Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hey there folks! I sure hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! Mine was full, LOL, in more ways than one. I have been hosting the big meal at my house for many years now. This year, my sister, Lois, and her family joined us again. They live in Chicago, so it is easier for them to join us in Missouri for the holidays. Especially, since Bryan, my brother-in-law's family lives in Missouri as well. I was very blessed to have all 10 of my children join us as well. Plus, as in year's past, we had a few additional guests. Those of you with teens, know that they usually have some of their friends come as well. And this year was no exception. For those of you who need to know a head count, let me help you out. There were twelve "original" Govero's, my daughter-in-law and grandson (13-14), my daughter Kate's boyfriend (15), my daughter Jenna's fiance (16), three additional friends (17-19), my mom (20), my sister's family (21-28). Yep, we had 28 people for Thanksgiving dinner! And believe it or not, we had food left over, LOL! I am pretty sure everyone had a good time. After the big meal, some retired to the couches to just relax, while some went outside to work off some of the calories they had just consumed. There were basketball games, football games, and some just riding four wheelers all over the farm, enjoying the beautiful day we had.

The day before Thanksgiving, I was at Barnes, getting my Herceptin treatment. There is a rumor going around that I am done with all my treatments. Well, I am not exactly done. It is winding down, yes, but won't be done for a while yet. I still have to have Herceptin treatment every 21 days through March, 2010. In May, I will begin the process of re-construction. Sometime after March, I hope to have this Porta-cath removed. But, for now, my burns from radiation are all healed up. I still am carrying around the extra weight gain that comes from Herceptin. As of this writing, I have gained 21 extra pounds since this journey began. I can barely contain my excitement at that knowledge. Can't wait to see what the final total will be, considering I have 3 more months of this Herceptin treatment. Trying to make me feel better, my plastic surgeon told me that "don't worry, we will need all that extra flesh to re-build you later". I am still trying to feel better about that. I just keep telling myself, "this too shall pass", and someday, this will all be behind me, and I will again, be my normal self, with my new normal body. My hair is growing back too! It is now long enough to actually curl with a curling iron, and this week, I have actually used hair spray again! Geez, the things that excite me now days. I am still working on getting rid of the fatigue that is also a side effect of all the stuff I have been through. I walk a little more each day, but I am still not up to my 2 miles I was doing.

Now that I have you all caught up on the Thanksgiving stuff, and the cancer stuff, I want to vent a little. Bear with me here. Has anyone else noticed all the stuff going on in this world these days? Satan is alive and well on this planet earth, and walking to and fro, seeking whom he can devour. The blatant sin around me these days never ceases to amaze me. Nobody seems to fear God anymore. Even though the bible clearly states in Hebrews 12, how God will punish His children, people just keep on living in sin, daily, as if there is no God. Now don't get me wrong. I know that the Bible also says we all sin. But the Bible also tells us to "go and sin no more". So, as Christians, we should at least be TRYING not to sin, TRYING to live a Godly life, TRYING to show the world there is something different about a follower of Christ. When a Christian sins, there should be remorse, we should feel bad! We should try harder, do better. But daily I get news that breaks my heart. News that yet another "believer" has fallen, or worse, walked away from their faith. They have decided that "it is just not worth fighting anymore". "life is too short", or "I deserve to be happy". People just aren't willing to do the hard things anymore. If it is hard, they walk away. Marriage is hard. My mom and dad were married over 55 years. Keith's mom and dad have been married 62 years! At the rate that this generation is going, not to mention the younger generation, I doubt seriously that will be found in a few years. Give it 10 years, and people who are willing to do whatever it takes to stay married, will be hard to find. It is way too "acceptable" to live together without benefit of marriage. It is way too acceptable to have a baby, without being married. "bastard n. A child born out of wedlock." Yea, that's in the dictionary! Hmmm, does that mean the dictionary is a "religious book"? Because to get married before you have a child, well, that's just some religion telling you what to do. Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." Hebrews 13:4 That's Bible, people! I know people in their 70's, that are living together without getting married, because "she would get her social security cut in half if we get married!". I know people who are struggling financially, and their answer is not "for richer for poorer". It is, "I can do better than this. I am gonna divorce you, go out, get me a job." It is the same line Satan has been feeding people for years....the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. If marriage gets hard, lets throw in the towel, go our separate ways, and ignore the fact that we stood before God and VOWED to each other. We made commitments to each other, in front of witnesses! And this generation that we are raising up now, watching all this, are gonna grow up seeing, words are just words....empty promises. People will say anything, in the heat of the moment, to get what they want. But they will not stick to their word. There is no honor anymore. There is no character. It is hard to find anyone under the age of 30 who is willing to do hard things, and walk the walk of a "disciple of Christ". I know they are out there! I have friends that are doing it! But I am sure they are feeling like the lone ranger. You can always find a huge support group for sin! But finding a "support group" for those that want to go against the grain, stand up for Christ, do Godly things, make Godly choices, come what may? That is harder to do. Too many people let money dictate their morality. Let their friends' opinions, dictate what they will or will not do. Not many are willing to do what looks good in God's eyes. Do what God wants them to do. That would just be hard, it would cost them something! My daddy used to call it "cheap grace". They profess faith, if it's easy. But if it costs them anything, well, let me think about it. Today, the Bible Study I went to, was out of the text Hebrews 12. We jumped around to Romans as well. It was about how to live for Christ in stressful times. Yea, I needed to hear that!!!! I am not the only one, I am sure. Stress is all around us. Satan is attacking every single family I know right now. Some are suffering financially, some have children that are walking away from the faith of their families, thumbing their noses at God! Some have thrown in the towel on their marriage, saying "they're done!". The constant stress and frustration causes many Christian parents to feel like failures. They pour their life into their children. Try to raise them in Christian homes, take them to church, teach them about the Bible, teach them about Christ, and yet, as soon as they get their own "freedom to make my own choices", they don't live Christian lives. The choose sin. They no longer attend church. They move in with their boyfriends/girlfriends. The Bible says, "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." OK, so, I keep telling myself, my children are not old.......yet. My prayer this week, is for Christians to stand up and do the right thing, the Godly thing. Even if it costs them something......even if it hurts.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I admit, because I post on Facebook alot, I sometimes forget that some people don't participate in the social network system. And then, I get an email that gently reminds me that some people are just wondering how I am doing. I am finished with my daily trips to Barnes for radiation treatment therapy. I am burned to a crisp. It didn't start to get bad until the last week. And although they warned me that the skin would continue to burn, even after the radiation was completed, I guess I didn't believe them! But yes, after a week, it seemed to be getting redder and redder. It was actually getting worse, even though I was done! And, I am burned on my back, because some of the rays apparently go all the way through my body. So to say I am burned "through and through" would not be an understatement. But, the team at the Radiation department have been very good with giving me the tools I need to try and be comfortable. I am using a creme called Aquafor. When that didn't give me much relief, they gave me some stuff called Sulfur something. Oh well, this too shall pass. I finally read somewhere on one of the sites, that I should use those non-stick pads, and wrap myself after applying the ointments. And surprisingly, it has given me some relief. I still can't wear the appropriate clothing, but I have decided to take a week or so off from my normal running here and there to allow my body some time to heal. Which is good, considering I have caught some kind of virus. I went to the Beth Moore conference with the ladies from FBC-Festus last Friday and Saturday. Then on Sunday morning, I went to church with my family and my mom. Then Sunday afternoon, I attended a baby shower given in honor of my daughter Jenna. Somewhere in all that, I caught something. By Wednesday night, I was running a fever of 102. I called my Oncologist, and they called in a prescription for me. Right now, I am low on infection fighting cells, so they are not taking any chances. And with deer season in full swing, all my "big people" are gone to the deer woods. So, here at home, it is just Kim, Kassy and Emma and of course, me. So, with that said, it is now time for me to finally lay on the couch for some much deserved down time. My girls are thrilled with pot pies, frozen pizza, and Ramen noodles! Keith was having a hard time trying to decide whether or not to leave me laying on the couch and go off to deer camp with his buddies. I encouraged him, go on, I'll be fine. I need to lay on the couch for a few days. Really, I'll be just fine. So, on Wednesday afternoon, he left, with Adam, Jessica and Ethan. I truly intended to not leave the farm. Really, I did. But, after a couple conversations with my mom, I felt the need to drive to Festus on Thursday. Mom did not go to Bible Study on Wednesday, again. She said it was because there was no gas in her car. She said, "I went and got in the car, but my gas tank said empty! So I just got back out of the car and came back inside. I don't know what happened to all my gas!" Well, I loaded up my girls and headed up there to see what was going on. Once I got there, I got her car keys and said, let's go see what's going on mom. As soon as I got in the car, sure enough, gas hand was on E. But once the key was inserted, and turned, it jumped up to Full. I carefully explained that to mom, and she seemed to understand. We went back inside and after chit chat, I decided to leave the girls there with mom while I did some running. Once that was done, we had lunch, and I loaded up the girls and we came back home. I have been here ever since. Yes that's right. I left the house on Thursday, but not since. I have been taking it easy here on the farm. Of course, Keith had called in re-enforcements. Jenna and Galina came in on Friday. They were here all day on Friday, and stayed until dark. Jen had to be back at work on Saturday morning, so she left sometime Friday night to go back to the city. Kell came in on Friday night sometime, because when we came downstairs Saturday morning, there was Kell, asleep on the couch. And, although she was off and running around today, she said she is coming back here tonight to sleep, and plans to hunt in the morning. Yes, I have red-neck girls. Oh yea, Keith called this evening, and says he got an 8 pt buck! I didn't ask how big or anything, because I just don't care, teehee. Meat in the freezer is all I care about! I told him how Emma was now sick, and has a fever of 103, but that I am able to control it with Ibuprofen. She goes from laying on the couch, sick and whining, to sitting up, and walking around playing, depending on where in the cycle of time she is. I hope this thing doesn't make it's rounds through my whole family!! Thanksgiving is coming! I am also coming up on my one year anniversary of when I started walking this cancer path of my own. Last year, I put my mom on the plane to Colorado for Thanksgiving on November 16th, and as soon as I put her on the plane, I drove straight to the clinic for a check-up. I knew when I went that they were going to tell me I had cancer. Well, I can't say I knew, but I suspected they would. I had already been on the Internet, and done my own checking. Sure enough, they set me up with an appointment to go to Barnes for a "diagnostic mammogram". The rest, shall we say, is history. It has been a long year filled with 24 weeks of chemo therapy, followed by a right side mastectomy in June, and finishing up with 6 weeks of radiation treatments. This whole thing has changed my perspective on so many levels. I used to say, "pick your battles". Now days, I have come to be even more picky on what I am willing to battle for. Family has become even more important to me than I could imagine. Making memories seem so much more precious. Time is something you truly don't get back, and you don't get "do overs". I want to live my life pleasing to my Lord. I want to live my life in a manner that honors my Lord. I know there are days I fall short of that goal, but that is still the goal. I will press on towards the mark. I want to run the race, I want to finish the race. I want to love my kids and my husband, and my grand kids! I want to make smart choices and decisions. I want to set a good example for my girls of how to be a Godly woman as well as a Godly, submissive wife. I want to live like I was dying, but live a life of decency and honor. I am glad to be married to my husband. I love him with all my heart, and he is a good man. I am honored that he loves me and makes me feel that I am the center of his world. I love that he is "into me". He makes me laugh, and he makes me cry, and in the course of our 29 years together, I am sure I have been so mad at him I could spit. But, I wouldn't change one thing about him. He is the love of my life. I am blessed. God has richly blessed me with my family. Words cannot express it properly.........

