Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Starting to feel human

I woke up with some energy to do a little house blessing this morning. Just emptying the trash, clearing clutter and shining the sink brings a ray of sunshine. I've had many bouquets of daffodils given to me in the last week. Daffodils are my favorite early spring flower. I find their shape miraculous and their shade incredibly cheerful. The only cloud on my day was taking Meike to the airport to send her home to Germany. It was so wonderful to have her here and so sad to see her go.
It has been a hard week, physically and psychologically. I trust every day will be a little better and tell my self the end of this treatment is near. It could be so much worse. I haven't been ill with infections or had allergic reactions to the treatments. So I am trying to be a little grateful for the complications that didn't happen.
I have Passover and Easter preparations to distract me this week and next. I'll probably try to go to work for a few hours tomorrow. Thanks to all for your encouragement, cards and gifts.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Quick Update

Grandma's 80th Birthday party went very well.  It was great to see everyone, especially people who traveled great distances.  Meike, our German Exchange student from 1998, visited for the party and is going to be in the US taking care of Mom until Sunday.  She is a pediatric oncology nurse in Germany so it was perfect for her to come and take care of Mom.  
On Saturday we had a 500 card game tournament, our pictures taken and dinner for 19 with two birthday cakes, one with 80 candles.  You can check out pictures here.
On Sunday we went to Hope Church, where Mom's friend Mary is a pastor and then everyone parted different ways.
Meike and I took mom on Monday for her fifth (second to last treatment) on Monday.  It mostly went smoothly but I left directly from the hospital when she was finished to head back to Worcester for an early Tuesday morning experiment and prepare for my abstract meeting.
Her next two treatments on Tuesday and Wednesday did not go as smoothly.  Generally she feels pretty good during the treatments and it isn't until the weekend after the treatment that she starts to feel bad and then generally she feels better mid-week.  However this treatment she started to feel poorly immediately.
On Thursday she had her shot, which is normally a 5 minute trip to the hospital, but she wasn't feeling well so they ended up having her stay and run some fluids and have the doctor stop by.  He prescribed her a new drug, which so far hasn't seemed to be helping too much.
Basically she has been feeling pretty terrible the last couple days, just sleeping a lot.  It makes her sick to talk or think about a lot of this stuff, so I'll be probably writing posts until she feels better.  But I am sure she would appreciate comments and encouragement.  Meike just told me she is eating a root beer float and some doritos, so I think that is pretty encouraging!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Big Day tomorrow

Tomorrow kicks off the family birthday weekend for my mom. Janet, Al and Bryce will drive in from the farm to help me get ready. Meike arrives from Germany at 4:30 Pm and Caitlin arrives at 10:30 PM, both at the Phila. airport. Amy and I will have dinner with Meike while we wait for Caitlin. The rest of the family will trickle in on Friday.
After work, I celebrated today's spring weather by digging up my little garden and planting snow peas. They took up most of the garden, so I hope I can harvest them before it is time to put in the tomatoes. Looking forward to warm weather and gardening.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

My co-workers' hat and scarf party of last week included this gem. St Patrick's day isn't a big holiday for my Hispanic clients, so I didn't wear my hat out of the office. Tomorrow is my last day at work before the family starts arriving on Thursday for my mom's birthday.
I am glad to have my Mom's birthday to distract from the dreaded chemotherapy on Monday. I keep telling my self it's the next to the last one. I can do this.

Back to work.

I was back to work yesterday after a restful weekend. I saw 2 clients. The third went back to work, apparently forgetting that I was coming. In other words, a typical day for a Nurse Family Partnership Nurse. We are pretty excited that our program is a line item in the federal budget. TKhe NFP could quadruple in Pennsylvania.
After work I went to the pool and swam 25 laps, then Marty met me there and I swam 15 more to keep him company. I was so sleepy that I barely made it through dinner!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Here is the new carpet and my new hot pink scarf. I had a restful day today. I slept late and attended church at Hope Lutheran. I started a new Jodi Picoult book and read until I fell asleep. My buddy Bob brought over some more of his delicious bread and we started to make plans to go to Old Songs Music Festival. I should take pics of Bob's bread: it is just beautiful.
I finished off the day singing shape notes at Exeter Meeting. For my first turn, I chose "A Thankful Heart": Give me a calm and thankful heart from every murmur free...

