30 December 2015

Refried Bean to End 2015

The last week has seen significant improvement in my eating.  I have a particular fondness for the runny refried beans at Mexican restaurants.  I've also continued to graze on leftover spiral ham from Christmas....oh, and Simply Orange orange juice!  I have gotten enough calories from food the last few days that I haven't had a yucky drink since Friday.

I am enjoying this little period of eating as I'm not super optimistic about what my appetite will be once the chemo starts again.  But until then......it's a very welcome change.


Half a pastrami sandwich I ate in San Francisco.  Nice to eat real food!




26 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

It's been a week since I've updated.....It's been a lot of the same ups and downs.  I am surrounded by so much love and support as I slowly but steadily heal from the crazy, gigantic surgery!

I am both encouraged and frustrated by the speed of recovery.  I made it seamlessly to California, where the Dibbs are patiently waiting on me.  Nourishing my skinny little body continues to be an ordeal, but we are finding some foods that work out well so I am not so dependent on the yucky drink.

My walking is getting a little better every few days.  I am quite slow, but I think I'm going a little further each day.  I feel so much support, and hope you will continue to keep me in your prayers.




18 December 2015

Trying So Hard

I'm trying so hard to do what I'm supposed to do to get stronger.  Eating is probably my biggest challenge, as I still have absolutely no appetite but a body that needs protein and calories to get stronger.  It is a daily battle.

Every day I try to walk a little more than the day before.  Sometimes I will only make it from the car door to the door of the store before I end up in a wheelchair, but each day I am doing a little bit more.

I've got to get these little stick figure legs strong again so that I can walk like a normal person.

My days and nights are extremely long, and seem to run into each other.  I am trying so hard to figure out how to manage this new life.  It's not easy.

I'm frequently asked what my Christmas plans are.  I'm actually flying to San Francisco to spend a week with my sister's family.  I'm not sure what we're all thinking, carting me off to California, but I'm so grateful that Mindy's willing to give it a try.

I'm so grateful for all of the people who do so much for me every single day.  It is certainly not for lack of support that I'm struggling with this new normal.




15 December 2015

Post-Op Follow-Up

This morning I had my first follow-up with my surgeon.  I had the staples removed from my incision.  The PA who removed the staples said that my incision was the longest one she'd ever seen, which is not surprising give the fact that the doctor said that he used two full staple guns worth of staples on me!

I also learned more about my upcoming chemotherapy, which will begin the first week of January.  It sounds like the treatment is going to be pretty crazy.  After hearing more about the treatment plan, I decided to just cross that bridge when I come to it and enjoy the next couple of weeks.

Day-to-day necessities are getting a little easier each day.  I had my best night's sleep last night since returning from the hospital.

Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement.  I never stop needing them!

13 December 2015

Being Home

Being home is definitely better than being in the hospital.

It is still very challenging and I am so grateful for all of the help I am receiving with day-to-day necessities like showering, walking, moving from one spot to another, staying on top of shots and medications, finding ways to fill the long hours of the day, settling in to sleep...

So far, there haven't seemed to be any setbacks or complications for which I am extremely grateful.

I am also grateful for pain medication, a fireplace, comfortable blankets and pillows, hot water for showering, an army of helpful family and friends, peace when I pray.

I know this healing requires patience and work and strength beyond my own.  Thank you for your sustaining prayers and faith.  I feel them.  I need them as much as ever.  This is tough stuff.

I know that there were many miracles involved in my surgery.  Sometime, I will share some of them...when the time is right.  Please know that your prayers and fasting for miracles have blessed me beyond reason.

I love you all.  Thank you for hanging in there with me.


11 December 2015

Home Sweet Home

Michelle had a big day today as she left the hospital and came home!  Now starts a whole new set of challenges as she continues to heal.  So many little things that we take for granted are slow and painful processes for her....like walking, sitting in a chair, using the restroom, or eating real food.

She said to make sure to thank everyone for the support, love, faith and prayers you have unselfishly provided.  She wouldn't be here if not for you.  Thank you thank you thank you!

And now....onward!  This whole experience is a marathon, not a sprint.  Regardless, it's nice to be moving.


08 December 2015

Starting and Stopping

In short, things are moving quickly to try and get me strong and independent enough to go home.  It's hard to know what to think of all of this, particularly because of the speed in which it is all taking place.

06 December 2015

Countless Acts of Service

I'm so grateful for these two young men who today brought the sacrament to my sister and me at the hospital, and for the countless other acts of service on my behalf.  It's been a lovely, peaceful, grateful Sabbath day.


Welcome Welcome Sabbath Morning

Michelle had a good night, and as of 9:50 AM this Sabbath morning, she has walked to and from the bathroom twice (using a walker and some assistance), as well as walked a combined total of about 30 feet.  She is now drinking a strawberry yucky drink and sitting in her chair watching her favorite band sing her favorite music (MoTab and Christmas).

