“Adventures in Chemo… The bathroom chronicles”

Chemo #5 has reared its ugly head and this bad boy has come on with a vengeance!  Patty did really well yesterday at Nicole’s house.  We got there around 2 p.m. and it was a houseful!  As much as Patty wanted to be up and mingling, I was being the party pooper and made her sit on the couch to visit.  (Hey, I know her… she’ll push her limits.  Someone has to keep an eye on her!)  We had a wonderful dinner with everyone around 5 p.m. and by 6, it was time to go home.  Patty was the one who actually realized she needed to go.  Patty plopped on the couch when we got home and she was asleep within minutes.  She got up and was in bed by 7. 

She slept good all night and woke up around 10 a.m.  A good 15 hours night sleep!  She tried to force herself to do some things this morning (when she thought I wasn’t looking)  but she just didn’t have it in her.  I was in the front of the house and realized I hadn’t heard her in a while.  I went to the bedroom and found her sound  asleep.   I heard her get up around 1 o’clock and go into the “notorious bathroom.”  I didn’t think much of it, but after a few minutes I realized she didn’t come out!  Guess what?  “Adventures in Chemo” were back.  Of course the door was closed.  I knocked on the door to which I got no response.  I tried to open the door but guess who was propped against it… deja vu!  Here we go again!  Long story short… I was able to get in and get her back to bed. 

As a result of “Adventures in Chemo… The bathroom chronicles” I’ve now removed the door!  If she won’t listen, then I’ll just take matters into my own hands.  The door will stay off until I’m comfortable that she’s getting stronger.  This will most likely only take a couple of days.  So, if you stop by, please go before you get here, or hopefully you’re not modest!

*** I’m writing the below about two hours after this post ***

Patty just discovered the bathroom door is missing!  She’s not happy about it, but you know what?  Sometimes we just gotta do what we gotta do!

Sunday, 11/28 – Just to let you know, the bathroom door went back on early yesterday.  Patty seems to have turned the corner, at least for now.  Today she seems great!  But, I realize feeling great can change at any time.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

When Patty and I were first married (Wow!  16 years ago) we found Thanksgiving to be a crazy day.  We never had dinner at our house, so we’d get  up early and make whatever it was we were taking to our destination dinners.   Notice the word “dinners” is in the plural!  We’d generally drive from Lakeside down to Chula Vista to have the early Thanksgiving dinner with my family who generally ate around noon.  We’d finish at my parents home, then drive all the way up to Temecula to have Thanksgiving dinner with Patty’s family.  By the time the day was over, we’d put on about 130 miles roundtrip and have consumed two full Thanksgiving meals!  After doing this for a few years we finally decided we’d change the ritual and have Thanksgiving dinner at our house for both families.  This totaled anywhere from 25 to 30 people but what a great time we’d have.  The cooking generally started a couple of days ahead, doing the small time-consuming things that you could safely store in the fridge.  Then the day of, we’d put thing in high gear and really knock out the food.  Of course, the bloody mary’s started around 9 a.m.   The problem with starting the BM’s so early is that once you start, you can’t stop!  That always made for an interesting day!  One thing I was insistent about was everyone sitting at the table.  I don’t know many people who have tables, chairs and table settings for 30 because I know we didn’t, so we’d rent everything.  3 eight foot tables set up end to end stretched from our dining room way out into the living room.  But it worked!  I remember each year, when the food was served, I’d always sit at one end of the table and look down the line of people and see everyone I loved in the same room, at the same table, all having a great time.  There were my parents, Patty’s parents, her sisters, my sister, our kids, our aunts and uncles, grandma, cousins and a few friends.  And loud?  Oh man!  It was loud!  But that was ok… everyone was having fun!  What a party!

Each year there was always at least one disaster.  This one is in the top three of Thanksgiving disasters.  I remember one year, everyone was packed inside the house and even flowed out to the backyard.  Patty and I were in the kitchen.  Patty needed the pepper for something.  She found  the full pepper shaker sitting on the hot stove.  She picked it up and didn’t realize the plastic stopper in the bottom of the shaker had stuck to the stove top.  When she lifted it, the pepper flowed out the bottom of the shaker.  Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the fan was on above the stove.  I watched as the ball of pepper got caught in the air flow from the fan.  The ball swirled and rose, then made its way across the kitchen.  As the ball of pepper blew across the kitchen like a swarm of bees, I watched as it took out anyone and everyone in its path!  This ball of pepper wiped out at least 10 people, maybe more!  There was coughing and sneezing like I’ve never witnessed.  Patty and I were the first victims, followed by grandma, Patty’s aunt and anyone else breathing in the area.  It’s wasn’t that funny at the time, but looking back, it was pretty comical!!!

