Tuesday, January 29, 2008
In every life, most of us probably remember when time seemed to stand still. Think of when you were six years old and Christmas was five days away. Or think about waiting outside the principals office or watching your wife in labor with your first child. Waiting for you teenage son or daughter to call a half hour after they were supposed to be home.
Time for me stood still on April 17th, 2007, when Deb called in tears to give me the news that she had a positive biopsy. Since then, all I've wanted was to get through all the treatment, starting with the Chemo, then the surgery and finally the radiation. Each one causing damage and scaring, both physical and phychological, to someone so many of us love.
She is really a trooper. I couldn't go on day by day with the patience and grace she exhibits through all this. Her chest and back look like a cooked lobster. She is losing skin under her left arm from the radiation burns, in spite of all the various creams and lotions we use to prevent just that. When she lifts her left arm the pain is exquisite. The only time it feels OK is when she doesn't use it. And she is not supposed to use her left arm anyway, so that lymphedema doesn't occur. This is, of course, after all the side effects of chemotherapy and the trauma of surgery.
And it goes on. Problems for a while getting blood drawn. Finally she is sent to the infusion center where the nurses are able to draw it from her medi port.
Deb isn't thrilled with the photo of both of us I put on the blog. But, if you compare it with the others you can see how all of this has affected her. I, of course, still look totally handsome and hot.
Her hair continues to come in, but slowly. Her nails are growing out, so her fingers will look better as time passes. She is tired most of the time.
But, she is nice to everyone. She is patient, flexible, tolerant, easy to dance with :)
Why do some people get it and others don't have a clue?
Jonah was one. You'd think after getting barfed up on the shore of Nineveh by a big fish, he'd realize this was a second chance from above. So he takes a three day walk through Nineveh preaching God's word by God's direction. He goes up on a hill to watch God destroy Israel's greatest enemy but nothing happens. Then he sees that all the people of Nineveh, including the king, have repented. God spares them. But Jonah is disappointed. He wanted fire and brimstone, an eye for an eye. He misses the point that God loves us all, even our enemies, and wants us to love them too.
What does this have to do with Deb's cancer treatment? I have no idea. But I love the story of second chances and God's love for all of us. It's repeated so many times in history. Makes even a cynical guy like me think there is hope.
Please remember Deb in your prayers. This has been so trying for her. Danny is still treating and fighting his cancer, please continue to pray for him. The Kattner twins are home, but still very vulnerable.
I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read this blog. I love that some of you have expressed to me or Deb you like reading it. It is a good outlet for me to dissipate some of the stress that builds watching Deb endure all of this.
I love happy endings, fewer goodbyes and more hellos, Deb's meatloaf and coconut creme pie. Thank God the radiation is over this week.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Deb is progressing with her radiation treatments. They should end next week. She has a lot of red skin on her chest and under her arm as they zap the area with a lot of energy. We continue to use the special creme to reduce the effects.
Her spirits are good, as she looks forward to our cruise. She visited Dr. Weyburn a week ago and will start Tamoxifen soon. She will have a check up every three months to begin and then the schedule will be adjusted.
We continue to get great support from many people. Deb continues to work and rest. We received a cancer quilt from Marge and Danny. It is truly amazing. It must be at least four feet long and three feet wide. Lots of photos of Deb sewn into the quilt. It must have taken a lot of work and time to complete. We have a spot picked out to mount it to the wall. It also had cancer pins and a bracelet attached. So thoughtful.
Deb is thinking about participating in some of the cancer events this summer. She has not really hooked up with a support group yet. Her hair continues to thicken and increase in length, but slowly.
There will be a little rest for a while and then the constant vigil will start, waiting for anything to suggest a recurrence. Every bump and pain will take on a significance far in excess of hypochondria.
We hope the doctors and the treatments will combine to rid Deb of any chance of a recurrence, but only God knows for sure.
So we trust God and commit our care and future to Him.
