Friday, December 30, 2016

48 Years Ago Today. . . . .

I was awaiting to give birth to my daughter Juno. She was born at 4:48 this afternoon. Happy Birthday Juno. Where did we get her name from? Well, as of a week before the birth, Jim and I had not agreed upon a girls name - we did if it was to be a boy but that name has long gone into the "gone" recesses of my brain. We were watching a movie one night around five days before her birth and one of the female characters name was Juno. We instantly liked that name. I don't know the name of the movie - it was something about Greek history in modern times, I believe during WWII as I remember modern day clothing for the 40's.

Well, the year is about to be over with tomorrow night.  Should I say HOORAY? Medically it has been one of the worst in both Jim's and my life. And leaving us with several years of medical debt. Thankfully all those receiving payments from us have been very accommodating. And, perhaps, because of all the tests, scans, doctor visits we are in better shape than where we were heading - especially with Jim, when I thought I should be contacting Hospice. So we are indebted to the medical community and in debt to them.

Couple of notes on previous situations I posted on. I love my truck's camper top and don't regret getting it; the seroma turned to hematoma is slowly shrinking now; the ankle I broke is functioning pretty good; I am staying off of ladders so I won't fall again. Jim still has weekly visits from the home health nurse but graduated from his physical therapy just before Christmas. The exercises really helped him and we continue to do 6 or 7 almost every morning after breakfast. The new medications he was put on by his new lung doc have really helped and he continues to use oxygen 24 hrs a day (and cusses that hose that he drags around in the house).
During exercises

And after!

It was so good to be able to take a trip to see daughter back in Kansas last October. I feel that trip helped us both. We had a quiet Christmas, with son Jim coming down. My Christmas present to myself was one of those fancy smart TVs and still haven't used very many of its functions yet.

Spring is coming. I have bushes with flowers popping out on them - rosemary, winter jasmine (I even saw a couple on the Texas Sage just before Christmas). There are flowers on my pincushion and the salvia has new blooms. The pansies are prolific. And it isn't even January yet.

Winter Jasmine

Rosemary
Pansies

And this unknown
And, see we get cold too.
Here's a toast to all of you for a good New Year. Happy New Dreams, Happy New Days, Happy New Desires, Happy New Ways, Happy New Year and Happy New You.

And may many of your days start out with a beautiful sunrise.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Boy, oh Boy where has the time Gone!

It's gone to additional medical issues. I did get an air boot instead of a regular cast. Thank heavens too. I ended up having two splints as the heel broke on the first one and second one was put on badly and made a mess of the ankle and scarred up the skin.  When it came time to get a cast, the orthopedic doc was dismissed from the clinic. I ended up seeing an orthopedic surgeon but he is suppose to be a great plastic surgeon. I wore that boot off and on into July.

June I saw dental problems and had one molar pulled and another was scheduled to be pulled; but, other issues darted their big heads up. My seroma, that is located where I had the lumpectomy and radiation had turned into a hematoma and was increasingly getting bigger. When I saw my regular oncologist in July, he recommended having a complete mastectomy. Here it is almost November and no mastectomy and still have the hematoma, although it feels to be getting smaller.

In July, the ankle gave me some problems with breaking out in an ugly rash. Other medical issues were starting to develop with my housemate Jim, so the rash got put on the back burner and I just kept putting stuff on it to take away the itch. I finally got into see my primary and she gave me some lotion to put on it and that lotion finished the job I had started.

In late July, Jim was really having trouble with his back, so off to doc we went and he was given some meds for his back spasms.  Pretty soon the poor guy was totally out of touch with what was going on around him - he was in a constant state of confusion. I cut his meds in half with no improvement, then cut the half into fourths, then quit. His home health nurse and I were just aghast at what had happened to him.

One morning he was in really bad pain and I asked him if he wanted to go to ER - YES he said, can I call the ambulance to get you there because he was too much for me to handle - YES he said. So we spent 4 or 5 hours in the ER and he must have had every test that is available. He was finally admitted to the hospital here in town and then the next day, after consultation with several other docs, he was taken to Memorial Medical Center hospital in Las Cruces.

