Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A good day at the Cancer Center

The PSA has gone up to 48.48 (last time it was 45.6) so it only went up a tiny bit.  The nurse practitioner considered that to be good news.

The blood counts are a little off -- white blood cell count is getting a bit lower -- so they want us back in another two weeks to check it again.  She said Marshall should try to eat very nutritionally, get exercise and wash his hands often, since low white blood cell counts lower the immunity.  She also said that if it continues to get lower, he may have to get off of the chemo pill to let it go back up again.

He goes back on May 15.  He also has to be back at the hospital on May 14 for a followup visit with the surgeon that did his spine surgery, so we will be spending the night again.

We got home around 1:00.  I had a small Afib episode this morning but the rest of the day was free of any signs of an episode.  So far.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

We are in Denver

We left this morning around 11:30 only to find that the rear door of our Highlander for some reason wouldn't open automatically as usual, so it required brute force to do it manually.  And we have to be able to open that door to get Marshall's power chair out.  Gina and I messed with it for 15 minutes and then finally gave up.  I would just have to spend two days fighting with the door.

The trip to Denver was uneventful and we got to our hotel at 4:30.  For the past three years we have always stayed at the Springhill Suites which is directly across the street from the hospital -- it is oh-so-convenient.  But this time they were sold out so we are staying at the Residence Inn/Airport which is only 3 miles from the hospital.  I wish this had happened earlier in the game because the Residence Inn is so much better.  We are paying less money and we have a room with a full kitchen.  This would have been so nice when we were up here for Marshall's two weeks of radiation!  I guess tomorrow morning we will find out how easy it is to get to the hospital from here.

Also, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the Residence Inn has free dinner (today was hamburgers, veggie burgers and lots of side dishes), along with a free bar, from 6PM to 7:30PM.  So we had a very nice and fun dinner.

Marshall will have lab work done at 7:30AM tomorrow and then we see the nurse practitioner at 8:30AM to get all the results and see where he stands.  We should be back home by mid-afternoon.

My atrial fibrillation behaved beautifully all day while driving up here.  But when we got to the hotel, I had an episode that lasted about 4 hours.  It wasn't too bad, the heart rate stayed around 85 to 100bpm, but it is an awful sensation.  All in all, though, I still feel that taking magnesium has been a great help in lessening the episodes and when I do have episodes they are not as bad as they were.  (And only three more days wearing this heart monitor.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tomorrow is another Cancer Center Day

On Friday, I was gone again all day getting errands done.  When I got home, Marshall was down in the dumps, mostly because he used to do a lot of these things and it depressed him staying home while I was out taking care of things.  He was also getting tired of having a CNA here to watch him for the third day in a row.  Gina keeps a close eye on him and he doesn't have a lot of privacy when she's here.  It's okay if it's a day here and a day there, but three days in a row kind of got to him.  I will remember that in the future.  (And at least I got everything caught up for the time being.)

On Saturday, Gina and I went to the Laughing Yoga class.  It was the silliest thing you've ever seen, a group of grown women sitting around loudly saying, "HA HA HO HO," and pretending to blow up balloons or pick flowers, etc.  However, as the class went on, we could definitely see the breathing benefits of doing this (not to mention that there was a lot of genuine laughter at how silly we all looked!).  We actually all felt a little lightheaded every now and then.  I think Marshall might get something out of this class.  He says he might come with me next Saturday and just observe.

Sunday it was snowing so we stayed in and watched old Johnny Carson DVDs.

Today the physical therapist came and worked with Marshall for a while.  He is able to walk around the house without a walker or cane as long as he stays close to furniture to grab onto. He's a bit wobbly sometimes but the improvement is really noticeable.

My Afib episodes have lessened, but they still come for no particular reason that I can see.  I do think they were reduced a lot when I started taking magnesium supplements, but who knows for sure?  I am getting very very tired of wearing this heart monitor, but I think the results will prove to be very helpful since I was able to upload quite a few episodes to the medical staff.  My last day to wear this thing is Thursday and then I return it.

Tomorrow we head up to Denver for an extremely early appointment at the Cancer Center on Wednesday.  The oncologist wants to see what Marshall's PSA is doing now that he's been on the oral chemo pill for about two months.  We'll spend the night in Denver and then drive home on Wednesday after the appointment.  He always gets anxious every time we go up there, but outside of extreme fatigue, he's been feeling okay and has no pain, so we anticipate that everything will be okay.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


I was out of the house this morning before Marshall even got up.  When I spoke to Gina a bit later, she said that when he did get up he didn't feel so good.  He had a slow start to his day. The physical therapist was here today, too.

