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Feeling Better Day by Day

This morning I went to Samaritan Albany General Hospital to have some preliminary blood work done for my PET scan this coming Friday. I had a new phlebotomist when I went in, so I was a little bit nervous, but she was amazing – it barely hurt at all! 🙂

After the blood draw, I got to go to Urgent Care in North Albany to have my ankles looked at. Last night, I was going down the stairs at my mom & dad’s house only to slip on the steps, roll both ankles, and break my favorite shoes! Grr. Anyway, I got in to Urgent Care, and when the doctor walked in, I thought I recognized him. Turns out, Dr. Simon was the doctor that was on duty last April when I went in with an irregular heartbeat. He is the one that found the tennis ball sized mass in my chest.

We chuckled over the discovery and talked about how my last year has been, and then he got to work. He looked over my ankles, even though the right one didn’t feel too bad to me. I was a little surprised when he said that he was going to have my left ankle & my right foot x-rayed. I said, “If you send me outta here with two casts, I’m never going to come see you again!” 🙂 Turns out, they’re both just sprained. It’s not really a big deal, I’m just wearing a brace on my left ankle – the right foot is virtually pain free.

I’ve been getting more energy day by day anymore. I think the biggest contributor is the fact that I started drinking some nutritional shakes three times a day. To keep from sounding too much like a commercial, I’ll keep it low key, but I am amazed at how I’ve been feeling lately! I’d be happy to tell you more about it if you want to ask me directly, but I can definitely say that I’m loving me some Reliv shakes!

I’ll let you know how the PET scan turns out probably next week after I meet with my oncologist, Dr. Sharman, on the 29th. Until then, enjoy life & don’t waste a day. You never know what the next day can bring!

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Better Than I Deserve

Some days it seems like words just flow while other days I feel stuck in my writing, but I felt it important to update all of you who care about me and my family.

It’s almost as if I’ve been waiting for the hammer to fall. Waiting for that moment when I start feeling horribly rotten again. The weird thing is, it hasn’t happened like it has in the past. Now, I’m not saying I haven’t had any side effects, because I have, but they have mercifully been so much easier. I definitely got cranky yesterday though 🙂 and naps have been a daily occurrence lately.

I have to believe that it is because of all the prayers going up on our behalf, but also, maybe partly because I know this is it! There are no more chemo sessions in my future. Yes, I go for hydration treatment tomorrow, but that’s going to be my last IV for a while. I am really excited about that!

Thank you all for yummy meals and coveted prayers. Onward to health!

The End Is Here!

It’s official.  I am done with chemotherapy!!!!

I’m tired, and a little bit uninspired as writing goes – which is normal for after chemo feelings.  I brought an entourage with me today: Mom, Tom and my sister Andrea.  Joanne was my nurse today, she & Shawna have been my main nurses throughout this journey.  It has been such a blessing having nurses that care about you taking care of you.  I can’t say enough positive things about Willamette Valley Cancer Institute oncology nursing staff.  Almost makes me want to go into nursing…almost. 🙂

It’s also been amazing to have a doctor with the same faith as you.  Having Dr. Sharman as my doctor has been meaningful because I know that not only do I have a doctor that is beyond gifted in the medical field, but he has the Great Physician on his side.  To know that he is going to the One that is the Healer for guidance.  Thank you Dr. Sharman for your care.

All the support I have had during this 6 month journey has been overwhelming.  It’s difficult to remember who all has done and given what.  At least with the mealtrain.com website, I can go back for the past few months and figure out who all has brought us meals. 🙂  I can’t begin to tell you about my mom though.  She has pretty much rewritten her spring, summer, & fall to make sure that I would have transportation to and from all my appointments.  This has allowed us to have some good one-on-one time that I will treasure forever.  Now to figure out how to continue it, because I do not want to go through this again! 🙂

Thank you all for the prayers and support.  I’m going to close for tonight because both kids have Health speeches to finish (before tomorrow of course!) and they need my help.  And right now, I’m thinking clearly enough to be able to help them, so that is QUITE an opportunity for them!

 

Joanne and Me – the END of Chemotherapy!