The surgeon stopped by this morning as well, and he was very positive.  He said Michelle is doing fantastic.  He used the words "unbelievable" and "miraculous."  He said, "You're amazing.  Truly amazing.  I know it's hard to tell from your side, but from our side, you're way ahead of schedule."

There's no way to express the gratitude for the faith, prayers, fasting, love, encouragement, kind words, faith-filled thoughts, and every good thing coming her way.  There's no logical explanation for what is happening here.  Just no words.  Thank you

04 December 2015

Today's Chart


Onward and Upward

Michelle had a great night and continues to improve!  Her body is recovering, and all the functions are starting to rev up again.  The nurses were pleased that she is urinating better, and that her lungs are doing well.  Everything is looking really good right now!

Yesterday, when Michelle's surgeon visited, he mentioned that how well the surgery went and how well she's doing right now are nothing short of miracles.  He felt that there were definitely powers beyond his own helping in this situation.  This conversation really stood out to Michelle, and she wanted to be sure that you knew and thank you for your part in the faith and prayers that made this possible.

There is a possibility that Michelle may be transferred out of the ICU today, but for now we need to continue to hold off with visitors outside of family.

Onward and upward!

03 December 2015

No Cheating

Not much new to report...Michelle is doing a lot of good sleeping, and her doctors and nurses are all being very upbeat and positive about her progress so far.

When the respiratory therapist was here just a few minutes ago, she had Michelle do some breathing exercises to keep her lungs nice and strong.  They were supposed to do the exercise 10 times.  The therapist eventually lost track of what number they were on, saying, "I think this is number six?   Or maybe it's seven...."

Michelle chimed in in her little raspy voice, "This is number six."

"Thanks," the therapist told her.  "You know, you could have cheated just then and not done the whole set!"

"Oh no," Michelle replied, very seriously.  "I wouldn't do that.  Cause I really want to get better."

One of my favorite moments of the day.

Tough as Nails

Just a quick update...Michelle is doing well today!  The doctors took out the breathing tube, so she can communicate without sign language, which is much easier for everyone.  She is doing a lot of sleeping and likes it quiet, but she did ask us to make sure we're updating the blog on a regular basis. I know she would love to talk to you personally if she could!

Michelle's anesthesiologist and surgeon both stopped by separately this afternoon to check on her.  They both seemed very pleased.  Her surgeon told her that she's a lot better off today than she was 24 hours ago!  In response to her gratitude for helping her he said it was an honor, followed by, "You're not totally out of the woods yet, but you're tough as nails."

Tough as nails and surrounded by love and faith...that's got to be the best combination out there for getting better!

The Night

Update from Melissa:

Her night was good.. She slept ok.. Awake a lot... Wanting ET tube out. We did a lot of signing alphabet.. I'm horrible at it!
Very poor urine output .. That they are moderately concerned about. Other than that... Ok

One of the first things she signed was, "I'm alive!!"  (I'm sure there were exclamation points at the end of that sentence).



02 December 2015

Thank You

Michelle is resting tonight in the ICU.  She is still sedated and intubated and hooked up to a million and one machines, but she should steadily improve as time goes on.  The ICU is very small, and they have different rules than the rest of the hospital.  The staff has limited visitors due to space and the need for the environment to be very sterile, so we would just ask that everyone hold off visiting Michelle for a day or two until she is more stabilized.

We will keep you updated about her progress and when would be a good time to visit our little trooper!  Thank you so much for your love, faith, fasting, and prayers today....they truly made a difference.

(Some good luck kisses before the surgery...gotta love love!)

Surgery Success

While warning us that we are not out of the woods yet and not to be intimidated by how she looks, the surgeon passed on great news about Michelle's surgery today! The surgery went well, even better than he expected.  Michelle's stomach is (quote), "nice and flat now" with the removal of all those pesky tumors, over three gallons of excess fluid, and many nonessential organs.

Michelle is currently having a filter put in to help protect her from blood clots as she heals.  She will head to the ICU in about an hour or so.  She will be sedated and intubated tonight, and pretty drugged up for the next few days.  We anticipate that she will be in the hospital for probably 7 to 10 more days.

There is definitely a long road of recovery ahead, but today was a surgery success!

#goteammichelle!

#bulgyisgone

#soaredingdongdorkanddopey

Going Well So Far

Michelle's surgeon just came out to personally give us an update.  She is doing great so far!  They removed almost 9 liters of excess fluid in her belly, and the tumor removal is going well.   The doctor estimates about two more hours.

Keep the prayers coming!

It Has Begun!

The wait is over!  Michelle has officially been taken back for the surgery to start as of about 11:50 am.  All the doctors and nurses have been very positive and helpful.  We have also gotten compliments for our huge group taking over the waiting room.

"Are you all one group here for the same person?" one nurse asked.  Then, "I love love."