I went to Walgreens to pick up some medications (both mine and Marshall's) and there was a glitch with one of Marshall's and also with my A-Fib medication.  It seems like everything is a battle.  So I started crying -- just couldn't help it -- and the poor girl at the Walgreens counter felt bad and told me she would get these prescriptions straightened out today for sure.  (Sure enough, around 3:00 in the afternoon I got a call from her that everything was now okay and I could come back and pick up the two medications.)

I got my haircut and pedicure and I saw that they also offered a reflexology treatment, so I got that, too.  It was absolutely awesome.  At the beginning, it felt so insignificant that I thought it was just a gimmick, but after 5 minutes I fell asleep soundly right there on the table and when it was over I felt more relaxed than I've felt in a long time.  I will be doing that again for sure.  And Marshall says he is willing to try it!

When I got home, Marshall was feeling much better and we had a nice evening.  Went to bed early.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Physical therapy

The home care physical therapist was here today.  We were really glad to get that started up again.  Marshall is really doing better at walking.  Rosie (the therapist) was even impressed.  She will continue working with him.

He is chomping at the bit to get his motorcycle into the shop, so we'll have to concentrate on getting that done.

My A-fib episodes have really subsided.  Last night I evidently had a few episodes in my sleep because the monitor was beeping at me this morning and when I dialed in to upload the recordings, the technician made the comment that it almost wasn't worth recording except to show that there are some mild episodes.  Today I felt so normal with no erratic heartbeats at all.

The rest of this week we'll have Gina here a lot because I am going to be out and about trying to catch up on everything that has been pushed aside (oil change for the car, dentist appointment, eye exam, grocery shopping, haircut and, oh yeah, massage and pedicure!)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Marshall is doing better and better

We got up early today and headed to the VA in Colorado Springs.  Marshall saw the audiologist and he is getting his hearing aids fixed.  Should have them back in two weeks.  Now let's hope he actually uses them.

He felt good all day today.  He's walking better and doing better in general.  And the physical therapist is coming back tomorrow.  That is very good.  We actually talked about getting the motorcycle out to the shop later this week.  It needs a few little things fixed and the paint job touched up so he can show it again this year.

I went the whole day without any A-fib attacks and then went through the evening without any.  Then I went to bed and my heart got a little jumpy, but the beats-per-minute only went up to about 75 or 80, just enough to kick the monitor on, but not enough to be uncomfortable.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Laughing Yoga

I went to the Health Fair yesterday and got a bunch of lab work done, as well as hearing test, Alzheimer's test, an acupuncture treatment and a massage.  Then I visited a lot of booths and picked up information.  They had a demonstration of Laughing Yoga which was really silly looking, but supposedly it helps with deep breathing as well as laughing at nothing in particular.  I'm going to go to a class on Saturday and give it a try.

Today Marshall was walking around the house on his own power, no walker and no cane.  So his strength is building up nicely.  He has been feeling better and better.

Tomorrow he has an appointment at the VA in Colorado Springs for a hearing test. THANK GOODNESS!  I look forward to the day when the TV can hopefully be at a normal volume.

I've been trying to monitor my A-fib episodes to see if I can identify any "triggers" that are causing it to happen.  So far the only one that is a definite is bending over too many times in a row (like when I'm trying to clean house and have to pick things up).  Other than that, they seem to come and go for no particular reason.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Health Fair

Today Marshall felt kind of blah and was very tired.  And we had six inches of snow through the night so it was kind of cozy just to stay home.

Marshall has been walking better and better using the walker -- and sometimes just a cane.  His vitals today were all good.  But I have to tell on him:  when the nurse was at the house the other day she said, "So I saw that your sugar was 500 yesterday."   I immediately piped in and said no, she must be mistaken, his sugar has never been that high, he has always bragged about the fact that he is very good at managing his diabetes.  She insisted that he did have a reading of 500.  I looked at Marshall and I could see by his face that his sugar had indeed been 500 and he hadn't told me.  He was close to coma territory.  I guess that's the bad part of that TeleHealth machine -- he does all the submissions himself and bypasses me. But I can't be everywhere so I'm not going to worry about that.

I spent a large part of today calling in to the doctor's clinicians to transmit my heart monitor's EKG reports every time my heart went wonky.  It's quite the process.  But so far the clinicians have not felt it necessary to get the doctor involved so I guess that's a good thing.

Tomorrow is the annual Health Fair here in town.  I'm going to get down there bright and early and get every test that's available to me.  I'm getting a little paranoid about my health....

Thursday, April 16, 2015

More on Humana and update on Marilyn's Echocardiogram, etc.

The Social Worker from Humana Home Health Care came out on Tuesday and re-evaluated our situation.  When she left, it was her opinion that Marshall still qualified for home health care and she will report her opinion back to the main office.

This morning a nurse from Humana came and evaluated Marshall.  She also is of the opinion that he qualifies for both the home physical therapy and the Tele-Health.  This machine takes all of his vitals (blood pressure, oxygen level, sugar reading and weight) every day and calls it in automatically to the main office.  If anything is out of order a nurse calls the house immediately to talk about it.  (I love that thing!)

