Monday, February 28, 2011

A Long Week...

Ever feel a bit overwhelmed? This past week has been one of those times for me. Even the little things start to add up. We have had everything from a mouse in the house, to a dead car battery, to 3 visits with different doctors, to family members not feeling well or battling stress of all kinds, to sitting on pins and needles wondering when little Emery will arrive, to awaiting monthly bloodwork results, to giving shots in the abdomen, to dogs that are limping for some reason, to fellow multiple myeloma bloggers who have relapsed, to high gas prices and an almost flat tire, to light bulbs that all seem to burn out at once in places too high to reach without a ladder, to cookies that burn on the bottom, to hurting with friends who are suffering from cancer or other medical issues. Big or small, sometimes it just feels like a lot…

Then, something wonderful comes along, like a first birthday celebration for Samuel and Samantha…our joy amidst the trials of the past year. Or news of a new job opportunity for a nephew. Or an announcement that our niece is expecting a third healthy baby boy. Or getting to see Nick’s face on a video chat from Peru. Or Ernie reaching the 6 months post transplant mark. Or daffodils blooming. Or someone sharing the good news that she is expecting. Or a friend showing up to paint our porch railings. Or a brother who is here for one night and fills it with caulking, changing light bulbs, and handling a dead mouse. Little and big things that encourage my heart and bring a smile to my face.

I know that our challenges may be quite small compared to what others might be facing, and who am I to complain. God is with us, He will sustain us, and He is able to see us through whatever comes our way, if we will just trust and obey. I want to see the blessings that can be found in each new day, not take people for granted, and not miss opportunities to show, or tell, others that I love them. I want to keep on keeping on, trying to be an encouragement to others, regardless of my many shortcomings. Sometimes there are just bumps in the road.

Looking forward to a great week ahead..."Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Today is a Big Day - Six Months Post Stem Cell Transplant!

8-25-10 Stem Cell Infusion
In preparation for my stem cell transplant last August, all the doctors and nurses said that we would know more about how the transplant "took" at the six months anniversary of the transplant. Here are some number comparisons from my lab work just prior to my transplant and now at SCT plus 6 months:

Some other observations:
  • I lost all my hair from the SCT. My hair has come back softer, thicker and with less gray than before.  I have had three haircuts since the first of the year, so it seems to be growing faster also.
  • I heal differently than before my SCT. Cuts and scrapes used to heal up almost overnight, with very little bleeding. Now it takes a bit longer, but no concerns.
  • Energy levels are good but with no reserve. Where I used to just get tired, now I get exhausted. Napping and resting are now the standard, rather than the exception.
  • Before the SCT the neuropathy in my feet was quite bad, with severe sensitivity on the top and bottom of my feet. Over the last six months, that sensitivity has reduced, although I have bad 'feet' days, on the whole, the neuropathy is much improved.  
August 2010

February 2011
It appears that my SCT accomplished everything we had hoped for, and for that we are most thankful.   Now we hope and pray that the myeloma has entered a dormant state and any relapse never occurs,  is delayed, or postponed well into the future. My monthly cancer center visit and lab results will be our measuring rod for how well the SCT took and how the maintenance Revlimid is doing.

We are a year and a month post diagnosis and six months post SCT. We are encouraged and hopeful for the future. Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday: A Super Gadget!!!

OK all of you gadget lovers:   What the heck is this?

For the last year, I have been steadily improving in being more self sufficient...showering, putting on shorts, long pants, shirts, and even shoes with the help of a long shoehorn. However, my nemesis has been socks!  No matter how I approached that task, I simply Can. Not. Bend! This made self-socking a distant memory. Linda has been so wonderful doing this task for me, but I needed another solution. While we were in the hospital with my femur pinning, an occupational therapist came in, and after a short discussion she disappeared and then reappeared with the "sock-putter-onner-thing-a-ma-jig". Pictured above, it is a simple device consisting of a firm plastic sleeve with two ropes/handles. No batteries, hydraulics, electronics or nuclear power! I was skeptical until I tried it. I was hooked immediately.    

