Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Make their day!

Things are kind of boring around here, there has been nothing of note to photograph much less write about with me pretty much house bound. A bunch of chicken treats, leftover popcorn, bread crumbs, etc. had piled up so when Bruce was ready to go outside after dinner, I asked him if he would like to make my chickens day. 

He gave me the 'look' you know, the one that says, "HUH??" He just doesn't understand. I had the camera and stressed that he had to quiet going out the back door, if they hear me coming, they  stampede out the chicken house door and that is what I wanted to avoid until I was ready. Unfortunately the lens cap was stuck on the camera and I couldn't get it off, AAUUGGGHHHH!! So most of the girls were already milling around his feet, the black hen at the back is trying to get airborne.

They are still coming...

"Here chick, chick, chick!!"

Finally, the good stuff is falling and the little serama hen just out of the coop takes to the air.

The fastest way to get there and not miss out on the goodies.

They love the leftover popcorn.

He who eats the fastest, eats the mostest.

A latecomer, "Well, are you coming?" says Bruce

She wonders why no one told her about the party going on.

I've taken back the dog, cat and chicken chores, the horses are easy because Bruce has them on a big round bale self feeder, I just have to make sure they are upright and taking nourishment. The chicken coop could use a cleaning but it can wait, yesterday I stepped in and my eyes began to water, "What is that smell??" 

Broody Poop!!

The little red frizzle's goal in life is to be a mother and she is not to be deterred just because it is winter. She trolls the nests until she finds an egg that needs to be kept warm and settles on it, happy that her life is fulfilled once more - until one of us comes and rudely yanks the egg out from under her. Broody hens only get off the nest once a day and do their business and you know when they do it, you just need to watch where you step.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Home, day 2 and it never felt so good.

But it didn't start off well, I slept down stairs, assuring Bruce I would be fine and I was until I crashed and burned into a kitchen chair and then into the base of the fireplace. You can't believe how quickly the weakness comes, I was on my way to the bathroom with my trusty walker and next thing I knew, I was on the floor with a bruised chest and nose. I left the carnage and crawled back to bed so Bruce was rather upset when he found it.

I spent the day cautiously motoring around the house, reading some of the piled up mail, trying to make sense of more bills, what is paid and what isn't, it gives me a headache. Blowing and sucking on my little breathing machine then coughing my head off, scaring Clyde into the next room. In his delicate condition, any loud noise sets him off, someday I'm afraid he is going to have a heart attack. He still tip toes around the walker, waiting for it to lurch at him and being scared all over again. Zoe is still being a little standoffish, she hasn't quite decided if I'd paid penance for abandoning her so long.

I'm happy to have my tablet loaded with good books and even a jigsaw puzzle to break up the day. I decided to sleep upstairs last night so Bruce solicitously helped me up and get ready for bed. Then I couldn't sleep, isn't that just the pits? But Zoe graced me with her presence, tucked in under the covers by my side, so I had to stay until I dozed off just before Bruce came up then woke at 11, wide awake. I sat up on the bed, ready to sneak downstairs and he came full on alert, had the light on and the walker ready. So I went to the bathroom and back to bed to lay for another hour. My second escape attempt was better, I'm so thankful for Bruce putting railings on the stairs and down to the basement, I hung on for dear life and was ready to plop my butt down on the stairs if I saw stars again. I fixed a cup of 'Sleepytime Tea' compliments of Jean and a piece of cinnamon toast and was going through more mail when I heard the creak of feet on the stairs and Bruce was there, checking on me. What a loving hubby! I'm sure he was just glad he didn't find me laid out on the floor.

After sleeping on the couch with Clyde and a Hallmark movie running, I finally went back upstairs only to sleep fitfully the rest of the night. Beth, Dr. Lunning's nurse extraordinaire, called yesterday and said I needed to get a blood test but I told her I just wasn't up to it so she let me go till today. Bruce woke at 6 and told me to stay in bed till he got back from chores so he could help me shower, who was I to disobey? Thanks to a loaner shower chair that went well and we got to Cherokee to find Carey, my guardian angel nurse, was assigned to me. We can't say enough about the care and compassion of this outstanding young woman. She was very concerned about my cough and the fact that I felt I was getting another UTI so she called over to the other side of the hospital to Dr. Vandelune to get the okay for more tests. I know I have Rhinovirus which is a step up from the common cold and as a virus, antibiotics do nothing to cure it. So I peed in a bottle again and warned them of the blue color, this stuff isn't leaving my system anytime soon and Carey wanted us to stay till all the tests were in clear me to go home, in case I needed some fluids. 

