Friday, December 24, 2010

A brown and gold squirrel is munching on a nut, sitting on a branch of our walnut tree. He looked down for a moment and then dropped the nut. I guess you shouldn't take for granted what you have in your grasp as it's all to easy to lose it. More mundanely, it reminds me of the effect of neuropathy on our dishes. John is threatening to buy all plastic plates and glasses.

Working part time continues to be rewarding and not overly tiring. I do admit to several long afternoon naps. It is a lovely time to return to work as most everyone is in the Christmas spirit. Sweet treats are everywhere. which is why my weight is rapidly returning to normal.

Tonight we will sing at the Christmas Eve service and John will sing a solo at the 11 PM service. Tomorrow, bright and early, we will drive to Boise to visit Caitlin, taking gifts from us and from her grandmother. We'll then share dinner and a relaxing evening.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I'm really excited to be back at work. Yesterday was my first day. I have missed my patients and all the people I have worked with for so long. Instead of being tired at the end of a half day I was energized. So much so that it was hard to go to sleep last night. (But hard to get up this morning for an 8AM start.) Things are going well except for occasional clumsiness resulting in near falls.

Focusing on someone or something other than myself certainly has allowed me to forget about my fears and current symptoms. Being back at work has made me feel joyful, a phenomenon I did not expect. Appropriate for the Holiday season, don't you think?


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Not only does the ritual of counting my blessings appeal to me, but what could be better than a holiday centered around family and food. Since John's and my relatives are far away we have enjoyed recent Thanksgivings with friends and their various children and parents.

This year I have special reasons for giving thanks. I have emerged from my initial skirmish with cancer feeling well and ready to return to work. More importantly, I have learned the significance of the support and kindness of friends and family. Rare were the days last summer that I received neither a card, call or e-mail full of prayers and good wishes for my recovery. You all have my heartfelt thanks for helping me through this difficult time.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The exciting news is that I am returning to work part time in December. To prepare for that I am learning Dragon, a voice recognition program so I can communicate with the electronic medical record. Due to the neuropathy my typing is terrible so using a microphone instead of the keyboard will help.

My sources suggest that the neuropathy from chemo is most intense 3-4 months after the last treatment, then in most cases it improves. Good news, but for now I have trouble with buttons and zippers. I can't feel my dog licking the side of my foot.

On the other hand, my endurance seems back to normal. Now I must exercise to improve my strength. Looks like I will be spending time in the gym this winter.

John and I enjoyed a recent trip to Coeur d'Alene where we toured north Idaho businesses with other state legislators. Silverwood's story is inspiring. We also learned about Boundary county; sounds like a great place to vacation.

We're looking forward to our trip to California to visit my mom. We haven't seen her since my diagnosis.


Monday, October 18, 2010

There is new dark fuzz on my scalp and some new hairs in my up until now absent eyebrows. I think I miss my eyebrows even more than my scalp hair. It must be the wig that helps. I am not skilled enough with an eyebrow pencil to fake them.

Meanwhile I am getting stronger. I swept up more leaves today while progressively removing items of clothing to stay cool. It is a beautiful but crisp Fall day. Many of the flowers are still profuse and seem to enjoy being out of the heat, the petunias especially. Little by little I am getting some of the Fall chores done. My main concern is the ivy that has overgrown and threatens to takeover.

Though I miss working, it is a pleasure to get some long neglected chores done. Things are going well.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We had fun in Boise, saw Caitlin and had some good food. I also planted some bulbs for spring. Hopefully there will be enough rain and sun for them to bloom. I saw two praying mantises while there; they are supposed to bring good luck, I think.

Last night I went to choir practice for the first time since April. It was great to laugh and sing , though I'm not sure my voice contributed that much. Again I felt the warmth of every one's prayers and good wishes. I'll never take them for granted.

Lola is getting more play time recently as my energy improves. She behaves better if she is a little tired. She gets me outside to do a little yard cleanup, too.

I am starting to make plans to return to work and will be talking to our administrator soon. I won't be able to do all I used to do so it will take some figuring out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Great news! My CT scan showed no evidence of cancer! What a relief. Now I need to decide on whether or not I want something new called consolidation treatment. It has been demonstrated to be beneficial, but the agent used would make my neuropathy worse. I worry about not being able to take care of myself due to the neuropathy. My handwriting is shot already. I wouldn't be able to practice medicine. A difficult decision.

