Monday, November 7, 2011

An Update on Paul

I'm going to interrupt my usual quirky observations with some straight-forward ones of Paul's progress over the weekend as he is too weak to blog himself at the moment.

He developed a temperature of 102 on Friday night (11.4.11) and we took him to the emergency room at Vanderbilt. That must be one of the busiest emergency rooms in America! Those people work very hard but it seemed to me they could use a few more people. And a few more rooms.

Because they were full (I've never seen an emergency room that full!) Paul waited in a secluded hall -he is still Neutropenic from his last round of Chemo two weeks ago. He has absolutely NO immune system. His white blood count is at 0.1 so he sat in a hall, away from people, until a bed opened up for him. About an hour. Once he was in a room they started him on antibiotics. His fever did seem to come down briefly that first night but overall, he maintained a temperature between 101-103 the entire weekend. His fever broke late Sunday afternoon.

Once in ER, we waited 15 hours for a regular hospital room to open up for him. During that time he slept as much as possible. He was feverish, chilled, nauseous, and had a headache. They were able to alleviate the nausea with meds but the rest stayed with him for a good while though they tried several things in an effort to make him more comfortable.

The Oncology floor where Leukemia patients usually go was full so he was given a room on another floor. One for Oncology overflow and general medicine. We got there Saturday afternoon and they continued with regular doses of antibiotics. His fever continued to be high.

During this time, lab results came back from some blood work done earlier in the week when they removed his PICC-line (it was looking VERY red around the site.) It was confirmed that he had a Staph infection. Probably a result of the PICC site. (Not unusual)

This allowed them to better target which antibiotics to use. During this time Paul remained very weak, nauseous, and feverish. His blood pressure was also low. He ate very little, if anything that day. Also somewhere in here they gave him some Platelets as they were too low.

In the middle of the night (Saturday/Sunday, around 3 AM,) Paul got up to use the bathroom. He must have gotten up too quickly. He fell as a result of momentarily blacking out. His IV pole also toppled with him, making a very loud noise. I awoke just in time to see him fall and I gave what was probably a good shout. Staff were immediately at the door. He regained consciousness almost immediately but was very dazed. As he was right in front of the door, I was unable to open the door to the large number of hospital staff on the other side until I helped Paul up. We (Paul and I) did manage to get him up and the staff in fairly quickly, I think. It's all a bit surreal now.

Also, now that we know everything is ok, I'll tell you about this part. As I helped him up I saw a pool of blood where his head had been. I refused to react to that at that moment, and kept getting him up so we could get the staff in the door. The blood turned out to be from a cracked IV line, but for the moment it greatly augmented the alarming state of things for me as you can imagine.

He did hit his head during that fall but showed no signs of injury. They did a CAT scan just to be sure. They also put him in "bed jail." The beds are wired with an alarm that, when activated, will sound every time the person gets out of bed. This requires an attendant to be there at all times when the patient is getting up. He stayed on "bed jail" - my term, obviously - for about 24 hours. They also switched his "booties" - non-slip socks they give-from blue to yellow. Apparently yellow have thicker and larger amounts of non-skid material on them. As many of us already think of him as Tom Bombadil (who had yellow boots), I particularly enjoy this added feature. Gives me something to smile about. He's so cute!

OK. In all fairness I should show you the first picture I took of him. It actually encapsulates his overall essence these past few days better. His radiant smile has only just broken through this morning. The picture with him smiling came after I said, well, I don't know what I said but it caused him to smile real big.

Sunday afternoon his fever finally broke and has remained normal since. That was a very welcomed milestone.

Sunday evening, I'm sorry to say, brought another eventful night. Earlier in the day he received an order for blood transfusions and some platelets. Transfusions are a very normal thing for people who have Chemo. Transfusions sustain them until their body recovers and produces its own blood cells.

His blood transfusions began about 5:30 p.m. About half way through his second bag of blood (around 9 PM) Paul experienced what he described as a heavy weight on his chest. He was also nauseated and his forehead broke out in a sweat. There was also an immediate need for the restroom facility with a sudden onslaught of diarrhea. The staff paused the blood transfusion in case he was having a reaction and sent for a cardiologist. There was an EKG taken as well as blood drawn for labs.

EKG was normal. After a good amount of examination, nothing seemed out of the ordinary and Paul settled in for bed.

Around 3 AM a resident doctor came up to talk to us. There were heart stress enzymes in his blood. This is indicative of a heart attack. Even mild. There were several tests run the rest of the night.

This morning the heads of Cardiology came to see Paul. They furthered the questioning and examinations. The head of the department said that, given the events, blood work, and description of last night, he would have to conclude Paul did experience a mild heart attack. He did not think this was related to the blood transfusion. He suggested the timing was a coincidence. They are proceeding with what testing they can today.

As Paul's platelets are low, they cannot do exploratory anything that requires threading tubing inside Paul's arteries. Our course of action is to continue to give blood and platelet transfusions and closely monitor Paul externally.

There are many factors to consider. His low blood pressure. Low blood volume. His last Chemo has a side effect of damaging the heart. But Paul seems completely fine. He wouldn't even describe the experience as painful in any way. If the nurse administering the blood transfusion hadn't told him to report anything that wasn't normal, he wouldn't have even mentioned it(!) as it wasn't painful.

So that brings us to this morning. "Joy comes in the morning!"

When Paul awoke this morning (after not much sleep) he was NOTICEABLY more his usual self!!! More alert. Smiles even. Willing to try his breakfast. He clearly felt better. He asked if he could walk a bit so we walked the floor loop a few times. He's back to checking and answering texts and emails a little bit. He's still weak but he's just so much better today. His temperature continues to be normal. I am relieved. (And happy for him!)

Thank you so much to all who have continually prayed for him. As you can see, his body is really working hard for him! And not without consequence.

We love you all. Thank you for being on this trek with us. I'll leave you with Paul's view this morning and his wonderful comment, "Those hills are beautiful!" I think a lot of people would have seen the cement buildings and limited view. Paul looks past all that and finds the beauty. Never have I met such a man who immediately finds God's beauty, presence, desire for each moment!! Even after the heart stuff yesterday his comment was, "I'm so glad God let this happen today instead of yesterday!"

PS - Just so you know, he'll probably cry when he reads this update. He's VERY tender right now. Tears up whenever I bring something sweet, pleasant, loving to his notice. Sunday morning I casually mentioned, "Everybody's probably gathering today. That means a lot of prayer will go up for you." And I smiled. And he teared up. Did I mention how much I love this amazing man? As I tear up...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

No Soccer, Paul...NO!

Paul has met his match. Granted, it's taken a whole team but they've managed to curtail him...

He asked the Vanderbilt staff this morning if they would let him go to his son's soccer game this afternoon, explaining that the IV pole would probably retract and fit in the car. And wouldn't ya know, they said no.

