Sunday, October 31, 2010

Guilt Trip

Dori is feeling better today after receiving her port Friday. The surgery caused discomfort and some pain, which slowly has abated over the weekend. The port over the right side of her chest will allow her to receive Vidaza therapy easier; the PICC line in her right arm, which can be mildly cumbersome, is gone. I'm sure Dori is glad to lose the latter, which I've been cleaning nearly every day since her hospital discharge in late summer.

Friday night was awkward, even hard, for me. Dori was wiped and could not attend a party some friends threw for a few families and kids. The food was great and people were nice, but I didn't really want to be there. I was glad the kids had fun, but I wasn't up for "small talk" and thought constantly of Dori, who was at home resting in bed. When she called after dinner and said she need extra strength Tylenol, that hurt. The late-night ride to the drugstore stunk.

All of this has passed. Dori is good - no infections and she's moving around just fine. The puffiness from steroids is leaving. She is in good spirits and ready for Vidaza treatments to resume tomorrow. She'll receive Vidaza five straight days. Get ready, Hans.

Yesterday morning was glorious, and my run was equally invigorating. It was cold, just barely above freezing, before the sun popped proudly into the sky. With my friends Jim, Jack, Carey, Rhonda and about six others, we ran the Moran-Old Natchez route that is a favorite. All wore hats, and most donned gloves. Brrrrr.

Our pace was too fast at the start, maybe a nine-minute mile, so I backed off and found some friends at the back of the pack. Before we reached the five-mile turnaround, several said they needed to head back because they had a mid-morning Leukemia & Lymphoma Society recruitment meeting. Fine with me. We turned back at 4.6 miles.

With two miles to go, some front-runners dropped their pace, and I decided to catch them. I finished well. Average pace for nine-miles plus was probably 9:45/mile or thereabouts, with the last two miles around 8:30/mile. I love lattes, but they're especially good after a long run. And so are weekends.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hans Back In Control

Dori learned today she is 100% male donor, up from 99.5% at her last biopsy. This is great news, which we posted today on CaringBridge. Welcome back, Hans!

Dori's strength continues to improve. Her muscles are rebuilding, and her stamina is improving. She still tires easily, but the direction is promising. Kathryn and Dori walked two miles earlier today. Dori is a busy, busy bee around the house. She's reassuming control over traditional chores and probably will return to a limited work schedule next month. I'm encouraging a go-slow approach, which I think her employer will understand.

I'm doing well. Work was intense for two months, but we've hit a semi-lull. I think having so much to do after getting Dori home in August was a good thing. An occupied mind keeps negative thoughts at bay. That said, I really needed a break about a week ago, which I took. I expect to take more vacation time the next few months. Know thyself.

I'm really at an inventory stage, and family management, always a part of my life, is front and center. We are asked a lot, "How are the kids doing?" That might be the hardest question to answer, frankly. Young children aren't as equipped to deal with the crap bombs we've been getting on and off for three years. Mature adults generally have deeper faiths than children and more maturity in most instances (though that's arguable in some families). The normal progression of life gives forty-somethings more tools than pre-teens.

So how do I answer that doozie? I think I finally found a good answer today as we spoke with our friend Jim this afternoon. "They're doing better than most kids their age who would be facing this situation," I said. Dori approved. It's not easy for them. They've learned life isn't fair and been given good reasons for higher anxiety. Our mantra, however, continues to be that we're going to live our lives to the fullest, stay active, and identify and use every available coping skill.

I ran four times this week - three times at dawn with Pepper (total of 11 miles) and a seven-miler yesterday at noon with Jim and a few of his buddies. The hills were easy, which I attribute to recent hill climbing on my bike. My heart rate is used to being elevated. I will likely try a 10-miler next weekend and to surpass 20 miles for the week. We have a five-mile Thanksgiving race I enjoy, but I may need to find a half marathon soon.

I'll leave you with a few photos from Dori's 20th college reunion, which she celebrated this weekend with good friends.

Dori, Liz, Cathi and Heather

Dori with Jodie Foster-lookalike and dear friend Liz

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall Break

Based on yesterday's photos, you might suspect I had a great bike ride. It was beyond incredible, 25 miles of wonderful scenery and crisp air on the panoramic Natchez Trace Parkway. I slept 10 hours last night and am a "happy sore" this morning.

I've needed time away from the office, so I took two vacation days. On Thursday, Dori and I took Pepper and three ready-to-empty minds to Radnor Lake for a walk. The colors were amazing, just like on the Natchez Trace. We seemingly wait all year for this special time, and we're going to take advantage of every bit of it.

Another Thursday highlight: Dori visited her employer, a small bank, for the first time since her relapse and remission. The entire bank - probably 25 employees - spent quality time laughing with and loving on Dori. It was remarkable, just great people showing support and encouragement. I personally thanked them for all their prayers, e-mails and CaringBridge posts. They make a tremendous difference.

Tonight, Dori and I will celebrate our 16th anniversary, which was actually yesterday. Every occasion is special, but this one will be a little more so.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Her Hike

All is well here. It's just been a wee bit hectic. I've been on the road, and work has been mostly fun, just harder to manage from the road and with normal family stuff.

A decade ago as we welcomed our children, I remember some wise people telling me how the Year 2000 calamity predictions were overblown and that "your most challenging years as a parent will arrive soon." Thank you, grasshoppers. Good call on the computers, but now what?

Actually, I am enjoying being a parent, even the stressful moments. The last month has been hard for some family members. I chalk some of it up to post-traumatic stress from the summer, and some to normal growth issues. Right here, right now is where and when we earn our keep as parents.

I learned a great deal going through some difficult teen years, and hopefully am a better parent as a result. I've been being fairly patient the last few weeks (for me), sharing love and lessons with people I love very much. Prayers for peace and patience - at home and at work - almost always work for me.

Dori is doing well overall. She finished her first week of Vidaza last week, with some queasiness as a side effect. Her counts today at clinic looked good; she didn't need a transfusion, though a bit more dropoff in her counts is expected from the Vidaza. I'm thrilled, since she's not going through turmoil.

Last weekend, we loaded up the minivan and headed for the mountains of northeast Alabama. Dori and I recalled spending a wonderful weekend 12 years ago in the Mentone area, so we scoured the Internet for lodging. On short notice, we found a pet-friendly cabin near the Little River Canyon on the lower end of Lookout Mountain. It was refreshing and peaceful, with several highlights - enjoying a great family meal at the Wildfire Cafe in Mentone, running four serene miles at dawn on a back country dirt road, and watching football with my son and the stars with my family on a clear night.

The biggest highlight was watching Dori hike into a steep canyon, perhaps a quarter mile, and hiking back out. I wasn't fired up initially about her obstinence to do this, but she wanted at it. She did great, saying softly but firmly as she reached our car, "I did it."

Yes, you did, great woman.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kanzius Update

Dori and I support the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation and encourage you and your friends to join us. We are all united as human beings in wiping out cancer and giving our children better odds against the beast. Check out their latest update with encouraging news and ways to support them.