Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm Here and She's There

I’m here and she’s there and it’s been a few difficult days. On Sunday morning we left the Emergency Room and prepared to head up to Coos Bay for Rianne to receive another blood transfusion. Instead we decided that her parents would take her up and pull the 5th wheel behind them in case she needed to sleep on the way home. Her temperature and condition were worse than we thought and the oncologist decided to keep her overnight.
Overnight has now turned into a 4th day. Late Sunday evening, after numerous antibiotic infusions, she received a blood transfusion. On Monday the oncologist ordered a SECOND blood transfusion, as her blood counts, especially the white blood cells, were still lower than preferred. Yesterday she received more antibiotics and today she has been closely monitored.
Tomorrow she may be released to return home, but that was what the oncologist said yesterday. He entered her room today, drew blood, returned with the results and kept her where she was. She called this morning frustrated and tearful, apologizing again and again for having cancer. It absolutely crushes me that she feels this way and it remains a difficult task explaining to her that none of it is any fault of hers. The photo in this post was taken the last time she broke down apologizing and it too was another troublesome moment for her.
Her oncologist explained to her that the infection she has is thought to be part of the chemotherapy process. He said that sometimes it happens due to the chemicals killing off cells throughout the body. Her chemically infused body is very vulnerable during chemo treatment and being hospitalized is also part of the process.
Her spirits were NOT high this morning, but her condition improved when her parents visited her this afternoon. We’re sure fortunate to have her Mom and Dad here right now and are especially thankful that they can be with her in Coos Bay. We are also fortunate to have your prayers and friendship and are grateful to you all.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Another Blood Transfusion

It’s been a week since I have had a chance to make an entry here in the Blog and I apologize for that. I’ve been working at the Gold Beach Football Team Camp and have spent an enormous amount of time away from Rianne. Unfortunately, it may have worked against us this time. Rianne is currently in a hospital bed at Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay. Her parents took her up this morning and I stayed here to work.
Chemo Infusion #4 on Monday went well for Rianne while she was receiving it, but the ride home from Coos Bay didn’t go as well. On the trip home she became nauseated and also had an awful headache. When she arrived home that evening with her parents and Tate she was sick. We put her in bed and monitored her throughout the night. She recovered on Tuesday and did well the rest of the week.
Yesterday she felt well and joined her parents, Tate and I outside for some yard work. She looked fine and felt well during the day. I should have known better though – the warm sun and the amount of time that she spent outside caught up to her. I left for the camp to work the afternoon shift from 3:00-5:00. I stopped at the store to pick up groceries for dinner, then I began cooking a good meal when I returned home at 6:00. She was resting on the couch and visiting with her parents. She took her evening medication early and had to be woken up to eat. She ate a good amount of protein-filled steak and plunked into bed around 8:30 with a headache. I returned to the camp to work the evening shift from 9:00-11:00 and when I returned home at 11:15 I took her temperature. The thermometer read 99.8 degrees. Since it is a digital thermometer, I take several readings to insure some accuracy – a minute later it read 100.0 degrees. I gave her 2 tylenol in an attempt to reduce the fever, but this time it didn’t work like it has previously done. I