Thursday, May 29, 2008

go tigers

Oh my gosh! The Tiger Baseball team has been playing this week in the Division II College World Series. We have to play the same team again tomorrow to go to the final team. GO TIGERS!!!! They play again tomorrow at noon....check it out..live stats and live audio

It will change your life I promise!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

heavy heart

ok, so I've had a couple days of reflection and maybe in the last few moments I've been able to think through a couple things.

One, I've debated posting anything about this, but after the day I've had today, I decided to. Many of you have probably heard about the tragedy that Steven Curtis Chapman and his family have faced in the last week. If not, I would encourage you to check out this news article about Maria Sue. It is so sad, but tonight as I have read through a blog I found on his website, I was so moved by the way their friends have surrounded them. Of course he is famous and of course you will recognized the name of his friends who came by their side, but really, he is human and I have no doubt as my heart hurts for them tonight, their heart is broken as well. Much like you guys have done for me, his friends dropped everything to be there. Matt Redman was sitting in an airport in Atlanta on his way home to the UK and heard the news and walked away from his "plans" and got in a car and drove to Nashville. Michael W. Smith, called, came, sang in Maria's memorial service and kept calling just because that is what friends do (sounds like some people I know...). Geoff Moore sang a song that SCC had written for family friends who lost a child 10 years before.

I talked with a friend last night about how God has this amazing sense of humor. Now, that is not the word I should have used in this situation, but hear me out. 10 years ago, Maria was not born, Maria was not part of the Chapman family, but SCC wrote a song to minister to another family and it was able to be a song used to minister to him last week.

K-Love actually played this song on the radio this morning and I had never heard it. When I pulled into the McDonalds drive-thru line this morning the song started playing. Yeah, not a good combo. An already emotionally set girl who has been moved by this story from the beginning, on a day when I wasn't feeling good from the start, and now, I am being rushed by the woman on the McDonald's headset to make my order. (side confession: since I was the only one in the line this morning, I asked her to hold on because I had not made my decision. So, that may have been a little lie, but I needed to hear this song and I was not in a proper emotional state to order the chicken biscuits and breakfast burritos that were on the "list" I pulled into the drive-thru with).

The song is called "With Hope" and it is on his '99 albumin Speechless . I couldn't find a place to play it, but here are the lyrics.

this is not at all how
we thought it was supposed to be
we had so many plans for you
we had so many dreams
and now you've gone away
and left us with the memories of your smile
and nothing we can say
and nothing we can do
can take away the pain
the pain of losing you
but we can cry with hope

we can say goodbye with hope
'cause we know our goodbye is not the end oh no
and we can grieve with hope
'cause we believe with hope
there's a place by god's grace
there's a place where we'll see your face again
we'll see your face again

and never have i known
anything so hard to understand and
never have i questioned more
the wisdom of god's plan
but through the cloud of tears
i see the father's smile and say well done
and i imagine you
where you wanted most to be
seeing all your dreams come true
'cause now you're home
and now you're free and

we have this hope as an anchor
'cause we believe that everything
god promised us is true so we wait with hope
and we ache with hope
we hold on with hope
we let go with hope

Yeah, that's hard. I cannot imagine. I cannot imagine life without my parents, so I cannot imagine it the other way around. I guess maybe it gives me a better glimpse of what my parents are experiencing through all this. When you are the parent maybe you think everything is supposed to happen to you and you are not supposed to witness these things happening to your kids.

The Chapman's are amazing; people I have always admired for their commitment to each other and to the International adoption world. It's amazing.

So, yeah, I hear this song on the radio on my way to work and since I wasn't feeling terribly great, I was in a somber mood. Then, not long after I was at work, I found out that a girl who graduated from Ouachita last year was killed in a car wreck over the weekend. Seriously, life is fragile.

You know sometimes people ask me how I can be handling this so well and while I don't think I have ever said this out loud until this moment.."I'm still alive". Yeah, days may stink. I may not be able to get out of bed, I may be more grumpy than normal, my wrists may hurt sometimes, I may more pills in a box than I ever expected to see before I was 87, I may have weird food cravings (I've eaten more Taco Bell and pickles in the last month than you could imagine), I may get lonely, I may spend too much time on the Internet stalking my friends on Facebook, but you know what...I'm still here. I still laugh, fix my hair, go out to eat, work on crafts, read books, eat ice cream, cook and have parties with my friends. God is good and we often forget His simple blessings. I mean really I have an air conditioner that I could turn on this weekend! I can turn on all the lights in my apartment, I have a cell phone that is annoying me because it is dying, I have furniture in my house, more food in my refrigerator and freezer that I could eat before it goes bad. I mean really.

I had a conversation with someone today and she asked me a question I had not thought about, "So, are you tired of talking about this or about hearing peoples stories?". I told her no. Immediately. And as I've thought about that conversation this afternoon, you know that is still my answer. I am so grateful for this journey. I was reading through a journal last night and read back through the previous entries and had forgotten that there was a time during this journey that we didn't know for sure what this was and that we were praying for a miracle. I shared with so many at that time, but while everyone was praying for God to do a miracle, I knew that He had a different plan. Please don't miss read that. I know God is so big and He does miracles every day and it brings tears to my eyes as I read that phrase for fear that I would ever think that He is not bigger than my problems, but I knew He had a different plan. My dad has always challenged me to realize that for my entire life, God has had bigger plans. For whatever reason, He has always put me in places that I shouldn't have been (like being Director of Admissions Counseling at Ouachita at 25), but every time, He has sustained me, given me direction, and shown me His way. So, I praise Him for the way He loves me and how His grace is so much bigger than any mistake I can make. So, I know God can do miracles, I've been in places where I have seen him work things right in front of my eyes. And, He is doing a miracle...maybe not the one we "wanted" in the beginning, but every time I laugh it's a miracle...I have cancer! I still have hair...its a miracle, I haven't gotten sick..that's a miracle...there are so many. But, God has been good to me. I know the only reason all these miracles have happened is because of Him. Because He is in control and He has a plan.

