Category Archives: Cancer

Debby Downer’s Digestion

It’s going to be one of those posts.  You know the type I am talking about. The type that I sound very ungrateful and whiny. So before the whining begins, let me first say that I am very grateful for my life. In fact, I am very, very grateful I am alive at all.  With that said, I must say the last couple weeks have been more than a little difficult. My health “issues” are the reason I consider myself a resistant hermit. But I do enjoy some good weeks, even an occasional great week, then eventually the rough, bad, painful days come back.

Even at the best of times, I need to plan everything. What I am doing for the day, when I am doing it, where I am going…..then I plan my eating accordingly.  And because what goes in, must come out….I will have an hour or two of problems.  Again, that is on my best days.

I won’t describe my last couple weeks in detail. Really, I will spare you. But I will say I have a choice of eating one large meal and having humdinger of “issues” for a few hours, or I can eat small meals throughout my day and have moderate “issues” all day long.  Yep, those are my two choices.  Doesn’t matter what I eat.  Well maybe a little.  If I have too much gluten, too much meat, wine, soda, etc…..Well, I might as well not move for the rest of the day.  Doctors say this is probably as good as it will ever get for me.  What I eat, when I eat, medications, etc. will only made a small difference.

I could go back to an ostomy, but as Doctor L said, because of my very damaged intestines, and my skin sensitivities, there is no guarantee that I will enjoy more freedom.  And once I get an ostomy, there is no going back.  I do not have enough intestines to have a reversal.

I do apologize for this post. Really sounds depressing and I sound like a Debby Downer.  I really try not to write about my colorectal syndrome issues very often.  And I will try not to post another for as long as I can.  It’s just that my “issues” the last couple weeks have been overwhelming and it does affect how much I can and can not do, where I go, etc.  And as I don’t see any relief anytime soon, thought I should just put it all out there.

Today, I am planning on visiting my sister Kathy, picking up dog food for my mom’s dog, and dropping some things off at my mom’s house.  I have been up since 3:00 this morning, so I will be dragging by this afternoon. But by then I should be home, unless “issues” prevent me from going at all.

Miller’s Crossing Officially Open

LL and I took Marlin, our R.V. to our campsite a month ago.  We did not camp then.  Have not been back up until this weekend.  But we had a wonderful time.  Once we got up there and unloaded, LL needed to take the weed whacker to our campfire area and a few paths.  Then we both did a few other things.  Other than that, it was all about relaxing, taking a couple walks, and enjoying the quietness.

002It is kind of funny.  When ever I go to take a picture of Max, he raises his hand and waves.  He always does this, and I notice Kane does too.  But I think I know why…..

003Here is LL when I took a picture of him.  To be fair, I think I said, “wave like Max.”  But when I look back at other pictures, he does it too. LOL

On Sunday, June 1st, my sister Karen came up to spend the day.  She arrived with donuts and this beautiful gift..004Flowers from her garden.  My dad’s favorite roses, with a balloon that said Congratulations, you did it! Yes!  She brought that because yesterday was my big 5 year in remission anniversary.  I am considered Cured of Colon Cancer.!!  Yesterday was also my sister Kris’s birthday.  She too was out-of-town for a long weekend, so I didn’t see her.

LL is off this week.  Using up a lot of comp time from work.  So it is Monday.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, he is planning on working at my son’s house, starting on a fence.  I will visit my sis, Kathy, then meet up with him and see our grandsons. Wednesday night, we are hoping to have dinner with Lynda, LL’s friend from work and she is my friend too.  Beyond that, maybe he will get the pool washed and filled, maybe yard work, maybe another two-day camping trip.  I am letting him decide.  Really I am, I am not that controlling…..I am serious!  Don’t laugh if you know me.  But if you know me, you are laughing cuz I always have a Honey Do list. 🙂

Cancer F^@#s

Cancer Sucks! has become a common saying.  I do not use the F word, but if I did, I would replace the S with an F.  As a survivor, I know what it is like to “look over my shoulder”, “wait for the next shoe to drop” wondering if every ache, pain, bump or symptom could be cancer raising its ugly head again in my body.  So far I am doing o.k. but cancer seems to have attached itself on my family, on all sides of my husband and my family tree.

