Happy New Year!!!

Well, another year has passed and Patty and I are about as healthy as we can be! Patty got some amazing news just a week ago…

December 14, 2015 was Patty’s 5 year anniversary from her last Chemo. Five years! My how the time flies by. She just had an appointment with her Oncologist for her final check-up of the year. She has been seeing her every six months for the past couple of years. This was a big one for her since hitting the five-year mark post chemo gives her a greater chance of survival and being cancer free for many years to come. In addition, she was taking the medication Arimidex which lowers estrogen levels in post-menopausal women, which may slow the growth of certain types of breast tumors that need estrogen to grow in the body. Patty experienced a number of side effects to the medication such as tingling of the extremities, joint pain and, one of my personal favorites… hot flashes! Not just one or two a day, but we’re talking hot flashes anytime of the day, night or morning! I’ve been wanting to get her a super hero costume with a cape and call her The Hot Flash! Poor Patty… she is the only woman I’ve known that will turn the air conditioner on in the car when it’s 32 degrees outside! If things turned out well with her appointment there was a big hope that the doctor would take her off the Arimidex! So this was a big appointment for her… and us. I generally go to every appointment with her,but unfortunately she had to do this one on her own as I had “things” to deal with at work. As usual, about a week before her appointment Mr. Elephant in the room dropped by for his semi-annual visit as I could see patty starting to withdraw a little. If you look back in past posts I’ve described how she gets about a week before any appointment so I go into my routine of trying to keep her mind off of things… I go into “stupid mode!” I joke… laugh… just try to keep her entertained. It never works but why not try.

Her appointment with the Oncologist was December 23rd at 2:00 p.m. She gave blood samples the day before and had a bone density scan. So, December 23rd finally arrived and fortunately Patty was really busy with work so that kind of kept her mind off of things… Patty went to her appointment as scheduled, apprehensive as to what news the doctor would have for her…

December 23rd at about 2:30 my phone rang. I saw it was Patty when I answered it… Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “Hi Honey… How’d it go???
Patty: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “I’m taking it that it went well?”
Patty: “The doctor said I graduated!!! Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “I’m so happy!!!”
Patty: “No more Arimidex! Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “That’s great!
Patty: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”

That’s pretty much how it went! Not recommended, but she was driving and doing her happy dance at the same time in the car!

Yep… the doctor gave her a clean bill of health! She graduated! The doctor also took her off the Arimidex! No more hot flashes! No more air conditioner in the car when it’s freezing outside! No more needing to wear a wetsuit to bed! I know it all sounds selfish of me, but all I can say is: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”

We hope 2016 brings everything good to you!

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Post surgery update

Wow!  What a day yesterday was!

We got to the hospital around 12:15 for the 1:30 surgery.  Patty was feeling pretty anxious on the drive which was evident by not one word being said.  I tried to get her to talk, but she just wasn’t in the mood.  I totally understand and would probably be the same if it were me!  We checked in with the admitting person in the surgical center and had a short wait before they called her back to get into the “gown”.  After seeing Patty in her “gown” I realized that someone could make a killing in the hospital gown business if they designed one that actually looked good!  But, a green gown with the hospital issue purple socks just wasn’t doing it for me.  Anyway, back to yesterday.  We had a good hour to kill in the pre-surgery room waiting for 1:30.  Tick……….. Tick…………. Tick!  Time dragged.  Finally the anesthesiologist came in.  What a nice man!  Very thorough in explaining his role during the surgery.  His demeanor was very calming to Patty.  The surgical nurse came in as the anesthesiologist left.  She also had this calming effect on Patty.  Wow!  Two for two!  As she left, Patty’s surgeon came in.  Three for three!  It was a good start to surgery.  The surgeon told me she’d come into the waiting room when she was finished and anticipated the surgery to go between and hour and an hour and a half.   They were ready!  I gave Patty a kiss and off she went, looking pretty hip, I must say, in her hospital gown!  They took Patty back for surgery around 1:40.

I made a quick run to the grocery store to pick up things for Patty’s dinner.  Coming out of surgery, I figured since Patty hadn’t eaten since 7:00 the previous night, she would like something tasty but not spicy.  So… grill cheese sandwiches and tomato soup was the menu.  I got back to the hospital around 2:30.  I guessed they’d finish with the surgery around 3:30.  So, there I sat in the waiting room with a pile of Sunset magazines they provided.  I read through about four of them and looked at the clock… 3:35 p.m.  Ahh, they should be finishing up anytime.  Five minutes passed and…  and… and… the power went out!  Thank goodness I don’t freak too easily, but knowing my wife was in surgery and now no power?  I do know that hospitals have emergency power for just this reason so I was pretty calm, but still!  The surgery nurse came out to see me at 3:55 p.m.  She said she just wanted to ease my mind that everything was fine, the had backup power, and they’d be finishing up with Patty’s surgery in 10 to 15 minutes.  Phew!  The surgeon came out at 4:05 saying she was done and Patty did great!  She said she was able to make the necessary repairs, nip and tuck here and there, and was able to put a new implant in which was the same size as the other breast!  That’s great news!  That means no more surgeries… hopefully.

