Friday, October 24, 2014

A day of surprises, or that's what friends are for!

Thursday was a day of surprises, beginning with Jean and John from WI, driving 6 hours out of their way when they were at Ames, to come and see us and bring me some warm and comfy lounging clothes that Jean and Shirley purchased on a buying spree for days when things aren't going so well. It was a short and very sweet visit because they had to be back on the road home in the fog and we had a doctor appointment. 

While we were in Cherokee waiting for test results, Rosanne called and asked if we had some hip waders, I said yes, but they do leak a little, wondering what in the heck she wanted some hip waders for. Then she informed me she was headed up to clean out the pond, she could tell I was a bit worried about all the leaves that had fallen in because I never got the netting stretched across it. What a relief! I love my pond but it takes maintenance that I just couldn't do this year. 

When she got here, she had another surprise, one of our garden club ladies, Eva, was bringing food and her boots and gloves to help her. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, all I had to do was point them in the right direction and sit on the garden bench.

Eva cut back all the grasses and plants around the edge.

While Rosanne cut the pond plants and pushed pots over on their side for the winter. She used the rake to get most of the leaves and debris that had sunk to the bottom and filled buckets to be dumped into the gator.

Of course, where the gator is, you will find the dogs, Eva had to carefully throw the debris in the back....

.....and not disturb Mollie's nap.

Rosanne kept raking piles of leaves out of the water, if it didn't get done, the decaying leaves might kill my fish over the winter.

The fish weren't too disturbed by all the work going on but Rosanne did find a frog hiding in some leaves.

While the girls were cleaning the pond and I was sitting on my butt, Lisa, another garden clubber, called and Bruce told her a pond cleaning party was going on so she grabbed her boots and gloves and came to help.

You can't buy friends like this.

Someone who drops everything to come and clean up a stinky backyard pond for winter.

And bring food to feed my hard working husband.

Rosanne had all the pond plants trimmed below the water line and I found the netting I'd used last year so we stretched it over the pond and fastened it down with rocks from the edge. Zoe was fascinated with watching the fish again, she hadn't seen them in a while.

The weather has been gorgeous everyday, the reason for trimming all the pond plants back is so the vegetation doesn't rot over the winter but the plants are getting the last laugh. Today I see the plants have grown about 3 inches, guess they aren't ready to be put to bed yet, Rosanne, we might need those waders again!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chemo, second time around.

I was dreading the second dose after all the problems I had the first time, I knew Bruce needed to be in the field so was extremely grateful when Janet called and said she could go with me because they were at a stand still. I don't know if I will ever be able to walk through those doors at BV and just do what has to be done without a meltdown, accessing my port in the lab was traumatic again and I don't know how to get over that. The nurse evaluation is first before seeing the doctor so we filled her in on all the problems I had, they did not know I spent a week in the hospital. It was back to the waiting room while the doctor reads and digests everything that I told the nurse. This time it was Dr. Wender, the no nonsense doctor, he decided to only give me one dose of the Treanda, that is a strong drug and the one I took over a two day period so I would only have to do one day. I also told him I wanted to do the 7 days of shots rather than the one big dose of Neulasta. We did get into it when he looked at the sore under my tongue that Janet wanted to get some medicine for and he declared that "It didn't look like much to him." This was said as he was headed out the door, dismissing me and that set me off, I started crying again and said, "It's not your mouth that is so sore, everytime I try to eat or drink it rubs on my teeth!" He did not take lightly to being talked back to, got in my face and said, "You need to talk to me, you aren't talking to me!" I'm not sure what he meant by that because I thought that was exactly what I was doing. I said again, "You have no idea how sore my mouth is." He left and came back a while later with the news that a prescription for 'swish and spit' would waiting for me at the pharmacy.

After another wait we were escorted to the big room but they let me choose where I wanted to go so I went back to the hidden corner where we were before. I still don't feel like being sociable and sitting and talking to others, I want to hole up and sleep through it. It always takes awhile to finally get the chemo started, they do a lot of other things first, anti nausea, benedryl, steroids, and finally the drug. They start it on a low rate and gradually bump it up but everytime they tried it on 200, I would get bad chest pains so they had to stop, redo the meds and start over. This went on most of the day and finally had to call Dr. no bedside manner, in I had only received about 1/3 of the dose but he said to quit and give me the Treanda and call it a day. 