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hey there folks! Today, the weather here in Missouri is absolutely gorgeous!! The sun is shinning, the fall colors are popping, and the temps are mild. Yesterday it got up to 75 degrees, and it was nice to get to sit outside with my mom in her swing. Those days are few and far between these days, and getting fewer. It was nice to take advantage of the nice weather with my mom. I have passed the half way mark with my radiation treatments!! Woohoo!! I am still making the daily trip to Barnes/Siteman Cancer Center. My time slot is 11:40, but I try and switch it, on a day by day basis. Some days they give me a later slot in the afternoon, and I try and get the next day as an early morning slot. That way, it seems I have more time at home with my kiddos. They have been so good about not having mommy around very much these days. They are such troopers. Jessica has stepped up and become the number one chef. She does the cooking, without me even having to come up with an idea for her, or a menu for her to work from. These days, I am feeling so very un-organized. I used to be Executive Assistant to the Managing Partner of a well known accounting firm. I went to college. I had my files in order at home. I could, at any moment, find whatever I was looking for, even if it was the receipt for some piece of equipment we have had for 10 years!! These days?? Ha! A totally different story. My desk stays piled up with papers that need to be filed. My books are a couple months behind, teehee. Not to mention everything else that is on my plate these days. When I got the chance to spend some time with some friends from our rodeo days recently, we talked about how your life can change in a phone call. How events that come up in your life, can alter your future plans, whether you want it to or not. My life in 2007 changed. Things were put on hold, such as our rodeo activities. The kids back then, were very good about it all, very understanding. Then, again in 2008, things were put on hold for different reasons, in order to help others adjust to a new and different lifestyle. And yes, again, things were put on hold because I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. We keep saying, someday, we will once again go and do like we used to go and do. We will once again be "normal". We will once again participate in the sport that my kids had grown up in, and come to love. We will once again get to rub shoulders with friends that we were once as close, or even closer than family, friends we rarely see anymore. But I keep telling myself, through all of this, my kids are learning things that are way more important than reading, writing and math. Yes, those things are important. And, yes, they are still learning all their academics. Yes, we are behind where we should be, but we are daily, one step at a time, walking this path the Lord has put before us. God has plans for us, as a family. When He put me on this path, He didn't just me on this path. He knew, that because I would be walking this path, it would also affect my family, my kids, my husband. It would change our perspective on many things as a result of this path. Things we use to take for granted, now, seem trivial. Other things, seem so much more important. Relationships, traditions, and memories have been moved to the top of the list of "goals". When people get older, they tend to look back on their memories and their relationships. Those things are what brings smiles to their faces. These are the life lessons that my kids are learning these days. The sacrifices we can make, the ones we get to make, in order to make someone else happy. These are hugely important. Teaching important lessons like, making changes in your plans, your goals, in order that someone else can be happy. "It's all about me!" seems to be the message that saturates our society in today's world. When it comes to making sacrifices for others, serving someone else's wants or needs, that is hard to do. Especially if it is hard. Especially if it will cost us something. Like the song on one of my favorite CD's...."deep water faith, in the shallow end." If our faith is stretched to the point of pain, or past where we can actually see the results, then, well, life gets harder, and we lose our focus. If we are forced to make decisions "in the heat of the moment", and those decisions are not popular, then we begin to re-think them, question whether or not we made the right choices. It is getting harder and harder to maintain focus these days. But, thankfully, God knows our motives, and God looks at our hearts. If I can do nothing else, I want to keep that thought in my mind. No matter what I do, wrong or right, I want to please God. God knows that, in my heart of hearts, I don't want to do anything that would bring him shame. So, even when I screw up, God picks me up, dusts me off, and sets my feet back on the path, and gives me the help I need to walk this path. This path that is so full of snares and distractions, that on any given day, it is hard to remember where I am supposed to be, much less what time. I am going to be finishing up my last radiation treatment the first week of November. I am grateful, that so far, I have only slight pinkness and itchiness. I am rubbing the lotion and the Aloe Vera gel daily, twice a day. Even when I stay at my mom's house. I have asked her to rub it on my back shoulder blade that is getting pink and itchy as well. Pray that I will finish this path, without blistering. I sooo don't want to deal with blisters and peeling!!! But, like the rest of this path, I will deal with whatever comes up. I will try and deal with it in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord. But, when I fall short of that goal....forgive me. I heard one of the radio preachers this week, talking about being a hypocrite. He said, as Christians, we have goals and standards we want to be able to live up to. And the only way to not be a hypocrite, is to NOT have goals and standards! We fall short of our goals and standards, and others label us a hypocrite. But, because we are not willing to give up those goals and standards, we keep on trying, day after day. So, yea, there are days I fall short. I don't act like the godly Christian woman I want to be, I strive to be. But, I am not going to throw out my goals and standards, because I fail. I will continue to hold them up, as the goal. I will continue to give it my best, despite all the distractions and painful things that come into my life these days. Despite all the frustrations and disappointments, I will continue to try and respond in a manner that says I have something different in my life, something different in my heart. My daddy used to say, that was a true test of a Christian. When life gets hard, and we are forced to respond to something hard, painful, or disappointing, what comes spilling out?? It is "easy to be a Christian", when life is easy. When the bumps in the road come along, how do we respond? We should respond differently. We should respond in a manner that would make someone stop and That would make my cheese slide off my cracker, and my cracker slide off my plate!! I fail in that occasionally. I do have melt downs. But, when I do, I cry out to my Lord, ask HIS forgiveness, and He always picks me up, and sets me back on the right path, refreshed and renewed. Thank God for his mercy!!!! Without God's mercy, I know I could not walk this path I am on. I don't know how those that don't have a relationship, a faith in God, get through one minute of their day!! Praise God! Thank you for this day!! Every day is a gift!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

I have now completed 13 radiation treatments. I am just now beginning to get a little "itchy" in some spots. The doctor told me that is how it begins, with itching. I am doing the cream daily, morning and evening, to try and avoid the itching and peeling. But, I do have some itching. Oh well, I will up the cream applications. As I went to lay down on the radiation table last Friday, I was discussing with the Lord, my frustrations with the whole process. Admittedly, I was letting Him know how frustrated I was with the fact that I even had to do this whole radiation thing, and how I wish He would just give me some sort of peace, or a sign of why I have to do this. Within minutes, the technician walked over and hit the play button the cd player and the song by the BeeGees began to belt out....."Staying Alive, staying aliiiiiivvvvvvvvee". I laughed out loud! The nurse turned around and asked if I was alright. I told her I just asked God why I had to do this, and He instantly gave me an answer! She said what was it? I said, well, you hit play, and it said....staying alive. I figure that was a very clear answer. She didn't seem to be as convinced as I was, teehee.

