Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Merry Heart Doeth Good Like A Medicine......

We had the most wonderful surprise visit last week from our dear friends Jerry and Dawn. We got a call that they were close by, on their way to a wedding and wanted to know if we were up to a visit. Thank you Jerry and Dawn for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by. Scripture says A merry heart doeth good like a medicine and our hearts were merry and the medicine worked great!! (Proverbs 17:22)

Joe's "happy place" is behind the wheel. Our friends Jim and Neila  joined us one day last week for a day trip to Trout Lake, Washington via Highway 14 along the Columbia River on the Washington side. It was a beautiful day.

We stopped at the ranger station in Trout Lake and the ranger showed us a map of a beautiful loop back to Portland.

At some point on the way back we had to make a choice whether to go right towards Randle, Washington or Left towards Cougar, Washington. We chose Cougar. The forest, and trees were beautiful. We passed by Lake Merwin and stopped here to stretch or legs before the last leg to home. By now, Joe was getting tired. We knew of a wonderful little restaurant in Woodland, and decided to eat dinner there.  Rosie's  is a must stop if you like great hamburgers, french fries second to none, wonderful, and warm bread pudding, just to name a few items.  Oh, and come hungry because the hamburgers are the size of desert plates!! After we finished eating, Jim, knowing Joe was pretty tired by then, offered to drive the rest of the way home. Joe readily accepted that offer.
 We met Jim and Neila when we  parked beside them for a week or two at one of our membership RV Parks in AZ. They have walked along side of us through this journey we are on with Joe's illness. They drove all the way from Florida last spring to Cascade Locks, Oregon accepting a position as camp host at Cascade Locks Salmon Hatchery to be closer to Joe and I. They have cried with us, encouraged us, played A LOT of cards with us which always created laughter too!!  It was difficult to say goodbye this week as they slowly head South for the winter. But knowing  we will see them in the Spring makes us smile. 

Not being able to pitch shoes right now, doesn't stop Joe for being at the tournament in Oregon City. Nope, not at all. He kept score and enjoyed the company of his horseshoe pitching buddies. The smiling guy with the yellow shirt by the fence is his friend Russ. Another friendship that began at Pilot Knob RV Resort in Winterhaven, California. We were taking a walk and they were sitting outside their motor home. We noticed we both had the same model of cars and Joe struck up a conversation with Russ. Horseshoes came up, Russ was interested, and a few months later Russ called Joe for information as to where our club was.  The rest is history. Russ and his wife Kay just returned the day before this tournament from an 80 day trip to Alaska and back. Glad they are back home safe and sound.
An Update on Joe. His oncology Dr., is on maternity leave until January and Dr. Dr. Xiong has taken over Joe's care in her absence.  The words one of his caregivers used was...chemo has really given Joe's body a beating.  He continues to loose weight, eating and drinking are difficult but he is trying his best. One of the chemo meds, Avastin, is going to probably discontinued Wednesday as it is probably the culprit that is causing bleeding again.  Quality of life has become a big concern for Joe's team. He basically doesn't have much at the moment. So Wednesday  not only will he get the results of the CAT scan he had Friday, but he will  have a consultation with Dr. Xiong regarding how and what they can do to give him that better quality of life and still maintain. Joe is my hero! He is a fighter. A very weak and tired fighter. But he can still drive safely and we do enjoy day trips to our favorite places. and He is looking forward to the BIG day September 10th when he stands beside his son as his best man!!   Thank you to each and every one of you who are praying, thank you for your words of encouragement, your letters, emails and cards. It's friends like you that keep us going.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Sister Jan, Camping, Fishing, and Pulling Weeds

I want to apologize in advance for the unevenness in my blog today. The fonts have decided they will size and resize themselves on their own.!!!

Meet my sister Janice. She is six years younger than me. She came to visit us this past week to camp with us and do a little fishing while also celebrating our birthdays with us. We camped again at Barton Park East in the same spot. We knew she would love it. Blackberries every where. And sure enough she didn't disappoint us.  She had fresh blackberries every day we were there.

