Sunday, August 30, 2009

Healing Update




Hi VP's...I guess by now you've learned that if there are several days that go by and I don't post something on the blog that all must either be going very well or are a complete disaster. Well the former is true. Brenda is doing just great and is getting a little bit stronger with each passing day. She's still sleeping lots, but that's to be expected and is good for her healing process. She does much better in the afternoon and has actually stayed awake more and more each day. It just brings such joy to my heart to see her recovering. YEA!!! As you can see by the picture...Tanner, our red male Dobie...is giving Brenda some lessons on relaxation. It sooooo good to have them home with us.

Saturday Becky came over and she helped Brenda make macaroni salad for dinner that the Mesa gang had last night. Of course Brenda still can't taste a darn thing so we all had to sample to ensure the seasoning was right on target...OH hurt me with that task!! Ha! The progressive dinner we had was a ball and it almost felt like old times once again! I just can't tell you how great that was. Julie made her famous "chicken balls"...comfort food like no other!! We brought macaroni salad and I made a fresh apple pie. Lynn and Kim brought the veggies and a HUGE cookie for Ryder, Becky and Julie's adorable 3 year old. As you can see, Ryder was absolutely fascinated by Brenda's hair and just has to run his hands over her head. He is such a doll and a future heart breaker.

So life in Mesa is wonderful, HOT, but not humid...and totally wonderful. We are slowly getting all the Houston stuff unpacked and put away and are taking the opportunity to clean out stuff. It's truly amazing what you can accumulate in 4 months!!! Brenda is slowly transitioning off the feeding tube and is trying to eat more and more regular food each day. As any good nurse worth her salt would do, I'm trying to get some weight back on my patient. I just can't believe how slow the time went that week before we left Houston and how fast the time has gone since we've been home!!

We just wanted you all to know that LIFE IS GOOD!!!! Keep checking the blog for more updates and pictures. I'm going to keep this going...the story hasn't ended! Hugs to all of you for your comments, e-mails, flowers, well wishes and prayers! Our village is nothing short of fantastic! God bless you all...have a wonderful day!

Dee, Brenda, Abbie and Tanner

Monday, August 24, 2009

Homecoming Video



VP's as promised...here's the highlights of Brenda's late, but cheerful homecoming celebration at the airport. You can probably see how tired she was. That was a &#$@ 10 hour flight!! For those that couldn't attend, we felt your energy. It's so wonderful to be HOME.

Enjoy the video...
Dee and a recovering Brenda

video

The Coming Home Story...Ya Gotta Read This!

Hi VP's...I bet you were wondering about our homecoming. I have quite a story to tell...we NEVER seem to do things without a little "blip" in plans. Now those aren't necessarily bad blips and our homecoming was no exception. We've been busy getting settled back into our desert living...let me just say that we just couldn't be happier to be home. I guess that just goes without saying, doesn't it.

OK...so here's the story. The last update I gave was Thursday and you know that Brenda wasn't feeling well at all. I really wondered if we would get to go home. Every time I asked her if she was OK to travel, she just got this very determined look on her face, and just said "YES!" Did I really expect to have her say anything different? NO!

So our dear "car transport" friend had to fly in on Thursday night because he was flying "stand-by" and the Friday flight was booking up. He got a hotel at the airport and at least he got a good night's sleep. We...on the other hand, didn't sleep well at all. Brenda was still trying to recover from her horrible bout of barfing, and I was fixated on how I was going to organize all the stuff sitting in the living room that needed to get packed into the car. I woke up at 3:00 am and just couldn't go back to sleep. Brenda was up and down all night. So at 4:30 we both got up and I got meds in our gal and got a can of food in her...that was a good thing...she needed food!

I got the car packed and those of you that know me, know I can really maximize space. We got most everything in, and I'm telling you...I couldn't have fitted one more thing in that vehicle. It was packed to the max!! Ha! We had no remorse in leaving that apartment...it served its purpose well, but we were more than over it! HOME...that was our total focus! We got to the hotel about 10:30, chatted with our buddy, and Brenda headed immediately for the bed and fell asleep. That was good. We got a late checkout of 4:00 PM so that meant we could let her sleep until we had to head over the the airport for our flight. I got Bren to drink a Boost and I went and got some lunch. I knew eating would be messed up.

