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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It Was Really Worth It

One of the things my family does when they get together is play cards.  It can be anything from poker to spades to Uno.  Sometimes we throw some chicken foot it there for good measure, but mostly it is cards.

Last year the girls and I went out after Thanksgiving day (Felicia stayed and went shopping….I dodged a bullet with that one!).  It was my brother Cully, his son Clay (Clint had gone to Oregon to visit his girl), my sister Jereny, myself, Faith and Alicia.  We spent the days riding, with my Dad doing a mini family clinic for all of us.   It was a lot of fun; we got to see No Fear Clay get on a young horse for the first time in the arena.  Sadly, there was no bucking involved….we were all very disappointed in the horse (maybe Clay wasn’t that disappointed).  But at night after supper, that’s where this story starts to get interesting. 

MD Anderson Visit – 1st Chemo Treatment

Sorry this is so late getting out here, but here it is!

We had a rough night Sunday, neither one of us slept.  I believe Felicia’s was due to the steroids she had to take, but mine was the bone I picked up to worry on again.  Fortunately she leveled my head and reminded me that God was in control. 

We arrived down at MD around 6:30, mostly to beat the traffic (her first appointment wasn’t until around 8am).  But time fly’s when your having fun, I guess!  We checked in and she gave blood and all of the sudden it was time to meet with the oncologist.  She checked Felicia out and gave us instructions about letting the chemo team know we were there so that they could start mixing the drugs.

We then headed over to meet with the radiologist to discuss the radiation.  We both like the doctor there, he told us “he was very picky about the set up and would not treat her any different than he would his sister or mother”.  We were probably there about two hours with him explaining how, and where, the “rays” were going to go in and come out.  There is a funny story along with this involving a table that raises up and down, but you will have to get with Felicia on that one because I told here I would not tell it!

We decided to eat and then we headed out to the car so that Felicia could put the numbing cream on her port.  She was more afraid of them sticking the needle in the port than she was about the chemo!  I barely had time to sit back down and she was out with her port accessed.

Then to the chemo about 1:30.  They gave her 4 different things, all separately, so that if she had a reaction they would know which one caused the reaction.  Each drug took varying lengths of time with the Herceptin being the longest at 2 hours.  But she dozed, read Bonnie’s book thingy (thanks, Bonnie) and watched TV.  All in all, other than the blood pressure going up a little, everything went great.

The nurse must have thought we were crazy because for a period of time we were both sitting up in the bed (a single bed at that!), but that only lasted a couple of hours.  I got tired of having one cheek hanging off and decided that the chair was probably more comfortable.

She got done with her treatment about 8pm and we got home somewhere around 9:30pm.  It was a long day and on top of not sleeping the night before, we were both wiped out.

Yesterday morning she was up and feeling pretty good, though she did say that some foods and drinks already tasted different.  She also said she felt like her teeth were floating (her words, not mine!).  She is back at work (from home) today and seems to be feeling really well. 

All I can say is praise the Lord that things went well!  If we trust him, he will take care of us according to his plan.

Psalms 103:11-12

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Kids Make Me Laugh - Alicia

Alicia is my little daredevil.  She believes she can do most anything.  She was the first one to ride a bike, the first one on a horse, and if I remember correctly the first one to walk.  She also has a sense of humor that pokes out once in a while to hilarious results!

We had been in Houston all day and were discussing what we were going to eat and had been talking Mexican food.  Only problem with that is that Faith is gluten intolerant, so there are limited places where she can eat.  Well Felicia and I had really talked ourselves out of eating in a restaurant and the girls really didn’t have a choice in the matter.  We had decided to just go home and fix something there.  All of the sudden Alicia says, “Wait a minute, wait a minute…that’s just crazy talk!”  Of course we died laughing, still went home and ate, but we laughed all the way home!

She is not much of a hugger; you usually get some form of the a-frame or side hug.  She will give full frontal hugs, but you kind of have to push the issue.  When she was little she would not hug me (or anyone for that matter) if my shirt was off, she always said she did not want to hug the hair jacket!  I don’t want any regrets here either, so I usually force the issue and get my hugs!

We have gotten them pups twice and the interest just isn’t there for the dogs.  Cats are a different story, if her sister wasn’t allergic to cat hair (soft spot for her sister too…she gave up her cat for Faith) she would probably find all kinds of strays cats to pick up!

If you can’t tell from the last two posts…I love my kids and think they are the smartest, most beautiful girls in the world!   I am really dreading the day that them nasty boys start taking time away from me!

As I said last time boys….hurt my girls, I hurt you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Kids Make Me Laugh - Faith

My daughters generally don’t try to be funny, but sometimes (as the TV show used to say) kids say the funniest things!

Faith is my soft hearted one; she is quick to let the dog love on her and any other animal for that matter!  We are always hearing from her teacher how she is helping some other kid at school through a tough time.  So we have come to expect her tenderhearted moments.  She is also the shy one, doesn’t want to talk to new people or sometimes even people she knows!  What she doesn’t realize is how funny she is, without even trying!  She will say something funny and after we are all dying laughing, she’ll say “what…what… what are you laughing at?”

