Monday, January 30, 2012

Port Dave's Shoulder

So the last time I blogged about a port it was about Port Townsend and what a lovely time we had for a family get away, complete with beach combing, sunshine, swimming and snow!  This port is not quite as fun.

I kind of envision Lee Majors being rebuilt with bionic hardware (Six Million Dollars worth - hopefully we won't reach that number).  They'll peel back Dave's skin and insert a port-a-cath as pictured here.  I don't think he'll receive special powers though.  This is so they can pour poison in his body, also known as administering chemo.  Maybe he'll come out more like Spider Man?

A few of you have asked about his colostomy bag (not the details, because ewww, it really is not fun).  The Oncologist wants to start chemo ASAP.  Dave is not fully healed yet from the Dec. 1 surgery so the ileostomy cannot be reversed yet and it cannot be reversed while he is receiving chemo (great risk of infection), so the bag has to stay until Dave has fully recovered from 16 weeks of chemo treatment.

Oh and we found out today that chemo starts this Wednesday!  Aaaaak!!  Okay, do not freak out Nancy, Dave is already on that.  It's been a conversation and now it is reality.  We just don't know what to expect.  How will his body react?  Will it hurt?  Will it be worth it?  Will we get tired of that sterile room?  I think I blogged before about the chemo room, it is really depressing.  Maybe I'll make it my mission these next four months to liven that place up...line dancing, redecorating, Bunco...the possibilities are endless!  Okay, maybe I'll just try not to knock over anyone's IV pole.

We again covet your prayers for a successful procedure and effective chemo therapy.  God is continuing to reveal more of Himself to us and we are blessed.  Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chemo Teach

Today we went back for another Chemo Teach.  Last time we went was Wednesday, August 31.  How do I remember you ask?  I  looked back on my blog!  And yes, it was a repeat performance from our "teacher".  (who said, "I don't know why they call it a teach, we just tell you information?")

As she approached us, Dave and I just looked at each other with knowing smiles...this will be interesting.  She offered to find paperwork about the chemo, but when she came back, she said she couldn't find any paper work, but found presents!  One of the side effects of one of these drugs is sensitivity to cold.  For example, she explained, when you reach in the fridge to get something cold, it may really bother your hands.  So she gave Dave some socks and said they were from the drug company.  (I'm guessing they are for his feet...).  Then she handed him another package and said it was a blanket, like if we go on a plane...or maybe it is a scarf, she wasn't sure.

This was followed with a 5 minute conversation about Dave's band aid on his finger.  She was enthralled with the multicolor bright band aid and asked where he got it.  From work.  "They have those there?"  Yes, apparently they do.

Now down to business.  One of the first things that will happen is that Dave will get his blood drawn.  They would like an initial blood test taken so they have a base line of his normal counts.  She said we could go to the lab today, or another day...then she said, "I could draw your blood, I see veins!"  Um, no thank you, we'll do it later.

Now on to the risks.  Dave will be at risk for infection during chemo.  Did you know people die from infection, not chemo?  That is what she said, quickly followed by "I shouldn't have said that, you'll be fine." (probably in response to my wide eyed bewildered look)

This was followed by some more conversations about Lysol Wipes at the grocery store (don't be embarrassed to use those!) and a lesson on the flavors of Gatorade (they have red AND purple!)   We did  hear about mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea and possible neuropathy, that just wasn't as fun as the rest of the conversation.

Really, this gal is super sweet, she is very relaxed and I'm sure our stress level decreases when she is around (unless she offers to take blood).  She seems to know her stuff and we are actually thankful for her.  Dave is still dreading chemo and the time and toll it promises to take.  But he is doing it because he loves me and our children and desires to be around for us for a long time to come.

The port goes in Tuesday and Chemo should start a few days later.  We really don't know what to expect (except for a handmade quilt - masculine of course - our nurse said we get one, but not till we come back, I'm actually excited about that!).

So here we go again on this crazy adventure, I can't decide if this is like going up the roller coaster or down the other side (anticipation or stomach in your throat screaming like a banshee). 

Just for fun, here are some of our snow day pictures...this was a day we had power and played outside (funny the 3 days without power, we stayed inside?).
Notice the tree above Julia's head?  Yup, that is the one that is now in the lake.