He first mentioned his intention to ask to his morning nurse whose name I won't mention so as not to incriminate her. She was very sympathetic towards Paul's plight and mentioned that his best bet for getting a yes would be Dr Greer as he has a very big heart.

Emboldened by this lovely tidbit, Paul was armed and dangerous by the time Dr Greer's team arrived for morning rounds. You see, Paul also had a trump card up his PICC-lined sleeve. He'd already seen his lab results online and noticed his Neutrophil counts (the cells that fight infection) were also high. He was ready with his case.

To Dr Greer's credit, he handled being put on the spot in front of several doctors in training with all the fineness and precision one would expect from a well experienced doctor. He in no way hemmed or hawed. Nor did he even evade an answer...he simply passed the buck...

Actually, he supported Paul's idea as to how it would be possible by explaining that they can, in fact, do this type of Chemo on an outpatient basis. He did caution as to liabilities for he and the hospital but then said they would not want to withhold his going based on that alone. He finished his sympathetic explanation with a, "But we'll have to get an OK from the nurses here. And they're probably going to squawk!"

Paul replied that he had actually already mentioned it to one of the nurses. Dr Greer asked what they said. Paul told him, "To ask Dr Greer as he's the most likely to say yes!" The room filled with laughter and Dr Greer went right from our room to the nurses main desk (next to our room) to plead our cause.

We could hear him delivering our request to Blanche, the head nurse, whom we really like a lot, and Paul actually unplugged his IV pole and was heading out the door to plead his own case when Blanche met him at the door with an ever so lovely smile and a, "I'm sorry but we can't let you do that."

Paul, grinning ear to ear, "Not even if I'm careful?"

Blanche, grinning just as much, "How do you think accidents happen? They're accidents!"

Paul, "I'll stand back from the scrimmage line and have my brother block any shots that come my direction!"

At that point, Blanche looked over at me and quipped, "He's incorrigible!" (or something like that) to which Paul responded,

"So that's a no?"

"NO!" Blanche obligingly reproved.

At this point I interjected, "Hold on! I've got to get a picture of you two!" Hence the picture at the start of this blog. The picture is obviously staged because Blanche isn't smiling and Blanche is ALWAYS smiling!

She said she told Dr Greer, "You know we can't approve that!" Dr Greer responded with, "I'm the good cop. You're the bad cop!"

So there you have it, Folks. An inside look at the masterful handling of one unorthodox zealot by obvious professionals who clearly have his best interests in mind even when he doesn't!

Here's a picture I took afterwards. Though it looks digitally altered, as if Paul's head was randomly inserted, it's not. He's on a yoga mat on the floor, nursing sciatica issues. Oh, did I mention he's got sciatica issues today and probably needs to rest as much as possible?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Blood/Brain Barrier...

So, we're back at Vanderbilt for Paul's 3rd (and hopefully last) round of Chemo before his stem cell transplant.

This Chemo is targeting his central nervous system as they found blasts (baby cancer cells which I refer to as blasted blasts!) in the spinal fluid. Apparently not all Chemotherapy can cross the blood/brain barrier but this stuff will. So he's getting 2 potent bags every day for 6 days. Here's his blog which gives the details and how he's doing with all of this: Thrilled to Death.

It will take one week to administer the Chemo, one week for it to brew inside, killing those blasted blasts, then another week or two for his immune system to come back up to normal levels.

I'm spending evenings/nights there with him at the hospital and then I go over to the apartment during the day to help the kids with their schooling and visit with whichever lady is there from our village.

I can honestly say at this time that Life is Good!

So, I stay in the mornings until after the doctors make their rounds. I love that we get to see and hear from the team working on Paul's case each and every morning. Our current head doctor (I'm sure there's a more impressive title to use there but I'm not sure what it is) is Dr Greer.

He's the older gentleman with the snazzy tie, casually leaning on the end of the bed. One feels as though one (or one's husband) is in good hands with Dr Greer.

But I confess to experiencing some brain/blood barriers myself with these visits.

If you had distinguished people coming to your room each morning, what would you do? Well, I would fold up the blankets, tidy up the place, fix my hair, and hold off going to the bathroom so as not to miss their visit. (I have to walk a good distance to use the restroom. The one in our room is reserved for Paul while he's receiving Chemo.)

This morning Dr Greer and his team were a bit later than usual...

Now don't panic. I'm not going to go through my Depends! story again.

As we waited for Dr Greer's team to arrive, my brain started finding myriads of minuscule details to attend to. Here's what it looked like:

Brain: "Oh! Those blankets are folded really sloppy!" Arms reached out and quickly refolded blankets.

Brain: "Ugh! Are those my shoes I smell? I REALLY need to clean those!" Arms dug into bag quickly-before the doctors arrived- for Lysol to disinfect the air (Doesn't everyone carry travel-size Lysol in their bag?!)

Brain: "Is this shirt too wrinkled?" Body quickly moved to mirror to inspect the shirt. While there, fingers fluffed hair. Hair then proceeded to fall back into the exact place it was before the fluffing. And on and on it went. Brain busy. Blood seemingly barred from brain.

Then Paul got up and announced that he was going to the exercise bike. He suggested the doctors could look for him on the exercise bike in the hall if they came before he returned.

Brain finally stopped fidgeting. Besides, everything was ready. We just needed the doctors to arrive.

A few minutes later - and I mean minutes - the doctor and his entourage were at our door! (Of course!)

Sigh. Brain thoughts: "They're going to go see him at the exercise bike. I've straightened up and cleaned up and Lysol-ed up for nothing. Oh well. The polite thing would be to go ahead and tell them where he is."

I opened the door and found myself face to face with Dr Greer. I sweetly told him where he could find Paul. He gazed back in his polite way as I talked and agreeably planned to go find Paul on the exercise bike.

I pulled my head back inside the room and THEN - only then - remembered that I NEVER BRUSHED MY TEETH this morning! Talk about a blood/brain barrier!

I'm quite certain I delivered that sweet face to face message to that distinguished gentleman with my most awful morning dragon breath! ARRRGH! And to his credit he never flinched even a little. Not even an eyelid flicker!

So, that's life at Vanderbilt at this time. I'll leave you with this awesome picture of PiccMan minus the cape! I may be failing at being awesome, but I assure you he is not!

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Handsome Doctors (Smart Too!)

So I've tried to be a good wife through all of this. On one particular evening I was pre-reading one of Paul's blog posts. He was talking about our doctors and he went so far as to comment on their good looks. As I don't consider this his area of expertise(!) I chimed in with a small protest on an inaccuracy that needed adjusting. You see he commented that one was less good-looking than another. As both of these doctors are good-looking I told him he should say as much and perhaps differentiate by stating that one is dark while the other is blond. To my absolute amazement (and consternation), Paul laughed outloud VERY loudly and reassured me this was a guy thing. Sigh. He left it as is and posted the blog!

