Monday, November 30, 2009

Three Strikes and IT'S OUT...We're going Home!!!!

Hi VP's...we just got back from seeing Dr. Gillenwater and the news is fantastic. Although we still don't have the pathology report...should have that later today...we did get the all clear. I asked if she thought that she got all that nasty stuff out of Brenda's neck and Dr. Gillenwater said YES!!! YEA!!! Double YEA...High Five...We're going home!!! This is the best Thanksgiving and Christmas present we have ever had!! We're declaring today a day of celebration!!! It's that day we've all been waiting for...We're done with the initial treatment...Bren is cancer free...time for "good and new" and "smooth sailing."

There's still the rehab Bren will have to continue when we get home and the adjustment time it will take to manage the side effects of all this treatment, but it's time for new beginnings. We'll have to come back every 3 months for scans and check ups with all the docs to ensure we're on top of everything. So the next trip will be sometime in March.

I've already checked us in for the 12:30pm flight home tomorrow and have called the apartment rental company to tell them we're checking out tomorrow. Toni is going to meet us at the airport to help me get the luggage and Brenda home while I go off to the off-airport parking lot to get our car. Bren just can't lift anything heavy and I don't want her wearing her backpack on those tender neck and shoulder muscles. Thanks a ton Toni. Like we're not too excited to get home or anything!!! Then Wednesday I'll go down to Tucson and pick up the dogs!!! I can't wait.

So we're all smiles here in Houston and I hope this blog entry puts some smiles on your faces and some screams of joy from your mouths. We are soooooo HAPPY and thankful for all your prayers and positive energy for total healing.

Remember..today is a day to celebrate LIFE!!!!

Love to you all...
Dee and a healing Bren

HOME JAMES...........

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Thanksgiving Message from Marshall Vic

We are so fortunate that Marshall Vic sent us a wonderful Thanksgiving message that we just had to share with the village...enjoy!!

Thanks Marshall...we sure do love you!!

video

There's A Lot To Be Thankful For!!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!

Let me start this blog with a HUGE "Thank You to our FABULOUS Village" for all the support, positive energy and prayers...not to mention your friendship, cards, well-wishes, goodies, skyping, jokes, videos, and love that you've given Brenda and I this year. Words just escape me in trying to tell you all how much your efforts have meant to us. You are simply..."THE BEST!!!"

Now let me bring you up to speed on today's activities...all is well and I'm not typing you from the Houston City Jail!!! The big milestone for the day was that Brenda got the drain tubes out. I have to confess that this absolutely gave me the creeps when they pulled these out. Holy Mackerel!! There was a lot of tubing in her neck. The nurse kept pulling and pulling and the stuff just kept coming...Lord...it was gross and I just couldn't watch her take the other side out. Plus you could see that it really was painful to get these removed. It was gross...just gross. But...the dang things are out. Brenda was getting tired of watching her balls!! Ha!

We got Brenda home and she immediately hit the shower. She said it was absolutely heavenly to actually wash her hair...well and all the other parts as well! There's absolutely nothing like a shower.

The next great thing was that the Rehab Department DIDN'T cancel our 4:00 pm appointment!! May miracles NEVER cease! The therapist worked with Brenda for over an hour and improved her range of motion and relaxed some of the tight muscles in her shoulders and back. She said it felt great. Too bad it's a holiday or we could have gotten her a couple more sessions in before the one we have Monday. This is something she'll definitely continue once we get home and can find the right therapist.

So here we are back in the "hood." I've made dinner and now we're just relaxing and playing on our computers and watching a little TV. All's well. Brenda is trying to move her head a little more to improve her range of motion. Having the drains out really makes a big difference. I think we'll be in good shape to take Paula and April up on the most generous offer to go to April's home for Turkey Day!! YUM!!!

So if I don't get a chance to check in tomorrow...again...

Happy Thanksgiving

Hugs to all...
Dee and Brenda

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The "Chief" Comes Out Again...GRRRRR!

Boy! The "Chief" sure came out this morning!!! Here's what happened. Michele...you really would be loosing your mind with this!