Needless to say, it was a very long day by the time we got the mouth medicine and was back home, Janet stayed till Bruce came in although I had not more chest pains. She reminded me to start taking all the anti nausea and pain meds even if I felt like I didn't need them, to ward off trouble. I'm also eating even if I don't feel like it, that is what got me into this mess the last time. I slept pretty good but woke up feeling like I had the flu, Rosanne was coming with dinner for the guys who were hard at work combining corn so I didn't have to do anything. She was also going to take me to the hospital for my first shot, which according to insurance rules, had to be 24 hours and 1 minute from the last chemo that ended at 5:25. That meant the specialty clinic was closed and I had to go to the emergency room. I talked to Deb, from the specialty clinic earlier in the day and she said it was all set up. I don't know who took the information but they had me down for an infusion and I had to convince them I was there for a shot, that does not give me a lot of confidence. So something that should have taken 5 minutes, turned into 45 minutes, luckily from now on I can go anytime so today we go to the clinic at 1 and I'm going to talk to them about the mixup because this weekend, I have to go back to the emergency room.

It was nice having Rosanne here for the afternoon, we took blankets and books to the gazebo and read and napped the afternoon away. Besides dinner she brought cookies and some homemade granola, people are keeping us well fed and I appreciate it since I do not feel like cooking. It's now day 3 and so far, so good, and that is wonderful news to me, although I have to admit, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm able to be out doing my chores and that always lifts my spirits communing with the animals. Bruce had another combine breakdown yesterday, it was leaking anti freeze so while waiting for Tom's repair to come, he started baling corn stalks so he can turn the cows into the field by our house. (Tom's repair found a rat had chewed a hole in one of the water lines and it was fatal for him. Bruce saw the dead rat under the combine the day before but thought Morris must have killed it. They are coming back today to replace both lines, it's a pretty expensive rat trap!) I'm feeling well enough this morning, I think I can help pick up bales out of the field. That would really make me feel better.

I have so much support, from both near and far, food, prayers, cards, you have no idea how much I appreciate it. Thank you all.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Everything is not roses in the corn fields!

The corn is very dry and we had some strong winds that knocked it down and makes combining a challenge. The field should not look like it has already been combined like this.

Or this, broke over and some was actually laying flat on the ground.

You should be able to look down the rows and see a clear path, not a jumble of downed corn.

When Bruce spears into this, it tends to pile up on the corn head... then he either has to get off the combine and clear it off or go into a good row that will move the pile of stalks on through the combine.

This is what he likes to see when he's in the combine, stalks standing tall and strong.

Yesterday was the worst day until he and Grassey removed the 'corn savers' from the top of the corn head that really made the downed corn pile up. So today he was able to smile again.

The best thing is the corn is so dry, there is no need to put it in the drying bin, no need to spend money drying the corn and waiting for the corn to dry. It is going right into the bins where it will spend the winter. Grassey is great help, he was able to fill another bin today.

He is adjusting the swing auger so no corn spills onto the ground.

It is beautiful corn.

He's heading out to the field for another wagon.. would be a slow harvest without him.

Back at home, Murphy is not having such a good time, I accidentally ran over her front foot when she bailed out of the gator while it was still running when she saw a squirrel. She carried her foot the rest of the evening but the next day she was putting weight on it so I knew it wasn't broken. It never even swelled.

Tonight I was in the gazebo and caught her in the act of chasing a chicken so she received a sound thrashing, I wonder if she will ever learn. Mollie was beside herself, slinking around, a worried look, she takes it to heart when Murphy is in trouble. I keep telling her she is my good dog but she still isn't sure.

Bruce told me last night if he greets Murphy first when he comes home, Mollie is crest fallen, "I thought I was the one you love the most?" It's hard to believe that just a year ago we were wondering if Mollie would ever grow up!

Friday, October 17, 2014

I'm not sure who's happier, my farmer or my farmer's cows.