I must confess to an IMMENSE amount of satisfaction the next morning when I was validated, albeit unknowingly, by Susan, our nurse for that day. In talking with Paul about something, Dr Lammers' name came up and she clarified which doctor they were speaking of by asking, "You mean the handsome one?" (He was deemed less handsome in Paul's blog.) Paul and I burst out laughing. As she had not read his blog yet, she had no idea she was authenticating my argument. Thank you, Susan!

I've got one picture with our current four doctors. Unfortunately this picture does not present Dr Strickland at his best so I will follow that one with a great one I got of him next to Dr Lammers.

Dr Lammers, Doc Halliday, Dr Paul, and Dr Strickland

Dr Strickland and Dr Lammers

Dr Strickland is an Associate Professor of Medicine here at Vanderbilt. When one googles Dr Strickland (as of course I did) one quickly finds that he is indeed very accomplished. He oversees many of the clinical trials here at Vanderbilt for the Leukemia ward and I've heard it stated that he is the best(!) when it comes to research. As Paul's Leukemia is quite unique - meaning there's very little if any data to turn to - it brings a lot of peace of mind knowing an accomplished fact finder and problem solver is heading up his care.

Another VERY delightful tidbit on Dr Strickland's accomplishments: his initial 4 yr degree (his BS) is in.... ready for this?.... ZOOLOGY!!!!! Now is that great info for my LOL blog or what?! And obviously the PERFECT doctor for Paul! Clearly he has the broad data bank one would need to diagnose Paul and all his, er, peculiarities! For the record, Dr Strickland did go on to obtain an Biomedical Sciences. He completed a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation at Vanderbilt in 2009. Clearly we are in good hands. Handsome and smart too! (The whole "handsome" thing came up from a conversation Paul was having with him, looking for info to use in analogies. Dr Strickland came up with a great analogy on the spot involving teenagers and Paul asked permission to use this. Dr Strickland - who is GREAT with people - jokingly said something about giving credit to the handsome doctor -- then cautioned not to confuse him with Dr Lammers...and so the parlay began...)

One last tidbit on Dr Strickland and then I'll move on. He's also published. One article in particular caught my attention and I in fact had a very enjoyable read on, "Hiccups: Underappreciated and Underrecognized" co-authored by Dr Strickland and an associate. While I had several quips and fun points to make from this paper - hey, he even put in a good word for acupuncture! I'm going to refrain - perhaps save that for another blog - in order to touch on the other docs just a bit.

So Dr Lammers has to be next.

He did the actual biopsy on Paul yesterday. I believe he's in his last year of studies and he's actually moving to another floor as of Monday. They move around while learning stuff. (Very technical clarification there, I know.) So, he's tall - wears size 8 gloves -- Amma and Ariel wear size 6, Rushie wears size 7 for reference -- and seems quiet. He did an awesome job on Paul's biopsy (my experienced opinion there - after all, I'd already watched, er, ONE.) He at first encountered the same problem as the doctor who did Paul's initial one in Corinth several weeks ago. The problem being NO LIQUID MARROW. I have no idea what this signifies, I just know they apparently get liquid first then an actual bone specimen and Paul didn't have liquid. Dr Lammers then proceeded, as did the initial doctor several weeks ago, to procure a bone specimen. Now that looked very, er, interesting. You see, Dr Lammers, as I've said, is quite tall and to see this large man bending way over, using all his body weight to, um, I guess dig through (very appropriate medical term, I know) Paul's very dense hip bone - as if one were going after a particularly stubborn cork on a desired bottle of wine, continually turning and turning the cork screw - was an arresting site for this wife to be sure. We were able to conclude that those years of Paul's pounding the pavement - ie jogging - weren't in vain. Paul has very dense bones. Obtaining a piece of Paul's hipbone required a good bit of effort on the doctor's part. But he was successful in the end. The technician standing by gave a small exclamation of approval causing me to conclude he was, indeed, very good at what he did. Here's his handiwork for those of you experienced with this kind of thing. You can see if you agree with the technician:
For you non-techies, the red stuff is the bone

Now what happened next sets Dr Lammers - and Dr Strickland - apart from other doctors, I'm sure.

First, the gloves....

During the bone-procuring procedure Dr Strickland was standing by, overseeing. When there was no liquid marrow he asked a few seemingly casual questions and then announced that he was going to go get his gloves. As way of explanation he reassured us all that this is a little trick he uses. He never actually has to use his gloves, somehow just the suggestion gets things happening in a direction he'd like them to go. Meanwhile, Dr Lammers continued to work on Paul and as Dr Strickland took his stand there with his magical gloves on, Dr Lammers drew up what looked to me like blood but was apparently the coveted liquid bone marrow-and lots of it! (Did he just go deeper in the same spot? Did he somehow move over to a different place in that marrow area? And most importantly, how can I get a pair of those magical gloves? These are questions I'll have to ask them tomorrow morning - the team of doctors comes by EVERY morning - even on weekends - so we get plenty of time to ask our questions and stay in touch with what they're thinking/working on.)

They make a great team! Clean-up and all!

Just before the biopsy began Dr Lammers asked if this was going to be televised live. They've grown used to the murmurs about our blogs. So, in answer to your question, Dr Lammer: No. It wasn't televised live. It was spelled out in a play-by-play afterwards! :-)

Now I know this blog is getting long but I simply cannot write a blog on our doctors and not include Doc Halliday! Cowboy boots and all. (Sorry, no picture of the boots at this time but I'll work on that...)

Doc Halliday is from Texas but you'd never know from the way he talks. No accent that I can tell. His one giveaway is the cowboy boots he wears when doing his rounds. (Confessions: I've never actually noticed the boots myself but a great little nurse clued me in on that nice little tidbit.)

He unknowingly endeared himself to us the very first time we met with him. It was our admissions day. He accompanied another doctor (Dr Lehman who sadly moved on.) It was Dr Lehman who asked all the questions and seemed to be in charge. He then left and it was up to Doc Halliday to close up our meeting. Paul asked, "Do y'all just have until tomorrow afternoon to decide on what Chemo regimen to give me?" Doc Halliday responded with, "Well if by "Y'all" you mean Dr Strickland and Dr Greer then Yes, I think so." He went on to place himself at the bottom of the pay-grade scale. It was very winsome! He's the guy most often seen here on our ward and seems to be the first responder when a doctor is needed. He's also the one who checks on Paul first thing each morning - except yesterday morning - I overheard Dr Strickland's quip, "So Doc Halliday is on holiday?"

One morning Doc Halliday found Paul on the exercise bike (again) and started smiling from down the hall. "Let me guess," he called, "You feel great!" See why we like him?

