Sunday, May 19, 2019

A couple of months can go by quick.....


First things first.....I apologize. I know that I am so behind on phone calls, scheduling, etc.  I do feel and believe in my core that I am a horrible friend which as a loved cancer patient you get used to.  I have been a bit overwhelmed with everyone's kindness, sweets, food, emails, and texts.  I do see it all, I do feel all the love it brings, thank you.  Please know that I have heard and seen all of them and I will get to them even if it is just to read again in the middle of the night (worst time for me).  Okay, enough of that.......

Medical Update:  I have had three Keytruda sessions.  My next is scheduled for May 30th.  I am doing well on it.  I have much less anxiety going to infusion.  In fact, during the last one, I really did not even notice that I was getting the drug.  Sometimes, I feel a flutter or get REALLY tired when it comes in, but I didn't this last time, but there was a lot to celebrate see below (Nashville and Kentucky Derby).  I do get tired especially the week after treatment, but that fades.  The most notable side effect was "dizziness and inability to make a decision".  Here is how that can play out....  It was a crazy day.  Early release, going to the passport office, Nolan being picked up by Mom, Grant coming home early to go to the passport office for Mason, finding it, expecting long lines, but not having them, Grant working from home in the the afternoon, Mason because he had new found time going to "work" at the bike shop, Nolan playing with the neighbors, etc.  The schedule had changed so many times from the anticipated schedule, I guess my brain could not keep up.  So, at one point, Grant turned to me and said, "I need to go pick up some barrels for a site." and then said, "You don't look so good.  What is going on?"  I was dizzy and I had to crouch down to not fall over.  I could really explain what was going on and I didn't really know myself, but in the back of my brain I remembered this was a side effect.   Grant said, "I am not going.  You are acting strange."  All I could say is, "How long (will you be gone)?" He miraculously knew what I was talking about and said, "Thirty minutes."  I told him to go.  "This is not a death thing.  This is a rest thing.  I will just rest."  So, he leaves.  I close the garage door and go to the freezer to get something out for dinner.  The garage door opener light goes off.  I am still standing at the freezer, but could decide what or how to prepare anything in there.  I close the freezer.  PITCH BLACK - there are no windows in my garage.  I try to turn on the flashlight on my phone.  Couldn't figure it out.  Hell, I could have reopened the freezer, but that did not occur to me.  So, I turned around and slid my back down the freezer.  I'll just sit.  This will pass.  I really don't know how long I was there, but slowly I thought.  I should sit in the kitchen and I could see the light around the door.  It passed, like a thought - or did I?  Dinner was pizza.  When I told Hank about it, he said, "If it keeps happening, we will have to address it, but for now....DO LESS."  A scan will come in the next couple of months.  It is not as clear of a schedule as Chemo was.  Picking when the scan seem to be a bit more timing, blood work, even feeling.  So, we will see when that comes.  There is also more for me to do on the horizon, but that is for another day......

Life Update:  I CELEBRATED MY 50TH YEAR WITH MY COLLEGE GIRLFRIENDS IN NASHVILLE AND WENT TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY!!!!!!  Yes, I wore a hat, and the dress, and, as I learned in perfect time, flip flops with a rain poncho.  I looked great and then just wet and a little sad.  Two things on my bucket list were Tennessee particularly Nashville.  I was there when I was seven and I ALWAYS knew I wanted to go back as a big girl.  And the Kentucky Derby!  Michelli, a college friend, had devised this plan on going to the Kentucky Derby for our 50th and the plan developed from there.  Nashville Trolley Tour; the Grand Ole Opera Tour; Group pictures on the Ryman Circle in the stage; the Bluebird Cafe; air bnb; companion fare on Alaska; can everyone make i; has everyone marked there calendars; when do we send which money; where do we send the money; what restaurants do we want to make a point of getting to; what should we have a the house; who sleeps where; how many people and luggage can you really get into a minivan with hat boxes; my hat was crushable, her hat wasn't; two bought the same dress, return dress, get another dress; where do you buy the bacon and bourbon marshmallows; there is an EXACT replica of the Parthenon in Nashville; What is your heat? It is not "Shut the cluck up!"; anything with peanut butter; the beautiful relived memory of a house filled with women, the smell of hairdryers, fresh showers, bacon, and good smelly stuff (I include this because it did not smell like hockey equipment, pubescent boys, or wet dog.); hats, hats, and men and women matching attire; beautiful clothes; Abe Lincoln; horseshoe Pandora charms; mint juleps (which I am now convinced is why the South lost the war); mint juleps, mint juleps, mint juleps; learning to bet; souvenir mint juleps glasses; 12th Race; throwing tickets; looking for tickets; some happy; some really angry; freezing; driving "home"; getting warm; pack; how are we out of toilet paper?; night before good byes, 4:00am "I love yous and I love you toos."; journey home.  BEST 50TH EVER!  Two years, 30000 email, 10000 texts, countless hours on the phone, buying tickets, changing tickets and more that I never saw.......MICHELLI YOU ARE TRULY ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING ORGANIZERS AROUND!  BRAVA!  Ten years ago at the Sleeping Lady I told God (yes, I told him), I wanted more of "this".  Celebration, friends, good times, adventures....all of it.  He (and you all) did not disappoint.