So we got up early to make sure we were on time for our 9:00 am appointment for physical therapy. Let me just set the stage a little bit. I know it will probably give the ending away, but you have to know the details to understand my reaction. I really am giving this all away!!! So last week, per Dr. Gillenwaters orders, we made the rehab appointment through Robert, the scheduling guy for that department. We were set for Tuesday the 24th at 9:00 am.

OK...Brenda goes to surgery and on Saturday the rehab lady comes in and gets Brenda walking and leaves paperwork on the exercises and info on Lymphadema with us. She doesn't say anything different about Tuesday's appointment.

When Brenda is discharged on Saturday afternoon, the nurse prints up her schedule and on the schedule is Tuesday's appointment. Are ya still with me on all this? So what would you think right now...RIGHT!!! We still have an appointment on Tuesday the 24th!!! OK...We're all on the same page...everyone except the Rehab Department at MD Anderson!!!

Early morning appointments are REALLY HARD for Bren...that's the time she gets some good sleep. She usually gets up around 5 or 6 am...gets her mouth and nose cleaned out, takes her meds, and then heads for the couch for about 3 to 4 more hours of really good sleep. So it's hard for her to get up at 7:30 to get ready for her 9 appointment.

You are soooo right...Robert CANCELED OUR APPOINTMENT YESTERDAY!!! The worst thing about that is that...NO ONE CALLED UP TO TELL US THE APPOINTMENT WAS CANCELED!!! What the hell is up with this!!!! We were ushered into Robert's office where he tried to explain why he canceled it. He said that when someone is admitted to the hospital their "STATUS" has changed and they need new orders. I asked if the computer showed us as "Discharged" on Saturday and thus our "Status" was the same as when the appointment was first made. He said "YES", the computer did show that Bren was out of the hospital, but they needed new orders. I said I have the schedule that the nurse that discharged us gave us that showed us the appointment was still set for Tuesday!!! I asked how we were supposed to know that he (Robert) would end up camceling the appointment or that we needed to do something different when NO ONE CALLED US!!! I just looked him in the face, and with MUCH restraint, and in my most "Chiefly" manner, advised that this was just flat "UNACCEPTABLE!" Again...I was trying not to get arrested!! He got the message and we now have an appointment at 1:00 PM this afternoon.What is up with this canceling stuff without notification!!!

I just hope and pray that we still have that appointment when we show up at 1:00. I won't be responsible for my actions if it's been canceled. LORD help me!!!

OK...so not to worry...Brenda is fine and dandy...sleeping lots and healing. The drains are still in because they are still outputting too much juice. It has slowed this morning and I'm really hoping we can get these out tomorrow. I'm not sure anyone is in the office on Friday due to Thanksgiving.

Just thought I'd share my morning frustration with you!! Ha! Remember the old saying: "Pain shared is pain divided." Hopefully this is the same for frustration!!

Stand by more more updates...or some huge explosion!! NOT!!

The Houston Duo

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Sleepy Football Sunday

Hi Everyone...After 12 hours of sleep we almost feel human! Well Brenda still feels drugged and is in pain from the knife fight Friday...she's doing so much better than she did last night. Trying to get the pain calmed down and get her comfortable so she could sleep was rough. She was pretty miserable. But thanks to all the good drugs she's taking, she finally got to sleep.

Today is a much better day. The pain isn't as intense as she can lay on her side...her favorite couch sleeping position. She still draining over the limit for the tubes to come out so maybe we can get them out Tuesday. I sure hope they'll be out before the long holiday weekend.

So today was spent sleeping (Brenda), watching football, (both of us), and playing Mafia Wars!!! (ME!!) Then I got cleaned up and ordered a nice pot roast dinner for Brenda and I from the Black Eyed Pea. I thought it was yummy, but Brenda had some difficulty getting the meat down even though it was very tender and juicy. All the foods she used to eat and all that she can eat now are so very different. We'll get it figured out.

After dinner, we went walking around the 3rd floor of our apartment building so we can work on getting her moving...Doc Vic orders! Tomorrow we'll try to do that in the morning and afternoon and then on Tuesday we have a physical therapy appointment. She's got to start all the exercises tomorrow however. I already told her that Nurse Ratchet is out again!!!