This morning he told Paul that he forwarded Paul's blog to his father who is also a doctor. He asked his dad, "Have you ever had a patient write such nice things about you?" And his dad responded with, "No. Someone did once make a comment about me on the internet, "Odd but good doctor!" That gave us a good laugh.

As for Dr Paul, well - he's new. And he's quiet - though I'll confess to seeing him chatting away at the desk - and he seems to stay busy. And I like his name! So he's a keeper as well.

Sigh. Sad as it may be, I guess it's time to conclude my circumlocution (fancy word I just found for ramblings) on the very wonderful, wonderful doctors here at Vanderbilt who are working their tails off to save Paul's life. And I'm so grateful! They gave us the much hoped and prayed for news this morning that his biopsy looks clean. Continue to remember them and pray for them as they search for a bone marrow match and continue to see him through to a cure!!!!

Reporting live from room 11010 (and grateful to be here!)... Godspeed and Good Night!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 13 "It's Been a Good Day"

I'm going to interrupt my usual quirky series to give you a more straightforward update on Paul since he isn't up to it today.

This is day 13 and as best as I can tell he's handled Day 13 really awesome. You see, we've been told that a Leukemia patient receives Chemo for 7 days and the Chemo continues to work it's, er, magic for another week. On Day 14 everything is at its lowest. Days 13-14 are also generally the toughest days on the Leukemia patient. So that's where Paul is at. And in light of this I have to say that he is doing amazingly well! At one point today he quoted that amazing 13th Warrior, "It's been a good day."

His day started really early with a transfusion of Platelets. Later in the morning he received two pints of blood. Those things all make him feel better.

He had a lot of trouble this morning with what I would have to describe as violent chills. He got out of bed as little as possible so as to avoid those shiverings. He stayed wrapped up in blankets and a shawl most of the day.

At one point he asked me to crawl into bed with him. We huddled (Did y'all see March of the Penguins?) to keep him warm. That was a very sweet time for me. We stayed cuddled while he slept for a good while.

The chemo kills all rapidly reproducing cells and that includes saliva. As a result he's got a couple of mouth sores (a common side effect) he's working around. There's a magic formula he can take called "Miracle Mouthwash" and it numbs those sores immediately. Paul has a routine worked out now and he generally applies that just before eating. Today, however, he stuck with a baking soda/salt rinse they also gave him and he didn't eat much in the way of solids. That's in part due to mouth sores, in part in an effort to cut down on eliminations (those 'rhoids are still there), and lastly in part to the beginnings of nausea.

So up to this point he has mouth sores, chills, some nausea, and hemorrhoid issues. He's dealing with stuff at the top, in the middle, and the bottom. He's managed all of this amazingly well. He takes a pain pill when he needs to go to the bathroom to help with that and somehow there was Benadryl added on this morning. That makes him very groggy so he dozed on and off pretty much the entire day.

Then this afternoon his temperature started going up. When it got to 103 they started him on an IV with antibiotics. They drew some blood to check for infection. His PICC site is just a little red and could be a possible cause of the fever.

Louise, our wonderful wonderful nurse today also said that Neutropenic fevers are not uncommon. (Neutropenic has to do with having very little or no little something or anothers in your blood)
His temperature kept going up and down but never exceeded 103. It mostly stayed around 101 and this evening (they also gave him some Tylenol) it was back to 98.something. Through all this Paul mostly laid quietly in bed. He's letting things do what they need to do. And every once in a while his radiant smile pokes through.

Tomorrow is the big day! Tomorrow they do a bone marrow biopsy to see if they killed all the Leukemia (and other) cells. If not, he will have to do another round of Chemo. This round was a 7/3 - 7 days of one thing combined with 3 days of another. They would do a 5/3 (I think) if they were unable to get all the cells this last time. Obviously we are hoping to get an "all clear" result. I know many are praying.

If it is all clear then Paul will stay here for 4-6 weeks while his body rebuilds using only healthy cells. After that he should be released for a while. There will be two "consolidation" sessions which are short Chemo blasts to double check that they didn't miss anything. I'm not sure how long he'll be admitted for those. Then after that they will begin the discussions on bone marrow transplant.

(I hope I'm getting all this info correct. Describing scenes rather than imparting technical info are much more my forte.)

We have a little news on finding a donor. They checked the national donor bank and came up with three potential matches. They are contacting them now to begin the screening process. When they look for matches they do tests on six things to find a match. I have no idea what those six things are but I know that ethnic background plays a big part. His sister was a 4/6 match. They said that it is possible to use that though they would prefer a 6/6. The doctor said that they are also going to check the international donor bank and he's hoping they may come up with something as Paul is half Portuguese. That's pretty much all we know on that at this point. You can pray with Paul for that process in finding a donor (though Paul isn't really praying in this picture, he's trying to stay warm)

And I'll leave you with this sneak preview picture which will be included in my next post entitled, "The Handsome Doctors (Smart too!)" I've got some great stuff for that post! Stay Tuned!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Leukemia - It's got Perks!

So who would have thought there'd be perks to having Leukemia?!

We (Paul and I) ordered online "business" cards (the free ones) for each of us since we are continually giving out blog addresses to people here. Having a little card to hand out will be so much easier than spelling out blog addresses all the time. Paul's card has "Thrilled to Death" in large print. Mine is more demure with a "LOL"...

So here's the perk - The "I have Leukemia" card: Paul got a sales call last night from the company he ordered with. And the girl was as slick as a baby's runny nose (sorry - I claim no skill for creating great similes) and she was ending her sales pitch with a, "Does that work for you?" - which included a monthly subscription to something or another. Paul responded with, "So if I don't cancel you're going to charge me $29.99 a month?!" She started to reiterate the advantages to this unsolicited product when Paul interrupted her:

"Well, here, let me tell you where I'm at. I'm at Vanderbilt hospital and I'm being treated for Acute Leukemia. (At this point the sales girl began to sputter a bit) I'm getting treated with Chemo right now and can probably expect to be here for the next 4-6 weeks..." Needless to say, the conversation was quickly and efficiently brought to an end with no further suggestions from the sales girl. It definitely made me smile. I did feel for the girl. I'm sure she's just doing her job. But you've got to admit that it's GREAT to get out of those slippery conversations by having the sales person in a hurry to end the call!

Oh, here's another GREAT perk for the patients here at 11 North (Vanderbilt lingo for Leukemia ward, located on 11th floor)- check out the stylin' no-slip yellow booties:

As many of you have probably heard, we have been given an apartment for FREE for the duration of this Leukemia journey here in Nashville. Our children are moving in already - the younger ones, the boys will come up on weekends as they work full time. Thank goodness for our Village! The children can relocate easily and there are people to take care of them. Paul and I can join them when he's released in 4-6 weeks while we prepare/wait for his bone marrow transplant. And then our family can continue to stay the duration of the transplant and recovery time. Is that incredible or what?! We are so so grateful. And it's a very nice apartment! The kids love the pool of course.