fell asleep by her side at 12:15 and at 1:45 she woke me asking for me to take her temperature again. She was hot and clammy and did not look well. This time the thermometer read 100.6 degrees. We have been instructed by our Oncologist to call if her temperature reaches 100.4 degrees, so I took another reading and it settled in at 100.2 degrees. I wasn’t comfortable accepting the drop in the reading so I took another and it read 100.4 degrees. We immediately woke her parents and she asked her father to give her a blessing. He insisted that I call the oncologist first, so I did so. Her doctor and I discussed Rianne’s situation and he instructed me to take her in to the Emergency Room if her temperature didn’t drop in the next 30 minutes. At 2:30 the thermometer read 99.7 degrees on two separate readings. Unsatisfied, I remained awake and took another series of readings at 3:15am. The thermometer beeped an alert sound as each reading ended - they read 100.0, 100.0, and 100.1 degrees respectively. Instantly, I felt a lump in my throat and knew that something was very wrong. At 3:25 I took a final reading and it beeped in at 101.0 degrees. Without any further hesitation, Rianne and I got dressed and headed for Curry General Hospital, while her parents and Tate stayed home to get some sleep.
The Emergency Room Nurse did a good job taking care of Rianne. She slipped an IV into Rianne’s left arm and administered antibiotics and anti-nausea medication into it. She also drew blood to have it analyzed. At 4:00am Tate drove Rianne’s “Cancer Notebook” to the hospital so that the nurse would have access to all of the medications which she is currently taking, which are numerous to say the least. At 4:45 I returned home to pick up Rianne’s pain killer and a glass of Almond Breeze milk, which is the only thing that she can take with some meds to keep them down. She took the pain killer and grimaced as her chest began to feel pain, once again due to the Neulasta shot. Her headache worsened as the night, or should I say the morning, progressed. She was miserable and her face was losing color with each hour. This time I had no doubt in my mind that she was anemic again. The blood results returned with numbers stating exactly that. Both her white blood cells and red blood cells were low in numbers. Another transfusion was necessary, but she would rather travel to Coos Bay to receive it so that her oncologist could also examine her, so she was prepped for the trip. At 7:15am she pleaded for a Demerol shot to relieve the headache pain and received it shortly thereafter. She was finally released to be driven to Coos Bay around 8:00am.
When we arrived at home the decision was made to have her parents take her to Bay Area Hospital and pull the 5th wheel behind them so that they could stay overnight for her tests on Monday. The three of them left at 9:00am and headed north. Rianne was asleep in the back seat of the truck when her head hit the pillow, as the Demerol put her out. It was a helpless feeling for me to watch them drive away, but the schedule of her tests for Monday and my hours at the camp conflicted. Her parents came to Gold Beach to help care for her so that I could work the camp. I intended to follow them up in the van, but they all reminded me that driving to Coos Bay on an hour of sleep wasn’t a safe idea at all.
The oncologist admitted her for the night and possibly may keep her there for a few days. Her fever and low blood counts have her doctor concerned and he won’t release her until her condition improves. I spoke with her this evening after 6:00 and she was still receiving antibiotics. She hadn’t even received any blood yet, a process which took 6-8 hours during the first two transfusions.
Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. She has had another awfully rough stretch, which we can only hope and pray improves and quickly. I love her so much! Thank you again for your love and support!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

