Monday, December 31, 2007

December 31, 2007

In the interest of finishing out the year with nothing left hanging, I faxed my cancer policies the itimized bill for the first three chemotherapies: $52,000. They should be happy to see those!

My other big accomplishment was getting some groceries in before I fall victim to chemo #6 on Wednesday.

Presently the cats are levitating due to the fireworks that the rednecks are shooting off for New Years. They started about 10PM. Evidentally many of them do not own watches.

I personally am hoping for a good 2008. My goal is to become NED in 2008. NED is the cancer shorthand for "no evidence of disease." Which is doctor-speak for "we can't find any, but damn if we'll say you're cured." I hope you and those you love have a happy, prosperous and loving 2008.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Resting Today

Kind of used a lot of energy yesterday so today was just a quiet day at home in my jammies. God bless Judy for dropping by a really nice lunch. My neighbors are such nice folks!

Just a resting reading fool here.

Saturday Sitting

Liam napped. I read a book. Jenn and Eric bought a van. It's been calling to them for a while. Looks very snazzy.
Thanks K.G. for one of the cutest little outfits I've just about ever seen for Jewel. The faux Mary Janes on the feet are a hoot.
Night now. I'm up way too late. Yes, Nonie, I'm well aware of the whole sleep to recover thing. ;)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Post-Christmas Zen

One more book down, another to go. Just quiet here with an occasional trip down to see Jenn, Liam and Jewel. My taste buds are about recovered, but Wednesday they'll be put out of whack again. At least it is for the last time.

The surgeon says if my lymph gland is still swollen in four weeks, she wants to see me. So I have an appointment; apparently because it's unlikely to resolve on its own. Whatever.

A new little kitten took up at my house on Christmas day. I think it's a girl. I named her Christmas. Once I can get myself a little stronger after the next chemo, I'll have to take her to get spayed. It's already a catty neighborhood around here. Don't need any more! Can't believe I decided to let her be an outdoor cat. She's a black cat though, and I'm a sucker for them.

A former student of mine keeps harassing me on my cell phone. He'd stopped for a while, but now he's back to doing it again. I guess he doesn't have enough to do over the holidays. Verizon says there is no way to block a call, and since he disables the caller ID each time he calls (sometimes late at night!) I can only presume I know who it is, I can't be positive. I have simply stopped answering calls that say "RESTRICTED" under ID, but it's bothersome none-the-less. I wish I was smart enough to turn the tables on this dude and put that phone of his where the sun don't shine! I'd like to "shake and bake" Mr. B. V. for being a jerk! Unfortunately, he'd probably take pleasure in reading this paragraph!

I'm thinking tomorrow I may run over and do some pottery. Might as well do it while I can. It's unlikely I'll feel up to it next week.

I hope 2008 is a healing year and that cancer in me can be eradicated. Whatever your hopes for 2008, I hope you can get them too.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Chaos

It was chaotic and noisy but everyone got to get together, sometimes more than once. Here's a selection of photo's from the events.

Me being silly with the kids.

Betty having a moment with Jewel.

Clearly Liam didn't get the concept of all the "girls" in the family.

Daddy's girl!

Hope you and yours had a great Christmas too.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Christmas Story about Music and Love

The Gift of Music

A long time ago, in another lifetime called 1959, Christmas was approaching. I adored my grandfather, and loved to be with my grandmother. I didn't get to see them a lot, but somehow this year was different. You could fairly smell it in the air that something was up this year for Christmas. Little tidbits of information kept leaking out about how this was a BIG year for Christmas. Something BIG was coming my way. The excitement made the air crackle as you breathed it in.

The weather in New York state was being cranky and the wind blew through a winter snow that was serious enough to irritate most folks. My mother took the opportunity to remind me, yet again, that I was born in the middle of an epic snow storm (somehow this was my fault?). The streets had a shiny sheen that looked lovely in the winter nights to my child eyes, but probably made adults quiver at the thought of black ice. Somehow, someway my grandparents had made the journey to our house located at the highest point in Westchester County. Our subdivision was a winter wonderland of lights in a day long before miniature lights had been invented. People took pride in their outdoor displays with a fervor, and it was beautiful to sit on the ridge and look down at the twinkling houses below us, looking like a living Christmas card.

