Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The holidays

Several folks have mentioned that they still occasionally check this blog so I thought I would let you know that I'm doing "okay".

Conventional wisdom says that holidays are the hardest times when we lose someone we love. This seems true to me. I'm so fortunate though that I have wonderful daughters and family and friends to help, and of course I have Charlie and he is a wonder. He is laughing now and seems to recognize me when he sees me. He's two months old, growing like crazy, and changing every day.

As the Christmas season begins, I am focused on my joys. There are still tears, as you would expect, but my energy is concentrated on my many blessings.

May your holiday be filled with happy memories and may you be surrounded by people that you love.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What next?

It is difficult to envision our life without him when we lose someone we love so much. It has been 3-months since Bob died and I thought I'd be doing much better by now and that planning a California memorial would be a good thing but that just isn't the case. In many ways I really am doing well, especially since dear Charlie was born, but the feelings of grief and loss are still overwhelming. I still have too many times when my emotions are raw to think of having another memorial service at this time.

Thank you for your sympathy, support, and caring. It helps. It really does.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Robert Charles Weidenfeller

Please help us welcome

Robert Charles "Charlie" Weidenfeller
October 3rd, 12:31 pm
8lb 11oz, 20"





We thought you'd all enjoy seeing pictures, and knowing that this new life has come to join our family. We couldn't be happier! Charlie is happy and healthy, and so are Katy and Scott!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

California Memorial

Several people have asked us when we will be holding our California memorial for Bob.

Well -- as those who read this blog know, Katy and Scott are going to have a baby in early October. Since Katy's doctor told her that air-travel in these last weeks is not advised, we're tossing around the idea of a "memorial/life celebration" in California after the baby is born. Our idea is that this will give us a chance to see people and to exchange stories about Bob with our California friends and family and to introduce our new family member to everyone at the same time.

With that in mind, we are currently considering one day during the weekend before Thanksgiving as a possible date of the memorial/celebration. We will let you know details as they develop.

Thank you -- Verva, Katy and Sarah

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thank You



Thank you so much to everyone who was able to attend Dad's memorial service. It was so wonderful to see so many people there to remember Dad and support each other through a difficult time. For those of you unable to attend, you will be pleased to hear the church was packed, standing room only!

I also thought those of you who couldn't be there would like a look at the photoboards that were on display. Thanks to Cliff Grimm for taking pictures of them! Click on each to see it larger...





I'm not sure if anyone's still checking here, but we're probably not going to update much more. There is a printing company that can turn blogs into printed books, so that's our plan for all of Dad's writing and your wonderful comments.

Thanks again to everyone for really going above and beyond for my whole family during the past six months.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Arrangements

There will be a memorial service Thursday, July 12, 2pm, at Emerson Unitarian Church, 1900 Bering Drive, Houston, TX 77057, near the Galleria. A reception will follow in the church fellowship hall. The service will be led by Matt Tittle, Bob and Verva's minister from Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church.

If you are traveling from out of town, there are many hotels in the League City area (along Nasa Road One or Hwy 146) to be near the family, or in the Galleria Area to be near the memorial service.

In lieu of flowers, Bob chose two causes near to his heart. The Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church Capital Campaign supports the building project he was deeply involved in, his last big project in retirement. The Nature Conservancy reflects his love of nature and the outdoors.
Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church
Attn: Capital Campaign
17503 El Camino Real, Houston, TX 77058
(281) 488-2001 – office@bauuc.org

or

The Nature Conservancy

We are also planning a memorial celebration in California, we will share the details when they are available.

As always, thank you all for your love and support.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Hardest Post

This morning at 9am, Dad's breathing slowed, and finally stopped. It was very peaceful and he didn't suffer. We wish there was a way to tell all of you in person, to thank you for your support, so you don't have to read this news on a cold computer screen. Your support and love and prayers have helped us through since the news in January, and we know you will continue to keep Dad in your hearts so that he will live on forever.



I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!"


"Gone where?"


Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.


Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: "Here she comes!"


And that is dying.

                                     Henry van Dyke



Rest in Peace, Robert Harold Densmore. 3/22/43 - 7/6/07

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th of July

Bob's heart is strong. On Monday we thought he was ready to let go and to move on but he has his own time schedule and we can only sit with him and be there when that time comes. He may be moved to an in-care hospice facility tomorrow or Friday. He's very weak and sleeps most of the time but we enjoy every lucid moment that we get. He is just amazing.

We have been reading the notes on this blog and they are uplifting. Thank you.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

We feel your support

Bob started this blog to help keep his family and far-flung friends in the loop as he dealt with the harsh news of his cancer and with its treatment. I thought it was courageous of him to do this but it was his way. The support and caring we've received from everyone who checks the news has sustained us and we all thank you for each note, email, phone call, and visit.

Bob is comfortable and very peaceful. The truth is, however, I don't think Bob will be able to go home from the hospital. He may surprise us all and that wouldn't be the first time, but for now it looks like he is taking his final journey here at MDACC.

We know that many of you want to help. However, for now, there's nothing anyone can do as we are here with Bob 24-hours a day. If we do need help, we promise to ask.

Either the girls or I will let you know when we have more news.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hi everyone, Sarah here. Peter and I are just home from seeing Dad up at MDA.

His doctors are doing a lot there to try to help him feel better. He got a massage today, and they've been able to give him some medicine for the pains he's started having in his stomach. We're trying really hard to get him home, but it will be at least another few days.

Reading the post from Tuesday we've decided it was a little misleading. It's a fine line we walk with this blog - so many people check it for news, but it's hard to decide what bits to share, especially when it's not Dad writing. The truth is that the doctors don't think Dad will get strong enough to do another round of chemo. Since this type of cancer is so aggressive, that is really bad news.

We'll try to update here when we can. Please know that all your prayers and comments mean the world to us! It's wonderful to know Dad is so well-loved.

- Sarah

(I know Dad would still write - one day at a time, piece of cake...)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Back at MDA

Just to give everyone a quick update... Dad's back in the hospital today. He went in this morning for his 10th and final radiation treatment (yay!) and then had an appointment with the symptom management doctor. This department at MD Anderson specializes in treating the symptoms that go along with cancer, and can really help make patients feel better. One of Dad's main symptoms right now is gas and bloating in his stomach. This in turn puts pressure on his diaphragm and causes pretty severe shortness of breath when he first stands up. They're going to give him some treatments to reduce the bloating and therefore hopefully the pressure. He's a little grumpy about being in the hospital again, especially since he really feels about the same as he has for a week or so, but he's being a good sport.

