I noticed something early this morning. Every Sunday night I go to bed; sleep a couple of hours and wake up unable to go back to sleep. Finally; about 3am I give up trying and get up. While I am laying there I find myself thinking about Monday. Monday is chemo day followed by radiation. I think about how it is going to make me feel; knowing I will be dragging myself around by the scruff of the neck for 3 or 4 days and of course that makes me a bit depressed. This week I also thought about something my radiation team said to me on Friday. They said the doctor will be meeting with me on Monday and may recommend some boosters....meaning additional treatments. I was rather discouraged to hear this and found myself sinking into the abyss. But.....just before I got up I was reminded of my "theme song"...don't give up, don't give in, don't give up, don't give in. I got up and thanked God for the path He has given me to walk and the grace to walk it!
Today begins week 2 of chemo and radiation. I can't say that I am looking forward to it except it is just one step closer to my healing. But now; after last week; I have a little more knowledge about how to deal with the horrendous side effects....take nausea medication AS DIRECTED even if you don't feel nauseated, drink a ton of water and make sure the warriors are praying! I also learned that for me; a spoonful or 2 of peanut butter helps to calm my stomach....hooray for peanut butter!! I also met with the thoracic surgeon last week. Very informative. Talked about slicing and dicing (my words not his), tubes and more tubes and a 10 day hospital stay with several weeks of recovery time. definitely major surgery! Tomorrow (Tuesday) I will see a cardiologist for a "cardiac clearance" which sounds like some sort of a big sale LOL! Anyway....forward march.
Today; while sitting in the chemo room; I realized that I hadn't blogged since my PET Scan. Well, I have written stuff on Facebook if that counts. So, here are the results of the Scan. By the way, I learned the actual name and location of the thing. It is a "malignant neoplasm of the lower 3rd of the esophagus." It is at stage 2 and hasn't spread to any other organs except for 1 lymph node. The Doctor said the treatments would take care of the node. After 3 weeks of treatment I will be re-evaluated to see what the next step should be....more treatment or surgery. Anyway; back to the chemo room (which I refer to as the barn because of something that Kathy said). OK I will tell you what she said. While at the office getting test results she peeked in the room and said it looked like a bunch of cows feeding. So now when I think about chemo I see cows at the trough. But they get to sit in really comfy recliners! LOL. The nurse was amazed that I had no problems with my first treatment. God is good! Leaving the barn, it was now time to head to my Zapper appointment (my term for radiation). It was quick and easy except I think the technicians are wanna be artists because they kept drawing circles and arrows on me. Oh the fun!
I had the PET Scan yesterday...fell asleep in the tube thingy! Results coming on Wednesday. I am feeling a bit apprehensive about it although I don't know why. Also met with the radiation oncologist and the physician's assistant. Really liked them both. They took the time to explain and answer questions; plus they seem to have a good sense of humor! I will be meeting with them every Monday and will have treatment 5x per week M-F. Will get my chemo schedule on Wednesday. Kind of a lot to take in, but on the plus side....they want me to eat/drink a high calorie diet! Nobody has ever said that to me before!!! LOL.
Back from the Doctor. Heard a lot of stuff; almost too overwhelming to take it all in...probably that why they gave me a huge packet of information! Took blood to test stuff that they need to test for. They are now waiting for authorizations from insurance company to do Pet Scan, insert a port, and do chemo and radiation treatments, another endoscopy and possible surgery. They hope to do the Pet scan by the end of the week and will call me with appointment time. So basically there is no new news but I do feel encouraged after the appointment. They said I look good for someone with esophageal cancer! /blood pressure was good too! God is good.
I read a very short, very caring email this morning, It reduced me to tears...real, heartfelt tears. I don't know if it was the email that did it, the love that came through the email or just the stress of this week that caused this to happen. Or possibly the combination of the three. So its been kind of a emotional day for me. But, it also has been a good day. I talked with several coworkers and received many words of affirmation and comfort. It was good. I then spoke to a couple of people who I knew with out a doubt they would spread this news through the entire office. I did this on purpose. That was so I wouldn't have to repeat my story 500 times! So now everybody knows. Mission accomplished!
Monday I go to see the Oncologist who will do some testing, determine what stage the cancer is at and prescribe a course of treatment. The video below is the song I have chosen to for my theme song on the road.