20 minutes ago Rianne approached me with tears in her eyes to give me my Father’s Day Card. She wrote it on June 1, 2010 while receiving her 3rd Chemo Infusion nearly three weeks ago.

The envelope reads, “Magic – Happy Father’s Day”

The card reads, “No one could ask for a better husband and father…….Well, they could ask, but you’re already taken! Happy Father’s Day!”

Written in the card by my loving wife, Rianne - ”Hi Sweetie! Happy Father’s Day! I just want to thank you for all the fun things we have done together! We sure have done a bunch of fun adventures. Life is good – life is the best! I love you more than anything. If you are reading this card that means that I am still around and kicking! I hope you have a good day today. Thank you for being my soul support and soulmate. You are what a father means to me. I believe with all my heart that you have been the best Dad that Ty and Tate could have! You have always been there for them even in the hard times and fun times – please stay close to our little family. They will give you the most peace! I love you, Becker! Love, Renny”

Until today, I hadn’t cried since April.

P. S. Rianne wanted to have a fun video of me in the Blog for Father's Day today. This is her pick video!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rianne Loves Elk!

The past few days have been good for Rianne! She is actually working at Curry County Title right now and hasn’t called me to pick her up yet, so it’s a good sign that she is feeling well. She worked yesterday also and felt well the entire time she was there. Bryan Little and his father, Dave Little, her bosses, have been incredibly supportive throughout her entire ordeal. They have been wonderful to work for since she first began working at Curry County Title over 18 years ago. Her co-workers have also been great supporters - Becky Howlett, Katie Hensley, Carol Noble, Lacey Kreick and Trish Kerr. Rianne has a strong desire to contribute as an employee and will work when she feels physically capable to do so.
Her parents are here for a couple of weeks to help when necessary and to especially take her to the next couple of appointments in Coos Bay. They are the ones shown in the photo above (with Magic) looking at elk below the house. Last night her father, Don Katzenberger, decided that his head needed to be shaved to look hers, so she obliged and took the little hair that he had left on his head completely off! She also shaved Hap Flynn's head and mine down to 1/8" stubble. Her mother, Lillian Katzenberger, allowed Rianne to take a generous amount off of her head, as well.
On Monday she will receive Chemo Infusion #4 which will mark the halfway point of the scheduled chemotherapy treatments. I say “scheduled” because the oncologist cautioned us that it may take 6-8 cycles. Upon completion of the chemotherapy she will have a week or two of rest before undergoing the radiation. We are looking at radiation beginning sometime in the second half of August. It will quite possibly consist of 5 days a week for 30 days, which will commit us through the month of September.
Rianne has been doing well and her spirits are up. She has had a consistent body temperature this week with minimal fluctuations in it. In prior weeks her temperature has climbed slightly but is controlled with a couple of Tylenol. This past week she didn’t need to take any Tylenol at all, which is good as she has had trouble with it often. She is a very strong-willed woman and now knows that the only way to improve is by listening to her own body speak to her. Lately, when she is feeling poorly she rests - when she feels good she tries to accomplish something. She likes to keep herself busy to keep from thinking about things too much and it helps!
Last night Bob and Marali Bastian of Klamath Falls, Oregon stopped by to visit us. Bob is the Senior Regional Director for the Western Division of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. He was there to supervise the meeting when the Curry Coastal Chapter was formed in 2004. Bob and Marali have been amazing supporters of the foundation and especially of the people in it. Their love and support for Rianne is unbelievable and has been since the Chapter was activated. Bob and Marali are two more reasons why Rianne loves elk and they are also two more supporters in her fight with cancer. They made a special trip up to Gold Beach to pay her a visit and to give her a huge pot of flowers, which we both appreciated!
Rianne had no choice but to love elk, as her father and her husband are elk enthusiasts! She spent numerous seasons in the Blue Mountains hunting with her father and family, which is where her interest in elk began. When we met she begged me to take her elk hunting with my brother, Paul and me. In 2004 she encouraged ME to join HER in the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as a Committee Member of the newly formed Curry Coastal Chapter and we have been part of the team since. She will never leave any opportunity to observe elk – instead the elk have to leave her sight before she will leave them. Rianne has actually sat on her quad and continued to watch a grazing herd of elk while I drove off oblivious to her whereabouts. When I double-back to find her there are binoculars stuck to her smiling face! When the resident herd of 28 elk are below our house she is the first to spot them and the last to watch them leave. When we drive by the Dean Creek Herd east of Reedsport she has to be carried back into the vehicle before we can continue on our way!
We hope you are all doing well. Thank you again for your friendship and for all of your love and support. Enjoy your summer and remember to tell everyone how much you love and care about them!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Donald Duck Pays Rianne a Visit!