So there ya have it VP's...all's well in the hood. Tomorrow will even be better. Sleep well and thank the Lord for Brenda's excellent medical care and her wellness.

More tomorrow...
Nurse Ratchet and Healing Brenda

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ms. Brenda is Free At Last!!


OK...so I just typed an entire entry for the blog tonight and was just getting ready to send it when I hit some dang button and the entire thing disappeared!!! UGH!!!

Here I go again...this is a short one because I'm pooped! Really pooped!!

We sprang Brenda from the hospital around 3 this afternoon. She started to do much better once they got her up and moving a little. Poor thing, she had a rough night until they got some good pain meds in. They also got her tummy calmed down and she started eating regular food late this morning.

It's good to be back at the apartment where it's quiet...no more beeps, vitals, visits...well you know the drill. I sure hope with her evening meds we can get her comfortable and she can get some sleep. She just hurts!!! I thought I'd add a photo in case you're curious about the knife fight she was in with her surgeon. I think the docs and nurses out there will say that she's looking pretty darn good. I really thought she's be a whole lot more swollen than she actually is. I'm sure as the days go by, she'll be getting better and better. Soon the tubes will come out and she'll get a little more mobility in her neck and then the exercises to regain all the strength in her shoulders will continue.

So we are going to try and get some sleep...I'll check in tomorrow and let you know how she's doing. Sleep tight everyone...

The very sleep Houston Duo...

A Sleepy Saturday Morning Hello

Hi VP's...it's 8:00 am here in Houston in room P1130 at MD Anderson and I just thought I'd give you all an update on our gal. We both didn't have the best of nights sleep. Again you all know the post-surgery/hospital stay drill...wake you up and take vitals...wake you up and make you go pee...wake you up to empty the drain meds...wake you up to take more vitals...etc. Now we're not complaining because in that wake you up phase, Angelina (our night nurse) also brought some morphine and some zophran. Bren's tummy is still upset...probably because there is nothing in it and she needs her normal meds. She also drank a little too much water last night and that decided to leave her tummy around 3:00 this morning.

We're trying to get her comfortable in the bed but she just aches and, of course, still is very sore from the surgery. She probably won't have the best of days today but then things ought to get progressively better. They also have her using a nasal saline spray every 2 hours to keep the inside of her nose moist.

I spent the night here in a half recliner. I only got to put my feet up and had the back half of the chair upright. Thanks heaven I'm not very big...I did all sorts of pretzel things with my body to try and get somewhat comfortable in this chair. I actually did get some sleep so all is well. I'm not sitting here with my morning Starbucks and a cancer-free partner and I just couldn't be happier. I'm so very thankful for all the things the village has helped us with through this journey...please know how much you mean to both Brenda and I for all the good that you bring the world and our lives.

We're going to try and get Brenda to eat some solid food in hope that she can keep this down and they are still talking about discharging her around 11:00 am...we'll see how that goes.

So stay tuned and I'll give you more updates later in the day. Hugs to you all from both of us.

Dee and an uncomfortable Bren

Friday, November 20, 2009

Doing OK...

Hi VP's...well it's 10:45 pm and Brenda and I are up in room P1130. They have her comfortable and her pain is under control so all is proceeding OK. You know how post-surgery goes...very groggy...pain...aches....tubes....drains....beeps from machines...UGH!!! Bren's stomach is upset but they are on it and all that's come out when she thinks she has to throw-up is air from her tummy. She's sleeping now and I'm back on duty and will help watch her through the night. It certainly takes a village!!!

Here's the info from Dr. Gillenwater. She came out about 6:00PM and said that the surgery had taken longer than expected because of all the scar tissue in Brenda's neck...it made the surgery a little more difficult, but all the "bad boys" are OUT!!! The fantastic news is that when she went looking around her sinus cavity she didn't see any cancer or suspicious "things" in there. She placed the nasal stints and hopefully that will help her breathe better. They want her to try and keep this device in about 2 weeks in hopes that the nasal passage will heal open before the stints come out. They also put some stuff in there to try to retard any further growth of the scar tissue. Keep your fingers crossed.

