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Friday, July 31, 2009

The tube is gone!!!!

It's been a few days since I have been on. Sorry about that. Had a semi rough day on Wednesday. I think it was I was pressing too much at work. So made sure I slept more and am feeling pretty good today. But the most exciting thing is that in the manner of a couple of seconds my feeding tube was gone. We had heard alot of different things that were used to get the tube out and Dr Patel did not use any of them. HE said "take a deep breath" and before I could take a breath, the tube was out. The bottom of the tube is the size of a quarter but only a 1/2 balloon. Some blood squirted out as he pulled it out! Then he just put gauze on the 1/4 inch hole and taped me up. He said the stomach will repair itself within 2 hours and that within six hours everything will be scabed over. And he was right! It feels so good having it gone. I will relax and let it heal over the weekend and that will be one more object gone from my body. The only hurt is when i stretch, the scab breaks apart a little but that's it. The doctor said after six hours they have to make a new hole if it needs to be replaced.

Am having a little reflux problem this week but that too is getting better. Again I have to make myself slow down and take it easy. And my body certainly will let me know! Am having some rash on the sides of my neck but think it is a result of starch shirts so will wear polo shirts for awhile to fix that problem. Such a minor problem as compared to not been able to eat anything!

Had a CT scan on Thursday and will have a PET scan next Tuesday and the results will be the following week. But I feel good and my throat gets better every day. I am adjusting more to no salvia in my mouth as I understand that won't change much. So I drink more water. hmmm Seems I have to do that anyway!

Have gained another pound so weight 133 pounds with my 31" waist. I brag now as this won't last. Can't afford a new wardrobe so have to have to gain weight and a couple of inches in the waist.

So it is just trying to get back to normal both at home and at the office. It is slow, but thats ok. As long as the good days outnumbered that bad, I will take it! And I have all of you to thank for this as I believe that God has truly answered all the prayers. Hope everyone has a great weekend! Later guys....

The tube is gone!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Start of week of alot of improvement

I am still not sleeping all night so am tired at the end of this day. But I feel better each day and that is the main thing at this point. I talked to a Mary Collier (Hope House) and she said this would really be a good week. It will be a good week if for no other reason that I get the PEG out tomorrow. I am more than ready. Tonight I had corn on the cob. The taste was great! Even had a Popsicle after supper.

My endurance is a little better after this weekend. I worked for about 5 hours and slept for about an hour this afternoon. While I am tired, it is a good tired. The weight gain of 3 pounds this last week has made a difference, so a few more pounds should make alot of difference in my energy and endurance later this week.

I talked to Mary Collier alot about Allison Cancer Center and its wonderful staff today. I think they have made so much difference in my treatment. I am much better off as a result of staying in Midland. Staying as local as possible is so good in that, besides the quality health care, my support group in Midland has enabled me to have someone to lean against as well as being able to visit and being able to sleep in my own bed and rest in my own home. I am truly blessed by all my friends both in Midland and outside of Midland around the country and the world. As before I don't think I could have made it without all the prayers and support from ya'll. I know Lucille feels the same way. There are not enough thanks you in the world to express our gratitude!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another week to recovery

It's Friday evening and getting ready to go to bed. Had what I think will be my last hydration this morning. Lunch with ET. Worked a couple of hours and then painted for three hours. And then came home and relaxed. Had oatmeal for breakfast, chili rellano for lunch and homemade chicken enchiladas for supper with some dutch chocolate ice cream. Everything was good except the ice cream. The taste was not there but enjoyed the coolness on my throat. But all in all I've had a good week of meals. I think I have put on 3 plounds this week so am about 131 pounds tonight.

My energy level gets better every day as does my endurance. So hopefully I will not overwork myself this weekend (that won't happen with Lucille and Sarah around!). And get more strength and energy this weekend. My feet and fingers still tingle but just keep working through that. Hopefully it will go away in the months ahead. I certainly don't intend to give in to it! If my sweet tooth would come back somewhat I would be happy. But my taste buds are coming back pretty quick I think. The tip of my tongue is not as numb as it once was.