Maybe He is trying to teach me some lessons...I could probably use them. Talk about irony and God's sense of humor...last night in that same journal, I found an entry two weeks before all this happened, where I wrote the words to "Bring the Rain" and finished the article, with these thoughts," Lord I want you to do what ever it takes to draw me to you." Let me just tell you, He has delivered!

On my way to Taco Bell tonight, I ended the day the same way it started. With a song I had never heard being played, God speaking to me, and me pulling into a drive-thru and asking the lady on the other end to wait. Here are the lyrics to Never Let Go by David Crowder (if you click on the title link, it will take you to a You Tube video I found tonight):

when clouds veil sun
and disaster come
so my soul
o my soul

when waters rise
and hope takes flight
o my soul o my soul o my soul

ever faithful ever true
you are known
you never let go
you never let go you never let go
you never let go you never let go
you never let go you never let go

when clouds brought rain
and disaster came
o my soul o my soul
when waters rose
and hope had flown
o my soul o my soul o my soul

ever faithful ever true
you are known
you never let go you never let go
you never let go you never let go
you never let go you never let go
you never let go
o my soul
overflows
o what love o what love

o my soul
fill with hope
perfect love
that never lets go
you never let go you never let go
you never let go

o what love
o what love
o what love

joy and pain
and sun and rain
you're the same
o you never let go

Praise God He keeps holding out His hand, it's us who let's go.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Buff-a-roni

My friend Lacey came to see me this weekend. She came yesterday afternoon and left a little bit ago. So fun to have someone here with me. I will admit on chemo weekend, I'm not a very good hostess and I appreciate so much that I have friends who understand that. I mean really I move from the couch to the bed and that's about it. If your lucky, I will get up and operate the DVD player for you!

So, Netflix is a new addiction. Some very gracious people gave it to me a gift through this journey, and I am so grateful. Knowing that this would be a long weekend, I got a series of movies that all go together....Love Comes Softly, Love's Long Journey and Love's Enduring Promise. Yeah, I'm a sucker for the "Hallmark type" movies. They were good and I've got the next two queued for next week when I mail these back in.

We had to watch the third before Lacey left today. But, in the first one, I heard a quote that I found very appropriate:

The truth of God is not that He allows bad things to happen, but His promise is that He will be there with us when they do.

So many times during this journey, I have heard people say I just don't understand why "bad things" happen to "good people". I have even said this phrase myself, but I think instead of wonder why things happen, the only thing we can control is how we handle it and who we let help us. There are even moments that I still find myself wanting to find out if there is something that I could have done different and of course as I look to the future is this something that I could pass on to my kids. But, you know sometimes, things just happen.

I'm starving. Like my stomach is even growling, but nothing sounds good. I don't know if I need someone in front of me with a plate of food, but if you were to look me in the face right now and say "what do you want to eat?", I would have no idea. And, while I always hate digging in the refrigerator or freezer, I have even less motivation when I don't feel good and don't have any energy...which usually means that I eat junk.

I've also had this fear this time that I'm going to get sick. So, I'm trying to be careful, but in the process, I think I'm making it worse. So, I'm off to find something to eat. I might get to meet my nausea medicine.

Friday, May 23, 2008

the day after

Today has been a good day. Tara made me Beef Stroganoff for lunch and it was yummy. She wasn't feeling good, so she couldn't stay. But everyone else got Burger King and came over for lunch. That was so much fun!!! It is always good to laugh with those people (my staff). Luke was even in town and that was fun to see him.

Kirt took me to get my shot, and was patient enough to wait for all the drama with that.

So, I'm addicted to ancestry.com. My cousin introduced me to is at Easter and I have now traced parts of both sides of my family back to the boat...weird!

Anyway. I'm tired and headed to bed. Yeah, its before midnight...weird I know!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chemo Day 4


Lisa, Ashton and Shay took me today.

It went well. You would be glad to know that the lab process was so easy and I stayed awake the whole time! It is kinda fun because by now, people recognize you and the staff know you by name. It's like being at Cheers!!!

I feel like it goes quicker each time. Maybe, I just know what to expect now. We did have a little different something this time. My counts were lower than they have ever been when I went in for chemo. They were 2.48 today. Actually, with them being that low, they had to call the doctor's office and get permission to go ahead with the chemo. Since I will have my Neulasta shot tomorrow, he said to go ahead, but I suspect that we will talk about this "every other" thing next time when I meet with him.

I cannot believe that I am already through the first set of treatment. I remember when this first started that "eight weeks" seemed so far away and now they have quickly passed. So, we will see if this brings anything different.

My dad is in the middle of Seminary Summer School, so they did not come up. No, they are not bad parents, he called and asked me if it was ok before he even signed up for this class. I assured him it was. After next week, he will have 12 hours behind him. Each week (this and next) are 3 hours courses that are required and he can do them in one week...for anyone who has tried to go back to school as an adult (and I am speak for myself and my future), it is not easy to "fit" school into your schedule. I admire him, my sister and my mom. It is not uncommon for you to find a cyber cafe in our living room. Resa working on her Master's homework for her degree at DBU, Dad working on his Seminary homework, either a quiz or reading really "smart" books, and mom sleeping and Teddi, that's the dog, trying to figure out which one she wants to sit next too. They are amazing and while I'm grateful that I do not have to be there with them through this, I try to support from a distance, but I do admire them in so many ways and they have been great to call me all day long and check on me through every step of the day. My dad said the sweetest thing abou tmy mom today.."I'm going to take mom out for dinner tonight, because she has been amazing this week through all this". Dad stayed up until 4 last night reading, but at one point, mom got up to get a drink of water last night, she was trying to stay awake and be "supportive". But, my sister was asleep on one couch and dad was aslee on another. Who's in charge here?