Last evening, my cousin passed away.  I have blogged about her before.  Over the last couple years, she and I have had long discussions about treatments, surgeries, worries, family, and how much we both hate cancer.  She was young, I think 37.  And she had to leave her husband and two baby’s.  I think ages 6 and 8.  I am a bit numb this morning and tears fall without any warning.

I so look forward to blogging about less serious, even silly things I used to blog about.  Since my husband and children always think I am Lucy Ball, I really never am lacking material.  Someday, maybe someday life will be a little light-hearted again.  I am praying and dreaming of that time of lightness and joy.

Today, LL has the day off and I think yard work and other chores are on the agenda.  Have a blessed day and hug your loved ones.

Monte will be missed

It has been a long few days.  Thursday, February 13, Jesus took Monte home.  He was surrounded by his wife, kids, and a couple of brothers, LL included.  I can’t begin to tell you how much Monte will be missed.  He was a great man, husband, father, grandfather and brother.

We had LL’s Uncle Jim stay with us for a couple of days.  I think that was good for LL and helped me stay busy.

Monte’s private graveside service will be held tomorrow and his celebration of his life service will take place on Friday evening.

Large Family Curse?……No, Blessings

I belong to a very large family.  Actually, more than one.  If you take in account my very large Purdy family, (Mom’s side).  Very large Staab family, (Dad’s side) and the LL’s family.  He does not have a huge extended multi-generational family like I do, but he has 4 brothers, all with spouses and many kids, their spouses, and children.

Often lately, I have been thinking about how rough this last year was and how rough this year is turning out to be. reminiscent of the 12 months a decade ago that I lost my dad, my mother-in-law, our house fire, losing our home and all our possessions, then Max’s additional life altering diagnosis.  That was a bad year.

Well last year, I had the blessing of two of my children’s weddings, but along with that, I lost 2 Aunts, 2 Uncles, my brother-in-law David, and my nephew Michael.  Pretty crappy year. 😦

So far this year, my mom was very sick, my sister Kathy is very ill, and my brother-in-law Monte,…..well things are very rough.  Kris picked me up this morning, I can’t get out of my driveway yet, so I slipped and slid walking down my driveway and met her down the road at a store parking lot.  We went for a meeting to address many issues for my sister Kathy.  Kris and I are her guardians.  The meeting went well, as many of us are putting plans in place for the next few months.  On the drive home, I had a mini-breakdown.  Cried and voiced my anger of the unfair situations hitting my loved ones.  Felt good, that cry.  I try never to cry in front of Max….very upsetting to him.  So I got it out of my system.  But it got me thinking.

Statistics wise, it make sense that with the amount of family I have, there will be bad years.  Not only does it hit my immediate family, but I have an uncle and cousin struggling too.  Is it worth it? All this worrying and pain, is it worth it because I have a big family?????

It is.  When we called hospice at the end of my dad’s life, my siblings and I never left his side for weeks.  Always at least one, usually two holding vigil, making sure of his comfort.  The pain of losing him was somehow more tolerable knowing you had five other siblings who were in just as much pain and were there to support you.  When I went through my cancer.  Many, many surgeries, chemo and radiation, lots of pain, I was rarely left alone.  My husbands brothers and wives were my prayer warriors, my siblings and mom assisted my kids and LL, taking me to appointments and taking care of me on my sickest days.  Small families don’t have that same support.

So I think the sorrow may come more often with a very large family, but the love just completely overwhelms all the pain.  The burden is somehow lifted.

I hope that things turn around for my sis and Monte.  I pray that they do, but I know no matter the outcome, there is a lot of love spread around me and again, we will all get through it.  God bless

Real Food

Not happy with myself. 😦  Certainly not happy with my body.  I did not make my aunt’s funeral today.  I think the only other close family member’s funeral I have missed was my Uncle Val’s years ago when I was in California.  But I have hope.