I drove today for the first time in a while. It went well, encouraging me. I'm noticeably stronger and have not had nausea in some time. Yesterday I swept up leaves in the front yard, just in time for the rain today. I have started to read medical journals for CME. So things continue to improve.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Hood River was great, plus I got a lot stronger while there. I guess I need to push myself a bit more. It was a long ride back home but we had a delicious lunch in Walla Walla. On the way in to Waitsburg I saw the profile of a sitting camel in a field by the side of the road. Thought I was hallucinating. As we drew closer we saw a camel sitting under a tree , actually. Had to be the strangest sight on the trip.

I have a CT of the abdomen and pelvis tomorrow, hopefully to confirm my remission. My neuropathy continues to plague me so I am starting a new med tonight: gabapentin. Along with being able to walk now without a cane and learning my neck is not unstable, I'm continuing to feel encouraged.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Posting from Hood River, Oregon where we have met John's brother and sister-in-law for a few days of vacation. We are staying in a Victorian house so my legs have grown stronger on the 2 flights of stairs. Yesterday we visited Maryhill Museum, truly out in the middle of nowhere. Today we are taking the train that runs up the valley towards Mt. Hood. As the weather has been great, it should be beautiful.
The restaurants here are fabulous!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Over the last week I have had MRI's of my neck and brain. I heard today that the brain MRI is normal for age (that is a good thing but as a patient I resent the terms!) As I was having some neurological symptoms, it's a big relief. The neck study was also not worrisome showing "degenerative changes," Again terms that the patient would be just as happy not to know, but it basically means arthritis. Finally the result of my post treatment tumor marker is back, Ca-125, at less than 12. Great news.

Now if only I felt better. Friends have shared their experiences and assure me it just takes time. I'll have to regain some patience.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I took a walk outside today. Apparently the fatigue I have now often occurs earlier in the course of treatment and is one of the reasons people don't complete the course. I believe it. It may take a month to go away. Feet and hands still tingle. I am back to reading books, thank heavens. Currently A Walk in the Woods which is hilarious.
I am being spoiled with risotto again, though bland still tastes best. Of course the tomatoes came on like gangbusters, appreciated primarily by John. Strawberries taste good again as does cereal. Makes breakfast easier. Tonight it will be bok choy, the famous risotto and chicken.
Not much new.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

In response to many requests and and John's insistence I am back to blog. This time my strength has been slow to come back for some reason. There is painful tingling in my toes and to a lesser extent in my fingers. I understand these my eventually become simply numb, preferable, I guess. My oncologist has ordered an MRI of my neck for Monday thinking something else (disk?) my be making me feel weak.
I've become more interested in foot ball this fall. And old movies. "Second hand Lions" is a great film. I've memorized parts of the Fellowship of the Rings movies. I also traveled along with several train trips in Canada via the DVD. Mother enjoys sending me Laurel and Hardy. Others have sent their favorites, too.
No gardening yet; probably because I don't like fall yard cleanup, right? Actually John has kept the yard looking great.
My vision just recently improved so I can finally read.
I'll let you all know what is found tomorrow.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

This has been an unusual wedding anniversary. As if having it on 9/11 isn't difficult enough. Right now I am watching the Notre Dame/Michigan game while receiving fluids in the hospital. For the first time in many days I feel like watching tv, sitting up and attending to my surroundings. I was pretty light headed earlier. I hope today is the last visit for fluids. That means lots of apple juice tomorrow.
John was in the Roundup Parade this morning with his fellow Democrats. The weather was great, not as hot as usual.

I appreciate everyone's congratulations. The end is in sight.


It must because it is our anniversary (number 34) , but Kay asked me if I wanted to add anything. I want everyone to know how much we appreciate everyone's good thoughts and prayers. It is very humbling.

Kay has had a bad week, and I am so glad that this is the last cycle of chemo. We hope to get her fattened up and stronger, and back into the community she loves .


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

No more rotisserie! I received the last chemotherapy in the series of six today, and am I ready to be done! To avoid nausea all of my pre-meds were given IV so I have been riding a little purple cloud today. This AM I couldn't even move around, now I am fairly comfortable but haven't attempted to eat for hours. The nursing staff put banners all over my room congratulating me . And they found the book that I left here last time.