Yesterday afternoon the elusive water pump arrived at the farm along with two mechanics to put it in, two hours later Bruce was combining corn and finished the pond field. 

This morning I went to the pond to hook up the electric fence so the cows could glean the downed corn out of that field and they were ready. As soon as they saw me on the 4 wheeler, they knew.
and came running.

They passed the 4-wheeler like I was standing still.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Bruce and his buddy, Grassey are hard at work, knocking out another field of corn, he has time to make up.

The cows get a little discombobulated and head off across the pasture....

...."No Girls, this way!"

The beautiful, golden corn kernels pour out of the combine and into the wagon.

While the happy cows pour through the gate into the field.

Bruce and Grassey head back for another load.

And more cows pour through the gate.....

....and spread out through the corn stubble, searching for the missed ear of corn.

The combine is going hell bent for election until they reach the corn....

....when they put a ton of dust in the air.

Yes, everyone is happy around here today, especially this hen who is admiring herself in the garden mirror.

"My, but you are a lovely girl."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What's a farmer to do while the combine is laid up?hat

There is nothing worse for a farmer than a breakdown at a critical time, such as harvest. The corn is in the field, ready to combine and here it sits in the yard waiting for a new water pump.

After spending 3 days doing everything else he can think of to occupy his time, Bruce decided to take out his frustration on the volunteer maple trees by the machine shed.

Since it grew up into several sprouts, that takes lots of trips in and out of the cab, hooking the chain....

...then pulling out sprout...

...after sprout...

....after sprout.

Darn maple weeds!

Bruce just called to tell me the Tom's Repair was there working on the combine, finally, they had to get a water pump out of Atlanta, GA. In the entire North America there only located 6 water pumps that would fit it, 3 in Atlanta and 3 in Canada. Isn't that ridiculous? Granted, our combine is not new but it's a pretty nice one. But for the lack of a water pump the combine is lost?

I have a much happier farmer, with luck he will be out in the cornfield before too long.

And the trees all heave a sigh of relief.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Friday was the day I'd been waiting for, I was well enough to go home. Thursday was the day I felt the best but had developed pneumonia and was taking breathing treatments. I was like a kid at Christmas, woke up at 5 AM and was ready for the doctor to come and sign me out, a little early. I'd been able to eat fairly well the day before but when I ordered breakfast, a jelly biscuit and one slice of bacon, my stomach seized up and suddenly I felt like I was back to square one. That set off a chain of events where my chest started hurting and could see my plans going down the drain.

When Dr. Harrison came in and talked to me, she wanted me to stay another day and get a chest x-ray, I bartered back with a chest x-ray and then go home, I was ready to cry and did. They came back with an offer of home health aid help for the next week and I could go home, we shook on it.

Just because they say you can go home, it seems to take hours, I tried to drink the shakes that had been going down but I couldn't do it either. Bruce was trying to get done combining beans with a balky combine so our neighbor, Jo came to retrieve me, then to the pharmacy for a bushel basket of pills and a nebulizer machine to continue to keep treating my pneumonia at home. 

It was so wonderful to drive in the yard, "I'm home, I'm home, I'm home, I'm home, I'm home!!"

We were greeted by two very excited collies, "You're home, you're home, you're home, you're home, you're home, you're home, you're home, you're home!!!!"

I loved it.

Jo hauled all my stuff in said to call if I needed anything, I went out side to check on everyone and even the chickens came running. It was heart warming but I know they were really just looking for a hand out. Lacey's stall door was open so I went to find her and she was no where to be found, YIKES! I got the gator and the dogs and went to the road and found tracks headed east and in to the cornfield, oh man, not good. We went on east to the gate by the bean field so I could drive back along the corn field, stopping every so often to call and listen for her answer. Nothing. We got to the pasture and there she was in with the other horses, whew! Bruce must have caught her abusing her boundaries and put the kaboosch to that but forgot to tell me. 

But someone was glad to see me, in the fall as we get crops out, the cows get to go to the fields and they thought I was there to open the gate and came running. I turned the gator for home so they thought I was going to the other gate and took off, their big fat bellies swinging back and forth, kicking up their heels, "woo-hoo!" The bulls were squaring off, it was a party atmosphere until I failed to stop and open the other gate, you could see the disappointment on their faces.

