Thursday, April 09, 2009

I forgot to mention my hair the other day.

I still wear my wig. My hair is growing out but is still very, very short. It is maybe an inch long. It is flat and close to my head because I wear a hat all the time at home to keep my head warm.

My hair is coming back black with some gray. It is darker than any of my brothers and sisters have. When it is long enough for me to go out without my wig, I will have it colored closer to my regular color.

I was thinking today about the best gifts I have ever gotten. Number one would have to be anything my grandchildren have given me, from a handful of leaves to a plastic sequined party hat.

I love getting gifts. I have told my children that they MUST give me gifts on Mother's Day, my birthday, and Christmas.

However, if they can't think of anything great to give me, I will appreciate just as much a gift from the dollar store. I just like opening up a gift.

The best gifts they have ever given me were very personal.

Several years ago Beth gave me a homemade card. On it was a picture of the two of us taken at Jennie Sparrow's wedding. (We looked good.) Pasted to it were pictures cut out of magazines showing things I love. Joan Rivers. Luggage. Jewelry. A baseball and glove. Knitting yarn. Etc.

I love it.

A couple of years ago Anne gave me a story she had written. The story was based on a true one that happened at her school when I first saw their wonderful new school library.

I love that, too.

I also love when they give me big, costly gifts, because they choose carefully. Some people are just good gift givers. My brother James is the only man I know who is a good gift giver but a lot of women are.

George Rodney was particularly bad. He once gave me diamond stud earrings two Christmases in a row. Unfortunately the second pair was bigger than the first but of course I had to take that pair back.

My brothers and sisters generally do not give each other gifts for our birthdays but last year my sister-in-law gave a birthday party for me and everyone gave me a gift. I was undergoing my cancer treatment then and they just wanted to do something for me.

My gifts were great. I got hats for my bald head. Books to read. A throw to keep warm. Lots of good gifts. I loved them and I especially loved the gifts because of my wonderful family who gave them to me. And a lot of the gifts were maroon.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I have found out that most people don't understand what I can and can't do. Things have changed gradually and haven't seemed remarkable enough to report.

First, the good news. I drive and take care of myself completely. I make all my own decisions. (For several months, my children took care of everything, including my finances.) Julia still goes with me to my medical appointments and is invaluable to me.

On the other side, I am weak. I have lost a lot of weight, more than 30 pounds. You would not notice that if you saw me because my torso is still large and my neck is larger, making my face look fat. Most of the weight lost was muscle, my arms and legs are tiny.

My sister Janice teaches PE. She has an exercise room at her house with various machines. She is thinking on an exercise program for me that would start out very slowly. I can go up there during the day when they are not home and use her equipment.

Mentally I am much sharper than I was last fall, but still not as smart as I used to be. I have started a project to read all the books in my library that I have not read before. If I don't want to read it, I throw it away. Yesterday I picked out Everyone Else Must Fail, a biography of Larry Ellington, founder of Oracle. His motto is that success is not just that he succeeds but that everyone else must fail. So I open it and see that I noted on the inside cover that I read it last year. I had no memory of that. After flipping through the book, I remembered a lot but I can't believe that I thought I had never read it.

I am paying to have all my outside work done this year. Julia's fiance and his son are picking up sticks and leaves, power washing my deck, moving some dirt, etc.

I have little energy and drive.

I still have pain in my jaw which worries me.

But all in all, I don't have a bad life.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I have had one throat stretching, which was not very successful. I thought right afterward that it had helped a little but later thought things were the same. The doctor says that was probably right. The scars stretch then try to draw up again.

I have two more appointments for stretching, two weeks apart.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You win some, you lose some. That is the story of my medical visits this week.

Tuesday I went to the dentist. This was scary. The hygienist had told me they had had patients lose half their teeth undergoing radiation treatment like mine. And during the dark ages of November and December tooth brushing and flossing were not at the top of my to do list.

So it was a big surprise to learn that I had no cavities. I attribute that to the tube feeding. Evidently no food meant no cavities.

Today I went to my GI doctor about stretching my esophagus.

I learned that I have such a severe constriction that he can't do it in one procedure. I will have to go in three or four times to stretch it gradually.

The procedure will to done at the hospital under sedation but not general anesthesia.

The doctor will be gone next week so I have the first session on the 24th.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Emma had a school assignment to pick a historical figure that she would like to interview and write out ten questions she would ask the person.

She chose Theodore Roosevelt.

This got us around the supper table thinking about whom we would choose.

Julia said she would chose our great grandmother Sally Bray.

I said I would choose our great-grandfather Robert Anderson Webb who fought in the Civil War all the way to the end and was in Lee's Army at Appomattox.

George spoke up and asked, "Would you ask him 'Do you like slavery?'"

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Today I went to the ENT guy. As I expected, I need my esophagus stretched. The degree of constriction is called moderately severe.

Next week I have an appointment with the GI doctor who will do the stretching.

Also I have an appointment to have my teeth cleaned. I dread this. Radiation treatment causes some people to lose half their teeth.

I was told to brush my teeth four times a day. I spent 10 weeks curled in a ball hoping to die. Do you think I brushed my teeth four times a day. I didn't open my mouth four times a day.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Another week another two medical appointments. A week without going to a doctor is to be treasured.

Monday I went to the imaging center for a swallowing test. I cannot eat anything; I am dependent on my feeding tube for nourishment. This test was to see why I can't eat.

First I was backed up, standing, against this board, with the imaging machine in front of me. I was given a pill, about half inch in diameter, and a glass of water. I was supposed to swallow the pill with water. Despite my Herculean effort, I could not do it.

Then the board and machine were tilted until I was lying on the board with the imaging machine above me. An assistant held a glass of thick milky liquid; I was supposed to drink that through a straw. I did get a little down.

Then I lay on my stomach and drank a swallow of the liquid.

The purpose of these tests is to determine why I cannot eat. Two possibly reasons, because of lax muscles I can't swallow correctly or my esophagus has narrowed and is too small for food to go down.

I believe that Tuesday he will tell me that it is the later and I will have to have my esophagus stretched. I don't know what this will entail.

Thursday Julia and I went to Nashville to see Dr. Netterville at Vanderbilt. This time I watched as they put a camera up my nose and down my throat. My throat looked nicely pink and even. An improvement even I could see.

On the down side, there was foamy saliva everywhere. My saliva is thick, foamy, and sticky. This is supposed to improve with time.

The junior doctor blew much more numbing medicine up my nose than usual. Since then I have been suffering from cold symptoms on that side of my head.

In the end, Dr. Netterville said to come back in June.

Then Julia and I left to go spend the night at Anne's.

For supper, Anne and Ken went to a new barbecue place in Nolensville for barbecue and the fixings. The place is run by a man who formerly went to Freed-Hardeman in Henderson and worked for Jacks Creek barbecue, one of the best places in Chester County.

George entertained us with stories of his teacher and his substitute teacher. His teacher dropped a desk on her toe and crushed it. He was sent for the nurse but he took a while because people kept asking him what was happening. His teacher was lying on the floor bleeding.

She had surgery that afternoon. The man substituting told some stories about "bodily secretions" that Julia and I were not allowed to hear. I was glad. People usually know if I would not enjoy something.

Anne's new sun room is big and lovely. They finally got the electrical inspection over and the floor will be put down this weekend. Then they can move into it the nice new furniture in their garage.

I believe that Tuesday I will be told that my throat is narrowed because Dr. Netterville and Dr. Studtmann both have been in touch with me to recommend GI doctors to do the procedure.

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