This week has been the hardest so far, and the next few days will be icky too, but both John and I are glad to have the taxol/cis-platin behind us. And it will be nice not having to come to the hospital several times a week.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I'm not doing much but count the days right now. This week is always the hardest one, no exception this time. I did throw the ball for the dog briefly to her great joy but that tired me out for the rest of the day.
I hope everyone is enjoying the Labor Day weekend.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not surprisingly the nausea is back. I still managed to down a very good baked potato and cucumbers in vinegar and onions. Our neighbor has been providing the cucumbers and John's German ancestry the rest. Unfortunately I have not been able to appreciate most of our tomato bounty.

Yesterday was the last of the cis-platin, yeah! Only a couple weeks of the bleahs left. I wonder what the dogs will think when I finally am doing something other than reclining on the chair. Lola has been deprived of many ball throwing games.

One more IP infusion left next Tuesday. Here we go.
Much of the day was spent in a medication fog but all went well.

Autumn seems to be here. People are wearing sweaters (though I have been doing so all summer.) We had are first hard rain that didn't just cause spots on the cars.

Not a bad day.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Here I go again, but for the last time. I had the IV Taxol today without a problem and had an appointment with my oncologist. We asked about maintenance therapy, something relatively new that my surgeon told us about. She'll be looking in to it. "It" would involve monthly IV taxol for a year, at doses much lower than what I am getting now.

John is excited about this being day one of the last chemo cycle, and I should be excited. Right now I am more relieved than anything else. I'll head to the hospital tomorrow for the first of two rotisserie treatments.

John has had the project of scraping, then treating and painting the rusty bottom of our utility trailer. It looks better and is all ready for Fall gardening projects. I've worked outside a few days this week, still trying to get rid of unwanted grass and bishop's weed. It felt good to do something useful.
I'll need all of your support for this next 3 weeks so I've planned to blog daily. Just knowing all of you care and are reading the blog is all I'll need. Thank you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It has been an eventful week. Yesterday we drove to Spokane to see my surgeon. She examined me and found nothing of concern, a great relief to me. She also made some suggestions in regard to treating my neuropathy with glutamine. It makes up into a grainy slurry so I don't know how long I can drink it.

After the appointment we drove to Coeur d'Alene to have lunch with friends. I ate so much that I never did get hungry for dinner!

Today the wind is blowing and the temperature falling. I wish it would go ahead ant rain so as to settle all the dust that has been stirred up and allow me not to do any hand watering tonight. It was 103 degrees when we got back from C. d'A. yesterday.

Just finished an excellent book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Though humorous and entertaining it also reviewed the history of the German occupation of the Channel Islands during WWII, something I knew nothing about. It gave me a better understanding than anything I have seen or read of the privation of British civilians during that war.

With my poor concentration and lack of energy, I struggle against boredom. The support of my family and friends means so much at these times. Thank you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm getting a little extra fluid today is as usual on day eleven. I thought I was keeping up pretty well yesterday, but then I woke up dizzy and weak. Tomorrow should be better.

I'm longing for Fall weather; browns and oranges and golds are increasingly appealing. We are planning a trip to the Columbia Gorge for the last week of September. Jim and Patty, John's brother and sister-in-law, will meet us in Hood River after a little preliminary tour of Portland. That will be AT or After Treatment. Needless to say I am looking forward to the break.

Wednesday we will drive to Spokane to see Dr. Grosen, my Gyn oncologist. I'm a bit worried that she will find something not quite right. This is just superstition as I have no reason to be concerned. We're planning lunch in Coeur d'Alene with friends afterwards and a leisurely return to Lewiston.

These are my most difficult days for some reason. Luckily tomorrow (day 12) will be better, or at least it always has been so far.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back in the hospital, finishing the fifth round of therapy. Back in the Pediatrics corner room with a great view of the sunset.

This second week of the cycle has become a bit trying. I went into the ER last night for iv fluids and then back this am for the chemotherapy.

Something new today. My phosphorous was quite low so some of that is running in now. My toes feel as though there are tight bands around the bases of my big toes. Surprisingly this is not painful, just odd. After some correction and the rotisserie routine, I actually feel pretty well. Had chicken and corn for dinner.

The other new thing involves a low blood count. Normally by now it would be near normal; not today. So I will get a white cell stimulating shot tomorrow, promised to give me bone pain. At least I will get to go home. Dietary limitations are in order to avoid unusual infection. This will make my menu much more boring.

Sigi, our 15 year old daschund, is not moving very well. Maybe there is something the vet can do.

