Monday, June 29, 2009

Spin Cycle: Kids! : July 3, 1961

This week's Spin Cycle is all about kids. Since the date it's due is July 3, I decided a good story to tell was about something that happened to me (and my brother, Michael) on July 3, 1961. For the record, I have absolutely no recollection of the events I'm about to tell. I know this story from the telling of it over the years.

When we were kids, our town had a big 4th of July Parade. We had school bands, fire trucks, boy scout troops, girl scout troops, baton twirlers, floats and kids could decorate their bikes and participate in the parade.

I was just shy of turning 6 years old and my brother, Michael was 10. Michael wanted to decorate his bike and be in the parade. So Michael went down the street on his bike to the 5 and 10 cent store for crepe paper and streamers and other cool stuff to put on his bike. I wanted to go with him, so he let me ride on his back fender. He wasn't allow to cross Springfield Road on his bike, so he left it in front of the drug store with orders for me to stay with the bike. He'll be right back. (I also was not allowed to cross Springfield Road, a busy intersection with a traffic light)

But I wanted to go!! It wasn't fair that Mike could go to the 5 and 10 and I had to stay with the stupid bike! So, being the little brat that I was, off I went to cross Springfield Road and promptly got hit by a car! Frankly, I don't even know if I got hurt, if I had to go to the hospital, if my mother beat the shit out of Michael for taking me to the store, or if I got my ass beaten for being so stupid as to run across Springfield Road and not even look to see if there was a green light! I'll have to ask Michael. Like I said, I have no recollection of the event, but my brother has vivid memories of it.

Nearly every year, on July 3rd, he calls me to wish me a Happy Anniversary. You'd have to know my brother to appreciate that he'd call me to celebrate an event like that. Michael hasn't called me in the past couple of years... I have to call him. But he's getting old (he just turned 58), so I guess I can forgive him. :)


Check out my blog entry for Saturday about the wall at work. I added pictures!

Queenie and Love My Friends!

Imagine my surprise when I got online tonight and discovered that I have been awarded TWO, count 'em TWO Blog Awards!

Ice Queen over at The Constant Chill bestowed the Queen Of All Things Award on me this weekend! This is very cool! I love being a queen, even if it's only virtual. If you don't read Ice Queen's blog, you should. I love teacher blogs! They have the best stories!

So, like all awards, this one comes with rules. So here they are:

1. List 7 things that make me awe-summm!
2. Pass the award onto 7 bloggers that I love
3. Tag those bloggers to let them know they are now Queens too (and link back to the Queen who tagged you)

Hmmmm.... 7 things that I think make me awesome. This might take a while.

1. Well, I think I am a real good (although at times tired) caregiver for John.
2. I'm an awesome server! If you come in often enough, I'll know what you drink and maybe even your favorite foods! I generally go home with at least 20% of my sales in tips, even after tipping out the bartender, busser and host.
3. I give really good back rubs!
4. I'm a cool mom!
5. I'll give just about anybody a ride to work if they ask, or a ride home.
6. I'm a really good listener, and over the years, I've learned to keep my mouth shut. I have some really good secrets!
7. Lilly at Lilly's Life told me to write that I have an amazing sense of humor, so that's my #7! Thanks Lilly!

Now to pass this on to 7 people I love:

1. This one's easy! Recovering Actor at My Inner Monoblog real name means Queen and I love her because she's my kid! And she got me started on Blogger!
2. Alix at Casa Hice because she always makes me feel good about myself and she makes me laugh my ass off!
3. Sally at Sally's World because she puts up the funniest little jokes and she does wonderful work for kids with special needs!
4. Hallie at The Wonderful World of Weiners because the great work she's doing for Organ Donation (even if she does gross me out every Monday morning)
5. Mrs. Mullet at Frogs In My Formula for putting up with the folks in Mulletville and at her job. And she absolutely cracks me up!
6. Joan at The Retirement Chronicles because she pictures always cheer me up!
7. Kat at 3 Bedroom Bungalow because Military wives are the best! They hold down the fort while their husbands are defending our country and put a brave face on for the world to see!

Whew! Well, that took some time! Now, on to the next really cool award!

I received this award from my good friend, Liz at Eternal Lizdom. Liz is so busy with her life I don't know where she finds the time to blog! Her blog is great though! You should stop by and say hello, if you don't already.