So do we.


Pre-Op

Michelle is in pre-op as of about 9:35 getting all prepped for surgery!  She was a little bit nervous this morning, but in good spirits.  She said several times how grateful she felt for the many people showing her love and support.

The surgery is supposed to start at 11, and we will post updates as we get information.

Thank you so much for your support and love!

A little morning family scripture study.  Note the t-shirt...Go Team Michelle!

01 December 2015

Countdown

My entourage and I arrived at St. Luke's this morning about 8:30 am to do all the preliminary stuff.  I got a new PICC line in a special room at the hospital, did some paperwork, and started a Heparin drip as part of my pre-surgery preparation.

Bulgy is making a reappearance, but other than that it's been a great day!  I have loved the avalanche of visitors, both in person and in spirit.  My heart is full of gratitude for the fasting and prayers in my behalf.  Tomorrow's surgery begins officially at 11 am.

Will keep you posted--keep the prayers coming!  I love you all.



30 November 2015

An Invitation

This is Melissa (Michelle's sister).  With Michelle going in the hospital on Tuesday for her surgery on Wednesday, I wanted to invite all those who would like to join in a family and friend fast.  We will be starting the fast at 6:00 pm on Tuesday.

We have discussed some specific desires we would like to include in this fast.  1) that her current blood clots in her lungs will clear up before surgery, 2) that she will not form any new life-threatening blood clots or that her blood will not be too thin so that she has excessive bleeding, 3) that Dr. Perez (gynecological surgical oncologist) and Dr. Barton (liver surgeon) along with other doctors and nurses will be blessed with the judgement and precision needed to have a successful and safe surgery, 4) that Michelle will be able to know and feel the overwhelming love that we all have for her, and especially that the Lord has for her, and we will have peace in the Lord's will, whatever that may be.

Those are just the specific desires we wanted to join in together, along with whatever else you personally feel to add.

Thank you for all the fasting and prayers in her behalf up to this point.  It is truly what has spiritually, mentally, and physically held her up during the past few months!

29 November 2015

Back from Thanksgiving

Just got back from Thanksgiving weekend with my family.  Everything went great!  Now I'm preparing for a big ole surgery week.....couldn't have asked for a better weekend.


24 November 2015

Eight Liters

Today was a special day....PARACENTISIS DAY (aka the draining of The Bulgy Belly).  The doctors were able to drain even more fluid than last time--eight whole liters!  Again, that is the equivalent of approximately two gallons.  As you can imagine, I am feeling a lot of relief.


This is the drain in my belly.  Not very fun, but they numb the area first!


To celebrate, I was feeling so good that I was able to go to Olive Garden and eat some of their yummy yummy salad.  I could drink that dressing!


Now I am feeling tired, but good.  I am still a little apprehensive for traveling tomorrow, but so excited to see family.  Happy Thanksgiving....I am so very grateful for so many things!


22 November 2015

Kind of in an Uncomfortable Holding Pattern

Sorry for the lack of updates lately, but there hasn't been much to report.  I am kind of in an uncomfortable holding pattern, waiting for December 2.

Everyday I need to eat more and move more, and I try.  But Bulgy Belly is filling back up with fluid and making everything very uncomfortable.  I will go back in for more draining Tuesday, hip hip hooray!
.
I am looking forward to seeing family over Thanksgiving, but apprehensive about the traveling and being away from home part of it.  I am very, very grateful for family, and for all of you who have continued to reach out and bless me with your faith, prayers, and service.


16 November 2015

Surgeon Consult

Today the surgeon gave me the option to have surgery or to not have surgery, and I chose to continue.  He explained to me how high risk it is, yet I'm choosing to go forward.

He did change the date to December 2 because of a scheduling conflict with the other surgeon who will be helping him.

He was very real with me and explained that this would not be a cure....kinda hard to hear, but I want to move forward with surgery.

I feel this is the best move at this time.

14 November 2015

Lab Results

I know the blog has been silent recently; I'm still processing information.

Here's the factual, non-emotional piece of what I've learned the last few days:

1.  There is a new blood clot in my lungs.
2.  As a result, the surgery has been put off indefinitely.
3.  The chemotherapy appears to have been ineffective.  The tumors have doubled in size.

Yep, a lot going on in my head right now....making some pretty significant decisions.  Grateful for all the faith, prayers, love, and support.  This is crazy!!

The good news--last night the doctor was able to drain 5 liters of fluid (approximately 2 gallons) from my bulgy belly.  I can actually walk again!





10 November 2015

Same With Changes

Everything is the same but just a bit different.  I still have bulgy belly but it is bulgier and more consistently bulgy.  I still have no appetite.  The nausea has been more of a problem as the anti-nausea medication does not seem to be helping much.  I have been throwing up more and then I lose the calories and have to start over.  It's all a little crazy.