John helped.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm in the hospital preparing for rotisserie again. They have put me in a pediatrics room. The advantages include a full wall of windows facing west and the trees across the street as well as more spaciousness. John gets a recliner in this room. Unfortunately, due to yesterday's taxol, lunch tasted like straw. All I can taste is the lemonade; even the mustard was tasteless! It leaves me wondering what to request for dinner.

My red cell blood count is not as good as it seemed so I'll be getting a blood transfusion today. That should help with some of my fatigue. And I won't need as much blush.

Despite all, I am pleased to be getting close to the end of treatment and will be counting the days.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Boise was hot and dry. The heat-resistant plants we put in survived! We bought some iris at the Boise Saturday market, put them in and then watered them all well. As we left Monday the weather man was threatening thunderstorms. Maybe August won't be completely dry.

Outside the condo is a small park with tall trees. Near the top of one two raptors have built a nest. Birds of Prey thinks it may be a pair of peregrine falcons. They screech in the morning, fly wildly through the complex and perch on some of the surrounding dead trees. Good air show.

We celebrated Caitlin's 25th birthday early by taking her and Valerie to Locavore, a restaurant that tries to serve only locally available food.The beet and barley risotto was our favorite. We also discovered purslane, a delicious salad ingredient also known as pig weed. Imagine our surprise to find that it is growing between the bricks of our front patio here in Lewiston.

Today I am sitting in the Cancer Center preparing to receive IV Taxol. The beginning of the 5th and next to last cycle. I feel I can see the end of the treatments now. I can be optimistic even though the nausea and fatigue last longer with every cycle. Dr. Popham is pleased with my blood counts and the electrolytes are normal. Onward.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Just passed a wonderful weekend in the company of Joe and Joanne, John's brother and sister-in-law. Being from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, they enjoyed our summer weather ("It's dry heat"). We also got a chance to show off local peaches, highway 12 between here and Orofino, an art show at Dahmen Barn and Michelle's home made bread pudding. We learned how one can calculate the temperature by counting the number of cricket chirps in a minute: (x-40/4) +50. There may be an additional adjustment needed as this is based on the snowy white cricket. They also did yard work and helped John move a couch from down stairs to his office upstairs. Pretty good for 4 days.

Today I received a party hat with instructions (see below, and thank you Lynn , Jan and Dan), shirts from Relay for Life declaring "Cancer Sucks" and two of the original Gothic novels for book club. Getting the mail is never boring. And I feel well loved.

We are heading to Boise later this week, taking advantage of my good week to visit Caitlin and do some politics. Getting close to the end of treatment when I should have more that 10 good days in a row.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Just home from another rotisserie event. I'm feeling pretty well and have already taken a short walk. Carpet cleaners are here so it FORCED me to work on the blog.

Before I started the fourth cycle of chemo I dug up the iris near the front door. They were so profuse this year that one could hardly walk past them. Also, many of the flowers just bent over and lay on the patio. It gave me a chance to give some away as well as get some exercise. I'll plant a few this evening when it is cooler. They went wild in a small triangular area near the front door and backed by a post supporting the roof of the front porch. It is known as the Gypsy memorial garden. Gypsy was our first yellow lab. I had been babying a dark purple clematis that had come with the house. Gypsy, after watching me weed there, walked over and pulled the whole plant from the ground, effectively destroying it. You can't expect garden perfection when you own a large dog. But you do get lots of good company.

Lola, the current destroyer.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Benefits of hair loss:

No need to wear a shower cap.
Forget the shampoo.
No worry about the last time I shaved when wearing cropped pants.
Forget the hair dryer when traveling.
Cooling off after gardening in the heat is accomplished quickly by removing the wig.

I'm sitting in the Cancer Center getting an infusion, drowsy from the Benadryl pre-infusion med. This is the fourth chemo cycle and I still feel great. We spent a few days in Boise as John had a meeting or two there. It felt like a vacation, very far from hospitals and infusions, and I got to spend time with Caitlin. She gave me a pedicure so my nails are now beautiful. We also learned about a wonderful Thai salad called larb. Tastes much better than it sounds.

There was an article in the paper within the last 2 weeks recommending exercise for cancer patients, even during chemotherapy. Much as I hate to say it, John was right when he tried to get me moving even when I felt miserable. So my goal is to take a walk every day this cycle. It will make Lola happy, too.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Having received books from concerned friends, I found myself re-reading Steinbeck's Cannery Row. When I was growing up in the Bay Area my family spent many spring breaks in Monterey and Pacific Grove playing in the tide pools and admiring the ocean . Father would fish on the beach while Mother and I wandered. Though the sardine canneries were not still operating, and it was the flush fifties and sixties and not the Depression, one could still see many of the things Steinbeck describes. More recently the waterfront has been dominated by the aquarium. It is harder to imagine Doc and Mack living there. Though none of us played golf, we always took an afternoon to drive the 17 Mile drive, admiring the expensive homes and golf courses, finishing up in Carmel with its gift shops and art galleries. None the less, the book brought me back.

Now I am deep in a spy novel, less socially significant but just as distracting.

This evening we spent with John(former Clinic administrator and CEO) and Shirley Houser getting caught up in their retirement experiences. Had a wonderful time on the deck at Rooster's, cool enough now due to a brisk wind.

Saturday we drove to Dayton to get out of the heat (ha) and out of the house. The drive was lovely with ripening grain and other less identifiable crops. The next day we went to pick peaches. Well, we actually just picked up peaches that had been picked that morning. This is something we have never done in our 30 years in the valley.

I have felt much improved since Saturday, day 12 of the chemo cycle. So far that improvement has been predictable, and the rest of the 21 days are much easier than the first 11. I hope that things continue in a similar way for the next 3 cycles of treatment.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This third cycle of chemo has been more trying than the prior 2 for some reasons. But my way has been cheered by the beautiful things people have made for me. For instance, today I received a pair of hand knit socks from one of my patients. I have often admired hers in the office. She even sent washing instructions. Aren't they great?

Last week my friend and fellow book club member , Elizabeth, brought me a bag of knit caps, one even festive enough for the 4th of July. You would be surprised how good a warm cap feels once the wig is off, even in summer.

Then there is Kathy's incredible comfort quilt. It has lived up to its name many times over.

Dixie sent me a Courage mug from our local potter. It was glazed with Mt. St. Helen's ash. Somehow appropriate. And Lynn sent a small metal piece of yard art representing we two BFF's . I feel blessed with all of this friendship.

Time for a wig wash today. It apparently needs to be done every 2 weeks or so. It hasn't dried over night as advertised so a hat will be in order tomorrow.

Judging from the last two cycles I will feel considerably better by Saturday. I'll keep you up to date.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It has been a great week. I have felt great and my energy level is almost normal.

John had his campaign kick-off at Sage Bakery. We got to talk to a lot of old friends and supporters. The next night we attended Relay for Life for the first time. Seeing friends and patients all fighting cancer together on the track as we lined up for the Survivors Lap was incredibly uplifting and inspiring. The cheers and applause from the supporting crowd even more so. I won't miss that event in the future.

The summer has finally come and I have been able to spend much of every day outside in the yard weeding and making other changes to the landscape. We drove to Grangeville for the Idaho County Democrat's picnic and pie auction Sunday and came home with two pies and a beautiful mosaic trivet. The group has adopted John as one of their own as they haven't been able to get a Dem into the legislature. The weather was ideal, a glorious warm day with brilliant blue sky and a few fluffy cumulus clouds. We watched a group of preteens having a prolonged water fight at the park.

Why do I have dandruff despite having essentially no hair on my scalp??? Is that fair? The lack of leg hair is a plus, however.

Yesterday I started round 3 of chemotherapy with Taxol. I'm now waiting for the IP cis-plat and have already eaten my ice cream sandwich. Ready for the rotisserie and feeling optimistic.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Yesterday I spent the morning traveling through the Sahara with Michael Palin, following camels and Jeeps, in the company of Tuaregs and other nomads. Despite the great distraction I felt restless, uncomfortable and still very weak. I finally gave in to John's urging and call my doctor (imagine that!). Lab work showed I was still low in potassium and newly low in magnesium. Newly fortified with mag ox pills and and an increase in those huge potassium pills I awoke today feeling much better. It is not clear that a few doses of electrolytes really made that much difference, but in combination with the waning of the cis-plat side effects it surely seemed to. The restlessness was from the compazine (for nausea) which I had been taking regularly.

Today I spent outside in the yard, weeding and deadheading and supervising shrub reduction. I call our yard a profusion but John says there are just lots of weeds. It was sunny and breezy, a perfect afternoon. Lola (canine) enjoyed the chance to endlessly chase a tennis ball.

I went wigless today. John had to remind me to wear a hat outdoors for the sake of my naked head. Actually I feel like a little boy who just got his summer haircut. It is an odd sensation to rest my head against a chair and feel the little hairs object if I move the wrong way.

Finally, dinner was of note. Yellow new potatoes with butter and parsley, garlic and balsamic vinegar pork chops and broccoli. A great end to a nice day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Low potassium is terrible. And potassium pills are huge and hard and liable to cause nausea. However, for all of you Idaho folks, guess what vegetable leads in potassium content? That's right, the potato. Bananas are nowhere near as high. John has been feeding me potato chips and fried potatoes since I returned home from the last round of chemo. I'm a little bit less wimpy today. Plus I was able to eat a huge plate of spaghetti for lunch. Mmmmm.

For any one who has to do this rotisserie thing in the future, it is possible to eat an ice cream sandwich while rolling from side to side.

I had the urge the other day to whip off my wig and compare my shaved head with Pastor Josh's. At that point I think his hair was longer than mine, though. I wonder if these sudden urges are a side effect of something?

Finally, on discharge the nurses urged me to eat a heart healthy diet. That's hard to do as I should not eat or peel thin skinned raw fruits or vegetables when my white count is low. As before during this week I crave pasta with spaghetti sauce and barbecue ribs!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Love came to me in many ways this week. There were smiling faces at my door at the hospital, the gentle touches of my nurses, my hand held in friendship and prayer. There were Rosie's ribs, pasta salad, tomato soup and sauteed chicken with pilaf and carrots. And chocolate chip cookies. Love came in the mail from friends, on the cell phone from distant family and in John's kiss on my cheek. How lucky I am. Thanks to you all.

Today is a "weak" day, not unexpected after my first cycle of treatment. I may stop down for lab work tomorrow to see if I need another potassium infusion. Otherwise I feel pretty well and have little nausea or pain. My pile of already read books is growing steadily and I've just started Netflix. I have found my two pound weight and in the next few days plan to start strengthening my arms.

Meanwhile , I enjoy the scent of the petunias as I step out the front door and try to ignore the weeds.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer may be here. The rain was BORING. Plus we now have gullies in the driveway.

This week has gone well. The IV Taxol given at the cancer center resulted in no apparent problems. It was nice to be able to go home afterwards. The following day I received the IP Cis-plat and had less pain than before. No iv pain meds needed. Plus I ran in to a number of people I knew who were visiting family and friends elsewhere in the hospital. And, Elizabeth clipped my remaining hair making me very happy. The next day I was home but slept through most of it. Food tastes funny again but most of the nausea has gone.

John had responsibilities at the Democratic State Convention so he arranged for several lovely people to keep me company and bring me food. He'll be back briefly today, then leave tomorrow for McCall and another meeting. Likely story!!!
I can't thank everyone enough for the calls and blog comments as well as the visits and food.

Lola and Sigi have been guarding my recliner, especially around their meal times.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Having been chastised by several family members, I return to blog again!

John and I traveled to Boise over the time my white count was at its nadir. I really missed sharp cheese and thin skinned fruit, both of which I was supposed to avoid. I didn't miss cleaning up after the dog.

While in Boise there was one wonderful almost-summer day when we took a bike ride. On the same day we visited Caitlin at work in the Meridian city hall. Later had a delicious dinner with Caitlin in downtown Boise. It was also the last day I appeared in public with my own hair. I had been waking up lying in a pool of loose hair; it was time to shop for a wig. Angels in you Corner is a shop for women with hair loss for any reason. Under the supervision of a cute 15 month old girl, one of the owners picked out 8 or 10 wigs for me to try. It was hard to decide. Then I tried on one that made me smile. So I left with a spiky wig and a soft cap to wear at night.

We returned home Saturday in time for John to play in the Gina Quesenberry golf tournament, proceeds to benefit women with breast cancer. His team came in first! Meanwhile my rapidly thinning hair made me look sicker than I feel. Today I wore the wig for the first time and immediately felt healthier and happier. Mom had offered to buy me a wig. I wasn't sure I wanted one. Mom was right (darn it).

I got to be the caregiver today as John had his third colonoscopy. His dad died of colon cancer and John has had polyps (including some today). The prep made him feel terrible. He felt much better after some soup and whole grain bread when he got home from the procedure.

Today is day 21, tomorrow day 1 of the second course of chemotherapy.


Monday, May 31, 2010

What a wonderful weekend we had! Caitlin and her friend Valerie were here from Boise so I was spoiled. Caitlin and John made a delicious dinner on Saturday, marinated flank steak, Indian-spiced cucumber salad and German potato salad. I'm beginning to feel a bit like "Julie and Julia" but I am starving all of the time so I have to mention the food.

Next we went to Cabaret at the Civic Theatre. Both John and Caitlin are former performers so they had a lot to catch up on with the cast members after the marvelous show.

Sunday, Missy and Steve Garrett visited for brunch. Missy was Caitlin's nanny for 5 years. John made crepes which we stuffed with ham and cheese or cream cheese and huckleberry sauce. We chatted all afternoon until it was time for them to leave.

Much to my relief I do feel good this week and was able to enjoy all of the festivities. My scalp is sore as a boil though. John assures me there is no redness, and I understand this can precede hair loss. There were a few more long hairs on the pillow...

Thanks to all who commented. Congratulations to Kathy who finished her last Taxol. And Heidi, I'll remember the bananas next week.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Never would I have believed that I would feel so much better the day after chemotherapy than the day before. It all started Monday after some diarrhea, minimal, really. I became progressively weaker and unwilling to move around. There was no pain, no nausea, no fever, so what was going on? Then I had several bad nights of sleep. By yesterday morning I was pretty discouraged, especially since there was more chemotherapy due. But, a little lab work revealed that my potassium was low and I hadn't been drinking enough fluids. So They gave me what is called a potassium rider, then went ahead and put 2 liters (over 2 quarts) of salt water into my abdomen. This included the Taxol. Once again it was "turn, turn, turn." By the time the potassium was in I felt great. After leaving the hospital I tooled around town with John thoroughly enjoying myself.

Overall the treatment has gone so well that I will be able to eliminate at least one day of hospital stay during the next cycle.

Being at St. Joe's has allowed me to stay close to home and have nurses I have worked with for years take care of me. It is comfortable to see familiar faces every where. I am in good hands.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another posting by surrogate. Kay is lying in bed awaiting another intraperitoneal chemo infusion (into her abdomen). Then back on the rotisserie, turning every 15 minutes for two hours to distribute the medication throughout the abdomen. If things go well, back home tomorrow.

So far, we have been pleased by how well Kay is tolerating the procedures and drugs. But she gets really snockered from antinauseants, pain and sedative medication. And in spite of the excellent cooking (from friends and her "resident chef") she is loosing more weight than she expected. Fatigue is /was expected, but likely was worse due to low serum potassium noted this morning with her pre-infusion blood draw.

This will be the final dose for this cycle, then a week to rest. Caitlin (our daughter) is coming home this weekend which should be nice. Well, we should have a week to try to fatten Kay up some.....

Monday, May 24, 2010

I was hungry today!! My excellent chef made me French toast for breakfast, steak and sprout sandwich for lunch and wonderful asparagus risotto for dinner. It was nice to enjoy food again.

I had a followup x-ray today to make sure the air leak is gone. It is no longer causing symptoms so I assume it is. In fact, everything seems to be working well today, though I remain weak.

After dinner we walked around the block, then discovered some weed pulling that needed to be done. The exercise felt good on this beautiful spring evening.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Got out to do a little gardening and raking though I must admit that I did not last long. I'm pretty tired and my face is hot and red, probably from the decadron. That med ends tomorrow. I haven't needed pain meds today, nor anything for queasiness but my baseline nausea meds.

Great news! Caitlin and her friend Valerie will be driving up to visit on Memorial day. It will be great to see them. We hope to return the visit the next week, my "week off."

John made pea soup that was great and perfect for the state of my stomach. Much to my surprise, coffee hasn't appealed much yet. Sleep is good, except for heartburn last night. I look forward to feeling better day by day, with the support of family and friends. Then back for more chemo on Wednesday.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Today has been a pretty good day. I threw the ball for Lola and did some watering. Then I took a short walk while John was biking. The two dogs are very calm and attentive, but, not surprisingly, still demanding at meal time.

Wednesday I remained comfortable until about 10 PM when I developed abdominal pain and nausea. Luckily the meds worked well and I did a lot of sleeping. The pain was pretty well gone in the morning but the nausea still nagging. No problem really with the huge number of treatments available. And NO VOMITING!!!

Frances and Jess visited last evening bearing some of Jess's great banana bread. I'm afraid I was still pretty groggy but overall feeling better. It was good to see them.

As the sun sets I am looking forward to an even better day tomorrow.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


I have had no apparent side effects from yesterday's taxol infusion. Right now I am lying on my right side, distributing today's chemotherapy to the right side of my abdomen. 45 minutes ago, 1 liter of warmed (body temperature) saline containing cis-platin was instilled into my abdomen through the IP (intra-peritoneal) port. Now I am turning every 15 minutes, like a pig on a spit, to help distribute the fluid throughout my abdomen.

Luckily, I have had no pain or nausea. We'll see how I do after I get off "the rotisserie".

Alarm just went off--turn again, only 1:15 more....

Home tomorrow, I hope.

Kay (transcribed by John)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


John and I drove to Spokane yesterday and arrived at Deaconess Hospital for placement of the intraperitoneal port. The anesthesiologist wasn't sure he wanted the procedure done under local anesthetic because it might cause too much pain to control. However, if I had general anesthetic there was a risk the air leak would return. He said he had no interest in "torturing" me so we agreed on local with sedation with the option to go general if I appeared to be uncomfortable. After discussing the maxim, "If a patient is in the medical profession she is bound to have a complication," I was taken to the operating room where the IP port was placed without a problem. So much for the maxim.

It IS true that the lining of the abdomen is more sensitive than the lining of the lungs. Thank goodness for hydrocodone.

The Saylers from Coeur d'Alene sent me a card about fighting "the bear." The black bear on the front is much cuter than a crab would be. I enjoyed the image of wrestling with cancer, so I was using it for a book mark. As I scooted from the gurney to the OR table the bear card fell from my bed clothes. So it remained with me during the procedure, safely placed in a baggie.

Off to St. Joe's today with a bag of books and magazines.


Monday, May 17, 2010

The pneumothorax is half the size it was on Friday and I feel correspondingly better. The PowerPort feels more like a part of me so I am ready for the next device. Tomorrow, John and I will head for Spokane where I will have an intraperitoneal port placed as an outpatient. If all goes well, we will return to Lewiston, John to home and I to St. Joe's to start the chemotherapy. I'll be there for 2 days, then home.

Still feeling a bit like I am playing hooky. I was treated to lunch today with Missy and had a great time. Still anxious to get started; I guess the time is finally here.


Friday, May 14, 2010

It's been quite a week. My Purple Power Port (it really is purple) went in Wednesday. This is a catheter that goes into a large vein in my chest and allows medications and IV fluids to go in without my having to have the veins in my hands and arms repeatedly poked. Definitely a blessing. However, I did have a small complication. Air leaked from my lung into the space around my lung causing chest pain. This is called a pneumothorax and sometimes requires a chest tube to clear. Luckily the amount of air was relatively small and seems to be clearing on its own. I'll know more after I get the results of today's chest x-ray. Of note, the BLUE color of the antiseptic painted on my chest.

So, instead of driving to Spokane on Thursday morning for another port placement, I visited the emergency department. Luckily it was an air leak and not a blood clot. On that positive note, I went to coffee with John and friends at the Sage Bakery, a luxury for me, and one that makes me feel like I am on vacation.

Placement of the port that will allow chemotherapeutic meds to be put in my abdomen has been rescheduled for next Tuesday in Spokane. That evening I'll enter St. Joe's Hospital for the first chemotherapy. If there are no more unscheduled events!

Friends and family have been so supportive; I am overwhelmed. Thank you to everyone.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

One week in early April I considered myself healthy and happy, a busy Family physician with a legislator husband and an adult daughter working in Boise. After 5 days of leg swelling followed by a doctor's visit and several tests I became a patient with advanced ovarian cancer. Within another week I was in Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane having a 17 cm mass removed from my pelvis. Now I am recovering from the operation and anxious to move on to the next step.

There is an advantage to being both a physician and a patient. I understand the process, the expected order of events. Furthermore, I know and am friends with the doctors who will be taking care of me. Most of my patients faced with a similar diagnosis are not so lucky, the process is confusing and frightening, the physicians unfamiliar.

So my biggest adjustment has been becoming a cancer patient, being the one in the ultrasound or CT scan, the one in the waiting room and the one waiting for the doctor in the exam room. Or waiting for the nurse to call back with a response to my question.

And for the first time in 33 years I am not practicing medicine.