Wednesday, October 29, 2008

One week to go

Our weather here is starting to remind us of what the weather was like in Alaska when we left, the end of Sept. Cool, cloudy and windy.

Monday, Fred started physical therapy. He has some exercises to strengthen his back muscles because of the surgery and leg exercises for the weakness from the nerve being compressed.

One week from tomorrow Fred will finish the radiation treatments. His biggest struggle with the treatments is being at the hospital at 8:30 am. When he finishes we usually stop at the coffee shop. I have a cup of coffee and we read the paper for awhile before we walk back to our room.

In the afternoon I usually get out of our room, take a walk or go window shopping. Today Fred went with me. We took the wheelchair because he was worn out from the morning walk. We stopped at the BX and got him a light fleece to wear under his rain jacket. He has lost so much weight that he gets cold quickly.

You will be thrilled to know that I got out my art supplies and have been using them the last couple of days. Hummm........I can tell it has been while since I have picked up a paint brush. Today I worked on a bright red maple leaf with yellow veins.

I think that a few more days and Fred will feel better. Being weaned off narcotics has been a slow hard process . I am proud of how well he has handled it.

Once again we want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. We are very blessed by you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pain Free...things are looking up

Yesterday morning Fred and I were at the hospital waiting room early and Dr M came walking through. He asked Fred how his pain level was. Fred said, "I have no pain just a little stiffness at the surgery spot." To say that Dr M was smiling was an understatement. He said, "Fred, you looked rough when I first saw you a couple of weeks ago and you look so much better today. I am so glad that we could help you." It is great to have another Dr in our corner as we travel down this cancer trail.

Fred is having 10 days of radiation treatments on his back. This should stop the tumor from coming back again. We will have him weaned off his pain meds this week. The next challenge is to build up his strength.

We have moved back into Navy housing, where we have spent a lot of time in the past year. We enjoyed staying with Skip and Sandra but it is nice to be so close to the hospital. They have Doc appointments here this week, so we will see them. They are still in the middle of their own cancer challenges.

November 7 - the date of our plane tickets back to Boise. It is also Shane's 36th birthday. Every year I am amazed at how the years have flown by since the day he was born. We look forward to driving out and spending some time parked in his front yard soon. It has been too long since we have been able to spend some time with him and his growing family.

The leaves are starting to turn here and the temperature has dropped into the 50's and 60's. There is construction going on all over the place, so the base has lost some of it's park like atmosphere. The Army Walter Reed Hospital is being merged here with National Naval Medical Center in the next few years. There will be a lot of changes around here.

I keep busy taking care of all the details of travel, lodging, food, treatment, and medications. I did bring some art supplies along but so far I have not touched them. I am glad we are staying in the same place for 12 days now. We have not been in one place that long since we left Alaska. When was that? Let me look that up....4 weeks ago!

Just 4 weeks since we left Alaska and Fred is pain free.... things are looking up.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Post Surgery -- Ten Days

Fred and I have been staying at Skip & Sandra's for a week today. Fred has been continuing to improve as the days go by. Our latest challenge is to wean him off the pain meds. Today I can see an end to this hard phase.

We have a room reserved at Navy Housing across the parking lot from the hospital starting on Wednesday for the next 2 weeks. They are remodeling in our building so that should be interesting. Fred will be having 2 weeks of radiation on the area were he had surgery last week.

I have been doing a couple hours of yard work everyday to keep myself out of trouble. Sandra goes to work everyday, so I have been doing the cooking and cleaning for her. Skip has been out of town this week but will be back this weekend. Skip has chemo 5 days next week at the Navy hospital.

The weather here has been sunny and warm... it is cold and snowing at home.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Where do we start? It's October?

Hummmm? To answer one of the most asked questions these days---Yes, we know Sarah Palin. Yes, Fred and I have both worked with her as mayor and governor. She is smart, articulate and approachable. She takes her job of serving the people very seriously. Yes, we are strong supporters.

Health update on Fred. As most of you know he started chemo in March and finished up in July. We did not get much out of that course of treatment except some of the bad side effects. I will say that chemo did bring the numbers down for a very short period of time... I do not see us doing chemo at this level again.

As the summer wore on Fred's physical and mental strength continued to wane. One thing that he wanted, was to spend some time with our children and grandchildren , plus our parents. I presented the idea that we go to the lower 48 for the winter and call it our quality of life tour. Fred retired from the Army a year ago June and all we have done since then has been medicine related. It is time for us to just enjoy life for awhile.

There was one problem with my travel idea and that was that Fred was in terrible pain. A year ago July, Fred had a tumor on his spine radiated to shrink it. He felt that that tumor was growing again and causing pain in his back and down his right leg. It was time to investigate how we could relieve this pain.

To make a long story short, we flew to the DC area a week ago. Our first stop was to see the radiation oncologist (October 6, 2008). The Doc asked if anyone had ever suggested neurosurgery to relieve the pressure on the nerve in Fred's back. We said no, and that we where willing to consider it. Well, here we are 4 days later, October 10, and Fred is recovering from the back surgery he had done yesterday. He is already walking much better. The last 10 days his pain and mobility had gotten so much worse. The surgeons were pleased with their ability to relieve the pressure on the nerve stem. We plan to have that area radiated in a couple of weeks, so that the tumor will not grow back.

Looking forward. Our camper trailer and suburban are in Idaho and we plan to return there to start our winter travel. All of our kids and grandkids are getting together for a few days at Thanksgiving in Boise, ID. I think that will be a great start to our quality of life tour. Who knows we may be in a town near you.

Carrie will be wrapping up her photography training in a few weeks and starting her new career. She plans to spend some time traveling with us this winter.

Once again Fred and I have felt God's guiding hand on our lives. We want to thank each one of you for your thoughts and prayers on our behalf. We are so blessed.