Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PET Scan Today

Wendell and I left the house at 9:15 this morning, headed for Knoxville, for my PET scan. I was feeling fine this morning, not dreading it or anything. When we got there I began to feel a little emotional. There was another lady sitting, waiting, who looked fairly healthy... she had more hair than me and was a decent weight, but when they called her back her movements were slow and sickly. It broke my heart for her, knowing what she was going through and it brought back memories of my own struggles. It was difficult to hold back the tears for a few moments. This cancer journey is something hard to understand unless you have been there and it is something you hope no one else ever has to understand.
My appointment was at 10:30. After signing all the paper work they took me back. I had the same nice male nurse I had last time. I think his name was Will, although without reading classes I'm half blind, so his name might have been Bill or Harvey or something...anyway.. the first thing he did was weigh me... for those who might be interested I now weigh 119 lbs, up 9lbs from my lowest point and down about 50lbs from the start of all this!!!!
He sat me in a recliner in this tiny little room, he then made me extremely comfortable, layed back, feet up, nice fluffy pillow, warm blanket....Then the sticking starts!!!! It is very rare that anyone "sticks" me and hits the vein before the third or fourth try. Today I got lucky, he hit it on the second try, but in my hand!!! They tested my blood sugar, which was good @ 93, and started an IV. Then he brought me another jug of white milky "gook" to drink. (I had to drink one jug last night.) He explained the one last night was to "coat" my pelvic area and the one today was to "coat" my throat area. He then left and the technician came in with his little metal box. This always cracks me up to see him walk in carrying this small metal box, I feel as if I'm in a sci-fi movie, fixing to be injected with some extremely hazardous material that will make night lighting unnecessary in our household!!!! He then pulls out a syringe which is encased in a fairly large metal cylinder and injects the radio active isotopes into my IV. Then he leaves me for 1 hour while the white milky "gook" and the glow in the dark isotopes flow evenly throughout my rolling little veins!!!! So I did what I do best...napped!!! When he came back to get me he had me go to empty my bladder and then he strapped me to this extremely narrow table to begin the scans. The scans only take about fifteen minutes during which time my arms and feet are strapped to the table and I have to remain still. This of course is the time in which body parts I forgot I had begin to itch!!!!! All in all it really wasn't a bad experience. We got out of there at about 1:00 and Wendell had Krispy Kreme doughnuts waiting on me!!! Today I was actually able to eat the doughnut for the first time!!!! Usually I can only lick the creme out of the middle and waste the rest... It was a good day!!!
My doctor is on vacation so I will not find out the results of the scans until Monday. I have to try really hard to not think about it or dwell on it.... I have to admit it is going to be a long five days. Please help me to pray that what ever the Lord's will is, He will provide the grace I need to accept it. My appointment is not until 2:30 p.m. on Monday, in Knoxville, but as soon as I am back home I will post the results here so those of you who are so faithful to pray for us will know my results as soon as possible. Once again thank you for your love, support, and most of all your prayers!!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!!

Kiah Got a new Camera!!!
Punky got new UGG'S!!!!

Jess got a Fossil Watch!!!

Wendell got some Camo!!!

