Sunday, July 22, 2012

Don't count your chickens...

It's about three o'clock in the afternoon and it's already been a long day!  Started out with a trip to the emergency room early this morning after Ken felt like he couldn't quite catch his breath. He also had a whole lot of pain from the right side of his chest wrapping around to his back. Initially, Ken thought he had a collapsed lung, but I checked him out and that didn't seem to be the case. It just seemed to be another round of pneumonia, which is nothing to mess around with at this point! Off to the ER we went, where excellent and immediate care were given by the boatload. You'll be happy to know that the I.V. went in on the first try, and when the x-ray didn't really give a clear picture, the CT scan did a much better job. The doctor wanted to rule out a blood clot in Ken's lung, and she was able to do that while diagnosing pneumonia (again). We were able to head for home a little while ago, with an arm load of new medications and instructions for Ken to rest a few days. (Sidestepped hospitalization. Yay!)

Ken has been back at work full-time, and loving every minute of it. However, he has been extremely fatigued the last couple days, and I have been trying to get him to understand that working full-time hours at this point may not be the same thing as working the normal schedule!  Working eight hours at a time is really pushing the envelope, and working ten hours plus is just too much for someone in recovery (or so we're told by the medical personnel at the hospital). So, Ken may have to be a little more honest and open as to when he's in need of a sit-down to avoid a fall-down! Ha! He really is soooo much better, but it hasn't been that long since treatment completion. Back to normal doesn't happen within weeks...think months, and then some! The last thing he told the doctor was, "I have to be back to work Thursday! Not an option!" So, he will be back to work Thursday. But, until then...he's all mine!

Hope your weekend is full of fun stuff,
Paula

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Good things come to them that wait...

Happy belated July 4th! We hope that your holiday was most splendid!

While I am attempting to contain myself so as not to frighten anyone by my KEYBOARD SCREAMING...
Oh, I just can't do this quietly:
KEN'S PET SCAN CAME BACK CLEAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He is now on "surveillance" mode, per Dr. Wu. There will continue to be appointments for check-ups, blood work, and the occasional CT, but the further spacing of these appointments begins NOW!!!! Don't misunderstand me, Ken isn't 100% back to normal yet, but he is a far-sight better off now than he was prior to Thanksgiving of last year. There are still a myriad of hurdles to overcome, but the fact that he has earned the title of Cancer Survivor, well, that's pretty awe inspiring to me!

Ken's "homework" is to work towards eating enough to warrant the removal of the feeding tube within the next few months. (Again, Dr. Wu's hearty suggestion.) Everyone was so very amazed by how much improved his appearance was today, and his weight...well, let's just say that he is almost back to normal!

So, we thank you all for standing by us through this quagmire of cancer treatment and the accompanying recovery period still ahead. We look forward to the day when we can have the privilege of helping someone else that may have to deal with this nasty situation, and give some hope and insight into how best to proceed with this fight of a lifetime.

We are hugging all of you right now...can you feel it? (Geez, who had the garlic for lunch??)

Paula & Ken

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The little things that count...

You are right! I have been remiss in not keeping you up-to-date with regards to Ken's PET scan, etc. The reason nothing was posted is because...wait for it...it was POSTPONED! The insurance company decided that we had to wait an additional week before the PET would be covered, so the test has been rescheduled for July 5th!!  Let's just hope that we have more to celebrate than Independence Day that weekend, right?

Ken has been going to work in the mornings and attending special meetings as needed. He feels that if he could simply handle the feeding at lunchtime, he would be able to try a full schedule again. The feeding is still a problem in that his ability to swallow is not yet to a point where he is able to take enough calories by mouth to eliminate the Jevity/Ensure concoction. While he is continuing to progress, the speed with which it is occurring is not optimal according to the "Ken Schedule".

While many of you are now seeing Ken's furry face more frequently, (oh yeah, his chin is sprouting hairs once again!!) those of you that are checking in from a distance may enjoy this picture of Ken getting ready to head in to work.
As you can see, Ken is beginning to look more like "Ken" again. We can't complain that he looks like a stick figure anymore...Yay!!!!

We wish you all a wonderful Fourth of July (holiday or not),
Paula

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summertime and the livin' is easy...

The slowdown on this blog's postings seem to coincide with the rhythms of Ken's recovery. As he battles back to what we consider our "new reality", he must also continue to partake of the medical tests and examinations required of any cancer patient. So, tomorrow he has more blood work, something that is becoming more problematic as his veins really don't want to cooperate anymore.

Now, the GREAT NEWS: Ken is driving himself to work again! He is very happy to have the keys back in his possession. All that's left is the feeding (without a tube), and he'll be back...

A special shout out to my brother, Phil on his birthday! "Many happy returns on the day of your birth, may sunshine and gladness be given..." Phil had his own little life-altering event a while ago, involving a brain tumor. My brother and his family did their time in the "scared silly zone", and have come out the other side. We look to them for inspiration...


Jess continues his assimilation into the New York state of mind as he now has a new driver's license and state of residence. The grass is NOT growing under that boy's feet, right?


Well, y'all, next Monday is Ken's PET scan. Keep a good thought, okay? 


We hope you don't take a moment for granted...


Paula

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ease on down the road...

While doctor visits, in general, tend to be time-consuming and oftentimes frustrating, yesterday's appointment went quite well. The surgeon felt that Ken had made a most stunning recovery since his last visit six weeks ago. While everything is not yet healed, the vocal chords seem to be doing what they can to overcome the nerve damage and irradiation they have endured. Actually, the doc seemed somewhat amazed that Ken's voice was as intact as it is, and so soon. Yippee!!

Ken has been attempting a modified work schedule which allows him to be on site and extend days/hours as he is able, without total exhaustion (and working in feeding with his tube), and enjoying every minute of it. He is now able to be understood when he speaks, and really feels that he is able to contribute again. Maybe he isn't back to normal, but, what is normal anymore? We continue to be strong in our resolve that this will soon fade into a dark memory to be overshadowed by a brighter future!! Right? Right!


As for Joey and his apparent misunderstanding regarding the disappearance of Jess, well, Ken had to sit him down and really lay it out once and for all. After the "discussion", Joey decided to find his play-time bone (aka the Pacifier), and really go to town. We all find comfort where we can...

Today I will be packing up the first of what I imagine will be many, many care packages for Jess. It appears that the boy may have found an apartment near campus...but, still needs to secure gainful employment. Ah, to be young and have so many less fears about striking out on your own. Godspeed my son...we have confidence that you will succeed in reaching your distant horizon with style and grace.

So, we bid you all adieu for now. Enjoy the sunshine and all of your many blessings,
Paula

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Better every day...

So, how are you doing today? Did you get out of bed with a bounce? We can only hope...

Ken's appointment with the medical oncologist went well. He seems to be on par with the healing process for the type of treatment he's endured. Actually, taking into account the setbacks (pneumonia, infections, and dehydration), he's doing quite well indeed! We are attempting to map out a schedule to allow him more time at work without total exhaustion. Really, everyone has been beyond kind and understanding. This whole cancer thing involves a recovery curve that can be very slooowww. Ken doesn't handle slooowww very well. But, his voice seems to be better this morning (as he seems to have coughed up some sort of bloody tissue last night), and we'll just see how long it lasts today. (Yeah, graphic again. Y'all have been with us through the nasty. At least now it brings positive result, right?)

Personally, I felt that Ken looked exceptionally dapper and "healthy" yesterday. As he is now up about ten pounds, the overall look is much, much better. That being said, here's a picture snapped in the elevator on the way to the appointment. What's your opinion?
Thanks for all the support. We would never be able to handle all of this without y'all!!!!
Paula

Monday, June 4, 2012

Oatmeal, not so good...

