"It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him." -Daniel 2:22
"Do not fear, for I am with you..." -Isaiah 43:5
"...we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion." -Daniel 9:18
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

25 Days Til Christmas!

We did not get up early to go to the deer lease yesterday, but took it easy. We got there around Noon. We weren't sure we were going to be able to even get out of the truck because it was raining so hard just a few miles from there. But by the time we got to the gate, it had let up and stopped completely. Thank you for answered prayer, Lord.
Our daughter, Kim and her family were there. Mark and the boys had gathered some wood and were about to start a "manly" fire. Meaning: you douse it with gasoline.
We burnt some hot dogs and fed the fire some marshmellows. It was a great time. We just sat around and enjoyed the fire.
Then Al took Chance to sit on a field and Mark took Peyton and Jarrett to a tree stand to hunt. Mark shot a deer, but I never saw it. Al and Mark prepared the deer for the processor with a couple of the boys help.
Kim, Grant and I just stayed by the fire. Ate pumpkin bread shaped like turkeys and hearts. (Kim is an over-achiever) Talked with other friends who came to hunt. It was a perfect afternoon in the woods! No wind, just the right temperature. Good company.
I usually have to sit there by myself because most of the other ladies go hunting with there husbands. It was very nice.
Al did very well. He was tired, but nothing more than usual. We figure, if he is going to be in pain - he can at least be doing something he loves.
Today he is going to attempt to spend the day with Justin at the gun show.
Time to get that tree down and get started with the Christmas holiday season.....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving all! Before I get in the kitchen and finish up our feast, I just wanted you all to know that we are inching forward.
Al is still in a lot of pain, but it is gradually getting a little better. We have determined (doctors, that we are) that the pain in his shoulder is probably the same thing as his hips. Damage due to the taking of steriods that first summer of 2007. That would mean that it may not get better until he has more radiation. Not the best news, but, at least, an explanation for why the pain is not receeding.
He does still have some side effects remaining from the Velcade. But the neuropathy is subsiding a little bit. He is able to walk better, but still can not stand for more than a few minutes. His feet remain swelled and painful.
But, he is gradually getting around doing a few things each day. We took his Dad, sister and brother-in-law to supper last night. He got up and put the turkey on the smoker early this morning (he is still not sleeping through the night) and he helped me bathe our two dogs this morning.
That is probably all he will do for today, but it is getting him moving around a little bit.
We are so thankful for all the prayers you have offered up to our Heavenly Father on our behalf. We are thankful to live in the United States of America. We are thankful to be able to worship and serve a risen Savior. We are thankful and grateful for our home, our family and each other.
Don't eat too much!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A hunting we will go....

Al's symptoms seem to be getting better one minute, but then not the next. It is really hard to tell how he is doing these last few days. He is still not sleeping through the night, even with pain pills or sleeping pills. The neuropathy seems to have gotten better in his legs, but he still can not walk very well or stand up for more than a few minutes. His arm and shoulder still hurt.
We drove down to the deer lease on Saturday. Took some corn for his feeder. Our son-in-law, Mark and oldest grandson, Chance were there and helped him get that done. After chatting with some of the folks hanging around the campfire, he was ready to come home. He didn't even take his rifle with him! You know he's feeling bad.
Got up and went to church, but then he turned around and went back home. Said he slept pretty good for a few hours.
I guess his system is just all mixed up and doesn't know when to sleep and what to do.
Looks like the recovery from this last chemo is going to be very, very slow. Meanwhile, he has started the Revlimid pills (the 2nd chemo he took last year) without the steroid booster. It's hard to tell if he is having any side effects from it, since he still has so much lingering from the Velcade.
Please continue to pray that he does recover well enough to have a better quality of life. He is getting very discouraged to have no energy to do anything.
Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving with your family. We are giving much thanks to our Heavenly Father for all his grace and mercy to us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Looking Up