This is completely funded by the American Cancer Society (yes, those people referred to in Paul's is so full of ironies!)

Let me take this moment to plug all these things I myself have not paid much attention to until now. Cancer research organizations -- they have helped us all along the way here as you can see. Please consider donating as we could never repay what we've been given by others who've donated before us. Bone marrow donor - EVERYONE SHOULD DO THIS!!! This is a free and simple process. You go to your doctor or local health department and they swab the saliva in your cheek. THAT's IT! From there your info goes into a central bone marrow bank that doctors then search when looking for a bone marrow donor. The donor bank is relatively small compared to the number of humans in existence and I believe that's in part to a lack of awareness. Hence this paragraph! A very small amount of donors are called upon to actually donate. Only if you're a match for someone and the process is fairly simple. It seems tragic that someone would die simply because others didn't know they could save them at no risk to themselves! Spread the word about this! Lastly, give blood! Paul would already be dead but others have given their blood.

Paul continues to do well though he did experience some side effects yesterday. As they involve hemorrhoids and stuff I'll let you read his, er, cleaned up version.

In the midst of yesterday he was able to figure out that getting up and moving around helps everything. I enjoyed watching him deactivate his recently learned habits. He got off his IV yesterday (milestone!) but the habit of grabbing for it before walking remained. More than once yesterday I watched him grab at mid-air.

Then this morning as the nurse was checking in with him at the start of her shift (Susan - who has been attending the past couple of days so is familiar with where he's at) Paul told her that he figured out one of the problems from yesterday. He realized he was having trouble burping and when he does burp it completely relieves the symptoms. He suggested the need to be put on someone's shoulder from time to time and patted on the back. Susan responded with a dry, "So you want us to burp you every day?" I laughed. Her tone was perfect. She continued with a, "I'm sorry but that's outside my field of practice!"

I'll leave you with this picture taken this morning of Paul and Susan. As his shirt says (a lovely gift from little Katie - thank you!) IT'S ALL GOOD!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lorie on Leukemia (LOL?)

Well, it's been a while since I posted here on this blog. I needed to give everyone a chance to get used to the news that Paul has Leukemia before I started poking fun at it. Hey - Paul does! Why can't I?!!!

So yeah, he started a blog entitled, "Thrilled to Death" and as those who follow us on facebook already know, I threatened to start a blog entitled, "You're Killing Me!"

We finally made it to Vanderbilt and I gladly handed over the reigns that tried to keep that exuberant (and sometimes reckless) guy rested and nourished and now I just get to enjoy each day with him. And he makes that so very easy to do! He's just been absolutely amazing! (Uh, I'll try not to end every single sentence of this post with an exclamation point. Though there are so many points to exclaim about lately...)

Things have been so busy since we arrived at Vanderbilt last Thursday. Actually today feels like our first real day here. We arrived on Thursday, went through a lot of admitting stuff, and finally got to our room around 4:30 in the afternoon. I took that evening to unpack us and get settled in. Paul spent the time delighting and invigorating the lovely staff that care for us here in the Leukemia ward. I think he might have gone "out and about" - which is limited to the Leukemia ward, sealed behind closed doors - and met a couple fellow patients as well.

And he's proven to be quite helpful. Let's see. He does the math (quickly) for the nurses when they need to make adjustments to the IV drip speeds, oh, and he helped Paula - a very accomplished nurse, mind you - figure out an easier way to close a new little contraption-an outer covering of sorts on IV lines. I came in one day to find Paul and the nurse with their heads bent over that contraption, completely absorbed in the mechanics of it all. Paul figured out how to make it quickly snap into place. She says she's used it ever since. Paula has such a lovely smile. They all do. We will not be able to say enough about the wonderfulness of the staff here.

Then Paul made a first for a resident doctor this morning. He was exercising around 7:30 a.m. or so when the resident dr came by. "This is the first time I came looking for a morning patient and found him on the exercise bike!"

Then Roy and Laura along with the kids arrived on Friday. "Uncle Dave" (Paul's brother) flew in that day and we also got a lovely visit from Ashima traveling through on her way back to the village. They seem to be handling all of this pretty well (I'm not sure they have a choice when the Leukemia patient who happens to also be their son, brother, and father is handling it so amazingly!)

In the middle of that they relocated us to a bigger room which was great - it just meant repacking really quickly and then resettling in on the other side. Thank God I married an adventurous man who helps keep my settling roots short. It's so much easier to up and move at a moment's notice!

All the guys got to watch the Women's World Cup soccer game with Paul in his room on Sunday. Though USA did not win, still it was great! The guys were all excited recounting bits and pieces afterwards. I enjoyed a movie with Manu and Lani that I hadn't seen yet (A Series of Unfortunate Events - now I'll be able to keep up when references are made) and some girl-ie chat time with Janelle and Kay. We pretty much figured out who everyone should marry in the village so if you have any questions just let me know...just joking of course...we only figured out half...

All too soon it was time for them to leave.

Paul is on his 5th bag of Chemo. I think Chemo has come a long way. He's doing great. They anticipate some of the side effects and give him meds ahead of time to ward them off as much as possible. He has not experienced any nausea or pain yet. His hands are slightly shaky when he tries to do small dexterous things. Other than that, he's doing great. He wrote about his experience with Lasix that resulted in 30+ comments on facebook and Rushie & Becky pulling out measuring cups for a visual on amounts of, er, liquid described in his post. He's hilarious.

The first day we were here they promptly put him on a low-neutrophil diet. That means nothing fresh whatsoever. Everything ultra cooked so as to ensure no living bacteria. That threw me at first but I switched gears and went to Trader Joe's to buy the healthiest processed food I could find! :s

We laugh a lot. Paul is always saying the funniest, most outrageous things. He's just doing amazing. I was geared up - you know me - to be the next "perfect nurse" (a term coined by Amy Carmichael for one of the ladies who cared for her.) I planned to be the lady who floats in with angelic music playing in the background, always knowing the perfect thing to do or say in that perfect quiet and gentle angelic voice...knowing whether to quote a scripture, or provide a fresh cool cup of water. SNORT. There has been no place for such a creature in this Leukemia patient's room!

The doctor did confirm today that a bone marrow transplant is what they want to do. Paul wrote a great update on that here: "The Plan" along with updated pictures on those bumps on his back which are FLAT!!! I have been amazed at how quickly all of this has worked.

We really see all of this as a midway tune-up. Well, more like a major overhaul but hey! at the end (I throw me with my back into this mix) we'll both be as good as new, ready for whatever our Father has planned for our second half of life (here on earth!) And we are excited. Looking forward to it. It's going to be good. I just know it.

The adventure of a lifetime HAS JUST BEGUN!!!!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

My husband's new Leukemia blog

OK. My husband started a new blog to journal his Leukemia story. It's entitled, "Thrilled to Death" - need I say more?

