup that blew my mind. Tonight, the salmon was very very good. Can't wait to try the other items soon.

Barbara did all the work, while I called out general instructions from my perch on the couch.

And she cleaned up the mess afterward!

We had a nice heart-to-heart about what's going on with me. I met Barbara soon after arriving in North Carolina in August 2006. Her friendship has meant a lot to me.

We also talked about how there is no "Best If Used By" date stamped on my foot --- that I have no idea how long this will last.

I am supposed to pay attention to how I feel today, and then do whatever I can handle or whatever I would enjoy today. I guess you could say I am living my life "one day at a time."

Right before 8pm, Barbara helped me put clean sheets on my bed, because it's too hard to do alone. Thanks so much!!!

I got a huge hug, and she left, and I immediately popped into bed and fell asleep.

Sure, I woke up a little while ago, but now that I have had this chance to update you, I'm sure I'll fall right back to sleep... maybe right after I check WWF.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Myrtle Beach

I love the sounds of the surf, the ocean  waves lapping on the shore.

Growing up in New Bedford, Massachusetts, right on the coast, I spent lots of time at the beach. Lou grew up going to Miami Beach!

We figure we can get at least one beach trip in during hospice.

We sure have nice beaches here in North Carolina! But I wanted to go somewhere new.

That's why I kept thinking about Bermuda's pink beaches. But realistically the flights would be too hard on me.

Lou figured out a way to get me to Myrtle Beach in a white limo!!! I can stretch out on the back seat, totally comfy, for the 4 hour drive.

Next we had to find a nice resort where I can plunk down in a lounge chair in some shade and not move for hours, if need be.

Our friends Gail and Mo suggested that we look at Kingston Plantation Resort in north Myrtle Beach, and it looks perfect.

So that's where we are headed.

I will be able to walk as little or as much as I want.

Worst case scenario, if I never make it out of the hotel room, I can watch the Atlantic Ocean from the balcony.

Picture me on the balcony, looking down at a tiki bar, trying to figure out which little person down there is Lou. He's the guy drinking margaritas and beating me at Words With Friends. (As if he would leave me alone for in a minute!)


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Vanpool Visit

On Monday evening, my friends from my old vanpool came to see me. Lou took our photo, as proof! From left to right: Joe, Rick, Jane, me, and David.


The vanpool was excellent in terms of saving money and helping the environment and keeping my workday to a predictable time schedule...

But what really made the vanpool outstanding were the people! There was always something interesting or hysterically funny being talked about. I remember looking forward to my commute, especially in the afternoon, because it was just plain fun. (Not being a morning person, I obviously struggled in the morning.) Plus, it was pretty cool to meet other people, from other departments, some of whom have been working at the company for a loooong time.

On Monday, we spent a lot of time enjoying the view of the golf course. David has golfed here, and he said that our house is easy to hit, but he stopped short of actually saying he ever hit us.

These folks entertained me for about an hour and left before I got too tired.

Just over my shoulder, you might be able to see a vase full of sunflowers that they brought. Very pretty! I just freshened up the water, so we'll be able to enjoy those flowers tonight when some other friends from work drop by.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bigger Pants

Yesterday afternoon, Patsy and Omer flew back to Arizona to close up their house, pack their stuff, and get ready to drive back here. They're moving into their furnished apartment on July 30. Yahoo!  It was really easy to let them go home yesterday, knowing that they would be back in a jiffy.

Nick and Sharon from across the street drove them to the airport in the rain. Nick popped his head in our front door when he got back to let us know that he had delivered them safely to the airport. Shortly after that, Patsy called to report that they were checked in.

Now let's back up to early Monday morning. Because this was our last morning together for awhile, I made myself get up and take painkillers and be ready to participate.

We left the house at about 9:00am and drove over to the apartment complex. There is still a guy living in their apartment, so we knew we could not see it. But we toured around the parking lots and found the car wash station, trash collection area, pool, mailboxes, etc. It all looks really nice. And they are walking distance to the movie theater! Super! We also toured the entire mall area. There are a lot of good stores there.

Next, we headed to Cary. We had a coffee break at the Starbucks in the Crossroads shopping center. Once we were rejuvenated, we went across the parking lot to the Catherines clothing store because I needed bigger pants. My abdomen has grown a lot this week. Pants that were comfortable are no longer comfortable because they put pressure directly on the area where the big tumor is.

It wasn't easy, but I found some capris with giant gentle elastic waistbands and slim legs, so it does not look like I am wearing baloony clown pants. (I hope.)

Next we ran an errand for Lou. We got a super absorbent mat for outside the back door. We are hoping to stop Miss Bailey from tracking water and dirt into the house. We found something at BBB. Luckily, today we are expecting RAIN so we can test the new mat.

By this time, I was completely wiped out. I was in pain, stretched out on the back seat, too miserable to even fall asleep. Luckily, my Mom remembered that I was due for a painkiller, and she had one in her pocketbook.

We picked up lunch and came home. I went to the Chinese restaurant to get Lou's lunch, and my parents went to Subway to get our lunches.

There was a very strange mixup at Subway. I wanted a BLT. I figured since I am eating so little, if I wanted a bite or two of a BLT then by golly why not. But when we got home, what I ended up with was a BACON only sandwhich. No lettuce.  No tomato. Because I was so exhausted from being out for so long, I actually cried! (Poor Patsy felt bad for not watching the woman make my sandwich but honestly who would have expected to ask for a BLT and just get the B?!) I didn't cry for long -- I started laughing, because it was ridiculous.

