Friday, August 31, 2012

A bad day

It's only natural that every now and then we kind of descend into all of the fears of the unknown future and the enormity of it all. Today was one of those days.

We were at the Care & Share Center distributing pet food and Marshall got nauseous for no apparent reason.  Then he developed a new twinge/pain in his right leg.  By the time we got home we were both depressed and some tears were flowing.  I guess it's probably a good thing to let the feelings flow periodically.  Holding it inside isn't good.

One of my oldest and closest friends (we've known each other since we were 5 years old) is a Licensed Counselor.  I'm not sure what her official title is -- shame on me for not knowing -- but she has had many years of counseling experience.  So tonight we called on her and she spent a good deal of time on the phone with Marshall and when they hung up he was smiling.  I have a feeling she is going to be a resource for us quite regularly.  (Thank you, Donna!!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A small motorcycle setback.....

Marshall went to Colorado Springs to finalize the details on the motorcycle and he and the artist realized that one portion of the artwork (the eagle over the map of the United States) was going to be partially covered up when the bike is reassembled, so that part needs to be re-done.  Not sure how long that is going to take.  Very disappointing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Everything is starting to come together.  The artist says he will be done with the artwork on the bike by Thursday, so the people at Pike's Peak Harley can start reassembling the bike on Friday and it looks like we can pick it up on Saturday.  Keep your fingers crossed that this schedule doesn't change!

On another note, the greenhouse  is losing its lure for me.  We had one big tomato plant that had about 10 big tomatoes on it and they were starting to turn red.  I was really looking forward to them and feeling very Farmer-Brown-ish.  This morning when I opened the greenhouse doors, the tomatoes were mostly gone, some partially eaten, and we have no idea what could have done that.  Since the doors weren't messed with, it almost has to be a small critter -- like a chipmunk -- that can get in through the small nooks and crannies that exist in a greenhouse.  Anyway, the disappointment pretty much took away my energy for nurturing these plants only to lose them at their peak.  Let's hope the onions and carrots make it.

I am now thinking of turning the greenhouse into a house of flowering plants.  That would be pretty, as well as calming.

I have a CT scan scheduled for Thursday to try and figure out what's going on with me.

Stay tuned for motorcycle photos.......

Saturday, August 25, 2012

We visited the motorcycle again....

We visited the motorcycle again -- we are closer and closer to getting it done.  See the pictures:
Marshall and Tom (the artist)

Map of Viet Nam on front of right rear fender

Ribbon of death on front of left rear fender: shows AC-119 gunship firing all weapons

Survivors of Stinger 41 (the lettering still needs to be airbrushed) on right rear fender

Left rear fender -- shows AC-119 gunship firing on truck convoy and boat in river

Monday, August 20, 2012

My doctor appointment

I had my doctor appointment today to go over the lab work that I had done last week.  It was a weird set of labs.  My bad cholesterol had gone down from its high of 160 (two years ago) to 128;  my good cholesterol is now too low at 39.  Total cholesterol is 201 (normal shouldn't be higher than 199).

But what concerned the doctor was that my white blood cell count was low (at 3.9, where normal is between 4.0 and 10.5).  Neutrophils (?) are low (at 36, where normal is between 40 and 74%) and my lymphocytes are high (at 47, where normal is between 14 and 46%).  Dr. Nicolescu says it is mildly concerning and he could not suggest what could be causing it.  So we need to watch it and he gave me a followup appointment in six months for more labwork to see where we stand.

In the meantime, I've had a pain under my jaw for quite a while now and it was thought to be tied to salivary glands, but antibiotics didn't get rid of it.  So I am being referred to an ENT and should get that referral in the next two or three days.

This all feels so strange to me -- I went 65 years without hardly ever seeing a doctor and then boom, between Marshall and me it seems that's all we do is see doctors! 

The rest of today we rested up from our very active weekend.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wonderful Weekend!