First, place the sock over the sleeve, making sure that the toe of the sock is stretched across the end of the sleeve:

Next, position the sleeve with the opening up and the ropes back to each hand.  Place foot in opening:

Now, pull gently on the ropes while pointing your toe:

Keep pulling the ropes and the sleeve will slide its way up the back of your ankle:

One last little pull and the sleeve is out and perfect socking has occurred:

There is joy in Muddville! This little beauty works on both short and long socks and works perfect everytime.  It will allow my current sock assistant some time to do other tasks:

My many thanks to the creative soul who came up with this simple, yet ingenious, device. Now if we could only settle on what name to call it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Our World Traveler

Nick at Lake Titicaca!
Look what lives in that water...Giant Lake Titicaca Frog - Woah!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Family Updates

As EZ continues to recover at home following his surgery on the 14th, we are happy to have my Mom back with us again after a two week trip to Florida, and a few days at a cabin in Georgia with my brother and his wife. We miss her when she is away, but are so very thankful that at 80 she is healthy and able to travel whenever she wants. Her beloved kitty, the Queen of Sheba, was especially glad to see her!

Leah is only 17 days away from her due date! We are looking forward to heading down to Georgia for a few weeks just as soon as we get the word that she is in labor. She is doing so well with her pregnancy and has everything ready for Emery's arrival. Here is a sneak peak of the finished nursery, which to me looks like a picture from Pottery Barn Kids!

Emery's nursery
Nick spent the weekend at Lake Titicaca...never knew this was actually a real place. We are anxious to receive an update from him, hopefully soon! He is enjoying the dental clinic in Cuzco and just about every aspect of his experience in Peru so far.  From waking up with monkeys in his bed, to crazy dancing in clubs, to getting alot more fluent with his Spanish, to meeting folks from all over the world, to going crocodile hunting, to helping people in need, he is loving it. We are always happy when he has some free time to video chat on gmail so that his momma can see his face and know that he is okay.

Lake Titicaca
Nick in the Peruvian jungle
Tara and her family have unfortunately been battling colds and stomach bugs in various forms. We did manage to see her and all four grandchildren on Friday for some quick hugs and kisses. With EZ's immature immune system, we just can't take any chances and hadn't been able to see them in 5 days. Here are Samuel and Samantha enjoying their new favorite finger food...bits of American Cheese. We can't believe we will be celebrating their first birthday this coming weekend. Though this has been a hard year, their birth just one month after diagnosis has been the gift that keeps on giving!

Eating cheese...Samuel (as Thing 2), and Samantha (who dirtied her Thing 1 outfit earlier)

Samantha and Samuel then - February 2010

Samantha and Samuel now

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Home from the Hospital!

We arrived home yesterday afternoon after two days in the hospital. EZ will have to take it easy for about two weeks, being careful not to bear too much weight on the left leg as the rod and pin grafts and things heal. He is the proud "wearer" of a four inch incision and 13 staples in his left hip/upper thigh which will be removed on March 1st. He has to walk with a walker for now to stay steady and not put too much pressure on his leg, but is up, mobile and able to also sit in his recliner. He ran a low grade fever off and on for a few days, which the surgeon said is normal following orthopedic surgery...especially when metal is introduced into the body! Temperature was back to normal this morning. I have to administer Lovenox shots every day for three weeks to prevent any blood clots. Don't exactly love doing that, but at least I got practice with Neupogen shots before his transplant and can get through it. He's a great patient!

Thought you might enjoy the contrast between these first two pictures (sorry lighting for all pictures is pretty bad...only had my phone). The first one was taken when EZ was transported up to his room following surgery. He was shivering like crazy (normal reaction following such a procedure) so they had piled about 6 warm blankets on him. I call it "mummy man"!

The next picture is Day 2 at the hospital. All cleaned up, dressed and ready for his first PT session to get up and walk. What a difference a day makes!

Here is Day 3...dressed and hard at work with laptop and phone, looking very serious about something.

And of course, as a special treat for what he had just been through, we stopped at our local frozen custard shop...GOODBERRY'S on the way home!! Ez's favorite is their Black and White (chocolate and vanilla) shake and he thoroughly enjoyed it!

My new favorite is a mini Vanilla Concrete with heath bar and caramel...delicious and a zillion Weight Watchers points for sure!

Many thanks and much love to all who prayed for this procedure to go well. We are very thankful those prayers were answered and ask continued prayers for healing with no complications. So good to be home!

Monday, February 14, 2011


My femoral nail procedure went well. My surgeon said it took a bit longer than planned as he found my bones very hard, which slowed the drilling. He also elected to put a longer shank down the femur, so now I am the proud owner/wearer of a 15.75 inch rod with a 4 inch interlocking nail.

Linda got us all moved in and set up for the evening. She is such a sweetie!