Basically I spent the rest of the day in bed, in pain, trying to recover from the morning's over-exertion excursion. My vanpool pals dropped by at 5:00pm for a great visit, but I will have to tell you about that after Lou forwards me the picture we took.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

How Do You Do That?

Over the last few weeks, I've been showing Lou how I do various tasks around the house.

Like running the clothes washer for different types of loads: bedsheets vs. black tee shirts vs. towels...

Lou already does almost everything anyway. I really don't have that many jobs assigned to me.

Oh, one of my jobs was to scoop all the dog poop in the back yard the day before the lawn gets mowed. We hired the neighbor's kid to handle that one! (Did I mention how smart Lou is?)

Yesterday we ran through the dog's monthly anti-flea/tick/heartworm regimen.

First I give Bailey a prescription "cookie" for heartworm, and then I squirt the anti-flea oily goo between her shoulder blades.

The toughest part is removing the goo dispenser from the plastic packaging without leaking the goo all over your hands. (Explains why I have no fleas on me.)

Making squirmy Miss Bailey stand still long enough to get the goo out isn't trivial, either, espec if you are attempting it as a one-person job.

There is the rub: the one-person job. I am showing him all this stuff in preparation for when I won't be here anymore.

We hadn't actually talked about that aspect, till yesterday. It was just this un-said thing.

But I got a little upset yesterday.

Every month, for years, when I have done the flea thing, I have made a note with date and whatever is going on that day. It started just as a way for disorganized me to keep track of whether the dogs got their flea stuff done every month.

Like, one old note commemorates the first time Sam got the flea stuff as an "only dog" --- after Molly died.

Like, a more recent note says that Lou took Bailey for her first 3.5 mile walk, which explained why Bailey spent the rest of the day wonderfully asleep and therefore not underfoot at every turn.

Yesterday, I wrote that this was the first time Lou had done it all himself, and I drew a smiley face, even though I was actually a little teary.

So a few hours later, when Lou told me that he thought I had rushed him through the process a little, I admitted that I had been trying to hide being upset. I wasn't upset because I won't be there to squirt the goo and write the note. I was upset that I won't be there, period.

So we held hands for a little while, and I felt better.


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Saturday, July 7, 2012

FUN FRIDAY!

What a BLAST I had on Friday evening!

Basically, most of the people from my "scrum" meeting at work dropped by my house for some laughs and some beer and some snacks.

We tried to keep the plan quiet, so that we could keep attendees manageable.

Attendees were Alex, Anya, Arin, Emma (Mike's amazing toddler), Jerry, Lorna, Meredyth, Mike, Pu, Tao --- plus Lou, Patsy, Omer, and me!

Some very interesting beer was served, along with soda for us non-drinkers.

We all toured the downstairs and I got to show off the freshly painted walls of dramatic yellow, blue, and terra cotta. Plus the big bucket of golf balls we collected in the yard during that first year.

Everyone arrived just after 4pm so they had a great view of the golf course.

Poor Bailey had to stay upstairs and calm, so she missed the party.

I am so glad that Lou finally got to meet everyone on the team, especially Alex, after hearing about them for about 6 years!

Darn, we should have taken a picture. It was awesome to have the opportunity to hug all my good friends from work.

THANK YOU ANYA for arranging the visit! I looked forward to it all week.

However, right at the 2 hour mark, I was overwhelmed with exhaustion (even though people kept encouraging me to sit down and rest). Then I saw sparkly lights. Migraine! Everyone cleared our fast, and I immediately went to sleep for about 2 hours. Woke up feeling fine.

On Monday afternoon, my old vanpool pals are coming.

On Wednesday afternoon, a couple of other work friends are dropping by.

What a great week this will be.


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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Secret Apartment Hunters

Unbeknownst to me, Patsy and Omer have secretly been apartment hunting so they they can stay here comfortably till this deal is over!

I guess Lou brought it up as an idea a few days ago, and they all wanted to make sure it was doable before bringing me in.

Our real estate friend Christina McCormack helped!

So they found a small, beautiful, furnished apartment by the White Oak shopping center in Garner, which is a 15 to 20 minute drive from here.

This is such a great plan.

I wanted them here, but couldn't see how to make that happen because it's just so hard to have long term "house guests," when you're so used to peace and quiet.

Plus there is now quite a lineup of people coming to visit, so the guest room at the Ross Ranch is booked.

The plan is that they stay here as scheduled till Monday and then fly home to shut down their house. Then they drive back here, in time to move into the apartment at the end of the month. And they stay here to help till it's all done.

Wonderful!


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Lou is Always Right

My current painkiller regimen is that I take an extended release (ER) pill every 12 hours, no matter what my pain level is. If there is any additional pain, then I can take an immediate release (IR) pill every 4 hours.

The ER pill works slowly, and the IR pill works quickly.

Last night, about an hour before I was due for my ER pill, I was pretty miserable. Lou suggested I take an IR pill, but I refused.

I can't explain why I refused. In retrospect, it makes no sense. Lou is a saint for having to deal with me.

So the pain got worse...

I took the ER pill as scheduled. Of course, it didn't help much because it's slow acting.

Lou again suggested that I take an IR pill, and I again refused.

This time, I refused because I could not remember being told how soon after ER can I have IR.

The pain got worse, and I went to bed. I said I would take the IR after an hour. An hour seemed reasonable. You have to wait to go swimming an hour after eating...

Exactly one hour later, Lou brought me an IR and I capitulated. Soon after that, things improved greatly.

This morning I called Nurse Judy and found out that it is perfectly okay to take the ER and IR simultaneously if I need to.

So Lou was right! Again!

