I’ve been sitting here for a couple of minutes trying to decide what title to put on this post.  I feel like this is a chronicle of my life for the past few years and I need to log on every once in a while to update it.  I may get to a point where I blog every day like I used to.  The last couple of years have been so difficult to write about.  My life has been full of pain and sorrow and I’ve lost the joy and spontaneity that used to be such an integral part of living.

Donnie passed away last Tuesday evening and I am, to put it in one succinct word, devastated.  I miss every part of him.  I know it will get easier but it’s the most significant loss of my life.  I feel like I’ve been cut in half.  You can’t share your life with someone for 45 years and not be broken when that bond is taken away. It’s still so fresh and raw.

Yes, he had cancer and we knew it would eventually take his life but I wasn’t prepared for how quickly he would be cut down.  A month ago, he was weak from chemo but still walking around, getting in the car and going to the store with me.  I’d let him out at the door and he’d get in a scooter while I parked.  And then, he went for chemo and they wouldn’t do it because they said he had a touch of pneumonia.  They hospitalized him and he was in the hospital for a week and a half before they sent him home on Wednesday.  While he was in the hospital, he was in bed and I didn’t realize how weak he was.  You expect someone to be weak when they’re in the hospital and stuck in bed.  He didn’t want to eat but then, hospital food is horrible so I didn’t think much about it.  He was getting up to go to the bathroom and he was chatting with me.

Coming home was a shock.  He couldn’t walk from the car to the door.  We had to get his scooter.  And then, he could barely get up the three steps of the front porch.  He collapsed in a chair in the living room as soon as he got in the door and had to rest for more than an hour before he felt like he had the strength to walk into the bedroom and get into bed.

I couldn’t figure out why they sent him home.  He was ten times worse than when he went in the hospital and yet they sent him home. It was after 6:00 by the time we were home and I knew his doctors were gone for the day so I decided to make a few calls early Thursday to find out what was going on.  I tried to call his oncologist but he was on vacation and out of the country.  Then I tried to call his pulmonologist but he was on vacation, too.  Donnie said he just needed to rest and he’d probably feel better on Friday.

Friday was the Fourth Of July and no one was available to speak with.  We discussed it and decided if he wasn’t better on Monday, we’d take him back to the hospital.

Saturday, he continued to weaken and his breathing was difficult.  He was on oxygen at home but he still felt like he wasn’t getting enough air.  He had to sit up in bed, propped up on a dozen pillows to get relief but he still felt bad.  Finally, on Sunday evening he told me he thought he should go to the hospital.  He said he knew he couldn’t walk out to the car and so I called an ambulance.

I changed clothes and arrived at the hospital about ten or fifteen minutes after the ambulance.  He was in the emergency room and they had placed a Bipap mask on him.  It covered his nose and mouth so he couldn’t speak.  He indicated to me that it really helped and he felt much better but he couldn’t talk because an alarm would go off every time he tried to remove the mask. They told me they were admitting him back in the hospital and would let us know when a room was available for him.  After three or four hours, they told me they were moving him to ICU.  I was shocked but they said it was just a precaution they took whenever a patient was on a Bipap machine and had previously had open heart surgery.

He finally got settled in the ICU and wrote me a note telling me to go home because it was almost 2:00 a.m. and we were both exhausted.

The next morning, I called the ICU to see how he was doing and the nurse said he was a “very, very sick man” and that I should get up there.

Another shock, seeing how much weaker he was on Monday morning.  He was still writing me notes but I noticed how shaky his handwriting was and I was so confused I couldn’t grasp the overall picture of what was going on with him.  They were talking about Hospice and it broke my heart because I knew that Hospice meant there was no chance of him getting better.  He told me that he knew he’d lost the battle and he just wanted to come home and be with us as much as possible before he died.  I figured we’d have nurses in and out of the house and they told me they would train me to give him his meds and treatments and someone would come by every few days to check on him.  They told me it was mostly about pain management and making him as comfortable as possible.  I spent the day with him and he slept a lot but I knew he was exhausted and on pain pills.  I finally headed home for the night around midnight when he was sleeping.

On Tuesday morning, I went to the hospital and the minute I walked into the unit, he heard my voice as I spoke to the nurse and became very agitated,  motioning for me to come to him.  I went and I saw how desperate and agitated he was and asked the nurses what was going on.  They said the doctor would be in shortly to talk to us.  Donnie and I listened as the doctor said his pneumonia wasn’t responding to treatment and he wanted to do a CT scan to see what was going on.  The doctor said he didn’t know if the mass in his lungs was pneumonia or cancer.  I told him that his oncologist had just told him, the week before, that his cancer was not that critical yet, no where near hopeless, and that they had a lot of things they could still do to treat it.  The doctor said he wasn’t responding to the antibiotics and he hoped the scan would help us figure out what was going on.

They came back an hour later and said they couldn’t do the CT scan because he was too agitated and it was difficult to do with a Bipap machine anyway.  He said he thought Donnie was within a few days of dying.  I was devastated.  I had thought he would probably have a slow decline with more and more visits to the hospital and a continual weakening interspersed with periods at home.

Donnie and I tried to discuss what was happening but he was weak and he couldn’t talk so he was using hand signals and short written words to communicate.  He was telling me that the electric bill was due and I needed to pay it.  Telling me that he wanted me to make the decision, if it came to it, not to resuscitate and that he didn’t want anymore treatment.  Just wanted to be free of pain and able to rest as much as possible. He absolutely hated the Bipap mask and kept trying to rip it off but then the alarms would go off and the nurses would rush in and restrain him enough to put it back on.

