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,

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.

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,

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,

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,
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! 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...


Saturday, May 12, 2012


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,

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,

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,

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,

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...


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...