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One down!

It’s Friday Morning and I’m almost through my first week after starting Chemo.  It’s been a crazy ride this week!

Lets start with Monday Morning…  Lisa and I are driving to San Antonio so that I can start my chemo.  We were about 15 – 20 miles outside of San Antonio when my phone rang.  It’s CTRC (Cancer Therapy and Research Center) to tell me that I’m not going to be able to start Chemo this morning.  It turns out there’s a billing problem.

I immediately see red!  First off, I’ve been going to CTRC since April.  Surely they could have worked this our before.  On top of that, I had already been driving for a little over 2 hours when they called me.  I was pretty sure I was going to try to find an Oncologist in Corpus Christi, but this really sealed it for me.  Lisa immediately got on the phone with the VA.  I got on the phone with CTRC and within an hour we had the two of them talking and got things worked out.  In the mean time Lisa and I were sitting in a Burger King not sure if we should go home or proceed to San Antonio.

Once we got to CTRC it was fairly uneventful.  Once they start giving me Chemo, it only takes half an hour.  I wait longer for the blood tests results to come back than anything.  It’s all very comfortable though.  The people are wonderful ,the recliners we sit in are very comfortable.  Best of all, in my mind we’re moving forward.

The ride back to Corpus Christi was uneventful too.  I was just about ready to chalk this whole Chemo thing up as a piece of cake when it hit me (about 8:30 or 9:00 that night).  I’m not sure I can describe the feeling..The sensation was as if the whole room were spinning.  It only lasted about 15 – 20 minutes, but I was sure that if this continued for a while it was not going to end well.

The next morning I felt OK, just weak.  I managed to be a productive member of society, I just moved a little slower than usual.  That night I even managed to run a music rehearsal for the cast of The Producers.  I’ll admit, I was wiped out afterwards.

Wednesday Morning I woke up relatively early because I had to see my Radiation Oncologist.  Wednesday was my “Fitting”.  They create this form-fitting pillow that will cause you to lie on the machine the exact same way each time.  They also marked up most of my body with black magic marker.  That way they can line me up in the machine a little easier.  Then top it all off, I got three little tattoos.  The tattoos are in case the magic marker comes off.  That way they will always be able to tell how I should line up.

I had a talk with Dr. Stewart (My radiation oncologist), I explained to her that I really needed to find a medical oncologist in Corpus Christi.  She agreed to help me find one.  I’ll tell you, this is one of the reasons I really love Dr. Stewart:  Once she found a Doctor for me, she didn’t have one of her nurses call me.  Dr. Stewart actually called me herself.

Wednesday afternoon I developed a fever.  Now Lisa and Rachel and the entire cast of “Full Monty” as well as the cast of “The Producers” have all been sick.  I’ve done everything I could to avoid it, but you can’t forever.  I wasn’t too worried, but my instructions were to call if I ever develop a fever of over 101.  I was at 101.6.  I called several numbers at CTRC and kept getting voice mail.  Eventually I just went ahead and called Dr. Mahalingham’s cell phone.

The doctor told me that he didn’t actually believe that my blood counts would drop that quickly.  After all, I only had one treatment so far.  He did think that this was worth watching.  He told me to take 2 Tylenol and see if the fever dropped.  If it didn’t then I had to got to the emergency room.  Fortunately it did drop and I didn’t have to go to the hospital.  It spiked once or twice more during the night, but then it was over.  In the morning I got a call from my nurse at CTRC.  She also told me that if it came back at all during the day I was to go directly to the Emergency Room.  Fortunately it never did.

I did really feel run down all day yesterday.  I attributed that to the fevers and general crud.  At the end of the day, I finally forced myself to sit down and have a meal.  I had really lost my appetite all day.  Strangely, once I was done eating I felt better.  That’s when it occurred to me that my blood sugar had bottomed out.

You know, between the surgery, the chemo, the crud, the emotional anxiety involved with all of this; it’s really hard to tell sometimes what the causes are for feeling poorly.  As it turns out, this was a lesson I learned (or thought I had) right after surgery.  I’ve got to keep eating or I’ll feel bad.

Well it’s Friday Morning and it’s time to get ready for work.  This weekend, as all of them are, is really busy.  That’s why I’m taking Chemo early in the week.  So that I can make it through the weekends.

If you’re in town, come see the Full Monty at the Aurora Arts Theater.  The show it terrific and we still have plenty of seats left this weekend.  Don’t wait though, there are only 3 more weeks to see this show!!  Let me know if you need tickets.


What a Week!!

Well Opening Weekend of the Full Monty at the Aurora Arts Theatre was a HUGE success!! It was one of the most AMAZING experiences of my LIFE! The show was fun to watch and even MORE fun to be in! Be sure to see it!

The Full Monty 

Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $14; $12 for seniors, students, and military
Click here to order your tickets online or call 361.851.9700.

Book by Terrence McNally; Music & Lyrics by David Yazbek

Seeing how much their wives enjoy watching male strippers during their “Girls’ Night Out,” unemployed steelworkers in Buffalo, New York come up with a bold way to make some quick cash.  In the process, they find renewed self-esteem, the importance of friendship, and the ability to have fun.  There is great heart to The Full Monty, and the themes expressed about taking charge of one’s life and following one’s dreams are great lessons for  everyone.