Life has been busy since we got back from Florida. For starters, last week, Kelly called me early one morning, and told me that "grandma fell and hit her head". I talked to mom on the phone, and once I was sure she was ok, told her I was on my way. When I got there, she had a cut on her head that was bleeding, and they had a rag on it. It wasn't bleeding badly, but it looked like it could use a couple stitches. It took some talking, but I got mom to agree to go to the "doctor to have it looked at". Once in the car, I took her to the ER at St. Anthony's. They did an EKG, and a Cat Scan, and a couple x-rays. Once they were convinced she was fine, other than the bump on the head, they came in and cleaned it all up and glued it shut. Apparently they don't stitch anymore, they super-glue! Thankfully, they didn't opt to keep her, and released her to go home. She kept saying she wasn't staying and they had better not keep her this time. My opinion is that mom is not eating like she should, and was putting her clothes away from her suitcase. Lots of bending over, up and down, she got dizzy and passed out. She's a hard headed woman, and no matter what I say, she just says, "Deb, I don't eat the way I used to eat, I know, but I do eat." Right after she had her seizures, I had made several phone calls to inquire about some services like Life Alert and Meals on Wheels. Right after her seizures, she was all about doing whatever it takes to stay in her home, agreeing to everything I suggested. She even told the doctor that I was building a room addition for her. She even went so far as to say, "Deb, I don't want to take my bed down there, but we can take that bed from the blue room. That way, my bed will still be here for when I want to come home for awhile." Yea, well, the further we get away from the seizures, the more confident mom gets about her ability to stay in her home. And, the more she becomes convinced she is not ready for things such as Life Alert and Meals On Wheels. The Meals on Wheels people are very kind, and just answered the questions, and that was it. The Life Alert people, however, have called me numerous times since then, trying to close the deal so to speak. I put them off because of going to Florida in September, didn't want to be paying for something during that month, that we would not be needing. Then when we got back, they called once when I was in the office with my doctor, so again, I put them off telling them I would call them when I got my mom to agree to all this. It is an upfront expense, as well as a monthly fee. I am already paying for mom's Jitterbug phone, both the upfront fee, as well as the monthly fee. I am trying to do what I can without upsetting mom, and if it doesn't cost her anything, she will agree more, but if it costs her something, well, then, she doesn't need it. That is just mom. Kind of like the Aricept. More times than not, I pay for that. I figure it will all even out eventually. The hardest thing about taking care of mom right now, is her inability to actually make a decision. She does respond to suggestions, but if she feels you are trying to make decisions for her, she gets a little, hmmm, how do I say this....angry? The other day, after my treatment, I was on 55, headed south, and fully intended to stay on 55 and go right on by Herky, and go home. I was tired, and just wanted to be home. As I was coming down the highway, I called mom, just to check on her, make sure she was ok and not expecting me to stop by. She was fit to be tied! She was so angry with me, that she told me not to come by because she was too mad and upset. I tried to talk to her, asking her why she was so mad, what I had done, told her I had been at the hospital, I had not done anything. She said she got a phone call, but she didn't remember who it was from, but she told them she had not authorized this to be done, and she figured I had authorized it, since I am here, and I am the only one that could have authorized it, so it must be me, and she was upset that I had authorized something without talking to her about it!! I went down to the next exit, turned around and headed back to mom's. She answered the door, with a very angry look on her face. I tried to talk to her, tried to help her remember who called, what they said, anything!! She didn't know who it was, what they had said, just that she was mad! I finally just gave up, told her I was hungry, and was gonna fix something to eat. She said, in a tone, she was not hungry and not to fix her anything. I said, fine, but "later, when you get ready to eat, will you want soup or spaghetti?" She said, "probably soup, but I am not hungry right now Deb, don't fix me anything." Ok, mom. I just messed around in the kitchen for about 20 minutes or so, unloading the dishwasher, washing some dishes, and making the soup. When I got it done, I said, "mom, the soup is ready, are you ready for some now?" In her normal mom tone, she answered me, "Sure, soup sounds good." I set the table with 2 bowls, 2 glasses of tea, some crackers, and mom came in and we sat down to eat supper together like nothing had happened!! Then her neighbors came in, Lloyd and Ada. We had a nice visit with good conversation. When we were done, I cleaned up the mess, and when Lloyd and Ada got up to leave, so did I and we all walked out at the same time. Later that night, when I called mom to check on her before bedtime, I asked her if she had gotten any more phone calls. She said, "No, I don't think I have talked to anyone today on the phone but you. Did somebody say they called me?" I smiled, as I hung up. Successful "creative redirection" is a wonderful tool. For her to be sooo upset one minute, and within 15 minutes, not even remember it at all?? Amazing. Now, mind you, since then, I have brought it up a couple times. Like reminding her that I have talked to Life Alert people, or Meals on Wheels people. Reminding her that the Life Alert people are still calling often, and I keep putting them off, because she says she is not ready yet, she is not "that far down the road yet". Gently keeping that in her mind, I hope, so that she knows I am putting them off and they may go around me and call her, she will be aware that we are talking, and they are wanting us to make a decision. She will hopefully be aware, and therefore, not be mad and think I have authorized something that she didn't agree with. Just one part of the up and down roller coaster rides in my life. Last week, on Wednesday night, all my family went to the visitation for a very good friend of ours that died of a heart attack. He had just turned 50, like 2 weeks ago. On that Wednesday night, I am certain mom didn't eat supper, since neither I, nor Kelly was there to urge her to eat. She did eat lunch that day, just not supper. But nevertheless, that next morning was when she passed out, fell and hit her head, and I was once again taking her to the ER at St. Anthony's. And then, ended up taking her with me to my radiation appointment, since we were already in St. Louis, and I didn't have time to actually take her back home, then turn around and head back up to Barnes. Not to mention the gas and mileage!! This week, she had been great. Yes, she still has her up and down days, some days are better than others. And with all this rain we have been having, it is not conducive to her sitting out in her swing, watching the people come and go. So, yea, she has been cooped up in her house, and it shows. Her moods and her memory is definitely based on how tired she is, and how stressed she is. And when she can't get outside, and sit in her swing, she starts to think about winter, and being cooped up in the house all the time. She starts to repeat a lot more often, and says often, "the bible says to come before winter". But, today, the sun is shinning!! The beautiful fall colors are creating a beautiful display of God's handiwork. If we go up there for church tomorrow, I will take mom for a car ride and show her some of the colors!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hey there folks! I know, I know, I have not written anything in soooo long. We had a wonderful time in Florida. We enjoyed seeing many of our old and dear friends that are also owners in the timeshare we go to every year. This year, however, we all seemed to enjoy each other more than last year. I don't know what was different, but this year, every night, we all sat out around the pool and hot tub and just enjoyed pleasant conversation until way after dark. We met knew friends this year as well. Our new friends we met this year, are not owners at the timeshare where we were, but they own somewhere else and just traded for the beach this year. We became instant "best friends", teehee. My new best friend, Alice, was a lot of fun, laughed a lot, and seemed to find fun in everything. She was 48 years old, and and "un-claimed blessing". We had lots in common, though. Seems she had spent the last 20 years of her life being a caregiver to a family member who had Alzheimer's Disease. Her mom has been gone now almost 2 years and she is beginning to get out and travel some with her Aunt and Uncle. She walked on the beach with my Ethan in the mornings and afternoons, as they looked for sand dollars. He showed her his "hot spot", and taught her what to look for. Ethan was the master sand dollar hunter. He found 14 whole sand dollars, and even found 2 live ones! I had never seen a live one, so that was pretty cool to see it motoring through the sand. We grilled out every other night, and enjoyed dinner by the pool. It is such a blessing to have such a wonderful place to spend your vacation every year. I know some don't agree with timeshares, but to us, part of the fun of the vacation is getting to see your friends every year, year after year. I especially enjoyed seeing mom fellowship with all of her friends that she has come to know and love for so many years. She seemed so totally relaxed and enjoying her time there. We have now been back two weeks, and life has regained it's fast pace, immersed in reality. We arrived home on Saturday, the 19th of September. Although we traveled together up I-55, Keith in front, and mom and I close behind, he got off at Exit 150, and mom and I had to continue on up the interstate to her home, another 45 minutes. After being in the car for 2 days, Keith was not about to drop off all the kids and then get back in the car and head up to get me that evening. So, I spent the night with mom, and we got up and went to church the next morning. My family met us there at church. After grabbing some lunch, and taking mom back home, my family followed us to her house, and I got in the car with them, and finally after two weeks, got to see my deck, my horses, my Yorkie, and my farm!! The sitting on the deck had to wait until I was given a tour of