My New “Favorite” Song

Had to write a quick blog about a song I heard tonight on KHPE 107.9 (our local Christian radio station).  I actually heard it a little while ago because I put in on an Evernote list in my phone as a song that I eventually want to get on iTunes.  Anyway, it makes me happy, and talks about how it’s good to be alive…  And just in case you’d like to hear it, I’ve included the official YouTube video at the bottom of the page.  So enjoy, and live, because it’s good to be alive.

“Good To Be Alive” by Jason Gray

Hold on
Is this really the life I’m living?
Cause I don’t feel like I deserve it
Every day that I wake, every breath that I take you’ve given
So right here, right now
While the sun is shining down

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be alive, yeah

Hold on
If the life that we’ve been given
Is made beautiful in the living
And the joy that we get brings joy to the heart of the giver
Then right here, right now
This is the song I’m singing out

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be alive
[x2]

I won’t take it for granted
I won’t waste another second
All I want is to give you
A life well lived, to say “thank you”

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be, it’s good to be alive

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be alive

I won’t take it for granted
I won’t waste another second
All I want is to give you
A life well lived, to say “thank you”

 

(Click the picture to play the song.  That hint is for you mom. 🙂 )

Sometimes It’s Hard to Write

I have a friend that is a real writer. You know, the kind that write books that get published and people actually buy to read. Her name is Karen Barnett. She recently got back from a writer’s convention or conference or something where she had even been nominated for an award. (Man, I really hope I’m getting the details correctly.) Me, I just blog. And I don’t do that very well sometimes. But I think that comes with the territory.

Like right now. I’m pecking away on my iPad, because I can’t sleep. I overdid it today. I know I did. But that’s ok, because I can rest tomorrow. Thank goodness for meds, though when you’ve taken everything the doctors say to take in order to get some sleep and you still can’t, that’s not a good sign. I do feel like I accomplished something today though. I got through a bunch of drawers of craft stuff that I haven’t touched in what seems like years, and whittled it down a lot. I figure the local Boys & Girls club can use the sequins, Pom poms, and felt ornament kits more than I will have time to. And my kids don’t seem to have the same interests as I did when I was younger, so they aren’t likely to use them either.

Uh oh, I must have disrupted the cat. She moved from where she was cuddled up beside me. Tom hasn’t been able to sleep well either lately. He’s out in the garage playing with a jigsaw that he bought a few weeks ago. He has some big dreams about making puzzles and having Sharolyn do some painting on them. They started one of an ostrich & I have to admit its starting to look not too bad. Of course, once he got a finer blade for the saw so that it didn’t look like a shark had chewed the pieces out of the scraps of wood that he’s been using, that helped too.

We had a good talk tonight. Fear has been real here. It’s nice being able to finally get to this point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But beating that battle has only made other fears and concerns come to the top. I have been so glad for the incredibly unseasonal weather. I don’t want the rain. Not because I don’t like the rain – I LOVE hearing it pour. Knowing I’m cozy and warm in my house. But last year we were thinking that the roof looked like it needed to maybe be replaced, so we had a couple different contractors come out and take a look at it. They thought it would be fine for another year, and it was. But I was supposed to be able to work this year and get a new roof put on. Um, that didn’t quite happen. In fact, last year when I crawled the ridge of the house to put moss-be-gone stuff on it (because I didn’t want Tom on the roof repeating the broken back fall of 2010 – or was it 09? who knows – I noticed that the ridge line was showing some cracking, but not any holes or anything. Well a couple months ago I was trying to make good on a “promise” to Blaine about putting some stuff on his walls in his room, and in the process of trying to find a stud in the wall, I found daylight where it shouldn’t be, a quarter sized hole in the ridge above his room. So I’m glad for the sunshine. It means one more day that I don’t have to worry about rain coming in where it shouldn’t.

Then today, I got a wonderful gift of works from my friends, Lionel & Kristen Wilson. They sent over the sweetest gal named Emma, that did some organizing and cleaning in my kitchen. I don’t know about you, but sometimes time gets away from me, and I don’t get to things that are important, like cleaning out cupboards. I mean, it’s one of those things you can put off. That is, until you have moths flying out of your cupboard like kamikaze pilots. Then you have to quit putting it off. Except now, I think my mom would kill me if she caught me standing on my countertops. And to put it honestly, I’m thinking my balance isn’t so great, so I should probably stay off them.