Today we’re planning on spending our day at Nicole’s house.  We offered to host the dinner in our condo clubhouse, but Nicole insisted that she and Joey can handle it at their house.  It’ s probably a good thing since we’re not sure how long Patty will last today.  This will be another Thanksgiving with the entire family!  We’re looking forward to the day!

So, what am I thankful for today?  I could say the traditional politically correct things by just saying I’m thankful for our health and family.  That’s too easy.  I look back over the past year and I’m thankful for a number of things… I’m thankful for the relationship I have with Patty!  I’m thankful of that because of the trials we’ve endured this year.  As tough as they’ve been, we’ve grown so much closer and stronger than I could have ever imagined.  I’m thankful that she is doing so well and we only have one more chemo to go!  I’m thankful that we were blessed with our second grandchild,  7 week old Avery.  She’s such a doll.  I’m thankful that our 1st grandchild, Mia, is with us on this holiday.  She is such a cutie and so smart!  I’m thankful that my daughter, Kristi, is pregnant with our 3rd grandchild!  We’re counting the days until he, or she, will come into this world.  I’m thankful to be living in San Diego again to be close to our family and friends, not just for today but everyday.  In that same note, I’m really really thankful that I don’t have to shovel snow or clear the driveway this Thanksgiving.  I’m thankful for the geek that invented the internet.  Without it I would have never been able to start this blog and be able to share our journey with all our friends and family.  I’m thankful that we’re starting to look for a new house!  (Living in 708 square feet is killing us!)   And last but not least, I’m thankful that I have a pair of pants to wear today that are a little big that will allow me to have that 2nd helping of food and grow into them! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Number 5 is officially done!!!

Patty will probably kill me for posting this picture!  She had her 5th infusion about three hours ago.  She’s already pretty tired… but she’s all snuggled in her Charger blanket! 

OK.  Number 5 is officially under our belt!!!  This is a huge milestone since now we really start the countdown!  ONE MORE TO GO!!!  Just 21 days… Come on December 14th!

Patty didn’t get much sleep last night at all.  She takes those darned steroids in the morning and again at dinner the day before the infusion.  The steroids just “pump her up” with energy.  So needless to say, when it’s time for bed, she’s ready to work out!  It was well after 2 a.m. before she dropped. 

I woke up this morning early as usual… somewhere around 6 a.m.  Patty was dead to the world.  Knowing our appointment with the Oncologist was at 9:30 a.m. I figured it’d be safe to let her sleep in until 8.  So that’s what I did.  We both got up and got ready for the day, excited that this was the next-to-the-last infusion!  We left just before 9 and once finding a place to park etc, it was close to 9:30 a.m.  I was pretty proud of how I timed things.  Patty had a message on her phone which she checked as we were walking through the parking lot.  She looked at me and said it was the Oncologist’s office that called at 9:10 a.m. wondering where she was!  I asked why they would call 20 minutes early and she said her appointment was scheduled for 9:00 a.m!!!  Damn… I was off a half hour.  I thought “No big” I’m sure they have people running late all the time.  Well, it was a “big.”  After everyone pulling strings for Patty to see the Oncologist (which, by the way, made us late for her 9:30 a.m. infusion!) we were able to see the Oncologist.  You could tell she was a little perturbed that we were late.  Her nurse later told us that the Oncologist doesn’t like patients to think they can call their own hours!  Hmm.  Long story short, everything worked out ok.  She saw the Oncologist then started her infusion an hour late!  I was a big boy and took the blame.  I figured I may as well fess up since I knew Patty would throw me under the bus if she was asked.

So… number 5 is officially done.  Now we’ll see how the next few days go.  We’re hoping for no more “Adventures in chemo!”  I have established rules for Patty… #1:  You must to listen to me… it’s for your own good!  #2:  If you need to get up in the middle of the night, wake me up before you attempt to get up!  #3:  Turn on the bedroom light if you want to get up!  #4:  If at anytime you go into the bathroom on your own, leave the door open!  #5:  Don’t forget you love me!  Failure to adhere to any of these rules are against the law and there will be punishment somewhere down the road!  (I sound pretty tough, don’t I!)

everyone, please pray that the next few days go well for Patty!  We can use the extra help!

