Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The unstressful stress test and hummingbird wars

Monday we trekked back to Omaha for the echo cardiogram, or commonly called stress test, that I was not able to complete the week before. I knew it entailed walking on a treadmill and pictures of my heart. The first time we were there I had a very enthusiastic young woman who gave me the instructions. She said that every three minutes the treadmill would be at a greater incline and go faster, that they wanted my heart rate over 135 and she wanted me to walk until I felt like I couldn't take another step.

So I was prepared to sweat up a storm for this test, of course they have to go through the 'what ifs', this test could induce a heart attack or stroke being the worst. I was prepped with an IV line in my arm and monitors stuck all over my upper body when another young woman came in to take the before pictures of my heart. Then Dr. Porter came in for the actual treadmill session. I did the first three minutes with no problem, the treadmill raised a little and went faster but I was still striding along easily. I could see my heart rate was up to 145 when Dr. Porter said, "In 2 minutes it will go higher and faster, do you think you can do it or do you want to quit with this?" I thought, "He has better things to do than stand here and watch me walk since I've reached the heart rate." So I quit and rolled back onto the bed where they took more pictures of my heart. I passed the test with flying colors - take that to the person who said I had to take the test 'because of my age!' And I didn't even break a sweat.

Back at home I'm immersed in the Hummingbird Wars that are being waged here. I have waited all summer for the tiny birds to reappear and one finally stopped by a week ago. This weekend another showed up and let the fighting begin, there is always a bully that won't let the other bird eat in peace.

He cautiously approaches....

...."slurp, slurp, slurp"....

...and he looks nervously around.

"Slurp, slurp, slurp..."

"...slurp, slurp..."

...."Yum, yum!"

"What was that?"

"Did you see anything?"


And this is what happens when you don't save your seat!

Chair hogs!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The dreaded biopsy is over.....

...and thanks to a very caring Dr. it went well. Stacy called on Wed afternoon and said if we could be in Omaha by 6:30 on Thursday, it would get done, otherwise we had to wait until Monday. We jumped at the chance even though it meant getting up at 3 AM. The good news, there was no rush hour traffic to battle, and it only took about 10 minutes from leaving the interstate to arrival. We are getting more familiar to the huge campus and found where we were going with no problems.

The more we are down there, the more impressed we are with that hospital, I don't know how many pre-op rooms there are, a lot and they were all filled but they ran right on time. Mine was scheduled for 8:30, I was poked, vitals taken, IV hung, wrapped in warm blankets and ready to go when the Dr. came in to talk to us. I was told, erroneously, I discovered, that I would sleep through this procedure but found, to my dismay, that I would not.

When I had the liver biopsy at Mercy, it hurt like a son of a b - uh, gun. They numbed the area but immediately stuck me. It's like the song, 'SumBeach', he goes to the dentist, ♫They stuck that needle down deep in my gum, then started drilling before it was numb, SumBeach, Somewhere....♫

The Dr. reassured me that he would do his best to make this a 'good experience', I would have a sedative and he would give the numbing shot time to work but sometimes they need to have you hold your breath so the nodule won't move around while they are trying to sample it. That was upsetting enough, then he started in on all the 'what ifs' - it could cause my lung to collapse that would necessitate a hospital stay of 1-3 days OR there might be excessive bleeding that could be life threatening! He said it hadn't happened to him yet but it probably was only a matter of time!

OK Doc, quit while you are ahead! I wanted to tell Bruce to get my clothes, we are out of there!

Instead, I signed the consent, kissed Bruce goodbye and I was wheeled away. I'm happy to say that it was a 'good experience', the happy juice they gave me made me very sleepy, I felt nothing but heard the clicking as the Dr. got the samples he needed, the pain hit when I was rolled back into my bed. I couldn't take a deep breath, cough or clear my throat (or call for the dogs after we arrived back home.) Back in recovery they took an x-ray to see if my lung was okay, it was, they retrieved Bruce from the waiting room and I promptly feel asleep for a couple of hours. I had to stay for another hour, get a final x-ray before going home, I did get some crackers and water which was much appreciated since I'd had nothing since midnight. It took x-ray longer to come so I was really ready to go when we got the okay, stopped at McDonalds right down the street and scarfed down Big Mac's, fries and pop. (It was only later when I read the discharge instructions, that I should 'eat lightly' that first day, I thoroughly enjoyed my Big Mac.)

