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


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 CafĂ© 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


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.