His valiant battle has ended.

For a little while this afternoon I sat out on the deck that was built for us by friends to make Larry's getting in and out of the RV easier.  Adjusting to the fact he will not be coming home.  That as of April 27th, 12:18pm, I am a Widow. There’s four words that will really change your life.  No matter how well you have prepared yourself in advance.  I felt desolate, yet also very relieved he is no longer struggling for every breath he took, especially at the end. Fortunately, the end came quickly, and by then he was no longer struggling.  We called Hospice, with his agreement, when it became clear how fast he was failing.  Unfortunately they did not make it time.

He fought a valiant fight, right up until the end.  I held his hand, told him I loved him, and that everything would be okay.  Watched him take his last breath.  Later, this evening as I sat here alone I told him again I loved him. That I wished more than anything that things could have been different. That he could have had more quality time to enjoy his golden years. I know he heard me.

I have had time over the past few months to prepare myself for this.  It is not a shock, but still very hard to really grasp it at this moment.  I am so very fortunate things have gone the way they have.  I am here among friends who are a wonderful support group.  I have a place to live and a means of paying the rent. I have relearned how to drive.  And with him in and out of the nursing home and hospital so much, I also got used to being by myself.

It’s not going to be easy.  There are still many tears ahead.  The road is still a long way from smooth for me.  But, I am going to continue this journey with as much grace, dignity, and style as I can.  I have a son, daughter-in-law, and 3 of the cutest grandchildren on planet earth to do that for.  I am going to spend time doing the simple things that I love doing.  I am going to find solace in long walks and hikes.  Let Mother Nature wrap me in her loving arms, help me to heal, and show me how to continue this new journey I’ve begun called Widowhood.

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We are love, we are compassion

Back home from visiting Mr. Grinch.  He ate half of a cherry flip from Bear Moon Bakery :)  He also has a couple of muffins as should he feel like eating them.  We had a good visit.  PT came in while I was there and after he was finished with his PT exercises he was encouraged to do of them over the weekend.  I said, "Don't worry I'll be visiting him over the weekend and make sure he does them."  That earned me a dirty look from Mr. Grinch as he mumbled something about hiring me out to Helga's House of Pain.  I just gave him one of my little grins and winked at Sarah as she laughed. They are used to our ways now, and have figured out why I call him Mr. Grinch. 

He has a new roommate who seems very nice.  So does his lovely wife Mary.  As women do in situations such as ours we connected very quickly.  Each drawing a little strength from the other as we watched each other handling what we are going through. 

That's why I write these updates and blog entries.  To try and reach out to others going through what I am. Let them know they are not alone.  There are, far too many of us going through this type of situation.  We see each other in the room and hallways of hospitals and nursing homes, and when we look into each other's eyes, an instant connection is made because we see a reflection of what is in our own eyes. We are the women, and men, who are doing our very very best to be good wives and husbands to our ailing spouses. We are tired, and so afraid we aren't doing enough.  That somehow, we could something more, if only we knew how.  We are battling a sea of emotions.  Including terrible guilt at times for feeling some of the emotions we can't help feeling.  We put our smiley faces on when visiting our spouses, and shed a million tears alone.  We are love, we are compassion. We are the ones who if the battle is lost, will be the lonely survivors. Blessed be each and every one of us.

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A heartbreaking situation

Good morning world.  What a beautiful sunny morning here in the Texas Hill Country.  I'm having a relaxing morning sipping tea and just chilling for right now.  Later this afternoon I will go in and see Mr. Grinch.  He is still very weak and at night having some trouble keeping his oxygen stats in line.  He is still determined to try and get back on his feet. As long as he has fight left him I will do all I can to insure he has the opportunity to do so.  As I told the social worker yesterday, as long as he can think and speak, and feels he can fight then that is what the game plan is.  PT is working with him to give him that chance. 

Yes, this is a heartbreaking situation to be in for both him and I.  I am overwhelmed with emotions at times.  Find myself in tears a lot when dealing with the nurses as I explain to them that no matter what they or anyone else feels, at this point the decision concerning Hospice is up to him as long as he is capable of making that decision.  I've warned them we are dealing with an incredibly stubborn man who has already made it a lot longer than anyone thought he would at first.

Do I expect yet another miraculous recovery?  Honestly, not really.  But am I going to do whatever it takes to make sure he does have the chance to do that once again?  You can bet the farm and anything you want that yes I will. That is something I will continue to do for as long as he can make that decision.  After all he has bounced back in the past, so who am I to say whether or not he can do that again? 

I visit him every day right now.  Stay for a least a couple of hours.  I know he is scared and wants me stay longer at times but in order to insure I can keep it together enough to help him continue fighting I have to be selfish and walk away at times so that I can pull myself together, and stay strong enough to keep doing that.   I know he judges me a bit harshly at times for not being there more.  I overlook that though because I know he is weak and scared, and draws strength and courage from me when I am there. Others may also judge me a bit harshly for doing the things I do to keep my sanity intact.  I have only one thing to say to anyone doing that.  "Come walk a mile in my shoes before you sit in judgement on me." 

If death is coming soon, as the doctors and nurses seem to think it is, I cannot make peace with it for him.  Only he can do that. All I can do is support him all I can while he continues to fight for life.  Be there for him as much as I can, and keep doing what I have to in order to keep it together, and not wind up bouncing off the walls of a padded cell as I take this evil roller coaster ride of tears and fears. 

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The Evil Roller Coaster Of Tears and Fears

The rainy weather today has made Mr. Grinch's first day in the rehab place a not so good one.  When I first went in this morning his oxygen stats were on the downslide.  Fortunately after a breathing treatment those improved and he was actually in to mid to upper 90's when I left. 

Mr. Grinch did not get a good night's sleep. Seems his roommate is up all night playing loud Lawrence Welk and Johnny Cash music, and trying to get up.  Which quite frankly, for Mr. Grinch and I, hardcore rockers that we are, having to listen to that all night is our version of hell on earth.  Tomorrow the nurses are going to talk to the office personal they need to in order to resolve that situation.  If that doesn't work, I'll step in.  

As I was leaving I stopped to talk to his nurse.  Her kindness reduced me to tears, and before it was over I was in a little room with two nurses who I will go to my grave remembering, and thanking for their wonderful support and kindness. One of the nurses who had lost her husband to cancer said, "It's an evil roller coaster."  She is so right.  I had said when I first started writing about our journey it was a roller coaster, but that wonderful nurse is right, it is a flat out evil roller coaster at times. 

That's where the first part of the title for this entry came from.  The other, well there are so many tears and fears for those of us taking this terrible journey. We many fears, including that age old fear of death itself.  And we shed many tears along the way.  Tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of anger,  tears of frustration.  And if the battle is lost, tears of grief. 

As a wife all I can do is stay as strong as possible and do my best to give him every opportunity to fight as long as he can, and wants to.  That, and help make sure he doesn't have to keep listening to Lawrence Welk and Johnny Cash all night. 

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Spreading my wings a little more

I have been driving again since September of last year, and after getting the Subaru Forester have become much more comfortable driving. I had learned the routes to the places I frequently go to, and unless I had to leave them, stayed within the comfort zone of those familiar routes.  Today I spread my wings a little though.  After dropping off the water sample in Comfort I headed to Center Point and paid a short visit to Lions Park.  After leaving Lions Park I took the Old Tunnel Road and headed to Alamo Springs Cafe.  

I had been longing for some of their good food, but had been a little hesitant of taking that very winding, at times narrow road.  SweetPea handled those winding curves so well after a few moments I found myself relaxing and actually enjoying the scenic drive to my favorite eating spot. I was glad nobody was behind me though because I did take my time around some of those winding curves. 

The feeling I got as I walked into the cafe is hard to explain.  So many times Mr. Grinch had driven us there, then sent me in to pick up our food.  I've actually only sat down and eaten there a couple of times with friends.  So walking in the door knowing I arrived there on my own was both sad, and exhilarating for me.  The hugs I got from a couple of my friends who work there made me feel so very good.  I treated myself to a big basket of fried mushrooms, and the joy of sitting in amongst the hustle and bustle of their lunchtime run as I ate them.

I intend to keep on spreading my wings and driving to other places as well. Mr. Grinch is going to be in Cibolo Creek Nursing Facility for some PT Rehab again when he gets out of the hospital. Once he is able to go on outings again I want to be able to get us to our favorite places with confident ease. I will probably never feel comfortable taking on San Antonio traffic, but I can expand my comfort zones and once more be able to enjoy going to nearby places that I want to go to. 

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Every steep hill has a down side.

I am very pleased to report that Mr. Grinch has continued to steadily improve.  As of this evening he is off the bi pap machine, on a regular nasal hose, and dialed down to a 6.  He still has a long ways to go, but he is gradually getting there.

I took a nice 1.5 mile walk today, pushing myself along at fairly good clip more than halfway along it, then gradually slowing down at the last part of it.  I still managed to maintain an average speed of 2.5 mph, which for an old crone like me, isn’t too bad.  As I was coming home and walking up a hill, legs a little tired by then, I thought about uphill battles, and how if Mr. Grinch could just hang in there, and keep improving, then eventually he would reach the top of the hill, and things would get better. 

The walk did me a world of good.  It reminded me how blessed I am to be able to take such a walk. I didn’t go off the beaten track, instead just staying on the side of the Welfare Waring Road.  Walking along the road sometimes like that reminds how it is for the animals that wander along side of and across roads.  Except I have enough sense not to jump in front of a vehicle. 

I wanted to feel as free and light as possible, so didn’t I take the Nikon, or even my walking stick. There were all kinds of wildflowers in bloom along the road.  No bluebonnets where I was walking, but lots of bright yellow and white daisies, as well as some lovely lavender and darker purple flowers.  I snapped a couple of photos of the lavender and purple flowers with my iPhone camera.  

Taking that walk today renewed my spirit, and reminded me why it is I love this beautiful Texas Hill Country so much.  I am so glad the weather is warming up so that I can spend more time outside. If he winds up in Cibolo Creek Nursing Facility again for rehab before he comes home I can stop at River Road Park and the Nature Preserve coming or going to there and spend a little R&R time at them.  

Being able to take advantage of all the beautiful places I can go to around here is going to be what gets me through whatever is ahead for us. I have to strong no matter what, so I want to do as much walking and hiking as possible. I have to stay sane, so I’m also going to enjoy as many guilt free moments of simple fun as I can.  Like the ones I just had as I grabbed the Nikon and set up the tripod for a photo of tonight’s full moon. 

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No he isn't ready for that!

The last few days have been a complete nightmare and though I did Facebook entries, I was too tired to upload them to my main page.  I am going to include those entries in this one, so they fall in order.  The nightmare began Sunday morning when I had to call the ambulance again for Mr. Grinch.  He had only been out of the hospital 3 days, and was now about to go back in, if he survived long enough.  And at times that dreadful Sunday morning it looked like the ambulance might be too late.  Fortunately the ambulance arrived in time, and after stabilizing him here, took him to the ER in Boerne.  They spoke of ventilating him, but I explained he did not want that done, so he was left on the Bi Pap oxygen set up and given more tests, then antibiotics to battle the pneumonia he now had.  I personally feel that if the hospital had kept him a couple more days, and made sure he was truly ready to come home, this latest incident wouldn't have happened.  Sunday evening, the first night he was in the hospital I honestly wasn't sure if he would make it through the whole night.  And yes because his condition appeared so grave, I agreed to discuss Hospice plans.  However, things are so very often, not what they appear.

What follows now are the Facebook entries I made during what has been an extremely stressful, and at times, dark time.

Monday, April 7th

This update brings sad news. Mr. Grinch is going to be going to in patient Hospice care when he does get discharged from the Methodist Hospital in SA. Unfortunately, due to the massive amounts of oxygen he is now on our best choice to insure that he is comfortable and pain free is to go with an in patient Hospice in SA. He has fought so valiantly against the cancer, and made such good progress, but the COPD and bouts of pneumonia have taken their toll on his poor battle weary body and soul. At this point I can't say much more. I do not how much time is left, only that I am going to do everything humanly possible to see to that whatever time he has, is as comfortable and pain free as possible.
To all those who have and still are offering their prayers, thoughts, love and support, we both thank you so very very much. Know that we appreciate those prayers, thoughts and love so very very much. Right now, I'm just going to try and rest a little before I go over to the hospital to see him tonight.
Blessed be to all reading these words

I do not believe this! I answered the phone earlier and damned if Mr. Grinch wasn't on the other end of it. At first I didn't know who it was because the call was not from his cell phone. I had brought it back home with me last night since he could barely speak above a whisper and that was distorted by the spaceman oxygen mask he was wearing. Since his voice was the LAST thing I expected to hear over my phone at that moment, I actually had to ask, "Who is this?" 

Seems his nurse, Crystal, taught him how to push what I call the spaceman oxygen mask aside long enough to eat, and once he learned he could do that, after he had eaten, he promptly had them dial my number from the phone in his room.

That is one stubborn man! 


Sometimes help comes from unexpected places. In our case it is actually his Humana Advocate who is trying to help us get off the Hospice track and back on the road to some kind of recovery. After explaining to her that I felt the reason he is currently in the condition he is in is because of how they keep discharging him from the hospital too soon, and that after talking to him, and finding out he is now at least off the spaceman mask during the day, we were not really willing to go Hospice at this moment she agreed with us that he may not be ready for Hospice right now. She also clued me in me on a few things I didn't know, including the fact if we don't think he is ready to come home from the hospital, we can fight having him virtually kicked out before he is ready.

So, BB is about to go into battle mode, and do everything I can to see to it he gets a chance to make up the progress he has lost, and continue the battle. We both understand the gravity of the situation, and also understand there may come a point when the Hospice route is right for him. But, in the meantime, we are going to hope that he will continue to buck the odds, and improve a little more each day. If he can do that, then advocating for a fighting chance for him will be much easier.