Paul came for Opening Night and for the Sunday Matinee and just LOVED the show! He spent all day Saturday working on the score for The Producers. That is the next show coming to the Aurora and Paul is working very closely with the Director to ensure another fantastic Aurora Arts Production! He also attended the auditions for the show and got to give input on all the talented people who showed up for roles. One of those people was our daughter, trying out for her first musical! Paul said she did very well so here is hoping she scores a part and follows her momma onto the stage!

On the medical front we are all ready for chemo at CTRC in San Antonio to start on June 2nd. We met with the Radiation Oncologist last week to go over Paul’s radiation treatment regiment. Dr. Stewart and the staff at Spohn Cancer Center were wonderful. They went over what to expect, what the treatment will be like and the effects and how to deal with that. We will start Radiation at the end of June. We will go in for a “test run’ the week before. That’s when they will mark and position the targets for his body (he will receive tattoos!) and they make a mold around his body so he will be able to stay in the correct position while receiving the treatment. It’s very precise and they take a lot of care to ensure the radiation is going right where it needs to go.

People that receive radiation in the abdomen usually experience effects like nausea, vomiting, etc. which we were prepared for anyway. The biggest challenge for Paul will be fatigue. They gave us lots of literature and we had to watch a video, etc…..so when he starts we will be there 5 days a week. Usually we will be there only about 30 minutes. Once a week we meet with Dr. Stewart so that might take an hour….but that’s all. And it’s a 10-15 minute ride from the house…..easy peasy…..

So family and friends, that pretty much brings you up to date!

Settling In…..

Paul is doing really well. He is settling in nicely and had a great nights sleep last night. He is also napping some today. I think his body is finally starting to realize he is home 🙂 He has spent his time surfing, working on The Producers score, watching the movie with Rachel 😀 and just taking it easy over all.

He is eating well…things like crackers and peanut butter, yogurt and I made baked chicken with rice and green beans and he ate all of that! Of course, his portions are SIGNIFICANTLY smaller. He and I split the chicken breast. Pre-surgery he would have had a whole one…if not two! There is a reason I call him Big Daddy! ha ha! But those days are over….and that’s ok. If there is a silver lining in this is its we will be much healthier as a family.

The problem Paul and I have is we view cooking and eating as entertainment. We get all excited to try a new recipe….well, I get excited anyway!….Paul goes at it more like a man on a mission. He likes hunting down the perfect, freshest ingredients and using all kind of pots and pans and new and interesting seasoning combinations…..sometimes he is very serious about his cooking….for example, his last real meal was his favorite, corned beef brisket. Now, he didn’t  buy the ready packed one at HEB with all the seasonings in it….Noooooo….not Paul Klemm. He made it from SCRATCH! It took 10 DAYS to make it and so help me God it was one of the most incredible things I ever ate….and I am not a big fan of corned beef…..so that gives you an idea of the scope of culinary love and talent we have here! <3…….we both really enjoy our culinary successes…..and if I may say….we are good……REALLY good…..so it’s been very easy to over indulge……and it’s been a “ton of fun”…literally! rofl! ….But the Party in Portland is over…..and that’s ok 🙂

I have managed to lose 50 pounds more than ONCE in my life so I know how to do it. You can’t tell to look at me now but I used to work for Jenny Craig! So fortunately, both Paul and I are educated enough to know WHAT we need to do and now we are FORCED to do it. And the timing is really perfect. I have been enjoying a Zumba class for about 2 months now and I am dancing my ass off at Full Monty rehearsals so we are going to embrace our new lifestyle and come out the other side of this experience looking FABULOUS!! Ha ha! How about THAT!?!

Besides, we already have a jump on it with both of us seeing significant weight losses so far…..and truth be told, Paul is really looking good…..I mean I see nice muscle definition, he looks so much thinner in the face, his color is good…..I can’t believe I am going to say this….but he actually looks HEALTHIER to me than he did before his surgery! So I view that as a good sign that we are getting the bad out so the good can flourish!

Thanks you all for the many prayers, love and support we have received from our beloved family and friends! You are all a true testament that our God provides for us! And His works are done through your hands and my family is so grateful and are so blessed!

Time To Get Organized

Well, it’s finally here….time to get serious about this surgery…..everyone has been listening to us bitch about how bored we are and how tired we are of waiting but now that it’s time to start mobilizing the troops…….I don’t want too……but I will of course….once we get rolling I will be ok…..it’s the getting started part that is tough….

What do I have to do? Well, things I couldn’t do until now….I want the house clean and nice for my mother in-laws stay so that means cleaning of bathroom and bedroom, fresh sheets, pick up and dust, etc……it’s my mother in law so I am not going to go hog-wild but its current state is simply not acceptable……I have been a little lax these last few weeks in the area of housekeeping….