Bruce had made tentative plans to go with some friends to the MN cabin for the weekend, I was feeling better all the time he got the green light. I went to bed at 7 PM and slept until 8 AM Friday morning, he kissed me about 6:50 and I never woke up, that was good stuff they gave me. I was told to take it easy for a few days so Zoe and I spent the day in the gazebo, we would have done that even if I hadn't been told what to do.

We were both entertained by the dogs trying to get a cheeky squirrel in the tree. 

"I know he's here someplace."

"I think he went to the grove."
"No stupid, he's up in the tree!"

I guess Zoe wasn't as entertained as I was.

("Stupid Dogs.")

"I agree, stupid dogs, do they really think I'm coming down there while they are around?"

"I'm sure he's coming and I'm ready."

I finally took the dogs for a ride to the farm to feed the cats so the squirrel could leave in peace, this is what happens when a big round bale of hay is struck by lightning. We had a bad storm with lots of lightning and luckily it struck this bale rather than the cows in the pasture. Thankfully this bale was off by itself rather than nestled up against the other bales.

This was a picture I took earlier in the week of Bruce backing the spray tank into the shed with the skid loader.

And he tells me NOT to do this!

Back at home this dinnerplate hibiscus was calling to me, everyone should have a plant in their yard or garden, they make me smile.

It's now Saturday, I heard that the preliminary result is promising......negative for lymphoma.  However we do have to wait for the full core biopsy to completely call it non-cancerous. That is very encouraging, I hope we hear soon. Monday is my echo-cardiogram that I have to take "because of my age", how rude! I also had a half hour telephone interview with a hospital social worker. One of the question was "Do you use any recreational drugs that you will miss while you are in the hospital??" Do people answer these questions truthfully??

(And the answer was a resounding "NO"!)

What I will miss terribly, besides Bruce, is Zoe, she is my constant companion and she has to stay home. Maybe I can get her to act like a stuffed animal, after all, she sleeps all day in the gazebo and all night with me.

Tape a key to her fur and pretend to wind her up when she moves.....

I need to think on this....

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The road to the transplant is not without potholes.

Yesterday, Tuesday, was a big day for us, Bruce, Janet and I had to be in Omaha at 8:15 for a full day of tests and Dr. appointment. We left at 5:10 to give us enough time and it was a good thing, Google Maps took us on 680 and was sending us on west when we saw a street sign for 114th st, the hospital is on 42nd, that was our first clue we were headed the wrong direction!! Bruce muttered under his breath most of the way after turning around and finding us stuck in rush hour traffic. How do people drive in that every day?? Plus I saw two people in bumper to bumper traffic, looking at their cellphones! IDIOTS!!!

Once arriving at NB Med Center, the next job was finding where we had to go because we were not familiar with the huge campus, only being there once. But we found there are helpful people everywhere, all we had to do was stand, looking befuddled, because we were it wasn't difficult, and someone would take pity on us and either give us good directions or lead the way. I thank God everyday for choosing this hospital.

Our first stop was the lab for a blood draw which went flawlessly and the nurse actually had heard of Cherokee because her husband sells insurance in the area and stayed there last week. (I hope he wasn't someone I ran off rudely!)

From there we had to find the pulmonary section for a lung function test, that was where a guardian angel, in a nurses uniform took us in hand and led us right to it. I had to blow in a machine several times and passed with flying colors.

Next was the echo cardiogram, a stress test with pictures of my heart. I was ready with monitors stuck all over my chest and upper body, an IV in my arm when I casually mentioned that I had to be stuck once again for the next test. The nurse asked me what I was doing and I told her a PET Scan. She said, "Ohhhh!" and left the room. When she came back she said this test had to be rescheduled because I could not have strenuous exercise 24 hours before a PET scan or it could result in a false positive. The crazy thing is that I knew that, I'd had 3 PET scans before and that was always on the list of instructions. Thank heavens this nurse caught it because it had gone through two other medical personnel setting up all the appointments.

