Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sailing on Blue Marsh Lake

Sailing on Saturday was quite an adventure. My crew member, Larry, has been a member of the sailing club since way back, although he hasn't sailed much in the last few years. I managed to drive the boat on the trailer to the lake without incident. I can do most of the rigging by myself or just giving a few instruction. I chickened out and let Larry back the trailer into the water to unload the Maggie B. (our boat's name).
I don't have any pictures of racing or Larry, because it turns out he is a bit of a dare devil and kept me busy sailing at top speed. Since it was a race he figured we might as well win. He let me steer and he managed the sails. He gave a lot of instruction (ie was bossy) but it helped me learn and didn't really bother me because he was pretty funny.
Me: Um Larry, there is a boat coming at us.
Larry: Not our problem. We have the right of way.
I was exhausted at the end of the day. We would be going along at a good clip and Larry would yell "pull the jib line tighter" to make us go even faster. I would be pulling with both hands with my feet braced against the side of the boat, trying to move a sail that was already full of wind. But it was fun. We actually won the the second race and finished in the middle of the others. I won't have much of a handicap now, as Larry was a ringer.
After the race, the other sailors asked me if I had been warned about Larry and his daredevil ways! Marty had arrived from Baby Preview, so we tooled around the lake for another hour or so. Till we got home I was ready for an hour in the hot tub.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Here it is Friday already.

I kept my poinsettias alive all winter so I could plant them outside. I don't know what the flowers on the right are called, but they are a variety of hydrangea.
Leo and Tipper have been wreaking havoc on the flowerbeds by dragging their leashes through them. Allie's dog Leo below.

I wanted to blog on Wednesday after having such a productive day but I ran out of steam.. I did yoga in the morning, got recertified in CPR for two more years in the afternoon, made a visit, and went swimming. (40 laps). Thursday, I did yoga, made home visits for work and met the Mennonite girls who are going to help me with the cleaning and went to my writing class.
The home visit was with my client who has either Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. ( I can't remember which) It is a little distressing to see her. She is just getting started with her treatment, losing her hair, feeling sick. Fortunately, which ever one she has is 90% curable. I am just afraid she will have trouble sticking with the course of treatment. She had so many barriers and lack of support. We showed each other different ways to tie head scarves. Her wig is named Meredith. Next visit we are going to take pictures together in our wigs. I can't imagine having an 18 month old and going through chemo. I was so fortunate to have such supportive family and friends who made sacrifices of their time and attention to help me through. You know who you are. Thanks again.
I had a bright moment at work today. One of my little ones who is now almost two has been developmentally delayed. I kept bringing them stuff: a rug, bouncer, blocks, booster to stimulate her development. She finally started to walk at 18 months. Today she was talking a blue streak. I couldn't believe it. I was doing the language assessment and she repeated every word I said. I've only had a few toddlers that were very good talkers since we started the program. They will graduate in 2 months and it gives me hope that she may do ok.
Tomorrow I am taking the boat to the lake by myself. One us had to fill in for the receptionist at Baby Preview and Marty volunteered. There is a race at the lake tomorrow and I didn't e\want to miss it. I have done every thing by myself with the boat except tow it behind the SUV, back it into the water and use the motor! Piece of cake right? An experienced sailor was looking to be crew, so I'll have a helper. I will let you know how it all works out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Doctor's Visit

Well they haven't discovered the cure for lung cancer since I got diagnosed, nor have they come up with any exciting new treatments, so my doctor visit offered no surprises. The tumors have shrunk significantly: the doctor called it a 99% remission. According to the report the lung tumor is 9mm which is really tiny and the biggest liver tumor went from 6cm (around 2 inches) to 1cm. (1cm is like the circumference of an index finger.)
This apparently a good response to the chemotherapy. I asked when the tumors typically reoccur. He said between 6 and 9 months, sometimes a year. Once in a while people stay in remission, but it is rare. There really isn't much treatment when it comes back.
His recommendations were that I go back to Fox Chase cancer center for a consult, consult with the Reading Hospital radiologist about preventative brain irradiation and come back for scans every two months.
Marty was depressed after the visit: he keeps expecting a miracle. I suffered for a moment in reality, but quickly returned to my usual state of denial. I don't feel sick and now that I have mostly recovered from the effects of chemotherapy, I find it hard to believe any of this to be true. The chemotherapy affected my hearing, so I want to balance the side effects of any treatments with how it will affect the quality of my life.
My plan is follow the doctor's recommendations, improve my diet, do yoga and exercise more consistently. I am going to try to improve something every week. I have gotten so much advice that I feel overwhelmed trying to change every thing at once. This week I want to work on getting to bed earlier, getting up earlier and establishing a morning routine. I know that sounds like three things, but the first two are necessary for the third to happen. The main part of my plan is to do the things I love as often as I can and enjoy life as much as possible.
It has been pointed out to me that maybe my blog entries are just a little to cheerful and don't reflect the seriousness of this illness. Everyone likes me to have a positive attitude, so that's what I present. Honestly, that is how I feel most of the time and I save the dark stuff for my psychologist.
At any rate, I feel well and stronger every day and will just keep trucking along.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Me and Ben Franklin
Front of house with "selective weeding"
Shade bed