We also need to grocery shop. It’s a pretty big deal with 2 teens in the house and knowing you won’t be back for 7-10 days. Rachel wants to do some cooking so we will make sure she has ingredients for some of her “special dishes”.  I am quite sure friends will want to bring stuff and my family is the EASIEST to cook for! They love just about EVERYTHING! Chicken dishes, tacos, salads, pork, beef and seafood…they love it all. Not huge fans of spaghetti but love lasagna. Seriously, if anyone is wanting to bring something by, the kids and Grandma love it all 😀

Some have asked me what Paul will be able to eat when he comes home. From what we have read, they will have him on soft foods by the time he leaves so I am assuming he will be able to eat chicken, pastas, mashed potatoes and things like that. I am certain we will want to steer clear of anything too spicy or too heavy. Since this surgery involves removing his gall bladder Paul will need to steer clear of high fat foods as well so nothing fried and we will need to lay off the heavy butter and oils. So things like a nice stew or casserole will be great! And by the way, Paul LOVES puddings and pies and pretty much any flavor! lol!

If any readers have experience in the area of eating after a Whipple procedure, we would LOVE to hear from you!

The biggest difference he will experience is he won’t be able to eat a lot. This surgery will involve a resectioning of his stomach and small intestine so he will have to change his eating patterns to small portions 6 times a day vs. two large meals….as he is accustomed to eating……this will be a challenge for the free-lance musician/booking agent owner who spends a lot of evenings working gigs…..that lifestyle doesn’t exactly support healthy eating habits…..but his clever wife already has that under control with a little cooler and an ice pack! Have snacks will travel!

Other than that we still need to get a hotel room in S. A.  Paul has been playing phone tag with the Cancer Society to see what they have available. I want to make sure it isn’t a country mile away from the hospital. Otherwise we may just Priceline it and Paul has always done GREAT on Priceline…..you should try it sometime!

I am a little concerned about how much rehearsal time I am going to miss. I think I can keep it at a minimum provided he recovers well, which we anticipate. This one is still fluid at the moment…..we just can’t tell until we see how he does after surgery……and truth me told, I have my song down so it just needs some fine tuning and I don’t have too many lines so I am confident I can keep up 😀

What we are hoping for is a day or two in ICU then 5 – 7 more days in a private room then he gets sent home. Paul is bringing this huge binder with the scores for The Producers and Full Monty so he can help transpose the music into a smaller instrumentation. I would like to publicly thank JESUS for getting us these scores and providing my husband something to KEEP HIM BUSY during this hospital stay! THANK YOU LORD! So now he won’t be looking at ME saying how BORED he is! ……. I can see it now….”Honey, I am working here. Don’t you have a rehearsal you can go to?” HA HA HA HA! We can only hope and pray!

The children will be under the watchful eye of Grandma, church family and our theatre/teacher friends! I’ll be putting a schedule together for their weeks worth of activities and setting up some logistics with friends for rides and things. Thankfully we live in such a small town and everything is so close by I have dozens of people I can call on to shuttle a kid home from a school or church activity. Another blessing I can count!

So it’s time to start putting that plan in motion! Let’s get on with it!

What FUN!!

So I auditioned for The Full Monty last night…..first time ever (O.o) and I had so much FUN!! We danced and sang and read lines…..and I was with all my friends!! Paul came too for moral support and he helped the guys with their vocals while the girls were singing! This has been a much-needed distraction for both of us……since sitting around in LIMBO is pretty much sucking……

For those that don’t know this about Paul….he likes to work….A LOT……and this “cancer thing” is just such an inconvenience…..I mean, when he was sick for 6-8 weeks over the holidays they guy worked every weekend…..102 sporatic fevers,  jaundice and a 40 lb. weight loss and he kept right on working…..And of course a lot of it is his ambition and his desire to provide for his family…..but mostly it’s because he LOVES it…..

You just can’t shut down a man who finally, after a life time of working shitty jobs, starts working his God-given vocation……MUSIC…….but again…..here is this “inconvenience”.

So again, this is a much-needed distraction!

We have spent time listening to the soundtrack from the musical….NOT the movie. Just to clarify for those not familiar with Monty, the movie came out first then the musical. The dialog is much the same and the storyline of course but the music is totally different and the movie is NOT a musical but has popular songs like Donna Summers “Hot Stuff” and things like that. The movie is fun and gives you a great picture of what the show is about…..I can promise you that the music from the show is much BETTER than the movie! And it’s a lot funnier! It’s just going to be EPIC people!

On my application they asked what roles I was interested in…..I answered (Shhhhhh!) and I also said I would be happy to play a piece of furniture too! Put a lampshade on my head and stick me in a corner! I don’t care! ‘Cause the music is incredible and the dancing will be fantastic and the singing will be tremendous and there may even be butt cheeks! SQUEAL! Count me IN!

So hopefully our hospital stay will include my recovering hubby helping me read lines or sing a few bars! He hopes to start working on the re-scoring of The Producers (the next show after The Full Monty). That has a 28 piece orchestra and there is no room or budget for THAT at our beloved Aurora Arts Theatre!! lol! So that will keep him busy during his hospital stay!

After the audition we stopped and grabbed a burger and kabitzed over the events of the evening……and we laughed that Paul is going to live vicariously through ME for a change!

Here is the trailer for the MOVIE The Full Monty. Like I said, the music is different but no less FUN!!

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