The girls got new PJ's with night masks!!!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!!!
I apologise for taking so long in between my blogs but I have been extremely busy!!!! That makes me soooo happy to be able to say that!!! I had spent months just sitting and laying around with no energy to do much of anything. There were times over this last year if I was able to shower my self during the day I felt like I had accomplished a full days work!!!! The Lord has blessed me beyond measure!!! I was able to do all the Christmas shopping I normally do, I was able to attend our Church Christmas play, I've cooked and even done a little cleaning (Punky still does most of the cleaning for me).
All of my kids were at the house Monday night to celebrate Christmas together. Wendell and Kiah had went shopping that day and didn't get back until the other kids were arriving, which left me to cook the dinner. I had not cooked a meal since "pre cancer"!!!! I informed them before they fixed their plates that they might have to go to Sonic when they left the house, I wasn't guaranteeing anything!!! But to my surprise the meal was very good!!!!
Wendell, the girls, Aaron and I spent Christmas Eve, day, at home, opening our gifts from each other and just having a good time laughing and being together.
We spent Christmas Eve, evening, at Billy and Jeans, having dinner with Wendell's side of the family. Before prayer Billy always asks if anyone has anything to say. Jean said she was thankful that I was there this Christmas, which started my water works, then Wendell spoke which made them flow even more. It was pretty emotional. I felt so blessed to be able to feel well enough to not only be present for Christmas but to really enjoy it. The Lord has been soooo good to me.
Christmas day my extended family came to our house for Christmas dinner. A couple of months ago I would not have thought it would be possible for me to have all my family over to my house for Christmas, but the Lord has brought me a long way in the last few months. I was exhausted when it was over but as corny and cliche' as it may sound I felt so blessed to be able to be here and be able to get exhausted. All the work was truly a blessing. I can't help but think of the people I know, my age or younger, who were diagnosed with cancer after me, and are not here to spend Christmas with their families. I don't know why or understand the Lord's grace to me. I feel so undeserving of His goodness, but am so thankful for it. I have spent a lot of time lately thinking back over this past year and all He has brought me through. I have thought about how I can't even begin to imagine going through the trials in this life without knowing Him. In our darkest times, when we were at our lowest points, because of Him, we could still look up and have hope. Even if things don't work out the way we want or understand we still have that promise that "all things work together for good, to those that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." I still don't always understand but I still choose to trust.
The last time my Mom was at my house was Christmas Day last year. I can still see her walking in carrying her clothes basket filled with different dishes. I couldn't help but feel sad, wishing that she were here. Mom always made the dressing, Kim has took on that obligation now. She tried to make it as close to Moms as she could. I can't eat dressing now so I didn't try it but it looked just like what Mom always made. Dad still deep fried the turkey just like he and Mom have always done and it was delicious.
I have a PET scan scheduled for this Wednesday, December 30th. Please help us to pray that the Lord's will will be done in this, and above all, that His grace will be sufficient for me, no matter what the result.
Thank you once again for your faithfulness to pray for me and my family.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Medication Side-Effects