Puttin' on the Ritz
Marty and I have had a busy weekend. I had some help from m buddy Pedro with gardening Saturday morning. I finally got to the knee high weeds cut in the front yard. We decided to leave the lamb's ear for a little character. My plan, since the front yard can't really be planted, is selected weeding. I pull up the dandelions before they go to seed and all the tall stuff. I leave the creeping vines and anything with a flower.
Saturday night we went to an elegant wedding in Philadelphia. Marty's cousin's son was the groom. We got all dressed up and tripped the light fantastic. We ended up limping out to the car at the end of the night. We had a great time. Check tomorrow for a link for pics.
Sunday I went to a picnic, a sort of reunion of Reading Birth and Women's Center ladies with whom worked ten years ago. It was great to get caught up and tell stories.
Sunday night was even busier. My friend and writing teacher, Donna, came to dinner and we went shape note singing together at Exeter Meeting House.
This morning I spent a couple hours in the garden and flower beds. I weeded the snow peas. I have about had it with them. I planted them on St Patty's day and they still haven't blossomed. They are hogging the space that I want to use for tomatoes. I am ready to pull them up. Fortunately, I have some volunteer cilantro and dill coming up. I'll take a picture of the peas this week.
Nora brought Kyle and Isaac over for a barbeque today. (Jason is taking a vacation in India) Kyle has been catching a lot of caterpillars and Isaac and been practicing laughing and cooing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Well here it is Thursday. I worked Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday this week. I got off track with my plans for yoga and improving my diet as the the week progressed. But tomorrow is another day. I only have one appointment. It is a goodbye trip to the Oley Dairy petting zoo. The nurses at the Nurse Family Partnership are delighted that the Dairy has reopened. It was a sad day when we read in the paper that the dairy had closed and the animals sold. We take our mothers and toddlers there for our last visit. It's free and we can have a lot of fun for the the price of crackers to feed the animals and an ice cream cone.
I had my CAT scan on Tuesday, but I won't know the results until next Tuesday when I have my appointment with the doctor. I usually pretend I have to get my results to hand carry to Fox Chase so I can look at my records before hand. I decided to wait this time. I don't know what it means if the results show that the cancer is gone or if there is still some there, so I may as well wait till I am with the doctor. He may not know what it means either, but at least I can ask him questions.
On the up side, my hair is starting to grow back. It is about an 1/8th of an inch long and not quite everywhere on my scalp. I sort of look like a duckling. I tried to take a picture but no luck so far. It is really white. I want to dye it, but my co-workers told me I have to wait until there is more.
I took Tipper for his summer shave. He looks very handsome, but I think he is mad at me. He is really tuckered out. Leo is still hale and hearty. He'll be with us till Allie comes back from vacation.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday at Allie's

The pictures are of Allie in her kitchen, Allie's lab, and a picture of her qualifying certificate. Halfway down one can see the pass box checked.
I got up early this morning and did the yoga CD that I bought at the retreat. It is too long to do everyday, but it really gets the kinks out first thing in the morning.
Allie and I went to see the new Star Trek movie this afternoon. It was great. I was sorry that I didn't have a trekie friend to call up afterward to talk about it. Allie liked the movie, but she never watched the original series, so she didn't get all the inside references that were so much fun for old fans like me.
If readers would like to see pictures from the Cystic Fibrosis walk, I posted some on yesterday's blog entry.
I am leaving tomorrow to head back to PA. I will Allie's dog Leo for company. He is going to stay with us while Allie is in chicago visiting Caitlin, then in Minnesota for the National Volley Ball Competition.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I did It!