The ride made my mood meter shoot up considerably but it also pooped me out, I went home and tried to eat a little, sister in law, Sue's ham and bean soup went down well and I did my 'peace pipe' treatment before Bruce came home. We were both so happy I was back, it felt wonderful to sleep in my own bed.

Bruce was headed to sister Carol's for the annual cousin Viking weekend with Dennis from WI so Sue pack a bag and food and came to stay the night. The home health nurse came, gave me some tips that will help me and will be back on Monday. I try to eat a little bit every couple of hours and the nurse impressed on me to use my nausea meds regularly, don't wait to feel bad, same if I'm feeling pain. That is hard to get used to. But the best medicine for me is to be outside, Sue mentioned that after we took a gator ride over to the farm to feed Morris. I can feel my spirits lift as I'm out communing with all the animals and just being out in the fresh air. I'm also forcing myself to eat a little bit often even if I don't feel like it because I only have a week to recover before I start this merry go round again, I'm already dreading it even though we have learned a few other things. Such as, I do not have to take the Neulasta shot all in one big dose, I can choose to go every day for a week and take a portion of it. Even though it's more trouble, it might prove worth it if I don't have the reactions I did this time.

I'm quite sick of blogging about my health issues and have some other stuff in the wings, dogs, cats, farming and my brand new camera lens that will spot a pimple on a gnats butt. I can't wait to feel better to try it. So stay tuned for better times ahead and thanks for hanging with me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My trip to the Cherokee Hilton

I'm writing this from the third floor of the beautiful Cherokee Medical Center, Room 307. You know, I am so tired of being proving wrong that I'm going to quit saying "I've learned this and I've learned that" and just try to go with the flow. And everytime I say I've reached a new low, forget it, there is another new low I just haven't found yet. The post about cholesterol meds, forget it, I'm wondering why I felt competent to play doctor and diagnosis my sever leg pain. Why the heck didn't I just go to the doctor on Friday and let her do the diagnosing? I think it would have saved me a lot of pain and I wouldn't be residing in their hospital with 3 and 4 IV's dripping in my port.

The pain spread from my legs to all over my body and Monday morning I knew it was time to do something so called Dr. Harrison on her cell, I felt very secretive, like Mission Impossible theme running through my head. "Should you take this mission....." She wrote an order for blood tests at the hospital lab and Bruce took me down as soon as I was able to find him. Once I was up and moving, I'd be okay on my legs, just don't stop and stand or they spasm-ed up and gave out. My sister, Sara, had this vision of me when I told her I had to make laps around the kitchen table while waiting for something to warm up in the microwave. Then add Clyde, our seeing eye cat in training, making the laps with me, then pulling ahead when he found the routine, "Now if you will just follow me.....", it makes for some interesting times in the house.

I got in and out of the lab okay, the next stop was Dr. Harrison's office to wait for results. They gave us a room to wait in which was better than sitting in the waiting room but those exam tables are not the most comfortable, as we all know. And things always take longer than they tell you, that is a given. There was a very stressful period when I got sick in the office but finally Dr. Harrison came in carrying some papers in triumph. It seems that all the water I had been told to drink, was actually washing the good stuff out of my body along with the crips, the sodium level was extremely low, hence the leg cramps and other body aches. She sent us to the pharmacy for more meds and told me to eat every salty thing I could think of, 'munch on potato chips', how's that for a prescription? 

So back home to the couch for me, back to the field for Bruce, the day only went downhill, every move was excruciating, a trip to the bathroom was a marathon, especially when Clyde headed for the table thinking we were doing our laps again. I'd stumble back to the couch and take up residence. Before Bruce went back to the field he made me a protein shake to drink, as I was drinking it, I thought, why didn't I ask for a Gatorade instead? That's why we got them, Alex said a doctor told her it was a cheap IV. I called Jo from down the road and asked if she would come down and retrieve one out the basement, I want you to know that alone proves how sick I was because NO ONE goes in our basement.

