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Archive for April, 2012

Baby Girl Goes To The Prom

So last night was our baby girl’s first Prom. She is a Junior so she will have another one next year too. It was bittersweet and I cried…a little…as they drove away. My baby girl….growing up…..

I worry about her a lot. How difficult this must all be. For those that don’t know, I am Rachel’s step mom. Her biological mother died of cancer in 2003. Yes, cancer. Really, her only memories of her mother are of her being sick and visiting her in a nursing home. She had to be placed in that nursing home for almost 2 years before she died, so Rachel really doesn’t have a lot of memories of her at home and healthy.

I can’t even imagine how frightened she must be, at the prospect of being orphaned at 18. Wondering if her daddy is going to be around to walk her down the aisle when she marries or to play with her children. Her father’s diagnosis with cancer is basically her worst nightmare come true…..something we both share, unfortunately. Their bond, especially during her mother’s illness, is unbreakable. He really did a wonderful job caring for her during that difficult time in their lives. He was essentially a single daddy when we reunited and I was blessed with the daughter I always longed for.

She has handled every bit of bad news much better than we ever expected. I suspect she is somewhat in denial…like we all are….at the seriousness of Paul’s diagnosis. We are always completely open and honest with both kids, keeping them informed and answering all questions along the way. They have followed the lead of their dad….plugging away….never giving up….no doom and gloom….because that is the example he sets.

So our lives go on, working, playing and just dealing with this hand we have been dealt. And we continue to celebrate every special moment, like Prom, surrounded by family and close friends….so that we may cherish them no matter where this road takes us……

We Surrender…..

Well, we finally had to wave the white flag of surrender where the house is concerned. We met with our attorney today to discuss what needed to be done. It was rather easy to be honest. She was very kind and understanding and reassured us we were making the right decision. I held it together while we covered all the details and signed the paperwork. The attorney I spoke to a few weeks ago about this came in and introduced himself and talked about how difficult this decision must be and he was very kind as well….but that’s when the water works started.

I keep reminding myself how much better off we will be. How much stress will be off us. How we will be able to stay in Portland and it’s just a house……but at this very moment….right now…..it isn’t just a house. It’s the home we built during much happier times…..times that are so long gone….it’s just heartbreaking.

We chose everything in this home….tile floors because I knew we would have dogs and I didn’t want to worry about the kids spilling kool aid on the carpet….my fireplace that we used every winter while the kids decorated the Christmas tree, the perfect display for our family photos….Paul’s music room where gorgeous music would pour forth while I prepared a family meal…..the carefully selected kitchen that had all the cabinet and counter space 2 avid cooks could ever want…..parties, holidays, a place for friends to crash……finally harvesting tomatoes from last years garden after years of failure……my whirlpool bathtub where I have shed a tub full of tears this last year…..and we have to leave it all behind.

Honestly, I think this is less about losing the house and more about losing the life we had. Just another example of how the ideal life we once had is completely gone…..the days when we had successful careers, financial stability and most importantly, good health.  We struggled so hard for the last several years to hold onto this house. Scraping by, legal maneuverings, sacrificing….and to lose it all in the end is just devastating.  Just another thing I don’t get to keep….another loss….lost the business…..losing the house….losing my husband? Is that going to be my rock bottom?

It feels good to vent, get these things off my chest. It isn’t the end of the world. The benefits most assuredly make it worth it. I want my husband concentrating on getting well….not stressing out over making this mortgage payment. So tomorrow I will pick myself up, dry my tears and move on. God will continue to guide us on this journey and we will end up in a nice, safe home that I am sure we will enjoy…because we will be there together 🙂

 

Here we go…..

well, it’s started….I can already see this new chemo treatment is going to brutal. 9 bags of poison, things to combat the side effects of the poison and drugs to help the other drugs stop the side effects….it goes on and on….6+ hours of this at the Cancer Center….he looks wiped…it’s an exhausting day for both of us….him from treatment and me from worry….

he just looks so damn skinny. Anyone who hasn’t seen him in a few months would be shocked. The fact is he is just a shade under 200 lbs. but he looks about 170 to me. Lost a total of almost 100 lbs. He was pretty heavy to start, that is true, but still…..that’s a huge weight loss and my fear is it will continue.