Dr. Gillenwater couldn't tell if the lymph nodes and tissue she removed were cancerous or just dead but still full of hot tissue (from the radiation.) All the stuff they removed will go to pathology and hopefully in several days, we'll get the results. Still need all those positive thoughts and wonderful prayers rolling in gang!!

Paula and I got to go back to the PACU to see Bren around 7:00 and she looked amazingly well. I was envisioning that she would be really swollen in the face and neck and she wasn't swollen much at all. She has incisions that run from the base of her ears around the fold in her neck maybe a good 5 inches on each side. There are drain tubes on each side and the incision is closed with disposable sutures with stiry-strips (sp?) all along the incision site. She's draining stuff from her neck and the doc said that the tubes could come out once the output was 30 cc's or less in a 24 hour period. Since the right side was more involved, that is draining the most. Needless to say...they won't be coming out tomorrow!!

So friends...Brenda is good and now sleeping comfortably. I'm about ready to start napping here in this recliner. I'm pooped! Thank you all so very much for all your prayers, love, concern, and well wishes. Paula...thank you soooooo very much for keeping me company and teaching me all about the ins and outs of Mafia Wars and sharing your "Mafia Wars Gang list" with me. It's so addicting!! ha! You were just a sweetie for sitting so long with me...it really helped to pass the time.

If everything goes well and Brenda is doing OK...they said they might release her tomorrow...YEA!! Just in time to watch football on TV this weekend. Watch the blog and I'll give you pictures and another update tomorrow...it's time to get some shut-eye!!

Sleep tight. The cancer is out of her!!! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Dee and sleeping, cancer-free Brenda!

All's Going Well

Got another update that said Dr. Gillenwater had finished with the right side and was working on the left. Once that was done they would close the incision and work on her nose and look around her sinus cavity to ensure all was OK.

Vital were good and she was doing fine.

Stand-by for more...

Surgery Update

Time of this update is 2:15 PM...

They started on the right side of her neck at 11:14. This side has 3 nodes that need to come out. They should be about through with this side and still have the left side and the endoscope and nasal stints to do. The nurse said it would be another 3 hours at least in surgery. So it looks like the surgery will actually be longer than the 4 hours originally anticipated, but we'll see.

All her vital signs are stable...keel those good positive moe-joes and prayers a comin!...

Dee and Paula (she's here waiting with me...she's teaching me more about how to play Mafia Wars

Surgery Started Early!!!

Hi Everyone...we all know the phrase..."the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray" ...at least I think that's the phrase!!! Ha! Well it happened again this morning. We had the morning planned to be at the hospital right on time. So there we were...just got up...hadn't showered...and the phone rang and they said..."How fast can you get here!?" WHAT!!!??? So we zoomed around the house trying to get ready and off we went. Actually this is a really good thing because we didn't have time to sit around and drive our anxiety into the stratosphere. Apparently Dr. Gillenwater's earlier patient needed more chemo to shrink their tumor more so that moved Brenda up. It's all good.

We only had to wait in the surgery check-in area about 45 minutes and off we went into the pre-op area. They zoomed through that and before we knew it they gave our gal the "happy juice" and off to surgery she went. She's in God's and the surgeons hands now.

Just wanted to give you all an update. They said that the actual surgery itself would take 4 hours or so but when you calculate the time for prep in the operating room and the time in recovery, the time increases to about 6 to 7 hours. We'll be getting updates about every 2 hours and the next one is due in about 40 minutes...so stand by and I'll post the progress.

Hopefully you're sending good moe-joes...
Dee

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday's Surgery Details

Hi Guys...well we're nearing the time for Friday's synchronized attack on the "BIG C!" Of course we had another adventure in the pre-op appointment today. It's always about the dang schedule...or lack thereof!

We had an appointment at 8:45 am for the pre-op anesthesia assessment. So like good compliant patients and their nurses...we showed up right on time. Now I know it's a huge place and there are lots of docs going to do lots of surgery tomorrow, but do all the Friday surgery patients have to show up at the same time? I think it's like going to the meat department at the grocery store and having to pull the number out of the little machine to wait your turn. YEP...First come, first served.

