Thursday, July 19, 2012

Days +19 - +23 of recovery

The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

My apologies for the lack of updates for the past few days, but I was quite busy recovering.  I've been enjoying eating more and varied food without stomach upset.  That has been a definite PLUS!  Being able to enjoy sustenance is something we take for granted.  I have been thanking the LORD everyday since Sunday, the 8th of July, for being able to eat without repercussions.

Since consuming 3 squares per day, I have been gaining strength and stamina.  I've went out, on my own, to Kohl's for a brief shopping trip.  Nothing like venturing out to a clothing store to motivate a woman to get well quickly.  I've also been to the pool with the grandchildren several times, not to swim, but to watch them do so.  Getting some sun and fresh air has done wonders for my spirits and  my recovering health.

Tuesday, the 17,  another motivating goal was achieved.  I welcomed my "Kenya" kids home.  Greg left early that morning and drove in the Pilot hauling our oldest son, Kurt's, covered trailer to Chicago.  He arrived shortly after the kids' plane landed and waited a little over an hour while they cleared customs.  Homeland Security lived up to its questionable reputation by making them all wait in a room for about 20 minutes, then asking them why they were out of the U.S. for four years.  Jeff was so tempted to say, "We got a great rate on our hotel room.", but contained himself and answered that they were missionaries.  The response, "Oh.  OK.  You can go."  Welcome to America!

Little Ian's first words to his grandpa were,  "Grandpa, can we go swimming in your pool?"  They all arrived home about 4:30 in the afternoon and were in the pool by 5:00.  On Wednesday they spent about 5 hours in the pool.  As usual, they were in Grandma, and Grandpa's bed by 5:30 each of the two mornings they spent here.  Great to have them home.  Today, Thursday, they travelled to Rockford and moved into the house which will be their home for the coming year.

While they were doing that, Greg and I travelled to Detroit for my appointment with Dr. V.  The meeting went very well.  All good news.  First, he said all my numbers were good.  As far as he is concerned, my cancer is in REMISSION.  PRAISE and GLORY to GOD!!!  He then said he wanted us to pay attention to the following info.  A blind study was conducted in which some test subjects received no maintenance chemo after their Multiple Myeloma was in remission and other test subjects were given a low dose regimen of the chemo drug Revlimid.  Those given the Revlimid experienced a longer live span than did those not taking the Revlimid.  The only risk in taking the maintenance Revlimid was developing some form of cancer involving the head.  However, Dr. V. said the risk was minimal and, as Greg said,   "The longer anyone lives, the greater the risks of dying from something."  I told Dr. V. that I would take the Revlimid.  He agreed with my choice as this was his choice and recommendation for me also.  The chance of me experiencing a blood clot again from the Revlimid is minimal for two reasons:  1.  The dosage will be much smaller with the maintenance dose;  plus I would be taking an adult aspirin daily as well which would mitigate the development of clots.  2.  I would not be taking any steroids this time with the Revlimid which would not tend to cause clots.

I will start the maintenance regimen around the time I meet again with him in September.  I will then have another appointment with him in December.  After that I'll see him in June of '13 and then annually every June.  After our discussion was over, Dr. V. gave me a hug and wished me well.  He also said I could now go out in public using common sense precautions against exposure to germs.  Look out world, here I come!!.  Praise the LORD!!!

As I am feeling great and progressing well, I will not be blogging every other day as I have been doing.  I will write another post shortly after the 24th of September when I will have met with Dr. V and start my Revlimid regimen.  Thank you all who have kept up with my blog and I have greatly appreciated your interest and prayers.  Please continue to keep me in your prayers as I continue my recovery and also continue to praise God for all He has done and will continue to do in my life.  He has indeed directed my steps throughout this journey and will continue to do so as I remain In His Grip.


Next post:  September 24, 2012

Grandma and Seth

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Days +17 & +18 of recovery

The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

Praise the LORD, I achieved a goal!  Saturday, Greg and I attended a baptism in Lake Michigan.  One of the granddaughters of good friends, Bruce and Mary, told her parents that she wanted to be baptized by her father in Lake Michigan.  We felt honored to be invited to this special event.  Therefore, I wanted to be recovered enough to attend.  Thankfully, God had in His plan that I would be recovered enough to watch the baptism.  The ceremony went well and a young lady publicly announced her love for Christ and symbolically exhibited her life reborn.

