Angel Note

Angel Note
"If Music be the food of Love, Play on!" -- Wm. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Thursday, December 30, 2010

News from the Front

We have had an interesting week. We went up on Tuesday to use some movie tickets we had been given by the hospital. We saw the new Chronicles of Narnia movie, and LOVED it! We have the audio books (in two different versions) and the written books, and our whole family has always enjoyed these wonderful tales! We spent the night at Snowman's house, visiting with him and his wife, LadyBug's sister. We also had dinner at their place.
Wednesday we went further north to the hospital where LadyBug was to have her Port-a-Cath installed. She got the Power Port put in which will help with all injections, IV's, and blood tests for her chemo treatments. This is an out-patient procedure, but we still ended up being in the hospital for almost six hours!
The next day, we spent the gift-card my sister Inklings gave us (thanks, sis!). We figured LadyBug won't be able to eat much some of the time while on chemo, so we got a juicer so she can get some nutrients in liquid form. We also got ZeldaPrincess a CD, and season 1 of a favorite TV show DVD. It has been kinda different pushing LadyBug around Wal-Mart in a wheelchair for a couple of weeks now!
So today, we had a visit with Dr. Chemo. He was going to start treatments today, and LadyBug even had blood tests to make sure she was healthy enough to begin. After verifying that she was in good health, he asked if she had any further questions. She told him she had been reading the book he gave her and wondered why she had been diagnosed with this particular form of cancer when symptoms pointed at another.
He explained biopsies and pathology reports, and then asked her what symptoms she had that made her ask the question. She told him all the things that made her wonder about the diagnosis.
After some discussion, he told her she had "raised doubts in his mind." He says he thinks we should now try a different treatment called Adriamycin, which is nicknamed, "The Red Devil." Nice name, huh?
This is a harsher, more aggressive form of chemo. She will no longer just have 6 treatments over 18 weeks, but 8 treatments over 16 weeks. The regimen will be more difficult than previously planned, and she will wait until next week to start. Then she will finish 1 week earlier than originally thought.
One source says the side-effects include, "hair loss, short term memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, stomach pains, loss of sleep, sweats, mouth sores, watery eyes, neuropathy, and on and on.....nasty, nasty stuff."
LadyBug is very nervous now, even more than before, but if this is what it takes to get healthy and stay that way, it is simply what must be. Your continued prayers are greatly appreciated.
On a personal note, my diet continues, much to my chagrin. At times, I am ready to chuck it all and die young, but I think about what LadyBug is going to be going through, and realize a little sacrifice on my part is nothing. One good thing, though: in the two weeks I have been going, I have already lost 15 lbs.! Not bad for just watching what I eat. I'm not even getting much exercise yet! Guess I can keep it up for a while longer....
Take Care!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let it...Well, You Know

Two Words: SNOW DAY! *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Our school is closed today because of the incredible amount of snow that fell in the last 24 hours. I don't remember when this last happened. We aren't afraid of snow here, and it take a ton of snow to shut us down. People here will drive as long as they can get the vehicle to move. Our concert is today, so we will see what happens. Merry White Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Full Pardon

Today was a bitter-sweet day for me. It was the Christmas program for my prison choir. Things didn't go as smoothly as they could have, but over all it went quite well, and we were all pleased with the outcome.
Sadly, however, it was my last day at the prison. With LadyBug's looming chemo/radiation treatments and the possibility of further classes at the college, I told the bishop months ago that they would need to replace me. This bishopric is from a neighboring stake, though, and I always felt strange being a part of their stake, etc., so this needed to happen anyway. They should have had someone trained by now, but everyone is too scared to commit, and the few who have agreed only made it to training before backing out.
I told the brethren today, however how much I have come to love serving them, and that I pray for their well-being all the time. My personal beliefs have been challenged so much working there. I have come to see more fully the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in the lives of men who need it so desperately. However heinous the crimes, these men have been an important part of my life for the last two years and I will be forever altered because of my time serving them. 
Today was also our High School Women's performance of Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols. We performed this in an amazing, historic hall up north, then in another such hall in the town 15 minutes away. This was an incredible opportunity, and I also consider that we have been blessed to have the privilege of singing this incredible piece of music in such wonderful venues. Needless to say, I am on a musical high right now, not to mention a spiritual one. My emotions are right on my sleeve, and I find that even writing this post, I am getting misty-eyed. I have the best job in the world (now if I could just get paid more)!
Take care!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dr. Chemo Speaks