She took one look at me and said, "You need to be in the hospital." She then asked if she could clean up the kitchen, this proves how low I was, I agreed, I was getting kind of tired of looking at the mess. Then Jo made up a bunch of sandwiches out of lunch meat we had been given and took them down the freezer for quick sandwiches. Before she left she again told me I needed to be in the hospital. That was when I called Janet, told her how utterly wretched I was feeling and was it time to call Dr. Harrison's cell phone again and she said she would. A few minutes later, Janet called back and said they were coming over, she called Bruce and told him of the newest development and for me to just stay put.

The rest of the night was a blur spent in ER, more blood tests, chest ex rays, other invasive body treatments that I'd rather not go into but they did the job, pain killers, IV's, pills that didn't stay down, that's another thing. Bruce has been after me to eat, constantly, it didn't matter that I was unable to eat, he still thought I should eat. After watching me puke my guts out in Dr. Harrison's exam room and again in ER, he now understands when I say I can't eat, I can't eat. Janet left about 8:30 and I finally convinced Bruce to go home around 10. He wanted to stay till I was settled in the room but they showed no sign of moving me out. He was going to have a big day in the field and needed his rest. A little later, Lisa, the P.A. on duty came in with a sheaf of papers in her hand, the in-depth test results, leaned over my bed and said, "On paper you look terrible." She wasn't going to get any argument from me, I felt terrible, I don't remember ever  feeling this terrible and hope to heck I never do again.

They finally brought me up to my room at 11:PM and I answered there last question at 12:30 PM, that is the only complaint I've had. I was shot, had not been sleeping, was sick and sore and just wanted some sleep, but it was not to come quickly, I was right across from the nurses station for a reason and it was a busy place. But I'm sure they got an earful from me because every move I made was excruciating and I did not suffer silently. Just moving 6 feet to the bathroom was a marathon run, get up, get my pants down, drop down on the toilet, relief for a few minutes. I learned to slide around and sit side saddle so I could reach the sink and wash my hands before the marathon backwards, get up, pull my pants up, one aide gave me wedgie trying to help, and drop down in bed, gratefully resting a minute or so before becoming better situated in bed. Becky had the nerve to ask me why I was even wearing underwear, I may have shed my bra but no one will ever take my underwear! It wasn't getting any easier so the nurse convinced me to use a bedside commode, another low point, giving up a perfectly good, respectable bathroom for an old person's potty chair.


Tuesday brought small, tiny, nearly unnoticeable improvements. The day began with a early visit from Bruce with the laptop and some clean undies. My temp had also been steadily dropping, some of the pains were not as sharp and by afternoon my swollen fat, stubby sausage like fingers were working enough that I could use the computer. They never forget you in here, I did not have a meal plan but someone was always coming in to see if there was anything that sounded good from the cafeteria. They kept me supplied with applesauce and that keeps me regular, just the ticket with all the stuff being run through my body. I tried jello, didn't cut it. For dinner I ordered an egg salad sandwich with the crusts cut off and cut in 4 squares. so I could pretend to be at a garden party but really  just to be the most annoying patient they ran into that day and it came just like that. I was quite impressed. I wish I said topped with some fruit on a toothpick. The most I could eat was one and a half squares. Late in the afternoon the dietitian paid a visit to discuss the eating issues. Besides being puffy, every joint and muscle hurts, it hurts to open my mouth very wide, chew and swallow. She said they would supply a 4oz bottle of a supplement that packed a punch in a small size, which was what I needed, for snack morning and afternoon and keep trying things, something easy to eat, mashed potatoes, oatmeal anything that will go down easy and just tell them you only want a 1/2 order, they will do everything they can to help me out there. My temp started up again, first chills and then sweats so the nurse brought out the tylenol again and it did it's thing. By that time I was laying in a wet bed with damp nightgown but I still had my undies on. I laid there awhile, I had to really want this to go through a bath and change of linens but knew I couldn't stand it much longer.