I wrote in my last post about my health issues and triumphs, but I didn't mention the fact that I haven't slept more than an hour and a half, a night, in weeks!!! I go to bed feeling exhausted and toss and turn all night, wide awake. My last doctor visit, I complained about this and he wrote me a prescription for a sleep aide, we have all heard of from TV, Ambien. When I get my prescriptions filled they always give me the generic version when possible. Because these generic versions have different, wierd names, I always read the information the pharmicist gives to me about the drugs, mainly to know which is which, and to understand exactly what each medication is for and what it does. I did this with the Ambien. I read all the side effects of this drug, which we all know they just have to tell you about, they never "Really" happen!!!!! We read or hear the side effects of a drug we are fixing to take but somehow we feel the chances of those actually happening to us would be like one in a zillion!!!! That information is just statistics. We would "never" be a statistic. We somehow forget that what brought us to using the drug in the first place has probably already made us a "statistic"!!! hee hee!!!! Anyway, armed with this knowledge and feeling as if sleep was an extremely important quality of life I was missing, I began taking the drug, nightly. The info. clearly states to only take the medication when you "can devote seven to eight hours to sleep". HA!!! The drug would put me to sleep fairly quickly, but, I would again be wide awake in an hour and a half. So.... One night last week, I took the pill and went to bed as usual. As usual I woke up an hour and a half later, right on schedule. I had been so wore out, I thought, "I am not going to do this tonight!!! If one pill only puts me to sleep for an hour and a half, another pill could not possibly harm me!!! What's the worse that could happen? I sleep for four hours straight?" So I took another pill......
The next day I woke up thinking well, that worked pretty well and I felt pretty good. So I went about my daily buisness. I went to get the store paper work ,that Jess would have brought home the night before after I had went to bed, and I couldn't find it anywhere. It wasn't in the normal place so I asked Wendell were it was? Had Jess brought it home? He said yes she had brought it home and he had put it where we always keep it until I get time to deal with it. Frustrated, and thinking he was crazy, after all it didn't have legs to move it's self, I went to get my books and found the paper work from the day before was done. It was all recorded in my handwriting, although sloppier than usual. The only mistake I found was I had recorded one thing twice. My mind went back to that other pill and the medication information I had read about the impossible, possible side effects!!! The info. stated that Ambien has been known to, in rare cases, cause people to do things in their sleep that they don't know they are doing!!!! I have absolutely NO memory of getting up and doing that paper work. Even after the fact, most times you can look back and remember parts of things, I remember nothing about that night after taking that second pill. The paer work would have took me fourty five minutes to an hour to do and I cannot remember doing any of it. I asked Wendell and the girls if they had known I was up or seen me up that night. Wendell said no, he didn't wake up. Kiah said she woke up at about one thirty a.m. and I had the lights on. Punky said she woke up at one thirty seven a.m. and I was up. She said I had every light in the house on and was making all kinds of noise. She said it was making her angry that I was "beating and banging" on everything and not even trying to be quiet while everyone else slept!!! She said she almost got up but didn't. I wish she would have, that could have been interesting!!!
That night I took an Ambien before bed thinking, oh well, I'll only take one, I'll never take two again. After taking that pill, however, I got scared thinking of all the possibilities. I made Wendell get up and hide the guns somewhere I didn't know about. I was afraid my subconcious would be thinking about guns or something and I would do something else in my sleep. Needless to say, I quit taking the Ambien that night, and am back to being unable to sleep.
I quess when doctors pescribe drugs for us we just take them, almost blindly. That won't be the case with me anymore. It really scares me that I could have done all that in my sleep and still have ABSOLUTELY NO MEMORY of that night's happenings!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Feeling Great

It seems like it has been a long time since I have blogged. I've thought of things I have wanted to say, but just haven't been able to find the time this week!!!!
I got up one day this week and got into the shower first thing as usual. While I was showering I was going over in my mind everything I had to get done within a few days...what order I was going to do them in... how I was going to accomplish everything....step by step... starting with as soon as I got out of the shower. I began to laugh and then cry as a thought crossed my mind...This is just what I use to do, daily, while showering!!!! The thought was... I have my life back!!!!
As far as my health goes, I have been doing great. I have energy to go and do things again. I have even started driving again after about 9 months. (Although my driving skills don't seem to be what they use to be!!! I don't know who gets more scared over my driving, me or Kiah.) My neck only turns about half the way it should, so backing is kind of difficult and scary!!!
I have my taste buds back and can taste what I can eat. This is a real blessing. The doctors had said after the radiation my taste buds could take years to return or I might not ever get them back. I still can't eat normally but my menu has lengthened. I still have to eat moist foods, dryer foods I can sometimes swallow a few bites but it is to much trouble to eat much. My throat muscles just don't contract like they should normally. I haven't had a hamburger since before my first surgery in March, but I have recently been able to swallow a few bites of pizza, enough to curtail the cravings!!! Soup is still a big portion of my menu but I can live with that. It's just hard sometimes because if we are out I can only eat at certain restaurants, mostly sit down ones where they have soups and potatoes. I can't just go to McDonalds, there is nothing there I can eat. (other than desserts of course.) But like I said I can live with this it's really not that big of a deal except when I'm wanting attention from Wendell or the girls, then I will muster up my whinniest voice and say, "It must be nice to be able to sit down and eat that bag of tortilla chips your eating :( !!!!hee hee. They know I just want attention and usually appease me.
My jaw still hurts, which concerns me sometimes, but the pain is not something to bad to deal with. My mouth will only open about a half inch to an inch. I am pretty deaf in my left ear, which rings constantly, but it's something I have become use to and can ignore most of the time. My face and neck on the left side is still numb, which makes my mouth look crooked. All of these things are really just minor annoyances, nothing so dramatic I can't deal with them. I feel really good most of the time and feel as if I finally do have my life back. I feel so well that it makes thinking of my up and coming PET Scan a little scary. I can't imagine going backwards, by this I mean having to deal with more cancer any time soon. Please help me to pray that the Lord's will will be done, (with the PET Scan), and most of all that He will give me the grace to deal with what ever His will may be for my life. Without His precious grace I would have crumbled months and months ago.
My sister Kim gave my dad a surprise birthday party last night. It went really well. His birthday is December 25th, Christmas Day, and has always been pretty much overlooked because of all the Christmas festivities. My Aunt Sue was there from South Carolina. She has been fighting cancer for several years now. She and I were able to sit and talk quite a bit last night which I really enjoyed. It was good to listen to her, her perspectives on having cancer, her feelings and how she sees things. As a cancer patient, you can talk to people and most everyone is sympathetic and concerned and very, very kind, but talking to someone who actually knows how I feel, and has been there too, was very good for me. She is a very strong lady who has been through a lot and has handled it with God's grace. She and I had a lot of the same views on how we deal with our cancer. Although I wish she was not having to deal with cancer at all, it was so good to talk to her, she knows how I feel. Not only do we have the same views on our cancer but she too is a christian who has relied on the Lord's grace time and time again.
Well, I have a lot more to talk about but this post is already long so I guess I'll wait till next time.
I hope everyone that reads this is doing well and looking forward to a blessed Christmas.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, And Our Dear Friend

