Devine site

A little bit about my day, my family, and my knitting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Is Chemo Brain Contagious?

You never heard of it? Chemo brain is a sometimes side effect from chemo treatments. You can have mental confusion, difficulty with memory and more. You can read about it here. Well, I am wondering if it's contagious (since Gerry clearly has it - could I have caught it from him?). Lately my forgetfulness has gotten a little worse than it is for being...well, my age (slightly over 35....ok...40....ok....45....ok - THAT'S ENOUGH). I always said that it was really the result of a busy mind, and God knows, mine has been running on double time lately. But tonight took the cake!!! I went to work today (and as my one or two readers know, I am on a Family Medical Leave of Absence from Nov.12 - Feb.22). I had told my principal, however, that I would come in one day every three weeks to update and extend my lesson plans for several week. In addition I had to make the December homework calendar for the students, print out materials for the phonics program, get in a supply order (that I had to finish at home, too) and more. I did get to have lunch with some of my friends there. We are on different lunch times (not lunch HOURS as we only get 30 minutes) ordinarily but since I was working on my own time today I was able to eat when I wanted to (not when the class has lunch). And of course, even though I was NOT working with the students, I was in the room so I was called on by some of them for assistance. I left at 2:15 because I had a 3;45 appointment south of school...and south of my former school. Since I live 26 miles from the current one and 30 miles from the old one, I rarely get down that way if I am not working. So I arranged to stop into my former school to see my coworker/friends there. Then, the appointment. I got home at 6 PM and started dinner. Here is where my brain went awry. I have a wonderful, fabulous electric stainless steel tea pot. I LOVE this pot. Gerry and I use it all the time. I also have a VERY tiny kitchen (called a galley kitchen) and have very little counter space (it wouldn't be as bad but Gerry insists on having the toaster out, and I have no room in my cabinets for the Forman Grill or the food processor). The electric tea pot sits ON TOP of my electric glasstop stove. You see where I am going with this, right? I put a pot of water on one burner (for pasta), a small pot of tomato sauce on another burner, and a second little pot of sauce (for me...I am not a fan of Ragu, which Gerry likes) on the third burner. THEN...I turned on the burners, turned my back to the sink, and...sniff, sniff...P-U!!!!! I turned around and saw my wonderful, fabulous tea pot's bottom melting down quicker than a California mudslide. The room immediately filled with toxic smoke! YUP - I had turned on the burner under the tea pot...we NEVER turn that one on, but....! I quickly turned off the burner and grabbed the tea pot off of the stove, then with my towel I grabbed the bottom part of the pot. It was BLACK GOO all over the burner. I got off as much as I could with a wooden spoon and this is what it looked like:
I opened the door and windows, but I had to wait until the burner cooled down. Then I took the glasstop cleaner, and my scrubbie sponge (for teflon pots) and worked and worked and worked....and with muscle and determination, I got it perfectly clean. You can even see the flash reflection on the stove top. Gerry offered to buy a new stove top, but why waste the money? Determination won over. Tomorrow...I buy another teapot!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ow, Ow, Ouch!

I woke yesterday with a pain in my back. It's the kind of pain that you get when you lay on your stomach and you feel as if your back swayed forward all night. It was SOOOO sore! I took some Tylenol and then we went out to Costco, the bank and Publix. When we returned I took a painkiller and that only made me numb - yes, it took away the pain but also took away my senses. I got into bed and dozed on and off for a few hours. When I woke I was woozy. A little later I began to feel nauseated so I "borrowed" one of Gerry's anti-nausea pills. They helped a little but when I ate I felt even better. About 4 or 5 hours after taking the pain killer the soreness was back. No WAY was I taking another of those things so I took two Tylenol. Didn't help much but they took the edge off. Today my back still hurt. I took more Tylenol and tried not to do anything too active,but of course, I made breakfast for Gerry, then sat and wrote out the rest of my holiday cards (started last night). Gerry then decided that he REALLY wanted to get a new TV for himself, to put in our guest room. Last week, after we returned from TX, he had to go to the guest room to escape the dogs and their loud barking so he could sleep. He wants to have a GOOD TV there if he he going to be escaping each time he returns from treatment. We went to Best Buy first. It was almost impossible to get a saleperson to help us. Next we went to Circuit City but they really didn't have much of a selection in 26" LCD TVs. We returned to Best Buy,and when we did, they were out of stock on the tv we wanted. We decided to go to Costco, as Gerry had seen one he liked yesterday. Of course, we went to Costco that was south of where we were, only to be told that the OTHER Costco, north of where we had been, had 7 TV's in stock. SOOOO....we drove up to that one and within 5 minutes we had our TV. Together we put it into the armoire in the guest room. It's beautiful! Tuesday the guy from Digital TV is coming to set that one up with HDTV. As to my back, it's better, but for awhile all that running around from store to store and getting in and out of the car didnt' help matters. But Gerry is a happy camper, and that's what counts.

