Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cancers, Doctors, Nurses, Flowers, Family, Reunions, Vacation, New Congregation, Beloved Pets, Baby, GiGi, Animals

(And again, I have started an entry to my blog, gotten side-tracked and realized I never finished what I started. I've decided to recap as much as I can remember to bring us as up to date as I can.) How do you catch up for over four months when you barely remember yesterday clearly? You don't! You just grab what memories you recall and share what you can remember and feel like sharing in that moment. I'm not going to worry if I have forgotten anything.  Now that is something I used to have a real problem with.  I used to be what Mama called a "worry-wart".  My anxiety got so bad at one time, I eventually ordered some tapes and used the exercises to bring it under control once and for all.  It has been interesting to me that as soon as I was diagnosed with Melanoma almost three years ago now, I felt a calmness come over me that I can only attribute to an answer to the prayers of so many others at that time. The first thing I did was email all my Elders and friends and asked for their prayers.  I actually felt their prayers throughout everything and it gave me a real peace of mind. When I saw my Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Brizel, earlier this month, between the two of us we realized I had not been seen by a Melanoma Oncologist in over a year.  I then remembered when my daughter had contacted their office awhile back asking for assistance with a situation regarding overcharges for some of my medications.  The PA I had really liked a lot was very rude to her telling her that they had not seen me in over a year and I was not their patient. I left several messages for her myself but never heard back so I figured they were through with me so I told Kelly to forget about the money we could have gotten. Dr. Brizel was not happy at all to hear this and immediately scheduled me to see a different doctor, Dr. April Salama,
to be my Melanoma Oncologist the following week.  Another part of my appointment with Dr. Brizel was when I got an answer to a "what if" question that didn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy but after Marlan gave me a "talking-to", I felt a little better. These moments have cropped up through-out this entire ordeal and for the most part, I have been able to put them where they need to be and moved on.  But then I found myself facing a situation that was a little scary to me.  Because of the aggressive radiation, I have been instructed several times that I am not to have any teeth extracted unless it is absolutely necessary. He stressed again that if it came up, my Dentist was to contact him first. SO, my wonderful Dentist had been trying to perform a root canal on a back molar and it wasn't going well at all.  It resulted in severe pain even after taking two different antibiotics.  Strangely, the strong pain medications I take every day didn't touch the tooth pain so he suggested I take Tylenol and surprisingly, it helped.  Then his assistant called to get Dr. Brizel's telephone number because after looking closer at the x-rays, he felt it was obvious the tooth had to come out.  It is one that the root is bent at the end so I think it is impossible to reach all of the tissue that needs to come out before they can re-fill it. And that ladies and gentlemen is what threw me. I almost had a full blown panic attack. After praying incessantly for about an hour I tried to figure out what was causing me so much anxiety. After all I have been through, a tooth was going to be what threw me? And then I realized I had failed to follow my own advice - I was "worrying about tomorrow".  What an exercise in futility..... Again, I'm not saying we should have a blase' attitude such as brought out in the Bible at 1 Corinthians 15:32 - "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die" was their view" but let's be honest - why worry about something we have no control over. After thinking about it, I realized it is because of what I knew could have happened after he pulled the tooth that was causing the anxiety. So when I went in to have it extracted, I asked him what the doctor had said and he explained that Dr. Brizel felt that since I received only a 1/3 of the radiation on my right side compared to what I received on the left, he felt it would be safe to extract it without complications. The extraction itself was pretty rough. At one point I thought Dr. Jordan was going to have to climb on top of the chair to get it out!!! He finally cut the crown off and pulled the tooth out in pieces. He showed me one of the roots and it had a large brown place (decay) on it that a root canal could never have reached so it was the right decision. He put several stitches in it for a few days and it's still a little sore but overall, I think it went well. So now we will move forward to the latest in the drama of Belma's fifth (and favorite) Pearl. ;-) I went to meet Dr. Salama who ordered a PET Scan the next day. She told me the Scan didn't show that my Melanoma had metastasized to any new locations but there was activity with my Follicular Lymphoma (I was diagnosed with it in 2009).  She said she was forwarding the results of my Scan to Dr. Beaven who called me the following day and moved my appointment up to last week. She mentioned that she wanted to get me started on Chemo before the pain started.  I decided see Dr. Hathorn (my first Lymphoma Oncologist from 2009) for a second opinion and he agreed with her and offered for me to receive Chemo in his office in Chapel Hill. I explained that I wanted to keep everything at the Duke Cancer Center and he understood.  In the midst of all of this, I had my regularly scheduled appointment with my Surgeon, Dr. Scher this past Tuesday. He hugged me when he came in and asked me how I was feeling and I whispered not real great and he whispered back, "I know". Of course he had looked at my record before I got there.  I had coughed a lot Monday night and noticed a tiny bit of blood in the mucous. I also had a pain in my right side when I took a deep breath and I thought, "Oh great, maybe I have pneumonia now." I asked him if he would mind listening to my lungs so I could relax about it, especially since it felt a little better.  