4- 6 months of this. His last chemo treatment was a walk in the park compared to what this is…..4 different chemo drugs…. diarrhea, nausea, weight loss, neropathy (loss of feeling in fingers and toes) not to mention exhaustion…all normal for this kind of chemo.

I keep thinking to myself is “how is he going to do this? He has been battling for over a year already! How is he going to do another 6 months of THIS?” but he will….I have no doubt…..but seeing him suffer kills me…..I remember life before cancer…I look back at those people and I hardly recognize myself…..how different I am today.

I memorize every move he makes. My entire life revolves around his comfort and care. I look for changes in his facial expressions or how he is moving to see if there is any pain or discomfort. I live to take care of him, I worry about him every second of the day and I dread every moment I am away from him. And every now and again, like the last week or so, I forget he’s even sick….then it all comes crashing back. And there will be no forgetting for a long, long time…..

The worry and the fretting is the worst…the constant monitoring I do…listening, watching…..is he sick? is he going to be sick? Is he hungry? thirsty? nauseated? tired?       and if so, how do I fix it? I try not to smother him. It seems to come in waves and he allows me to baby him and he answers my hundreds of questions half of which are “Are you ok?” . Never getting aggravated with me…..never complaining….just his quiet strength.

I know one thing….this has to work…..if this treatment doesn’t work I am pretty sure I will lose my mind. I can tell his doctors have a vested interest here….you can tell they really are pulling for him. He is receiving great care and I just have to believe it is going to work out. There are just too many people praying for us and sending good thoughts to us and believing in us for this not to work…..it has to….and that’s all there is to it.

 

No Chemo Today

 

Well, we spent about 3 hours cooling our heels at the cancer center today. We went in for Paul to start his second chemotherapy treatment but were delayed by the results of his PET scan yesterday. Apparently there is a patch of fluid collected under the skin where his incision was from his last surgery. We are all pretty confident it isn’t an abscess but appreciate the doctors caution. Paul will see his surgeon in the morning to have some fluid drained and to check for any problems. Once he gets the all clear he will go back to the cancer center tomorrow for his treatment.

I’m bummed since I took the day off to be with him today and now I have to work tomorrow. I’m sure he will be fine but I hate the idea of his doing all this by himself. The chemo treatment itself is long….6 hours…then he brings home a pump for 48 hours then goes back and gets disconnected for 2 weeks. This second “round” is for advanced forms of cancer, or aggressive in his case. The chemo cocktail is different than he had before. Hopefully side effects won’t be too bad since he is looking at 4-6 mos of this.

So we will see what tomorrow brings…..

Letting go….

Paul and I have made the difficult decision to let our house go. I’m trying like hell not to care….and a part of me is so OVER it. It’s been a struggle to hold onto this place for years. The collapse of the real estate market was just the beginning….losing the real estate business…..if that wasn’t bad enough. The struggle to find work, make it work….and it just didn’t work…..we sought protection with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy but we simply cannot afford the payment anymore. So in light of Paul’s re-diagnosis we have decided to surrender the house to the bank.

And I love this house…..everything about it….the floor plan we selected….everything I could have ever wanted in a home is right here. I love having people over and everyone says the same thing, how welcoming it is and how at home they feel here. Every detail Paul and I selected together. Our dream home. Built from the ground up. Came to the job site several times a week to see the progress on our home. Recorded it. Loved it…..and now we are losing it…..