We got over to the airport, checked in, and all was on track. So as we were sitting at the gate waiting for boarding, I noticed this huge weather system that was moving toward the airport...OH NO! Houston weather was predicted to be stormy that afternoon and the weather guys were absolutely right on target...this was NOT going to be a small storm. We got on board, pushed back from the gate, and started to taxi to the runway, when all of a sudden we STOPPED! The pilot got on the PA and informed us we had to hold on the tarmac because the airport had just closed down due to the storm!! DANG!! So we sat there for an hour and a half while the storm ragged around us.

Some of you know that we had planned a surprise homecoming gathering at the airport so while we were sitting there I phone Toni to update her on the delay. POOP! But an hour and a half delay wasn't too bad. We finally took off and headed for home. For those of you not familiar with Phoenix weather...we are in our annual "monsoon" season when we can get violent afternoon thunderstorms with lots of blowing dust, high winds, lots of lightening, torrential rain, and micro-bursts. These storms are nothing to mess around in. But the monsoon season this year has been next to non-existent and it really looked like the Phoenix weather would be calm. HA!!! Did I also tell you that monsoon weather was also quite unpredictable?

The flight thus far was typical...no problems. Brenda wasn't feeling all that well and couldn't sleep very much...she needed to lay down but the flight was PACKED. I felt our descent into Phoenix and had a smile on my face. But all of a sudden the pilot got on the PA system again and said that the Phoenix airport (Sky Harbor) was closed due to violent thunderstorms surrounding the airport. GREAT! It hasn't rain hardly at all all summer and now, when we want to get home to see our friends at the airport...WE CAN'T LAND!!! LORD!!! So we went into a holding pattern south of the airport and waited for the storm to pass or subside. About 45 minutes into the holding pattern, the pilot again came on the PA and said that we were going to try and land but although the airport had opened, the thunderstorm was still very active and we might have to divert. If we couldn't land he said we would have to go to Tucson because we would need fuel! WONDERFUL!

So we start our approach to the airport when all of a sudden we are changing directions...now what? The pilot again came on the PA and said that the winds had shifted and we would have to approach from the other direction. Aircraft fact: When you land, you want to land INTO the wind. This direction change meant we were going into the worst part of the storm. It wasn't a pretty picture...lightening all around...a lot of turbulence...OH...this was not looking good at all. So we turn on final approach to land and the bad weather gets WORSE! These were the worse conditions I have ever tried to land in and they weren't getting better...they kept getting WORSE. On short final, when our airspeed was low, we hit extremely nasty conditions. The plane was flipping up, yawing back and forth, the tail was flipping up and I said to myself..."WE CANNOT LAND SAFELY IN THESE CONDITIONS." Well I was right and the pilot finally gunned the engines and we aborted the landing...thank the LORD! YEP! We were now on the way to Tucson!!

Brenda was feeling worse and worse. She needed meds, she needed to get something into her stomach, and she needed to lay down and sleep, but none of that was going to happen right then. When we got to Tucson (a half hour flight from Phoenix) I did get meds into Bren and that helped a lot. But no one could get off the plane because we were just refueling and then would head back to Phoenix when the weather would let us. YEP...I was on the phone again advising the homecoming gang of the delays. They were going to stick it out and wait for us. What a great bunch of friends. Thank heaven the bar at the airport was still open so some of the folks just went and had some cocktails. Good for you.

OK while we were refueling the pilot came out of the cockpit and told us why we aborted the landing...which was quite obvious to everyone...we actually clapped when we landed in Tucson. Yep! He scared the crap out of everyone, but he was totally interested in getting us SAFELY home so he didn't take any chances. BLESS HIM! He said we aborted because we hit a wind shear and all the alarms in the cockpit were going off...wind shear is nothing to mess with!!! So we refueled and sat at the gate for a bit waiting for that dang storm in Phoenix to leave. Again the pilot got on the PA and said we were cleared to take-off...we pushed back, and headed for the runway. All of a sudden we STOPPED!! YEP! You guessed it...they closed Sky Harbor again and we had to wait!! OK...This was getting ridiculous. It was now about 10:00 PM and we were supposed to have landed at 7:03 PM!! We finally were cleared to take-off about 10:30 PM and got into Phoenix around 11:00 PM.