Hope that things will get better.  I went to my primary physician yesterday and she is on board and is helping me with a strategy to improve my digestion which will improve my life.  I am starting on a couple meds. that although are not normally used for the purpose I will be using them for, one in particular might contribute to some improvements.   We have a strategy for my diet and hopefully solving some mysteries on what causes ongoing “issues”.

For now, things will be very very restrictive.  No processed foods.  No meats except turkey and fresh water fish.  No eggs.  No soda, alcohol, sugary juices.  No gluten (of course).  No nuts, seeds.  No refined carbs and sugars.  No spices and herbs.  No dairy including *gulp* CHEESE. 😦  Sobbing still about that one.  So you might be wondering what I can eat.

Turkey, trout, tuna.  Most fresh vegetables.  Fresh fruit (but no citrus).  Whole grains, brown and white rice (white rice is the one refined food I can have).  White and sweet potatoes.  Maybe a little beans. Herb teas, water, fresh juice.  And after a few days I can add oats as long as it is gluten free.  No seasoning except sea salt.  I know.  This all seems so sad and bland.  But it is healthy.  Basically it is the elimination diet I was already going to start, but my doctor cut out a few more foods.  Everything very simply prepared.  Broiling, boiling, steaming.

I was thinking I would eat like this for a week and then start slowly introducing certain foods back in.  But I have been told that I need to keep things very restrictive much longer than that.  Because my intestines are so inflamed and things have become very serious.  I hate to admit something, LL has been saying this to me but yesterday my doctor said the exact same thing.  (thinking LL called her….just kidding).  What they both said is that they are worried that every time my intestines become inflamed, it is adding to the permanent damage the radiation is already causing.  In other words, if I don’t want to lose more small and large intestines, I need to get serious and very strict about what I put in my body.

I have always known this of course, but I can’t get sloppy anymore.  Which is so very hard for a person who loves food.  Please pray and wish me luck that I can do much better than I have in the past.

Door Number 2

Yesterday, I waited all day staying in ear shot from the phone and checking my e-mail every 20 minutes.  Finally in the evening, I heard back from my doctor.  I think he was waiting until all results were back from blood tests, biopsy, and scans.

Good news, no cancer detected and no major increase in thickening of my bowels.  So I am thinking Door number 2 is the winner.  I am so happy, yet at the same time, still feeling lousy.

I guess if this is all caused by the stomach virus I had 3 weeks ago, I am going to just have to be patient.  But feeling pretty yucky this morning.  Like my gut is on fire.  Like instead of it being 12 hours since I last ate, if feels like I just stuffed my self with a Thanksgiving meal.  You know the feeling.  Well I will just have to take it one day at a time.

 

Let’s Make A Deal

Rough, rough, rough couple weeks.  Feeling a bit of flash back of when I had cancer.  The pain, scare, sleepless nights etc.  Coming off of the stomach virus, I thought I was just not bouncing back.  But instead of feeling a little better every day, I have been getting worse.  So my cancer surgeon has put me on the fast track (yet again) for some answers.

Wednesday, I went to Salem for some tests.  Thursday, I went to Portland to see my cancer surgeon for a rectal exam, and this morning, I went for some scans.  Sounds like I have three options.

Behind door number 1 is the ever so feared item….Cancer.  Of course that is the least desired.  After the exam and some test results back, things look good to start ruling that out. 🙂  Although we will still need to wait for the rests of the tests from Wednesday and today’s scan to rule that out completely.

Behind door number 2 is the most desired item…..side effects from the stomach virus.  Because of my lack of intestines and plenty of scar tissue, I may just have a lot of inflammation from being sick and the doctor has said it may take weeks for that to improve.  Although that doesn’t explain why I seem to be getting worse rather than better.  But what’s behind door 3 explains it all.

Behind door number 3 is a thickening of my bowels.  My last scan many months ago showed an area of thickening probably caused by the damage from radiation.  The doctor is suspecting that the scarring has increased to a point that I am starting to be blocked.  Although this is better than cancer, it is a big deal.  Like Dr. L said, he hates doing major surgery on me for two reasons, I do not bounce back well from surgeries and having  more bowels cut out of me will leave me with even less small intestines and likely more problems.  But if that is the case, surgery can not be avoided.

