Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Serendipity Day

My treatment yesterday may become my last radiation treatment. I thought I had one more scar tissue and 2 more chest wall treatments but yesterday I had my last scar tissue treatment. When I saw my oncologist, she didn't think my skin was ready for 2 more chest wall treatments. I have raw tissue under my arm where the tubes exited my body after surgery. I'm to go back to her next Tuesday and if I've healed enough, I will go ahead with 2 more chest wall treatments.

The serendipity part of this is that today is my mom's 89th birthday and because I didn't have to go back for another treatment, I drove over to see Mother on her special day. I bought us both fried chicken deli dinners at Hitchcock's in Newberry. We had a private dinner in the family room, then sat on the front porch where there was a gentle breeze cooling things off under an overcast sky.

Daphene, my Rhode Island Red hen, is no more. We let the chickens out yesterday after the shower Sunday night. They eat corn, corn, corn all the time and I feel sorry for them. I thought they'd enjoy scratching around in the damp earth, finding a few earth worms and eating greenery they like. When we returned home, Daphene was on the porch the obvious victim of a vicious animal. I suspect a dog but since no one seems to have actually witnessed the mischief, I won't ever know. Whatever it was trapped her in the corner wall of the front porch.

Dolly, the Americana pullet, has been exhibiting signs of wanting to sit on a nest. But I've caught my irascible alpha hen, Freckles,running her off. So today when I caught her at this, I let her out of the pen. After all, she can fly straight up into a tree if something starts chasing her! I later found a small blue egg, not in the nest, as I would expect, but on the ground. Maybe Dolly will get the hang of it if she's left alone long enough. The egg is bigger than a Mocking Bird's egg, but not by much. Very cute and pretty! Americana's are a cross breed from the Araucana chickens. They lay either green or blue eggs and are commonly called Easter Egg Chickens.

Someone asked why we are feeding the bees sugar water. They feed on this and store the honey they make from pollen rather than eating their honey. That way, they'll have a good store of honey for lean pollen months and we will be more likely to get more honey when we rob the hive.

Linda Gail

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Last Leg

This week should see me through the completion of my radiation. I have two more treatments on the scar tissue and expect to take the last two on my chest wall Wed. and Thurs. I am still very uncomfortable, though some of the burned area is healing. I expect the two days on the chest wall will cause some new burns and more healing to be done. Tomorrow will be a full day. Beginning at 10:30 I will be getting an echo cardiogram. At 12 Noon I'm in for a herceptin infusion and at 1:20 I get radiation.

Someone asked me about the bees. The bees have doubled in number and the brood box is nearly full. They have it capped off at the bottom. Cary expects to have 90,000 bees by the end of July. They are eating a half gallon of sugar water a week. They are interesting to watch. There are guards at the entrance to the hive to make sure no uninvited guests come in. As the worker bees land and crawl inside you can plainly see the pollen on their legs. One day I was standing out under my vitex tree around noon and a solid chorus of buzzing was going on up in the blossoms. Quite pleasant and reassuring to know that insects so essential to ensuring that plants continue to seed are so industrious!

Linda Grace continues to thrive, gaining about an ounce a day. She seems to be a very relaxed, laid back baby. Of course, after three children, I'm sure Katie is a much calmer, laid back Mama!

Linda Gail

Monday, June 21, 2010

Update, better late than never

Okay, so it's been a while since I posted anything. This radiation thing is every day, 5 days a week, except for weekends and holidays for 30 treatments! Everyday I head out about 1 p.m. and I'm normally home within an hour and 15 minutes. It does take a plug out of the middle of my day. We have had Olivia with us since last Wednesday. Also, I had, up until last Friday, been going to Katie's in the mornings to help out with daily chores and getting in my Linda Grace "fix".

Speaking of Linda Grace, she is such a good baby. She's sleeping good stretches at a time so Mama and Daddy can get their rest. She hadn't lost any of her birth weight when she visited the doctor last week and she's filling out very nicely!

My chest is really, really burned and painful. That explains why I haven't made it to yoga. I called in today to see my radiology oncologist before my treatment time because I felt I just couldn't take another treatment on the same area. I only had two left of those, then I was slated to do 5 days on my scar tissue. After a long wait and a short talk with the doctor, she agreed to let me go ahead with the 5 days on the scar tissue and we'll revisit the issue of the 2 days left on the chest wall. There will be some overlap with the scar tissue treatments but hopefully it won't overlap over the worst burned area. The skin has thickened so medication is not being absorbed. The aloe gives a temporary relieve to the area which is a wonderful plant to have around! Laurel and Frank brought me a trio of them because I didn't have an aloe plant.

