Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Good days, bad days...

10 days out from the 4th round of chemo now. The post title says it all...sometimes it changes by the hour.  I'm not going to elaborate; I'd rather try not to think about it when I don't have to!

Bill and Laura drove in from Colorado last weekend for the family birthday party for his brother and him-it's gotten so hard to get everyone together that my nephew's birthday has been mixed in as well. It was fun to  watch everyone playing baseball, though I miss being able to take a turn at bat or in the outfield. Maybe next year...

While they were here they told the rest of the family that they're expecting their first child-that definitely put everyone in a happy place, and combined with the first really nice day of spring (78F. and sunny with a light wind) it was just a wonderful day. Dottie grilled chicken (I'm a bit wary of getting too close to an open flame when I'm on bottled oxygen) and the day before she had made two apple pies (Bill's choice for his birthday "cake") and a toll pan cookie (John's choice for his). My sister brought a crock pot full of "cheesy potatoes" and ice cream, and everyone had a great time.

I didn't do much, but I'm at the "low ebb" from my last round of chemo and just being out in the fresh air for 7 or 8 hours was enough to have me exhausted by the time we came home. There are times that "tired" just doesn't cover it...these past few days have been one of them!

May the week be kind to each of you!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Things are finally turning green outside!

   Our April showers have been "choking frogs" off and on this last week, and the grass has gone from dormant from last year's drought to needing mowed in the span of 10 days. I'm not bothering with seeding in the bare places where it didn't survive the drought, partly because I'm not entirely convinced it's over and partly because Dottie told me that I can't mow, and if I can't mow I can't make more work for her.

   When I was in the hospital they had to do a CT scan of my lungs while I was in the ER. I had been scheduled for one the end of that same week to see if the chemo was reducing my cancer at all. Though it was a few days early, it was close enough. While I was in the hospital they told me it was smaller-after I got out I got numbers; the tumor in my left lung is down 22%; the largest of the lymph nodes is down 13% and it hasn't spread to any others! My IPF is also showing no increase since the original round of tests, most likely because I'm on oxygen 24/7. That was after 2 rounds of chemo; I've had a 3rd since and my 4th is a week from tomorrow.

  After almost 2 weeks of feeling totally "blah" after I got out of the hospital, giving my bodythe recommended time to "get used" to the Sotalol they put me on, I started keeping track of my blood pressure numbers and for 3 days it ran between 100/60 and no higher than 123/65. Not really "low" but low to where I usually am, and the last time I ran that low my regular doctor had me start splitting my BP med in half. I called the cardiologist and was told I could do that, or I could cut the dose of Sotalol in half. Not wanting to go through the arrhythmia again, I opted for the former!

  It took a few days, but I started feeling a bit better. I had also finished the antibiotic I was sent home with, was still hacking up "color" and went in to have a sputum sample taken and another chest x-ray. I got a different antibiotic and seem to have cleared up whatever was left in my lungs. The weekend went pretty well, with my grand daughter spending it with us, playing video games with her and watching some movies . I had the Barrett-Jackson auto auction on and she was interested in it, and when she decided a Trans-Am that was up for auction was "cool" I decided it was time to introduce her to "Smokey and the Bandit" and its sequel. Then I pulled out a gem that I had recorded ages ago, but only caught up with when I came home from the hospital; the original "Pennies from Heaven" with Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong from 1936. Dottie had never seen it either, and they both liked it as much as I did. (Not always the case!)

   We took her home on Sunday evening and ended up having dinner at my son's, and got home late after driving through the first of those downpours I mentioned above. (It was the first time I'd driven her car in anything that heavy since I put the Goodyear Assurance rain tires on it 2 years ago; they are worth every penny!) Dottie put in one last load of laundry and about 20 minutes later it sounded like the washer was off balance. She went to check and told me it was making a clanging noise and the drum was slipping. She started and stopped it a few times, it finally engaged and I started digging on line for troubleshooting.

   Monday I went down and took it apart. I started with the recommended tools, but hers was a bit different and there were 5 trips back up the steps to go get other ones. Steps are the hardest thing for my with my lungs like they are-take several deep breaths then finally do 2 or 3 as I exhale, then catch my breath and repeat. My oxygen is still low when I get to the top, then there are 3 more into the house as I had to clean the grease off my hands to get the keys and open the door to go out to the garage.

   What would have taken an hour or so when I was healthy took almost 5...

   Went yesterday and got the part, along with a special tool to re-install one nut (a proprietary spanner wrench-I took it apart with a punch and ball peen, but was afraid of not getting it tight as I put it back). $38 I was headed home. That was the 2nd time I'd driven since I went to the hospital.

   I stopped and bought some spices on my way home for a recipe I'd found (someone reverse engineered "The Colonel's" eleven herbs and spices; it's pretty close), then started reassembling things. Dottie got home before I was done and helped me finish, then we put it in a short cycle to rinse out anything loose in the pump, and waited for it to spin.

   It did...it spun just fine...but I could also hear gears not quite meshing in the transmission as well. We put it into the slow-spin setting and it didn't grind anymore, but there is a bearing or "dry gearbox" noise that means it's not long for this world!

   I was pretty despondent. She showered, I fixed dinner and we ate, then I showered while she sat downstairs with it while her uniforms for work ran through it. I was almost to the point of wishing I hadn't woken her up the other week (which I thought about at that time for a few seconds before I decided it wasn't time to give up yet).

   But somehow we'll get this figured out-if it will limp along 'til the 1st then we'll rearrange things and replace it. I was up late enough to watch an episode of "Burns and Allen" and George always manages to make me smile, so I went to bed in a better frame of mind and slept well for the first time in 3 or 4 days (I was waking up in the middle of the night for several hours for no reason). Today, the world is much brighter than it was around dinner time last night!

   Forgive me the length of this! I just hadn't really felt like writing until the last few days...I'm hoping this upswing stays with me for a while!

   May the week be kind to each of you!