April 8th
After trying to make a arrangements for Larry to go into an in patient Hospice place, then getting a call from him that stunned me he could even make, I found myself having to regroup and reconsider the Hospice answer at this moment. Besides being able to to eat, and make a phone call, Larry was also able to get up and do a few marching steps. He was also alert enough to flip me off a could of times when he didn't like what I was saying at the hospital this evening. Now I realize that isn't much, but it is enough to make me wonder if perhaps the doctors could get him over the pneumonia and out of the spaceman mask, he might still have some kind of fighting chance.
We are between a terrible rock and hard spot here. He cannot remain in the spaceman mask 24/7 for very long or pressure sores will start to form on his face from the mask. Having dealt with pressure sores when my mother was paralyzed, I know just how horribly painful and sometimes next impossible to treat they can be. If he goes to Hospice, they will also not continue IV antibiotics or any kind of aggressive treatment, and they will only spend a certain amount of time tying to wean him off the spaceman mask before they give up, and begin the morphine process that will result in a reasonably quiet and comfortable passing.
I have contacted our Humana Advocate and asked her to get me some information concerning his prognosis, and see if we can go for some progressive care at this time, rather than going the Hospice route. In the end of course the final decision is up to Larry. But, I promised him, and myself that as long as he felt he could continue fighting, and wanted to, then I would do whatever I could to see to he got that chance. Tomorrow I hope we are able to get a clearer picture of what is truly going on so that we can make the best decision as to where to go from here.
Now, I really am going to head to bed and try to a good night's sleep because tomorrow is going to be another very long day.

April 9th

Yeah! Nothing like a good hot shower and some make-up to make a gal feel human again. The last few days I have been so busy and so stressed I haven't even bothered with putting on my normal touch of make-up. Yes I have taken showers though! Today though I took that few extra make-up minutes, and feel a lot better for having done so.
I just hope I don't have to resort to putting on war paint to accomplish what I need to and insure that Mr. Grinch gets the chance he deserves. I spoke to his Case Manager at the hospital today and told her in no uncertain term I was not ready to have him put in Hospice and be put down. She seemed rather taken aback at how I phrased until I explained how the woman we met with the other night laid it out for us as to what would happen if he couldn't be weaned off the full spaceman Bi Pap oxygen mask. Then she seemed appalled and assured me I had been given the wrong information. I made it clear I didn't want to even hear Hospice mentioned again and that Sharon, our Humana Advocate, would be contacting her about an alternate route. I also brought up that I felt the reason his is in the shape he is right now is because they keep sending home before he is ready, and that was going to stop.
I understand Hospice is a wonderful thing for those who are ready for it. Who no longer hold any hope of getting at all better. But, Mr. Grinch is not ready to give up hope. He is still ready to battle on and try his best to get as well as he can. Yes! We know he will never be completely well, will always be on oxygen of some kind even on his best days. What the people at the hospital better start understanding is that as long as he feels he can recover from this latest bout of pneumonia enough to continue to battle for life, then By the Goddess I will do whatever it takes to see to it he gets that chance.
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Bend, don't break

Sipping my first cup in bed while getting awake and ready to head in for Mr. Grinch's bloodwork.  Glad to say he feeling better today than the last few days. Between the high humidity, followed by high winds, breathing has not been at all easy for him.  The good news is even with that he has been able to keep his oxygen saturation levels up fairly good.  Sometimes it is so frustrating, and yes terrifying dealing with this.  As far as the chemo goes, well everything is actually going great because the cancer is responding to chemo.  Unfortunately his battle is not just with cancer, but with COPD as well. Days like yesterday are a reminder that no matter how well the chemo is going, until it over and we can focus more on controlling the COPD we are in a terrible kind of limbo. 

I sometimes find myself honestly wondering where I am finding the strength to handle all this without completely snapping.  I know there are moments when I feel so very close to doing that.  Yes, I have those moments.  I wouldn't be human if I didn't have them.  That's what I remind myself when those moments happen.  I don't beat myself up for having those moments.  Instead I do whatever it takes to get through them, with as much grace, dignity and courage as possible.  I cling to those 3 words with the tenacity of a drowning woman clutching a floating log in a raging river. 

Tomorrow is the last chemo treatment for this month.  Then it is a week off, and at least two more months of chemo. We are both hoping that when the weather warms up and he get back outside to do some walking he can build his strength back up, and get through the last couple of months of chemo with no more bouts of pneumonia, or days like yesterday.  Humid days will of course continue to be a problem.  But, perhaps not as big a problem if we can just get some sunny warm days in between where he can get outside and build his lungs back up with some walking. 

Now it's getting time to get my butt up and face the day again. Get him to the clinic for bloodwork, and do the other things I need to.  To anyone reading these words who is going through the same thing I am, just remember this, do all you can, but also remember, there is only so much you can do.  You are only human, but bend like a windblown tree so that you don't break.  Do whatever it takes to get you through it, and most importantly, do not beat yourself up, or judge yourself too harshly for only being human. 

Blessed be

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Shine on

Good morning.  I'm sipping my first cup of tea while Mr. Grinch is sipping his coffee.  We are both gearing up for another day. Today we are going to try and tackle the steps leading down to the car so we can see if he can make it up and down those safely tomorrow to do his usual Tuesday blood work in preparation for Wednesday's chemo. 

It's been long difficult haul for us these past few months.  The past few days very stressful at times.  The stress not helped any by the fact they sent him home from the hospital in an ambulance on a very cold icy day.  We've gone from bed ridden the first couple of days, to now he is making it back and forth to his bathroom, and even out onto the deck.

We are hopeful that very soon he will be able to use the crutch more and be able to make it into the living room and kitchen.  His oxygen saturation levels are still staying up really good, with quick recovery time when he does exert himself. This is a very good sign! 

We still have 3 more months of chemo, and he is determined to see that through, even if he does have to take one more week to get built back enough to make it through them.  We are hopeful that with better weather now coming his lungs will stay clear of pneumonia and we will have no more trips to and from the hospital because of that. 

If I have any advice to offer those who are going through the same battle we are with cancer it is this.  There will be setbacks.  Sometimes so many of them, or so severe it is very easy to lose hope.  But, with enough determination, those setbacks can be overcome.  Most importantly, take each day one moment at a time.  Be thankful for whatever little bit of progress is made, grit your teeth, take that little bit of progress, and keep on going.  Above all, do not lose hope because of setbacks. 

 For those who like me who are caregivers, above all else, make and take the time to do what you have to in order to keep going.  Rest whenever you can, take a break whenever you can.  Toss guilt to the four winds and if at all possible go do something that will help keep you strong because trust me, you will need every ounce of strength you have to help the person you are caring for.  Cry, scream, take a walk, whatever you have to do in order to release the stress, anger and feelings of hopelessness that will engulf you.  And please, do not feel guilty for having those feelings, and all the others that you will have.  You will at times feel things, think things you would never dreamed you could feel or think.  That's your mind's and body's natural reaction to the stress you are under.  Deal with the thoughts and feelings, call a friend if you need to, but do not beat yourself up for feeling and thinking things you at times cannot help but feel and think.  Above all, while there is still even the smallest glimmer of hope, grab that glimmer, hold on tight to it, and let it shine as brightly as possible on the one you are caring for.  For in doing that, you will find it brightens and strengthens you as well. 

Blessed Be

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Going Deep Within For Strength

This Cancer Journey we are taking has reminded me what I am truly made of.  Forced me call upon deeply buried strengths I had forgotten I had. Put me right up against the wall sometimes, and made me come out with both fists swinging as we went in battle. There were times it brought me to my knees. I've never been much of one for staying down for the count though, and despite what sometimes seemed an unbearable weight on my shoulders, I knew I couldn't stay down because I needed to help Mr. Grinch win this terrible battle. So I looked deep within myself, recalled some very unpleasant times gone by I had gotten through, got the hell back up, and did what I had to do. After all, this sure as hell isn't my first rodeo.  I helped nurse my mother who was paralyzed in a car accident when I was still in grade school. Then took a little trip through the glass darkly that resulted in me spending several months in hospital, and left me with some scars that I still bear.

Getting and keeping priorities straight is another thing this journey is forcing us to do.  Both as a team, and as individuals. My biggest priority is making sure I don't crack under the constant pressure. Sometimes this means doing whatever I have to in order to relieve some of that pressure. I have learned to toss guilt out the window when it comes to this issue because I know just how important it is that I do remain strong.  And yeah, sometimes just knowing how important that is, increases what is already a very load.  Who will help take care of him, drive him to chemo and the doctors, do all the other things if I crack? If I really stop and think very much about the responsibility resting on my shoulders, it's enough to scare the hell out of me! Which is why I never give that any more than a fleeting thought. Instead I just focus on making sure I don't crack under the strain

At this moment in time and space we are winning the battle.  Mr. Grinch's tumor has already shrunk dramatically, and his tumor markers are very low now compared to what they were.  Yeah, the relentless Chemo Regime is starting to leave him rather tired afterwards.  Thursdays he mostly spends resting now.  Doing only a few of the easier exercises that don't tax him too much.  There is no terrible nausea though at this point.  And so far, because of the steroids he is on, his appetite is damn good!

We have at least two more months of chemo to go.  Perhaps the tumor in his lung will be completely gone by then.  Perhaps it will take a few more rounds of chemo for that.  Whatever happens the road to recovery is still a long one, with lots of bumps, rocks and really hard going along the way. But I know that we can make it to the end of that road.  I know that when the going gets tough I will reach deep down inside myself, and find the strength and courage to make it.  Just as I have done in the past.

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The Terror Train

A Terror Train

This cancer journey is a wicked stressful ride at times.  The words Terror Train springs to mind sometimes when I think about it.  Terror is felt so often lately, it almost seems like an old friend at.  Terror of him getting pneumonia again, terror of him falling, of test results, of possible medication and chemo side effects, and most of all for me, pure terror I'm not going to hold up and do what needs to be done.  There are so many things to strike terror into the heart of the cancer patient, and of the caregiver.  And of course that which strikes terror into the heart of the cancer patient, deals just as harsh a blow to a loving caregiver as well. 

To keep functioning, the terror has to be contained. It cannot be allowed to grow into a panic attack that renders me useless.  A few deep breaths and silent pep talk often do the trick. Some of that terror is relentless, like the fear that stems from not knowing what is going to happen, and will I be able to handle whatever happens?  That fear is a constant companion that can become overwhelming at times.  Dealing with it takes more than deep breaths and pep talks at times.  Which is why sometimes it is necessary for me to take a walk, or do something else that at least for a few precious moments allows me to, if not forget the terror completely, at least push it back enough to contain it, then get the hell on with what I have to do. 

That's why things like the rail leading up to the main bathroom, and the little deck and gradual steps leading up to it are so meaningful to those in our situation. Meaningful not just to Mr. Grinch because they help him so much, but meaningful to me as well because that is one less fear I have to deal with.  Anything, no matter how small it may be, that can ease some of the constant stress and worry is a very real blessing. 

To others in the same situation I am in, I have these words of wisdom for you.  Do whatever it takes to contain the terror and maintain your sanity.  If that means stepping away for a moment and taking a few deep breaths while you give yourself a pep talk, do it.  If it means taking a walk, a hike, a run, a ride, then do it.  Chase the guilt away, take the break you need, and get the fear and stress that accompanies us every step of this terrifying journey under control.  Do it for yourself, and for the one who are looking after.  Should the ghosts of guilt try to haunt you remember this, if you snap and fall to pieces, what will happen to the one who depends on you?  And yes, that's a damn stressful and terrifying thought in and of itself.  But oddly enough, it is often the one thought that keeps me together.  Knowing the answer to that question is what inspires me to do what I need to in order to make sure that doesn't happen. 

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Keeping The Right Perspective

I have been a bit negligent lately about doing journal updates.  But had to make this one to say how very blessed we are to have the wonderful friends we do here.  Our friends Brian and John put in a handrail leading up to the main bathroom to make it easier for Mr. Grinch to get up the steps, as well as building us a lovely little deck with steps gradually leading down from it that will make getting in and out of the RV so much easier for him as well.  It is more like a little balcony as far as size goes, but we both love it!.  It does have room for a couple of chairs, and is so handy to put groceries and stuff on when I'm unloading them. 

This Cancer Journey teaches me to be thankful for every little blessing that comes our way.  Including things like handrails and decks with gradual steps. These two things may not seem much to some.  But, for Mr. Grinch they are the difference between easily and safely making it to and fro from where he needs to be, and not.  Having them and knowing how much they do help him is a load off my mind. 

Though his breathing has improved, these last two bouts of pneumonia have left him very weak. Fortunately he can go about building himself back up again much more safely and easily.  We even use the little deck and steps as part of our PT routine on days the weather is nice.  Today he walked around the 8ft balcony, then down the steps.  After enjoying sitting in the sunshine for a little while, he walked back up the steps and into the RV. 

Which again, seems like nothing to many, but is a major improvement right now for him.  Keeping the right perspective is another thing this Cancer Journey teaches one very quickly.   Right now our perspective is that of two people on one hell of roller coaster ride that makes us very aware of just how valuable some of the littlest things in life truly are. 

Knowing he will no longer have to struggle with the steep steps that did lead into our home is very big blessing to me. 

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Don't lose sight of who and what you really are

When you become a care giver for someone who is very ill if you aren't careful you can lose yourself completely.  Get so caught up in helping the person you are caring for maintain a good attitude about themselves, and getting better, you lose sight of that within yourself.  To be a truly good caregiver it is important that doesn't happen!  So this morning I am reminding myself that along with being a good caregiver to my husband, I am also still the woman I was before we started this Cancer Journey.  It is because I was, and still am that woman, I can be the caregiver to him I need to be. 

I have spoken to Mr. Grinch this morning.  He is a little better than yesterday.  Right now that is all we can hope for until he gets completely over the pneumonia and can once more return to his Chemo regime.  Unfortunately that regime that is destroying cancer cells is also destroying good cells as well and leaving him wide open to pneumonia and other bad things.  I can do nothing about that.  All I can do is visit him when my friend takes me over there, try to keep his spirits up as best I can when I am there, and when we are on the phone.  And try not to lose sight completely of who and what I really am besides a caregiver.

Blessed Be 

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Buyin Hope Drop By Drop

As I sat in the waiting room at the Cancer Care Clinic where Mr. Grinch goes for his chemo treatments, I found myself sadly amazed at how many other people were in there. What struck me about all those other people though was how matter of fact they were.  It wasn't a waiting room filled with despair as one might think.  Instead it was a waiting room filled with hope.