We went to Brunswick, Ga. over the weekend to help Cary's oldest brother, Charles, celebrate his 80th birthday. Silas came along and drove for us, so with Cary in the passenger seat that left Ana, Olivia and I in the back seat. We actually did pretty well, all things considered. The girls got to know cousins they had never met before and I got a photo. These McCollum girls are 3rd generation from Cary's parents. They had a great time together eating and then taking a swim in Uncle Charles' and Aunt Caroline's pool. We spent the night in a hotel which Olivia pronounced "hellatella".

My cousin, Madelin, is coming for an overnight visit Thursday. She lives in Tallahassee. She has always been very close to my mother and will come by to visit her before coming here. Madelin is my senior by 12 years and has always been like another older sister. Her mother, my mom's oldest sister,was my favorite aunt and served as my surrogate grandmother. She made cute dresses with matching bloomers for me, saved empty powder boxes and other little trinkets to delight a little girl.Aunt Lola will always hold a special place in my heart!

I had a surprise visit yesterday afternoon from my cousin, Kendra, and her husband. They drove over from Jacksonville. She recently had a bad fall, a concussion, and is having a time recovering. She is younger than me but we enjoyed each other as children and have been close since we've been grown.

I know you've all been waiting with baited breath to hear the update on the chickens! Right? Francine has been sitting on her nest for about 2 weeks. She has what we hope are fertilized Wheaton eggs under her. Her sister, Freckles (You remember her. She's the "bitch" mother hen.) started laying again as soon as she got sick of her biddies. Being the bitch that she is, she would jump up in the nesting box with Francine and run her off to lay her egg. Take into consideration there are 5 other nesting boxes to choose from. Francine, not being too bright, would just jump into another nesting box. An empty one at that. She didn't seem to notice there were no eggs. So I had to go run Freckles and Francine off the nests, steal the egg Freckles laid, separate her off in the chicken pen, and without fail Francine would get back on the nest. At least Freckles was keeping the eggs warm while she sat there. Cary came up with the idea of placing a wire screen over Francine so Freckles couldn't get in the nest. So what does Freckles do? She gets in another nest and proceeds to go into setting mode! So now she is baned from the nesting boxes entirely except for roosting time at night. Hopefully she will pick a spot in the chicken run pen to lay her egg. The 3 pullets Lindy brought me have been eating laying mash but not laying. I really think Francine keeps them so rattled with her proprietary attitude, they can't settle down enough to lay. Would anyone like a nice hen for chicken and dumplings?

Linda Gail

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Linda Grace Deaderick

Linda Grace was born yesterday, June 9th, at 11:07 a.m. She weighed 7 lbs. 9 oz and was not quite 19 inches long. She favors her sister, Maggie, a lot. She is nursing, sleeping and all the other little things babies need to do very well. Katie is hoping to come home tomorrow but it may be Saturday. Katie is feeling as well as she might expect to after a c-section.

Annie has been the perfect big sister. She wanted to stay with her mother and Linda Grace during the day but still had school and a couple of final exams. She asked her parents to allow her to ask permission to take the exams early and get out of school so she could help her mother in the hospital. So, that's what she's doing and we are all very proud of her.

I saw my oncologist yesterday, or rather his P.A. It is doubtful the Herceptin (an antibody) was causing the pain in my legs. The more likely culprit is a delayed reaction to the chemo. He gave me a prescription for pain meds but so far I haven't filled it. My legs still ache but they are much improved from the intense pain I had last week. I would rather not take pain meds because they also bring with them side effects. So, if my legs don't put me in fits like I was last week, I can live with it. Today after I received my radiation I went to the infusion center and received my 8th herceptin infusion. I have 7 more to go to complete the full round of 15 infusions. I should finish either December or January. I'm very thankful to qualify for these infusions. Test trials have shown that herceptin increases the chances of survival of my cancer by 50%.

So far my skin is holding up well to the radiation. It is red and irritated but regular applications of aloe vera and an aloe vera product by Vaseline, have kept it from blistering or breaking open. I have 13 more radiation treatments. I am over half way! Yeah!!!

Best to all,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Today marks the half way mark on my radiation treatments. So far my skin is holding up fairly well. It is pretty irritated on the chest wall where they give stronger treatments to the lymph nodes. Yesterday I was measured for my last set of plates which will be used the last 6 days of my treatments to treat the scar tissue. They have made 2 other sets of plates since I began treatments. The plates are made from lead and just the area they wish to treat is cut out of the lead. It's amazing how quickly they get me out of there (usually 13 minutes or so).