A diagnosis of esophageal cancer really makes you stop and think. Makes me think of my former blog name "Into the Abyss" and feeling like that's where I am heading. However; I am not dwelling there. I have a God who is bigger than that! Really what I am trying to do is process everything I am feeling; which is widely varied! Hope and despair and everything in between. OK that's enough for now. I intend to blog this journey mainly because I am better at written words than spoken ones :)
But; I will be speaking too.
and another and another. Then I woke up in the recovery room. That is all I remember about the Endoscopy!!
I think I am a fairly patient person except when it comes to finding out test results! The test was done on Monday morning and I really thought I would know the results by that afternoon. No call. Tuesday. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. No call. Wednesday 8:47am the call. Doctor says: "it appears you have a mass in your stomach and I am going to schedule and appointment with a G.I. Doctor to scope your stomach and find out what this thing is." I was totally shocked by this and couldn't think of a thing to say except "what do you think doctor?" His reply: "I don't know." Very unnerving! But; even more unnerving...less that 5 minutes his scheduler called with the date and time of the appointment. I then called the G.I. doctors office and asked what I needed to do in preparation for the appointment. She told me this was a consultation to discuss my "options" so there wasn't anything to prepare for. After I hung up I thought....DISCUSS MY OPTIONS...WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Well, I guess I will find out August 15th!
To be continued.....
The doctor said: "hmm I am going to send you for a swallow test". He gave me a referral and I scheduled the appointment. Then; of course I went to my friend/enemy the Internet to find out more information about this test. Everyone I know who had this test told me their horror stories. For example: the taste is horrible and you will probably vomit and have to retake the test, they strap you to a table and twirl you around while taking x-rays...etc...fun! The Internet and doctors office told me it was called a barium swallow. The stuff travels down the esophagus and into the stomach. X-rays are used to track the fluid which highlight odd or unusual areas of your innards. The assistant preps me and explains how it works then....in walks a crazy looking man (in my head I am thinking its the wild man from Borneo). His hair was wild and crazy as were his mannerisms. This was the Doctor! I found it a bit disconcerting when he couldn't find a lead apron (there were 3 of them hanging up right in front of him). His assistant pointed out their location-he must have thought this was amusing because he let out a "wild man" laugh...bwhahahahahaha! Then he couldn't find the lead scarf thingy that goes around their neck. The assistant said it was in the pocket of the lead apron. Again with the laugh...bwahahahahaha! I wasn't sure if it was part of an act- of if that is how he really is. He was really nice though, and he also took the time to explain everything. The test wasn't as bad as everyone had told me and it was over in about 30 minutes.
No really, I have a lump (or the feeling of a lump) in my throat. Its been going on for a while (at least 2 years; maybe more). My doctor thought it might be a thyroid issue and sent me off for a thyroid ultra sound which thankfully came back negative. However; that didn't answer the question as to what the throat thing was. The feeling would come and go and really didn't bother me (except for being weird) and the doctor didn't seem to think it was a problem. So I kind of forgot about it until recently when it started to be a problem. It would feel more intense and food would actually get stuck in my throat (fortunately not all the time). Eventually; I was able to swallow it but at times the food would re-visit me i.e. throw it up. When this started happening I made a Doctor appointment and stopped eating in public!
I was going to do a several post retrospective about my garden but soon realized I wont have the time to do this...gather pictures etc...maybe I will do this at a later date. I have good reasons. I'm getting prepared to start my next class; Excel Spreadsheet. It starts on the 17th; two weeks earlier that originally scheduled! I am absolutely certain it will take much of my time. So; between work, keeping up the garden and school work I will be plenty busy!
I have always wanted to plant a garden but my living situation was never conducive to doing so until I move here. I have a ginormous backyard and one of the first things my landlord said was "feel free to do anything you want with the yard; build a pool, plant a garden. Whatever". I nixed the notion of pool building immediately! I did however begin to plan a garden and the next thing you know I was digging up the yard.
Let me back up a few years...OK a lot of years. I've never planted a garden in my entire life and my only experience was watching my grandma work in hers. I recall with great fondness eating the fruits of her labor...boysenberry pie, strawberries, potatoes... I remember helping her shuck corn and snapping green beans. I didn't remember it being hard work. Probably because I didn't actually do the work!