I'm off to make Sloppy Joe's for dinner (an excuse to eat pickles) and then watch my Thursday night shows.

Hair

OK, so everyone is curious about my hair. And, since the lady sitting next to me in chemo today complemented be first by saying I was too young to be going through this and then she said..."and, it's no fair that you still have your hair", I have decided to write a post just updating you on my hair.

My hair has not "fallen out". However, every time I wash it and when I fix it in the mornings, some comes out between combing through it and using the straightener. Of course the more adriamycin I get, the more I am likely to loose it, but now it is a game for me. I should have already lost it, so it is a challenge now to not loose it and break the rules!!! Leave it to me.

Here is a pic I took on Sunday morning before church after I had finished fixing my hair. This is about how much comes out when I wash my hair and fix it:I still have a head full! I even offered some to my doctor, who is balding, last time I saw him and dad asked me to save what I do loose for him!!!
So, you could say that it is "thinning". But, I have TONS of hair...just ask the girls at the Gossip Shop. So, I would suspect that my hair may just thin and not all fall out. But, it is always still a possibility. So, while I'm excited that it hasn't and I continue to hope that it won't, I know that it is always a possibility. So, I will just wait, and be glad for days that it is still here and hope that if it does, I look as good as the ladies that surround me at chemo.

BTW, the lady I talked about earlier is going through treatment for Breast Cancer. She has already had her serious surgeries and 6 hard treatments (hence the hair loss), but she has to do chemo into September or October and then she will be done. Her hair is starting to grow back in and she is so pretty. That is actually what I thought when I saw her walk in. She has beautiful skin and these pretty high cheek bones. And, her hair is in this cute cut that is all trim and set. I thought that about her before we started talking and the more she spoke, the more I realized that she has a beautiful heart. So, as she promised she would pray for me as I left, I told her I would do the same and promised in my heart to let you know about her and add her to your prayer list. Her name is Teresa (I think...that was at 1...I may have mixed it up in my head).

American Idol Party

Last night, we had an American Idol Party at the Berry's. Of course, there were the Cook fans and the Archie fans, but we know who won. It was a fun show and a fun night of food. I mean when this is your menu how can you not have fun:

Spinach Artichoke Dip
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Glorified Ham Sandwiches
Sweet Balls of Fire
Bacon Roasted Cream Cheese Jalapenos
Potato Skins
Peanut Butter Brownies
Special Brownies
Cheese Plenses
Strawberry Cream Cheese Tarts
Bellini Tea
Lemonade

Yeah, we were stuffed...wonder why I had gained two more pounds when I went to the doctor today?

So, it was a fun night. Enjoy the pics...

(He may have something you need to ask him about!
No, this is is one of my co-workers little boy!!!)

Waiting for the food!


The Gang's all here..except for Drake...insert sad face.

And the Cook vs. Archie war begins

Grandma got a little cold!

The reaction
(I was on the thumbs down side. I wanted Archie to win..
but I know that Cook will be great too.
Let's not kid ourselves, they will both have a record!)


He just didn't know what to think

The Cook fans

The Archie fans. We will still support our boy.

Love the stair case pics.
Hold on Top 10...we will see you in Bossier!!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

anonymous

Its official, I should join a group for clean freaks anonymous.

When I cook, because of the size of my kitchen, I get everything dirty. I just finished cleaning up my kitchen and honestly, I did not want to unload and reload the dishwasher, but I cannot tell you how good I feel right now. I think I went through half a tube of Lysol wipes (I don't believe in kitchen rags...they gross me out). I just cleaned stuff off the walls, behind the sink all over the top of the stove and my counter top appliances.

Now, I will admit some of the things I cleaned up were from the mouse that comes to visit every other week, but I would rather eat the stuff that she makes a mess fixing than complain that there is stuff every where....you get my drift. But, really, I may have a problem.

My dad is convinced that I am going to make a perfect nagging wife and that I will have to get over some of this stuff when I find, "the father of his grand children". But, really...I just don't know. I'm the kid who in junior high could tell you where everything was in my purse and typically cleaned it out weekly just to make sure things were in the right spot. Again...who does that?

So, yeah I'm particular...it's a personality flaw...but hey it works...so there!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

good week

I know so many of you have wondered, so I wanted to let you know. I have had an AWESOME week. Mainly, in reference to my health and energy. I have felt so good. On Friday, I woke up in the best mood and really a silly mood. I feel like I got so much accomplished this week, but more than that, I am so glad that I felt well.

My counts were kinda low on Thursday (3.1), but we expected that since I did not get the Neulasta shot.

I really cannot tell you how excited I am/was that I really did feel good. I will also admit that it is hard on weeks like this to not overdo it. It is hard to remember that I do not have the same energy level that I always do, when my body tells me something different. Those are the moments of mental struggle. Even though I feel good, I have to tell myself to sit down, rest, watch TV and quit running around.

So, today has been a fun day. I went to Hot Springs this morning with Justin and Kirt to meet Lauren English, Miss OBU for the Miss AR contestant meeting. It was super fun.


After lunch at Cafe 1217 (which if you are in Hot Springs and need an amazing place to eat lunch..consider your decision made!!!) we did some shopping and then came on back. And, I went to a graduation party before retiring to my bed. Again, one of those mental struggles. Even after a day like that, I still feel good, but I know the most responsible thing to do was come home and get in my jammies and sit in the bed.

So, now I'm watching Hitch on TV, watching/ listening to the OBU vs. ACU baseball game (we are in the second round of the Regional Tournament in Cleveland, MS), and typing this blog...yeah, I'm that good! You have to keep your mind young!!! That's what they say anyway.