Then there’s always that stuff that happens when people don’t understand what people are like inside. Tom is the best, most wonderful husband ever, but not everybody realizes that there are truly good people that don’t have ulterior motives going on inside when they do things on the outside. I have to admit, I’m even at fault sometimes for taking his actions the wrong way. In the process of someone just being kind and giving, people see (or think they see) more into something. Then people get hurt. Then hurt people hurt other people, and they hurt other people. And soon we are all hurting. It’s just not fair. He’s had to face the fears of “what if Kristin dies, how will I take care of the kids? How will their needs be met?” I know we have tons of wonderful friends, but truly, in the middle of a crisis like cancer, you don’t think or act clearly. People going through stuff like this need extra grace not judgment.

Oh, another thing that happened recently was that my dishwasher quit. Now, I’ve been without a “real” dishwasher for probably 14 years, cuz we moved from our new house before the kids were born. I’ve had portable ones, but truly, they don’t work quite the same. So recently, I’m loading the dishwasher like normal, putting in the little brick of Finish dishwasher detergent, and open the dishwasher at the end of the cycle only to find a crumbled up brick still lying there mushy from the humidity in the machine, but definitely without clean dishes. It worked off & on for a while. If I’d stand there and keep starting it over & over until I heard water coming into the machine. But one day a couple weeks ago it just wasn’t going to pump the water anymore. Now here’s God’s sense of humor. He KNOWS Tom doesn’t like junk hanging around the house, so what does HE do? HE sends LikeNu Appliance to deliver a refrigerator to the neighbor’s house – while they’re not home. Guess what? They take non-working appliances from your house for free! Junk be gone! But then, no dishwasher, not even a gimpy one. So with all the Sears ads we did some shopping and I got a great deal on a new Maytag. Gonna go built in, but that means I lose a cabinet, drawer & cutting board. Ouch. I use those things…a lot… But you gotta do what you gotta do. So since there’s demolition involved, I can’t really go with a home job, I need someone who knows what they’re doing, hence a contractor. Casey Hooley had just done some work for my mom and put some beautiful vinyl wainscoting up in her kitchen, so I asked him to come bid the job for me. He did fantastic work and I have a new working dishwasher IN my kitchen! Oh the simple joys. But in the process of this, it needed to be electrified (for lack of a better word). But we couldn’t do that because we had what had to be the original fuse box from when this house was built in 1948. And it was having it’s issues too. If you whacked anywhere near the box, the main would flicker off. (This is not a good problem by the way.) So Dennis from McLain Electric came and changed out the panel and gave us a circuit for the dishwasher – YAY!

As most of you know, if you start a home improvement project, it usually will morph into something that you didn’t expect, like dry rot or something equally fun. This project hasn’t disappointed, but has been a little more merciful than I expected. So far, I think the only thing we have left to do that’s tied to the electric panel-dishwasher job, is an unexpected leak under the house. Naturally. Oh, and then today Emma put some contact paper down in the cabinet under the sink because the wood was looking so bad. It was a good thing she did that, because when she was all done, there was a generous sized puddle in one spot and a smaller one in another under the dual sink. At least the plumber hasn’t been here yet. I’m definitely going to get some issues taken care of while he’s here. I might even add the loose toilet and the shower diverter that has never worked right since we moved in while he’s at it.

It’s 1:25 am. I guess the meds didn’t work. I should be conked out right now. Well, at least I got some writing done. Maybe that will free up space in my mind so I can sleep now. I hear Tom coming in. I guess I’ll call it a night. Definitely wrote a lot more than I planned. Talk to you later.

September: Sunshine & Shadows

It sounds trite & cliche, but I’m going to use it anyway.  Our lives are filled with sunshine & shadows.  It hasn’t been more evident to me than in the past month.

If I sat and blogged every time I got the idea to, you guys would get sick & tired of all the posts and ramblings I wrote. 🙂  So I guess you can consider it somewhat of a blessing that I don’t get to blogging all the time that I think about it.

