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...




video
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

Monday, March 5, 2012

If we need naps, it must be Monday...

Radiation, blood work, and appointment with radiation oncologist finished for today. Sigh. Now, whatever will we do with ourselves...NOT! Lots to finish up in preparation for our tax appointment Thursday afternoon. Not looking forward to that, but it is a necessary evil.
Tomorrow is our long day. I have reminded Ken that after his treatments this week, he will be halfway finished with  feeling like a human bug zapper.
 He had a few medication changes today. Hopefully, the throat pain from his radiation will be better managed now. It's hard enough to be motivated to eat when you can't taste anything, but add to that the fact that it really hurts to swallow, well, you get the picture. We'll all cross our fingers that the new pain meds are fabulous!!                                                                                                  

Our humor for today comes from the lovely picture (to your left) which hangs in the waiting room of the cancer center. I asked Ken why he thought that particular picture was chosen. He said, "Well, it kinda represents all of us. We don't know if we're coming or going, we're a little unsteady, and we're all getting bills."

Oh, c'mon. You KNOW you want to chuckle...

Go ahead, have a giggle on us.
Paula







Friday, March 2, 2012

Ken wants to know...

I don't think I will ever take weekends for granted again!! Saturdays are now the Holy Grail. We do not for ANY reason have to leave the house on Saturday. We can get some rest..

So, yesterday Ken says to me, "I really would like to try my radiation with a kernel of popcorn in my mouth. I want to know if it would pop."

Jesse took Ken into work this morning, and I will pick him up in a little while. He thinks he will be there until noon...NOT! He is really missing work and all of his friends. A homebody, Ken is not. Glad he feels up to getting out a little bit today. Yesterday was kinda hard on him, but today seems a little better.

Thought you might like to see the "magic door" I wrote about yesterday. Really thought you might like to see Kenny coming out of the "magic door".
Oh, we really want to send a special thanks to Eric (for his great help in allowing Ken's family to access this blog), and Caitlin and Madison for the wonderful handmade cards they sent to cheer up their Uncle Kenny. We appreciate all y'all!!

Enjoy YOUR weekend...
paula