My life changed dramatically and forever when I lost TJ.

I welcome you to follow along as I adjust to my "new normal".

It is not all puppies and ice cream but it is my life....real and honest.

Monday, September 28, 2009

TJ Has Been Admitted To The Hospital

Now before anyone gets hysterical I am to the point that I think this is a good thing. His pain has been so unbearable he needed to be where they can manage his pain. When I left him tonight he was in fairly good spirits and his pain was greatly reduced. He was even smiling and joking with the nurses. He has been so miserable since Saturday that it was nice to see a smile on his face again instead of a grimace.

The plan is to do an MRI tomorrow and find out what the heck is causing all this pain. Hopefully it is something other than the spread of cancer. Everyone please pray and keep your fingers and toes crossed that the cancer has not spread to his spine. I will update when I know something.

By the way, as of now I am doing fine. I have not been sleeping well with him being in such bad pain the last few nights so I plan to hit the hay early and get a good night sleep. When I left the hospital TJ asked me if I was going to be OK at home without him; I told him I will miss him bunches but I will be fine.

Battle On TJ, Battle On

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday "Early" Morning in The Emergency Room

As I have talked about before the pain in TJ's back has been unbearable. On Friday we went to the Oncologist and he does not seem to think it is cancer spread but wants to do an MRI of his spine just to make sure. Also because of his weight loss we have an appointment with a dietitian on Monday afternoon. TJ will also be seeing an Ear, Nose & Throat guy in the near future. We go back to Nabong in 2 weeks for results.

Meanwhile his pain is terrible. Finally, Sunday morning about 1:30 am he admitted he was ready to go to the ER. We were dressed and on the road by 2:00. The ER was fortunately empty so he got in right away. They gave him Dilaudid through his port and out he went immediately. I, on the other hand, was sitting in a chair from hell and could not sleep. When they were sure he was not going to have a reaction to the Dilaudid they sent him home with a script. This stuff is several times stronger than morphine so they only give you a few pills at a time because they don't want you to give them out to friends, family or selling them on the street. My question is who is the hell would be stupid enough to do that!!!!! I guess it happens all the time though, what idiots those people must be!

But, now that we are home all the dilaudid does is knock him out for a couple of hours and when he wakes up the pain is just as bad. The only place he is comfortable is flat on his back in bed. He can't even lay on the couch or sit in one of the chairs in the living room. I feel so bad for him. First thing tomorrow morning I will be calling his Oncologist again. I don't know what is wrong but they have to figure something out.

Short post and very fact oriented but I am tired and need to get some rest. Please hope that we get this figured out and soon!! His attitude is still good but I don't know how much longer that will hold with the kind of pain he is experiencing.

Battle On TJ, Battle On

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Friday Photo Shoot Out: My Favorite Place To _______________

Oh how I have been thinking about and looking forward to this topic. This week I can make up for all those weeks that I have drawn a blank and posted just one lonely photo. The first thing that came to mind was:


They have the best deals in town and it has that small town feel that Apache Junction has lost in recent years. I also love the old fashioned signs they have.

I went there the other day and got all this stuff for $10. I don't know about other parts of the world or even other parts of the country but for here in Arizona $10 is quite a bargain for all this stuff.

My Favorite Place to "Sit Comfortable & Read"

The rocker was given to me years ago by a few very close friends at a time when I was really down. I have hauled it back and forth across the US numerous times and probably will never part with it. I have a bad back and it is really the only place I can sit comfortably, especially when I prop my feet up on the arm of the couch. It may not be the most eye appealing way to arrange furniture but it sure is practical!

As most of you know TJ's Mom passed away last week. One of the few things he asked her to leave to him was this table. I don't know all the details on it yet but I know that TJ remembers it from when he was very young. Sooo, in honor of his Mother and just because I love TJ like I do, this is now :

My Favorite Place to "Sit & Eat Dinner With TJ"

Great theme this week and I can't wait to see what all the other members post as this leaves so much to interpretation.

Save The Boobs!!