I’ll keep you posted on how things go!

If I don’t post anything in the next couple of days, have a great Thanksgiving!!!

No news is good news!

It’s been well over a week since my last blog.  It’s not that I’ve been ignoring the blog, it’s just that there’s been nothing to blog about.  After the last blogs, Adventures in Chemo etc, life has been pretty quiet.  That’s a good thing since there was all kinds of action in the Sousek household over that several day period of time. 

There’s only three weeks to go until Patty is done with the chemo!  Only two more infusions in the next three weeks!  Can you believe it!  December 14th can’t come soon enough!  We’re both a little nervous about the next two infusions since we’ve really noticed an increase of the intensity in the side effects after the last couple treatments.  I told Patty that I’m really going to be strict about what she does, or attempts to do, after the next infusion.  Last time she was so weak.  I don’t want to be driving her to the emergency room at midnight because she fell or passed out!  You know how she can be.  She’ll start feeling good, then she’ll do too much!  Not this time! 

Speaking of the emergency room, yes, Patty had her stitches removed.  It actually looks pretty good.  Much better than, as she’d call it, the “Frankenstein” look… no hair, missing a boob and stitches across her forehead.  It’s a good thing she’s so pretty.   Not everyone could pull that look off!  She can! 

Patty’s taster is back!  Yippee!  It’s been back a few days!  That means we get to eat real food.   I grilled a couple of steaks on Friday night.  What  a treat! 

It’s been cold, rainy and crappy here the last couple of days, so yesterday I made some Turkey/Tortilla soup.  It was perfect!  Today will be more “comfort food.”  Just not sure what to do yet.  This was kind of funny… I was at the grocery store yesterday to pick up things for dinner.  I was in the produce department and looked over and saw a woman from behind whom I thought was Patty.  She wasthin and wearing a white hoodie like Patty… jeans… a pink ball cap and it was obvious she was in the throws of chemo. I thought to myself “What the heck is Patty doing here since she just sent me to the store?”  I was going to sneak up on her and do something (I didn’t know what, but you know me, it would have been something completely stupid but still would have had a good element of surprise).   As I got closer to her I started to think… “what if it’s not her?”  I got closer, trying to figure out if it was Patty or not… closer and closer.  The woman turned around and looked at me with a disturbed look as if she was thinking “What?  Hasn’t this guy ever seen a woman with no hair before?”   I quickly realized it wasn’t Patty.  The woman turned back and dug around the broccoli.  I felt stupid for starring so I approached her and said: “I’m sorry.  I thought you were my wife.  She’s going through chemo also.”  The woman gave me a polite laugh and said: “I get that all the time.”  She turned around and went back to her broccoli!  I walked off thinking that was a  really strange thing to say.  She just blew me off thinking I was some pervert!  Oh well.. that’s probably not the first person with that thought!

Speaking of weather… like I said, it’s been really cold, crappy and wet here.  But, I really feel for our friends up north!  We’ve been watching the live “cams” in the Tahoe and Placerville area and wow, this is really early for this strong of a winter storm!  I’m sure our house in Pollock Pines has a couple of feet of snow!  In a sense, I do somewhat miss it, but one thing that I’ve learned living back in San Diego is that you don’t have to shovel rain!!!  The snow is beautiful, and you always look forward to that first snow, but it sure is a lot of work!  Plus, I had that horrendous drive to work each day.  I don’t miss that in the least! 

Here’s a couple pictures of Tahoe’s first snow of the season!  Yuck!

Thursday is Thanksgiving!  Patty’s next infusion is Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving.  She should be ok on Thursday, but then again, if it’s anything like last treatment, the fatigue kicked in on Thursday night.  So, we’ll just have to play it by ear and see how things go.  Patty’s son, Nate, and his family are coming out from Arizona on Tuesday to spend the holiday.  Patty’s not only excited to see them, but our granddaughter, Mia, will be here!  As I said before, I really have to keep an eye on Patty so she doesn’t try to do too much! 