September has been a really difficult month for me personally.  Starting with the fever and ending up in the hospital for a week, then having to have chemo when I still was feeling pretty rotten – that’s been a lot of my shadows.  I also lost a great little friend this month – it’s hard to see a child pass away from cancer.  All these different things really started me into a deep depression.  I share this not for pity, but maybe to explain why I have been absent from a lot of things lately.  If you have ever had a bout with depression, you can understand how it can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel – or if there is, it’s because it’s an oncoming train!  I’ve personally never had it like I’ve had it recently.  I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer, and one of the biggest things I discussed with the Lord was my lack of joy.  I have never been a person that couldn’t dig down & find just a little bit of joy or happiness inside until recently.  (I’m really giving you a glimpse into my heart here – don’t misuse it! 🙂 )  Anyway, it’s been rough.  Even as recently as last Tuesday (which happened to be Brandon’s funeral) I would say it has been one of the hardest days yet of my treatment cycles.  I think the tipping point was the fact that I hadn’t been able to get the sleep I needed for multiple nights in a row.  FINALLY on Tuesday night, after calling my doctor’s office and getting some more direction on what to take, I was able to get some sleep.

Because my body was finally able to get the rest that it needed, I have gotten to see some real SUNSHINE at the end of this month.  Friday morning, I woke up and thought, “Oh my gosh, I feel FANTASTIC!”  And I did!  A friend came over & we did some digital scrapbooking lessons, and I went and got my nails done.  I was a little shaky and knew I needed to take it easy, but just couldn’t resist going to the office and seeing all my Keller Williams family while I felt good.  But this kind of good, I hadn’t felt in longer than I could remember.  I was driving down the road and out loud, I said, “I’m smiling!”  I hadn’t smiled in what seemed like forever.  Well, that’s not quite true.  Many of you saw me smile, but I’ll be honest, it was a “smile-because-you’re-supposed-to-so-they-don’t-feel-so-sorry-for-you” kind of smile.  You know the kind – fake it till you make it? 🙂  Yeah, that was me – until this weekend.

On Saturday we got to spend a fun day at Sue & Pat Long’s house for the Keller Williams company picnic, and had amazingly beautiful weather!  There was a fishing derby and delicious food and best of all people to visit with.  Then later that evening, we went to Brownsville for our nephew’s birthday – Steen is 5 now! 🙂  The kids got to play with their cousins and we got to visit with family.  I could feel the fatigue setting in, so we headed home a little earlier than we originally planned, but we had a great time.  Unfortunately, I had a difficult time getting to sleep again last night – it was after 2:00am before I was able to doze off.

Today I let myself sleep and then we went to my mom & dad’s house for dinner in honor of my sister’s 37th birthday.  We relaxed in the sunshine & breezes and also got some fun photo sessions in for kicks.  Here’s a picture of my sister & I today:

 

I ended the day actually getting to PLAY on our “Grandpa’s Team” city league softball team.  It was the last regular game of the season, and I had the energy to do it so I DID!  It felt sooo good to be at least acting somewhat normal.

Life is good.  God is good.  These are things I have to remember.  Another thing to remember is that on those “down” days (and they do/will happen) it’s not going to stay that way.  You would have had a hard time convincing me of this a week ago, but I am so grateful to God for these precious 3 days that I have felt so good.  Oh by the way, you all have permission to remind me of these facts, but I will never turn down a shoulder to cry on either. 🙂

Thank you for your friendships – they mean so much to me.  I couldn’t get through this without God, my family (both blood & KW), and my friends.  I am truly, TRULY blessed.

Now tomorrow is my second to last session of chemo, so I would definitely covet some prayers that it would go well.  I know it’s gonna be rough again, and I’m not looking forward to it, but with God’s help, I will get through this victoriously!

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Home Again

I was able to go home from the hospital yesterday. My Aunt Nancy & Uncle Steve Aerni were going to come visit and they ended up taking us to dinner and then home instead.

While it’s nice to be home, I am finding that some of my biggest battles are inside me. Ever since my fever got so high, I’ve been scared. Scared of what? I don’t know, a little bit of everything I guess. Scared that the fever will come back. Scared that I won’t be able to catch my breath. Scared for my kids. Scared that I should be doing something more, but what? Scared that I’m resting too much, or maybe not enough. It’s hard to know what to do.

I’m so close to being done with my treatments and this seems like such a huge setback. In all this, I know that God is in control, it just seems so easy to forget when you’re facing scary stuff.

I keep my cell phone on my nightstand at night. This morning I woke up to a text coming in. It was from my mom. It was a verse she had found while she was reading her Bible: Psalm 71:20 –

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.