Happy Sunday!

Ang


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Well, it all went pretty good...biggest problem was me.

Grant went with me and we discussed Keytruda with Hank.  Nothing was over the top....you might get a rash, your thyroid may go crazy so we will have to monitor that, your other organs may be attacked by the drug so we will monitor that, you may have shortness of breath, you might have nausea, you might get diarrhea (in my next life, I never want to hear that word again I have had so much of it and the word in this, I think I deserve that), and might REALLY GET HIT WITH MAJOR DIARRHEA - in that case, call.  Yeah?

So, we go upstairs to infusion.   Haven't been back there for a long time.  Not since Shelly or was it Linda.  I am 50% on those two.  Linda is kickin' it and Shelly, well, she watches from the clouds. The wait was super long and my nerves were all a jumble.  Grant was helpful and kind, and always funny. We get in with a nurse that barely remembers me, but when she does she says, "We are going EASY on you today!"  She also tells me about the drug, how it is doing great things and I will rock it.  So, the process goes......

There is a first timer next to me.  Her husband was there, and then her son (?) came.  The conversations she was having were so completely, downright, over the top, just plan stupid.  Now, clearly, I am hanging off the edge...the smells, the room, wipes, chairs, just about everything.  I want to get up a run, but I don't.  I want to cry and scream, "Haven't I given ENOUGH?!?"  But, I don't.  I just listen....."Well, I was going to go get a really short haircut so everyone can get used to my hair leaving.  Then when it comes out, my hairdresser will shave it.  Then, I would get a wig.  This is for my only granddaughter.  She is graduating from the amazing school for dyslexic children and I am so proud of her.  She really struggled in school until they found out, you know, she was dyslexic.  So, they found her a dyslexic college.  (COLLEGE?!?!  Ya didn't see that before then?!?!  Again, remember, I might be a tad on the edge...)  I just don't want my hair to be the focus and the attention taken from her."  Pause.

In come my drugs, where I used to be there for six hours with multiple bags hung and emptied into me, she hangs two: saline and the tiniest bag I have EVER SEEN.  "Keytruda" the nurse says.  I exhale.

Enter "the son" of the patient next to me.  I love how the pull the sheet tight tight tight, so that I won't hear them.  The Dad exits to get something to eat.  Grant exits to get me something to eat.  They have a menu now.  WEIRD.  And it starts again....."Well, I am not sure why Kelly (lets call her), didn't come to Christmas, but I want you to know she was completely welcome (Isn't it March?!?!  Clearly, still a little edgy.) and she is welcome this holiday too or maybe we should go on a trip."  "Son"replies, "It is what it is.  It is fine.  Whatever she wants to do she will do.  Whatever...."

I was LITERALLY so close to standing up opening the stupid "sound proof" sheet and saying, "In three days your not going to give a SHIT about Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, or anything else.  You will be happy if you can get down an egg, or WAIT, BE ALIVE TO GET DOWN AN EGG.  And, as for your hair, the nurse said it will be gone, gone, gonzo, finito, down the shower, on your pillow, in 10 FRICKING DAYS.  They know their SHIT. Forget the plan, buy a wig tomorrow, and if you think your dyslexic granddaughter is going to be mad because you get some attention for your wig - DON'T GO TO THE PARTY.  And, finally, I CAN HEAR YOU SHEET PULLED OR NOT!"  (I am starting to see why they put me in a private room for chemo....)

But, I didn't get the chance.  The "Son" left, she was alone eating and then she started to choke.......damn.  I was even calling nurses.......double damn.

There marks my true character.  I tell y'all, I am a horrible person.  And, I truly am.

Side effects for me.  Very strange stools (but really when is that been new) and gas up to be tonsils.  I will be fine, feeling good, and suddenly, my face warps and I have gas in my should blades to my butt.  Sit on the toilet and fart, poop a pebble, fart, little diarrhea, fart.....I think you get it.  Lasts for about three days, and then I am back.  I thought I got a rash, but Grant told me I just scratched my legs.....turns out he was right.  Triple damn - I hate it when he is right.  I also sleep a lot.  Naps are now necessary.

I can do this.

Finally, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR OFFERS OF HELP, SUPPORT AND PRAYERS.  I really don't need anything right now.  I am about to cook and pick up my boys.  Mason is helping me a lot.  Nolan and I are at loggerheads all the time, but he does make a mean cuppa (cup of tea).  If you are free on a Thursday, I have treatment every three weeks, and I would love the company and probably should have someone to hold me back for attacking the patient next door. Bravo Grant!  Donna is staying with me and taking me to treatment for the next one on 4/11 as the boys will be visiting Grandma Little in TO.

Happy Tuesday, Ang

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Remember how I told you Hank was flexible until he was not....

