Sunday, August 29, 2004

A walk in the rain

Tracey is still having a rough time (but better than previous days). However, she spent a good deal of today sleeping. For that matter, so did I. My energy was at -10 this morning (accompanied by a low-level headache at the base of my skull). I slept until 3 PM, then played with MacK a little before dinner time. After dinner, the kids and I took a walk in the light rain -- and we had a great time! They could not believe that we were actually going out in the rain -- with no raincoats, umbrella or even regular shows (they wore sandals). It was not a long walk, but they had a lot of fun and it did us all a lot of good to get out of the house for a few minutes.

After the kids went to bed, Tracey came into the living room with her electric shaver at hand. She asked met o shave the rest of her hair off so that she doe not have to deal with small hairs everywhere. Now, let me tell you: I have an even greater respect for barbers! Shaving someone's head is HARD. It took a very long time to get it all shaved. As hard as it was trying to remove the hair, it was even harder emotionally considering all that Tracey is going through.

The lack of hair has brought yet another uncomfortable experience for Tracey: constant shivers! That has to be right up there with some sort of torture! Not even the scarf or buffs protect her from getting shivers. I hope this is something that will pass soon!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Kids bowling and more

Let's start with Tracey: not much progress. She is still experiencing significant nausea and feeling like she has the flu (this is a known side-effect of the medication she is given after Chemo for producing bone marrow). She did feel a bit better at times, so there is hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Today was the sign-up session for the kids bowling season — I now have my first hint of what is to come in the years ahead! I suspect Tracey and I will be very busy driving the kids to an endless number of activities! :-)

Both Noah and MacK were extremely friendly, going to everyone and introducing themselves freely. Noah was a little too friendly (as has been his habit so far) and actually interfered with another kid's bowling!

I also discovered that my patience is not as plentiful as I thought. Noah and MacK drove me nuts with their bowling. They started well enough — they rolled their first ball and then ran to the rack to get more balls! I think they need to learn some rules! After I showed them that their ball would be returned to them, they rolled a few more — not always on the lane they were supposed to! Noah actually tried to put his fingers in the holes, but has not concept of how to roll the ball. Sometimes the ball would go far, sometimes the ball would go straight up and down, landing on one spot and refusing to roll further, as if embarrased of being misused in such fashion!

Now, let me tell you that MacK has a style of her own in terms of bowling — she gracefully managed to combine ballet, gymnastics and bowling all into one. She brings her ball to the approach almost in a ballet style movement, turning and jumping as if listening to a classical piece. Once at the approach, she prepares herself for the ball delivery by twisting her body in positions that are almost impossible to describe. One that repeated itself involves holding the ball with one hand, raising the opposite leg towards the ceiling, twisting around the ball to end in a sitting position facing the bowling alley, then smoothly pushing the ball and getting 8 pins. I may just have to try her technique someday!

Interestingly, I was asked to coach the PeeWee group for the league this year. If I had hair, it would be gone before long.

After we got home the kids had lunch, and Noah and I left to see our friends Bill and Jerry. On the way to their house Noah asked me:

Noah: Dad, is there a Wendy's at Mr. Bill's?
Me: I don't think so, why?
Noah: They have burgers there, you know?
Me: Yes, I know.
Noah: I need a burger soon!
Me: Oh really? Maybe Mr. Bill will have some fruit he can share with us, OK?
Noah: OK

We visited with our friends (Noah had several cookies, a glass of milk, and soda) and then headed home several hours later. As we left their house Noah asked:

Noah: Is there a Burger King around here?
Me: No, I don't think there is one here.
Noah: I want a burger, you know?
Me: We'll have dinner when we get home.

Then we stopped at the ATM.

Noah: Do they sell burgers here?
Me: No, I am just getting some cash from the bank.
Noah: So that we can get a burger at Burger King?
Me: No, so that I can have cash in my wallet.
Noah: What about a burger?
Me (smiling): We'll have dinner when we get home.

Then Noah fell asleep until we got home.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Kicked butt at work

I am actually writing this a few days later (on Sunday). Friday went by slowly, very slowly -- Tracey struggled all day with nausea and feeling ill (flu-like symptoms). I spent some time with the kids, but mostly slept in the afternoon. I have felt overwhelmed by everything that is going on, mostly the inability to help Tracey feel better, and that has drained me of much energy.

On the good side, I really had a great night at work (although it did not look very good there for a few moments). I was very happy that I was able to produce as much work as I did. A small victory, perhaps, but a victory nonetheless!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Dry, dry, dry

We have been celebrating around the house, as Noah has been pull-up free at night for a week! We are so proud of him! :-)

This morning, around 2 AM, he walked into our room and crawled in bed with me -- he just wanted to sleep in our bed. Of course, we quickly told him that was not going to work and I walked him back to his bedroom.

