Monday, November 30, 2015

We Were Blessed Beyond Measure Today

I have known Burt and Phyllis  for many years. Because they have been associated with the Singing  Christmas Tree for over 30 years, I had texted Phyllis to inquire about seating at New Hope Church where Portland's Singing Christmas Tree was performing. I wanted to surprise Joe by buying us tickets to one of the performances. It would be the first outing since his surgery. Shortly after I texted her I received the following message."Betty, each year because of our giving to the Tree Burt and I are able to bless people with tickets to a performance. This year I'd like to include you and Joe. Let me know and I'll contact the ticket office to let them know you'll be calling. You can come to any of the shows of your choice and I'll have you talk to the ticket office manager, Patty, so she can help get you priority seating on the day/evening you'd want to come. I'm not sure what the sales have been so I couldn't tell you what's available. And here's the upside. If for some reason up to the last minute Joe doesn't feel like it will work out, it's not a problem. Patty can always fill the seats.  Well even though he tires easy, he wanted to go. We were treated like royal guests! It seems like more than a few knew of our story and those involved got us to exactly where we needed to go.  

The performances were held at New Hope Church this year rather than downtown at the Keller Auditorium. (It was announced tonight that they will be back at the Keller next year.  The whole church was so beautifully decorated. 

This isn't the best picture. We were allowed to take a picture before the performance started. Then no more pictures or videos.  Over three hundred participants. Adults, teens and children. The first part was secular Christmas music and dancing, and the second part was the Message of the Manger. A beautiful Nativity presentation. We were in awe, spellbound, by what we were seeing and hearing. Thank you again from our hearts Burt and Phyllis, for blessing us with tickets to see and hear The Singing Christmas Tree.  
 Joe has to be at the hospital at 11:00AM  this morning for the port placement. Prayers that the procedure will go smoothly. Thank you so much

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Just One Of Those Days

Please click on pictures to enlarge
Two of Joe's cousins Dick and Dennis Tarr came for a visit yesterday. Joe was an only child, so his cousins were like brothers to him.

More than a few of you have asked me not to take my blog down. Some mentioning that you have followed our past journeys and want to be on this one with us.  Others saying they want to be there through the hard times. Well I have to tell you today was one of the hard times. Joe felt well enough to go out to the motor home and start it up and also run the generator for a while. He was out there for a long time and I thought I had better go out and check on him. I try hard not to cry around him but when I came around the corner he was sitting on a step stool in the sun and it just broke my heart.  I went up and put my arms around him, laid my head on his shoulder and cried. He shed his tears too. It's so sad. He wants to be in the desert so bad. I agreed with his daughter, hoping he was sitting in the sun, building his resolve to fight his way back to the desert.  Anyway, we wiped our tears and I went back in the house, and was reminded of this scripture. "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry  Psalm 34:15.  The rest of our evening was one of peace and rest.
Tomorrow we are going to The Singing Christmas Tree, a gift from some dear friends.  It was debatable that Joe would feel like going but it looks like its "A Go"  Then Monday starts a full week. Monday he has a port placed so the chemo will be easier to take. They can also do his blood draws out of it too. Then Tuesday hopefully there will be  an MRI and Wednesday is the first of his chemo treatments.   Thank you in advance for your prayers and well wishes for him.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Getting Ready For Chemo

Thanksgiving for us this year is one of Rest and Recovery. I rest when Joe is napping. I pushed our chairs together so we can "hang on" and "hang out"

Joe's son Rob and his fiancee' Gloria, came down from Olympia for the Day. Gloria is a coin collector so she enjoyed taking time going through all the change we save.  

Joe has always enjoyed having snacks beside his recliner. That won't ever be an option again. He is on a low fiber/low residue diet. That means among other things, no more nuts of any kind , food with seeds in it, nothing with skins (like potatoes, tomatoes, grapes etc) no raw veggies, limited amount of milk just to name a few things.  So I thought what a better way to get rid of these goodies then to set them all out on pretty dishes on the bar and let Rob and Gloria enjoy snacking on them. I saved all the bags which seal nicely, and asked them to take every thing that's left at the end of the day home with them. They said sure. What they can't eat, they will give to family and friends.

I have had holiday breads in the freezer that I can take out and thaw for guests that drop by for a visit so I put these out too.