I've included a couple pictures from work yesterday...the new headsets arrived...
(Kody opened the box...he was surprised and really excited)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

just beyond the clouds

I just finished reading a book tonight that I started back in March. For whatever reason (I just figured it out), I have not had the moments to read the last few remaining chapters. Something always came up, was more important or I just wanted to sleep. But, as my Type A personality always struggles, it was an unfinished book sitting next to my bed and I had to look at it every night as I turned out my lamp. So, I decided tonight was it. I was going to finish.

It is a sweet story by Karen Kingsbury about a lady who runs an Independent Life Center for young adults with Down Syndrome. I have learned a lot about that life style while reading this and it was actually one of the things that intrigued me to pick it up in the first place.

Of course, as all good novels that I read are, it had a level of the perfect romance story to it. It actually has two and the one that spoke to me most was the one between two of the young adults with DS.

Daisy is scared of the rain. I cant remember if something happened early on in the story that made her scared of storms or if it is a general scare, like so many and me sometimes, of just the noise and the possibility of melting. It rained a lot in this story and each time, Carl Joseph would reassure her that rain wasn't bad, because there was just sunshine on the other side of the clouds.

What a simple concept. More, than just the light at the end of the tunnel, more than seeing progress, more than seeing an ending. His response each time was in a mode of protection, but so simple. A childlike response to a common problem.

In the last scene of the book (this shouldn't ruin it for you...its pretty predictable and that's what makes it good) they are in an airplane and of course it is raining as they get on the plane and as they take off. Daisy is scared and clinging to Carl Joseph. He, in his sweet way, is continuing to remind her that it is ok and that the plane will not melt. But, quickly as they make their way through the layers of fluffy clouds, they are past the grey ones, through the white ones and into the SUNSHINE! He looks at her and says: "See Daisy, I told you...Sunshine, Just beyond the clouds!" What a simple concept and yet so relevant to me today.

I have had an ongoing text conversation with a friend tonight about how I'm handling all this. And, so many of you have been gracious to make comments about the way I'm handling it. While there are plenty of things of this earth that are helping (praise the Lord for advancement in treatment options and chemo therapies), my help through this is not of this world. No, really. My response to the chemo therapy is not usual. I still have my hair and I can still go to work and do most of the things I want to. I mean I eat what I want to (yes, a half a jar of pickles is still included in that). I go to meetings at work, I still get to straighten my wiry hair in the mornings. Outside of a couple days of mere exhaustion, I'm myself.

Friends, that is not normal. My doctor looked me in the face last week and said, "you don't look sick". I'm supposed to I guess since I am. I have this amazing sense of humor that allows me to make jokes about my self and I have chemo brain (which just means I say jumbled words and have no control over them....if you know me, you know I talk a lot, and so it is really funny when it happens...Imagine hearing a sentence in English with a Martian word just randomly thrown in) which means I have an excuse for saying stupid things (I may play that card even after this process is over).

I have the Creator of the Universe on my side. I mean really!!!

In the letter to her readers at the end of the book, Kingsbury says this:

"Life has a way of sending in the clouds-not the clowns. That unexpected diagnosis (HELLO!!!), the pile of bills that won't go away, the empty mailbox, strained relationships...But the truth is always what Carl Joseph tried to tell Daisy: There is always sunshine just beyond the clouds.

Scripture tells us that God has good plans for us, and so He does. But, sometimes it's a matter of holding onto that truth when the clouds come, when the sky is so dark that it's hard to believe there could really be sunshine on the other side. But there is, especially for those who believe. "

What a special truth. While I have to run from sun right now (one of my chemo drugs is light sensitive on top of the fact that I've got all the others too), I will be more thankful for the sunshine. Much like the rainbow was a sign for Noah from the Lord, I will take the days of summer that are coming as a juxtaposed reminder of the rainy, muggy days like the one we had here today. No, they are not fun and yes I got soaked when the bottom fell out at 5:01 today, but even as I drove home from work with the wipers on high today, the sun began shining. And, by the time I got where I was going (which in Arkadelphia takes max 4 minutes at "rush hour") it wasn't raining any more and the sun was shining.

That's hopefully what this journey will be, pouring hard rain, that the sun shines through and when it is over, shines brighter!

**The title of this entry is a link to Karen Kingsbury's website...for the last two years, I have not read a book that was not authored by her. She's got a good thing going! Oh, and the name of the book is Just Beyond the Clouds...it might help to read A Thousand Tomorrows first, but I didnt so, you dont have to.**

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

simple pleasures

I knew today would be a good day when this is what I saw as I looked up from starting my car this morning:

My dad asked me this weekend why I carry my camera in my purse. I don't think he was questioning something I was doing, but more just making conversation and being curious. But, my answer was, "you never know when you might need to capture a moment". Boy was I glad this morning that I captured this moment.

I have often seen pictures of blue birds, but I don't think I have ever seen one this close and so distinctly. It was a sweet moment.

And, a moment of a reminder of the fact that we serve a Creator who is into details and making things look good. I mean they are pretty birds and the lines of their feathers and face complement so much their body structure. This morning, there were two that were traveling together. I didn't get my camera fast enough to capture the two of them on the railing together.

But, it did make me think how sweet that they had each other. I mean the birdies were friends. Friends are something that I appreciate so much more than I ever have. I think in the last few weeks I have begun to understand a new part of friendship and that is companionship.