So; I started digging up the grass all the while thinking this was going to be easy. I was wrong. It was hard. It was backbreaking. It was not easy. But I continued.
To be continued.......
No chocolate was consumed in the month of May! Glad that one is over.
This "no chocolate challenge" is hard. Only 19 days to go.
Friday was the Wright's Anniversary so they decided to celebrate by getting out of town. I got their children, dog, cat, house and garage door opener. Whoo Hoo! So I came up with an awesome schedule of events for Saturday. Our church had a workday on Saturday. We went for a few hours. Bethany and Daniel joined the crew picking up giant rocks and placing them strategically in the wash. I pulled weeds and watered the plants. It was hot. We were exhausted. Next stop Starbucks. Here I let them choose whatever they wanted. Bethany opted for an iced mocha, Daniel wanted an iced white chocolate macchiato and I got a caramel, mocha Frappuccino with extra caramel! Of course they were the Grande size. Bethany totally enjoyed hers. Daniel totally disliked his. I loved mine! So, I tasted Daniel's and discovered it was absolutely awful and I gave him my drink (which he enjoyed). If we were still at Starbuck's I would have asked for an alternate drink. We went there because I was given a couple of gift card for "Administrative Professionals Day". Next; we went to my house. My original plan was to do some work in my garden but it was the hottest part of the day and we were too tired from working at the church, so no gardening happened. Instead we played with the cats and the Legos. Yes, I have Legos! From there we went to Little Caesar's Pizza and picked up one cheese pizza, two orders of Italian cheese bread and one order of oven baked wings. We devoured it when we got home. I believe there are 3 pieces of pizza left. Then we began a mini movie marathon. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Flintstones and several episodes of The Pink Panther! This was accompanied by sugary snacks! Dinner was a "do it yourself" mainly because nobody was hungry. ( wonder why?). Then it was time for bed. They both were telling me they weren't tired. Ha! They were asleep in less than 10 minutes. This morning we are somewhat cleaning up the house. Bethany is loading the dishwasher, Daniel is taking out the trash and recycling and I am picking up the living room. Then we will be off to church. We will meet up with their parents at Ronnie's Cafe...we call this "second service" because many of us go there to eat after church. Then, I will go home and take a nap! Whew!! what a weekend.
It looks like the challenge for May is NO CHOCOLATE!
This should be interesting. And difficult. I think I must be CRAZY to attempt this! Oh well; a challenge isn't a challenge unless its challenging. Off to find any and all chocolate (and eat it) before May 1.
Wow, I think I have consumed more water this month than I have in an entire year! Although I wasn't consistent with my goal of drinking 32 ounces of water....some days less; but some days more...I feel it was a successful endeavor. Water is a necessary ingredient for life; as is the Living Water!
Wow! March is almost over and I have barely blogged. But hey; I've been busy! School work, work work, yard work, weeding, weeding weeding...well, you get the idea. In a previous blog I mentioned I had changed my March challenge from walking daily to 30 minutes of daily physical activity; enough to work up a sweat. I have been hugely successful in that endeavor but boy oh boy; that daily walk would have been sooooo much easier! I will, at some point, take up the walking challenge again...maybe in October. What is my challenge for April you ask? I am going to drink more water. I really don't drink it much as I prefer other things like coffee and milk. But, I am challenging myself to drink a minimum of 32 ounces daily. I actually went out and bought a 32 oz cup. This might not sound like much of a challenge to most people but it is to me. All I can say is: "cheers".
I have been really busy with my homework and planting my garden. Then replanting it after we had a rare "snow storm" in Phoenix. I have to say that my March challenge isn't going very well. :( I kinda changed it up once I realized it (the daily walk) wasn't happening. So...instead I decided to do 30 minutes of yard work everyday. Things are getting cleaned, organized and spruced up. By the end of March I will probably wish I would have keep the walking commitment!
My challenge for February; no bread; is just about over. I really thought it was going to be incredibly difficult; but actually it was quite easy. God's grace perhaps. So, tomorrow I can resume bread eating. However, that doesn't mean I am going to go "hog wild" and eat tons of bread. I've learned I really don't need it! I'm not saying I will never eat bread again(because I surely will) but I wont be eating it at every meal. I've noticed during this "fast" if I don't have bread; then I don't buy processed lunch meat and I have been cooking different..healthier food. Now I am gearing up for my March challenge...walk 20-30 minutes daily. This begins tomorrow March 1st. March, march, march-pun intended.