Rob and Gloria brought a pumpkin pie and half a berry pie for our after dinner, just before they leave, dessert.
What I didn't take a picture of, was the main meal.  Four Swanson Hungryman TV Turkey Dinners!!!   So simple. It was an absolutely wonderful afternoon. I don't know if it was Joe, Kelly or Rob that originally suggested the idea, but it was so nice not to cook a big dinner, or clean up afterwards.  After the Macy's Day Parade and the Lions and the Eagle's football game, we spent the rest of the afternoon watching Christmas Movies. Hallmark's "The Christmas Card" The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" with Henry Winkler and Bing Crosby's "White Christmas".
Now for an update on Joe. He is sitting beside me in his recliner sound asleep. I'm sure he is having sweet dreams of the time we spent with Rob and Gloria today. Yesterday we spent most of the morning at the KNight Cancer Institute. Joe met Dr. Jingjing Hu, M.D. She is one of the oncologists on staff there and will be his primary chemo Dr. Until now, just by reading all his lab reports and what ever else we could read on the internet, it sounded to us like his cancer staging was four. Yesterday she gave us statistics and more answers. If he wouldn't have had surgery, or agreed to chemo, his prognosis would have been 6 months or less. By agreeing to do Chemo, he added about 28 months or so.  If later, the tumor shrinks enough to where they would be able to do surgery, statistically it would add even more time, up to five years or so.  Dr. Hu told us she is placing it at a moderate stage 3.  She is cautiously optimistic, giving about a 30% chance for him that the chemo being used can shrink the tumor on his liver to where they MAY be able to operate to remove some of that cancerous tumor giving him even more time.  After 2-3 months they will check to see the amount of shrinkage then check with the liver surgeon.  If it happens at all, surgery won't be until sometime next year.
Monday, he is having a port put in to get ready for his first treatment on Wednesday Dec. 2nd. For any of you who have had chemo for  colon cancer, his chemo is Fairfax. A combination of two medicines.  They give it to him by IV then he goes home with a pump that will allow the medicine to run continuously through the 2nd day. Then on the third day, he goes back, they remove the pump and no more chemo for two weeks.  In a few weeks another medicine called Avastin will be added, but they have to wait a while after surgery.  Avastin helps prevent blood vessels from reaching the tumor.  This could starve the tumor and is very tolerable. He will be on a two week routine.  The only symptoms he may have will be extreme fatigue for two or three days. Then we have a good week to take off in the motor home.  But the doctor prefers he goes no further than a hundred and fifty miles in any direction.  That means we could enjoy both TT Seaside and TT Bend/Sunriver. Plus his kids and my sister. (Sorry Blanche, for now Lynden is too far away) Dr. also said he may or may not loose some or all of his hair. 
Well, there you have it...Lots of numbers, "what if's", "maybe's and maybe nots", But Joe and I still agree we serve an all knowing, Sovereign God. WE also believe He can totally heal Joe if it is His will.  Only He knows the number of our days and we give thanks for each of those days.
For those of you who care to pray specifically, we ask prayers for

  • Total and complete healing for Joe
  • for treatment tolerance
  • for health for Sept and his son Rob's wedding. (Joe is to be the best man. Rob was his best man at our wedding)
  • And that chemo shrinks the liver tumor so it becomes operative.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Visits from Family and Friends

Today Joe had a nice visit with his Aunt Marlene who lives here and his cousin Cindy and her daughter Tammy who drove down from Centrailia, Wash.

They brought us a beautiful flower arrangement, just perfect for our Thanksgiving table.
Later in the afternoon, we had a wonderful visit with a pastor friend,Guy Shields. It was good to just sit and talk about those words no one really wants to talk about. Death and dying.  I remember my brother, who has since gone to be with the Lord say to me one day, and I'm sure he heard it from someone else, " Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die to get there".  We have always believed only the Lord knows the number of our days and until that day we will we will continue serve Him to the best of our abilities
Tomorrow is one of those  days that we've not really been looking forward to. Meeting Dr. Hu, Joe's Oncology Doctor. But it is also a day when we will finally get answers to so many questions. I am so thankful Joe's daughter Kelly is going to be with us. She is on the road even as I am writing, coming from Redmond, Washington. She will go right back home after the appointment and prepare for a big Thanksgiving dinner with her husbands side of the family.  Speaking of Thanksgiving.... Joe's son and fiancee' will be here about 10:30 Thanksgiving morning to spend the day with us.  Joe and I are both so tired. No energy at all. They knew that so we all agreed, no big Thanksgiving Dinner. In fact, Joe eats so little still,(but is improving daily) that we decided a Swansons Hungryman's Turkey TV Dinner for each of us will work just fine. And Rob is bringing my favorite, a pumpkin pie for us to enjoy during an afternoon of football. We are all just so thankful for each of those days, the Lord is giving us, be it days, weeks, months or years, for family, and for friends.
Out of the blue one morning, Joe said , "I hope the Lord lets me live til I'm 80."Well that would make me a happy wife too. So a couple of days later, when I handed him the handicap card, he looked it over and started laughing and told me to check out the expiration date on it.  AUGUST 12, 2023.... His 82th birthday!!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Subtle Changes