Most of the time I am bitter about how nasty the chemotherapy makes me feel, but today I was thinking that I should be more grateful that it's working and that I haven't any side effects that would keep me from getting it. My blood counts have been good, I haven't had infections or been sick with fever. I don't think I'm quite bouncing back this time, but I only have to get through two more. My last chemo, God willing, will be the day after Easter.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Working all week must have really tired me out. I spent most of the day reading and napping. I did make one foray out to the Farmer's Market to pick up fresh fruit and Wilbur Buds. I bought some sugar pea seeds to plant on ST. Patrick's Day. I'll probably wait a day because it is supposed to be sixty degrees on Wednesday. I am really looking forward to spring. It has been a long hard winter.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday Party!



My co-workers surprised me with a party at our team meeting. They gifted me with hats and scarves to spruce up my spring headgear wardrobe. (pictures to follow in days to come) My co-workers always say I look good in hats and scarves and I always say anyone can look good in scarves. Obviously, I was wrong, as evidenced by Lorrie and Laura pictured above. I got very tired during the meeting and needed 15 minutes in my "happy place" before I went out on visits. My co-workers decided I needed a bear for a pillow and a photo-op. The rest perked me up and I made my visits and took the yoga class for cancer patients at the hospital.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday Busy day

I felt good yesterday, went to work and worked a full day. I was tired when I got home, made dinner and fell asleep after dinner. No time to blog.
My clients have started to call me wondering how I am feeling. They are very sweet: just asking after my health, not asking for appointments or help. Yesterday I did have one girl with a housing emergency, a tussle with a hospital clinic over appointments, a good-bye last visit and an almost last visit with a client who is getting ready to graduate from high school.
I took my client who was graduating from the program to a play land. The little guy was playing at the toy sink, pretending to wash his hands. Then he came over and took my scarf off my head. I couldn't figure out why he did that until he started to pretend dry his hands with my scarf. He was really cute. It is satisfying anytime my little toddlers show a spark of imagination.
Today we are getting new carpet in the basement in preparation for the whole family coming for Mom's Birthday weekend next week. Marty has been wanting to replace the pink carpet since we bought the house, so this seemed like the right time.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Feelin' groovey

Well today I finally started to feel a little myself. I stopped on the way to work to buy some things to drink. Snapple tea and Turkey Hill tea are about the only things that appeal to me. I bought 8 lbs of navel oranges too. I can't get enough fruit, particularly oranges and clementines. I just messed around at work with paperwork and phone calls. I did schedule a couple of visits for the remainder of the week. Hopefully, I am on the upswing and can keep the appointments I made. After work, I confirmed the Baby Preview appts for tomorrow, went to the library and went for a swim. I felt weak in the legs, but managed 25 laps. It is amazing the difference one day can bring. Maybe all the energy came from the dark chocolate truffles that Barb made me!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday Monday

When we went on the butterfly tour in Costa Rica, this butterfly hatched out of its chrysalis and crawled right up to my ear. We had to pluck it off my head before we left the butterfly enclosure.

I have been so restless and out of sorts at home that I decided to get up and get dressed and go to work today. Tossing breakfast slowed me down, but once I got there I was distracted by fixing my missing forms reports and sifting through memos. Some of my clients started calling today, so I guess they haven't forgotten about me. I also checked into the new short term disability policy at the agency. It seems reassuring that my health coverage won't be jeopardized if I can't work. I think I 'll give work a go tomorrow and maybe even try a home visit. I am hesitant to schedule too many visits because I have had to cancel so many. Maybe I'll got to the library and find some new reading material. Keep those suggestions coming: there must be something that I haven't read!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sunshine helps

Here is another picture from Costa Rica: a mother sloth with her baby on her belly.
I can't say I am feeling great, but it certainly helps to sit in the sunshine, and air the house out. Today, mom and I got the hot tub going (it had shut off while we were away), inventoried the pillows and blankets for when the whole family comes in a few weeks for my Mom's birthday and tidied and cleaned my office where I hang most of the time. Florence Nightengale was right about fresh air and cleanliness.
There is Contra dancing tonight, I don't know if I'll be up for that. I hope feeling normal a. happens this cycle and b. doesn't take too long.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Vacation is more fun than chemotherapy

