Constance Ore is a retired Teacher, Choir Director, and Organist. And a formidable cook.

January 30,2007

Filed under: — Constance at 10:50 am on Tuesday, January 30, 2007

We just noticed that the January 27th entry to the Blog was somehow deleted by the Mother Ship so therefore I will post again. Extreme cold continues at Sanctuary with the snow on the ground frozen into former footprints and ruts. The children gave us devices to clip on to our boots which I have named “IceWalkers” because they are so fine. They are light weight and shaped like small springs underfoot. I had commented that in the early morning walk, the cardinal was singing territorial songs and it was such a powerful harbinger of spring. This morning, the near zero temperatures meant that the birds kept their commentary behind their beaks, and the only sounds that accompanied the walk were those of crunching snow and ice. It didn’t start the day as nicely for Alphie either because he has been looking for trouble since returning. As I began this writing, I heard a sound in the living room which registered on my hearing as “Not a bone or toy” and I rushed in to find him chewing through the TV remote which he’d found on the arm of the sofa. I got it away just in time, or so I hope – he’d already gotten a part of the back off, but I was able to push those little plastic things back into place. There is a notice on the screen saying something about needing reprogramming, but it was able to change channels so I assume it still functions enough to deal with our very basic requirements. As I was waving the thing under Alphie’s nose and saying, “No! No! No!” the brain was playing the adults’ voice depictions used in the Peanuts TV specials – “blah, blah, blah, etc. . . . “ I suspect Alphie was getting, “Fun, thrills, action – she really loves this!” out of it all.

Today is blood draw day, and I have high expectations of a good reading because I feel so fine. It has been the gift of the new year that this latest round of Chemotherapy went so well; I was feeling better within days of the cycle, and the present Neupogen shots are not causing my bones to ache nearly as severely as they have in the past. The therapy before Christmas was very trying, and left me fearing that I was on a downward route with the Vidaza treatments, so for us, this is a time of happy celebration and thanksgiving.

January 20, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 3:55 pm on Saturday, January 20, 2007

sharpShinned.png“Leaden skies” describe the view today with the birds very active at the feeders as all of us await the predicted snowfall. There are frequent warning cries from the blue jays and upon hearing them, the gathering of birds fly up and into the bushes in flurries, returning almost instantly to resume their places at the feeders. When the cries signal the presence of the sharp shinned hawks, the birds not only fly away, but once inside the interwoven branches of the trees, remain very still and hidden until the danger is past. From my second floor vantage point, looking through the large south windows out over the nearer yard, across the wetlands, and up the pasture hill to the forest, I see this constantly moving avian drama. The bird feeding seems mutually beneficial – they have food in winter’s cold and I have the joy of watching all the action.

GetAGrip.pngThis morning I completed my fifth day of Vidaza injections in this 9th round of Chemotherapy. Nausea, stomach cramps, fatigue, etc., have checked in, and since none of these bodily responses are new, one could optimistically report that the signs of the Vidaza working as it should are in place. I tend to get “weepy” during these times, and as I lay in bed at night thinking about this and many other things, I find that I am tracing the chemical’s progress from fatty tissue into the blood stream. Since the efficacy of the drug is its ability to unwrap evil proteins from various blood cells, I see my “Get a Grip” molecules caught in the crossfire and unmoored, floating helplessly away.

countryDogs.pngAlphie spent three days at the Animal Hospital this week, having had an illness wherein he groaned in pain and had bowel movements consisting of nothing but bright red blood – all within hours. We rushed him to the Vet, thinking perhaps that he had ingested rat poison or something like it. (I actually checked to make sure he hadn’t somehow swallowed the warfarin tablets that I take to thin the blood because an overdose of that could cause intestinal hemorrhaging as well) After being hydrated, given antibiotics and Vitamin K, Alphie appears to be as good as ever, and the Vet told us that it was not a poison, but very likely a “dietary indiscretion” which is a refined way to say that he ate something horrible that he found on his travels through pasture and forest. The veterinarian went on to say that he found this to be fairly common with country dogs; they eat something that wreaks havoc with their intestines, and in some cases, death is the outcome. I asked how one might defend against such a thing happening again, and he said we could only hope that Alphie had learned his lesson. (I did not comment on how really funny that statement was – this is the dog that apparently has found every rotting carcass Sanctuary has ever been host to and has carried it about with great delight, chewing away and appearing to say “Yum!”) We’ll just have to go on in hope that this is a once-in-a-lifetime event for him.