Dr. Scott, one of our many doctors now, showed us the results of his latest blood test, and explained what those results meant.  He was very pleased with how well Mr. Grinch is handling the chemo treatments.  Except for one level that has to do with the blood thinner he is on, all we heard was that everything good was where it should be. Dr. Scott made a minor medication adjustment on the blood thinner that should get that level back to where they want it. 

We are learning the chemo treatment ropes.  Drinking plenty of fluids, and eating is encouraged during treatments.  As soon as he is settled in and the chemicals begin dripping into the port in his chest, I go over to Walgreens to grab some Gatorade and snacks for us.  I noticed nearly all of the other patients have those ports in their chests to make administering the medication easier. 

It was a busy day at the Clinic, with most of the treatment chairs being in use.  As I watched the nurse administering treatments, smiling and joking with her patients, I wondered for a few seconds how she handled it.  Then I realized that like everyone else there, no matter what the prognosis, we were all buying time, and hope drop by drop. 

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Because Faeries Wear Boots ;)

Good morning world!  It's a lovely cloudy morning here.  I have the window next to me open and am enjoying the breeze blowing through it.  I'm having a wonderfully lazy morning.  I haven't done much writing in my journal this past couple of weeks because thankfully, nothing much is changing for us right now.  Mr. Grinch is doing very well.  The humid days, and some of these fronts make breathing more difficult for him. But, we did get a little walking time in Sunday.  Mr. Grinch enjoyed watching the fish feeding frenzy after I tossed some food flakes into the pond.  

Yesterday we were both feeling a bit crummy.  Headaches and nausea from either a bug going round, or allergies.  Or perhaps a touch of both.  We are both feeling much better this morning though.  My plan is to enjoy this week as much as possible because next week the chemo treatments begin.  Nobody is really sure how bad the side effects will be, so I'm trying to ensure we do as much as possible to enjoy this week to the fullest. Striving for as much normalcy as I can, before the chemo routine that will become our norm begins. 

I've become really adamant about recommending everyone enjoy each and every moment to the fullest because you really do never know when your life will dramatically change.  You or a loved one can develop cancer or some other life threatening disease, have an accident that forever changes your world, or have something else happens that totally changes your world.  So please my friends, do not dwell on the negatives of life, dwell instead on the positives and enjoy each and every one of those positives to the fullest. And remember, if like us, you find yourself in a situation that at first appears totally bleak, miracles do happen, especially if you help them happen by keeping a positive attitude even in the darkest moments.  Mr. Grinch is living proof of that. 

On a personal note, I had a wonderful time at our Halloween Potluck Party Saturday night.  Unfortunately, Mr. Grinch was not able to make it to the party due the heavy humidity.  But, I dressed up as a Garden Faerie, with boots, because as Led Zeppelin once sang, faeries wear boots.  My "wand" was a yellow glow stick with a star on the top of it.  It felt great to put aside my troubles for a little while, wave my wand around, and have a good time among so many friends who have been so wonderful to us both.  May the brightest of blessings rain down upon all those who attended that party and helped make it the great time that it was.

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A new routine

Mr. Grinch has been home for 9 days now, and we are rapidly becoming accustomed to our new routine.  It is a routine that includes oxygen machines, nebulizers, twice daily pill taking, breathing treatments that need to be done 4 times a day, and of course visits by Home Health personal to keep track of his vitals, and insure PT continues. He continues to improve a little each day.  Though on days when the humidity and/or barometric pressure are up, his oxygen saturation levels go down more when doing PT or moving around much 

Except for the big out of pocket expense for the portable oxygen machine, that Medicare and Humana consider a luxury item, we have been extremely fortunate so far with our out of pocket expenses.  Yes, we are still paying some out pocket expenses.  There will be more of those as well until deductibles are met. And of course all those medications he now takes, we also pay a portion of.  However, I know that we are so very much better off than some others who are in similar situations. 

Next week we go see the cancer doctor again so he can take another look at Larry, and set up the chemo treatments now that he is home, and walking around like Dr. Beeram wanted.  The chemo treatments are a double edge sword we are going to have to learn to deal with.  We will deal with them though because as sick and tired as they may make him feel, we also know they are necessary if he wants to continue to fight the cancer.

Between him nearly losing his foot in the oilfield a few years ago, and now the cancer and COPD, our retirement years are not turning out quite like we had planned.  However, we are determined to still make the best of things, and live life to the fullest as much as we can.  We will also continue to make sure that we count and appreciate the many blessings that we do still have.

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Counting bright blessings

A couple of months ago things hit a real low point for us when my husband was diagnosed with inoperable 3rd stage lung cancer, and COPD.  We were told he only had a couple of weeks to live, and Hospice was discussed.  Then he decided he wasn't ready to die, proceeded to improve a little each day, and little bright spots started showing up.  Continued improvement, and the willingness of his cancer doctor to stay with us and help him fight the cancer brought more brightness into our life. Even though being in that nursing home he refers to as zombie land was tough on both of us, the great PT he got while in there helped him a great deal.  Now he is home, and we have become grandparents for the 3rd time. More beautiful bright spots in our lives. 

We don't know what life holds for us in the future.  Though we do know we have a tough road ahead of us.  He has to continue to get the COPD under control as much as possible, while at the same time undergoing chemo treatments for the cancer.  A daunting task indeed.  But, he's already come such a long way, so although the road may become dark again at times, we will cling to the knowledge that if we hold on tight to each other, take it one step at a time, then we will get through this journey, and once more find the brighter path of hope and joy. 

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He's back!

After a very frustrating day yesterday, Mr. Grinch has finally made it back home.  The bed, oxygen and other equipment was scheduled to arrive between 10am and 2pm, so at 8:30 I headed zombie land, and sprang him for the final time.  The Apria van arrived within an hour of us getting back here.  Within another hour, everything was set up, and we had been thoroughly briefed on how to care for the equipment. The only thing we lacked was bedding for the hospital bed, so we headed to Comfort for some bedding, and some of Maria's Tacos. Unfortunately Maria's little red van wasn't there, so after getting the bedding, we headed back home, and stopped at Chicken Express on the way. 

After a nice lunch we relaxed for awhile. Then went to the Clubhouse area. Mr. Grinch walked to the Koi Pond, then sat and enjoyed a little time watching the fish.  And admiring a gorgeous hot rod that pulled up. We have a couple of really nice classic cars in the resort right now.  More can be seen in and around Boerne. If the weather is nice, tomorrow we will go into Boerne for lunch and check out the classic cars there. Then take another walk to the Koi Pond, so he can sit and enjoy the Saturday feeding frenzy when I toss them their fish food. Then I think I'll drag him into the Clubhouse so he can see the Halloween decorations I have already put up. 

If we get the rain they are calling for, then we will stay inside, do what PT we can in here, and I may cook up a pot of my Anything Goes Soup. Whatever happens, you can bet your bippy Mr. Grinch is going to enjoy being out of zombie land, and back home where he belongs.

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A Most Frustrating Day

Thanks to the fact that one piece of needed information was not delivered to Apria in a timely manner it will be tomorrow before Larry gets to come.  Apria needed saturation levels on room air to prove that the oxygen they would be supplying was necessary.  Apparently the nursing facility kept sending Apria his levels while on oxygen.  Why this was needed considering they had doctors orders, and the fact he's on 5 liters 24/7 is totally beyond me.  I even pointed out to Apria that logic and reason dictates if a man is on 5 liters of oxygen 24/7 it is because he NEEDS it.  Apparently logic and reason play no part in matters when it comes to paperwork. 

The semi good news is they FINALLY got it right, sent Apria what they needed, and the equipment is going to be delivered sometime tonight. Unfortunately that is going to be too late for me to get him home because a. I can't drive at night, and b. I refuse to have him try to get up the steps in the middle of the night, and risk falling.  

Right now I am so mad I could chew nails and spit bullets. All this hassle could have been avoided had people communicated with each other better, and got Apria the information they needed to get the equipment here during daylight hours, and in time for me to go get him once it had arrived. Plus, I was told medicare and Humana won't pay for another day in the home because he has been dicharged.  I made it VERY clear to Cibolo Creek not to bother trying to bill us for another day since this was their screw up.  I have been on and off the phone all day trying to get this mess straightened out, in effect trying to do their job for them.  Which of course I really couldn't because I couldn't supply Apria with the information they needed because a nurse or doctor has to write it in black and white, then fax it to them.

Now, excuse me while I go have a quiet little nervous breakdown, then get over it in time to be ready to accept delivery of the oxygen and other stuff. 

8:55pm Okay, now it is going to be in the morning before they deliver the bed, oxygen, and other stuff.  I called Larry and let him know.  He wasn't thrilled, but is actually taking it better than I am.  Though I have calmed down somewhat.  That is not to say I am happy with what has happened, just that I have calmed down. 

Tomorrow is another day though.  Hopefully a better one.  Tonight, I'm going to relax as best I can, and deal with tomorrow, tomorrow. 

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It keeps getting better

With Mr. Grinch scheduled to come home Thursday we thought it would be a good idea to come home for our weekend outings so we could reassure Matt, Sara, and Dr. Sorrel that he could manage the steps just fine.  He did great on getting up and down those steps!  Better in many ways than he has done for a long time.  The PT he has been doing is definitely helping him grow stronger. I intend to see to it that he stays as active as possible, and continues with the PT once he gets home for good. I'm not about to let him fall back on old bad habits, and wind up back in the hospital or nursing home because of that. 

Yes, the chemo he is going to have to undergo is going to knock him back. However, until the chemo starts, he is going to continue doing as much as he can so that he is as strong as possible when those chemicals once more start dripping into his bloodstream. And even during chemo, the days that he does feel okay, I'm going to be encouraging him to keep up with any of the PT and activity that he can. Including lots of slow walking. Because breathing correctly is so important because of the COPD, I am going to be rather relentless once he is at home concerning the breathing exercises as well.

With fall now here, one of the things on my To Do list is to take a little trip to Lost Maples State Park to see the turning of the leaves. Even if he can't actually go hiking, there are still lots of places we can park, and even some places he can do a little walking that will give him some good views of the beauty of Lost Maples, as well as a little exercise.  Knowing Mr. Grinch as I do, he will no doubt act as if he doesn't appreciate the beauty, and gripe like hell about the exercise. But that's okay because he's going, and doing a little walking anyway. 

Speaking of walking, after I had to return him to the nursing facility this afternoon I decided to head over to Joshua Springs Park & Preserve and do a little walking myself.  It was a glorious sunny fall afternoon.  Every fishing pier had couples or families fishing from it, the playground was buzzing with kids enjoying the warm afternoon.  It was truly wonderful to see families with children taking advantage of this glorious afternoon.

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Things Are Looking Up!

Today we got some really great news.  Next Thursday Mr. Grinch gets to come home!  A week from today is his last PT treatment, and Thursday he is discharged.  We are both very excited by this news.  It's been a long couple of months for us, and yes, we still have a tough rode ahead of us.  But, at least he will be here at home where he feels more comfortable and happy. Had they not told us today it was set for him to go home Thursday, we were going to take an afternoon weekday outing, come home, and let him walk up the steps into the RV that is our Home Sweet Home, then up 3 more steps into the bathroom.  That way if we had to, we could could assure them he could manage those steps. I would have taken photos of him at the top of those steps with the iPhone had it been necessary to get him home.  Thank goodness we didn't have to resort to that. 

The gears are grinding, wheels are turning, hopefully everything is going to go smoothly, and the things he has to have through Home Health will be delivered on time.  They won't spring for a wheelchair and a Rollator walker with a seat.  We get one or the other through them, so I told Margie, "Go for the Rollater with a nice seat. I'll get the wheelchair from Walmart. We'll use the chair when we have to.  But, once he's in my tender clutches, he's going to get his ass out of that chair, and start walking more."  She nodded and replied, "Good girl! All you really need then is the smaller transport one for chemo treatments and doctor visits."

We will probably come home on our weekend outings so he can go ahead and start getting used to getting up and down the steps into his man cave. And even enjoy a little time in there relaxing this weekend.  Then next Thursday, he can walk up those steps, and know he is home to stay. 

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Strong And Fragile

I did not realize until very recently that I could feel both strong, and fragile at the same time. That's what taking this journey with my honey is teaching me though. For the most part, I do feel strong and able to tackle anything. But, there are times that even as I'm in the midst of feeling that, I will suddenly be overwhelmed with it all, and feel as if taking even one more tiny little whack, will shatter me like glass. When those moments strike, I withdraw completely, don't answer the phone, don't do anything but close my eyes, take very deep breaths, think about all I've already endured in my life, and remind myself if I can endure all that, one more whack, big or small isn't going to shatter me.  Once I have done that, then I am ready to rejoin the world, and take whatever whacks life deals out to me, to us, as I continue to make this roller coaster cancer journey with my husband. 

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But, That's Okay

I was too tired last night to make a journal entry. But, that's okay. I went to bed early and got a good night's sleep, so even with the very busy day I had today I'm not totally exhausted. My day started with coffee in the Clubhouse, a quick trip to Comfort to drop off a water sample, then off to the bank. After I finished the bank run, I headed to Pizza Hut and treated my self to a nice sit down in the restaurant buffet. After lunch, I visited with Mr. Grinch for a couple of hours, then came back home.

I didn't rest on my laurels, or my butt for that matter when I got home. I gave the inside of SweetPea another thorough cleaning, including steaming all the carpets in her. Even with the new cabin air filter, on really hot days, she still has a little musty wet dog bad breath so to speak, when I first fire her up. After a few seconds the odor vanishes completely. But, that's okay, eventually that odor will finally get worked out. Right now, it is mostly in the vents. And, because SweetPea's previous owners had at least one dog, I am still vacuuming up dog hair every time I clean her. But, that's okay, in time, I will finally get all the dog hair out. The important thing is SweetPea is everything I need and want in a nice set of wheels for me.

As you may have noticed, "But, that's okay" has become a way of life for me recently. Things that would have driven me nuts in the past, are okay now. That is partly because I am too often overwhelmed and exhausted from all the bigger problems, to get bent out of shape over the small stuff. And partly because I know that most of the smaller things will work themselves out.

