Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne…What the heck does that mean???  You know how the song goes… “Should old acquaintance be forgot…”  I know it’s sung every New Years Eve when the clock strikes midnight, but the phrase “Auld Lang Syne” makes no sense to me!  Actually, each individual word means nothing to me!  I’ll be completely honest.  Up until recently (10 minutes ago), I actually didn’t know the phrase was “Auld Lang Syne.”  I used to sing it as: “For old ang sigh!”  Come on, admit it, I know many of you are guilty of this!  I’m certain people have sung it as: “For old ang zine”; “For hold ang zyne”; “For old aunt Gzyne”; “For old any sign”; “Foothold and sign”; “For the aunts of mine”! 

I looked each word up in the dictionary.  This is what I came up with:  Auld:  A Scot word for old.  Lang:  A Scot word for long.  Syne:  A Scot word for since.  What???  “Old long since?”  Ok, now I’m totally confused!  I need to keep digging!

I checked through Wikipedia.  Now I’m getting somewhere!  Once you read through all the gobblygoop, Auld Lang Syne is loosely translated as “For the sake of old times!” 

Remember the movie “When Harry met Sally?”  I found that they had a conversation about this.  So I’m not the only one!

Harry: “What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. It means ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot.’ Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances or does it mean that if we should happen to forget them, we should remember them which is not possible because we already forgot about them?”

Sally: “Well maybe it just means that maybe we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends”

Bottom line… It is about old friends who have reunited and celebrating the friendship with a “cup of kindness”.  Booze!  I’m glad we got that straightened out!  That’s your lesson for the day!  If you’re at a New Years Eve party this year, and the conversation runs dry, use this tidbit to keep the party going!

Can you believe that 2010 is nearly over!  Wow, another year under out belt.  I’m pretty confident that 2010, unlike most previous years, will mark a “special” year in our lives.  It’ll definitely go down in the top 3 of “Years I’d never want to relive!”  

For Patty and me, 2010 has had its amazingly great times as well as low’s as low as they can get.  It’s had many challenges and trials that hopefully a lot of people never have to face.  Looking back over this year, I’ve realized that life is full of daily challenges… mental, emotional and physical.  Some challenges are greater than others, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that they’re still challenges. 

Lance Armstrong beat testicular cancer.  When all was said and done, he said that having cancer “Enriched” his life.  I thought long and hard about that statement and how it applied to Patty and me.  It’s so easy to focus on the negatives in life and sometimes it’s difficult to see the positive.  The last thing we’d want to do is give cancer credit for anything positive!  The truth is, dealing with cancer can change your life in positive and encouraging ways.  Here’s some thoughts on how our lives have been “enriched.”

We’ve learned that life is a privilege, not a given!  It can be taken away from you at any time.  Patty has always been in great shape.  Exercise has always been an important part of her life.  She’s the last one you would think would be diagnosed with breast cancer.  But, it happened.  It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our daily ritual and just take life for granted. We’ll never take anyone or anything for granted again!  Patty and I have talked about this many times.  She said her goal is to make the most out of every day and to always tell people how much they mean to her and how much she loves them!  I’m following her lead!  Don’t sweat the small stuff (it’s all mostly small stuff anyway). 

We’ve renewed our faith in God!  Patty and I were both brought up in Catholic families.  We both went through Catechism and everything that goes along with it.  We both drifted from our faith and, as we call it, have been a “work in progress” over the years.  We’d talked about going back to church for a number of years, but I’m embarrassed to admit it, it always seemed like something “more important” got in the way.  It’s interesting how quickly God comes back in your life when you’re faced with a life threatening disease.  We’ve learned how strong the power of prayer can actually be.  In Patty’s case, she went from an initial diagnosis of the cancer having metastasized and being incurable to localized and curable as a result of the power of prayer.  God let us know that Patty having breast cancer “Was not the end, but the start of a new beginning.” Patty and I now have a relationship with God.  We attend church on Sundays, pray regularly and praise God for the blessings he has given us! God has forever changed our lives!