I made the phone calls I’d been dreading.  Called his sisters in Florida, called our sons and told them he was very weak and I thought they should come and see him NOW because I was afraid he was approaching the point where he would be receiving more and more medication and his time for being lucid and communicating with them was limited.  David told me he was leaving work immediately and would be with me in a few minutes.  He arrived just 20 or 30 minutes later but Donnie was not able to communicate because he was struggling to breath and he had been given morphine as a part of the Hospice treatment. He kept trying to take the Bipap mask off his face.  He hated that thing.  David stayed about an hour and told me he was going to pick up Darryl, Andrew and Steven and would be back in a few minutes.  As soon as David left, they told me that they were going to move Donnie out of ICU and up to a private room so we could have more privacy and room for family to visit since the ICU room was so crowded and because they would be simply trying to keep him comfortable but he wouldn’t be receiving any more treatment.  They removed the Bipap mask from his face and he immediately became very calm and serene. They replaced the Bipap with a bag and mask and he tried to fight it but he was too weak to take it off.

I followed him up to the room and the nurses brought out a roll away bed so I could stay in the room with him for the next few days.  We were getting him settled and he became very calm and quiet and his breathing became very slow.  I realized that he was leaving me right then.  I don’t know how I knew but I did.  He just became so quiet and peaceful.  I sat down beside him on the bed and held his hand.  It was just a matter of a minute or two when I became aware that my brother was standing beside me with his hands on my shoulders and my sister was on the other side of the bed holding his other hand.  The roll away bed was gone and all the doctors and nurses had left and there was no one else in the room.  My sister said, “Do you want to take his mask off?” and I told her I did.  We removed it and I watched him relax and then he slowly quit breathing. I was so grateful that he seemed so peaceful.  No more gasping for air or fighting that damn mask.  Just a few slow, peaceful breaths and then he was gone.  I had been focused only on Donnie and those private, quiet moments we were sharing and my sister went out in the hall and motioned for the doctors and nurses to come in.  They checked for a heartbeat and then told me I could stay as long as I wanted and everyone left.  It all felt so right.  It was so hard to watch him fade away but I never doubted what I was doing for a minute.  I knew what he wanted and he had trusted me to follow his wishes.  And I wasn’t torn with indecision or doubt.  I knew I did exactly what he wanted and exactly what I should have done.  I know I’m going to suffer for a long, long time but he didn’t.

I am crushed.  Heartbroken.  And yet I would not have wanted him to suffer a slow agonizing death.  We lay in bed together holding hands and talking Saturday night and he was gone by Tuesday afternoon  No long lingering weakness or loss of dignity.  I still don’t understand how he died.  The pulmonary specialist said he didn’t have pneumonia or he would have responded to the antibiotics.  The oncologist says his cancer was not advanced to the point that it would have caused this.  I don’t understand what took possession of him and advanced so rapidly.  I’ve given up trying to figure it out.  I don’t know that the answer would help me and, if he was not going to survive this cancer, I’m glad he went quickly and didn’t suffer a lot.  I watched my mother and father die slow deaths and was praying for them to die simply to ease their suffering.  I’d much rather be the one suffering than Donnie.  I loved him too much to be able to bear that.

We’ve known for a long time what we wanted to do about funerals.  Neither of us want one.  We were shocked and appalled at the traditional funeral fiasco and wanted to avoid falling into that trap.  Donnie was cremated and his remains were placed in a beautiful gold and emerald green urn. I arranged for a memorial service and rented a lovely room at a local funeral home for the day.  Friends and family gathered to share memories and celebrate his life.  It was lovely.  We’d grown quite attached to the chaplain at the hospital who talked with him and visited him often during his illness.  She and I cried together and I felt very comfortable with her and felt like she understood and recognized our love for each other.  She invited people to share memories and many did.  It was a moving memorial to him.

I actually have a fairly large insurance policy on myself that I took out some time ago.  When I die, I want to be cremated and my ashes placed with his in our urn.  The insurance will pay for my memorial service and provide for our children and grandchildren to travel to Hawaii (our favorite place in the world) and scatter our ashes off the Na Pali coast of the island of Kauai.

23rdJune

Limbo

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged.  I get so depressed and everything just hangs in limbo.

Donnie is in the hospital battling pneumonia.  His cancer came back last January and he remains in treatment.  Unfortunately, the chemo makes him so weak he’s susceptible to so much illness.  He began chemo again in February.  Took a few treatments but it seems like every time he goes in his white blood cell count is too low or his magnesium is too low or something gets in the way of his treatment so he only manages to get chemo about once every three weeks instead of weekly.

He developed pneumonia in April and has been hospitalized three times for it.  Just can’t seem to get over the hurdle.  His back is really hurting him and they say he has a bulging disc and spinal stenosis.  Surgery is the answer but he’s way too compromised to attempt anything right now.

He’s been in the hospital since last Friday and I miss him.

It just seems like one thing after another gets piled on him and he’s in a slow decline.  His doctors keep saying there are still lots of things we can try but it’s so painful to see him like this.  He’s nothing but skin and bones and I have to help him get dressed and hold on to him when he walks a few steps.  Heart breaking.

I’ve thought and said many times that I wish I was the one with cancer instead of him.  I’d do it for him if I could. I’ve always been a fighter and he’s always been passive.  I can’t help thinking that I’d put up a bigger fight and, even if the cancer got the best of me, I’d handle it better.  Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’d be too tired or too weak to fight it but I’d gladly take his place.  It’s so hard to watch this disease ravaging him.