Another waypoint was also marked on my journey of recovery.  What waypoint?  I asked Greg to remove from each bathroom an "urp" bucket.  I no longer need those items, thank the LORD.  This was a good psychological point to achieve.  I now am confident that what I eat will agree with me.

I am gradually adding activities to my recovery repertoire.  Yesterday I vacuumed the pool..  Not a hard task, but something I could do which got me outside in the fresh and hot air.  My stamina is not what it used to be, but that will improve with time.  In the meantime, I trust God for his leading and count my blessings each and every day.

Next:  Days +19 & +20 of recovery

Friday, July 13, 2012

Days +15 & +16 of recovery

The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

Wednesday and Thursday have been positive days of recovery.  Food is tasting better and is staying down.  I'm slowly expanding my meal choices.  But food remains home cooked.  No restaurant visits yet.  That is a bit farther out in the future.  When I do venture into a restaurant, buffet food is out.   My doctors have said that due to my immune system being compromised for awhile, food which has been standing out, as is the case in buffets, is out.  Too much exposure to the possibility of contamination with germs.  A person with a healthy immune system can handle food which wasn't fully protected by the "sneeze" shield (think about that buffet fans), but I can't.  Also, any beef I consume must be fully cooked, no "pink" allowed.

Our grandkids have been over to swim and while I am not allowed into the pool yet, I have sat by the pool to watch the kids swim.  And since the water has been 88 and above, Greg has been swimming with them.  Sitting outside has done wonders for my attitude and I praise God for his wonderful creation.

Thursday I felt good enough to give two haircuts:  one to Greg and another to our good friend Dan.  Starting to resume familiar activities again is a good point to reach in my recovery.  The one thing about which I must be careful is not to rush the recovery process.  Patience is a virtue during the next days, weeks, and months.

I have a goal to achieve during the next couple of days.  In my next entry, I'll let you know whether I reached that goal.  Until then, I remain "In His Grip".

Next:  Days +17 & +18 of recovery

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Days +13 & +14 of recovery

The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

Sunday marked my "turn around" day.  I felt quite good;  my appetite was good;  my stomach was active in a positive way.  I even went for a walk with Greg.  However, I may have bitten off more than I could chew concerning the walk.  We strolled, round trip, 6 blocks.  When we arrived home, I immediately hit the couch and took a nap.

Monday, my appetite remained good, but my stomach was debating whether to forgo its past rebellion or persist in resisting food.  The debate continued for the day, but I still was able to eat and everything stayed where it belonged.

Tuesday was a more active day.  We drove to Hage's, a local Christian store.  I did venture inside.  The only other person in there was the clerk.  So my exposure to possible germs was minimal.  Our next stop was Di's Hallmark.  Here, because more people could be there, I remained in the car while Greg went in.  Our last stop was Meijer.  Here, I also stayed in the car because I would be exposed to way too many people in that store.  Leaving there, Greg asked if I felt up to trying one of my favorite drinks from McDonald's, an iced mocha.  I said, "Sure."  Happily, the drink did not cause any gastrointestinal rebellion.  That evening I expanded my cuisine choices by eating pork chops, red skin potatoes (skin removed), and dinner roll.  The meal was delicious and my stomach did not ask me to review my dinner choice.  Yes, I do believe I have reached a "turn around" point in my recovery.  Praise the LORD!

My doctor said to measure my progress weekly, rather than daily.  I can safely say that this current week is much better than last week.  God is good!

Next:  Days +15 & +16 of recovery

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Days +11 & +12 of recovery

The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

Saturday was another backward step day.  Food didn't look that appetizing and later in the day my stomach decided to remove the small amount of food I did eat during the day.  After that I felt a little better, but rather tired.  I've had to add another pill to my collection.  This one is for a yeast infection that has appeared in my mouth.  Dr. Alguire said not to panic or worry.  This is not uncommon during the recovery period.  Chemo kills fast growing cells, i.e. cancer cells, and cells in the mouth are also fast growing. Chemo is not discriminating when killing cells and a lot of collateral damage occurs such as in the mouth and stomach.  The new pill is an antibiotic aimed at removing the yeast problem.