You know the old saying “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family!”  You’d think that we’d hand-picked each and every one of them!  Patty’s battle has brought us closer to both.    We’re so blessed to have such a great family.   I made mention of this in my Christmas post… We’re so lucky to have such a close relationship with our kids!  All the kids have been so supportive through this trial.  They’ve not only brought us support, but also love and when needed, laughter!  Then take it a step further… our sisters, Patty’s brother, father, aunts and uncles have also been very supportive and given me a hand when times got a little tough!  There’s a bond between sisters that goes far beyond the “Secret order of Women” which I described in an early post.  These three (Patty, Kathy and Dottie) are quite the team!   We’ve learned that life is about people; love them and spend time with them while you can.  If you can’t love them then gently move on. Work at your most important relationships.

Last, but definitely not least, is how this disease has brought Patty and I so much closer.  It hasn’t been easy in the least.  It’s been a drain on both of us.  She’s my best friend and I know I’m hers!  There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for her and I know there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for me!  In the big scheme of things, I now know that God put us together for a reason.  We have so much love and respect for each other.  That love and respect has grown ten fold over the past nine months.  Who would have thought! 

So, using the “glass half full” theory, I guess there was a lot of positives that came from this trial! 

Here’s to a “quiet” and “uneventful” 2011!  We have so much to look forward to!  Come midnight tomorrow night (if we’re awake) Patty and I will raise a glass to each other as well as Auld Lang Syne!

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We need to take it one day at a time!

Last night I leaned over and gave Patty a kiss on top of her shiny head and it hit me… “She’s really dealing with cancer!”  Please don’t get me wrong, we’ve been living this for the past six months, but last night was different.  It really hit me… hard!  The reality of all this came over me like a ton of bricks!  I felt bad for her and very frustrated for both of us.  I really want to fix this and make this go away for her, but I can’t.  I think I may have been running on auto-pilot for the past six months.  Having many years behind me in law enforcement, maybe my past training had taken over… whatever the problem is, handle it!  Don’t let the emotional part get in the way!  Just handle it!  

We were delivered some very frustrating news yesterday.  Without getting into specifics, Patty’s having some complications from the surgery.  (Don’t worry, there’s no more cancer)  The doctor feels they need to go back in to correct this problem.  So, surgery is scheduled for this coming Monday, Oct. 18th.  Surgery is at 1:00 p.m. and should take about an hour.  They say she’ll come home that same day.  

I’m really concerned about this procedure.  Patty just had chemo this past Tuesday.  If you remember my last post, I talked about how we’ve pretty much figured out how she’ll be feeling on a day-to-day basis over the next couple of weeks.  Well, my guess is she’ll probably be really fatigued come Monday!  Plus, they say that between day 7 through 14 following chemo, her white cells will be at their lowest and this is a time when she’s the most susceptible to infection.  My question is… How will all that affect her recovery from the surgery?  Another question I have is…  Will this procedure delay her next chemo treatment?  That’s the last thing we want!  We’re on a schedule and really don’t want any delays!  Patty put a call in to her Oncologist late yesterday to ask those specific questions.  She hasn’t gotten back to us yet.  

My hope is all this will be behind us come June 22, 2011 (Patty’s 1 year cancerversary).  Our life will be somewhat back to normal and we’ll look back at all this and say “Man, that was really messed up!”  (I do have another phrase for “messed up” but it’s probably not appropriate to put it in this post!)

“Three… two… one!”

If you haven’t figured it out yet, my wife is an amazing woman!  Yesterday was her third chemo infusion.  Yes, number three!  A milestone in her treatment!  The half way mark!  Patty was actually excited yesterday to have her next treatment!  I mean really excited!  I asked her “why?” to which she replied: “Because I’m one more treatment closer to being cancer free!”  She truly means that!  What a great positive attitude!!! 

Patty has done really well over the past week.  We’ve noticed a pattern through these treatments.  She deals with days “1 through 3” pretty well following her infusion, other than losing her taste buds.  Fatigue and body aches don’t really hit her until day “4” and lasts pretty strong through day “11”.  It seems like she starts to turn the corner about that time and begins to get stronger as each day comes.  Her taste buds start coming back about day “16” so this is when I start really cooking for Patty!  By day “18” or so, she’s doing pretty well, not back to normal, but much better than the previous week.  Then day “21” comes around and we get to do the whole cycle all over again!  

