Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Friday, August 3, 2012

Slaying the Chemo Dragon

Whew! - The first chemotherapy milestone is over.  Thank you for all of the good wishes and words of encouragement - they were all much appreciated, and went far towards calming our nervous little hearts.  Dad was a champ.  He was prepared with paperwork, a short sleeved shirt to change into after his bone density scan, and a fresh haircut.  He insisted he wasn't nervous, but he has a way of raising his voice to an impatient tone when he's on edge, so he wasn't fooling anyone.  So started a long, long day.
The first stop was at Hoag Hospital for the bone density scan.  Wait, wait, wait.  I tried to figure out how to apply a gift certificate from Katie onto my dad's Kindle, but finally gave up.  At last he was done, and we went downstairs to the cafeteria.

Mom and Dad wandered through choosing a little lunch for themselves.  I'm trying to stick to a pretty specialized diet that excludes (among other random things like celery and cranberries), such staples as cheese, egg, garlic, cow's milk, oats, cane sugar, baker's yeast, and brewer's yeast.  Oh, and kidney and pinto beans.  And avocado.  I don't think I've been able to have a perfect day since I've started, but I've tried to eliminate the offending ingredients as much as possible.  It's not easy, and trying it at a hospital cafeteria is dang near impossible, so I passed.

On to the next event: chemotherapy.  It was at a nice medical facility over in Huntington Beach - just a short drive away.  We checked in and Mom and I settled in for a long wait.  A nurse came out and answered our questions, and then she took Dad back to get started.  Mom and I sat and talked, and watched other patients come and go.  One poor man sat and did a crossword puzzle.  Out loud.  If Mom hadn't been there I probably would have struck up a conversation, but Mom isn't one for talking to strangers, especially one who does crossword puzzles out loud.  The patient my heart went out to was a frail little man who struggled in all alone with a walker.  He collapsed onto a chair and put his head down on his walker.  It was so obvious he felt a lot less than good, and I felt bad that he was all alone.  In 3 weeks I'll be taking Dad by myself, and I'm making it a point to talk to people around me.  I have a feeling there were some interesting stories there.

The whole process was supposed to take 1 1/2 hours, but for Dad's first time, they took it slower, and we were there for almost 3 hours.  But when Dad came out, he was all smiles.  He was beaming from the nice friendly nurse who had made him feel special, and he was feeling triumphant that he didn't feel sick.  It was like watching a warrior come home, and in a way, he was.

We went back to their house, and I knew traffic would be awful, so I stayed for a little while until it died down.  Calls started coming in from my brothers, and Dad was enjoying all of the extra attention.  He's used to being in the background, and it's a treat to watch him be center stage.  He's kind of a ham, actually.  I started for home, but true to Southern California living, there was still a ton 'o traffic. GAH!  I was tired and hungry, and...did I mention I was tired?  I also had to finish doing the work I hadn't done earlier in the day.  But it was time well spent with the folks, and hopefully they felt a little bit better to have me along as a cheering section.  But the ride home was full of big yawns.  And traffic.

A couple of nights ago, L and I had gone to Costco to get some of the store brand Glucosamine Chondroiten, which the physical therapist had said would be good for his shoulder.  As we walked in, we meandered by the flat screen TVs.  We stopped.  We gawked.  We watched the Olympics on huge 60" screens that were so sharp it felt like you were there.  We looked at smaller screens, and finally decided that when we were ready the 46" screen would be perfect for the bedroom.  One day soon.  The next day L remarked that all he could think about was that TV.  So yesterday when I was with my parents I wondered aloud how long he would hold out buying it.

As it turned out, he didn't hold out long.  As soon as I got home, he said "Let's go to Costco and get the TV."  So off we went, and now we have a new TV in our room just waiting for the cable guy to come tomorrow and hook it all up with an HD cable box and whatever else we need.  Yeah.  I'm pretty excited.  I was watching the preliminary equestrian dressage events for a bit this morning and kept thinking how awesome it would have been on the big TV.  Same for Gabby Douglas' big win last night in gymnastics, or Michael Phelps' victory in swimming.  So if you don't hear from me for awhile, you'll know that I'm laying on my bed (with my new Costco-bought memory foam pillow!) mesmerized in front of a 46" HD screen.  Probably mouth breathing.

But never fear.  I will roust myself outside and pedal a few miles or more to make up for it.  I can't let Mia and her new bike put me to shame!

We got the report from her mom that she did her happy dance when the bike was being set up:

And after riding for a bit, she called Papa and gave him a very sweet and excited thank you.