Julie met us at the gate (she's a pilot for US Airways and had access to get to the gate to help us.) It was soooooo good to see her. Brenda was feeling a little better and in true Brenda (fighter, warrior) fashion she didn't want to sit in a wheelchair...she wanted to walk. OK then! The homecoming at the other side of security was absolutely fantastic...banners, balloons, cheers, hugs, kisses...it was magical! Julie took some video so we'll send that a little later today when I have an extra minute to edit the footage. To all of you who stuck it out at the airport, you'll never know how much that meant to us. It really meant we were home and it was so good for both of us to see you all.

Becky and Julie took Brenda home after she got to say Hi to everyone, and Lynn, Kim and I waited for the luggage and they drove me up to the house. That's when we got the second amazing surprise. Yellow ribbons were everywhere on our front tree. It was BEAUTIFUL!!! Becky and Julie helped collect ribbons from all of you (thanks Vic for the fabulous idea and spear-heading this project!) and put them up in the tree and then had to scurry to take down some of the ones with pictures and notes that wouldn't survive the rain. I think Julie said she took a picture before they had to dismantle part of the tree!! I can just see them. Bless your hearts guys...this was so fantastic. There were yellow ribbons in the house too...on the cactus and on the front door. It was wonderful and very heartwarming. Bren and I go out front and read the notes on the ribbons. Thanks...it made the homecoming perfect! LATE, but Perfect!

I think we got to bed around 1:00 am!! UGH! So there's the Friday news...what a story... right? I have to close for right now. I've got to jump in the shower and head to the gym. I have an appointment with my trainer and have to rebuild all the muscle that turned to flab while I was building callouses sitting around on my ass in Houston!!! I'll fill you in on the homecoming movie and the rest of our homecoming when I get back.

As Dorothy would say..."There's no place like home...there's no place like home!"

Go workout and I'll catch you later. Love to all of you that have helped make our exciting homecoming PERFECT!!!

Dee and a healing Brenda

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Marshall Vic, Brenda, & Nurse Dee Bid Houston Goodbye

Hi VP's....well the anticipated last night in our Houston apartment is FINALLY here. Hallelujah!!! I wish I could say that all is well. Brenda has the "barfs" again and today has not been a pleasant one at all. Amanda and Vic seem to think that as Bren's pain has decreased (and that's the good news...it has...) the side effects of the pain patch increase because her body doesn't need it to keep the pain at bay. So we've taken the patch off but the medicine won't be out of her system until tomorrow. She hasn't eaten all day because she couldn't keep anything down but she's asleep right now and that is a great thing because she's not throwing up!! Howw miserable... poor thing. It just seems like Houston just doesn't want us to leave. You know...breaking up is hard to do...but we're out of here tomorrow!!! AMEN! I've loaded up on all the anti-nausea meds that I can get my little hands on. Mesa here we come even if I have to carry Bren!!! PLEASE send all the positive energy you can spare tomorrow for a calm day with no barfs and a good homecoming. Tomorrow night we'll be sleeping in our own bed!!! Saturday we'll get to see our dogs again!!! I am soooo excited!

In true Marshall Vic fashion she had to send a little "Bon Voyage" message to "Kato-sabe." (It's a long story...I'll fill you in one day.) It's a perfect celebratory message to a long, hard journey that's about to end. Marshall Vic...you are truly priceless and we love you. We just couldn't say it any better.

So VP's...thankfully the initial phase of the Houston road to CURE is DONE!!! It'll feel so much better for us to continue the healing portion of the journey from the Mesa desert. It's too stinkin humid here! Ha! We'll check in with you when we get home and let you know how the trip went. Just keep everything crossed.

We can't thank you enough for helping us get through this part of the CURE. You kept us from feeling so isolated, you brought laughter into the darkest times, and you were generous beyond belief. Amazing and very humbling. You've earned many feathers on those angel wings!