My grandparents were fairly recent immigrants from Ireland. They'd only been in the country a few years. America was a land of bounty after eaking through the war years in Northern Ireland. Pictures taken of them from "the old days" show thin people with achingly large eyes and backgrounds that moaned of poverty. My grandfather worked as a truck (like 18-wheeler) mechanic not far from their home. I found his work fascinating. He'd save me the magnets from some part of a truck and I'd play with them by the hour, AMAZED at their power. He always had an underlying grime to him from the garage, no matter how much he scrubbed, but when he went out, he always, always, always wore a suit. It didn't matter if it was 100 degrees and we were at the beach (I kid you not; I have pictures to prove it.) or if we were on a picnic at the lake, he wore his suit.

My grandmother, being no slouch either, is preserved in memory by various unhappy looks at the camera, because she never, ever, ever went out without putting on her corset. This vile contraption had real bone, strings that went everywhere and looked like some puzzle. It forced her body to conform to some 19th century idea of what women should do to themselves, but it also spoke of the pride she had for wanting to appear as prim as possible in public.

Christmas night there was my grandpa in his suit, and my grandma all dressed up in very proper attire, gussetted into her undergarment of torture. The presents were under the tree, the house sparkled from a super cleaning, the snow outside glistened in the crisp night air....all was beautiful and just right for the excitement about to take place. Indeed there was a HUGE box under the tree. It had my name on it. I had been taken to fever pitch of excitement throughout the day, and was barely able to hold myself together. THIS year something magical was happening and it was for ME!

In the kind of torture that only adults can manufacture, all the small presents had to be opened first. OF COURSE I was Santa and had to distribute all the gifts. I endured watching everyone open their presents, and I endured opening the smaller gifts of underwear and slippers that we thought were pretty standard back in that day. THEN all eyes focused on me as the big, big box's time had come. I was FINALLY released to open the big present.

I was nearly vibrating with excitement. WHAT could possibly be in a box that size???????? I tore into the paper and there was a suitcase. How odd is that? A very, very large suitcase. It was new and had shiny brass buckles. Indeed what could this large suitcase hold? My imagination took me only to dead end ideas. I could not, in fact, imagine what the heck was in that suitcase. Gently I opened it up. Deep, cobalt blue velvet peeked out. I opened more of the case.....and there shining, and beautifully Yes, just like you see on Laurence Welk. A nice BIG accordian, more glamorous and more lovely than the one my grandfather played every evening.

He played the accordian every evening bringing a certain gaiety into the little apartment they lived in. Every evening songs that he made with his accordian oozed out of their windows. He was fascinating to watch. Pushing buttons here, pushing keys there, and all the while coordinating the squeeze in -- pull out action of the instrument. It was magic to watch him do this, and now I knew I had been anointed to join him in this experience. It was an honor, it probably was a large portion of several paydays, it was a sacrifice for people who lived on the edge, it was a gleaming example of ........expectations gone awry. My little body quivered and I pushed back that feverish excitement and found some diplomacy somewhere in my child self. There was no way I could possibly feign the "gratification" that was anticipated, but I tried.

There, was my grandfather showing me how to make it work. Hoisting it on my body so I could feel the dead weight of it. Guiding my hands he lovingly showed me how to use the keys and the buttons to make the magical noise he breathed out as easily as could be into music. I, however, saw a monster. That thing was nearly half my size and about one-third my weight. It required arm strength that no child could muster easily. This was a full-sized adult accordian, for a half-sized person. And, in a moment of utter innocence, they had picked an instrument at a time in my life, when those "flowery buds of womanhood" would soon be right in the way of the squeeze in -- pull out action required. Ouch!

This was my most memorable Christmas gift. It held the expections for so many, and was the yoke of failed aspiration for me. My father arranged lessons, for which I was forced to take. Then as if the lessons were not enough, there was a recital. Take a moment in your mind and imagine dozens of youthful students at an accordian recital. Yes, it was as awful as you can imagine and worse for the participants. I felt humiliated as if somehow I'd been asked to take my panties down in public, only it was worse because it was my panties down while I had an accordian on, in public.

The accordian finally moved to the closet over the years. Sometimes it got dusted off. Clearly it was a special treasure and spoke of the love my grandfather had for me and how he wanted to share the treasure of music with me in a special way. It just was a spectacular moment of ill conceived generosity. I will always remember my grandfather lovingly with his accordian playing into the night and bringing beautiful music to our lives. I hope from his spot in heaven he can forgive me for not sharing in his special gift that Christmas. I'll always have a special love for him and for music, but that accordian....that was ........a devilish thing to give to a child unprepared for the honor or magnitude of generosity.