I had an appointment with the Oncologist today.  I knew I was in trouble when I had lost more weight and the dietician had been invited in for the consult.  Didn't make a lot of headway there.

Bulgy finally got his day in court and the Onc. was concerned enough about it to change my 20 Nov. CT scan to this Thursday, 12 Nov.  I'm not sure what to think of that but it will be nice to know what is going on in there.

I should receive my CA-125 number in the next couple of days which may tell us a little more about the cancer antigens in my blood.  We'd love to see that number decrease from the last time as it has consistently risen over the past nine weeks .

My spirits are okay, not great.  My gratitude is off the charts for everything that is being done in my behalf.  I am overwhelmed by the avalanche of sacrifice that is dumped on me every single day.  I am weak but my gratitude remains very strong.  Thank you so much




06 November 2015

Too Much, Not Enough, Just Right

The last few days have been too much:

Nausea

Bulgy Belly

and not enough:

Eating

Sleeping

Not a great combination.

However, NO PAIN!  That is just right and so great.

Always trying to do better.  This is not for wimps.

02 November 2015

Countdown to Surgery

Barring anything crazy, my de-bulking surgery is four weeks from today.

It's time for me to ramp it up with calories, exercise, and other uncomfortable preparations.

Since I have lost over 40 pounds, it is critical that I put on some weight over the next few weeks.  I try so hard every day.  It is a constant struggle.

At the same time, I have lost so much muscle mass from low activity, that it is also critical that my body is tougher four weeks from now.  I started going to a gym today.  I must say, it was pretty embarrassing.  I did six minutes on the recumbent bike and 30 leg presses before my little chicken legs were done.  I also went on a field trip to Hobby Lobby this afternoon which was a bit of a workout.

Today, I was telling my nurse sister that I wish my surgery were tomorrow instead of a month from now.  She told me there is no way my surgery could be tomorrow because I am too skinny and too weak.  It was then that I realized that my weight and strength weren't luxuries, they are necessities.

Today started a new commitment to weight and strength. Please, please pray for me.  This is hard.

29 October 2015

All Good

It is 4:25pm and everything has been good today.

I am eating real food (not a ton but no yucky drinks), walking upright without pain or major discomfort, enjoying the company of others, and sighting a tad bit of a personality in my own self.

Let's keep it up, Thursday.  You are coming along nicely.

Oh, and it is also a BEAUTIFUL day here in Boise, Idaho.

Three cheers!

28 October 2015

No Appetite Again...ARGH

It started fading last night and I hoped it would return this morning but, alas, no.  We are back to a combination of yucky drinks and force fed soup and stuff. Grrr....

Besides that, I enjoyed so much my time with my brother and my parents.  They sacrificed so much to come help me.

I also received all of my pre-op paper work today and we are off and running-ish.

10 Nov.:  Appt with Oncologist
20 Nov.:  CT scans to see what's a growin' and what's a shrinkin'
24 Nov.:  Consult with Surgical Oncologist
29 Nov.:  Stop with blood thinning shots
30 Nov.:  Big Ole Surgery at 9:30am  (live broadcast begins at noon ET)
01 Dec.:  Go to the Beach!!!

Oh, and I feel like Spleeny is shrinking.  I know I've spoken of Ding, Dong, and Dork; however, there's also Spleeny (which is much too cute of a name for such a nuisance)  Spleeny sits under my left ribcage and feels most of the time like a full-sized football is lodged under my left ribcage.  The Spleeny tumor has been the most prevalent and annoying.
The last few days, I haven't been disrupted by Spleeny really at all.  I'm not sure what to make of it except that he/she/it may be getting smaller and smaller?  Wouldn't that be nice?!

Love to all



27 October 2015

I Will Start Reporting In The Daytime

The reason I've been sparse lately is because I always feel yucky at night.  I will start reporting during the daytime hours because, especially the last few days, I have felt so much better.

I am actually eating!!!  Food.  Real food. Not chemically engineered yucky drinks that give me calories and spike my blood sugar but provide no real nutrition.  Don't get me wrong, I know these things have their value, but I am so glad to not be entirely dependent on them today.

In the last post, I mentioned Mindy's visit.  Since she left, my sister, Stephanie, my niece, Syvanna, my brother, M, and my parents, have all showed up.

M showed up with so many fun and meaningful gifts.  Two of the gifts he gave me were a Mrs. Potato Head (we look alike), and a fro wig.

Another development in the past few days is a FIRM SURGERY DATE!
30 November is the day, folks!  It's amazing how much I am looking forward to the day that I will be cut open from top to bottom, and stripped of almost every non-essential organ in my body :)

Please, please continue to pray that the tumors will shrink and that my blood will only clot when it is supposed to clot and not when it's not.


Best Gals You'll Meet


Mini-Me



M knows how to pick a wig!

23 October 2015

Three Chemo Down

Chemo #3 is in the record books.  Now, the story of post-chemo 3 is being written.