This is the way it is supposed to work, not call SC and not get any answers for hours, we are extremely grateful for all the loving care I have received. It took about an hour but we had a TV to watch (Hallmark!) and Carey brought us drinks, I'm supposed to be really pushing the fluids yet, I feel as though I will float away sometimes. Dr. Vandelune also told me to take some Musinix DM and Bruce had just bought when he first caught cold, how fortuitous! My potassium was a little low which could lead to weakness so we stopped at the store for bananas, the one food that I always associate with high potassium. No apparent UTI but the 'Blue' antidote has a history of irritating the bladder and they found glucose so told again to push the water. I was masked up and stayed in the car, then we stopped at Dollar General for some personal items and headed out of town. Halfway home, I reached in my pocket for the phone and it was gone! I wore stretch pants and was reclined in the chair at the clinic so just assumed that was where it was lost. But a call to the clinic brought negative results from the office gal. By this time we turned around and were headed back to Cherokee, so we turned around again toward home. Then I got the bright idea to call my phone, it took 4 times and then we heard Carey's voice, "Well, hello Bruce and Julie French!" Very welcome words indeed. Carey said a patient told her, "there is something ringing under this chair!" I was relieved they found it and said we would pick it up on Thursday when we are back. So if you are trying to call or text, give it up now!

I've been up more today than yesterday, finished with the mail and washed some dishes, our dishwasher is on the blink for a few days. I fixed meatloaf for dinner, had some frozen just for this reason and then collapsed on the couch.We are still blessed with people wanting to feed us but we are fine for now. Love to you all.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Day 5 at NMC and the scenery hasn't changed

I never thought the events that would unfold when I came in for the 3 days of chemo, Bruce was here, waiting to take me home Thursday night when he noticed I wasn't myself. I was having a bad reaction to the Ice regime and was out of my head. When I was asked to open my eyes, I opened my mouth. When I was asked what year it was, 1969. When asked where I was, Cherokee and in the morning I ammended it to Marcus. The scary thing was I knew I was talking crazy but couldn't do anything about it. In the middle of the night they did a CAT scan to make sure it wasn't a bleeder and thankfully it wasn't.

Bruce was here all night with the PA coming in often, they started me on a blue antidote to remove the effects of the reaction, I thought it removed the chemo from my body and was bummed, thinking I had to go through this again. But that was not the case, just the side effects.

They had a terrible time getting me up to the bathroom, it took 3 people and they finally brought in a comode.  I remember  at one point Bruce telling me to sit back on the commode or I will make a mess, he's always there with the good advice. It's humbling when you realize someone else wiped your bottom! Bruce said at one point he thought I was nearly in a coma, totally unresponsive. By morning the cobwebs were clearing, I was getting a big syringe full of a beautiful blue every 4 hours so I was peeing a beautiful blue. One of the aides was rather taken back and said, "Do they know your urine is this color?" But I was able to answer a little more coherently although I still had to search for my words. Now I know how my brother, Denny, feels.

Late in the morning the doctor on call came in and ran me through my tests, he said it was very lucky that I wasn't home when this hit, this is why they do it in hospital. It is rare but can happen.He also said I avoided a lifeflight to Omaha, me who hates to fly but guess I would have been out of it anyway.

Bruce went home to do all the chores and came back to spend the night again, poor guy was running on empty because he hadn't got much sleep with people in and out all night. Rosanne met him in Smithland with a complete turkey dinner that we thoroughly enjoyed and Bruce got to of see the Iowa Hawkeyes pummel Nebraska. Then he crashed on his pull out bed at 7:30 and slept off and on, depending on the nightly interruptions, till 5:30 this morning. Then it was off to home again to do chores and catch up on his lost sleep.

I got no sleep Friday night, whenever I closed my eyes I saw pictures on a slideshow, letter writing, scenes from something I had seen, it was so wierd kind of like my brain couldn't rest. Besides that my cough started coming back and you know what it's like to try to sleep. By Sat morning I was so exhausted I felt sick and they started looking for something to help me. The best thing was this machine I had to blow and then suck into, I guess it expanded and exercised my lungs. They also gave me a codeine laced cough syrup along with some adavan that left me relaxed enough the sleep. 