I have pictures. Yes, it really was HUGE. Merry Christmas and here's hoping none of you experience the giving or getting of such a gift this Christmas. ;)

Peace and joy to you and those you love, this and everyday.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Should Be Wrapping

There. There is my Christmas Tree for this year!

I met the plumber at Betty's today to get a hammer in her water pipes fixed. He did the fixing, I just sat with her and answered her questions over and over, "Today is Saturday, right?" "Today is Sunday, right?" "Why can't everyone come to my house Christmas?" "It's Saturday, right?" With any luck, the pipes are fixed.

That is my single accomplishment for the day. I think I'm coming down with something, but I'm not sure. I slept some today and read a lot and that's it. I have some very unusually shaped things to wrap as Christmas presents, and I have no clue how to wrap them. I suppose covering them with aluminum foil and letting their shape be obvious wouldn't be sporting, huh?

I got a letter from my short term disability people (MetLife) saying I should go file for Social Security since my disability is now at the six month level. That kind of STUNNED me. I think, but am not sure, that I have long term disability that kicks in after this. I wish I was sure. I'm betting that not many office workers are at MetLife on Monday, and the staff at the school board are out until after the New Year. Makes me a little anxious because treatments will extend beyond the date in time they terminate me from short term disability.

Just me and the cats snuggled up on a cool winter day, but everything is looking up because everyday from now on will have a little more sunlight than the previous day. Yes, the winter equinox is over and now more light will literally be coming into our lives on a daily basis. Hope your days are filled with light and love.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Yoga Friday

Wishing you and those you love peace today and all your tomorrows.

I wouldn't have given you a 2-cent bet last night that I'd be able to go to yoga today, but a good night's rest helped a lot and I was able to go and do yoga. In January there will be "gentle yoga" and I'm looking forward to that because regular yoga with the super advanced ladies is VERY challenging! It'll still be on Friday, just a little later.

I did a little pottery after yoga, since I couldn't last night. I'm a bowl-making fool these days. It's fun to see how they turn out. I am excited to see how a little bowl I worked on today will turn out. I made a simple bowl but used a cookie cutter to get a little clay elephant which I put on the bottom of the bowl. If it turns out ok, Liam will be able to eat his cereal and when he gets to the bottom he'll get to see the elephant. I hope it turns out.

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends.

1. Wrapping or gift bags? Bags if at all possible!

2. Real or artificial tree? Most years, artificial. This year, tree?

3. When do you put up the tree? Tree?

4. When do you take the tree down? As I said, tree?

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, but it gives me terrible indigestion.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Hand-made cradle for my dolls.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. Got it when I was a teen. I think it's one of the prettiest ones I've ever seen.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Accordian. Yes, you read that right, a real ginormous accordian, when I was 10.

9. Mail or email Christmas cards? I'm a bad person. I don't do cards either way.

10. Favorite Christmas Movie? I like "Holiday Inn" because it's has a sort of mythic quality from the post war years.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I shop opportunistically all year long, but never get it finished until the 24th.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Plum pudding, refrigerator fruit cake, anything with chocolate or coconut in it.

13. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I reiterative, tree?

14. Favorite Christmas song? Oh Holy Night.

15. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel two-tenths of a mile.

16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Yes, but no matter what I can never remember all the seven dwarfs.

17. Angel on the tree top or a star? When I have a tree, I have a glass spire thingy.

18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning? It was my family tradition to do it Christmas Eve, but I can be flexible with what folks I have in my life and heart now.

19. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The astonishing expectation of retailers that we will buy LARGE ticket items.

20. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or color? I get a new ornament each year so the tree has a collection of ornaments from the previous years.

21. What do you leave for Santa? If a guy in a red suit shows up at my house in the night, he better be prepared because it's been a LONG time since I've had a man!

22. Least favorite holiday song? The one about the kid who's wanting to buy his dead mother shoes.

23. Favorite ornament? The ones that burned up in my house and were like 50 years of ornaments.

.24. Family tradition? To go to the Christ Mass together (when we don't have little kids).