What is really important is that this afternoon as I was taking a break while cleaning SweetPea, Dr. Beeram's office called to inform me they had received the authorization for his chemo treatments. This is wonderful news for us because it means as soon as he is deemed in good enough shape to come home, he can begin the chemo treatments that will help him battle the cancer.

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The Reality of Love

We all have fantasies concerning love.  And that's fine, as long as we remember that when push comes to shove, it is the realities of love that truly matter. It's when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and true love can really be seen, and felt.  It's easy to love someone who is beautiful, or handsome, and super sexy.  But, no matter how beautiful or handsome, and super sexy a person is when they are young, sooner or later, age catches up with us all.  So beware of those who love you for your looks.  Or of loving someone for their looks.  If looks are what is loved, what will happen when ages fades those looks? What will happen if an accident takes those looks?  Or sickness plays havoc with the face and figure that is loved? 

It's also easy to love someone when everything is going great.  It's when you can love them when things are at their worst, you know the love is real. And oh yeah, man Larry and I have had more than a couple of those worst times. Been through some hard times that tested us to the max.  Had to eat quail we trapped for a few weeks one year when he couldn't find work anywhere. I cleaned other people's houses during that time to help make sure us and the horses were fed. We made it through those times because we did love each other. 

Our marriage has never been perfect.  We have fought furiously at times.  Even separated for a brief time. And yeah, sometimes, because of things he has done, my love for him grew cold as ice. Like a lot of people, he sometimes didn't have enough sense to know a good thing when he had it. Wanted his cake, and to eat it. That cost him dearly because this little cupcake gets real damn hard nose about that kind of crap. 

Now we are once more facing very difficult times. We are starting a journey that is going to have some very very rough spots along it.  It doesn't matter to me the first chemo treatment made his hair fall out so bad he chose to shave his head so he could eat without hair falling into his food. Real love doesn't care about hair.  What matters is he wants to live.  He wants to enjoy life again. So despite his moaning I'm trying to killing him, I am going to be there every step of the way, helping him achieve his goals. Which is why he rolled himself around that little circle in the courtyard again today. 

In order to come home to live, he knows he must do the all he can to get his body in the best shape possible for the chemo treatments that are ahead of him.  Since the doctor wants a regime of one a week for three weeks, then a week off, for we don't know how long, it's a damn good thing I'm getting sort of fond of kissing and rubbing the top of his bald dome because he's going to be that way for awhile. Which is fine with me.  What I'm concerned with right is getting him as healthy and happy as possible for the battle ahead of us. 

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Round And Round

Round And Round

Mr. Grinch was in very good spirits today.  As we were sitting out in the courtyard I noticed he was sitting there with that evil little smile of his plastered on his face. I furrowed my brows, studied him for a moment, and asked, "WTF are you up to?"  He tried to look innocent, and replied, "Nothing, I was watching that white butterfly."  I could feel my eyebrows raise in disbelief, and said, "Bullshit.  That was so NOT a butterfly watching look you were wearing.  Not unless you had obscene thoughts concerning the butterfly.  And I don't think you have sunk that low, yet." He never did tell me what he was really thinking.  Which all things considered, is just as well knowing him. 

To take his mind off whatever obviously obscene thoughts he was having, I told him we were going to go around the circle at the end of the courtyard, and he could wheel himself around it for a little additional exercise. I pushed him up the path to the start of the circle, let go of the wheelchair, then told him, "Work it baby, work it." As he worked it he moaned, "You are trying to kill me!"  I just rolled my eyes and replied, "No silly. If I were really trying to do that, I would have rolled you to the edge of a cliff by now, given you a good shove, then told the police I have NO clue why or how you rolled yourself over that cliff. Now stop wasting oxygen moaning about me trying to kill you, and work it."

That little circle in the at the end of the courtyard is about to become his training track. We are working on getting him a wheeled walker with a seat. I called his social worker today to request one, and she said she would talk to Matt and get him to okay it.  Once Matt gives the okay, we will use one of the ones they have at the nursing and rehab center. å When he gets discharged, Anna will see to we are provided with one via Home Health Care. The walker will be much easier for me load and unload on our outings. When we are out in the courtyard, he can walk that little circle for some added exercise. He may have to sit down and rest at least once the first time or two we walk the circle  But, in time, he will be able to complete a full circle, and stroll back to our patio table without resting. 

That little circle at the end of the courtyard isn't his only training track though. There are other nice sidewalks and patios all around the nursing and rehab center. We are also going to start utilizing those. River Road Park has a totally awesome sidewalk we can enjoy on our outings.  In fact, we can also enjoy parts of the beautiful Heart Of Boerne trail as well.  That's right, once we get him that rolling walker with the seat on it, Mr. Grinch is about to start utilizing and enjoying sidewalks. When he gets tired, he can sit on the seat and I can push him along until he catches his breath, then he can walk a little more. 

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So Many Blessings

Mabon evening I spent some time counting my many blessings. Letting those bright blessings balance out the dark moments we've had the past couple of months. The first and best blessing of course is that Mr. Grinch is still in the land of the living, and continuing to improve and grow a little stronger each and every day.  That I have so many wonderful friends who are sending thoughts, prayers, and other good vibes our way is another very bright blessing.  Finding and being able to afford SweetPea when I needed her the most is another very bright blessing. Relearning to drive in her has done wonders for my self confidence. And granted me a sense of freedom and independence that represents another bright blessing. Being able to get the little oxygen machine that is now allowing Mr. Grinch freedom to go for outings like today, without relying on oxygen bottles, is yet another bright blessings. Plugging it into the cigarette lighter in SweetPea kept it fully charged the whole time we were out for our drive.  Those outings we can take are yet another blessing. They will keep his spirits up while he is in rehab in CCN&R, and when gets home as well. 

Yes, we have had some very dark moments  this past couple of months.  There are more dark moments to come.  But, no matter how dark those moments get, I will look for and appreciate the bright blessings I know will also come our way.  There are always those, no matter how dark it gets at times.  The trick is to make sure one sees those bright blessings. Sometimes they are tiny things.  Like the seeing the beauty of a butterfly, and allowing that beauty and grace to take you out of that darkness for a few seconds. So that you can see the bigger and brighter blessings as well. 

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His Indomitable Cupcake

Friday was a very good, if somewhat waterlogged day.  But I'm not complaining about the being waterlogged part! We need the rain too badly to complain about that. Though it did prevent me from going over and seeing my honey, not wanting to get out in it encouraged me to scrounge through the freezer, fridge, and pantry to come up with something to take to the TGIF Potluck Supper. I found enough ingredients to make a big pot of my Anything Goes Ground Beef Soup, which was a big hit at the potluck.  In fact, I was lucky to get a bowl of it to bring home for lunch.  Good thing I got my honey a bowl of it to take to him today, before I took that big pot of it to the potluck last night. 

This morning I woke up to nice cool Fall weather.  I even turned the little electric fireplace on for a few minutes to chase the moisture out of the air in here. Right now I'm still being a bit lazy and sipping my second cup of tea before I get my bubble butt in gear and really start the day.  And of course wishing my man was here to share this moment with me.  But, we did talk on the phone this morning, and I will be going over to see him in a little while. My words for today stem from the fact I have had to become so strong these past couple of months to be able to deal with what we are going through. I am going to do my best not allow the cancer, COPD, or anything bad to dominate our lives to the point it takes all joy out of it. 

Yes there will be moments, especially when he starts the chemo, when it is really going to be tough to do. I've done really tough stuff before though. I will stay as strong as possible through this. Because when you get right down to it, what we are going through is all about the realities of love.  This ain't no game here, or fantasy.  This is a real deal, time to put aside all differences, let go of the past, and live each moment we have left unconditionally loving each other time of life. And hope that time lasts longer than anyone could have possibly dreamed it would. 

My words for today also remind me in order to do that, I have to be a tough little cupcake. Sometimes I will have to get tough with him to keep him on the right track.  Sometimes I will have to get tough with others to make sure he gets the very best care possible. And sometimes I'll have to get tough with myself to keep on keeping on.  Fortunately, I tend to have an indomitable spirit by nature, and a past that has prepared me for what is ahead. And, we have the greatest bunch of real friends around us anyone could have, who will help us both to stay strong and make it through this. 

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Learning To Breathe

Being told at first he was about to be sent home with Hospice care to die has made some major changes in Mr. Grinch's attitude.  He's still Mr. Grinch, but at least now he understands that if he wants to live, he has to get off his butt and work for it.  He still gripes and moans about the rehab exercises to me, but he does each and every one of those exercises, and sometimes a little more. He also uses the little thumb clamp meter he had me get to monitor himself with. He knows keeping his oxygen saturation level in the 90's makes his nurses, doctors, and most importantly, Matt, happy. 

He monitored himself as we sat out on the courtyard to make sure the little portable oxygen machine we had just bought was keeping him at the levels he should be at. Unlike the continuous forced flow that he has been getting, the little portable machine only sends out a puff oxygen when he inhales through his nose.  Which isn't a bad thing because breathing through your nose slows the air flow down, and allows better use of the air and oxygen. As long as he inhales through his nose like he should, he had no problem keeping his oxygen saturation levels in the 90's, even when he dialed the machine down to a 4. 

I've already figured out that coping with COPD is partly about learning to breath as efficiently as possible.  I think in the future when we are sitting out in the courtyard I'm going to encourage him to do a few slow deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing exercises like that are excellent for not only keeping his diaphragm in shape, but also to help him relax. As he relaxes, his airways can open up even further. If I can get him to fully understand how good for his oxygen saturation levels they are, he will do the exercises so often they will become a good habit.  I know this for a fact because I have been using them for years when I meditate as a means of relaxing, when I am out hiking to help me keep going.  And sometimes, closing my eyes and taking several of those slow deep breaths, while thinking, "Peace and Serenity In" while I am inhaling through my nose, and thinking, "Stress and Negativity Out." while I am exhaling through my mouth, is what keeps me from snapping. 

I remember one day I had gone down to his room to drop off something I had brought, then walked back to the gym.  His room is at one end of the long long hall, and the gym is at the other.  I had boogied back down the hall at a pretty good clip, and when I got back in the gym Larry put the thumb clamp meter on my finger.  My heart rate was 77, and my oxygen level was 99. Even his PT guy raised an eyebrow and mumbled something about my levels were better than his.  I just grinned and said, "I take a LOT of really slow deep breaths to keep from throttling him.  Keeps my lungs in good shape." 

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A Priceless Look

The visit to Dr. Beeram went very well.  I loved the looked of amazement on his face when he saw how much better Larry looks.  I was wrong about them doing chemo during his rehab time in Cibolo Creek Nursing & Rehab.  He says he wants him out of rehab because his treatment schedule is going to be 1 treatment a week for 3 weeks, then a week off.  I was a little disappointed to hear the chemo would wait.  But, I do understand his reasoning since he is going for aggressive chemo treatment when he starts the treatments.  Knowing they are going to get that aggressive is very reassuring.  Most of the chemo will be done in Boerne, by his assistant, but he wants him over at his office in San Antonio at least once a month to monitor his progress himself. 

In the meantime, it's more, "Work it baby!  Work i!" for Larry so that he can get in the shape he needs to be to get out of rehab, and into chemo. The good news on that is he continues to improve every day in his rehab sessions. Except for when they really stress him, his oxygen saturation levels have been staying in the mid to high 90's, and that is with them decreasing the oxygen flow level to a 4 at times.  Yes!  The workouts and oxygen therapy are helping.  We told him about how they were working him out, and that was Matt who will decide when he is through with rehab.  I said, "Heck, they had him in the gym this morning working him out when I got there. And Matt mentioned when he got back, they would do some more."  Dr. Beeram smiled and said, "I have never met Matt, but tell him I said I already like him." I made sure I told Matt that when got back, and told him to keep up the good work.

I grabbed a little me time, and some quiche for lunch from Bear Moon Bakery while Larry had his lunch, and some more rehab.  After lunch I stopped on the way back to see him again, and fed the ducks along River Road Park. Even after I ran out of food, one duck came over and settled down by the bench I was sitting on as if to keep me company while I relaxed a little more. As I left I thanked him for his company, and gave me a duck nod in return.  Larry was on the arm bike when I got back from lunch, and doing very well.  His OT gal was very pleased with how well he did, even after that trip to San Antonio this morning.  

I'm also glad to report his new portable oxygen machine was here when I got home. It and the extra battery are charging up as I type these words.  And none to soon for me.  Although the staff is great at Cibolo Creek, they sometimes forget that right now, even just sitting, 4 is the lowest he is suppose to go, so those tanks don't last that long.  They were going to send him over with just one tank, but I was adamant that he have 2.  Good thing I was pushy about that because sure enough, we had to switch him to that 2nd tank just before we left the doctor's office.  Thank goodness in the future we will not have to rely on those tanks when we go somewhere. With ac/dc chargers, and the extra battery, he will have plenty of oxygen wherever we go. 

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Hand In Hand

I found myself watching other couples at Market Days, and wondering if Mr. Grinch and I would ever walk hand in hand again?  And realizing even if that doesn't happen, there are so many things we can still do. I see other older couples, one is sometimes on a cane, or walker, yet they are ambulating about and obviously enjoying their time together while doing so.  I also see some of our wounded warriors, some are permanently wheelchair bound, and beside them, or sometimes pushing them, are their wives, and even family. What matters isn't how one gets about, what matters is that one gets about. 

The doctor has written the prescription, it has been faxed, and the machine has been shipped.  As soon his portable oxygen machine gets here, I am going to see to it that this time, like it or not, he is going to get out and about more.  Part of the reason he is in such bad shape is because he stubbornly refused to walk more, and do the things he could have. I've reading up on cancer, and COPD. In the case of COPD, even if a person does need oxygen therapy, it doesn't mean the person can't do anything. In fact, the extra oxygen will enable them to do more. When combined with physical therapy, and other treatments, a person can improve. He will need to rest at times to catch his breath, but he can still get out and about and enjoy life.