I got better all day, still searched for words and that is frustrating. Thank heavens for my cell phone and texting, believe me, that is something coming from me but I would be up a creek without any communications were it not for the phone. Their wifi stinks, it only lets you on occasionally and then will kick you off with no advance notice. I know by the time I'm ready to send this I won't get on. It was a relief to get a decent nights sleep but eating is a struggle, I tried hot chocolate and cinnamon toast for breakfast and had carton of Yogurt while waiting for Bruce. He fixed me a  Thanksgiving dinner and that tasted is good in small amounts. Saturday night my niece, Nancy, hubby, Frank and kids, Vanessa and Joshua showed up unexpectedly with a care package from Sister Sara, more Thanksgiving. It was greatly appreciated, Nancy fixed me a small plate, Bruce doesn't get the word small! Nancy did but I had to send the rest back home with them because there was no more room in my little fridge. But I'm sure they will enjoy it.

This morning I asked for a shower and clean clothes and by the time it was over, I couldn't even dress myself. I made it to the bed and the aide helped me, I feel like a piece of limp spaghetti. When the doctor came in I told him I wanted to go home and he asked who would take care of me, Bruce would, that's who. Of course I haven't told Bruce yet!! But I know he's all in, we are in this together.

So we are now back home in our nest, both of us slept most of the evening away and I convinced Bruce to go to bed, it's obvious he is exhausted also. I ate a little supper and might go for some sherbet before bed. We made a stop at the old house and got a walker so I have some support, I feel like an old woman! As usual Zoe had to play hard to get but she finally settled down into my lap and slept, her Mama was back. Clyde staggered over, fell in my lap, laid awhile then went back to his end of the couch, his job was done.

I'm sitting here looking at the east window and its lightening! Bruce drove most the way to Omaha in rain and most of the way home, but it's better than snow.

The virus I have is contagious so people need to stay away and I will be holed up here at home trying to regaine my strength. But feel free to send all the prayers you have in your reportar. We love you all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Day 2, try, try again

After trying all day to no avail, I was finally able to access the guest network at Ne Med Center so making good use of it by updating. The chemo last night went well but the steroids keep me from sleeping well and I've been awake since 3:30 am with only a couple short naps. Luckily I found the Hallmark channel that was not on their TV guide and vegging out on Christmas shows, interspersed with reading the books I downloaded on the tablet.

It takes 13 laps around this ward to make a mile and they encourage you to get out and walk. I can only make a couple laps before huffing and puffing so I go out more often and think I put in my mile today. I'm still swilling down my 64+ oz of water everyday, it washes out the dead dragons from my kidneys and hopefully will prevent a repeat performance of dehydration. Dr. Lunning did some adjustments on the dosages to help with that also.

Food is still a struggle, I have a refrigerator in my room and a microwave down the hall, they encourage you to bring food from home that you like. Last week I brought a container of Rosanne's chicken and noodles but I felt like I was jinxing myself so left them home this time. What a mistake, they have a great sounding menu but it never tastes as good as I think it will. The dietition was in today to see how things are going and she encouraged me to keep trying, to lose an significant amount of weight now, even though it wouldn't hurt me, could set things back. And I don't want that!

I'm looking forward to Bruce coming tomorrow and spending the day, I even promised him the TV to watch Vikings as long as he did some recording at home for me, guess? Yes, Hallmark. Rosanne said she will send leftovers from dinner home with us when we come through Smithland and you know it always tastes better the second day, but it will be a late night. I'm on my last of three chemo drugs and this one goes for 24 hours so wherever I go, my pole goes with me, even for walks.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, enjoy and appreciate your friends and families tomorrow, they are precious as you are to me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Hot Damn and Hallelujah!!!

I'm comfortably ensconsed in room 7482 at the Neb. Med Center, eagerly awaiting my first dose of chemo. If that sounds crazy, you don't know the roller coaster I've been on for the last few months. I was supposed to be here last week but elevated liver functions lead to an ultrasound that showed suspicious lesions on my liver. The ones that were supposed to be gone after the last round. So another PET scan was set up for today, a week of thinking of the 'what ifs.'