Tomorrow Dad's brother John and his wife Barbara arrive for a couple of days, so that's something really good to look forward to.

-Katy

(One day at a time. Piece of cake.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

California Visitors




It has been a wonderful couple of days and we feel surrounded by love. Barbara and Mark’s visit was just what the doctor ordered to lift our spirits. Bob isn’t feeling very well physically and tires easily but he sure did enjoy seeing them. They are the kind of guests that just come in, mow the lawn, come to the doctor with us, fix wonderful salmon dinners, give many hugs, and just make the house feel under control somehow. In other words, they are perfect guests that helped me more than I can say. They headed home today.

The kids were also here a few times in the past couple of days to give their support and love. Mike Esparza was in town from Virginia and came by, too – a life-long good friend we were delighted to see. Busy couple of days but we have an empty nest day today so Bob will probably rest until it’s time to watch the Rice baseball game from Omaha.

Bob enjoys sitting at the kitchen table watching our bird feeder. The table looks out onto our auto court and our sweet little neighbor children McKenna and Tayden added the perfect decoration to the court so now Bob can enjoy their message while enjoying the birds.

Bob’s radiation is more than half over (6-of 10 treatments done) and we are just hoping the positive effects of these treatments will be felt soon. The doctor told us that most people begin to feel some relief between 6-8 treatments which would mean today, tomorrow or Friday. He’s not feeling very well right now. He’s very weak and has a hard time swallowing, but is a real trooper in every way.

He wants me to add: One day at a time. Piece of cake.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Home again home again jiggedy jig

Home again and very glad to say so. Bob thinks that 5-days and nights in the hospital is more than enough. He was x-rayed, cat-scanned, cultured (not like British royalty but like Petri dish germs), infused, transfused, and even poked and prodded. After all of this, we still didn’t learn anything specific about an infection but with 4-pints of wonderful wonderful blood and 3-of 10 radiation treatments completed, he’s on his way to a better quality of life situation. MDA has very nice people who really care about helping Bob feel better but we still are delighted to be out of there.

Barbara and Mark (sister and brother-by-sister) arrive on Sunday for a couple of days. We can hardly wait!!!

Sarah arrived safely home from England. Katy continues to blossom and has very few discomforts from her pregnancy. I am hanging in there and am so so so happy to have Bob home.

Hopefully the next Blog will be from Bob himself.

One day at a time. Piece of cake.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wednesday morning

Update

Good morning. I just wanted to give you an update on Bob – he’s doing much better this morning than he was just 24-hours ago. As he said in his last blog, he had a doctor’s appointment on Monday. Blood work showed such low hemoglobin that he needed another transfusion. When he got to the transfusion unit he was running a high fever so they sent him to emergency where the doctor decided to admit him into the hospital for “observation”.

Now, on Wednesday morning, Bob has received 3-pints of blood, lots of IV antibiotic, and tests from top to toe. He will get his first radiation treatment today to shrink the tumor and to stop the tumor from bleeding – apparently the cause of the low hemoglobin. I don’t know if they’ll send him home today or tomorrow but it won’t be too soon for me. He’s still not eating easily and hospital food isn’t nearly as yummy as everyone tells you it is. Plus, he misses his new chair.

Sarah comes home tomorrow!! We can hardly wait to see her. Five weeks in England is a long business trip and we all want to give and get some big hugs and hear all about her adventures.

One day at a time. Piece of cake.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Looking forward to Monday

I was hoping the endoscopy on Friday would give me some relief so I could swallow more easily and eat some real food rather than liquids. That didn’t happen. We see the doctor tomorrow (Monday) and I hope he’ll have some ideas about how to proceed. Right now we’re waiting again.

Our day on Monday will begin with blood work and then a doctor’s appointment. We’re getting smart now and taking along everything we need to stay at Katy’s house in case we end up at MDA far into the night as has happened before. Probably just taking everything will mean we’ll finish early enough to head home to our house.

Katy, Scott, and Pippa came here for brunch today. Monday is Katy’s birthday – Happy Birthday Katy.

Best purchase of the week – a zero gravity chair. It’s a very nice chair that saves my back and makes it comfortable to sit and watch TV. I think it’s called a zero gravity chair because it makes me feel like I’m floating.

One day at a time. Piece of cake.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Monday Morning

Big highlight for the week was a music concert in our own house by Beth and Steve Jordan and their friend Cheryl. A while back I’d asked Beth if she’d play my guitar for me because I haven’t ever done it justice. Instead, she brought the band and gave us about an hour long personal concert. Our good friends the Hammens and Peter came over to enjoy it with us. Beth says they will play for ice cream sundaes any time so maybe we can get them to come back sometime.

No news yet. Sometimes waiting for news from the doctor’s office seems like it takes forever. But I’m feeling better today. Just weak. The plan is still to have an endoscope exam early this week and chemo late in the week but it isn’t scheduled so I don’t know exactly when that will happen.

Rice won the regional NCAA baseball tournament this weekend. Super regional begins Friday. Go Rice.

One day at a time. Piece of cake.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Latest News

Visited the doctor today and here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to have another endoscope exam to see what’s going on and maybe help me swallow better. Sometime soon after the endoscope exam I’ll start my new chemo, probably late next week. This protocol is also every two weeks like the last one. Initially we’re going for 8-weeks and a cat scan. If it works, I’ll do it for 8-more and another cat scan and so on. It will stop when the side effects become a problem or the treatment stops working.

Sorry the blog hasn’t been updated much. I had to go to emergency on Tuesday because I was running a fever and infections aren’t something they want me to fool around with. I still think everyone overreacts and I could have just gone to bed and been better in the morning but Verva made me go. She wants me to say that the doctor agrees with her about going to emergency (so here I did that) but I think bed would have been better. Instead, it was a 7 ½ hour trip to MDA with IV antibiotics and x-rays and stuff. Chemo has to wait until all sign of infection is over, too.

One day at a time - piece of cake

Friday, May 25, 2007

Not what we wanted to hear

We went to MDA yesterday full of optimism that the CT scan would show improvement but that’s not the word we got. There was no improvement. In fact in some cases it was worse. Dr Ajani believes that if a regimen isn’t working you change it right away so that’s what we’ll do.