The first couple of days included energy, appetite, pretty good everything all-around.

On the afternoon of day three (Thursday), it all tanked.  We are back to fighting for every ounce of energy, no appetite..the whole routine.

However, my sister Mindy showed up from San Francisco on Wednesday with baby Berrett!  Her timing was great and it's been all blessing to have her here.

The little food I have been eating the last couple of days hasn't stayed down well.  I'm not doing well with car transportation lately.  It seems like I throw up every time I get out of a car.  This is a new development which I hope is short-lived.

With chemo 3 done, the next item on the agenda is the massive de-bulking surgery which we are hoping takes place 01 December.

Please pray that the tumors will shrink.  The smaller the tumors, the more enthusiastic the surgeon is about the success of the surgery and the post-op recovery. So far, the jury is out as to whether or how much they are shrinking.  We need them to be smaller.  I ask for your faith and prayers with this.  I know that IF it is the will of the Lord, they will shrink.



20 October 2015

Cinderella Part Two

8:30am-  Amity picked me up and dropped me off at the hospital
8:45am-  Lab draws through my port
9:00am- Met with Oncologist and my sister
10:30am-4:00pm Chemo treatment
11:00am-present (9:30pm) Feeling great and normal

I felt like myself today.  It is hard to explain how much I've missed my own self.  Enjoying this fall season has been darn near impossible because I have felt so sick most of the time.

During the 5.5 hour chemo treatment, my normal self had fun conversations. I made some new friends with staff members, visited with the cute dietician about institute and singles wards,  talked with the beautiful Lutheran chaplain about the restoration of the gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith (She will be a wonderful Relief Society President sooner than later), ate real food and enjoyed it, and had a really good time.  Melissa is always faithfully by my side and having Jeanette there for the last few hours was a bonus.  On the way out of the chemo center, we found a wig room, and I had some fun trying on some wigs.  I'm not convinced that the bald look is my absolute favorite, but I know that I prefer it over wigs for the time being.  I'm probably heading in the hat direction sooner than later, especially since it's the weather is starting to cool down.







After the chemo, it was off to The Olive Garden where I was treated to the Never Ending Pasta Bowl. True to their word, they comp'd my dinner again.  My oncologist was unhappy again about my weight.  I had lost another ten pounds since my last appointment. Olive Garden is a great place to start to regain weight.  Did you know that each breadstick is 140 calories?  You had better believe I said "yes" to each time the server asked "Would you like grated cheese on that?" The server sent me home with an extra bowl of pasta just to contribute to my weight gain.





video

video

I was feeling so great, I invited a couple of friends to meet me at The Village Meridian to watch the nighttime light displays and enjoy the fall weather outside.  It was so fun.  I felt NORMAL!!


video

Thank you for so many prayers, thoughts, and well-wishes today,  I know I was blessed today by the miracle of medicine as well as the power of priesthood, love, and  prayer.

Part of me knows I should go to bed now to keep up my routine.  The other part of me wants to stay up all night and have a slumber party because I don't know when the carriage is going to turn into a pumpkin again.  Best day in....I don't know how long.

18 October 2015

It's Been A Rough Few Days

Howdy.

The last few days, I've been all sorts of lethargic, not eating, barely functioning.  It's always hard to know what is going on.

This morning was the same.  I got a substitute yesterday for my Primary class today because I could tell yesterday that Sacrament Meeting was probably going to be all I could handle.  That was a good move as I barely made it sitting up straight for the 1.25 hours of Sacrament Meeting.

The rest of the day was decent.  I felt stronger than I had for the previous few days but nothing all too impressive.  The food situation is a disaster.

My third round of chemotherapy is Tuesday morning.

I am surrounded by so many wonderful people who are sacrificing left and right to help me.  I just wish I felt well enough to enjoy them and to give something in return.  I feel so high maintenance.  I pray I will show my gratitude the best I can because I truly am so very grateful.

15 October 2015

The last two days have been up and down.  I am growing more accustomed to the downs because I am increasingly aware that there are monsters that live inside of me that are not going away until they are surgically removed.  Until then, there are some variables that I am just not going to be able to control no matter what.

I've done fairly well with food two of the last three days.  I am experimenting more with solid food and having more success than before. I just have to remind myself that food is medicine and I have to take medicine every hour or the monsters in my body start taking over and it's hard to play catch-up.

I receive constant help and support and I am so grateful for every text, email, phone call, letter, prayer, act of service, suggestion,..all of it.  Thank you.

I know that the Lord has not left me comfortless.  He hears me and He helps me every day.  I know He knows his little daughter is struggling and He will never abandon me.  I cannot imagine my despair if I didn't know that.

I want to go to the beach.

13 October 2015

Yep, Today Was Better

I am pleased to announce that yesterday's storm found its place in the universe, and today was a new day with more success all around!