He was severely de-hydrated and that had started the ball rolling on a bunch of other problems. He has gallstones, but they weren't of importance at the moment, perhaps had had a small heart attack, his kidneys were declining rapidly, bladder infection and the pancreas was in an "itis" form. He spent a week at Memorial and then was transferred to rehab back home and spent 3 weeks there. He finally got the point of understanding where he was and was ready to go home and that was in early September.

Coming home was the best medicine he could have. He still has memory problems but gets around with his cane and can fix a meal or two for himself, does his laundry, is handling showers pretty good by himself and is back to sleeping in a bed.  He got so use to sleeping in his recliner and that elevated position from the hospital and rehab, he wondered if he could adjust back to a bed. He has a home health nurse that comes in twice a week and a physical therapist once a week.

We interrupted everything by taking a week to go back to Kansas to see daughter Juno and the Day of Caring she chaired this year.  Day of Caring is held each October during Breast Cancer Awareness month and her support group, SOS, puts it on each year. The event is a brunch followed by a fashion show. The models are all breast cancer survivors and have a lot of fun doing their "walk" down the aisle. Son was suppose to go with us but instead had to stay home because for his 50th birthday present to himself, he had strep throat. It was so good to see her and meet her new dog Sam. He likes my ear rubs. And I got to finally meet some of the SOS sisters that have been so good for me through my ordeals. That meeting opportunity gave me great comfort.
Daughter Juno, her dad Jim and Sam

Ahhh, mom and daughter

Sam likes my ear rubs.

Upon arriving home, we started a week of doctor appointments and my nose surgery.  I saw my radiation oncologist and he said to "go fly my wings and live"; Jim was to see a nephrologist about his kidney as a follow-up but the rehab center made the appointment with the wrong one; Jim then saw a lung doc and was now officially diagnosed with moderate COPD and given new meds to take (already can see the difference).

That brings us to my nose job.  Well it was necessary, as had a big basal cell carcinoma on the left side of my nose - hence the nose job. It was done by a plastic surgeon in  Las Cruces and it remains to be seen how it is going to turn out.  Right now it is a mess. I have my Halloween mask on already.

And one ugly mess.
To finish out the year, we have 3 follow-up doctor appointments and the one with the nephrologist and we hope that is all we have. Okay, that is enough as it is time for my morning coffee and to enjoy the sunrise.
Some flowers I managed to grow.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

This Is Not My Year. . . .

Oh No! What is that on my leg? Oh it s a splint.
Well, I get to add to the list of "events" - a fractured ankle. Thursday, I had been relaxing in the gravity recliner, got up to come inside and on the second or third step, my ankle gave way and over I went. When I could see the bottom of my shoe I knew I was in real trouble. Fortunately, a wooden bench stopped my fall from landing on the concrete patio. I have been having trouble with the ankles sort of giving out on me for the last couple of years but have been able to catch myself.

Neighbor Helen (who is moving away to Toronto, Ontario to go back to school) came and got me and off to the ER we went. Had X-rays taken and yup fractured the end of the fibula in the ankle area.  The orthopedic surgeon came and applied a splint with all the instructions - don't do this; and do this. Ya, tell a 74 year-old-woman how to walk (actually hop) on one leg and with crutches/walker. I was given excellent instructions and the ER staff wouldn't let me leave until I had started mastering the "crutch walk" and how to get up off chairs.

Called the kids and relayed the latest event in their mom's life. Son came down from Socorro after work on Friday and staying until Sunday evening to help out. Neighbor Arlene said anytime need something - groceries, doc visit, etc - to call as well as Helen is available until she leaves in a week or so.

Emailed my brother and he said to learn how to drive the automatic with the left foot, like he did many years ago when he had a problem.  Guess this old dog, will be learning a few new tricks.

From what I have read the ankle will be in a splint/cast for 4 to 6 weeks. I go in next Thursday (the 12th) to have a cast put on. Meanwhile will learn how to use the crutches/walker, figure out how my plants will be watered (I have a gravel yard) think son is going to put in my drip watering system for me and work out some transportation situations. I drive cancer patients to Las Cruces for doc appts and treatments, so someone else will need to fill in my spots for awhile.

But let's end on some good notes. Jim again continued to have a very low PSA reading and did not need a hormone therapy shot for his prostate cancer.  The Lupron is working to keep the cancer located in several sights in his bones at bay. My seroma (mentioned in the previous post) is slowwwwwwwly shrinking. The bruises that I sustained with my fall from the ladder (and onto it and mentioned in the previous posting) disappeared in less than a couple of weeks. There is a little bit of hip discomfort.

