Thursday, September 29, 2011


Joel had a birthday yesterday.  He is now officially an adult and he tells us every chance he gets.

He just wanted a quiet birthday with just family around.  He asked for a black forest birthday cake. Grandma and Jerry stopped by on their way back from Dawson Creek.  
He was very patient and waited till Ari got home from club to open his presents.

I think Joel's favourite gift was the violin.  He has been crushing on it for a long time.
Now, to find a teacher to give him lessons. 
But the absolute best gift was a black mullet wig from Brianna.
All the kids channelled their inner rock star personalities. 
I think we will be starting up a family punk band in the near future.

So, next is more blood work tomorrow morning.  If the counts are all good then Joel will get chemo in Kelowna on Monday morning.  Joel has been doing better this time around.  He is still not eating much but he hasn't been throwing up as much either.  Meat and dairy really upset his stomach so I am trying to cook more vegan meals.  I made him a spicy barley and mushroom soup which he said was the first thing in a very long time that he actually wanted to eat.  Yay!

77 more days until Joel is in maintenance (as long as there are no more delays)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

just like riding a bike

I ran this morning and it hurt.  Two weeks ago I did my best run ever, 7k in 41 minutes.  But then my left achilles tendon started to bother me and I had to slow it down.  My goal is to be able to run at least 10k and I would like to be able to do a kilometre every 6 minutes.
My brilliant cousin told me that I should stop running and try biking.  The trouble with that is it had been at least 20 years since I have been on a bike.  I told him that I would be wobbly and he said just to go really fast and then I wouldn't wobble.  So I tried it and it was mostly like he said.  As long as I went really fast, I was fine.  I only crashed into Grant once when I was trying to shift gears halfway up a hill.  I think I did pretty good, I rode all the way to Enderby and back and only crashed that one time.

I started running shortly after my 40th birthday.  It was something I had thought about for a while so I asked for an ipod for my birthday and around the middle of April I asked my tech-man (Joel) to download Couch to 5k for me.  The first day was only 6 actual minutes of running and I thought I was going to die.  During the first few weeks of running Grant would tease me and walk beside me while I ran (I kid you not, I was that pathetic).  I realized that I hold my breath when I try to do anything that does not come naturally to me.  It is really hard to run while you are holding your breath and so I have had to learn how to breath.
Whenever I try something new I tend to obsess about it.  I read the books "Born to Run" and the Runner's World "Complete Book of Running".  I watched a documentary about Terry Fox and then watched the movies "Chariot's of Fire" and "Rocky".  I even had Joel download the theme songs from those movies to put on my running playlist (yes I am that much of a geek but those songs really do make me run faster).
I really hate running.  It feels like I am doing penance. It does not come naturally to my knock-knee'd, pigeon-toed, lopsided and gangly body.  For the first half of my run I wonder what I am doing but then the pain seems to disappear and I become delusional.  I start to think I am graceful and swanlike.  But in reality I am afraid that I must look more like a red steam engine puffing along.   Not to mention that running has made me gain weight…… and no, it is not the ice cream bars that I just can't seem to stop eating, it IS the running.
I like getting up early, just as it is beginning to get light out and while all the kids are still sleeping and I head out for my run while there is little or no traffic.  Right now I run for between 40 and 50 minutes and  often I get home just as the sun is coming up over the mountain.  I do love how I feel after running though but like I said before, by that point I am delusional.

Joel is back in Vancouver again.  He and Grant left yesterday.  We didn't think his counts were going to be high enough just because of how he was feeling but the white count was at 1.7, hemoglobin was at 105, platelets were 114 and the ANC was .63.  The ANC was high enough to begin treatment again but low enough so that the methotrexate amount will not be increased.
Usually Joel is feeling better and has more energy a few days before starting treatment.  But this time he was still nauseous, throwing up and he spent most of the day laying around on the couch.  He started throwing up blood again and the open sore on his lip still hadn't healed.
Today he started the day by having an ECG (it is a preventative measure in preparation for the doxo that he starts next month), then he got his vincristine and methotrexate thru the port.  Tomorrow morning he gets the spinal chemo and then he should be able to head home.
Yesterday after having his blood work done, Joel stopped at the college to talk to one of the counsellors. He is thinking of becoming a teacher.  Registration for courses starts again in November and I think he can do most of his classes thru distance education.
We have all been feeling worn out and tired this month.  It has been over nine months of this and I think it is starting to catch up with us.  But we do have an end date in sight for this intensive treatment.  If there are no more delays then the last day before the three years of maintenance will be December 12th.  There are still two or three places where Joel could be delayed but it still feels good to have an approximate end date to look forward to.

Anyway, here are some pictures of what we have been up to lately.  Today Adam, Ari and I walked about an hour down the railway tracks to go check out the beaver dam that is causing our back field to flood.  The railroad is currently working on getting a permit to remove the dam.  It is over 6 feet high now and they are only allowed to remove 6 inches at a time.  The man we spoke with said it would take him over a week to remove this dam.  Hopefully they will relocate the beaver this time too. 
There was lots of bear scat along the tracks.  The boys saw something run across the tracks, they said it was either 2 beavers or 2 little bears.  Not sure if they were just trying to scare me…..?

Grant is now too old for us to count.
 This is my serious "don't mess with my ice cream bars" face.
 Brianna came home and played racing with the boys.  It felt just like old times.

Anyway, I just have a few questions before I go.
1.  Is running supposed to feel like penance?
2.  What music makes you want to run? (I need all the help I can get)

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Thursday Joel had blood work done at 9:00 am.  It showed that his platelet count had dropped and was too low for getting chemo that day.  He was told that he would have to stay in Vancouver and have blood work done again Monday morning.  He will get vincristine no matter what on Monday, if his platelet counts have come up then he will also get the methotrexate.  Then he will get the peg-aspariginase on Tuesday and head home.
He had a CT scan at 10:00 am and a check up with Dr. Dix.  David said that the scan shows that the clot is breaking down and there is now very good blood flow thru it.
At 1:00 pm he had more blood work done to check the level of blood thinner.
At 2:00 pm we met with the radiologist who gave us much more information than I can remember.  She did promise to write it all out and give us a copy next week.  So I will write more information about that when I have her notes in front of me.  I think Joel was a little shocked by what she said.  He was hoping that when this was all said and done that he could just move on with his life and forget about it all.  But the fact is that he will have to be checked and monitored every few years for the rest of his life.  I guess I will just keep reading and researching.
Grant and Joel spent the day at Kits beach on Friday, on Saturday they were given tickets to the BC Lions game.  Today they are hanging out on the beach at Stanley Park.
Today is Grants Birthday and he is 45.  Five whole years older than me……. I remind him of that as often as possible.  He thought no one would find out but a little birdie told Connie and she organized cake, presents and made sure everyone in the house knew.  I don't think he will ever forgive me…..