Since these blogs seem to be getting farther and farther apart, it must be assumed that Ken is doing better. Our patience is wearing a bit thin as we really want to get back to normal (or some facsimile thereof). We miss the simple act of eating a meal together, or going for a walk outside, or taking a long drive to some outlet malls where the afternoon can be spent wandering around aimlessly. Ah, someday...

Ken is doing fairly well with his pudding, jello, peaches, and bananas...but, don't ask about the oatmeal incident. Ewwww. (I had a graphic description to share, but I better not. Just suffice it to say that the little oats decided not participate in the swallowing process.)

The next doctor appointment is Wednesday. (Just a one month follow-up with blood work.) Then there is another doctor to visit the next Tuesday. Too much fun, right?

Okay. The humor we scraped together for y'all is actually an adorable photo of Ken explaining to Joey that "his boy" wouldn't be coming home from work. Poor Joey. He's truly bummed. We can only hope he'll rebound soon.

We hope your week is wonderful.
Paula


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Leavin' on a jet plane...

First, the good news. Are you sitting down? Well...stand up! Okay, maybe I am just a little over excited, but...Ken ATE a whole can of chicken noodle soup for lunch!!!!!!!!!!!!  He says his throat is a lot better, and he is starting to get his sense of taste back. Yeah baby! He really looks so much better today. We are so very happy.

Second, the other good news. You can sit down now. Jess is happily settling in at his temporary domicile in Rochester, NY. He has only been there one day but says it is perfect! He has been getting the cooks tour of the area, and looks forward to really kicking it into high gear. I don't think I have ever heard him this excited about moving to a new place. Loves the city. Loves the people. Loves the opportunities. Loves it. While Ken and I are still mending our little broken heart pieces, we are elated that our boy is finally where he belongs.

I don't really have a whole lot else to update y'all about, but just thought you would like to hear the latest...

Peace out,
Paula

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Oh where, oh where has our internet gone...

Our internet connection was sketchy all week. Trying to do anything online took forever! My feeble attempts at blogging were met with dropped signals and loss of connections. Not fun. Anyway, we are going to give it a go this morning and see what happens...

Ken's week has been a roller-coaster. He had a chance to stop by the store (which is always fun), and to ride along with me to the pharmacy and grocery store a couple of times. Some days he was feeling up to trying a new challenge or two, but yesterday was kind of scary. He tried to take an ibuprofen pill (instead of the liquid), and it got hung up in his throat kinda hinky. This set off his throat and swallowing in general. We debated whether a trip to the ER was in our daily plan, or if we should attempt to try the ENT (that never answers the phone.) I thought we could hang on for awhile, because he was breathing okay and maybe just having him relax a little bit would help. So, after a period of time, I suggested he try to swallow some applesauce. That had worked well in his swallow test at the hospital. The applesauce went down pretty well, so I used the applesauce to aid in getting the couple of morning medications he needs to go down without a whole lot of hoopla. Definitely not a fun way to start the day, but soooo glad it all worked out. He was able to take his meds normally this morning. It's this kind of nonsense that really tests our endurance. Lots and lots of forward...then, sliding back again. Looking forward to not being on edge all the time.

Jess had his last day at work yesterday. They were very kind to him and threw a little farewell party. He was very touched. Now, he has to get the rest of his belongings packed up and deal with a basket-case of a mom...

Had "the need for speed" yesterday, so I mowed the WHOLE YARD. Whoo hoo!! What a rush...

We hope that those of you that will be celebrating a long weekend recognize how lucky you are. Enjoy every minute. If you should happen to be out shopping, to take advantage of the "sales", remember that the folks that don't get to take this holiday are working hard to be of service to you.  Just sayin"...
God bless our servicemen and servicewomen!!

Joey waiting for Jess to come home from work.
Paula

Monday, May 21, 2012

The clock is ticking...

There is only one week left until our son flies away to New York state. I am missing him already! But, I am so glad that he has this wonderful opportunity...

Late yesterday afternoon we had the honor of a visit from Kurt and Jessi Brasch. They drove all the way down here to make a presentation of the proceeds from their Benefit for Ken that was held last Saturday night. We are so very thrilled and grateful to them, as well as to everyone else that took part in this event. We can never thank you all for your generosity and kindness. Ken is just amazed that so many people are willing to help him get back on his feet again. We can't wait to see the DVD that is currently in production...
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
What's that you're asking? Are there pictures?? Of COURSE there are pictures!

Ken and his friend Kurt

Kurt, Ken, & Jessi

 "Today I am the luckiest guy on the face of the earth!"  Doesn't that look like what he's thinking? Actually, it IS!

Hug yourselves for us,
Paula

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bright, sunshiny day...

The sun is really bright today. Great day to mow...again! Sure wish I could soup up my mower's engine  and at least get a little wind in my hair while I race back and forth across the yard!! Ha!

So, this morning Ken awoke and said, "I think I'll drink some hot tea." Then I suggested that Jess eat a banana. Ken said, "Hey Jess, I think I want to try some banana today. Wanna split one with me?" Then he proceeded to drink his tea and EAT HIS BANANA!!! No problem! Just like he had been chomping down solid food for months. Eureka!!  The desire to eat is returning. While a steak is a ways down on the preferred menu for now, to have him eating at all (and something besides liquids or pudding) is quite the magical event!  (Yeah, lots of exclamation points today...and I'm not done yet!)

After breakfast, Ken says, "Hey Paula. Do you think we could go to the mall or someplace today? I used my hand weights, but I want to get some more exercise." We went to Sam's Club and Ken walked around. Then he left to walk to Wal-Mart to get Milk Bones for his best friend. Then he walked back to Sam's Club. Are you getting a smile on your face yet? Are we starting phase two of this extravaganza??

Best part of all...strongest medication is now ibuprofen. Ken has managed to detox from the narcotics (after dealing with some withdrawal symptoms), and is now down to but a few little pills a day! Whoop Whoop!
Yeah. He is even getting his funny back! He decided we should take a picture of him with our (my) cat, Yaya, because they never get their picture taken together. So, today's picture is of Ken and MY best buddy.
Doesn't Yaya look like he's enjoying being cuddled by Ken? Hahahahahhaha!

Have a splendid weekend everyone,
Paula

Friday, May 18, 2012

Man of Steel...

Wow! Has this week flown by or what?? It seems like just yesterday that we turned the calendar page to MAY, and here we are, already half-way through the month. When Ken was in treatment the days dragged so slowly that we thought they would go on forever. Now, as we meet each day with anticipation and hard won progress, the days are flying past at lightning speed! (Sure wish the grass growth would SLOW DOWN!)

I admit to having been remiss in my blogging duties this past week. Ken has been, dare I say it, without "incident" since last weekend. He has conquered applesauce, diced peaches, mixed fruit, mashed potatoes, and even water to a certain degree. (All of these things were ingested by mouth.) While he is still no where near losing the feeding tube, we see a bright light at the end of this long, long tunnel. Finally!! It seems that the need for pain medications has faded to a minimum, not much more than for an "average" sore throat. To say I am psyched...well, obviously! The main thing is that a small sense of normalcy is just beginning to re-enter our existence. It's not over yet, but it's a comin'!!!!

Mr. Alward made two (2) appearances at work this week. One was for an evening meeting, the other to drop off some paperwork/report-type stuff. These visits tend to wear him out a bit, but he smiles at even the prospect of returning to the job and people he has missed so much.

The rest of this month will be (fingers crossed) medical appointment free. Starting in June, we run the gauntlet of appointments culminating  in a PET scan at month's end. Obviously, we are hoping for the findings to be all positive, but for now, we count each day's accomplishment as much more important in the scheme of things.

The countdown for Jess to jettison into his new life has officially begun...enough said. (Who am I kidding? Of course it will be hard to let him go, but, IT IS HIS TIME!) Thank God for SKYPE!! Now, if I could just get our internet connection to stay connected for more than five minutes at a time...HA!

