December, 2009 browsing by month


Happy Almost Christmas!!!!

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Hey there everyone!

So, are you filled with holiday cheer?  I’m sitting here by a warm fire with my parents, my pups (including Indie!), my Aunt Barbie and my Uncle Rick.  We were singing some Christmas tunes after savoring yummy soup (famous in our house as “Ashley’s Aunt Lee’s Soup”…Ashley, I am always reminded of the Blizzard of ‘96 and our adventures in New England/New York whenever I make it!).  All the Christmas trees are lit, but presents are not wrapped yet…no worries.  I still have some hours left. :)  All in all, I’m a shining example of holiday cheer.  Except for the fact that I’m a little cranky from varous store outings…not too bad though.  :)

I called my oncologists’ office early this afternoon to get the results from my hormone tests.  If you recall, the tests were normal several months ago (before I went to Seattle), but the physicians in Seattle informed me that the tests were not accurate because I was still taking birth control pills to supplement my hormones.  After discontinuing usage of these pills for about six weeks, they did some more tests on my blood.  My FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) level is 21.6, considered post-menopausal.  I found a website that points to 9 as a normal FSH level.  Basically, I will never be able to get pregnant. It’s no longer a probablity, it’s a reality.

Although I mentally prepared myself for this result, it is crushing nonetheless.  These amazing genes will never be passed on.  :)  hahaha Seriously though, I’m sad I won’t experience pregnancy and the joys that accompany it, but I’m hopeful about adoption.  First things first though…to find a husband…hmmm…hey, that’s something to look forward to!  Although I’m disappointed about today’s news, I ask that no one treat me differently.  Please don’t ever feel that you shouldn’t share your pregnancy joys, stories about your children or anything thus related.  I truly enjoy celebrating every special occasion, and my own situation will never affect my attitude toward your experiences.

Well, it’s getting later, and I’m starting to feel sleepy, and those presents won’t wrap themselves!  I feel better after sharing my thoughts with you.  No, this isn’t going to cloud my Christmas.  I’m healthy, I’m home with my family, and I’m looking forward to a year of possibilities.  When you look at it that way, it seems I should be counting my blessings, not worrying about what I don’t have.  So Merry Christmas, everyone!  Don’t forget to count your blessings too.  It makes the holiday season all the more magical.

Lots of love to all my supporters out there.  :)


Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Happy Sunday everyone!!!

It’s a cold, rainy day here in VIrginny, but you know how I love the rain, so it’s beautiful to me.  I wish it were snow though.  :)  We got up our Christmas trees this week (yes, trees, plural…remember “Daphne”, our beautiful tree out in Seattle?  She’s gracing our windowsill in the kitchen, complete with every single White House ornament.).  I even got some evergreen swags for the mantel in the living room…that way, even though we no longer have a real tree, we can enjoy the smell of the needles.  :)

Although, technically, I still can’t smell much right now.  And I still can’t hear much out of my left ear.  I now feel that I can empathize with anyone who has trouble hearing.  It’s incredibly frustrating!  Except in Costco…I think having dulled senses is a plus when navigating the aisles in the Costco warehouse.  I guess sometimes it’s good to be able to tune things out.  :)

It was annoying in a restaurant atmostphere though.  Katie, Laura, Mrs. Beha and myself went to lunch for my mom’s birthday yesterday, and it was a delicious lunch, but I think I missed half of what everyone said.  The best story though was when I went to the ENT Tuesday.  My mom came with me, and when they called my name, I didn’t even hear them!  How classic!  :)  Luckily, my mom heard, so she was able to get my attention.  By the way, Dr. O’Halloran said that my eardrum had healed over, but he did suck out a lot of “nasty gunk” (yes, that’s his term!) from my left ear.  He said there is still a lot of fluid behind my eardrum, and that the best thing to do at this point is wait.  He started me on a steroid dose pack, and said it could be six weeks before I hear normally.  I go back to see him Tuesday, so I’ll let you know if anything changed.  The good thing is I’m no longer draining all over my pillowcase, but my new favorite word is “huh?!”.

Getting back to my mom’s belated birthday celebration though, it was wonderful!  Katrina and Marc, thanks for the recommendation of “The Majestic Cafe” in Old Town….mmmmmmmmmm!!  I highly recommend it.  My mom thoroughly enjoyed her fried oysters and chicken livers, but don’t worry…there are other items on the menu!  We had to postpone the celebration since we were both feeling so poopy on the actual day of her birthday.  I didn’t even give her a birthday card until yesterday…talk about a slacker daughter, huh?  I think Carol understood.


