Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Oxygen seems to be helping tremendously

Ever since Marshall started the oxygen his energy level has been staying up. He hasn't even felt like he needed his cane. This is awesome.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

First night on oxygen

Marshall slept with oxygen last night and he woke up this morning earlier than usual and with a lot more energy. He has had more energy all day today and he looks better, too. So far so good....

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Oxygen for Marshall

Marshall slept with the oxygen monitor on Wednesday night and took the machine back to the technician yesterday. This morning he got a call saying that his oxygen went as low as 60% and it is looking very much likely he will have to have oxygen at night. He was bummed out, but plenty of people have to use oxygen -- especially here at a high altitude -- and the oxygen will work in conjunction with his CPAP machine so it won't be so much different than what he already does.

He feels like he's falling apart and I say "Welcome to the club." LOL.  And on the good side, getting the oxygen at night may help him sleep better and is sure to give him more energy during the day.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Update on emergency services

Yesterday we spoke to someone who is "in the know" here in town and he tells us that the article in the paper about the emergency services being discontinued here in Custer County was meant to cause an uproar and was maybe politically motivated. Our source told us that he does not think there's any chance that we will lose emergency services. So we will see how this plays out.

The carpenters (Ray and Jerry) came today and started work on my office. The new floor is over halfway done and it is going to be gorgeous. Pictures will follow when it is done. They also do fire mitigation and when they finish with my office we are going to have them cut out any trees that would pose a danger to the house in the event of a wildfire. I believe that means anything within 15 feet of the house has to go. I hate to lose the trees, but the fire danger trumps everything.

Marshall has been feeling off-and-on yukky. Little aches and pains that just seem to pile on top of the cancer issues. He has rotator cuff issues with his left shoulder that is very painful and his primary care doctor says to just try to rest it for a while. He also says his legs have been giving out on him when he's trying to get up out of a chair.

Today he went to Canon City (I stayed home with Ray and Jerry) to have his CPAP machine checked out and tonight he needs to sleep with an oxygen monitor to see if he might need to have oxygen at night.

And thank you all for responding with regard to dispensing medications with my bare hands. It is 100% unanimous that there is no danger to me if I dispense pills with my hands, but there is a possible danger to Marshall if I don't wash my hands before giving him the medications -- I could contaminate the pills. I will be more careful from here on.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dispensing pills

If anyone reading this has any knowledge about the effects, if any, of dispensing pills with one's bare hands, I would greatly appreciate getting an email.

I've been feeling weird lately and having some of the same symptoms (very mild) that Marshall experiences as side effects of some of his drugs.

So it occurred to me that -- except for his cancer pills (which I never touch...I use tweezers) -- I give him his medications (prednisone, blood pressure, diabetes, sleeping pills, anxiety pills, Plavix, allergy pills, etc.) -- using my bare hands. i give our dogs their medications (Rimadyl, thyroid, cholodin, ammonium chloride) using my bare hands.

Is it possible that I could be absorbing enough of these medications to cause me to have some small issues? I spent an hour or so on the internet trying to research this, but could not really find anything. I found one article outlining the reverse ... that giving a patient their pills using your bare hands can actually be bad for the patient because things from my hands, like lotions or anything else I've touched, can contaminate the pills. That alone convinced me that I need to go out today and get some latex gloves. But I'm still curious about any possible effects it could have had on me.


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Sunday, February 9, 2014


We took Coco to the vet on Friday and she gave us more medication for him. He has to take something called ammonium chloride several times a day for a month to try to dissolve the kidney stones. This stuff makes him a little sick, so he won't be feeling up to par for a while.

His ears haven't totally cleared up yet so we have to continue with the ear wash stuff for another month.

Then we go back for more x-rays to see where we stand. And we also have to schedule dental surgery for him. Poor guy. I don't know how many teeth he's going to have left when all is said and done.

