Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Never a dull moment...

We've been home a little over a week and things certainly haven't been dull around here.

I had another cat get sick.  I really don't understand what's going on.  Normally our animals are all quite healthy, but while Reid was away Sophie (our dog) and then Roscoe (one of the cats) came down with urinary track infections.  Since we've been home Zoom (our little terror cat) also developed a urinary track infection and she refuses to eat.  That has meant daily trips to the Veterinarian for feedings and fluids.  She's on antibiotics and obviously feeling much better, but she still won't eat.  I'd be a lot more concerned if she wasn't acting quite normal in every other way.  I did see improvement this morning when she licked a little food off my finger, but that's still not really eating.  So, I'll have to take her for more food and fluids a little later.

Meanwhile, my 19 year old cat has personal problems.  Poor Grace is constipated again and will also be seeing the Veterinarian a little later.

Reid continues to do well.  All of his blood work looks very good and I believe the doctor is pleased with his progress so far.  The big problem is the constant fatigue.  He wants to do more, but then does and becomes exhausted.  He no longer needs the weekly IV, so last Wednesday we celebrated by going to Kenny and Ziggy's for lunch after his appointment at MD Anderson.  It was the first time Reid has eaten in a restaurant since before he entered the hospital on December 15th.  In fact, it was his first venture out in public.  We tried to go at a time when Reid wouldn't be exposed to too many people, but that place always seems to get busy!  Kenny and Ziggy's is located in Houston near The Galleria and is a NY Delicatessen type restaurant.  (My kind of place!)  The servings are huge and we got two more meals out of our leftovers!

Did you see 20/20 last Friday with Robin Roberts?  (The link will take you to hulu.com and the 20/20 broadcast.)  If you did, you should have a good idea of what Reid has been through, only he's been through two stem cell transplants within the last two years.  A stem cell transplant and a bone marrow transplant are basically the same thing.

I've been following Robin's progress closely since she's about three months ahead of Reid in her recovery.  Her transplant was on September 20, 2012 and Reid's was on December 21, 2012.  It was really exciting to see her return to Good Morning America.  Her situation and Reid's were so similar.  Both of them were very fortunate to have a sibling that was a match.  I've read that only 25% of patients have a close relative that matches, but I heard Robin say it's 30%.  Regardless, most people aren't as fortunate as them.  Then Robin lost her mother right before her transplant and we lost Jim right before we learned that Reid had relapsed.  So, there are definite similarities.  I'm thrilled to see Robin doing so well.

We did have a few moments of panic this morning when Reid couldn't find his bottle of Tacro which is the anti-rejection medication.  He hadn't needed it in almost a week because he had a pill box full of all his medications.  It was only when he needed to refill the box that he couldn't locate the bottle. He does carry the bottle down to the hospital on appointment days because he can't take a pill until after the blood draw.  No sense in carrying the whole pill box when the bottle of Tacro fits easily in his pocket.  We knew he had it last Wednesday and finally found it in the car.  What a relief since he can't miss a single dose and it would have meant a trip down there today.

Anyway, things are settling down a little and I've been trying to catch up on lost sleep.  It's not unusual for me to indulge in an afternoon nap.  I have a hundred things I should be doing around here, but right now those naps are a luxury that I'm enjoying.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Home, Sweet Home...

Friday morning I loaded the car at Candlewood and we headed to the hospital for Reid's blood draw.  That only took about 30 minutes and then we headed HOME!

Ashley and the rest of the cats remembered Reid.  So did the dog.  Ashley cannot understand why he's no longer allowed in Reid's room, but that's the rule for a while.  Reid is not allowed to sleep with any animals and he has to wash his hands or use hand sanitizer if he touches them.  So, Ashley stood outside his room and cried in protest.

Last night we had hamburgers and Reid topped his with lettuce and tomato.  It's funny how you really end up craving something when you can't have it for a while.  I remember when we lived in Sicily and I longed for American pizza.  It was one of the first things I had when we arrived home.  I guess that's why so many diets fail.  When deprived of something we crave it!

Tonight we had Roast Sticky Chicken.  It's one of our favorites.  I think we were all tired of eating frozen stuff that was zapped in the microwave.  Having real meals is enjoyable for everyone now.  If you've never had Roast Sticky Chicken give it a try.  There are many variations out on the Internet, but we enjoy the version I found on Real Meals For Real People a Yahoo newsletter group.  I'm not sure if you have to sign in to Yahoo to read the recipe, but joining Yahoo is no big deal and worth it for this recipe.  I didn't take a picture, but it tastes as good as it looks and makes the house smell real good for hours while cooking.

Tomorrow Keith heads back to Austin.  We will really miss him around here.  I can't help but think of how proud Jim would have been watching Keith and Troy step up to the plate to help their brother and me.  He would have been standing there smiling as Keith donated stem cells for Reid and then he would have been smiling as Reid received them.  He would have been laughing as we all learned to hook Reid up to an IV with shaky hands and do all the other things required of an "official" caretaker.