The week ended well for Rianne and her strength improved consistently through the weekend. Her brother, Doug Katzenberger, surprised her and made the trip from Seattle to Gold Beach with a friend from back home. He left his home in Big Lake, Alaska for a work related meeting in Seattle, then drove 10 hours with Edrie Suddeth to see Rianne. It was a good visit for them all as Rianne and Edrie haven’t seen each other since high school and Rianne hasn’t seen Doug for over 3 years. They spent plenty of time visiting and discussing Rianne’s condition and just catching up on their lives. On Saturday we took a fun drive to get Rianne out of the house for awhile. She really enjoyed getting some fresh air!
It’s amazing how quickly time flies and how fast things can change! The last time I saw Doug was in 1992 when Rianne and Doug lost their brother, Tony in an accidental fall from a tree and the complications related to it. During the visit with Doug and Edrie, Rianne’s spirits improved tremendously! She was re-energized after having them here to visit her. Family and friends are so important to the recovering cancer patient and the visits are a remarkable boost for Rianne. Doug even had her laughing hysterically when he sang “Happy Birthday” to her in his Donald Duck voice. Her birthday is in December – he just knew she’d laugh if he sang to her like he did when they were young!
Today is Monday which means another Blood Draw. We rose at 5:30 and left at 6:30 to make the trip up to Coos Bay. Before the scheduled Blood Draw, Rianne had to have the tube surgically removed from her eardrum. We explained the details of why surgery was necessary in the previous post on this blog. Before we left Gold Beach she was anxious about the tube removal and the Blood Draw, so again she felt nauseated on the trip up north. She ate nothing and drank nothing, as neither appealed to her. She entered the ear, nose and throat doctor’s office at 8:30 and was soon feeling the unpleasant sting of a few shots in her ear canal to numb things up a bit. She was on her back looking up at a photographic light cover of the sky and some clouds when she suddenly started feeling dizzy. “The clouds are really moving. They’re flying by!” were the next words she said and immediately the doctor requested a wheel chair for her. He plucked the tube out of her ear and sat her up, keeping a firm grip on her knowing that she could tip over if she wasn’t steadied. She was sitting up but was in a spin, giggling and commenting on the changing room around her. Whatever he injected into her ear was working wonders as she felt no pain! We slid her into a wheelchair, thanked the doctor and his assistant and rolled on to the next appointment.
The Blood Draw was routine for Rianne. By now she knows to accept the “railroad-spike-sized needle” into her Port without even a slight twitch of her muscles. If it were me, I’d be whining, fighting, whining some more, screaming and even calling for my mother, but Rianne cooperates better and better each time a new needle finds the mark. Her courage humbles me, as my pain threshold is minimal at best. The blood was drawn by Teresa and sent to the lab. Rianne felt awful as she sat in the chair and drifted off into a light sleep. I knew the results would be low because the same pattern occurred a few weeks ago, so I mentally prepared myself for the blood transfusion which would begin this afternoon. Teresa returned with a bag of fluid and told us that it was Zofran to help with the nausea. She said it would help Rianne feel better for the ride home…...the ride home? “She can go home?” I asked, hoping the answer would be “yes” but not getting my hopes up. “Yup – her counts are good today!” We both let out huge sighs of relief, knowing that we would be able to relax during the ride home. Rianne was miserable but very optimistic, as Teresa assured her that the Zofran would ‘kick in’ soon and, with the help of an Ativan and a pain killer, she’d feel better before we arrived in the driveway. I rolled her out of the facility and helped her get into the van, then we did some quick shopping and blew with the wind toward home.
The northern wind was strong today, which made handling the vehicle a tougher task than usual. The ride home improved with each mile, as Rianne began to feel good enough to sit up and hold a conversation. This afternoon she was feeling good enough to replant some flowers into her outside flower pots. Her day just kept getting better and better. She sure enjoys her plants and they certainly make the house look nice. Rianne has always had a talent for beautifying anything that she touches!
As I type for this Blog, her parents are on their way to Gold Beach. I will be working at the Gold Beach Football Team Camp in a few days and I don’t want her to be home alone for long periods of time, which is why Don and Lillian will be here. They will spend the next 2 weeks here to help keep Rianne comfortable during my absence. As we often try to say, thanks for reading this Blog. We hope you are all happy and well. Enjoy the summer and please keep Rianne in your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pretty Smart Thinking on Rianne's Part