I just wish in the moment I could remember that, and just do what he suggests.

Lou has never liked the idea of a tattoo, but maybe he would like "Do whatever Lou wants" on my forearm where I can read it.


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Up and Down

Last night, there was a lot of pain and misery. But today is good. So I guess my condition is "up and down."

I think I finally might make it to the Barnes and Noble today!

There has been a painter here all week. The sunroom is an amazing yellow! The laundry room is an amazing blue!

But we have run into trouble touching up the walls in the TV room. These walls go two stories high, and it's not in the budget to completely paint them, floor to ceiling. None of the paint that we have from the builder is matching.

So the painter got a fresh gallon color matched from Sherwin Williams, and we're hoping for the best.

I am not going to worry about it.


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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jeff is Coming!

Today just keeps getting better.

My brother Jeff just booked his flight to come see me!

I am thrilled that he's coming.

The last time I saw him was at Brian and Nicole's wedding in 2007. We have talked on the phone since then, though, hee hee.

So, he'll be here next weekend.

(Too bad he couldn't work it out for this weekend, while my parents are here, because it would have been a mini Granger reunion.)

Happy Dance!

I am back in bed, so the happy dance is more like a happy wiggle.

Status Report:  I'm taking a nap now. P and O are off getting the car serviced. Nurse Judy will be here for my weekly hospice checkup some time before noon. Lou is supposed to be working, but I can hear him out in the kitchen shooting the breeze with the painter.


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Feeling Much Better

I woke up this morning feeling a thousand times better than last night.

I am well rested and absolutely nothing hurts. I was even HUNGRY so my Dad made me one quarter of a salmon bagel! Yum.

I just wanted to get that news out ASAP.

Last night, I wish I had remembered, "This too shall pass."


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Monday, July 2, 2012

Spending a Lot of Time in Bed

Gosh, I am exhausted and spending a lot of time in bed.

My big outing today was to go buy a pair of pants that have a waistband that won't put pressure on my abdomen.

I have lost weight, but my abdomen continues to swell because that tumor continues to grow.

At a Catherines store, Patsy and I found perfect white capris, very soft cotton, very wimpy waistband.

For the last few hours I have been really uncomfortable, I guess it's pain, from the continued swelling.

This is all bad news. Perhaps things are progressing faster than expected.

Sorry I don't have better news for you.

Lou is great. He takes my hand, and I feel better. And it helps so much that Patsy and Omer are here.


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Migraine with no Meds

On Sunday afternoon, I went for an outing to visit some girlfriends in Clayton, and I went empty handed.

I did not bring a plate of cookies. I did not bring my pocketbook.

And so when the migraine started, I had no Maxalt. Bummer.

I decided to suffer quietly, because the plan was to stay for an hour only anyway. Plus we drove 30 minutes to get there. And I figured that the morphine ought to help keep the headache under control anyway.

So I sat through the sparkly lights and it wasn't too bad.

By the time I got home, the real headache had started, and I took Maxalt then and went to sleep.

When Lou brought my parents home from the airport, I got up and ate dinner with them.

Lou cooked the steaks, and they were excellent. Patsy handled the side dishes. Omer and I did nothing!

But I was unable to really wake up and be perky, and so I went right back to bed as soon as I could.

Today I woke up at 6:00am feeling really good!


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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Healing Touch Today

Amelia Vogler came to the house today for a visit and a Healing Touch appointment.

I really needed it!

I felt great afterward, and we hung out chatting with Lou for awhile. Lou was very very funny. But then I was suddenly exhausted, so Amelia split and I went to bed.

It was strange though. I zonked out for like 15 minutes, and now I feel good again and wide awake.

Maybe I should get up.

But bed is so comfy  :-)  especially now that I have two pillows. On Saturday night, at like 2:30am, I woke up with terrible lung pain. Somehow I knew if I had a second pillow, the pain would go away. So Lou, who is clearly a saint, ran upstairs and got me a second pillow from the guest room closet.


ZOMBIE UPDATE
Today I do not feel like an angry zombie. (Whew. Could not handle another day like that.)


HOUSEGUEST UPDATE
Patsy and Omer arrive early this evening, yahoo. We will have a week of fun. Luckily the insane recording-breaking heat wave ends today.


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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Not Sure about the Painkiller

I agreed to give the new painkiller till Monday, but I am not liking it.

The sleepiness has dissipated to be replaced by a kind of irritable depressed zombie mood.

I am going to try to go to sleep right now. Let's put this whole day to bed.


Remember, I said a couple of posts ago to feel free to call me. Don't IM that you wanted to call but blah blah blah :-)


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Friday, June 29, 2012

Oh Yuck

I have always loved sleeping on my stomach, but I haven't even tried to since my last PT appointment.

During that appointment, I had to lie on my stomach for some back massage. The pressure was too much, and I had to sit up. It was discomfort and nausea from that tumor squashing my stomach. Luckily, Jaime could finish the massage with me sitting up.

Tonight I thought I'd try sleeping on my stomach because I just could not get comfortable on my side.

Within 30 seconds of rolling over, I experienced a horrific sort of burp and had to sit up in bed.

I immediately drank some water, but had to rush out to the kitchen so I could swig some gatorade to get rid of the taste. Yikes.

I will not try that experiment again.


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New Painkillers

Over the last week and a half, I have had to decrease the time interval between doses of oxycodone from 8 to 4 hours. Otherwise, I was in pain.

So I asked Judy, my hospice nurse, what my next step ought to be. A higher dose of oxycodone, or try another drug?

She consulted with their pharmacist and came up with a plan. It's something for me to try, to see how it works.