A while back the girls were in the back seat of the truck playing something on their iPod thingy.  It was some kind of dare game and all of the sudden Faith says, “What is the opposite foot?”  We just died laughing!

I think she was having a blond moment because the game was telling her to do something on one foot and do something else on the opposite foot.  In reading it, she didn’t tie the concept into what it had actually said.   It was just an innocent question, and of course led to her “what..what” statement.

Another time we were on our way to church with their grandparents and we were talking about what to buy for one of the aunts’ birthdays.  My mother-in-law said, “ I don’t know what to buy for her.”  We talked a little longer and all of the sudden, kind of under her breath Faith says, “you know what to buy for her…”.  Of course we all asked, “no, what?”.  She says, “ oh, I don’t know, I was just asking!”

She is also my hugger.  She always wants to hold your hand or hug.  I sometimes fuss at her a little because it seems she always wants to do this when we are hot and sweaty from working outside.  I have been convicted in the last few days about that.  There will come a time when she is not around to hug or hold hands with, and I don’t want to be filled with regrets about my hugger!

The Lord has blessed me with two beautiful daughters who, I regret to say, are coming up on the age when boys become an interest.  Makes me a little sad that time has passed so quickly, just yesterday I carried them out of the delivery room.  One in each arm and they fit from my elbow to my palm.

Boys, just a warning….if you hurt my girls, I will hurt you!  Just kidding….or am I?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

MD Anderson Visit – Surgical / Oncologist Follow-up

We spent all day the 6th down at MD.  For about 3 appointments!  That’s ok, because everyone was extremely happy about how well Felicia was doing in her surgical recovery.

First appointment, at 9am, was a resting EKG.  It didn’t take long, so once Felicia was done we headed downtown on the train to pick up some liquid vitamin (because she has problems with pills!).  I believe the train ride made her sleepy!

As soon as we got back to MD, we headed up to the waiting room for her next appointment.  It wasn’t until 1:50, so she took nap and I read.  It was an exciting couple of hours!  Around 2, we met with Dr. Wagner (well I say that, first we met with the nurse and then the happy PA Whitney.  She is a young lady who enjoys her job, which I can imagine sometimes gets pretty tough.) and Dr. Wagner was very pleased with how things were going.  She gave us the pathology report and explained how much they took out (3.1 cm) and that there were no cancer cells left and the lymph nodes were clean.  Yay!

Next at 2:50 was the medical oncologist, which ended up being at 3:30 because they were running behind.  Dr Koenig was also very happy with the pace of recovery.  She explained more of what the chemo (a 3 drug cocktail) would do and all of the side effects.  I guess they have to tell you that just in case the worst happens, but wow, some of the side effects are scary!  We also set up a date for the first chemo treatment, which will be on the 25th of April.  When we started out, that seemed pretty far away, but it will be here before you know it.  She also prescribed something for nausea, which led to a wait in the pharmacy and us not leaving til almost 5.

I think me driving in the traffic scared Felicia a little, but we made it home just fine and I didn’t have to shoot anyone!  On the way home she asked me something that reminded me how human we all are.  She said, “after they explain all of that, do you ever feel like it is happening to someone else?  Like you’re outside your body?”   Of course I have, on and off the whole time!

It reminded me again how easy it is for us to pick the worry and fear back up from the foot of the cross.  God told me to give it to him in Philippians 4:4-7:

"Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let you gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will gaurd your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
We are a little like a dog.  We bury that bone, but still want to dig it up and chew on it again….and again…..and again!

Psalms 121 reminds me that our strength comes from God:

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
   where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.
 3 He will not let your foot slip—
   he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep.
 5 The LORD watches over you—
   the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
   nor the moon by night.
 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
   he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
   both now and forevermore.

Our friend Cynthia told me the easy part is the surgery, now comes the hard part…the chemo.  Cynthia (put Cynthia in your prayers too!) should know, she has been fighting the beast for almost 20 years.  So continue to pray for Felicia, that she will rely on God for her strength.  After all, He will watch over her coming and going!  Pray also for our family, I think the girls will be most affected when the hair starts to come out.  She continues to amaze me with her wit and grace.   Speaking of her wit, I offered to shave my head (when hers starts to come out) and she said, “no babe, I have seen your head…it needs hair on it!”  How can I not live up to that?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Peekin' Thru The Gate

When I started writing this column, I was also going to write some stories about my Dad, his family and my Grandpa.  There are some wild, sometimes unbelievable, tales that come out when my family gets together.  So in the interest of family history, I have decided to write some of them down.
My Dad made the statement to me one time that “I offered something better for the horse than he did and he offered something better than my Grandpa did”.  It was a different generation and a whole different way of handling a horse for most of the public back then.  There were a few, the really good ones that were natural horsemen.  But, in general horses were treated as tools to get a job done.  Grandpa Johnson was a horse trader and for him, and other working cowboys…the horse was a tool, and that’s all they were.