the room addition and all that had been done while I was gone. Lots of hard work had been accomplished, even without me there to supervise and manage! But like all vacations that end, reality came in way too fast and furious. Monday, I had a doctor's appointment with my radiologist to begin that path of 6 weeks, Monday through Friday, daily radiation treatments. On Monday, they had to re-mark me, because I had washed all of their markings off. They didn't give me any trouble at all. They didn't even ask what happened to them all! They just laid me down and went to work on putting them all back on. It was long and it hurt. By the time they were done marking me all up, they said, "you can relax your arms now". I said, "yea, right! I can't even feel my arms!" And trust me, to move them, brought tears to my eyes. And yes, I was sore for days after that. Tuesday, was a mock radiation day. What that means is, that they take me to the actual room where I will get radiation daily, and actually use the radiation machine to line me up with all the markings, and make sure everything is a go. Wednesday, was a long day, as it was my regularly scheduled Herceptin/chemo treatment that I still have to get every 21 days until March, 2010. So, that morning, at 9am, I was doing labs (blood work) on the 7th floor, then doctor appointment with my Oncologist, then Herceptin. When that was done, I went to the Lower level to the radiology department to receive my first actual radiation treatment. It was after 4 o'clock in the afternoon by the time I was walking to my car in the parking garage. Thursday, back up early, leaving my house by 9:00 am, stopping in to have coffee with my momma in her swing, then on up to Barnes for radiation. My new normal. Everyday, have coffee with my momma in the morning, then head up to radiation treatment. This past weekend, was homecoming at Festus High School, and my son was escorting his girlfriend. To make that easier on all concerned, Adam and I drove up Saturday morning, mowed mom's grass, and got the corsage picked up, and was able to spend some time with mom that afternoon before pictures at the park, and homecoming festivities. I ended up spending the night there, so that Adam could just come there that night, instead of driving back to Ste. Genevieve county late at night. Sunday morning, was church at FBC-Festus, then lunch, then back home to the farm. And you guessed it, Monday morning, back to my new normal routine of coffee with mom, then head up to Barnes for radiation. This week we messed around with the times a bit, trying to find a schedule that gives me more time at home. Monday, was my regular time slot of 11:40 a.m. Tuesday, I asked for a later in the afternoon slot, so they gave me 3:20 p.m. I then went home and stayed at mom's house, cutting 150 miles off of my commute, not to mention the gas cost, and the sleep time. Wednesday morning I had asked for an early time slot. I was given 7:40 a.m. So, I was leaving mom's by 6:30, and heading up the interstate along with all the other people who commute daily for their jobs. Then I had asked for another late afternoon time slot on Thursday, so that would make me feel like I had all day Wednesday and most all day Thursday. So, if I like this schedule, I can spend the night at mom's every Tuesday and Thursday night, thereby cutting mileage on the car, dollars spent on gas, wear and tear on me, and spend time with momma to boot. Let's face it. I don't like any of it, but since I have no choice, I am trying to make the best of it. Pray for me as I try and walk this leg of the path. It is harder than the previous path. And I say that, feeling a bit guilty as I type it. It is easier than chemo was, yes. But the whole package deal, of having to leave my home daily, to be gone from home so much, is really out of my comfort zone. I love my farm. I love my family, and I love my life on my farm. I wish I didn't have to do this, but I do. This is the path God has me on these days. Pray that I can continue to have a strong positive mental attitude, in the midst of this storm in my life.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I made the decision to go by myself again today, to my doctor appointment with my radiologist. Keith needed to be on the job site today, and knowing that once I get to the radiology department, and they call my name, whoever goes with me would just end up sitting alone in the waiting room, I hesitate to ask anyone to go with me. I took my book to read, and signed in, but barely got half way through a chapter when they were calling my name. I followed the male technician back through the maze of hallways, until we finally arrived at the room. It contained a huge machine that looked alot like an MRI machine or CT machine. It was a huge donut looking machine, with a bed that passed back and forth through it. He gave me my instructions, then handed me a gown, and told me to knock on the door when I was ready. Hmm, I was pondering that part of the instructions, while I got undressed. How does one get "ready" for this? I don't think I am gonna be ready for this at all, so what does that mean? Do, I just hang up the gown, and exit the building?? Don't tempt me! I scream at the voices in my head, as they begin to urge me to run. But, after all the arguments about whether or not I actually need radiation, I have given it to God. Or at least I thought I had. If I really and truly had, why do I still not want to do this? Why am I still not "ready"? Why am I still having all these anxiety attacks? Oh well, I do as I am told, and after carefully folding my clothes, removing my ear rings, necklace and glasses, I dutifully knock on the door to signal that I am indeed...ready. This time, not only it is the same male technician, he is accompanied by two female nurses or technicians, whatever their titles are. They began to position me on the table/board correctly. They quickly tell me that the chemicals they have mixed in the huge trash bag will feel "quite warm, let us know if it is too warm". OOOOOKKKKKKKK. This is to form a mold around my body, so as to insure that every time I come for radiation treatments, I am indeed laying in the exact same position each and every time. Exact same position. I feel the bag begin to swell around me, and the three people assigned to me on that day, are working quickly and diligently to push and pull the bag to make sure it goes where it is supposed to go. Once it is done doing whatever it is supposed to be doing, they begin to cut away the un-needed "foam" that has oozed out of the bag. I am holding my arms up over my head, and it is beginning to get somewhat uncomfortable. To get a feeling for what I am going through, go lay on your dining room table, pretend like something you need badly is laying behind your head, about 3 feet, and try and reach it, without moving your body in any way. You are not allowed to turn your head to see if you are getting close to reaching it. You are just supposed to reach, keep reaching until your shoulders are backwards, pretty much, and stretched as far as they will go. Now, hold that position..........for an hour. To make that easier, they gave me two wooden dowels, at least that is what they felt like. No way, could I see what they were. Anyway, now grab onto the dowel rods, and that will "help you keep your arms in that position". Ok. No pain, no gain, right? After about 30 minutes, they began to ache and after taking the pain as long as I could, I asked them if I could put my arms down for just a few minutes. They said yes, but stood there, watching me, like....ok, can we get on with our job now? Ah, to be young again and be able to put my body in whatever position I want without my body rebelling and trying to remind me that I am not 18 anymore. I can smell the paint pens they are using to mark me up. I can't feel them. They are working on the mastectomy side, and on that side I have no feeling. It is quite weird to be able to see them leaning over me, with paint pens in hand, be able to smell the paint, but yet, not be able to feel anything they are doing. They begin to inform me that when I take a shower, I am to let the water hit me on the back, not the front, and try not to wash these marks and lines off. I will not be getting the tattoos today, because first, Dr. Taylor wants to take a look at all these markings, and if it is decided these are sufficient, then I will come back and get the tattoos. And, hmm, it says here on the chart you are going on vacation. I don't know where you are going, but you need to not get in the water, except up to your waist maybe. But try and stay out of the water. Yea, ok. I am going to Florida. I am going to be there two weeks. I have been through Hell this year, starting right after Thanksgiving last year. Lots and lots of mammograms, biopsies, scans, tests, chemotherapy, lost my hair, right side mastectomy, and now preparing for six weeks of radiation. While everyone else took their vacations to the beach, I was still doing treatments. Now, it is my turn, and you are telling me I can't get in the water? Not only that, you are marking me up with paint pens and not the permanent tatts that were discussed so I could enjoy Florida. Whatever. Finally, they announce we are done, and I did great. Whatever that means. They tell me to get dressed, then knock on the door, and they will come back in to go over the instructions and my next appointment. I try and get dressed with these things hanging from my shoulders that are numb and tingling. My shoulders are sore and aching, but I manage. I look in the mirror that is hanging there, and begin to tear up. The marks are up under my chin!! Like I can hide these bright blue lines! People are going to be staring at me wondering why I let a two year old make a road map with bright blue markers on my body! I went ahead and got dressed and knocked on the door. They come back in, and give me, again, instructions on how NOT to wash these paint pen markings off of my body. I listen, on the outside, but on the inside, I just wanted them to shut up and let me leave. Finally, they say we are done, and for me to have fun on my vacation. As I follow the nurse out, again, feeling a bit like a mouse in a maze, we finally make the final turn bringing us out into the waiting room. The crowd in front of the elevators was more than normal, so I turn and go out the back of the waiting room towards the elevators that only the regular cancer patients know about. Ah, there was only a lady pushing someone in a wheel chair, and me. I hold the door for them, then stand there and watch the door close. I was kinda in a zone. As soon as I realized I was supposed to be on that elevator, I reached out and pushed the up button again, and the doors opened, and I stepped on with the lady and the person in the