Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Goodbye Fall, Hello Winter

I was quite surprised to see so much color and many leaves on the tree's when I arrived home on Thursday.  Mom said it was because they hadn't gotten a hard frost yet.  I'm pretty sure it was just Heavenly Father giving me a beautiful view of fall before winter came, because today the tree's are almost barren and the frost has arrived. 
In fact snow is on it's way.  We are hoping and praying that it holds off until the kids traveling from SLC arrive tomorrow with our fresh turkey that we get every Thanksgiving from my parent's accountant.

For Tristen and the girls in Spokane they got snow this morning and were already playing in it before school started.  They sent pictures and face-timed.  Bridget had to show me that her chin was still cold and red from the cold.  We will miss these girls this Thanksgiving, but can't wait for them to join us for Christmas.
Winter weather calls for a big pot of Chili, which I made yesterday.  When I was at Aubrey's moms,  she made this and it was delicious.  Of course I added a few of my touches.  I really like the vegetables in this chili.

Cook 1 onion, 1 green pepper, 3 carrots, 2 celery stalks and 1 tsp minced garlic in a pan.  Add to large pot.

Brown hamburger or turkeyburger and add to large pot.

In a large pot add
2 T Chili Powder
1 T Paprika
3/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
salt and pepper
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 Cup Tomato Sauce
2 Cans Tomato's
1 Can Chicken Broth
2 Beef Bouillon Cubes
1 1/2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Cans Kidney Beans
1 Can Garbanzo Beans

For the next few days I plan to recover from my gallbladder surgery which I'm having this afternoon, read a good book, watch Christmas shows and college football and eat lots of yummy Thanksgiving treats.  Wishing you a very happy holiday, warm fires, comfort in yoga pants and hoodies and only a few pounds of weight gain. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Visits, Transfusions and Holiday Preparations

I haven't been very good at updating my blog on a weekly basis over the past few months, I'm well aware of my imperfections.  I've been busy with visitors, cancer crap, studying for boards and getting ready to go home for the holidays.

After I dropped my cousins off at the airport (see previous post) I packed an overnight bag and headed to Aubrey's parents house.  A few weeks before, Aubrey had planned to come for a visit to spend time with me.  I love this sweet friend of mine and I love that she set aside a few days to spend just with me.  It is always fun to spend time with Aubrey.  I feel like Aubrey and I are like sisters.  We even kind of look alike.

We spent 3 days chatting, eating nutritious food (my favorite was the weight watchers chili), trying out fermented food, learning how to juice and make bread and watching Hallmark Movies!  Her momma is the best too.  She made me feel right at home.  I can not tell you how much I love this sweet friend of mine. 
Did you know that when Tenielle and I drove up to BYU the Summer of 1999 after I totally bombed cell biology, Aubrey drove up right behind us?  We instantly became friends.  That Summer I went to BYU to re-take cell biology, but the first day in class I decided being a cytologist was not what I wanted to do.  So I took the easy route by taking Nutrition 101 and spent the Summer having a blast with Aubrey.  That Summer we did Taibo every morning, went to dollar movies where we snuck in our bin candy from Food For Less and oohed and awed over the hot guys across the fence.

Thankfully even though Aubrey got married 9 months later, we have remained the best of friends and will be for the rest of our lives.  I did inform Aubrey that if someday I die before she does ( I have no plans anytime soon) that she has to make sure my toenails are painted, my eyebrows are waxed and that my make up looks just like hers.  We love trading makeup tips, well really she gives me all the tips.

The day after Aubrey left, Cathy and I went to a University of Utah Alumni luncheon.  It was fun to meet other Utes and to have a free lunch!  My favorite was running into the Fiesta Bowl Museum.
This past week I had chemo again, I'm getting so tired of this routine.  I also had a blood transfusion.  I am grateful for the 2 people who donated blood for me.
My cousin Abe, his wife and baby came for a conference last week.  It was fun to spend some time with them before I got on a plane to head home for the Holidays.  I will be home for 7 weeks, except for the few days I'll be in SLC and the week I'll be in Charlotte.

Oh and about those boards...after having gallbladder issues for at least 1 1/2 years, I'm going to have mine taken out on Tuesday.  I swear I wouldn't be surprised if it was gangrenous.  Hopefully come Thanksgiving Day the pain I feel when I eat and when I don't eat will be gone.  I was originally suppose to take my boards that day, but they will have to wait.  I'm not sure which is worse, surgery or taking my boards.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cousins Weekend

Several months ago my cousins and I decided we were going to have a cousins weekend.  There are 5 of us cousins that were born the same year.  4 of us are girls.  The only guy found out we were having a cousins weekend and didn't want to be left out so he joined us.  We were happy to have him.  He was a great sport when it came to doing girly things. 

