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Aside

I finished all of my treatment in May of this year and I am feeling much better now that my body is not flooded with toxic chemicals. I see the doctors every 4 months and go to therapy twice a month for the lymphedema. I no longer have to wear the day sleeve and glove on my left arm and hand due to the therapy. I still have tightness and swelling in my chest,  arm and armpit area but it is something that I can tolerate.

I retired from Farm Credit in June after ten years with the company. It was difficult leaving customers that I had grown so attached to. I miss them. I am grateful many have remained my friends and still have contact with me. I worried that I would be bored but that has not been the case. You have to book an appointment with me now. My phone calendar is pretty full.

One of Paige’s co-workers needed a babysitter for four weeks and my daughter asked if I would consider filling in. Being the baby lover that I am I said yes. Tyson and I bonded from day one. He was about four months old at the time. He is an easy baby to watch. Needless to say I fell in love with him and his parents too. He nows spends every Monday at my house.

I also took part time work as a funeral assistant. Sometimes I work in the office but my real joy is out in the field helping with the funerals. It is a job that I am well suited for and fits me perfectly. The directors like me and I like assisting families at a difficult time in their lives. I am “on call’ and free to say no if I have any doctor’s appointments scheduled. It gets me out of the house and I enjoy being with and around people.

My Christmas gift was given early this year. My children gave me a trip to the Bahamas and Disneyworld. The planning for this trip started Christmas of 2012.  Paige orchestrated the event. My daughter is extremely organized and we all love having her take the reins in the planning arena. Everything was taken care of for me by Todd’s family and Paige’s. I only had to show up and enjoy the trip. It will be a forever memory in my storehouse of treasures.

I wrote about our trip and wanted to post it in my blog for my family but it was six pages long! I didn’t want to bore anyone besides family with my descriptions. However, I felt the need to record the memories for myself and my family.

We spent four days on a cruise to the Bahamas and four days spent at Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. Two days were spent traveling to and fro. We had a wonderful time. It was fun to see my grown children relax and my grandsons always bring me pleasure. They had fun enjoying new adventures.

We also had pouty times, meltdowns and blistered feet but those dimmed from my mind once we returned home. What stands out vividly are the smiles on my grandson’s faces, the excitement in their voices with each new discovery, the joy of having my family together and the love I felt for all of them. It was priceless.

Somewhere in my mothering I must have done something good.  The proof is evident in my loving and generous children. It was a memorable vacation for all of us. It was not the magnitude of their generous gift that made this trip such an exceptional time. I treasure the fact that my children and grandchildren desire to spend time and make memories with each other and me. They will remember and cherish this extraordinary vacation spent together in their hearts long after I am gone. It was in Disney words…. A MAGICAL TIME!

Merry Christmas from my heart and home to yours. May you feel “The Love” this season.

Nicki

 

Aside

I awake at 4 a.m. again. Fearing what is left of the hair upon my head, I choose not to lie in bed until 5 a.m. I arise to look in the mirror. My hair was totally flat but otherwise not too bad. I think, “If people did not know me, it would just appear as thin hair.”Truly, I still have more hair on my head than most people. However, I know after this next round of chemo that will no longer be true. The night before I turn off the bedroom light and crawl inside my bed. In the darkness, I did not like the silence. I reach over, hit the snooze button for music to play a short while and lull me into sleep. I only listen to one radio station, KTSY in my car and my home. The station plays contemporary Christian music and keeps my mind focused on what is good. I have listened to this station for many, many years. I have a hard time listening to the lyrics of other types of music. A song called Blessings by Laura Story began to play and I am comforted.

Blessings

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we have faith to believe

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

I think, “Yes what if?”

What if?

Aside

I awake at my usual time 5:30 A.M. but do not get out of bed until 6. I have resorted to sleeping pills to help me rest. Without rest my body cannot heal so I begrudgingly take a tiny tablet each night to lull me into REM sleep. I have always had difficulty sleeping and was given a prescription for sleep aids after my husband died. I tried that for about 3 days and threw them away. This time however, sleep is not optional but necessary and so I follow the doctor’s orders. My plan was to shower and wash my hair but upon running my hands through my “bed head” of hair and seeing the amount of dark brown hair in my hands and on the counter I decide to go to work with dirty hair. My hair always cooperates better when it is slightly dirty anyway. I debate; do I dare touch my hair with a curling iron, will it break off at the touch of heat? I pray asking God to help me keep my hair until Friday. I am vain. I take the chance. Surprisingly, the iron doesn’t remove too many of my precious hairs. I whisper, “Thank you, God. Please help me keep it until Friday?” I starch it with hairspray so nothing will move. The plan is to shave my head this coming weekend after my second round of chemo. My eyes have dark purplish rings and bags underneath of them. I carefully dot makeup concealer to camouflage and apply the rest of my makeup. I finish and smile broadly satisfied with the way I look.