Al has had none of the chemo, Velcade in about 2 weeks, but he has continued to experience the side effects. Mostly neuropathy. A nerve thing in his legs and one arm, that is painful. It seems to have gotten worse over the past week. He has not slept well in several weeks.
Today we were at the doctor to find out what, if any, impact this latest chemo was having on his cancer. It did have a small impact. He was at .5% protein (cancer indicator) and he went down to .4% with 2 rounds of Velcade. The doc says in some people it completely knocks out the rest of the cancer cells, but Al only got a 20% reduction.
Therefore, we are going to discontinue the Velcade treatments. Since we have discovered Al is highly sensitive to any chemo that might effect the nervous system, we don't want to continue with this treatment. He had this same reaction way back with the first kind of chemo, Thylidomide. The doc says if we were to continue this he would end up not being able to even walk. We don't want the "cure" to be as bad or worse than the disease.
So....since we have exhausted all of the current treatments available for multiple myeloma that are feasible, he is going to return to the 2nd drug treatment, Revlimid. There are other treatments available, but since Al only has this small amount of cancer left, it would be "overkill". Meaning, the chemo would be too strong for what is needed. There is also clinical trials, but he is not to the point that this is necessary.
The Revlimid was working for Al and, as I recall, he had no serious side effects from it. Before they gave him a steroid chaser with the Revlimid, but we are going to forego the steroids this time, as they are the cause of the problems in his hips. They only took him off that to do the 2 stem cell transplants.
So things are looking up. There is more hope.
He has felt really bad for the past few weeks. He tried to go to church on Sunday, but just couldn't sit there. He went to try to lay down in the truck. He is very sorry if he was rude to a couple of people who tried to talk with him and ask him how he was - he was just feeling really terrible and had to lay down.
He is awfully tried and needs to get some rest. The pain medication he has had is not working, even when he takes the right dose. So the doctor gave him something stronger today. He says that after a while of not having any Velcade, that the neuropathy should ease up.
He started feeling something funny around his eye this morning too. He is fearful that it could be shingles returning. He had a case of them in his eye about 5-6 years ago. He has been on Velcade since he started stem cell treatments to try and prevent an occurance of shingles. I think they had cut his dose in half, so we need to jump on that before an outbreak. Nasty stuff.
I pray that the Revlimid will squash that remaining .4% of those nasty cancer cells without any further side effects. We are hoping for him to start feeling well enough to enjoy the holidays and be kicking up his heels and pestering me to go, go, go in 2009. We have lots of plans and much more work to accomplish, as the Lord wills.
Al is hoping to be able to get back to his duties as a deacon. I have signed up to help in the nursery. As things are looking up.....we are looking up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Review: Same Kind of Different As Me

I want to thank CJ and Beth for recommending this book to me. They don't know each other, but both mentioned this book to me within the space of a few weeks. I thought I should check it out. CJ brought it to me last week. I read a few chapters when I had some time, but this morning God was gracious enough to clear my slate long enough for me to finish reading the whole thing.
What a blessing! It is a book that everyone should read. I don't care who you are - you can learn something. I do not know how you can read this story and not be moved to racking sobs, as I was, because of the examples God has blessed us with.
Aside from the touching story of what a difference one person can make, is the amazing gift of how God works through people.
The wisdom He gives to some to share, even those who have never read His Word, but know it.
The struggles and disagreements that even true believers have with their God.
The bottomless well of compassion He allows some to spread across all boundaries.
The amazing work He can do with a ready and willing heart.
The amazing work He can do with a closed and stubborn heart.
If you are paying attention, you will see how we, as Christians (and as churches) need to quit judging each other based on all the things we judge each other on: race, looks, clothes, cars, money, knowledge (a biggie!), lack of visible sin, lack of visible service, jobs, homes....the list is endless!
We need to get back to just loving each other...that is what makes a difference.
I hope that you will find this book and read it and share it. After all of that - that you will find a way to make a change in your own life and the life of someone else, through the love of Christ. You will be blessed.
If you have read this book, I would love to hear your review...just post a comment here on my blog...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hope