He's had his wake up call though, and realizes he has to change his way of thinking.  If he forgets that wake up call, I'm going to Gibb's smack him up the back of his bald head to remind him of it.  It's not like I haven't done that to him before when he needed it. And those who know me well, know I'll do it, if that is what it takes to remind him. One or two of you reading this have been smacked by me like that when you needed it ;) 

And by the way, touch is very important when interacting with someone who has cancer. I've been told that far too often others are reluctant to reach out and touch someone who has cancer. It is not a contagious disease though, and more than ever before, those battling this dreaded disease need a tender touch.  Or in Mr. Grinch's case, lots of tender touches, and an occasional smack up the back of the head to keep him on track. When not resisting the urge to smack him upside his stubborn head, I am running a gentle hand up and down his back.  Sometimes gently dancing the tips of my nails up and down his spine. Letting the energy flow through my fingertips as I do.  We also hold hands, and lean against each other a lot. 

We are engaged in a most deadly battle here.  Every breath that he takes, every step that he walks, every exercise he does, a minor victory.  Each little victory geared towards building him up for the next chemo treatment. A treatment that will temporarily rob him of the strength he's gained, and his appetite. It will make him sick, weak, and at times wondering if the cure is worse than the disease?  But, if he responds as favorably to that treatment as he did the first, then the cancer will continue to be controlled. 

It will at times be a journey of two steps forward, one step back.  Sometimes even one step forward, two steps back.  But as long as he wants to continue, then we do this dance of life.  I will do my very best to help insure this dance of life is filled with as much joy and sunshine as I can. And be there hand in hand with him in those darkest moments.

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Make It Happen

We went out on the courtyard today again. And while enjoying the fresh air and hummingbirds, discussed getting a portable oxygen concentrator for him.  We want one that is ac/dc so that we can charge it from an electrical outlet, or a cigarette lighter in a vehicle. With an extra battery, the machine can operate for 5 hours once fully charged. This would allow me to take him on outings.  It would also mean he would not have to rely on oxygen bottles when going to and from PT, the shower, or anywhere else. 

When we went back inside we called a company he had found online, and discussed our situation with the salesman.  Unfortunately Medicare and insurance companies consider these a "luxury" item, and won't cover the cost of portables like we want. No matter though, we will pay the cost.  We have everything set up for it to be shipped, except a doctor's prescription.  Hopefully when Dr. Sorrel comes tomorrow he will write the prescription. I see no reason why he wouldn't write it since we are paying for it, yet, in the long run, it will be more cost effective, allow Larry more freedom, and thus improve his spirits even more. 

Larry is going to ask Maria tomorrow to get Dr.Sorrel to sign the prescription, and if necessary, I will call in the morning as well. So far, they've only seen the bright and bubbly side of me. But I will do whatever it takes to get that prescription written so Larry can have more freedom and independence. I know how confined and frustrated he feels right now. And just think, on our outings, I'll be doing the driving, and he can be the one clutching the door handle.  Isn't Karma a beautiful thing ;) 

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Live The Moment

I knew even before I headed into town this morning he was feeling better when I was on the phone with him and asked how he was feeling, his reply was, "Well I'm horny as hell because I've just been sitting here thinking about my little cupcake." To which I jokingly replied, "Well, that keeps up, we'll have to raise your blood pressure medicine again." His reply was, "Rut Oh!" 

After talking to him I headed into Boerne to enjoy Market Days.  The Boerne Wine Company graciously allowed me to park there while I enjoyed this morning, and I am so thankful for their kindness.  I loved strolling through the vendor lanes looking at all the colorful displays.  I took the Nikon with me today, and snapped a few photographs of some of the most colorful displays. Then grabbed a couple of gorditas and one nice pepper from our favorite food vendor there, then headed to Cibolo Creek Nursing & Rehab to have lunch with my honey.  

He was in PT when I arrived, so I went to the room and laid out our lunch while I waited for him to get through with his work out.  As he and his PT guy for today entered the room I heard the PT guy inhale, then say, "Wow! It smells good!"  That aroma, and pepper sparked Mr. Grinch's appetite nicely, and he ate every bite of that gordita.  He took several bites of the pepper, then sat the rest away for later. 

After lunch I headed back to town and treated myself to one half glass of wine on the patio of The Boerne Wine Company.  After my glass of wine I headed back to River Road, and the Texas Treasures Fine Arts Sculpture Garden again to take some more photos with the Nikon. That has become one of the places I love to visit whenever I have a few minutes.  The sculptures are simply amazing, and there is such a aura of peace there. Since River Road Park is right across the road, I made like a chicken, or in this case a duck, and crossed the road.  I spent a few more minutes snapping photos, and just enjoying the tranquil beauty of that little park. 

I came home and rested for a little while, then headed back to spend some more time with Mr. Grinch.  We went out on the courtyard again today, and both of us enjoyed watching a couple of hummingbirds that were zooming around as they sipped  sweet nectar from some of the flowers in bloom in the garden around the courtyard.  Mr. Grinch even opted for sitting in the sunshine for a little while, and didn't even smoke, much less sizzle and explode. 

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Moment By Moment

Between coffee at the clubhouse, getting my hair done, visiting Mr. Grinch, and then later finding the air filtration filter on SweetPea, yesterday was a very busy day. By the time it was over, I was too tired to do a journal entry.  This morning I had a little morning me time to start this day, sipping my tea as I relaxed in bed for a little bit before I got up and really started this day.  My words for today stem from the fact that those of us taking the cancer journey soon realize that is the only way to live.  This journey is such a desperate roller coaster ride, one cannot even really live it day by day.  We just have take each day that comes, moment by moment.  Making the very best of all the good moments, and doing whatever it takes to survive the bad moments.

Yesterday wasn't a bad day, just a little tiring.  Mr. Grinch was actually in very good spirits, and in PT when I went to see him today. Yes, the blood clot is now under control enough the doctor said PT would be okay, just no jogging. Yeah right, like Mr. Grinch ever jogged anyway. It was good though to see them working with him and getting him back into better shape.  We both understand the battle ahead of us is going to be a very tough one, and he needs to be in as good a shape as possible for it.  We went outside on the back sidewalk and patio outside the dining room for a little while yesterday.  After we got back in one of the nurses showed me a beautiful courtyard area that we went out on today. I got me a Coca Cola, and him Dr. Pepper from the vending machine in the employees break room, and we enjoyed those as we sat outside in the fresh air.  

Speaking of fresh air, a rather musty moldy smell coming out of the a/c for a few seconds when I first fired up SweetPea is what caused me to resort to the owner's manual yesterday evening so I could find out about something called an air filtration filter. Learning to do as much as I can for myself is very important to me right now, and I wanted to get to the filter off by myself if at all possible.  After reading the owners manual I discovered if SweetPea had one of those, I would have to remove the glovebox to get to it.  So, with screwdriver in hand, and owners manual open, I began the task of removing the glovebox.  

I got the glovebox off by myself, but still couldn't figure out quite where and what the filter was.  Subaru needs to make that part of the owner's manual a little less confusing.  I called my friend Brian for help, and he found it within moments after he got here.  He was even dutifully impressed I had gotten the glovebox off by myself.  That filter was NASTY.  According to the owner's manual it is supposed to be changed once a year.  From the looks of it, I don't think it had been changed since it was factory installed.  He is going to contact his buddy that works as a Subaru tech, and get me a new filter. For the next couple of days I will run without any filter until I get a new one, and let all that musty odor work out of the vents.  Once all that odor is gone, especially after the new filter is installed, I won't have to roll the windows down and hold my breath for the first few seconds when I fire little SweetPea up. 

I had a great bit of news earlier this evening when his nurse, Maria, called to let me know they are lowering his blood pressure medication.  I know he is currently on so many other medications, and fighting so hard to get better, it is great to know they think he's doing well enough to at least lower that medication.  Any little bit of headway right now is a bright blessing to me.  

I talked to him a little later on the phone and KNOW he is getting better since he bitched about the cucumbers they put in his salad, he feels the same way about cucumbers as he does carrots.  Then he bitched he got ice cream instead of pineapple chunks.  But refused my offer to bring him a couple of little cans of pineapple pieces tomorrow.  The more he bitched, the more I laughed.  Finally he bitched because I was laughing.  To which I replied, "I'm laughing because I know you are getting better!  You old grouch."  Then he bitched because I called him an old grouch, and said, "Bullshit.  I am not." Which just made me laugh harder.  As I have said before, there is a reason his nickname is Mr. Grinch ;) 

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Tired Is Okay

I have noticed that for the past few weeks tired, has become a way of life. I'm a little restless when it comes to sleeping, am waking earlier than normal, and finding myself unable to go back to sleep.  Top that off with stress I am under, and it's no wonder that by 10pm, I'm ready for bed. 

Today was a little more tiring than some.  Mr. Grinch was a little down, and very grumpy.  I rubbed his back, leg and foot, and consoled him for awhile.  He was steadily getting more grumpy though, and I could see down, so I laid a little tough love on him, and remarked I was going home if he didn't stop being so damn grumpy.  After a few minutes he started coming around, and by the time I left was smiling, joking, and in fairly good spirits again. 

When I got home I discovered the battery charger for the Club Car is going out.  Not an expense we need right now, but a necessary item for me right now.  I have filed that in the, "Shit Happens" folder, and resigned myself to ordering a charger from Amazon.  

Right now I am kicked back in my reclining chair, inhaling the sweet scent of an orange buttercream cupcakes scented wax cube.  I could be burning candles since Larry hasn't made it home yet.  But, I already had bought the candle wax warmer and scented cubes, so have been using them. 

I know there will be days that keeping his spirits won't be easy, but I also know I have to do my best to keep them up because that is very important in this battle we are fighting.  Tomorrow I hope to take him outside for a little while. Whether he wants it or not, he needs a little sunshine in his life.  He has opted for a black cap instead of sunscreen to keep his dome from burning when we go for our little forays out into the sunshine. 

I did take the time to read a couple of articles remembering 9/11 a friend had shared on Facebook.  Both are very profound and moving pieces about that terrible day. I remember the images that were in those articles.  I remember seeing them online and on the television.  I remember the tears flowing as I saw those terrible images. 

I remember watching the towers going down on the news, as my son called me and told me to brace myself, he would be going overseas within 14 days.  I remember the grief in his voice as we spoke about what had happened that morning, and what was still happening. I remember him saying he was one of the first to step forward when they asked, "Who wants to volunteer to go?" I remember being so very proud of him that moment.  And so very terrified for him as well.  

Terror, grief, and pride went hand in hand that day.  Terror for those in the planes, buildings, and on the ground.  Grief, oh my heavens, so much grief that day, and in the days, weeks, months, and years following it. And pride, a fierce wonderful pride as we watched American people throwing aside their differences, and reaching out to others to comfort them, and in so doing, rising above that act of terror and showing those that were responsible for it that We The People, would not be held hostage to acts of terror such as that. 

As I sit here remembering all this I realize that's one reason Mr. Grinch, myself and others have been down today.  Whether they thought much about it or not, with so many other people remembering, the energy surrounding us all today was on the downside. 

Tomorrow though is another day.  A busy one for me with coffee in the clubhouse in the morning. So I'm about to head to bed, and hope for good dreams. 

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Bald is Beautiful!

Listening to the sound of falling rain and a little thunder as I lounge in bed and sip my tea. And oh my goodness the sound of that falling rain is simply beautiful!  We are getting a good shower here!  Perhaps we will wind up with the frog strangling gully washer I wished for yesterday.  Wouldn't that be great?  Thinking of that old song about Rainy Days and Mondays, and realizing rainy days will never bring me down again because any memories or thoughts that once made them downers, have been replaced with that precious moment Sunday when Larry and I sat watching the rain through the window of his room.  A moment some might well think was a real downer, but actually wasn't because in that moment, all we thought about as we held hands and watched it, was how damn good that rain looked. 

I'm getting up earlier than I used to, not really because I have to, but because I wake up and can't get back to sleep.  I'm learning to enjoy this early morning tea sipping time. It's the start of a new day, a time when I can reflect briefly on all the yesterdays, and try to plan the today and tomorrows.  

Our current today and tomorrows are sure as heck not what I envisioned before we discovered Larry has cancer.  But, that doesn't mean there can't still be some good times.  Making sure as many of our moments are as happy as possible is what it's all about for me right now.  I've always said life is what you make it.  I'm discovering my words are even more true than ever right now.  I can handle what is happening in two ways.  I can weep, rail against fate, whine about how terrible this is, and generally make a bad situation even worse by doing all that.  Or, I can live my own words, enjoy and gather every bit of fun and laughter I can, accept what cannot be changed, fight for what can be changed, and insure that whatever time is left to us is as good as it can be.

Making sure I surround myself with as much positive energy as possible is very important to me right now.  Sometimes that will mean ruthlessly ridding myself of anything and anyone that brings too much negativity to my life. Oddly enough, I now realize that is something we should all do no matter what our circumstances.  Life, no matter what, is still too damn short.  It shouldn't be squandered trying to deal with the self imposed negativity of others. 

Just spoke to Angel, the hairdresser that comes to the nursing home on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  She is going to clip Larry's hair down as short as she can with clippers today.  She is not allowed to use razors of any kind, and right now that's good because with the blood thinners he is on to help dissolve the clot, that's best.  This will help with the falling hair problem though so he can eat without it falling into his food. She is most surely a TRUE Angel to do what she does. 


Visited with Mr. Grinch for awhile today, and wound up driving in the rain, something that still makes me uneasy.  But, felt much more comfortable in SweetPea than I would have in the truck.  Even braved the rain again, and drove to Beals to get him a couple more pair of work out pants and some more t-shirts since it looks like he will not be escaping from what he calls Zombieland any time soon. The good news is the nurses and doctors are really on top of things now and have Mr. Grinch on the medication he needs to make sure the blood clot is dissolved and no more form.  Dr. Sorrel said unfortunately the blood clots were not uncommon in cancer patients, and with Larry's foot and leg being so badly injured in the past, he was doubly prone to that.  

He told me Larry would probably be on the medication to control clotting for about 6 months.  I nodded, smiled and said, "Okay."  He looked at me a little odd.  I think expecting me to take the news worse.  What he didn't realize is when he said 6 months on that medication, it was music to my ears considering a few week ago nobody expected Larry to be around that long! The fact that the doctor said that in a tone of voice that clearly stated he didn't see him not being around that long, made it hard for me not to break into a happy dance! 