Side note: Little Orange, the dog with the "moon doggie" collar, is doing ok. He is finally sleeping at night so I can sleep in my own bed, instead of on the couch with him. He follows me all over the house, right my ON my heels, and that *#&# collar hits the back of my heels as I walk..."OW, OW, OW!!!" Today I caught him sleeping in a half standing/half lying down position:

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My Sweetheart's First Birthday Pix

Alison and Michael took Avi for his first birthday pictures. While I think that Alison's photography is better than the person who took this, I still love Avi's picture. And look...he had his first haircut - his hair was way down his face, into his eyes, mouth, etc. He is just the most beautiful little boy!

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Little Time for Myself

Today Gerry and met his friend John C. at Home Depot. John was going to call Gerry ...he had two free tickets to see the Rangers/Panthers hockey game that night. At first Gerry told John that he would let him know,but thought about it and said that he would take a nap and then go with John. After a 3 hour nap, John picked Gerry up and they went to the game. I took myself to the movies to see Enchanted with Patrick Dempsey. It was cute. Very light, very predictable and very Disney, but I enjoyed it. When I got home I watched all the programs that I needed to catch up with on TIVO, and when I was done, Gerry came home. He had had a great time, with some much needed male bonding b/t him and John, as they have hardly had time to enjoy each other's company lately with us flying to TX all the time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Oh, What a Lovely Day!!

Today was such a nice day!! I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade this morning as I always do. I sit for the first hour. After that I kinda go in and out of the room. I really like to see the first hour and the performances in front of Macy's. I don't know a whole lot of the singers on the floats anymore but those that I saw were good. And I always LOVE to see the Sesame Street float (I'm such a geek). EGAD!!! Bob got SOOOOO old looking,but Bert and Ernie are ageless! LOL
I popped the turkey in at noon. At 1 a friend stopped by...Albert. He visited for about 45 minutes and when he left Gerry and I had our "feast." He had a pretty good appetite. It was great to see him really enjoy the meal. After we ate I was SO stuffed. I cleaned up and then gave the dogs their Thanksgiving Day turkey, with a little gravy thrown on top. They LOVED it...can you tell?

Tiemann Rusty Orange Blue

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oh What a Busy Day!

2:00 AM - heard Gerry in the livingroom watching tv, dogs prancing here and there
4:00 - Gerry still in livingroom, he can't sleep. I let the dogs out and back in.
6:45 - Gerry comes to bed, he's talkative (great, just what I need at this time of morning).
7:00 - Gerry goes BACK to the livingroom, still can't sleep.
7:30 - time for me to get up - switched wash from last night
9:00 - Go with Gerry to his doctor to get a blood test to be sent to the dr. in TX
9:30 - come home, make some phone calls re: health insurance, health insurance and health
insurance and for appointment to vet. Switched another wash.
10:45 - leave for nail appointment - I'm late...oh, car's battery is dead as a doorknob. Have to go back inside, switch keys, take Gerry's car.
11:00 - on my way to nail salon...Gerry called, "Did you leave keys to your car so I can charge the battery?" oops....nope!
11:10 - arrive (very apologetic) at nail salon, have a WONDERFUL manicure and pedicure.
Planned to go to Weight Watchers for weigh-in (because I am a lifetime member and too cheap to ever pay the entrance fee again, I make sure I go for my free weigh-in each month).
12:10 - just about to leave for WW when Gerry calls and asks, "When are you coming home?"
"Now!" I say and do a u-turn to head for home......he STILL hasn't slept!
2:00 PM - take Orange AND Blue to the vet. I want to add them to the insurance at Banfield but have to bring in both dogs to do so. Believe me, it isn't easy (you should see us when we bring all four in for grooming). I expected to wait for hours as I was a "walk-in" but it was empty and we were taken right away.
3:30 - Left Banfield with my two dogs, $267 vet charges (enrollment and first month for insurance, meds,other stuff, tail "grooming" to clean Orange's tail, a free "moon doggie" collar (that's what my kids used to call it) to prevent Orange from biting his tail,and another $43 dropped at Pet Smart for Wee-Wee pads (Tiemann has this little "pishing in the house at night and when he is angry at you" issue).
5:00 - went to Publix to pick up tomorrow's turkey dinner & other things.
5:45 - got home, switched wash, left to pick up Mom for dinner (Gerry had only slept 1 1/2 hours all day so he stayed home with the doggies.
6:15 - picked up Mom, had a nice dinner with her, dropped her off and went to Subway to get Gerry a sandwich.
9:00 - got home, realized that I didn't have a pan to heat my turkey in, had to go BACK to Publix for an aluminum pan.
9:30 - pureed prunes (for good, ol' Ger - he hates them but oh, they work SO well!)
Gerry FINALLY went to sleep. He's sleeping in the guest room so the dogs don't disturb him, although Rusty, our dacshund, is sitting by the door, whining and pining away for Gerry. Meanwhile, Orange follows me all over the house, and as I type he is sitting on my lap, fast asleep. Here are some really cute pix of him. He has not really slept much all day so he fell asleep...on my lap before going to the Vet, on Gerry's lap tonight,
and while sitting up.
...and, taking my cue from Orange...I am going to bed. Happy Thanksgiving Day to all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Who Said Returning Home Would Be Easy?