This is at the bottom of the hill, he was actually on the sled all the way down : )

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kalama


This is not I-5, but it is a road
travelled last summer.
We used to go to Portland quite a bit (BB - before babies).  Inevitably whatever time of day we left to come home, somewhere on I-5 past Vancouver, before Castle Rock I would fall asleep.  That long stretch of I-5 just drags on and on (and on).  I used to try to stay awake, just to make sure Dave wouldn't fall asleep or run into the truck in front of us.  It didn't take long for me to figure out he is an excellent driver and I could rest easy knowing I was safe.  I don't think I have ever seen Kalama, that's the city in that no where land.  Why in the world am I talking about driving on I-5?  Glad you asked.

By now most of you know my obsession with paths.  Much of what we have experienced these last 6 months gets compared to some kind of "journey" or "road" metaphor.  As I ponder "how we are doing" at this stage, I think of passing through Kalama.  I'm tired and I want to sleep.

I'd like to not deal with appointments, chemo, countless statements from Blue Cross (do I need save all those?).  This is the "boring" part of the journey, not a lot that grabs our attention, no fun side trip.  It's easy to be lazy and wish "we'd get there already". 

However, I see an exit ahead and it promises to bring an adventure.  Tomorrow we go to our Chemo Teach.  They'll tell us something important we should remember.  I'm actually dreading it.  I know it has the potential to discourage us.  We'll hear about the lengthy appointments, the slow 48 hour drip, the side effects.  We'll sit there wide eyed wondering what in the world we just signed up for.   Next Tuesday Dave will go in to have his port implanted into his body.  Then 16 weeks of chemo commences.

Wow, this is a really depressing post.  I feel like I should insert a joke for comic relief!  I don't know any though...I could just tell you another embarrassing story, you know I'm good for one.  Part of me wants to only share the "good" part of the story: God's Faithfulness, Provision, Comfort, Strength.  Those are all very tangibly real still.  And the other part of me just wants to be honest with you.  This life is hard and sometimes heart-breaking.  I feel like I'm walking in a fog most days.  (and again, I'm not the one with cancer!)  I realize this is part of the journey and surprisingly, I'm okay with it.  I'm not depressed or "at the end of my rope", life is just more difficult right now.

God is still in control of our circumstances.  He is the One leading and we can fully rest, knowing we are safe as we travel on this road that passes through this place called Cancer.

My desire these days come from Psalm 86:11  ~ 

Teach me your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Swimming and Snow

Dave is the kind of guy that needs to get "away from it all" occasionally and just be with us.  (love that about him!)  He mentioned a couple of weeks ago that he was in need of some family time.  So I "cashed" in on a Gift Certificate my 3 bosses gave me for Administrative Professionals Appreciation Day...or something like that.  I serve our family ministry pastors/directors, so as a thank you they gave me a certificate for our own family day.  They do practice what they preach ; ) 

One of them has a time share, so she booked it for us at Discovery Bay which is near Port Townsend.  We left with the kids Monday morning telling them we were just on a little adventure.  They got suspicious when Daniel noticed our toothbrushes missing as we were leaving (and I even waited till we were heading out the door to pack them...).  How do you answer "Where are our toothbrushes?"...later Julia said he confided in her he hoped we were spending the night somewhere.  With school the next day though, they were stumped.

Anyway, it ended up being a great day.  The sun actually was shining, though it was still very cold.  Of course we found a beach, this one was on the way to Fort Flagler.  Daniel found lots of crabs, even a hermit crab.
On the way to this beach we gave Julia a new (to us) camera.  We were given a very nice camera that just needed a new battery.  Julia has wanted a camera for a long time and has been saving her money.  She is an aspiring photographer, and now has a camera that can take great shots.  (Think she developed this passion from her cousin Kai)
This is how Julia spent most of the day...off looking for the perfect spot for picture taking.  This is at Fort Flagler and we happened to go on a "Free Day"...guess not too many people go there in January.  We also saw chickens and super-sized geese in this parking lot.  The chickens were begging for food and ran after the van as we drove off.  And this is how Daniel spent most of his day....climbing: on guns, rocks, trees, anything stable.


When we woke up this morning there was about 2 inches of snow on the ground and there was a steady snowfall.  It was so beautiful, we wished we could stay longer.  We made the best of our time though and walked up to the pool, then got some warmer clothes on and walked out to the dock.  It was a little scary trying to get out of the resort, they are down a pretty steep hill.  We had no idea what to expect for the drive home.
The kids were greatly disappointed that school was cancelled because of the snow since they were going to "skip" school today.  They want a do over skip day.  So maybe sometime in the spring we might try this again and let them actually "skip" school. 

When we got to Lakewood, we were really confused since there was hardly any snow.  Apparently it all melted before we got home.  Not to despair though, the weatherman says we'll get 8-10 inches tonight! 