Here we are a week later, and there is lots of snow on the ground, so I guess my wish came true!!  I apologize once again for being a slacker blogger.  Good news though…I’m feeling much, much better.  I went back to my ENT Tuesday, and he put me on Ciprodex, antibiotic steroid ear drops.  I still hear occasional squeaks, crackles and whooshes, but my left ear is pretty much out of the mountains!  Before long, it will be right back at sea level with my right ear.  :)

Unfortunately, my dad’s sick now.  He started feeling fatigued on Wednesday, and his temperature shot up.  He had several cases of shaking chills, but today he seems to be feeling much better, aside from lingering headaches and a lack of energy.  He’s disappointed that he can’t go out and play in the snow, but as you can see below, I took lots of pictures so he could experience it from the warmth of his chair by the fire.  Let me tell you, there’s no better spot than a seat by the fire…and it’s no gas fire, it’s the real thing!!  You can’t beat it.  Thank you to Ethan, Glenn, Tyler, Steve and Eric for splitting so much wood to keep us warm!

Poor Ethan broke his arm a few weeks ago when he fell off the top of a bunk bed.  He says he has a cool neon green cast, and I’m betting it’s already full of signatures!  Ethan and family have been traveling back and forth to Pittsburgh to visit Noah, Ethan’s older brother, who is in a hospital there.  Noah has severe autism, and they are adjusting his medications, something which must be done as an in-patient.  Please keep Tracie, Steve, Noah, Ethan and Addie in your thoughts.  Noah is doing very well, and hopefully he will be home for Christmas.

I also ask that you keep Tiso and Laura in your thoughts.  Tiso is being deployed to either Afghanistan or Iraq in June.  He will be there for a year.  He was in Kuwait and Iraq several years ago, and the Army Reserves called him up a few weeks ago.  Tiso, thank you for your service to the country.  It’s challenging to come up with some positives for his deployment, but I have a few.  Laura mentioned that our cousin Jeff was the only one to actually respond to the news with a positive statement:  “At least they gave you a lot of time to prepare for deployment.”  I pride myself on thinking of the positives, but I just couldn’t think of any when Laura told me.  I was shocked, worried and scared.  But I’ve been doing some thinking and this is what I have:  Tiso, you’ll have two weeks off, and you and Laura talked about meeting up in Italy or Greece, and that will certainly be a wonnnderful experience!  Also, with technology, you’ll be able to keep in touch with all of us (lucky you!), not to mention being up-to-date on your favorite TV shows.  We’ll send you all the good DVDs too.  What’s that?  You want lots of Lifetime movies?  Sure, no problem!  hahahaha  Jeff’s comment about having more time to prepare this go-round is quite accurate.  I think it’s helpful for both you and Laura to have several months to get ready, not only to get used to the idea of you being away for a year, but also so you can work out all the details of day-to-day responsibilities.  Another good thing:  you know more about what to expect with this deployment since it’s your second time.  I think that must be a good way to help you mentally prepare for the trip.

All that said, I’ll miss you, and I wish you didn’t have to go, but we’ll take good care of Laura and little Indie Bindi while you’re over there.  Indie loves Camp Matthews!  She’s sitting beside me on the couch right now.  I have to say though, she makes it difficult to type when she lays her head on the keyboard.  She’s been having a wonderful time in the snow…she loves diving and searching for tennis balls buried deep in the drifts.

The snowstorm was pretty spectacular, don’t you all agree?  If you’re not in the VA area, we received about two feet of snow this weekend, and I can’t stop thinking of that song “It’s a Marshmallow World”.  The pups crack me up, jumping their way through the snow and diving for balls.  When we come in, they’re totally exhausted.  I’m betting they’re dreaming of running in the snow as soon as they close their eyes.

