Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Tuesday Means Back to Work
It is Tuesday morning & I am back at work after a long relaxing weekend. We already had a management meeting this morning, so I really am back to the grind.
Steve & I enjoyed spending time with his family in Port St. Lucie. As expected, we didn't come up with any thrilling activities, but it was nice. We took them out to dinner on Saturday night. His mom stayed up late with us looking at old family photos. It is fun to hear the stories and laugh at the old styles. Sunday, we did yard work in the morning. In the afternoon, we all jumped into the pool. That evening, his mom's cousin & her husband came over for a barbecue. They just came back from Ireland, so we heard all about their trip. Yesterday, we had another pool party/barbecue.
Steve's mom seems to be doing well. She broke down a few times. She told us that sometimes she feels very angry. She is angry that she did this to herself and angry about fighting a losing battle. However, she is keeping a positive frame of mind. This has to be frustrating and experiencing these feelings is definitely a healthy sign. She has talked to a lot of people dealing with cancer and it has made her feel that she is not so alone.
I have a little news from my dad. They finally removed his breathing tube and respirator on Sunday, so he can talk a little. His throat is still very sore though. They also removed the bandage on his head. My sister saw the staples and seemed a little grossed out by them. (She will soon be grossed out by her knee surgery, which is today.) Apparently, removing the frontal lobe usually affects people's sense of humor, organization skills, ability to do tasks with sequential steps, and general planning. At this point, we don't know how it has affected him. He seems to be recovering though.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Good Fertility News
Steve just called me to say - "My boys are swimming!" That is half the battle right??? It definitely is a relief. One less thing to deal with. :)
Sense of Urgency to Relax
Steve seems to have a sense of urgency about visiting his mom this weekend. He is a bit anxious about seeing her and spending time with her while she is feeling fairly well. I am glad we have a three day weekend. Tuesday, she be getting her chemo valve (that's what I call it) inserted. We are trying to come up with weekend plans for all of us. We want to do something new and exciting, but not too tiring. That isn't an easy task considering that they have been living in Florida for about 36 years. Plus, they live in a town that feels more like an up & coming suburb of a big city, but it is about an hour from the nearest big city - Palm Beach. Our weekends there usually involve a lot of down time, which is nice for us. We swim in the pool, drive around looking at model homes, and sometimes go for a bike ride. It is such a different world from the hub-bub of Miami. Steve & I plan to look for ideas on the internet, but I have a feeling we'll spend most of our time relaxing. - Not a bad thing...
Dad - A Bit Better
Yesterday, I went into my own little world & it was nice to take a breather. The eliptical machine at the gym was probably the best part of the day. I don't know why I avoid something that makes me feel so much better...enough about me.
My dad is awake & quite alert. He still can't talk, but he has a tube in his throat, a respirator, and a very dry mouth. When my brothers walked into the room, he gave them a thumbs up & seemed to be pleased to see them. Today, my brothers are mowing his lawn and taking care of a few errands for them. Angie (dad's wife) is feeling a lot better about the whole situation. She is even hoping she'll be able to take him home soon (probably optimistic). Maybe it is better to be fairly naive about diseases. Strange things can & do happen though.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Mental Health Day
I called into work & told them I was going to take a mental health day. I guess I could call it an emotional health day, but all of the stress & my sinus problem have caused me to have way more blonde moments than usual. I can't take more than five steps without forgetting what I was going to get or do. Too much crap I say. I need a break & that is what today is about.
I am going to spend the day working on some things around the house & I'll hit the gym. I haven't been there forever & I REALLY need it. Don't worry - I'll also find some time for zoning out on the couch or my bed. ...just hoping it is a day that goes smoothly without more devastating news.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
More Bad News
More news... He went into surgery at 2:30pm Texas time. They are going to remove a portion of his scull & replace it with a flap (for easier access in the future I suppose). They are also going to remove a portion of his temporal lobe. The doctors warned Angie that it could change his personality. Without the surgery, it could be a matter of death right now or saving him for a few months. She made the decision to try the surgery. We'll see how it goes. ...so much for being numb.
Tried to Keep It Positive, but...
I tried to keep my entries today positive, but it isn't going to happen. My dad's wife (Angie) got a call from the hospital a little while ago. The swelling in my dad’s brain isn’t going down. They were rushing him in for another CAT scan & then surgery.
My brothers (Clay & Chris) that live in Tallahassee are heading to Houston tonight. To be honest, I don't know what to do. We are planning to go see Steve's parents this weekend. I think they really need us, especially after her bad news yesterday. I know that she is extremely emotional right now and needs some cheer. Plus, my dad is back to being totally incoherent. If we go, he might not even know we are there. Then again, what if... This is one of those situations that there are no clear answers. My dad is about to have lots of friends & family members around him. He also isn't so afraid of death. I guess we'll just take it as it comes.