We see him again next week and will probably begin a new set of medications – Avastin, Vectibix, and Erbitux. As Dr Ajani says, these are drugs the cancer hasn’t seen and hopefully they will deliver a punch that the previous ones couldn’t.

We stayed down there for over 13 hours to get two pints of blood. I’m walking a bit easier this morning but can’t tell much difference otherwise. Katy says it’s ironic after all of the blood I’ve donated that I’m now getting some of it back.

One day at a time - piece of cake.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Exercise Program

Who would guess that exercise is the treatment for fatigue. Nagma (my physical therapist) gave me a list of exercises that she wants me to do every day and she said that the more I don’t want to do them the more important it is that I do them anyway. When I arrived at MDA yesterday I really didn’t think I could do a thing. Instead, I did all of the exercises she showed me and survived. We’re going to Academy this morning to get a set of hand-weights and then come home so I can do the exercises.

Chemo effects are still with me.

Here’s a picture of Katy and me that Verva took the other night. Katy is now almost 5-months along. I think she’s beautiful.

One day at a time. Piece of cake.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Reality Check

I think I was a little optimistic about the post chemo effects of the last session. I have been very fatigued – challenge to get out to the mail box and back. Nausea, lightheadedness, pains in my back and chest. It’s Sunday and it’s only marginally better. I was feeling discouraged but as Verva says -- it’s the chemo not me.

This next week will be an information week. I have a cat scan tomorrow but won’t hear the results until Thursday so stay tuned. I also see the physical therapist again tomorrow which should be interesting since I’m so much weaker than when I saw her two weeks ago. I hope I can walk all over the hospital to get these things done and I don’t have to resort to a wheel chair. I’d hate that.

Just to keep life interesting and not let everything be about cancer, I lost my wallet. Now I have that nice bike sitting in the garage, have a helmet to wear, but no driver’s license so no driving allowed. Oh well, it will give me something to do next week, right?

On the positive side, we’re taking care of Sarah and Peter’s cats and dog while they’re away. We both like those animals and enjoy spending time with them. Between us, Verva and I got the lawn mowed and everything is looking good. Katy and Scott will be here for dinner soon, another nice thing.

One day at a time. Piece of cake.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

8th Session of Chemo

I’m recovering from my 8th session of chemo. It was nice to have an early appointment Monday and to be home by early afternoon instead of late at night. Today is my day of fatigue. Wednesday is not the high point of my week but my stomach is feeling good so I’ll take that. Peter came for dinner last night. We hope to see him often while Sarah is in England. I walked for 15-minutes as assigned and did okay.

Sunday was good. We went to a play at the Alley (The Clean House) and then to dinner with Katy and Scott at their house. Katy is starting to look pregnant and is very beautiful. Celebrated Mother’s Day and spent the night.

Also on Sunday, before the play, I received a 1999 Honda Shadow that belonged to my brother who wanted to get it out of his garage. Thank you John!! Now it’s in my garage and it’s beautiful as you can see by the picture. My intention is to ride it on short trips like to church when I go there for my building project. The rest of the time I’m going to sit around on my little stool and polish it.

One day at a time. Piece of cake.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday

Yesterday we went up to see the physical therapist at MDA. We met with a very nice physical therapist and she ran me through a pretty trough evaluation. The results were better than we anticipated. There is still hope for me and she gave me some stretches and assigned a 15 minute walk per day. I have another appointment with her a week from Monday.

In line with this, we went on a 15min walk today to the pool and soaked our feet. Pretty hot out and none too pleasant but the pool felt real good. I’ll have to say though, the 15-minute walk sounded a lot easier than it was.

Last night we went out to dinner with Sarah and Peter and Peter’s dad, Jim. Sarah left for England around noon for a month – needless to say we are all going to miss her –especially Peter.

We’re going to the theater on Sunday afternoon and then we’ll spend the night at Katy and Scott’s due the 0630 appointment timing.

The 8th session of Chemo is on Monday in the morning

One day at a time. Piece of cake.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Nice Day


I apologize if I sounded down in the dumps last time – didn’t mean to. Today we had to pick up some medical supplies at MDA so we decided we’d to for a walk the gardens at Bayou Bend. Bayou Bend is a very large estate in a very exclusive part of Houston called River Oaks. Turns out it’s only about a mile from Katy and Scott. The weather was perfect and they’ve added a recorded tour since the last time we were there. We walked the perimeter and listened to all the numbered stops. Towards the end I was enjoying more breaks and glad for all the benches.

This is all part of increasing my physical exercise by daily walks, etc. We have an appointment on Friday with a physical therapist for an evaluation. Came home and received a new set of patio furniture that’s much more comfortable for me to sit it. Gave the old set to Sarah and Peter.

We had some help in reworking the three big beds in our back yard – they looked pretty bad. I sat on the patio and watched them work – I like watching other people work.

Day by day - piece of cake

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Saturday after Chemo

Things seem to have changed again. My stomach seems to be giving me problems most of the time now including at night. I’m eating okay but it’s a long, drawn out process limited mostly to smoothies, baked potatoes and fruit. The fatigue is still there but I’ve been trying to get out for a walk once in a while.

We’ve tried to remain active visiting our friends and having friends over. I just have to take it easier. We had a nice morning today sitting on our friend’s patio overlooking Galveston Bay. Weather had a little coolness to it but that’s not going to last. Summer’s coming.

Kids are all coming over for Mother’s Day tomorrow. They’re fixing brunch here. We’re celebrating early because Sarah’s leaving soon for a month in England on her project.

One day at a time – piece of cake.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Chemo #7

I just wanted to make one more comment about the Relay for Life last week. I’m so proud for Sarah for walking/running the entire 26+ miles. My heart’s filled – thank you, Sarah.

After another round of blood work and a visit with the doc, I was released for my 7th chemo session. Got home about 830 pm. Stayed tuned, we’re back on track.

Day by day, piece of cake.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Week Off?

Sorry to have taken so long to sit down and write this but it’s been an interesting week. As I mentioned last time they decided to give a week deferral to allow me to make a better recovery before the next session.

Well, that sounded pretty good to us. We assumed I’d just continue to feel better the third week like I did in the second week. Didn’t quite work out. I seemed to feel worse and have more trouble eating (translate as losing more weight) and I started running a fever. In spite of this, we got over to High Island with the spotting scope and it worked. Love bugs cover my truck but I’ll get them cleaned next week.