I know what I forgot to tell you!  I met with Dr. Orloff Thursday.  My counts were good, although my neutrophils were down to 1.1.  He thinks that may be due to the bad flu/cold I had.  I told him I’d been worried about relapse lately, but he assured me that nothing in my blood numbers suggested that.  One of the reasons I’ve been worried is because of my flu/cold.  If you remember, each time I was diagnosed, I had a bad cold along with ear issues.  I’ve also felt my pulse in my head whenever I lay my head down on the pillow…and my pulse has been more rapid than usual.  My hemoglobin and hematocrit levels are normal though, so that calmed my worries a bit.  The worry of relapse certainly isn’t something that fades quickly.  I just keep notes of all my aches/pulse rates/cold symptoms, and pass them along to every doctor I see.  :)  Dr. Orloff didn’t see any need to do a bone marrow aspirate.  I think I’ll request another one in March…that will mark six months since my last biopsy out in Seattle.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the snow, have a merry Christmas and happy new year, and plan to make year 32 be the best year yet.  That’s right folks!  I’m now 32!!!  Wow, that sounds old, doesn’t it?  Thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes!  Birthdays have a much greater significance now, not surprisingly.  Thank you Laura for the greatest gift of all…let’s say it together everyone…the “GIFT OF LIFE”!!!!!

Well, I better get going.  I’m going for a walk in the snow…I’ll be sure to get more pictures (whether you want to see them or not!!). I’ll leave you with this article…I think it’ll make you smile.

Lots of love,


Tuesday, December 8th, 2009


Guess what?  I still have that damn cold.  I know, it’s been over a week!!  A new symptom developed since I last wrote, something to add to all this fun.  :)  I burst my left eardrum.  Yup, can you believe it?  Now it’s full of drainage.  I went to my primary care both Tuesday and Thursday of last week, and they switched me from the Z-pack to Levaquin, which I’m used to taking from all my treatment.  It’s a stronger antibiotic, and it’s fared me well in the past, so I’m hoping for a cleared-up cold any day now!  Yup, any day…….in the meantime, I’m watching every Christmas movie out there on Lifetime and the Hallmark channel.  If you need any advice as to which ones to watch, I’m your girl!

Wednesday through Sunday, my mom’s kept me company because unfortunately she has a bad cold as well.  So we laid here together with the pups (who are thankful when Judy comes to play with them Tuesdays and Thursdays!), consumed lots of Italian ice and drank lots of Coke (never ever forget the power of Coke…I think you should recall that from many previous posts where I attest to its healing abilities).  Despite feeling, well, crappy, I loved watching the snow fall yesterday, and I donned my Dad’s old winter coat to throw a few balls to the pups.  After about five minutes, it was back inside by the fire with all the freshly cut wood courtesy of Dad, Steve, Eric, Ethan, Glenn and Tyler…thanks so much, guys!!!  You did a spectacular job!!!

I canceled my appointment with Dr. O last week because I should know better than anyone else that I do not belong near anyone undergoing a transplant.  I rescheduled it though, and I will meet with him on the 17th.  I also rescheduled the excision of the mole on my knee.  I think it’s more important to get rid of this infection right now.  Tomorrow, I’ll visit with my ENT, and hopefully we can move forward and clear up all this crap.

I’ve been thinking though…remember when I said I wished anal fissures on anyone who crossed myself or a loved one?  :) Well, I’ve modified that.  Now I wish them an anal fissure and my present cold (including ear drainage) at the same time.  Isn’t that in keeping with the holiday spirit?  :)  Lucky for you I wasn’t blogging back in ‘05 when I had the fissure, but you probably remember me writing about it more recently.  It’s not one of those treatment side effects whose memory fades with time, no siree bob!  Anyway, the moral of this story:  don’t make me mad!  :)

On a happier note, how’s the holiday decorating coming along for everyone?  Ours is a bit delayed what with all the colds going around.  Hopefully we’ll get stuff up this week!  I’m needing some holiday cheer!!  I have to get out of this house and be among the crowds shopping and eating and feeling jolly.  Please, Dr. O’Halloran, fix my ear tomorrow so I can enjoy my holiday season to the utmost! I’ll keep you posted.

Aside from requesting a cured eardrum, I’d like to add another request.   I have a new friend on facebook and her granddaughter, Jade, will be six on Christmas Day.  Jade’s currently in the hospital being treated for acute lymphocytic leukemia.  From what her grandma tells me, she must be one of their favorite patients!  The nurses taught her how to draw her own blood from her catheter, she opened up her room as a nail salon, and she just generally seems to have a bright and spirited personality.  Please keep her and her family in your thoughts.

I’m sending all of you happy holiday season wishes!!  Don’t forget to check out all the great flicks on Lifetime and Hallmark!

Lots of love,