After Al told the doctor how he has been feeling, the doctor said we would postpone more chemo for a week. I was happy that Al really told him how he was feeling. Sometimes he tries to be his own doctor and decide what he wants to tell the oncologist.
The doctor needs to see what the results are from the blood tests & that will take a few days. Meanwhile, he has given Al a new medicine for the neuropathy in his legs. This is the main cause of his not being able to rest.
We will go back next week and see what the tests say. If this chemo is not reducing the protein levels at all, then he will discontinue this treatment and look for something else. The protein level is only 0.5%, but we would like to achieve ZERO.
The doctor is concerned about quality of life and work for Al. If it is achieving no visible results, but creating all these adverse side effects - then there is no point in continuing it.
If, however, this chemo has had some effect on his protein levels (reduction, hopefully), then he will look at continuing it, but maybe at a lower dose.
This extra week will give us time, also, to see if the Lyrica works on the neuropathy. If it is successful, and the protein levels have gone down, he may stay at this dosage with a solution to the most adverse of the side effects.
One thing we did not address, was his tiredness and lack of energy. His red and white blood cell counts are still not up where they need to be, so this is a big part of it. He takes Folic Acid to help. The doctor was gone before I could remember to say something about it... I will address that next week, if he has not improved.
Pray for good results from all this.... God is soooo good. We give Him all the praise for the progress we have made in this fight.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHANCE!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just No Energy

Last week I was hoping for some marked improvement for the side effects Al has been dealing with, since he did not receive any chemo. He did seem to feel a little better for a day or so, but then the fatigue seems to slam him. I think that when he starts feeling even marginally better, he rushes around trying to do too much and then WHAM!
We went to the orthopaedic surgeon on Friday. They took xrays. He sees no change, which is good. There is still plenty of bone structure. You can see on the xrays where the edges of his bones (we are mainly talking about his femurs) are a little rough. It looks a little like an old piece of wood where the edges are weathered. We will go back for xrays every 3 months to track this. If it gets to where there is too much erosion, then we will have to talk about the rods in his legs. Pray that is very, very far down the road.
We went to the movies to see Madagascar 2 after the doctor. Those penguins need to get a movie of their own - they steal the show! Then had dinner out with Al's dad, sister & brother-in-law, my mom & Justin. Tried the orginial Cafe Roma's in Lancaster - fantastic white pizza.
Al went hunting Saturday morning with Steve, while I spent the morning at the riding center. Rusty brought Jaxon out to ride a little and he just loved it!
Al shot an 8-point. So our freezer will be full next week. Guess I'd better get it cleaned out! Then Saturday evening we sat out in the yard around a campfire. Justin and Charli made s'mores. Lewayne and Virgil came by for a bit. It was nice. I love me a campfire.
Yes, we did get up and go to church, but I think Al slept through most of it. He just can't stand up for more than 5 minutes any longer. He has not been sleeping well, so that adds to all the other fatigue. I hate not going, but I hate that he is not able to enjoy going. He wants to get out of the house and do things, but it just totally wipes him out.
I want to say Thank You to Rusty, Billy, Tobey, Scott and all those on the men's softball team who were involved in coming out to the house and painting the trim. (Amber, too) Some that came didn't even know us. But God knows who you are and I pray His ample blessings upon you all and your family. It is a great load off my mind to have that job done.
We will be going back to the primary oncologist tomorrow to see what tests he want to do to see what, if any, effect this chemo is having on the cancer. Al says he is going to see if they will suspend the chemo treatments for a while to let his body start feeling better. I don't know if this is an option. I don't know if this is a good idea. I don't really know much of anything.
Please pray that God would give Dr. Maisel wisdom in his assessments and how to deal with a man who just wants to feel better, but may not ever.... I could use some prayer, also, to remain in Christ. To deal with Al through the power of the Holy Spirit and not let frustration and other human emotions rule the situation.
I will post again after we see what happens at the doctor's office tomorrow. Love to all.
Much love and thanks to our daughter, Kim. We love your pico! It was a great treat to come home and find you had delivered some.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I'm Such a Knucklehead!

If you have been wondering where I was....I posted this blog on my Beginnings blog by mistake last Sunday and it has taken me this long to figure out how to get it transferred over to this current blog.....so read on.....