You know we’ve been living in that tiny condo the past 10 months.  Yep… 708 total square feet!  Pretty tight to say the least.  We had just started looking for a house when Patty’s diagnosis came up.  We decided  back then to get through this journey before we started looking again.  So, that time has come.  Patty has just three weeks to go and we’ve decided to start looking again.  We’re prequalified for a loan so here we go!  I’ll keep you posted on how the house hunt is going!

Like I said, life has been pretty “normal” these past 10 days or so.  We haven’t had to face anymore “Adventures in chemo.”  Patty has been doing really well.  I wish there was more to  report, but as they say: “No news is good news!”

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Today was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in San Diego.  Patty had registered herself and I on the website and planned to attend.  However, after the turn of events the last couple of days, plus Patty was is pretty fatigued today, we felt it best to stay home.  My daughter, Kristi, and her friend were going to meet us there as well as Patty’s sister, Dottie.  A few friends from work were also going.  They all went to represent  and support Patty. 

We watched part of the event on TV which was pretty moving.  There were over 18,000 people in attendance which is an incredible turnout!  Patty’s sister Dottie was funny… she emailed us pictures to us as the event progressed.  It was almost like we were there! 

This is the first email she sent:

 

Everyone was invited!

Pink was definitely the theme!

Pink everywhere!

 

The race started.

They’re going through Balboa Park.

Encouragement along the way!

Big hill at the end… looks like a lot of people are getting tired!

They finished!!!

We’re sorry we didn’t make it today as it was an event we’d planned for months!  But the :Adventures in Chemo”  had other plans.  Patty is wearing her “Race” shirt today!  It’s a “survivor” shirt!

We’ve already decided we’re doing it next year!  Patty says she’s going to run it!  Me… we’ll see.

Adventures in Chemo!

Over the past four chemo infusions, I thought I was getting pretty good about knowing what to expect from the side effects, when they’re going to hit, how to help Patty etc… but I have to admit, I had no idea chemo #4 was going to come on like “gang busters!”  First of all, the side effects, nausea and fatigue,  came two days earlier than usual.  She had her infusion on Tuesday and we normally have until Friday night or Saturday before anything happens.  This time both fatigue and nausea hit on Thursday evening!  Nothing we haven’t dealt with before.  But Friday, the side effects, mainly fatigue, was much more intense than usual.  A close friend of ours mother had recently passed away and the services were Friday afternoon.  As weak as Patty was, she insisted on going to support to our friend.  (Sometimes she just won’t listen to me say “NO!”)   By the time the hour an a half service was over, you could see on Patty’s face that it was time to go!  But, she went and felt good about it.

I got Patty home around 3:30 p.m. and she got into some comfy clothes and immediately flopped on the couch for a good three-hour nap!  Obviously she needed it.  The night went pretty well… she got the card that I mentioned in the previous blog and things seemed to be ok… that was until around 8:30 p.m.  The fatigue just whacked her.  She looked so weak and frail.  I knew she just needed to go to bed and get a good nights rest… and that’s how the night started.  We both went to bed around 9:00 p.m. and she immediately fell asleep while I watched a little TV and dropped around 10:00 p.m.  I was in a sound sleep when I was awakened by a “thump” and moaning!  I immediately popped out of bed to find Patty laying on the floor, on her side of the bed.  Without going into detail… what had happened, she got out of bed to go to the bathroom.  She returned to the bedroom and was so weak and dizzy, she tripped and fell, hitting her head on the nightstand!  Not good.  The next thing you know, we’re at the emergency room a little before 1:00 a.m.  We walked into the empty reception area (notice I said “empty!”)  checked in and waited to be seen…. and waited… and waited.. and waited!!!  Patty and I were finally taken back into the ER around 2:30 a.m.  The ER doctor did a quick exam and said he wanted to do a CAT Scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding from the blunt force of hitting her head… he’d also stitch up the cut and we’d be on our way.  So… again, we waited and waited and waited.  Finally around 5:00 a.m. they wheeled Patty off to do the CT scan which took a matter of minutes.  Shortly thereafter, the doctor came in and stitched up her head… 10 stitches total and we were finally home by 6:30 a.m.!!!  Hmmm… 5 hours at the ER.  What a night!  Needless to say, we were both exhausted.