wheelchair. She looked at me, and with amazing insight, said to me..."it does get better honey." I just started crying. I couldn't help myself, it was so crazy. Who was this stranger in the elevator that could just look at me and know she needed to say something encouraging? Am I that transparent? Did I look that bad? Or was it the blue lines all over my neck? Thank you Lord, for putting the angel in the elevator with me today, regardless what it was. As I stepped off the elevator on the third floor, I felt like my feet wanted to run as fast as I could to the parking garage. I did not want to make eye contact with anyone, I just wanted to run to my car and have a meltdown. I seriously needed a good cry today. The cry will have to wait for a more convenient time. I forced my feet to walk, one foot in front of the other, all the way to my car. I unlocked my car, put my bags in, and slowly wound my way down to street level and out into the sunshine. I cried off and on all the way to Herky. I cleaned up my face, and ran through the drive through, grabbed a salad, and went to Sapaugh's to get my oil changed and tires rotated. After all, I am leaving on vacation in 3 days. My husband will be joining me with the rest of my family a week later, and because he is working non-stop these days, I knew he would not have time to do this. He works days pouring concrete, then comes home and goes to the room addition and works there until past dark. He then comes in, eats supper, takes a shower and falls into bed. I know he is tired and working himself way too hard, but he is a man on a mission. I love that he is so compassionate. Thank you Lord, for giving me such a wonderful husband. I am going to go home, eat the supper my daughter has prepared, go and try and help my husband. Eventually, tonight, I may take a long hot shower, maybe cry while I am in there, and maybe, just maybe, wash all these blue lines off of my body. What will that do to the schedule? I have no idea. Maybe put it off another two weeks, if we have to do all that we did today, again. But I just don't know if I am up to explaining to my mom why I have these blue lines all over my neck and chest several times over the next two weeks. I don't know if I would be able to do that without crying, and if I were to break down and cry, I am sure that would upset my mom. And if my mom gets upset, then she gets more confused and begins repeating herself worse. So, I think I will just go wash these lines off, and take the next weeks off from cancer. Can I do that? Might as well, because after all, I am "pushy, domineering and severe". I get it honest. I get it from my mom, LOL!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

It seems that my time for writing is getting less. Life is busy, and although we moved to this farm of 116 acres possibly believing the old myth that "life on the farm is kinda laid back", we have been enlightened! With all that is going on in my life these days, it just seems to be busy all the time. I do cherish the days that are less busy, the days that I actually get time to sit on my deck with my morning coffee and have my quiet time with God. I do have my time with God, daily, don't get me wrong, it is just that on some days it is not as quiet as on other days. But, I could not get through any of my days without my time with my God, my Lord, my Saviour. It is what gives me the strength to get through what is on my plate. It is now count down to when I leave to take my momma to her timeshare she has on Daytona Beach. We have been to all her doctor appointments that were made after her recent stay in the hospital. All these were "follow-up" appointments so they could see her and evaluate her before we leave for Florida. She has passed all their tests, and they have given her their blessings. As we left the neurologist's office Wednesday morning, she said, "well, I am now free to roam about the country!" She commented how much she liked this doctor, how he was funny and friendly, and how some doctors were so stiff it seemed they would break. But this one, she liked, and he was very friendly and "real". And he had commented on the difference between this Mrs. Adams and the other Mrs. Adams he had met back in the hospital. He liked this Mrs. Adams better and hoped to always see her this alert and coherent. He said, "if you promise to call me if any problems arise, I will go ahead and give you all the prescription renewals now, and we will not need to see you until say, February." Mom looked at him and said, "well, if I don't, she will!" We all laughed, and he gave us the scripts and we were done. But, being it was Wednesday morning, and here we were in St. Louis, gee, what could we find to do???? LOL! Mom spotted numerous yard sales on the way up there, but I had put her off because of the doctor appointment. Now, however, we were done, and it was just now 9 o'clock! So, yea, we stopped at several yard sales on the way home! Of course, as it usually is when shopping with mom, she finds all these things that I cannot live without, and just knows I need. And when we were finished, and I was out of spending money, my car was loaded. My seats were laid down, and stuff everywhere. What did mom buy? Hmm, a picture frame, a doll and a really pretty Christmas centerpiece. Wait, maybe a pair of shoes? Anyway, it was fun, and well worth the fifty cents I paid for that ugly shirt that nobody is gonna wear, LOL. We got back to mom's by 11 o'clock or so, and I fixed us some lunch. After resting in her chair, she was ready to go to her Bible Study at FBC-Festus. So, we got up and out the door we went again. I do enjoy that as well. Bro. Vittoe always does a very thought provoking study, and this month he has been doing James. And yes, I love that book of the Bible and always enjoy a good study on James. Once the study was over, we went back to mom's and after a little rest, and putting some supper together for mom, I headed out the door for home. Thursday morning, I got the call I had been waiting for from Joanie, my Mastectomy specialist. She had been looking for some mastectomy swimsuits for me. Here in Missouri, it is way past time for those to be out, and all the suits left are the ones that are picked over and sizes no one wears, teehee. But she was calling to say she had found 5 for me to choose from!! Woot Woot!! I got in my car and headed to F'ton. I tried all of them on and then ended up deciding on the first one I tried on! It's always like that, isn't it? But hey, I am now ready, officially, for the Florida trip. I do still have 2 more doctor appointments for me. This coming Wednesday, I have my Herceptin treatment. And August 31st, I have my radiation mark-ups and tatts. That is gonna be an all day appointment. She said they will lay me down, I will raise my arms to hold onto a bar, and they will pour plaster around me (??) and make a mold, so that every time I come in for radiation, I will have to put my arms inside that mold to be sure that I am in the exact same position every single time. And once they get me in that position, they will make marks on my body at different spots, and make them semi-permanent. I questioned that, and she said they will last for a year or two before beginning to fade away. Oh well, maybe I will get some others to add to the dots and put something that resembles Orion's Belt! LOL! Or the Big Dipper?? ok, the little dipper?? Anyway, life is fun these days. My continued prayer is that the Lord will continue to give me the peace that passes all understanding, because it is that peace that allows me to drink from whatever cup He sets before me. Life is full of hard choices, but what sets us apart is how we respond to the things in our lives. My daddy used to say, "you can sit all the cups on the table, but you cannot tell what is inside them, unless you shake their foundation, what they are sitting on. That is when what is inside, comes spilling out. That is when you can really tell what is inside someone." I have had my share of melt downs lately. I do hope that no one uses that to measure what is inside of my heart. Because daddy used to tell me matter what your mouth says, the Lord knows what is truly inside your heart of hearts. And inside my heart of hearts, I want to please God in everything I say or do. So, when I fall short of that mark, the mark that everyone has for how a Christian should act, or talk, or dress, I do hope that I have not caused my Lord shame in my appearance or my actions. But when I do, and I know that I do, I apologize. I am weak. And when I let my emotions get the best of me, it is not pretty. We as adults are often confronted with hard choices. As adults, we cannot run away and hide, or say "I am not ready for this". I was not ready for my daddy to call me and tell me he was in St. Anthony's and they had diagnosed him with Leukemia. I was not ready to spend a year going back and forth to St. Louis University Hospital, or various doctor appointments associated with that diagnosis. I certainly was not ready for my daddy to leave us and go home and be with his Lord Jesus. I wasn't ready for my momma to be diagnosed with "Dementia, possibly of the Alzheimer's type". I was not ready for the diagnosis of Breast Cancer. I was not ready for chemo. I was not ready to lose my hair. I was not ready to lose my breast. This has not been an easy walk these past 3 years. But through it all, my Lord has been faithful and true. He has never failed to walk this walk with me, even when it was hard and it seemed I couldn't walk it. I have learned many things through this walk, and part of the learning has been painful. But when changes come to our life, sometimes it takes us out of our comfort zone, our "box". You never know what the Lord is trying to teach you through whatever it is He has put in your path. And, you never know who else is learning new things as well. God's ways are not our ways, and therefore, we do not always understand His methods of teaching. But if we are faithful to accept whatever He puts in our path, without grumbling and complaining, we might be surprised to find out that yes it is refining us, rubbing off the rough edges. He is indeed molding us and shaping us into what He needs us to be. We just need to allow that to happen. We can't go around blaming others. "If it weren't for this job, I could do this", "If it weren't for this spouse, I would be happy", "If it weren't for this illness, I could do this". Truth is, nothing touches us that God doesn't allow to touch us. So, if God allows it, why do we fight it so? Why do we regret it? Why do we wish it away? Gird up your loins, accept even the hard stuff, and do whatever God puts in your path, and do it in a way that would make God proud of you. He is your heavenly father. Yes, I hope I make Him smile from time to time.......