Toodles from apartment 414...
Dee and Brenda


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Monday, August 17, 2009

Final Doc Visit & 3 Days to Home!

Hi VP's...just a quick note to tell you that we had our final visit with Dr. Hong before we head home on Friday. On the way over to the clinic, Brenda asked me if I was nervous to see him and hear what he might have to say. You know...I was! We have just been knocked off our feet too many time not to be...you just never know what the doc's will say although I was fairly confident he would say...just go home and heal!

Brenda has lost some more weight and her pulse was up a little but other than that she's doing as well as can be expected considering what she's been through. She did have a little vomiting episode on Saturday, but we hit that with some Zofran and hope that thta's not a reoccuring nightmare. Ahe isn't sick to her stomach...it just comes on like a lightening bolt. They did say the the excess mucus she has could be the culprit. GO AWAY!!!

Dr. Hong was very impressed with Brenda's tenacity and patience with the treatments. He said what we all know...she was quite a "fighter." Amen to that...right? Her optimism was so appreciated by all that have met her. Both he and Mary were very complimentary...they said it's now time to go home for a while and heal. He's so funny...he told us it was too hot in Phoenix!! What does he think it is here in Houston??? Apparently he was just there and mentioned that he took in a Diamondback game (he's quite a baseball fan) and that MD Anderson was going to have a branch there with Banner Hospital. Hey Amanda...he also asked how you were?

Again...Brenda's healing is VERY slow and she sleeps most of the day. I'm not kidding...she sleeps about 18 to 20 hours a day. The treatments have really kicked her butt, but we're hoping that she, in turn, has kicked cancer's butt. I know our visit on October 6th will be very nerve racking and scary. We sure need your continued prayers and positive energy.

Friday will be a very exciting but hard day for her and she'll need all the sleep she can get on Saturday to help her stay on track. With the effects of radiation calming, she ought to be able to begin some good healing. Just being home will help that soooooo much! AMEN!! I know that everyone will understand her need to limit visits until she can gain a little energy and stamina. Just FYI...she does a little better in the afternoon than she does in the morning.

Tomorrow I have to take the car in for some repair...the automatic lock on the passenger door fell into the armrest!! So I'll just make sure that's fixed before the car heads home. Then I'll get a little more packing done and some errands run...of course there's always my patients' care and that absolutely comes first.

Wednesday we mail boxes of our stuff home...a great sign! Thursday I finish up packing the apartment and separating their stuff from ours...doing some last minute laundry, and packing our suitcases. Friday...I pack the car and off we go!!!! Can you believe it!! YEA!

So that's it from Houston Central for now. Don't worry...the blog will continue as we heal from our home location. Have a wonderful evening...life is good!

Nurse Dee and ZZZZZZ-ing Bren

Friday, August 14, 2009

Coffee With Paula



Hi VP's...I am so happy to say that all is on a healing path here in Houston and we're counting down the days of departure back to Phoenix and HOME! Only 6 days to go!! Brenda had been sleeping almost non-stop since her last radiation treatment on Monday and yesterday, when I said I needed to go out and get a few errands run, she actually said that she wanted to go too!!! That was fantastic! You know, you have to take those baby steps before you can walk and then run! Today, we had an even longer outing and we met our new friend, Paula, at Starbucks for some coffee and great conversation. We had such a good time. Paula is just a wonderful soul, full of adventure, energy and powerful intuition for how to handle what life throws your way.

I really don't have much to talk report...thank heaven for that!!! Just wanted to tell you how Bren was doing. She really did amazingly well in the 4 hours we were out today. Although she won't "bounce" back, she will slowly progress daily, and little by little our Brenda will find her new normal and we'll be there to walk with her.

Take a look at the pics I took of our outing to my favorite coffee shop.

Paula...you're an absolute love. Thanks for sharing your story, your time, and your treasure. We'll definitely stay in touch.

Have a great night VP's...only 6 more days!!!