25. Ever been to Midnight Mass? See above.

26. Most memorable good deed you witnessed or participated in during the holidays? The year of my divorce when things were so difficult, some folks at church surprised me with Christmas presents for Jenny and me. It was a kindness that was unexpected but appreciated.

Sent to me by Susan at Patchwork Reflections. BlogRules for the game include:Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.Share Christmas facts about yourself.Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. I'm a nonconformist; I'm not passing it on, but I'm willing to play by putting my answers.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Weak and Wobbly but Christmas is Coming

A picture of my beautiful granddaughter. I think she's lovely for only being nine days old when this pic was taken.

I really, really overdid things yesterday. I've still got rubber legs today. Despite that I made it to Wal-mart to get some shopping for Betty and myself done. Thank the gods for those electric carts or I couldn't have done it at all! I even asked for help getting things to the truck. A very nice gentleman loaded my stuff into the truck for me. I offered him a tip and he very assertively declined it. I sure was glad for the help.

I took Betty her stuff. I even went by the bank for her. I went and did about 45 minutes of pottery, but couldn't do more. I was just too weak. One more stop in Carrollton, and then it was home to bed for me.

In previous years I worked full time, did all this stuff for Betty and myself and it was about as stressful as everyone else's holidays, but it all got done. This year, I'm worn to the bone just doing the most minimal stuff. It makes me feel so ..... done in.

Tomorrow, if I can make myself, I have yoga, two errands, and maybe I can swing by and do some pottery, but I'm not sure I'll end up doing any of those things. I'm feeling very poorly tonight.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


No more bili lights for Julianna! Yeah! No more trips to the hospital for lab work in Douglasville! Yeah! She's still a little Asian looking but no more danger so she doesn't have to come with "attachments" anymore and can just hang out like normal babies. AWESOME!

I got overextended today after doing hospital, lunch and Christmas shopping, but it was fun until I got to sweating, panting, and feeling like I was going to fall over. I'm almost done arranging everything for Betty's gifts. Thank goodness Jenn collaborated with me today! I think it will be a nice Christmas.

I'm holding my bed down, and that's the way it is, today, December 19th, 2007. (You have to be old enough to know who Walter Chronkite is to know why that's phrased that way.)

Have a great morning/day/evening/night.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Grinch That Brought Christmas Laughter

Liam got a special present from his Aunt N. and Uncle R. today. Check out the green fellow in the picture. Liam watches the story of the Grinch frequently, and can humm the song with the music. He thought the Grinch was a great and exciting arrival at his house. It's not a good shot of Julianna, but she is marginally in the picture somewhere under the Grinch's butt I think. Good shot of Jenn though!

I had Eric take a picture of Julianna and I together so you all could see that Julianna is the WINNER in the "Who has more hair?" contest! Her baby hair is falling out some and so it will be interesting to see what color hair she gets when it comes in again. Heck, I'll be interested to see what color hair *I* get when it comes in! I'm expecting some fuzz sometime maybe in February. We'll just have to wait and see.

Good luck to S.C. on her trip to Honduras. I hope you can help a lot of folks.

Thanks to Carolyn and Pam for the goodies that Angel Mail brings me, especially around the holidays. You folks are just incredibly nice!

Technical Difficulties

Between a LOT of chores and some minor technical difficulties, I'm late posting. Julianna's count is going down, slowly but down. As predicted, at 7 - 10 days she's getting her liver / gut thing all worked out. I can see a big improvement in her color -- not scientific, but adequate in the grammy book of medicine.

I ended up having to go to Carrollton twice on Monday. One for a doc appointment and one for my bible study. That's a lot for me right now. I have some kind of weird thing going on with a lymph glad in my arm (right about my elbow). The doc says to watch it until Thursday and report back to him. I was a little excited about developing a new "mass" but he assures me it's not anything to worry about. I guess we'll see. Looks weird. Feels weird.

We're all going for survival here, thriving will have to be post-poned until a later date. Eric's back can't be attended to until the END of January! He's (thankfully) improving but still very vulnerable to the whims of his back. Jenn is one week away from having a baby! I think she is doing FABULOUS! It takes a while to get your strength back and allow things to go back in place. I think you're fabulous girl! It's still stressful to have so much to do with baby needing testing, and a 2-1/2 year old's demands too. As a pooled collective, we're managing, but it's hard, to be honest. It's one of those moments when family is so important, because everyone gets a job to make things manageable.