OK, here are the rules for this award. They're slightly different than the other one:

The Love My Friends Award is given to those bloggers who aspire, inspire and share the most beautiful of human attributes: art, wisdom and friendship. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more.

It's really difficult to choose who to pass this one on to. This time, I'd like to pass the Love My Friend award to 8 people (OK, so I did 12, sue me) who have shown real compassion for us as John and I fight through this next battle with Cancer. I get pep talks and emails and hugs and encouragement from these folks almost on a daily basis and for that, I love you! Some folks have gotten this award from Liz already and I do love you too! (you know who you are! MUAH!!) So, with that being said, I'd like to give this very special award to :

1. Braja at Lost and Found in India
2.Darsden at Ramblingsaboutwhy
3. Alix at Casa Hice
4. Ann at Ann's Rants
5. Lisa at I Didn't Get The Message
6. Maureen at Island Roar
7. Daria at Living With Cancer
8. Pseudo at Pseudonymous High School Teacher
9. Lilly at Lilly's Life
10. Jen at Sprite's Keeper
11. Julia at Sometimes Lucid
12. Petra at The Wise (Young) Mommy

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the love and the prayers and the encouragement. It means more to me than you could possibly know!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A very odd coincidence UPDATE!!

Everyone who has been to TGI Fridays knows about all the memorabilia (aka junk) that is hanging on all the walls on the restaurant. We, at the Pottstown Fridays are considering retiring Table 33. Why you ask? Well... just over table 33, on the wall, are a lot of pictures and other stuff.

Last evening, just after word got out confirming the death of Michael Jackson, someone noticed something very weird and coincidental. On the wall is a picture of Farrah Fawcett, as Jill Munroe, riding a skateboard. Just to the right of this picture of Farrah, is a picture of Michael Jackson, from the Thriller album, I believe! Lots of people asked the servers if they moved the pictures so they could be together, but no, it's been that way for more than a year and a half, since we did the renovations to the restaurant!!

OK, Here's the shot of the entire montage of pictures and below is a closer shot of Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and Lou Ferrigno.

Then, just as everyone is getting used to seeing these 2 side by side on the wall, someone mentions that Michael Jackson was preparing for a World Tour. Apparently (or obviously) MJ was not in the best shape, so Lou Ferrigno was hired as his personal trainer! Guess who's picture is sitting just t
o the right of Michael Jackson??? You got it! Lou Ferrigno as The Incredible Hulk!

I've been calling the wall over Table 33 The Dead Wall. In addition to MJ and FF, also included on this wall are Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker, Elvis Presley, Grandpa from the Munsters, Morticia and Gomez Addams, Lurch, Johnny Cash, George Harrison and John Lennon. Watching over everyone is Casper the Friendly Ghost! If I were one of the six living people in pictures on that wall, I'd be nervous! (Eddie Munster, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Lou Ferrigno, Wednesday Addams and Pugsley Addams are all still living)

Weird huh! I can almost hear The Twilight Zone music playing in the background!

I wish I had thought to snap a picture of the wall. Maybe I'll do it on Monday when I go to work and post it later that night!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dear So and So...

Dear (and I use that term loosely) Ex-husband,
Why in the world would you send me a text message at 7:30 am to tell me you're taking our kid to Seattle with you at the end of July? It couldn't wait until a more decent hour? Since you left, I really don't have to get up at the crack of dawn like I did for 20-some years. Don't be surprised if you get a call or text after 11 one night, when I'm wide awake and you're sleeping. Paybacks are a bitch and you will recognize it when it happens.

Your Ex-wife

Dear Creditors,
You may as well stop calling me. If I don't recognize the phone number, I'm not answering my phone. Besides I'm not allowed to talk on my phone while I'm working. When I have the money, you'll get some of it. In the meantime, knock it off!

Empty Pockets


Dear Boy Who Mows My Lawn,
If you don't stop by my house when you see my car in the driveway, you won't get paid. By the way, my lawn needs mowing again.


Your neighbor down the street with the overgrown lawn


Dear People who live in Apartment C6 at John's place,
Is it really necessary to stomp around at midnight every night? I know you're a teacher.... you should know about using your Indoor Voices, especially late at night.
And WTF is up with your dog?? Is he pushing a bowling ball around the apartment? It's a damn good thing I have ear plugs to wear!


the sleepy visitor downstairs


Dear Son,
When are you going to pay those 2 parking tickets you got while at school? The last time you got one and didn't pay it, the cops threatened to arrest my ass because the damned car is my MY name! I love you but I'm not going to jail for you OR pay your parking tickets!