I am quite tired of receiving all of the devastating news. Plus, I know everyone must be overwhelmed by the sadness of so many negative entries. Today, I am going to write about something unexpected that I am really thankful for.
Several years ago, after my parents divorce I hoped that my dad would get remarried. He has always been the kind that gets extremely lonely without people around despite the fact that he is not overly social or necessarily involved in what is happening. In fact, it isn't uncommon to see him as the sour faced one in the corner. I must admit that my reasons for wanting him to get remarried were mostly selfish. Frankly, I didn't want to take care of him when he gets old. I was hoping he would marry a younger woman that would be his care taker in the future. I pictured a woman in her mid 40s and possibly a nurse. I realize that I am one of five kids and that my chances of being his care taker are probably less than one in five since we have always had a troubled relationship. Despite that, I still wanted to see him married.
Last November, after about 3 months of dating, he got married to a 36 year old woman (Angie). I had mixed thoughts on the whole thing. He was rushing into it and I wondered if she would be able to handle the baggage (step-kids near her own age). I also realized that this was her first marriage. Knowing a few things about her, I could only assume that she wanted kids. It was strange to think that my nephews & nieces would be older than their kids. All in all, I basically felt unattached emotionally to the whole thing.
I met her at Thanksgiving at my brother's house in Tallahassee. My dad & Angie went on a little driving honeymoon and stopped off for Thanksgiving. She got to meet a bulk of the family including many of my mom's relatives. Talk about a stressful situation, but she remained calm. In fact, I was surprised that she didn't make an effort to fix herself up. She wore an old bum equipment sweatshirt and jeans. I guess she wanted to show her true self. I noticed that her personality was almost exactly like my dad. She is quite intelligent, reserved, has a dry sense of humor and is quite odd. -Everyone has their sole mate and he found his.
I haven't thought too much about it since then. The last few days, I have come to realize that she was definitely a blessing to him and all of us. She has stood by his side, cared for him, and is going to help him travel and enjoy whatever time he has left. Next week, my mom & sister will be moving to California. After that, the only one with him in Texas will be Angie. She is definitely doing this out of love, but I can't help but think about the huge sacrifice she is making. She has only been married 6 months and her husband is incoherent and dieing. That sounds completely depressing. On top of that, I know she wants to have kids. Her biological clock is ticking, which can drive a woman insane. My heart goes out to her. Basically, I realize that we owe a lot to her.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
New E-mail from Steve's Mom
WARNING - E-mail from Steve's mom VERY SAD:
The Big C has metasticized - a fancy word for it has spread - and it is in the bones now. Plus I have the following tumors: a 4 cm in the lung, a 2 cm in the lymph nodes in the lungs, a 1 cm tumor in the liver, and a large 12 cm tumor in the pelvis/lower back, all malignant, plus several in the uterous that would need more testing to determine the malignancy. FYI a 4 cm is about the size of a golf ball, a 12 cm must be the size of a baseball?
For the past week I've had some discomfort in the back hip area, limped a bit last weekend, thought I'd pulled something, but the doctor said that spot is where the large tumor is. It hurts mostly getting in and out of the car.
The doctor said if left untreated I would last less than a year. With treatment he has some patients who have lived with lung cancer up to 4 years, depending on how well their bodies respond to treatment. We're starting with chemo and some new drugs that are out. On Tuesday I have a consultation with another doctor in Stuart who will do the surgery of implanting the port in my chest wall into which the chemo goes. The implant will be done at Martin Memorial Hospital probably the first week of June as an outpatient procedure, not put to sleep, but a local anesthetic. Then I will start the chemo and other drugs.
So that's the results of the full body PET scans. The brain MRI was fine! That's it for now. Take care everyone! Love, Sue/Mom
Monday, May 23, 2005
Out of Surgery
My sister just called to say that my dad is out of surgery and it went better than expected. First of all, he obviously didn’t have a stroke during surgery. They were also able to get most of the large tumor out (only microscopic pieces left). However, it is cancerous. Pretty soon, they will be transferring him to another hospital that specializes in cancer. They will try nuclear medicine on him. If that doesn’t work, they expect him to live a year and a few months. His life expectancy is longer than an average person in this situation because he has a very healthy life style. Perhaps all the school teachers and mothers were right about taking care of ourselves. Guess I'll start trying that.
- On another note - the houseguest is moving out today... Yippee!