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. Our family was blessed with good health, family togetherness and a table full of great food. There was a total of thirty nine of us gathered at my sister Kim's house. We were missing my Aunt Sue and her children and their families from South Carolina, Teresa's son Aaron and his family, Bonnie's son Myron, and Jason's son Tristen which would have added 16 more!!!! We took alot of pictures but didn't attempt a group picture.

Misty, Josh, Me, Wendell, Michael, Aaron, Punky, Kiah, Renea And Stephanie.
Michael & Stephanie

Josh, Misty & Renea

Aaron & Punky

Abbey & Mikiah

Teresa, Me, Kim & Dad

Jason, Elijah, Lucas, Teresa, Seth, Owen, Chris, Charlie, Rachel, Abbey, Kira, Misty, Mckensie & Malachi

Robbie, Kelvey, Kim & Meagan

Wilson, Ron, Bob & Jack

Maurice, Marcus, Bonnie, Carson, Talisha & Camden

Wendell, Stephanie, Punky, Kiah, Aaron & I got up, took showers and left the house by 3:00 a.m.on Friday, Black Friday, to go shopping. Call us crazy, I know, but it has became a family tradition for us and we have a blast!!! It all started years ago when Wendell and I had a financially rough year and had not bought any Christmas presents until he recieved a bonus from his job right before Thanksgiving. We were so excited we couldn't sleep and woke up at 3:00 a.m. and decided to go shopping!!! That was the beginning of a family tradition. Now that the kids are all older we never really have an agenda or go for any item in particular, we just go for the fun of it!!! A few weeks ago I would never have dreamed I would have been well enough or would have had the strength to have made this shopping trip!!! For the last few days I have been amazed at the health and strength the Lord has blessed me with!!!! I can't thank or praise Him enough!!! He has brought me so far!!! I can't help but think, "Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy name." What a great and merciful God we serve!!! Family members that I haven't seen, since my hospital stay at Vanderbilt, until Thanksgiving, were amazed at my progress. To God be all the glory!!!!
Our dear friend Mrs. Adkisson was laid to rest today. She looked absolutely beautiful, as always!!! Her service was such a blessing. I sat there listening to Bro. Parrot and Bro. Jones speak of her and the wonderful testimony she had and it made me think how I would love to leave this life with such a testimony!!!! She was a wonderful wife, Mother, friend and child of God. She so loved life and lived it joyfully, but nothing down here can compare to the life and joy she is living now. Please remember her family and loved ones in prayer. The void her passing has left will not be an easy one to get through. She will be greatly missed.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mrs. Adkisson