I hear people saying that this is just a “bump in the road” for us.  We’ve actually used that phrase a few times, but yesterday I had a chance to reflect on the past six months.  Sorry, but it’s hardly been a “bump.”  I don’t know the right word to describe this experience, in fact, I don’t need to find the correct word.  What I can say is that these past six months have not been easy!  But, it’s been a trial that has brought the two of us closer to each other like never before and it’s brought the two of us much closer to God. It’s been an experience that has literally turned our lives up-side-down as well as put our lives on hold.  But, you know what?  We’ve both accepted our lives for what they are right now and I’m confident we’ll get through this and carry on!  We’re both excited to see what the future has in store for us!  We talked yesterday and Patty told me that she’ll never take life for granted again.  That she wants to take in all she can daily.  We now have a new granddaughter and another grandchild on the way.  There’s a lot to look forward to! 

Since we’re trying to be as positive as we can through this ride, we’re now saying we’re on the “Countdown through Chemo”… “three… two… one!”  December 14th can’t come soon enough!

T.G.I.F.!!!

Patty and Nicole… Notice the “baby bump!”  She’s due any day now… the tummy is much bigger!

 

 

 

Thank God it’s Friday!  It’s been quite a week.   If someone would have told me six months ago that our life would be so upside-down right now, I’d tell them they were crazy!  Everything was going so well.  Patty retired.   We moved back to San Diego.  I found a great job.  The girls were both pregnant!  Wow… everything was falling into place.  Just when we were settling in and getting comfortable… God noticed and decided to wake us up and give us a challenge!  Challenges are good… keeps you on your toes!  Right? 

Monday was my last post.  In that post I was boasting how well Patty was doing from the last chemo infusion.  Last Saturday she was down for the count with fatigue.  Sunday, she was up and doing great.  But… Monday came here and the fatigue decided Patty wasn’t tired enough so he had his way with her.  She was down again for all of Monday and most of Tuesday.  She started getting her strength back on Wednesday and by the end of Thursday she was tired, but almost back to normal.  She’s been having little bouts with nausea but anti-nausea med’s seem to help quickly.  Today she seems to be doing great. 

Patty had an appointment with the Reconstruction Surgeon this past Tuesday.  He said everything was looking great other than the fact that the incision hasn’t healed 100%.  (it seems to be taking forever!)  The good thing is that he cleared her to start Jazzercise again, but low impact.  She’s ok with that.  But, since the incision isn’t 100% healed, he won’t let her use the pool!  Too bad since this week the weather has been in the mid to high 90’s with high humidity. 

We met with another Radiologist Oncologist yesterday.  He was very very thorough with us.  He used the paper that covers the exam table in the room as his drawing pad and gave us a Cancer 101 crash course!  He explained in layman’s terms everything one needed to know about breast cancer.  From how they find it, ultra-sound it, diagnose it, grade it, stage it, chemo it, radiate it… etc.  The bottom line in this appointment came at the end when he said: “In my opinion, you don’t need radiation therapy!”  That was great news and we’re happy Patty doesn’t need to extend her treatment any more than necessary.  If everything goes according to plan, December 14th will come around with her last chemo infusion then it’s back to healing and taking our lives off hold!  We pray that it stays that way! 

So, since Patty’s feeling pretty good today, and you know Patty, she jumped at the chance to go back to her love, Jazzercise!  She took a low impact class and absolutely loved it.  Everyone was really happy to see her back!  She then flew home, showered and met Nicole at the movies (some chick flick!)  She ran over to Kohl’s after the movie and bought a new pair of jeans (since she’s swimming in all her old jeans because she’s lost so much weight) and came home.

Speaking of weight… Patty’s probably lost about 20+ pounds over this whole ordeal.  She lost weight going through the initial diagnosis phase due to stress and anxiety.  Now she’s losing weight because her “taster” is all out of whack and food doesn’t taste good to her.  You’d think she’d stop losing weight with all the root beer floats and smoothies she’s consuming!  But, nope! 

Overall, the chemo is taking its toll on her, but once we’re at about 10 to 12 days into it following the infusion, she does great.  Her taster should start coming back by Sunday or Monday, then I’m going to do some serious cooking for her!

Patty took control!

It’s now been 8 days since Patty’s first chemo infusion.  A few of those days were pretty tough on her…  I see her getting stronger every day which is good because in a couple of weeks we get to do this again.  From what Patty tells  me, the hardest part for her (other than the fatigue and nausea) is that food does not taste good to her.  She has this weird taste in her mouth all the time.  From what we’ve read, it apparently taste metallic but Patty says there’s nothing metallic about it.  It’s just a bad taste which translates to great food tasting bad.  She said nothing is enjoyable to eat.  Right now she’s living on fruit milkshakes and cinnamon oatmeal! 

