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,

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...

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!


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!!! 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,

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...


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,

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,

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.

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...


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.

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!

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...)

Thursday, April 5, 2012


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 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.

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 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...


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 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 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.