I have three special requests fopr ya'll. One is my father in law who has congested heart failure. Please keep Jim and Frances in your prayers as they go through this time in their lives. And also keep Jim Adams and his lovely wife Terry in your prayers as he is recovering from heart surgery. And the last is for Randy Auburg. He is having a tough time for the last week of radiation and then a couple of weeks (like me) to get over the major side effects he is having. He also has throat cancer and is at MD Anderson. Nothing against MD Anderson but I am really glad we stayed in Midland. My treatment and caregivers have been excellent and they take what we have to say to heart and then try to make sure that I was as comfortable as I could be in going through these tough chemo and radiation treatments.

I hope everyone has a great weekend as I plan on it. Every day is a little better than before. I just plan on taking each day at a time. If I can work more then I will, but is I can't then I will come home and take a nap and rest. This is a busy time of year but that is the approach I am taking. And it is becasue of your prayers and support. This nation was founded on God and I believe with all my heart he is still here. I am still here as he has a purpose for me. Otherwise I would be leading something not on this earth! ( a joke people!) Prayer is a powerful ally and I think God has listened to each of you. I know that it is an extra mark in the Book of Life. I don't know if I have found the silver lining in this cloud but I will continue to seek it and continue to do what I can to help others. It truly makes me feel peace within myself when I help other people (regardless of whether they have cancer or not). Maybe that is my silver lining. The slowing down of life, helping more people (whether they know it or not), the witnessing to folks. And you know what - the roses smell really good! Nite all...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What a blessed rain today..

It is Wendesday afternoon and feeling somewhat tired after working a few hours but otherwise doing very well today.

Still only sleeping about 4 good hours a night but I'll take what I can get.

Had good meals yesterday. BBQ for lunch and lazanua for supper and a late night snack of popcorn and sprite. My taste buds are coming back quicker than I thought and able to eat through some of the bitter taste now. Still not eating much bread but drinking lots of water. I think the hyrdation is really helping to keep my water level high. It's just one less thing my body doesn't have to worry about. Had cheese toast this morning and it was really dry but ate about 3/4 of it. But will have a good lunch and supper. Am up to a cup of coffee in the morning and about a half of cup at night. Tea doesn't taste good at this point but water is what I normally drink anyway.

I shave my head twice a week now and my beard is a moustache and a few whiskers on my chin. But hair is coming back alot quicker than I thought. But it is all white now!

It has rained all morning. It really has cooled everything off and everything smells so good. I won't have any trouble taking a nap this afternoon. Every morning I feel better. It's all I can ask for. That each day is better than the last. My throat is responding better everyday which is allowing me to eat anything I thing about trying.

People may not believe in the power of prayer but not me. I am where I am today as a result of God's blessing through your prayers. And for that I am extremely thankful to everyone. Later guys.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

work, rest, work rest...

Happy Sunday to everyone!

I have had a pretty successful weekend. Have gained 2 pounds so I am back to 130 pounds. Breakfast has been eggs, biscuits, gravy and sausage. Had steak one night, and last night was potato soup, cottage cheese. The good side is that I am eating a full meal pretty much. Still can't eat breads as it takes too much moisture out of my mouth. And I have learned to drink lots of water during meal time. And no ice cream yet.

The only major side effect I am having at this point is the tingleness in my toes and fingers. I understand that is from cysplatin. But will work through that. My energy level hasn't gotten any stronger but will keep working at doing a little and resting. It will build up over time. My mind says to get busy but my body says not so fast! So until the two of them get together, I will continue to to work and rest.

Last night we went to theatre. It marks the first time I have really been in public since Feb 4. It was kinda strange to say the least. But it is one more step to getting back to normal.

I am excited about getting rid of the feeding tube this week. I have not used it in a week now and with eating pretty much what I am willing to try, I will not be needing it any more. One more device that will not be protruding out of me! But while I needed it, I am glad it was there.

Will get hydrated a couple of times this week just to be safe. I think it has helped in my recovery efforts. By the end of July I shouldn't be doing hydration anymore.