I am all about anything it takes to make people aware of early detection and the need for additional research so we can find a cure!

Be sure you have your sound on.

I Love It!!!!!!!

Hope I didn't offend any of my regular readers and if I did I apologize.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Take Comfort in Joy Where You Find It

From the depths of our struggles sprout the blossoms of our strengths.

With TJ feeling so poorly lately it has been very hard to find an upside to anything in life. Ok, reality is that he has felt like total shit for weeks and the both of us are tired of it! This morning was an especially bad morning and it breaks my heart to see him in such pain.

His appetite is good except for the fact that nothing tastes good to him when he eats it. This results in him taking a few bites of something and then pushing it away. He is starting to lose weight and frankly it scares the hell out of me. He is no longer the lean, strong, muscular man I met almost 16 years ago and it kills me. He was a framer then and I used to love to watch him work. It amazed me how he could hoist himself up and around trusses all the while hammering away. Believe it or not our life has not always been about cancer. We used to be carefree and have lots of fun.

Having said that though, we still do have fun. It is just different now. Everyone talks about the "new normal" and even though I don't like our "new normal" I have learned to put on a smile and take comfort in joy where we can find it. Just this morning when I felt like TJ was having the worst day ever in this journey we actually had a laugh. He had just finished dressing and we were going to walk into the kitchen together when he went back into the bathroom. I waited....and waited....(I am very impatient) and finally asked him what he was doing? He said "Combing my hair!!" (his hair is just beginning to grow back from chemo and is barely visible!) He walked out and we both had a little laugh. Is this our "new normal"?! If it is I guess I can accept it as long as we get to have a laugh together every once in a while.

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile is the source of your joy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What a Week!!

I really wanted to post yesterday but I was just too exhausted and decided to just take it easy all day. After I got done with my chores of course, which was around 1:00 pm. Unfortunately for those of you that are regular readers I have had lots of time to think the past two weeks and have come up with quite a few ideas for posts so you can expect me to be back at the 3 to 4 a week again, heck maybe even more with all that has been going through my head lately. Today though I am just going to give quick updates on the nitty gritty stuff and will elaborate on some of it at a later date.

First...The service for TJ's Mom was Friday afternoon and it was a very nice service. I have an issue with funerals, but that is just my opinion. All in all though I thought it was very tasteful and nice. Those who spoke did an excellent job and it was nice to see all the people that knew and loved Carol. All of TJ's family headed back east on Saturday morning and soon things will be back to normal around here.

Second...TJ still is having quite a bit of back pain but it is somewhat better today and hopefully tomorrow it will be better yet. I am still unsure of this and we have discussed seeing the oncologist about it. At this time though we are in a wait and see mode.

Third....My mammogram and ultrasound seem to be OK. Wednesday I had an appointment with a breast cancer surgeon to look at my films. His opinion is that they are benign cysts but because my breasts are so dense and I have a strong family history of breast cancer he wants me to get an MRI just to make sure. I am fine with that. They have not called to schedule it yet so I have no idea when it will be. In addition to that he talked to me about getting some genetic testing done to see if I have the BRCA1 gene. If in fact I do have this gene my chances of getting breast cancer are 85%. HOLY COW!!! THAT IS HIGH!!!! Additionally, because of my high risk insurance will pay for the genetic testing but there is just one catch.......If I have this gene I have to immediately have a double mastectomy. If I choose not to get the mastectomy then should I get breast cancer down the road they will not cover it. Good news is they will also cover reconstructive surgery and the surgeon even told me I could upgrade should I choose to. NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT ;) Seriously though....Am I mentally ready to have both my boobs cut off?....I don't know......With TJ ill do I really have the time to go through all this right now?.........I don't know. My decision for now is to research, research, research .... arm myself with a bunch of questions and bombard the surgeon with them when I get the results of my MRI. I will then make a decision about whether to go ahead with the genetic testing now or in the future.

We can't choose our challenges, but we can meet them with grace.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Friday Photo Shoot Out - Animals (Domesticated)

Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies.