Jan also has a great sense of humor. She knows the true meaning of "laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone". Her husband died suddenly the day after Christmas 1998. She knows the ache and pain of being alone. But she also knows the joy and peace that comes from the Lord. She has been not only my sister but a sister who I will let "kick me in the fanny" when she thinks I need it.  She makes me laugh, she cries with me but doesn't let me stay there. One day years ago, when I was going through a very dark and difficult time in my life, we were on a walk and I was having more than a few tears. She said something like this. "Betty stop". I did. She said "listen you can't even hear the birds singing". Don't you know if the Lord takes of the birds He's going to take care of You? (Matthew 6:26) Guess what.....I always hear the birds now.

This is one of many ponds in Barton Park East. The sounds are beautiful there.  Crickets, frogs, butterflies, all kinds of birds.....

Beautiful trees.

Remember I said Jan keeps us smiling?....... we offered her a ladder up to her "bedroom" in our little 23'Class C. Nope!  No ladder for her.  I swear. She's got the body of a 20 year old in that 69 year old body of hers. And a whole lot of "joy of the Lord" too! What a great birthday gift to us...... Her just spending a week with us.

No day is complete when camping until we have had a smore or two.

Saturday, my son David (the fisherman) suggested we meet him, his fiancee Jennifer and my grandson Ryan at Faraday Lake near Estacada for a few hours of fishing

The fish weren't biting, but David had a great visit with his aunt Jan and we all had a good time.

My grandson Ryan is also a great salmon fisherman. He also knows his grandma likes smoked salmon........ It was so nice to get to spend some time with him this day.

The following pictures are of the beautiful Clackamas River near Estacada.

Wednesday was chemo day and also the last day for our beloved Dr. Jingjing Hu, M.D., Joe's Oncologist until January. She is going to be a mommy again. We'll really miss her. In her absence Dr.  Dong Xiang, M.D.(sounds like she-young)   Will take over Joe's care. He has already gone over his records and is very knowledgeable about his case.

This is Kim. It's Kim's smiling face we see when we first walk in the lobby. She hands Joe a list of his meds to  check off whether he has taken them that day, week, month or not at all. She answers the phone when I call. She always has a smile on her face and in her voice.

I think we have now introduced everyone on Joe's Chemo team and if I have left any of you off, please, please let me know. You are all so loved by us and important to us.

Well now. Let's see if I can get through this one with out tears.  Jan and I were passing time Friday, waiting for Joe to finish his chemo treatment. As we sat at a table outside in Portland Medical Center's Meditation Garden, I was able to just be me and talk to her about a lot of things. It is so difficult right now because if I cry, my nose starts bleeding.... it is so bad at times, I carry a medication given to me at Urgent Care to hopefully stop it with out going to ER. Anyway, one of the things bothering me, I told her is  the weeds in our front yard.  Joe prides himself in his beautiful yard. Nary a weed. Beautiful red rock instead of lawns because while we were traveling we didn't want to have to worry about flowers and bushes.  Up until about a month ago, he was able to groom it to his specifications. For as long as I can remember, and my mom has told me even as a little girl, I can't stand "getting my  hands dirty". It's not a germ thing, I just don't like dirt on my hands. And for those of you who are thinking "why doesn't she wear gloves"  I can't pick anything up wearing gloves. I love a pretty yard, but I sure don't like to keep one up.  But on the other hand, I want my Joe to be able to walk outside, sit in the glider and enjoy his yard. As my sister listened, she said something on this order..."Betty, when you pray, why don't you pray and ask God to give you the desire to work in the yard, keeping it beautiful!  When we got home, right away, she was out in the yard, pulling weeds. Jan loves gardening.