Packer Dee and Healing Brenda

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Packing to Jet Home



Hi everyone...I can't believe it...we actually DIDN'T have to go to the clinic for ANY reason today. Boy! Did that feel good. Both Brenda and I would sure like to thank you for all your wonderful comments. You all have offered the continued encouragement that we've needed to help us get through these long rough spots in the road to the CURE. We just can't thank you enough for being such great "back-ups" (police talk for support you count on to keep you safe and sane!)

We had a very productive day...Bren worked on healing...I worked on keeping up with all her meds and meals...and we both did some more packing. Man! It made us want to leave tomorrow!! But Bren needs a few more days of sleep and healing before we head off. Even though it's only a 2 hour flight back to Phoenix, it'll take a lot out of our fighter with the drive to the airport, checking the bags, hassling through security, waiting around for the flight, and then reversing the whole process back in Phoenix. I can safely say I know she'll snooze on the plane, but I also know this will take a lot out of her. Thank heaven there are wheelchairs if we really need one. She's so ready to get home, she'd crawl through the airport to get on that plane!! I know you can just imagine how excited she is.

I just wanted to check in and say that all is proceeding as planned here at Houston Central. The pictures prove that. More of the same tomorrow and if all goes OK, we'll take in a movie this weekend...maybe the new Meryl Streep movie, "Julie & Julia."

Have a fabulous evening...your comments have really brightened our spirits. HUGS!

Dee (I'd sure like to retire my nurses cap) & Brenda (Electra's volts are slowly decreasing!)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ringing the Bell


VP's...it's the day we've all been waiting for...the LAST radiation treatment and the long awaited "Ringing of the Bell." After such a dismal Friday, Bren spent the weekend recovering. She's back on track and this little video will help you all celebrate the end of this grueling part of the CURE.

So today is a day to celebrate your life, take a nap, eat a good healthy meal, tell those most important to you how much you love and appreciate them, and thank your higher power for all that makes your life complete.

We're going HOME!!!! It's Brenda's time to heal.

Hugs to all...
Nurse Dee and a very Courageous, but Exhausted, Brenda
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

We're Back on Course




Hi VP's...Just thought I'd give you a quick update on how "Electra" is doing today. I'm sitting here in my recliner watching the Discovery Health Channel and Brenda is on the couch getting her "tube breakfast"...and having a good snore-filled sleep. I thought I'd give you a picture of her enjoying some morning kibble...this might look like she's miserable, but remember that she's on her new pain meds, wanting to take a nap, and so she's feeling some relief from that nasty pain. The "thumb's-up" is just to let you know she's doing OK.

Tomorrow is the "Big Day" we've all been waiting for...the END of radiation and the jumping off point to actually GO HOME. Both of those feelings are wonderfully displayed in the second photo of Jeannie, Kurt, Jackie and Helene. That fantastic photo really says it all. Thanks Tahiti Pod!!

So this is a short post because things are CALM here and we want them to stay that way!!! AMEN! I'll have a Flip video of the bell ringing for you tomorrow morning so stay tuned!!

Nurse Dee and Snoring Electra

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Flipper Hadn't Flipped...BUT...

OK VP's...just when you think you're in the home stretch...some new path emerges! So you heard the story about how Brenda was just going to swallow herself back to health, but there was much more to the story to be told. Here goes...

I went to the store and got all the supplies we needed to have Bren ignore the feeding tube and just swallow her way HOME. I got the new "juice" all mixed up and Brenda started trying to get it down and...oops...there she goes again...running to the bathroom and everything ends up in the toilet! DANG! It was just at that "well now what the hell do we do" point when the Diagnostic Imaging Department called asking where Brenda was because she had an appointment at 4:00 pm to have the tube checked. Well that was a gift from God, and we jumped in the car and off to the clinic we went.

I'll make another long story short...IT WASN'T THE TUBE!!! It was sitting right where it was supposed to! Well heck...why was she throwing up then??? So there we are walking out the main entrance to the clinic and Brenda has another vomiting attack...these were getting worse and we're about to enter the weekend! Now that is NOT a good picture for the nurse. Brenda just was getting punier and punier. She was getting weak and she just looked at me and said..."Let's just go home." I just knew that wasn't really going to work, nor was it the best thing to get Bren back on track, so a really nice lady helped me get a wheelchair and off to the MD Anderson Emergency Center we went. I knew this wasn't going to be pretty on a Friday night, but its what needed to happen. Brenda was getting dehydrated and I needed help in getting her tummy calmed down.