So LadyBug visited Dr. Chemo today. He says she will have six treatments, spread out three weeks apart, for a total of 18 weeks. This throws my original information off a bit. She will not be done with treatments until mid-May at the very earliest. As soon as she is done with chemo, she will begin radiation treatments, which will last for five weeks. This means LadyBug will be continuing this well into June. After this is all done, she will finish up reconstruction. We are looking at the possibility that she may not be done with everything until this time of year 2011, or later into 2012. 
In the mean time, although she is recovering nicely, she is still not ready to go back to work. I definitely do not want her rushing into it and ending up worse, so we will wait until the doctor clears her and she feels ready. We are not sure how we are going to manage on a single income until this happens, though. The bill collectors sure aren't worried about this. We had someone call from the anesthesiologist's office yesterday asking us to start paying on their bill. LadyBug informed them that she hasn't even been back to work yet. They made a note of that, thankfully, so maybe we will get a grace period before they really get anxious.
Most of the costs are being paid by my insurance, which I cannot complain about too much, since it is taken care of, but I am still upset, because my coverage has gone down while my costs have gone up. Several years ago, my insurance would have made it so we only paid a small amount. Makes me wish we had gotten the cancer insurance. The costs at the time seemed ridiculous, but one teacher was able to have them remove most of the useless stuff, making his costs much easier to manage. Oh well, live and learn.
To answer one question, yes, LadyBug will be losing her hair. We don't know exactly what other side-effects she may suffer, since some of those vary by individual, but we have a whole folder full of literature about this that Dr. Chemo gave us. Knowledge is power, so I will be doing some reading soon.
On a completely unrelated note, I have been experimenting with almost every meal I have cooked lately. I am trying to avoid all the bad stuff that can kill me. The other stuff is boring though, and I'd rather die young than live bored, so I try new things all the time. Tonight I made a sort of Stir-Fry (using Olive Oil for healthier cooking). It was almost exclusively vegetarian, except for the egg I added at the last minute. 
I used about a teaspoon or two of "Chinese Extra Hot Mustard" which sounded exciting, except that I've tasted hotter mustard on Pretzels! I also added Srirachi sauce, ginger, and curry. The resulting dish, served on brown rice, that being the healthier choice, was a little spicy. A little. Very little. I've made spicier spaghetti (no, really). It had a nice flavor, though. Not the best stuff I've ever had, but better than some food I've had in restaurants. What I really need is to get my sister Delirious to send me some ideas (okay, ANY of my siblings that have tasty, yet healthy meal ideas!). I am convinced I can make this healthier diet work, but only IF I don't end up wanting to baste our DOG with butter and garlic sauce!!!
Well, one thing for sure...I can always tell if I ate a good healthy meal, because in no time, I will still be STARVING! I am told that after a short amount of time, those pangs will diminish. Hmmm....wonder how soon THAT will be! Right now, I don't know how soon I'll be able to look another salad in the eye. Wait, if salads HAD eyes, they might taste better.... better be off to bed, I must be starting to hallucinate!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Stitch in...Well, Nevermind

LadyBug visited Dr. Plastics today. This is the first office visit in a month that hasn't required a hospital stay! He said she is healing well and everything looks good. He will wait until she has recovered a bit more before continuing the reconstruction process. And he removed her tape/bandages, so now it is just healing for a while.
She has her appointment with the oncologist tomorrow. We have not met Dr. Chemo yet, so I will post the outcomes of that visit afterward.
On a positive note, anyone who will be in our state capital, at a certain square this Saturday, come see my choir perform Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols! We have been preparing for some time now (ZeldaPrincess has a solo), and look forward to singing in the smaller venue next to its more famous neighbor (How's THAT for being vague?)! FHL at 4:00, AH at 6:30, NVC at 8:00.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

There's No Place Like....