I have come to accept that the food issue will continue to be part of my new normal (instead of getting mad and discouraged every time I have to eat something.) I actually choked down solid food today--real food, not the fake food!  It made a HUGE difference.  My body felt stronger today, my emotions felt more balanced, and I felt just better all around.

Some day, it will be interesting to find out just how much all of your faith and prayers have contributed to my days.

Thank you thank you thank you

Today Will Be Better

12 October 2015

Must Do Hard Things

Today was hard.  The morning was very nice, but the afternoon and evening were just so hard.  I may even have cried my head off for an extended period of time.

The disease takes a mental toughness far beyond my natural ability.  I am dependent upon superpowers beyond my own, and sometimes I just come up painfully short.

Must. Do. Hard. Things.

11 October 2015

Sunday Update

Church was great.  I love to be with my sweet ward family.

My primary class is beyond amazing.  A whole room of fabulous twelve year olds.  I love them.

This afternoon and evening, I felt just miserable.  Eating is such a burden.  My sister is quick to remind me that if I don't eat enough, I will be admitted to the hospital with an NG tube up my nose. That is always enough to get me to choke down one more yucky drink.

I had some sweet visitors today.  I wish I had the energy to be more interesting and entertaining. I appreciate the kindness so much.

I hope you had a blessed Sabbath day.  Thank you for checking in!  It means a lot to me

10 October 2015

Bulgy Belly

I measured my belly.  It is a circumference of 40 inches around my belly button, and it is tight as a drum.  Does that sound frustrating and uncomfortable?  Good!  Because it is.

I contacted the doctor yesterday about bulgy belly, and he wasn't overly concerned, probably because there is nothing that can be done about it while I continue to be a clotting risk.

The morning today was nice....I went to three soccer games for three of my nieces.  It was nice to spend some time outside in this beautiful, beautiful fall weather, even though I think I may have sunburned my bald head.  In my defense, I did wear a hat for two of the three games!

The BYU football game distracted me a bit from bulgy belly tonight.

Thank you, BYU, for winning!

09 October 2015

Extra, Extra

I am frequently asked if I have good insurance.  The answer is YES!  I have great insurance for which I am extremely grateful.

That said, even with great insurance, treating this disease gets pretty pricey.  And, if I am fortunate enough to get the de-bulking surgery in the next couple of months, it's going to get crazy expensive.

I am not out of money, and I do not want to wait until I am before I reach out for assistance.

I have just received my second round of hospital bills equaling $1000.  I paid for the first round using the generous donations I received last month.  It was amazing to receive this unsolicited help.

If you have a little EXTRA money lying around that you would be interested in contributing to this round of bills, it would help me out tremendously.  I really do mean EXTRA.  I don't want it to be a sacrifice or a burden or come from any fund that needs it more than I do.

If you have a surplus and would like to contribute to this cause, you can use this PayPal link:



If you don't have PayPal, or don't like to use that venue, you can mail to me at:
1160 West Anton Drive
Meridian, Idaho
83646

Is this unconventional?  Probably, but it is more my style to be direct than to turn the matter over to someone else to speak for me.  Thank you!  Thank you!!  Thank you!!!


Update:  Good day, miserable evening.  My belly is big and tight and bothering me.  I am also not eating nearly enough :(


08 October 2015

Two Days

Yesterday was quite good again.  I ate pretty well, felt pretty good, and had the pain and nausea under control.  I got some homework done (Thank you, Amity), and spent some time visiting with a wonderful friend who came to visit me from San Francisco.

Today was kind of weird.  The day started out well, especially in the calorie department.  I had eaten 400 calories by 10am which was great!  None of the food was all that exciting, of course.  I drank an Ensure (I call it the yucky drink), ate 3/4 of a yoghurt, and chewed and swallowed a few bites of leftover vegetable beef soup...off to a good start!

At 11:30am, I threw up the yucky drink on the drive home from the airport (I wasn't the driver).  I also threw up at 630pm after I took my evening medications.

My belly has been bulging, tight, and compacted since last night.  I don't know what to make of it. Is it inflammation? fluids?  rapidly growing tumors?  Whatever it is, is uncomfortable and unsettling. I'd like to just ignore it but it is too uncomfortable to just ignore.  It's like being pregnant but not knowing what it is that is causing me to be bigger overnight.  I am curious to see what tomorrow brings.  Maybe it will be smaller.  I really don't know what is going on.  Hmmm...

06 October 2015

All Great

Today was all and only great.
I had no pain, no nausea that couldn't be controlled, no throwing up, no other yucky elimination-related problems, nothing bad.

I did go on a couple of walks.
I ate and retained about 800 calories (including 3 chips and some salsa)
I spent some quality time with friends and family.
My body didn't do it's 6pm meltdown
I got to think about and do stuff for people other than myself.

Let's have more of these!

Thank you for ALL of your support, love, help, faith, and prayers.