Thank you for your continued prayers and cards. They are so uplifting. I know lots of people are reading this blog and I sincerely hope it is doing as much good for ya'll as it is for me. I would have never posted without Lucille encouraging me. It has been good for me. I hope God is blessing each of you this blessed Sunday.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another day - another day of getting well

It's Thursday afternoon. I worked for a few hours today and came home to rest. Could not sleep but resting. Surely that counts for something! Worked in the yard a couple of hours yesterday afternoon and hit the old brick wall around 8 last night. I get about 4 hours of good sleep every night now. The other sleep is semi-sleep. But at least it is sleeping.

My throat gets better every day. Tried to eat some Mexican food last night but it just wasn't to be. Will try again next week. Had a big bowl of potato soup for lunch today and it was great. A little spicy which probably helped my taste buds. Still have not used my feeding tube this week. Will be looking to have it removed next week if I don't use it this week. My grandkids will be disappointed as that it is the first thing they want to see every time I see them. The tube has been a life saver for me and allowed me to be able to stay home instead of the hospital.

The care I have received at Allison Cancer Center has been fantastic. They are truly concerned about your well being and care and hurts. They do everything they can to make treatments as pleasant as possible. I can't say enough good things about those folks.

Each day gets better as my throat continues to heal. My taste buds seem to responding well although chocolate is still not in the cards. But that to will come to pass. Biggest problem I have at the moment is keeping my food moist enough to eat. And that too will resolve itself somewhat. A small price to pay when considering the alternative.

My honey do list is still long but will start working on it soon. I hope to be in the office every day next week getting my work caught up. Not all day but at least 20 hours next week. Rest is still the key to recovery so have to learn to pace myself.

Thanks to all of you for your continued support. The outpouring of God's love is felt in this house every day as a result of your kindness. Talk again tomorrow....

Monday, July 13, 2009

One giant step

Evening everyone..

What started out not too hot ended up pretty good. Got up, had the dry heaves and then had hydration. Spent 4 hours at the clinic. Fed myself thru the tube this morning. But after getting home, I had a hot dog, mustard and a cheese stick for lunch. But for supper Lucille fixed meatloaf, potatoe soup and peas. And I cleaned the plate along with a glass of water. No tube tonight! Am looking forward to each day getting better. Will do hydration 2 more times this week. RIght now will call if I need help. But if continue to eat and improve my drinking, then I think I might very well be over the hump. Im'm sure my clients would like that!

It's amazing what 24 hours can do right now. My attitude is better this evening, my stomach feels good with real food in it. I will work a few hours tomorrow and Thursday. Don't want to get too stretched out. But with God's help, everything is looking up. I'm two weeks out from chemo, so the chemo effects sould be about gone and Thursday is two weeks from last radiation treatment so those effects should about be worn off.

Started lifting some 10# weights for my skinny arms. Nothing serious just want to get my strength back but will do it gradually. While I am looking for weight gain now, I want it to be good weight so we will start eating a little more healthy.

Thanks for the support and continued prayers. Still have about 3 months to really determine if this bad boy is gone (although I think it is). But plan on recovering just like it is gone. So we will be enjoying the next several months. Without this support group, this kind of ordeal would be extremely difficult. I always thought I was a tough guy, but this has proved me wrong! Without God and you, it would have been so difficult. Thanks again..

Try to stay cool. Lots of honey dos around this house so the next couple of months will be trying to finish up alot of those jobs.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

1 week from radiation

Evening everyone.

Well, not off the feeding tube yet, but working on it slowly. Am working on spicy stuff to trick the taste buds (I guess trick my brain) into thinking it is good. It has occurred to me today that I am having to learn to chew differently since I have not really eaten any solid food since I lost my teeth.

This morning was gravy, 1/2 biscuit and sausage. The afternoon snack was some hot wings (really hot!). Under normal conditions only ET and Mark would be eating them. Needless to say I did not eat but a couple. I think my stomach is wondering what is going on all of a sudden by the different food dropping in. Lucille is fixing salmon tonight or tomorrow. It was a good meal when she has fixed before. Drinking is getting easier although not where I can gulp a 1/2 glass yet.

The other adjustment is no saliva glands to help keep the food wet, so have to drink more than I would normally during eating. So just have to relearn to eat so am hoping this next week will bring good results. So far, the throat is doing great. I can still feel a little rough edges but I think it is healing nicely. So by the end of the week, I think that issue will be pretty much gone.