So we sat and sat and sat...our 8:45 appointment turned into a 10:15 appointment? Michele...you would be loosing your mind! I just know that there is a better way to do this. YIKES!!! OK so that's done. But...it could have been worse so I just shouldn't complain!! So there!

Let me get to the plans for tomorrow. We have to be at the hospital at 12:45 pm. Then surgery will be an hour to and hour and a half after that. Since Brenda can't eat or drink anything after midnight, she is going to be one hungry, thirsty girl. Thank heaven she can rinse her mouth out with water.

OK...we need the collective village's positive energy and prayers flowing toward our gal tomorrow afternoon. We're both getting nervous about this, but are looking forward to getting the nasty "C" out of her neck. I think I told you that she has 5 nodes (3 on the right and 2 on the left) that need to be OUT!!!. The scar tissue in her nose is also getting harder and harder to keep open and so we're hoping that the nose stints that Dr. Gillenwater will place in there tomorrow will do the trick to keep her nose open until the scar tissue can heal OPEN...PLEASE LORD!!! OPEN!!

We're looking forward to SKYPING with the POD tonight at 6:00 pm. They are all in PuertaVallarta enjoying a nice vacation and are going to try and say Hi tonight via the computer...before Survivor of course...HA! We anxious to say Hi to everyone.

We have also become addicted to Mafia Wars on Facebook...thanks to Paula!! She's going to sit with me tomorrow so I don't have to wait alone (thanks you dear Paula!!!)...we're both bringing our computers so she can teach me more about the game...OH yea...and so I can update the blog and let you know how things are progressing...so keep watching tomorrow. If you're not on Facebook...sign on and join our Mafia Family...we need members!! Ha! You all would crack up watching Brenda and I sit on the couch coaching each other on this silly game. Life is short...play hard!!! Check it out.

That should bring you all up to date on this Thursday afternoon. Hope all is well with each and every one of you. Remember the mantra: "We are happy and thankful for Brenda's total wellness."

More tomorrow...
Dee and Brenda

Monday, November 16, 2009

Surgery Is a "GO"

Hi VP's...well we just got back from more waiting in the clinic and we have now seen both Dr. Gillenwater, the surgeon, and Dr. Hong, Bren's oncologist. Just as we suspected, several...5 lymph nodes in her neck (3 on the right side and 2 on the left)...are still lighting up and have to come OUT! We still don't know if there is residual disease in this "bad boys" or if they are dead, but because of so much radiation, they are still lighting up. They will send these guys to the lab to actually see if they are alive or dead. Regardless...they will come out along with some surrounding tissue to make sure the "Big C" is history.

The good news is that the current scans still show no metabolic activity in Bren's sinus and brain where those other tumors/lesions were. YEA!!!! We are soooo happy about that. There is no new activity any where else as well so that continues to be very good news.

The other problem that poor Bren has been having is the scar tissue in her nose that has been trying to close off her nasal breathing. We talked to Dr. Gillenwater about this as well. She is going to do an endoscopic exam on Friday when Bren is knocked out just to look around and see if there is anything else that is suspicious in her sinuses that need attention. When she's in there, she's going to try and open Bren's nasal cavity by putting some stints in her nose...sew them in...and leave them in about 6 to 8 weeks until the scar tissue hopefully heals OPEN! We were in hysterics in Dr. Hongs office visualizing flexible McDonalds straws up her nose. You know that sick gallows humor that cops have? Well we were cracking ourselves up laughing at all the information...as in horrible side effects...that could result from trouble with the surgery. Believe me...we are very nervous about this upcoming surgery. This is just the sick way we know that takes some of the tension out of this situation. We sure had some good belly laughs though.

There are all sorts of horrible things that can go wrong with this surgery...most involve nerve and muscle damage. It's amazing all the stuff that's in your neck. Dr. Gillenwater is a very good surgeon and she has done this type of surgery many times before so we hope and pray that she's "spot on" Friday and that the surgery goes flawlessly. We anticipate Bren being in the hospital about 1 or 2 days. I won't have a time of the surgery until Thursday, but I'll definitely post that on the blog when I get it. We'd really, really appreciate lots of positive thoughts and prayers that day. I'll definitely have my laptop and will keep you all posted so stay tuned.