Yeah, well, I thought I could put this off, but today I found out I start Thursday am.  Sharon said, “So when on Thursday can you come in?”  Conferences be damned.....schedules be damned.....  Negotiation over.  Thursday it is. Lots of errands, but I got the dog treats!   Wanted to start when the boys were in TO visiting Grandma Little.  No such luck.....I appreciate all the support and offer of  meals and love....it has made me cry more than once.....let’s see what I need.....I could be okay....

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

“It is not as bad as chemo....”

How many times have people said this?  How many times have I?  If I have been absent or non responsive it is because I have been run through all the tests and more.  And here are the results..all the nine spots in my lungs are, in fact, cancer “hot”, as they say.  Too much cancer to do local treatment like cyberknife or ablation.  A systemic treatment would be better, but chemo is too hard on the body for this little amount.  So, too sick for one and not sick enough for the other.  In the past couple years there has emerged a new therapy that I know very little about.  It is immunotherapy.  But first, I have to qualify, then insurance has to approve, and then I get to try it.  Rash, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, etc are some of the side effects.  I am supposed to go in this week to talk about it.  I am not.

I will go next week.  This week I will start to prepare my life/house for systemic therapy.  Got the windows scheduled, give the house a good clean.  Run to the goodwill and used book store, sort some of the clutter, not a lot, but make it workable.  Put some meals in the freezer.  Buy extra dog food and treats.  I have not had systemic therapy in like seven years.  I never wanted to go back, but here we are.  In addition, if I am on your calendar to do something for you, I would find someone else.  I have to drop out for a while and just focus on me and getting my boys to and from school.  Next year, they will be split between two districts as Mason will be going to Aviation.

Now, maybe I am overreacting, and I truly hope I am, but “it is better than chemo....” is still super far from normal.

I will let you know more when I do.

Be well, Ang

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Two new Doctors and a much discussed scan...

Much has happened since my November post.  Two of my doctors retired and so I saw the replacements in December/January.  You gotta a love a new doc, full of energy, likes to see everything for themselves, reminds you how long it has been for everything, etc.  One now has me in PT three times a month.  The other has me scheduled for a colonoscopy and epi in March.  This would all be fine if my Cyberknife doc, Hank, and my scan reader were in agreement.  I went from 4 things to watch to nine (this is a "new to me" scan reader and marking EVERYTHING).  Newsflash - there is shit in my lungs - some scar tissue, some cancer, some age, some cold, dust, crap, WHATEVER.  Two of the "tumors" have grown enough to worry, OR according to one doc, "Is it just swelling from treatment?"  No one can tell.  So, we went from....chemo and your blood looks the best it has in years....to.....this could be nothing, but we need a PET/CT.  So, within a week, I will be going for a PET/CT, colonscopy/epi, and PT on my pelvic floor.  Friends, it just does not get any sexier than that.  Somehow I have to squeeze that in between picking up and dropping off my kids, Grant telling me "I have so much work......I don't know how I am going to do it all." in which I reply, "Buck up, no one is making you starve, making you poop, not making you poop, sticking things up your butt, down your throat, and do pelvic exercises.  Plus, we are getting paid....good problem."  I should be more sympathetic, but, you know, I just don't wanna.

On the better side of things, my family and mom took a cruise over the holidays to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore.  What an eye opener for the kids!  It was fun, informative, and relaxing (and no one was sticking anything up my butt...).

Howie got fixed and his "dew" claws removed.  He has been in the cone of shame for over a week....but still happy and goofy.  What a guy....

Went skiing at Big White with our friends as we usually do and our extra day we spent cross country skiing only to confirm that I STILL HATE CROSS COUNTRY SKIING WITH ALL MY SOUL. Honestly, rather do a colonoscopy.  I am snowshoeing next year.

So, once I get through March and have Nolan's Postponed Birthday Party, all we will be well again and I will begin to train my new docs......ONE, ONE, ONE, thing at a time.  I will prioritize with Hank and I will do ONE AREA, THING, TEST, WHATEVER at a time.  It has worked this long....and this whatever I am doing right now is for the birds (not that I would even wish this on them - even pigeons.  I hate pigeons, not as much as cross country skiing, but I digress.....).

Happy Tuesday,
Ang


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Things are rolling along.....

Okay, okay, I am still on this side of the lawn.  I know it has been a while since I posted, but I have a really good excuse - Howie.  We got a dog.  After two years are looking, researching, trying to find (and been rejected by several "rescue shelters"), we got a puppy flown in from Pennsylvania.  His name says it all.  He is a good pup, afraid of nothing, and in love with all of us.  Pic below....

As for the rest of us, things are normal.  The medical bills are rolling in and I am calling saying, "Why did a blood draw cost $2000?  Right.....I think that should be rebilled also...thanks."  And then others I am like, "Damn, I DO have to pay that one."

The boys are doing great.  Mason has REALLY good grades....like, REALLY good grades and I was a little stammered by it.  He is always been a smart kid, but all As?  I asked him about it and he said, "I stopped fighting about what I had to do and just did it."  Well, yeah, and there is that.....lol.  He is still in Hockey and spending more and more on goalie equipment.  I am fearful, of not only Swedish Hospital mail right now, but the Mastercard bill.  In his last game, he took 37 shots on goal (that is like three times a bad game).  He let two in, but they won 3-2.  He said it was the equipment with a smirky (sp) smile.  I responded with, "Yep, no talent there - just equipment....."  Queue eye roll.