Basically, I would switch to morphine, and have extended release pill every 12 hours, with the availability of immediate release pills as needed in between.

She ran the plan by me, and after I agreed, she sent the paperwork to Dr R, because he's the one writing prescriptions.

I made the switch yesterday. I was virtually pain free. That was awesome.

Plus, I didn't have to even think about pain for 12 hours. (With the other drug, every 4 hours the pain crept back up on me, so it was always in my face.)

But I was really sleepy. I slept for most of the day.

Part of that sleepiness might have been needing to rest after the excitement of Tinalynne's visit --- but part of it had to be the new painkillers.

Judy warned me that it might take a couple of days to adjust.

Today I am just a little sleepy. But mostly what I feel is a little wobbly on my feet. Not enough to feel as though I might fall, though. Do not want to fall!


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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tinalynne Left for Home

At about 6:00 this morning, Tinalynne hugged me goodbye and headed for the airport with Lou and John.

We had a long tearful goodbye last night, so this morning we had agreed to have a light "Safe journey" type of goodbye.

Spending two full days with Tinalynne was super awesome. Lots of laughs, some tears, and some amazing memories.

Plus it gave me a chance to give her a few things that I wanted her in particular to have. We laughed at the idea that she could ever need a thing to remember me by, which is pretty silly, but it just makes me happy to think of her using certain things in her daily life.

I loved being able to talk about her new social worker job, which is not so new any more. Tinalynne is really good at ferreting out what is wrong with you (not exactly the politically correct way to describe her skill set) so being a social worker and therapist is perfect for her.

After they left for the airport, I went back to sleep for hours. And I'm crawling into bed again now. I think I just have to rest after an exciting two days.

Part of the exhaustion is emotional, I'm sure. You'll notice I'm not giving a lot of detail about what we discussed and how I felt. I do feel supported and loved in my choice to go to hospice, I'll give you that much.



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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More Shopping Fun

We went shopping again today.

Tinalynnne is an LICSW therapist with actual clients. She gets dressed up for work (could you trust you therapist if she looked homeless?) so we shopped again today for dressy clothes.

So much fun!

But now I am lying in the back seat of the car resting. We used up all my energy. Maybe it was all the laughing! But laughing is so rejuvenating.

Our lunch plan is to bring home takeout from Genki.

Lou called to report that hospice is delivering a wheelchair and oxygen tank, which is sort of weird because we never discussed oxygen.

Tinalynne says she told hospice that they could not deliver equipment until it was needed. That is cool. I will implement that strategy too.


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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In Heaven

I am in heaven, in a dressing room at Nordstrom, at South Point Mall, while Tinalynne tries on clothes.

There is a padded bench, thank God, and I am lying down because I am wiped out already.

We are the only people shopping right now so we have the undivided attention of the sales lady.

Heaven, heaven heaven!


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Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy Hospice Nurse

Judy walked in with a smile on her face and a genuine outpouring of warmth, compassion, and professionalism.

I knew right away that she would be the perfect hospice nurse for me.

Thanks, everyone, for your supportive comments. They helped.

That's all I have for now. I am actually sort of wiped out. Going to watch some trash TV now...



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Burned Out Nurse?


The hospice social worker and nurse came out to talk to us.

The social worker was great and described their services very clearly. But the nurse sort of freaked me out.

She was loud and brusque and very businesslike. When I looked into her eyes I didn't get any feeling of warmth or friendliness or emotional connection at all.

I was in a huge dilemma. My nurse friends had all led me to expect a warm caring person with whom I would establish a relationship and come to lean on in this difficult time.

So I am sitting there wondering how the heck to handle this. Rules of politeness say I cannot say, "I don't like you," but choosing my hospice nurse is too important to mess up.

I really feel like I no longer have to do things I do not want to do, deal with people I do not want to deal with... because I have limited time left.

So I apologized but made it clear that I felt no rapport with her and did not expect that to change. I said it was an intangible thing, nothing she said or did in particular.

The social worker said she could send another nurse. Then they left, and Lou stayed outside for a couple minutes talking to them. I wondered if he was having to apologize for my behavior...

But when he came back in, his first words were to say that he completely agreed with me and that I was really brave to express that.

We decided that if the next nurse is also unfriendly, we will call Duke Hospice instead.

The next nurse comes today at 2:00pm.

(My parents suggested that maybe this nurse is just burned out.)

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Monday's Agenda

1 Meet hospice nurse

2 Do minimal ironing so I have something to wear

3 Tinalynne arrives late tonight from Montana


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Okay to Phone Me

If you have my phone number, and you want to call me, please feel free to do so.

When we first realized it was time for hospice, we couldn't handle any phone calls. But that doesn't apply any more.

So, if you want to call, then call!

Don't worry about waking me up from a nap, or bothering me when I don't feel good. If I don't want to be disturbed then I power off my phone.

But don't call after 9pm --- which is sort of tough on our West Coast friends.

There will come a point when I stop taking calls. No idea when that will be. Better get your call in before then.


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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dismantling My Office Today

Today, Darlene is driving us to my workplace so I can dismantle my office.

Actually I hear that all my stuff is already packed up. April packed up for me back when new carpeting was installed in the entire building. Then nobody ever unpacked.

The tricky part is that I want to bring home just a few select items. I want to abandon the rest!

So I'll have to dig through those boxes to find what I want.

I am also delivering a few select items to a few select people.

The rest, I am either throwing out --- or leaving for people to scavenge through.

It would make me happy to think that my magnets found a good home...