I am thinking I will know the answer behind all the doors some time Monday.  If I do require surgery, it will likely have to be within a couple of days after that.  Which means opening me wide open in the abdomen…..again.  3 to 7 days in the hospital……again.  And weeks of recovery…..again.

The hardest part I learned from my doctor appointment is that if this is indeed caused by the radiation he said it is the “gift that keeps giving”.  Meaning the radiation with likely continue doing damage for the rest of my life and I will likely run into this problem from time to time. 😦

One other thing I am feeling a bit bad about.  I was planning on having Easter for my family on Sunday.  I am just not up to it.  So my sister Kris is planning on having everyone over instead.  What a blessing she is.

Well, the barium is starting its number on my digestion, so I shall be signing off and spending the rest of the day running.  Have a great Easter and I will update you when I know more after Monday.

My Way Of Thinking

Happy Friday!

Strange to be sitting here this time of the morning on Friday.  I feel well enough to probably do my regular routine with my mom, but when it comes to my mom’s health, I don’t like to take chances.  I am probably not contagious now, but I don’t know that for sure and I do think it would could be particularly dangerous for Mom to get this virus.

I have always had the opinion that when a person is contagious, if at all possible, they need to stay away from others.  It was easy when my kids were little, I kept them home from school because I did not work.  It got tougher as they were older and I went back into the work force.  LL and I then took turns staying home to care for them.  So I get that it is not always possible for someone to stay home until they are healthy.  Sometimes it takes many days and not everyone can afford to take the time off.

LL is of a different mind.  He gets back to work as soon as he is standing up.  Although he is mindful of others, especially older people, as the main bread winner of the family, he gets back to work ASAP.  But here is my thinking because of experience……..

Remember the year that the big scare was the N1H1 virus?  That was the year of my intense surgeries, radiation and chemo.  While going through my treatments, I was not allowed to get the regular flu shot, or the N1H1 flu shot.  But was warned that I had very little immune system left and should do my best to stay out of crowded areas, and stay away from sick people.  This was particular important for me because I lost so much weight, had little reserves left and getting sick would have been very dangerous.  And would have delayed the very treatments that were saving my life.

Now that I healthy, relatively so, I am always mindful that maybe the lady next to me at the store, or the man I am handing money to is going through treatments, fighting an illness, etc.  And they can not risk getting sick.  Over the years, I have created habits I gained during the year of my treatments.  When grabbing a shopping cart, I try to always wipe down the handle before using.  In fact, I make my mom do the same. 🙂  When at the doctors or hospital, I tend to sit away from everyone else.  I probably over scrub vegetables, etc. etc.  Some probably think I am too cautious…..and I am fully aware I am only able to do so because I do not work outside the home.  And look, even though I am careful, I still contracted this virus and was very ill.  But I know I still have a compromised immune system so I will continue to do so.

I guess what I am saying is if you are sick and have to be out in public, at least be thoughtful and try your best to keep others safe.  And if you can, just stay home.

A Strong Life Lived

Yesterday I lost my brother….actually it is LL’s brother David.  But I have known him for 40 years and he has officially been my brother for over 28 years when I married his wonderful brother.  LL is fortunate to have 4 brothers and David was smack in the middle of the 5 of them.

David left this world far too soon.  Only 55 years on this earth.  But he had faith.  My God his faith was so strong beyond his last breath.  David took his journey with his children surrounding him.  His wife took such tender care of him.  His passing was about as beautiful as a passing of this nature can be.

I will miss him.  I will miss my disagreements with him.  I will miss his prayers for me.  (He was a prayer warrior at my bedside when I was struggling with cancer.)  I will miss his humor and love most of all.

My sweet LL was beyond strong for all the family.  But so was everyone close to David.  Especially Jalen and their 4 children, and 6 grandchildren.  I am in awe of them all.

I want to thank those who have been praying for both LL’s brothers.  Please continue to pray for David’s family and for Monte because he is still needing strength to fight his cancer.