This weekend was Fred & Jana Bartlit's annual fundraiser for the Dumb Friends League which is held at their home at the Castle Pines Golf Course.  This year we had a housesitter that could watch our boys for the whole weekend, so we arranged to be there on Friday to attend the Friday night "pre-event" dinner at the Country Club. The entertainment for Saturday was going to be Willie Nelson.
On the way there, we stopped to visit the motorcycle and one more section has been completed:
This is on the top of the "trunk."  The eagle has his talons in a map of the United States
and his wings surrounding the United States in a protective mode.
We arrived at the golf course around 3:30 and the Bartlits put us up in one of Castle Pines Golf Course's cottages on the fairway. 

So we checked in and oohed and aahed over this room and then went over to the Country Club for dinner. Jana and Fred had brought in a guy from a bird rescue organization called HawkQuest.  He had 4 of his rescued birds along with their handlers. Two bald eagles, one golden eagle and one turkey vulture. He explained to our group a lot of facts about these birds that was absolutely FASCINATING. And we were invited to take pictures.

Turkey vulture.  Ken explained that the reason the turkey vulture doesn't have any feathers on his head is because when he is eating a carcass he literally sticks his head into the body of whatever he is eating and the feathers would be hard to clean.
The golden eagle started to get stressed so they put the hood on him.  Ken told us that these hoods are
very expensive because each one has to be custom made for each bird.
And then Ken asked if anyone wanted to have their photo taken with one of the eagles and Marshall and I each did.  You saw his picture on yesterday's blog -- here's mine.  I actually cried looking directly into the face of a bald eagle. How majestic. How gorgeous.
Ken was asked if any of these birds showed affection.  He said for the most part, the bald eagles do not show affection, but the golden eagle can show a bit of affection.  He showed us what happened when he rubbed the tummy of the golden eagle. You can't really tell, but the eagle kind of nuzzled him.

So after this presentation, we had a great dinner and went back to our cottage.

Saturday was breakfast at the Country Club sitting on the 9th hole green (I think that's how it's referred to). We went to the Bartlits at 1:30 for a pool party/lunch. Then back to the cottage for a little rest and then back to the Bartlits for the fundraiser. Cocktail hour we browsed through the silent auctions and I bid on a few things.  Ended up winning one of my bids -- a basket filled with cat goodies.
Then we had an awesome dinner prepared by a chef from Buffalo Gap, Texas, who donated his time and all the food. It was delicious.
Then Fred got up and we thought he was going to introduce Willie Nelson but instead he told us that Willie was just taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties. Evidently he has emphysema and the altitude was too much for him.  We are still waiting to hear how he is doing.  However, I did get a picture of his bus, as well as some of the darling animals up for adoption at this fundraiser.
Willie's bus.

The good news, though, is that I think the fundraiser still raised a TON of money for animals. And more good news -- the crowd of close to probably 500 people who paid $500 a plate to see Willie Nelson, was unbelievably understanding and more concerned with the animals and with Willie's well-being than anything else. That was nice to see. Fred and Jana did an awesome job of organizing this event.
So this morning we had breakfast again at the Country Club and now we are back home with our boys.
This was one awesome weekend. It did wonders to get out of the house and do something so totally different. Cancer went to the background. Marshall had to temper everything he did with rest periods -- and he was inexplicably plagued with hot flashes all through Saturday evening -- but all in all, he did wonderfully well. He was exhausted but he had a good time.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Eagle Has Landed

Wait till you hear about our weekend! And it isn't even over yet.....  And yes, this is really a live bald eagle!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Words To Live By (plagiarized from another blog)

Today's blog written by Dan Zenka of the Prostate Cancer Foundation has what he calls some "words to live by."  Marshall and I both can try to learn from this (I hope Mr. Zenka doesn't mind me stealing his blog entry and using it as my own):

From Karl N., a member of Prostate Cancer Men’s Support:
I think once you get over the denial of having PC Cancer…your mindset changes, and the cancer monkey materializes on your shoulder. Every little pain, every little twitch, every little difference…we immediately think it is cancer…
How do you jump this hurdle? My take is, I faced death and had self-speak over this so many times, that I realized… there is little or nothing I can do… to change or alter my life… So I drink my Kale (lol), eat a little healthier… and live for each new sunrise. I do not feed the MONKEY… and I rationalize my life… with so many people that I know or read about in the news dying, while I am still alive, and look at that act as my blessing for a happy life regardless of how long I live.So if the day comes, and my tests are not favorable, I will deal with the reality. But I cannot and will not be a deer in the headlights. Plus, even if the tests are really really bad, I am sure I will have enough time to satisfy whatever it is I need to do… before I am sprinkled over planet earth.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Doctor Appointment