It came to me while Joe was still in the hospital that maybe I should apply for a handicap card.  I really don't like to drive and Joe loves to drive. So he did all the driving. Now I find myself in a position of having to do ALL the driving until the Dr. says Joe can drive again.  We know there will be days ahead that he's not going to feel like driving.  So about a week ago, I got in the car,  (I was staying at the hospital) and drove to the DVM in Gladstone. Now normally that would be a piece of cake for most drivers. But keep in mind I could probably count on one hand the number of times I've driven since I married Joe 11 1/2 years ago.  Got the application, drove back to the hospital and dropped it off at the Dr.'s office. Friday, I picked it up and when Joe was discharged, I drove him home. He graded me an A+. Today, we had to go back to see the Dr. again.  Seems Joe's incision isn't healing as it should.  So Doc took care of that little matter by opening a small area so it can drain faster, told me to change the dressing twice a day and sent him home with a prescription for some pretty high powered antibiotics. That meant stopping at Fred Meyers and a medical supply company close to us.It was getting dark and raining, and I don't see very well at night because of the cataracts.   So that's where the first subtle change came..... Being able to park closer to where I need to take him was nice. The first of many changes, I'm sure

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I Just Giggle Sometimes At The Lord's Goodness And Perfect Timing

I knew Joe's cousin Dennis, was coming to see him today, just didn't know when.  Earlier,  my oven door separated when I opened it.  The white cover came apart from the inside black part . I guess a screw came loose and fell out. Anyway, there was a knock at the front door and there was Dennis. Joe  didn't know about the oven situation yet, so I quietly hurried Dennis into the kitchen to survey the situation. He went back out to the car to get a screw driver and came back in with his safety vest and hard hat on....."can never be too safe" he says.  About that time Joe came out of the bedroom and found Dennis just finishing up putting my oven door back together.  Thank you Cuz for coming to visit and thank you Lord for sending him at the perfect time to fix my oven

Today was a very good day. He's eating and drinking better and we even got a "once around the park" walk in. It will be good when he feels like doing it three times a day.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Day By Day

I realize I just posted a very long post, but in reply to someone's response, I thought of this Hymn I  have sang since I was a child. And now, more than ever it's message is very real to me.

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best--
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
2 Ev'ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.
3 Help me then in eve'ry tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.
Baptist Hymnal, 1991

Saying Goodbye To Some Of the Day Shift Care Givers

Please Click to Enlarge Pictures.
This picture is of just a few of many of Joe's care givers during his stay on the surgery unit at Portland Adventist Hospital.  They work 12 hour shifts and because he was discharged around the noon hour, we didn't get to say goodbye to the evening shift.  Just know they got him through some rough times in the night hours and for that we are very grateful. These are some  of the gals that jumped for joy when they heard the first "gurgle" in their stethoscope when listening for bowel tones, "yippeed" when he tooted for the first time, "waahoo'd" when he had his first poop, shed tears when we had tears.... I just wish I could have gathered all of them from both "shifts to take their pictures. 

I didn't do a very good job on this picture. Jean is the nurse that discharged Joe today and she didn't give an inch when he argued with her about raking leaves when he got home. The answer was a big NO. And she related a graphic story to him about the possibility of what could happen if he tried it! Needless to say She won!! 

This is Brie.  What can I say. She recognized Joe when he was admitted to the unit from surgery. Why? Because  a few years ago she worked  at Miramont Pointe with him.  Brie  would set goals for Joe to get him to increase his fluid intake.  And in the end he met that goal of over a 1,000 cc's so he could go home.