I have dropped another 5 pounds which does concern me but the only way to stop is eat more. I think it is because I am so tired of sitting and am moving around more. But I figure if I don't get to moving more then I will not get any energy or endurance back. But I also know when to say stop and rest! So that is what I am doing.

Each day is truly better tan the day before when I step back and look at each. A small step is great at this point. An improvement to see that I am recovering and while it will be slow, the recovery is coming!

Life is all about choices and my choice at this point is taking what God has given me and putting it to use. And that is life itself. Not sure the number of days left, but think it will be many and if I can have the effect that Jim and Terri Adams have on lives, I will feel truly blessed.

Have a great evening everyone..

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Another day of healing.

Evening gang..

Not doing too bad today.My throat is getting better but not able to take more than a sip at a time. But patience is the key word here. SO I feed the tube, try drinking as much as I can when awake and get hydrated every other day. Will do the same next week.

I worked for a couple of hours today and will continue to try and do so so build up endurance. But I also slept this afternoon and as of now will not have any trouble sleeping tonight. I think this part is as tough as taking the treatments as you want so badly to feel better and it is all up to your body to get the healing done. So in that regard it is kind of frustrating, but this too shall pass.

I've had many comments on my neck so have posted the look of it today. It has healed very well. The cream the doctor gave me has done wonders. It's still a little tender but doing great.

The other pic is stuff I am feeding myself with. Lucille uses whole mile and cream to get the calories up to 850 per ounces. It is so much better than Ensure and I think the cost is not different. But alot less feeding to accomplish the same result. But I look forward to getting off it and back to food. I have all these free meals when I can start eating the big stuff. After all, I don't want to waste their money!!

Sent my Philmont boys and adults off today for their 12 day backpack trip. But just able to do it. Maybe in a couple of years. If up to it, I will go up on July 21 to see them come off the trail.

You just don't know how I pray for each of you for the blessings that God has put on my treatment and healing. You guys are the greatest support one could hope for. I have run out of words thanking you but my heart can't thank you enough! See ya later.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Working through phase 1

No hydration today. Will decide about Thursday later tonight. Got up feeling pretty good. Drank throughout the morning, worked for a couple of hours at shop and have rested and slept and drank this afternoon. Had to take stomach medicine this afternoon. But the good news is my swallowing is much improved today. I can't eat yet but drinking is becoming easier. At least I am able to swallow my pills.

So will continue this routine the rest of the week, Hydration tomorrow, work a little and sleep and rest and drink. Every day away from treatment is better. I may not totally feel like it but the body has to do its business of healing and I have to give it the time. So all my caregivers are making sure I keep to the straight and narrow so it will heal faster. And they are right. Hard for me to do, but they are right.

My Philmont group leaves this Thursday for 11 days of backpacking. Not way I can go but I will think of them each day while they are out. By the time they get back I should be much improved. Not enough to backpack but enough to get back to a more normal life style.

My hair is coming back so will be back to shaving every day in a couple of weeks. Still going to leave my head bald for the summer, at least.

Thank you for your continued support. When treatment is over, one thinks (at least I did) that everything would be alot better. Not so with cancer. The body has too much of its own healing to do. So the next 10 days are pretty critical to my getting healthy again. So will take it easy and rest. God Bless each of you this day.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Recovery = phase 1

Well, what I thought would be nothing but blue skies ahead has not been that! I spent the weekend throwing up as I could not stay hydrated even with the tube.My throat would not cooperate as I could barely swallow. So I spent most of the weekend sleeping, throwing up and trying to keep liquids down.

So at 8:30am this morning I was back at Allison undergoing hydration again. Will do it several times this week to give my throat time to heal so I can start drinking and eating. I was told this morning that July 17 is the date I will start feeling good again and being able to eat and drink. So I will be seeing the wonderful people at Allison helping me stay hydrated until my throat starts to heal up. Just a minor setback. Not one I was really expecting. As Lucille and I looked back, I should just now be starting the recovery process from the last of the chemo process and who knows about radiation. So will focus on trying to stay hydrated, keeping a positive attitude and getting healed.

So right now I am looking at a two phase recovery. The initial recovery is until I am able to eat and drink without a tube. The second phase will be the full recovery of getting back to a normal routine, gaining weight, and helping others.