I’d never seen Patty, or anyone for that fact, minutes after surgery.  Wow… Patty talked to me with no clue what she was saying or to whom she was saying it to!  Wow!  He first thing out of her mouth, in a very slurred speech, was:  “God was with me the whole time!”  Patty came “out of the influence” within a half hour and was ready to go home and eat!  (That’s a good sign)

It seemed like everyone wanted to leave the hospital at the same time we were leaving.  The four story parking structure was backed up for four floor!  It dawned on me since the power was out the signal lights on the street weren’t working!  Needless to say, our fifteen minute drive home was much much longer!  I listened to the car radio and learned that the entire San Diego County was without power and San Diego Gas & Electric had no idea what caused the blackout, where the outage initiated and when power would be restored.  Of all days for the power to be out… it’s 99 degrees outside… my wife just had surgery…. no power means no air conditioner….  and we have an electric stove!  Things weren’t looking all that good for the night.  But, with some ingenuity, we’d make it work.

Patty was in a lot of pain as we drove home but I had her take more meds when we arrived at our house.  They kicked in around 6:30 p.m. and she was fine.  I’ve learned that it’s all about pain management!

Last night was kind of nice.  We had candlelight.  I literally made grilled cheese sandwiches on the grill!  (by the way, I’ve never made them that way before and I’ll never do them any other way in the future!)  I have a battery-powered radio so we tuned into a station that was giving updates on the outage.  We had a good night.  Patty went to bed around 8:30 and I followed around 10:30.  No power when I went to bed but it was restored at 4:00 a.m.

Patty woke up this morning around 6 a.m.  She was in a great mood and wanted to talk talk talk!  Me?  I had my head buried in a pillow trying to pretend I was sound asleep.  Meanwhile Mrs. Gabby started carrying on about everything under the sun.  I had to give up on sleep when I realized that she had pretty much slept most of the day before and she was done with sleep.  She did say one thing that caught my attention.  She said:  “Today is the first day in I can’t remember how long that I feel positive!  Positive about going forward.” You don’t know how glad I was to hear her make that statement!

So, bottom line… Patty is doing great (as long as she takes her pain meds)  We admired her new breast this morning when she took a shower.  Wow!  It’s taking shape and now they’re both the same size!  I’m pretty impressed!

 

Reconstruction surgery was a success!!!

Patty at 5:30 this morning wearing the latest in hospital fashion!

7:31 p.m. – I just walked in the house after a long day at the hospital!  I figured the first thing I needed to do when I got home was let everyone know how today went.

Well… we got up at 4 a.m.   No… change that!  I got up at 4 a.m. and Patty rolled out of bed around 4:25.  OK… that’s more accurate!  We were out the door about 4:50 a.m. and at  the hospital around 5:20.  Patty checked-in and they took us back into the prep room shortly thereafter.  The last few of days I could see Patty was experiencing some anxiety over the surgery.  As I think I said in yesterdays post… “I don’t blame her”.  This is pretty major surgery!  Last night she was getting a little weepy over not being able to care for Avery for the next 8 weeks as well as being pretty limited with what she’ll be able to physically do.  Bottom line, she was just frightened.  But this morning, she was completely different.  She was a little tentative, but she was ready to take this next step head on!  She had a great attitude and was laughing and smiling.

The staff at Scripps Green was amazing and really kept Patty at ease.  We met with the surgery nurse and the anesthesiologist around 6:30 and were pretty much ready to go for the 7:00 a.m. surgery.  The only person missing was the reconstruction surgeon!  Waiting is always hard in these circumstances.  You know how that goes… you’re there and just want to get this over-with!  7 a.m. rolled around and no surgeon… 7:20… no surgeon.  Now I think the waiting was getting to Patty as she told me that she was starting to get a little scared.  7:30… no surgeon.  Finally around 7:40 a.m. the surgeon waltzed in.  Thank God!  I could see the tension leave Patty’s body when she walked in.  The surgeon marked Patty up with a purple marker to indicate to her where she’d be making the incisions for the procedure.  She spoke with us for a few minutes and said she was ready to go and she’d find me in the waiting room when she was done.  She said the procedure will take around 4 1/2 to 6 hours.  Phew… I knew it’d be a long morning.  She left and within a minute another nurse came in and walked off with Patty.