January 10, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 10:50 pm on Wednesday, January 10, 2007

valtrexLogo.jpgI didn’t start into the chemotherapy yesterday because of a cold sore on my mouth. It looks unfortunate, and when the oncologist saw it, he said the chemotherapy could not begin because it would take away immunities, and I could get the cold sore lesions all over my body. Aaagghhh! When we heard that, Heidi, Charles and I all sat there appalled at the concept. I am taking two large purple pills daily for a week after which I will resume the therapy. The medication is called Valtrex and Heidi commented that such a title could be used as a name in a science fiction novel. . . it does sound villainous to me also.

ponsonbysCharge.jpgThe word is that I will continue to do the chemotherapy as long as my body tolerates it and/or as long as it is effective. We asked about what not tolerating it might be like, and I gathered that you becomes so miserable you can’t go on. The oncologist said the worst thing would be if the Vidaza didn’t work any more; it could mean that there have been mutations of cells and the disease would begin to destroy the white blood cells again. How long into the future the balance I now enjoy is an unknown. He did say that he noted that I have been doing the math re. time between cycles, and that I have now moved myself up to 10 weeks instead of 8, and he respectfully requested that we go back to eight. Sigh. I cannot help but think about having this enemy living inside of my very structure, kept in check through the action of the medicine, but always there and waiting. . . perhaps this is why dealing with the disease is so often described as a battle.

redTail.jpgThere is still no snow in Sanctuary and near the streams small green plants are coming up through the soil in anticipation of early spring. This evening the weather forecast tells us that very cold winter weather is fast approaching from the north. The plants will quietly return to their posture of waiting and try again later in the season if indeed the snows and single digit temperatures come to stay for a while. Just recently, a red tail hawk has been visiting our inner yard almost every day. Yesterday it settled on top of the free standing bird feeder, and its size was equal to its perch. I tried to get a picture of this very incongruous sight, but I think my movements caused it to fly away. It launched with a few large wing beats and flew low, down the path and over the bridge.

January 6, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 5:59 pm on Saturday, January 6, 2007

Bone Marrow AspirationOn January 6 a year ago, I experienced my first bone marrow aspiration at ten o’clock at night, and at that point it was just one of many indicators that were getting checked out. This reading would identify the illness that had announced itself on December 16, ’05. We hadn’t even said the word “cancer” at the time, and it would be several weeks before we could call it by its name. I didn’t begin the Vidaza until January 20, which would be the day that the entire treatment plan would be laid out, and the new pattern of life would begin. Today, on this Epiphany Day, I feel quite well, and delighted and astonished in equal measure that I am alive. My body was a good receiver of the Vidaza therapy and by June I was declared to be in remission. The learning curve was fairly extreme; now I have a good concept of life in the sphere of cancer. I can’t even count the injections that my body has received, nor the tests, nor the cost in dollars, nor the prayers of the communion of saints that accompanied the days and months of the past year. An entire frame of reference for living shifted; it is imperative that I go forward living each day for itself – there is a continual need to push back the shadows with thoughts of faith and hope and gratitude for the good gifts of God. Next week I begin the next round of chemotherapy with the understanding that as long as my body can tolerate it, this will be how we go forward.

Upside-Down-Christmas-Tree.jpgOur Twelve days of Christmas were stellar because of the gathering of the beloved family; the children and grandchlldren continue to grow in wisdom for the former and stature for the latter and moments of perfect happiness were encapsulated in sounds of laughter and song. We suspended a Christmas tree upside down from the center of our living room because Charles says that it is good to keep the grandchildren a bit in wonder about how the grandparents do things. It also kept a lot of Christmas ornaments out of Alphie’s mouth. When our son arrived on Christmas Day, Alphie was tremendously excited at having another being in the house, but as time passed, you could tell that he thought it was a very fine idea to have more youth around. The grand daughters lavished attention upon him and he responded with ever increasing delight. Now it is just us again; at first he tracked soulfully around the rooms sniffing hopefully and looking for more socks and mittens and toy bits to carry about. Today he is mostly lying around and only half-heartedly looking for things to pick up that might generate a little excitement.