We should hear from them tomorrow with their final decision.

I was at the hospital most of the day today and had my echocardiogram.  I was able to watch the screen while the procedure was done but of course I didn't understand any of it..  When we started, I asked the technician what would happen if she saw a blockage and she said she would get the cardiologist in there immediately.  So since I never saw a doctor I guess there were no blockages.  Then when it was done and I was leaving I asked her if she could give me her opinion on how it looked to her and she just smiled and said, "No news is good news."  I choose to interpret that as good news. I should hear the official results in a few days..

Then I got fitted with my Holter event monitor which records the atrial fibrillation events and calls them in to the doctor.  I will wear this for 14 days.  And then on May 8 I go back for a 4-hour nuclear stress test.

So I guess we can say that both of the patients in this household are doing okay at the moment.   And the dog is doing okay, too!  Woo hoo!

Monday, April 13, 2015

A good day!

Marshall's PSA went up to 45.6 (from 43), so it was only a 2-point increase.  Dr. Flaig sees that as a good sign that the chemo pill is kicking in.

All other lab work was in normal limits.  We go back in two weeks for another checkup.

And I went all day without an A-fib episode.

So it was a very good day.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Another weekend

To my eyes, Marshall was doing a bit better today maneuvering around the house.  He doesn't think so, but I can see a definite improvement.  Maybe he is slowly getting used to the oral chemo pill.  We appear to have conquered the pain he was having by taking arthritis pills.

Tomorrow we will just gear up for Monday's trip to the Cancer Center on Monday.  That's always a nervous day...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Humana Home Health Care

Well, as it turned out, our little trip to Jackson Hole caused us to lose the home nursing care and the home physical therapy, as well as the Tele-Health machine that I really liked.  They called when we got back and said that the home health care is only available to people who are housebound and if a person can take a 6-day trip, they are not housebound.

When the administrator told me that, I got pretty upset.  I have come to count on these things.  She agreed to send out a social worker next week to talk to us about it, but she said not to expect them to change this decision.  It's a Medicare thing.  So phooey!

In the past two days I've only had two very mild A-fib attacks.  I've been eating as many magnesium-rich foods as I can, as well as taking CoQ10.  The cardiologist said that would probably help.  So far, so good.

My friend Sue sent me an article that was in the Chicago Tribune entitled, "Weight Loss Linked to Healthier Heartbeat."  There have been studies in Australia confirming that if you are overweight and you lose 10 percent of your body weight (and keep it off), you are six times more likely to be free of atrial fibrillation symptoms.  The findings were to be presented in San Diego at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology. They also are published simultaneously in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.  I love articles like that!!

Marshall felt better today but not good enough.  We see the oncologist on Monday and we will at least get an idea of whether or not the chemo pills are working.

PS:  I have no idea why all of a sudden some of the text in this post is highlighted...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


We made it home okay yesterday after two days on the road.  It was a pretty good trip home, but Marshall had pain Monday night and had a rough evening.  It was good to get home and see "the boys" again.

Today was my appointment with the cardiologist.  My friend Glenda drove me there because I was feeling a little lightheaded (thank you, Glenda!!).  Marshall wanted to go to be with me but I felt like if he was there I would be too worried about him and wouldn't be able to pay attention to the doctor, so he agreed he would stay home and I would give him updates by phone.

I really liked the doctor.  The first thing they did was an EKG which did not indicate any sign of atrial fibrillation (wouldn't you know it...).  However, she said the only time an EKG shows the A-fib is if you are having an episode at the time of the EKG.  We talked for quite a while.  She said atrial fibrillation was not curable but that you could definitely do things that would insure fewer and shorter episodes.

Some of those things:  exercise, healthy eating, yoga, meditation, mindful breathing, etc.  She said none of these things are magic bullets, but they all can help.  I asked her about taking supplements and she said that the heart needs magnesium (and that the majority of people in the U.S. are deficient in magnesium); however, she stressed that the magnesium should come from food sources and not a supplement.  She said that one supplement she definitely approves is CoQ10.

In order to be sure I have A-fib (and SVT), they want to run a bunch of tests.  I go back next Wednesday for an Echocardiogram (ultrsound).  If, during the ultrasound, they see any blockages I may have to have an angiogram and/or angioplasty.

I had lab work today to check for thyroid problems (I got the results already and my thyroid is fine).

The next step after the Echocardiogram is to wear a Holter monitor for a month to keep track of what my heart is doing.

Then the next week I go back for a 4-hour nuclear stress test.

