Distractions are golden!

Patty and I have been spinning the past few days over this latest turn of events.  As I’ve been saying, Patty’s frustration level has pretty much max’d.  I’ve been frustrated but I’ve also been at my wit’s end over a number of things.

Going back a couple of days… This past Monday, Patty called me when she learned that she was scheduled for a sonogram the following day.  Needless to say she was somewhat upset.  I zipped home to talk with her and reassure her that things were going to be ok.  We talked for a short time then Patty suggested we take a walk.  (As you know she’s starting to train for the Komen walk in November.)   That particular day was very hot with the temperature at our house hovering around 101 degrees!  She suggested we go down to the beach where the temps should be cooler.  As we drove to the beach, which is about a 15 minute drive from our house, Patty suggested that we take the walk  from Torrey Pines State Beach to La Jolla.  She said her sister had made this walk many times and really liked it.  Hey… Sounded good to me!

We were fortunate to find a parking place at the beach and maybe it being a Monday afternoon worked in our favor.  I got out of the car and realized the temperature was in the mid 70’s, so much nicer than inland at our house!  In fact, it was slightly overcast!  Perfect walking weather.  Patty wanted to get in a good six miles, which is in the neighborhood of a 90 minute walk.  We decided we’d walk south on the beach for 45 minutes then turn around and walk 45 minutes back to our car.  The beach wasn’t crowded at all.  We enjoyed watching people in the water, kids making sand castles and the hang gliders floating over Torrey Pines.  We were a good 30 minutes into our walk in an area that was somewhat secluded.  We could see people off in the distance ahead of us.  Suddenly Patty motions towards a man probably 50 yards ahead of us and asked: “Is that man naked?”  I looked and not wearing my glasses responded: “No… I think he’s just wearing a loose sweater!”   Patty looked at me like I was crazy.  We continued our walk.  As we got closer to the man, my eyes were able to focus better…. Yep!  He was naked!  He was walking around and in-between some fairly large boulders.  He wasn’t bothering anyone so we just walked by keeping our eyes forward.  We walked a few more yards and saw a man standing in the ocean in about a foot of water with an easel in front of him painting a seascape… naked!  Ok… he wore a baseball cap and a tank top, but other than that… naked!  Suddenly we were swarmed with nakedness from every angle!  It then dawned on me that we were at the infamous Blacks Beach, one of San Diego’s few nude beaches!  How this happened… I’ll never know!  I looked at my watch and we were now 35 minutes into our walk.  We still had another ten minutes to go until we could turn around.  No big… nudists don’t bother me nor Patty… we’ll just continue on our walk to the half way point, another ten minutes away.  And we did!  At one point I joked like I was taking off my shorts.  The expression on Patty’s face was priceless.  I did make an interesting observation during this 10 minute walk… there were probably fifty to sixty naked men in this stretch of beach and not one woman!  There were big naked men, short naked men, naked fat men, naked skinny men, naked hairy men, naked young men, naked old men, naked tan men, naked white men, naked black men, naked men with long hair, naked bald men,  naked men with tattoos… but not one woman!  What’s up with that?  We finally got to the 45 minute mark of our walk and… we had the privilege of turning around and going through the naked mine field again!

We finished our 90 minute walk and returned to our car.  We had a good laugh about the whole experience.

I learned something that afternoon… I now know what to do with Patty if she’s having a bad day!   If a good laugh at Blacks Beach doesn’t get her mind off things, nothing will!

Quick update…

I went to the hospital around 8 a.m. this morning.  As I approached Patty’s room I could hear Patty’s distinctive laugh.  I walked into her room and one would think there was a slumber party going on!  Patty and her roommate,Deborah, were both sitting up in their beds laughing about something.  They both had their breakfast trays in front of them were acting like long time friends.  It was pretty cute.

Patty is doing amazingly well!  She looks like she could come home today.  They’ve removed all the tubes etc from her and she was going to go for a walk around the hall later today.  Honestly, I’m shocked how well she’s doing!

The reconstruction surgeon came in this morning while I was there.  She took a look at her work and said everything has started healing perfectly!  Isn’t the power of prayer amazing!  This is exactly what Patty and I (and others) have been praying for  the past couple of weeks and God has listened!  We did get to take a peek at the newest addition to her body and it looks great!!!

So… the update is that Patty is recovering better than I (and she) expected!  We couldn’t be happier!

Reconstruction surgery…

"Grandma Patty" and Mia being silly in their 4th of July schwag!

Tomorrow starts the next phase in Patty’s treatment… reconstruction surgery.

The surgery is a pretty big procedure but Patty’s ready to take it on!  Sure she’s a little nervous about the surgery.  Who wouldn’t be.  But, as she told me the other day, this surgery is different.  Her concern with other surgeries over the past year was that the surgeon would find more cancer.  Thank the Lord that wasn’t the case.  This surgery is all about breast reconstruction.  No snooping around looking for cancer.  Just reconstruction.

We’ve met with the reconstruction surgeon several times over the past two months.  She’s great!  From what everyone in the medical field has told us, she’s the best.  There’s a lot of people in the medical field who have a lot of confidence in her.  One person even told us that initially she performed a number of plastic surgeries for various reasons, but has now completely focused her practice on breast reconstruction.  Nothing else.