Dear Kat,
This was fun! I'm glad I decided to join in!

Signed, Joanie


If anyone wants to Join in Dear So and So, it's a great way to get crap off your chest! And we do it on Fridays! Stop by Kat's place across the pond and see what it's all about!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Spin Cycle: Jealousy: Green-eyed Monster

This week's Spin Cycle is all about that Green-eyed Monster we call Jealousy. Actually I have 2 short stories about jealousy.

My first spin is a rather silly one. It's silly because I was jealous of a new-born baby. Yes, post-partum stuff made me jealous of my first-born child, Regina Frances. I think Gina was only a few weeks old and I heard her Daddy talking to her and cooing at her, and that was just fine. Then I heard him call her his favorite girl.
WHAT??? I thought **I** was his favorite girl!

Now I wasn't some young new mommy. I was just shy of my 29th birthday when Gina was born. I knew it was crazy to be jealous of a baby, MY baby, but I couldn't help it! I remember crying and Greg wanted to know what was wrong. I was really embarrassed to tell him that I was jealous that I had lost my standing as his favorite girl. I'm sure h
e rolled his eyes and sighed a big sigh. From that day on, Gina was his favorite blue-eyed girl and I was his favorite brown-eyed girl. Sheesh! I really needed to get over myself!


The second spin also involves Gina, but also her brother, Tim. Gina was 6 years old, in first grade and at school when this happened. When I was 8 months pregnant with Danielle, my youngest, Tim, who was 2 1/2 years old at the time, came running into the kitchen to tell me something. I was standing at the open refrigerator door and as I turned towards him, he tripped over my foot and crashed head-on into the corner of the wall going into the dining room an
d split his head open! Blood was gushing everywhere! My neighbor agrees to get Gina off the bus after school.

So, I get Timmy into the car and drive him to the ER. Here I am, 8 months pregnant, waddling in with a toddler with blood gushing everywhere from a gaping wound on his forehead. The nurse takes him straight back to get stitched up and they have to put Tim in a papoose to immobilize him to do the stiches and they tell me, "this is where we ask you to wait outside." Don't have to ask me twice!!! I'll be right out there! I'd have my ass pas
sed right out on the floor if I had to see what they were going to do.

So Timmy gets his stitches, a lollypop, a bunch of stickers and a really cool bandaid on his forehead and we head on home. Now Timmy is the center of attention and Gina does not like this. one. little. bit. Our neighbors have come by and given Timmy a book, some candy, a toy. For Gina? nada.

Later that day, I walk into the kitchen and what do I see? Gina, standing at the very same wall where Timmy split his head open, banging her head against the wall, trying to split her head open so she, too, can get a cool bandaid, and toys and candy and stickers! Is it any wonder the g
irl grew up to get her degree in Theatre????

Below is a picture of Gina and Timmy, in their Christmas Photo with his stitches. The man at Sears kept trying to cover it up with a Santa hat, and I stopped him. I knew that picture would come in handy some day!

For more spins on jealousy, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Why do people think it's OK to call or text you at 7:30am? They must think the entire world is awake. My ex texted me yesterday to tell me that he was taking our youngest (who is 18) to Seattle with him at the end of July so she could visit her friend who moved to Portland, OR. That's wonderful, but was it really necessary to tell me at that early time?

Verizon Wireless also called me at 7:30am to tell me they were turning off my phone service because I didn't pay my bill. WTF!! I would have figured it out soon enough. You didn't need to call at that ungodly hour to tell me! (it's back on .. just needed that support check that arrived 3 days late)

I wonder if my daughter's friends will be grossed out when I tell them that the A & W Diet Root Beer they drank and finished was mine and I had been drinking it straight out of the bottle? Yeah, it was a 2 liter bottle and I was drinking it straight out of the bottle! So what!

I'm excited for all the movies that are coming out this summer! John and I are a bit behind on our viewing pleasure. Transformers 2 is coming out, Night At The Museum 2, Harry Potter (YAY!!), Taking of Pelham 123 (but I want to see the original first... John has never seen it), The Proposal (but with my friend, Kathy), My Sister's Keeper, just to name a few. I know there are more that I can't think of but saw the trailers and thought they were interesting.

