May 27, 2012

Great Views

               The sun has been shining over the past several weeks and
I just wanted to post something a little brighter
than my previous post.
The weather is beautiful and the last few weekends
 have brought our family a chance to work in
our yard and garden.

Even Tabitha helped water the tomatoes.

We planted 300  tomato plants as well as onions, peppers, watermelons,
catalops, beets, peas, radishes,
 beans,raspberries and I'm sure there are more I have forgotten. 
My son-in-law and two sons plan on selling most of the
 produce at the local Farmer's Market.
Kirby and Zoey enjoyed the outdoors too,
Here are a "few good men outstanding in their field."

Trent always works better while listening to a few good tunes
 on his headphones.
See the blue beehive in the background? 
That's the new home of 30,000 bees
 thanks to my son-in-law and
another one of his new hobbies.

Eggs anyone?

What a great life I have!
The views from
 the top
 of my mountain
 are amazing!

I am learning to live joyfully in the moment!

May 06, 2012

Giving In and Giving Up

Every few months or so I make the same stupid mistake. 
Sometimes I just get so frustrated with my poor health,
never ending infections and  PAIN,  that
I just decide to throw it all up.
I mean literally and figuratively!   

Lately I have been dealing with nausea from too many antibiotics
resulting in stomach aches and another ulcer. 
Also... My liver decided to quit functioning properly.

So a few weeks ago I had a liver biopsy. 
The Liver doctor inserted a long needle between the ribs
on my right side and pulled out a sample of tissue to be examined.
(it was not nearly as painful as I had imagined-thank goodness)

It's been over three long anxious weeks and
I still have not received any results. 
The nurse did tell me over the phone that it's not likely cancer
from the lab report she read (whew).
But still I must continue to wait! Very frustrating!!   

So to sum it all up.
I am sick of being sick! 
Yesterday I decided to quit. 
Instead of getting out my 2/day pill box filled with antibiotics,
pills for this side effect and another for
the side effect of that side effect,
as well as a host of vitamins and minerals,
I just gave up and threw the box up onto the shelf.
I tore off my pain patch and decided it was all in my head. 
Maybe the reason I am always tired, have no appetite and can't sleep
or can't sleep enough is just because of all these stupid drugs!
At 2am I woke up in PAIN.
It hurt from my toes up to my nose. My body was stiff and grating.
I managed to hobble to the bathroom to get a drink. "I can do this,"
I said giving myself a pep talk, I turned my iPod on,
plugged in my ear phones and forced myself to go back to sleep
 while listening to my " middle of the night, lull me to sleep music".

It finally worked for a couple hours
until the pain grew and gnawed me awake. 
I lay there gathering my thoughts and then
finally my strength to do what I had to do.   
I hobbled back to the bathroom pulled down my pill box,
and took the few most important pills including a pain pill. 
I grabbed a new pain patch and slapped it on my back.

I gave up and gave in. 
I gave up the idea that my poor health is all in my head. 
That the pain is just imagined,
and that because I am in cancer remission
 the effects of fighting it have disappeared.
They haven't.  
And I gave in to the fact that I can not do this on my own. 
That (as my husband says) "It is what it is." 
My body has pain and my body is still trying to heal.
I can not run away from that fact. 

I gave my pain and my problems up in prayer.       
I pleaded for strength and courage to continue.
I need medication. I need faith.
I need strength from my Father in Heaven.

When I quit fighting against the pain, and
give in to what I must do.
When I give up my pride in trying to do it all my own,
and lean on the Lord for help,
I gather the strength to continue
climbing this multiple myeloma mountain. 

Here is one of my favorite hymns.
"How Firm a Foundation"
3. Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.