No pictures today, as my download is still downloading...

Have a weekend to remember,
Paula
P.S. Congratulations to Anne Elizabeth Snyder, PhD. You should be so VERY proud of what you have accomplished!


Monday, May 14, 2012

As we bid farewell...

Today was a very bittersweet day for the Alward family. Our son gave his two week notice at work, and Ken was starting back at work with an early morning meeting. Ken told me that he and Jess approached each other from opposite ends of a hallway, meeting in the middle, as Ken was about to leave and Jess was just arriving. They both gave each other the manly greeting, a nod and smile, and proceeded on in opposite directions. It was kind of like a passing of the torch. While we will miss Jess so very, very much, we are so proud of him and his accomplishments and wish him all the best as he takes his leave and travels to New York state. Bon Voyage to an amazing young man! Just having had you here to help us and share your strength...well, thank you so much!

While we were not able to attend Ken's benefit on Saturday, Jess did attend and even got up in front of the crowd and gave an off- the- cuff "thank you" to everyone for attending. Ken was so hoping to be there, but as it turns out, he had a little bit of "out of the blue" nausea that laid him pretty low that day. (It's not like I wanted to tell him I told you so, but...). Thank you to everyone involved with Saturday's event. It still blows our minds to realize that so many people have Ken's back!!! We do NOT take it for granted! We are so grateful to y'all.

Happy Belated Mother's Day to all you moms out there. I can only hope that your gift was as special as mine-our son has beaten a stutter that has plagued him his entire life! Just knowing that so many options are open to him now...wow! Best gift EVER!!

I am done rambling (for now), and will leave you with a picture of our Master of Ceremonies (Kurt Brasch) and Jess from Saturday night. Wonderful picture, right?

P.S.  Ken ATE a container of diced peaches today. The whole cup. Then he did some exercises with hand weights! Zowee!!  Moving forward every day...

Paula

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gratitude...

We come to you today with much gratitude and joy!! 
 First, our son has returned from his "mission" with a renewed sense of hope and happiness. We applaud his strength and hard-work! Congratulations on a job well-done!!!!!  Your life will be forever changed in such a positive way!!
Secondly, , we stand humbled and appreciative of what is being presented on our behalf in Pennsylvania this evening. While Ken and I are not able to attend, Jess will be on hand to "represent", as it were. A ginormous THANK YOU and WE LOVE YOU to Jessi and Kurt.
Whatever the outcome from this event, we have been so blessed to have such friends as y'all!!!!!!
It is said that you don't really know who your friends are until times get tough. Those that vanish were never true friends, but those that remain to help...well, we have MANY FRIENDS!!!!!!!! And we are so, overwhelmingly, grateful for your love and support.

Thank you,
Paula

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A day near normal...

This blog is taking forever to write this morning. It isn't because I am having  major difficulty with content overview. It is because every time the sun goes behind a cloud (every thirty seconds), my server goes dormant. Geez. Frustrating much??? Sorry, just a rant...

So, yesterday, Ken went into work to get some reports run that he will need for his "work from home" reality. He immediately broke every rule we had discussed (no hugging, no kisses, no lingering chats), but I can't really blame him. He really, REALLY misses everyone. And, I am very happy to report that as of this moment, there have been no regressions in his march towards recovery. So all-in-all, it was a great visit. To say that Ken is eager to get back to work is the understatement of the year. He is looking forward to putting this all behind him and living his life again. Can you blame him? I know I can't.

Anyway, I had a chance to snap a few pictures when I came to pick him up. I think that maybe Ken was missed just a little bit. It seems that there were a few interesting additions to his work space while he was gone. What am I talking about?  Here you go...

Waaayyy too funny!!  There is no need for additional humor, therefore, consider this blog post at an end for today. (And there are additional pictures of these crazy folks...may post them later!)

Hope your day is blissful,
Paula

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Welcome back...

This morning started out ridiculously well. Ken had a voice for a couple hours! I mean a REAL voice. It wasn't back to normal, but it was loud enough to be heard. That voice was recorded on my phone where it will stay until the next "upgrade" takes place. Ken was able to talk to his mom on the phone for the first time in months. She was so excited to hear his voice.

The appointment with the radiation oncologist ran a little late, but it gave us ample time to bring snacks to the radiation techs, and to visit with a few of our favorite hospital staff members. I had the chance to personally thank the cancer center director for getting the "bell" installed. She liked the pictures of Ken ringing the bell with a huge smile on his face. It made her day.

Yes, there is a picture from today's appointment. How do you think he looks? Hmmmm?
I think he's starting to look like himself again. That makes me very happy. Can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring...

We hope your tomorrow is wonderful,
Paula

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Missing all y'all...

The last couple days have been very nondescript. Lots of "more of the same", and so forth. Ken had a nasty bit of stomach upset in the car the other day. I had to get gas for the mower, and Ken rode along. He felt he would be okay pumping the gas. We went on to a Taco Bell drive through (for me, darn), and about a block later...well, let's just say things got interesting. We travel with all the necessary buckets, basins, blankets, etc., but it was not fun for either of us. Ken, for obvious reasons, and me, well, my lunch was in the back seat... As I sped along towards home (which wasn't right around the corner), I had my explanation ready for any poor police officer who would feel compelled to pull us over. It never happened, thankfully. Ken was fine once we got home. Just came out of the blue and left as quickly as it had begun. Ewwww! Glad we were prepared, right?

So the front yard mowing was accomplished within seconds of a major downpour yesterday. Timing is everything! Felt bad for the neighbor across the street. He wasn't done with his lawn when it hit! Today, it's the backyard...

I haven't any fun photos to share, and no particularly funny anecdotes. But, I will let you in on a nasty, little secret of mine. I have become addicted to something since this whole mess began. I am addicted to...SOLITAIRE!  There, I've admitted it. According to my phone, I have exceeded 1,000 games in the last couple months. This simple game has helped me to cope, function, wake-up, and calm down. I have learned that you can't win every hand, or be tempted to give up if it's not looking like an easy win. It has taught me that every deal for every game is another opportunity to try again. My brain needed the three a.m. games to wake up enough to feel confident driving Ken for his treatments. My ego needed the mid-afternoon games to prove that I still had the ability to do something right on occasion. My emotions needed the evening games to put the day behind me, and clear the decks of all the stuff that had been building up and would otherwise have kept me awake all night. So, this addiction has been one that I will be more than happy to quit...when Ken is KEN again. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts, and if you feel like emailing or texting Ken...give it a shot. He misses y'all very much!!

Have a wonderful weekend,
Paula

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ring in the new...

Ken's appointment with the medical oncologist and subsequent blood work went off without a hitch. Everything looks like it should be looking at this point in the recovery process. We even got to drop a couple of medications that have been an absolute pain in the butt to have to pulverize, and then dilute, and THEN inject into the PEG tube. So glad they are no longer necessary!! Next follow-up will be in June (God willing and the creek don't rise  ;)

With much pride and joy, I am including a couple of pictures of Ken as he took his turn at RINGING THE BELL at the cancer center (to let everyone in a five block radius know that he had completed his cancer treatments)!!!!  While the bell wasn't yet available when he actually had his last radiation/chemo fun-fest, the administration promised me that a bell would be installed, and Ken was invited to come and ring the heck out of it. Yesterday, he did just that. The first photo is from the tentative little ring (which Ken said could be heard by the angels), but did NOT fly with me. The second photo is where he was ringing that bell loud and clear, and the expression on his face tells the story, right??? (Yeah, it's kinda blurry...I was kinda blurry at that moment.)


