Monday, January 31, 2011

'Walking With Big EZ' Named One of the 11 Multiple Myeloma Blogs That You Should Be Following!

We were recently contacted by the community coordinator at WEGO Health, an online forum for bloggers that is focused on specific health concerns (you can see what they are all about here) . We were honored to be recognized by them for our blog's focus on Multiple Myeloma. Ten other blogs that Linda and I regularly follow were also recognized by WEGO:  11 Multiple Myeloma Blogs That you Should be Following.

When we began blogging about our journey, we desperately hoped it would not only be a record of what we were going through, but also a means by which we could educate others about this awful form of blood cancer that we had never even heard of before the diagnosis. Hopefully we can be a positive encouragement to others in their battle. It has been so helpful to connect with men and women who are undergoing treatment, fighting for their lives, and hoping for a cure. They are real people, all over the world with a common mantra...dominate multiple myeloma! We feel privileged to share in their struggles and triumphs, and are humbled by this recognition.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Twelve Months Later...

Milo and I January 29th, 2011

A lot has changed in the last twelve months. A year ago today, January 29th, Linda and I met with my oncologist and heard the words "Multiple Myeloma". We knew nothing of this disease, very little about its treatments, and even less about what this year and the future would bring. We were thrown into a world of unemployment, radiation, chemotherapy, bone marrow biopsies, stem cell transplant, hospitalization, prescription pain killers, loss of independence and chronic pain.

Well, we know a lot more now, and have reshaped our lives to this new normal, praising God for all the good things He has brought, and experiencing a deeper and richer love of marriage and family than we could have ever imagined. My numbers now are very good. All the blood work is in the normal range and my M-spike is 'not observed'. I am in remission! I remain on Revlimid as maintenance chemotherapy and have experienced minimal side effects.

Twelve  months after a diagnosis that had us struggling and wondering how we would put the pieces together, we find ourselves in a good place, not yet planning ten years in the future, but cautiously optimistic that the next few years will be better than the last one. We can't say thank you enough to all those who supported us with love and prayers. We praise God for you and for His mercy as "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:11-13

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Little Shower Helper

Being an engineer, I love when a plan comes together. First, a problem is detected and different solutions are evaluated, with the best one put forth as a plan. Then the plan is implemented and...problem solved! My problem at present is that bone damage to my sacrum does not let me bend. When standing, if I try to reach anything below my knees I get a sharp sciatic nerve pain down my leg all the way to the ankle. So how do I dry  my calves, shins, ankles and tops of the feet after a shower?  "Hey honey, do you have a minute?"  Um....I needed a better solution!  Enter our little English Springer Spaniel mix, Abby: 

Abby has the unique desire to lick legs if they are wet. We noticed this obsession long ago whenever Linda or I stepped out of the shower. When Abby hears the shower running, she patiently comes in and camps on the nearest bath rug, waiting for someone to emerge. When we do step out, she has  one purpose in life:  Lick all the water off your lower legs, ankles and feet. I'm not sure why Abby does this, but when you can't bend to dry your legs yourself, and don't want to bother your wife, my faithful canine companion is the perfect solution!

I love my little shower helper.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Our first 'Date Lunch' since March 2010

Linda is super understanding. One of the side effects of having had a sacral plasmacytoma is that I cannot sit in a normal chair more than a few minutes...and even then I look like I have ants in my pants from all the squirming and shifting. Not being able to sit has ruled out normal dating activities like dinner out, movies, romantic lunches and even driving. I have learned to recline in the front seat of the car while Linda drives to and from the different clinics and doctors, but that is about all. This last Tuesday we had a noon appointment with one doctor and a 2:30 appointment with another, with at least an hour in between for lunch. Usually when we are driving about during the lunch hour, we pull in a fast food drive through and eat in the car. How special!   Well, this last week I said we were going to try and eat inside a restaurant. Linda responded  "Inside?...Really?"  I grabbed a special pillow from the car and we headed through the Applebee's front doors to the hostess stand and asked for a booth. Once seated, as I balanced my left bun on the pillow and tried to not lean conspicuously to one side, we quickly ordered and truly enjoyed our first eye to eye lunch date in over nine months. The service was fair, the food better than fast food, and the company wonderful. (I have told you how pretty Linda is, right?). I managed to sit for the entire lunch without leaning to starboard too much, without squirming like a 4 year old, and without spilling anything. A very romantic lunch. 