This may be an appalling title to some. He will explain himself in the blog. :-)

Here a link: Thrilled to Death

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Brief Update on Calls from the Doc

Again, I'm continuing my updates on our unfolding Leukemia story on my other blog. We inched forward a little today. Here's the update:

The Doctor Called...

Thank you to everyone for your prayers, notes, and encouragements!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our Unfolding Leukemia Story

I have a second blog and I've written an update on our unfolding Leukemia story there if you want to have a look:

He leadeth me! O blessed thought

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dragonflies - My Favorite!

I might do a series on "These are a few of my favorite things" though I promise NOT to sing the song along the way...

I'd most assuredly have to start with Dragonflies. Now just the first sentence in Wikipedia alone is enough to secure my absolute adoration for these enchanted flying creatures: "Dragonflies are valuable predators that eat mosquitoes(!), and other small insects like flies(!), bees(!), ants(!)... They are usually found around lakes(!), ponds(!), streams(!) and wetlands because their larvae, known as "nymphs", are aquatic(!)..." (Exclamation points are mine of

I LOVE that they eat all those things I don't like - they left out spiders though- but that's ok. Everything has a weakness; truth is, dragonflies are probably scared of spiders. Like Mr Raider of the Lost Ark and his snakes. (I loved that scene, probably dating myself again...)

And I LOVE to hang out where dragonflies do -- around water, though they apparently also enjoy meadow-y land and can be seen here often. And who can forget Chasah's wedding?! There were literally hundreds flying everywhere. We live in such an enchanted place!

So those things in themselves create an affinity (my daughter's new favorite word) for me with dragonflies. But I actually have a very sweet story to tell you as well.

When we first moved out onto this land, there was hardly anything but old farm tools and a few skulls from cows and the like. Pretty desolate in a lot of ways. There wasn't even electricity. SO, as we worked to create the amazing village we now enjoy, we set up temporary measures to fulfill life's daily duties along the way.

A new one for me was hanging clothes on a line to dry. I had never done this before. Well, not out of necessity. I'd hung things out here and there but never daily - as in, if you want your clothes to dry you'd better get them up on the clothesline. It was quite a novelty. Now I know that a lot of people do this by choice, and I'm all for that - if you want stiff underwear that's certainly your prerogative-
and now that I've said that, I'm sure I'll be laboring in some under-developed country someday and y'all will remind me of this off-handed comment (and if you see me walking funny you'll know why) - but for me at the time it was quite a novelty. It felt like we were playing Little House on the Prairie - but without the house.

Anyways, I was hanging my laundry out to dry one day and a dragonfly landed right in front of my nose. He(?) landed on a clothespin directly in front of where I was standing. I'm talking eyeball to eyeball(s) with a dragonfly.

Now there were wondrous stories floating around concerning our beloved Noah, how back in Geneva, FL he would hold out his finger and time after time dragonflies would land there. There were also stories floating around of people who tried that and had failed. Dragonflies DIDN'T land on THEIR fingers...And secretly, I wished that it would happen to me - er, the first scenario, not the second.

So there I was, eye to eyes with a dragonfly. And a voice inside of me said, "Hold out your finger."

Now I actually thought that this voice might be God talking to me. But I wasn't sure. I mean I was, like, really UNSURE. So this other voice inside of me (do you have multiple voices talking inside of you sometimes? Wait until they start talking outside of you sometimes! I'm just sayin'...And I KNOW a couple of my friends who resemble this remark are probably LOL-ing right now)

Anyways, that second voice inside of me answered back, "No way! I am NOT going to hold out my finger."

And the first voice said again (so either I was disagreeing with God, or crazily talking to myself - I wasn't sure which), "Hold out your finger!"

And I likewise replied, "I am NOT going to hold out my finger! What if the dragonfly doesn't land on it?" -- So basically, I would rather have NOT taken the risk. Never known rather than endure the disappointment. This was my short-sighted stance.

The dragonfly lifted and moved to another clothespin, but was still close by.

Again, and stronger, I heard/felt: "Hold out your finger."

At this point, if I can redeem myself at least a little, I was thinking, "Maybe this is really God speaking to me." Once that thought was really acknowledged, well, I was really left with no choice, now, was I?

So I held out my finger.

And IMMEDIATELY, I'm talking NO hesitation, the dragonfly lifted and came and sat on my finger.

And I began to cry.

And then God spoke to me and I knew it was Him. He said, "I will never ask you to do something that I won't back up and provide for." - or something like that. It's been a while and my memory isn't as sharp on exact details but the gist is very right on.

And there I was, on that lovely summer morning, at the top of what is now Windy Hill Lane, my finger extended straight out in front of me, a dragonfly sitting there almost nose-to, err, nose, and I was bawling my eyes out.

It actually makes me laugh now when I envision what that must have looked like. It's what made me think to retell the story here.

And my dear friend, Hashachar, came over and found me there. Laundry down by my ankles. Dragonfly on my finger. Bawling my eyes out. Just another ordinary day in the life of God at Rose Creek Village...

I told her the story and then I told all the ladies at our next ladies' meeting and from that time on I've had the privilege and good fortune of being associated with dragonflies!

This works out really great at birthdays and special events where gift-giving is in order. It turns out that countless home interior decorators, as well as the fashion industry itself have an inordinate fascination with dragonflies and put them on everything. It is never hard to find a gift for me -- in case you were at a loss as to what to get me on my birthday...which you just missed...

Dragonflies have always served as a reminder to believe. To believe in God. To believe in people. To believe in myself WHEN I am believing in God and believing people... ;-)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

AM I OLD?! Depends...

This will be a very short post - hey, no cheering out there in the crowd! I just wanted to make a couple of comments ON the comments from my last post, and I have one critical observation on provisions for the elderly...

First, I absolutely LOVED the comments I received on that last Weeble post. A couple of highlights:

From Beloved Amma who is on her way to Africa soon: "If you can be a weeble so can I" - Amma, I think you, uh, have to be more lumpy! But as always, you are such a good friend, always willing to go down those idiosyncratic paths with me! I'm eternally grateful!

And from Simchah, our Yoga instructor extraordinariness: "Keep wobbling. Wobbling still pumps the blood!" -- Do I have great friends or what?!

And lastly from Chasah, my Fairy God-Daughter (whom I can hear laughing as she reads that title): "It's people like you that make me look forward to growing old!"

AM I OLD?!!! The answer to that question has got to be...DEPENDS! I can hear Tara Chamley now, "Don't go there..."

Too late.

(All the older people know what I'm talking about. The younger ones probably think my "depends" indicates an intention to write an analysis pitting pros against cons on that was a test to see if you're old or not...)

