Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stage 2 - Round 1 of Chemo - Put a Fork in It...It's DONE!!

Hi VP's...another long day has ended and Round 1 of this chemo cycle is forked and DONE!!! Can you all scream YEAAAAAAAAAAA!!! We got our gal all set up in a tad bigger room in the chair unit this morning around 8:30am and I went to get my second morning cup of coffee at the Starbucks they have in the hospital and off to the CURE she went. Hey Vicky...I also had a cup of "Jet Fuel" that you's REALLY good. It's strong enough to curl your socks and I LOVE it. Thanks ever so much for thinging of me and my bold coffee addiction!! A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to get our Bren through this!! I dare you to have a cup without out your hald and half!!! Ha!

Anyway...Brenda did some adjusting of her meds to help minimize the side effects of the chemo...and she took a great nap this morning. She really works hard to find the right combination that will give her comfort from the effects of all the drugs they give her on these chemo days. I'm so glad she can sleep and does a lot of that. It helps with the symptom control, gives her small bursts of energy, and helps her keep her wonderful, tenacious attitude. She is soooooo my hero.

We got out of the bed unit around 1:30 PM and headed over to the Radiation Treatment Center and met with a whole flock of folks that are part of Brenda's care team for radiation. We saw Dr. Swartzs' nurse Jennifer, his PA (oops...I can't remember her name!), the dietician Denise, and Tracey from the Behavioral Studies Department that asked us if we would consider joining a study about how couples communicate to each other through their cancer journey. Don't laugh...we agreed to subject the staff to our unique style of communication. On a serious note, they have done so much for us, we just wanted to give back. Michele...I know you must have a comment about this one. I can tell you this...this team is really going to be on top of any symptoms that crop up. Dr. Swartz really didn't have much of anything to look at or report so off we went. He did want Brenda to have an eye exam ASAP so they have a baseline on her vision. They are dangerous close to the lower orbit of her right eye and they have to radiate right between her eyes to target the brain lesion. We certainly want to keep her vision and other vital organs intact so help us with the shielding visualization if you feel so inclined. The more the better. The lady that checks us in at the front desk said that the radiation folks would fit us in so we wouldn't have to make another trip back tonight so we jumped for joy and headed for the treatment rooms and the waiting area.

Well, that didn't work out because they got backed up again so we had to come back at 7:00 PM. Bren went back for her treatment at 7:15 and she was out by 7:40...not bad. At least it gave us the opportunity to go back to the apartment and have her take another one of those "Power Naps." They are truly good for all that ails you.

I asked her what the treatment was like and maybe some of you are curious as well...OK so the medical folks know all about this, but those of us that don't like the sight of blood but are fascinated by the Discovery Health channel might be interested. Here's how she described it. She has to take her shirt and bra off and she covers "the girls" with a towel, then she lies on the table, and they have her put the mouth stent in and put on these wrist bands that pull her shoulders down toward her feet that help to keep her still. Then they put the mesh mask on and they make sure that she is all lined up properly. Then off the technician goes to run the computer program. Since Brenda's eyes are closed, all she can see/sense are different intensities of lights coming at different directions and, in some instances, the table actually moves so the beam can hit its target better. The technology is truly amazing. Day 2 of radiation = HISTORY!!

We're home now watching the championship game of the 2009 College World Series and it sure looks like Lousiana State University is going to beat the Texas Longhorns who were the reigning champs. We've been watching the games all week and they have been really good. LSU is leading 9 to 4 in the top of the 7th inning. At least tomorrow we don't have to get up at 6:15 am. UGH!

Tomorrow we have to see Dr. Hong at 10:00, get Brenda her white blood count building Nulasta shot after that and then be in radiation at 4:15 PM. Tomorrow is also the day I have to change her PICC line dressing, change the PICC line cap, and give her her daily Heparin flush so the line doesn't clog. A nurses duties are never done.