I went over to the cafeteria and got breakfast.  I looked at my watch and saw it was only 8 a.m.  I thought “Oh man… Patty won’t be out until probably 1 or 2 o’clock.  So I had breakfast, read the paper, read a few chapters in a book I’m reading, watched people come in and out of the waiting room (by the way, waiting rooms are a great place to people watch!) and watched a little TV.  I noticed it was around noon and I was now reading some pamphlet on hospital services (as I’ve now read everything else) when the surgeon came in.  I glanced up and was surprised to see her.  I said: “Are you already done?”  She replied that she was and continued by saying that everything went great!  She had a big smile on her face and said it was a perfect surgery… no issues, no problems, no nothing!  Everything went as planned.  In fact she said: “I think this is one of the best one’s I’ve ever done!”  She said Patty did great and was awake in the recovery room!  Wow!  Not even four hours!  That was awesome!  I wasn’t able to see Patty in the recovery room, but that was ok.  I met up with her once she was transferred to her room about an hour later.

I have to say, Patty looks great!  So far she’s experiencing little pain.  She not drugged up other than taking a Vicodin every few hours.  She is doing so well!  I’m so proud of her!  She’s a stud!  Hopefully she’ll be doing just as well, or better, tomorrow.

Patty has to stay in the hospital until at least Monday.  Quite honestly, she’s was ready to come home tonight!  But, we have to do what the doctor tells her to do.

I could tell Patty was feeling pretty good this evening when she asked: “Are you going to make a dump run this weekend?”

“I’m ready to kick this cancer’s ass!”

My wife the rocker!

It was a tough weekend for Patty.  I think the anticipation of starting chemo, waiting for the results of the bone scan and just being frustrated with the whole situation got to her.  I don’t blame her.  She’s been so strong up to this point, I think a day of just feeling sorry for yourself is definitely warranted! 

Another doctor’s appointment this afternoon.  This has been a week straight of appointments!  It’s getting old and we’re both feeling the strain of it.  Let’s see… starting last Monday it was the bone scan… Tuesday was with the reconstruction surgeon… Wednesday was a heart scan… Thursday was a pap… Friday was blood work and another appointment with the reconstruction surgeon… Saturday we had an unexpected trip to Urgent Care… Sunday we met with the reconstruction surgeon again… Today is with the Oncologist.  Hopefully the results of the bone scan are what we hope for.  We’ve both been having our daily, hourly and by the minute conversations with God praying for good news.  Oh, looking at the clock, it’s time to run… I’ll finish this when we get back.

Ok.. we’re back!  We met with the Oncologist.  She was running about an hour late today!  Not good.  Patty was a little on edge knowing she’d find out the results of the bone scan.  Our appointment was at 3:15 p.m. and we were called in to the room sometime close to 4:30 p.m.  Our Oncologist came in, looked at Patty and said:  “Ok Patty, are you ready to do this tomorrow?”  Patty replied:  “I am, but how were the results of my test?”  The Oncologist replied: “Oh, I didn’t tell you?  They’re fine!  Everything was normal.”  Patty did a modified “happy dance!”  She never got up off the examining table, but still was able to do the dance!  You could see the weight had immediately lifted off her shoulders!  Patty’s mood immediately did a 180 degree turn!  My wife was back!

The really good news is that Patty has no more testing to do in the immediate future!  (Other than a blood test every three weeks to check her blood cells, which is no big deal.)  No more waiting for test results!  No more waking up in the middle of the night worrying about where the cancer has spread!  Her body has literally been scanned from head to toe!  There is not one secret about Patty’s body that the doctors are not aware of!  Even though the chemo will be a completely new trial for us, we’re hoping we can now get into some type of routine for the next few months until this is finished. 

Patty was in such a good mood when we left the doctor’s office.  She’s never been more ready to fight this fight!  As we walked across the parking lot to our car, she looked at me and said in a very determined manner: “Ok.  I’m ready to kick this cancer’s ass!”  That’s what I want to hear!!!

Mirror messages

 

Since the day Patty and I were married, we’ve always found a way to send “reminders” to each other when something important is going on in our lives.  We call them “Mirror Messages.”  All you need is some lipstick and a bathroom mirror!  Some people choose to send flowers. Our exchange of choice is the mirror message.  We do the mirror messages when something is hanging over our heads; one of us is out of town for a few days or even sometimes a simple “I love you” mirror message is just a reminder to the other that “Hey!  I love you!”