That is what my doctor asked me today. Crazy! He said he couldn't find my records and doesn't remember me. He then left the room. When he returned he said he found them. I am skeptical about that. Anyway; after describing my ongoing symptoms he concluded that I have a history of migraines thus I have chronic migraines. Duh-I had already self-diagnosed that! Then he said the other thing that I might have is Allydonia but he is waiting on what the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist says about my ear pain. He said my ear looks fine then gave me a referral for the ENT and I will be making that appointment soon.
He also gave me a choice of an Rx or OTC pain reliever for the migraines. I chose an OTC medication. He also said it would help if I ate less cheese, chocolate and coffee.Actually he said to eliminate them from my diet And reduce stress! I will see what I can do.
But; it appears I wrote it and that is all! The original title was: The Pillsbury Doughboy Is Not My Super Hero. What is this about you ask? Well a few posts ago I stated that for the month of February I was going on a bread fast. On February 1st I went to my favorite bread aisle and took pictures and said...goodbye bread, bagels, English muffins, biscuits etc... Of course I had to take pictures to make my torture complete! Actually, so far, it hasn't been that bad except I really want some Italian Cheese Bread from Little Caesar's Pizza. But; I am going to stay strong!!
Every year at my place of employment we are required to take a certain amount of training classes. Things like Ethics, Safety, Court Policy and Procedure, Customer Service etc.. A new class was offered this year; "Civilian-How to Deal With an Active Shooter". In the wake of the recent spate of shootings; I thought it would be a good idea to take this class. It was taught by sheriffs deputies and the Department of Homeland Security. It is unfortunate there is a need to know this information but I believe it is good to know about such things...being prepared for any situation is important. I liken it to keeping oil in your lamp! Anyway, it was a very informative class and I learned from it. Run, hide and if all else fails fight back...you may lose your life but if you are able to incapacitate the bad guy you may have saved countless lives. Sacrificing your life for others...an interesting concept!
I can't remember when or where (facebook, blog or email) but I know I've written about this before. But I didn't have a name for it. I am referring to my weird headaches, panic/anxiety attacks and quite possibly the worst symptom; the sore, painful to the touch scalp; AND hair. That's right; my hair hurts to touch it let alone get it cut! Fortunately my head and hair isn't always like this; but when it is it is miserable. This has all been going on for several years and I have been researching for just as long. I finally decided to keep a "headache diary" and record the symptoms, frequency and any other noteworthy items. although there is pain everyday to some degree; the really intense headache etc occurs about every 3-5 weeks, lasting an average of 7 days of varying intensity. It usually starts with something called an "aura" or a warning signal/sign. In my case this aura begins with tingling in the upper arms followed and incredible urge to sleep day and night, an intermittent stabbing pain in my right ear and cravings for salty snacks, Chinese food and chocolate. Followed by panic/anxiety attacks, neck stiffness and headaches that seem to move around at will. While the headaches are in full gear; the scalp and hair tenderness begins. The few things that eases these symptoms are Advil (can't take too much..not good for you), gallons of coffee and standing in a HOT shower. So; my self diagnosis is.....drum roll please....Migraine Headaches with Allodynia. I know you all know what Migraines are but; let me tell you what Allodynia is. It is pain from a "non-painful stimulation". There are several factors associated with this condition. Symptoms include migraine with aura (have), stressful childhood with emotional abuse (had) and being overweight (am). Allodynia develops over a period of time and many migraine sufferers are prone to it. It is a manifestation of central nervous system sensitization. I can't really explain it any further but if you Google it you can get more complete information. I am going to print that information out and give it to my Doctor on my next visit; along with this blog. Actually; I wrote this particular post with that intention. I am going to ask him for a caffeine drip. LOL! I am more convinced than ever that the "sinus" headaches I had as a kid were actually migraines! Oops, I forgot a few symptoms; grouchy, light sensitivity and certain noises really bother me.