Around 7 AM I woke up to the sound of a Nintendo game -- both Noah and MacKenzie were sitting in front of the small TV we have setup for their game, playing happily (and quietly, which is rare). Those kids are growing up fast!

MacK and I went to the store to get Tracey's new medication and a few other things. We had a nice time together -- until the little bugger decided to trick me. We were heading back to the house and she was "reading" her magazine when she appeared to have fallen asleep. She would not respond to my voice or lightly touching her leg. When I tugged her leg she smiled and said: "Leave me alone." She was awake the whole time! The only thing that kind of gave her up is that she was holding onto the magazine with all her might! She is going to win some sort of acting award; mark my words on that!

Tracey still did not have a good day today -- this evening she was still feeling nausated. Even the new "super-duper" drug did not help her (at least not right away). What a terrible disease cancer is!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Chemo #2 - Day 2

We headed back to Lexington Medical Center at 8 AM for Tracey's follow-up. She spent all morning there. The nausea was still a big part of her day, so they gave us a new medication. Of course, being that it is not a common drug, I was nto able to get it filled yesterday. Our pharmacist will have ready by tomorrow morning at 10:30 AM. When I left Tracey this afternoon she was in bed and feeling sick. She just keeps repeating: "This sucks."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Chemo #2 -- six to go

At 7 AM we got up to go to Chemo -- talk about two sleepy people! :-)

Everything seemed to go well for Tracey -- I was lucky and took advantage of one of the "private" rooms in the Chemo area and crashed for three hours. Tracey had a visit from Heather and made new friends with several chemo patients and their families.

We met a beautiful lady, now 80, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mastectomy did not go very well, and she had to wait for her complications to clear up before she could start chemo. She was there with her daughter (also a breast cancer survivor) and her husband of 62 years! He is also a cancer survivor!

I spoke with Tracey around 9 PM and she got sick to her stomach again -- darn it! It did take longer this time, but still happened. In the words of a famous philosopher: THIS SUCKS! :-(

It is almost 1 AM and I am very tired -- and still at work! :-| Not much longer before I head home, so I will close for now.


When I got home this morning (around 1:30 AM), Tracey was waiting for me. With sadness in her eyes she said: "It is falling." She rubbed her head and hair trickled on her keyboard. I was SO sad! I guess in the back of my mind I was hoping she would be one of the few that did not lose her hair. It was one of those moments when you wish you could do something to make your partner feel better and simply make reality disappear!

So we did the best next thing: we headed for the bathroom and trimmed her hair VERY short! It is now about 1/8" long.

It was almost 3 AM before we finally fell asleep -- we simply talked for awhile until we knew we better get some sleep (we had to be up by 7 AM in order to go to Chemo).

Monday, August 23, 2004

Olympic-size Censorship

As if my previous information about the Olympics was not bad enough, I have learned that the censorship imposed at the Olympic games goes much further! According to CNN, athletes, coaches and support staff are forbidden from blogging their experience. In my humble opinion, the IOC has grown into a fascist organization and has lost sight of its real goals. Are the Olympics not a venue for athletes to compete for the right to be the "best" in the world? Or are the games perhaps just another reality show, more concerned with ratings and revenues than the spirit of sportsmanship?

My boycott decision has been vindicated and reinforced. The Greeks from ancient times must be terribly sadden by the corruption and prostitution of the Olympic games.

In Daddy's Arms

Last night MacKenzie fell asleep in my arms, for the first time in over a year! She must have been very tired or not feeling very well. We were watching TV and she nestled on my chest (actually crawled under the blanket first) and fell asleep within seconds. What a sweet moment!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Saturday Happenings

Well, what started as a relatively uneventful Saturday turned out ot be a fairly busy evening.

But, I will start by getting on my soap box and expressing my opinion on something I read today:

Olympic Boycott

I am boycotting the Olympic games as long as they condone censorship of this kind:

The Olympics are underway in Athens, Greece, but arriving spectators are finding they have to follow as many rules as the athletes. No carrying bombs, guns or knives. No oversized banners, umbrellas or excess pocket change. No Pepsi, unless the label is removed, since Coke is an official sponsor. And there are rules against wearing clothing "bearing the insignia of competitors of the sponsors." The so-called "clean venue policy" rules "protect official sponsors who have paid millions to make the Olympics happen," said an Olympic spokesman. (London Times, AFP) ...A policy that in the future will be known as "The Olympic Spirit".

The source of this information is the weekly This Is True ezine. I encourage anyone to check this publication and to subscribe to either the free or premium versions!

As you can imagine, I was livid when I read this information. It is absolutely absurd to prohibit an spectator from wearing an item that has a logo they do not like or drink a soda that is not from an official sponsor.

