The “Third Week”

The chemo cycles are three weeks long. The first week is awful, the second week is recovery, the third week is “normal.” Now, as many of you know, “normal” is not the way life used to be, “normal” is the new normal, an adjusted life. This first cycle, Diane’s third week started a couple of days early! Which is a good thing because a baseball game was scheduled that Friday and Diane must go to Kyle’s baseball! But, now that I think of it, her first chemo session was on a Friday so the third week was on time after all. Most of the rest of the sessions are on a Monday which is what threw me off. Diane’s eyes have  recovered…sort of. (dangling preposition alert)  Most of the infection has receded but the tears continue! We hope they clear up, too, or the salt will cause problems again.

Our friends have been truly awesome, they bring over food and comfort and company. We are overwhelmed with their kindness, caring, prayers, and great food! Even friends that live thousands of miles away send cards, gifts, and prayers. We are so thankful to be so truly blessed.

I went out before dawn yesterday with the thought of finding a sunrise image at Green Springs Gardens. I was standing with friends at the edge of the Green Spring meadow when unexpectedly, swirls of small white flakes appeared. Without even thinking, and actually paying them little attention, I mentally identified the flakes as tiny petals from springtime trees that were blowing in the new morning wind. Hah! My friend said that it was snow! I demurred. They had to be flower petals. Or maybe the dust from some close-by apocalyptic village. Definitely set my mood. This image is shortly after “sunrise.” The dreary skies camouflaged any actual view of the rising sun but the light intermittently broke through to make its mark on our little piece of the planet.

House at Green Spring Gardens

House at Green Spring Gardens

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Oh. Those Canadians!

Secret Stash

Secret Stash

As part of the fix for our frozen pipes, they had to remove the 1970-era paneling from the walls of our basement. I was downstairs when they pulled the wall from the area that is “under the steps.” The area “under the steps” is like a secret room, accessible only from a bedroom closet and then through a 3/4 height door. We use area for storage but this one particular part of the room we didn’t use. Someone had installed a makeshift shelf in a nook under the steps in an area that was 6′ high but only about 4 feet by 5 feet wide. On that shelf was this Canadian bottle of Smirnoff Vodka and a single cut glass stemware!! How do I know it’s Canadian? Well, the label is half English, half French and reads, “Made in Canada,” all clues. Our house was built in 1970 and one of the first occupants, we are told by original owner neighbors, was a Canadian diplomat. Not the ambassador type of diplomat but a diplomat nonetheless. Supposedly they had epic parties in this house and this Vodka bottle may have been the leftovers of a secret rendezvous for serial partygoers! Or, it could have been the hideout for the diplomat’s children! My imagination runs wild!! This stuff has been there for at least 40 years! A fun to think about when sometimes fun isn’t happening.

 

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Snow, wind, and fire…

Lorton Incinerator on the Reformatory Grounds

Lorton Incinerator on the Reformatory Grounds

I am running on empty and I’m not sure why. I posit it’s because I haven’t been out with my camera much and so when I went to the dump this morning, I took a camera. I wanted to take pictures from the front yard of the landfill office but they said I needed permission and I’d have to call back between the hours of 8 and 4 Monday through Friday. Well, I asked and they did their job and told me no but I took one snap from the parking lot anyway which is the first one below. The second shot is looking back at the super incinerator from the equestrian area just a mile away. Hard to believe that this was all part of the Lorton Prison twenty plus years ago, one of the worst prisons in America.

Diane is doing okay. Taste buds dying, some pain, some nausea but the worst is her eyes. Her eyelids are infected so badly that they are bleeding. Sigh. Doctor available next Thursday. Double sigh. Six years ago when she went through this, she did the surgery first, then radiation and then chemo. This time it’s reversed. I looked back six years on this site to see what was happening after the first chemo session then. Sort of the same without the eyes, that didn’t start until later.

This image is from this morning at the Fairfax County Landfill. I was on what used to be the Dairy Farm of the prison but is now an equine center. Life changes.

 

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A New Day

Five o’clock in the morning but all is actually going very well. For the most part. Sleeping is difficult but the awful pain has subsided significantly which is way, way ahead of schedule. Thanks for the prayers, healing thoughts, and positive energy! And the medications. Each day is a different adventure but for the latter part of yesterday’s whirlwind blast through time, t’was a great day. We went to Kyle’s basketball game last night and she got through with only Ibuprofen! Huzzah. She didn’t sleep well so naps will be in order today. Except that the construction crew will be here to fix the water damage from the frozen pipe. It’s taken two months to get them here. Oh well. They’re coming.

The other thing we did yesterday was visit our acupuncturist, Dr. Ashley Will at the Acupuncture & Herbal Healing Center. Dr Will and Dr Linton have had an immense and positive impact on our health over the years. Dr. Will treated Diane during Diane’s first cancer episode. They are an important part of our health team!

I made this image eight years ago when we were visiting Sis-in-law Chris in the high desert (Mojave) of California. I have no idea what the flower is but the bright colors mirror my mood this morning!!

Desert Flower

Mojave Desert Flower

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Magic Carpet Ride

Steppenwolf did “Magic Carpet Ride” in 1968, fifty-one years ago! The hard rock beat and the song title found a nook in my brain where they’ve hidden in plain sight for these many years. Of course, I can’t remember any other lyric from the song.  Right now I feel like I’m on a magic carpet ride, but not the one I’d prefer.

The chemo on Friday went fine. Six hours was a long time in the chemo room because as many of you know, the happiness there is a veneer to what’s really going on. Don’t get me wrong, I think the patients and their companions are very happy to be getting the treatment and the nurses are very happy to be able to provide this hope. But, to me, just below the surface, there is the terror of the unknown, the fear of losing, the fear of the pain. And of course, just the fear. The last thing they did after they unplugged her from the drugs was put a little gadget on the back of her arm. Just a little thing, about two inches tall, an inch and a half wide, and about a half inch thick. More on that later. And, the session ended in such a Washington, DC kind of way…we were in rush hour for 40 minutes on the way home.

Saturday was okay. She was very tired and nauseous but the nausea was successfully controlled; we were happy about that because nausea makes the other side effects even worse. In the late afternoon/evening, we went to a baseball game in the cold; Kyle’s on the High School varsity team and although he probably won’t play much this year, we want to support the team. Diane is a baseball fiend and so off we went but we only lasted a couple of hours of the ten inning game. We headed home 26 and 45 minutes after the little gadget was put on her arm.

At exactly 27 hours after putting the gadget on her, the gadget beeped. Or at least we think it did. We were still on the way home and she had her parka on so it may have beeped and we didn’t hear but she felt something. When the thing beeps, a small catheter is inserted into her arm and for the next 45 minutes she is injected with a drug called Neulasta. This drug stimulates the bones to create new blood cells because the chemo kills most of the white blood cells or at least a bunch of them. I don’t really remember. And this is the drug that causes agonizing, brutal, awful bone pain. Several hours go by after the injection before the bones go into overdrive and this morning they’ve hit full force. I’m happy because I know her body needs the white blood cells but I am horrified by the pain she is going through.

A magic carpet ride…

James River Bridge

James River Bridge

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