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Howdy folks! Man, I will be so glad when I get my brain back in full functioning capacity. This whole "chemo brain" thing is real. Lately, it has been brought to my attention that Keith's driver's license is expired! They expired on July 20th. So we spent yesterday, trying to get them renewed. In today's world, that requires 3 forms of I.D. 1) A State Issued Birth Certificate, 2) A Social Security Card, and 3)Proof of Residence, such as a piece of mail addressed to you. The "state issued birth certificate" is what proved to be harder than you might think. Since we have never needed that for any reason, we went to the health department prepared to pay the $15 fee in order to get one. The lady asked for his identification (driver's license and social security card). "Sir, we can't give you a birth certificate. There seems to be a discrepancy. On your driver's license and your social security card, your first name is spelled K-E-I-T-H. On this birth certificate it is spelled K-I-E-T-H." So, Keith asked her what that means exactly. She explains they will have to request some forms from Jefferson City that will enable him to fill those out, and get that corrected. Are you kidding me? For a typo?? Needless to say, we left there very frustrated. He calls his mom and dad to see if they have a copy of his birth certificate. They call us back, and yes, they have the original from the hospital, dated July 20, 1958 and the state issued one dated June, 1968. Apparently they had needed a "state issued one" for little league or something. Somewhere along the line, it was spelled wrong. Because on the original one from the hospital it is spelled correctly Keith! On all the doctor receipts in their folder, it is spelled Keith. But on the one they had gotten from the state (10 years later), yes, it was spelled Kieth, and no one had ever caught it, or questioned it! But in this post 911 country, this country now has new rules dictated by the Department of Home Land Security. And because of someone's stupid mistake, we now have to fill out "papers" so that can be corrected before they can issue Keith a birth certificate so that he can get his driver's license renewed. The lady suggested we go get some lunch, while she tried to get the appropriate forms from Jeff City, and she would call us and let us know what we needed to do. We left there, and we never got a call. And of course, life took over, and we didn't think about it again....until today. This morning, we got up early because I had a doctor's appointment. Today, I met with the radiologist to go over all the details of my upcoming radiation schedule. Before we left the house, Keith had already gotten several phone calls from contractors as well as from our son, Nick, who was on the job site, to fill Keith in on the problems that had arisen with the job they were currently on. After making several calls, he said we needed to leave now, as he had a few stops to make on the way. First stop, gas. Second stop, at the job site our son, Nick was on. Third stop, at mom's. Then, finally, on the way to the appointment. However, on the way, I was being secretary, and taking dictation from Keith, putting a break down of all the charges on a bill for a contractor he was supposed to meet with later today. Apparently, we have made the trip to the hospital enough times, that it has become routine, and "mindless". We were so involved with the figures and the billing, that neither of us even remember getting off of I-55, and onto I-44 West. When I finished up the bill, I looked up and said, "Uh, where are we? Because none of this looks familiar as the route to the hospital." The next sign we saw read "I-270 - 2 miles"!! We had been so zoned that we had driven right past our exit for Kingshighway! Seriously! We went on up to Bowles, and turned around, and got back onto I-44 east. About the time Keith was saying, no big deal, we still have time to make it to the hospital on time, we noticed a police car behind us, and yes, his lights were flashing! Here we go! We pulled over to the side, and waited for the policeman to come up and asked for his driver's license (knowing full well they were expired, and we were going to have some explaining to do!) He asked, and yes, Keith handed him the license. He walked back to his car. We waited. After a few minutes, here he came. "Sir, can you explain to me what the deal is with your driver's license? Because, it says on here they are expired, yet in the computer, it shows you have an extension until 2010!" Well, how about that! They did put it into the computer, even though they never called us back! So, Keith explained to him about the typo that never mattered, for 51 years, and now all of a sudden it was a big deal that required numerous forms to correct their mistake. He believed us, and yet, still issued a speeding ticket. Apparently, the speed limit at that particular part of the interstate is not 70 mph, it is 55! Again, we did not see the posted sign, and was driving with traffic. But, oh well, ignorance of the law is no excuse. So, needless to say, I was late to my radiology appointment. We had thought it was going to be a consultation, therefore, not that big of a deal. The appointment was for 9:30. We did not leave the hospital until 1:45!! She is very thorough. And not only that, the procedures and precautions and possible complications were explained by the resident doctor, then the "real" doctor. And yes, I had a clinical examination by the Resident, and then, yes, the Radiologist. After all was said and done, I signed the consent to treatment forms, and we were out of there starving and hunting for food. After tracking down the contractor we were supposed to meet with to deliver the bill that had caused us all the distraction this morning, we were heading south towards home. To say it has been a long day just some how doesn't seem to describe it properly. But, I am very grateful they are working with me and my schedule. My next appointment is scheduled for August 31st, Monday, to get my tattoos. Yep, that's what I said, tattoos! Stay just keeps getting interesting. As it stands now, tonight, I will be starting my 6 weeks of radiation on Monday, September 23rd. And that will mean many trips to Siteman Cancer Center, Monday through Friday, daily, for 6 weeks. But never fear, they say the side effects are "cumulative", so I won't notice any until I am "well into the radiation schedule". I feel so much better just knowing that!

Friday, July 31, 2009

I need to start this out by apologizing to my sisters. I used this blog to "vent" my frustrations, and portrayed them in a bad light. I let Satan, who roams about seeking whom he can devour, have a victory. I am ashamed of my bad behaviour. My sisters love my mom every bit as much as me, and want only the best care possible for her, as do I. Although we have differing opinions on how that should be done, it should in no way hamper our relationship with each other, but more importantly, it should NOT hamper our relationship with our Lord. We are Christians, first and foremost, sisters in the Lord. I have shared that my prayer, in the past few weeks has been changed from "Lord please don't let this happen, or that happen", to "Lord, help me be content to drink from whatever cup you sit before me". I am weak, and in the stress of the past few days, I failed miserably. I have not acted Godly at all. I am sure I damaged my Christian witness. I am not making excuses for my behaviour. I accept the responsibility, and the accountability. I am accountable for my actions, and I am grateful when I am held accountable. It is a painful process when we are held accountable by other Christians, but the end result should always be restoration and reconciliation. That is my prayer, for myself, today. That I have not damaged the relationship far beyond their ability to forgive me. It is not enough to be held accountable. We, as Christians, must not look at that as an attack, but as someone trying to correct our very un-Christian like behaviour. It also is not enough to be called on the carpet, if we are unwilling to make the appropriate changes in our behaviour, so that others can see that there is not only repentance and remorse in our bad behaviour, there are changes in our behaviour. We do live in this world, and therefore, it is good to say, I have repented, and asked forgiveness from both the offended party, and my Lord, but it is also good that those that were a witness to that ungodly behaviour, see that change is being made. I am going to step up my game in that area. As my sister shared with me, some sin is easy to say no to. We are Christians, and it is easy for us to turn and walk away, and say, no way, not me, not ever to some sin. But there are other sins, those that "easily ensnare us", that we get sucked into in the blink of an eye. My daddy used to say, that our greatest weakness, is an unguarded strength. So, just about the time I begin to feel safe in my Christian walk, BAM, along comes bitterness and strife. I was not guarding that well enough. But once again, my focus has been restored, and I am asking you to join with me in prayer to once again, hold me up with your prayer support. Life is full of stress and pain. But misery, is optional. Please, pray that the relationships that were damaged will be not only restored, but this stressful time in my family will bring us closer together as a family so that we are able to work together as a team to help make my momma safe and comfortable. Please pray that our behaviour will bring honor to not only God, but to my momma, and my daddy's memory. This is a hard time, with hard decisions that have to be made. Hard for my momma to accept, and hard for me to watch her deal with the changes.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I don't even know where to start. The past few days have been such a blur. But God is in control of every detail, and although it is hard to see it in the midst of "the storm", when you get a chance to breath, it is much easier to see how the hand of God was in it. I have shared before that my mom insists that she can still live alone. Whenever I approach the subject of "when the time comes", she insists she wants to stay in her own home until she doesn't know anything, or who she is, etc. I know God is in control, and that God has a plan and I don't need to know the plan, but you know, sometimes, we "control freaks" just want to know!! Oh well, I am trying to be patient and allow God to work His plan, and for me not to mess His plan up. Pray for me in that area?? Before I get started on momma's life, let me just say for those of you that are wondering, I finally got the call about whether or not I have to do radiation! My doctor was supposed to call me on Friday with the response and recommendation of the tumour board, but I got no such phone call. Yesterday, however, while I was sitting in the hallway of St. Anthony's hospital, waiting on mom's EEG test to be completed, my phone rang. It was the Nurse Coordinator that works with my Oncologist. It was about a 45 minute conversation, but the short of it is, they are going to recommend radiation. But, they did agree, that since I am receiving Herceptin on a regular basis, they will work around my travel plans in September! YAY!!!!! I told them, I don't even care anymore, I am not upset. I will be there with bells on in October. They did ask that I make an appointment to come in before we leave for Florida, to go ahead and do the preliminary mark-ups, and tattoos. I am feeling stronger every day, and gradually beginning to lose most of the fatigue and feel "normal". Anyway, moving on. Mom and I got back from Memphis on Wednesday afternoon. I spent the night at my house with my family, awaiting the arrival of my brother-in-law and the kiddos. Thursday I spent the day being fitted for a Mastectomy Bra and a prosthesis, which took over 2 hours, and getting groceries. Friday morning, I tried to figure out a way to do mom's car stuff from home. I called Hillsboro and tried to get her Personal Property Tax Receipt info, and they told me the license office could get it on line, no problem...check. I then called Sapaugh and asked if they would fax me the state inspection and emissions form, yes they would.....check. I called State Farm to see if they could fax me her proof of insurance, yes they could.....check. Then, the a slight problem arose. Her home owners insurance