I just do mindless things to keep from thinking about it.  The house is a mess and I just can’t seem to get motivated to do any heavy cleaning.  It seems so trivial and pointless. We have a hospital bed and an oxygen machine in the living room.  They are extra tanks so Donnie can use them when he leaves the house.  There’s a scooter in the hall and a shower chair in the bathroom.  A walker and a cane sit in the bedroom next to the potty chair.  A respiratory machine for breathing treatments takes up counter space in the kitchen along with too many pills and prescriptions to count.  Cleaning or bringing any kind of order to the chaos feels overwhelming.  My old refrigerator quit working and we replaced it with a bigger one.  The old one was recessed into the wall and the new one was bigger.  We cut out a larger space in the drywall and the refrigerator sits there, unfinished broken plaster enclosing it.  We need to redo the wall but I just don’t want to think about working with drywall and trim and plaster dust right now.  So I just stare at a hole in the wall.

I spend hours playing mindless games on facebook and watching TV.  It keeps me from thinking.  Keeps my mind numb.

I look back at the entries when I began this blog and I don’t even recognize the strong, happy, confident woman I used to be.   Things have changed so much in the last few years and I never knew how good my life was.

Yes, Donnie survived his heart surgery and he’s in remission from his cancer.  He stopped drinking months ago.  But he’s not the same man.  He’s lost so much weight he’s nothing but skin and bones.  Has to use a scooter when we go to Kroger.  He’s so weak and it scares me.  I know that even having him still with us is a miracle but it breaks my heart to see him so weak and listless.

Stacy is still totally nuts. She hasn’t worked since last April.  David pays her child support, pays her rent, pays her utilities and pays for her phone.  She gets food stamps and sits on her ass all day and goes out at night.  David bought each of the boys a laptop for Christmas and she went ballistic today.  She said there are no presents from her.  He told her he was going to sign the tag from both of them but she said they already knew that he bought the laptops and it makes her look like a bad mother because he should have given her at least $500 so she could buy them some gifts to put under her tree.  Donnie and I gave David $300 to buy gifts from us and she wanted to take those presents and tell the boys they were from her.  David refused so she told the boys that David was supposed to give her money to shop for them and he didn’t so they wouldn’t have a Christmas and she wanted them to know that it wasn’t her but David that ruined their Christmas.  Then she told him they weren’t coming over here and he wasn’t going to see them today or tomorrow.  So I guess they really don’t get a Christmas.

Bummer…

2ndAugust

29 Pounds to go!

29 pounds and 106 days to get rid of it.  Things are going well.  I got off track for a week or so while we were on a mini vacation with little sister and her foster kids.  Even then, I did a lot of walking around Dollywood and Gatlinburg and went horseback riding so I only gained a pound.  Took it off quickly after we got home and a couple more since.  I’ve now lost 11 pounds and I’m feeling good about it.

I’m logging all my exercise and food on My Fitness Pal and keeping track of it there.  I wish 3FC had a better tool for doing so but it doesn’t….  Or does it?  I’ve been blogging on here so many years, I haven’t really looked at other tools they have in ages.  Maybe I’ll check it out.

At any rate, I’m bicycling for 25 minutes once, sometimes twice, a day and doing 100 laps in the pool each day.  Occasionally, I’ll do 120 laps just to make it an even hour.

Donnie is doing okay but I still feel like he should be recovering more quickly than he is.  He used a scooter in Gatlinburg and has fallen several times.  He’ll just get up and start walking and his legs will collapse.  He’s currently nursing a sprained ankle from a fall he took a few days ago.

I just finished riding my bicycle in 90 degrees and I’m ready for a shower and change of clothes.

Later….

19thJuly

Awesome!

I lost another pound!  I KNOW this can’t keep going as well as it has been and I’m surprised that I keep losing as quickly as I am.  I’m eating well, blogging, recording everything on My Fitness Pal and exercising like crazy.  Just hope I can keep to the plan when we go on a little mini vacation with little sister in a couple of days.

I’m proud of myself for doing my bicycling this morning.  It was brutal.  Temps already in the 90s and humidity so high you can cut it with a knife.  My thighs burned, my throat was parched, I was dripping sweat and my back hurt. Add that to the constant pain in the crotch from riding a bike anyway and it made for a miserable ride.  Still, I hung in there and got it done, came home and parked my bike and then jumped in the pool fully clothed.

18thJuly

Energizer Bunny!

I’m doing great.  Still doing 100 laps in the pool every day and 20 minutes on my bicycle.  Today was the first day that I didn’t lose weight.  I’ve been losing a pound each day and I knew it couldn’t continue forever.  My weight is at 211 pounds.  I lost 8 pounds in as many days.

DH and I are going to Gatlinberg with little sister for a few days. She’s taking her foster kids and invited us along.  We’re heading out Sunday morning  and will return Thursday.  I’m planning on staying strong.  There’s only one cheat that I’ll allow myself.  They make these wonderful “slurpy” drinks at Dollywood in wonderful flavors like tangerine and mango.  I know I’m going to have a couple but that the only treat I’m allowing.

Feeling better every day.  I’m still eating healthy and working out.  This week, I’m bicycling 3 miles each day and doing 100 laps of jogging in the pool.  Weighed in this morning and found that I’ve lost another half pound so the total is 6 pounds since last Sunday.  Of course, that won’t last.  I know it’s just because I just started to diet again and things will slow down but I’m sure enjoying it while it lasts.  I swear, I can already tell that I feel better and my clothes are looser.

Today marks one week of being seriously back on track and I’m happy with the results.  I’ve gone from 3 times around the long block on my bike to five times.  That’s around 3 miles.  I know it’s not a lot but I’m getting there.  If it wasn’t for my back and crotch killing me, I could go farther but it’s a start.

I’ve eaten healthy all week and logged all my food and exercise into My Fitness Pal.  I’ve gone from jogging 30 laps in the pool to jogging 90 and I’m upping it to 100 today.

Most important, I’ve started blogging again and it help me stay focused and on track.

This weeks results:

from 30 to 90 laps in the pool

from 2.3 to 3.0 miles bicycling

And, best of all, a weight loss of 5.5 pounds!