Nolan is doing very well also and I am happy to say, the Highly Capable Program suits him.  He is finally challenged enough to not "help others (disrupt class)", or try to convince the teacher he should teach the lesson because coming from him it will be easier to understand.  Yeah, that happened.  He even told her it was her opportunity to get more coffee.  I think he gets it from his Dad.  ;)  His Flag Football team struggled this season, but they won there last game last night with flying colors.  They really played well and there were all over the moon.  Party on Thursday night.

Grant is working, working, working.  Our dryer mystery has finally been solved after vent cleaning with the dryer vent for "free", maintenance, a "new" dryer from OfferUp for $85 dollars and a REAL DRYER VENT CLEANER DUDE THAT DISASSEMBLED THE VENT ON THE ROOF AND TOOK THE SCREEN OUT THAT SAID, "REMOVE THIS SCREEN IF THIS IS A DRYER VENT."  Brilliant.  Oh, then we had rats in the crawl space.  Definitely, afraid of the MasterCard bill.

So, all is normal...life costs too much, but it is just that....life.......and I am in it.

Happy Wednesday,
Ang

Howie's first day after the flight, dog park and bath....


Howie with best bud, Nolan.


 Howie on Mason's lap after first haircut.






Saturday, September 8, 2018

Just like that he grew up....

Just like that and just like his brother,  Nolan does not want to cuddle me in the morning.  He is the reason I do not get up until he comes in.  When he just was talking and out of the crib, he said something like, “You wait for me, got it?!?!  This is MY time.”, pounding his chest like a little caveman.

While it broke my heart a little and, luckily the cats happily took his place, I had to find other things to keep the conversation going.  So, on Thursday, the glow of 6th grade had worn off and he was reluctant to get out of the truck.  I said, “Only two days until the weekend, and when you get sad, just think of how much you love me!  That should pass the time!” He rolled his eyes with his shrugged shoulders, threw his head back,  and said, “M..O..M, I already do that!”  Dumbstruck, he kissed me goodbye and, as soon as his feet hit the ground, he was talking to friends.

Damn, that kid is going to break my heart again and, probably, again.

Happy Saturday,

Ang

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Summer is over.....but lets focus on August....

July was full of treatments, church camp, sleeping, and more sleeping.  In August, things really got shaken up.

The first weekend got started with Grant dropping Mason and Wyatt at hockey camp.  So, try and follow this......They stay at Rob and Jen's in Kelowna.  Rob is currently in chemo for Stage Four Colorectal cancer.  Rob INSISTS that they come and everything will be fine.  I am recovering (which is much easier that chemo) from Cyber knife from Stage Four Colorectal Cancer.  Wyatt has just recently lost him Mom from Stage Four Colorectal Cancer.  That, and hockey goalies, were the bond between our families, so I was introduced to his Dad and we worked on passports and all the paperwork to get him over the boarder.  For the week, there was just one pick up that Robin had to do.  I was sick with the prospect of it and practically begged Grant to stay, but he was SUPER BUSY at work and he said that Robin said it would be fine.  (Queue eye roll)  Now, our boys know what it is like to have a Mommies in Chemo.  They have seen the bloody worst of it, but still.  Alas Robin, picks them up in his "new" car the Nissan Leaf.  Okay, one grown man, two BIG boys, and two BIGGER THAN LIFE GOALIE BAGS.  That had to be interesting.  I have to think bungy (sp) cords (Canadians love bungy cords) were involved, but no one is talking.  In any case, they got home.  At the end of the week, Robin texted me.  This was a text that is one of those that you receive and are speechless.  With feelings that go every which way and that you can quite coral, he said something to the effect of, "Clammy (his nick name for me), Just wanted you to know that everything went well this week.  One thing I have to tell you is that when I came to pick them up they both asked first thing, "How are you feeling?"  Now, I know they have had different experiences in life, but they are teenage boys, so I did not expect it.  It was nice of them to ask and they are welcome back anytime.  They are good boys."  Okay, so Robin has never been one to compliment me at any turn....he speaks the truth ALL THE TIME REGARDLESS OF THE CONSEQUENCE.  Don't worry I hold my own, but this was beautiful for two reasons, I knew he was okay after chemo and that he, who I love more than most against my better judgement, said, "You done good."  They are good boys and I am blessed that they found each other before we loss Wyatt's Mom who was blessing to me and everyone who knew her.