We got home around 7 PM and boy, I don't know who was more excited to see or the dogs. While away, my friend Melinda had stopped in every afternoon to play with the boys for aobut 20 minutes. She told me that Orange's tail had a raw spot. I saw it the minute I got was blood red and nasty looking. I could see that he had eaten away his hair and his skin on a 1inch x 1/2 inch area. When something irritates a dog they start biting the spot and that begets more biting, and so on. The poor dog's tail was so bad. And to make matters worse (for all of us) - he had fleas. Only a few but hat was enough. I dropped my suitcase to the floor, scooped up Orange and immediately gave him a bath with flea shampoo. Gerry checked the other dogs who all seemed to be ok. After the bath I cleaned Orange's tail and cut away a lot of the matted hair and dead skin where he had been biting, then sprayed it with a medicinal spray the vet had given us. Then we put Frontline on each of the dogs, stripped the couch, chair and futon covers and whisked them and the dogs beds out to he wash. THEN we had to go to the store for food for dinner. While there I ordered our Thanksgiving dinner. Since it would just be the 2 of us I had planned to get Boston Market turkey dinners but Gerry wanted a REAL TD dinner so he could also enjoy the leftovers. I really didn't mind cooking, but Gerry felt that I had done so much that he wanted me to relax TD, so we let Publix do the work. The smallest order was a dinner for 7 - 8 people: roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes (white), cranbury-orange relish. I picked up Country Crock Sweet Potatoes (for me), extra gravy, and I already have frozen stringbean casserole at home, courtesy of Green Giant. We went home and had a nice dinner, I went through a week's worth of mail, and then it was time for bed. But poor Gerry, tired as he was, couldn't fall asleep and was up ALL NIGHT LONG!!!

Going Home

After a pretty lousy Monday (Gerry got really sick in the morning and stayed in bed most of the day), we had dinner in the hotel room (I just love room service...maybe it's the rose on the tray that makes it so special) and just relaxed all evening. This morning (Tuesday) we had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and that pretty much wiped Gerry out. We returned to the room where i packed our bags (until about 6 months ago Gerry would NEVER let me pack his bags...Mr. Independent), then walked over to the medical center to pick up the scan reports from October. While I don't know every word that is written, I do understand most of it, and saw that aside from the already present tumors having grown, there is another small one by his adrenal gland. This Interleukin-2 had better work 'cause these "aliens" keep popping up all the time.

We were picked up by Kib, our Houston driver. It is the same price to hire him as it is for the two of us to take the Super Shuttle (shared with others) to the airport, so why not ride in comfort, especially when Gerry feels so lousy. In our conversation, we were telling Kib how Gerry and I met and eventually married. Gerry was so sweet - he told Kib that there was no way he could have gone through all this without me. He then apologized for not being able to help me pack, lift things this morning, etc. "Aren't you glad you didn't marry a princess," I said (in a way that meant 'someone who is spoiled') and Gerry said, "Who said you aren't one?" in a way that suggested that I was a 'good princess.' I love it when he says things like that, for although he is always saying thank you for things, he rarely says sweet little things to me.