The waiting room was packed! We got there at 6:00 PM and after Brenda threw up again in the bathroom of the waiting room...and that episode was even worse than the others, a lady (Paula) who was sitting in the waiting room because she fell on her face and who went through the same radiation treatments that Brenda is going through about a year ago, came over and talked to Bren. She was so kind and so reassuring. She just knelt on the floor and held Brenda's arm and said that she had been where Brenda is and that this would pass and she would be fine. It was just the perfect contact that our poor gal needed right then. She was truly a gift. We chatted with she and her husband who is a nurse at MD Anderson. What a sweetie she is.

So Bren was moved to a bed in the hall...there are LOTS of beds in the hall, with lots of hurting folks. It was a little easier for her lying down so that was a good thing. An Internist also came and talked to us and wrote orders to start an IV with anti-nausea and pain medication...this was around 8:00 PM. Around 9:30 PM (still no IV, etc) they wanted to do an x-ray of Bren's stomach to rule out any obstruction or something and she threw up in the X-ray room...I was getting a little frustrated...wasn't there anyone around that could start the IV and meds the doc had ordered. OK so "Chief Taylor" came out again and I started asking why an IV couldn't be started...well...around 10:00PM Andre, our assigned nurse, finally started the dang thing and got the meds going. Brenda was such a hurting pup!! At least this would begin to help her feel better.

Around 11:00 PM they finally moved her to a room that wasn't in the HALL! There was tons of activity all around until about 3:00 am when things began to calm down. You guessed it...they were going to keep Bren all night and they would see how she was in the morning. They wanted to get her pain and nausea under control and then try a can of formula through the tube to see if they were able to calm the beast down and have her tolerate food.

I think if I won the lottery, I would buy all new COMFORTABLE chairs for all the facilities at MD Anderson. The chair in the room we had was not designed for long time sitting...like the all night type. Man! When Bren felt a little better she looked at me trying to get comfortable and we both ended up sharing the bed so we could get some much needed sleep. They kept checking or her and I had to go back to the apartment around 5:00 AM to get a can of formula. No! They didn't have the kind we were using.

You know they did a good job at getting everything under control. They thought some of the problem was the pain medication so we backed off on one and they changed another. Along with these and the anti-nausea meds, it seemed to do the trick...knock on wood!!! Please God...NO MORE!! We got the feeding down and then I wanted to wait to ensure that it all wouldn't come back up. I took a very drugged and tired "Electra" back to the apartment around 9:30 AM...UGH!! What a night! The good news is that she's feeling better and I've already gotten the new meds and started her on another can of formula because it's around 2:00 PM now. I just want her to sleep. She did take a shower and did her mouth and nasal rinses to help her breathe but now she's comfortable.

I just want to reassure you all that she'll be fine. Going to the ER and struggling through that LONG night was just the only thing we should have done. She's resting comfortably, she's tolerating the feeding so far, and I'm about to pop in a movie. I've got the laundry going and all is back on course. She'll be even better tomorrow and then Monday is the LAST DAY of this frying process called radiation. After this next week we ought to see the side effect stabilize and then the healing can begin. I know she's going to sleep most of the weekend and that's perfect.

So there ya have it VP's...the seemingly never-ending saga continues and we so look forward to that bell ringing on Monday...we want it OVER WITH!!! Needing all the healing vibes our villagers can muster.

A tired Nurse Dee and a Sleeping, Snoring Electra

Friday, August 7, 2009

Flipper Has Attacked Again!!

VP's...OK...now Brenda's REALLY PISSED!!! Since Wednesday morning we have been struggling with the dreaded feeding tube AGAIN!!! She began throwing up after we introduced either meds, water or food through that damn tube. Now it didn't do it all the time, and although the symptoms were just a tad bit different, you get real intuitive with this stuff and we KNEW that it's that blasted tube once again.