So a friend and I were talking about the recent influx of people who are allergic to seemingly everything. While some of these are true, legetimate allergies; I wonder just how much of this trend is just a passing fad; like the Pet Rock or The South Beach Diet? I have heard and read about people who are now on gluten free diets, suddenly lactose intolerant, "sugar reactive" and other such stories. Is red dye number 7 really the cause of your child's "meltdown" or is he having a tantrum because he can't have a new toy? Now, before you get all upset; let me say I don't begrudge anyone for trying to eat a healthier diet. I know that allergies are real and I, myself am allergic to pork and have been for many years; also limes. So, if someone asks me over for a meal I always let them know about the allergy. I get it. But, come on people; could some of you be jumping on the bandwagon because it is the popular thing?
While THEY are eating cake in Georgia I am here in the abnormally freezing cold temeratures of Arizona. It is so cold THEIR dog must sleep indoors. Because Lady(the dog) is old I feel the need to take special care of her. Normally, when THEY are here, Lady sleeps on a rug or blanket on the floor. But; I am here and think she should be able to sleep where she wants....so I let her! As you can clearly see; she likes stretching out on the comfy leather couch...she is even holding a blankie!! Sweet Dreams Lady.She also enjoys a daily peanut butter sandwich when THEY are home. Here is her sandwich and her anticipating the sandwich!
Expecting cold weather..Covered what is left of the garden! Tonight Jan 10 40°F , Fri Jan 11 , 52° 32° , Sat Jan 12 , 52° 32°, Sun Jan 13, 55° 36° , Mon Jan 14, 55° 35°, Tue Jan 15, 59° 38°
The radio station I listen to; KFLR Family Life Radio, starts the year off with a 30 day challenge. The idea to do something for 30 days(kind of like a New Year's Resolution)with the intention of changing a habit or....So, since this year I actually made some NYR's because Susan Joyce made me(Just kidding Susan), I figure why not add to what I have already resolved to do? Hence; beginning in February I am going to start my 11 months of 28-31 day challenges! Meaning one challenge per month for 11 months. February only has 28 days so I have chosen what I think will be my hardest challenge for the shortest month.☺ One of my NYR's is to eat less bread; my challenge for February is to eat no bread!! Believe me it will be a huge challenge because I ♥ bread. A bread fast if you will. I expect it to be difficult but in the end I think it will be worth it. Other challenges for the other months will include things like walking 20 minutes a day, practicing random acts of kindness, drinking a minimum of 32 oz of water daily and eating more vegies. Any prayers during this endeavor are much appreciated!
...and lots of it! Today was the first day of my online class "Survey of Information Technology". Looks like I have a bunch of reading, assignments, projects and quizzes. I think I am going to busy!
On the first day of the party I had to rake leaves all by myself because nobody came. It looked like day two would be the same. I worked for about 1 1/2 hours raking and dumping then went inside to take a break. A few minutes later some party-goers arrived! Many thanks to Danny, Bethany and Daniel. They had it done in no time!!!
"An exciting leaf raking party happening tonight at 5pm..bring your own rake..plenty of leaves for all. If you can't make it today, feel free to come over tomorrow. No need to knock on door;all leaves are in front yard. Help yourself...great compost!" I posted this on Facebook earlier today. I expected to come home to see a bunch of folks merrily raking leaves. Sadly this was not the case. :(
I am directionally challenged. Meaning; if it is not in my "territory" I am probably going to get lost. Yesterday I had to go to Tempe to buy a textbook for my upcoming class. I figured I would get it after work so I went online to mapquest and got directions. Following directions I made it swiftly and easily to the location. However; the return trip wasn't as successful. I knew where I needed to go but couldn't quite figure out how to get there! So, after driving around Tempe for awhile I finally made it to a freeway which eventually got me to another freeway and familiar ground. A drive that should have been about 40 minutes round trip ended up much longer. But; the good news is, I got my book and made it home....eventually.
I was asked on facebook what my New Year's resolutions are. I said I made a resolutions several years ago not to make any resolutions and I was quite successful! However; this year; I have made some so I am sure you will probably be reading about them. Here they are in no particular order: 1. Learn to play my Ukelele. 2. Blog more. 3. Be more relevent in my sphere of influence. 4. Eat less bread...I <3 bread. 5. Grow an awesome garden. Stay tuned.
Hi there, One of my New Year's resolutions is to do more blogging! So....here is my first post of 2013! I am not sure what I am going to write about but I am certain I will be able to come up with something! Let me start by saying....HAPPY NEW YEAR!!