Alisha and Read flew in last Thursday (1 week ago).  Deborah and I picked them up and took them to Oregano's, which is one of our most favorite restaurants.  We shared some sweet potato fries, a huge salad and a thin crust basil and artichoke pizza with minimal cheese.  Something in this mix gave me some uncomfortable abdominal pain soon after.  We came back to my house to chat and they tried to convince me to drive that night to Flagstaff so they could visit the Grand Canyon, which wasn't in the original plan.  Thankfully we didn't go, because of a minor gallstone attack.  They were such good sports spending their first day in town in the ER and took great care of me as I almost fainted from pain. 

Friday evening Misty flew into town.  Deborah picked her up and they came to visit me in the hospital.  We chatted a little, but having a tube in my nose and down my throat made me not so chatty (a first for sure).  While Read, Alisha and Misty went to eat dinner since they hadn't eaten all day, Deborah and her husband Nathan stayed with me. 

Saturday I was showered and ready when they came to get me.  I felt much better and was bound and determined to show my cousins a great time.  I took them to Old Town Scottsdale where we had lunch, they bought gifts for their children and we of course had to stop at the Sugar Bowl for ice cream.  I was extremely careful with what I ate, but I've gotten to the point where it doesn't matter what I eat or don't eat it all hurts. 
We then went and had pedicures.  It was so relaxing and just what the doctor ordered. 
Afterwards, we met up with Deborah for sushi.  We spent the rest of the evening chatting at Deborahs.
Sunday we all went to church before Misty had to leave to go back home. 
For dinner we went to Aunt Leslie's where our cousins Laura, Janna and Ben (who lives in Houston, but was in town for a wedding) joined us.  It was so much fun to be together.  I really do have the greatest family.
Read and Alisha left Monday morning.  It was much too short and we didn't get our visit into Sedona, but we still made some great memories.  We are pretty sure we will have to do cousins weekend again soon!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Good News and Gallstones

Can you believe it's been over a week since I last posted?  I've been rather busy around here.  I've had lots of visitors and expecting more next week.  However that is for another post. 

Last Friday wasn't fabulous at all.  Thursday evening I had gone to dinner with my cousins and didn't feel super well afterwards.  They were all trying to convince me to leave that night to go see the Grand Canyon.  Our plan was to go to Sedona on Friday.  I'm so glad that I didn't give into the peer pressure. 

Friday morning around 6 I started having some intense cramping in my epigastric region.  It was like what I assume contractions feel like.  They came and went and some were pretty intense.  I would breath through them as the sweat engulfed me and my heart raced. 

Around 8:30 I called my doctors office.  But a little before 10 when they hadn't called me back we drove there.  I felt like a crazy lady (and probably looked like one too) going to my doctors without an appointment, but come on I'm a cancer patient and I was in some crazy pain.

I knew they were going to tell me to go to the ER, but being an ER PA, that is the last place I want to go when I'm not working.  At that point I didn't care though.  I'm glad I went to my doctors first, because they told me to go to a specific ER where my doctor was there doing surgery. 

Thankfully there was only 1 other woman that was ahead of me when I got to the ER, even though it took them an hour to get me back in a room.  Meanwhile, Alisha had to get me into a wheelchair before I passed out from the intense crazy pain that I was having.  It sounds like I'm exagerrating here, but I promise I'm not. 

I must say, I was immensely impressed with the hospital.  The care I received and the massive rooms made me feel like I was in First Class.  The ER doctor actually met me in the room as they wheeled me in.  He was so awesome.  They did blood work and a CT scan and then the pain seemed to go away. 

After a few hours the ER Doc came to inform me that I had a partial bowel obstruction, which is typically caused from adhesions (or scarring) from my previous surgery.  The bad, very bad news was that they needed to put an NG tube in my nose and down my throat to pump my stomach.  I held it together until the actual procedure and then my tears started.  I had this done twice when I was in the hospital for 15 days remember?  I knew exactly what this entailed and I wasn't happy about it one bit.  The good thing was that they did numb my throat, but it didn't help the intense pain that goes along with sticking a tube into your nose. 
Thanks to Morphine, it did decrease the pain for a short time, but that's exactly how Morphine works...it's short acting. 