Yeah, and that is how it started.....they we were off to Leavenworth for the "Rock Face Boys" camping trip.  I have probably mentioned this before, but these boys have known each other SINCE daycare and we go every year to Ohanapecosh National Campground until last year when APPARENTLY no one wanted to go there anymore, but then it just turned out to be the other two Dads who plotted and planned to tell me.  I was like, "You are worse than women!"  Hence, Leavenworth at the KOA this year.  It was CROWDED but awesome.  I usually bring flank steak, but it was like $100 for flank steak so I am Oso Buco in the Instapot fir $24 dollars.  It was a hit!  I LOVE TRAILER CAMPING!!!!  They were in cabins, so they were happy too.  Coffee delivered by children to the Moms in the morning.  Then straight off to the KOA at Seaside.  We did this trip before with our friends and my adopted third child, Titus, that spent most of the summer with us.  We follow their lead, but one of the days we ride bikes.  Okay, Michele so I am outing you.....  So, last year, my friend and her husband that had the wedding of the decade which I know I blogged about (Edgewater on New Years) always rent a tantem bike and we all have our own.  So, they go down and they no longer have tantem bikes and then they go to the state park, no tantem bikes.  I have never seen this in Michele because she is a pretty good "game face" girl and we have never had a tragedy together, but she was just this side of devastated.  They scramble a bit with mopeds and such and Grant and I are just like, "Whatever you want to do, we are happy..."  I talk a little about my bike and how it is a geared beach cruiser.  She explains again about how she can't ride a bike and balance.....I nudge, she resists....pause....mopeds suck.....Michele wants to bike......and then.......then Michele walks over to our campsite and says, "Is you bike down?"  All my boys and Titus leap up and start getting my bike down, she is (sorry Michele) barking orders a bit like, "Rick, you have to be by me, you have to help me....."  And Rick, in perfect time, "Of course dear.  Yes, dear."  We are all looking at each other like, "HOLY SHIT, we better not screw this up!"  She gets on the bike, then we lower the seat, she gets back on the bike and well, the rest is history.  The people in campsite around our loop started picking up on this and were cheering her on on.  Rick ran 2 to 3 loops and then she went on her own.  Michele could ride a bike.  The boys rode with her for a long time.  It was truly gratifying to her.  The joy in her face, in Rick's face, in Titus' face.  30 years of crap broken.....she can ride.  She rode the next day and then, we did the big bike ride day and the only one that fell was me!  We started off the day with Rick and Michele renting beach cruisers.  Now, a normal beach cruiser has ONE gear.  Beaches are flat.  They do not require more than one gear.  One gear with hills can make you a bike hater.  So, we begin and Michele who is in greater shape than I am is struggling.  I offer my bike and she is like, "Yeah, sista, I don't think so with your lungs?!?!?!"  Okay, something like that.  And then, from the back Nolan says, "Mom, you take my bike.  Michele will take your bike and I can ride the beach cruiser."  STUNNED, but knowing that this boy (YES, THIS BOY) could pull this out of his pocket especially when it comes to Moms, we accepted.  The day went great!  I rode a mountain bike which I have not done in years and they are WAY BETTER NOW!  I went further on the smallest seat I have seen in a long time.  The beach cruiser was past around like a "Call of Duty", but in a good way.  And we ended the day really happy for the things we thought we could not do, but did, haven't done, but did, and broke a lot of barriers that day.  The end of the day was Michele having a beer while shopping for bikes online.  We had other fun like kites and rippin' up the sand on the beach (me and the boys - am I the only adult that likes to do this?), Tillamook (amazing ice cream) and the some of the best pizza ever!!!!!

Then, home to horrible air, the pool being closed because of air quality, and HOT HOT HOT temperatures.  My solution - clean the house and Titus was right in there too!  Then, the pending teachers strike.  It all worked out though and we started school on time, fall schedules have begun, and I am "fixed" as the cyberknife oncologist told me, until the next time (January-ish as the Radiologist predicts).  I am back helping Neely O'Brien's PTA because the principal as changed AGAIN, but this time it is someone I can trust and who wants us.  No, my kids don't go there, but they are my kids....always were.  Tons hugged me, parents chatted with me, it was like home.  My kids are fine up the hill.  Those ladies have it goin' on.  There is healing at Neely and if I can help with that, well then, another barrier broken.

August.....

Happy Labor Day Weekend,
Ang




Saturday, July 7, 2018

It has been a while, so grab and coffee or a drink.....

So, when I left you, I was driving the SECOND rental car of the SECOND accident that WAS NOT MY FAULT, ending the school year, and trying to get in all my cyber knife appointments in BEFORE my bucket list trip to the Baltic's.  So, here is what happened.  I hung up on GEICO twice.  LOL.  They were the other insured and started tell me a week after I had gotten everything taken care with my insurance company, "...that I needed to just listen to them, so that I know what I needed to do next."  Which turned out to be a lot of things for me to do because they wanted to switch the claim over to them with their discounts.  I told them I was not going to do any of it as I have to have a car and if I waited around for them, my kids would not go to school for a week.  They didn't like my answer and told me what I needed to do, so I hung up on them.  Apparently, that was a big deal.  They were shocked and called me back, in which, I hung up on them again.  Then, they called my insurance company and complained about me.  Apparently Generation X's are not used to not being listened to even if their perspective to the customer is INSANE.  See, I am almost 50 and I decided I am not listening to anyone that is going to give me more work ESPECIALLY a 28 year old telling me to listen to what I need to do.  In addition, my medical insurance company's third party administrator that "helps" approve treatment stalled the process so much that I was not able to do a single treatment before I left.  HOWEVER, the clinic was able to set up all my pre-treatment appointments and I was able to start LITERALLY the day I got home.  INSURANCE - awesome.

