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.