Today we had a followup appointment with Marshall's primary care physician.  Last week Marshall had some pain in his right ear so we saw the doctor and he said it looked an infection and gave him ear drops.  After a few days, the pain went away.  Today was our followup visit and Dr. Bliss said it looked good.  So all is well there.

We also applied for the VA life insurance policy today.  It's a little more costly than we thought but still worth it.

Marshall has been in the dumps these past few days.  Waiting for the motorcycle to be done, waiting for the next visit to the oncologist, waiting-waiting-waiting..... 

And we have subscribed to a blog written by Dan Zenka, Senior Vice President of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.  It is very ironic that Mr. Zenka is an officer of the Prostate Cancer Foundation and then developed prostate cancer himself.  His situation is a bit like Marshall's.  We read his blog regularly and most of the time he is very uplifting, but the last two have been tear-jerkers.  Today he talked about his young son trying to deal with the whole cancer thing.  Your heart just goes out to him and his family.

So back to the motorcycle -- here is a picture that will be painted on the motorcycle -- it is the AC-119 gunship from Marshall's Vietnam days.

Monday, August 13, 2012

VA Benefits

Today Marshall met with Amber, his VA representative, and she told him that she has been researching the issue of permanent disability (benefits guaranteed for the rest of his life and if he dies before me, then they continue being paid to me) as opposed to temporary disability (benefits guaranteed for six months and then re-evaluated and if he dies before me, benefits would continue to be paid to me only if he died of a service-related disease).  Amber thinks he doesn't have a chance of getting his disability rated as permanent, but they are going to give it a shot.

And Marshall is now entitled to a $10,000 life insurance policy which he will be looking into.  As it stands now, he would not be considered insurable by any other company, so this life insurance policy would be very welcome.

He's been feeling pretty good the last two days -- no pain, just fatigue -- and chomping at the bit to get that Harley back home!

Greenhouse:  the green beans have died out, the zucchini never did do anything, the cucumbers still look like they might produce, the tomatoes have been coming in nicely and we are enjoying some of them every day, the peppers are doing beautifully and we are having them every day as well.  The carrots look like they are almost ready to harvest.  The cantaloupe plant has vined out and has lots of flowers but no signs of melons yet.  And the basil, oregano and parsley are threatening to take over their corner of the greenhouse.  I had no idea how great fresh basil would be.  Next month we will start our winter experiment and plant lettuce and spinach and see how it goes.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Busy with Blogs and Forums

I still continue to research this new addition to our lives.  There are some wonderful blogs -- New York Minute from the Prostate Cancer Foundation is one.

This week I found and have been having conversations with men in a similar situation as Marshall's.  It's been very comforting and enlightening and I am becoming addicted to it.  "Talking" to these men is a huge help to me and I share the information with Marshall.  I communicated with one man today whose PSA at diagnosis was over 5,000!  I can't imagine.....

Marshall has been having a weird pain in his right calf, so bad that he can't put weight on that leg.  It comes and goes.  He says it doesn't feel like bone pain, it feels more like muscle, but it still gets our attention.  If it continues, we'll be seeing the doctor next week to get it checked out.

He went to visit the motorcycle yesterday and there are no new pictures to share yet.  There was a slight complication with some scratches that need to be repaired before he can go further.  It won't be done next weekend like we had hoped, but it won't be much longer.

And the hair on the top of Marshall's head continues to grow!  It's the mystery of the year....

Monday, August 6, 2012

The VA came through!!

