Category Archives: caregiver

How Did I Make Sense Of Everything?

Laura's Journey Notebook

How did I make sense of everything?  I didn’t.  There is no sense to cancer or any other illness.  However, I did organize all information and take charge of my journey.  If I had to be on this journey, I was going to be informed.

Chemo Education

Before you start chemo, you have to attend Chemo Education.  I had never heard of Chemo Education.  Chemo Education is scheduled with a nurse.  My nurse was the sweet nurse from Dr. Wonderful’s office.  I am going to refer to the Hematologist-Oncologist/Chemo Doctor as Dr. Wonderful. Doug, my husband, went with me to Chemo Education.  The clinic suggests that you bring at least one of your caregivers.  I had my calendar with note paper in the back and I was ready to take notes.

The nurse went on to explain…

1. 4 weeks of AC chemo every other week… with this chemo you may experience the following side effects… sores in your mouth, loss of nails, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, body aches and pain and you will lose your hair.  This chemo was known as the red devil.  After each cycle of this chemo, you will need Neupogen shots. (Neupogen shots stimulate the production of white blood cells. The shots will be needed between 5-7 days after each treatment.  It depends on results from lab work.)

2. 4 cycles of Taxol and Herceptin  (No extra shots with this chemo. YAY!)  With this chemo, you will experience the same side effects as the AC chemo.   Your hair will not begin to grow back until this chemo is out of your system.

****Everyone responds differently to chemo. The nurse did say to eat protein and foods that contain potassium.  Also, the acrylic nails must come off immediately.  (I loved my nails.  As an Assistant Principal, I would attend meetings at school and at the district level and I liked for my nails to look nice.)

Information Overload and How to Organize It All

As I returned home with handfuls of information, I realized that I needed to organize all of this information so I could find it as needed.  I had a couple of small piles already…. chemo info, notes from two doctors and my mammogram and CT report. I decided to organize the information in a 3 ring binder.

I set up the notebook according to the following categories:

1. Meds

2. Doctor’s visits – I took notes at every conversation with each doctor, filed it by date in the notebook and put a copy of the notes and the lab reports in a plastic sleeve.

3. Copies of all Test…CT Scans, PET Scans, MUGA Scan, Pathology Reports, Echocardiogram, etc…

4. Miscellaneous Information

I took my notebook and calendar to every visit.  I had questions written ahead of time so that I didn’t forget anything.  As I sat in the chemo chair receiving the infusion of chemo, I organized my notebook.  When I got my very first chemo, my nurse, Jerry, asked me what my notebook was for and I told him that I take notes at every doctor’s visit and ask for a copy of my chemo orders and all lab results. He replied with something like, that’s a good idea because we aren’t Jesus Christ.  We aren’t perfect.

One more tip about the organization of the notebook. In the front of the notebook, I had a 3 ring pencil pouch so that I would always have my writing tools and a 3 ring business card holder.  I kept a business card from every doctor and everyone affiliated with my treatment.

Most Importantly

The most important thing that I want you to remember is that you are in charge of your health care decisions.  You can research your doctors, be an advocate for yourself or designate an advocate.  You are more than a statistic.  You are so important to God that even the hairs on your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30 NIV)

Nothing about cancer makes sense.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Laura

Happy Birthday, Doug!

Happy Birthday, Doug!

Doug is:

  • kind
  • loving
  • a giver
  •  a helpmate
  • a caregiver (when needed)
  • a Godly example to our children and grandchildren
  • and my soulmate.
Handyman
Handyman
The Adventurer
The Adventurer
The Hunter
The Hunter
The family that hunts together...wears camo together.
The family that hunts together…wears camo together.
Dance partner at Paige's wedding
Dance partner at Paige’s wedding
Papa to our first grandchild, Madison
Papa to our first grandchild, Madison
My Soulmate
My Soulmate

I am blessed to be on this journey of life with him.

To be continued after his celebration tonight….

Only Two Days Left

IMG_1580

It’s hard to believe that we only have two days left in the 31 DAYS of Kindness Challenge. When I started the 31 Days of Kindness Challenge, I thought I would be able to fully participate. Much to my surprise, a few days before the challenge began, I fell and broke my wrist. Then I became the person who needed the kindness and was given more kindness than I was able to give others. Sometimes it’s hard for us to accept kindness from others, especially strong women, because we are used to taking care of everybody else . One thing I have learned is to accept the kindness, and say ‘thank you’.

I want to thank my sister and mom who have assisted me over the last few weeks with meals, transportation and things around the house.

Sometimes life throws us that curve ball and we have to go with it. So if you are ever in that situation, accept the help and say ‘thank you’ because if you don’t it takes the blessing away from the person trying to help you. I learned this with my battle with breast cancer and most recently my broken wrist.

Kindness starts with us!

DAY 1...

Call a loved one you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Be encouraging

DAY 2

Bring donuts or other delicious sweets to work

Don’t complain

DAY 3

Leave a kind note for a family member or friend

Collect can goods for a food bank

DAY 4

Donate blood (if able)

Make it a point to smile at every one you see or pass by

DAY 5

Send flowers to a teacher (current or former) who has dedicated his/her life to teaching

Donate old books or magazines to a hospital or nursing home

DAY 6

Use this day to catch up. After all, it’s not about quantity. It’s about quality.

DAY 7

Praise someone at work for doing a good job

Check in on someone you know is alone

DAY 8

Make amends with someone you have wronged

Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru

DAY 9

Hug a family member

Give your pocket change to someone who needs it

DAY 10

Pick up any trash/liter you see

Put a grocery cart back where it belongs

DAY 11

Give a generous to a server

Go out of your comfort zone to make a new friend

DAY 12

Introduce yourself to a neighbor

Be thankful…

DAY 13

Write a letter to a friend

Say ‘thank you’ a lot

DAY 14

Let people merge in traffic

Be someone’s cheerleader

DAY 15

Smile easily and laugh

Recognize the good in others

DAY 16

Take a meal to a family you know

Run an errand for somebody

DAY 17

Say something nice to everyone you see

Offer someone behind you in the grocery check-out line to go in front of you.