So there ya have it dear friends...I think I've got everything that happened covered. It's really chilly here today and we were talking about going to Kemah tomorrow to walk around the shops by the marina. I think we might do something with Paula and Jason on Wednesday. There's a couple more appointments we have at the clinic but we know the path the week will take so now it's just that waiting game until we can get this surgery behind us.

Keep watching the blog for future update and pics. We hope this note finds you all well and getting ready fro a wonderful Thanksgiving...that's right around the corner!!

Blessings to you all...
Dee and Brenda

Friday, November 13, 2009

Three Strikes and the Big C is OUT!!!



Hi from Houston VP's...yep...we're back. I think the powers that are in the universe felt bad for putting us through hell in August and then messing up this series of appointments, so our trip back here was flawless. We even got an upgraded car due to a mistake by the wonderful man that drove the Dollar Rent a Car bus!! THANKS...we needed that Ford Escape because of all our luggage. Packing for a possible 19 day stay means a few more T-Shirts than a 3 days stay!!!

So we are tucked into an apartment called the "Amalfi at Hermann Park." It's new and really nice...nice apartment, good workout room, free coffee in a very nice lounge, 2 pools and 3 garden areas. I do wish when you rent these apartments, they would put a few cleaning supplies here and more then one roll of TP and one roll of paper towels!! Ha! This is a whole lot nicer than being stuck in a motel for 19 days.

The timing of the trip worked out so well that we had moved our luggage into the apartment and went out and had a nice fish dinner and got home just in time to watch "SURVIVOR!!!" We're both hopelessly addicted to the show!! Ha! But we were tired when it was time to hit the sack and with the help of a little Ambien we both slept well.

OK, so we had super early appointments for the new series of PET scans this morning so we had to get up at 5:30!!! Remember...We are NOT morning folks!! Ha! I took my laptop over to the clinic with a grand plan of updating the blog while Brenda was in getting the scans...well that didn't happen. I happened to find an unoccupied recliner and fell fast asleep for the 2 hours she was asleep in the scan tube!! Ha! Now that felt good!

We went over to Le Peep for some breakfast after the clinic and then did a little grocery shopping. Again we made it back just in time for "The Young and the Restless! It's Friday and you just shouldn't miss the Friday episodes! Hey...Quiet!...I'm retired! Brenda left me to watch these ridiculous melodramas and she escaped to the bedroom for a nap.

I think we'll try and go to the movies and see "Precious" this weekend. It's supposed to be a very good movie. Then we'll hook up with Paula and Jason for some good grub and conversation. Since we're right across the street from this big area called Hermann Park, maybe I can get Bren out for some fresh air and a nice walk. Monday we see Dr. Gillenwater (surgeon) in the morning and Dr. Hong (oncologist) in the afternoon. Then we'll really know the next steps we'll take. We're calling this trip "The Three Strikes and You're OUT Cancer." This is the 3rd time we've come to Houston and so far we're winning the game...The is the trip that we totally wipe out our opponent. TKO!!!

So that should give you the latest. Bren is doing well...she still has trouble keeping her nose open so we'll be sure to talk about that with Dr. Gillenwater on Monday. She needs a lot of sleep to keep that good ole healing going so we have lots of down time for some good naps.

We'll keep you posted on all the latest Houston Haps...stay tuned! To all our Olivia buddies...safe travels to Porta Vallarta. We'll look forward to pics and sme e0mails if you can get a connection. Have a wonderful time...we'll be there with you in spirit. Hopefully the sun will be bright and warm, the pool cool and the food good. I know the company you'll all keep will be fantastic!

Have a wonderful day...
Dee and a sleeping and healing Brenda

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

UPDATE: Getting Ready for Another Trip to Houston

Yes VP's...the blog continues. I didn't abandon you...really! I just took a break to focus on stuff around here in Mesa plus...my #1 job... helping our favorite gal heal...that's a VERY, VERY slow process. So here we are once again with an update.