We jumped on everyone last night with voice mails and then showed up personally after Bren was finished with her morning radiation. Mary and Denise have been sensational...we wanted to get the tube changed. Here's what we learned after talking with the doctor that we really should have had put this *#%^&$ device in.

Because the tube has not been in for a period longer than 6 weeks...the scar tract between the stomach and the outside layer of skin has not completely formed. Because that hasn't formed they can't change the tube yet. There was the option of trying to place a different connection but that was iffy because of the tube placement and they wouldn't know if that was possible until they did an X-Ray. So the only real alternative was to go back to IVR and have then reflip the tube. I probably don't have to tell you the words Brenda had for that alternative. She is absolutely beyond frustrated with this.

So the absolutely pissed off, stubborn Brenda has decided that they can stuff this feeding tube where the sun don't shine...she has decided in true Brenda fashion that she's going to get her nutrition via mouth...NOT via the tube. So we use Vicodin to dull the pain in her throat and have visited the local GNC store for a Weight Gain powder that Denise recommended after we told her what Brenda wanted to try and do. Believe me folks...she'll do it...there is absolutely no doubt in my mind. Now the goal is to keep her weight up through these supplements taken by mouth and have the dang tube out around August 19th. I think we'll take it to the shooting range and use it for target practice. I was rated as an expert marksman during my law enforcement career so there's no doubt in my mind that I'll make swiss cheese out of that tube!!!

So...Flipper's career is quickly coming to an end!! I've got to go back over to the clinic this afternoon and get a book they ordered for us called "Meals through a Straw." Frankly it doesn't sound very yummy to me but we're too close to the end of this and Brenda will not let anything stand in her way to go home on the 21st!

The good news is that Bren only has ONE MORE RADIATION TREATMENT and she rings the bell. We are so looking forward to Monday morning around 7:30 am. Set your alarm clocks and give a "holler" in celebration. Mary has already booked our return appointment for all the scans and tests on October 6th. So we'll have a nice bit of time to get our new lives established before we have to come back.

So there ya have it...just as there is in life...there's always something in this journey toward the CURE. The secret to both is being flexible, adjusting and adapting to the bumps and new paths in the road.

Thanks heavens for pain killers!!

A very frustrated Nurse Dee and a Pissed-off Brenda

Monday, August 3, 2009

Great News from Dr. Hong


Hi VP's...if you've been following this blog you know that we anxiously awaited our visit with Dr. Hong this afternoon. He was going to let us know if Brenda would have to go through another round of chemo or not and if we could finally go home and do some healing before we had to come back for all the scans...we were holding our breathe as he walked into the room.

When he announced..."NO CHEMO"...Brenda jumped up and hugged him. Man! Did that surprise the good doc!! Ha! You should have seen his face. Ha! He told Brenda that she has gone through a really tough treatment...one of the toughest...and she should be very proud of how she has handled all this. Well...we are incredibly proud of her...aren't we? She even gets to have the PICC line out tomorrow...now that's additional progress toward the CURE and normacy.

He said he wanted to see her again after radiation finished...hey!!! Only 5 more days of that!!! That's good...her neck is so burned, swollen, and raw that he didn't even want to try and feel around in her neck. They said that was even going to get worse!!! Here was the other critical question...we asked if we could go home on August 21st!!! Our fingers were crossed...we weren't breathing. YES!!! We can go home on the 21st!!!WOOPIE!!! Arizona...Abbie and Tanner...here we come!!! We were so excited that we went out and celebrated by having iced mocha's at Starbucks!!! She can actually get that down!!

The plan is that we'll have to come back about 6 to 8 weeks from the end of radiation for all the scans and visits with all the doctors for their follow-up assessment...those will be nerve wracking appointments...but we're just focused on going home right now. Again...the great news is...NO CHEMO so we are officially retiring the name "Chemo-sabe." Now you all can come up with another nickname for her. Michele??? Do you have any thoughts on that?

I know you all were anxious to hear today's news...so there ya have it. Tomorrow Bren starts double radiation treatments for the rest of the week. The bell gets rung on Monday. I've included a picture of the famous bell so you could all help ring it with Brenda on Monday about 2:30 PM or so Houston time. Ding...Ding...Ding!!! Don't worry...I'll take pictures.