This is Jenny.  There wasn't one nurse on that unit that wasn't full of compassion and caring. But something "clicked' between Jenny and Joe. He is a man who instead of verbalizing tends to internalize.  Jenny listened with her heart. She understood his anxieties and got him to talk about them. It is pretty well known I'm a "cry baby" and I shed my share of tears this week. But every one of those caregivers have given hugs, listened, and wiped my tears ( or made sure I had tissues) and for that I will be eternally grateful.
As we were getting ready to leave, Jean handed me a card. I opened it and inside were notes of encouragement  and caring from each of them. I hope they know we loved them as much as the love they showed us.

Well, here we are, end of this particular journey and getting ready to start the next one .

Next Wednesday, November 25, Joe has his first  appointment  at The Knight Cancer Institute  located in the Pavilion which is connected to Portland Adventist Hospital. At this appointment, Joe will meet 
his oncology Dr., Dr. Jingjing Hu, (pronounced Who),  

I borrowed this picture from the Internet. 
 When I went to pick up the paper work today, Nicole gave me a short tour of where Joe will be getting his chemo treatments. 
For the next few days, we are resting while Joe continues to heal from the surgery. They took his incision staples out today before he left the hospital. He is already eating better. He says it's the home cooked food. He rarely takes the pain pills ordered for him not because he's trying to be strong and brave, but because he has little or no pain. For that we thank the Lord. And on that note, the Lord is answering our prayers. We have peace, we feel His strength and comfort and we need it, He gives us the courage  to meet each new challenge.  Today was a good day and for that we are very grateful.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your prayers, your thoughts, your notes of encouragement and all the beautiful cards.The mantle on our fireplace has turned into 

 a place to display all the cards.  Yes, the Snowy Christmas Picture is a bit early, but I found it at a Christmas bazaar sale the  Hospital Volunteers were having and I bought it for Joe to enjoy from his recliner.  If any of you care to use the snail mail to send notes of encouragement directly to Joe, our mailing address is P.O. Box 68207, Oak Grove, Oregon 97268

Thursday, November 19, 2015

He's Been Set Free!

No more lines or tubes and he's being discharged in the morning. We are both looking forward to our recliners and our own bed. Joe will rest and continue healing for a few weeks while waiting for a phone call from the Oncology Department to schedule  his first appointment . Then we'll start the next segment of this journey. But that tomorrow isn't here yet. 

Maybe Tomorrow

 As much as Joe wanted to go home today the doctor just couldn't let him. He is concerned that Joe' s abdomen is still pretty distended and he's not drinking enough fluid or eating enough food. It's hard to eat or drink more when your tummy feels full already. Dr. Wants him to be able to get down 1000 cc's a day of fluid which could be either water or juice.  He understands the lack of food intake because taste is connected with smell and his "smeller" isn't working too good yet because of the tubes and oxygen cannula he had in his nose. It's going to take time.  Joe knows he can do this. He just has to put action to the knowledge. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Getting Closer To Going Home

The Doctor told Joe he is getting closer to going home. He still needs to take in more fluids and it's hard to eat or drink when your stomach doesn't feel like having any thing in it.
 It's not like getting ready for the day in his own bathroom but it works.
It was a nice warm morning in the hospital solarium and my solar powered man was recharging his batteries
As I said earlier Joe just isn't eating much. I mentioned to the nurses that he liked the Jello I made at home. She said Bing some in and they'd keep it in the patient fridge.Im staying at the hospital so  I called our friend Ruthie at 9:30 at night and she made him some Strawberry Banana Jello and delivered it here this morning. What a dear friend! Yes he ate some and had more this evening. Thank you Ruthie.
 We usually wal four laps around the unit three times a day. Joe kept stopping in the same spot every time. So finally I asked him why. He said because there is a hot spot there and it gets his feet warm....
So this evening Dr ordered a low fiber supper. Chicken breast, carrots, green beans,mashed potatoes and gravy, a roll and vanilla ice cream. He only ate a few bites of chicken and potatoes and ALL of the ice cream. Our medical team said not to worry, his body was really traumatized by the surgery and it may take awhile to get his appetite back. And even at that he will need to eat small portions at a time.
We spent time with the doctor this morning and Joe was able to ask him why he couldn't remove the cancerous mass in his liver. Dr. drew a diagram of the liver and where the tumor was located and explained because of the size of it and where it is, Removing it wasn't an option. He asked questions I imagine a lot of patients long. Dr. talked about Joe's otherwise good health and strength, reminding him also about how only the Lord knows the numbers of our days. But he smiled as he gave Joe these words of encouragement...."well Joe, I can tell you, you certainly don't qualify for Hospice, And with that we chose to keep on doing what we are doing already. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow isn't here yet so we will do every thing we feel the Lord will have us do today.
And as I will be saying in every one of my blogs from now on......DO YOUR SELF A FAVOR, IF YOU HAVENT ALREADY SCHEDULE YOURSELF A COLONOSCOPY. IT MAY JUST SAVE YOUR LIFE!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Just Hangin out and Hangin On