11thJuly

Hangin in there

Today’s weather was downright weird.  HEAVY thunderstorm yesterday afternoon followed by a cold front today.  I feels like the end of September instead of the middle of July.

I got irritated yesterday.  Felt like the weather was challenging me.  I thought the storm was supposed to arrive late afternoon or evening but it came early.  I was out in the pool doing my laps and the weather changed from hot and humid to wicked in just a matter of about ten minutes.  Dark clouds rolled in and it looked like a scene from “Something Wicked this way Comes”.  I only managed to get 40 of my 60 laps in before all Hell broke loose.  Heavy winds and really strong gusts blew the patio umbrella inside out and there was lightning and hail.  I went in the house and I was pissed off.  Felt like nature was throwing obstacles in my way.

After the storm, I went back out and did the other 20 laps but it’s just not the same when you don’t get a continuous workout.

Today I rode my bicycle and did 80 laps.  DH and I went to see White House Down and now I’m going to fix something to eat.  Guess I’ll use up all the veggies the garden is providing.  Blanched green beans, sauteed squash with Parmesan and sliced home-grown tomatoes.  Wish I had a slice of mozzarella.  I’d fix Ensalada Caprese.

10thJuly

Heat Stroke!

It’s miserable outside.  I did my bicycle ride early and I was still burning up by the time I finished.  Went over to work in the garden and could barely manage to get today’s harvest and stagger back across the street.  Temps in the 90s and stifling humidity.  The weather man says storms are coming in this evening so I’d like to get the grass cut but don’t know if I can manage.

I did good yesterday.  Still having problems with the evening binges but I’m sticking to low fat, low cal snacks like sugar free jello and 5 calories popsicles.  Hopefully, I’ll figure out a way to get beyond stuffing my face every evening.

Haven’t weighed myself in a couple of days but it should be good.  I always weigh after my shower and I haven’t been taking my daily shower till later in the day because I get up and ride my bicycle early and do the gardening and it leaves me drenched in sweat and totally gross.

I’m going to get my bathing suit on and try to cut the grass in the back yard.  Guess I’ll cut a little, swim a little, cut a little, swim a little.

It’s so HOT outside!  Not only is it 90 degrees but the humidity is 70%. I worked in the garden for about 30 minutes and came in drenched in sweat.  I already rode my bicycle today.  Did 4 laps which is around 2 miles.  Not much, I know, but it’s a start.

I started bingeing last night.  Good thing I had grapes and sugar-free jello with Kool Whip.  I ate a lot but it didn’t add up to too many calories.  I stayed below 1,200 calories.  Each sugar-free jello only has 5 calories and the Kool Whip added another 25 so I ate three of them and only used 90 calories.  Good to know that there’s something I can pig out on and not have to regret it too much.

8thJuly

It’s a Start.

Yesterday went pretty well.  I did laps in the pool.  Aimed for 30 laps but still felt good so I did 50.  Yay, me!  I planned on being in trouble in the evening so I went to the store and bought some rice krispy treats and some sugar free jello parfait.  When I started craving snacks I ate 2 Rice Krispy Treats and one parfait.  I know, that’s a lot but it only came to 185 calories and it soothed my cravings.  Recently, I’ve been eating crackers and cheese, Homemade malted milk, candy and/or cookies so it was a vast improvement.  I grilled flank steak for dinner and made sauteed yellow squash and zucchini, homegrown tomato slices, and sauteed green beans.  I almost didn’t fix it because everyone was saying they didn’t like it and wouldn’t eat but then I decided if they don’t want to eat what I fix, they’re on their own.  Of course, they were all ready for some of the flank steak but they added mac and cheese to it.

I’m off to a good start this morning.  I’ve already ridden my bike.  I’ve been doing three times around a two block area in the neighborhood and I pushed myself to do four laps today.  I came home and I’ve just finished eating a small bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch with skim milk and fresh blueberries I picked from the garden.

I haven’t weighed myself because I always weigh after my shower and I still haven’t taken a shower.  Didn’t see much sense in it knowing I’d be working up a sweat riding my bike and doing the daily gardening.  I’ll record my weight after I finish dealing with the outdoor stuff that’s going to make me all sweaty and gross.

4:00 p.m. Update - Weighed 216 today.  That’s three pounds less than yesterday.  Be nice if I could do that everyday.  I did my laps and I added ten so I did 60 laps instead of 50.

I’m going to the store in a few minutes and I’m going to pick up some of my diet staples.

I made a commitment to get back in the swing of things.  I need some goals to help me get back on track.  It’s just so hard to get started.  I need to look at what’s messing me up and deal with it.

One of the most difficult things to deal with is the evenings.  I’ve fallen into the habit of watching TV all evening and snacking.  I don’t eat much during the day but then I eat dinner and keep eating until I go to bed.  I’d like to do something else in the evenings but the truth of the matter is that I’m pretty well worn out and don’t have the energy to move.  Gotta work on that.  Maybe I could try doing some chores that don’t require a lot of energy to keep me occupied.

Little sister wanted me to join her in a yard sale.  Really, I hate yard sales.  People don’t want to pay for anything.  They just want you to give it away.  I loaded up a bunch of clothes that don’t fit anymore and priced them very cheap.  A jacket that I paid $70 for, wore three times and I priced it at $10.  People were trying to get me to take $3.00.  A $60 pair of slacks worn once, priced at $7.00 and they wanted me to sell them for $3.00.  NOT.  I really didn’t want to sell my clothes anyway and it got me thinking.  Here  I have literally thousands of dollars worth of clothes that don’t fit and I’m wearing the same old ratty outfits day after day because I won’t spend money for clothes when I’m this fat.  Why bother?  I’m going to look like crap anyway. So I pulled all my clothes from the yard sale and I’m keeping them.  And I WILL wear them again.