After Starbucks we went right over to Office Depot and Big Lots and got some packing supplies. The plan is that we'll mail a lot of stuff home and then pack the rest in the car, drive it to the airport on the 21st...meet our friend who's going to drive the car home...turn over the keys and the map home...and get the next plane out of Houston bound for Phoenix!!! I'll drive down to Tucson the following day and get the dogs!!! Abbie and Tanner...get ready...you're finally coming home!

So there ya have it VP's...the news we've all been waiting for...the light at the end of that tunnel is really bright!! Thanks for hanging in there with us...you'll never know how much that means to us. Now go help us celebrate!!

Nurse Dee and "new name needed" Brenda



Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Quiet Saturday Morning at Houston Central



Well week 6 of radiation is history VP's!!! Only 6 more radiation days / 10 more treatments (remember there are 4 days of double treatments...) and Brenda can ring that bell that she's finished with this nasty radiation. I can't even begin to tell you how nasty our poor chemo-sabe's neck is. Nasty, nasty, nasty. In spots it's blistered, weeping, and raw. We have special gel sheets that we put on the nasty spots at night just to soothe these really angry wounds. She is such a trooper and I'm a great mixer of the drugs to keep her comfortable. We've got a great concoction worked out so she sleeps solidly (that's another word for totally drugged....Ha!) through the night.

She's actually doing a lot better than she was about 2 weeks ago. Mr. Flipper (the feeding tube) has decided to "play nice" and we're getting meds, food and water in like we should be doing. We have her pain down to a 4 or 5 (scale of 10) and we've even got a little weight back on her. Now that's music to all our ears!! All your positive energy is really helping get Bren through these last hard days...we know it. Here's another request...please send your collective positive, healing energy on Monday at 2:00 to 3:00 pm Houston time. That's when we see Dr. Hong and we're hoping, praying, begging, pleading that he won't say that Brenda will need another round of chemo. We are so hoping that he'll say just go home and heal from all this and come back in about 8 weeks for the follow-up scans. PLEASE!!!!

When you see Bren you're going to have to ask for her autograph because she is becoming an MD Anderson "star." We all know that she has had one of the best attitudes imaginable through this mess, and we also know what a nightmare the feeding tube was initially. Well Denise, our dietitian, asked us to be on a video they're producing about feeding tubes!!! Ya just gotta laugh! So yesterday we came in early for the taping...you know all that "cut, print, wrap" thing. There's another part they want to tape about the cleaning of the wound around the tube so we'll do that before we leave for HOME!!!! We all know that Brenda was a star before all this began...now she's a "star" at MD Anderson!!! We're getting a copy of the final tape...autographs upon request!! Ha!

We're still hoping for August 21st or 22nd depending on flights and the final coordination of all this...to go HOME!!! That is such music to our ears!!! We've even begun to pack up some boxes of stuff to ship home because I don't think all the stuff we've collected over these past few months will fit in the car!!! Ha! We are definitely "Gear Girls!!" Heck! We have a carload of just medical supplies!! I will never begin to tell you how crazy happy "Going Home" makes us feel. I think that's just the perfect medicine that Bren and I need right now, especially for her continued healing. HOME...HOME...HOME!!!

I've got Chemo-sabe's meds so fine tuned that I think we're even going to try and take in the new Harry Potter movie tomorrow morning...now that's some darn good drugs!! She might sleep through most of it but at least we get out of the apartment and do something that feels more like our normal life. I think it was Bonnie who asked what Brenda was looking forward to when she got home. We were talking about that the other day and although our lives will never be the way they were before this diagnosis, we both are looking forward to recreating the "new" normal for us...back in our home...with our dogs, friends, and family around us...celebrating life and each other and trying to make a positive difference in this world.

So there ya have it for Saturday morning. Brenda is sleeping on the couch while I get a feeding in her. I'm doing the laundry and will do some more packing this afternoon. YEA!!! Wishing you all a wonderful Saturday.

Nurse Dee and a sleeping, drugged, Chemo-sabe