Or that maybe someone on my team took my glass shoe collection as a momento of the hours they spent trying to explain things to me...


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I am no doctor, but...

I wonder if having that tumor biopsy on February 20th contributed to this insane growth spurt.

Like, we stabbed it and made it angry.

But there is no way to really know. And we were making the best decisions we could make, at the time, with what we knew.

Plus, having regrets about choices we made, blah, that's not useful at all.

But this idea started swimming around in my head. The best way to get rid of it is to post it and let it go.


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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Time Crunch

Today we went to Bassett Furniture to sit on the sofa and chair we want, and everything was super comfortable.

Well, Lou and Cindy and Mike all agreed that it was comfy. I was uncomfortable and tired. I was ready for another painkiller, actually, and ended up lying on the sofa, which was comfy.

When we left, I took my painkiller exactly on time, 4 hours after the last one.

We ended up purchasing everything we need for the sunroom, based on recommendations from fabulous Celeste, our design consultant. Gosh this room will be so nice. You will have a comfy seat and pretty view no matter where you sit.

Usually it takes 30 days for custom upholstery, but Lou asked for a quicker time frame, since I'm in hospice now.

The furniture will be delivered in 3 weeks, instead of 4 weeks! Yippee!

The sunroom has always been our favorite space, and now it will be beautiful.


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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tumor Doubled in Size

No wonder I can't eat anything.

The tumor near my stomach has MORE than doubled in size and is squashing my poor stomach terribly.

This is really really bad news.

This tumor is growing very aggressively.

Strangely, all the little tumors in my lungs pretty much stayed the same size. But even though that is great news, it's not enough to cancel out that the other tumor grew so much.

Dr Reidel explained my options. For the first time ever, he talked about hospice as an option.

I got really choked up and asked if that meant we were giving up.

Dr R said hospice isn't about giving up; it's about changing the focus to make the most out of every day that's left.

He said it used to be that hospice wasn't mentioned till very very late, and then the patient was dead a week later. But there are studies that show that when hospice starts earlier, people live longer.

The hospice nurses are expert at managing the pain and quality of life issues to make the most out of every day.

Can you tell where this is going?

Of course, I could do chemo again instead. But the track record of this chemo is nothing to write home about.

Plus, after going through chemo SEVEN times already, I really am having a hard time with the idea of going through it again, especially since I am already so miserable and exhausted already on most days.

We did meet with the clinical trial protocol nurse to get the facts. It turns out I know and love this nurse (Lynn) from the Duke chemo treatment room! She just switched jobs.

But after hearing more details, I just became very clear that I am done with chemo. I just don't have it in me.

So it's time for hospice.

Please don't call me tonight. Both Lou and I are devastated and don't want to talk to anyone yet.

Leave me a comment instead!


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Migraine

I am lying on exam table in semi dark room with migraine waiting for Dr R to come in and tell me my results.

I am actually pretty comfy.


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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Feeling Okay Tonight

I'm in a kind of limbo tonight, waiting for the scan results tomorrow.

What I mean is I don't feel anxious or scared. I just really want to know what is happening in there.

Based on how I have been feeling, I'm pretty sure the tumors have grown. So I am expecting bad news, it's just a matter of how bad.

We see Dr R at like 10:30am. I'll post results when I can.

Thanks for your support!


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Woke Up With the Birds

Serious stomach pain woke me up this morning at 5:30am.

Nurse Heather had said to manage that pain just like the back pain, so I took a pill instead of just suffering with it.

And now I feel completely fine.

Thank God. I have to go to Duke for my CT Scan today, and it would be a much more difficult outing if I am miserable.


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Monday, June 18, 2012

Scan Day Tomorrow

Tuesday is Scan Day.

Our neighbor Carl is driving us up to Duke for the CT Scan.

We'll hear the results from Dr R on Thursday.

Right now, I am in bed, exhausted. It was a pretty good day.

For dinner, I ate about a half cup of cream of something orange-colored soup, and I feel grossly stuffed. Totally freakishly Thanksgiving Dinner stuffed.

The guys had Loy's homemade jambalaya, followed by ice cream. They are playing golf again early tomorrow morning.


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George is Here!


Our old pal George is here for a couple days!

Lou worked for George a million years ago at Pacer in Massachusetts. And they are working together now at Endicia in California.

The guys are golfing today and tomorrow. Well, George is golfing and Lou is driving the cart.

Lots of laughs when George is around.

Today I think is going to be a good day. Right now I am in bed, recovering from breakfast. (I feel awful for awhile after I eat.)

I just talked to Dr Reidel's nurse Heather, and she was very helpful and sweet. She suggested grazing little bites all day, taking painkillers, and especially staying hydrated.

I have not been drinking enough water, so I'm making an effort now.

So far today, I am not miserable! Yahoo!


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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Feeling Great

Inexplicably feeling great this morning!

I wanted to post that as soon as possible, because Friday was so awful.

No stomach pain, lung pain, hip pain, or back pain!

Well, okay, my lower back is tight and achy. And I am about to go for my walk, so soon I will be exhausted and headed for a nap.

But all in all, I am like a different person today.

Thanks for all the funny distractions you all sent me yesterday. Puppy videos, puns, jokes... they all helped me get thru the day!


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Friday, June 15, 2012

Plumbers in the Backyard

No, that's not code for constipation. There really are plumbers in the backyard.

They are installing an extra water faucet inside the fence for Lou's convenience. They are working right under the bedroom window. It's interesting to listen to them.

The painkiller is kicking in.

I didn't mention it before but this morning whenever I took a deep breath, I would have pain in a couple spots in my lungs, which I assume are the tumor spots. But now that painkiller is kicking in, those pains are gone.