Now, I am single and God has really brought me to an amazing place that I am ok with that, but to have friends and have people around you is a totally different thing. And, I am lucky enough to have friends that I can pop in on or who just invite me over for dinner or who are great enough to make plans and include me. That is not always the case. Sometimes friendships are something that you have to work at and I am so lucky to "just have" friends. That is not something that I take lightly. And, if you are my friend, know that I am grateful for you. My friends really are my family. I feel lucky to have loads of people that I call friend and while I may have friends who are friends on different levels, I do think I would consider myself pretty friendly. I mean, I'm the girl who would talk to a wall and who you better be careful around because if you laugh at my jokes or we have a meal together, you are my instant friend. So, be ware. You are in a group of very special people!

So, thank you to those who surround me daily. Whether you are the laugher, the encourager, the listener, the one who lets me talk and make no sense and just nod, the creative, the one who wears emotions on the sleeve, the one who puts their heart on the line, the sass, the constant, the loyal, the servant, the grounding, the neighbor, the one far away, or the bestie...you are my stabilizing force and the ones who I wake up refreshed every day to see.

Who knew a stinkin little blue bird could make me be so deep.

Monday, May 12, 2008

last chance

ok, we are turning orders in this week. If you wanted a "I Heart KP" t-shirt, here's your chance. They are $15 and the money will go to American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Please email me (pittmank@obu.edu) your order or place them in the comments section. Then, you can mail a check to:

Keisha Pittman
410 Ouachita St.
OBU Box 3776
Arkadelphia, AR 71998

Thanks for your support.

Today has been a good day. I have had lots of energy and as we said early on in this process when I come home after working 8:30-7:00, I'm tired. Imagine that!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

and the day after that

You know days when you have one million things to do and you think...If I could just sit at home all day and have nothing to do, that would be amazing. Well, let me calm your anxiety...its boring and I'm pretty confident that it would not bring the results you were seeking.

Mom and dad left yesterday evening and I have just been chillin ever since. Today I got up late (it was nice to sleep in) and picked up some things. There is always some rearranging to do after guests are here....I'm getting better. I took a shower and after I got out, I'm not sure if I got hot or if the smell of something set me off, but I got hot and a little nauseated. So, I laid down in my bed with a cold rag on my forehead. It helped a lot. I'm not really sure what happened. That was a first. I came down stairs and ate some left overs and took a nap. Now, I'm up and back to watching Lifetime. gotta love these marathons!!!

Friday, May 9, 2008

the day after

I know you are wondering what the day after is like, so I'll fill you in. For me, Fridays are typically pretty normal. I woke up early this morning and took my anti-nausea medicine. I usually eat a granola bar and drink a bottle of water with it. Maybe it helps?

Normally, I go back to sleep but not today. I just laid in bed for a while and then mom came up here and we talked for a while and then watched some TV. If you know anything about my mom, she is a baker, so we went down stairs and she cooked. I read her the recipes and she made some pies and a chocolate cake.

Then, we all got ready (I let dad sleep until 10) and mom and I took the cake up to the office and ran some other errands. Dad and Mr. Gene tried to get a ceiling fan put in my bedroom, but there is some electrical stuff that has to be done. So, we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch and had fried fish. Then, came home and took a good nap. I was really tired. Then, mom made fajitas (really, I'm spoiled. Her's are the best) and then we watched a movie and now I'm back in bed.

Dr. Mendelsohn decided yesterday since my counts were so high (WBC was 17.1 and platelets were 338) to only do the Neulasta shot every other time. It might have been working too well. So, I didn't have to go get that shot today. So, maybe my jaw wont hurt!!!!

Tomorrow is usually my sleepy day, but I plan to get up and watch graduation online. Until then...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

chemo day 3

So, lets back up to yesterday and something I couldn't say last night, but now that today has passed, I can say it. So, all day yesterday, I had a funny feeling about today. I wasn’t sure why. I told only two people about this. When asked about if I was ready, I told both of them that I was really having a funny feeling. I didn't think I could call it discernment, thought it was more prophecy, but we decided to go with the word intuition. Whatever, when I have a "feeling", it usually means something. So, I didn’t really tell people because I was a little worried. I wanted to call my dad and tell him last night, but he usually gets these feelings too and has the same results I do. Usually right. So, I didn’t want to tell him and have him all worried last night and then have to drive up here today. Then, this morning, it was back and I wanted to call and tell him to pray. But, yet again, he was on the road driving here and worrying about me was not really something that needed to be on the priority list of "thoughts while driving". So, I didn’t say anything to him.

I talked to Lisa last night and we made plans to leave here at 7:00, so we could be at the hospital at 8:15 for my appointment. Well, this morning, I got up a little late and scurried around getting ready. I'm not into totally getting ready and putting make up on for chemo, but someone told me something super valuable yesterday (do not feel bad for saying this, it was something that I value and that I had been wondering and needed confirmed.). When I don’t wear eye makeup, I look sicker. So, no promises that it will be there everyday, but I did say early in this process, that there will be enough days that I don’t feel good enough to put on cute clothes or do my make up, but when I do, I need to. So, when I go to chemo, I like to put on something comfy cute and fix my hair (I still have it and that is huge) and maybe do at least a little powder. Not really sure why I am telling you all this except to say that I had a lot to do in a little time. I got everything together and ready by the door, so I wasn’t late for my ride :). Just after seven, Lisa wasn’t here yet (this story is proving a point, and it not about Lisa), I thought to myself “I wonder if something happened and her alarm didn’t go off...maybe I should call her”. Then I thought, “don’t be annoying, she might be running late”. So in just a few moments, she called with the "oh my gosh, our power went out last night, I just got out of the shower and I'll be out the door in just a minute." Notice anything...first feeling of the day confirmed.

She was so fast. I was super impressed. When I got in the car, we just laughed about the whole thing. We had a great ride. I brought her up to speed on things at the office and she filled me in on wedding plans that had been worked out this week. We laughed all the way (that would be a good movie title) and made it there on time. Again, she is so good.