Julianna is such a sweetie. So small, moderately quiet (no squalling) and doing pretty good at the sleeping/eating thing. She excels, actually because her big brother wasn't as accomplished as she is when he was this age. I was there when Liam got home from school last night, and he bounded into the house going, "WHERE is my sister? WHERE is my sister?" And he ran up to her and kissed her and patted her. I'm sure the dynamic will change in a couple years, but today he's totally in love with her.

Geeeeezzzzz but it's cold!!! I can't believe how cold it is! Glad I don't live in snow country......brrrrrrr. I'm actually having to wear real outdoor hats to deal with the cold. My kerchief can't protect my head enough from the cold. Surprises me because I never thought I'd be using those really heavy, knits and super thick wool caps, but right now they are a grateful addition to my hat wardrobe!

Have a good one.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

High Maintenance from the Start

Julianna is still a little yellow. Each day she has to go to the hospital to get a blood test to see what her bilirubin count is. She's been on the lights now for 36 hours, with any luck her liver is kicking in and doing what it's supposed to. She's one week old today, so her mom and I split the driving to the hospital. I drove there, she drove back. We're both a little weak so it even's out. I wish I could do more, but mostly all I can be is a holder or a sitter, I don't really have much vim or zip to do much. I did run a couple errands that will save Jen and Eric.

Unfortunately, yesterday Eric threw his back OUT. It is so out, it's not even funny. His back is delicate anyway, but it seems like this time he's really jammed up. I hope the back clinic at Emory can see him quickly because I think this is more than a simple strain. He's in a bad way, and I feel bad for him.

We'll all have to juggle responsibilities for tomorrow. Lots to do and not enough people to do them. We need an old fashioned maid that can come in and do errands and just help out for a bit, but I expect no one much does that kind of thing anymore.

The weather temp is down to 37 here during the day and expected to go to 23 tonight. Brrrrrrr. THAT is some cold stuff for us. My bald head wants a more substantive hat when I'm outside in this weather, but the kerchief is perfect inside. I may have to start carrying an outside and inside hat around with me!

Doc called and the girl is off the lights. She still has to get a check tomorrow, but if all goes well, her parents can sleep without the sound of a vacuum in their ear (that's what her light machine sounds like). Go liver!!! Go liver!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wow! It's Raining AND Mail is FAST!

N. sent me a card yesterday from Vermont and it arrived today! The post office must be working super double time right now. It's pretty too, with a nice hummingbird on it and a nice note tucked inside. I'm also still getting Chemo Angel Birthday mail. I bet I've gotten 20 or 30 cards so far. It's encouraging and uplifting. Surprising that people all over the US care enough to send a card to a stranger.

It's finally happened. I'm out of clean clothes, so I'm doing laundry. I also took out three big bags of trash, and I took care of some groceries and a bill for Betty. THAT is a big day for me. I finished the book, _eat, pray, love_, and I liked the vocabulary and metaphors but somehow I lost interest by the time I was halfway through pray, and even though I stayed up to 2am reading the last of love, I was a little let down by the ending. Which is to say, unlike half the world that has read this book and raves about it, I found it interesting but not one for my top ten list. If you find a copy in a used book store, that's good enough.

The rain here is important and urgently needed, and there isn't enough of it. It's good that we're getting some, but it's much too little and not likely to make much of a dent in our draught. But we'll take it!

I haven't heard from the folks down the hill today. Taking care of a toddler and a one week old baby is a daunting task on a rainy day. I hope they're not stir crazy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jewel Can Glow in the Dark

Because her jaundice is not resolving fast enough, the doctor has ordered some bili-lights for her. A BIG home health care truck pulled in the driveway at about 5PM and out popped a guy with a strange contraption. A grid of lights is arranged so that they are in an envelope which ls about 6-8 inches wide and lays against her skin. Of course there is an umbilical cord that takes the blue light from the generator box to the band she lays on. And another cord that goes to the wall for electricity. The box has fan motors and other stuff that makes a hmmmmmmmm which I can imagine would be most irritating when trying to sleep. With the lights out, she's just a little glow worm -- you can see the blanket move, but you can't really tell it's a baby there -- just blue light and blanket. Hopefully, the blue lights will make her liver work better and that'll be the end of this treatment.