Torn tonneau cover, ribs showing.
One thing I did not mention earlier, is that in coming home from a doc appt. in Las Cruces, I lost about a third of the vinyl overlay on my truck's tonneau cover. That was back in March. The wind gusts blowing at the time were 50-60 mph and one gust got under a corner and from there it was bye-bye. I now have a new Snug-Top truck topper. The match is excellent and my brother and daughter suggested that I dye my hair the same color as the truck! I may go for a streak when my "distinguished" gray spot grows out a bit more.
Big Red with his new topper and me with my shorter hair new topper.

That is it for now. I dare say nothing more.

Monday, April 11, 2016

M-m-m my Seroma, M-m-m-my Seroma

Got one of those. Wasn't fun at first as it scared me. It is located in the area of my lumpectomy; but my docs assured me that it wasn't cancer returning.  My oncologist wanted me to see the surgeon first to see what she suggested or wanted to do. She ended up extracting 4 ounces of fluid from the area and it felt good, especially being able to sleep on the left side. But, that didn't last long as the area filled up again. Went I went back for the follow-up, she wanted to leave it alone - she didn't want to risk infection - and let my body take care of it. And it is as it gone down (slowly) in the last 3 weeks.

A seroma - it is like a bruise (more on that later). She explained that the capillaries located in the area of radiation swell up and as happens occasionally, they get stretched a bit too much and tear open releasing a clear fluid into the area. It is not common but it isn't abnormal. Like a bruise, the fluid will slowly be absorbed back into the body and disposed of. It can take up to a year.

I have started volunteering my time to the local cancer assistance program by driving cancer patients to Las Cruces when needed. I can either use my truck or use the group's vehicle. Some are going down just for a doctor appointment, or radiation. Others go for chemo or tests. Every one of them has had such interesting lives and come from all backgrounds. I really enjoy getting to know them. Today's ride was heart breaking as hers is terminal. She is such a sweet lady.

As usual, I am enjoying the wonders of Spring. Many American Goldfinches are passing through on their migration northward and they have just overwhelmed us in numbers this year. Jim has a feeder outside his bedroom window and they entertain him all day long. I have finished feeding the local birds as it is time for them to find for themselves around here.

The hummingbirds are just starting to come in and as of today we have 3 that I am able to count. They are the black-chinned ones. One has been here before as he knew where the feeders where hanging last year and let me know that I was a little slow on the ball this year.  I had one feeder sitting on a table out in the carport last week, while I was busy fixing something, and he came up to the feeder on the table, flew up to the chain where it was to hang, flew back to the feeder on the table and did that one more time then came over to my face and just flew there in front of me. I got the hint.

My son bought me a Minstead Scotch Broom plant for my birthday and will be planting it on the west side of the home, next to the Spanish Broom. In most states, they are considered invasive but NM doesn't list them as such. They are seen in garden nurseries all over and have beautiful flowers. The Minstead is a pink/purple flower and the two brooms will serve as a windbreak (eventually) for the back door. Daughter got me a gift card and she said in the birthday card to get something for the birds or for my self. I told her - the heck with the birds! I love the Danskin knit pants, so have gotten one so far. When the fall/winter clothes start showing up, I will get me a couple more. Thank you kids.

I mentioned earlier about bruises, well how about this one.  I was fixing something at the edge of the patio cover and needed to give a hard push to something and as I did, I also pushed the ladder away from me. Need I say more? I have an imprint of the ladder leg on the back side of my right thigh - this perfect rectangle outlined in a pretty purple/blue color. It goes from the top of my thigh to about 2 or 3 inches below my knee, with the back of the knee a pretty purple too.  There is a couple of other bruises and NO I didn't go to the doctor.  I am having experiences with bruises this year.  Sorry no pictures, just imagine.

Well, this is all my laptop can handle. It is as old as I am (in laptop years, whatever that is) and is having trouble multi-tasking as I am. So will close for now. I did have to get at least one picture in.
The Minstead Scotch Broom, with sweet-pea like flowers.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

4th Anniversary of my Re-Birth

Four years ago today at about this time in the morning, I received a call from my cardiologist's office telling me I need to get my butt down to the (Hutchinson KS) hospital to have a pacemaker installed.