Sunday, May 22, 2005
My dad is in the hospital and will be for a while. His tumor is 7cm by 5cm. They were planning to operate yesterday, but decided to try and get some of the swelling of his brain down. They are holding off until Monday, unless he starts getting worse. To me, it sounds like the surgeon wants the weekend off.
Apparently, when my brother talked to him last weekend, he was extremely unresponsive or giving totally off the wall answers. My brother even called him on Monday evening, but he wasn’t home. His wife said he was still at work, so he called there. My father rarely works late. So, he asked him why he was still at work. My dad said that it is 4:30pm. My brother told him that it is 8:30 in Florida so it must be 7:30 in Texas. My dad paused for a while & said the clock says 7:30, so that must be right. We are talking about a man with a genius IQ and a Masters degree in English – this isn’t normal.
The next day, his boss & co-workers noticed that he wasn't himself. Besides the non-responsiveness, he was bumping into walls and stumbling. They sent him home and told him not to come back until he gets himself checked out. His wife didn’t really notice anything. I am not saying anything bad about her; they have only been married 6 months. From what I have seen, she is exactly like him. Knowing him, he would expect someone to tell him that they need to go to the doctor. He got worse on Friday, so she took him in. She even had to help him walk, but she thought it might be his allergy medicine. The doctor couldn’t get him to respond to simple questions, so he sent them right to the hospital. The hospital did a cat scan & had him transferred to a hospital in downtown Houston. Now, we wait.
We all realize that even with surgery, he probably will never be the same again. He has a very aggressive tumor that they believe is cancer. They are going to try to get most or all of it out. This is going to be hard on everyone, but I really feel sorry for his wife. She is only 36 years old, this is her first marriage, and they’ve only been married for 6 months. She could be in for a long life of taking care of him. On the other hand, if he doesn't make it, she could bounce back fairly
Given my last blog entry, you may think that this e-mail seems cold. I have shed some tears, but I have never thought that death was a bad thing for the person dieing. In fact, it is great for them. It is only bad for the ones left behind. If he passes away, he'll be just fine. Actually, he'll be better than he ever has been. He will finally stop stressing, worrying, and over-analyzing everything. He will find peace, something that he never let himself experience on earth.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
& Now My Dad
Late last night, I got a call from my sister, which is extremely unusual. How often does a teenager call family members on a Friday night? What she said would have been the last thing I could have guessed. She told me that my dad is in the hospital and that he has a brain tumor. He has had horribly bad headaches as long as I can remember. I have them too they run in the family, so we mostly do our best to ignore them. Anyway, I guess yesterday it was so bad that it could not be ignored. His wife drove him to the hospital. I don't know what kinds of tests were run (teenagers aren’t the best for getting detailed information out of), but they found a tumor. They were unable to get a neurosurgeon to look at him, so he had to stay there and hopefully one will see him today. My sister is going to the hospital with my dad's wife. -That is all the information I know.
After I hung up, I called my youngest brother & he hadn't heard anything. I told him to call one brother & I'd call the other. The one I called had his phone off. He has little ones & had probably been in bed for a while. So, I left a rather blunt message. That should be shock this morning.
Steve & I ended up going to bed after midnight. I went to sleep rather quickly, as usual. This morning, I was wide awake by 4:30 am. I don't know why my insomnia always comes in the morning. I started thinking about my relationship with my dad. Anyone who knows me fairly well knows that the relationship has not been good. He has definitely tried to improve it over the years, but I have chosen to remain distant from him. I feel I have worked through all of the things that were bothering me, but that I don't need a good relationship with him. There are many things about him that I just don't like in a person. Occasionally, I send him e-mail updates, but I remain fairly impersonal.
This morning, while thinking about him, I realized that I am probably being too selfish. Our relationship has always bothered him to no end. I know that he has spend countless nights worried about it & praying until he makes himself ill. Perhaps, I need to send him a letter explaining some things that I know he has been trying to figure out & letting him know that I don't hate him. You may think that I am doing this to resolve things before he dies, but it isn't that. I don't even know what he is going to face. Besides, I believe that things become much clearer on the other side and that he will understand much more than he ever will here. I just think that your health is a lot better when your mind and emotions are positive. -I guess I need to think about this.
By the way, it wasn't that long ago that I was hoping for life to get easier - not harder.
Friday, May 20, 2005
I have come to realize that during the week my moods are totally dependent on what day & what time it is. For instance, I walk in Monday morning hating life. One of my favorite people (our cleaning guy) always greets me & asks me how I am doing and I always reply by saying "Monday Mornings are Not Good." He laughs & I go to my office. A few moments later, I am ok. Mornings are bad & closer to the beginning of the week is bad. I know at least 90% people working business hours feel that way.