Oh, but the real culprit, that I knew all along because I had an Ultra Sound in May is the massive Gallstones; at least 3 of them.  An ultrasound was also done at my bedside when I got up to the floor, which was awesime, to see if there was a stone in the common bile duct, which there wasn't.  I wish there had been and I wouldn't still be having pain from the gigantic gallstones that sit in my gallbladder.  I don't know why they didn't just remove it then, however if they had I wouldn't have had the fun I did this past weekend.

Dr. J came into see me around 8pm.  My 5 cousins were there when he came in.  We informed him that we had planned a cousins reunion that weekend.  He was so nice to me, which gave me a different take on him from my previous encounter.  While looking at the CT scan at my bedside, he said that he wasn't totally convinced that I had a true bowel obstruction.  If I did have the bowel obstruction, I'm sure it was cleared by the time I had the CT scan.  I'll leave out those details for your imagination. 

I'm positive my pain was from a full on gallstone attack.  It was miserable.  I still have pain when I eat, if I don't eat and in between.

Thankfully around 1am when I couldn't sleep the nurse took out the NG tube and by morning I was ready to go have some fun with my cousins.
The GOOD NEWS:  The tumor on the vaginal/anal wall was not seen on the CT scan.  I can't tell you how happy this makes me.  There are still multiple nodules that are calcified which means the chemo is doing it's job. 

Last night I read a scripture that pretty much sums up my feelings on this matter,
Luke 18:27 "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."  I know that these results are because of the many prayers that are being said in my behalf to our loving Heavenly Father.  He hears our prayers and He answers them in his own timing. 

It is my hope that continued chemo and miracles will dissolve all signs of cancer and that I will continue to see the miracles that are possible with God's help.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Halloween Traditions

I love our family Halloween Traditions.  I also love the Phoenix Halloween traditions that I'm becoming accustomed to.

After having chemo 2 weeks ago I went home with a mask over my face and in a wheelchair.
I felt awful on that plane ride.  Surprisingly I'm not feeling that bad today.  It was so nice to go home to see the fall colors even though when I first got there, the leaves were all on the tree and still slightly green which is rare for the 3rd week in October.
Mom has been sending me updated pictures of the tree because she knows how much I love it this time of year.  Thanks mom.
 And today dad started raking up all the leaves.  I wish they would stay around for another few weeks until I go home, but that's not happening.  I told mom to have the kids go over and take pictures of them jumping in the leaves.  That's the best part of the leaves.
Friday afternoon we went to the pumpkin patch.  It was the perfect afternoon and even maybe a little warm.  I liked going in the afternoon over the evening.  Of course the highlight is this crazy slide that all the kids love and the hayride which takes us to find the perfect pumpkin.  At the end of our time we always have donuts and apple juice in the parking lot.  Such a fun tradition.
Saturday I made a pot of pumpkin chili for our evening party, watched college football and read Go Set A Watchman, which I might add was fabulous. That evening we had our annual Young Family Halloween Party.  This was the first year that we didn't have it at my grandparents.  It was kind of sad and I missed seeing grandpa standing at the door watching the fun.  But we had a fabulous time at my cousin Reads.  It was the second perfect place for our Halloween Trunk or Treat.  We always have soup, cinnamon rolls (or long johns which no one brought this year; it was grandma's tradition) and grandma's homemade hot chocolate.  We also go on a hayride and the kids have fun collecting candy.  I was sad that my sisters weren't in town for the weekend, but it was fun to have all of my brothers there.
The weekend before I went home I went to a Halloween Block party with Cathy.  Her sister's block has had this tradition for 20 years.  I loved it, especially that they had Bahama Bucks tropical snow.

This past Friday I went to Deborah's ward trunk or treat.  There was a huge turnout and we had fun handing out candy.  Afterwards we went to her house where her husband, the master pumpkin carver showed us his talents.  He is quick and does exactly what the kids ask for.

Saturday Cathy and her daughter Hope and I went to Laura's and went Trick or Treating with their kids.  They have a huge neighborhood and they all sit out in their driveways handing out candy and grilling hot dogs.  It's hard to keep up with the kids going from house to house.  Thank goodness Laura had a brilliant idea to put green glow in the dark necklaces around the kids, even though they did get lost a time or two.

Sunday Deborah had her annual Halloween dinner.  She goes all out with eyeball ice cubes and mummy dogs, spider eggs and such.  She didn't disappoint again this year.

It's a good thing that I don't have kids.  I'd be really tempted to eat their candy, even though I'm staying away from candy for now.

Tristen sent the cutest pictures of Aidree and Bridget.  We missed them at our Halloween parties. Such silly girls.
Aidree had her kindergarten pictures.  So adorable.  I can't believe how grown up these girls are getting.  They have such fun characters and I love facetiming them at random hours of the day.