So off came the sensors, I dressed and we were off for nuclear medicine department with clear instructions on how to get there. This place is huge but they do have good signs and we arrived about an hour early so watched Andy Griffith on ME TV until they came for me. This was at least a 2 hour test so Bruce and Janet went to scout out a place to eat, I'd not had anything to eat or drink since 7 the night before and I was getting very hungry. The nurse left the IV in my arm so I didn't have to get stuck again, I got a radioactive tracer and a cup of iodine laced fluid to drink, it wasn't mandatory if I couldn't hack the taste but it would help the scan. It wasn't too bad if it was cold and I got it down, then I had an hour rest in a darkened room with a warm blanket where I did fall asleep. After an hour they brought in another cup of the fluid to drink, this wasn't as cold and it was hard to get down. 20 minutes later I got to go to the bathroom and then the test began. It takes quite awhile with your arms stretched over your head and it's chilly in that room. The technician not only gave me another warm blanket, he rolled up the towel on each side of the pillow until it was snug against my head and he folded another blanket and wrapped it around my arms and head, I felt like I was tucked into bed. 

I'm not claustrophobic in this machine like SOMEONE I know who has to have drugs to do it! I close my eyes and think pleasant thoughts but I was certainly ready when I heard that I could bring my arms down and was released from the tunnel. Then it was off to find something to eat, all that fluid was not sitting well and they didn't warn me that it would go though me like it did, if you get my drift! I dared not pass a bathroom without visiting. They have great places to eat, it was hard to pick but I thought I better stay away from anything fried or heavy so chose some loaded potato soup and salad bar. Most of it went down good but I gave up on the last of the salad, it was quite awhile before I felt normal again.

Our last stop of the day was to see Dr. Lunning, we were very early for that appointment but we knew he wanted the results of the PET scan before we left and we did too. A volunteer came around to see if we needed anything, coffee, hot chocolate or juice? Bruce and Janet took her up on the offer, I was till digesting my lunch and thought I better not chance it. When we were in the room, Stacy, the transplant case manage came in to fill us in on what was going on, Dr. Lunning was still waiting on the PET scan. When he came in, he asked a lot of question pertaining to how the chemo went this summer and if I had any bad reactions to anything, which I didn't. Then he got down to business, the PET scan showed all the tumors and lesions on my kidney and liver were gone, that was joyful news. BUT, (why did there have to be a but?) there was a new spot on one lung and it has to be biopsied before we can proceed. That took the wind out of my sails, I'd been cautiously optimistic that it would be completely clear. Both Dr. Lunning and Stacy stressed that it might be nothing, a minor infection or a granuloma and we should think positive until proven otherwise. He thought it was highly unlikely to be lymphoma since the chemo wiped out the other stuff but it could be another kind of cancer. 

They want it biopsied as soon as possible because I'm at the stage where it's imperative to begin the transplant before the lymphoma has a chance to get another foothold on my body. I'm looking forward to it because the kidney biopsy was SO MUCH FUN - NOT!!! We will go back to Omaha to have it done so their pathologists can find out and that could take up to 5 days.

So we wait but we know we aren't alone in this journey and that helps. Thanks to everyone who is encouraging and praying for us, we couldn't do this without you. Love you all.  

Monday, August 22, 2016

♫That's what Friends are for....♫

That is the song that has been going through my head since the garden club and others, spent two nights last week cleaning up all the weeds around buildings and in the flower beds. The worst part about having chemo every three weeks this summer was the lethargy that left me unable to do more than run the mower every so often. Bruce had enough to do keeping up with the farm work to worry about a few weeds around here.

 The trouble was, those few weeds gained strength and were emboldened by their freedom and they 'were fruitful and multiplied'. Luckily the flowers took that challenge and they flourished and grew to great heights, trying to outdo the weeds. I told myself that soon Mother Nature will send us a killing frost and take care of all those weeds and next year will be a whole new ball game.