On Friday the fever drove us downtown to see the doctor’ PA, Eric. After much blood work and consulting they decided that I had an infection – possible in my catheter. Final word won’t be until tomorrow but if that’s what it is I may have to have the catheter replaced. Fever is down now that I’m on antibiotics. We’ll know tomorrow when my next chemo session is – hopefully, it’ll be tomorrow. Stay tuned.

I did want to tell you about the Baytown Relay for Life event that we still managed to attend on Friday, though not with the RV as hoped. There seemed to be thousands of people and the announcer said there were 301 “survivors” in the crowd. As we looked around at the group of survivors we both felt pretty emotional and decided I would be part of that group for many years to come. We’ve been told that the event raised over $780,000 and is the second largest relay in the US. Thank you so much to those who made donations in support of me and my efforts to beat the big C. It was good to see so many people I know and especially wonderful to be there with Katy, Sarah, Peter and Peter’s parents Karen and Jim. Thanks to Rindy, BJ, and all for taking such good care of me at the event.

One day at a time - piece of cake

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Chemo Deferred

Yesterday we spent most of the day at MDA in preparation for my seventh session of chemo. Finally got to the doctor and he recommended we reschedule a week and give me a week more to recover.. I have some neuropathy (numbness) in my hands and feet and he’d like that to go away before anymore chemo. I was also iron deficient so he basically just gave me week off. It does not effect the treatment so it’s not a bad thing.

So instead of feeling crappy today and looking at a slow week – we get a bonus. An extra week of feeling better. I was initially disappointed because I just want to get this done but I’m okay now. Haven’t made any plans yet but we’d like to get out with my new spotting scope – maybe to Galveston State Park.

One day at a time – piece of cake.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Yoga

This week has lived up to expectations and I’ve felt pretty good. Still, I don’t think I feel as good as the last session and I hope that’s not a trend. Even so, on Wednesday Verva and I attended our first ever yoga class.

I went in anticipation of getting very sore and stretching things that I haven’t stretched since I got sick. The classes last an hour and at the end I was feeling all my muscles and joints and sweating freely. The class had no lasting effects – I was able to move the next day and we went back to a second class this morning. The test will be how much I can do next week following chemo on Monday.

On Thursday night, Verva and I went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, 17, in the Alden Hotel on Prairie. It was excellent. My only disappointment was that their selection of milk wasn’t as comprehensive as their wine list.

After dinner we cruised down to the Alley Theater where we saw “To Kill a Mockingbird”. It was very well staged and we thank John and Houston Asset Management for the tickets. Peter and Sarah met us there.

I finally had to admit that I can’t do my whole yard anymore so I cut a deal with the landscaper for him to do the string trimming and maintain the beds while I cut the grass and edged the hard borders. Works pretty well – yard looks nice.

We are going to a good friend’s wedding tomorrow and it will be nice to see a lot of our old friends from ExxonMobil. Good week overall…..

One day at a time – piece of cake

Monday, April 16, 2007

41st Anniversary

41 years ago today, Verva and I got married on a very hot day in a church in Concord, California. We had little concept of time but loved each other and wanted to be together. We thought that we understood the commitment we made to one another. It is a commitment. It takes two people working together to make a marriage work and we learned that early on. Last year we celebrated our 40th anniversary in England. This year we decided on a much quieter approach and went for a nice walk in Pine Gulley Park in Seabrook, a town near where we live. We can look back at every year and remember the important events – we do this every New Years and on our anniversaries. They are all good memories built on a strong and trusting relationship. That relationship can stand the current crisis and provide us with the basis for getting through it successfully. I asked my dad once what the secret to a long marriage was and he said “pick the right woman to start with”. Verva’s my strength, my support and my best friend.

Other big news – Katy and Scott are expecting their first child and our first grandchild in October. Talk about exciting. We feel especially fortunate that they’re here on assignment and not in Virginia. We’ll get to help them and get to know the baby until next July.

Lastly, you’ve all read Rindy’s comments on my blog and, although it was very difficult to get, here is a picture of us at the Blood Dinner last Saturday.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Boring Update

Sometimes it seems like there’s not really anything of interest to put up on the blog - especially in the first week after a chemo session. Wednesday all I managed to do was drag myself from nap to nap and today I’m about back to “normal”. If it weren’t for the rain I’d try a bicycle ride.

Part of the challenge of this whole thing is to learn what the new “normal” is. It’s very different from the old normal – energy, appetite, aches and pains – all new and not what I’m used to. However, the downside is not acceptable and we need to learn to live with and maximize what we can do in this situation.

Sarah’s returning today from two weeks in England on a job and we’re all going to the annual St. Luke’s Blood Donor dinner tomorrow night. I’m giving a speech on my experiences as a donor and, now, as a possible recipient. That ought to be interesting.

One day at time – piece of cake.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

6th Chemo Session – Halfway

We had a great week last week – museum, Tomball project visit and a trip to the zoo. We capped it off with dinner Sunday at the Backstreet Café with our good friend, Barbara. We spent the night at Katy and Scott’s to avoid morning rush hour and arrived at MDS at 0745 for our 0800 appointment following a good breakfast at the Daily Grind on Washington.

I guess we should have been suspicious because the lab was overflowing. There was a wheelchair jam at the check in counter and every seat was full. I checked in and did my thing by about 0815. Verva gave a pint of blood prior to our 0900 chemo appointment. Checked in at the chemo facility a little before 0900 and didn’t get on flow until 1130. It seems that the lab was backed up badly and it took that that long for the results to be run, checked and released to chemo. They can’t start without the blood work. We got home about 6:30.

One thing we notice every time we go to MDA is how blessed we are to not be as sick as many of the poor people in there for treatment. We see people who can hardly move, men, women and especially children. I guess we’re pretty sick but there is always someone in a worse situation and we need to be appreciative of where we are.

Today, Tuesday, I feel pretty good. The “happy drugs” they give you with the chemo seem to last into the day after. No nausea, etc. I planted the “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” plant that Rindy gave us and rode about 4 miles on my bike. Almost ran over an osprey – don’t know who was surprised the most. Verva spent the afternoon at the pottery studio. I expect tomorrow will be a little slower but so it goes.