Yesterday was another good day. We rose early and headed north 80 miles up the coast to Coos Bay for another scheduled blood draw. Rianne was feeling tired again and was certain that her blood counts would be low. We were gearing up for another Blood Transfusion, but, to our surprise, her counts were strong. We were happy to hear the news because it marked the first time that she had really good numbers a week following an infusion. When the results were read she immediately perked up and felt a second wind. The rest of the day went well and, although she went to bed worn out, she was in really good spirits. It was actually a nice trip up to Coos Bay yesterday and we were hoping for the same today.
Today we had 2 doctor appointments scheduled so it was off to Coos Bay again. She had been taking a very large calcium pill that was like swallowing a log, so yesterday she changed it to liquid supplement instead, hoping that it would be easier to take. She took the liquid dose this morning, a vitamin D pill and a pain killer with a light breakfast. When we left she felt fine but 20 minutes into the trip she began to feel very nauseated. A few minutes later she had me pull the van over and she vomited on the roadside. It changed her entire day. Now she had no appetite to drink or eat and she also emptied her stomach. She began to feel weak and continued to feel nauseated. 20 more minutes passed and we were again on the side of the road and she was again leaning over. This time she completely emptied out her stomach. It’s a helpless feeling to stand and watch – all that I could do was rub her shoulders while holding her steady enough to help her keep her balance as she heaved again and again. This was only the second time that she got nauseated through this entire ordeal, but it was tougher than the first because her bed wouldn’t be possible to use until the day ended. She made due with the passenger seat in the van and stuck it out, especially so that she could see the ear, nose and throat doctor who she has wanted to see for close to a year now.
Her 9:45 appointment with her psychiatrist went well, although she was uncomfortable fighting the nausea in his office. Upon completion of the appointment we went to a car wash. I washed and vacuumed the van while she laid back and rested inside. When the van was finished she leaned up in her seat and said she felt better. We grabbed a small burger for her and she was able to keep it down. Amazing how just a small amount of food can revive the body and put new strength in it. We killed some time shopping here and there, then she checked in for her 3:00 appointment with the ear, nose and throat doctor.
In June of last year she flew to Boise for a wedding and on the return trip to Oregon her right ear would not decompress. The ear has given her problems since, which has been close to a year now. She saw a specialist in July and he put a tube into the eardrum. The eustacian tube inside of Rianne’s right ear system was flattened due to a combination of the pressure of the flight and a cold she was fighting off. It didn’t return to it’s normal hose-like shape. The doctor felt that a tube placed in the eardrum would possibly alleviate the problem by relieving the pressure. The tube, which is about 1/8” in diameter, looks and is shaped like a tire rim. It has flanges on it so that it can be placed into the eardrum and stay in place, allowing the eardrum to grow and press against it. The tube was intended to release pressure by allowing air to flow through the tiny pinhole in the center of it. It has been allowing air to pass through it, but the pressure is still there. Today’s doctor was the third ear, nose and throat specialist she has seen regarding the troubled ear. He discovered that the tube placed in her eardrum by the first doctor has moved and is in jeopardy of sliding behind the eardrum and into her middle ear. This could be disastrous and would require surgery to remove it. He invited me to look into the ear microscope and I saw for myself that it was slightly dislodged. To remove it surgically he will need her to return another day following another hearing test, which is also her third. So here we go again with the roller coaster ride – up yesterday and down today!
The tube will be removed from her ear on Monday of next week, followed by another scheduled blood draw from her Port. Her hearing test will be sometime this week in the late afternoon in Brookings, which is 30 miles away from Gold Beach to the south. We can only hope and pray that the ear will eventually quit taunting her and return to it’s original state. Sometimes she can hear a swooshing sound in it which the doctor says is the sound of her blood vessels. It is a major stressor that she doesn’t really need teaming up with the cancer right now. To combat the ear problem and the swooshing noise she bought an Ipod today to play into her ear when it is pestering her! Pretty smart thinking on Rianne’s part! Why not beat the noise with some sounds that she enjoys.
The ride home was uneventful. Rianne ate another burger because it was the only thing that she felt even the slightest appetite for. She leaned back and rested, keeping her eyes on the road but not saying too much. She was miserable on the ride home and her bed wasn’t showing up soon enough. We finally made it home around 6:45 and she headed straight for the warmth of a shower. She felt better when she got out, wound down a little, hopped into bed and called it a day.
I’m remembering to take it a day at a time. I expected today to be another good day, but it started poorly and she never fully recovered from the initial nausea. Even at her 3:00 appointment she notified the ear, nose and throat doctor that she was still nauseated. The long days to Coos Bay tend to catch up to her if she doesn’t find a way to rest sometime during the day. Unfortunately I’m afraid more days like this are ahead of us. We’ll just need to remember to face each day as it arrives!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

She's Living a Life That She is NOT Used to Living!