We are so grateful for this time away, we really needed it.  Dave talked to Dr. Senacal's office on the way out yesterday about our "chemo teach".  He goes in Thursday to have the port "installed" and then next week we go in to learn about the chemo.  I'm not sure on a start date, but sometime within the next two weeks.

We are not excited about the next 6 months, but we are thankful.  God has continued to provide for our needs and even our "wants".  Dave is in pain daily (to varying degrees), yet continues to press on.  Thank you for your steadfast faithfulness to stay with us on this road.  More posts later as we begin this next leg of the journey.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blessed be the Name of the Lord

Well, if I truly believe what I wrote yesterday, then Blessed be the Name of the Lord.  While our human sized hope was not realized today, we are continuing to trust in the Hope that is bigger than our craziest dreams.  Dr. Senacal believes it is best to go forward with the 4 cycle chemo treatment that he initially suggested.  This is a 16 week plan, day one is IV for 2 hours, then hooking Dave up to a chemo pack that "drips" into his port for 48 hours (he can leave and be out of the hospital during those 2 days), then go back in to "unhook", wait 10 days or so and start over for four months.

We are still praising God that it looks like all the cancer was removed, but they just don't know if there may be microscopic disease elsewhere.  So this is the direction we believe the Lord is leading.

Blessed be the name of the Lord ~ now off to a meeting (life goes on right?) ; )

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crossroad

Tomorrow is the day.  It feels like our doctors appointments are set at a crossroad, as if the doctors words direct us to move to the right or to the left.  In reality, they are just a voice.  There is only One that leads us on the right path. 

Today's devotional started with these words: "Trust Me by relinquishing control into My hands.  Let go, and recognize that I am God.  This is My world: I made it and I control it.  Yours is a responsive part in the litany of Love.  I search among My children for receptivity to Me."

Since this diagnosis of cancer I have become more acutely aware of just how "out of control" I am.  How in my finite mind could I think that I actually have a semblance of control in directing our lives?   Yes, hard work often pays off...but there are no guarantees.  God's plans are bigger, grander, higher than my own.  I can only see what is right in front of me, He sees the past, present and future.  He knows what I will need in 10, 20, 30 years and is preparing me now for that.  Or maybe this part of the road isn't about me at all (gasp!), I may just be reaping the benefits and keeping Godiva in business.

Whatever the purpose in this season in my life, I desire to have a receptive and grateful heart.  So tonight I will praise Him for the direction our lives will take tomorrow.  We are anticipating our Oncologist will let us know the plan for chemotherapy.  Before surgery he had suggested a 4-6 month time period of some serious, hard hitting chemo, including a port and an IV (and countless doctor/hospital visits).  Dave and I are hoping for a pill-popping remedy. 

And Friday is Dave's test to see if his colon has healed from the radiation and surgery.  I have a great sense of peace about all of this.  God has been so faithful...He has provided for us in so many tangible ways, that I've lost track. Today we took advantage of two gift cards and a friend even hauled away our Christmas tree!  (I don't know that I'll know how to do it all next Christmas, we had so much help this year!) 

I'll let you know tomorrow night what we find out from one of our favorite doctors ever : )  Peace be with you.  (and also with me...)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dr. Klatt

I realized I forgot to share about our last doctor's appointment!  (Thanks Kirstin for calling and asking and putting up with my distracting questions.) 

We met with the surgeon on Thursday.  It was a quick appointment, no "big" news.  Everything seems to be  healing fine and he says Dave is doing well.  He did ask for his nurse to make an appointment for Dave to go in for a test.  I can't remember what it is called, but they are shooting liquid into his colon to see if there are any leaks.  There must be some fun name for that.  Anyway, because of the radiation that damaged his colon, there is a risk that there may be leaks in  his colon.  If this test comes back  showing everything is fine, then his colostomy bag can come off sometime in February.  If there are leaks, we have to wait.

The other factor in this process is that with most chemo therapies, you cannot have a colostomy bag at the same time.  We will have to wait to meet with Dr. Senacal (oncology) next week to figure out the timing between chemo and returning Dave's guts back to his stomach.  Dr. Klatt said Dave will be in the hospital 3-4 days (he may have said it "should" be 3-4 days...I will make no predictions this time!) to put Innard Skynard back inside.  Dr. Klatt did say Dave should really take it easy for another 2 months. (?!?) 