We have 3 Australian Cattle Dogs and 1 Chihuahua. This is Shiner chilling on the couch, which is specifically for the dogs (note the dog themed cover)
Ahhh, Dobie, aka The Mexican, aka The Ankle Biter, aka Munchkin. He was abused so he has many social issues but with TJ & I he is a little doll. This is him & TJ taking a nap on the couch, he loves to sleep on TJ's chest. Gee, so do I, does this mean I have competition?!?!?!

Dobie is hoping to one day grow up and be just like Shiner. Fat chance little guy!! Although he does think they are buddies and Shiner completely ignores him.

Okie is the white one on the left, Mickey is on the right. Shiner is Okie's Dad and Mickey is Okie's Mom. It has been really fun to see both the personalities of Shiner and Mickey come out in Okie. By the way, Okie is my favorite and is a super big Mommas Boy.

Rear view of the above picture. Matching chubby butts.

Agenda for the Day: Wag more.....Bark less

Handle every stressful situation like a dog, if you can't eat it or hump it; pee on it and walk away!

Carol L. Webb

Carol L. Webb peacefully passed away on September 15, 2009. She was born in Saginaw, Michigan but spent most of her life in Mesa, Arizona. Carol was an extraordinary woman who loved God first and then her family and friends. She was most proud of her kids, T.J. and Kelly, and her grandchildren, Nicholas, Rhiannon, Phylicia, and Billy. She was a mentor to some and model to all. Carol was an avid golfer who achieved a hole in one at age 68. She and her beloved Joe Bushroe resided in Leisure World. She will be missed by many, as to know Carol was to love Carol. Memorial services will be held at 4:30 p.m., Friday, September 18, 2009 at Mariposa Gardens Cemetery Chapel, 6747 E. Broadway Road, Mesa, Arizona, 85206 (480) 830-4422. In lieu of flowers the family is requesting contributions in Carol's name to Odyssey Hospice, 6215 E. Arbor Avenue, Mesa, Arizona 85206.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Time Off

Lately I just haven't had much to say and that is pretty rare. I guess I had some sort of blogger fatigue. Thinking you all are tired of hearing all this sad stuff and I am tired of talking about it. But, having said that I am now somewhat rested and ready to catch everyone up on the drama that has become my life.
First of all TJ's mom is still with us, well, at least somewhat. She is in Hospice and as of Sunday is non responsive. I really don't think it will be much longer and at this point it is really time for her to go. Although I know it will be hard on TJ and his sister Kelly, sometimes lingering is just as difficult. She was actually expected to pass sometime this past weekend so Kelly got the grandkids here to see her. Kelly's kids; Nick & Phylicia are here (I say kids but they are both adults and what wonderful people they have turned out to be) and TJ's kids Billy & Rhiannon flew in on Saturday and left this afternoon. Kelly's husband Dennis is also here and I know Kelly was happy when he got in. He is a rock and one of the kindest, most compassionate men I have ever met. We had everyone over on Saturday night for a big family dinner (OK, we provided the house and Kelly bought all the food and cooked) and it was lots of fun. TJ & I have always enjoyed the company of Kelly & Dennis and to have Nick & Phylicia here was just icing on the cake!

TJ's health is a story in and of itself. I am beside myself with what to do for him. His back pain is still terrible. Today he went to our Primary Care Physician who is a DO and had him adjust his back. I spoke with him right after his appointment and he was feeling pretty good. He laid down for a nap at about 1:00 PM today and has not been out of bed since. The pain is too bad for him to even come and lay on the couch. He goes back to our PCP on Thursday and hopefully he will be able to help him. If not, then I have to figure out something else. It has been 6 weeks since his last chemo treatment and there is no reason for him to feel this terrible.

Days like today make me think about those depressing quality of life posters you see in almost all cancer treatment centers and Oncologist offices. His percentages have not looked good the last few days and it completely freaks me out! I just keep telling myself that this is temporary and we will get it figured out but as most of you know there is that nagging in the back of your mind that tells you it is not good, not good at all.