The past 3 days have been pretty quiet around here. Rianne has really been concentrating on laying low and getting some rest. She has slept and rested more this week than any of the previous. We’ve tried to pattern what her days will be like and are getting close to predicting them as they arrive. She has dropped into the Nadir Period (low end of the cycle) right around the end of the week of a Chemo Infusion - and we’re there again, so it may explain why she began to feel poorly this evening. The past 3 days went fine for her, but her stomach began to get upset tonight and she didn’t feel real chipper about much. She climbed into bed around 6:00 and I ran into town to grab some groceries. She ate when I returned and has been in bed since.
We’re hoping it doesn’t happen again, but during the past two Nadir Periods her blood counts have bottomed out. When her red blood cells get too low she becomes anemic and can’t function as well as she normally does. She has trouble thinking and even speaking. She will hold a conversation with me and stop right in the middle of it, then try desperately to remember what she was talking about. It frustrates her to tears sometimes, so I often remind her of what she was talking about to redirect her and it tends to snap her back into the conversation…but not always! When her counts drop her eyes begin to get cloudy and she gets that vacant look in her eyes. I can tell that she’s fighting to stay strong in an attempt to prevent having another transfusion, but it is what it is. She fought it hard during the last cycle and was disappointed to hear that a transfusion was necessary. I’m trying to keep her expectations lower this time so that she doesn’t allow herself to get set up for disappointment again. She’ll keep eating right and keep fighting to get good blood count numbers, but this time she won’t put so much pressure on herself if the counts bottom out. As I said earlier - it is what it is. We all need to remember that Rianne is 75% what we are with her blood disorder holding her back - the Thallesemia Minor makes her blood counts lower than yours or mine would be by about 25%, which is a HUGE disadvantage for her EACH time she has a Chemo Infusion. By the end of the week it could be inevitable for her to need a Blood Transfusion. We are trying to stay positive and hope that it isn’t necessary, but we’re also “keeping it real” and are prepared to go through it again if the need arises.
Although we are focusing on the positive, it’s really difficult to look forward to the duration of the treatments and the radiation that follows. That’s where YOU come into our lives. We may be glued to our home, but your emails, texts, cards, letters, gifts, meals and phone calls are what really keep us going! I still have things to do away from home, but Rianne is unable to leave home except for treatment related visits. She’s living a life that she is NOT used to living! What she really just wants to do is get out and play a little…but right now she just can’t do that with her energy levels decreasing as they are.
We both really appreciate all that you have done for us and hope that you know how much it means to us. Without you this would be absolutely frightening to go through. Thanks again for your love and support and especially for your friendship!

P.S. Thank you all for signing up as Followers of this Blog. Who are you Auntie Cookie?! The photo is too small to see you well enough!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rianne is OFF LIMITS!

Well, another lonely day without even the simplest thing as a kiss. It’s a rough life! When Rianne has a Chemo Infusion she cannot kiss me, can’t let me wipe away her tears, can’t let her droplets of sweat touch me and, obviously we cannot be, you know, intimate! Because of the chemicals that are so strong in her body, if any of her bodily fluids touch another person they can actually cause that person to get a chemical burn. Yes, believe it or not, we have been advised to “abstain” from any kissing, touching teardrops, intimacy and even hugging tight. For the 48 hours that immediately follow a chemo infusion Rianne is OFF LIMITS! Her clothing must be washed separately and must be washed twice. When she uses the toilet she has to flush twice with the lid down to avoid splashing. Her urine is as pink as one of the R-CHOP chemicals was when it left the bag and entered her Port. Clorox wipes are abundant in our home and are used to clean any possible chemicals left lingering on the toilet, sinks, doorknobs and the phones. Germs are also a potential threat to Rianne and anyone, including myself, must be certain that they do not have a cold (or especially the flu) when they are near her. A box of medical masks rest by the doorway and are required to be worn by anyone who may visit during this critical period. As a precaution we wipe down everything in sight! It’s a dang good thing that Rianne’s a “germ-o-phobe!” Thanks to my brother, Chuck, she doesn’t go anywhere without her Purell hand sanitizer bottle in her purse or in my pocket. Being OCD actually DOES have it’s benefits!!