I can't tell you what it felt like to have Ken ringing that bell and to see the expressions on the faces of all the patients in the waiting room (and the room was packed) who were looking forward to the day when they could experience that same relief and release! Talk about a cathartic experience...

Looking forward to better days...

Paula

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Garbage and recycle...

It may be just another Tuesday for you guys, but for us, it's "the day to take the garbage to the curb" day. The sanitation engineers come verrryyy early in the morning, so we have to prepare the night before. Every other week we must add our recyclables to the mix. Since Jess usually takes care of this for us, and he is far, far away, I actually had to text him to remind me if this was a one or two can trip to the curb. (I will be dragging two cans down the road this evening, thank you very much.)

Ken had his initial appointment with his new Primary Care Physician yesterday. It went very well. The doctor is very thoughtful, kind, inquisitive, and calming. He is an internal medicine guy, which I have always thought made the best primary care docs. Ken seems to really feel comfortable with him, and the doctor has assured us that we can feel confident in his ability to handle most other "specialty" situations that may crop up in the future. That is a wonderful thing. We weren't looking forward to endocrinologists and gastro-docs in the days ahead.
Next scheduled appointment is in July. (Blood work to check thyroid in a couple weeks.) After a complete exam, Ken was declared to be in pretty good shape, for the shape he's in...hahahahaha!

Gotta be quick as errands must be done by noon today, so a silly photo of Ken and I, yesterday post exam. If this isn't funny, what is?
Tomorrow's appointment and blood work should be quick and easy...

Paula

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chocolate makes the world go round...

This morning, Ken drank a half cup of tea with sugar. Drank. He says his ability to swallow is much improved today. We look forward to continued progress!! We see a new doctor tomorrow afternoon. Ken wasn't here long enough to establish a primary care physician before everything hit the fan, so in order to maintain his day-to-day meds, the time is now! On Wednesday afternoon, we have our first return visit with Dr. Wu (along with some blood work). Then, next Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Woods (radiation oncologist). Can't wait to see the look on his face when we tell him all of the pain meds Ken is in need of no longer! Whoo hoo!!

Our amazing son began his eight hour drive to Virginia this morning. We are so very excited for him, and so very proud of him! Godspeed baby!! We will miss you for the next couple of weeks.

I don't know if this can be classified as "humor", but it is definitely  a "luck of the Alward's" moment:
Last night, as the day was finally winding down and Ken was tucked in for a good night's sleep, I received a phone call. Prior to leaping across the kitchen floor to grab the phone before it woke Ken, I had been relaxing in my recliner (which I have christened, "Sherman"), munching on a wonderful chocolate and almond candy bar. I had consumed about half when I decided to wrap the remaining bar and weight it down with the t.v. remote control which was on a side table. I took the phone call in the garage (so as not to wake anyone). At calls end, I returned to the kitchen where I spied my cat curled up in Ken's recliner. Normally, when I vacate my chair, the cat immediately makes that empty, warm spot his own. Then, I looked at the floor...ripped up candy wrapper everywhere!!  I look at Joey (our ever-present companion dog), as he is curled up on the oriental rug and NOT in Ken's chair. Let's see...Chocolate...Dog...(smug cat)...PANIC!!  Everyone knows that dogs and chocolate do not mix, right?  I immediately do a google search to see just how much chocolate is actually poisonous for a dog, etc. The decision to have the dog sleep next to me on "Sherman" is the only logical step. I would have to be vigilant for any signs of wheezing, vomiting, seizures and the like all night long. Let's just say that trying to sleep in a recliner with a 26 pound dog on your chest isn't really conducive to a good nights sleep! However, the dog had no adverse reactions, and is now demanding Russell Stovers French Mints!  Ha! (The cat slept like a log!)

So, the sun is shining brightly on this fine Monday morning. We look forward to seeing what Ken is able/willing to further consume as this day unfolds. Wish him luck!

Hug your pets...but, NO CHOCOLATE TREATS,
Paula

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just a spoonful of sugar (?)...

The weather may not be particularly sunny today, but we are smiling, nonetheless. Ken's time at home has been very productive, in my opinion. His pain medications are skeletal (comparatively speaking), and he even had some applesauce by mouth this morning. This is a very BIG deal! He decided that he would like to try to eat something. The best part is that while it may not have been a lot of applesauce, he didn't choke once!! Yessir, that's the Kenny we all know and love. And last night, the three of us were in the living room watching t.v. when one of those horrible cereal commercials appeared. You know the one, where one piece of cereal eats another piece that's floating around in the bowl. Then another piece bites the tongue of one of his comrades and proceeds to eat him too. I said, "Geez, that is so disgusting. They're eating each other." Jess responds, "Yeah, it's cannibalism,." KEN WHISPERS, "They're  cereal killers!"...He's baaacckkkk!!!!!


Go ahead and laugh real loud! We did!

So, needless to say, we are much relieved and feeling a bit more relaxed as this pendulum, hopefully, begins it's forward swing towards progress. We have a long way to go, but at least we see some daylight, too.

For humor today (as if you needed any more), I am including two pictures of our cat, Yaya (which means grandma in Greek, which we didn't realize when we named our MALE cat), as he is protecting Ken's food cans. Why he has decided to make this his home away from home is beyond us. Just too cute for words...
right?

I can not wait for the day when I can HEAR Ken laugh out loud again. Y'all feel the same?

We will keep you posted on these little victories as they present themselves. In the meantime, have a great day. The laughs are on us! Ha!

Paula

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Slow and steady wins the race...

We had a follow-up appointment with Ken's surgeon yesterday. While we hadn't seen him in about four weeks, it seemed that he was much more clued in to Ken's progress, as well as to our expectations to date. Very refreshing, actually. Lots of information and verification/confirmation of what we'd been hearing from the radiation oncologist. While things had seemingly been very difficult for Ken as he completed this aspect of his treatment, the overwhelming evidence points toward this being another marker that treatment has worked very well, indeed. Yeah, baby!! Another doctor's appointment on the 29th, then the medical oncologist on the 2nd, and finally the radiation oncologist the next week. We can do this!!! But...baby steps...it simply can NOT be rushed!

I will be happy to see Ken get some strength back as soon as possible. He has been through so much in such a short period of time. Now that I can't moan about being pulled away from all the household stuff to walk the mall, I guess I need to be whiny about NOT being able to get out and about short of medical appointments or pharmacy runs! Time for a mental health day, right? Or, another half-day on the mower!!  Yeah, there's nothing like the rush of crankin' up that mower and racing around the racetrack which is our yard. (Really missing my motorcycle this season!!!) Wonder if the neighbors would think it strange if I mowed wearing my leathers and helmet? Hmmmmmm.

Since you haven't seen the surgeon's office, I thought I would get a picture of Ken (yesterday) looking his usual dapper self while seated in his lovely exam room prior to his check up.
Our boy has put on a couple pounds (YAY!!!) and is very slowly starting to feel like there is progress being made. However, he is VERY tired and is resting quite a bit. All to be expected, right?

Well, it's time to get cleaned up and find that helmet...

Y'all have a splendid day,
Paula

Monday, April 23, 2012

Keep it down, keep it down, waaaay down...

Not unlike the weather's unpredictability of late, Ken's overall progress continues to baffle and confuse me. Thankfully, we have enjoyed the opportunity to stay at home without any emergency runs to the hospital!!
We breathe a sigh of relief every time a feeding is "contained", and smile broadly when another pain medication is set aside. But, the healing timetable that lay ahead has no schedule.
Every day we take care to document every movement, every infusion, every grimace...
We wait (we should be good at this by now) and we watch and we HOPE!! It will come together all at once, that's what we're told. But, as to when this will occur, it's a crap shoot at best.

While we have no idea what tomorrow will hold, we take some comfort in the knowledge that there are some aspects of the Alward household that will be trending toward the positive in very short order. At this point, we stand humbled and grateful for the extreme generosity of family and friends!!