I am too tired to think of any more random stuff to put here right now. :)

Now, go on over to Keely's blog and grab the RTT button and do some of your own random rambling! Go on! I'll be here!

Oh yeah! Just wanted to tell you that I put up an update on how John's doing right there below this post. Just scroll down to the next entry. He's doing really well!


I'll probably do more than one post this evening. I just wanted to do a brief update about John.

Last time I posted was Sunday and what a difference a day makes! On Sunday, John was extremely fatigued, no appetite, no energy whatsoever. We basically did nothing more than lay around, eat a bit, watch some TV. John got lots and lots of rest.

I had no choice but to go home on Sunday night because I had to work on Monday. John had an appointment at UPenn Hospital for his Nulasta shot Monday evening at 6:20 pm. He thought he'd be able to work on Monday but that didn't happen. He was just too weak. So I just sent him text messages throughout the day asking how he was, asking if he ate, took his meds, got dressed, etc. (sometimes he's like a little kid..... you need to remind him to do things, especially when he's sick)

I got to his place around 3:30 and he was wiped out!! He spent too much time on his ass and just zoning out. I know he's wiped out but he needs to fight it, at least a little. So we get in the car and drive to Philly and he seemed to perk up quite a bit! Just getting out of the house and moving around was helping! We were able to park near the elevator at the garage and we went in and he got his Nulasta shot (builds up his red blood cells) and they drew his blood for his twice weekly tests. He was like a different person!!! Awake, alert.

On the way home, we stopped in Roxborough (a section of Philly) at Chubby's Sandwich Shop and got really good steak sandwiches (might be the last time for a while... once he goes neutropenic, no more eating meals out). Picked up a Rx for him, drove around a bit, then went home. He stayed up until after 11, watching TV and suddenly he was HUNGRY!!! John had a healthy snack or two, some cheese and mandarin oranges and a few crackers.

I think he slept pretty well last night. This morning, I had to leave again, for work. He sort of forgot to call work and tell them he wouldn't be in today. I hope his boss isn't mad at him! John does plan to go to work tomorrow. I think he needs to go to work!

Anyway, when I left, around 9:30 am, he said he wanted to sleep a little more. so when I got to work around 11am, I sent him this message:

OK Pal! It's after 11. Get your ass out of bed! Teeth, pits, food, meds, insulin, open your windows and get fresh air! nag nag nag! oh, and i love you! MUAH!!! xxoxoxoxoxox

He got the message. :) I know he took a nap this afternoon, but he did eat a few times.

He's afraid to get this PICC line wet, so he's sort of bathing in the sink. I'll help him when I get there tomorrow (kind of fun when I do it anyway! hehehehe) Once he gets used to it being there, he'll be fine about it, I'm sure... unless, of course, he LIKES me bathing him.

So the plan is for John to return to work tomorrow. I'll be there when he gets home . I'm off tomorrow and I plan to sleep as late as I possibly can, and my ex better not text me at 7:30 like he did yesterday! the ass. Not everyone in the world is up at 7:30 am. I think I need to return the favor around 11 one night. I know he goes to bed around 10.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The End of Round One!

Well, round one of chemotherapy is finished. For a few days, it looked like John wasn't going to show any signs of what he'd just been through. We were told that just as his chemo was ending, the nausea and vomiting could start. That didn't happen. And we celebrated.

John was released from UPenn Hospital at 10 pm Friday night, after undergoing chemo for nearly 48 hours straight. The meds they were giving him to ward off possible side effects seemed to be doing their job. We arrived home around midnight, grabbed a sandwich and headed off to bed.

We woke on Saturday morning and John was feeling terrific! I dropped him off at the car dealer to pick up his car (he got brakes while he was in the hospital) and I went to work. He got his car, went to the store, got a few things. He went home and watched a movie or two, took a little nap, while waiting for me to get back from work.

I arrived back at John's around 5:30 and I was exhausted! We decided to watch a movie before getting dinner and I just zonked!!! I think I slept for 30 minutes or so. Then we went to Fridays for dinner (I get a 50% discount, so we eat there once in a while). For John's neutropenic diet, he has to make sure all his food is cooked.. nothing raw, like fruits and veggies. I woke up in the middle of the night last night with the realization that he had lemon in his iced tea! We'll get that all down pat soon enough.