I thought I’d share these pictures as our most recent mirror message.  These mirror messages started a couple of months ago when Patty initially had the prognosis that the cancer had metastasized and it was “incurable.”  It started with the reminder to Patty that “You and I are a team!”  (this was a reminder that she was not alone in this battle!)  Then the messages morphed on the mirror as we waited for all the  test results.   “Keep it in the boob!”  (That was in hopes that the cancer hadn’t spread.)  Then you see “Lord, we love you and trust in you…”  Then we got the good news that the cancer hadn’t spread and they were treating for cure.  I wrote: “God loves us… and answered our prayers!”  Patty added the “Amen!!”

These mirror messages stayed up at least a month.  They do get in the way at times!  It gets kind of tough to “prep” in the morning before work.

Obviously this is one of my favorites!

There you have it!  Mirror Messages!

Fear

Webster’s Dictionary describes “Fear” as ” an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or the possibility of impending danger.”  This completely describes the emotion we’ve lived for the past several months!  Since the beginning of this mess, Patty has undergone every test imaginable!  Countless blood tests, ultra-sound, biopsy, chest x-rays, PET Scan, CT Scan, Marker scans, Bone scan, Heart scan… I’m sure I’m leaving some out but you get the gist.  The common denominator of all these tests is the waiting time to get the results.  Unfortunately the person administering the test is not a doctor, therefore they cannot tell you the results of the test.  You have to wait to meet with the doctor to hear the good  or unpleasant news.  Of course, the mind is a terrible thing during these “waiting” times!  The mind can be your worst enemy!  Both Patty and I know that, but it’s just a fact! 

Patty had a bone scan this afternoon.  Our Oncologist wasn’t very concerned about the test but said it was more of a formality to take off the “checklist.”  Now, I heard her say that plain as day, but Patty was obviously very concerned that she had to go through another test!  So, she did it and now we’re back in the waiting game!  Our Oncologist is on vacation this week and Patty doesn’t have an appointment with her until next Monday, August 30th.  My guess is we won’t hear a word about it until then!  Having gone through this “waiting” period more than once over the past few months and trying to carry on a normal life during this time is very difficult!  I’m sure when we meet with the oncologist next week, she’ll nonchalantly say: “Oh, by the way, your bone scan came back normal!”  But, that doesn’t help us out over the next 7 days! 

Patty is a very strong woman!  She’s also normal!  I’ve tried putting myself in her shoes, but even then, I know I can’t get close to feeling the fear that she experiences!  We have God in our lives and we’ve got an amazing support system, but fear is an emotion that’s often hard to battle!  Like I’ve said (and you’ve read me say) a million times, dealing with cancer is an emotional vs. intellectual battle… the emotional side generally wins!

Wig shopping!

 

 

(I know this picture has nothing to do with wig shopping… I just like this picture of Patty and our granddaughter, Mia)

Well, since it’s now official that Patty will lose her hair during the chemo process, we decided to be ahead of the game and go wig shopping.  We weren’t sure what to expect since this whole thing is so foreign to us.

We found a place located in Mission Valley called A Greater Hope that was recommended by Scripps .  Patty had an appointment at 11:30.  We both arrived at the same time (we’re such a team!)  Inside we were met a woman, Orfelia, who brought us in a private room.  Patty was a little apprehensive at first, but within a few minutes she was totally into the whole “wig” experience!  It was actually fun!  She tried on a number of wigs for style, then for color.  In no time at all she found the cut that is very similar to her current cut then found the right color.  Wham Bam!  That was too easy!  The wigs are pretty amazing.  They’re so lifelike!  And, they feel so real! 

Orfelia was great.  She deals on a daily basis with cancer patients going through chemo.  She was very understanding, patient and really worked with Patty to feel comfortable with her decision.

Orfelia then brought out accessories!  (I knew this was way to easy!)  The accessories consisted of scarves, wraps, sleeping caps and hats  in every color and print imaginable!  Now Patty was in her element… shopping!  I do have to admit, Patty really isn’t one for wearing hats and scarves, but let me tell you… she looked GREAT!!!  She has such a pretty face that the lack of  hair makes no difference.  In fact there was one look with  a scarf and hat that looked pretty classy and sexy!!!  (Hmmm… maybe this chemo thing may not be so bad after all!)  She ended up picking up a few accessories and that ended our day. 

So, Patty’s going to try to be ahead of this hair loss game.  She’ll make an appointment with Orfelia about ten days after her chemo to have her head shaved and go into her new look!