Later, I opened the blinds a little in his room, and we were sitting on the edge of his bed looking out the window.  Well I was looking out the window, and Mr. Grinch was holding one arm over his face mumbling, "I'm going to explode."  I told him knock it off, he wasn't going to explode.  Especially, since it was so darn overcast outside.  Once we got that settled, and were quietly sitting on the edge of the bed, I reached up, rubbed his bald head and said, "But, we are going to have to spray this dome down with sunscreen when the weather clears up, and we can take you outside in the sunshine.  And don't even start that crap about exploding again."  Then I kissed the top of his bald head, and grinned.  Lucky for him, I have some spray on sunscreen I can take to him next time I go see him.  

I am viewing the blood clot not as a set back, but rather as merely a bump on the road that we are now safely over.  Or as safely as anything gets for us right now.  When battling cancer, the cancer itself isn't the only enemy.  There are many enemies that are lurking in the shadows waiting to take a shot at the already weakened body of the cancer victim. But I am doing my best to help the doctors and nurses spot any of the enemies early on, and dispatch them ASAP.  

Mr. Grinch has a followup appointment the 18th in San Antonio with his cancer doctor, and it is my intention that he be in as good a shape as possible when we go in for that.  Maria, one of the wonderful nurses at Cibolo Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation, has arranged for us to be taken over to the doctors office, so I don't even have to worry about how to get him to that appointment. I want that doctor's jaw to drop in amazement at how much better Larry is when he sees him.  

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We Will Fight!

We Will Fight

Those words stem from the fact that Larry's leg and foot have been badly swollen the last few days, so on top of everything else, we are dealing with wondering what is causing that.  My biggest worries there are an infection, or blood clot.  The doctor told us when he released Larry after that foot and leg were injured that it was possible it could become infected again, or develop other problems.  Fortunately we have FINALLY gotten the nurse's attention and now hopefully the doctors.  We need to find out what is causing that before he moves around a lot doing anymore PT. 

For a little while I felt old Grimsy once more trying to inch closer.  And felt as if Larry was going to wind up battling an infection or blood clot.  But, I'm slightly more cheerful now, and feel a pissed off Grimsy farther in the background now.  Oh yeah, I feel you my old friend.  But, Grimsy, you kissed me thrice one dark rainy night long ago. But I escaped, and made it back from across the veil all three times. You WILL NOT take my man without one hell of a battle from us both! I know you well, fear you not.  I wept a river of tears one day after they told me of your imminent arrival.  Then Mr. Grinch heard the "Hospice" word, and made it clear he was not yet ready for your cold embrace.  Against the odds, he began to steadily improve, until even the doctors were raising eyebrows every time they saw him.  And he still continues to do so despite what would have been set backs for a less determined man. So take that old scythe of yours and wield it elsewhere for now.  As with all of us, one day, or night, your time will come.  But not right now for Mr. Grinch.  I suggest you take a holiday on this one for now. 

I saw when I visited him, that despite the swelling, he is still improving. So much so he is getting back to his usual grumpy self.  The grumpy self that got him that Mr. Grinch nickname.  He wants out of what he calls Zombieland.  I understand that, and keep assuring him we are going to get him out of there as quickly as we safely can. I told him if nothing else, when the swelling in his foot and leg are under control, I'm taking him outside for a little while.  His eyes widened and he got a horrified look on his face as he asked, "In the sun?"  I replied, "Yes, In the sun.  You are NOT vampire.  You will NOT explode in sunlight.  It might even make you less grumpy."  I saw the expression on his face and quickly added. "Okay, pigs might fly first on that last one." 

Right now, I am listening to the sound of a little rain on the RV roof. I personally hope we get a frog strangling gully washer.  I know the grass, trees, plants, rivers, creeks and lakes are with me on that forlorn hope.  Mother Nature has not blessed with the rain we need here.  We are once more under burn bans.  But at least it isn't quite as bad as it was that year the fire swept through here.  

I think for a long time to come, whenever it rains I'm going to think of Mr. Grinch and I sitting on the edge of his bed yesterday watching the rain through the window in his room.  I was so glad I managed to time it so perfectly, and got back in time for us to do that. 

Oh what a roller coaster ride this is!  Just got off the phone with Mr. Grinch. It is a clot causing the swelling in his leg.  So very glad we insisted on them finding out what was causing that before they did anymore PT that could have caused it to move!  The doctors and nurses are now working on getting the clot dissolved.  Once that is accomplished, he can go back to doing the PT he needs to. 

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We Will Fight!

We Will Fight

Those words stem from the fact that Larry's leg and foot have been badly swollen the last few days, so on top of everything else, we are dealing with wondering what is causing that.  My biggest worries there are an infection, or blood clot.  The doctor told us when he released Larry after that foot and leg were injured that it was possible it could become infected again, or develop other problems.  Fortunately we have FINALLY gotten the nurse's attention and now hopefully the doctors.  We need to find out what is causing that before he moves around a lot doing anymore PT. 

For a little while I felt old Grimsy once more trying to inch closer.  And felt as if Larry was going to wind up battling an infection or blood clot.  But, I'm slightly more cheerful now, and feel a pissed off Grimsy farther in the background now.  Oh yeah, I feel you my old friend.  But, Grimsy, you kissed me thrice one dark rainy night long ago. But I escaped, and made it back from across the veil all three times. You WILL NOT take my man without one hell of a battle from us both! I know you well, fear you not.  I wept a river of tears one day after they told me of your imminent arrival.  Then Mr. Grinch heard the "Hospice" word, and made it clear he was not yet ready for your cold embrace.  Against the odds, he began to steadily improve, until even the doctors were raising eyebrows every time they saw him.  And he still continues to do so despite what would have been set backs for a less determined man. So take that old scythe of yours and wield it elsewhere for now.  As with all of us, one day, or night, your time will come.  But not right now for Mr. Grinch.  I suggest you take a holiday on this one for now. 

I saw when I visited him, that despite the swelling, he is still improving. So much so he is getting back to his usual grumpy self.  The grumpy self that got him that Mr. Grinch nickname.  He wants out of what he calls Zombieland.  I understand that, and keep assuring him we are going to get him out of there as quickly as we safely can. I told him if nothing else, when the swelling in his foot and leg are under control, I'm taking him outside for a little while.  His eyes widened and he got a horrified look on his face as he asked, "In the sun?"  I replied, "Yes, In the sun.  You are NOT vampire.  You will NOT explode in sunlight.  It might even make you less grumpy."  I saw the expression on his face and quickly added. "Okay, pigs might fly first on that last one." 

Right now, I am listening to the sound of a little rain on the RV roof. I personally hope we get a frog strangling gully washer.  I know the grass, trees, plants, rivers, creeks and lakes are with me on that forlorn hope.  Mother Nature has not blessed with the rain we need here.  We are once more under burn bans.  But at least it isn't quite as bad as it was that year the fire swept through here.  

I think for a long time to come, whenever it rains I'm going to think of Mr. Grinch and I sitting on the edge of his bed yesterday watching the rain through the window in his room.  I was so glad I managed to time it so perfectly, and got back in time for us to do that. 

Oh what a roller coaster ride this is!  Just got off the phone with Mr. Grinch. It is a clot causing the swelling in his leg.  So very glad we insisted on them finding out what was causing that before they did anymore PT that could have caused it to move!  The doctors and nurses are now working on getting the clot dissolved.  Once that is accomplished, he can go back to doing the PT he needs to. 

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Write Through It

I realize my words for today won't be applicable to all. But, I am a writer, and writing my way through bad stuff is a habit of mine.  Even though I am not published in any mainstream paper or hardback book, magazine, or even newspaper anymore, I do not hesitate to say, "I am a writer."  Especially when yesterday a friend paid me the finest compliment any writer could be paid when after reading, Be careful of falling hair, he said he could see how I feel through my words.  And called them amazing.  Thank you Carlos.  Your words meant a great deal to me.  More than you can realize.

I will say this, if you are taking the same journey I am right now, and you write, or paint, or draw, or create art in some other form, use the art you love to somehow help you through this.  The greatest art of all is often created during the most difficult times of an artist's life.  That's because true art comes from the heart.  True art expresses emotion, because it is created by emotion.  True art is a lot more than perfectly constructed sentences or correctly drawn lines.  


Today has been another good day.  Spent quite a bit of time with Larry, and squeezed in a little walk in at Cibolo Nature Center.  He is still doing good, although the swelling and heat in his left foot and lower leg troubles me.  I remember the doctor who saved his foot said it might never happen, but it could get infected again.  With the chemo and everything else he is going through, I decided to let his nurse know about that, and have her pass it onto the doctor.  We will need to watch carefully, and make sure there is no infection trying to reoccur.

I was very blessed during my walk.  I saw 3 deer, and managed to get photos of two of them.  I also got some nice shots of a butterfly.  Oh, and found another  little nature's loophole.  Got a nice shot of it as well. With the Nature Center so close to where he is, I am going to be visiting it several more times while he is there.  It is a lovely place to reconnect with nature, and simply relax.  Today's visit there was wonderful for me. 

After I finished my walk I went back to see Larry again.  I timed it just right, and was inside visiting with him when the rain started.  Oh we enjoyed opening the blinds and watching the rain as we sat on the edge of his bed together.  After the rain quit I decided I would try rubbing his leg and foot to see that would help the swelling any.  So, there I was on my knees rubbing his leg and foot when a male aid came into the room to see if he needed anything.  When my little blonde head popped up over the edge of the bed the male aid got a funny look on his face and grinned. I am no dummy, so quickly said, "I am rubbing his foot and leg to see if it will help the swelling!" 

Mr. Grinch, he is sitting there with this fake glazed look on his face going, "Yeah."  The aid just grinned and said, "Okay."  I heard him chuckling as he left.  Between the elastic shoelace thing and this, I don't know what the people there think of us. 

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Careful of falling hair

I went and visited with Larry again this afternoon.  He was in the shower when I arrived so I sat on the edge of his bed and waited for them to bring him back.  As I sat there, I looked down and saw a clump of his hair on the floor. I grabbed one of the napkins from the box of pop up napkins I got for him, and used it to gather all the hair up and put it in the trash.  I came close to losing it when I first saw that clump of hair on the floor.  Not because the hair itself is important, but because there is nothing like seeing a clump of hair like that on the floor to make the chemo thing so very REAL.  

Yes, I know, I sat with him some during part of that first chemo treatment.  Am trying to make plans for more of them.  But, I had sort of put the reality of it all in another compartment of my mind in order to hold myself together as I watched the chemicals dripping into him that first time. And as I talked to the nurses and doctors about more chemo treatments.  Even when I saw all the hair on his pillow and bed yesterday, I shoved it to that part of my mind. The best way I can describe it is that I am acknowledging and understanding everything perfectly, on an intellectual level.  But, I am shoving the emotional understanding away at first.  Giving myself time to come to terms with it on that emotional level.  I held myself together today, even as I reached down and gathered up the hair.  I knew I could not be in tears if he came back from the shower right then.

If there is any hair left by Tuesday, he wants to go to the hairdresser that comes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and have them go ahead and shave anything left completely off.  He says it is leaving a big mess for the nurses to have to clean up.  And I noticed even when he was eating his lunch today, he had to be careful to avoid getting falling hair into it.  That was another of those little moments I had to quietly take a deep breath not to break down.  

On the way home I stopped at the Texas Treasures Fine Art Sculpture Garden.  I have been wanting to do that since they finished it.  Mentioned it to Mr. Grinch several times as we were driving down River Road.  He got a bad case of selective non hearing every time I brought it up.  Today, I just whipped my little SweetPea right in there, and enjoyed strolling through it.  I would have strolled longer, but I was starving.  I walked over to Little Gretel, and had a lovely salmon salad on their beautiful patio.  I sat right by the speaker, and listened to some good old rock n roll as I dined on that delightful salmon salad.  There was a young couple sitting side by side on the other side of the road.  The were feeding the ducks at River Road Park.  Though they didn't know it, I was quietly wishing them an abundance of happiness and joy as I watched them. 

That little bit of Me Time this afternoon was just what I needed.  I am going to make some more of that soon, and take my good camera back to the Sculpture Garden.  Enjoy and better photograph all the beautiful sculptures in it.  Then, just because he could never "hear" me when I mentioned it before, I'm going to make Mr. Grinch look at all the pics. ;)

To view the photos I took today Click Here

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Counting My Blessings

This morning I am sipping my tea and counting my many blessings. Mr. Grinch continues to steadily improve.  Which is tops on the list of blessings I'm counting.  Yes, we have some really rough times ahead of us.  But, considering a few weeks ago the doctors believed I was facing the prospect of becoming a widow within two weeks, no matter how rough those times get, they too will be a blessing. 

Next to that is all the wonderful friends I have that have been such a help to me.  Those friends have helped me through this in so many ways.  When I needed help, those real friends were, and still are, there for me. I am especially grateful to Brian who drove me back and forth to San Antonio while Mr. Grinch was in the hospital over there.  

I'm also extremely lucky to be working where I am.  From the very beginning of this nightmare time I have been told, "You do what you need to.  Don't worry about your job.  Do what you can, don't worry about the rest."  Being able to cope with what is happening, and still keep this job I so love was one of my biggest worries.  But that is something I don't have to worry about. And that means more to me than words can explain. 

SweetPea is another blessing I'm gratefully counting here.  Without her I would still be driving a crew cab truck I could not see over the hood of without a booster pillow, and that even with a booster pillow, scared the living daylights out of me to park. 

I'm also very grateful that my health is good enough to hold up to what has already come, and hopefully to what is around the bend for us.  I've got to stay strong both physically and emotionally to help my husband through the dark times he will be experiencing.  My plan is to be such a bouncy bright little ray of freaking sunshine throughout those dark times old Grimsy, (The Grim Reaper) will become so blinded by and disgusted with the light, he'll haul ass just to get away from it. The darkness will not reign in our life no matter how tough it gets.  I am a creature of the light.  My role is to chase that darkness away. 