We went to get the mail today and there was a package from the VA.  They approved Marshall's request for Agent Orange-prostate cancer benefits!  He is now considered 100% disabled and the monthly checks will reflect that.  There will be a retroactive check covering the time back to his application date in May.  This is awesome news and these benefits will provide a definite comfort zone with regard to the fear of medical bills overtaking us in the future.

These benefits will be good for six months and at that time they will re-evaluate to see if he's been cured and since the cancer is incurable, we have to assume the checks will continue.

This was really really good news!!

Note to Donna:  Your envelope arrived today and the paragraph about Marshall being around his family's grief last week re-triggering some of his own stages of personal grief was oh-so-right-on.  But we got past it and he is smiling again.  Thank you!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Another visit to the motorcycle

This bike is going to be too awesome for words.  Pictures say it all:
On a piece of the fairing we have the Army Ranger patch to honor the military service of a very special friend.  It has the U.S. flag flowing subtly through it -- when this is clear-coated it will be so cool.

This is the fairing on the opposite side of the Ranger patch.

The fender is now done except for clear-coating.

The tank is completely done and clear-coated.

This will have more work done to it, but it is meant to be a replica of the Viet Nam Wall and includes the names of the six men in Marshall's unit who died in 1972.  It has Marshall's face reflected in it as though he is standing in front of the wall looking at the names.  There is a tear in Marshall's left eye.  There will be a flag flowing through this just like in other places on the bike and then it will be clear-coated.
This artist is doing a spectacular job.  He will soon start the back of the bike and it will include the AC-119 gunship on a starry night firing on an enemy truck; pictures of the men who survived Stinger 41 in front of the business side of an AC-119 gunship; and across the top of the trunk will be an eagle with his wings hovering over the United States in a protective stance.

On the way home, we stopped at AT&T and Marshall bought me a brand new iPad 3 with WiFi and 4G along with a bluetooth keyboard.  He got one for himself, too.  We will be up all night playing with them.  How fun!!

It was a really good day.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Party in Denver

Yesterday morning I picked Marshall up at the airport at 10:00AM and we checked into the Ritz Carlton in downtown Denver to pamper ourselves a little.  We had room service bring us lunch -- along with good bottle of merlot -- and then Marshall took a nap.

He had had a very emotional week in Ohio and was mentally and physically exhausted.  (But, all things considered, he did extremely well handling all of it.)

At 5:00 we went to my old office for my boss and good friend, Fred Bartlit's 80th birthday party.  The office is on the 8th floor and has a deck that wraps around almost the entire office -- the party was held on the deck.  It also overlooks Coors Field and the Cardinals (my team!) were in town playing the Rockies, so I wore my Cardinals jersey so I could cheer from afar.  It didn't work very well, the Cardinals lost.  To the Rockies. Oh my....

Entertainment for the evening was one of our Chicago partners doing his impression of Fred and it is so darn funny.

We had a great time -- see a few photos below.  After a few hours, Marshall started really feeling the emotional week he had had, so we left a little before everyone else and went back to the hotel and simply hugged for a few hours.  A nice ending to the evening.

Peter Bensinger's famous impersonation of Fred Bartlit
(in background: Liz Palenchar, Dave Garten and Catherine McPherson).
The birthday party group watching the "show."

Peter's impersonation of Fred getting the approval of Fred.

Coors Field.

Marilyn cheering on her Cardinals from afar -- obviously bringing them bad luck!

Phil Beck, Skip Herman & Don Scott (three of the firm's Owners); and Anita Garten.

The Owners of the firm: Phil Beck, Jim Palenchar, Skip Herman, Fred Bartlit, Don Scott,
 and Mark Ferguson (the little furry gal is Lulu, Fred & Jana's dog).

Peter Bensinger & Fred Bartlit (with downtown Denver in the background)

Party crowd with Coors Field in the background.

Marshall with Jeffrey Pawlak.

Our friend, Jana Bartlit, wishing Fred a Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Animal Life

I was at my computer a few minutes ago and Coco was on my lap.  All of a sudden Coco called my attention to the fact that there was a buck standing right at the window.  He posed for me for more than 5 minutes.

Marshall will be back in Colorado tomorrow.  He handled the whole trip to Ohio really really well, with long stressful days.