Allie, Leo, her team and I walked the 7K (4.4 miles) for the Cystic fibrosis walk today. It was a beautiful day: not to0 hot with nice breeze. I was tired after the walk, but it wasn't bad walking. We had a good time. Leo pulled me up the hills (and Worcester is a hilly place). Thanks to everyone who sponsored me. It gave me encouragement to trudge on. Allie is having a party tonight to celebrate qualifying for her PHD.
The yoga retreat was wonderful and everything I expected and more. I started every day with an hour and 15 minute gentle yoga class. There were all kinds of classes for improving heath, diet, avoiding stress that were inspirational. I took Ayruvedic medicine and health, Transforming your life, Resiliency and dealing with stress, drumming. I did another hour and a half of moderate yoga at 4:15 PM. I met a lot of nice people and made some new friends.
The retreat itself is located in Western Mass. I had a beautiful view from my window. (I hope to post pictures from Allie's computer.) The food was fabulous. It was all fresh and deliciously prepared. They had separate buffet lines for vegetarian and non-vegetarian. There were lots and lots of vegetables prepared the best I've ever tasted vegetables. Breakfast was silent. That was different but I really liked just sitting and thinking about my food and being quiet.
I will be at Allie's until Monday. I have to back on Tuesday for a Cat scan to see how well the chemo worked.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reminder CF Walk

Mom wanted me to post a reminder that she'll be joining my team for the Cystic Fibrosis walk this Saturday and that you can donate by clicking on the button on the right hand side of the blog that says Great Strides.  
The last I heard from her she was just arriving at the Yoga Retreat, but I am sure she is having a relaxing time enjoying the yoga as well as being under the radar, with her phone and computer off.
She'll be driving out to Worcester on Friday to spend the weekend with me, which I am looking forward too.  I'm sure she'll be posting pictures from the weekend soon enough.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Here is a close up of the azalea that Caitlin sent me for Mother's Day. It is beautiful: big and lush and will be my passenger on my travels to Massachusetts for the yoga retreat and to visit Allie. I arrived at the farm with the SUV full of Allie's 4 deck chairs and her little refrigerator. Mom and I went to the garden center and I added 6 bags of peat and 3 bags of compost. I am hoping that I can get my suitcase back in.
The picture of the cow licking her calf is my Miother's day picture. I was trying to capture a picture of cows doing something interesting, but you know cows....
On Saturday, there were Amish buggies going by the farm all day. They had been to the lake fishing. Some were towing canoes and others had the canoes tied to the top of their covered buggies. It just struck as something one doesn't see every day.
I've had a relaxing visit at home and I'm looking forward to my trip to Kripalu Yoga center tomorrow. I won't be blogging, texting, talking on phone, or checking my email while I'm at my retreat. So I'll see you Friday.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Home for Mother's Day

I decided to surprise my mum and go home for Mother's Day. Monday I'll drive from Western Pa to Stockbridge, MA for my yoga retreat. On Friday, I'll drive across Massachusetts (which thankfully is a much smaller state than Pa) to Allie's.
Allie apparently has done a bang up job on the presentation for her qualifier for the PHD program at U Mass. The dean of the school said it was one of the best he has heard!. So we are all really proud of her. Swill be spending the next couple of years getting her PHD researching cystic Fibrosis.
By the way, you may have noticed the little cystic fibrosis box next to this blog. I will be walking with Allie on May 16th to raise money for the cystic fibrosis foundation. If you would like to sponsor me just click on the cystic fibrosis button. I don't know how far I'll walk but I will do my best.
In case you didn't know, Wednesday was Nurse's Day. "Emma and Effie Burkholder" came to our office to give us a makeover (on the inside). If laughter is the best medicine, we are all cured of everything. Go to for a laugh

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rainy Tuesday

I got up Saturday morning in a burst of energy, but that soon petered out and I spent the afternoon reading and sleeping. I worked 30 hours last week which was too much. My afternoon nap did give me enough energy to go contra dancing Saturday night. I didn't dance every dance but I had energy to get through the ones I did. Sunday afternoon I went shape note singing in Lancaster with my friend Donna.
So I basically spent my weekend singing, dancing, reading and sleeping. That about covers all my favorite things except gardening. I did work a bit on the dandelions with my borrowed dandelion digger but the yard is so rocky that it is a bit of a challenge. I put out the hummingbird feeder and we saw our first hummingbirds. Every day there is something new blooming. This week brought the lilacs, dogwoods and jack in the pulpits. The lily of the valley are next.
I am going to try to take it a little easier at work this week. I still have a fair amount of queasiness. I don't know if my stomach is still healing or if it is psychological. I have a lot of thoughts that trigger nausea. It's not food. I have been cooking for Marty and eating everything. It is thinking about anything that is associated with the chemotherapy.
I am back on track doing yoga most mornings. If you would like to join me, you can download free podcasts of 20 minute yoga on itunes, under podcasts for health and fitness. 20 -25 minutes is just right for me. Any longer and I would think that I didn't have time to do them. Hopefully, I can get into a routine for swimming to counterbalance all this sleeping!