Now today, Sunday, has been a "2 steps forward" day.  Food has looked better to me and I have eaten some of the foods which seem to agree with my stomach such as bananas, chicken soup, and crackers.  Daring additions have included orange jello and two pieces of Lee's Famous Receipe chicken which was supplied by Tom and Lois from church.  So far, so good.  Time will tell.  Tomorrow, Monday, marks my first, official week at home.  My doctor said to make week-long comparisons as to my progress.  So, tomorrow I'll make my first assessment.

An added goal this week in addition to holding down what I eat is to get up and move around more.  Greg has already offered me the opportunity to ride the lawn tractor to cut the grass rather than using a push mower.  He's so-o-o-o thoughtful.  As I eat more food, hopefully, I'll become more active.  I am praying for progress and trusting in God's leading.

To be continued...Days +13 &  +14 of recovery

Friday, July 6, 2012

Days +9 & +10 of recovery

The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

Saw my local oncologist, Dr. Alguire, today.  She said I looked good even though today has been one of those "1 step back" days.  The nausea was a bit more bothersome and diarrhea reared its ugly head again.  I still managed to eat some food.  I mentioned all this to Dr. Alguire.  She said this pattern is not unexpected.   She suggested the best thing to do is check my progress, not daily, since there would be a tendency to take 2 steps forward and 1 step back; but rather, do weekly comparisons.  I would notice weekly improvement despite some days seemingly being a retreat rather than an advance.  I'm going to take this advice and see how everything goes.

Blood tests showed my numbers continue to improve.  I just wish I felt as good as I appear on paper.

People continue to supply meals for us.  Today Arnie and Linda brought chicken noodle soup which has been agreeing with my stomach.  Scott and Lisa and the grandkids came over to swim.  Pizza was ordered, but I have learned my lesson and I abstained.  However, the bread sticks really looked good and I was tempted to try a small piece with just a hint of sauce.  My conscience, Greg, reminded me that I would be paying for such an indiscretion for the next several days.  I took his advice, too.

Pastor Andy and his wife, Donna, came for a short visit this afternoon.  We chatted a while and before they left we had prayer together.  I have grown to appreciate the power of prayer and the number of people who I know are praying for me.  I realize I am not alone as I continue on my journey of recovery.  Not only am I accompanied by all those praying for me, I am also accompanied by God.  With prayers to encourage and sustain me and God to lead and comfort me, I truly feel blessed.

Next:  Recovery Days +11 & +12  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Days +7 & +8 of recovery

The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

Nausea has been a persistent "thorn" for me since I began the recovery process.  Since I am not eating all that much, my strength is really low.  I do sleep quite well at night and rest most of the day.   And I am experimenting with various foods to discover which ones will agree with my stomach.

Well, today, July 4th, may be the day marking a turn around in my battle with nausea.  All the food which I put into my mouth and subsequently found its way into my stomach has stayed in place.  Not that I haven't had any nausea feelings.  After I took my potassium pill and then ate a little, my stomach did attempt a small rebellion, but nothing came of the effort.  I have to work out a time frame between taking my pills and then eating.

The food I am eating is very bland.  Thus far, homemade apple sauce (made in Lisa's home), mashed potatoes (which came in supper sent from our good friend, Joetta), oyster crackers, and chicken & stars soup (yep, kids soup) have stayed in place.  I'll continue with these items and add other food choices as my stomach improves and my strength increases.  The process will be slow.  Slower than I want, but God is in control and I'll have to learn patience.

Our church has assigned various members to provide dinners for us over the next few days.  Joetta provided the meal for last night; Bruce and Mary brought food tonight; and Bob and Kathy are supplying supper for tomorrow night.  We certainly appreciate the kindness, love, and support represented by all these meals.  Greg is especially appreciative as he does not cook and I'm not up to cooking anything yet.  The food comes hot and since Greg does know how to operate a microwave, he'll be in seventh heaven since he loves eating left-overs.

I pray that today is indeed a giant step forward in my recovery process.  I realize that there will be steps forward and some back.  But I look to more of the former and few of the latter.  The main focus for me is that I have faith and trust God as He directs my steps.

Next:  Days +9 & +10 of recovery