Without getting into details of the surgery, the best I can tell you is that its called Latissimus Flap Breast Reconstruction.  (If you really want to know the details of the surgery, do a Google search)  Since they’ll be working on both breasts, the surgeon estimates the procedure will take about six hours.  Patty will be in the hospital for a minimum of three nights so they can keep an eye on any possible infection.  Hopefully infection won’t be the case and she can come home with the three night minimum.

So… tomorrow morning we’ll be getting up around 4 a.m.  She needs to be at the Scripps Green Hospital in Torrey Pines by 5:30 a.m. and the surgery is scheduled for 7:00 a.m.  It’s going to be a long day.  If you happen to be in the neighborhood, stop by, I’ll be in the waiting room!  If not… I’ll get something posted on here as soon as I can.

Send  your prayers in Patty’s direction!

“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.

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.

I admire my wife…

Patty truly amazes me every day!  She has a strength about her, both inside and out!  Sometimes I think I know why God chose to give her the cancer and not me.  Plain and simple… I wouldn’t do as well as her.  She’s already been victorious against cancer.  I’m learning that once diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s all about how you chose to walk through this journey.  Patty walks the walk!  She didn’t choose to be afflicted with breast cancer, but she did have a choice of how she would deal and cope with this difficult diagnosis.  She chose to not be filled with angst and bitterness wondering “why me?”  She chose to not be filled with denial, rage or depression.  Patty’s not allowing cancer to dictate who she is or how she’s going to live her life!  She’s faced this journey with courage, love, hope and Faith, the entire time keeping a sense of purpose and doing so with grace and dignity!  I truly admire my wife!!!

I wanted to let you know that Patty is doing really well.  She’s made a quick recovery from the surgery and  it looks like she’s turned the corner from the last chemo infusion and is slowly getting her strength back.  We’ve only got eight weeks to go until her last treatment!  Last night Patty said: “I can do anything for eight weeks!”  And, she can!

I’ve got an idea…

This is me and our granddaughter, Mia, at the pool.

When I started this blog, part of my intent was to document this journey so friends and family could keep up with what’s going on with Patty and me.  The other part was to document this journey in hopes that it could help others who may be in the same situation.  This particular post is intended for other husbands who may have just learned that their wife or girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer.

16 years ago I vowed to Patty that I would love, honor and cherish her in “sickness and in health.”  I meant that when I said it and I still mean it.  There has not been one moment I have ever doubted that. 

As the husband of a breast cancer victim you become the first line of defense for your wife.  You need to respond to her every worry, concern, and fear about a disease that would become almost as much yours as it is hers.

I may not have had the suspicious lump in my breast.  I didn’t physically have the surgery and all that would follow.  I’m not the one going through the chemotherapy infusions, the nausea or fatigue.  From the moment Patty told me “I have breast cancer”, I found my (our) life unravel in ways I could have never imagined nor predicted.  In a sense, the husband’s job is a tough one, maybe not as tough as hers, but it definitely has its challenges.  You not only have to make sense of cancer, the good and bad, but at the same time you have to learn how to filter information to keep your wife from falling apart. That is no small job.  I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist.   I’m not a counselor.  I’ve had no training in the world of breast cancer.  I’ve had no medical training and I’m not a doctor or a nurse.  Bottom line, I’m just a husband who loves his wife very much who is flying by the seat of his pants, and at times, struggling to do what I feel is best for my wife!

When I learned Patty had breast cancer, I wanted to learn as much about the disease as I could.  I thank God for the internet.  I was overwhelmed with information and I took it all in like a sponge.  I will admit, there is a lot of information regarding breast cancer that is not good news, but it’s a reality.  I had to sort through that information and cling onto the hopeful info while also being realistic.  On the other hand, Patty also wanted to know as much as she could about the disease.  As with any other woman in her shoes, her frame of mind was different from mine.  She focused on the negative information which, in turn would frighten her.  Actually “Frighten” isn’t the correct term.  Using the word “terrorize” is more appropriate.  I had to have some strict talks with Patty about researching on the internet and even threatened to put “parental controls” on the computer.  (even though I’m sure she still peeks at the internet!)

This disease is something that totally consumes your life 24 hours a day!  Being a man, I have that “male” mentality…  “I can deal with this… Don’t worry about me, I’m a guy!”  “Guys are strong… Guys eat stress for breakfast!”  I think I’ve done pretty good over the past five months.  I’ve been strong for Patty and tried to be as understanding and emphatic as I can.  I’ve had maybe two days over this time where it was very difficult for me.  Funny, but I can’t put my finger on any specific event that caused me to just want to throw my hands up, but I know I did feel that way.  I feel guilty about that!  As a result, the one good thing is that my relationship with God has become much stronger as he and I have had many discussions where I’ve prayed to him to help me stay strong!  I know he’s in my corner!  I’ve recognized that I need to take care of myself.  Bottom line, I need to take care of myself to be able to properly take care of Patty!  Recognizing this, I decided to join a Breast Cancer Support Group for husbands.  Check this out… there are NO support groups specifically designed to help the husbands of breast cancer patients!  I find that appalling. 

So, guess what.  I started doing some research and leg-work to see what I need to do to start one!  I’m really excited about this.  I may be able to do this or I may not.  But if I’m able to pull this off, it’ll be something that will be really good for me and will help other husbands in my shoes!  Wish me luck.  I’ll keep you posted on how this goes!