After dinner, we popped over at the mall, which was right next door and I bought John a blender for Father's Day so he could make his own milkshakes with no sugar added ice cream, sugar-free vanilla syrup. Then a quick stop at the grocery store for, you guessed it, milkshake ingredients!

Back to John's and I washed the blender really well and made us some shakes (they were good!) We finished watching the movie I fell asleep watching earlier (believe it or not, we watched The Tale of Despereaux!) After that we hit the sack.

Today (Sunday) was an entirely different story!

John woke up this morning, completely bathed in a cold sweat! I could ring his side of the sheets out they were so wet. So into the tub he went, with his new PICC line covered with Saran wrap to keep it dry. The PICC line is sort of a permanent IV line implanted in his arm. He'll get all his chemo through the line, and they can draw blood from there. He has to keep it dry and is afraid to shower with it (He needs to get used to it because he's going to have this in his arm until at least September! Men are such babies sometimes!)

I haven't given anyone a bath since Dani was about 6 years old. This was interesting, to say the least. Too bad he felt so crappy... could have been fun! ahem.... anyway, I wash his hair and get the rest of him clean and he finally stopped sweating. I changed the sheets and got 2 sets washed just in case this becomes a daily event.

His appetite is crap, but I've been able to make him eat some things, but he's only taking very small amounts. Our plan today was to go to the library and get online for an hour or so, since John doesn't have internet access at his apartment (grrrr). Between feeling like crap and being completely exhausted, we had to wait for a delivery of medical supplies and then a visiting nurse to teach John and me how to flush his PICC lines out. Needless to say, those plans went right out the window (which is also why I'm typing in the middle of the night).

Poor John felt like a limp dishrag and all he wanted to do is sleep. It's difficult to make him get up and move around. He has to fight off some of the fatigue. I know it's difficult but if he doesn't, it will just get worse.

He did take a 3 hour nap earlier this evening and I snuck out to Burger King to get online, but the connection was lousy. I told him I was going to do it and he sort of pouted but slept the entire time I was gone and for 2 hours after I got home. I did check in on him every 30 minutes or so. For the record, I only bought a diet coke!

Finally, near 10 pm he came back into the living room with me and watched SVU before I had to leave to come home (I do have to drop in here from time to time since I have an 18 year old still living here for the next 2 months anyway)

After work tomorrow, it's back to John's to pick him up and drive him to Philly to the hospital to get his Nulasta shot. John got this shot when he went through chemo 2 years ago and had to get a shot after each treatment and he got 7 treatments. The nulasta shot is $7,000 each! Thank God his insurance covers it!!! I'll probably stay overnight again and go to work on Tuesday. Then it's back to his place on Wednesday for another overnight.

He needs to get blood drawn every Monday and Thursday. Fortunately, where he works, there is an Infirmary and the nurse, Deb who works there (and it completely awesome!) does it for him and sends it out to Quest Diagnostic and his work pays for it! (not sure if his work knows they pay for it since a lot of blood work goes out on a daily basis) He's a receptionist/security guard at a big Chemical Company and they have to test their employees often.

So that's where we are now. John was originally planning to go to work tomorrow, but he felt so exhausted today, he talked to his boss and will stay home instead. He'll know for the next month when he gets his 2nd round of chemo.

Well, I am going to head up to bed. I don't have to be at work until 11 tomorrow, so even though it's 2 am right now, I'll still be able to get 7 or maybe even 8 hours of sleep tonight.

OH! My fabulous wonderful beautiful daughter, Gina aka The Recovering Actor
knitted John a chemo cap to wear when his hair falls out and he needs to keep his head warm while he's in the hospital, and when we go the movies or restaurants where it's usually rather cool. Since John's retired military (20 years in the Army, most with the 82nd Airborne Division) Gina made it in Camo colors (tan, olive green and darker green and white). I can't wait to give it to him tomorrow (although I'll have to wash it before he wears it... we have about a week before he needs it, so I should have enough time to get it washed) I think she's awesome!

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm learning a lot

I'll probably have these updates fairly often over the summer. It helps me to write about John's cancer treatment.

It was really hard, being at work all day and not being with John while he went through his first day of R-ICE, the treatment he's getting for his Lymphoma. The best I could do was text him from time to time to ask how he was.