There are certain things one does not pay attention to until one has to. Certain aisles at the grocery store are scarcely traversed as one has no need of the items down that aisle. Take the baby section for example. I never knew about maternity clothes, diapers, car seats, a good night's sleep, etc. until I had children. Suddenly these things were everything to me. Most of them I was able to procure. All of them, in fact, but that good night's sleep...

Now I'm blissfully past that time in my life and, wouldn't ya know, that good night's sleep still eludes me. My "babies" sleep through the night but now my bladder does not! And from what I hear that will only get worse.

And it was with that thought in mind that I detoured down a previously unchartered aisle one day. Now don't go thinking that you've got me figured out. I'm not to that point yet. I don't need assistance in between potty breaks. I was just checking into what might be on the horizon some day. I wanted to know what I'm getting into -- perhaps literally -- one day...

I'm just sayin'

SO, there I was down that aisle, the only one with brown still in her hair, and I came upon stacks and stacks of a product called Depends.

Depends? !!!! ON WHAT?!!!

When I get to that point, when I need a product such as this, do I really want one that's named "Depends" - as if it's optional whether it'll work for me or not?!! As David Dickerson, much younger but so sympathetic, suggested: we need a product named Assurance! Blessed Assurance at that!!

For those of you not acquainted with these products, I found out yesterday that they already have these. There is, indeed, a product of this nature entitled Assurance. David probably knew that and (LOL) he probably thought I knew that when he suggested it. (Why HE knew about it I'm not sure...David - be sure to leave us a comment on that. Inquiring minds DO want to know...) Up until a short while ago I have been utterly clueless as to the products of this very, I guess, important stage in one's life.

But now I know. I'll have what I need. You can depend on this: I'll sleep better tonight knowing I have the assurance I need. Well, I'll sleep better until my bladder wakes me up...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Weebles wobble but they DON'T fall down!

Today was a milestone for me and I'm going to blog about it as I was the only one there at the time to experience it. And what an experience it was!

For the first time since I can't remember when, I popped in my Pilates DVD and went through the beginner routine on my own! Well, I had the help of those two ladies on the tape who, oh yeah, definitely were at the beginner level (spoken VERY dryly there...)

As I found myself continually giggling at the, er, differences in, uh, style, shall we say, between the ladies on the video and the one on the mat in my room, I thought I'd try and recap the scene for your reading pleasure. Sit back and try to imagine. Well, here, let me help you with a visual:

So there we were. My two non-lumpy friends and I preparing to begin our Pilates routine. Let's see, there was Ana, in a cute little red outfit - she's the one with the dreamy voice who gives all the instructions; and there was Tara, who has clearly done plenty of Pilates before, sporting a cute little blue outfit. It was explained that Tara would be doing the more modified versions of each exercise for those not quite up to beginner levels. THEN lastly, there was Lorie, pictured here, in the darling red AND blue outfit and, trust me, she did the MOST modified versions possible!

Some of the initial instructions seemed benign enough. For example, Ana gently encouraged us to begin by, "drawing our chin up to our chest." As they have only one chin this is a relatively straight-forward request. I, however, was left wondering, "Which one?!"

The routine begins with "The 100." This is a tortuous exercise in self-control as anyone who's ever done Pilates can attest to. Ladies (and maybe men too) lie back on a mat, stick their feet in the air at as much of a diagonal as one's wobbly belly will allow, then proceed to wave their hands up and down, as they (frantically) count to 100. The self-control comes in trying to count to 100 before one gives up and drops their feet back to the mat in disgrace. Yes, this is what I would normally want to do for fun...What kind of person in what boardroom sat around thinking up this demented exercise?!

(Disclaimer: as I know nothing of Joseph Pilates and all he went through to develop the final routines performed for the benefit of many around the world, I respectfully interject here, "Just joking!")

It is my observation that most hands waving in the air during this exercise reflect the frantic-ism going off inside people's brains. "Hurry, hurry, OH PLEASE, hurry!"

Not Ana, of course. She calmly and slowly brings her arms up, gracefully turns them over, allows them to hover there but for a moment, then gently lowers them back to the ground...100 times. All the while encouraging us frantic ones to breeaathe...Her legs are perfectly straight at a diagonal and she hasn't a care in the world. She, in fact, could do this all day long. Tara, at a more modified level, also embodies ultimate Nirvana as she glides like a beautiful swan through the motions of life.

Then there's Lorie --the embodied persona of a rotund Albatross rapidly descending, wings flapping wildly in the air, on this - her (hopefully) last kamikaze mission in life...

Our program continued from there with all sorts and sundry of other exercises. They mostly involved swinging my legs and arms somewhere other than where I'm used to swinging them. My arms and legs kept asking, "You want me to do what?!" At one point Ana encouraged me to, "Extend your leg, if you'd like." Well I WOULD like...but I just can't seem to do that...

There was this little quip from Ana, "Again, please have a sense of humor as this IS a coordination exercise..." I'm definitely sensing humorous things happening here in my room...

Then there were the food analogies: "Scoop out your abdominals as if you've taken an ice cream scooper to your tummy." ???!!! As my last blog caused my dear pregnant friend, Beth, to quit reading, I will NOT follow this analogy to it's logical conclusion as to what that might look like...

Oh and "Think of being thin like spaghetti!" Still biting my tongue.

But I've got to comment on this one: "Now lift your leg up as if it were as light as a feather (HA! AS IF!) and push it back down as if you were pushing 100 pounds back to the ground (LOL - I AM...)

"Now stretch out your legs in front of you, give them a little shake before you transition to the other side." WHAT? Your legs are only now doing a little shake? My legs have been shaking nonstop. My housemates are wondering if we're in the middle of an earthquake...

And then came the moment of realization that one rarely gets in life. I realized who I really was. I was huddled there at the end of my mat, as were dear Ana and Tara. We all had our hands wrapped around our ankles and were perfectly balanced on our tailbones with our feet slightly off the ground. Our navels were pulled back down behind us (you have to have done Pilates to appreciate that comment) and our shoulders were relaxed. I was at the pinnacle of elatedness. Finally, something I could do. Ana reassured us that we weren't going anywhere because "you've pulled the tummy tight." - Well, I wouldn't say tight...

She then proceeded to have us lift one leg at a time in front of us and I navigated even this pretty well. THEN, she had us do both legs. In the air. At the same time. As in the classic "V" position found on most Pilates DVD covers. I started giggling (and thus jiggling) at this point. Ana and Tara did their "V" perfectly while I settled for a "u" and we came to my self-realization moment.

You see, from there they ever so amazingly rolled on to their backs, maintaining their "V" and articulating their spines to perfection. They then rolled back up, returning to their original starting positions.