Yesterday we had a contractor come out to give us an estimate on putting down laminate flooring in my office. He will probably start on Tuesday. Then Tricia will be out here on February 27 to totally redecorate my office. Furniture has been arriving every few days, some of which needs assembly. Today I finished emptying out my office (I had no idea I had that much stuff) and then assembling one of the four file cabinets that she picked out. That was not easy, but I did it. Three more to go. She says by the time I put all four together I will be a pro. Ha ha......

Tomorrow I will meet the contractor early in the morning (ugh) to go to Home Depot and pick out the flooring. Then Marshall and I are going to Canon City to (1) get the hitch installed on our car; and (2) get him a new iPad -- his is showing signs of dying.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Front page of Westcliffe newspaper

When we got home from Denver, we picked up our mail, which included the weekly edition of one of our local newspapers.

The front page story was a surprising shocker. The county no longer has funds for the ambulance service and it is looking like within as short a time as three weeks, there will no longer be ambulance service here. In addition, the local clinic is floundering and may not make it another year.

If this plays out the way the paper reported it, it will force quite a few people to leave here in order to be closer to emergency services. Obviously, this will mean we will have to definitely make some hard choices. Marshall absolutely has to be near emergency services.

In a county of only about 4000 people (and only about 400 or 500 people in the town of Westcliffe), it is hard to even imagine what will become of this area.

More on this as the story plays out. But YIKES!!

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Back home from cancer center

Marshall's cancer pills arrived Wednesday morning around 10:30, so in effect, after all my agonizing, we barely missed a beat. (Thank you again, Cathy and Dave!)

Marshall saw his psychologist Wednesday afternoon and that was a good visit. We spent the rest of Wednesday relaxing.

The first thing this morning, we got a call from our housesitter that our power went out last night and in this bitter cold that could mean pipes could freeze. We are not on the grid -- we have solar power -- so Gina had put in a call to Pat, the solar guy. But in order for her to put in a call to the solar guy, she had to get to a place where there was a working phone since our cordless phones didn't work. So she had to walk a half mile in subzero temperatures (God bless her!). By 11:00, Pat got to our house and got everything running again. That was a tense few hours.

By the time we heard from Pat that all was well at the house, Marshall was really getting stressed out because this was the day to see the oncologist and get all the test results. We got over to the hospital around 11:30 and had lunch in the cafeteria with another prostate cancer patient and his wife. They drive all the way here from Wyoming for his treatments.

Lab work was done at 1:00. At 1:45 we saw a social worker to see if there were any programs that would help us out in the caregiver area and we learned that we have too much money and are not eligible. I have an annuity that pays me a few hundred a month -- which in the cancer world doesn't even cover the copay for one of the drugs -- and yet it makes me ineligible to get help. Interesting, isn't it?

At 2:00 we saw the oncologist. All good news. The PSA went up a tiny bit, from 1.58 to 2.8, which didn't concern the doctor at all. He said the bone scan showed that there are no new lesions and that the original bone lesions have gotten smaller. He mentioned sclerotic lesions and if I understood him correctly, he said that meant that in the areas where the cancer is shrinking, the space is being "healed." I didn't quite follow it, but he said it was very very good.

The CT scan also came out good, showing no new involvement. Also, all of the lab work came out good and in particular showed that I did no harm by giving Marshall a Metformin pill when I wasn't supposed to.

He said that even though the cancer is not curable, what we are shooting for is to control it as though it was a chronic disease, like diabetes.

Marshall got his quarterly Zolodex (hormone) shot but they are still holding off on the Xgeva bone strengthener for a while. Dr. Flaig said that he thought things were going so well that the Xgeva was not critical at this point.

So we left the hospital in a pretty good mood, stopped and had a late lunch and headed home. Now tomorrow we take Coco back to the vet to see if he needs surgery for the bladder stones and to see if his ear infections have cleared up.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I'm starting to show the stress...

We were really smart to leave Monday for Denver -- the roads were great and we missed the next snowstorm that was coming in.

So we got to our hotel around 5:00 on Monday and got checked in and were fairly relaxed.  I pulled out Marshall's bag of medications so I could get Tuesday's cancer meds all ready and realized that I didn't bring the cancer pills!!! I had one day's supply, so enough to cover Tuesday, but I didn't bring anything for Wednesday and Thursday.  How could that happen? My stomach was in knots and I felt so awful.