The dragons in my body are constantly on my mind, having a cold and not feeling well anyway didn't help. The PET scan is a 2 hour ordeal and then the wait for Dr. Lunning to see the results. Janet came with us today and it was appreciated. She not only has family home but they are celebrating their Thanksgiving tomorrow so it was extra special to have her along.

I just had the feeling when I saw Dr. Lunning come in the room, he didn't bounce in with a big smile and shout "Good News!" But he said it was good, the PET scan showed what was on the ultrasound was dead and dying tissue on my liver so it was onward and upward with the chemo to keep the bastards on the run! I never thought I'd be so happy to be in the hospital, his nurse, Beth and Stacy, the transplant nurse case manager already have the schedule set up for transplant, they are that sure it will happen. The 20th of Dec I will begin the pre-transplant stuff so be home for Christmas.

It all feels rather sureal, after all the road blocks it seems as though we are finally on the right track. I sent Janet and Bruce on their way so they could get out of town before it got very dark, this city driving is not for sissies. Besides I'm in good hands here, I only have one complaint, they don't have Hallmark on their TV! How can that be?? That is unamerican!!

Thank you all for your prayers, just when I was ready to throw in the towel, they have been answered abundently. 

Oh, me of little faith....

Monday, November 21, 2016

The first snow

We have had wonderful fall weather, still in the 70's and gazebo time, much to Zoe's delight. Then last Friday blew in with wind, rain, snow and plunging temps.

When the snow blows and the temps plunge, a fire in the kitchen can't be far behind. And, no, my kitchen is not this clean, I lifted a couple of pictures off my blog because I've been down with a bad cold.

With a fire going, bread baking can't be far behind, we were out and I didn't feel like going to town so got out my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer and turned to Pinterest. I tried a honey, wheat, oatmeal bread on Saturday but it wasn't very good, never fear, we like meat loaf and meat balls so I simply ground it into bread crumbs for another day.

Sunday I turned to my favorite, buttermilk, honey white bread, it never fails. It made two normal sized loaves and a bit left over so I made it into cinnamon bread. YUM, YUM!

The house was toasty warm and smelled heavenly and I needed someone to enjoy it with me so texted, yes, I'm texting, Kim "What ya doing? I know it's cold but the fire is going and I just pulled fresh bread out of the oven?" 

I just stepped out the back door to shut up the chickens when I heard a 'ping' - "I'll be right over!"

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I don't even know what to call it any more, a bump in the road, a detour, one of those damned roundabouts but again we were stopped from proceeding full steam ahead at the doctor appointment yesterday. It was to be my 2nd round of ICE chemo, leading to the stem cell transplant but Dr. Lunning wanted me to have an ultrasound first on the liver to see what was going on. Nothing, that is what was going on, the lesions had no significant change and that did not bode well. Something else that didn't bode well was when Dr. Lunning came in the room and started beating around the bush, he can't just come out and say, "GOOD NEWS! WE ARE WEARING THE BASTARDS DOWN!!"

He explained that this ICE treatment was good for 28 days, yesterday was day 21 so it still had another week to work. But because he is such a conscientious doctor, he couldn't and wouldn't send me through it again without knowing exactly what the dragons are doing. So the next plan is for a PET scan next Tuesday, depending on the results, I will go into the hospital for the ICE chemo, if it isn't good I will get a chemo on outpatient and come back home that night. Dr. Lunning keeps telling me he is working toward a transplant but when he started talking about clinical trials, cold chills ran up my back, that seems like a last resort.

After braving the rat race and seeing a traffic stop on Interstate 29 on the way home, found out it was a guy who tried to entice a young girl into his car in Onawa, BUSTED! we called both Rosanne and Sam and Larry Waugh to see if they would meet us in Sloan for Pizza. Everyone but Larry made is since he just got home from trucking. It was good to see them and not have to think about things for a bit.

Then we wound our way home across country, it probably took longer that if we'd gone straight to SC but it was kind of fun. Bruce has had a bad cold and I woke up with it myself this morning, great. This is supposed to be our last nice day so in between bouts of lying comatose on the couch with Clyde, I get up and do a few things outside. Luckily I did most of them earlier in the week.

I know I have all of you in my corner, pray that I'm in the hospital over Thanksgiving, that would be the best scenario.