Pain level is about a 5 now and slowly fading as the oxycontin kicks in. Looks like I will be here for a couple days to make sure that I can get up and around with no other medical lapses.

Thank you all for the wonderful outpouring of love and prayers. They mean so very much to us and are such a great encouragement. Love to all!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day... a Bit Early

Ez and I will be spending Valentine's Day in the hospital having his femur pinned. It most definately isn't the way we would prefer to celebrate this special day for sweethearts, but we had to go with the surgeon's schedule. Since we really can't go out to eat anyway (it would require EZ to be sitting for way too long), we planned ahead, bought some things at Harris Teeter on sale, and decided to eat a lovely meal at home...a bit early. Saturday night we broke out the fancy glasses, cloth napkins, lap trays and candlelight, and celebrated;  EZ in his recliner and me on the sofa (as side by side as we could get under the circumstances!). We thoroughly enjoyed our menu...especially the dessert. For me, it doesn't get much better than steak and lobster with twice baked potatoes! Everything tasted so delicious and we savored every bite and every moment of being together.

Afterward, we exchanged gifts and watched the movie Life As We Know It, together, by candlelight, in the comfort of our own home.

Sometimes circumstances force us to treasure what we CAN do, rather than what we can't. We certainly enjoyed our evening together here at home. We would both agree our love for one another is deeper and stronger today than it ever has been, in spite of, or maybe because of, the multiple myeloma. Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Enjoy a special celebration with your loved one(s)... wherever that might be.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Revlimid Maintanence

I have now been on a chemo maintenance drug, Revlimid, for about two months. It is a low dose, only 10 mg per day, taken every evening. So far my blood numbers look very good with my M-spike remaining in the 'not detectable' range. PTL! The largest side effect has been muscle and joint stiffness and aching after I sit or lay still for a bit. As you can imagine, wake-up time is the worst after lying pretty still for 6-7 hours while sleeping. At that time I feel like every joint in my body is arthritic, stiff and painful when I try to move. Thank heavens for pain meds. A quick pill and after 20 minutes the stiffness subsides and I am ready to tackle the day..

I was wondering...anyone else out there on Revlimid maintenance? If so, please share your experience with side effects. I would love your comment or confidentially send an email to

Have a great day!


One of the outcomes of my pre-op appointment at Duke Raleigh Hospital for my surgery on Monday, was my oncologist, Dr. Kritz, requesting that I cease and desist with the Revlimid until after my hip-pinning procedure. Revlimid is known to cause blood clots and Dr. Kritz decided it best to reduce that risk while undergoing surgery and recovery. So for now, a better picture might be:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday - My Trip To Marietta

Last Thursday I posted all about our daughter Leah (if you didn't read it you can find it here). She is expecting their first baby, a little girl named Emery Katherine, on March 10th and we are beyond excited! Unfortunately she and her husband Kyle live in Georgia, and we live in North Carolina, and that means a 7 hour drive. Ernie's treatment for Multiple Myeloma this past year, and the toll the cancer took on his body and sacrum, have prevented us from flying or making the drive to Marietta. Leah and Kyle however, have made the drive and come home endless times to visit and be with us in good times and bad, and we are so appreciative!

Sensing the longing in my heart to spend time with Leah before she becomes a mommy, my family conspired to give me an early birthday present...a roundtrip plane ticket to Georgia before the baby is born!

I left last Friday and returned Monday, but oh what a wonderful time I had (I could enjoy myself because I KNEW Tara and Jamie would take such good care of Ernie while he was home alone). We had lunch together, shopped for home and nursery decor, put baby equipment together, ate the best guacamole I have ever had at Pappasito's, went to an amazing baby shower for Leah, hung curtains, picture frames, a shelf and Emery's banner, packed the diaper bag, organized the changing table and Emery's closet, took a relaxing walk, and watched the Superbowl. I loved giving her my undivided attention, having time to talk, looking at her beautiful bulging belly, feeling Emery with the hiccups, and just being together.

I actually managed to put the pack-n-play tools required!

Elle decided to try out the bouncer

"Cute as a button" was the theme

The food was color coordinated, often went with the theme, and was so delicious!

Leah and her proud Mommy!

Though it looks like a mess, we really were organzing everything!

Gorgeous curtains with such fun fringe!

Kyle's amazing pepperjack, bacon grilled turkey burger for our Superbowl feast!

Thank you to my family for this amazing gift. I will treasure that time always!