Tracey disagrees with me on this one.

{This is me getting off my soap box}

Short Evening Out for the "Boys"

I needed to run some errands (go see my Mom and then help our friends Bill and Jerry with a computer problem) that would take me to the opposite side of town. I thought it would be nice to take Noah with me, sort of a boys evening out. Once we started driving he began acting as he was very tired (not unusual for him at that time of the evening). I thought he would nap a little on the way to my Mom's and would be alright for the rest of the evening. When we got there he needed to use the bathroom -- and when he came out he was crying and asking to go home. So we started for home and then he said he was OK and wanted to go to Mr. Bill and Ms. Jerry's -- so I started driving toward our friends' house. Noah then changed his mind, telling me that he was tired and wanted his bed. I called Tracey to let her know and asked her to call our friends. I changed courses again and headed toward home. A few minutes later, just as we began driving on a very busy interstate, Noah got sick to his stomach. I finally was able to pull to the side and helped him get out of the car, got him undressed (he got to wear my shirt for cover), and headed home. The drive home was unsettling because I was worried about him, but he seemed OK (tired from vomiting, but OK otherwise). Once we got home he was given a bath and went to bed. I proceeded to clean the car, car seats, and clothes. Ah! Got to love being a parent! I would not trade my kids! It was past 10 PM by the time I finished with cleaning and stuff. Noah woke up this morning feeling fine, cheerful and playful as usual!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

We can learn from Baron

Baron is our 8 year old black Lab dog. When he first came to us about three years ago he was a huge dog -- about 120 pounds of pure love! He then began to lose his hair big time and he was very lethargic. We took him to the Vet and discovered his thyroid was not working well. So we got him on medication (very inexpensive, thankfully) that turned him into a beautiful, playful, happy dog again almost overnight! While he was feeling "down" before he was diagnosed, he never once "cried" or complained about his condition. He struggled through it and did the best he could.

A few months ago he began to limp from his left rear leg. We suspect, as does the Vet, that he has a mild case of hip dysplacia. Baron's limping has progressively worsen in the last few weeks. Yet, he has never yelped or complained. He greets us with as much love as he always has!

We just found out that we can give Baron aspirin to help with his pain, and there is evidence that a fairly high dose of vitamin C (specifically, Ester-C) can stop or reverse some of the joint damage he is experiencing. So we will try that to help him.

I have learned much from watching Baron's behavior and attitude in the last few weeks. He has shown me great valor and pride and strength, never once looking for pitty or sympathy for his obvious discomfort.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

It is gone!

As you can see, I am running a bit behind in updating my log -- it has been a busy few days!


Monday night we had a "hair trimming" party to, as you can imagine, trim Tracey's hair down in preparation to the inevitable. We decided to include the kids in the experience. They had a blast! MacKenzie kept yelling: do it, do it, cut it! Noah giggled and laughed throughout the whole thing. Both of them kept running around the chair picking up hair and putting it in the trash can. I think it was a great idea to include them in this step!

I began by trimming Tracey's hair a little to give her a semi-mohawk look. Just as I began to trim she said: "I will hate you for ever for this!" I hope she was kidding! :-)

Kayla also participated in the cutting experience, trimming most of Tracey's top. Once we were done, Tracey had a nice, GI Jane haircut! We took pictures of the whole process (but they did not come out very well). She did try her wig and Survivor buff and was happy with how everything looked and felt on her. On Tuesday she went out (wearing her wig) to Wal-Mart and to pay our electrical bill. Nobody could really tell that she was wearing a wig -- that made her very happy!

In Training

This week (from Monday through Thursday) , I have been in a Security+ training course. Fortunately, I am able to remote control into my work computer from the Midlands Tech classroom and do some other work too!

Chemo Effects

Tracey has been experiencing additional symptoms from Chemo. Not only has she been tired and nauseated, but she is also feeling her mouth tissue begin to change. We were warned that mouth sores were a definite possibility with Chemo. All in all, however, she is doing well. Even the nausea has diminished substantially.

Tomorrow, Tracey will go (by herself) to Lexington Medical to get her blood check to make sure everything is OK for next week's Chemo session.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

More hope ahead!

Today is another good day — and the good news keep rolling.

We spent most of the morning at Lexington Medical Park during a visit with her gynecologist (Dr. Gallery). Other than being a bit frustrated with having to answer 18 billion questions about her medial history (yet again -- didn't this office have the records from last year?) everything went well. Just to make sure I am clear: Tracey was not frustrated with all the questions (surprise, surprise!) -- but I was!

On the way home we heard a warning on the radio that a tornado had touched down a few miles from our home. Darn! That was TOO close for comfort! I am not sure what exact damage it caused, but we heard it touched down near a nursing home and may have destroyed a restaurant.