05 October 2015

Happy Monday

Last night, I had quite possibly the best night's sleep I've had in two months.  I awoke feeling quite good and got off to a good start.  The good start continued until about 10am and I have been sick ever since.  I think I caught a stomach flu.  Not fun but not worth complaining about because I hear that a lot of people have had stomach flu lately so I will just sound like a big, whiny baby if I complain.  So, here's to all of us who had the flu today.  I am sorry for all of us...it's no fun at all.  We will look forward to a healthier tomorrow.  Happy FHE everyone!  It's Monday night!

04 October 2015

Fabulous

Great Saturday.  Great Sunday.  So very glad I went to Utah.

So many sweet highlights but it definitely rocked to see so much of my family in just 2.5 days.  I had family with me for each session of conference.  They had tickets to the conference center for each session but rotated between the conference center and sitting with me.  It was so nice.

We all got together after the priesthood session.  That was a definite highlight.  Everyone came to my friend's ginormous house where I was staying and it was so much fun. I got to visit with so many family members and it is always a blast to watch the cousins play so cute together.

After the morning session of conference today, which I watched with 13 family members and a friend at the house, we all met for one last time at a park in Bountiful close to where Ronald is sequestered.

We had a lovely picnic at the park and then we hopped in our cars and headed back to our individual cities and states.

My energy held up quite well on both Saturday and Sunday.  I melt every day round 6pm and struggle to regain energy but I cannot complain because making it that long makes for such better days.  I really wish I could push through that 6pm lethargy but I'm grateful for the strength I do have.

Eating continues to be such a problem.  I rarely get in more than 500 calories a day and it is very frustrating.  I have a daily goal to eat, eat, eat.

I have been sleeping very well at night and for that, I am extremely grateful.  Thank you for your prayers,

I am grateful to be surrounded by so many people of faith.  I love all people everywhere and am grateful for each person's contribution to my life; however, I find that I am the most strengthened and uplifted by wonderful people of faith.  Thank you for lifting me with your faith.  I need you.

Three million cheers for General Conference.  Can't beat it.


 Crazy Aunt Michelle who refuses to wear a hat


Dad showing off his Team Michelle T-shirt


Super-Cute 16 year old nieces.  They called themselves the "Modest Monkeys" when they were just little.  They are awesome


Some of the Conference Center crew.  Bright looking bunch for sure


All of the Du Bois clan that was in Utah for the weekend.  We missed you, Mark and Matt!!


03 October 2015

Better Day All Around

The ride from Boise to SLC was pretty rough on my body which made for more pain and discomfort than I had expected.  I had hoped Friday would be better all around and it was.

I was talking to a friend about how I would define a "good" day vs. a "great" day. According to my definition, I would say that Friday was definitely a good day.  It could have tipped into great if I had eaten more because lack of calories is so problematic.  I also needed to move more but, of course, the weakness from the calorie issue directly impacts the movement issue.

Friday had some really positive moments.

I got to spend some time with my bro-in-law, Ronald, who is now 32 days post bone marrow transplant.  He looked so great and is such an inspiration to me. He continues to defy odds left and right and I instantly felt more motivated after seeing him.  It was awesome to finally see my sister, Stephanie, whom I haven't seen in two months because of her need to stay with Ronald.

While in Utah, I am staying in the super-comfortable home of a dear friend.  Their family has waited on me hand and foot since I arrived.  I can hardly believe all of their kindnesses.

My sister, Mindy, and her family are here from San Francisco and they are staying here with me at the house.  They always bring so much help and positivity.  It is fabulous to be with their happy little family.

I didn't throw up at all on Friday.

I stayed up late with my niece to watch the entire BYU football game.  She is a wonderful treasure.

Today, Saturday, is off to a great start. Let the Conference begin!
 

01 October 2015

I Made It!

Another rough post-chemo day.  Did manage to make it to Utah, although my breakfast and dinner from today are sitting in plastic bags in the garbage, having made a reappearance not long after ingestion.

The good thing about being in Utah is, even though I still feel miserable, at least miserable is surrounded by many dear loved ones!

Tomorrow, six of the eight Du Bois children will be together--so blessed.  Bring on General Conference!

30 September 2015

Chemo Makes Me Feel Crummy

This is going to be a very short update.

Chemo makes me feel crummy.  The whole day I have felt listless and lethargic.  Food was a problem.  I don't even know what else to say.  Today was not my best day!

Here's to a better tomorrow....still planning to road trip!  I can be lethargic on the couch or in the car, right?  Wish me luck.





29 September 2015

I Feel Like Cinderella

I had an amazing 24 hours!!!  I felt normal and it was fabulous!  Then, today, at the stroke of 4:00pm, the magic wore off, the coach turned back into a pumpkin, and we are back to crazy land.
But what a wonderful 24 hours it was!