I had my doctors’ appointment first before chemo. That's why we had to be there earlier. I always get lab first. If I go to Dr. Mendelsohn's office, then I do it there and if I just get chemo, I do it there. So, I signed in (no paperwork today!!!!) and then they called me to go back. So, I went back to get my labs. They weigh you first...I gained back the 3 pounds I had lost last time. Not sure if that's good. Maybe it means that I have not really had a loss of appetite, because I have been eating this time. Or, maybe it means I ate things and didn’t care. Is that bad? Maybe it was because I was weighed on different scales and I weigh the same as I did the first time because this was the scale I was weighed on the first time. Not sure. No one seemed scared. She didn’t think I would weigh that much, so maybe I do have big bones! Yeah right. I'm a fool who aint afraid of a good meal!!!

So, after I weighed, she told me to pick a chair. So, I turned around and sat in the first chair I saw, the first chair in the room and the only chair I could get to without walking around the other people in the room. The only other patient in the room was getting blood drawn as well.

***If you are squeamish…be ware of the next couple paragraphs. I will include details that will probably bother you, but they make my story better, so they are necessary...I will try to make it funny!***

The other patient was a lady who was getting her blood drawn from her foot. Let me just go ahead and throw it out there that I am so glad I was not there when she first got there and realized that she had to do that in her foot. If the events that occurred next had not occurred, then the foot thing would have caused what happened to happen.

So I looked over and they stuck the IV in the vein that runs across the top of her foot. And, as is to be expected, she screamed when they put it in (she doesn’t have the emla cream I have to make the spot numb). So, yeah that was fun to hear. The reason I was able to see all this is because the nurse who was helping me was being very careful to gather all the things she needed. Plus it happened in a matter of moments, just felt like time slowing down.

So, she brought over all the goodies that she needs. Two big syringes that she pulls the blood in. Then 4 vials that they use to run labs on. the gauze pads to clean up with, the tape to hold the cotton ball that pushed pressure on the port when they take the IV out and....the IV thing that they push into the port. So, it was my turn. The other lady left (I'm really not sure she has figured this out. They stuck her in the top of her foot and she had lace up shoes and socks to put back on. I so wanted to give her my flip flops. I wish I had my extra pair with me.). So, it was just me in there. My nurse felt around and stuck the IV in me. To be able to pull blood, they have to check first that they have a blood return (which tells them that it is in the right spot).

Well, we were not getting one. She pulled slowly on the big syringe (I should add here that this syringe fits on the end of one of the parts of the tube and is not actually something that I get stuck with). If it doesn’t come, then they "flush" it with some saline. When she started pushing (that’s the word they use) the saline, I could feel it. At this point, Mrs. Eddie had come over to help and see if there was anything that she could do. I asked if it was ok if I felt it going in (this was the first time I had ever felt it and I was worried that something might be wrong. **Remember I have been worried for at least a day and a half that something was going to go wrong. I really thought something was wrong with my port. I finally have been able to sleep on my left side, but on Monday and Tuesday evening, it was really sore and I put ice on it. So, I was afraid that when I slept for four hours on that side in the car on the way back from Dallas that I had done something to it. So, as this all begins to happen, my insides are tightening up and panic is starting to set in without me being able to think about what is going on).

Mrs. Eddie told me that as long as it was not burning, then it was ok for me to feel it going through my port. They tried to get a blood return again and this time pushed the saline a little harder and quicker than they had the first time. Yeah, this is not right. I started saying..."It's burning, it's burning, it's burning...stop, stop, stop". So, they did. At that very moment, I started saying “I don’t feel good, I need a glass of ice water”. So the first nurse went to get me ice water and Mrs. Eddie stayed and pulled the wrong IV out and cleaned me up and put the new IV in. As soon as she put it in, I got really hot, so I took my jacket off. That helped a little. I told her I was not feeling well and put my elbow up on the right arm rest and rested my face on my hand.

The next thing I know, there were 8 nurses standing over me and one of them was tapping me on the arm saying, "hello, hello, hello". I kinda shook awake and realized that I had passed out. I use the word passed out because faint usually involves a dramatic fall to the floor and since I was seated in a chair and resting on my arm, this dramatic moment didn’t happen. However, I'm not sure how long I was out, but I do remember that as soon as I realized I was waking up and that that then meant that I had been "out", that I was actually dreaming. I don’t know what I was dreaming about, but I do remember something red and I think it was a dress. I might know what it was referring to and if this was not a thousand miles long, I might tell you that story.

So, I'm back...eight nurses are staring at me (you know those scenes you see on ER and Grey's that are from the "patient perspective" when 8 nurses and doctors are standing over the patient staring at them and making faces...well, maybe more like on Scrubs, but yes, that was the moment I had today. Lisa, one of the nurses, had a cold rag (it was blue) that she was dabbing on my face to cool me down and I think there was someone else who was doing the same thing, it was all a blur, literally. Another looked at me and said "your lips are white" ( here comes the sass...at least it was in my head and I didn't say it out loud...but I thought...ok, “so what do you want me to do....do I purse them, lick them, bend them over my teeth, laugh”...they don’t exactly prepare you in college to know what to do to make your lips not white.) The nurses were nice. I did fell like a zoo display, but not in a bad way. There was genuine concern in each of their eyes, which thankfully did not freak me out, but in second, I was laughing..which you know really means I was cackling! In the way that only I can. The more I came to, the more I realized how funny this was. Probably not to the ladies in the room.

Now, I will admit, this was a first for me. I have never passed out before. I don’t know that I have even seen someone pass out, so I don’t even know what to begin to think it looked like from the other side. I couldn’t have been out for long. But I did cause a stir.

