Monday, March 26, 2012

Chemo #16

This past weekend was a rough one for Jimmie.  After being sure several times that the pleurisy that has plagued him since November was cleared, it returned with a vengeance again.  The pulmonary doctor was convinced that the chemo was adding to the fluid in Jimmie's lungs at the first of the year, so it must still be doing something to aggravate the situation.

Chemo was fairly routine and uneventful.  The only excitement there today was getting the next CT Scan scheduled for Friday afternoon.  We should have a report next week on the progress of Jimmie's cancer treatment.  Please, continue to remember him in your prayers as we fight this disease.

- Linda

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The day after . . .

Jimmie tells me that yesterday he felt the best that he has in almost a year.  Part of the reason may have been the company of good friends.  Sunday was a marvelous day since it was the start of our gospel meeting at New Hope Road with Glen Hitchcock, and the fun of the fellowship meal at noon certainly didn't hurt.  So Jimmie got up Monday morning feeling good and the chemo infusion was only a short hiccup.  Last night we heard another great lesson from Glen and enjoyed being with brethren.  Afterwards a group of us hit the local Dairy Queen to take advantage of their "buy 1 get 1 for 99 cents" offer.  (There was a birthday and an anniversary in the group that just needed celebrating.)  As we were sitting there listening to Jimmie tell funny stories I was so pleased to see him energetic and happy again that I didn't even complain about the fact that he was talking about MY ancestors.

Then this morning the chemo headache arrived again.

I am so glad that doctors and researchers have worked hard to find chemicals and medicines that can battle diseases that wreck our bodies.  When those work they are wonderful, but the side effects can become another battle.  I'm glad, too, that God has provided us with plants, herbs and nutrients that can help our bodies to heal themselves.  But I am even more glad that God gave us the gift of prayer.  Where would we be without it?

- Linda

Chemo #15

Today's infusion was uneventful but brought 3 tidbits of good news.

  1. First, the nurse opted to use the right arm to give the left one a break, and Jimmie remained bubble-free.  Yeah!  
  2. Another plus - Jimmie's fungal infection is vastly improved.  The prescription packaging may have given my he-man a shock, but the medicine inside certainly helped.  The package instructions said that one pill is the full treatment for candida, but Jimmie was given 4 pills to take one per week.
  3. And third, we confirmed that Jimmie is to have another scan next week to check the status of his cancer.  I definitely want the doctor to keep close tabs on it, but I can feel the pins-and-needles sensation beginning already.
- Linda

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chemo #13 & 14

I completely skipped last week - and for once the chemo infusion was not the highlight of the week.  Our grandson, Cole, was here so there were just too many exciting things happening to think about this blog.  On Wednesday we took him to tour a fire station, and the firemen took him for a ride in the fire engine.  Then they got a call as we were about to leave, so we even got to watch them peel out with sirens blaring.  Wow!  It sure made his day.

Thursday & Friday we camped by a lake.  I handled the kitchen duties while Jimmie & Cole fished . . . and fished . . . and fished.  As they came in for lunch after Cole's first lessons in the art of casting he bragged to his Grandad, "I did pretty good, except when I wrapped the line around your legs, and when I hit you in the head with the bait, and when I almost cut your head off."   But Jimmie decided that Cole has fishing in his blood - he never tired of it.  Especially after he landed his very first fish!
Cole quickly started wishing that he might catch 5 to match his age - and he did! 

The camp out was wonderful.  I think it was the first "just for fun" trip we have made since Jimmie got sick last  June.  Jimmie enjoyed catching a few bass himself - 
but he was much more excited about teaching Cole.
This Monday found us back at the oncologist for the weekly infusion of chemicals and some excitement of a different sort.  Jimmie was almost done with the bag of meds when he noticed that his arm was swelling rapidly.  It may have been the pain that got his attention.  The nurse sprang into action removing the IV immediately.  She called it "getting a bubble" but it looked more like a small balloon to me.  Jimmie's vein had collapsed so all the medication was flowing into his tissue instead of his blood and simply collecting a few inches below the injection site.  I had no idea such a thing could happen.  They soon had Jimmie's arm packed in ice - in fact, we came home that way - and slowly the "bubble" began to deflate.  But then they had to stick his other arm to finish the IV.  So yesterday was a 3-poke day. Ouch! (They always take blood tests first thing to confirm he is well enough to tolerate the chemo.)

The doctor also decided that all of the sores that have been breaking out all over Jimmie's body - he seems to get more with every infusion - was from a fungal infection caused by the chemo.  He did some checking on the best treatment, then called in a prescription at the drug store.  We picked that up today and Jimmie burst out laughing as he read this on the packet cover:  "Your doctor has prescribed fluconazole for a vaginal yeast infection."  Wow!  Talk about wrong!

- Linda

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chemo #12

Jimmie's chemo treatments are on Mondays now to hopefully allow him to feel well enough to travel on weekends again.  But this week found us traveling on Tuesday, now the worst post-chemo day.  One of Jimmie's younger brothers, Jarrod, was admitted to the hospital in Crossville, Tennessee with vertigo.  The local doctor took scans and diagnosed a minor stroke, but was concerned that a bigger one might be on the way.  He called in a specialist from the big city of Nashville, so we headed up there.  But just as we were completing the 5 hour drive we got word that the specialist had determined that the pinprick of damage on the scan was something old.  So Jarrod just had vertigo.  That was very welcome news!  And it was nice to get to see all of Jimmie's brothers, although next time I prefer a more scheduled trip.  We headed home on Wednesday with severe storms just off our back bumper the whole way - but luckily they never caught us.

I received complimentary copies of the March/April Christian Woman magazine this week, which means I have another article inside.  I had almost forgotten that I had written one on God's wisdom and happiness since it was just before Jimmie's cancer diagnosis.  That pretty much turned everything upside down.  But I'm glad that I did.  I needed the reminder.  I have added it to the LMH Articles tab above if you want to take a look.

I sometimes find it amazing how we can find humor in almost any situation if we try.  I recall Hurricane Ofa that almost wiped out the island of Tutuila when we lived in Samoa years ago.  It was devastating, yet almost everyone I talked with had a funny story to tell about something that happened to them.  We still laugh about how our cat, Oliver, slunk behind furniture during the 3 days the storm sat on top of us, and then refused to live in the house again after it was over because he was convinced that all that noise had only happened inside those walls.  I recall my horror when Jimmie went dashing out of the house right into the hurricane without a word of warning, only to return moments later totally drenched but with a single rose that he had rescued for me.  And our daughter Julie who was only 5 at the time thought it was absolutely hilarious when the kitchen ceiling plopped into a pan of eggs I was frying the morning after.  Without a sense of humor the weeks following that disaster would have truly been horrific.

And so it is with any disaster, including cancer.  Sometimes we have to search for the humor.  And sometimes it just happens.  Jimmie has been laughing all week about something that happened on Monday's doctor visit.

After the slight increase in Jimmie's hemoglobin last week, it was back down again on Monday.  (I had run out of the essential oil I was trying, but have now gotten more.)  Naturally, my first question to the doctor was, "Is there anything else you can do for the anemia?"  His head was down as though deep in thought as he responded, "Yes, there is a shot that works great on anemia . . . but no, that always makes the cancer grow quicker."  Then his head shot up as it dawned on him that he had spoken out loud.  He threw his hands into the air and exclaimed, "Now it's your turn to say 'No Doctor Montero, we don't want that!"  So of course Jimmie and I both declared in unison, "No Doctor Montero, we don't want that!"

I think Jimmie has a new catch phrase.  I've been hearing it a lot since Monday.

- Linda