A wonderful lady, Mrs. Geraldine Adkisson, went home to be with our precious Lord Tuesday night. She was a very special friend to Wendell & I and was like an extra "Granny" for Punky and Kiah. Our whole families hearts are aching at the loss. We are so thankful for her testimony and the life she lived and the privilege of just being her friend. We praise God that even in a time of great sorrow, we have not only the hope, but the promise, of seeing her again.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. We love you all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

So Much To Be Thankful For

With Thanksgiving Day being tomorrow I have thought a lot about all I have to be thankful for. The Lord has been so good to me and blessed me in ways I could never have imagined. It has been a little over a year since I first noticed the tumor and a little less than a year since I was diagnosed with the Adenocarcinoma. As I looked back over some of the pictures today that were took throughout this past year, documenting my journey, I was filled with different emotions. I have experienced loss, (my Mother, my strength, my good health), but I have gained so much. I never knew so many people would be so thoughtful, kind and caring of the situation my family and I found ourselves in. I have received numerous cards DAILY since being diagnosed. These have meant so much to me. The Lord has perfect timing and a lot of the time Wendell or I would open one of these cards to read exactly the words of encouragement we would need to make it through that day. I have felt the prayers of people who have loyally took my name before the Lord. I have been humbled time and time again at the very thought that so many would take the time to lift my family and I up to the Lord and I am proof God answers prayers.
The diagnosis of cancer is a scary one. There have been people I know who were diagnosed after me and have already gone on to be with the Lord. I feel so unworthy of His love and mercy, yet He continues to be faithful!!!! Not only have people sent cards but so many have helped in every way imaginable, from financially, to cooking meals for our family, to mowing the yard when we were in the hospital, to e-mails and letters with words of encouragement.
I have decided to post some of these pictures documenting this past year in my life. Most of the pictures are very unflatering but it is, what it is, and reminds me how far the Lord has brought me. And how thankful I should be!!!!

This picture was took on a camping trip before my diagnosis. When I never dreamed are lives were about to change so drastically. This was a time when we were loving God, life and family, and I was taking my good health for granted!!!

I am thankful for my son Josh, Misty and Renea. I don't get to see them often but they are always in my thoughts and prayers.

I am thankful for a caring husband and daughters, Wendell, Kiah, Jess, and Punky.

I am thankful for all the years of strength and good health the Lord blessed me with.

Me, Punky, Steph, Kiah and Jess at Steph's Wedding shower. I am thankful Stephanie waited on the husband God had for her. Michael is a wonderful husband to her and a great Son-In-Law!!!

I am thankful my beautiful Mom, was able to attend Steph's wedding shower and wedding!!! She went to be with the Lord on March 23, 2009, the day before my first surgery. The Lord was so merciful to her in that she didn't suffer but went to meet Him peacefully!!! This will be our first thanksgiving without her. I selfishly wish she were here and my heart aches tonight over the thought of her not being with us tomorrow.

Crazy as it may sound I am thankful for the tumor. Because I know all things work for good to them that Love Him. I know God has a reason for this and I have faith it is for my good even though I may not fully understand at times.

March 24,2009, before my first surgery to remove the tumor, the left side of my hard and soft pallette, four teeth and the bone above them. I am thankful God guided the surgeons and my first surgery went well and they were able to get clean margins.

Me in recovery. I am thankful for my kids and our families sence of humor, along with a lot of prayer, is what has helped us keep our sanity through this time.

The hole left in my mouth after the first surgery.

I am thankful the Doctors eventualy got my pain regulated.

Being discharged from Vanderbilt after the first surgery.

The width my mouth will now open.

Kiah and I at Gondelier enjoying the last Pizza I have been able to eat since before my second surgery on June 2. I am thankful I never had to have a feeding tube, but was able to find soft foods I was able to swallow.