Home. We are home. All of us that should be home are finally here.
LadyBug was released from the hospital just after lunch today, and we went to her sister's place for dinner and a visit. Then we took Kissa home and we are now back. All of us. She still has more office visits. She still has more surgeries. She still has chemo and radiation. But she is home. She is in less pain than before. Bearable with medication.
Thank you all for your faith and prayers. May the Lord bless each of you at least as much as He is blessing us!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

...Jiggity Jig

I just returned from visiting LadyBug. She SHOULD be released tomorrow. They finally cleared all the clot out of her leg, and by now should have removed the sheath that was stuck in the back of her leg to protect it. She is feeling so much better with the clot gone! And once they remove the sheath (and spend the half-hour keeping pressure on her leg), she should be able to take a shower for the first time in several weeks! She has bathed, and has had sponge baths. She has had her hair washed even, but she has not been able to shower.
Then she should be able to move around on her own for the first time in a week, one of the first qualifications for coming home. We will go up tomorrow and check her out, then we will go to Snowman's house for dinner. Both our daughters, Kissa and ZeldaPrincess will drive up with me. We will pick up StarGazer on the way. SkiTl we won't see until Christmas, and then we'll have everyone home (and hopefully happy) for at least a couple of days!
I do want to thank those who have generously donated to our need. Some checks we haven't been able to cash yet, and one anonymous donor here in town even left cash. It is all greatly appreciated. Our greatest thanks, though, go to the Lord who has blessed us so greatly in this time of trial. With His help, we can overcome any obstacle, clear any trial. It has been a truly humbling experience. His hand is in all things.

Take care....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

...And Again

One day before LadyBug was supposed to be released from the hospital, her leg started swelling up and turned red. She was in extreme pain, so the doctors had another scan. They believe the clot formed in her ankle and migrated upward. It is now to her thigh area, and is around 18 inches long, with a thickness close to that of your little finger.
They have taken her into surgery again, to drill a hole the length of the clot. They believe the blood flow, combined with medication they will administer will break the clot up completely. This surgeon has had good results with this process before, so is hopeful, even though LadyBug was not responding as they had hoped to the blood thinners before.
So now, LadyBug will be in the hospital at least another 24 hours. I will hopefully be going up to get her on Saturday. Although, this may not happen, since we don't know how she will respond to the surgery and medications. The surgeon is confident the clot will be gone before she leaves the hospital. Of course, if they keep her longer, his chances obviously improve, so I really have no clue how soon she will be released.
All of this would be easier if the hospital wasn't over 100 miles away! We simply don't have the gas money for me to go up, since LadyBug isn't working. And I hate the idea of her being up there without me. Her sister, brother-in-law, and our son StarGazer have been visiting her, but I miss her terribly, as she does me, and I hate the fact that all these things are happening while I am almost two hours away trying to keep things together.
People here keep asking what they can do for us. I have to answer that I have no clue what they can do for us. I can't eat most of the things anyone would bring. LadyBug isn't here to eat food, smell flowers, read cards, or whatever. She is stuck in a hospital and I am stuck in Limbo.
You want to know what you can do? Call Mr. Hospitalsman, the guy who has built most of the medical facilities in the northern part of the state, and convince him to put a radiation clinic in our cancer clinic so patients don't have to drive so far every flipping day. Put a major hospital a little closer to the sticks so those of us who live in the middle of nowhere can see surgeons without emptying our bank accounts for gas. And contribute to cancer research. Let's find a way to cure this, and prevent it!
In the mean time, I will try to find a way to make tasteless food appealing and try to keep paying the bills until the woman I love is back home.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quick Update