After I settled down a little bit I called our neighbor Cathy (she and her husband Dave are two people that we really take advantage of, but they are absolute lifesavers).  My brain was a bit scattered but Cathy said she would go over to our house, get the pills, and overnight them to us.  She did that yesterday and I am waiting right now for the overnight delivery to arrive.  (Cathy and Dave, I know when your phone rings and you see my name in the caller ID you probably want to scream, but you have been a godsend to us throughout this past two years and we will try to figure out a way to thank you properly!)

Yesterday Marshall had all of his scans and while we were at the hospital, I realized that I had neglected to bring along a few other items that would have made the day go a bit easier for Marshall.  I really thought I had planned everything out pretty well since this was going to be a longer-than-usual visit.  But I dropped the ball a lot, so I was feeling pretty deflated yesterday.

While we were at the hospital, we stopped in the oncologist's office to see if it would be possible to get a two-day supply of the cancer meds at the hospital pharmacy and I guess these drugs are monitored very closely and the hospital doesn't even carry them, they have to be ordered.  Our oncologist wasn't in, so the nurse spoke to Dr. Glode and he said that missing two days of the meds -- if it came to that -- would not be the end of the world.  He talked about the "half life" of the meds, which I have never understood.

But we got through the day and we will get the results of the tests on Thursday.  Today while I am waiting for the delivery of the cancer medications, Marshall has an appointment with the psychologist.  Then the rest of today there is nothing else planned.

PS:  I was just gathering together the instructions that the radiology technicians gave Marshall yesterday and one of them says, in big letters, "if you take Metformin for diabetes, you must not take it for 48 hours after this test, it could be dangerous!"  Of course, I didn't see that paperwork yesterday because coffee spilled on it and we had the all papers laid out to dry, and last night I gave him all his regular pills, which included Metformin.  GOOD GRIEF!!!  It would be great if Marshall's mindset would be such that he would help me with these types of temporary instructions, but his stress level is pretty high when we come to the Cancer Center and he has to concentrate on just keeping calm.

Now I am sitting here looking at his pills for today trying to figure out which one is Metformin so I don't give him any more. I don't bring all the bottles because that would require a bigger vehicle (lol).  I think I can go on the internet to see what various pills look like, so that's where I'm headed.  In the meantime, I am looking at Marshall (still asleep) and all appears to be well.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cancer Center

Tomorrow morning we head up to Denver to the Cancer Center and we will be there almost all week. Our dogsitter will be here all week to take care of the boys.

Marshall is going to have all of his tests re-done. Tuesday he will have a CT scan and a full body bone scan.

Wednesday he sees the psychologist.

Thursday morning he gets lab work done and then Thursday afternoon we see the oncologist to get the results of all the tests.

The good part is that there will be a lot of down time so hopefully we can look at it as a little getaway. But the bad part is that he will probably be a little stressed out waiting for results, so who knows if it will feel like a getaway to him.

We'll get back home Thursday night and then Friday we take Coco back to the vet for his x-rays and lab work to see if he needs surgery. I should be ready for the Funny Farm by Friday night!!

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Nice birthday day

Marshall woke up very nauseous this morning so the first few hours of his birthday were not pleasant. But he started feeling better around 11:00, the snow let up a little bit, and our wonderful neighbor came over and plowed our road -- so we decided to drive to town and see how the Highlander handled the snow (it did very well). We had a nice lunch and then came back home and relaxed.

This picture is the gate at the entrance to the half mile lane to our house. Isn't it gorgeous? Every time we drive through this gate, no matter what the weather or season is, we feel so lucky to live here.

And this picture is about halfway up our lane....

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Happy Birthday Marshall

Marshall, you are not where you wanted to be for your birthday today, but you are home safe and sound.

And it is still snowing (you can see the dogs had fun playing in it):

But we are here:

so Happy Birthday, Marshall!!

If we can get to town, I'm buying breakfast....

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