Resting after pulling all those weeds and watering the flowers and shrubs. I sure love that girl.
A "Fishy Story"
Monday, we took Jan to one of our favorite fishing places.  Timothy Lake. Another very warm day. Joe was sitting in his chair and his pole at the time was propped up on the deck rail and we were visiting and not paying attention. They guy next to us hollered "Hey, you got a fish on there. It almost pulled your pole in"  Joe jumped up and started reeling it in.  I grabbed the net. Now I have to tell you about that net.  He went shopping for  a fishing net and found one that was about $30 - $40. Cheap me said WHY? Here's one for $12, your fishing for a trout not a salmon!!! So he settled for the smaller one and I'll forever be ashamed and sorry for that for the following reason.  I took the cheap net, and tried to get that very large trout in it. Remember a week or so ago when he caught the 14 inch rainbow trout? Well this one was that big or bigger.  I sort of got the fish in the  net and he twisted and turned himself right out of that net taking Joe's hook, line and sinker with him!!! He never even got a bite after that.  If Joe would have hollered at me or gotten mad at me it would have been so much better, but Joe being Joe never said a word.... I know he was disappointed. And yes, the next time we get to the sporting goods department, he is getting the very net he wanted in the first place and we will go back to Timothy Lake and try it again.

Tuesday was the first day of the Clackamas Country Fair and Rodeo. One of our favorite fairs, second only to the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, Washington.
It was a hot day and we were grateful that the entertainer we wanted to see was under the trees where it was a tad cooler.

Her name is Jeanne Coady. As the sign behind her says, she was going to perform songs from the Great American Songbook. We along with our friends were sitting on the front row and she recognized us, not by name, from past years there and came down to greet us before the show started. She said she was going to be doing the Tribute to Patsy Cline the next day and evening but when she found out we couldn't be there because it was chemo day, She said she would be more than happy to sing one just for Joe. Hello....... much to his surprise, she switched her show and did the whole Tribute to Patsy Cline right there and then!!!!  What a wonderful thing for Joe.

My friend Ruthie and my sister Jan enjoying the concert

We were thrilled to have our friends Jim and Neila with us for the day too. And they area also Jeanne Coady fans.
Well this has fast turned into a mini book again. But before I close  guess what.... I was up and at it early this morning.  Outside pulling weeds and watering what few flowers we have..... and listening to the birds singing. I'm finding muscles I never knew I had!!!!Have a wonderful rest of the week and remember to listen to the birds sing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

That's My Story and I'm Sticking To It

Yesterday was my 75th birthday. It was a wonderful day. Joe had an appointment so we took care of that and ran some errands then I suggested we go to Gladstone to get some "birthday donuts" at Heavenly Donuts.  Joe will be 75 on Friday and he thought an ice cream cone, baseball nut of course, would be good.  Heavenly Donuts, Baskin & Robbins and Subway are all in the same lot.  So while I was getting my donuts, Joe walked over to B&R to get his cone. Baskin & Robbins and Subway share a common wall.   We visited with our friend Steve, the owner and one of his employees for a few minutes and headed back over to our car. As Joe was backing the car out, I noticed a crazy, wild, faced man on a small bike, struggling to get it inside the donut shop. Once in, he kept opening the door looking out like he was looking for someone. We saw the donut shop worker through the window, shaking her head "no" as we were leaving.  We commented on how scary his face looked with all the tattoos he had all over his head. A few minutes after we got home, I noticed an alert on my phone. That News media were being instructed to gather at Clackamette Park for updates on an officer shooting in Gladstone. Clackamette Park is where Joe's Oregon City Horseshoe Club hosts their tournaments.  Then the News Break Bulletins started showing up on the television.  The following link will take you to the news of what happened not five minutes after we left the parking lot. Officer Shot In Gladstone Apparently, the guy left the donut shop, ran past Baskin & Robbins and into the Subway Shop. We have been told there were a lot of people in there and they took off running.  The guy grabbed the employee and held her hostage. We were stunned to say the least as we watched the story develop as the night went on and then when we saw the shooter's picture on the morning news we were speechless!! IT WAS THE GUY WE SAW IN THE PARKING LOT. 
This could have ended so many ways. People being hurt or killed. Except for the officer and the shooter, no one else was hurt.  The employee who was held hostage was safe but terrified. The police officer was protected by his bullet proof vest and the crazy guy has been discharged from the hospital and is in jail.

I love how God takes care of us. He is truly our protector.  