I went to yoga this morning for the first time in three weeks. I missed two classes due to Friday doctor appointments. Today was very challenging because (a) I was nauseaus from Tuesday's treatment, and (b) the moves were designed for the advanced folks in the class, and I am not advanced! I approximated things and attempted things, but was clearly much the new kid on the block. If nothing else it makes me feel like I've tried to do something good for myself that's physical. I do too much resting, sometimes, I think. The yoga is definitely not resting; it's very, very challenging to attempt.

Today I turned 56. I didn't know that it would be this way so soon. My grandma only made it to 66 and I'm hoping I can be at least that old before I die, but I have my will on my refrigerator just in case. Can I live 10 more years? I don't know. I want to feel hope. I want to embrace hope. I want to enthusiastically believe in hope, but I do not. Maybe after we got to MD Anderson I can, or maybe the diagnosis is too much for my psyche to take in -- but I continue to question if I shall have many more birthdays. Today I take pleasure in being with my family and appreciating this moment. I don't know how many more moments I have, but I have these ones right now, and I take pleasure in them. The tomorrows, whatever there are or aren't of them, have to take care of themselves. Today is all I can handle. Today the treatments make me weak and unable to taste anything much. Today, however, I am alive and I can hold my grandaughter and I can take pleasure in the miracle of her life, and that is enough for today.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jewel in a Christmas Mood

This was day one. She was not very patient while we humiliated her by slipping her in her daddy's Christmas stocking (with the Jimmy Buffettesque palm trees).

Unfortunately, like 60 percent of babies born, Jewel has a bit of jaundice. Poor dear has to have her heel pricked at the hospital again today, in hopes that her gut and liver are working more copacentically.

I'm day two post chemo, on decadron and that stuff makes me feel crappy. Two more days of decadron and then the hit from the neulasta will hit. Today has been better with the far. We'll see if that continues.

I'm reading a borrowed copy of "eat, pray, love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. I like her vocabulary and metaphores. I'm not quite half-way through the book and I want to move to Italy. So far the ashram in India doesn't attract me, but her four months of decadance in Italy seem like heaven. I keep looking at the low, low prices of cruises and wish I could go. But, I've lost my passport and I can't travel while on chemo. I want to see and smell and dip my toes in the ocean....I'd settle for sailing on it right now. Ahhhhh....I suspect even if I could make the arrangements, I'd only get to hold down their bed. Maybe after the surgery. We'll see.

I'm happy that I can read again. For a while on chemo I did not have the attention span, and reading more than a magazine article was beyond me. For whatever reason, I can now sustain my attention and can read books again. I might even have to go to the library soon! If you like reading, you MUST read a book _Water for Elephants_ by Sara Gruen. Quite possibly this is one of my top five books that I've ever read. It's really a wonderful story that while not scary, is worthy of the unexpected turns Alfred Hitchcok would admire. You can not predict the beginning, middle or end and the setting is so unusual I dare you have never read anything with a similar setting! I highly recommend it.

I got to visit with my friend M. who had a double mastectomy on Monday. I expected to see a woman that looked like she'd been run over by a Mack truck. She didn't look like she was ready for a marathon, but she looked damn good, all things considered. It was encouraging to me to see how well she seemed. Very encouraging.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I have become an expert on nausea. Not only do I have $520 worth of anti-nausea pills (Zofran). I have compazine (stuff that helps the nausea by putting you to sleep, as best as I can tell. Ditto to the atavan.

I am armed with one of the best burp assistance I've ever found. If you look in the Mexican / Latino section at Wal-mart, they carry a few sodas. One of them is "TopoChico(tm) Mineral Water. I don't know how they add the CO2 in Mexico, but there's more of it in TopoChico than typical American sodas. It's not flavored. It's not special in any other way than it has FIZZY to an amazing degree and when you needto burp, it's the bee's knees!

My TV had decided to crap out (the satellite signal, not the television itself) so my entertainment options are somewhat limited.

I had a one hour, decadent massage today. The massage therapist is very, very good, and she helps rid my system of residual poison by doing a lymphatic drain when she does the massage. Mostly she helps keep the painful muscular kinks and pains under some kind of control so that I don't end up too knotted up.

Tonight I did a heroic rescue. I ran to Wal-mart and got just the right kind of Ben & Jerry's to satisfy a new mother's need for comfort. Mom is doing better.