One day at a time – piece of cake.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Trip to the Zoo

It’s real good to be in the part of the chemo cycle where I feel almost normal. Yesterday we went to the zoo with our friends the Hammens. We’ve known the girls, Lilly and Heather, since their birth and we are very close to them. Our last trip to the zoo was in the early 90’s so there have been lots of changes so the girls gave us a tour. The weather was beautiful and we had a good time.

Today a cold front came in and the temperature is 42 degrees (yesterday it was near 80). While I don’t mind cold when I can be inside, I unfortunately had to get the grass cut before the next rain (today) and before my next chemo Session (Monday). I bundled up like I was going snowmobiling. Gloves, parka, hat, face cover – due to the chemo I am very sensitive to the cold. My nose, toes and fingers were numb when I finished and it started raining about 2/3 of the way through – not hard enough to have to stop. My fingers are still numb as I type this.

6th chemo session Monday – that’s half way through. I’ve felt better this past week than I have so far. The chemo effects last a little longer each time but I feel better after each session.

One day at a time – piece of cake…..

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Out and About

Yesterday we went into Houston to see the “Masterpieces of French Painting from the Metropolitan Museum of Art 1800 -1920”. Pretty fancy title and a pretty nice exhibit. We liked being able to see the progression of impressionistic art over the period of time represented here. It’s always interesting to see something different. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam shows how his work developed over the course of his life – very interesting. There is a Salvatore Dali museum in St. Petersburg, Florida that does the same thing for Dali.

Afterwards, we drove about 35 miles north to visit a shop where I had been doing some work before I got sick. It was a great job. The technology was brand new and ExxonMobil had been involved from the beginning. The engineering company was young and excited and based in Vancouver. A lot of the fabrication of the critical new technology was done just south of Toronto. The unit was assembled into a self contained skid in Tomball, Texas and the final installation will be in our refinery in Fos near Marseilles, France. I was involved in this project for quite a while and it was exciting to finally see it assembled and in the final stages of completion.

Today, I got out a little gardening stool, plugged in my MP3 player to a Formula One podcast, got on my gloves and weeded about half my patio before getting rained out. Needless to say, most of the chemo aftereffects are gone and I’m feeling pretty good. I have a Building Committee meeting tonight and plan on finishing the weeding tomorrow.

One day at a time – piece of cake.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Sunshine

It seems to me that the recovery from the last chemo session took a little longer than the one before it. Not an encouraging trend. Yesterday I was pretty depressed – seemed like every little thing I did wore me out. Verva suggested I go outside and get some fresh air and sun and see if that didn’t pick me up some.

I drug my butt out of my chair and out the door. Pulled a couple of weeds that had been bugging me because I had to look at them while I was eating breakfast. Pulled all the weeds in the bush bean bed – now it’s ready for beans. I put the kickstand I bought last week on my bike. Climbed into the attic and got a chair, my fishing pole and tackle box. Sat the chair in the sun and cleaned up my pole. I think I’ll wet a line in the pond behind my house.

I rode my bike another 2 miles around the neighborhood and it all felt good. Verva was right – I needed sunshine and fresh air. I will try for some more of the same this afternoon.

Oh and I feel pretty good today, the chemo impact seems to be finally gone and I have a week to look forward to. I’m heading for Baytown in a few minutes to attend a retirement lunch and, tomorrow, Verva and I are going downtown to see the French Impressionist exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Life is good when lived one day at a time – piece of cake.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Photos

I've been meaning to post some pictures from Bodega Bay and from my birthday but it's taken longer than I planned. I needed some help from Sarah to be able to manipulate the HTML. Anyway, here they are:

This is 90% of my family:


These are my friends from High School - unfortunately I don't have a group shot of everyone that came so were missing the wives, Sarah, Bev, Nancy, etc.

These are our friends the Stangels, the Hammonds and the Kreglows from when we worked in Benicia. We all have grown up together.



And last but not least all my neighbors came over on my birthday and surprised me with a cake.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Post Chemo Report

Well, the first day after my chemo on Monday was a more typical reaction I think. I ran a low-grade fever and was actually sick (first time since I got cancer). Napped a lot and didn’t do much. Today (Wednesday) I felt slightly better and managed to cut about ¾ of my lawn before having to rest. Slept most of the afternoon. Pump comes off tonight and I’ll be able to get a shower. Looking forward to that.

Verva has been my angel. I cannot say how much she means to me or how hard she tries to help me through this. She has a positive attitude and is a strong believer in healing by visualization. I’m very glad she walked into my parent’s kitchen in 1964.

Reminder to everyone – you may be able to avoid what I’ve been going though by getting an endoscopy. It’s painless and you don’t have to drink a gallon of liquid. It should be part of your regular checkups - especially if you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux. If you haven’t had one recently, think hard on getting one soon.

One day at a time, piece of cake.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Good News



Here's a picture of my cousin, Dick, and me.



Verva and I met with Dr. Ajani yesterday (and three or four other people) and he shared the results of the cat scan from Friday.

The cancer on my liver has been significantly reduced as has the cancer on my lymph glands. The tumor is slow to respond to treatment and has slightly increased in size. The doctor is not worried about this. Verva has asked the doctor for more information.

Had we not seen significant improvement I would not have been allowed to continue in the clinical trail. As it is I’m good for two more months.

Verva and I are very pleased with these results – we believe the combination of chemo, positive attitude and the prayers and support of our family and friends will continue to whip the cancer.

On Sunday and Monday my cousin Dick and his wife Judy visited us from Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Dick is one year older than me and we spent a lot of time together when we were kids. It was great to see them. We toured the area and learned to play 4 handed cribbage. I believe the guys and the gals tied over the course of several games.

Chemo last night got started late and ended late – we got home about 11:30. Dick and Judy took off about 8:30 a.m. heading for Vicksburg, Miss. I’m going to have a quiet day.

One day at a time – piece of cake.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bodega Bay, California


Since I was computerless for a week out on the coast, I wrote three pages long hand with the intention of translating it into the blog upon our return. After looking it over I’ve decided to spare you the details of who came on what day and give you highlights.

From the kitchen of the rental you can see whales spouting and rolling in the ocean below. Who could ask for a better accompaniment to washing dishes? Bodega Bay is a healing place for Verva and me. The sea air and ocean vistas pretty well set aside any of your other troubles and concerns. My parents had a house here for many years and Katy and Sarah have been coming here since they were born. The beautiful thing about Bodega Bay is that it hasn’t been spoiled by tourists. Some things have changed considerably. The Tides Restaurant which was used in Hitchcock’s movie The Birds has gone upscale and lost much of its original character. However, next door the pink and white shop that sells salt water taffy is pretty much unchanged.