Saturday, August 6, 2016

And The Celebrating Continues

Saying goodbye and lots of thank you's for a wonderful day with his son and future daughter in law.
Catching a nap before friends came for a "visit"

And what a "visit" it was! Kim and Tim came to celebrate our birthdays.  What a fun surprise!!

This gal really knows how to make a birthday celebration fun.  My face  hurt from all the laughing.  The guy that was sleeping so soundly in the picture above, woke up all smiles. He use to work with Kim.

The huge bag was just crammed full of paper and in the middle was a loaf of bread??? So she directed us to put the loaf of bread on the bar and start taking the bread out piece by piece.

Yep, each piece of bread had a letter on it and this was the message.

I wish I had taken a picture of Kim after she removed the beautiful blonde wig and red  bolo.  She is a beautiful lady with beautiful black hair.  Many years ago, when I lived in Estacada she was my roommate for awhile.  Her husband Tim, standing beside her has done all of the remodeling in our home over the years.  We love them so much. Thank you, you two.  You made us laugh so much this evening. You really put those stitches in my face to the test from laughing so much.

The "Unveiling" And A Nice Surprise

Now I understand why the dressing was so large. But after a few months I'm told I won't hardly be able to see the scar.  Sure hope so. 

We walked into the Infusion lounge yesterday, to this, a very nice surprise birthday celebration for Joe and I. Mine is Monday the 8th and his is the 12th. This is Amanda.   She is the Triage nurse. My go to person when I have questions about Joe's care. I just pick up the phone and she is there. Not only does she answer my questions, but calms my anxieties when I'm feeling overwhelmed.  Like forgetting to give him that very important Lovenox shot  until 5-6 hours later......... 

Amanda thought the teal color on the cake would be a nice color for the top of Joe's hair for his son's up coming wedding. ( He is his son's best man) Their colors are cream and teal.

In my last blog I said I would introduce you to more of our wonderful chemo team.  This is Adia.She is our "go to" financial person and  she can magically make thousands and thousands of dollars disappear from our statement and also gives me the green light when to write  "the check"

Meet Nicole. She was the very first person I saw when I opened the door to the eastside clinic of  the Phil Knight OHSU Cancer Institute. She made me feel so comfortable by giving me a mini tour of what would become our "second home" over the next months. She has the patience of Job when it comes to helping me with Joe's appointments.  Just when we think we have them all scheduled, maybe the Dr. will schedule a CAT scan, or another procedure etc. and that will have to be added to our calendar. Or if he can't have chemo on a certain Wednesday.....hit delete button, and we start all over with different dates.  That's why we can't plan any thing too far in advance.......Except for Rob and Gloria's wedding. I'm telling you this whole staff worked to set aside the week of Sept 10th so there would be no chemo and he would be feeling good for the wedding.

 Kaytee is the charge nurse. Here she is accessing Joe's port so he can get his rehydration IV. He will tell you that port is the best thing since P&B sandwiches were invented.  She has great empathy for Joe not liking needles. She shared with us that she herself doesn't like getting poked with needles either.

When the door opens from the waiting room to the lounge, this sweet lady is usually the one standing there calling Joe's name. This is Barb. She takes all his vital statistics, gets him settled in his recliner and gives him a nice, warm blanket. In her "spare" time, she enjoys making beautiful, very tiny, blankets for preemies and donates them to local neonatal units.

Nurse Kaytee was at lunch when it came time for Joe to get his Lovenox injection so Nurse Nada got the job done. In the back ground is Joe's son Rob and his fiancee Gloria. They are smiling because if you notice.....Gloria has her head turned.  I admire her for even being brave enough to sit with Joe while he was getting his IV

Joe giving Kaytee one last hug for a job well done for the day.  Thank you Kaytee!! You are very special to us.

OK Now.  Rob and Joe are ready to head out for the 2016 Oregon Air Show

And hooray!!!! He's Eating !!!
It's been a long and sometimes painful week but that's behind us now.  The sun is shining, we're both in a recovery mode and looking forward to some camping  and time with my sister.
Have a great week!