So, school ended on the the 21st of June.  My brother and sister in law were here for most of June and helped me pick up and drop off the boys all month.  Jane and I even saw some movies for cheap.  I also ended cleaning like a freak show.  I always clean before treatment, but this was over the top.  I got out the rug doctor and literally cleaned EVERY PIECE OF CLOTH in my house - carpet, stairs, couches, seat covers, EVERYTHING.  Smart?  No.  Freshening?  Sure!  I also cut open my foot to the point of having to buy new shoes for the trip, but that is my ridiculousness, nothing else.  The only places not touched were the boys room and my study.  Too bad for them.....not me, I don't care and there was too much to move.....they and I have too much crap.

So, lots of pawns in the game changed in June.  I mean that in the nicest of ways.  Insurance - car and medical, school, etc.  For example, towards the end of school while I am listening to my boys complain about their schools, I say, "Well, you can go back.  I asked for a year and I would be TOTALLY MORE CONVENIENT FOR ME FOR YOU TO GO TO NEELY AND MILL CREEK.  I will transfer you tomorrow."  They both looked at me stunned.....pause....stunned.....pause.....and then it was just like the movie Trading Places where the two old guys say, "William (Eddie Murphy), you can leave us now and never see us again....." and William says, "No, I believe I can hang with you guys for a while....."  No more complaining and everyone is on board with next year.  Do I hate driving them every darn day - YES.  Have I LOVED their experience - YES.  So, I drive them every damn day and hope that my brother and sister in law visit more often!

Then, off we go to the Baltic's!  First to Newark and then to Stockholm.  My kids had never been to Europe and never experienced bad jet lag.  Hawaii is one thing, but it is 3 hours at most and it is HAWAII after all.  Toronto was always to our advantage, so we never really suffered there.  North Carolina and Boston the same.  I tried to help them through it, but to no avail.  There is only so much you can do.  So, my family, Mom and Donna went.  We were supposed to have rooms next to each other so that we could share a balcony, but at the last minute they changed my Mom and Donna's room to the other side of the ship.  When called they said our travel agent did it.  WHAT?  Lisa would never do that.  In addition, we wanted to get the 6:30 dining time, which we were never able to get before the cruise and then we could get something like it with "free style dinning" which we researched a ton, but then were told that we had to register for it before we left port (with all our research how did we not know this?!?!?!).  When we asked, it was 20 mins after we left port.  We asked again, and were never responded to.  In addition, we discovered that there was no one in the room beside us that my Mom and Aunt were suppose to have.  No lie.  The room was vacant all week and we could prove it.  So, the cruise line that I always wanted to go on, that spoke to me in all marketing ways, well, SUCKS.  IT IS ROYAL CARIBBEAN.   The tours were good, the Indian food was amazing in at the buffet since we were banished from the dining room, and there pasty chef was worth following to the end of the earth.  They should get different jobs where they can be appreciated.  Also the staff for our room and at the buffet were exceptional - they should also jump cruise lines.  AFTER THAT - THEY SUCK.  DON'T GO ON THEM - THEY LIE, AND THEY IGNORE THE FIRST TIME CRUISER, BUT THEY PAY A LOT OF ATTENTION TO RUDE TOUR GROUPS.  Bad Royal Caribbean.  You have no idea what an enemy you have made.

In any case, we had a good time.  Can't keep a good group down, but seriously, we wanted to go to Cuba and there was a great itinerary to Cuba with Royal Caribbean and I dumped it.  They were that horrible to us from an administration point of view.  Too bad - even if they gave us a great deal, I wouldn't go.  It is too much money to risk and not feel valued.  I worked in Administration for years.  If I ever treated anyone like this I would be ashamed (and in my early years I did, but never repeated the mistake).