I am anxious to talk to my oncologist tomorrow about the Herceptin treatments. I really would like to finish them since the research on it shows it increases my chance of survival by 50% over women who are Her2 positive who don't receive the Herceptin. The pain in my legs is a little less troublesome and the sciatic problem is resolved. Thanks to massage therapy and a stretching exercise, I am no longer having that pain.

Last night Ana graduated from 5th grade. The inspirational speaker was a young man of 16 who had a book published at 14! He also plays the piano. I thought it rather neat to have a speaker for them to whom they could readily relate. The school bought copies of his book for each graduate and he signed each of them after the program.

Well, Francine, the other Samatran hen has decided to set. She only has one egg. You may recall she tried to set back when her sister hen set on her eggs and The Sultan ran her off her nest. She ran around here wild eyed for days afterward. The one egg she has under her hasn't been fertilized so I think I'll do what Lindy does with her little Cochin hen who is always broody. I'll let her set 21 days, go get a biddy from somewhere and place it under her at night and bingo! She's a mama. Freckles (Mother Hen) has finally weaned her 3 little ones. I've seen her peck at them when they come around her and she no longer shares food. The last two nights she has gone to the roost without them. I did notice last night the one biddy that looks like a rooster has taken a place on the top roost with her but the other two which I think are pullets took a lower roost. It will be interesting to see how the dynamics of the group change once the little rooster comes into his own. The 3 pullets Lindy gave me stick together, often sitting in a little clutch in the afternoon.

Tomorrow Linda Grace will arrive!!! So, more later.

Linda Gail

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Linda Grace, Lightning, Legs and Radiation

Katie's c-section has been moved up to June 9th, this coming Wednesday. Her blood pressure continues to be high as well as her blood sugar. Linda Grace weighs about 7 lbs. and is practicing breathing, so the doctor feels confident she's ready to greet the world! I am so excited about her coming. Another little one to dote on and get sugars from! I'll post a photo as soon as I have one.

My internet service has been down since last Friday due to a lightning strike that took out the chip inside my computer that communicates, the internet modem and my printer. The lightning hit a tall palm tree on the south side of the house. Once it left the tree, it cut a trench about 12' long and about 6" deep through my flower bed, decimating a Shooting Star Hydrangea and ruining the new growth on two old French Hydrangeas. Shooting Star will make it, but it's beauty has been stripped this year and I had been feasting on it with my eyes for several days!

I have been experiencing severe pain in my legs, particularly late in the evening. It began as muscle soreness and continued to get worse. Then about 4 or 5 days ago, my left sciatic pain kicked in robbing me of rest at night. I realized it must be related to the Herceptin drug I take every 3 weeks. One of the side effects is muscle pain and heart problems, our hearts being the largest muscle in our bodies. Before I began taking Herceptin the doctor ordered an echo-cardiogram and every three months following the beginning of the treatment. My next treatment was scheduled for Monday but my next appointment with my oncologist wasn't until Wednesday. I called his office today and spoke with his nurse. She recommended canceling the next treatment. I don't know whether I will be able to continue on this medication or not. I do know I can't continue to endure the pain.

I had my 12th radiation treatment today, leaving 18 more to go. I'll reach the half-way mark on Tuesday. So far I have tolerated them very well but am beginning to feel the skin tighten up and itch. I use an aloe product immediately following the radiation, then reapply it and real aloe again that night and the next morning. I must rinse it off before my next treatment. The radiation department is very efficient. Once I'm on the table, I'm out in about 13 minutes. I haven't had to wait over 5 minutes for an appointment since I began. Today Cary and I were almost home within an hour of leaving the house.

Our good friends, Jan and Jim Elliott, were here this past weekend. We had a very "laid back" weekend. They enjoyed being in the country, particularly visiting Lee's garden. It is quite something to see. They also went with us to the end of year program of DKNP home school. The students did a Greek play complete with beautiful props. Parents brought covered dishes for a delicious dinner afterward. Maggie really hammed up her part in the play. It was obvious she was thoroughly enjoying herself. Jan and I ran around in the golf cart and visited Mary Ann Kelley to see the garden her grandfather began in the early 1900's. We got a twofer! Mary Ann took us to her woodland garden(which Mary Ann calls her "Secret Garden") out in the pines. It was delightful and enchanting.

That about brings you up to date on our news. I'm just about sick of Freckles (Mother Hen). Her biddies are big enough to fend for themselves but she still runs herd on all the other hens. Anything that comes in that pen (to eat) is hers and her biddies. She still occupies the top roost and is generally a bitch.

'til later,