Patty had made a plan that she wanted to be as much in control of this situation as possible and not let the cancer or chemo dictate her life!  Knowing that losing her hair was a definite, she made an appointment to have her head shaved under her terms.  She initially had an appointment scheduled for this Friday, but after thinking about it, she changed it to today.  Thank God she made the change because last night she was brushing her hair and a small “clump” of hair came out!  Seeing that hair was a pretty good “reality check” for both of us.  It was a statement that this was really happening… it’s not just a bad dream!  We had a good talk last night about the whole situation and came up with a plan of attack and mindset that we needed for the rest of this battle.

Back to being in control!  I was concerned about how Patty would deal (emotionally) with her head shaved as last night she was pretty emotional.  I called her this morning from work.  She was in a great mood.  She said today is the best she’s felt since the last chemo!  I asked how she felt about having her head shaved today.  She told me that she wasn’t happy about it but what choice did she have?  She said: “I’ve decided I just have to have a sense of  humor about all of this!”  (That’s my girl!)

I met Patty at A Greater Hope (the wig place) where we met with Orfelia, the stylist.  Patty had a great attitude.  She told Orfelia: “I think Ed is more upset over this than me!”  (probably a true statement!)  Patty’s head was shaved within minutes!  Wow… I’m being very honest… she looks really great!  She has such a pretty face!  Orfelia then fitted her wig, trimmed a little here and there… done!  Patty left with a smile on her face!  She must be feeling better.  She told me that she was going shopping the rest of the afternoon!  She closed that statement with: “Hey, I just had my head shaved!  I deserve to go shopping!”  She kills me!

Here she is!  My new wife!

We knew it was too good to be true!

As you know, Patty had her first chemo this past Tuesday.  She did remarkably well through the process.  She has been feeling great this entire week… then yesterday hit.  Wham!  Like a freight train!  She woke up feeling a little tired and as the day progressed that feeling turned into big time fatigue with, as the doctors and nurses predicted, “flu-like symptoms.”  (By the way, the phrase “flu-like symptoms” doesn’t give it any credit.)  I got home a little early yesterday, around 2:00 p.m.  Patty was sitting on the sofa and you could see in her eyes that she wasn’t feeling well at all.  I brought her pillows and she crashed for a good 1 1/2 to 2 hour nap.  She woke up feeling better, but not 100%.   I could see her doing better as the evening progressed, hoping that she had turned the corner.  This morning she woke up feeling really well!  She said she wants to get on the treadmill this morning before we start our day!  That’s  a good sign!

So, we know what to expect in future treatments.  They say that the chemo will build up over each treatment and the symptoms get stronger.  So be it.  She still has a very positive attitude and she knows she’s getting better!

Monday, Sept 6th.  Ok… so I had to add to this post.  We were hoping she had turned the corner, but we were wrong.  She woke up Saturday morning feeling pretty good.  She actually went on the treadmill and walked two miles!  I was impressed.  She returned from the gym saying she felt pretty good, but a little nauseous.  She took a nausea pill and everything seemed to go away.  But, I could see her sinking as the day went on.  Her eyes don’t lie!  Early afternoon, she told me that she didn’t want to be cooped up in the condo.  (that condo can feel pretty confining!)  We decided to take a drive over to Coronado, be by the beach, and have a late lunch over at the Hotel Del.  We almost made it, then Patty told me she didn’t feel well so we turned around and headed for home.  We did stop in Rancho Bernardo and had lunch at Islands.  Food really helped her.  She ate a good lunch and seemed to be on the mend again.  We went home and as the evening approached, she wasn’t feeling well again.  We had a very quiet night.

She woke up Sunday feeling pretty good.  We got up  and had  a light breakfast.  I’d ask how she was feeling and if you know Patty she’ll always say “I’m fine.   I’m sure Patty was wondering what was up with me as I kept staring at her trying to size up how she was really feeling.  As I said, her eyes tell it all.  We showered and dressed and headed off to church.  (Church is always a good thing for us as it takes our mind off of any troubles we have!)  On the way Patty said: “I don’t understand it.”   She continued: “When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you physically feel fine.  You feel normal.  You can do anything.  But when they treat you for cancer, you feel horrible, physically and mentally!”  It’s so true!  We returned home from church and I asked if she wanted to go out somewhere for the afternoon.  She looked at me with those big blue eyes of hers and apologized, saying she just didn’t have it in her to go anywhere or do anything.  That was ok.  Patty  then went into the bedroom and took a good two-hour, if not longer, nap.  I cleaned the deck, watered the plants and watched the Padres lose their 10th game in a row!  (That’s another blog!)