On a day like today, it's hard to blog. It's hard to find something cheerful to include in the report. I can sort of imagine that it will be harder in the future. However, I do expect things to improve when I start the next chemo. It will beat back the cancer.


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Cheer Me Up

I am miserable right now.

I had a tough night. My stomach hurt so much, it kept waking me up. Plus my left hip is killing me.

So it's a combination of stomach pain and constipation from the painkillers.

I tried to make myself walk around the house, but right now I am curled up in bed, just basically enduring minute by minute.

I could use some cheering up.


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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Better Today

Just woke up hungry, stomach does not hurt, hip does not hurt! Happy dance!

Lou just left with Bailey for a 2 mile walk to the gate.

I have PT this morning.


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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blah Morning

Last night, I slept 11 hours!

You'd think I'd wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but no. I woke up with a stomach ache and left hip pain.

I drank the tea Lou made me, but couldn't face breakfast.

At 10:30am, a design consultant from a local furniture store is coming to see the sunroom so she can suggest how to furnish it. So I need to be showered and functional for that.


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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Can't Eat Much

I don't think I have said anything about how I have been eating small amounts since coming home from the hospital.

For example, for breakfast, Lou might make me two eggs and one small toast, and it's a struggle to eat the toast and the yolks and a little eggwhite. Then I feel grossly full for awhile.

At first I thought my small appetite was a result of the surgery, but then I realized I was eating even less as time passed, instead of more.

So I started to wonder if perhaps the tumor between the pancreas and liver had grown and was pushing on my stomach, making me feel artificially full.

I ran that idea by Dr R yesterday, and he agreed that it was possible. We'll know when we do the next scan.

Currently the next scan is set up for next week, but we talked about pushing it out one week because I am still sort of weak. We need to be able to jump right into chemo after the scan, so I shouldn't be weak.

By weak, I mean still sleeping a lot during day and still not walking very far.

Hey, this morning I walked to the top of the hill again! It was Mary Beth's comment from yesterday that prompted me to do it. Otherwise, I probably would have wimped out and skipped the walk altogether because I have PT at noon. Thanks, MB!


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Monday, June 11, 2012

Top of the Hill

I made it to the top of the hill today!

I walked all the way up the hill, pretty slowly, but I made it. Lou and Bailey accompanied me as usual.

My back was fine during the walk. So I guess my stamina is improving.

I still have a funny gait. I will ask Jaime about it tomorrow when I have PT.


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Friday, June 8, 2012

Good Day

It's still early, but today is shaping up to be a really good day.

I woke up at 6:30 and caught Lou sneaking out to the hot tub. (I am still not allowed to submerge myself in water yet.) His back has been bothering him, and the hot tub helps.

I felt pretty good and started my PT exercises. They were taking forever because I was just lying there not moving in between each set. I'd think, "Okay, let's go, lift that leg," and nothing would happen.

What finally got me moving was that Lou popped his head in the bedroom and asked me to make him a salmon bagel for breakfast.

I haven't made him breakfast in so long --- I am usually asleep till long after he's eaten. So I was psyched to be able to do it today. Plus he's always hungry after soaking in the hot tub, so I knew if I dilly-dallied too long, he'd make it himself.

After breakfast, my friend Julie dropped in for an hour to talk. We even walked to Joe and Peg's mailbox, very slowly of course. (My PT person verified that it was okay to walk up the hill.)

After my walk, I sat on ice and started feeling tired. So Julie split and now I'm back in bed, ready to fall asleep.

It's already been quite a full day!

And I feel a lot more cheerful today.


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Thursday, June 7, 2012

PT Wiped Me Out

Today I had my second PT appointment, and it wiped me out. When I awoke from a two hour nap afterward, I had nerve pain at my ankle. So maybe this appnt was a bit too ambitious.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the day up and down, iced and not iced. Oh, and I took a very short walk with Lou.

Now I am completely exhausted, in bed, ready to fall asleep.

I thought that I would be a lot more recovered by now. I am still sort of a wreck, and it bums me out. However, I realize that PT will do wonders. So I will do my exercises and make progress.


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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tummy Ache

I spent the morning sick in bed with a tummy ache and an empty bucket close by just in case.

At about 12:30 I woke up feeling a lot better. I did my three sets of stretches that PT Jaime gave me, and then I had a bowl of chicken soup that Lou heated up for me.

Then my back started killing me, which made sense, because it had been 16+ hours since I'd taken a painkiller.

I took a pill and crawled back into bed to wait for it to kick in. Rex Stout kept me entertained. That is, I'm re-reading "Three at Wolfe's Door."

So now I feel okay and have to get up. Lying around in bed all day is not good for ya.


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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Physical Therapy

My neighbor, Peg, drove me to my first post-surgery PT appointment this afternoon.

I learned a lot. One really important thing I learned is to take only one walk per day.

On that walk, I need to listen to my body and let my back decide when the walk is over, instead of trying to stick to some arbitrary distance or time goal.

I got some simple stretches to do at home. And I pledge to do them.

Jaime evaluated my status, did some stuff to me, and then put me on ice, which felt great.

On the drive home, we stopped at the vet to pick up heartworm and flea pills for Bailey. They were $23 cheaper than the 1-800-petmeds price!

By the time I got home, I had nothing left. I walked so slowly into the house! I went straight to bed and slept till 8pm.

I woke up starving. Luckily, Brent and Lori had dropped off curry for dinner. There was some delicious pickled veg in the curry; I'm going to have to ask Lori what it was.