That I now live in this beautiful Hill Country, instead of the desolate flatlands of west Texas, is another blessing I'm counting.  I draw a great deal of strength from just being able to sit outside my RV and watch the sun set behind the hills I have come to love so much.  To help me stay in shape, I can slip over to Joshua Springs Park & Preserve when I have some Me Time, and do a little walking and hiking. 

I have so many blessings right now to be grateful for. Most of all, I'm grateful I have enough sense to look for that silver lining, focus on the positive, and not allow myself to sink into a quagmire of useless dark depression. Thank you Goddess for making me one of the Children of the Light.  I know now who and what I really am, and am very grateful to be that.  I will continue to shine brightly, even in the darkest times. 

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Accept The Changes

My words for today are a reminder to me that Cancer Changes Everything.  It changes how the person with cancer thinks, feels, acts, and reacts.  I know in Larry's case it has sure changed his attitude about living. It was a brutal wake up call that made him realize there are still a lot of things to enjoy in this life.  And now he is fighting hard to buy time to enjoy those those things. 

It also changes everything for the loved ones helping the cancer patient win that brutal battle.  I know it has changed how I perceive a lot of things.  It has swept all bullshit and games aside in one fell swoop  Made me stronger and more independent, while at the same time reminding me to accept help from the real friends I have who offer their help. 

I just spoke to him on the phone a few minutes ago.  He sounds cheerful despite telling me as we talked he woke to find hair all over his pillow this morning.  I told him not to worry it was only hair, and will grow back.

He said is waiting to see which show up first to take him to the Gym for his work out. He does PT and OT.  PT they work on strengthening legs and lower body, OT is for arms and upper body, especially exercises that help strengthen his lungs and diaphragm.

I have been having a lazy morning in bed.  Doing some of the Me Time I make for myself whenever I can.  But now it's time to get my lazy butt up and shower, dress, and face the day.  

3:45 pm

Back from visiting Larry. He is looking very good today. Dr. Sorrel came in while I was there, and was obviously very pleased with how much better Larry is looking and doing. 

He's still holding his own at 5 liters  And oxygen saturation levels are staying up pretty good as well. Had already had PT before I came, and was about to go for his OT when I left. 

The nurse also informed me today they are going to call his cancer doctor Monday and get the ball rolling for some more chemo treatments. 

And I am doing excellent on my driving! Took the interstate into town today. My nightmare about all of those 3 parking spaces I once used came true today. But, I just whipped my little SweetPea into another spot like a pro  Have I mentioned what a dream she is to park? LOL Yes, I LOVE my Subaru!

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Oh, that hair

I am coming to realize that the daily journal entries I am doing as we take this desperate journey is really taking me back to my true BB roots.  When I first began writing the Beyond Blonde weekly column for the newspaper, I wrote about real things, and a lot of times how those real things affected me. Oh sometimes I took a little flight of fancy to entertain my readers.   And yes I do have that little 9" blue muse named, Morris.  But no matter how silly I got, I was still basically writing about the realities of life. 

Now, as I make these journal entries that tell those who read them about this desperate journey my husband and I are taking, I am once more writing about the realities of life.  And it just doesn't get anymore real than this. These entries I share aren't here just to entertain though. They are here in the hopes that others also taking The Cancer Journey, will find something in them that might help them. 

I am writing from the perspective of a wife helping her husband as he takes The Cancer Journey. A wife who is having to once more evolve in order to deal with what is happening as we continue this journey.  From the moment I received the news about the results of the biopsy, my world turned upside down, and inside out.  First I thought I was going to be dealing with his VERY imminent death.  And now I am thankfully dealing with what we are going to do make sure his death isn't nearly as imminent as first thought by some. 

I am trying to do what is best for him, take the best care of him I possibly can, and take care of me as well.  I hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and try to live each day with as much strength, courage, grace, dignity, and humor as I can.  Fear is my constant companion now in some form or another.   I fear he will take a sudden turn for the worst.  I fear I will not be as strong as I need to be.  Sometimes, I am so overwhelmed with fear, terror is all I can feel.  There are times, that for just a few seconds, I find myself completely frozen with fear.  Unable to move, to even breath.  Then I close my eyes, force myself to relax, and begin to breath again.  As I breath I remind myself he will be okay, I can do this, I am strong enough. 

Together we are battling the cancer.  Though each of us at times must fight the fear, and our inner demons alone.  I have conquered a couple of inner demons already.  Oh yeah, after zipping around today to do an errand for the resort, grab something from Walgreens for Mr. Grinch, going to see him, then heading back home on the interstate, that old inner demon that reared its ugly head every time I got behind the wheel, is long gone.  I had the moonroof open for a few seconds just for the hell of it as I was cruising along at the posted 75 mph speed limit, Another One Bites The Dust blaring from the speakers, and I do believe he and that nasty nagging guilt voice got sucked right up through it.  Perhaps next time I'll leave it open a little longer, and see what other nasties get sucked up through it. 

I do all I can to make sure he has everything he needs, let him see I'm holding down the fort at home, and keeping it all together, so he does not worry about that. I take him candy, blueberry yogurt, whatever treats he asks for. Visit him at least once a day, sometimes twice a day.  I remain upbeat, discuss plans for when he comes home, sometimes gently stroking his back with my fingers as we sit side by side on the edge of his bed.  

As we sat there today he told me he was starting to lose his hair.  I remarked he had been doing that anyway for years since he was too stubborn to use the Rogaine I had once bought him.  Then he pointed to the floor and said, "No I mean where I toss my shorts and pants on the floor before they pick them up to wash them, there are curly black hairs."  To which I replied, "Oh you mean THOSE hairs." 

After he sadly sighed and said, "Yeah those hairs. And on my head as well"  I gently stroked his back and said, "Look on the bright side, several people have told us the hair on your head will grow back thicker than ever.  I'm sure that hair will too." 

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Let Others Help

Admitting I needed help was very hard for me.  But fortunately I have plenty of friends who saw I needed it even when I was too stubborn and proud to admit it.  I am learning not to be so stubborn and proud though when it comes to asking for help, and accepting offers of help when I need them. I will always be grateful to our friend Brian for all he has done for us.  The many times he took me to San Antonio to see Larry in the hospital over there.  One reason I was so adamant about getting a vehicle I could be comfortable driving is because I felt as if I had so badly imposed on him.  Brian will still have to drive me San Antonio if we need to take Larry there for anything.  But, now that Mr. Grinch is in Boerne, I can drive myself over to see him.  And to Walmart and other places to get anything he needs or wants. 

I have to adapt as much as I can to the situation.  Like I have done when it comes to driving.  But, I must also understand that part of that adaptation should be asking for, and accepting help when I need it. 

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Don't Feel Guilty

I remember the first time I smiled and laughed after we knew Larry had cancer, I was overcome with a horrible sense of guilt for daring to smile and laugh.  But my friends had a good talk to me.  And made me realize that I cannot allow myself to be overwhelmed with guilt if I can still find something to smile and laugh about.  Even if some of the laughter and smiles are the result of rather dark humor on my part.  More than ever before, it is important that I do continue to smile and laugh, and be a source of upbeat energy for him.  Me dropping into a dark deep well of guilt driven depression isn't going to do him, or me any good. 

Then I started feeling kind of guilty again at how much I am enjoying the feeling of being able to drive again.  That nasty voice of doom and gloom was whispering things like, "How can you be so happy you can drive again considering WHY you are driving again?"  Well, I finally answered that nasty little voice by saying, "Because if I can't drive, how the hell can I go see him?  Bring him the things he needs and wants?  Get him to the doctors and Chemo when that time comes?  How can I even BEGIN to take care of him if I can't drive?" That seemed to shut that nasty voice up and allow me to go on being happy as a little clam that I can once more drive, and have a vehicle that makes driving fun again for me. 

Today, I have already gassed SweetPea up, bought Mr. Grinch a lottery ticket, went to Walmart to get him some blueberry yogurt and other stuff he wanted, then to visit him.  And enjoyed every moment of my time driving because I wasn't dreading getting to where I was going, and having to try and find a parking space I could get in.  Had it not been sprinkling a little rain, as I was coming home, I would have gone for a little drive just for fun.  I still get really uneasy even being a passenger in rainy weather, and probably always will.  When the sun is shining again, I will take SweetPea out for a little country spin just for the fun of it.  I may even open the moonroof, and truly revel in the moment.  And I will not feel guilty for doing so. 

7:40 PM

Just back from visiting with Larry again.  So happy to see they he is only on 5 liters of oxygen now.  We have reached the magic number.  But, it will still be a little while before they let him come home.  They want to make sure he does okay at this level, and holds up to his work outs on it.  The 17th I am going to attend a conference meeting concerning the plan they have put together for his continued care.   He's looking and sounding so much better now.  Yes, still painfully thin, weak and shaky.  But still so much better than he was a couple of weeks ago!  

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So that's what a panic alarm is!

SweetPeaI am so loving my Subaru Forrester I bought from Boerne Dodge Chrysler Jeep.  She is a zippy little darling who handles wonderfully on the road, and is a dream to park!  I had a little trouble getting used to her at first.  Like the first time I started her and went to put her into gear I grabbed what is on her, the windshield wiper arm.  I haven't driven a vehicle with the shifter on the floor in a LONG time. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to turn off all the windshield wipers I had turned on, but I finally got even the back windshield wipers off.  Then I went to gas up.  I couldn't get that darn door to the gas tank filler open no matter how many ways I pressed on it.  Finally I gave up and went to visit Mr. Grinch.  I told him what happened, and he said, "Look for a switch or lever inside somewhere."  I went one better, and went and got the owner's manual while he was having his shower.  He was right, there is a lever by the side of the driver's door I have to pull to open that door. 

After his shower we went outside and I pulled her under the shade in front of the building so he could see her.  I can tell he's not that wild about her, but I don't care because I love her.  He still has his truck to drive when he gets well enough to.  But, from here on out, the little Subaru Forrester I affectionally call SweetPea, is what BB is going to be driving.  I can see great out of her, and am getting used to her zippy little ways very quickly.  After driving that crew cab truck I had taken to calling The Behemoth, she is a little sweet pea to drive and park. 

As I was starting her up to leave the parking lot after visiting Mr. Grinch, I accidentally set of the panic alarm. I didn't even know I had a panic alarm, much less if you press the remote key longer than two seconds it goes off.  All I could of think as the lights flashed, the horned honked, buzzers blared, and beepers beeped was, "Great, I'm going to get arrested for trying to steal my own car."  Then I tried hitting the remote key button just to see what that would do.  Thankfully that quietened things down. I once more referred to my owner's manual, learned all about the panic alarm, and how NOT to accidentally set it off in the future. 

By the time I made it back home, little SweetPea and I had begun bonding.  Though they did a good job of detailing her out, I used some stuff I have on the dashboard and seats that helps protect them from the sun's harmful rays. I got the front all done, then moved to the back seats.  I had closed the door and was working on the side farthest away from me, working my way back.  When I go back far enough I went to reopen the door.  And had a bit of a bad moment when the lever refused to open that door.  For a moment I was thinking, "Geez should I have named her Christine?" Then I scooted over to the other side of her, and thankfully, that door opened.  I got back in on the other side, and closed the door.  Thinking maybe that was some fluke or something.  It was no fluke.  Once more, no matter how many times I worked the door handle, the door would not open.  It was back to the other side, out that door, and around to the stubborn door.  It would open fine from the outside, but not the inside.  I tried using the remote key to trip it to open, but that didn't seem to work.  Then as I was studying the open door while sitting in her I noticed a small white lever with word "Lock" under it.  I flipped the lever, closed the door, and hoped that worked.  I was relieved when I pulled the door handle, and the door opened like it should. 

After I got through putting a few more loving touches on her upholstery and trim, I removed some things from the truck that included my walking stick, umbrella, and tennis shoes.  I kept my walking stick and a pair of tennis shoes in the truck in case when we were out driving, I wanted to stop and do a little walking or hiking.  The umbrella of course is for those rainy days. I have all the items I got out of the truck neatly stored in the cargo area now.  There may be moments when I'm on the road that I decide to just make a little me time, and go for a walk somewhere.  


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Learn Adapt Grow

Learn Adapt Grow

My words for the day remind that if I do those three things, then we will come through this okay. 

Right now I am doing a 3 beat happy dance.  One beat because Larry continues to improve.  One beat for this blessed little shower of rain we are getting.  And last but oh so not least, one beat for becoming the proud and happy owner of a 2005 Subaru Forrester XS L. L. Bean Edition, white with beige interior, leather seats, fully loaded, with a power moonroof.  She is in excellent condition, with only 70, 543 miles on her.  Hip, hip hooray!  I am going to be driving something I can see over the hood of without a freaking booster pillow, and park a lot more easily. 

I will post photos of my new wheels tomorrow.  Right now she is still at the dealers getting washed, waxed and fully detailed out.  They had just gotten her in on the lot, and had only had time to put new tires on her and do an oil change when I arrived to take her for a test drive.  I didn't actually do the test drive.  I let our good friend Brian do that because I knew he would put her through her paces and expose any shakes, rattles or rolls if she had them.  I think the salesman that came with us clutched the door handle a time or two as Brian did that.  I know I grabbed it once or twice  But, by the end of the ride we all knew she held the road well, had great brakes, and didn't have any shakes, rattles or rolls she shouldn't have.  When we got back he continued to go over her with a fine tooth comb.  Finally, she was pronounced in great shape.

I tried to dicker the price down, but they were hardcore about not dropping it.  Which I could understand because I knew from the moment they told me the price, she was already below what she was really worth.  I had been doing my Subaru Forrester research before I ever walked in the salesroom, I knew what the 2005 LL Bean Edition models are going for.  I had put them completely out of our price range.  What I gave was a little more than I would have liked, but I wound up getting a very nice set of wheels for a very good price.  

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A Necessary Independence

My words for today, A Necessary Independence, reflect both what is going on in my life right now, and how I feel about it.  I exercised that new independence today by expanding my driving horizons a little more.  On the way to see Mr. Grinch I stopped at Riverside Meat Market and picked up some delicious BBQ for lunch.  Even though he had just eaten lunch, he sampled a few bites from the sampler plate I had picked up from Riverside Market.  His breathing is very good today.  He has even been online shopping for a used Subaru Forrester for me.  He found a couple we are interested in, and I will start checking them out more Monday and Tuesday. 