We had a total of 35 visitors over the course of our stay. They were divided up into family, high school and work. I appreciate more than I can say that these special people drove/flew to the California coast to spend time with me. I felt surrounded by support and positive thinking.

I did great on this trip, felt semi-normal most of the time and had no issues. The coast is a great place to nap, especially on a sand dune under the warmth of the sun, sheltered from the wind and surrounded by the noise of crashing waves.

Big stuff coming up – cat scan tomorrow – the first one since I started chemo. It will confirm that the chemo is working and that the cancer is being impacted. I won’t know the results until Monday and I have my fifth chemo session Monday afternoon.

Today is my 64th birthday and Verva bought me a bicycle. She says it’s better exercise than riding a lawn mower. Speaking of lawns – the good fairy that lives next door to me cut my grass and edged my lawn while I was away. Thank you, Jeff.

One day at a time – piece of cake.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Chemo #4

I don’t think anything feels as good as a long hot shower after a couple days of sponge baths. When I have chemo I have to wear a metering pump that pumps one of the ingredients in over a 48 hour period. Needless to say, showering is difficult with a pump in a fanny pack.

My fourth session of chemo went real well. In preparation, on Thursday we had a great dinner and visit with Paul and Vicki who are on assignment in Hong Kong. Paul and I worked very closely together for about 6 years building stuff for ExxonMobil. It was great to see them. On Friday morning before heading downtown, I went out with my friend, Charlie, for a cruise in Galveston Bay. The weather was perfect and the bay was calm. What a great way to start my day.

No bad side effects from chemo (again). Felt better on Saturday than I did on Sunday. I think it’s the residual effect of some of the meds they give me along with the chemo drugs. Sunday was a little slower but I did get to church and the kids came over for dinner. In between, I mostly slept. I really look forward to having the kids over for dinner – it’s every Dad’s dream.

We’re flying to California on Wednesday morning. I’m not sure what will happen to the blog but I will try to make some entries at the local internet café (if they have one). We’ll be back in town on the 21st of March for a cat scan and another round of chemo on the 26th. Chemo has been shifted to Monday so that I can enjoy the weekends with my kids.

Stay tuned and don’t worry if you don’t hear from me for a while. I’ll update the blog on my return if I can’t do it while we’re out there.

One day at a time – piece of cake.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Yesterday I went over to Baytown and visited my friends and had lunch with my daughters and Peter and Rindy. It was good to see everyone and it almost made me think I should go back to work when I feel good enough. Fortunately good sense prevailed and I remain fully retired.

In the evening we had a good meeting of the Building Committee at church and worked our way through a major decision that will let us get started on detailed engineering next week. Unfortunately, I may have overdone it some because I had some issues later in the evening.

My issues involve pressure in my stomach and an inability to relieve the pressure. It’s like when you eat too much or drink too much beer and pressure builds up in your stomach. Most people just belch and relieve the pressure. I’ve never been a burper so I end up with something like the dry heaves trying to relieve the pressure. This has been happening less and less frequently but I still have incidents. I have been unable to correlate them with food or activities. They’re kind of random. The good news is now it happens ever other day instead of every 20 minutes like it was in January.

I still feel like I’m getting better every week and I look forward to my 4th chemo treatment tomorrow because it will continue the improvement.

Thank you, Geri, for the John Deere tee shirts. Perfect gift.

One day at a time – piece of cake.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Support

I was going to make this blog a list of everyone who has e-mailed me or made a comment on my blog but when I counted the names and came up with 191 different people or couples I was overwhelmed. Many of you maintain an ongoing dialog with me and I really like that. I can’t tell you what your comments and e-mail mean to us. One thing it means is that we are not alone, that we have a large group of family and friends supporting us.

“You walk through the darkness with us, not because you are ill and have to, but because you choose to. We were drafted but you enlisted. We recognize and appreciate the difference more than words can ever say. YOU are our heroes, our support, and our reasons for fighting.” From “There’s No Place like HOPE” by Vickie Girard.

Today was a lovely day here in Texas. It started out cold but may have gotten to 70. I put six bags of fertilizer on the lawn (about 3 bags short of what I needed). Verva and I cleaned out the raised veggie beds and she got the bush bean bed ready to go. We planted some tomatoes and other things given to us by our good friend and ace gardener, Chris.

I’m still feeling pretty good. Last night I ate the biggest dinner yet without any problems and that was very encouraging. We continue to improve and move towards a more normal life.

One day at a time – piece of cake….

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Relay For Life

We had a great visit with Sam and Maryo Hammonds, our long time friends from California. We did 6 days down the Grand Canyon with them in 2005. Sam and I started working at Exxon on almost the same day in 1973. Dinner tonight with a bunch from the church and tomorrow we’re going to the theatre in Houston. We’re season ticket holders for the Alley Theatre and I haven’t felt up to it until now. Should be fun.

Bought a bunch of fertilizer today so Monday will mean more tractor time.

Feeling good, getting by.

Relay For Life

On April 27 and 28, there is an event called Relay for Life in Baytown sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The event is a fund raiser and consists of teams walking or running a track all night. There is special recognition laps for Survivors and remembrance of those lost to cancer.

Both of my daughters are participating in the relay and Verva and I will be there as well. If you’d like to contribute, their websites are:

Katy: www.acsevents.org/relay/baytown/katy

Sarah: www.acsevents.org/relay/baytown/sdmikke

For general information, the web site is www.acsevents.org/relay/baytown.


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Reading

This week is proceeding very nicely. Weather’s nice, I feel better than ever and we’ve had company for dinner and we are expecting visitors from California in about an hour.

One of the things I’ve done quite a bit of since I found out I had cancer (actually since I retired) is read. My reading tastes run towards entertainment. Here are the books I’ve read since January 11.

1) WorldWar: In the Balance by Harry Turtledove
Aliens invade earth during WW2

2) IWOZ by Steve Wozniak
Biography

3) Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
Old school science fiction

4) The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
Sequel to Old Man’s War

5) Hawke by Ted Bell
Action story – hero’s a cross between James Bond
and Dirk Pitt.