So, time to put on that happy face and see if I can't get him to eat a bit so he can take some more pain meds.

Hard things are put in our way not to stop us, but to call out our courage and strength.

Battle On TJ, Battle On

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Friday Photo Shoot Out - Aged & Weathered

This latern was given to us a long time ago and although we have never used it, I am sure it would still work. My first thought for this topic was to take a picture of myself to post but I am sure someone else has already done that. I carried my camera around with me for a week and this is all I came up with. PITIFUL!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

You Must Enjoy Little Things & Laugh

Define what makes you happy . . . make sure you're doing it regularly.

TJ and I truly enjoy our mornings. We like sitting on the patio in the morning, drinking coffee and chatting about our plans for the day. We have been together for over 15 years and drinking coffee together in the morning has always been a ritual for us. There was a point when TJ was on steroids and going through radiation that he had a constant bloating feeling and severe heartburn. It was at this point in his treatment that he quit drinking coffee for a bit. I hated it!!! It so disturbed me that "Cancer" had the ability to take away even such a small joy from us and it didn't seem fair. Fortunately this, like most of the other side effects of treatment, passed and TJ is now back to drinking coffee with me in the morning. Because we are both morning people we are sometimes on the patio before daylight but it is wonderful to look forward to that time each day. Recently TJ turned me on to a breakfast food that he ate growing up and we have added that to our morning ritual. This is awesome and anyone that has not had it must try it!! Today I bought strawberries and cut them into little tiny pieces, time consuming but worth it. Put sugar on them and set them in the fridge (I know, sounds normal). Tomorrow morning I will toast a muffin for us to split, butter it and then we put the strawberries on it and lots of the juice that the sugar has brought out in the berries. Awesome!!!

We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh ~ Repplier

It has been almost 6 months since our lives were turned upside down with a cancer diagnosis. While it was devastating, I think both of us have learned so much and even with the terrible week we had last week there have been times when we were able to laugh. Humor has played a big part in dealing with everything happening lately. I really think I have TJ to thank for that but nonetheless we are able to have a good time together in the face of adversity. There are many times that he will say something so off the wall that we both absolutely crack up and as TJ puts it, "we have a good belly laugh". Chemo brain has caused lots of these moments too. Just the other day TJ said to me, "I really don't think any other couple has as much fun together as we do". When you think about that statement it is a pretty incredible thing to say about a 15+ year relationship.

We are not here to see through each other . . . but to see each other through

I promised TJ when he was diagnosed that I would stand by him and fight this beast! Now that his Mother is so ill he knows I am here for him also as he goes through this. In return he put Patsy down for me even as hard as it was for him to do. Our relationship has taken a dramatic change for the better in the last 6 months and for this I am very grateful. I just hate that it took a cancer diagnosis for us to see things in each other that were there all along.

Battle On TJ, Battle On

Friday, September 4, 2009

Drama & The Week From Hell!!

We all have those friends that just thrive on drama of just about any kind and if it is not in their personal life then they thrive on someone elses drama. I have never been one of those people. Frankly, I hate drama! I prefer to just skate through life minding my own business, not gossiping, telling big tales or even really getting involved in the lives of others. I have my friends and I care about them and what happens in their lives but I sure don't thrive on their drama. Having said that it seems as though the last 6 months of my life has been filled with drama and it is really taking a toll on me. With TJ not feeling well I have to take care of everything around here. He pretty much has been consistently taking care of the dogs and feeding the horses for me in the morning but other than that he sometimes just does not feel like doing any housework. He does what he can and I know that he wishes he could do more but sometimes the energy just is not there for him. This leaves me with chores to do when I get home from work and consumes my weeknights. I get angry sometimes and I hate myself for it but it is out of sheer exhaustion and not frustration with TJ personally. Usually when I get home he is just waking from a nap and feeling pretty good, I on the other hand see nothing but chores that need to get done so while he is bored in the evenings I am just plain tired.