Then in June I go back to see the cardiologist to talk about all of the test results and what we will do going forward.  She said she is going to strongly suggest that I go on a blood thinner and the one she will recommend is Xarelto.  So I need to research that a bit.  For now, though, she said baby aspirin is fine.  She commented that I was extremely healthy and had almost no risk factors for stroke, but because of the way A-fib works, blood pools and clots can still form.

Gina was here with Marshall today.  When I got home he looked awful and he didn't feel good.  I wish he could just have a couple of good weeks.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The weekend is almost over...

Today was a quiet day of rest.  Happy Easter to everyone!

We had a nice breakfast in the hotel and visited with family.

Then we drove around the outskirts of Jackson Hole trying to find wildlife (I wanted to see a moose), but no luck.  So we came back to the room and I napped all afternoon.

We went to dinner and then started getting packed up to leave tomorrow morning.

Marshall did well all weekend.  He got tired easily and had some restlessness in his legs but that's about it.  I hope the trip home is uneventful.

And with regard to me, I went for most of the weekend with just minimal episodes.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Kevin and Angie's wedding

Today was a good day all the way around. The wedding was pretty cool. It was outdoors at the Snake River Overlook in Moose, Wyoming. There was snow on the ground and it was REALLY cold, probably 30 degrees, and very windy. All of the guests were bundled up nicely, but the bride was wearing a strapless gown. She had to be freezing.

Angie's mom and dad, Angie, Kevin, Angie's brothers (you can see the Snake River in the background)
Angie's dad Joe, Angie & Kevin, Angie's mom Jane
Angie and Kevin and Angie's brothers
Kevin's brother JJ, Kevin's mom Mary Ellen, Angie & Kevin, Kevin's grandmother (and Marshall's sister) Audrey, Kevin's brother Gilbert, Kevin's sisters Samantha and Tianna
Marshall and his sister Audrey

Kevin and Angie as Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Mellott!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Snow King Resort

We made it to Jackson today around noon and got checked in at the Snow King Resort. Rested a little bit and then went to the rehearsal dinner.

Marshall had a little pain at dinner, so we left early and came back to our room. Time to get rested up for the wedding tomorrow. So far, it's been a good trip. Should have some photos to share tomorrow.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

We are in Wyoming

We drove about 9 hours today and made it to Rocky Springs, Wyoming. There was a bit of rain and snow along the way but it wasn't too bad. We should be in Jackson Hole by noon tomorrow.

Marshall did really good today. He was walking well (with his walker) and the leg isn't hurting as much.

When I got up this morning I was having an A-fib episode and my heart rate was at 126. So the last thing I wanted to do was get in the car for 9 hours. But once we got on the road, everything calmed down and I'm still doing okay.

We are looking forward to the rest of the weekend.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Yet another A-fib episode

Today I had an appointment with my dermatologist to check out a few suspicious spots. Good thing I went -- I had three precancerous lesions which she burned off. Then I ran a few errands in Pueblo, had lunch and came home to finish packing for our trip to Wyoming.

When I got home, my heart went into A-fib again and the heart rate got up to 186. And stayed there for several hours. Such a miserable feeling, heart pounding, hard to breathe, lightheaded. I think I may have brought this episode on myself, too, by taking some supplements today that I probably shouldn't have taken. From here on out, I don't take anything but my Metropolol (supposed to slow the heart down) until I see the cardiologist.

So here I am, the caretaker for Marshall and three animals and I couldn't do much of anything this evening. It was all I could do to get Marshall's pills and other medications together, both for this evening and for the trip. And I had to feed the animals at 5:00. This A-fib stuff throws the equilibrium off so I was literally stumbling around trying to take care of all of this -- and still finish packing. Marshall is feeling very ignored and there's nothing I can do about it. I guess I need a caregiver for me!!! (ha)

Then around 8:30, one of my constant worries actually played out. Marshall has a lift chair and when he puts it up and down one of the cats (Jerry) always wants to get under there and he could literally get killed if he was caught in the mechanics of the chair. But tonight it wasn't Jerry, it was Coco. Marshall was able to reverse the direction of the chair and Coco came out unscathed. But my poor heart....

The physical therapist was here today and she said that until Marshall can be comfortable on his feet again, she is discharging him from her care. That is very disappointing news. We are supposed to call her when he feels more stable. Hopefully that will happen when we get back from Wyoming. We still think the chemo pill that he is taking every day is causing some side effects.

I did manage to finish packing except for all of Marshall's medical stuff that can't be packed until the very last minute.
Marshall went to bed early, not feeling too hot, and Coco and I just got into bed to write this blog post and to read a little. My heart rate has gone down to about 85, which is HUGELY better, but still not comfortable. Our wonderful dogsitter/housesitter/CNA Gina said she will come early tomorrow and pack the car for us. God love her!

I think I need to change the name of this blog to "Our Walk with Atrial Fibrillation, Tachycardia, Depression, Anxiety, Sick Dogs and -- oh yeah -- Prostate Cancer."