So now on to the slot competition. Thanks Bonnie for ensuring that we have RULES to follow...being a cop for 30 years, I've had rules out my eyeballs, but I truly understand that some of the villagers exhibit true competitive personalities that need the playing field to be defined out of fairness and good sportsmanship. So is everyone on the same sheet of music? How about we take Bonnie's suggestion and report the results in the blog every Sunday night by 8:00 PM Houston time. I just checked with Queen Triple 7 Slots of Buffalo Speedway and she's at $3862.75. It's 9:10 PM Houston time. Touch Away!!!

So that about wraps it up for Wednesday night in Houston...a VERY HOT and HUMID Houston I might add! Being from Arizona, Bren and I don't much mind the heat out there because it's a dry heat. still is like putting your head into an oven but it's not like walking into a steam room like it is here. It really does feel so much hotter here. If you can beloieve this, they had the chemo room so cold this morning that I had to put on my fleece jacket!!! The hotter it is outside, the colder they make the building!!!

Hey Bonnie and Jackie...I got a voice mail from Vickie Shaw this afternoon. How absolutely wonderful. I didn't have a chance to call her back but will try and do that tomorrow or Friday at the very latest. It really was so very nice of you to mention our situation to her and for her to call. We're really looking forward to seeing them. I know she'll have us laughing our socks off in no time. I just listened to her talk on the phone with that southern twang and I was smiling. How cool!

The pictures are of our Rip Van Amburg through the years. The top picture is of our sleepy Chemo-sabe taking a quick Power Nap on the banks of the Little Colorado River while we were on a 7 day trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. That training has really come in handly to prepare her for these long days. The bottom pic was taken this morning. Being plugged into he iTouch has been a God-send. Catching Power Naps when you can is vital. I can remember taking a wonderful Power Nap in a cemertry over my lunch break when I had to work midnights as a Patrol Sergeant. I had such a miserable time staying awake all night. UGH. Sure glad I don't have to do that any more. I have jabbered on long enough for tonight. Thanks for all you do to help us stay UP! You're the best village Chemo-sabe and her nurse could ask for.

Sleep well...good dreams...
Nirse Dee and Chemo Van Winkle


  1. Well girls, (and I'm not referring to the ones that Brenda covers during this awful radiation treatment!) . . .

    I have been absent from the blog for a few days, but you have NOT been absent from my thoughts and prayers. I have been reading ferociously to catch up tonight.

    Just so everyone knows, I KNOW that Brendita has at least one pink item in her wardrobe, because "Princess" thought she needed pink socks. We cracked up that birthday. . .almost got kicked out of the Admin office at PD, much like you are now in jeopardy of being kicked out of Houston apartment!

    I would love to buy an Iphone and participate in the slot challenge, but I would be about as good at learning technology as Brenda would be at being straight! God help us.

    In fact, for a good laugh, and to explain the extent of my electronic-arena challenges to the VP, I turned the camera OFF at Courtney's (my oldest's) college graduation ceremony during that once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity, instead of snapping the photo of her walking across the stage -- and mind you, this was followed by my youngest daughter chiding me at how ridiculously challenged I am at anything that involves electronics. So, I will just play my electronic Yahtzee (which I can handle) and imagine that it's a variation of your slot tournament. Tonight, I got a score of 305, and I consider 300 to be a "perfect" game. So, I will dedicate the perfection to Brenda. . . and come to think of it, to hell with slots anyway . . . I think BINGO is more my style!

    I love the updates and just marvel every time I read this blog at how incredibly brave Brenda is. And the Social Worker in me LOVES that you are being asked to join the study in communication. That speaks so much of the love you have for one another. I think I knew it that day that Brenda got her roses on year 14. (Remember, Bren? Who else would blurt out, "Is it your anniversary?" when I hadn't known you that long, didn't know FOR SURE you were a couple, and you said they were from Dee!)

    And I just ABSOLUTELY must agree with whomever, in the past 4 days of blogs, said that Brenda is only receiving a little return on all the love and support she has shared with all of us. Brenda, you know I would have gone insane without our curbside chats and all the days you nursed me back to some sense of normalcy when my life fell apart. . . My God, there is nothing I wouldn't do for you.