The chemo is really hitting my stomach this time. I feel like the lining is being eroded. The pills they gave me help. I can eat. I always can eat. I had the shot to boost my immune system yesterday. I just feel wiped out today. The nurse yesterday says it hits sooner and my last longer this time. Not happy news.
My mom is here making ham balls, mac and cheese, scalloped potatoes and ham so I'm happy. She cleans a lot too.
I really enjoy everyone's cards and blog comments. It makes life easier, knowing so many people are thinking of me. Cousin Amy sent the book, Bulldust in my Bra, for me to read and that has been distracting.
I'm looking forward to a warm Saturday and some Pennsylvania sunshine.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Round 4 Days 1-3

Well it's back to boring old chemotherapy. The vacation was good to distract me from dreading it so much this time. My friend and pastor, Mary went with me to keep me company. Allie is staying in Boston for this round because she has major things to do to get ready for the qualifiers for her PHD program.  I was reallly grateful the the snow storm was not predicted to come as far west as Reading. We put the SUV at the bottom of the hill just in case Mary couldn't get out.  It was a nice day to sit and chat and play cards. We are both always so busy. A relaxing day was a treat. The only downside was that the nurse pulled the iv out of the port while I wasn't being vigilant, so I had to have it reinserted the next day, which wasn't fun.  Marty had the driveway plowed while I was getting the chemo so we were able drive up the driveway and I didn't have to hike.
Day 2 
Marty was my chemo buddy. Day 2 always seems to much shorter because it is only 2 hours instead of 8. I was tired and slept all afternoon. My stomach is little touchier this time. Chicken soup for lunch and baked potato for dinner. More sleep after dinner.
Day 3 
I'm getting Day 3 infusions even as I type. Marty is here with me reading the New Yorker. I should have gotten up at 4 AM when my stomach was growling becuase when I finally got up at 6:30, I was feeling pretty nauseous. I ate and took a bunch of pills, except for the $120.00 one, until I was sure that I was going to keep it down. Wednesday is team meeting at work, so I went in for an hour before my chemo to get caught up from my vacation. 
My mom is coming for a visit for a few days. She will arrive sometime this afternoon and stay until Monday. I am looking forward to some comfort food.
After today 4 down two to go. I can almost smell the champagne. 
    

Last days



My camera batteries all died on the last day. So my final pictures are of cows. I wanted to inclued the little white cattle egrets that hang out with the cows.
We really didn't have any plans for Friday so we headed off to a place in the country that has campesinos living in villages to show tipical life. Sadly, the Yaris couldn't make it. We headed toward Dominical to go to the beach, but the road was so rough and dusty that we got a flat tire. We went to the nearest town after we changed it with the help of very friendly Tico truck driver and found a delightful nearly deserted beach to spend the afternoon. We had dinner with a young couple from Chicago who only live a few blocks from Caitlin.
Saturday we spent the whole day traveling. 3 and 1/2 hours to San Jose, then transfer in Atlanta for Philadelphia, arrived in Philly at11:45 and home by 2:00 AM Sunday morning we woke up to snow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thursday Next to the last day






In the morning we went back to manuel antonio park in hopes of seeing more monkeys and to go the beach.We were successful and saw a lot of the white faced cappachins. There was a troop of howler monkeys moving through the trees and we followed them for a while, but they weren't close enough to get good pictures. This little hermit crab crawled across my crossword while I was reading on the beach. I also watched two iguanas hold a conversation by bobbing their heads at one another.
We also saw two sloths, one of which was holding a baby.
At high tide we took a tour through the mangrove swamps in a boat. Marty found a tour guide who is a naturalist, so we had an interesting lecture on the ecology of the mangrove tree swamps. We saw more monkeys, one with a newborn, lots of water birds, crabs and a type of boa snake. There were anteaters hibernating in trees. The tour finished with a beautiful sunset over the pacific. Afterwards, they took us to a local joint to have our platos casados of tipical food.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Postscript on the Canopy Zip lines








videoHere is the video of me zipping. To answer Kathy's question: To get to the zip lines, we followed a trail to higher up on the mountain, then we climbed up a metal ladder to the first platform. The other pictures are of Marty and me rappelling down from one of the platforms and of me climbing up the middle of a hollowed out fig tree.