BUT... today is Friday & it is after lunch. What could be better (except for 5:30pm)? I’ll tell you what is better. In a few short minutes, I will be the highest ranking person in the office. In this company, there are two people above me and one equal to me, so this doesn't happen all that often. There will be seven people left & one has already asked me if we could all leave at 5pm. I said I would think about it, but that sounds like a good idea to me.
It IS Friday and the other three people I mentioned are going to be at their daughters' graduations, which start promptly at 5pm. They will have to have their phones off so they will not be able to call. Summer is about to start, so we need leniency in the office. Plus, this is a great way to start a weekend. Yes, I am trying to justify.
No way. In all honesty, I wouldn't let anyone do it if I thought they would truly care. If they ask, I'll admit we all left. I'll even say it was my idea.
Ok, after writing this I decided just to ask the head honcho before he leaves. That way it is officially approved by the person who pays us. For the record, he said that he doesn't have a problem with it. --See he is still sucking up after that whole office bitch thing. I should have asked for 3:00pm...
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Update on Steve's Mom
I got an e-mail from Steve's mom today & decided to give a update. I thought about it & figured it is best in her own words, so here is the e-mail from Steve's Mom:
I saw the Oncologist today - very highly recommended from many sources including Barbara's co-workers with cancer and Joanne's social worker contacts. I really liked him a lot - what a bedside manner - he said I can call him 24/7 if I need to.
This is getting very real now. Each new doctor I see I learn so much more, yet have so many new questions when I leave the office. Surgery is out of the question. Not only is the tumor and malignant lymph nodes in the worst place, under all the blood vessels, but is also under the breathing and eating tubes, the esophagus and trachea, and is in both lungs. Plus it has spread throughout the lungs. He said he could do a huge operation and remove a lot of the affected lungs, but it would be awful for me and it would still not cure me. Bottom line is, we're going to extend my life for as long, and as comfortably as possible.
He wants more answers to plan my treatment. This Thursday at 11:30 I'm having a PET Scan, a cat scan of my entire body to see if the cancer has spread to other parts of my body. At 3:15 I'm having a Brain MRI to see if the cancer is getting close to or is in the brain because that is the first place that lung cancer goes to. On Tuesday the 24th at 9:45 I go back to him for the results. We should be able to have a lot more details then, plus come up with a treatment plan, and also get a more confirmed time frame I'm hoping.
I will write you all on Tues. the 24th with an update.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Two Year Anniversary
Two years ago today, Steve & I got married. I can't help being nostalgic. Sometimes it is hard to believe that I only met Steve 3.5 years ago. Right after we first got married, I used to look at our wedding photos and tease him that I am trying to remember what it was like when he really loved me. He is very affectionate and loving, so he is fun to tease. Today (besides working), I am going to spend a few moments looking at wedding photos and remembering the day that brought us closer together. It feels good to share my life with such a wonderful partner.
Friday, May 13, 2005
A Little Light on the Situation
Yesterday after all the turmoil, a little light came shining down. I guess the heavens realized that I was close to the edge (or hanging off the side of a cliff). Steve & our house guest went for a little drive in the bad area next to our house & discovered the vehicle. The steering column & passenger window were broken, but everything inside was totally intact. I was so happy that I could have danced around for hours. To me, the recovery of the vehicle means that we are not trapped in this situation for months. I was probably even more relieved than our house guest. I know Steve was feeling much better too. Unfortunately, the situation isn't over yet though, but the house guest will be gone for the weekend & that news is fabulous. I have really been wanting a break, especially this weekend since there are only 4 days until our 2nd anniversary. A break is nice, but I also realized this morning that it isn't good enough. I am sick of the stress & drama that this person has brought into our lives. I was trying to stay out of the whole issue, but it has gotten to be too much. I just want us to focus on fertility, spending time with Steve's mom, and making our house a home. -Wish me luck...
By the way, thank you, Emily, for the encouragement. You're right about getting too much credit. If God wants me to be stronger - send me a different type of message & I'll go to the gym. :)
Thursday, May 12, 2005
There has been a major thing in life bothering me like crazy. I have avoided mentioning it, because I desperately hoped it would end soon. I was basically holding my breath. Now, things look like they will be like this for some time, which has put me in a depression. Here it goes: Our house guest has really worn out his welcome (nicest way to say it). We have let it linger on a LOT longer than we wanted it to. It has been extremely stressful and frankly horrible. Yesterday, I saw a real glimmer of hope. He had messed up AGAIN & was told that it was the last straw. He had to pack up his stuff & leave. This morning, his vehicle was missing - stolen over night. Once again, we have been reminded that we are living in the HOOD. The last lesson was merely a week ago. Couldn’t they give us a break? Now, without transportation, a job, a place to go, or a dime to his name - he is stuck. Although, he lost a lot, I can't help but think that we are the ones who will really suffer.