God doesn't let more happen to us than we can bear. And today more than ever, I believe that I am here because his has additional chores for me to do. You can't out give God. You can just hope we measure up to what he knows we can do. Have we all done our part glorifying God today?

Friday, July 3, 2009

What a final day!

Good morning all..

Got up as normal yesterday thinking that I would just take radiation and a little hydration and things would be great for the day. The radiation went well, received a gift from the radiation department and my mask. I knew that I had to do recovery time but felt so much better mentally knowing that I had endured 8 weeks of radiation. I will tell you there were times that if not for God carrying me I would have made it! But I am here today that I was feeling pretty good.

Went to chemo doctor and was told that a couple of blood counts were done. Little did I realize that the 2 hour treatment that I have done all week would now become a 5 hour treatment. I was the last patient left in the chemo room yesterday. It was not what I had anticipated for this day.

And then as Adam was driving me down the street home, I saw all the signs and cards and family standing in front of the house. Needless to say, whatever I was feeling at that moment from the last day of treatment went away and turned to tears as I started reading the cards and posters from everyone. Adam and Sarah had put this together behind my back and it was just what I needed when I got home. The pictures above are just a few of what awaited me. I'll post a few more later.

The day being done, the final treatment being done. They can't do anymore. I've had maximum chemo and maximum radiation for this bad boy. And I truly believe it is gone. This cancer just wanted to take a final stab at me this day because it knew it did not win this battle. So as the day came to a close, my mental state is much better and I am ready for the recovery period. For getting back into the saddle, for finishing projects, for getting back to a normal schedule. But most of all, I am ready to eat. I am supposed to be able to eat most solids in about 10 days. But I am pumped knowing that this part if finished and that Lucille and I are ready to move to the next phase.

The support of each of you who have prayed, sent cards, emails, or just read this blog have given us the strength to see this through. There are many thank yous to hand out and I am sure I will miss some, but know that I have said a special prayer for each and everyone one of you.

And then there was the special note from from Randy Auburg. He is a cancer survivor and is going through treatments. His notes and comments from his blogspot were so heart felt. There couldn't be enough medicine to keep the tears from flowing. Our prayers will be with Randy and his wonderful family as he continues radiation at MD Anderson.

A special thank you goes out to Region 18 - where Lucille works. The support of the staff through prayers, words, cards and especially help with her work schedule was such a blessing not only to her but to me. It has meant so much that Lucille was able to spend the time necessary taking care of me and I truly appreciate all of you for helping Lucille and me.

As we go into the July 4th weekend, it will always be a more special date for me. And thanks to you and to God, I am able to continue on helping others. Later gang....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The final treatment awaits me!!

Did not sleep particularly well last night. Was pretty restless and am sure that I kept Lucille up alot of the night with my coughs. But had my next to last day of radiation and did hydration this am. Tomorrow I get to take my mask home where I will hang it in my office as a reminder of the events of the last few months. I'm sure it will be quite a conversation piece!

Am feeling pretty good right now. The real test will be this weekend and staying hydrated myself. But hopefully I can start on soft diet this weekend and getting back to eating real food within the next couple of weeks. I know how my grandson feels when he had one thing to eat and his body wanted something else. The same is happening to me. I will not miss the MusL Blast at all. But it has probably kept me out of the hospital for the last several weeks. So for that I am thankful.

Lots of new patients in the chemo room today. One lady was stuck six times this morning as she was terrified of the port. So on my way I stopped and comforted her and to let her know that this port will make life alot easier. Today was her first day of treatment. And if these nurses can't get a good stick then no one can.

I still don't know my silver lining but will trust it will come in God's good time. All I know is that the wonderful people I have meet over the last 4 1/2 months plus all the wonderful support from ya'll that this would not have been possible.

I am off morphine now, my neck looks good. I get basicly 2 months to recover before any tests - a CT and PET scan. It would be great to be on the lake or BBQ with friends this weekend but will stay at home and relax and recover. I look forward to taking less drugs and being able to lay flat on the bed. To wear normal clothes again and not look like I can't find the right pants to wear!

See ya tomorrow!!