    And, lastly, I have to comment on the photo of Brenda napping that you posted today. Brenda, you just look so peaceful. It made me cry. Only someone like you possesses the grace to accept all of the fear, the doubt, the anger, and the absolute physical challenges of this disease, and shine through it all with love and a sense of peace that is guiding your heart. I see it in the photo.

    Love you! I will keep my prayers going for the next 35 days and beyond. . .

  2. Good morning. I am so happy that we are counting down this chemo/rad of week one. I woke up this morning with you in my mind and heart, just as it's been since our lives touched one another. Dee thanks for the update, I need one of those power naps already and I've only been awake for 2 hours. I think about the day we brought Brenda home from the hospital after the tumor removal. Brenda was packed with a huge nose tampon, her face swollen and packed. I would sit across the room and say to Dee, isn't that the most beautiful sight? You see, that morning was a nightmare and the afternoon was an answer to prayers, how great the beginning of the village was...Becky you helped me through that awful day more than you know. My heart was so broken that day.

    I can't wait until Vicky gets there July 1. Not that I want her to go, but I know how wonderful she is and how much she can comfort Brenda and allow Dee to head home for a much deserved break. She also cooks and Brenda gets to be spoiled with her wonderful culinary skills. I pray Brenda is able to eat solid foods that week. I on the other hand will be living on cereal and toast..Dee Dee, you are familiar with that routine, huh?

    Sandy from Michigan sends her love, the chemo is wearing her out and she is trying to keep up so the kids don't get too scared. She said she bought some head scarves but wrapped it like a terrorist, laughed herself silly and went back to her baseball cap. She wants you to know she's not a typist, so her responses are brief but she so enjoys hearing from you.

    Pam and Gail send their prayers and love. Strawberry hotcakes are waiting for you!!!

    My day must begin, so off to the shower. I love you and am confident that the village reunion celebrating the cure will be heard across the land.

  3. Chemo sabe,
    All along I am thinking the nap thing was from chemo and all the running around you have had to endure with this disease. Now that I see there was a bit of a pattern prior to the diagnosis I am not so sure. All I am sure about is naps are always a good thing. In the Grand Canyon photo, it looks like you are napping at the edge of a cliff, but I am sure that is just and illusion. At least I hope. In the recent photo, your face clearly communicates the medicinal value of naps. I could not live without them!!
    Ut oh. Medical study - oh my - that certainly makes me a little jittery. Or, maybe it is just that I am already on my second bucket of DD coffee. Regardless - daunting at least. Well tell them put their seat belts on for the ride to Chemo sabe's cure.
    Okay, just a legal disclaimer since professionals are viewing: I am not responsible for anything I say or do unless, of course it is good or marketable :)
    Now for a joke:
    A woman was waiting in the checkout line at Wal-Mart. Her arms were full of cleaning supplies including a mop and a broom. It was clear to anyone observing that this gal was obviously in hurry and not a happy camper about the slow moving check-out line. My sympathies.
    To make matters worse, the cashier called for a price check on a box of soap. That really irritated the "cleaning supplies" lady; so much so that she remarked, rather loudly and indignantly, "Well, I'll be lucky to get out of here and home before Christmas!"
    Without missing a beat, the cashier replied "Don't worry ma'am with a good tail wind and that brand new broom you have there, you'll be home in no time."
    Okay I'll stop and go back to work.
    Just thinking about you both.

  4. Nice to see you posted the photo of Rip Van Amburg during happier times. She's a pro when it comes to power naps. I'll dig up some more pics from my archives and scan them for you. The doctor in me noticed the puffy little fingers from the steroids during her chemo nap. After a few days of naps her energy should improve again and the swelling will go down. I get wait to get back to Houston. You two have been on my mind constantly. I pray daily that you are given strength and comfort during this difficult period in your lives. I wish I were within hugging distance. Love you both!


  5. Ahhhhh, can't ya'll hear the lullaby playing through the headphones?
    Sleep tight ladies