We had an uneventful ride home, were picked up at the airport by Danny, our friend's personal driver who has been getting us to and from the airport in Florida for our trips too long to leave the car there. It was great to be home and we were so eager to see our "boys" - Rusty, Tiemann, Orange and Blue! And we knew that they would be excited to see us after 12 days!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Paroled for Good Behavior

Gerry was released from the hospital today! YEA! He had a fever and headache until last night but today he was all better so they kicked him out. I don't have to tell you how happy he was - and me along with him. I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up the heparin that will be used to flush the catheter lines, and they give you A LOT!!! Then - we were outta there. An attendant came to get us with a big transport cart and wheeled Gerry and our things all the way to the elevator of our hotel (which is attached to the Medical Center by a skybridge). I was so tired that I slept for a few hours this afternoon. Tonight we had dinner in the hotel restaurant, The Oak Room, and then took a 5 minute walk outside. He gets tired so fast which is to be expected. I told Gerry that since I will be home we will walk every morning - even if it's 5 minutes to start - to help him build stamina. Tomorrow - happily - I can sleep and wake without an alarm. If he is up to it we will go to the movies. We leave on Tuesday afternoon. I know the airport will be a zoo since it is just before Thanksgiving, so we'll get there a bit early. I had to do a tough thing last night...I cancelled my flight to Atlanta. I was supposed to spend Thanksgiving with Alison, Michael and Avi but it got changed with this treatment. So Gerry and I plan to have a quiet day alone (Mom had made plans to go to her friend's for the day and I told her not to change it. We will see her Wednesday evening, as she leaves on Friday for a Mediterranean cruise and won't return till we are back in TX).

Cancer sucks: a couple who were friends of Gerry and his ex-wife Patti wrote to us. Tom was diagnosed with colon cancer and it has spread. I only met the wife, Donna, once, but once or twice a year we have written a hello to each other. I wrote to her in response to her e-mail and since then (yesterday) we have been corresponding. She is having a tough time with this...denial, anger,sadness. They are 51 and 55, married young, raised their boys and were looking forward to the fun part of life. were we, and we are still fairly newlyweds. This is so unfair and so sucks!!!! I take it for what it is and take it one day at a time. Right now, for me, I take the attitude of....Could be WORSE!! as I see others with cancer here at the medical center who look so sick, who are in wheelchairs, hooked to IVs as they walk around, and know that Gerry is going through so much but still not where they are, thank goodness. I know things will get bad one day...I don't have my head in the sand, that's for sure. But I am thankful that he can still go places, still get on a plane, maybe some more crusing in the near future,etc. And he is doing everything he can to live. Gerry's goal is to live long enough to see Avi get bigger and be able to teach him to play ball. I would love to see that too!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Update from Houston

Gerry had the catheter put in and all went well. He was amitted to the MCU (medical care unit) Monday night and treatment began Tuesday morning. He had a total of 7 doses of Interleukin-2. There were two bad nights but he got through them. After the 7 doses and feeling kinda lousy, gaining fluid in his stomach and his platelet count dropping, both Gery and the doctor said, "enough!" At first Gerry felt as if he didn't go the distance, but the dr. was actually pleased that he was able to endure the 7 doses. They were wonderful in MCU and took great care of Gerry. Yesterday, Friday, he slept almost all day long and had a mean headache. They transferred him to a room on the regular Melanoma/Sarcoma unit. It's a private room in the corner of the "pod" so it's nice and quiet (unfortunately, people come in constantly...oops, on just opened the door to take his vital signs, but I shooed her away politely as he is finally sleeping). Just before leaving MCU they found that he had a temperature. He still had the temp had been up to 101.2, then down to 99.8 and now it's up to 100.4 again. They took blood and cultured it to check for bacteria. But the doctor feels that he should be ok tomorrow (Sunday) and if so, he'll be discharged.

I have been spending each day here with Gerry. The hospital, even in MCU allows me to stay as long as I want to, even overnight. But I don't spend the night. I did that for two nights when he was here in April for surgery and I was so exhausted and he got so pissy that I HAD to return to the hotel for some "time out," came back for a few hours and spent the rest of the nights at the hotel. This time, after spending the first 3 nights in the Rotary House and the next 3 at Spring Hill Suites I am back at the Rotary House. The SHS is great and has the shuttle to the Med Ctr, but it's so much easier at the Rotary House where I can walk across the street or thru the skybridge to the Med Ctr. I did enjoy walking back to SHS on Tuesday night - a 2 mile walk but it felt good. The other nights, though, I have stayed late at the hospital and so the convenience of the Rotary House is great.
Today I got to put my lessons on caring for the catheter to use. A nurse came up from Infusion Therapy and watched me flush out and change the dressing on the catheter. It's a subclavian - placed under Gerry's collarbone. You have to be SOOOOOO careful not to touch anything out of the sterile field with your sterile hand and glove. I was only slightly nervous...not of not being able to do it but of hurting Gerry. However, it doesn't hurt at all, just takes a bit of time, but I did it!!!! WOOHOO!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