was due...TODAY! The last day of the grace period, had to be done today. Well, fiddle sticks, that required a trip to Herky. So, God worked it all out, despite my efforts to not go to Herky on Friday, I got in the car and went. I got there about 11ish, and mom was eating lunch. I sat with her while she finished her ham sandwich with a big slice of home grown tomato, LOL. When she was done, she put her face on, and we got in my car and headed towards the license office. I parked, we both walked in and she took a number. We sat there for approximately an hour, waiting for our number to be called. Once called, it was pretty quick, and we were out of there with renewed license plates. From there we went to State Farm, and got her Home Owner's Insurance renewed. From there we went to Keith's job site, picked up the checks he had and headed to the bank to get payroll. I left Mom in the car, with the AC, and ran in, got the payroll money, and was back out in less than 5 minutes. We ran it back out to Keith, and then headed to momma's house. Once there, we went inside, went potty, and I went outside to switch out the plates on her car. She came out and was sitting in her swing, while I was taking off the old plates, putting on the new plates. I was finishing up, putting tools away, when momma stood up and said, "Deb, I am getting hot, I am going in the house." I told her I was finished, and was right behind her. We walked into the house, momma sat down in the red chair. I turned to look at her to see why she sat there and didn't go to "her" chair. She was sitting there, with a blank stare. Her arms were stiff straight and her hands were curled up like fists. I started talking loudly to her, momma, are you alright? Momma! Talk to me! I said, "Momma, I am gonna call 911". She grunted real loud and began to shake and shiver. Her face was twitching like crazy. I kept talking to her, and she grunted her answers. So I knew she was "in there", she just couldn't talk to me. I got a cold rag, and wiped her head and she began to come out of it, and talk to me. "Debra Faye, I am fine, I just got over heated. I used to do this all the time when I was a child. I am fine." I was kneeling at her feet, crying, momma, please, either let me call 911, or lets get in the car and let me drive you to the ER, and get you checked out. That was not normal. She kept refusing, saying she was just over heated, and she was fine. After a few minutes and yes, I was convinced she was "back", I told her I needed something out of my car and walked outside. I went down to Ada's and just cried, asking her what I should do. She urged me to call Keith, and call mom's doctor, Dr. Willey. So I called Dr. Willey, told him what happened, and he said to call 911, and they would check her out, and if they decided to transport her, have them take her to St. Anthony's. I then called Keith, told him what happened, and he said he was on his way, and for me to call 911, now. I then called 911, sitting right there on Ada's couch. She gave me a much needed hug, and I ran out the door back to momma's. I stood in the driveway until the "army" began to arrive. Within seconds, the Herky police rolled up, with lights going. He walked up to me, and followed me into the house. Momma said, "Debra Faye, what are we doing? Is he coming to arrest me?" She laughed and began to "put on the show" to convince him she was ok. Then, of course, here came paramedics, ambulance, and the fire department. And yes, all with lights and sirens. We had the neighborhood rockin'! And all the neighbors out in their yards I am sure. Anyway, the paramedics checked her out, then the ambulance crew checked her out again. Her blood pressure was low, and her heart rate was high. They decided she was dehydrated, and gave me instructions to pour the fluids into her. She opted not to be transported, and signed the appropriate papers. They all cleared out of momma's living room, and left Keith and I sitting there with momma. I went into the kitchen to get her some more water or orange juice, I don't remember at this point, but I went into the kitchen for something. Momma started to get up and follow me in there, and we stopped her and told her to sit back down, we would get whatever she needed. She sat back down, and I got her some more to drink. When I was bringing it back, I looked at her and she was doing it again. Only this time it didn't last as long, and didn't seem as bad. But, Keith saw it this time, not just me. She came out of it, and said, "what, I did it again?" I said, "yes, you did momma. It wasn't as bad, didn't last as long, but yes." Since it didn't last as long and wasn't as bad, we thought, ok, more fluids, apparently that is working. Keith sat with her while I ran to Shop N Save, the closest grocery store to momma, and got some Gatorade, and some other grocery items (mostly fruit). When I got back, I fixed us all something to eat, because by this time, it was like 5 or 5:30. Keith declined, said he was going to head to the farm. Mom and I ate a Caesar salad, with some sliced tomatoes and cucumbers on the side. Mom ate good, and drank some more Gatorade. We watched some TV until bed time, and mom found me a sleep shirt and a toothbrush, we went to bed. I can't say I slept well, but mom did. I kept running all the events of the last few days through my mind and my mind would not shut down. Saturday, I put my momma in the car and drove her to St. Anthony's hospital. All the way, momma kept saying, Deb, we don't have an appointment, why are we going now. I said, momma, we will go in through the Emergency Room, we don't need an appointment. She kept saying, what day is this, is this not Saturday? I said, yes, it is mom. She said, there is not going to be anyone there until Monday. I said, yes, mom there are always doctors at the hospital. She said, you know what I mean. I said, yes, I do, we need to do this. She said can't we wait until Monday? Nope, we are doing it today. I pulled up to the door of ER, momma got out and went in. I parked the car, and then joined her at the front desk. She had already given them her name and insurance card. I explained to them what happened and how we needed her to be checked out to see why this happened. They did look at me funny when I told them the seizures were yesterday (Friday) and this was Saturday. They got us moved through the system, and before you knew it, we were back in a room in the ER. Memories. That is where we took daddy, back in December 2007. And yes, momma kept repeating that as well. Momma asked me to call Bennie, so she could start the prayer chain. I did that, and allowed her to talk to Bennie. When we first got there, she was alert enough to tell them why we were there. It wasn't very long, and she was showing signs of confusion. The memories of daddy, and ER, and St. Anthony's hospital, and "this is where your daddy died", began to take over. Repeating the events that led up to that day, over and over. Her short term memory may be bad, but her memory of history is clear. And when she gets rattled, she repeats over and over the past events that she remembers. I can't even begin to tell you how hard that was, not to mention emotional for me. My mom is NOT a doctor person, and once we got there, we spent a lot of time doing what you do in hospitals on weekends...."hurry up and wait". And I had to continually remind her why we were there, why we couldn't leave and come back on Monday, why we needed to stay and find out what was wrong. They did an EKG, which showed that yes, a seizure had occurred. At some point, I don't remember when, they came in and told us they were going to keep her, until she could be seen by the Neurologist. Some time around 5:30, my daughter Kelly showed up, and she offered to go get us some food. We had not eaten for hours!! Kell went across the street to St. Louis Bread Co. to get us some soup and salad. Yummmmm! Kelly stayed with us until they came in to say they had found her a room. Momma had been saying whatever they do, I hope they don't put me on the 7th floor. Kelly was there, when they came into the room to tell momma, they had found her a room........on the 7th floor. Momma teared up. About a half hour or so, they came to move us, and Kelly picked up her stuff to go home. She said she needed to go let Jen's dog out anyway. Sometime around 7:30 or so, they came and moved us from ER to the 7th floor. We had not been in the room very long, when Jen and Cole came in. They visited for about an hour before they left. I don't think we ever turned on the TV. We both just did our "bedtime routine", and turned out the lights. I barely had the lights turned out, when my phone lit up with a text. It was my friend, Susan Vaughn, texting me that she was in the ER with Naomi. I picked up my phone, and slipped out quietly to go downstairs and visit with her. I sat there and talked with Susan until about midnight. I then went upstairs, got in my recliner, pulled up the covers, and tried to go to sleep. I couldn't sleep. Mom was sleeping soundly in her hospital bed. However, my mind would not shut down. I was running all the events of the past few days through my mind. Momma driving to my house by herself. Our trip to Memphis to visit our dear friend, Janice Dugger, and to get mom's hair cut and permed. My brother-in-law and nieces and nephews all being at my house, with just my husband and my kiddos. Two men with 14 children, and no mom! My Thursday fitting for the mastectomy bra and prosthesis. The seizures, the 911 call, BLAH!!! It was just crazy spinning. I talked with the Lord for a long time, only it seemed more like screaming and crying than talking. Before I knew it, morning was here, and they were bringing in mom's breakfast tray. I left and went to get me some breakfast and to find some coffee somewhere. When I returned, they were telling mom that she would be going for her MRI of the brain in a few minutes. I walked down the hall and waited outside in the hallway for mom as she endured the 45 minute test. We then went back to the room. The rest of the day was full of company. Word had spread, and mom was getting phone calls and visitors. Her Sunday School teacher called first thing, even before the MRI. The Hargis's came after church, then the Southard's, then Bro. Imhoff, then Nick and Jess and Ruger (my son and daughter-in-law and grandson). Somewhere in all this, the "lady" Neurologist came in. She explained that mom had moved into a different stage of Alzheimer's, and she was no longer considered "early stages". She also informed mom that she could not drive for 6 months. She then said they were going to order one more test, and a meeting with her partner in the morning. What that meant, was another night in the hospital!! Monday morning, mom's Primary Care Physician came in, Dr. Willey himself. The last time either one of us actually saw him, he was explaining to us that he was going to execute daddy's last wishes as far as his health care directive, meaning, unhooking him and taking off his oxygen mask. Yea, again, memories flooding over me. Same hospital, same floor, same doctor.....blah. Anyway, he went over all the suggestions for mom as far as her immediate care, her long term care, etc. This is long enough, so I think I will save all those details for another day. Right now, I am at peace with all the decisions that are being made for mom, and I know God is in control. In the midst of all this madness this weekend, my doctor's office called and informed me that yes, they are going to recommend radiation. They do agree to go along with my travel plans in September, and not start until October. So, if I didn't have enough on my plate, stuff just keeps getting added. But, I changed my prayer a long time ago, from "please don't let me have to do radiation, to Lord, just help me be ok, with whatever cup you sit before me. I trust the Lord. He loves me, and I know He wants the best for me. Whatever Lord, whatever. I'm ok. I truly am. I am feeling stronger everyday, I am. Thanks for all your prayers.