We were all scheduled to go back to Houston this week to have the scans again and then to have surgery, if needed. I had arranged everything...flights...another apartment...the car...you know the drill. Then a little over a week ago, I noticed that someone had removed the surgeon (Dr. Gillenwater) from our appointment schedule. HELL!!! She’s the main player in this next stage of treatment. Then I noticed they moved the appointment to December 7th...what the hell??? I thought we were trying to stay on top of these nodes if they still contained residual disease and needed to come out so the cancer didn’t fly someplace else or didn’t get another foothold. So we got on the phone with the surgeons office and raised a little hell. Well...I shouldn't say "WE!!" I got on the phone and raised a little hell!! So now...Everything is pushed back a week instead of another month. We really didn’t want to wait until December. We now fly into Houston on Nov.12th, see Dr. Gillenwater and Dr. Hong on the16th.I just noticed that they have now made the appointment for the scans on the 17th. Damn...that's sort of having the cart before the horse so we'll get back on the phone and see what we can do to change that. Pre-op appointments are set for the 19th and the surgery is scheduled for the 20th. If we don’t need the surgery, we'll just cancel that and come home. The nodes are still there however and so we are thinking they will just want them to come out. Bren will be in the hospital for about a day and then they want us to stay 7days to do post-op follow-up. That puts us right smack dab in the middle of the Thanksgiving holiday...wonderful!!! At least is isn’t Christmas! We have planned to come home on December 1st thinking the surgeon will want to see her on the 30th.

So I’ve spent the last several days rearranging all the arrangements I originally arranged...groan! I don’t have to tell you that these changes have added more pennies to the original trip cost and that just ticks me off. I think I’ll give the bill to the nurse that just erased us form the schedule and then DIDN’T CALL US! It’s hard enough to mentally prepare for all this, but then to make changes and not call to explain...well all I can say is GRRRRRRRRR!!! Brenda made me promise not to chew folks out until AFTER her surgery! Ha!
She said it was HER throat they were slitting...not mine!!! OK Bren...I'll be nice! I'll TRY to be nice!

The healing here at home has been very slow. Bren still sleeps through most mornings. She gets up around 6:00 am to get her nose cleared out...lots of drainage...and she's trying desperately to keep that scar tissue from closing her nasal airway. She takes her morning meds and just falls back to sleep until around 11 or noon...then she's pretty much up for the rest of the day. She's even back to seeing our trainer 3 days a week for a half an hour for some rehabilitation...it's really not a workout...it's just getting her muscles to work again and build up some normal strength to do just day to day things that we all take for granted. So the medical folks out there shouldn't panic...she's not training for a body building contest or a marathon. She said it feels really, really good to just get all this moving again.

Eating is a huge challenge for our gal...she's sooooo thin!! I'm such a nag when it comes to getting good food down her. She still has no taste buds and no saliva so there really is no joy in eating anything except to fill her belly. She has to drink a ton of water and eat very slowly and chew a lot to get anything down. It takes her twice as long to eat and she just fills up with all the water she has to drink. High Protein Boost nutritional drinks are helping us keep the calorie count UP. What we eat now is based solely on what she thinks she can get down. I'm really not food driven at all so whatever she wants to eat is just fine with me.

The weather here has been spectacular. We hit record highs about 3 weeks ago and then the temps hit huge lows (that's lows for us in the desert...like low 60's during the day and mis 40's at night.) It snowed up in Flagstaff and there was some snow flurries at our cabin in Strawberry. Then the temps turned around once again and today it's supposed to be 94!!! It's just that time of year. We've gone out several times to have lunch and have just sat outside to enjoy our food...it's fabulous. The sky is a bright blue, there's no wind, and the sun is warm and welcoming. WONDERFUL!! The only bad thing is that there is NO rain in sight...we really need some moisture!

I've been enjoying training our dogs over the last 6 weeks. I've taken our 5 year old Abbie to Rally classes (that's a form of Obedience Training) and I've taken Tanner, our 2 year old to Basic Obedience. It's been great for all of us. I'll get them back into classes when we get home. I've definitely gone to the dogs!! Ha!

So that brings you all up to date with our ongoing MD Anderson treatment saga. We hope this blog post finds you all well and enjoying the fall weather. We're taking both computers back to Houston so watch for more blog updates the in the days ahead.

Toodles from the beautiful desert southwest.
Dee, Brenda, Abbie and Tanner