So Much Going On

We got to TX Thursday night. Friday Gerry had his tests - of course, they neglected to tell him that he couldn't eat before the echo cardiogram. Luckily he only had 1/2 bagel and that had been a few hours before they got to him,so he only had to wait about 30 minutes for the test. After that and a blood test we went to Infusion Therapy where they showed us a video and had Gerry sign consent for the catheter insertion. After that we were exhausted and STARVING, as it was 2:30 PM and we had not eaten (I didn't have anything at all). We got some lunch, went to the room and stayed there the rest of the day/night. Saturday we went to Jason's Deli in Rice Village. We always like to eat there at least once during our stay. They have great soup and sandwiches. Then we went to the movies and saw American Gangster. It was terrific! Later that evening I went to dinner with my cousin Richard and his wife Penny. They live about an hour outside of Houston. Gerry was too tired so he stayed at the hotel, The Rotary House. We had a really nice time. Today was MOVING DAY. I was not able to secure rooms at the Rotary House for our entire stay, so from today (Sunday) through Wednesday we are staying at the Spring Hill Suites, about 2 miles from the Medical Center. We love staying at Spring Hill Suites but the Rotary House is so much more convenient as I can just walk across the street to the Med. Ctr/hospital. So on Wed I will move our things back! Once we were settled I took the shuttle to the Med Ctr to take the first of two (identical) classes on caring for the catheter. I have to flush it daily, change the dressing 2x week, and change the caps every two weeks. You are right, Alison...better me than Michael. After watching the 10 minute video showing the actual changing of the dressing, I knew that put in that situation, Michael would not do it (not that he wouldn't want to...he just gets squeemish). I will be fine, it's just the first time that will be difficult. It's time consuming, has to be done in a VERY sterile field too. I am SO glad that I will be off of work for several weeks. There is NO WAY that Gerry would have been able to go through any of this alone. So, tomorrow we head over to the Med Ctr for his 8 AM appointment to have the catheter inserted, 10 AM to see the Dr. and sometime after that - admission. The treatment will begin on Tuesday morning.

An aside: I talk to almost everyone. In the waiting room on Friday I met a lovely woman from Alabama named Sybil. She has leukemia, since June, and is here for stem cell transplant. I struck up a conversation with Sybil when I saw her knitting. She is a beginner. She was fascinated with my work - the same blue Crumpets dress that I was making several months ago using Lion's brand Cotton Ease (# 107). We met by coincidence today at the catheter class, and she even invited me in while her mother was being shown how to flush the catheter that Sybil already has in place. Then she drove me back to my hotel. She is supposed to be admitted to the hospital this week for a month's stay. They are just waiting for her sinus infection to clear up. If she is in while I am here I will definitely visit her...she wants me to show her how to knit cables.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Happy First Birthday Avi!!!!

Last Saturday was Avi's first birthday!!! Can you believe that a whole year has gone by already? I can't! Gerry, Mom and I flew up to Atlanta Friday night. Becca and Phil flew in and met us at the airport. Michael met us, too, as he had gotten a free rental car for our use but had to sign for it himself. I was so happy to be spending a weekend with my family. It was great. There was a nice party on Saturday. Avi had about 5 of his little friends there (all under 2 years old) with their parents. Phil and Papa Gerry with Avi's little friend

Suzzette, Gerry's daughter who lives in Marietta, too, came for the party and afterward. Phil made Avi a plaque with his name on it (Phil did it entirely by hand).Avi was adorable and seemed to enjoy himself. Alison made his bib, diaper and even his shoes. But the best part of the day was that when Avi didn't want to stay with whoever was holding him, he would eagerly come to me. AH!!! I have arrived!! On Sunday, while Alison, Michael, Becca and Phil were out training for the Disney half-marathon they will be running in January, Mom and I left Gerry to watch football while we went to Trader Joe's. I love that store and can't wait till they have one in Florida. When we got back we all had a nice Sunday brunch. After Avi's nap, Alison, Michael, Mom and I took Avi for a walk to the neighborhood playground.
Avi and his great-grandmother (GG)

Avi loved being pushed in the swing. Walking there and back I had him strapped to me in his ERGO carrier and got to talk and sing to him. We left that evening after a wonderful, fun weekend. I miss them already!!!