As I settled in last night after a full day with mom and dad, and an exciting (and unexpected) trip to Costco, I reflected on all I have to be grateful for.  Family, home, health, life's comforts as well as necessities.  A husband who not only understands my quirks, he celebrates them.  I looked up into the night sky and felt gratitude and peace.  The moon was large and luminous, rising through the trees, and shining it's soft light down on our neck of the woods.

Goodnight, moon.


  1. Ahhhh...we had the same moon on the other side of the country. I hope all goes as planned for your Dad. The beginning is scary but it sounds like he will have a good cheering section. My friend Donna has her last treatment on Tues. Our happy dance won't look as cute as Mia's, but it will be just as joyous! Enjoy the weekend Karen!

  2. Such great news for your dad- he really is a trooper. Glad about the tv, too! We were enjoying that moon, as well. So very lovely~

  3. What a beautiful moonlit scene, karen! Thanks for sharing it.

    Your happiness is mine, dear friend, and I am elated to know that your dad's first chemo session went better than expected (except for the waiting and the heavy traffic.) It made me sad, however, when you told about the frail man who came to the waiting room alone. I've been watching the new hospital based reality TV series NY Med and in a recent episode a surgeon pointed out that patients who have loved ones at their side have a much better chance of recovery than those who are alone. You certainly are doing the right thing by being there for your mother and father just as they were always there for you.

    Enjoy that new HDTV but don't become a couch potato. Those bike rides will keep you in shape.

    Have a safe and happy weekend, dear karen!

    P.S. - I don't mean to be a spoiler but I happen to know that 27-Down is:



  4. So glad your dad's first chemo went well. It is always a bit scary until you know what to expect. I'm sure he will be just fine.

    I love that you guys got a new 46 inch TV. That is what we have in the living room, and we both love it. We have never wanted one in our bedroom. We just use our bedroom for sleeping and for walking through from the bathroom to the french doors and out to the pool. It's a good thing we have tile all the way through our house as we come back in dripping wet.

    I hope the medicine you got from Cosco helps your dad....that stuff didn't do a thing for me and I took it for quite a while.

    What darling pictures of Mia. I am sure that she was thrilled to get her bike. She is such a darling!!

    I loved the picture of the moon too. We enjoyed it as well. That is one thing we love about the desert. We do have beautiful skies, both day and night. I especially love our full moon nights though. We love to sit in the spa and just drink in the wondeful things to look at in the dark sky as they show up so well in the desert. The stars are so bright and there are so many of them!

  5. What a full day of living and loving and being thoughtful and grateful for all of it. I enjoyed reading this....

  6. thank you for your example of kindness with your dad...you are a good person...
    and enjoy that TV!!!!
    and a happy dance is just well...happy!!!!
    have a great weekend.

  7. So relieved the first round went well! You would be someone I would want as my companion in the waiting room and as a caretaker!

    I love the joy on Mia's face! What a darling...

    Like Tom I say be sure to take care of the caregiver...keep riding. I'm back in the pool and loving it!


  8. So glad your Dad did so well. Let's hope each treatment goes the same way. My heart broke for the poor old gentleman all alone.

  9. YAY! for your Dad.
    He certainly deserves to be "center stage". so great that you and your Mom were both there for him!!. . .That's some diet you're on. It's hard to eat out and stick to any type of diet, isn't it? Maybe next time you should bring your lunch.

  10. The first chemo has got to be the scariest, and now he has that behind him! Well done.

    And I find nothing wrong with laying in bed watching the Olympics on a large tv and moth breathing. Prefectly fine since I'm doing it myself right now as well ;)

  11. Glad your dad's first treatment is behind him. And I'll bet you will be a godsend to those people you meet when you take him to subsequent ones. We all need to be treated kindly when we're enduring something like that. Just reading about that little old man you wrote about made me want to reach out to him.

    We are enjoying the Olympics, too, and strangely enough, we are also thinking of getting a new TV in our bedroom. The one we have there is ancient!

    Mia is absolutely adorable. That picture of her after getting the bike may be my favorite one of her ever.


  12. Wow, I had no idea about Grandpa! I guess I'm not surprised, since he never complains about stuff like that. Glad you were there with them. Soooo good seeing you guys while we were there!! Love ya!

  13. I had gone a few time with my Dad to this doctor visits -- in the beginning to be a surport. And now having hospice care for my Dad has been difficult -- it always seems to mean the time is near..it is so cool to me that he still is cheerful and grateful - love it! All the best for you and your Dad..


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