A frantic call to my daughter at work and her making arrangements for her fellow workers to take over her load at the newspaper and we were off for the 2-1/2 hr drive. The next morning I woke up with a new tripper to my life.

Haven't regretted it one day. I still go in for 6 month checkups and the readings are pretty good still. The lead to the upper chamber shows usage less than 1% of the time and the usage to the lower chamber is usually around 32 to 35% of the time. Did have to have it check 3 times during my radiation but the radiation had no affect on it.

Winter Jasmine in almost full bloom. Bees are happy.
Weather is really turning to spring time and I want to do so much in the yard, but we still have March and our last hard freeze to go thru.  And, my body let me know last weekend that it isn't ready to do what I am demanding of it. Kind of knocked me for a loop too. So am pacing myself - well trying. Yesterday was the slowest I have ever walked through WalMart to get a few groceries (ya, I know - I use to work there and there are still a lot of good folks that work there and I like to see them and do a little catching up.)



Jim just turned 75 & we are celebrating with son Jim.



At the end of January, we celebrated Jim's 75th birthday. He never believed he would see that milestone in his life and here he is.  I took him up to Socorro to celebrate with son Jim at the Twisted Chile Brewing Company. They have the best green chile and pepperoni pizza.  Then we headed over to Jim's and cake and ice cream (actually cupcakes and ice cream).
Here's the birthday guy with his (cup) cakes.

Happy 75th Birthday Jim.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Onward and Upward - Start of a New Chapter or Chapters

I am through radiation treatments, I fared very well coming out with little consequences. Now I am on a hormone therapy program for five years - or 1,828 pills. Am on anastrozole for now and if the $1.20 cost for 90 days holds up, then the $25 I will have spent over the 5 years, will be worth it. Am not going to complain.

Of course, I have no idea which direction life is going to take me or what is going to happen; but am working on a few short term projects. One is to take Jim over to see his brother Ken in Phoenix and I hope we can accomplish that in February or March. Another project would be to see his sister-in-law in the San Antonio TX area. For this trip, I would like to take Eggie, my little trailer. First he will need some modifications done so we both can sleep in the trailer; and, then some maintenance work. Son has expressed interest in tagging along with us.

Pincushion flowers just a few weeks ago
Some plants in the yard are starting to show signs of Spring - the Winter Jasmine is starting to bloom, my pincushion flower plant has been blooming all winter but is showing more sign of life now - and the weeds are popping up aplenty!  A beautiful weed is the gloroisa daisy and its starting to pop up and even have one
Pincushion w/snow day after Christmas
that is blooming already. The last few days have been just perfect for getting outside and doing just something.  Just something has included re-organizing a shed, removing some leaves that have collected in little pockets here and there, checking on my iris plants to see if they are doing anything yet, noticing the little leaf buds coming out on the Spanish Broom shrub. Oh, notice my iris are starting to send up shoots too. I just love how spring rejuvenates ones' soul.

And poor Big Red pickup had split a hose - an essential hose. It is the high pressure power steering  hose. I truly believe my angels were looking over me on that one as it was not discovered until I got home on my last doctor trip right after the last radiation treatment.  Fortunately, I do not have to make another out-of-town trip until 1/28.  It would have been a bummer if something had happened on a treatment trip to Las Cruces.  I had them drill out 2 sheared bolts that were barely holding the front skid plate in place too and put new bolts in. Wow, that power steering hose is not an inexpensive little item.

I just had to put some of these "snow" pictures in to remind me that we do get snow here - once in awhile. Las Cruces and El Paso have more snowfalls then we do and they are just 70 miles southward. This year our "annual" snowfall was on December 26th.

Rosemary bush

Mormon tea (foregrnd) & cholla in snow

Cholla in snow
And I took these pictures on my way to Las Cruces for my last treatment.  I just love how the clouds will hug the mountains.
Cabello Mountains, January 5

Cabello Mountains, January 5 w/sun trying to shine through.
Well, it is time to start my day. This morning's sunrise presented me a beautiful array of rainbow colors from a violet to lavender, blues to dark pink to bright orange. The far Gila snow covered Mountains were lit up by the sun, peeking over the clouds, in a beautiful light orange color. What a gorgeous way to begin a day.