I have decided that when Ken is better and people ask what we will do next, the answer will be SLEEP!!
Perhaps at Disney World????  HAHAHAHAAAAA!

While pictures from happier times may not be what you are hoping for today, please know that these are the moments we are striving to achieve once more. This photo was taken of Ken and a friend of mine when we visited Longwood Gardens in 2008.

This was taken shortly after we moved into our home in Pennsylvania. So many happy memories...

And, finally, the way that I envision us in the future. Okay, we'll be older...but, you get the idea. This is the image I keep in my mind. This is what drives me to make sure Ken gets everything he needs to get this life back again. And he will!!!

So, smile whenever you think of Ken this week. You gotta know he's smiling when he thinks about y'all...

Paula

Friday, April 20, 2012

What are the odds...

My money is on Ken finally turning the corner towards resoundingly good health!! He was discharged from the hospital early this afternoon. Before I picked him up, I made my pharmacy rounds and picked up some new equipment that would allow me to keep Ken at home should any further problems arise. With the suction machine, the medication to help the food absorb faster, the reduction in  pain medications, and the gravity-drip feeding, I am hopeful that we may actually get to spend some time at home again!

Ken seems better. Little bits of voice appear every once in a while. However, he can't use the phone yet, as it really strains his vocal cords. But, it will come back. I am sure of it!!

Joey was a total mess while Ken was gone. He got so wild-eyed with grief...I just had to take a picture to share with you...

Our humor comes from an incident that happened to yours truly last evening. So, all day long I had listened to one nurse after another tell me I looked "terrible", "tired", "exhausted", "just awful", and so on. When I explained that I was, indeed, all of those things, they suggested that I go home and have one glass of red wine to help me relax enough to get some rest. This seemed like a reasonable suggestion. I picked up one of those adorable little mini bottle four-packs at the gas station on my way home from the hospital. After I had completed everything on my to do list, I took a lovely, long-stemmed glass from the cupboard and into it I poured the contents of one of my little bottles. I raised the glass towards my lips when OUT OF NOWHERE this fly decides to race me to my drink. The fly hit the wine first...and drowns! The fly and the wine both went down the drain. I had a glass of milk and went to bed (and NO, I didn't sleep very well).Haahaa. When I told Ken about my drama, he said he would've fished the fly out and had the wine. After all, the alcohol would kill the germs...

Here's hoping that Kenny Boy will continue to improve every day from here on out!! 
Cheers to you and yours,
Paula

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Short and to the point...

I stayed with Ken at the hospital last night. He is doing a little better with a change in his diet and respiratory support. We will watch today and through the night to see what transpires. He told me that the thing he misses the most is his sense of humor. There is no chance for witty banter when you haven't a voice. His medications have taken his quick wit for the moment. This is all FOR THE MOMENT! It is just really frustrating for him. I did detect a little bit of a voice when he decided that he didn't agree with something I had said to the nurse. That is a good sign. He has also begun to regain a little of his sense of taste (sweet stuff), but is not yet able to eat and swallow. I got him some tootsie pops. When it all comes together again, he will be a force to be reckoned with!!

Sorry there are no pictures. At this point I feel fortunate to have remembered how the computer works well enough to write this little ditty. Don't think I will be heading back to the hospital again today. Feeling just a tad puny (wet weather, stress, and lack of sleep no doubt) but, don't need to be taking chances. Ken just can not be exposed to anything at this point, ya know?

Here's hoping that the next post will be full of great and wonderful news.
Thanks for hangin' in there with us,
Paula

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hello again...

So, apparently Ken wanted his favorite gals from 2 South to have the chance to see his new haircut, too.

Yep, he was admitted back into the hospital late this afternoon. The short explanation (because I am too tired to write a whole lot tonight) is that Ken had a problem this weekend keeping anything down which led to dehydration, weight loss, and less than adequate medication intake. While this is lousy with a capital L, I would rather have him there (getting hydration, medication, nutrition, respiratory care, etc.), than have him home being sicker than a dog. Speaking of animals, both Ken and our cat (Yaya) were sick at the same time. Sad part was, I had to clean up after both of them...and it looked like the same stuff...I asked Ken if he had a hairball, too! (Yeah, so it's kinda gross. I did warn you I was tired.)

The hairball thing is as close to humor as I have today, so just pretend it made you giggle, okay?

I would like to ask a favor...keep Ken in your prayers tonight. This has been pretty rough on him. Thanks.
Paula

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Because I said so...

Now that we've had a couple days to reassess and reconnoiter, it is time to share how Ken is progressing.
Two steps forward, three steps back. But, for the most part, we are still moving in the right direction. That's not to say that a few sharp exchanges of words have not taken place. You see, my husband is a man! The concept that his immune system is sub-par really hadn't sunk in when I had to run an errand to Wal-Mart and he had to ride along and then WAIT IN THE CAR. So, I literally ran through the store (my latest exercise) and stopped to pick out a couple movies at Redbox that I thought he might enjoy. Fifteen minutes, tops! So, I put the stuff in the trunk and open the door to ease into the driver's seat...Ken has a MOVIE on his lap! I look at him. I look at the movie. I say, "I got movies". He says, "I texted you that I got that movie. Didn't you get my text?" I say nothing. As we are driving home, I say nothing. When we are almost home I (having counted to 5, 327) say, "It's not that we picked out the same movie. Why were you in Wal-Mart, without your mask, touching that dirty machine?  I guess I won't be able to trust you...blah, blah, blah. He says, "Point taken. But, great minds think alike, right?" ARGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

I have taken Ken out since then. As a matter of fact, he had his hair cut yesterday (wearing a mask), and I snapped a picture to show y'all.

So, a friend of mine emailed, and asked how things were going, and how was I doing? I said that it was day by day, and I really hadn't laughed much lately. I was crabby, and felt I should wait to blog until I had a better mindset. So, it wasn't even a full minute later, he sends me this:

Do you know the definition of endless love???????????

Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles playing tennis...

I laughed. Ken laughed. Thank you, Ned!

Ken says I need to post a picture of me...ack.  What happened to this being all about Ken?? Hmm? OK! You will note that my son took this picture of me at the hospital after one of our more recent, late night,  emergency room visits. Very troll-like, don'cha think?


Well, that's about it for today. We continue to appreciate all y'all, and hope to have Ken much better soon. Inch by inch, step by step...

 After not being to able to hear my husband's voice for far too long, I encourage all of you to SAY, "I love you" to someone you care about, and to HEAR them say, "I love you, too". Something too easily taken for granted...

Paula

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Try, try again...

Ken was released from the hospital late yesterday afternoon. He has a new bag full of medications and instructions on how to swallow, what to swallow, and when to attempt to swallow. This is all good. We are moving into the next phase of healing and forward momentum. Believe me, this could all be so much worse. We are taking it a day (hour, minute) at a time. I was a little thrown yesterday when the pharmacy bill was around three hundred dollars ( $209 from an inhaler), but after much discussion with our insurance company (45 minutes), I think there will be some reimbursement. Of course, there will be paperwork involved. Of course there will...

Everyone involved with Ken's care has been fabulous. We had the opportunity to meet with some new department staff  that we hadn't dealt with previously. Respiratory care and Speech (for swallowing, not talking...yet). Such dedicated people, and so very kind. We have been most fortunate, indeed.

Ken is chomping at the bit to get his life back on track. His trips to "the roundhouse" have been messing with his psyche, but we think that the next few days will really make a huge impact on his recovery . (Don't know why the need for train analogies today. Just going with the flow.)

Once again, the dog was beside himself to have his human back home. He really turns himself inside-out when his daddy's in the house. Gotta love that kind of devotion! That's not to say that Jess and I  aren't just as thrilled to have Ken back here with us. We have just learned to expect the unexpected, don'tcha know.