I fight the feelings of anger and bitterness……just another tragic example on how our lives have totally jumped the track……must I lose EVERYTHING from my former life? Another stab in the heart….another loss……my business…..my home……quite possibly my husband……

But then I think of all the advantages this will have for us. Getting out from under this tremendous weight will free us from unbearable stress….especially Paul. There is just too long of a road ahead of us to be spending so much energy trying to hang onto this place. A move would mean an additional $700-$1000/month savings and would give us some actual breathing room. We also need to consider the fact that the house is almost 5 years old and things are going to start going soon….at this location replacing an ac unit just wouldn’t be possible…..and that’s no way to live. The bottom line is a waitress can’t afford to live in a house like this.

So we will start looking for something else…..something more affordable…..that will take us and 4 dogs (ugh!)…..we will stay in Portland. Moving out of town is absolutely not an option. We want the kids to stay in the same school district and I could never leave my church family….especially not now. I just wouldn’t survive it. Fortunately, there are some places that might work out for us. I guess I am just kind of numb to it all at the moment….resigning myself to the inevitable…..knowing I have much more important things to worry about…..

 

So I bought my kid a tattoo….

yea, yea I know……but she is 18 and she has been talking about getting one for 2 years now….and I would rather her get one with our influence then go get something lame that she would regret later on….so after much discussion and planning she decided on a filigree starfish. I found it online and it really was perfect, exactly what she had in mind. She wanted something with meaning and she liked the starfish because I have one (Awwwww!) and she had it filled with music notes as a tribute to her daddy. She also got it with some purple, her brothers favorite color. She placed it on the upper part of her thigh where it will only be visible if she wears a bathing suit or short shorts. Its a bit bigger than I would have liked but hey, it’s her tattoo.

Honestly, I like it so much I kept the stencil in case I want it too! haha! She did good….didn’t cry too much! lol! It was a fun experience for all of us and instead of diamond earrings like I had planned to get her for her 18th birthday she got this instead. Like her Daddy said, “She can’t lose a tattoo!”

Damn…it’s amazing how 8 months can go by….

It’s been an awful long time since I have been here…partly because we have done a lot of “hunkering down” these last several months….partly because I had some incidents where I was being judged for things I said here….and I didn’t really feel the need to be honest…plus we had no internet for 5 of those months…..things got very lean, along with my husbands physique. So many months have gone by and we are still moving along. Paul began having hernia issues with his incision site for several months in the fall finally leading to surgery on Dec 19th 2011. It took place at Memorial Hospital and was a week of unpleasantness. From poor care to a dirty facility to a “if it can go wrong it WILL go wrong” kind of visit. By then radiation had been complete and he was finishing up his last couple of months of chemo.

Then then his digestive system started to go sideways…..thing just weren’t “Right” for a while and progressively got worse. A trip to the ER then a trip home then a trip BACK to the ER a week later at 11:30 pm only to turn into a 3 week stay with 2 pieces of intestine being removed and getting diagnosed with a recurrence of his cancer. ….sigh…..those three weeks(and the several weeks of illness leading up to…) took it’s toll…..physically…emotionally….financially…..

But wonderful things happened too. I found a job…finally….working as a waitress at Blackbeards. You know, I like it and the money isn’t half bad.That’s all I have to say about that….and Paul has recovered well since being released a few weeks ago. He is starting a job with The College Network. We are both excited about this new opportunity that has presented itself to him. I have prayed and prayed the right job would come along for Paul and who knows, this may be it 🙂 So we have been very blessed with some work….hard to find in our neck of the woods with 10% unemployment in San Patricio County.

And our friends and church family has overwhelmed us with love, food, friendship and financial assistance. Paul and myself, our children and our parents are grateful beyond words for everything so many have done for us…..we feel surrounded by an amazing support system including perfect strangers who send up prayers and good thoughts for my husband and his family. And one of those gifts we received is the gift of home internet once more! Paul really needed it again for work and I just get the benefit of additional “surfing” time 😀 So hopefully I will take better care of updating the Diaries for those looking to stay caught up.

 

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