Another side effect of trying to sit is that the nerves in my right foot and right leg get pinched and they both go to sleep, tingling strongly and not working as normal when I try to use them. So as we finished lunch and stood up to go, I had to beat my foot against the floor like Mr. Ed to get feeling in them again. I cautiously limped out on one good leg/foot and assumed my position in the reclined front seat of our vehicle. Our first 'Date Lunch' since March of 2010:  Mission Accomplished!

Monday, January 24, 2011


I just love the Energizer Bunny. The whole concept of going non-stop about your activities and being able to keep going and going and going. I used to be able to go non-stop. Oh boy do I miss those days! After my stem cell transplant (SCT), I was amazed when reading about a one year recovery for immunizations. That it would be 12 months before most people could return to full time work. One report said three to five years for a full recovery! Really? It would take my body that long to recover from a reboot of my marrow?

About a week ago I came down with a digestive tract bug...some nausea, but mostly lots of trips to the porcelain oval. It is over now, but by mid afternoon every day I am exhausted. Exhausted to the point of feeling ill and wanting just to horizontally crash. How can I be so tired? I am learning that a SCT wipes out your reserves. Reserves to fight off infection. Reserves of muscle strength. Reserves of energy. The doctors say that my body is working very hard to rebuild the blood structure. It will take months to complete and until done, my reserves will continue waiting to be charged back up. I will just have to be patient, continue to search Ebay for a replacement X-Large SACRUM and dream of the day when the Energizer Bunny returns.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Dr. Alan Kritz

Alan D. Kritz, MD
One year ago today, on January 20, 2010, we made our first trip to the Cancer Center of North Carolina to meet Dr. Kritz for the first time. Ernie had been diagnosed with a plasmacytoma (a myeloma tumor) on his sacrum following a needle biopsy, and we now needed an oncologist to determine whether or not the cancer was in more than one place (hence, "multiple myeloma"). As God would have it, not knowing if we would even need it, we had been given Dr. Kritz's name by a dear friend and lymphoma survivor (Cindy Coats) who had a transplant 11 years ago under his watchful eye.

We are so thankful EZ is under the care of such a brilliant hematology oncologist. Dr. Kritz got the call (from our orthopedic doctor) about Ernie on the afternoon of the 19th, and fit us in the next day, spending close to 2 1/2 hours with us. We liked him immediately. He jumped right on things...explaining the possibilities, doing an examination, taking a thorough history, completing bloodwork, beginning a 24 hour urinalysis and doing a bone marrow biopsy. Thus, EZ's journey with myeloma began and this was the first of MANY consequent trips to the Cancer Center, where Ernie would have his radiation and infusion treatments. It is easy to see why Dr. Kritz has been selected to be included in Best Doctors in America 2011-2012! 

We feel like we got to know Dr. Kritz really well as he checked on Ernie almost every day for the month he was bedridden at Rex Hospital. He was concerned and caring in every way. We trust him, admire him and believe he has made the right decisions concerning EZ's course of treatment. We will continue to see him once a month as he monitors Ernie on maintenance therapy and monthly bone strengthener infusions. It's been quite a year, yet we are very thankful Dr. Kritz has been calling the shots, and that the cancer is now in remission!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: The Best Medicine

The Nats (Natalie and Nathan)

Tickle Time with Natbird (Natalie)
Wrestle Mania with Nate-Man (Nathan)
Bedtime Stories with the Nats

Snuggle-bug Mantha (Samantha)

My little Sam-Man (Samuel)
 Little 'e' (Emery due 3-10-11)

I am one blessed Grandpa!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Showering Leah and Baby Emery with Love

Saturday January 15th we gathered friends, old and new, to shower Leah with love in anticipation of baby Emery's arrival in March. Tara, Sara and I planned and hosted the event, and it was truly a joy to work not only with my daughter Tara, who is the organizational pro, but one of Leah's best friends, Sara, whose creative gifts included designing invitations, envelopes, thank yous and our trivia quiz, making tiny cherry blossom tissue flowers and treees, and taking extraordinary photos!