I went to do the same thing. Looked easy enough - not a "V" perhaps, and granted, my knees were jutting out spastically on all sides to make room for my belly, but I found my perfect roundness enabled me to roll effortlessly onto my back...and then... my perfect roundness kept me there, wobbling back and forth just like those little Weebles I had as a kid. I didn't FALL down! No, I just rocked back and forth, back and forth. There was absolutely NO WAY my abdominals -and whatever else Ana and Tara used to get back up - were going to work in the same manner as my non-lumpy friends. And there I was, stuck. Wobbling back and forth. So I did the only thing one can do in that situation. I continued wobbling, all the while, laughing out loud!

Now I know. I'm a Weeble. A feeble Weeble at that. I wobble but hey, at least I DON'T fall down!

(For my youngest readers: that phrase, "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down" was from commercials in the 1970's promoting Weebles.-- Do they even still have Weebles? Life as child would be so sad without Weebles. And I hope, after reading this, you'd agree that life as an adult would be equally sad without we Weebles...)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Do NOT mix Sushi with Pregnancy. Just Sayin'...

Let me tell you my pregnancy/Sushi story. As I said yesterday, it's as scary as it sounds...

When I was pregnant with Leilani, our youngest, we tried a new Japanese restaurant. It turned out to be on the authentic side and they had this amazing master chef who prepared the most exquisite works of art - all out of food. The menu was not in English, the waiter barely spoke English, and so for the most part, we had no idea what we ordered. It was looking like a fun, adventurous evening. We were with new friends - a couple we hadn't known very long.

I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and I am one of those poor souls who gets dreadfully sick in those first three very long months...

And I also have a very visual and active imagination. I sometimes have a hard time eating food that actually looks like the animal it is. Sometimes, as much as I love them, I just can't bring myself to pull the meat from crab legs sitting there on my plate. Actually, even eating chicken off the bone - sometimes there's those little blood vessels in there - it just grosses me out. I'm always happy with chicken already in chunks -- stir-fry or whatever. It's a matter of MATTER OVER MIND! Keep to the matter at hand of eating FOOD and don't let the mind picture anything, like the animal walking around or something. I about passed out (not literally) the first time I took shrimp from a salad bar that hadn't been peeled yet-all those little legs-whew, makes me queasy even now.

Our plates arrived and each one was an underwater masterpiece! Truly amazing. Scenes of various coral reefs all made of various raw fish and vegetables. The garnishes were all edible. I did think one garnish in particular looked like it was made of plastic - turns out it was white radishes cut so thin that they MOVED very slightly with the air current! That was a fun discovery though it did cause a bit of a sensation in my tummy, watching movement there on my plate. Little, harmless moving radishes that looked like real coral something-or-others.

I'll have to confess here that I am NOT a hard-core Sushi person. (My friends today can attest to this.) I cannot handle the big chunks of raw fish. I don't mind the minced or small pieces wrapped in the midst of rice and veggies and I love the Wasabi! I'm also terrible with chopsticks. Why they let me in the door, I'll never know.

I just cannot get the hang of those chopsticks. Paul, my husband, was in Taiwan as a kid and he's a whiz of course. I, on the other hand, growing up in Montana and Nebraska, simply did NOT have the numerous chopstick usage opportunities required to turn one from a tyro to a proficient! (Ha Ha - homeschool mom hoping to impress her kids, using their vocab word there...)

OK, back to our underwater scenes. I went to eat one of the bigger "chunks" of fish from my plate and instead of managing a bite as intended-those darn chopsticks-the entire thing slid down my throat! This would have normally grossed me out, but pregnant --ewwwh! The slippery, sliding sensation about did me in. And it landed with a huge "thunk" in my stomach and sat there like a curdling brick. Remember, my stomach had already begun to sway back and forth a bit in tune with those moving radishes...

No one seemed to notice what I was going through so I tried to be Ms. Poise. (Remember these are new friends.)

I set my dysfunctional chopsticks down and slowly sipped my delicious hot tea, trying to get my loud spastic brain ("Whoa, that was the grossest thing that's ever happened to me!" "Was that a huge, RAW chunk of fish I just swallowed??!!!" "Should I throw up now?") to quiet down.

I gently cleared my throat and swallowed again, took another sip of tea, and looked up at the couple sitting across from us. I think I was preparing to smile or something.

I watched the man pick up what must be a LEG from an octopus and take a bite...BUT THOSE SUCTION CUP THINGS ON THE LEG WERE TOWARD ME...and the whole thing just suddenly seemed like a slow-motioned nightmare and my brain went, "AAHHH!!! GGRRROOSSSSSSSS!!!!!" as this red-bearded, grisly mountain man-looking guy seemingly devoured that octopus leg -- suction cups and all! It looked so an Oriental sort of way...

I very quickly excused myself mumbling something about using the bathroom and I did in fact make it there but I threw up immediately upon arrival. And I stayed in there a good while trying to figure out what I should do next.

I don't really remember much more from that night. I must have made it through somehow. I didn't tell them until much after the baby was born...what had happened. I did tell Paul when we got home that night. And I never went back to that restaurant again. Ever.

BUT, the story doesn't end there. As I said yesterday, there's always a treasure to be mined from every situation in life. This one is no exception. Today I found myself at yet another new Sushi restaurant, this time with friends I'm well acquainted with. I'm happy to report that no one ordered anything resembling the animal it once was. Yet even if they had, I'll go so far as to confidently assert that things would have still ended differently. I've grown and matured, you see, and I've learned how to handle these situations much better. I now know you AVERT YOUR EYES when things of this nature are happening around you!!!

As for the chopsticks...well, let's just say Montana and Nebraska could take a lesson or two from those residents over in Bucksnort, Tennessee!! Get a look at these little gems I found at a gas station while passing through...

And it's really called Bucksnort, TN!!!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hmmm...where to start?!

This blog is the result of a newly found friend (Amy Janelle) asking to read more of my writings! Imagine that!

And it coincides with rumblings I've had recently inside of me. I've been able to conclusively determine that these inner rumblings are NOT the result of an inadequate food supply so I'm left to conclude they must simply be my gut feeling. And my gut feeling is that there is much fun to be had here if only I will take the time and write.

LIFE is astounding. It's rich and alive and just plain worth the effort! Great things happen all the time - they don't always look great at the time but if you look long enough I guarantee you there's some treasure to be mined out of every experience in life. We can't always see it ourselves. That's what our friends are for. Ask one! They'll find it for you. If they can't find it, write to me. Hmm, maybe my next blog will be entitled, "Dear Gabby"...

I like to laugh, smile, be happy. So I suspect many of these blogs will have a humorous thread running through them. May all of us find that our tapestry of life is filled with many such threads!

I'll close this initial post here so I can get the word out to all of y'all and you can click that little "follow" button there to the right, thus encouraging me (whether truly or in unreality, it matters not) that you are indeed very interested in seeing more stories posted here.

Just a teaser, I'm going to Sushi tomorrow with a few of my dearest friends and it will be the PERFECT opener to tell you my sushi-while-pregnant's as scary as it sounds...

See ya tomorrow! ;-)