Of course, it's bedtime and I am a bit awake. But I am hoping to be sleepy soon.


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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Minimal Nerve Pain

I had very little nerve pain to deal with this weekend!

That was a huge relief.

I had a little bit when we were driving home from my Healing Touch appointment, so I stretched out across the back seat in Nick and Sharon's car, and it went away.

I felt great, otherwise, after my HT appointment.

Actually, I felt so good on Saturday that I decided to try again to go from 10mg pills to 5mg pills.

If you remember, I tried this two weeks ago. It didn't work out then, and it didn't work out this time either.

I got through the day okay, but then woke up in the middle of the night in incredible pain. Like I hit a wall of pain.

I went back to the 10mg pills. But today was awful because it was like I had to play catch up. Even though I was back at the right dose, I was in pain for most of the day.

I expect to wake up tomorrow in much better shape. And I will not mess with the pain meds again.

When I am in pain, all I want to do is lie still and not make it worse. I don't want to get up and move around at all.

Of course, getting up and moving around is exactly what I need to do to get better.

So messing with the painkillers is counter productive.


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Friday, June 1, 2012

No More Giant Feet

Today I woke up with normal-sized feet and ankles!

The excessive swelling, probably from all the IV fluids, is gone. I have been taking a big dose of diuretic, upon the advice of my fantastic primary care physician. It worked.

In addition, my weight dropped 17 pounds! Now that is a lot of fluid.

However, I am still a bit diabetic. The amount of long-lasting insulin that I need to inject is still decreasing (so far, from 26 units to 16 units), so I am hoping eventually to be completely not diabetic again.


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Too Much Exertion

At the time, my outing on Wednesday did not feel like too much exertion. But when we got home, I crashed and went to sleep. When I finally woke up, I was upright for about five minutes before the nerve pain started near my ankle. I kept walking around, hoping it would go away. It got stronger and more painful than ever, with every second that passed. In the end, I practically threw myself back in bed to escape the excruciating pain. Luckily, after awhile, that pain went away while I was lying down.

That is what all Wednesday evening and night was like. I could get up for about five minutes, but then I had to lie back down to stop the nerve pain from getting out of control. Sitting did not help. Only lying down helped.

I was just hoping that when I woke up Thursday morning, it would be finished, after a good night's sleep.

On Thursday, I was about to stay upright for quite awhile before the nerve pain started. That was an improvement. Plus, I realized that it took only about 5 minutes of lying down for the nerve pain to go away. That meant that I didn't have to lie there for 45 minutes -- I could lie there for 5 and then get back up again. So Thursday was a lot better than Wednesday.

I forgot to mention that Lou and I talked to the nurse practitioner on Wednesday about the nerve pain. She said that it could be a normal part of the healing process. The best thing that she said was that just because it is happening now, that doesn't mean it will keep happening. It might be temporary.

I sure hope it's temporary.

Can I learn from my mistakes? Well, there was an outing planned for today (Friday). Our neighbors, Nick and Sharon, were driving me and Lou first to my Healing Touch appointment with Amelia Vogler at The Healing Space, and then to the Bonefish Grill for dinner.

I realized that this was exactly the kind of double outing that nearly killed me on Wednesday. So I cancelled the dinner part. It broke my heart, because we would have had a lot of laughs at dinner. Nick and Sharon were really nice my cancellation. They are still going to drive me to my HT appointment, but then take me right home afterward.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

35 Stitches

Erin, a fantastic nurse practitioner, removed 35 stitches from my back!

Afterward, we took John to lunch at A Southern Season's restaurant, The Weathervane.

Lunch was excellent.

Lou and I lingered at the table while John made his first foray into A Southern Season. He is a convert.

When we got home, I went straight to bed, because I  utterly exhausted. Naptime.

Oh, and I found out that I should have already started PT, so if I wake up in time, I will be calling Avante in Cary for an appt with Jaime.


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Remove the Stitches

John is driving us up to Chapel Hill this morning so that I can get my stitches removed.

I don't see Dr. Jaikumar for this. But I do make my appointment for an x-ray and follow-up with him. That's when he releases me to go back to work and to start chemo.

Yesterday I had another migraine! Tinalynne told me that oxy pain killers give her more migraines. Maybe that's what is going on for me. It's more motivation to get off the painkillers.

Yesterday, I had 2 doses. It used to be 4, then 3...


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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Big Party

Carl and Pat held their most excellent Memorial Day party today.

I got a ride up the street from Pat, and then settled into a great seat for some fun.

I got to talk to a lot of people. I was really excited to hear from Robert and Marissa, who just got home from their ambitious driving trip across Europe.

But then another migraine started.

Lou rushed hone to grab a Maxalt for me, but by 5pm I was ready to quit. John kindly drove me home, and I crashed in bed till 7:30.

I had to push Lou to go back to the party. He felt that he ought to, what, stay home and watch me sleep off the migraine?!

I was really happy when he agreed to go back.


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Live and Learn

On Thursday, I got carried away with my new regimen of walking laps. Three sets of ten-minutes, way too much.

When I went to bed that night, I had nerve pain reflected down at my ankle. I hadn't felt anything like that since before the surgery.

On Friday, it was worse. I had nerve pain running down the back of my leg to my knee, as well as at my ankle. The painkillers took it away for awhile, but it kept coming back.

Needless to say, I have walked no more laps. The only exercise I have gotten is mentally kicking myself.

(Strictly speaking, I have gotten exercise, walking around doing things and fetching things for myself instead of asking Lou to fetch them for me.)