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Can you believe it is the end of July already? This year has just been flying by. Let me remind you how my year has gone. On New Year's Eve, I had my first chemo treatment. While the rest of the world was celebrating the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, I was laying in a recliner trying to deal with the fact that I was about to begin a very long and very emotional trip down the path of cancer. Every time I cried, every tear I shed, was always more about the familiar road I was on, than the actual fact that I had cancer. The terminology used, the drugs used, the type of doctors, the infusion room, having a port installed, etc. All of it was way too familiar and way too painful to remember. And to top it off, I could not share it with my mom, because it was worse for her! It brought back way too many oh so painful memories. Here she was trying to put that behind her, and BAM! It was here again, only this time, in me. No, I didn't ask her to ever go with me to the hospital, or doctor appointments, or even let her know when I was going. I didn't want her to worry, or even think about me at all in terms of cancer. When I finally did tell her, she went into a tail spin and cried for several days. She didn't get dressed or put on make-up at all. She just cried, sobbed, for days. Her sweet neighbor went over to try and console her and reassure her that I was going to be alright, that Breast Cancer was NOT Leukemia, and that Deb was going to be ok. None of that seemed to work. As soon as I was able to get up off my bed, talk with a clear strong voice, I drove up to my mom's and sat in the recliner with her and watched TV with her. That was all it took for her to realize I was not "dying" with Breast Cancer. Still to this day, we do not talk about it much, unless she brings it up. But occasionally, on her good days, she does ask me about it, how it's going, where I am in my treatment plan, what I have left to do, etc. She even watched my younger girls while I was in the hospital getting my mastectomy! Although, I have been told that she told some people that I was "getting some female procedure done". But, on her good days, we laugh about it, and she tells me how I can just "get a padded bra". When she asks, I will share. I don't bring it up. But yes, I have told her all the good news as well. I told her when they could no longer feel the lumps by physical examination. I told her that after the mastectomy, they got clear margins, and found no evidence of cancer in my lymph nodes. She just said, "did you tell them they were just earthly physicians and you know the Great Physician?" I laughed and told her, "yes I did mom! I told you all along, this was not Leukemia, and that I would dance at my Grandson's wedding!" We have not taken a road trip in a while, and I noticed that mom was getting restless, and her hair was getting long, and her perm was all but gone. So, yep, I called her friend in Memphis and said, you up for company? She said, "Ya'll come!!" I said, you know the drill! You have to call my momma and invite her, then I will drive her down there! She laughed and said, I'll call you back! About an hour later, she called and said, I talked to your momma, she was in the swing eating her ice cream, and said she didn't have anything to write with to remind herself to tell Deb, so she gave me permission to call her chauffeur. We planned the trip for the next Tuesday and Wednesday. We were cutting mom's grass on Friday, and we talked about the trip. I called her Saturday morning, Saturday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Monday morning and Monday night. Every time, we discussed the plans for the trip to Memphis. Monday was my husband's birthday, so I decided not to drive up there and spend the night with her on Monday night. The plans were, I would be at her house on Tuesday morning at 9am. I got up on Tuesday morning, put some things in a bag, put the bag in my car, and headed towards mom's about 7am. As I rounded the curve, on my gravel road, I noticed a car coming towards me, which, on my road, at 7am is uncommon! As it got closer, I noticed it was a really nice car. As it got closer, I noticed it was a Cadillac. As it got closer, I noticed it was MOMMA!!! I stopped, and momma rolled down her window. I said, "Woman! What are you doing here?" She said, what was the plan? I said, I was supposed to meet you at your house! She said, oh well, I am here. So, she drove on to the house, and I turned around and went back to the house. I got my bags out of my car, put them in hers, and down the driveway we went. We stopped in Cape, went to Sam's, mom got some bananas and I got me a belated birthday present. We didn't have any money to spare in May, so I waited. I got me one of those GPS thingys! It's a cheap one, but it does the trick! I had forgotten to print out the directions to Janice's, and I didn't want to rely on my memory. Although, I must say, I could have done it! All the way down there, I was way ahead of the "voice from the box" on my turns, exits, and what have you. When we got to Janice's, her daughter Johnna was there and it was so good to get to see her and visit with her, while momma was getting her hair cut and permed. Janice is a beautician, and she has her shop in a little room off of her garage. After the cut and perm, we went into the house, and Janice had supper in the oven. Her husband, John Earl, was not home, so it was just us girls. We watched some of daddy's DVD's that I had in my laptop bag! We got some good preaching and teaching from the best preacher teacher I have ever heard in my life! That's just my opinion of course, but I have heard my fair share of preachers in my lifetime! I feel I can make an adequate assessment! I enjoyed seeing that tall skinny man, that healthy man, preach with energy! Momma enjoyed pointing out all the people in the choir, all the people in the pews, how the church was packed! How the choir was full and they were wearing choir robes!! Janice was making comments about how everything we were hearing was so very relevant today. We listened to a sermon on unity in the church! We listened to a sermon on being a "real" Christian not a Carnal Christian. We listened to a sermon on being a serious Christian, a set apart Christian, a sober Christian. Yes, three points and a closing!! Good stuff, I don't mind telling you. That man, Dr. Richard Adams, can preach!! I miss him soooooo much. Anyway, I digress.... We sat up and talked, laughed, cried, had a wonderful time. We discussed many serious issues and problems in the world today, LOL, and did our best to solve them! I don't even remember what time we finally went to bed. I do, however, know that I heard Janice laugh downstairs around 6:45 am!! I got up, got dressed, and checked momma's room, and yep, she was gone, and the bed was made. I went downstairs, and joined them two ladies on Janice's back porch, where we drank coffee and laughed and told stories some more. Such sweet memories I will forever treasure. Seeing my momma laugh so much is a priceless memory I am so grateful and blessed to share. After we ate our breakfast, we got our bags loaded in the car around 8:30. As we were standing there saying our goodbyes, Janice noticed momma's license plates were expired!! "Debra Faye! Are your momma's plates expired?" I looked at them, and sure enough, there were the stickers that said APR 09. Bejeebers!! Are you kidding me? Her plates have been expired since April? Clearly, I was not on top of my game in April! Every month, I help momma do her bills, and yes, we have kept up with them all, and kept them all current. But, I don't remember seeing the reminder card come in the mail, and to tell you the truth, didn't look for it. When I would come to her house, I just look for all the "normal" bills, like electric, phone, water, and satellite. I did not look for the reminder post card to renew her plates! So, after having a good laugh about how many places that car has been since April, on expired plates, we said our goodbyes, and momma and I were rolling up the road towards home. About Cape, I called Sapaugh's and made an appointment to get her car inspected and emissions tested. According to my GPS, we were going to be in Herky by 2pm. I convinced momma that it would only take 20 minutes or so, and needed to go ahead and get it done while I was there. Then I could take the paper work, along with her personal property tax receipt and insurance card, and didn't need her car to get her license plates renewed. I could do that for her, and bring her stickers back on Friday, when we come to mow her grass. Yea, well, that was my plan. Her car didn't pass inspection, due to ball joints had some play in them, and yes, warranty covered it, and they went ahead and replaced them. Two and a half hours later, we were leaving Sapaugh's with the needed paperwork. To say momma was "fit to be tied", is putting it mildly. She went to that window more than once and questioned them about what they were doing to her car. Once she even said, "if you have not started on it, bring it around, I am ready to leave!" I mean, you gotta remember, we had been in the car all day, we had left Memphis, or actually Collierville, at 9 o'clock that morning! It was 4:30 when we finally pulled into mom's garage! Keith was waiting for me, and because it was so late, I didn't go inside to find the personal property tax receipt, or insurance card, or do anything I had planned to do when we returned. I had also planned to take her to State Farm, because her Home Owner's insurance is due, and actually slightly late. We are still in the grace period, it has not cancelled yet!! Momma had said, she would take care of it, and did not want to do it, when we were writing out all the other bills, she still had time. So, I let it slide. That is what we are going to do tomorrow! Tomorrow will be a full day. We will mow her grass, re-fill her bird feeders, renew her license plates, and renew her home owner's insurance. Anyway, today, that is the plan. We will see in the morning. I do have my sister's family here from Chicago. Bryan and six of the kiddos came in last nite. Lois did not come. Lois has not been here at all this year. She works full time as a church secretary, for the church that has a Christian school. It is the school where her kids attend, and because she works there, it allows them a significant discount on the fees to attend there. They just got back from family vacation to California for two weeks, and she is about to take off more days to take her daughter Sarah Bean to California to get her settled into college. But, Bryan is able to work from home, so to speak, so he brought the kids to the farm to play and visit with their cousins, before school and all its activities get started back up in full swing. The kiddos are sooooo excited to be together. They came down this morning, for breakfast, and it wasn't long after that, they were asking if they could go swimming! It was 9 o'clock in the morning! LOL! I don't care!! So, I figure they will all sleep soundly tonight! I did have an appointment today, with the Mastectomy Specialist in Farmington. She took the appropriate measurements, and fitted me with one bra and one prosthesis to bring home today, and ordered another 2 that will be in next week. That was an experience. It wasn't as emotional as I thought it would be. I guess, I am getting used to the fact that I can't have modesty anymore. Everyone and their "sister" has looked at me, poked around on me, measured me, etc. I will be so glad when I have my life back. On the up side, though, we are down to six weeks until we leave for Florida!! Today, is the day the Tumor Board is meeting to discuss my case, and whether or not they will recommend radiation. Karen, the Nurse Coordinator for my Oncologist, called today to reconfirm my appointment schedule for August and September, and said she would call me tomorrow, as soon as she knows something. I will let everyone know, as soon as I know! I hope I don't have to throw a temper tantrum, but I have told them, if you recommend radiation, fine, I will be there with bells October! But please, give me September, give me Florida, give me Daytona Beach! I am praying hard. Hopefully, this will all work out. Momma is looking forward to Florida, and so am I. And after the year I have had.....I NEED FLORIDA!! Keith is grilling tonight, and the smell is about to get the best of me, so I need to get off of here and eat!! Pray hard folks, that I am ok and content with whatever God's plan for me turns out to be. I know what I want it to be. God knows what I want it to be. But, God also knows, that what I really want, in my "heart of hearts" is whatever HE wants for me. I trust HIM. I know He loves me, and I know that HIS plan is the best plan. God's got this. Whatever, Lord, whatever. Let that be my prayer. Let that be your prayer!!