From Bad to Good to Terrible

I guess the last time I blogged was about a week ago. In that time we have gone from bad to good to terrible - several times. At that time, Al was recovering from the nasty intestinal virus that hit him very hard and caused him to become extremely dehydrated. During all of that he still managed to get to the hospital twice a week for the past few weeks to get his chemo shots and go to work almost every day and spend some time getting ready for deer hunting.Meanwhile, I was busy rearranging the entire house to try to get him his favorite spot back for his chair in the living room. A desk with computer had previously occupied that space for the past few years. There is still much stuff to find a place for, but the major stuff has been moved with the help of our son, Justin.In the moving, which included my computer, I seemed to have lost my internet connection. I got a USB port to catch it with wireless connections, but have not been able to get it to work, yet. Today I pulled out the laptop with Al's internet card to get online. Hopefully, I will get mine up and running sometime this week. It is my connection to the rest of the world! So if you don't get a response from me via email, just call me. I do still talk on the phone sometimes. (See below)So, there were bright spots when he seemed to feel okay and felt like talking or interacting, but by the end of the week, not so much. It seems that most of the things that have caused him pain in the past, are all hurting again. I remember thinking, not too long ago, that if the pain went away with radiation, what would happen after the radiation was no more? Well, that time appears to be here and it is not good.His legs don't exactly hurt, but they cause him some discomfort. His hips and back hurt, even with the Hydrocodone. So much so that he isn't sleeping well. The heating pad helps some. But his stomach is still upset almost all of the time. He really has to push the liquids every day to keep from getting dehydrated again. He does a pretty good job of that, because I told him if he didn't, I would take him to the hospital for the fluids. Fortunately, they gave him some fluids by IV while he was at the hospital getting his monthly meds.He did get up and go deer hunting with Steve yesterday. He lasted all day, even though it was pretty hot. I went down there in the late afternoon and he wasn't feeling the best, but he stuck it out for the evening hunt. But he is paying for it today.I had all the good intentions of getting up and going to church today.....He did not sleep much, he is in pain and can't seem to get comfortable. Please pray for him to find some relief. I think he is just going to have to cut way back on what he does. I remember when he used to leave the house on the Friday before deer season opened and we didn't see him again until the following Sunday evening. No more.He is going to have to learn to take things very slowly and shorten his "playing time". I think it is going to take most of his energy just to make it to work and back as many days as he can.I don't know what all this means. He does not have chemo this week. I think they will begin doing tests next week to see what kind of effects the radiation and this new chemo have had, if any. If this chemo is not making things any better, I don't know what comes next.I know it is no fun having to go to work every day, feeling like he does. Especially when it seems that his boss is no longer very understanding. Pray for his bosses' heart to be softened toward his situation. And, of course, continue to pray that God's will be done in our lives. Healing would be good, but His will is most important.On a lighter note: I hope you enjoy my playlist! I know it is very eclectic and some are very ancient, but they are songs that lighten the heart in different ways. If you don't like what is playing, just click the forward button and it will change to something else.Also: I was gifted with a couple of bottles of "The Origianl Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce" and asked to write a review here on my blog. Yes, it is shameless advertising, but I said I would.I would have to say that I liked the sauce. It has a sweet, smokey taste that goes well with the hamburger patties that we used it on. I have not had a chance to use it on other meats, but feel it would be good with pork ribs. Look them up online to buy some.Another note: We cancelled our land line at the house because it just seemed like a waste of money when we mostly use our cell phones and all we would get are telemarketers, anyway.If you need to call, here is my cell : 972.743.0507 If you need Al or Justin or my mom, Lutean, call me and I will give you their number.Love to hear from you!We missed most of the football games, we missed the Country Reporter Festival, we missed the Fall Festivals. We have missed being involved with youth, going on missions trips, doing fund raisers, cooking for lots of causes, ... just being involved. We will be missing a whole lot more of the things that others take for granted being able to do. BUT we are trying to find new ways to enjoy the life we have now. God is good and we look to Him for our strength.Thanks to all who pray....who believe....who minister....who carry on....who persevere....

Playlist