God is amazing!  Patty attends a bible study group on Wednesday mornings.  She really looks forward to this day of the week for both the Subject matter as well as the women who attend.  The other day all the women in this group decided they wanted to make dinner for us and bring it over on Saturday (yesterday)  Patty’s been hesitant about anyone cooking for us since it’s just the two of us and her taster is out of whack.  But, she agreed.  There’s no doubt this was part of Gods plan, knowing we’d be exhausted and could use a little help.  So, He sent two of his Angles to our house yesterday… Donna and Bev.  The nicest women you’d ever meet!  They came by around 2:00 p.m. with bags of food that included fresh-baked pumpkin bread, salad, pasta, marinara sauce, french bread, chicken enchiladas and some apple treats!  The timing of this present couldn’t have been any better!  We were both still so exhausted from the previous night’s activities.  We gobbled down the chicken enchiladas and salad last night.  Patty ate every bit on her plate!   Her taster may be out of whack, but the food tasted sooooo good she was not about to let the taster get in the way of a meal from God. 

Patty’s doing much better today.  Sure she has 10 stitches on top of a little “goose-egg!”  She has her color back which is always a good sign!  I’m going to keep her quiet today.  I’ve told her it’s “against the law” for her to go against my orders!  If she does, there’s a price to pay!  (you know her… we’ll see if she listens!)

Hopefully the Adventures of Chemo are over for this round.  If not, we’re ready to take them on!

El Dorado County ladies (and a couple guys) ROCK!!!

There are few times in your life when something or someone really touches your heart from a kind act where you’re absolutely speechless.  The only “speech”, per se, is to cry tears of humbling emotion. 

Patty and I moved from San Diego to Northern California in April of 2000.  She immediately went to work for the El Dorado County of Child Support Services in Placerville.  She had a great career with that department, quickly climbing the ladder from a supervisor position, to manager and finishing her career as the department’s program manager.  During that 10 year run, Patty, at one time or another, supervised pretty much everyone in the Placerville and South Lake Tahoe offices.  When I say “supervised” I really should say “touched” every person in those offices.  Just how much Patty “touched” those people was very evident when we opened yesterday’s mail…

I picked up yesterday’s mail like any other day.  I noticed a card mixed amongst the other mail, like bills and flyers from the local grocery stores.  There was nothing unusual about the card from the outside.  It was addressed to Patty with a return address from the El Dorado County Department of Child Support Services in Placerville.  I brought the mail in and divided the “Ed vs. Patty” mail, not  paying much attention to Patty as she went through her stack of mail while sitting on the couch.  Suddenly I heard her crying softly!  I asked if she was alright and she couldn’t talk as her eyes were focused on the card.  I walked over to comfort her but realized that she didn’t need comforting… all the comfort she needed was in that card!

The outside of the card was really cute!  It was shaped like a bra.  It read: 

Girlfriends are like a good bra –

always there to lift you up!

And this card indeed lifted her up!!!  It was signed by everyone from her old office, each person writing a small message to lift her spirits!  I’ll admit, when I saw the card and read what people wrote, I fought back tears!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that wasn’t all… there were papers folded inside the card.  The office had a “Pink Party Day” as a fundraiser for Susan G. Komen for the Cure which raises money for breast cancer education and research.

Below was the announcement that circulated the office:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The people from the  El Dorado County Department of Child Support Services raised over $600.00 in Patty’s name to donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patty and I were so touched and humbled by the amazing effort this group went through to do this in Patty’s name!  You know how you may work at a place for a number of years, then you leave.  Maybe once in a great while after you’ve left, someone will ask: “Do you ever hear from so-and-so?” or:  “I wonder what ever happened to so-and-so?”  Or even once the person has left, that’s it.  Gone!  Not this office.  These people truly care about Patty and truly care about how she’s doing.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much this gesture means to Patty!  It’s all she talked about last night.  Some friends stopped by today and that card was the first thing she showed them!  I even heard her on the phone with Nicole and another call from her sister, Dottie, talking about how much this meant to her! 

The timing for this gift couldn’t have been any better!  As I’m sure you’re aware, Patty had her last chemo infusion this past Tuesday.  The side effects from this treatment came earlier and much stronger than usual.  The side effects knocked her down pretty hard yesterday.   Knowing that all her friends from the office did this for her really lifted her spirits and gave her some strength to get through the day!

Words can’t express what Patty, as well as I, feel.  (that’s unusual for me, since I’m rarely at a loss for words!)  For now, all I can say is YOU GUYS ROCK!!!

Thank you so much!!!