February 19, 2012


 Last Monday was my six-month check-up at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.  I do a lot of breathing that day.    
I take my first breath as I step on the scales to be weighed and measured.  You’d think I would get used to this, but I’m still always hoping for a lower number.
I take a deep breath as the “double lumen” port in my chest is accessed and 12 vials of blood are drawn and then another breath when the nurse has to take two more vials from my arm.   It is a good thing I have never been upset by the sight of blood.  This trait has come in handy over the last three years.
After the bandage is applied, I am led down the hall to a small examining room.  I sit on the bed and answer the questions from the Physicians Assistant who will be performing a biopsy.  I know the procedure well.  I think this is my eleventh time.  I am usually not too anxious until the actual procedure begins.   An IV of a small amount of morphine is administered through my port and I lay down as it begins to take effect.  After the paperwork and the risks involved are explained, I turn on my stomach pulling the bottom of my shirt up three or four inches and the waistband of my pants down three or four inches.  I can only vaguely explain what happens next while lying on my stomach; which is probably a good thing.
The procedure begins with a shot of lidocaine and once again I breathe.  In and out, slow, deep breathes as the area of the skin and then the iliac crest quickly become numb.    The aspirate comes first.  A long needle is plunged through the bone and into the marrow where it is aspirated into the syringe.  I breathe through the aspiration. I feel strong pressure from my hip down my leg down to my toes. As if the sample is being sucked up from my toes into the syringe.  I focus on deep slow breathes until the pain subsides.  Out of the corner of my eye, I can see the P.A. hand the vial to the phlebotomist who prepares the samples for testing.   He banters back and forth with the smart, pretty, P.A. asking me questions now and then to keep my mind distracted.
 Far from over, the next part is the bone marrow biopsy.  It feels like a drill.  The instrument is pushed down through the flesh and into the bone to extract a sample.  I feel intense pressure as the tool goes round and round, drilling into the bone.  It seems to take forever.  And once again I must concentrate on my  breaths.  Finally a core sample of bone is extracted and dropped into another vial and handed off to the friendly phlebotomist. I open my eyes and ask for a quick peek.  I’m curious what this piece of my body looks like.  The white bone is about 1 ½” long and the diameter of a spaghetti noodle.  I hope and pray that no myeloma cells exist in the sample.
Several hours later after the fog from the morphine lifts, I head to the radiology department.  My next test is a full body M.R.I.
 I carefully lay down on my back with the thick biopsy bandage. The table is skinny and flat.  The radioligist begins snapping on my “armour.”  A large plastic unit goes over my chest and snaps down tightly. I lay my head down into a form which holds my head in place and then I’m asked if I want headphones.  “Yes, Please” I reply starting to feel a little claustrophobic as the large headphones are fit snuggly to my ears and then a large helmet like piece is snapped in front of my face.  There is a small window where I should be able to look down over my body and through a window where the radioligist will be sitting with his assistant running the scans.  Without my glasses I see nothing in the distance.  Now I can barely hear as the kind nurse places a plastic bulb attached to a cord into my left hand.  She explains if there is any problem I can squeeze the bulb and they will stop the scans and help me. 
I feel like an astronaut preparing for launch.  Except I feel plenty of gravity.  I am pushed and snapped and squeezed into this small rocket to where I am unable to move anything but my breath.  They ask, “are  you ready?  Is the music ok?”  I give a barely audible yes and they leave the room.  Now is the time to breathe.  I take a deep breath and begin counting slowly.  I focus on the numbers instead of my small quarters.  I count to seven, hold it, then blow the air out as I exhale for eight counts. 
The M.R.I is loud.  It bangs like a hammer quickly tapping out a fast rhythm.  Then silence, and then a clicking noise as the scan moves to a different position.  “Just breathe,” I tell myself over and over.  The first ten minutes are hard.  I need to cough, to swallow.  I move my head slightly and wonder if I messed up the scan.  Slowly my breathing becomes steady and controlled.  My body relaxes and my mind is free to wander.  An hour goes by and the machine finally stops.  I am freed from my space ship, and I sit up letting the blood flow to my hands and feet.  I made it through another test, and it is time to go. It is time to return home and to wait.  To wait and wonder what the results of these tests will tell. 
Finally it is Friday.   My husband and I head up to Huntsman to meet with my new oncologist.  Dr. Tricot has moved his practice to Iowa so I now see his partner Dr. Zangari.  Unlike the slow and methodical personality of Dr. Tricot, Dr. Zangari enters the room in a whirlwind.  He opens up my files, taps on his computer and begins asking questions all at once. 
After reading through lab and test results on the computer, he invites us to come over and look at the screen.  He points out the sentence from the M.R.I results and says in his thick Italian accent, “I can’t do a thing for you.”  I see the twinkle in his eye and read from the report, “no sign of multiple myeloma.”
 And my husband and I breathe a sigh of relief for another eight months!

February 09, 2012

Please pass the Catch-up

Hellooo, I'm back.  I have stopped and started several posts over the past few months.  I could say I have had writers block but my reasons for not writing have not been from a lack of what to write but rather from feeling overwhelmed with having too many things to write about.  Here are a few summaries of some of those possible posts to catch up.
Uncle Spencer 13, with Tabi, 16 months
     December: a change in meds had me experiencing extreme side effects of depression for several days.  I now understand what that black hole feels like and have gained new empathy for those who struggle with depression.  I feel much better now!
Elder Kelly with a family in Puerto Rico
Christmas: I had a wonderful Christmas.  My two favorite gifts inluded a phone call and skype with my son on an LDS mission in Puerto Rico...  and receiving the announcement that my son and his wife are expecting their second child. I am going to get another grandbaby next summer!
Tabi preparing to be a big sister.
 Good food, fun, and lots of family for the holidays.
    January.  Found out I have developed cataracts from the steriod treatments on a Monday.  On Thursday morning I could not be woke up.  When I did finally come around I had lost my hearing!   After spending several hours in the E.R.,  My hearing returned and a MRI found only another sinus and ear infection.    Strange but lucky!
    February  I am finally gaining some energy.  It feels so good to have a little momentum.  I actually deep cleaned my basement!
   Last weekend I had a visit from my cousin  who is in remission with colon cancer.  We spent the weekend talking about cancer, life, and life after cancer.  It was great therapy.  Thanks Jill!

                                                                        So here I am. 
 My body is continuing to heal and recover from cancer and chemo.  It has been a very long and winding road.
 I am learning to keep the past in the past where it belongs.
 I can't keep looking back to the pain over the past three years,  but look back only to find the progress that I have made. 

 I am learning that I have a future that looks pretty bright.  It may not be the way I planned it, but whose really is!  I can move mountains with the help of Him who created them and the love and support of family, friends.  I can move mountains with faith that the Lord has a plan for me!


Fourteenth Year Cancerversary

              My husband and I at my 40th High School Reunion.                                                    Am I seriously that old?! ...