After I got to work I received a call from the Good Neighbor Fund -- the paperwork is going in requesting help for our roof project! That is fantastic news for us. Once we replace the roof we can really begin to make our home safer for the kids! :D

Tracey has had a very good day, overall -- and that makes my day a SUPER day! Let's hope for more of these!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A better day!

Today was a far better day than yesterday! We still spent most of the day at the hospital doing the follow-up session, but Tracey was given a different medication to combat nausea that seems to have worked. She woke up still feeling a little shaky but as of 6 PM she was doing quite well and had managed to eat without nausea.

The new medication will block all sensors for 72 hours, and the staff also gave us a prescription for a steroid that will help this other medication. Ah! The wonderful world of medicine!

Last night one of our friends offered to help us fix our roof if we can get the materials together. I was also told today that we may have some help from a special fund that the company I work for has [of course, there are no guarantees that we will be selected for assistance]. Regardless, Tracey and I have set our mind that we need a new roof by this fall if we are to continue living in that house under any resemblance of normalcy. After we fix the roof (not a small project in itself) we still need to fix floors, ceilings, etc. We will take it one step at a time until it is all finished. Hopefully we will not be washed away by the two tropical storms/hurricanes (Bonnie and Charly) heading our way!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

One down, seven to go

Tracey and I spent most of today at the hospital with her first session of chemotherapy. It is a slow, long process designed to prepare her for the best use of the medications (or the poisons, as she calls them) so that they can work for the purpose intended.

She just called to tell me that she is feeling sick and needs me home. I will continue writing later.

[ ... ]

It is later now and my poor honey is trying to rest. It has not been an easy evening at all. Her stomach was very unsettled all afternoon and evening, and the medications did little to help. Also, the tension headache and lack of sleep did not help. We had to call the doctor because she actually vomited twice and that was not supposed to happen.

We learned today that the medications they are using on her the first four sessions are the ones that can damage her heart (not the second chemical, as I had previously thought).

Tracey has an appointment Friday to get a wig fitted.

Kelley from LMC stopped by and gave Tracey encouragement and support, and also took the time to get a prescription for Tracey -- what a great person she is! We really do not know what we would have done without her! I do know it would have been a much more difficult process for us. Kelley has been like a lighthouse in a violent storm -- she always brings us home safely! Thank you, Kelley!

My dear friend Shelley stopped by the hospital to meet with me and share some of the thoughtful items she put together for Tracey and a gift from my work team. Thank you Shelley and my friends at work!

Well, it is now past midnight and we need to be at the hospital again at 9 AM. I hope Tracey will have a good night's rest and feel much better soon!

Monday, August 09, 2004

Being scared

The thing that has affected me the most about Tracey's fight with cancer is her worrying about chemotherapy. Tracey and I have been through a lot together in the last six years, and this is the first time that I have seen her seriously worried about something we are facing. Granted, dealing with cancer is not something you can take lightly -- after all, it usually is a life and dead situation! Her worrying, however, scares me -- she has such keen sense of premonition, of predicting things, that I hope what she is feeling is no more than normal jitters about an "unknown" situation.

Tomorrow will definitely be an indicator of what we can expect for the next four months. Tracey is scheduled to have eight chemotherapy sessions, one every other week. The first four sessions will be one set of drugs, and the second four sessions a different chemical. I hope all goes well and the effects on her are minimal and she can recover fully so that we can begin putting this behind us (as much as you can put cancer behind you). Of course, we know that from now on she will have to undergo regular exams to ensure that the disease is still in remission (you never quite get rid of cancer, it seems).

Another part that would scare anyone is hearing them tell you that the person you have known thus far will not be there anymore. Tracey told me Saturday:

“The Tracey you have known, that our friends and family have known, will no longer exist starting next Tuesday.”

I have the feeling that perhaps the current Tracey [strong, optimistic, loving] may emerge into an even better Tracey [stronger, more determined, more appreciative] -- at least that is what my heart hopes for!

Day 1 -- finally blogging!

I had the idea of blogging for sometime, but never found the time to research what service to use. Tracey, my wife, signed up with blogger and that made it easier for me to start this.

One of the reasons why she started her blog (and why I now have joined this) is her fight against breast cancer. This has already been a difficult road for both of us and our family. My wife has lost both breasts and has gone through three surgeries. Tomorrow we start on the road of chemotherapy -- and we are both scared about what that will bring.

So let this blog serve as a record of this experience from my viewpoint. I will share what I see and feel, and also what I perceive others in our family are going through.

Since I am a "techie" in many respects, I will likely add here stuff that I find on the web that is either helpful or curious or interesting.

Please feel free to comment if you happen to come across this blog and want to leave a message.

Best wishes to all of you for a life full of happiness and health!