DAY 18

Give encouragement to someone who is working hard

Make a personalized playlist for a family member

DAY 19

Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while

Always keep your word

DAY 20

Offer to pet sit for someone for free

Shop for someone who is ill

DAY 21

Put extra change in a meter that is about to run out

Send a card or flowers to someone going through tough times

DAY 22

Give up your seat for someone else

Spend a day saying only nice things to others

DAY 23

Be an active listener

Leave a treat for your mail carrier in your mailbox

DAY 24

Visit a sick friend

Forgive mistakes

DAY 25

Tip generously

Leave a thank you note

 DAY 26

Cheer up a friend

Ask someone how they are …and really listen

 DAY 27

Leave change in the vending machine

Donate your talent

DAY 28

Don’t nag

Be kind to yourself

DAY 29

Do nice things and don’t tell anyone about it

Send a care package to a soldier

DAY 30

Bake a cake for a birthday person

Give chocolate generously and often

DAY 31

Be patient

Let it go

Only two days left….Let’s go make a difference.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope

Be Blessed.

Laura

The Impact Of Progress

tree

The sound of machinery vibrates through the my house like the roar of a tornado.  I go to the window and see workmen cutting down the trees across the street. I’m nauseated at the sight because I know the story behind that empty lot.

It began many years ago when an older couple moved ‘to town’. They were moving from the country to a residential neighborhood because they could no longer care for the farm.  The woman didn’t want houses close to her so her beloved husband bought three adjacent lots.  He built a beautiful house on the lot in the middle.

Eventually, we moved across the street from the woman.  Her husband had passed away. Every day she worked in her yard and the empty lots. She wore her work clothes and a sun hat and would sit at her picnic table for a break now and then, drinking her tea.  Sometimes , she just sat and watched the leaves fall and listened to the birds sing. She insisted on keeping all three lots well manicured. She usually went to the grocery store on Thursday and to church on Sunday.  Every time I went to my mailbox while she was working in the yard,  she told me the story of how her beloved husband bought all three lots so she would have some property in town.

Years went by and eventually she would be driven to the store and church by a caregiver.  She was no longer able to work in her yard.  At first, the caregiver only came about 3 times a week and then it was every day. Then as I was leaving for work one morning, I noticed the night time caregiver leave and the day shift arrive.  Sometimes when I was home, I would see her walking with her caregiver.  She would always stop and tell the story of my girls and I to the caregiver.  She remembered Kelsey and me sitting on the front porch waiting for Paige to get off of the school bus.  She watched my girls grow up but only remembered the story about the front porch and school bus.  Time went by and the caregivers no longer came.  The house was empty and she had  passed away.  She was a woman of strong faith.

A young couple moved into her house to begin a new life and some neighbors purchased one of the extra lots.  The lot closest to me sat empty for over a year.  I was glad to see it empty because it held the memory of her sitting at her picnic table drinking her tea.  As I sit here today, I see trees being cut down and branches being shredded into mulch.  What’s to be done with that lot?  She loved it so much.  A new family will come and build new memories. Maybe, I will become the woman who sits under the shade of her tree and watches the children come home from the bus.

Stories of families who never met intertwine on that empty lot.

I invite you to follow me on FB @ http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Laura

Caregivers Need Care

Me with my wonderful husband at Paige's wedding, January2010
Me with my wonderful husband at Paige’s wedding, January2010

My definition of the caregiver…

A caregiver is the person who…

  • changes his/her work schedule to drive you to chemo (my mom)
  • ensures you take your anti-nausea medicine when you are so sick from chemo/surgery that you just don’t care
  • ensures you eat a little protein when you can’t taste a thing because protein rebuilds cells
  • sits hours upon hours at doctor’s appointments, chemo labs, hospitals and pharmacies
  • prepares menus for your family when you can’t
  • stands by when you got to the bathroom to make sure you don’t pass out or start heaving your guts up
  • gives you Neupogen shots at home (in my case, my daughter became a nurse a few days before my diagnosis.)
  • greets guest with a smile while you put your wig on
  • thanks visitors for the food and explains that you just can’t see them today
  • moves from out-of-state to stay with you as long as possible (mother-in-law)
  • pretends to never see your bald head because you would just cry if you knew the truth (my wonderful husband)
  • gives up softball because of the need at home, even though a scholarship is possible (my youngest daughter in her senior year)
  • buys groceries because you are not allowed to go to the store, per Dr’s orders
  • assumes the coordination of all school functions
  • cleans the house, folds laundry, does dishes…when you can’t
  • watches you go through ‘hell’ and tells you that you look great
  • sprays Lysol in your office every day when you leave (Monica, Principal’s’ Secretary)
  • makes pink curtains for your office (Monica, Principal’s’ Secretary)
  • hold’s a Pink Celebration (RBW Staff)

Caregivers need to have someone to talk to when they feel overwhelmed. They need plenty of rest, a break now and then, to have an outlet or to join a support group, if possible. For example:

  • if a husband is caring for his wife, his buddies need to take him out for a guys night, football game or just get away for a few hours
  • if a wife is caring for her husband, her friends need to plan a girls night out
  • the same if a parent is caring for a child…aunts, uncles, friends need to come over and take turns so that the primary caregiver can have a break

Cancer has the ability to interrupt so many lives.  Don’t let it.   Don’t give away your power! Cancer does not have to control your life. The power in living comes when you keep your schedule and routine.

I invite you to follow me @ http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed!

Laura