He noticed a rattle in my left lung and ordered x-rays for me to have taken before I left just to be safe. He had the results forwarded to Dr. Salama for her to follow up. (She called me to tell me the only thing that showed up in the lungs was the active Lymphoma. Oh great - something else to make me all warm and fuzzy but good news - no pneumonia.)  I mentioned to Dr. Scher what had happened about my Melanoma Oncologist.  I said, "you know how you doctors always schedule my appointments and he said yes". Then I reminded him of how he sent me to the Pain Management Clinic at Duke to see if I could discontinue the Oxycodone. My Melanoma Oncologist's Nurse Practioner is the one who got me refills for that particular medication and I told Dr. Scher that maybe that is why they stopped seeing me.  Maybe they were thinking I was stopping seeing them and I could tell he didn't care what they thought and I have a feeling he will not be referring anyone else to that particular team.  Sadly, we couldn't get the chemo done before the pain came.  I had everything planned so well for me to attend all three days of our Regional Convention being held in Raleigh last weekend. I gave Karen my handicapped placard and she was going to park as close as possible and find me a seat in the handicapped section near that entrance. (She goes to the convention very early and I would never have made it that early) I had a key to her car and would have been able to go out to the car during the break and pushed the seat back to recover for the afternoon session. Dwight would have dropped me off and if I got too sick, he could have come back and picked me up. If not, I would ride home with Karen. I just knew it would have worked because it worked so well when I went to Doug and Jessie's Circuit Assembly in Salisbury. (The last CA to be held in Salisbury - they will all be one day assemblies there now). I didn't miss one meeting or talk. I truly enjoyed being with them. Marlan drove my car and I stayed in the hotel with Doug and Jessie and she stayed in another hotel with her Katie. I was so happy with be with Douglas and the rest of the family. It was sad to see how much pain he endures every day with his MRH Disease but he made it both days and we all went out to dinner with Wally, Carmen and Wally's cousin who was so much fun. I kept admiring her earrings and right before we left, she slipped them off and handed them to me! I tried to return them but she wouldn't hear of it. Wow - so now I have another nice pair of earrings and these really mean a lot to me. Jessie's Uncle saved us seats at the back both days. Doug's knees could not have gone up and down the incline of the auditorium.  Marlan, Alice and Sidney are at their Regional Convention in Raleigh this weekend. (Alice has called me both days so far to let me hear the music or tell me about the long lines for the rest rooms.) We originally had it planned that I would break it up between theirs and mine in the event I couldn't do all three days in a row.  SO - I woke up in agony late last Thursday night/early Friday morning. I woke Dwight and we called the on-call doctor, a Dr. Ross. She said "I am so sorry but I believe it is the lymphoma" and suggested I go to the Emergency Room.  Dwight asked me if I wanted to call an ambulance and I said NO - I do not plan to go back to that ER again unless there is no other way.  Have had two very bad experiences there and the idea of trying a third time on a holiday weekend was out of the question.  I took some Tylenol and finally went back to sleep. It felt like a full blown case of the flu. I held on until my two chemo treatments Thursday and yesterday. It went very well on Thursday but not so well yesterday. Problems with the location of the IV in my arm. The nurse became quite frustrated with me because she had to re-do it. She made a comment about having to replace a perfectly good IV.  Then she was pushing the medication in a little too fast which was quite uncomfortable so she "begrudgingly" slowed it down. I have no idea what was going on with her because the day before everything was great! I told Kelly about it and she offered to come up and whip her "blank" but I assured her I was capable of doing that myself if it became necessary. :-)  When Monica found out she was livid and wants me to complain but that isn't who I am. At first I was a little angry - to have beaten a cancer as deadly as Melanoma (so far) and have been feeling so much better lately - getting to most of my meetings and planning to get out in service - and then to have this low grade, slow growing cancer I was diagnosed with in 2009 decide to rear it's ugly head really caught me off guard. I can't express how much support I receive in the dark times from so many wonderful people. I have been receiving so much encouragement from Barbara's sweet daughter-in-law, Lori. We have become very close since Barbara died and she is so good at staying in touch with me and keeping me up to date on my family up North.
When we got home from my Chemo treatment yesterday, these are what I found sitting on my screened in porch. I do love fresh flowers - especially beautiful Sunflowers!  They are from my sweet Lori and my family up North. Thank you Lori - for taking such good of your family including Tadashi and for staying in touch with me through the good times and the bad times.  That pretty much brings us up to date on my health issues. We had our annual Perkinson Family Reunion June 22nd. We always have it the fourth Sunday in June. Evelyn called to see if we were still planning to have it since her Mom had died last month. Her Mom was the last of our parent's generation. We decided I would send emails to everyone to see what kind of response we got. I felt so bad because I normally start sending emails a month ahead of time.  My Mom never missed this family reunion. It is the one she and her siblings and their mates started having in addition to the one she went to from her Mom's family. Evelyn booked the little cabin by the water and we decided we would go forward. I had spoken to Arlene earlier and they are having so much sickness in their family right now I knew not to expect any of them. They very seldom came anyway but I was hoping one or two could make it. Between Alan and Judy, they had almost 20 people so we all had a nice time.  Alice came over and rode with me and Dwight. Faye didn't go because none of her kids wanted to go. I hope she will come next year regardless of what her kids do - Mom went many times without any of us there. I know she would be happy if we continue doing it. How else would we ever see any of our cousins?