6) Sharpe’s Eagle by Richard Cornwell
English rifleman against the French

7) Treasure of Kahn by Clive Cussler
Dirk Pitt’s latest adventure

8) Sanibel Flat by Randy Wayne White
Doc Ford adventure – entertaining

9) The Heat Islands by Randy Wayne White
Doc Ford

10) Everglades by Randy Wayne White
Doc Ford

11) Dead of Night by Randy Wayne White
Doc Ford

There are 13 books featuring this character – I’m going to read them all

12) Riding Rockets by Mike Mullane
The first shuttle astronauts

13) Aftermath by Charles Sheffield
End of the world story

14) Desert Solitaire by Edward Abby
A season in the desert as a ranger in Arches National Park

That’s it – I wouldn’t say it’s very intellectual or maybe even enlightening but I would say they’re pretty entertaining.

One day at a time - piece of cake



Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Back to Normal

This time it took me three days to get back to “normal” after chemo. Today is Tuesday and I feel pretty good. Yesterday we went down to Galveston to the Social Security office and signed up for Social Security. I had held off because I was working but now it doesn’t look like I’ll be working very much. We went for a walk on the seawall and had lunch at the Mosquito Café. Nice day.

Today I’m going to edge and mow the yard. It’ll be interesting to see if I can do the whole thing without wearing out. The weather’s pretty nice – cloudy but warmish – so I want to take advantage of the day. Verva’s spending the afternoon at the university in her pottery studio – it’s a nice break for her and she’s very talented.

P.S. Yard work went well – edged and mowed and then took a nap in the hammock.

Tough life.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday After Chemo

Well, I survived the third chemo session pretty well. I’m still wearing the pump. One of the components of the chemo treatment is injected slowly over 48 hours and I wear a little pump in a fanny pack for a couple days. I’ll have to admit I never pictured myself as a fanny pack kind of a guy. When it’s finished, Verva disconnects it and we take it back the next time we have chemo.

I seem to have more numbness and tingling in my fingers when exposed to cold than before. That is an expected side effect and I just need to remember not to grab ice cubes out of the refrigerator. No nausea, no other issues other than a need to nap. I understand that chemo won’t always be like this – that there’ll be a time later where I will have some issues with nausea, etc. but we’ll just wait and see.

I was looking over my blog entries. I have made 28 postings and received 140 comments. The comments mean a lot to us and we love getting them but I can’t answer the comments through the blog. I like getting e-mail and my e-mail address is is under my name on the contributor list on the right hand side of the blog page. So if you’d like some dialog, send me an e-mail.

One day at a time - piece of cake.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Chemo #3

This afternoon I go down to MDA for my third chemo treatment. We spent most of yesterday there – blood work, nutritionist, and an appointment with the doctor. At MDA, you don’t just get to see the doctor, you also get to visit both the clinical test administrators who seek pretty detailed information on how you are responding to the chemo and how you are feeling. I have to keep a daily log sheet which they review with me every 4 weeks. You also get to visit the physician’s assistant who goes over your condition in detail and answers any questions you have. In between, the nutritionist and the social worker drop by. Eventually you even get to see the doctor.

The overall feeling and judgment is that this chemo is working pretty well for me. I am the first person in the 11th test group for this trial and each group gets a higher dosage so, right now, my group is getting the highest dosage in the trial. All the staff there always tries to decide how I’m doing by whether or not I’m smiling. I will admit there have been a couple times that I was a little grouchy and didn't smile much. Most of the time now I really do feel pretty good. You can see this by the picture of me writing this blog entry.

Notice that I shaved my head – not because my hair was falling out but in support of Brittney’s rehab efforts.

I probably won’t write an entry over the weekend – the chemo does make me pretty tired for a couple days.

One day at a time – piece of cake.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Home Again

We got back from Rockport yesterday afternoon after a great couple days. The weather on Monday was perfect and we had a great trip out to look at the whooping cranes. You take a boat from Fulton Harbor down to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge. The birds winter in the refuge and you can see them quite well from the boat.

There are generally two adults and an adolescent in each group. Each group claims about a square mile of territory. This flock at Aransas migrates 2400 miles from the Northwest Territories in Canada. There are 237 birds in the flock and there are a total of 518 birds when you count the non-migrating and captive birds in the U.S. In 1941 there were only 16 birds. These birds stand 5 and a half feet tall and are truly spectacular.

It was a good trip and we saw many other birds ranging from peregrine falcons to American Oyster Catchers. We headed for home on Tuesday with several stops along the way.

We have a quiet day today and a day full of doctor appointments tomorrow and chemo on Friday. We were glad for the change of scenery and I was glad I was able to drive us down there and back. I couldn’t have done that two weeks ago.

One day at a time – piece of cake….

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday

Each day that passes I seem to feel better. The chemo’s working on me and I can tell. While I still have no appetite, eating’s easier and I haven’t lost any more weight. Our attitude has changed over the past weeks from one of fear and despair to a much more positive outlook thanks to the people at MDA, our family and our friends (and, of course, a chemo treatment that’s working). We’re looking at treating this like a chronic illness – one that will have to be dealt with but one that is survivable.

We’re not taking the 5th wheel out today like we planned. The cold weather makes it difficult for me to do much outside because one of the chemo meds makes my fingers numb in the cold. and that would include hooking up, setting up and messing with the 5th wheel. The trailer will have to wait for warmer weather. We are, however, heading for Rockport (about 250 miles SW of Houston on the coast) as soon as I get done writing this. Our good friends, Mike and Leslye, have offered us their house there for a couple days and we’re grateful. The weather’s lovely, clear and cool, and tomorrow we’ll take a boat ride out to see the whooping cranes and do some walking and birding. We’ll be back Tuesday night or Wednesday. No postings until we return.

The picture is of my main project team wearing “The Densmore Project” tee shirts provided by my hero, Rindy. These tee shirts are available for all team members.

One day at a time – piece of cake

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ethan Allen Memories


I am a big submarine fan and I recently ran across this picture of the Ethan Allen on the internet. It reminded me of the time during the late 60’s when I served on the USS Ethan Allen, SSBN 608. This was a Polaris submarine. She was the first of a class that were built from the keel up to carry missiles. I reported aboard at the height of the Cold War and I made four patrols. During the time I was aboard there was some question about the operational readiness of these boats and missiles after having been in service for a number of years. In spite of an extensive preventative maintenance program, live firings of missiles showed a high number of failures. We had fired single missiles on sea trails prior to patrol successfully but a number of other boats had problems.