So basically, things are progressing now as they should and next week's appointment will reveal more of the story.  Dave has some good moments in between pain and frustration, his diet is still very restricted and eating is not fun.  However, we continue to trust in God and His will for us and continue learning to daily depend on Him. God is good and we praise Him.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy Birthday!

So today is my birthday!  Just so you don't wonder (or guess that I am older than I really am...), I am 44 years old today.  Eek?!  How did that happen.  I really don't have anything more to say about that, but I will share two pictures from this morning.
Niki came running into Black Bear this morning screaming, "Did you see your birthday present outside?!"  Okay, she wasn't screaming, but she was very enthusiastic (she loves life and I love that about her!).  There was the most amazing double rainbow outside.  AND it was a full rainbow and it had the deepest colors I have ever seen in the sky.  What a sweet gift from the Lord.  We tried to capture it in this picture...you'll have to trust me.  I just have to point out Debbie Le on tiptoes...just because it makes me laugh!

Here is a shot of some of the most amazing women you will ever know...wait, I'm in that picture....maybe I'm amazing because I know these women?  I must put in a disclaimer though, most of you weren't there and you are all amazing too... I could write a book about you.  (See Shari, I still am a people pleaser, ugh)  These women have endured my...what shall we call them...antics, many times and they still love me.  I made them play a game I created, they all smiled and willingly played along. 

Tonight was dinner with the family plus Dave's sister and her husband.  Julia bought me a card that says, "Girl, let's not think of ourselves as 'over 30' {open card} ...we're just $29.95 plus shipping and handling!"  That girl cracks me up!  She used her own money to buy me some sweet gifts (including salted, caramel filled dark chocolate - this girl knows her mama!)

So this blog really was created so I could share about Dave, so I should probably give him so space here.  (but I had to share about my friends, since I could not do this life without them!)

I'm really proud of him.  He is taking a pretty miserable situation and moving forward.  He went back to work this week!  Well, let me rephrase that.  He was asked to do a "supervisor" job over a big project and he has been doing that, we are grateful!  He did try some physical labor and that didn't go over to well.  He is still healing from the surgery, regaining strength and stamina and getting used to having a bag taped to his side collecting his daily meals.  (tmi?)  It has been tougher than we imagined (post-surgery), but we are getting there.  We see the surgeon tomorrow and will fire all our questions at him, hoping he can answer a few. 

We see the oncologist next week to hopefully hear what he has planned for chemo treatments.  Dave is ready to feel well again and to not be limited in his ability to work and play.  We are dreading the chemo and the possible effects, but continue to trust that the Lord will do what is best for Dave.

Here we go, embarking on a new year, 2012 and celebrating that I am $29.95 plus s & h!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Goodbye 2011

Well, it is January 2, 2012 so I guess I should officially say goodbye to 2011!  I'll have to say I won't miss it too much.  The weird thing is I'm having a hard time remembering anything that happened before August.  Let's see, Daniel was in 1st grade and Julia was in 4th last January.  Yup, that's about all I remember.  OH I do remember the first sunny week of summer.  It started in August when Dave went to the ER and continued the next few days as we waited in the hospital to find out our future.  I remember standing at the hospital window, shaking my head that it was finally sunny and we were stuck inside.  It's funny, in the movies when something sad happens it starts to rain.  In real life the sun came out.  God probably knew I'd get too depressed if it was a rainy summer day when we were told Dave had cancer! 

While I didn't get very many projects done in December, I did manage to do one.  Be impressed.  This really is the extent of my "craftiness".  It is a glass Christmas ornament stuffed with some of Dave's hospital bracelets.  He has been saving them (I have no idea why...), he had one every day of radiation, then a few others from various tests and hospital visits.  I've always loved the idea of memorial stones.  In Joshua 3 and 4 you can read the story of Israel crossing the Jordan River on dry ground.  The Lord told Joshua to have 12 stones collected from the dry ground and use them as a testimony of what the Lord did that day.   Joshua told the Israelites, when your children ask about these stones, you tell them, " 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground'. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the people of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty so that you may fear the LORD your God forever."   I don't particularly want to remember all the grimy details of this last year.  I do, however, want to remember all that the Lord has done.  So next year when we pull out our Christmas decorations, we will see this "memorial ornament" and not be sad that daddy had cancer, but we will remember that the LORD removed the cancer and showed us He is our Provider, Comforter, Healer, Sustainer and that He is mighty to save.

Here is to a New Year.  A fresh start filled with Hope.  Remember:

This life, therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise.  We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished but it is going on.  This is not the end but IT IS THE ROAD; all does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified...