Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Yesterday was a very long day. Tommy and I were both up early because we were off to his doctor to get the results of his latest scan and then he would spend all day at the cancer center getting his chemo treatment. First off, the news was good about his scan. The Folfirinox treatments have shrunk the tumors in his lungs by about another 30%. This was a huge relief for both of us. Then it was to the chemo room where he spent the next five hours hooked up to a machine getting three of the four drugs he's administered every three weeks. Then before going home, they hooked him to the pump that he has to wear for the next 48 hours. We were both so tired when we went to bed last night and I was determined to sleep in late this morning since I was off work again.
So I was sleeping soundly when suddenly, just before daylight, Tommy jumped out of bed telling me the line to his port was leaking. The chemo pump and drug is in a fanny pack that he wears, and it pumps the drug through a tube that is attached to the port that's implanted in his chest. The connection in the middle of the line had come apart and we had a huge mess. The drug (which is considered toxic - and they're putting it in his body) was running out of the lower part of the line, and blood from his vein was flowing backwards out of the upper part of the line. We closed off the clamps on both ends of the lines and then took the battery out of the pump to shut it off. Then we had to break out the hazardous waste clean-up kit (yes, they actually give you one of those when they send you home with this drug) and I began the process of trying to get up all of the mess. I got Tommy in the bath to get everything off his skin and I began throwing bedding in the washing machine. After he got cleaned up and dressed, he headed to the cancer center to get everything hooked back up.
I thought we might be going mattress shopping, but when he got home he said he was told to use hydrogen peroxide to try to clean up the mattress. That's when I remembered my carpet cleaner with an upholstery attachment in the basement. Wow, it worked beautifully with hydrogen peroxide mixed in with the water. I was so happy because I really like our mattress and didn't want to have to buy a new one.
What started out as a bad day actually ended quite nice. I decided I had to get out of the house and headed for Pilot Mountain for a short hike. Tommy and Thor went also and they drove me to the pinnacle to hike down the Grindstone Trail and back to the park office. It was a beautiful day, although a bit hazy looking back toward the city.
Looking back toward Winston-Salem
Walking along the trail, I spotted this little lizard.
I knew it was too early for the rhododendrons or mountain laurel to be blooming, but to my surprise there was this one lone azalea in full bloom along the trail. It was really pretty!
While I was hiking down, Tommy and Thor had driven to the other end of the trail and started hiking back towards me (something they often do). Tommy actually walked much further than usual so when I met them Thor was exhausted (he gets tired much quicker because of his missing leg).
Tommy and Thor meeting me on the trail. It's easy to tell how tired Thor is by how far his tongue is hanging out.
Tommy gave me Thor's leash and said he was going to go back and get our van and bring it closer to the trail because by this time Thor was walking very slowly. After he was out of sight, Thor laid down in on the trail and apparently decided he was finished hiking for the day! He refused to get up, and seeing how I can't carry an 85 pound dog I had no choice but to let him rest for a while.
Thor decided here that he was finished hiking for the day.
Finally, after waiting for a while and much coaxing, he got back up and we made our way to the road where Tommy met us with our van.
Now we're all off to bed for a (hopefully) uneventful and restful night!
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I don't usually write a blog every day, but a post by another member this morning inspired me to write this one. When we post things on this site, we have no idea who may be touched by our words. We also never know what little gems we may come across when reading friends posts. Itís funny how one little thing can spark a flood of memories. Thatís what happened this morning when I was catching up on my emails. There was a post by another member about living in southern Illinois and how beautiful the area was. My mind immediately began to race with thoughts of living in Illinois as a child (we lived in Godfrey). When I looked at her pictures, I saw one of her in Pere Marquette State Park near Grafton, Illinois. The name sounded so familiar, so I googled it and, sure enough, I have been there.
Oh my gosh! Memories of staying in a cabin there with my family came flooding back. I remember the Pere Marquette campground from many, many years ago. I remember my Dad showing us the most wonderful hiking trail that led to a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. I remember sitting on a rock with my sister Terrie and eating a snack. I remember that there were fossils on the top of that same bluff. I remember Terrie and I wandering around the area looking for new ďadventures.Ē I remember sleeping in the quiet, dark log cabin at night with my sisters. I also remember our imaginations running wild and swearing there was something running around our cabin one night.
All of this brought back so many other memories of camping and traveling with our parents. My mother passed away in 1982 and my father in 2006, but the memories of being with them are still crystal clear. Iím so thankful I had parents who introduced their children to the outdoors and instilled in us our love for nature.
Funny thing is, I still often sit on a rock with Terrie and have lunch or a snack, and it's not unusual for us to find ourselves on a high cliff overlooking a valley below. We still wander around looking for new ďadventuresĒ but now itís usually in the southwest desert. And we still love to camp, but now itís in our little tents that we can put up in minutes wherever we decide to spend a night. So next month, when Iím in the desert with her and weíre hiking, or sitting by a campfire one night, Iím certain Iíll tell her about the post by a fellow Spark friend about Pere Marquette State Park, and weíll reminisce and laugh about our wonderful times there.
Isnít this site amazing and how your friends can touch you, even though they may not know it? Iíve spent much time this morning traveling down memory lane and smiling.
Monday, March 05, 2012
I just love this time of year when I can get out and work in my flower beds. Itís a great way to make your yard pretty and get in a little healthy exercise also. Of course at my house, gardening can also be somewhat hazardous, or at least painful.
Loving the southwest as I do, the flora from that area has always appealed to me. Thatís why I decided to attempt to bring a little bit of the desert home with me several years ago. We had driven our van out to New Mexico that particular summer. The day before we were to head home I was sitting on my sisterís back patio looking at the landscape and feeling a little sad that vacation was coming to an end much to quickly. Thatís when I got the brilliant idea of bringing some cacti home with me so I could have my own little piece of the desert in North Carolina. Now, I must tell you that my sister has twenty-five acres of land in New Mexico containing an over abundance and uncontrolled growth of various forms of cacti. Many are like the ones we pay outrageous prices for in our local nurseries, and I was sitting here looking at an unlimited supply of these succulents. Thatís when I asked Terrie if I could dig up some plants. Without hesitation, she flew into her house and quickly returned with a variety of small containers and a shovel telling me to ďgo for it.Ē I was delighted, and a bit naive, and dug up two barrels, a cholla, a prickly pear, a claret cup and a yucca. They were all tiny plants that I knew would be easy to carry home in the van.
When I got home, many of my friends and family felt the need to remind me that this is North Carolina and those plants would never survive the cold winters here. Obviously they donít know how harsh the winters can be in northern New Mexico. Ignoring them, I dug up a small area beside my front sidewalk where I would nurture my little piece of the New Mexico desert. The area was only about 2 Ĺ feet by 1 Ĺ feet, but because the plants were so small it still looked empty. Nevertheless, I watered and tended to my tiny plants determined to keep them alive.
As it turns out, I didnít need to worry about my cacti surviving. Not only did they survive, they flourished! Actually, they went crazy! My critics were amazed at how these little desert plants were loving North Carolina. They quickly outgrew the tiny plot of earth I had set aside as their home, and the cholla began to take on a life of itís own growing arms that quickly began to extend out over my sidewalk. Iím pretty sure there were a couple of times that it intentionally poked me with its thorns as I walked by. This was becoming a problem. My beloved cacti was now threatening to grab and devour visitors if they attempted to make it to my front door. I had to do something, and soon.
I began digging up a larger (much larger) area in the corner of my front yard to make a new home for my piece of the desert. Wearing leather gloves, I carefully moved the now larger cacti to their new home. Problem solved! I was pleased because this area had more than enough room for my plants.
My desert garden a few months after moving the cacti to a new and larger area.
Well, that was about five years ago. The garden is now FULL of cacti. Apparently, these little specimens from the New Mexico desert love North Carolina. I sometimes look at them and think about Kudzu and I shudder. I refuse to be beaten and havenít given up the fight. I will not give in to their demands for yet more of my yard. Instead, Iím keeping them contained by pruning them a few times each year (this is where the pain part comes in). I hack off portions of the prickly pear before it grows over the barrel cactus and moves into my grass, I remove any dried up arms from the cholla that is now almost as tall as me, and with much care, gloves and a special tool, I attempt to remove all the leaves and debris that has found its way into the spines of the (now two) large yuccas and the low growing claret cups. And when Iím finished, I spend hours removing the tiny and irritating quills that have managed to find their way into my gloves and then into my hands and fingers. Yes, thereís a battle taking place in the corner of my yard, but I will not be beaten.
My same desert garden last spring.
So why donít I just pull them all up, sow grass and be done with it? Because each spring my prickly pears produce beautifully fluffy yellow blooms, the claret cups show off their vivid red flowers, the barrels produce tiny pink and chartreuse flowers and the cholla explode with spectacular fuchsia blooms.
The show is beautiful and I look forward to it every spring. And, knowing that I still have my own little piece of the New Mexico desert with me all year makes the extra effort worth it.
Sunday, March 04, 2012
One of my blooming daffodils
Iím so happy to see March arrive. I just wish it had come in a little quieter instead of announcing itís arrival with all of the violent storms. I hope everyone that was in the path of these storms came through them okay. Keeping all those who were affected by the devastation in my prayers.
My daffodils are blooming and they are calling for a chance of snow here tonight! Itís warm one day and cold the next, but thatís not unusual for March. Now that things are calming down a little here, Iím looking forward to getting outside and doing some more hiking.
Tommy continues to do pretty well all things considered. He is still on his combination of four chemotherapy drugs, however there may be some changes to his treatments this month. He has been having a problem with numbness in his fingers and toes (caused by one of the drugs), something they say can get worse and become permanent. His doctor has been concerned about this and put him on Neurontin to try to stop the progression after his last treatment, but two weeks later the numbness in his fingers has increased. Iím afraid at his next appointment (on March 12th) they are going to change his chemo treatments. His doctor is also concerned because he is now having a problem maintaining his weight. Even though he eats constantly, his weight is creeping down a couple of pounds each week. He also will be having another scan the end of March, so we are hoping and praying for a good report from that. For now, I am just thankful that he still feels pretty good and is enjoying taking Thor on golf cart rides and visiting with his grandchildren and the rest of his family.
Thor also had a check-up this week and got a good report from his doctor. They said his bloodwork looks very good and heís still getting around pretty good. The only negative report he got was that heís gained five pounds and needs to lose it (I know how he feels). The doctor said that extra five pounds is much harder on his joints because of his missing leg. I guess I need a nutrition tracker for him also :-) Weíve cut back on his treats and his meals a little bit. And as much as he loves peanut butter, no more licking out the almost empty jars for him.
Now weíre ready for some warmer days so we can enjoy being outdoors again. Hope the weather clears for everyone soon so we can all get out and enjoy some sunshine and be thankful for each day!
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