No, there are no pictures today. Perhaps the next tale will include Ken weight-lifting, or working with power tools, or training the cat to use the potty...hahaahaaahaaaaaaa!!!

So, while there has been humor lately, it really hasn't been the sort that should be shared in print. Just let your mind wander (start with an emergency room nurse that felt it was necessary to get a rectal temp because she thought Ken's throat was sore (??). And no, she didn't ask if that was the case!! Imagine my face when I came back from parking the car, opened the door and...

Got a list of errands a mile long, so it's time to run. Hope your day is special in every good way possible.
Paula

Monday, April 9, 2012

Patience is a virtue I do NOT possess...

This will be short and to the point: Ken is still in the hospital, and will probably remain there for awhile. There is no sense in discharging him too soon this time. Like we were told, the worst part is the last two weeks following the end of treatment. All that chemo and radiation have been building up in Ken's system and now he has to pay the price. We also found Ken's thyroid medication needed to be tweaked, so that's been done as well. Lots of respiratory and dietary visits kind of round out the whole experience. He needs rest, peace and quiet, the ability to swallow, to be able to absorb his nutrition, to get the gross gelatinous goo out of his lung, and to get his taste buds and voice to return ASAP. Not asking for much...

Will keep you posted. Gonna be a nail biter, but we all know how it'll end!
Paula

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Home for the Holidays...

Happy Easter eve, everyone!!
Since Ken wasn't able to make the trip to Indiana to be with his family for the holiday, I guess he felt that the next best thing would be to spend it with his "extended family" here in Delaware. Yes, he is back in the hospital (oncology floor ;) again. This time he decided to shake things up and be admitted for pneumonia. I brought him in last night after he had a day of feeling nauseous, and developing some shortness of breath with a low grade fever. Sure enough, he was dehydrated (again), and showed one lung with a little pneumonia.

He will be fine. He is in his pampered kingdom being waited on by some of the best nurses on the planet!! Yeah, there are some needles and tubes to contend with, but that's a small price to pay in the overall scheme of things, right?

We had the pleasure (?) of meeting  Marti's son (remember her pictures from the last blog?) in the emergency room. He came in to draw blood and after a short conversation about the amazing staff on 2 south, he said that his mom worked there. He was kinda surprised that I just happened to have a couple pictures of her hugging on my husband. What a nice, professional young man! Anyhoo, I am including his picture with today's note.



Please don't be alarmed by this newest of speed bumps. After all, it IS a holiday, and where have we spent every holiday since Christmas? Yep! You guessed it.  As long as Kenny W. is getting the care he needs to recover, it's all good. (But I gotta tell ya, I am NOT watching fireworks from the hospital. The view from the oncology floor is not great!! Ha!)

We hope you all have a wonderful Easter! I am off to organize an Easter Egg hunt for the nurses!(You think I'm kidding...)
Paula

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Exhale...

After holding my breath (figuratively) since 2/1/2012, the ability to finally exhale is nothing short of exhilarating!
Yes, Ken's final radiation treatment went off without a hitch. While there was no bell to ring (I am told there will be one by next week, and Ken's invited back to ring it), I had downloaded some special sound effects buttons to my phone, and Ken pushed the TRUMPET upon his emergence from the magic door. Amid much clapping and woot wooting, I snapped a couple pictures for y'all. Wanted you to share in the moment, ya know? If Ken looks kinda shell-shocked, please remember he just had twenty minutes of high dose radiation (and pain killers), and I lined everyone up and snapped away.

While this phase of treatment can now officially be laid to rest, we look forward to the follow-ups, the PET scans, the finding of a primary care doctor, and the business of LIVING. Throughout this process, Ken has always been thinking about receiving the treatments, and how best to cope. I have always been thinking about what to do if he couldn't have a treatment (machine being down, weather being too bad to get there, car breaking down, getting sick and being hospitalized, etc.). Knowing that we can focus on something besides the possibility of negative things to find ways to overcome...is a gift!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We'll continue to keep you abreast of Ken's progression toward becoming cancer free, as long as y'all are interested. Thank you for caring about us.

Paula
Kind of reminds me of a cocoon...
Warren and Susan saw us through some dicey treatments!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

And then there was one...

This morning we were met with those fateful words, "Um, it may be awhile. The machine isn't down. It's the table. We're calling the repairman, so if you don't want to wait..."
The TABLE. The table? Yeah, we're gonna wait. (I LOVE our radiation techs. They always manage to keep their cool while I am losing mine. Thank goodness!)

But, they fixed the table within a couple hours, and KEN HAD HIS NEXT TO LAST RADIATION TREATMENT!!!!! One more day to go!!


The following pictures are from yesterday's chemo. Yes, Ken was scheduled for his favorite floor and had the chance to say goodbye to some of the very special nurses who have been helping us deal with this cancer stuff right from the beginning. We thank them and ALL of the amazing staff at both the cancer center and the hospital for their kindness, patience, and professional care each and every visit. We remember back when we were so new and afraid of what was to come, and they all understood and were  willing to help in whatever way possible. We appreciate you, one and all!!!!

Marti  (on Ken's right) was our very first nurse during Ken's first hospitalization.

And, speaking of THANKS...how do we begin to thank the sales staff at Janosik's for their most recent card/gift, and the pictures everywhere, and...well, you KNOW what else!! Ken laughed SO hard (which really takes some doing)! We will never forget everything you've done, as it has kept us going when it got pretty dismal.








Can't wait for this time tomorrow...

Paula

Monday, April 2, 2012

We're sliding into home...

This weekend was a particularly difficult time for our Ken. When he came home from the hospital, he had some difficulty with his tube feedings (nausea, lack of interest due to pain), and I really had doubts as to whether or not he should have been released at all. But, at his appointment today, the doctor congratulated him on how well he has done throughout this ordeal. His weight has kept fairly steady, whereas we found out that the majority of patients who go through this particular treatment tend to lose in the vicinity of twenty pounds (which causes havoc on their treatment and it's outcome). Ken has continued to bounce back from everything that has happened, and the doctor even gave us positive news regarding the possibility of Ken's voice coming back...it all looks very positive! Can you see me doing my happy dance?  Well, it 's a little premature. We still have three (3) treatments to go, and aren't sure about tomorrow's scheduled chemo appointment. Let's just hope that all the blood work from this morning looks good enough to allow for one more session.

The skin breakdown that appeared on Sunday had all but disappeared this morning. This allowed the continuation of the process that we KNOW will bring about success from this arduous journey. To witness the pain and suffering of someone you care about is never anything wished upon one's worst enemy. Allowing someone to enter into the agonizing treatments necessary to eradicate their cancer is a decision that no one should ever have to make. But, once it is underway, the decision by the patient to continue allowing someone to cause them such pain...it is mind boggling. If a wish could make it so, I would wish that every person that had to make this decision would, at the very least, experience a complete cure with no possibility of recurrence in their lifetime!!!

Tomorrow will be the last major hurdle on the path to completion. At this point, I think Ken would crawl across broken glass to get to the end on Thursday. But, maybe that's just the morphine talking...

Thanks to all of you for your constant support. We feel it everyday.

Paula

Friday, March 30, 2012

Home again, home again, kiss a fat pig...

Ken was released from the hospital today. I brought him home to a much relieved dog and a cat that can't wait to cuddle. It really was a heartwarming reunion.

Drum roll please:

We have FOUR (4) radiation treatments and one (1) chemotherapy treatment left to go!!  Monday through Thursday will be big days for us. There will be NO taking chances of ANY kind until this treatment plan has been completed. That's not to say that we will become crazy fools on Friday. Actually, the doctors told Ken that the two weeks following the end of this treatment may well be the worst of all. This is because the radiation is cumulative in scope, and continues to do it's dirty little business for a two week period after actual radiation treatment ceases. So, we will be patient and grateful for the fact that at least we won't have to have our early morning calls at the cancer center. We will be able to sleep until the sun comes up!! (I simply can't wait to watch NCIS again.)