While it was the threat and joke for the day, I thinking talking about foot IV's are out for me. That was crazy. And, Mrs. Eddie is my new friend and will be my on request nurse when I go back. She fixed it and did my IV the first time I was there. The girls were great. Lisa stayed with me. She and my first nurse walked me to the room where Lisa B. was waiting and getting filled in on my "little episode". When I got to the room, she said she could hear me laughing, so she knew I was fine. Really...it know it sounds scary and I was to all the other ladies in the room, but it was funny to me.

I think because it was earlier than normal, it added to it. I was a little panicked on the inside and when I thought something did go wrong, I started getting nervous about what it could be and that something was wrong. A big fear, for me, is that something went wrong with the port and it was going to have to be redone. So, when it did, I got worried...but something was not wrong with my port, the IV was just put in the wrong spot. So, I think that is what kicked in. So, yeah I passed out at lab today.

Next was the appointment with Dr. Mendelsohn. It went well. He is great. I know I heard that from so many people and it is not like some big occurrence happened today, but he is just great. He makes you feel at ease and educated about what is going plus the fact that the first phrase he said to me today was.." you don’t even look sick, you must have a lot of prayers going up for you". That is not a phrase that he just says, but I truly believe that he is adding to. He knows the power of prayer and what it designed with the gift of medicine can do. Well actually, it can accomplish things on its own, because God is who He is, but I have begun to appreciate people who dedicate their life to learning and knowing more in the world of oncology and hematology.

He felt my lymph nodes and said that he couldn’t feel anything (I'm crossing my fingers that, that means we might hear the best news ever in couple weeks.

After all that drama, I went over to get in my chair for chemo. Lisa and I decided that we should warn them that I was kinda fainty today. They of course thought it was funny-ish as well. I'm not convinced that they thought it was funny like I did. But, they humored me. Chemo went great today. Quick and easy. I had a new nurse Karen (not new there, just new to me) and that was fun. I think they are staring to figure me out.

I was able to sit in my same chair, there is something to be said for the articles of familiarity that I can find. My same chair, the faces I see up there, the order of the medicine, pushing my cart across the room to go the potty, drinking my soda, Ray the volunteer, the white Styrofoam cup with the lid and the straw that is too long when it sticks out the top, taking my purse, brown bag and prayer quilt and the jokes that are always made when Jerry Springer comes on and I ask Tim to change the channel. There is a lady who sits in my area (Mrs. Freddie, she has super sweet smile and quiet whispery voice, unlike mine, that is become part of this familiarity) who wants to watch channel 38 that has all the court shows, on the TV when she gets there. After 3 hours of them, Jerry Springer comes on about 12:30. Every time, she has left and we, those of us still getting chemo, all look at each other and awkwardly send eye signals that we want the channel changed and everyone but me is too nice to ask for it to be changed...not me. It is good, because they have a rule for that not to be one of the shows to watch...A man mentioned this today and I hadn’t thought about it...are there really new shows coming on or are these all reruns and what year will they finally quit showing them. So today, they switched it from Jerry to an 80 year old preacher. Tim told me I got one or the other. Although it was not really what I was thinking we wanted to watch, I would rather have messages of hope from Proverbs than middle age men who are hard up for attention beating each other with chairs over the girl who they are not sure is carry the baby of their junior high aged boy and wants to tell him on National TV (did I get them all in there?).

Mom and dad came while I was in chemo. I went to the bathroom and they were there. Later, I got up to go to the restroom again and dad appeared while I was gone..weird...I quit going to the potty, this was not the day for magic tricks.

It was a fun day and I like that I can laugh with those people. We stopped in Bryant to eat lunch at Backyard Burger.

We made a trip through campus to see the stage and all the set up in front of Cone-Bottoms for graduation. They hung the purple flags today from the porch and were putting out the white ladder back chairs. It made my heart warm. I'm so excited for my babies, they were my first group to recruit. (I always said I wanted to work here long enough to see my first group graduate). Then we stopped by to see Dave and the ladies at Mary and Martha's, I left mom's mother's day present the other day when I went by there. We stopped to get some of dad’s pants altered; I have the best lady who does alterations here. And, we made our ritual trip to Wal-mart. I'm still so bad at getting away from the list. After resting, we made supper. We had cheeseburger tacos, guacamole and homemade salsa. Then we made apple dumplings and while they cooked, dad and I watched 27 dresses. He loves when we go to the movie store and come home with chick movies. Hey, I let him watch 3 hours of boy shows ( he gives me a hard time when I come to their house because the TV is always left on a wedding, food, house or fashion channels...well that works two ways, he leaves my TV on "shoot 'em ups", old man westerns, or the sci-fi channel...who watches those things?). (Tonight when I took the bandage off, my port area had already started to bruise.
I'm sure this is just going to get prettier. I'll keep you updated
as we walk through the rainbow of colors to come!)

Ok, I wish I had word count on this thing to know all that you have endured. It has been a good day and I appreciate all the calls and texts. You guys rock. Now get to sleep! Oh, wait that is what I need to do!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Good day/Bad day

Good day, I felt good when I woke up
Bad day I had a meeting and stressed everyone out

Good day, we had our new OSF membership meeting
Bad day, I was late for my meeting at Henderson (it should have been bad day, I had too many things crammed into one day)

Good day, the Financial Aid office cooked
Bad day, Stacy is leaving and we had her bye bye reception

Good day, I got the middle of my desk cleaned off so you can see the wood
Bad day, Dr. Horne caught me twice not working...ooops

Good day, May term is keeping some of my favorite students on campus
Bad day, everyone else leaves at the end of the week

On a totally different note, It is amazing what all can happen in a month. One month ago today, I had my first visit with Dr. Mendelsohn. I got my full diagnosis and the treatment plan. Tonight, I sit in my bed on the eve of my third treatment. That is so crazy.