Wendell cooking.
I am thankful for Wendell and his Mom who stressed and cooked anything they thought I could possibly eat!!!

I am thankful for my sisters, Teresa and Kim, who have been there for anything I have needed.

I am thankful for my girls and Aaron who have "stepped up" and took over all the responsibilities I have not been able to do at times...laundry, house cleaning, bookwork and whatever else was needed.

Me before my second surgery. I am thankful the Lord speaks to us even if we sometimes don't have our ears open.

These next few pictures, as unflattering as they are, I am posting them because this is probably the most important lesson the Lord has taught me on this journey. They are definately a reminder of how far the Lord has brought me.
I am thankful for physical suffering. As bad as it sounds that is a lesson the Lord needed to teach me... Compassion for those who are sick. Not that I haven't always felt and prayed for those who were ill, but I never fully understood the physical and emotional toll illness can take on you and those you love. Now I can say I have a much clearer understanding and I hope once I am well enough I can use this knowledge to maybe help and be a blessing to those experiencing mental and physical suffering.

I am thankful for a husband who never left my side and was willing to bath and wash my hair when I was unable. A shower, after seven days can really make a girl feel better!!!!!

I am thankful for physical scares that keep my vanity in check!!!!

I am thankful that even the Doctors were amazed that I didn't have to have a feeding tube. I know it was a dirrect effect of prayer!!!!

I am thankful that my third surgery, to place the port, was succesful. It sure makes having to have IV's and the times I had to have chemo so much easier than having to be stuck several times, each time, because my veins are hard to find.

I am thankful for no side effects from the port which is still in place and will be for at least another couple of months, until I have two clear PET scans.

I am sooo thankful the Lord provided the grace I needed to finish the 37 radiation treatments and the chemo I needed!!! His Grace became even more evident at the end when at one point I felt I couldn't go on. Oh how great is His mercies!!!!!

I am thankful for a Dad who is there for me. Who calls to check on me and comes to visit me often. I know if I need anything he will be there. Eeven though this year has been the worst one of his life, he still is there for me. I love him dearly.

I am thankful when I feel as if I don't have enough energy to tie my shoes, I don't have to worry about fixing my hair!!!!Heeeheee!!!!!

I am thankful that during a time when I daily had no energy, the Lord blessed me with enough energy to bake and deliver cupcakes to Stephanie's second grade class in celebration of her birthday!!!! I love to bake.

I am thankful that as annoying as it was for them, my girls and Aaron were willing to put up with the dicomfort of the masks to come and visit me in the hospital, in order to keep me from catching anything, when my blood count was low due to the chemo.

I am thankful for wonderful friends, Jeff and Karen, who insisted Wendell and I have the room with the veiw, in the condo in Florida. So when I was not feeling well I could lay in bed and still have a beautiful view of the ocean.

I am thankful the Lord works in ways I may not always understand, but He knows what is best for me.

I couldn't understand, at first, why I was feeling well enough to go on a vacation to Florida, but before we even arrived, my neck and jaw was swollen and in so much pain I was eating pain medicine like candy, to no avail. I couldn't understand why I ended up spending the whole week in the hospital. But now we know Dr. Seifker, the doctor we were sent to there, was a blessing to us. We know the Lord sent him into our lives and I don't feel I would be as well as I am today without the care he gave to me. I know I had that infection for a few weeks before we went to Florida and my Doctors were saying it was normal. Dr. Anastasia, the infectious diesease doctor, told us the infection I had could have potentialy been life threatening if we had let it go as little as twelve more hours!!!! I don't know why the Lord remains patient with me and my questioning sometimes. I'm glad He hasn't given up on me!!!

I am thankful for a husband who has spent hours and hours in a hospital room with me and never once complained.

I am soooo thankful I now have the energy to get out of the house more and enjoy things with my family and friends again. I have been able to start driving again after almost a year. Up until now I didn't have the energy and was afraid I would get somewhere and end up too sick to drive home.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Proverbs 3:5
"Trust in the Lord With all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
If only I would always do this!!!