The Allen was selected for a live firing exercise that involved firing seven missiles in a war time sequence. This meant every minute or two we’d launch. It was a major test. My job during the launch was to fire a flare in between each launch as a signal to the surface observers. We steamed out of Rota, Spain, to somewhere in the mid Atlantic and awaited the firing signal. When it came we fired seven missiles in sequence without a hitch including the flares between shots. The boat was submerged and each time we fired a missile it bounced up and down as systems compensated for the change in weight. All the missiles went downrange and impacted the target area. We received a Presidential Unit Commendation for the effort.

The picture here shows the boat underway. It looked pretty casual with the guys in shorts on the sail planes and the flag flying from the sail. It reminded me of our return to port with a broom tied to the periscope (“clean sweep”) and a 7-Up flag flying from the sail. The boat has the hull number painted on it (608) and this was not the case when I was on it. Then, hull numbers were painted over as part of deployment. The other picture is one of me in my “office” on the boat.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Going For A Walk

There is nothing like sitting around being sick for a month to make your first walk a challenge. The sky was clear, the temperature in the 50’s and a stiff breeze blowing so this morning Verva and I decided the weather was good enough to go for a walk. Holy cow, talk about no steam. I struggled back to the house after a ½ or ¾ of a mile wondering what the hell had happened. It’s amazing how fast one’s body weakens without exercise. I better do this everyday or I won’t be able to go out and pick up the paper in the morning.

Don’t know if any of you remember Travis McGee novels by John D. McDonald but I read them and enjoyed them several times over the years. Travis McGee lived on a houseboat in Florida and helped people out of jams. I recently found another author, Randy Wayne White, who writes a series of novels based on a character named Doc Brown. He’s a marine biologist who lives on Sanibel Island in Florida. They’re entertaining and good light reading.

Found the spreader for my tractor. When the wind stops and it warms up some I’ll get out and lay down 10 bags of pre emergent herbicide.

One day at a time, piece of cake…

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday

It’s a big time stormy Texas day here. Thunder, lightning, inch an hour rain. Nice day to be inside. However, before it started I actually got out and ran some errands. Got the oil in my truck changed and renewed my safety sticker. Tried to find a new spreader to pull behind my tractor but was unsuccessful.

I seem to see changes and improvements each day. Much less hic-cups and each day it’s easier to eat. That’s not to say that I want to eat – my appetite’s gone south. But since I have to eat it’s better that the food goes down easier. This two week period will be interesting. I want to see if I have enough steam to go get my 5th wheel and park it in the driveway and then maybe next week take a short trip down the coast. I also want to see if I can get back on track with our church expansion – I’ve missed a couple meetings but I think I’m still the Chairman of the Committee. I also need to get outside and start walking so that I don’t turn into a vegetable.

If I can do these few things, they will give us some indication of how the next 6 months will play out and we very much want to have some routine and normalcy back in our lives.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Second Chemo Treatment

The second chemo treatment went very well. We got to MDA early for blood work and an echocardiogram. The heart thing is an example of how thorough MDA is. During routine processing they did an EKG and it showed something they didn’t expect. We went back to the cardiologist with a bunch of old EKG’s and low and behold they think it was just stress from the cancer – it was back before treatment started and before I’d seen the doc. Anyway, I got a clean bill of health yesterday.

The chemo started about 0915 and finished about 2:00 p.m. Verva went to lunch with our doctor neighbor and I dozed and read. We were home by mid afternoon. Not much in the way of aftereffects that I can see. I’m pretty sleepy but I have no nausea or any other issues.

Pretty cool. The best part is Verva is now qualified to take off the pump tomorrow night so we don’t have to go back downtown for 2 weeks.

That’s two treatments down and ten to go.



Thursday, February 8, 2007

Margaritas and Pedicures

In anticipation of some post chemo downtime, Verva and I took advantage of a 70+ degree day and went out to run some errands, have some lunch and get a pedicure.

For lunch we went to a good Mexican restaurant near our house called Mely's. I had a margarita and fajita quesadillas. The margarita was the first (or maybe the second) drink I’ve had since we started down this path – I lost my taste for wine and beer (cancer is tough) – and it was good. So was the quesadilla. This demonstrates my improved ability to eat. I gained 2 pounds so I’m up 182.

We also got a pedicure. When I first retired, Verva asked me to come along for a pedicure. After some initial reluctance, I went and found that I enjoyed it very much. You sit in these massage chairs and put your feet in this little hot tub. The best part is the massage at the end.

We’re spending the night at Katy and Scott’s in preparation for an early start to our second chemo session tomorrow morning. Based on the progress in the past two weeks, we’re looking forward to the treatment and continued progress.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

A Beautiful Day


The temperature got into the mid-60’s today after lunch so I got out the mower and cut the grass. It probably didn’t need it. The way I tell is to get on the mower and mow out to the fence. I then turn around and, if I can tell I cut anything, I’m good to go. As you can see in the picture the grass is still pretty dormant.

None-the-less, the sky was blue, there was a light, cool breeze and it was about as good as it gets. Mowing is meditative for me. My mind wanders down a lot of different paths while I mow and today I felt optimistic and upbeat.

While I was mowing I noticed some good fairy had weeded my beds in the back yard. Thank you very much whoever you are and I have my suspicions. That was what I was going to try to do in the morning and it’s nice to have other options.

I continue to be able to eat fairly normally and I feel pretty good (about everything). Thank you all for your support – we can feel it.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Real Food Tastes Good

Sorry for those of you who rooted for the Bears last night. I had hoped it would be a better game (read more even). We watched the game over at Katy and Scott’s and spent the night because we had an appointment at MDA this morning.

Verva is now fully certified to change the dressing on my catheter and to flush the line on a daily basis. I think I’ll buy her a little nurse’s outfit for Valentine’s Day. Verva says no pictures to follow.

Things continue show some improvement. This is the second day I’ve been able to eat regular food and it’s a vast improvement over the Boost and the Ensure I’ve been trying to get down. The chemo seems to be working on the tumor and the cancer at my esophagus/stomach junction. I can swallow easier and a lot of the gas, bloating and dry heaving have gone.

I am planning on cutting the grass tomorrow if the temperature goes above 60. I’m suffering mower withdrawal.

Stay tuned….