Ken's weight is still holding, and he is able to smile again. I don't think he knows what he is smiling about, but that's beside the point. He was more than happy to pose for this picture shortly before the nurse brought in the discharge paperwork.

The weekend begins...NOW!!!!

Enjoy your life. Enjoy those you love. Enjoy!

Paula

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

At least it's not snowing...

Someone at the hospital told me that today is Wednesday. I am taking them at their word, as I really haven't a clue. Yes, I said the hospital...again! So, on Monday night about 9 pm Ken got really, really nauseous and the next hour or so wasn't pretty. Finally got things settled down and Ken went to bed. He woke me up at 11 pm saying he felt kind of sick again. I went to get the thermometer, bucket, towels, etc., and by the time I made it to the bedroom I looked at Ken and thought he was having a seizure. When I realized that his head wasn't involved in the hoopla and saw he was trying to tell me something, it was obvious that he had chills so bad that his body was literally being lifted off of the bed. Checked his temperature and found no elevation. That freaked me out and I told him we were heading to the ER. Then he started to be sick again, so I packed everything up and woke Jess to fill him in, and we headed to the hospital around midnight.

We were in the emergency room (actually IN a room being taken care of) until 5 am. The decision to keep Ken was made and we went up to his lovely, comfortable, and private room on the oncology floor. Everyone was glad (?) to see us back again, of course being unhappy for the circumstances that brought us there.

Ken was scheduled for chemo on Tuesday, but Dr. Wu said that it wouldn't happen then, and that his blood counts were all nasty. She said we could maybe have it later in the week, but needed to see what the problem was and see if things could be brought back to normal first.

So, long story simply not worth going into, Ken continued with his radiation treatments, so he's now down to SIX (6). He had his chemotherapy today and may be released tomorrow. Blood levels back where they should be and all is right with the world!

Sorry I didn't let y'all know sooner, however, we were a little busy, as you can imagine.

The funny for today was...Ken's hair!! No picture, 'cuz he said "NO!", but trust me...FUNNY! Haa.

Gotta roll, give yourselves hugs from us, OK?

Paula

Monday, March 26, 2012

Nine minus one equals...

Eight more radiation treatments until the treatment plan is finished!!! Ken had blood work this morning and we checked to see that his levels would be adequate to allow for chemotherapy to resume tomorrow. The white count was a tiny bit low, but we think they will let the chemo happen (since we couldn't have it last week).

Ken's neck looks like he fell asleep under a sun lamp for a week. He'll need to slather on lots of the special  lotion the doctor recommended, or there may be some skin breakdown. If that happens, we may have to delay some of the radiation...NOOOOOOO!  We won't let that happen.  They say that a difficult second half of this treatment means that the treatment is really working well against the tumor. We hope they are correct! We KNOW it is working!!

Snapped this picture of Ken and Joey last night. They kinda look alike now that Joey has his summer cut and Ken shaved off his beard. What? You don't see the resemblance??

We hope your days are full of sun,
Paula

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Single digits...

This week has been so ridiculously busy, I can't even remember everything we did! Glad it is over and our actual treatment countdown has begun: 9 days and counting!!!!!Everyone needs to keep their fingers and toes crossed that there are no more delays, or diminished blood levels, or full moons until Ken can wrap this thing up. OK? Is it a deal??

While the radiation is winding down, they are taking a pretty heavy toll on our boy. He has had to deal with some heavy duty burns on his neck (and in his throat), some nausea (controlled with medication), and a whole lot of exhaustion. We anticipate a rough ending to this treatment, but are really trying to look toward a positive end result. Sometimes that is what allows us to get into the car and head back to do it all again on Monday morning.

Our weather has been pretty amazing this week. As a matter of fact, it was so great that I took our mower on it's maiden voyage of discovery around the acreage. Thought if I could at least get the back forty cut, I could finish up the next day. As I  mow, I tend to hit a Zen-like state and forget what I should be doing sometimes. I completed the back, and headed toward the side yard. Forgetting that I hadn't eaten yet that day, and was really tired, I rounded the corner and started with the front of the house. Heading down the driveway, after cutting a few long swaths alongside, I hit the fence...literally. I hit the fence going full speed ahead, and sat there holding my breath, waiting for the fence to fall down. Geez! No skid marks, no attempt to hit the brake. Just ran smack into the fence and started to laugh. Yes, I took a break, ate some lunch and finished up about 4 pm. Guess what? That's not even our humor for the day.

Here it is: So, we had a week long early morning fog fest. Not just fog...FOG! As we headed out each morning, waaayy before sun up, we carefully drove (crawled) to the hospital. Well, yesterday as we were making our way down the dark and foggy road, I noticed a whole lot of little critters scattered about, the victims of carelessness and cars colliding. Of course, I was driving so slowly, that when a bunny hopped out in front of me from the side of the road, I slowed down and he made it safely to the other side. But, then his slower brother decided to meander out and almost made it, then reversed and ran under my tire. I swear. He ran into ME. Anyway, I was devastated. I asked Ken if I should stop...yeah he looked at me funny, too. We went on to Ken's appointment. So, afterwards I considered taking another route home, to avoid seeing the carnage I had created earlier that morning. We both decided to just tough it out and go the shorter route home. Anticipating the nasty on the roadway, the fog having cleared enough by now to see the roadway, I kept watch...and then we reached the place the bunny met his end. Aha! No bunny. So I said to Ken, " Well good. Maybe I just winged him and he hopped back home." And Ken replied, " Great! So now maybe there will be an Easter after all."

Hope your weekend is bright,
Paula

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Can't always get what you want..

Today was cut short when Ken was told that he wouldn't be having his chemotherapy because his platelet count was too low. So, we came home and he is relaxing! He will have the "lost" chemo on the back end of his treatment in a couple weeks. Better to be safe (than to push it and get sick).

Ken said goodbye to his lovely beard last night. While his hair should remain intact during chemo, his beard, sadly,
 did not! Kinda weird to have exactly one half of your beard fall out overnight, right? Actually, he looks younger without the facial hair. See for yourself -

Tomorrow will be a better day!
Paula

Monday, March 19, 2012

Winter's finally ending...

Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day!!  I guess my mind was on other things...anyway, Happy Last Day of Winter!!
It has been such a mild winter here (and we are extremely grateful), that our change over to spring is really more like a leap into summer. Not a bad thing, really. It'll be easier for Ken to keep warm!

Today we crossed off radiation treatment # 22. Ken's appointment with his radiation oncologist went well. Still on track for weight, blood levels, and all that we need to keep this therapy working in our favor. While Ken did have to use his feeding tube over the weekend, he actually managed to gain a pound. This morning his throat was a little better, and he even ate a little Cream of Wheat along with his liquid sustenance. This guy is a trooper.

We decided to post this video to give you an idea of what Ken's radiation treatment is like, as far as time goes. Just watch and listen. Multiply this by sixteen (16). That's how many times the circuit runs this program around Ken's head, neck, and upper chest each session. When you are in the waiting room, it seems to go on forever...




Can't wait for spring,
Paula

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hitting the wall really hurts...

This week has proven to be most brutal. Kens throat has now decided to take some downtime, so the new nutrition of choice will be Jevity liquid supplement. (I remember the name by thinking of jovial...don't ask.) Our first attempt last night wasn't pretty. I don't think I would've been up for another go, but Ken was ready this morning and things went much more smoothly! While this option is a medical necessity, it also presents a dilemma for me. Am I really supposed to feel comfortable cooking meals for myself when Ken can smell everything, but not be able to partake of anything?? I am really at a loss! While he would not want me to even think twice about this, it really, really bothers me. It'll all work out...just stinks!