So I’ve been talking to myself and trying to get back where I belong.  Riding my bike a little bit.  Eating a little better.

I’ve got a cruise coming up in November and I’d love to feel better and look better by then.  So I think it’s time to set some goals and develop a plan.  I have 4 months until the cruise.  I’d like to lose 40 pounds by then.  I still won’t be anywhere near my ideal weight but I know I’ll feel better and might even be motivated to buy some decent clothes.

This morning, I weighed in at 219.  Good Grief!  HOW did I let this happen?  I have 20 weeks until we take the cruise.  My plan is to lose 2 pounds per week.  At least, that’s my goal.

So how do I accomplish it?  I know how.  I know what I need to do but I always let things get in the way.  I need to eat healthy, blog, and work out. And I’ve got to quit avoiding the scales.  Time to be accountable.

So far, today, I’ve weighed in, worked in the garden for two hours (all that sweating must have helped at least a little bit) ridden my bicycle and eaten a fresh salad for lunch.  Used bibb lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini and cherry tomatoes all from my own garden and topped my salad with lite dressing.  Now I’m going to clean the pool so I can start jogging in it.  I was just getting to the point of jogging when the weather turned nasty and it’s been raining for the past week.  The temperature dropped way down and I know it’s going to be cold.

That’s what my garden gave me today.  I’ve worked my butt off on the garden since March.  I think it was a way to keep me from thinking too much.  Mindless drudgery.  At any rate, I bought a rototiller and plowed up an area 50 feet by 50 feet.  It’s across the street where there used to be houses.  They took the houses 20 years ago to widen the expressway and erected a 15 foot concrete wall, filled in the land with gravel and concrete blocks, threw a little dirt on it and sowed grass seed.  I’ve been planting a garden over there for the last three years.

This year, I enlarged it quite a bit. Thought I’d never get all the rocks and concrete out of it.  I even worked up an area with an ancient sidewalk buried  eight inches under the soil.  Took a sledge hammer and broke it up and hauled most of it out.  I cleared as much rock and debris as I could get and then worked fertilizer into it and a ton of peat moss and compost.

I started seeds back in February.  Planted tomatoes, bibb lettuce, romaine, iceberg, leeks, zucchini, yellow squash, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.  Lots of peppers: red, green, habanero, Serrano, Thai, poblano, and a bunch of really exotic and super hot peppers that we had to special order. There’s cucumbers, oregano, thyme, lavender, rosemary and lemon verbena.  I planted a ton of swiss chard, carrots, green beans, cucumbers and kale.  After that, I added flowers.  Super tall snapdragons, Mexican sunflowers, regular sunflowers, zinnias, garland daisies, dahlias, butterfly bushes, marigolds, and copperhead amaranthus.

Many, many days, I worked for hours and dragged in dirty and tired just in time to fix dinner and collapse. Now it’s beginning to pay off.  We’ve already had two small ripe tomatoes, one cucumber, quite a bit of bibb lettuce and a lot of swiss chard.

Tonight, I’m broiling chicken and I’ll throw it on top of a bed of lettuce with berries and nuts.  Feels good to eat healthy.  I haven’t for a long time.  In fact, I’m just now beginning to get back into taking care of myself.  The last year was such a nightmare and I was so busy taking care of everyone else that I really let myself go.  Now I have to find my way back.

I started riding my bike.  Couldn’t believe how difficult it was.  I was cursing myself for getting so out of shape as I huffed and puffed and tackled a three mile ride.  Came home with my thighs and calves on fire.  DH looked at my bike and said, “Honey, I think you’ve got a low tire.”  He checked it and it had 12 pounds of pressure in the front tire and 14 in the back.  They’re supposed to have 55 pounds.  No wonder it damn near killed me!  It was like peddling through sand.  Anyway, I’m still only at 3 miles each day but it’s a whole lot easier with air in the tires.

The pool is still cold but I’m planning on starting laps in the next week or so.

I went to the doctor today and asked him if I felt so bad because I’m fat and lethargic or am I fat and lethargic because I feel so bad.  He checked me out and didn’t find any major problems so I’m ready to get back in the game.  DH continues to get stronger each day and it’s time for me to do the same.

26thMay

Breathe…

I can barely breathe.  My life has been such a disaster since last summer that I can hardly believe I might actually be sharing some good news.

DH has been very sick.  He had a difficult time with the chemo.  Many days, he was so weak he was only up for a couple of hours all day.  Last week, he fell twice.  Got a bloody nose and black eye when his legs just gave way and he fell in the hall.  His back was very painful and his white blood cell count was so low they cancelled the last three weeks of his chemo.  His doctor ordered new scans to try to find out why he was having so much back pain and I just knew they were going to find that the cancer had spread.  I went with him to hear the results and I braced myself for the bad news.  Instead, we found out he’s in remission.

He had two lesions.  One was 3mm and the other was smaller.  The smaller of the two is gone and the other has shrunk to 1.75 mm.  The doctor said it was 8% active before (whatever that is) and now it’s not showing as active.  He said he’s optimistic that when DH returns for new scans in three months, it will have disappeared as well.

I stepped out in the hall while DH picked up new prescriptions and finished up with the nurse.  I called DS to tell him the good news and found that I couldn’t say the words.  I just told him that we had the results of the new scans and then I choked up and couldn’t say anything.  I just kept holding the phone while the tears streamed down my face and I couldn’t talk.  I finally managed to choke out the words, “He’s in remission.” and DS was cheering and laughing and scolding me for crying and scaring him to death.

It’s almost like I’m afraid to believe it.  Like I’ll jinx things if I seem too happy.