None of the pictures were very good but these are a few of the least bad looking ones.  A lot of people had left before we got the large group picture. Hopefully, I'll do better at reminding people for next year. I asked for people to put their contact information down but I didn't get many names.  I'm glad we went and I hope Evelyn will continue to have this nice place for us to all come to.  We are all looking forward to our Annual Beach trip the first week of August. We are very excited that Lori, Paul, Brandon and Tadashi will be coming down to the beach again the first part of the week. They are driving down on Saturday and will visit Tadashi's brother and then visit Barbara Ann's grave site.  We waited too long before asking about the duplex beside us and it isn't available for that week. Brian had already decided to get a room down the road from where we are staying. When I told Lori about the cottage not being available, they rented an efficiency plus an extra room for them and Tadashi and it turns out it is the same hotel that Brian is going to be staying at.
 Of course, they know they are to hang out with us at the cottage most of the time.  The fact they will have a pool might be very enticing for Samantha and Brandon. I wouldn't mind going in the pool myself.  I was happy to see they had good reviews.  They are about 3 blocks from the Ocean so that will be nice for them too. They had scheduled my chemo for that week but I called and she put the chemo off for a week.  Hopefully, I'll still feel okay but either way, I'm not going to miss this trip. Sadly we have lost another member of our family.  Douglas, Jessie and Page lost their sweet Vincent. Douglas and Jessie all but grabbed this little fluffy kitten out of the claws of an owl or hawk - I can't remember which - right after they got married.  When they brought him over, Dwight and I fell in love with him immediately. Dwight said his tail was so fluffy, you could use him to dust the furniture. His little blue eyes and pink nose were so tiny in all the fur that was him.  No matter when I would go to visit, he would make his way to me because he knew I would grab his comb/brush and give him a good grooming. There is a picture of me on here from last summer when I went with them to their Convention. I had already gotten dressed and was in my zero gravity chair waiting from everyone else. He was sitting in my lap and stayed there until it was time for us to leave for the convention.
I will miss  his quiet way and how he always found me and sat on me or near me. He became quite sick at the end and his body just started breaking down. One of the hardest things about having a pet is how much you grow to love them and how hard it is to have to say good-bye to a friend and family member.  I'll miss you sweet Vincent. You were our first grand-baby.
We also lost dear Coco last month. I only met him once but felt like I knew him from all the things I heard about him. He was a rescue dog who refused to sleep in the house because his job was to be the "watch dog" over his master's domain. He took care of Bebe until she died because that is what he was supposed to do. He was a wonderful watchdog and I'll admit I liked the idea he was around when Kelly was at his house.  I knew no one would ever hurt her as long as he was around.  He was good at taking care of others but not very good at taking care of himself. Again, even though we know we will more than likely lose our beloved pets and that it will break our hearts and we will cry many tears over that loss, we will still eventually find another animal friend to love and be loved by.  And we will have our wonderful memories of those that come along every so often and totally steal our hearts. 
And now to share another picture I snatched from Facebook. This little boy is Randi's baby Bain. He is growing up so fast and I still have not met him. I know Pam and Leif are enjoying their first grandbaby and the first boy in their lovely family. 
Dwight drove down to Nags Head to see GiGi several weeks ago.  He stopped along the way to fly fish and took a picture of one of the fish he caught.  When he arrived at GiGi's place, they were all lined up on their nice front porch in their rocking chairs.  He said there were some beautiful flowers right in front of this porch. It makes our hearts happy to see her happy face (she has on the striped shirt) in her home near the ocean.  I know her children are so relieved that she has adjusted, is happy and not alone.  He left his small tackle box on a post near where he caught this fish.  It had some of his really old flies and lures in it and he hated that when he dropped back by to get it, someone had taken it.  A man who steals another man's tackle box ain't a good man is he?
I ordered a few cotton summer dresses from Vermont Country store to wear to the Convention I didn't make it to. I took them out of the bag they arrived in to try them on.  When I turned around, Miya had claimed the bag as her own. Cats are so funny aren't they? Especially our Miya - we love her more each year that we have her. I almost forgot, we have a new congregation - the Mineral Springs Congregation. Sadly, I will lose Dwight, Debbie and Matt but I am very excited about the growth that caused a need for a new congregation and I want to feel only positive about that!  
 I will close this long drawn out boring post with a picture of the baby birds Kelly watched hatch. She loved watching them take their first flights. They would huddle together in a little group to take their naps and sleep.  The mother put her nest in the un-finished sun room and they kept an eye on the eggs. They have all flown the nest now but I got the feeling Kelly really enjoyed the experience.  Dwight and I just received some photo-shopped pictures of her that are hilarious. I almost put them on here but was afraid it would make her mad so I'll just laugh at them myself.  Been watching old movies on the TCM Channel.  One of Marilyn Monroe's first movies is on right now.  


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