I hope as I get caught up around here and things slowly return somewhat to normal (whatever that is) I'll be able to catch up with E-mail and visit more blogs again.  Thank you for your prayers and support the last few months!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Counting down the days...

We are all counting down the days until Reid can move home.  Yes, Friday, February 15th is the big day!

I've started bringing things home from Candlewood.  It's amazing how much stuff we managed to drag down there.  When I go back on Thursday I have to bring the ice chest so we can clear out the refrigerator and freezer Friday morning.  I've been saving grocery bags so I can pack up the leftover groceries, cleaning supplies, and medical supplies.  I'm hoping everything will fit in the back of the Escape along with out clothes.

We no longer have to hook Reid up to the IV's.  He'll only be going to the hospital on Wednesdays now for a blood draw, doctor's appointment, and a three hour infusion.  He's drinking and taking enough magnesium orally now.  I'm not exactly sure why he needs the magnesium, but I know it has something to do with the anti-rejection medication he takes.

He's still very fatigued, but he no longer uses a wheelchair at the hospital.  He's able to walk from the parking garage and around the building and that's quite a bit of walking.  He sometimes has to sit and rest, but he makes it.

He's lost 27 pounds and to me looks skinny, but he's pleased with his new weight.  However, I don't think he'd recommend this diet to anyone.  His beard is growing back, but it's growing in white. We're not sure if that's a temporary thing or permanent.

I snapped this picture before I left for home on Monday.  (That's all the stuff I was bringing home piled on the couch beside Reid.)  He's been through a lot, but is still smiling 95% of the time.

I'm working on getting the house spic and span before he gets home.  The dog needs to be bathed and groomed, but the one cat attacks her whenever she's groomed so I can't have it done until we move back home and I'm here 24/7 to protect the poor dog. 

Meanwhile, I'm trying to trap a raccoon with a humane trap, but the raccoon is smarter than me.  He's driven off my one outside cat who is apparently terrified of raccoons.  He quickly eats and then jumps the fence.  I really need to catch this raccoon and relocate him to one of the FEMA lots.  He'll be a lot happier near the creek.  He's a smart one.  He figured out how to get the food without triggering the trap.  I read online to tie a can of cat food to the back of the trap so I'm giving that a try.  I hope one of these nights I can catch him.  I try and bring in the cats' food as soon as they're done so he can't get any, but I'm afraid he's managed to steal some a couple of times recently.  Wish me luck.

Tomorrow I head back down to Candlewood for the last night and then bring Reid home Friday morning.  We're going to have hamburgers this weekend and he asked me to buy lettuce and tomatoes.  The doctor told him that he can now have fresh produce at home, but he still can't have it at a restaurant.  We just have to make sure and wash it very, very well.  (I'm actually going to soak it in bleach and water like we did when we lived overseas.  That's my idea...not the doctor's.)  And the hamburger no longer has to be well done.  It can be medium-well.  Right now that all sounds real good to him!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Goodbye for now Karen...

In recent months my good friend Karen has been waging a battle against colon cancer.  Sadly, she lost that battle last Friday.

Karen and I "met" on eBay in the 1990's when I bought a doll dress from her.  She lived in Atlanta and I lived in Texas, but the distance didn't seem to matter.  We had much in common.

I think I was the one that told her about the Yahoo Ginny Doll Group.  We had both grown up playing with the Vogue Ginny Doll back in the 1950's and became active members of this group for a while.  In fact, when the group decided to do a "12 Star Plan" and have different members sign up to make an outfit each month Karen talked me into taking September.  I do not enjoy sewing, but her enthusiasm was catching and I made the commitment.  Karen signed up for January and made an adorable ice skating outfit.  I will always treasure that outfit and the other things she sewed for my dolls.

I sent this picture to her when I knew her life was winding down.  I dressed a group of my dolls in the outfits she had made for me.  It made me somehow feel closer to her.  The doll on the left is wearing the outfit I originally bought from her on eBay.  It's made out of an old embroidered quilt top.  Karen loved old quilts.

In fact, eventually Karen's interest in quilts intensified and her interest in dolls waned a little.  She still loved her dolls, but she loved quilting more.

We had more in common than dolls and our friendship continued to grow over the years.  When my life took a tail spin Karen understood.  She accepted the fact that my life had changed and was always there to lend support.  Then in recent months Karen's life took a tail spin.  Anyone that has ever dealt with the "Big C" knows what I mean.  Cancer is a series of emotional ups and downs.  One minute things seem to be going great and the next minute everything can come crashing down.  You're always hoping and praying things will end on a high note, but there's no guarantee. That's the world of cancer.  I like to think that the experience I've had with my family helped me support Karen through her recent trials.  Only when you've dealt with cancer first hand do you really have an idea of what someone else is going through.

This past year Karen had a book published.

Right around the time the book was published she was diagnosed.  What should have been a really happy time for her was clouded with the cancer diagnosis.  If you're interested in quilting her book is available on Amazon.  She was a very talented person.

I wish this post could have had another ending.  I miss you Karen!