And it’s a long road to recovery.  For both DH and myself.  I’ve spent the last year in despair.  Trying not to think about how bad it’s been.  Hanging on by a thread.  It’s almost like I don’t know how to be happy anymore.  But it’s time to learn.  Time to begin again.

Started to say “Still hanging in there…but not very well.”  I haven’t posted much lately because there’s not much to say.  Somehow, my life has gone from busy, busy, busy and upbeat to…….nothing.  One day just rolls into another and things don’t change very much.

Funny, in the last eleven months, I’ve had to face retirement, Mom’s fairly simple surgery, slow decline and death all within a six month period, DH’s open heart surgery and cancer, my brother’s heart failure and my son’s glaucoma attack which left him with permanent and severe eye damage.  Not exactly what I planned for retirement.

I need to find some structure in my life.  Each day has become a depressing, monotonous, boring routine.  I find it difficult to do anything.  Like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I feel like my family has a black cloud hanging over us and I keep waiting for it to lift.

Many of my friends have told me to be patient.  Be strong.  God will not burden me with anything that I can’t handle.  And I believe that.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  That doesn’t mean I feel like “counting my blessings” and being grateful for all that I have.   A lot of the time, I’m focused on all that I’ve lost.  I can’t help it.  There’s this heavy burden hanging over me and I’m having a difficult time carrying the load.

I’m not going to feel guilty about it.  Don’t think I should have to apologize for being depressed, angry and paralyzed with fear.  But, at the same time, I pray every night for the strength to change my routine and feel better.  A lot of it has to do with DH.  He’s so sick.  The chemo has really taken a toll on him.  He’s lost a lot of weight, lost all his hair, doesn’t want to eat and doesn’t have enough strength to do very much.  So I adapt to his routine.  We get up and play on the computer while having coffee.  I get dressed, straighten the house a little and plan dinner.  Go to the store if I have to while he takes his afternoon nap, fix dinner, do the dishes, watch TV and go to bed.

And I eat.  Everything and anything.  It seems to be the only thing that gives me any comfort.

We have lots of events coming up.  We’re going to Orlando next month.  Got two cruises on the calendar and a three day stay at any of the Bluegreen Resorts.  Usually, these events would inspire me to diet and exercise and buy new clothes.  Not now.  I just can’t seem to get excited about anything.

Just waiting for this round of chemo to be over and then find out if any of it has done any good.

8thMarch

And here we are

Long time since I’ve posted.  One thing leads to another and suddenly, it’s March.  Winter is finally on it’s way out the door.  It’s been really cold the last week but the forecast says it’s going to start warming up.  It’s 30 degrees right now and headed for 50 today.  Going up to 60 tomorrow.

The cruise went well.  At least, as much as could be expected.  It’s not easy to take a crew of nine to New Orleans and spend ten days together.  We had beautiful weather, ate lots of food, drank too much wine and were pretty laid back for a few days.  We rented a little house in New Orleans after the cruise and spent a couple of days in the French Quarter and visiting the bayou.  Donnie was pretty weak after chemo and radiation so I took a scooter that my mom left to me.  He argued about it and then, after we got home, he said he was really glad I took it because he doesn’t think he would have made it without the scooter.  Of course, it really hurt his pride to have to succumb to riding in a power chair but, after two days of trying to walk all around the ship, he gave in and he used it a lot on the rest of the trip.

I promised myself that I would get back on track after we got back and that’s the plan.  I made an appointment with my doctor yesterday because I had labs right before we left on vacation and things are starting to get out of whack.  He wanted to send me to an endocrinologist but I asked him to have faith in me and let me do my thing for three months before we made that move.

I know what’s wrong with me.  Too much junk food.  Too much weight.  No exercise.  Smoking again.  Garbage in, garbage out.  I want to feel better.  I have to stop letting the health problems Donnie, my brother, and my son have keep me down.  I can’t be there for them if I’m a physical wreck.

Oh yeah, my son… Darryl came in from the road shortly before we left for vacation and complained of eye problems.  Wanted me to check his eye because it felt like there was something in it.  I couldn’t see anything and told him he needed to see an eye doctor.  Of course, he didn’t want to because he doesn’t have any insurance.

The next morning, he woke up and couldn’t see out of his right eye.  I rushed him to the eye doctor and they rushed him over to an eye specialist.  He was having an acute glaucoma attack and it was so severe, they didn’t even wait for him to fill out the new patient forms at the specialist’s office.  Took him right back and began treatment.  Gave him meds and two injections right in the eyes.  Ouch!  I couldn’t hardly stand to watch.  Two days later, they did laser surgery on his right eye and he has an appointment to have the left done.  He’s suffered permanent damage to both eyes.  We don’t know how much improvement he’ll have but he can’t see very well at night and isn’t able to drive after dark.  Not good for someone who makes their living driving.

And…the latest update on my brother…his heart doctor finally told him that nothing is working.  He’s being considered for a heart transplant.  His heart is continuing to deteriorate and is now functioning at 15% capacity.  The doctor said it’s a ticking time bomb and he could have a massive coronary just from sitting down.  He’s finally agreed to see a specialist here in Louisville for a second opinion this coming Monday but I can’t help thinking that he’s put himself in a very bad situation by not getting another opinion earlier.  His heart has been continuously deteriorating since he first started having trouble in December and his current doctor has let the situation go on for months now.  Every day is causing more damage.  Maybe the specialist in Louisville will agree but I can’t help thinking his current doctor missed the boat.

Okay, more updating to follow in the next few days but, for now, I’m taking care of myself.  Weighed in at a massive 220 pounds this morning and I have a goal of losing 25 pounds in the next three months.  It starts now.  I’m heading up to the treadmill.  I’ll be keeping track of calories on Sparkpeople and I have a reward for myself after three months of staying on track.