Patty was able to go for a short outing with me to the grocery store and that was about it.  We had another quiet night at home.

I’m hoping today (Monday) will be a better day for Patty.  We’re both learning just how powerful chemo really is.  I just want her to feel better.  I know each day will get better for her, but the question is… when???

One down… five to go!

One down… Five to go!

Yesterday was Patty’s first of six chemo treatments.  She’s amazing!  She has such a positive attitude to take this on!  I’m confident the fact that there are no more tests in the immediate future is allowing her to concentrate on chemo.  Just being around Patty right now makes you feel good!

Her appointment was at 1:00 p.m. I worked in the morning and came home around 11:30.  We scarfed down a quick lunch since part of Patty’s instructions was “never have chemo on an empty stomach!”  Before leaving Patty and I held hands and prayed to God that he continue with us throughout this new journey, remove any cancer that may still be inside Patty and asked that Patty have minimal side effects.  We arrived at Scripps shortly before 1:00 and they brought us back right on time.  I think I described the chemo room in previous post, but I’ll do it again.  It’s a new room that’ s been open for close to two months now.  It’s located in the northwest corner of the clinic.  It’s set up similar to a ward with each chemo station divided from the other by a curtain.  There are windows all along the walls which makes it bright and upbeat.  Each station has a TV, bookcase, recliner (or bed if you prefer).  The areas are really comfortable.  Our chemo nurse was Margarita.  A woman close to our age.  I think we’ll have her throughout the regimen.  She was just awesome!  Very pleasant woman who has been in this business for many years.  She took a few minutes to explain the procedure and alleviate any anxiety Patty may have had, which wasn’t much.  She asked Patty if she was ready to which Patty said “yes!”  Patty sat in a comfy recliner and I sat in a pretty comfortable chair next to her.  She inserted the IV in her right arm and, as the say: “let the games begin!”  This was a three step process since there are three different chemicals/medications/poisons used.  The entire process took about 3 1/2 hours.  Patty and I talked, joked with the nurses and, quite honestly, had a pretty good time!  (you know us, we try to make the best out of any situation… even chemo!)  At one point Patty said she was starting to get a little headache so Margarita gave her some Tylenol which seemed to take care of the problem right away. 

Here’s Patty kick’in it in the chemo room!  See that smile… she actually had that smile throughout the procedure!

Speaking of attitude, as I mentioned earlier, Patty has an amazingly positive attitude right now.  Last night she told me: “right now the chemo is on a mission inside me, seeking out any cancer cells and killing them on the spot!” 

We left her chemo session around 4:45 p.m. and fought rush hour traffic on the way home.  Margarita told Patty to eat something lite for dinner.  We stopped at the store on the way home and Patty said she was in the mood for grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.  So… that’s just what the chef of the house prepared!  I haven’t had grilled cheese sandwiches and soup since I was a child and will admit, it was really good.  Patty ate well last night, which was a good sign.

Around 6:30 last night, Patty said she was starting to feel a little queasy.  She took an anti-nausea pill and the queasiness went away. 

Patty slept like a baby last night.  This was probably the best night of sleep she’s had in months!  She got up around 6:30 this morning feeling great!  No nausea, no nothing!  She took her daily medication with breakfast and as of right now, she’s really doing great!  Very upbeat!

This afternoon we go back to the doctor.  Patty gets a shot that will build up her immune system.  Margarita told us that she may have some flu-like symptoms as a result, achy bones etc, but it won’t last more than 24 hours. 

The interesting thing is how she’ll do the next few days.  Since there are some steroids in the chemo that gives Patty some energy.  After 48 hours, you “come down” off the steroids.  So fatigue may set in the next couple of days.  But hey , like Patty said, the chemo is on a mission to seek and kill any cancer cells inside her.  We can deal with some fatigue.

It’s hard to tell from this photo, but the shirt Patty wore yesterday says: “I may have breast cancer, but I refuse to let the cancer have me!”

And yes… in case you were wondering… there is a new “mirror message!”