Jewel is so perfect and beautiful. This family is blessed by her.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chemo Angels

There is a wonderful program that people on chemo can sign up for. I signed up for it but didn't really understand what to expect. What I got were two "Chemo Angels." One sends cards and notes of encouragement and the other sends cards, but also small "presents" that make me look forward to going to the mailbox. Your life on chemo gets VERY small, so the treasure of these two ladies far away from me, living very different lives than mine, is very special.

Well Chemo Angels got even more special this month. I guess there is some kind of multiplication of Chemo Angels that happens for your birthday. Cards on cards are coming from all over the US for my birthday. It's not a blizzard of cards, but it is a generous number of cards that convey care and love across the miles in a way that is very touching to my heart. My birthday is so close to Christmas that under normal circumstances, I'd be running around with so many obligations and so many appointments, and so many responsibilities that I'd be frantic. This year, in my small life, these cards from kind strangers come as a refreshing shower of love. It's fun to look at the return addresses and see the breadth of the program and how wide the "arms" are of the Chemo Angels.

I love my two assigned angels dearly, but the surprise cards from all over the nation is also healing balm for my life as it is this year. Blessings on everyone that sent a card. Your expressions of encouragement and felicitations will surely be returned seven-fold to you in some kind of biblical / karmic way.

Chemo today was uneventful. Five down, one to go. I'm more nauseaus today than I have been previously, but given how much nausea I haven't had, I can not complain. The onc said I could be around Liam and his virus as long as I washed my hands frequently. He said if I was going to get his virus, I'd probably already been exposed during the more critical time, so it's unlikely that being around him now is risky. YEAH! Jewel and Liam's mom was threatening to keep me in exile because of my compromised immune system, and because she loves me and doesn't want me to get sick or have chemo complications.

God bless all those Chemo Angels out there, AND the ones close to me right here at home who feed me and check on me and bless me with friendship and support in so many ways.

Monday, December 10, 2007

We Have a Name!

It took a while to meet the little girl and come to know her. After getting to know her, the names chosen are: Julianna Eden Ward McDonald. She will be called Jewel for short. And, she is a jewel. She squeeks like a grocery cart with a squeeky wheel. The whole time she snoozes, nearly, she squeeks. Other people say she sounds more like a puppy. But however you describe it, she's a noisy snoozer.

I got to feel a little needed today, and that made me feel good. One of the side effects of being on chemo is being terribly useless. I can sit very well. Sitting and holding my grandaughter is a very rewarding thing.

Tomorrow is chemo #5. I have ambivilant feelings about it. I'm glad to do it and get one more done and over with, and further kill the tumor. I HATE it because it is really not a fun activity, and the meds screw with my body and even though I've done it before, it still scares the bejebbers out of me. I bought a little picture book and will put pictures of Jewel's birth day in it while I'm getting treatment tomorrow. I have my music to take with me. I've started a new book that's a good read. I will, however, be very glad when treatment #6 is done!

I have to ask the oncologist tomorrow about being able to be around Liam. He has a virus and is supposed to be kept away from the new baby. I'm hoping that won't put me in exile from being around the family. We'll see what the doc says tomorrow.

I am in love with our new little girl's name. I think it is not only lovely, but suits her well. It fits her. Welcome to the world Julianna Eden!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Daddy calling everyone to come down and see the new little girl.
Liam seeing his sister for the first time.

About 3:40 this morning I got a call to come meet my new grandaughter. Labor started at 11:45 PM on Saturday night, and she was born about 3AM in quite a rush. She weighs 7 lbs 15.5 oz and Mom and Dad are still working on a name. She has all her fingers and toes, and is very perfect and beautiful, if I do say so myself. Liam was all smiles when he woke up to find out his little sister had arrived in the night. She's a real novelty now, but we'll have to see what he thinks of her as time goes on. Blessings were on their house as the midwife arrived just in the nick of time and all went very well. What a happy family.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Adding to the Readership

My former father-in-law, Bill, has a sister and brother-in-law in Vermont. N. & R. have snow and cold and I don't know how they stand it. They have a new little grand-baby, Jewel. What a sweet name! I found this picture of Bill, Betty and N. and sent it to N. via e-mail, but her e-mail is eating everything I send. So, here it is again N. This must have been around 1980 or so is my guess. Maybe earlier. Betty has her trademark red hair, and you were still a brunette. I still miss Bill so much. He and I shared a special friendship of the heart.