11:30 Update - Finally made my way upstairs to the treadmill.  I didn’t really have a goal in mind, other than to do something.  I felt horrible after just 5 minutes at a sedate 2.5 mph.  So I decided I’d be pushing it to get in 15 minutes.  At 15 minutes, I thought I could make it 20.  As I was working my way to 20, I flirted with the idea of trying to get in 30 minutes and, before I knew it, I was at 24 minutes and knew I could go a little longer.  At 30 minutes, I noticed that I had burned 98 calories (according to the treadmill tracker which is always wrong) so I hung in for another minute and a half to bring it up to a nice round 100 calories.

and that’s how you do it.  Always pushing for a little bit more.

4thFebruary

Open Up the Vents

Time to open up all the vents and air things out.

I get mad.  I know my husband is in a fight for his life and I know he’s sick as a dog and miserable but I get really mad about the whole situation and have to keep it all bottled up.

I saw this coming three or four years ago.  He just quit trying.  He’s always been a couch potato, always drank too much, always eaten whatever he wanted but he really threw in the towel about four years ago. Started coming home from work and began drinking and eating junk food within minutes of getting home. He wouldn’t walk with me or get any exercise at all.  He’d gripe about me fixing healthy dinners and make a frozen pizza for himself or run out for fast food.  He was smoking three packs of cigarettes a day and living on pure junk food and drinking himself into oblivion every evening.

And I could see the toll it was taking on his health.  He’d go to the doctor because he felt like crap and always want some kind of pill to make it better.  His doctor started calling him “Mr. Noncompliant” because he wouldn’t listen and do what he needed to do.

I tried to get him to cut down on smoking, tried to get him to exercise, tried to get him to eat right and quit drinking and it led to a lot of arguments and friction.  He just made up his mind that he was going to do whatever he wanted and nothing I said was going to make any difference.

I kept telling him, “Don’t you care that you’re killing yourself?  Doesn’t it matter to you?  We’re finally getting to a point where we can retire and enjoy life and I don’t want you to wind up having a heart attack or a stroke or getting cancer.  If you don’t care about yourself, what about me?  Doesn’t it matter to you that I’m the one who’s going to have to care for you when it all catches up to you?”  And he’d get mad and tell me to quit nagging him.

So now he’s had cardioversion, quintuple bypass surgery and been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer all in the last six months.  And he gets to take it easy and avoid exerting himself and I have to pick up the slack.  I get to be the supportive, loving wife.

A therapist calls him every couple of weeks.  Someone his doctors have on their team who calls him and just talks to him about what he’s going through and listens to him.  She called today and I felt my anger rising as he talked with her about his bad luck.  Having all this happen so unexpectedly.  How unprepared he was and how miserable he feels.  I was overhearing the conversation as I was taking down the shower curtain to wash it after he vomited all over the bathroom and then crawled back to bed leaving me to clean it up because he’s so weak he can hardly stand.

I’ve tried so hard to avoid saying, “Dammit!  You brought this on yourself.  I did everything in my power to make you see what was happening and you didn’t care enough to pay attention and do something about it.” I’ve kept all of the negativity bottled up and been so careful not to let him see anything but love and encouragement and positive energy.

After the therapist hung up, I told him I should find a support group or talk to someone.  I needed to go for counseling or something because it’s not easy for me either.  And he said, “I know it’s hard for you, honey.  I know.  But I just get so tired of being sick.  Sometime’s I just don’t care anymore.  I really don’t.”

And the shit hit the fan.  I burst into tears and said, “You know, that’s just about the cruelest thing you’ve ever said to me.  I’ve tried really hard to avoid saying this but you’re in this mess because you didn’t care. Because you wouldn’t listen to anyone or do anything when everyone was telling you you were heading for trouble.  You’ve been sick for six months but I’ve been watching you kill yourself for five years.  And I’ve begged you to stop destroying your health and take better care of yourself but you didn’t care enough about me to change.  So I’m pissed.  I’m angry that you have cancer and I’m angry that I can’t do anything to make it better.  And I’m angry that I saw this coming and tried to warn you and you wouldn’t listen.  And I’m even pissed that I shouldn’t be saying these things because I’m trying so hard to remain positive and be supportive but sometimes the anger is so strong that I’m choking on it.  I’m here for you. I’m doing everything I can for you and I just don’t want to hear that you don’t fucking care.”

Then Donnie got mad and said, “Oh, so it’s the old ‘I told you so’ routine?  It’s all my fault that I have cancer and heart problems?  What about your brother?  He’s always been so perfect and now he has congestive heart failure.  Is that his fault?  How do you know this is all my fault?  Are you blaming me because I have cancer?”

And I stopped.  I walked away and had a good cry and he came and hugged me and he thinks I’m all better. But I’m not.  Thank God I didn’t spew out the rest of it while I was venting.  How I feel betrayed because I’ve given him my entire life.  Been with him since I was 17 and I’ve been a damn good wife for 43 years.  I’ve been supportive and loving and done everything in my power to show him how much I love him and our family.  I feel so betrayed that I gave him all my good years and now, when I’m tired and worn out and getting old, he’s probably going to leave me.  And I don’t want to be alone.  I don’t want to have to spend the rest of my life without him.  And every time he says he doesn’t want to eat or he won’t get out of bed or he doesn’t do exactly what his doctors tell him to do, I feel like he doesn’t care enough about me to fight for me.  But I try to be patient and positive and encouraging and I do my crying at night after he goes to bed.

31stJanuary

Crabby Patties

DH qualifies.  He’s one cranky, crabby ass these days.  I know he feels miserable but he is NOT a good patient. Yesterday, I was worried because he spent all day in bed.  The day before that was an all day sleep and the day before that.  This morning, he’s up and mean as a snake.  I finally told him to go back to bed.