After my visit with Mr. Grinch I headed back up town, went to the bank to make sure I could get in and out of there okay to do some banking for the resort when I need to, then headed to HEB.  I do admit I shamelessly used our handicapped sticker, and slipped into a handicapped parking space at HEB.  When I got through doing my grocery shopping, I really got brave, and took the interstate coming home.  

Before anybody gets bent out of shape about me using our handicapped sticker.  Due to the lack of vision in my left eye, and therefore a lack of depth perception as well, I actually do qualify for a handicapped sticker myself.  If you don't understand why that is, put a patch over your left eye, and see what happens.  You will find the world a vastly different place with a perpetual blind spot, and no sense of depth perception in it.  Then add onto that the fact I'm relearning to drive in a big truck I have to put a pillow in the seat of so I can see all the way over the hood, and you'll get an idea of what I'm dealing with here.  And yeah, go ahead and laugh, Ms. BB does have to have a booster pillow to go driving. ;)

Until now, I never used the handicapped sticker if I was driving and by myself. But, if there are sometimes moments when I need to use the handicapped sticker we have in order to continue exercising the independence that is necessary for me to achieve right now, so be it.  As the doctor who saved Larry's foot explained to me, those handicapped stickers, tags and spaces are not just for those who have leg, heart, and other such problems that make getting out and about difficult. They are also there for those of us who have what may not seem a handicap to some, but that can affect our ability to be independent as well.  

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The Cancer Journey

The Cancer Journey

From the moment you begin it, you know the journey you are about to take will be the hardest one you have ever made.  The journey for me began when I had to call 911 one morning because my stubborn husband who had refused to go to the doctor was now in dire straights and could barely breathe.  He was rushed to the Methodist Emergency Center here, stabilized, then transferred to Methodist Heart & Transplant in San Antonio.  He had double pneumonia, and was lucky to be alive.  But the doctors wanted to do some further testing.  The results of those test were bleak indeed.   

On August 20th I had to call our son and tell him his father had cancer, and the prognosis was very bad.  Two hours after I made that call, then one more to Red Cross, our son was granted emergency leave, and was making plans to fly over from Japan where he is stationed.   On August 21st my was in flight to here, and my husband began his first chemo treatment.  One meant to ease his final days from my understanding.  Hospice was mentioned.  I wept until I could weep no more.  Then my husband, who because of his refusal to socialize in the past, and his often grumpy attitude, has acquired the nickname Mr. Grinch, heard the word Hospice, and said, "Hell No!"  He chose to fight, and not go quietly into the night. 

My son arrived on the 22nd, and stayed here at the resort in a duplex for the next 5 days.  His father proceeded to astound the doctors and nursing staff by steadily improving a little bit each day.  I have been keeping a daily journal that I have been sharing excerpts from on my personal Facebook page.  I am now ready to share some of those excerpts here as well in the hopes it might give others in the same situation my husband and I are in strength, comfort and hope.  Three things those who are taking similar cancer journeys will most surely need. 

From an August 21st Journal Entry:

Quick update.  Just got back from visiting Mr. Grinch.  He is doing better!  Breathing much easier and withstanding first chemo really well!  Even ate all the of Popeye's rice and beans and a few shrimp from the meal we brought him.  

Now, because humor as well as tears heal....

BB, Mistress of the Salacious, actually had a first tonight at the hospital!  No get your minds out of the gutter.  I had brought his razor and some shaving cream over with me, and he and Brian decided I should shave the beard and mustache he had grown while in the hospital off before the chemo started making his hair fall out.  Having never before shaved any man's face, or anything else on a man for that matter, I was not all that comfortable, or adept.  

Having Mr. Grinch make all kinds of weird facial expressions and open his eyes as if in terror the whole time I was shaving him, especially his throat, didn't help matters.  I'm happy to report though I not only shaved his face and throat, I didn't nick him once!  True it's probably not the closest best shave he's ever had, but the upside is I didn't cut his throat, or the oxygen tubes running up to his nose.  Am I good or what?  ;) 

Brian said watching me shave was some of the best entertainment he had seen in a long time. 

August 22

A little brighter spot

Two good pieces of news.  My son and oldest grandson are here until Monday :)  

Larry is still improving!  He's amazed the doctors and Dawn, our social worker.  Dawn is making things happen for us, and helping set the wheels in motion for us to continue the battle.  

I'm trying to think how to describe our current situation.  I can only say we have gone from an area of dark hopelessness, to a little brighter spot where we can see the first shining rays of hope returning.  We have to take this one day, one step, at a time.  And time is what we need most.  Time so he can continue the chemo treatments that yes, will be stronger and cause some very bad side effects.  Time for those chemo treatments to work so that his breathing will improve even more.  Surgery is still out of the question at this point.  But, if his breathing improves enough, then radiation is another weapon we can use. 

Now for those who have asked.  It is third stage.  However, as the doctor explained, he didn't think to tell me that until today because it was a moot point. Even had it been earliest stage one, they still could not have operated due to the breathing problems.  And yes, I understand completely how hopeless our situation might look to some even now.  But as long as he is improving a little each day, like he is doing, then as far as I'm concerned, there is at least a tiny ray of hope that if nothing else, we can buy him more time.  And with more time, who knows what may happen?

August 23rd

A very good day!

Today has been a very good day.  Mr. Grinch is starting to get some PT workouts to help improve his breathing.  While he did one of the PT sessions we went to Popeyes for lunch.  I finally got to try the beans and rice, and they were delicious!  When we got back he was about to order lunch, so I mentioned we had some chicken strips and stuff from Popeyes if he wanted them.  He opted for the Popeyes food.  He was rather tired from his two PT workouts, so after he ate we left him to get some rest. 

I was a bit worried about him because even though he is still improving every day, he did seem a bit tired and down.  That worry was eased when I received a phone call from him later this afternoon.  He sounded much better, and even asked if I would get some of those square chocolate candies that had raisins and peanuts in them.  I couldn't think what they were, so after the conversation Googled it, and discovered they were Chunky Bars.  Google can be such a wonderful thing. 
As I was sitting outside earlier this evening it occurred to me that in a way, we have already witnessed a mini miracle.  That dark spot I wrote about earlier, well it was a place where to the doctors, it looked as if he had two weeks at the most left.  And it would all be downhill in that time.  Instead, he is improving a little bit each day.  And now we are talking Hope, instead of Hospice.

The cherry on top of this very good day is that we are getting to spend time with our son and grandson.  I am especially blessed to have them staying here in one of duplexes at the resort.  Little Chris is ga ga about the golf cart, and insists on riding around on it at much as possible.  Oh and I am proud to announce that I was able to help him learn how to play Zombie Farm II today. But boy oh boy things change fast, and that Zombie Farm II is nothing like the original I enjoyed playing when it first came out.  But this groovin' Granny did all Grandmas proud, figured out what had changed, and showed my beloved Grandson how to grow a good mix of crops and zombies to get to the next level, on the very iPad I gave his mother when I upgraded to this one. Oh and in case you haven't guessed, Muffy has pretty much had to kiss that iPad goodbye now that Little Chris has taken to using it.  

I know there are rough times ahead of us.  For now, I'm going to suck up every wonderful second of days like today.  When those rough times do come, then I can close my eyes for a few seconds, remember times like today, and let those memories help get me through those rough times. 

August 24th

A wonderful day!

Today started with breakfast at Bear Moon Bakery, followed by a walk along River Road Park to feed the ducks some goodies the waitress at Bear Moon Bakery was kind enough to give us.  What a joy it was watching my grandson feeding the ducks!  Then we headed to San Antonio to see Mr. Grinch.  He is still improving and was sitting up looking spiffy and smug after shaving himself earlier.  He had eaten a good breakfast, but told us to put the blueberry crown we had gotten him from the bakery on his tray for later.  We had a good visit with him, then left for lunch while he had his breathing treatment. 

His appetite is definitely improving because he sure chowed down on the poorboy sausage sandwich we brought him back from Bill Millers.  After lunch we left him to snooze a little and get some rest while we headed to the Botanical Gardens. 

I had asked big Chris shortly after he got here if he would mind taking me to the Botanical Gardens for a couple of hours.  I told him he could drop me off and come back later if he would rather do something else.  But he and  little Chris chose to come with me.  I was so glad they did.  We had a wonderful time at those beautiful gardens.  Little Chris especially enjoyed the Savage Garden filled with all kinds of carnivorous plants.   

I know there are much more to the Botanical Gardens than I saw today, but I wouldn't trade a moment of today for a red carpet tour through the entire gardens.  To be surrounded by the beauty I did see today, while with my son and grandson was two hours I will treasure forever.  It is another beautiful moment I can tuck away and bring back out again when I am in need of it. 

August 27th

Imagine Dream Believe

What a day!  After a busy morning getting the room ready for the hospital bed and oxygen machine I went over to the hospital and was ecstatic to discover they are trying to make arrangements to have everything he needs delivered tomorrow, and discharge him from the hospital when everything is in place. 

I have a square of vanilla carmel spice wax in the electric candle, and the aroma drifting it from it is wonderfully warm and relaxing.  I am imagining Larry continuing to improve each day as he has been doing.  Dreaming that the chemo he is going to continue will help.  And believing that no matter what, we will get through this.  I know that no matter what, I have to get through this as best I can both for Larry's sake, and my son's.  

I have to find a way to cope with what is happening.  Make whatever time is left to us as good as it can be.  My main goal is to get through this, and make sure that in the end, I have no guilt or regrets concerning how I dealt with this.  That's why my three words for tomorrow are Grace, Dignity, and Courage.  If I can maintain those three things throughout what is coming, then I know I can do what I must, and get through this intact, no matter what. 

I know that until I can drive and park better, and Mr. Grinch can get out and about as well, I'm going to be cooking most of our meals.  I am making a shopping list so that when I go to HEB I will have a week's worth of food to fix, as well as some tempting snacks for him.  I will fix breakfast, an easy lunch, and a good supper for us.  It's still too hot for the oven right now, but I can cook skillet dinners, grill, and even do some summertime crockpot cooking. 

August 28th

Grace Dignity Courage

Ugh!  What a day!  And night.  After getting coffee on this morning at the clubhouse and the chair and table moved out of the man cave room I thought everything was all systems Go!  Unfortunately we ran into a snag and instead of coming home, Mr. Grinch is now in the Cibolo Nursing & Rehabilitation Center until we can get his oxygen concentrator machine intake level to a 5.  Right now he is at an 8, and no at home oxygen supply company here can deal with that, especially with a portable machine.  I am not getting discouraged though because he's already gone from an 11 to an 8.  He only has to drop 3 more points before he can come home.   And when I talked to him late this evening around 11pm, he said his saturation levels were still holding at 95, and he was about to have them dial him down another notch.  So 5 is now the Magick Number!

Tomorrow I start back driving in earnest!  I will begin by going over to Joshua Springs Park & Preserve and practicing my parking skills in their big parking lot.  Then I will ease back to the access road, and make my way to the nursing center on River Road.  If I have to, I will put those bubble mirrors on the side mirrors to help me see like I used to do with the other trucks.   I WILL learn to drive again.  I WILL learn to park again.  I have no other choice now. 

August 30th

Yes I can

Yes I can are my words for today

I drove over to Walmart and then to see Larry again today.  Chanting at times my Mantra of the day, Yes I Can.  Driving is getting easier for me.  Parking is still another matter.  But Walmart has a big parking with lots of empty spaces and the end of the parking aisles.  And the Goddess is being good to me and somehow keeping one of three spots available open for me when I go in to see Larry.  Although today a tiny little red car parked cockeyed in the slot on my left made it hard for me to leave the room I would have liked on both sides.  I did the best I could, and that crew cab was parked straight and true in its slot when I stepped out of it. 

I am happy to report that Larry is still improving.  He did 2 sessions of PT today.   And happily surprised them with how well he did that second session on the arm bike.  I know he's getting much better because was arguing with me and giving me a hard time over the vehicle I want. When I finally had enough of that, I put my arm over his shoulders, leaned over and whispered in his ear, "If you keep giving me a hard time about this, the cancer and not being able to breath good are going to be the least of your problems."  It was about that time the nurse came in to take him to the gym to work out on the arm bike.  I could tell by the way she was beaming she thought she had interrupted a truly tender moment.  I did nothing to discourage that idea, and she thought Mr. Grinch was just happy and eager to go to the gym so he can get better and come home. 

After his arm bike work out we came back to the room.  The nurse asked him if he would like elastic laces for his shoes that would make putting them on easier.  He agreed those would be good.  She left, then came back with the laces and handed them to him.  We each grabbed a shoe, and we were both starting to put the laces in when she left.  We were sitting there, backs to the door, bowed over the shoes trying to get the elastic laces in when another nurse walked in, and whispered, "Is everything okay? This looks serious."  I turned my head to her, held up the shoe, and replied, "It is serious.  We are trying to get these elastic laces in his shoes right."  Then I started laughing.  The nurse blinked, then she started laughing as well.  It felt good to laugh! To see him laughing with us. 

August 31st

Grace Under Fire

An incident with Larry's roommate yesterday inspired my words for today.  Grace Under Fire.  He was sitting outside when I was leaving and kind of grousing about how busy and noisy the room was now.  I remained utterly polite, didn't blurt out some of the things I thought.  Instead I apologized for all the noise, and very nicely explained the situation Larry was in.  When I was through, he apologized to me, and said he wishes Larry and I the very best. 

I could have said and done a lot of things.  Like tell him he should be thanking whatever deity he believes that he is in as good a shape as he is.  But Grace has become very important to me. So much so, I don't mind using that word again in my words of the day.  Grace, is what is going to get me through this without becoming bitter.  It is what is going to allow me to remain polite in moments like that without biting someone's head off. 

I have just begun to take the roller coaster ride of despair and hope that those with cancer, and those who have loved ones with cancer endure.  I have no illusions at all concerning what kind of a ride this is going to be.  Which is why I'm going to enjoy every fun and funny precious moment to the max, and hope remembering those moments when the ride dips to the dark moments of despair, gets us both through this.  And strive for Grace Under Fire when I need to.

From here on out I will be sharing future excerpts as regular dated blog entries. 

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