It was good talking to you today. I'm glad we got some information exchanged and you up-to-date on events. Come back often, N. to see what your family is up to!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Surgical Appointment Today

Today was the most tenuous of my appointments. This surgical appointment was most questionable due to Jenn's advanced state of pregnancy. We make quite a memorable pair there because we laugh and have a good time wherever we go, and it's prety solemn there, so we kind of break the mould for how to conduct one's self in the presence of seriousness. They are also acutely aware of Jenn's advancing pregnancy. In fact she is 11 days from her due date and had some significant contractions going on today. Our appointment was at 7:30 am in N. Atlanta, so we left Bremen at 5:45 AM!

They took an ultrasound of Elvira today and she's a little smaller than last time so while not dramatically smaller, she's still shrinking from the chemo. After going through this chemo thing, I want it to be DRAMATICALLY smaller.

I got a picture of me and Jenn with Dr. S, my surgeon. She's going to be an important person in my life, and I wanted to be able to remember her. My chemo ends the first week in January, so the first week in February she will likely have a huge impact in my life.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Oldest Living Contractor -- II

Miraculously, he has finished the list. I have a new working fawcet. I have a new storm door that works well and is put together well. I have a new spy hole in the front door to look out and see who is out there before I open the door, as well as a new kickplate that just makes the door look more dressy. The repair of the popcorn ceiling was a failure -- miserable failure -- trying three different products but that's not his fault. The products are the failures as far as I'm concerned. It took a long time but everything got done. They are nice folk, even if they have their idiosyncricies.

I love watching Martha Stewart on TV. She has all these wonderful ideas for domestic perfection. I myself have a high tolerance for cat hair and clutter, so incorporating her domestic perfection into MY life is a pretty dim possibility, but I still like to watch her efforts to get the rest of America to get elegant at home (especially by buying her products). A lot of her ideas can be accomplished just as easily with dollar store items as her expensive collection from Macy's.

If you want to see a picture of love and devotion, here it is. These are the infamous plastic slides that Betty's son gave her and which she has faithfully worn, and worn and worn. She has worn them despite the fact she looked like a bag lady, she has worn them despite the fact that other shoes/slides have been purchased for her, she has worn them despite the fact that she has been "encouraged" not to. I actually got away with TAKING her plastic slides away from her after successfully finding a pair of slides she could accept. I don't know that I'd be any less weird if I outlived my child.

I did some pottery tonight. I couldn't go the last two weeks because I felt too crappy. I am very pleased with the first firing of several items. I'll be interested in seeing how they do after painting and glazing.

Jenn is taking me to the surgeon tomorrow (presuming she doesn't have a baby or go into labor) and we have to leave here at 5:45 AM!!!! Yipes! I am kind of hoping we'll get another ultrasound of Elvira. I'd really like to know that she is shrinking. Tuesday they gave me more meds because my red counts are down, and today my blood work came back, and I got a call for the onc that my potassium is too low. So I have a script for that now. I've been feeling dizzy at times, but on the whole I feel pretty decent, which is a great blessing, but I guess things are effecting my body more and more. Treatment #5 is Tuesday. Blaugh.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Blood Check

The nulasta I get makes sure I don't have too few white blood cells. Today when they checked my blood it was considered low on red blood cells, so they gave me some kind of medicine to encourage more red blood cells. Just another shot in my tummy.

Jenn is very tired and very, very pregnant. There are increasing signs that she will be a mommy again soon. I'm pretty much expecting to get a call most anytime.

Tonight we had dinner at a local restaurant that had Santa stop by. Liam and his best friend L. had a fun time visiting with him. Pic to follow.

The oldest living contractor dropped by today and finished the storm door. He's coming back on Thursday to do the last couple items and then we will come to a recononing of the cost. He does excellent work. Doors are hard to align and get to work, and he persisted and worked with the door today until it was satisfactory. I'm glad he wants to do quality work. I appreciate that.

Feeling tired.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

All About Baby

Today was a trip to visit the midwife and get everything checked out. I had a secret mission to make sure we got home by 3PM. There was a surprise baby shower scheduld for then. The picture is of Jenn, Eric and Liam. In the foregroud is the hostess, K. and her daughter A.

Lots of pretty pink goodies for the new little girl. I'm so tired from being up and doing stuff since 7 this morning that I'm about like a bowl of jello - - wobbly.