Grant had been WONDERFUL with all the towns we did not do tours in - Helsinki, Finland; Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia, and Stockholm, Sweden. Helsinki had beautiful weather and we saw amazing things, but the most important thing I noticed was, people were orderly, but not polite.  It was weird.  So, if there was someone taking a picture, Fins just walk through it.  No waiting, no nothing.  Actually no thought at all.  I was shocked.  This town DEPENDS on tourism.  Especially from all the drunk and disorderliness I witnessed on the streets on a MONDAY morning.  They should be happy people are coming!  WEIRD.  Beautiful churches, markets, shops, etc.  I was waiting in line for the washroom.  There were two women at the front of the line involved in an intense conversation.  They continued even when there were empty stalls, then, they were so close they did not allow anyone out.  Finally, a Fin said what I imagine to be, "Hey, there are stalls and you need to get a move on!"  And they did.  Again, WEIRD.  We experienced REALLY rude behavior on the ship also.  To the point, I was using my Spanish.....Latino and all....to move the Spaniards along.  Seriously, you are going to put your three and four year old in front of me during miniature golf, play my ball, and then watch and film them while the hold up everyone?  Yeah, they did, until I started to tell them they needed to move it.  Apparently, they did not want that on the video.  Rude?  Maybe, but matched with rude.  Then, St. Petersberg.  When we got there, Grant and I had planned five tours over two days.  We wanted to do several things and you cannot leave the boat without a tour ticket or a VISA which takes months to get.  Also, I did not want an all day tour in case I did get treatment and I could not hack 11 hours of touring.   Literally, it was get up, go through immigration, tour, come back go through, what I came to know as, ex-immigration, back to the ship and repeat.....five times.  They got really used to us and we all got used to them.  Then, I stared to think about it.  Why would you check my papers back to the ship......unless, you did not want people to get out.  See in Russia, you have to carry your passport - mandatory.  So, if someone killed me, they would have me cruise pass, passport, and they could board the ship.  CREEPY.  Outside of that, I had a great time.  I tried to buy Rubles, but no one would let me.  No lie.  Dollars were accepted EVERYWHERE, but on the DL.  Very curious.  It was fun being there during FIFA. Lots of tourists, people were happy, and weather was great.  I finally got there.  "Viva Mexico, Argentina!"  I always wanted to go to St Petersberg.  My High School Spanish teacher, Mr. Carter, spoke Spanish and Russian and always took a group to Russia.  This was in the early 80s during the cold war.  I was his Spanish TA and he always told me how amazing the Metro was there and how we were really the same......now I know.  31 years later I got there.  Thank you Mr. Carter for making me want to go and I went on a Metro and Market tour just for you.  You were right - never a cleaner more efficient Metro, seriously, you can eat off the floor.  London, New York, Mexico City, and Seattle have NOTHIN' on this. NOTE:  On the last day RIGHT BEFORE OUR SHIP LEFT, we were on a tour of the Hermitage - a major art museum and the winter palace of Peter the Great.  I was the last person out of our tour.  I was helping this Asian family who had a slow Grandpa and I couldn't leave him behind.  They had gotten lost on a previous tour and I just could not have that happen again.  I was out of the museum and Mason ran up to me....."MOM!  DO YOU HAVE NOLAN?"  "No. I thought he was with your Dad."  "He is not and he is lost.  We have to find him!"  I reversed into the museum thinking this is weird.  Nolan stays with that group....I taught him that as painful as it was cause it took him FOREVER.  But I was also in a foreign country with a blonde boy that had no papers and cruise ship that was going to leave him and all I could think of was sex trade....."  I went as far back as I could and started calling him name.  Shortly there after, a young woman came up to me and told me to stop screaming.  I told her I would I had lost my son and I would not until he was found or there was some sort of plan to find him.  "Go to administration."  "Where is Administration?"  "Please stop screaming."  "Tell me where Administration is and I will."  Then I secretly (maybe not so much now) cursed her to have her child lost for longer than mine and see how it feels.  Administration was EXTREMELY helpful.  They started a plan.  That is when Grant and the tour guide showed up.  Nolan was on the bus.  Mason had misunderstood.  Everything was fine.  I apologized a million times.  Everyone was super kind and we went on.  Nolan was not sold into the sex trade and I would see him again.  My mind goes to a horrible place when it comes to kids.....I don't wish it on anyone.  My instincts were right though.....I taught him well; those who survive stay will the group.

On to Estonia.....THIS IS THE CUTEST MOST AMAZING PLACE IN THE WORLD.  GO THERE.  EAT THERE.  CONVERSE THERE.  BEST PLACE EVER.  OH, AND EAT THE BREAD!

Riga, Latvia...Not as cute as Estonia, but eat there and go to the the real market.  This is a real city.  We had the BEST lunch ever with the sweetest girl ever.  All lunches are composed with potatoes, beets and some meat with gravy and they are DELICIOUS!  But they only accept Euros and you might have to go over the menu a couple times......we translated fish soup with sausage soup which was wrong.  If you find a Business Lunch, do it.  Economical and delish!

So, after the cruise we stayed in Stockholm for three days. I loved it.  We screwed up a little because we did the hop on hop off tour for our transportation to our hotel.  Mom and Donna were NOT to pleased, but the hotel turned out to be amazing with a grocery right next.  It was still a serious walk.  We were there for the Sweden soccer game which they won.  We were walking back to the hotel and when they scored there was a cheer that reverberated through the streets or Stockholm.  It was amazing.....truly.  I am a Sweden fan forever now.  They lost today, but from now on, they are my team.  So, committed, so loyal, so normally excited.  Also, if you go......the ABBA and Vasa Museum are a must!  Except when you go to ABBA, Grant was all, "So, when did they couple swap??!?!?!"  and I was like, "That was Fleetwood Mac!"  It really took over our experience......and there was no couple swapping.....it was Fleetwood Mac......I am no expert on ABBA, but I am know there was no couple swapping!!!!!!  I was right......:) WAYNE'S COFFEE ROCKS!