But Kim knew it bothered me and rallied the troops, as in the Marcus Garden Club and, unknown to me, they set up a couple of work nights. After it was all scheduled, Kim did tell me and I tried to talk her out of it but she can be rather stubborn, she said they wanted to do it. I tried again on Wed, the first night because it was a hot, in the 90's, no breeze and I could just see garden clubbers lying prostrate in the yard, overcome by heat exhaustion but they proved to be a hardy bunch.

They arrived en-mass..... 

...some brought weedeaters....

...some brought hand tools.

The gator got a workout hauling huge piles of weeds and trimmings to the burn pile out back.....

.....or hauling kids and dogs, I think a few went home with a Gator on the top of their wish list.

The back yard has never looked so neat and tidy as it was after being raked clean of debris and downed branches out of the trees.

Murphy had the best seat in the house, in the cool sand pile, where she watched everything going on.

It was HOT but give them a bottle of water and all was well once again.

It was a hot and sweaty group who gathered around the picnic table in the back for some well deserved cool beverages and food...

(You can see that Murphy is exhausted by all the activity.)

.....laughs and conversation......

...."Thank You" seemed so inadequate!!

I feel like I'm in a completely new universe as I walk around and see all the lovely flowers and NO WEEDS!! Little did I know when I joined this club what a wonderful group of friends I would gain.

Thank you, dear friends!!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Small Town county fair time..

If you have the chance to attend a county fair, do not pass up the opportunity.

They work hard to provide entertainment such as tractor pulls, much belching of black smoke, the roar of the engine, and off they go down the track.

This little girl had ear protectors bigger than she was, smart mother.

You might get to see the laziest lion alive, Muffassa, oh how I loved the Lion King!

We learned a fact about male lions, if they neuter them, they lose their big beautiful mane.

Thrills abounded when this tiger leaped fearlessly through a ring of fire!

And there is fair food everywhere!! My stomach growled for the mini donuts.

My good friend, Kim, once again wowed everyone with her great garden entries....

....and it all paid off when she not only won the coveted Sweepstakes award but also Best in Show, way to go my garden friend!!

Don't you love the name, Panty Dropper?? (For some reason I couldn't get a space at the top, computers, GRRRR!)

We caught Carson and Carly Fuhrman primping Carson's steer for competition, and they take a LOT of primping. Bathing, fluffing, buffing, spraying, combing, combing and combing right up until the last moment going into the show ring.

We got to see their father, Jon, introduce a good friend, Brian, the Magic Muffer, Egger into the MMC Hall of Fame. The school is honoring outstanding graduates of MMC and Brian had a stellar career in the Air Force. He spent a lot of time out here when Bruce had his radio station going so we couldn't miss that.

And last but not least, we watched our 'son' David Rupp in the Celebrity Hog Show. (When David was a teenager, he went fishing with us in MN, since we had a family license, we informed him that he was our son for the duration. He turned out so well, we kept him.)

David was the hit of the show and it looks like he was practicing some moves on this hog that might work on the girls. He had her eating out of his hand.

Way to go, Dave, keep this up and we might be going to a wedding??

Friday, August 12, 2016

Just hangin' out.... the pasture with the girls.

Does he look comfortable or what?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Just so you know I'm still alive and kicking...

I had my fourth and hopefully last chemo on Monday, Aug 1 and, to my surprise and dismay, knocked the crap out of me. Zoe and I spent the week crashed in the gazebo, I don't know what is her excuse but then she is a cat and cats tend to sleep about 18 hours out of the day. Our good friends from church are taking turns keeping us fed so Bruce survived, unlike me, he spent most of the week rebuilding a cattle fence around around the feed yard.

It was HOT!! Hot as Hades, one day he came home for dinner and had to strip down to his skivvies and put on dry clothes. Hope that isn't too much information.

This is just another reason I don't kiss my dogs on the lips, Murphy is chowing down on some dried up dead animal!

A sneaky barn swallow managed to build a nest and start their family before I noticed it next to our front door. I didn't have the heart to knock it down so watched the babies grow.

They had voracious appetites and the parents were kept busy feeding them.

"Open WIDE!"
"At ease..."

"Here they come again!"

This one saw a leaf fall off the roof, a real eager beaver.

 And it was HOT!! Hot a Hades!!