What happened to that time in January when everything was at peace? I knew it wouldn’t last long & was afraid about what was coming up. Why is it always peaceful before the storm? Why does the storm have to be a category 4 hurricane? What is wrong with dealing with one or two major problems at a time? Why so many things right now? By the way, I don't want to be any stronger than I am now - so stop with the trails & tribulations!!!!
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Tests Results Better Than Expected
Monday night, Steve's mom called with the results of her biopsy. She has lung cancer and it is in stage 3. Actually, they thought it was going to be stage 4, so this is better. Her life expectancy is 2 years without treatment and 5 years with treatment. At this point, she wants the treatment and is going to fight it even thought it will not be easy.
Yesterday, I had the dreaded hysterosalpingogram (HSG). It was definitely unpleasant, but not as bad as I had heard because MY TUBES ARE TOTALLY CLEAR!!! Yippee! One step out of the way & it went well. The next step is getting Steve checked out. Hopefully, that will be done next week. I haven't wanted to push him much. He is dealing with a lot (many things I haven't even mentioned).
Monday, May 09, 2005
Tests, Tests, & More Tests
Our Mother's Day visit went well. Actually, we only went up for the day on Saturday. Steve's mom was feeling very drained, but looked better as the day went on. She has a 3" slit across the bottom of her neck. The worst part for her was that the roofers just happened to show up her first full day out of the hospital. His parents have been waiting almost a year to get their roof replaced & they happen to come when she needs to sleep. The roofers made it impossible with all the noise. We gave her the nightgowns & were surprised to find out that she doesn't own any. Hopefully, they make her a little more comfortable. She is supposed to get the results of the biopsy today.
This morning, I had the pregnancy test. ...waste of time... Oh well. Tomorrow, I have the very dreaded hysterosalpingogram. I'm taking half a day off, which is the only good part. Actually, I'd rather work. I am complaining again over nothing. I definitely want the results.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
An Official Welcome to the NeighborHOOD
This morning when I was walking Steve out to his truck, we noticed that the garage door was open. That made him pretty nervous because he has a lot of tools in there. He went back into the house to ask Jeff if he had left the garage door open. Since Jeff has tools in there too, he hadn't done it. Steve left for work & I went back in the house. A little later, I went outside to move my car so Jeff could take off. As I was inserting my keys, I noticed that there was broken glass all over the passenger seat. Someone so kindly did a little rummaging and probably not being all the bright accidentally pushed the garage door opener. That seemed to have scared them off because nothing else was touched. Jeff checked the garage and said nothing was stolen.
Now, I am driving around with an ugly plastic bag on the window (ghetto style). I guess we were pretty lucky this time - other than paying for the window to be fixed. I have called a few window places and hopefully, they will give me a quote quickly. From now on, I am parking in the garage.
I kind of feel bad complaining about this. It is the most insignificant drama that is happening today. The big thing is Steve's mom. She is going in for her biopsy. I am sure his parents are scared and emotional. This is one of the first big steps they will be taking. Steve, Jeff & I are all holding our breath, crossing our fingers, & saying lots of little prayers.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Tomorrow, I have to wake up extra early to go into the doctor's office to take a pregnancy test - one that has 100% chance of being negative. They don't want me to have "relations" until after the hysterosalpingogram (which is scheduled for next Tuesday). If you aren't doing it, how can you get pregnant? Why do they torture you with unnecessary tests? Ok, I know the answer. I just want to complain. - I actually have many things to complain about, but life is short & there are plenty of worse things going on in the world. Maybe I'll save it for another entry, when it gets worse.
This weekend, we are planning a secret visit to Steve's mom's house. It has to be secret because she always goes way overboard trying to prepare for our visits. Since, she will be having her biopsy on Thursday, she will probably still be bed ridden this weekend. Besides wanting to spend time with her, we are planning to clean her house, prepare meals for the week, and do the yard work. I bought her a few night gowns for mother's day. I don't really know what she wants, but she'll probably be needing them soon. Steve rarely helps with picking gifts. Sometimes, I try to pick something I can give to my mother & his mother, but not this year. I bought my mom Harley Davidson sandals. His mom would hate the sandals & my mom doesn't need night gowns. My mom likes to picture herself as a little wild. - Wild for a Mormon maybe. What do you expect from a very outgoing red-haired woman?