We toured during the day and ate in our room at night with the help of the bar downstairs.  Then, taxi to airport and home.  After being on the tarmac for three hours in Newark, we got home late on the 4th, exhausted and colasped (sp) in our beds with little regard for any fireworks.  NOTE:  Fireworks were outlawed in Kent two years ago, so it was not really noisy.  I have no reason to be home now for the 4th, but there are thinking of reversing the law.  Doesn't every American deserve to responsibly blow stuff up on the 4th?!!?!?!  If not, I am going on vacation.

Treatment started the next day.  It was shockingly normal and familiar.  The boys are still a little messed up from jet lag, but they are working through it.  Nolan to camp next week, me in treatment until the 18th, and Mason in camp on the 22nd.

The house was blissfully normal, our cars are our own, the cats blissfully accommodating, a garage needs to be cleaned out, school stuff to purge for next year, and life to continue....2 treatments down 8 to go for this time.  Life works out sometimes....and another bucket list item checked off....

Happy Saturday,
Ang


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

When good news turns to bad and then good again....

So I met with the Doctor today and I was yet in ANOTHER new rental car.  On Friday, a car filled with very tired graveyard shift drivers decided to turn left into my Expedition.  Good news...no injuries.  Bad news, a lot of extra work and another car in the shop.

ANYWAY, I sit down with the same Doc that I had a couple years ago.  The nurses all said hi and asked about the boys....it is like that now, everywhere I go.  "Teenagers?!?!?  How is that?!?!?!"  Anyway, I digress.  The doctor comes in and gets straight down to business...."Well, I had to call Hank because his notes are awful and as we were talking, you know he has a brilliant mind, anyway, as we were talking, your six spots are at three very different stages of development.  Two are new and have never been treated, two are old from when you first came and were treated by cyberknife with the markers still in tact, and two are two small to treat.  We will just watch those.  So, I told him that I can do all of these and systemic is not necessary at this time. So, let's take a look...."  Okay pause.  While, he is looking at the pictures which I now know all too well....I feel like falling off my seat.....no one has ever said, "You get to do less."  They have said things like, "You have no cancer in your pelvis."  "So, I am out of here doc?"  "Oh no, you are riddled with it in your lungs." or
"You have no signs of live cancer in your body."  "So, am I out of here Doc?"  "No, we have to do six more treatments just to be sure."  There was the one time they said, "We saved your lower right lobe."  "Y-e-a-h....." between opiate pills - pass me a pill.  Okay, now we are back in the office, I had to have him repeat everything and he decided to treat the two new untreated spots first AND I don't need markers because they are close to my spine (which is sometimes the hardest part of the process), BUT (here is the but), he will have to treat them one at a time.  O-K-A-Y, that is it?  "What about the old ones that were treated?"  "I suspect we will just zap/hit/treat (can't remember) those in six months to a year."  We can keep doing this until someday your lungs can't take anymore or you can't handle the treatment anymore (which involves four pre appointment, five treatments and laying on a table very still for a hour - I can do that.)  But hopefully, we just keep going and someday we beat it before it beats us.  "OKAY!  When do we start I am going away at the end of June."  He asked if I wanted to wait until after, "NOPE.  NOW."  So I will have approximately 18 doctors visits before I leave.  THAT IS A LOT.  The slowest part is insurance.

On the way home, I confirmed with Hank that there was no systemic.  He said, "Sorry to disappoint..."  Funny, funny man.

I got home to my very clean yet not organized house that I have four meals being prepped for the freezer for chemo......I gleefully make lunch, send some emails, do some work and then I sit down for just a moment before I have to get Nolan.  I close my eye and take a quick nap.  I get up, hit the restroom and POW....the room starts to spin, I get really hot, I vomit, and I am exhausted.  Room still spinning.  I have somehow taken off my shirt and necklace and I am taking off my pants and sweating like crazy.......the room slows down a bit and I click in, "I can't drive.  Especially a rental car, after to two accidents and half naked.....what do I do?!?!?!"  Mom can't make it there in time, so I text a couple mom's and Cheryl's text comes back and says she can do it.  THANK GOD.  Get in bed, a try breathing exercises.  My in-laws were blowing back through town and I texted them to see if they could get Mason.  Yes.  Saved.  Now, just my meeting tonight.  I started slowly feeling better, but I was exhausted and when I asked my President what I should do, she was like, "DON'T COME IF YOU CAN'T."  I think there was probably a "you dork" in there somewhere.  I got stuff together for Grant to take up to the meeting.  Visited the in laws for a while and ate dinner and was in bed by 7:45.  Now, of course I am up and feel fine.  Probably just the stress and then relaxation from it all.

So, there is it.  Just Cyberknife.  I can do that.

Oh and wave at the Black Fusion - it is the car of the moment!!!!! And by the way, this car situation is also exactly like in 2000 when Grant hit two deer five weeks apart in each car - totaled one (not hard it was a Fiesta and we got $300 for it) and $5000 dollars on the Subaru.  This time it is me getting hit four weeks apart in each car.  It is all very confusing....so I thought I would clarify!

Happy Tuesday,

Ang