Now, as to the important matter at hand: We want to thank you all, once again, for your steadfast friendships and many words of encouragement. Your generosity of spirit has been more than appreciated, and I thought I would take a couple of pictures to show you how your cards are kept available for Ken to meander through every day. A little whimsy in their presentation just helps to keep things light. Ha!




Wishing y'all a relaxing and/or profitable weekend,

Paula


Friday, March 16, 2012

Another one bites the dust...

We crossed another week off of our calendar and realized that within three weeks this will all be behind us!
 We worried a little when we hit the waiting room this morning, as it was full...it should have had only one person waiting. The mainframe for the entire hospital was offline, and the hope was that it would be up and running quickly. Did we want to wait? Whatta you think? It did, indeed, get fixed and treatment # 21 became a thing of the past!

These remaining weeks will continue to be difficult for Ken for many different reasons. We never know, nor can we anticipate, what will hurt next or no longer work the way it should. Ken simply has to suck it up and roll with it. Not a fair deal, if you ask me. Really glad he will have a couple of down days to rest and recuperate!!

I made the executive decision to include a picture from happier times. This is Ken with his best buddy, Joe Cocker aka Joey. Too cute, right?

I also hope to include a couple videos next week...if my computer cooperates.


In the meantime, have a happy, HEALTHY weekend,
Paula










Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A beautiful day in the neighborhood...

Spring has sprung here in lower, slower Delaware. It is absolutely beautiful today. Perhaps a saunter down to the mailbox and back would be appropriate this afternoon.

 So, after much cajoling, my computer finally allowed me to download these pictures of Ken from his chemotherapy appointment yesterday. For those of you keeping track, this was chemo treatment # 5 and radiation treatment #18. (We finished #19 this morning.)

Would you tell me how anyone could possibly look this adorable while I.V.'s full of ooky stuff drip into their veins?
Pretty amazing. Maybe it's because he got to choose a window seat with a lovely view of a garden...
We will leave you with a little story that we hope makes you feel some joy, if for no other reason than it's so nice when a plan comes together. A couple days ago we were fortunate enough to be on hand for the final cancer treatment for a lovely lady we shall call Mrs. M. She had been undergoing both chemo and radiation for an inhumane length of time in hopes of eradicating her late stage breast cancer. Not only did she have to deal with the effects of her treatments, but had to make not one, but two trips back and forth from quite a distance away, five days a week. Add to this the fact that she had to drive herself as she had no one to help her. Well, over time spent together these last few weeks, we got to know Mrs. M pretty well. The one food she had been able to still enjoy was CHOCOLATE! This is also my favorite thing, so I tried to bring her little treats every so often. She was always most appreciative. As her final day of treatment approached, we tried to think of something to give her that she might enjoy. It needed to be something unique, because we wanted to surprise her if we could. During one of our many trips to the pharmacy, we noticed that they were selling all of their remaining Valentine's Day candies to make room for the onslaught of Easter's goodies. (So silly really, as they are the same things but with different wrappers.) Anyway, I saw a Hershey's chocolate apple wrapped in golden foil. I picked it up in hopes that the appropriate gifting opportunity would arise, not originally even considering Mrs. M. Finally, the night before the FINAL TREATMENT, we were packing up our usual bags for the trip to Ken's treatments. It hit me...the apple was for Mrs. M. 
The next morning, I placed the gift bag with the chocolate apple and a card on the chair that Mrs. M would occupy when she arrived to the cancer center waiting area. Ken had gone in for his radiation when she arrived. She was so tickled to see the gift bag, and said, "You shouldn't have done anything for me. Shall I open it?" I nodded and watched her face. First, she was surprised. Then she looked very puzzled. "I know you know I love chocolate, but why an apple? I'm not a teacher." I jumped up and said, "Because an apple a day keeps the doctor away!!!!" Her smile absolutely lit up the room for a split second. Then, her eyes misted up and she gave me a huge hug. When Ken came out from the "magic door", she hugged him as well. It was a moment I will long remember. This is what's important now.

Hope your day is sunny,
Paula




































Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How did we get home...

There are great pictures of Ken from today's chemo treatment. My computer is refusing to download them. I will have them for you tomorrow. Promise. But now, I am going to finish my other tasks and then I am going to sleep. Ken is napping. The dog is napping. The cat is napping in a sunny place by the sliding glass doors.  I honestly don't remember driving home from the hospital, so I should be napping.

I think that today I will include a picture of myself (something I simply do not do), from any given Tuesday since February 14, 2012...



Good night,


Paula

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday, Monday...

Daylight savings time made our drive to the cancer center a little more interesting this morning. Wow, was it dark! (Since I am night blind and we drive a whole lot of back country roads...you get the idea.) But, we made it  on time, and Ken is officially on the second half of his treatments. Woo HOO!!

We'll be watching Ken's weight a bit closer now, as he is experiencing some difficulty with food tasting like paste. He was a bit finicky until the doctor told him this morning that weight loss is not an option. If he loses weight in his face (and we all know that his chipmunk cheeks are the first to shrink), we would have to delay treatment while a new mask was constructed. The possibility of the treatment not being as specific as necessary, and the outcome being less than anticipated...well, he ate on the way home. He ate when he got home. He is contemplating the use of the feeding tube. Whatever works (new motto for the week).

Tomorrow will be a long day, but much more manageable now that our appointment times are closer together.

Ken is napping with the dog at his feet, and the cat on the headrest of his recliner. I would take a picture, but if he woke up I would have to kick myself!!

Happy Monday!
Paula

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Who is that masked man...

Post radiation breakfast.
We changed pharmacies today. Again. Hopefully, we will be able to stay with the new one for the duration of treatment. Final straw was opening the most recent prescription bag to find a bottle with someone else's name and medication. When I finally was able to get the pharmacist to answer the phone, I told him we had just received the wrong medication. His response was, "That's not necessarily the case." After reading the patients name, Rx number, prescribing doctor's information...let's just say that the back peddling began in earnest. There is more to this story, but it just doesn't matter. What DOES matter is that I am able to include a few pictures today. Ken allowed me to photograph his Radiation Mask, and the equipment he gets zapped with five days a week.He lays on that table, and has the mask placed over his face which is then strapped down to the table for the duration of the treatment. He can't get up until the techs come in and unfasten the mask.In spite of this, he tries to make the techs laugh every day. He has been successful...every day.
The radiation table.
Ken's radiation mask.
 Included the picture at the top because he looked so handsome this morning, don't you agree?


Enjoy!

Paula

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The LONG and winding road...

Today has been a very trying day. Thankfully, Ken has weathered his radiation, appointment with medical oncologist, and chemotherapy like a champ! We have been able to rearrange some of our upcoming appointments to allow for a more smooth transition from radiation to chemo, allowing for less waiting and earlier completion of therapies on Tuesdays. Thank you to Dr. Wu for understanding how taxing this has all been on Ken, and offering to come in and see him between 7:15 and 8:00 a.m., which lets him start his chemo earlier and be home in time to get a complete nights rest before our early start on Wednesday. (We LOVE Dr.Wu!!)

We want to take this opportunity to give a most heartfelt thank you to Ken's friends/co-workers at Janosiks for their absolutely unbelievable thoughtfulness and generosity. To say we are grateful and overwhelmed...an understatement at best. We appreciate you all so very, very much! We are so sorry that Ken was not up to visiting the day y'all called, but we know you understand that this is very much a day by day, hour by hour illness. But, you know Ken. He's not going to let this keep him down for long.

Time to get some rest! At 4:00 a.m. we hit it again!! (Yes, there will be pictures again...soon.)

Paula