This week has been a particularly bad week for both of us! Of course on Monday I found out that I have lumpy breasts that need to be checked out. On Wednesday we got TJ's scan results, now this was not a really bad day but it was still drama and stress. The worst day was yesterday! When I got home from work my mule (Patsy Cline) was laying down and things just didn't look right. TJ was not sure if she had been up or not all day long. So off I go to check on her. Sure enough, she is down and can't get up. She has arthritis and it has been getting progressively worse. DAMN!!! And wouldn't ya know it, it is about to rain and rain hard! There is nothing I can do but sit back and wait for the rain to slow or pass and then go check on her. To make things worse she is laying in the natural wash that runs through our arena. DAMN again!! Fortunately, as is the norm here, the rain doesn't last long and I run out to check on her. Her spirits are good (trust me, I can see this in her) so I fill a bucket with drinking water and go back in. Three more times during the night I went out to check on her and refresh her water. TJ kept her water as fresh as he could today and my neighbors brought her over a new fly mask and some hay at some point during the day while I was at work. (Adrienne, I know it was you and I thank you very much!!!!) She had dinner and water this evening and I am going to try and sleep all night without checking on her. Yeah right Sandy, whatever!!! Tomorrow morning first thing TJ is going to put her down for me and a friend of his is bringing a backhoe to bury her. I hate it but I simply can't let her suffer any more than she already has the last 24 hours.

As if that wasn't bad enough for our Thursday evening there is actually more DRAMA. TJ got a text from his sister about 8:30 pm that they were sending his Mom to Hospice at that moment. This was totally his Mom's choice and as I was awake most of the night last night with Patsy I thought about it alot and I understand this tough decision she made and I really think it is for the best for her and her family. They will keep her comfortable and that is what is wanted by everyone involved. Although, this is a tough pill for TJ to swallow and I can see his heart breaking. Any of you that have lost one or both parents know how hard this is. His father is still kicking it in Indiana so this is a first for TJ and devastating as we all know. The pain of losing a parent is like no other pain in the world and I so wish I could help him but nothing I say or do will lessen his pain.

So, I guess our week was a drama filled week from hell. It has to get better from here.

There are two ways of meeting difficulties; you alter the difficulties or you alter yourself to meet them ~ Phyllis Battome

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Scan Results

Not exactly what we were hoping for but definitely could have been quite a bit worse. The good news is that for now no more chemo is scheduled and his next scan will be in 2 months. Here is what they found on the scan: 1) the cancer in his lung is stable 2) his brain lesions are stable and his brain isn't showing any signs of swelling 3) there is one new very small lesion on his brain 4) there is a very small undetermined lesion on his liver.

We joke that the "undetermined" lesion on his liver is probably cirrhosis. LOL But those of you that have known us for a while are probably shaking your head laughing and saying to yourself, "yep, probably is". Obviously we didn't mention this to the doctor but he isn't too worried about it either, although that is his reason for scan in 2 months instead of the normal 3.

So, all in all a pretty good outcome and we are looking forward to the time off of treatments. Providing of course that I don't have to have some kind of surgery and screw the whole thing up!

Under the greatest adversity there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others ~ Dalai Lama

Battle On TJ, Battle On

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Doctor Appointments

It's all about the doctor appointments. Here is what we have coming up.

Tomorrow - we see Dr. Nabong to get TJ's scan results

September 9th - I go for my mammogram and ultrasound

September 16th - I go for my surgery consult (this is the day before my birthday so I better get good news!!!)

So, 3 Wednesdays in a row we have medical stuff.

TJ's Mom came home from the hospital today so that is a good thing. Kelly (TJ's sister) is here, and Joanie (TJ's aunt) is here also and I am sure they are taking excellent care of her.

Not a bad day for TJ as far as pain goes but he did sleep quite a bit.

As to be expected we are nervous about the scan results. Especially with his Mom's sudden relapse and his extreme back pain.

Had a friend say to me today "when it rains, it pours", I said to her "it is beyond pouring, it is freaking hailing!!" That is pretty much how I am feeling these days.

I will let you all know tomorrow night about TJ's scan results.

Thanks for all the support.

Battle On TJ, Battle On!