Through all this we've asked for prayers for Deb and others. It occurs to me that there is never a shortage of people needing prayer. We believe that prayer is a direct line to God and He considers and answers all prayers in His time. The Kattner twins are home after three months in the hospital to overcome the effects of premature birth.
Little Evan is the new grandson for Chuck and Loni. Chuck is still having constant pain. He's been through so much, including having both knees replaced.
My Mom continues to greet each day. Why and how she perseveres we may never know.
I've been accepted as a Knight of the Round Table. I'll be known as Sir Cumference.
Thanks everyone for the love and support that keeps both of us going.
Take care all,
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
I wonder what went through the minds of my grandparents in 1962, or my parents in 1975, when both my father and grandfather attained the age I am now. In 1962 Jack Nicklaus was only beginning his golf career. The Berlin wall was up and keeping the east and west of Germany separated. The Cuban blockade started and the pope ex communicated Fidel Castro. The US Supreme Court decided against racial separation on public transportation, and Walter Cronkite begins his career as the anchor of CBS evening news. The Beatles replaced Pete Best with Ringo Starr and West Side Story won for best picture at the Academy Awards. NASA announced the selection of nine astronauts with the "Right Stuff". Quite a year.
In 1975 some of the Watergate crew were convicted and sentenced to prison. The Rocky Horror Show opened and the Eagles and Barry Manilow were chart toppers. That guy Nicklaus won the Masters and Frank Robinson was the first negro manager. NBC paid 5 million to show Gone With The Wind one time on TV. Cher divorces Sonny and Jaws opens in the theaters. Hoffa disappears from a Detroit area restaurant and China and Russia continue to test nuclear weapons.
What occupied my father's thoughts that year or my grandfather 13 years before? Was it anything like my thoughts this year, amazed at how fast the year has gone. Saddened by the senseless tragedy and all the violence and rudeness that seems to prevail in our world.
Or did they find comfort in the beauty of the world and in the people in their life? Were they thankful of the many good things in their lives, the health of their families and the prosperity that allowed them to live comfortably? Did they try to make the world a better place with a well timed smile or a compliment? Were they worried about their health or if the money they saved for retirement would last until they died?
Or did they marvel in the moon in a winter sky, full and bright with coloring from the wispy clouds that pass along its surface? Were they amazed at the technology of the age. Color television in 1962 and in 1975 a small start up company call Microsoft started in a garage. Did they frown at the brevity of life and the start of the infirmities of age? I don't know. They never said.
I'd be willing to bet that such thoughts were as alien to them as singing opera is to me.
But as this year opens I have many recurring thoughts. I can't imagine the standard of living we have in this country, and how we take it and our health for granted. We've become a nation of pill poppers at one extreme and health fanatics at the other end.
I worry about Danny and my mom. I am saddened by the pain and suffering of those who I know have constant pain or health issues, or have paid the emotional toll of loosing a loved one this past year. I worry about Deb most of all. She is my jewel, the one person that can put up with me. She, who along with a dog I've mentioned before, loves me unconditionally every day.
She is doing well so far with the radiation. Applying the creme to prevent skin damage, fighting a cold this week, but resting and saving her strength for the coming weeks.
We try to imagine a world without the pain of disease and injury. A place of happiness and complete understanding. Where nothing disappoints and nothing surprises. A place where there are no goodbyes, only hellos. A place that Dorothy imagined to be somewhere over the rainbow.
So on this first day of the new year, I have a wish for each of you. My wish is that you achieve the peace of mind that comes with understanding that this place we call home, isn't our final destination. We are meant to suffer and die before we reach our final reward. That life isn't fair, has mind numbing stress at times, and the buttered side of the bread always hits the floor first. And since this isn't our final home, we can be assured that a place has been prepared for us to spend eternity. I believe this completely, because I read it in a Book.
Out of love and hatred, out of earnings and borrowings and lendings and losses; out of sickness and pain; out of wooing and worshipping; out of traveling and voting and watching and caring; out of disgrace and contempt, comes our tuition in the serene and beautiful laws.
Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882, American Poet, Essayist