For some reason, I feel different going into this one. I just have a feeling. I'm not sure what it is or why, just different. I have been a little more tired today than I usually am at this point. I hope my counts are ok. I guess we will find out tomorrow morning. Maybe it is the rain..I'm not typically a fan and we sure have had a lot the last couple days. Anyway, I got a lot done this week at work. I marked lots of things off my to-do list and combined it with another. For an OCD, Type A girl, that is a super big deal. Slowly the piles on my desk are getting lower! That will be a glorious day.

So, I have my appointment with Dr. Mendelsohn tomorrow at 8:15 and then chemo at 9:30. Week three of the first set of 4...wowzers.

Monday, May 5, 2008

good day

I have felt so good today. I don't really have a specific reason, I just did. It was a good day at work. I went to the Honeycomb for a Cinco de Mayo dinner with the Berry's and then here I am. So, no reason specific, but a good day.

I have really learned to be grateful for these. It may be that since I have been so tired for 4 days straight and I'm not worn out today that I feel so good. So, I have lots to be thankful for. I work for people who are genuinely concerned about me and who see my well being as important as accomplishing what we need to everyday, if not more. I'm thankful for a staff who works hard and understands my cruel jokes that I make about "the c word". I'm thankful for friends who continue to encourage me. I'm thankful for still having my hair. I'm thankful for not being sick. I'm thankful that my normal clothes still fit (although I am glad that they are getting a little bit looser). I'm thankful that I still have burst of energy that encourage me to clean up my room or unload the dishwasher. I'm thankful that for the most part I still like to eat and that I still like to eat the things I like. I'm thankful that I can still laugh. I'm thankful that I can still drive myself to Walmart and buy what I want ( I am however irritated that I got home with a card and the wrong envelope). I am thankful that I can drink sodas, especially Cherry Coke Zero. I'm having fun trying all kinds of new flavored water.

So, lots to be grateful for. Have you counted your blessings?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Audrey's story

Since so many of you are finding this an encouragement, I wanted to let you know about a blog that I have found to be encouraging to me. If you click on the title of this entry, it will take you to the blog site for Audrey Caroline, the fourth daughter of the lead singer of Selah. At the concert the other night, he shared her story and the journey they have been on.

He and his wife knew before she was born that she would probably not survive more than 20 minutes. They were strong, followed the Lord and had friends (like so many of you) who were/are prayer warriors on their behalf. They got a little more than 2 hours with her that day and were able to see her open her eyes, cry and kick. What a blessing, but even more a testimony of faith and the Lord's unconditional love and faithfulness. If you have some time, I hope you take the opportunity to read through their journey.

God is so good. After he shared this story, he followed it with the picturesque hymn It is Well With My Soul and then we sang together, Wonderful, Merciful Savior. I was reminded again this evening of what a restoring, healing God we serve.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rkhkw6pSPyI&feature=related

group shot

This was left out the other night:

Back row: Heather, Denise, Kirt, Leigh, Justin, Shelley
Front: Lauren, Keisha Rebecca

Liney-loo

I was at home last night....we played...

Kinda freaky how much she (my sister) looks like me with that wig on

I just got back from Dallas for my roommate Lindsey's wedding. While it was a quick trip, it was so much fun. I rode down with my other roommate April and her husband Derek. They let me tag along (I wasn't much of a passenger, I slept most of the way there and back). We had the rehearsal last night and then the wedding this morning.

Lindsey is a very loyal friend and Bill is a lucky guy. She is the kind that will stand by you and support you no matter what you do to her. She is committed to her faith and to serving others. It is so weird that we are all grown up! Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Reis!!!


Porter, Me, Lindsey, Ape, Buff, Jessica
aren't my friends husbands so adorable...they were sweet to just wait around for us all day
Go Matty and Derek!


Mr. and Mrs Bill Reis



April and Derek Wingfield
Matt and Lacey Rail


Friday, May 2, 2008

POG

In case you are wondering how today went, here's a brief synopsis. I went by the clinic this morning to get my counts. I wasn't sure what they would be, because I was so tired yesterday. Well, they did them and my counts were 6.1. In case you are wondering, that's good! When they are above 5.0, I'm less susceptible to illness. So, that is great. That means the Neulasta shot is working! I hope Dr. Mendelsohn is as excited next week as I am.

So, that meant I could go on with my plans for the day...which were: the Point of Grace concert in El Dorado. Lauren in our alumni office had worked with their manager and set up an alumni and prospective student meet and greet before the show. So, we went down early and had lunch in Camden at Woods, stopped and got Shelley a cake (today is her birthday), set up for the event, "overheard" sound check and got to meet the girls. They are so fun by the way. We had so much fun with them and I'm even more of a fan now. We just got back a few minutes ago, I loaded the pics on the computer and I'm sharing them with you. They are on tour with Michael from the original Avalon group and Selah. I will throw out that they put on a great concert and that even though their last show on this tour is tomorrow night Houston, I was super impressed with just the classy way it was all put together. They were not afraid to rock out, but at the same time it wasn't even all about them. We sang with them, got up and danced, worshipped and they ended the evening with us singing a Hymn, lights down, eyes closed and they just exited the stage. So classy. And, thanks Shelley for the huge Ouachita commercial. We owe you guys!

our fantastic driver

the always happy passenger

the bakery in Camden that Lisa took us to, to get a cake

when I asked the lady at eh bakery to write on top of the cake, she told me that was not really something she could do and then said I could...so, I did. I took the cake in the back and wrote "Happy Birthday Shelly". The problem is, she spells is "Shelley". So, I had to "take" the "y" off and add and "ey". That's why it looks like it does. Oooops


the groupies
the meet and greet...telling Ouachita stories
(the girls with Dr. Kluck, my boss)
(the girls signing our stuff)
Michael
the girls and Selah
Selah