LadyBug will be released from the hospital on Friday. Then, for the next six months she gets the pleasure of injecting blood thinners into her belly twice a day! We have been told that if we go through what is called an "Infusion Pharmacy," we will have NO out-of-pocket expenses. If we don't (or can't), the medicines are $900 per month! No I don't know much about making medicines, but even at a 100% mark-up, I can't imagine ANYONE ever SPENT $450 to make one month's worth of medicine. Just my opinion. If it cost them that much, they got ripped off, because I think charging that much for vital medication is HIGHWAY ROBBERY!
Now I don't want her to rush into anything, but I hope that things work out relatively quickly from here, because we are hurting without LadyBug's salary. She has been out of work for three weeks now (we were told two), and we have received some unexpected checks that actually make up what was lacking in her last check. I should be getting one more check this month that is only slightly unexpected that will cover some of her next check. But we definitely need her to be ABLE to go to work soon.
On a personal note, I had been adjusting what sorts of food I eat. I am choosing low fat, low carb foods. I have enjoyed a salmon fillet, apples, soup, and tuna. The problem is...I'm STARVING! I honestly think I could win an eating competition right now! SO FAR, I haven't been too terribly bored with these foods, but they leave me wishing for about 60 oz. of STEAK! With mashed potatoes. And dessert. I have tried to make do with fruits, etc. to wind up meals. Apples are good for my condition, and I love bananas too, and have been munching on small pieces of fresh coconut to give me a sense of dessert. I still wondered how long we'd have to BBQ our dog before dinner could be ready.... Naw, not enough meat....
I will keep posting on LadyBug's progress, and whether or not I eat the sheep in our neighbor's yard...
Take Care!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

...And Back Again

LadyBug had a follow-up appointment with her surgeon today. Once of the ladies in town took her up, since I had a full day of school plus my last day of private lessons for the semester.
Dr. Wonderfulsurgeon saw her, and (YAY!) took out her drains! She finally will no be tied to those things (as it were). We won't have to empty them every day.
LadyBug was having too much pain in  her leg, though. The blood clot was so painful she couldn't sleep at night. So the doctor sent her in for a sonogram. They found that the blood clot was MOVING UP HER LEG! They immediately checked her into the hospital and took her to surgery. They have implanted a filter which will be in her leg for the rest of her life. But without the huge threat of a massive Pulmonary Embolism, that will be longer.
LadyBug will be in the hospital for another three days. They will see if they can make the anti-coagulants work this time.
On a different note, I've been dealing with nausea for several weeks now. I had blood work and a sonogram this week, and found out two BIG things. First, my Triglycerides are through the roof! Second, I have sludge in my Gall Bladder. I am not even going to consider gall bladder surgery at this time. I will wait until LadyBug is back fully on her feet. I can't take care of her if I am on my back in a hospital also.

So, I am trying to adjust my diet for both cholesterol and gall bladder friendly foods. I will NOT do a  no-carb diet. First, some carbs are good for you. Second, no-carb diets are WORSE THAN DEATH! I'd rather die young and enjoy variety and flavor than live long on that sort of food! I will also look into herbal supplements or medicines that are shown to reduce sludge and help cholesterol.
And in case you talk to mom, they said NOTHING about my blood SUGAR level!
We will hope for the best, but once again, I just want LadyBug home....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

LadyBug is home once more. Now, along with everything else she is dealing with, she must not only take blood thinners, but she must go to the hospital every other day or so to get blood tests, to ensure that the thinners are working properly! So not only does she have chemo and radiation to look forward to, but in the mean time, she gets poked with a needle several times a week.
She is also now having to manage her pain (which thankfully is less than before) with Tylenol instead of Percocet, since the latter was causing other issues. She still has her drains, she still is tired and sore, and she sees her surgeon on Tuesday. Then some time before January, she will most likely need a port inserted for the chemo treatments.
Our thanks to all who have sent wishes, comforting items, cards, money, and prayers. You make the battle a little lighter!