He wants to vent and I understand that.  But he also needs to understand that this is not easy for me either. Since DH has been sick, he’s letting a friend use his car so we only have my car.  He woke up this morning and was griping about Steven having jury duty.  I don’t know why it was a problem this morning.  I’ve been dropping DH off for radiation, running Steven downtown for jury duty and getting back to pick up DH as soon as he finishes radiation.  Steven was supposed to be at jury duty at 9:30 this morning instead of 9:00. DH starts complaining that he’s going to finish radiation and have to wait and he doesn’t feel good.  Steven suggested I go ahead and drop him off at the regular time but DH wanted to argue about it for some reason. He said that wasn’t necessary and yet he continued to complain about the situation.  So I suggested DH go ahead and go to radiation (which is a ten minute drive from home and only takes 10 minutes) and I would take Steven to jury duty when he got back.  Steven might have been 5 or 10 minutes late but he said that wasn’t a problem since he’s just sitting in the jury pool.  DH went to radiation and then called me and said he was heading home and to have Steven come out to the car when he got there and he’d run him downtown. Although it wasn’t a problem for me to take Steven and I was dressed and ready to go, he insisted on taking him.  After he returned, he griped about how bad he feels and how hard it was on him to take Steven all the way downtown.

In other words, he’s looking for things to argue about.

The hand and foot syndrome has spread to his face and it looks like he has a sunburn.  He was applying the lotion to his face and wanted me to do it.  So I started applying it and then he got all upset because I got close to his mouth and he said it tasted bad.  I never even got near his lips and yet he insisted that he could taste it.

Next, it was on to complaining about Steven not putting the toaster away or hanging up his towel and a ten minute search and rant about an insurance card that he said I’d misplaced.  It turned up in his coat pocket.

And on and on and on…until he said, “I might as well just go back to bed!” and I said, “Please! I agree.  Go back to bed.  You’re driving me crazy!”

They’ve cancelled DH’s last chemo treatment which would have been tomorrow since he’s having problems with the hand and foot syndrome.  I guess he’s at about the worst point in this series and I hope he starts feeling better soon.  Hopefully, the effects of the chemo will begin to abate and he’ll get his appetite back and his hands and feet will get better.

Now the house is quiet and I can get some cleaning done.

30thJanuary

Living in Limbo

Sometimes I’m struck by the date.  Can’t believe summer is over, can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving.  Wow, is it really Christmas day?  It seems like I’ve been in a daze since Mom got sick last July.  Dealing with her slow deterioration and then Donnie’s heart bypass surgery followed immediately by his cancer.

Then my brother developed heart problems and I went to stay with him and care for his girlfriend, Kim.

And then Mom passed away.

I just seem to float through the days and hours and it feels like I’m stuck in limbo.  Losing track of the movement of the days and weeks and months.  Now it’s the end of January.  Feels so strange.  I wonder if things will ever get back to normal?

A friend posted on Facebook yesterday:

“have you and your family ever had one of those days…..Sick yesterday…Not feeling great this morning. Went in played politics…don’t like politics….stayed late counting computers (long story) went to grandson’s game…it was not a happy game…daughter and I discussed politics….talked to both sons who had problems…then came home to dark house. Neighbors lights were on…Don was in the house in the dark and mad at me because he had been waiting since 4. At 4 I just leaving Valley for Stuart. Call REMC…Girl argued with me and told me to check our fuse box. That thing has been replaced to to last outage. Explained Transformer outside house had a lose wire. This has happened several times…Squirrels get in transformer and get electrocuted and our electricity goes off. The come out with a long pole, knock off squirrel and reset transform. Now don wants me to call REMC and tell the girl it was what he said and not what she thought. Bed sounds good about now.  What a sucky day!  Can’t get much worse than this”

I had to stop myself from commenting about how much worse it could get.

DH is in bed.  He’s there all the time.  Chemo has made him sick as a dog.  He developed something called “Hand and Foot Syndrome” from the chemo where it looks like his hands and feet have been burned.  The skin is peeling off and he has sores and blisters all over them.  His heels are bleeding and he can barely walk.  They’ve cancelled his chemo for this Friday and we’ve been using Neosporin, ice packs, and some cream the doctor recommended called “Utterly Smooth”.  Really good stuff.   I can’t believe how much better his hands and feet are this morning.  So glad he’s getting some relief.  I keep trying to get him to eat something but he says everything tastes metallic and makes him sick.  So I eat it.  All I do is eat.  And I don’t even think about it.  Just mindlessly cram food into my mouth.  Two more weeks of radiation and no more chemo for a while.  I keep encouraging him and telling him about how much fun we’re going to have on the upcoming cruise in 22 days.  I hope he’s able to enjoy it.

I told my brother I was staying home this week.  He’s still in atrial fibrillation and I can’t believe his heart doctor hasn’t done anything about it.  Scares me to death.  I’d like to be there to help him with Kim but I need to be here for Donnie.  Gotta be where I can do the most good.  Mike has an appointment with his heart doctor tomorrow and I hope they make some kind of decisions.  It’s been a month since he started meds and he’s not getting any better.

Still, I can’t stay in Limbo forever.  I need to clean house today.  Try to find some semblance of normality in all this.  Think I’ll dedicate my energies to laundry and house cleaning.  My annual weekend with the girls starts this Friday and my wonderful Sistahs won’t let me back out.  We’ve rented three cabins at General Butler State Park.  Plan on going to a casino and having the Crab Leg Buffet Friday night, Saturday will be shopping and visiting a couple of wineries and then a Master Chef contest Saturday night where we’ll drink a bit too much and come up with “God Knows What” for dinner after we’re given our mystery ingredients.  It’ll be so good to spend time with my friends