What a stormy day!! But Roger Beausoleil our past Lewis and Clark president, and his wife Nancy came to visit Joe. He had already did his "walk around the unit"  once and before the day ended he got two more sessions in. So this evening after a hard time processing some things we decided to just hang out and hang on.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Update on my Joe

Every day gets better for Joe. Today the doctor heard bowel sounds..."gurgling"  if you may. So he got to have a cup of juice. He had friends and family visit that made him laugh. 
It nearly made his eyes bug out They gave him the glasses

Then cousin Jim came for a visit and was full of mischief marking up the patient info board

But when I snapped this picture this is what came to my mind ..........

I don't know about tomorrow
I just live for day to day
I don't borrow from the sunshine
For it's skies may turn to gray
I don't worry o'er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I'll walk beside Him
For He knows what lies ahead

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

Ev'ry step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb
Ev'ry burden's getting lighter
Ev'ry cloud is silver lined
There the sun is always shining
There no tear will dim the eye
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

(Words by Ira Stanphill, 1950)

This isn't just about Joe....... It's also about me, it's about you. None of us knows about tomorrow but for me personally He is taking care of my today's and when tomorrow gets here I know He'll be right there holding my hand.

"For this I have Jesus"

Friday, November 13, 2015

Joe came through surgery well. He has had an amazing team of doctors and nurses. Prayers have been answered big and small. Please continue praying for surgery recovery, preparations for effective chemotherapy and as many days as the good Lord allows. For He is good!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Friday Is Coming At Us Like A Freight Train

My Hero

Tomorrow is the day. Things have happened so fast since October 31st.  It feels like Friday  came at us like a freight train speeding down the tracks. My emotions have been like a roller coaster.  I told my girlfriend its sort of like the ocean in Depot Bay, Oregon. We stand on the sidewalk and at a distance it looks beautiful and calm. But if you watch the waves, as they come closer the calmness turns into bigger waves and then they crash sometimes with spray on to the rocks below.  But I am safe because I'm standing on solid ground.   The words to this hymn bring me comfort tonight.

Sweep Over My Soul,
Sweep Over My Soul,
Sweet Spirit, Sweep Over My Soul
My rest is complete as I sit at Your feet, Sweet Spirit Sweep over My Soul.

Joe is sitting beside me as I write this and wants everyone to know how grateful he is for all the prayers, well wishes, cards  and Barb, for the CD you sent him.

I will post again tomorrow evening with an update.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Uncharted Waters

I've started this blog at least three times. It's so difficult to know where to begin. I've written or texted a lot of you and  of course we have talked to our family.  We began a journey on uncharted waters on Friday, October 30th, when after Joe's colonoscopy the Dr. told us he had a malignant partially blocking tumor in his sigmoid colon. He had a CAT scan the following Thursday morning and that evening the Dr. came to our home and sat with us and told us that the cancer had spread to his liver and lymph nodes.  

This is the building where Joe's surgeon is. It's hooked on to the Hospital

This morning November 9th, we met with the surgeon and surgery is scheduled for this Friday.His hospital stay should be 3-5 days.We will be introduced to an Oncology Specialist while Joe is in the hospital and he will start chemotherapy 3-4 weeks after the surgery day. The prognosis? The surgeon told Joe, they can't cure the cancer but with surgery and chemo they can give him more time.

I took this picture after I stepped out the front door of the Pavillion which is hooked  on to the building where Joe's Dr. is. This is also where he will do his chemo treatments.

I don't even know how to describe what we are feeling right now but we are processing it all.  
Our faith in the Lord is giving us comfort, strength, peace, and courage.  When the tears come, we hold each other real tight. We are comforted with all the words of encouragement in the forms of texts, messages, emails and cards. Friends from near and far have called Joe and that always puts a smile on his face. So thank you for that.

I was going to take my blog down, but then my daughter in law reminded me it is a good way to keep family and friends updated.

So the blog will stay for now. Thank you again for your prayers, and well wishes