I got up this morning feeling great.  I got some work done, wrote some letters, got ready for the day.  Then, at 9:45, my dear friend came over, and we went together to do ordinance work at the Boise Temple.  It was so great to be there and to feel so good the whole time.  As we were leaving, we ran into another dear friend, BB, who was just arriving.  It was so nice.

We went to lunch at Subway, and I ate an entire Subway salad and loved it!  Salad is my absolute favorite food, and I haven't eaten a single bite of salad since July...so fun.

Lynette dropped me off at Amity's so she could help me with my homework.  We spent a couple of hours taking two tests, and we got 100% on both.  I couldn't stay in school right now if it weren't for her help.

I started melting at about 3:30pm and was fully melted by 4:00.  Fatigue is a side effect of  the chemotherapy.  I spent the rest of the afternoon fighting the urge to sleep because I didn't want to ruin my chances of a full night's sleep.  Fortunately, two wonderful friends came to visit at 7:30pm and we were able to have a nice visit.  I was certainly less than entertaining, but it was so nice to have them here and to feel their love.  I am blessed with wonderful people in my life.

I am trying with all of my little girl heart to get down to Utah for the weekend.  Everything is set up and ready to roll, but I have just got to feel well enough to make the trip down there.  I will meet up with so much family once I get there that I know I will be in good hands....it's just the travel piece still to gear up for.  Do I hear a three cheers for General Conference this weekend?  Hip Hip Hooray!




28 September 2015

Christmas in September!

Because I've felt so awful as of late, I have looked forward to this second chemo as if it were Christmas day.

Amity dropped me off at the hospital at 8:30am for blood draws and then a 9:00am appointment with my medical oncologist.  I felt as crummy as could be.  I was so lethargic, I didn't even want to answer his questions.  Once again, we talked about my calorie intake and the realities of chemotherapy side effects.  He mentioned that I had lost five more pounds since last week...he added some meds and removed others.  It is tricky finding a balance that works.

Once we finished, it was time for the grand event.

I got to choose between sitting in a public area in a recliner or lounging in a private room with a bed. I totally chose the private room with a bed, and it was fabulous.  Melissa was with me the whole time.  I can't imagine doing any of this without her.  As a seasoned medical professional, she speaks and understands the language, knows what to ask, and how to help.  She, alone, may be the reason I was so clearly guided to receive my treatments here in Boise.

I was pumped full of pre-meds through my fancy port, followed by five hours of chemotherapy.
The oncology dietitian came in again to talk to me about how to get more calories.  She does a good job; I always get a good idea or two from her.

Melissa and I visited for about an hour, watched some of Elder Scott's funeral, then I started getting tired, so I thought I should sleep.  I think I fell asleep for at least two hours.  Whatever they put in those pre-meds is powerful stuff!  I slept last time, too.  After being with me all day, Melissa had to leave shortly before the finish.  Jeanette came and picked me up to take me home.

On the way home, I had so much energy, and I felt SO great!  I couldn't believe it.  I had no pain, no nausea, no blechy feeling, no bad--all good!  I even felt like eating!

I knew it could all be gone in an instant, so I just jumped right on the wave and rode it as far as it would go.

I told Jeanette I wanted to go eat angel hair pasta with marinara sauce at Olive Garden.  I think she broke the speed limit driving there knowing how quickly the desire could pass.  We got right in and had the absolute best waitress who was as excited for me as I was for myself.  I told her I couldn't remember the last time I had eaten more than two bites of anything since July; this was truly a big moment. Our order came out quickly, and I dove into that pasta!  It was perfect.  I loved it and ate the whole thing!

A few minutes into the meal, the manager came out and visited with us.  He said the waitress (Susan) had told him my story.  He came out to congratulate me and said that my meal would be covered by the Olive Garden AND that anytime in the future that I wanted to come back and eat that same dish, it would be comp'd each time.  Woo-Hoo!  Super good customer service for sure!

After the best meal of my life, I still felt great, so I wanted to go for a walk at the Boise Greenbelt.  It was perfect weather--beautiful fall trees and water, and I had plenty of stamina to do the walk. Yesterday, I did a Sunday walk with my sister's family around Settler's Park and had to sit down every 100 feet because I was so weak.  Not today!

After the Greenbelt, I came home, got my shot, took my evening meds, and then went to an FHE pool party at a friend's house in Kuna.  I still felt great and very normal.

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but I can't waste any of today thinking about tomorrow because

Today was awesome!


My private room


End of Elder Scott's funeral


Not a great photo, in fact Melissa looks annoyed, but it was the only one I could sneak of her while we were in the room.  And she was not annoyed.  She's my secret weapon.



Olive Garden angel hair pasta with marinara


Loving the pasta


Done! 


My favorite house along the Greenbelt.  I call this house Candy Land


FHE pool party with dear friends


We were neighbors in Meridian who used to share a back fence until we both moved