The food wasn't the only thing that was sweet that day...getting together with so many ladies who have shared different seasons of Leah's life was like sugar for the soul!

It was such a blessing to have a sunny day...such a contrast to the weather we have been experiencing here in NC. We were so very thankful to the many women who came, and for the beautiful gifts they gave. We look forward to having a fifth grandchild to love and enjoy this spring and praise the Lord for this precious little life growing inside Leah. Can't wait to meet her around the 10th of March!!

Three generations...official clean up crew so happy after a wonderful shower!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Nick update from Peru

We received a few pictures from Nick and I think you will be able to see by the looks of things, that well, he's loving it and not exactly roughing it...yet!

Chicken soft tacos with homemade guacamole, refried beans, stewed tomatoes and onions. Note the strawberry shortcake dessert!

Nick with Karol, the chef and Nelly the housemom/housekeeper
He is staying in a Volunteer House, working about 6 hours a day in triage, where he takes vital signs and gathers critical information as patients arrive. He takes Spanish classes in the afternoon. Did drink tap water right off the bat without thinking, and suffered the consequences for a few days!

Luis, a wartime doctor who has served 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nick is watching one of the best!
He will be heading into the jungle on Thursday for jungle conservation and forestation work, so no communication for a couple of weeks...that will have his mama worried for sure! After that, the dental clinic should be open and he will begin a whole new experience. He is loving the country, the people and the experience thus far. Please continue to keep him in your prayers! We miss him for sure, but are so grateful for the opportunities he is being given.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Jamie's Seafood Extravaganza!

Today we are thankful for a son-in-law who likes to cook! Jamie planned and prepared an amazing seafood extravaganza last Friday night and it was delicious. He came over, pots and ingredients in hand ready to get started, and our mouths were watering to taste what he was preparing. Out came fresh cloves of garlic, lobster tails, shrimp, fresh parsley, linguine, butter, and grated parmesan as he got busy chopping, boiling, peeling and preparing. Pear salads were made and coconut shrimp was baked in the oven, along with scrumptious garlic cheese bread. I was in heaven having someone else do the cooking (while I helped entertain grandkids) and then being able to sit down and enjoy his culinary delights! Unfortunately I didn't get step by step pictures of our chef in action, but hopefully you will get the idea of how yummy it was. Thank you Jamie and Tara for sharing this special meal with us!

Shrimp and lobster linguine

Pear salads with glazed pecans, red onions, cheese and craisins

Fresh garlic cheese bread

Coconut shrimp

No seafood for this little munchkin

Samantha settles for a handful of baby puffs

After filling our bellies with seafood we settled in as a family to watch "Up!" with the grandkids. It was a really cute movie and made for a nice finish to a fun Friday night!

The chef takes a seat for the movie along with Abby and Nathan

Grandpa and Natalie cuddle up

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday: My myeloma medication...eeny, meeny, miney, moe

Being healthy for most of my life, taking pills was always somewhat of a foreign activity for me. A myeloma diagnosis in January of 2010 changed that. I am now the proud owner of an AM/PM pill box which contains a myriad of pills each week. Who would have thought?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Grandpa (EZ) and his antics with the Nats

Grandpa sure has fun entertaining the Nats! The most comfortable spot for him at the Dew household happens to be the bed, so he spends lots of time there with Nathan and Natalie as they tell stories, watch movies, read and play games. Well, last week we walked back to the bedroom to find this:

Where's Grandpa?

Watch out, the sleeping giant under the pillow mountain might get you...

Tickle time!

They absolutely loved it! You could hear the laughter all the way down the hallway as Nathan and Natalie searched for every pillow they could pile on Grandpa, then waited for his arm to emerge from under the pile. Next, it was time to put the pillows away and calm down before bedtime. Perfect remedy...bathtime, pajamas and a storybook! I don't know who has more fun, Grandpa or the grandkids. I think it's a tie!