Today was much better. The ankle nerve pain showed up only when the painkiller had long worn off.

So whatever I did to myself on Thursday seems to be wearing off. Thank God.

I know it's human nature to push too hard when you feel a little better, but I still feel like a dope.


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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Walk then Sleep

I slept late today. Sleep is great. Time for all the cells to rest and heal and knit themselves back together.

Eventually Lou did come into the bedroom and quietly ask if I wanted a salmon bagel for breakfast. Nothing like the mention of salmon to wake me up and get me moving.

After breakfast, I walked laps around the dining room table for a whopping ten minutes. Shortly afterward, and not completely unrelated, I took my first painkiller of the day and then fell asleep for a couple of hours.

This afternoon, I managed another ten-minute walk. Right now I'm in bed, hoping to either fall asleep or read Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe for awhile.

Linda is bringing us dinner tonight!

Usually Lou goes to poker every Thursday, but he said he's too wiped out. I think we might end up on the couch watching Robert Conrad in season 2 of The Wild West, thanks to Netflix.

I am hoping for a third ten-minute walk tonight before bedtime.


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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dad's on the Roof

I got to look over my Dad's shoulder at some old pictures on his PC.

So this is my Dad standing on the roof of our old house in Woodinville, Washington -- cleaning windows for us.

My Dad is a maniac!


Look at that sunny blue sky! When it isn't raining, the Pacific Northwest is a totally beautiful place.

Mom and Dad

I am a little choked up today, very sad that my Mom and Dad have headed home. But it was a good long visit.

So I can't really adequately express how much it meant to me to have them here to support Lou and me. They are fun, ever helpful, completely flex, and the best Mom and Dad in the world.

Just this morning, my Dad helped me come up with a strategy for increasing my stamina by walking for a specific length of time, multiple times per day, and keeping a chart to track progress. The first 6 minute walk wiped me out! But, hey, tonight I did 7 minutes.

Anyway, here are my sweet wonderful parents:




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Migraines (plural)

Usually I get maybe six migraines per year.

I had one migraine in the hospital after surgery. I had a migraine start yesterday morning, right after breakfast. And I had another migraine start today, right after lunch.

Luckily, I noticed the early warning signs --- blank spots in my vision --- pretty quickly both yesterday and today. That means I was able to take the Maxalt early enough to completely derail the migraine.

Perhaps "completely derail" is a bit optimistic. But Maxalt really takes the stuffing out of it.

I had actually forgotten how lousy a migraine can be (and I admit that mine are mild compared to stories I've heard) till that one in the hospital where the pharmacy took 2 hours to get me the pill.

Because of this migraine, I was not able to ride along to the airport with Patsy, Omer, and our fabulous neighbor John.

Instead, we said our goodbyes at the end of the sidewalk on the front lawn.

I might not have mentioned that today was the day they were going home, because I didn't want to think about it. Boy, I relied on them. They were so much help, and made me laugh.


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Monday, May 21, 2012

Helpful As Always

My appointment with Dr Schroder was really helpful, as always.

Tomorrow I'll have an ultrasound to rule out any blood clot that might be causing the crazy swelling. That seems like a prudent course of action.

It took awhile to update Dr S with all the new developments and then decide what to do.

When the appointment was basically over, I asked Dr S, "Would you like like to see my incision?"

Lou exclaimed, "Of course not!"

But Dr S said that he certainly would.
I knew he would. Professional curiosity. Plus, he's my PCP and really ought to see it.

I just moved my clothes out of the way and leaned over the exam table so both Dr S and Lou could get a good look.

He was surprised at how long it was, and Lou got him to measure it. It's 12.5 inches. Wow.

He said that it is a very neat incision, and that it is healing very nicely. Good to know. It has been Patsy's job to inspect it at home.


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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Giant Feet

So tomorrow afternoon, me and my giant swollen feet will go visit Dr Schroder, my most excellent primary care physician.

After 28 hours on a diuretic, plus a bunch of hours with my feet ridiculously  elevated, only a very small improvement was seen in the swelling.

It's time to show my dogs to my doc and ask for help.

Otherwise, everything is going really really well.


I just loaned my copy of the Peculiar Children teen novel to my friend Carol, who came to dinner tonight to meet my parents.

Carol brought an amazing cherry pineapple cake dessert (spelled it right this time). She very sweetly brought enough so that we could have it again tomorrow. I am just hoping that nobody sneaks out and  scarfs it all up in the middle of the night.


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Back-to-Work Date

I forgot to mention that I got voicemail informing me that my short-term disability ends on June 24.

So I will be back to work on Monday,  June 25!

It feels good knowing when I'll be working again. I won't start thinking about work yet. Getting better really takes everything I've got.

Ugh, and I caught myself twisting again. That is the third time. (The first time was before I knew I wasn't supposed to twist.) Man, it is hard to remember. Let's hope the third time is the charm.


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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Still Diabetic


It's still too early to tell what will happen down the road with my temporary diabetes...

But today for sure I am still diabetic.

My blood sugar numbers are really very good. That's only  because I'm still injecting myself with 22 units of long-lasting insulin every night!  And I eat 3 (or fewer) carbohydrates per meal.

At bedtime, I'm using a Lantus "pen" to inject myself with the long-lasting insulin. The pen is easy to deal with. Surprisingly, it doesn't hurt.


My feet and ankles have been swollen since I got home. Today I talked to the neurosciences surgery resident on-call, who assured me that there was nothing about my surgery that could result in swelling. That's great news. Tonight I was lying on couch with feet straight up in air, which helped shrink feet.  Oh, and we watched the Happy Gilmore movie.


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