Britt, the cute little nurses aide said they had just the thing, a bath in a bag, all I had to do was sit on the edge of the bed, bathe, dry and call when done to get dressed. I'm not exactly sure the genius that thought up bath in a bag, it's a plastic bag with soapy water and 3 or 4 hand clothes. I don't know if you know what happens when a plastic bag, looking like a water balloon is placed on a flat surface, in this case it was the lid of the bedside commode,  but I bet you can guess. At some point it explodes and showers the hot soapy water all over. But Britt wasn't fazed and said, "Oh, this happens all the time!" and  and cheerfully cleaned up the mess. It was all worth it when I was able to lay down in a fresh clean bed with a fresh nightie, I was wishing I had some clean undies to put on also.

I realized that I was beginning to move better, things still hurt but not so bad. Kim stopped by for a visit, while we were talking, she asked if there was anything that I thought would taste good and I said a cheap McD cheeseburger with ketchup and pickles, they are thin and mushed together, it seemed just the thing so off she went. She came back toting two burgers and a small fry and it tasted good, I ate the whole thing, not quite all the bun but got the meal down with all that sodium laced ketchup and pickles, a few fries completed the meal and then my mashed potatoes and gravy arrived, OOPS. They didn't taste near as good so I'm glad I had the burger first. Then Becky arrived, these two have been my dynamic duo from the beginning when they were first told. I think they made a solemn pledge to pick me up when I'm down, to celebrate when I'm up, to show up with food and drink (drink - wink, wink) and they are doing a great job, I think they must have spit in their hands before sealing the vow. 

Kim left and Becky was getting ready to leave when Dr. Harrison showed up, the blood that was drawn that morning show improvement in a lot of areas and Tracey, the nurse with her, said that I looked much better than when I came in. I had no where else to go. Doc said they would keep a continuous IV with the antibiotics and she thought I should be seeing some improvement myself in the pain by Wed. She is also going to talk to Storm Lake tomorrow and see if there is any connection that is setting up a bad reaction to the chemo drugs, I know it's all a lot of guessing game and everyone is going to react differently.  Bruce came shortly after with a harrowing tale about nearly burning the combine up in the field, we did that once, it's not fun. He and his buddy, Grassey, his right hand man these days, saw the flames from underneath at the same time and was able to knock the trash off and use Bruce's water jug to dowse them enough to get the combine in the yard for a thorough cleaning.

Bruce looked so tired, I know he was up early because he was here by 7, had no nap and had worked all day. He brought me a dish of luscious watermelon which went down so good, so I sent him home to bring me another dish in the morning along with clean undies. I'm doing this a day at time in case I would experience a miraculous recovery and be dismissed, I'm think I'm a ways off. But after he left, I decided to try the bathroom on my own, shoved the potty chair out the way so the IV pole could stand guard against unauthorized entry and shuffled to the bathroom. I realized that it didn't seem so desperate, I could actually stand while pulling down my pants and stand again at the sink to wash my hands. It was a victory, a small victory but I had to call Bruce and tell him and he was so happy to hear it. "I went potty all on my own!" It still felt good to stretch out in bed but it certainly brought my spirits up a scooch.

When my new nurse, Jerry, was in changing IV bags I asked him how long people are usually treated for something like this. He said they have not nailed down the infection yet and he said there are orders through Saturday, when my face dropped, he quickly said that is normal, that doesn't mean I'll be here that long, they usually do 3 days. That would put me here till Thursday, it's early Wed morning and I've been working on this off and on since Tuesday. If my temp spikes again, that will not be good, it means the infection still isn't under control and I won't be able to leave until my legs work normally again. But I am thankful to be here, I was just going down at home, I did not have these good drugs to bring me out. I've had exceptional care, everyone is so compassionate. I know there are people who kind of look down their nose at the smaller, local hospitals but we are so fortunate to have this one. I'm 12 minutes away, Bruce couldn't drive to Sioux City or Storm Lake after working all day or before he started in the morning. No, I'm very lucky.

But I'm also a little ticked, I was supposed to have 3 good weeks of health before going back for my 2nd chemo. This is cutting into my three weeks and that is not fair.

So keep praying, no new fevers, lessening of leg pain, appetite stimulation, when did I ever in my wildest dreams think I would have a hard time eating.

As for the prayers, when Lisa was looking down at me last night, after delivering the news, she took my hand and said she would be praying for healing for me. You don't get that service just anywhere.