Paper plates and bowls and plastic cups replace our kitchenware as another precaution for keeping her fluids to herself. At times her mouth becomes so dry that she places some artifical saliva on her tongue to return moisture to her palate. Canker sores are combatted by gargling a solution of salt water with baking soda in it. Oddly enough, sometimes the chemicals leave her mouth tasting like metal, which causes an increase in sensitivity when silverware is used. To solve the problem Rianne eats with plastic forks and spoons until the metal sensation in her mouth leaves her.

Rianne rose around 8:00 this morning, mixed up a green tea drink, walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes and returned to bed to rest. The pattern of the past 2 cycles indicated that she needed to rest today – the day after a chemo infusion – and she did just that! She napped on and off during the day, spoke with some friends and relatives on the phone, texted a time or 20 and stayed away from active work today. In fact, the hardest she worked was while she colored Piglet and Pooh in the coloring book her Aunt Annajean and cousins Debbie and Pam sent to her in the mail. Remember - she is fighting the zombie-like condition called "chemo-brain" and anything that keeps her mind working is a benefit to her. She even called me to pick her up a Sudoku book! I'm impressed with her determination to keep her mind sharp, especially during the 1st week of the cycle, which has proven to be the toughest.

Tonight she looks good and it has everything to do with allowing herself to catch up on some much needed rest today. At this point in the treatment process Rianne knows how critical rest is, even though she feels good enough to get up on her feet and work on something. Her spirits are strong and her attitude remains the same – positive and upbeat. It was another really good day for Rianne and we're hoping that it continues for the rest of the week!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chemo Infusion #3

Chemo Infusion #3 went surprisingly well today. After a good night’s sleep, Rianne rose at 6:00, took a 10 minute walk on the treadmill, showered and we were on the road by 7:00. We walked into the Treatment Facility at North Bend Medical Center in Coos Bay before 9:00 and her Oncology Nurse had her blood drawn in minutes. She began the infusion around 10:00. As usual, Rianne felt some anxiety but got the butterflies out with a deep breath or ten. I was impressed with her once again today because she had nothing to complain about and did everything she could do to stay relaxed and comfortable. Teresa, her Oncology Nurse for today, is one of her favorites and really sees to it that Rianne is cared for in the most professional manner possible, yet laughs and jokes with her to keep her spirits up.
I left Rianne in good hands around 1:00pm to do some shopping and returned a couple of hours later. Rianne texted me asking for her new pain prescription because she could feel a headache coming on due to one of the medications in the R-CHOP regimen. She was taking hydrocodone for her pain during the past 2 cycles, but the Tylenol in it actually caused her headache to WORSEN for some reason. She has said numerous times that Tylenol causes difficulties for her. A week ago, when she was fighting pain from the anemia and blood transfusion, she fought herself to take the hydrocodone for pain. She basically took herself off of it and substituted Advil in it’s place. The ibuprofen kept her afloat, but the pain wasn’t really under control, so a change was necessary. It was frustrating her and it also frustrated me. I spoke with her Oncologist about dumping the hydrocodone and prescribing oxycodone. The medication worked well for my back pain during the recovery period from my back surgery in December of 2009. The Oncologist approved it and she tried it today. Within 15 minutes of taking the pill she could feel a change in her pain level for the better. The rest of the day went extremely well for her and we hope that the oxycodone will continue to help keep her pain at bay.
We left the facility around 5:00 and headed straight for Gold Beach. Today was one of the best trips we’ve made to Coos Bay since her diagnosis was made. Considering that she received poison all day long through her Port to kill off the cancer cells, she felt surprisingly well. When we arrived at home she made a couple of phone calls, wound down a little more and called it a day around 9:30pm.
The roller coaster ride was at a peak today and it feels good, but we know how quickly things can change. 3rd cycle; 3rd time to see if we can pattern what she may feel as she goes through the week. We documented her progress daily during the 2nd cycle and discovered similarities from the 1st cycle. During this, the 3rd cycle, we may know what to expect as she crosses some timelines and possibly make her week flow smoother than it did during the earlier cycles.
I’m incredibly proud of my wife’s progress throughout this battle! She has made some lifestyle changes for the better to fight the cancer. She remains strong and positive and she accepts full responsibility for her nutrition and health habits. She wouldn’t want it any other way!