I am anxious to return to work for several reasons.  I miss the customers and my household is single income. I am the source of it. I worry about the amount of time I have already taken for sick leave and am hoping the next round of chemo won’t be as difficult as the first and I can return to work sooner. I am employed by a large financial institution. We are not a bank however. We are an agriculture lender; loaning to ranchers, dairymen, farmers and country home buyers. We have some of the finest customer base and I unashamedly admit that I am friends with them. I care about their world and they care about mine. The outpouring of love our customers have sent my way since the announcement of my cancer has been extraordinary. My heart is deeply touched and I worry that I will be teary when I greet them. I fatigue easily and do not plan to work a complete day. I check my bag for the noontime pills, juice and food that I need and eagerly head out the door to work.

I awake at my u…

Aside

The doorbell rings at 9:30 a.m. and there stands my son. “Are you ready for this, Mom?” I reply with my voice, “I think so.”  However, my heart screams, “NO.” The doctor had given me an anxiety pill that I took in the morning. Todd carries my bag to the car and we head down the highway to MSTI. We arrive and enter the building for my first treatment. I am taken for a weight check and blood work. I see Dr. Dan, go over my results from the prior week’s tests and I am cleared for the infusions. The infusion lasts approximately 5 ½ hrs. I wanted to spend this time talking to my son. We rarely have time alone, just he and I but I fade in and out of sleep from the anxiety pill. Todd sits at the foot of my bed, monitoring me and taking notes when the pharmacist and nurse talk. I try so hard to listen but the brain cannot engage. Todd senses this and records vital information for me. He has taken the place of my husband in my life. He is my number one man. I don’t see him as often as Paige and like his father; he is a man of few words. However, I am his mother and I can read the unspoken things that lie heavy on his heart, especially those concerning me. He brings me home, changes his clothes and edges the lawn. My brother, Johnny and sister in law, Leah come later to mow. Before Todd leaves Paige arrives to do the night shift with me. They talk and then he heads home to his family. She and I go over my meds. She fixes dinner for me and then we try to watch a movie together. I cannot last and fall asleep but only for a short period of time. The anti nausea pill causes insomnia so I cannot sleep longer than two hours at a time. It also causes a very bad headache that I cannot shake. Paige and I awake then eat breakfast. She looks at mountain of pills on the kitchen counter (that drives me nuts by the way) and decides I need a clear container to store them in and a larger pill box. She heads off to buy some groceries and the containers. I smile when she brings back a pill box as large a clip board. It was the same size as the one Lolly used when he had his liver transplant. She asks if I am up for a walk. I am really fatigued but Dr. Dan said I should go for a short walk when I feel tired. We walk slowly to the car show in the strip mall by my subdivision. The first car we see is a black 1970 GTO. She asked, “Was this one that Daddy had”? I answer, “No we had a 1969, 1968 and a 1965”. She wanted to know what was his favorite car was. I shared that I thought the red and white 1957 Chevy was his favorite. He raced all of the cars except the 1969 GTO. We got to the middle of the strip mall and there was a red Chevy and a live musical band beside it. We approach the band and they start to sing the song “Little GTO”. This was a song my brothers and cousin sang at the end of Lolly’s funeral as we played 8mm movies of him racing his GTO. My daughter and I wrap our arms around each other’s waists and sing the waaa-waaa chorus of the song; turning we head for home.

 The Next Day

Aside

Passing Grade

April 24, 2012

I went for a walk today with a spring in my step and a smile on my face.  The physical therapist said I was doing so well she would discontinue her home visits. Yeah!!!! Perhaps I was a bit harsh when I called her, the “physical terrorist”.  Now that she is not coming back, I like her. (Insert smiley face here) I asked if I got an “A” on my report card, she just smiled. I said;”OK, how about a B+?” I have been faithful to the exercise routines even though they hurt. I may have lost my “things” as Lance calls my breasts but I do not want to lose the mobility on my left side. I will make every effort to keep the exercises up. It will be harder to do them when I return to work but I will remind myself to take a break, lock myself in a room and complete the afternoon set. I don’t want adhesions or the loss of range of motion. I am right handed but I am now forcing myself to open cupboard doors with my left hand instead. It stretches and strengthens that side of my body. I discovered I could not reach the bottom of the washing machine to retrieve the clothes. My friend bought me a gripper arm. One more problem solved.

I don’t cry over the loss of my “things” but my eyes well with tears when I think of all of the love my family has been shown this past month. We cannot believe the outpouring of compassion, the thoughtful gifts, and the offers of help and prayers that have been sent our way. I am not certain what we ever did to deserve all of this but my heart is overwhelmed and this is what makes me cry. Trust me when I say “I Will Pay This Forward!”

Nicki

Passing GradeAp…