They started his first batch of drugs around midnight, with Rituxan. When John went through chemo 2 years ago, the Rituxan gave him really really bad chills. He said he was colder than when he was stationed in Alaska and living outdoors for 2 weeks a year in -50 degrees! They told him to expect this and they made adjustments and from that day on he didn't have that reaction. They call it "Infusion Reaction" aka a severe allergic reaction to the drug (sort of). Benadryl taken beforehand helps ward this and other reactions off.

This time around, John got terribly itchy. They gave him Benadryl or a similar drug and the itching subsided. Side effect from the Benadryl??? He falls asleep and snores really really loud!!!!! I did warn the nurses. :)

They are also giving him a drug called Mesna to help protect his bladder and other parts. With the drugs they give him to ward off different side effect of the chemo drugs, he's had a fairly easy time of it today.

John's also getting some kind of steroid which makes his blood sugar skyrocket and also Zofran, to fight off nausea. I'm not even sure what other drugs he's getting!!!

The doctor did tell him that any adverse reactions will probably come as he's finishing up his treatment this week. I did find out he has to wear a mask if he's around any crowds, especially after they do the stem cell harvest and while they are doing the transplant.

Today John was given a packet that describes a Neutropenic diet
This is the actual packet he was given (now I don't have to ask anyone for a copy!) John's immune system will be severely compromised and he has to take great care not to get infections and bacteria that could possibly kill him! He's not allowed to eat some of the foods that we just take for granted are ok to eat.

For instance, no fresh fruits or vegetables unless they are cooked. No raw fruits, vegetables, nuts. He can't have any ice cream, water ice, custard from a machine because the dispenser might have bacteria. No yogurt, soft cheeses... only individually wrapped cheeses, like Kraft American singles or mozzarella sticks that are individually wrapped. No deli meat because they might not clean their blades correctly. The link has a whole list of things he can and cannot have. The thing that's gonna kill him is no fast food!!! LOL So, if I get a hankering for Burger King, I have to eat it before I see him!

So, Day 1 went fairly well for him. I hate not being able to be there, not knowing what's happening. I went to every one of John's treatments 2 years ago, but he had a 1 day treatment every 3 weeks and I was able to schedule my day off to coincide with it. Now he's doing 4 day stints and there's no way I can take that kind of time off from work. Fortunately, the next treatment is scheduled for the week I had originally planned to go to the beach, until I cancelled the trip. I kept the vacation time to see what was happening. I'm glad I did! I do get 3 weeks vacation this year and plan to take 1 of the weeks when John comes home after the transplant in September.

On another note, I am completely overwhelmed by the generosity of the people here in this blogging community! Your generosity will help me defray some of the cost of gas, parking, meals I'll need to eat at the hospital. I'm sure there are expenses I haven't even thought of, but this will help tremendously! Thank you, thank you, thank you! And, as I told Braja this evening, I will most certainly, at some point, pay this generosity forward! Damn! I keep getting filled up!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Long-ass day... hell! one long-ass week!

It's 1 am, Thursday. I should be in bed. I will go as soon as I finish this.

Well, our trip to and from Indiana, PA and our time there went well. The kids were all kept pretty busy and I rarely saw Dani for more than a minute. The hardest part was when our cell phones went down on Monday morning (did you know that Verizon will call you at 7:30 am if you don't pay your bill? not cool at all, Verizon!). We weren't able to contact each other make plans to meet up for anything.

Living in a college dorm might be fun for 18 year old kids but it sucks for 53 year old women (at least this 53 year old woman!) A single bed with a bad mattress (I sleep in a queen) I did not sleep well at all. I'll give the food a C. It was OK, not great. Burger King would have been fine.

I met some nice ladies from across the state of Pennsylvania. I even met a few who live in my neck of the woods! Funny... I hung with a group of ladies from Erie, PA and Dani hung out with a group of kids from Erie. The kids shared dorm rooms, to get a taste of what it's like living with a complete stranger, but the parents didn't have to share rooms. Dani liked her crew.

So I get home Tuesday evening at 10 pm. Check the mail (YAY! support check!), take a leak and get back in the car to drive to John's, which is nearly an hour drive. Finally get a decent night's sleep, but I could have used more. We had to be up by 7:30 to get ready to drive to Philly for John's chemo treatment.

This is where the long ass day comes in.

We arrive at UPenn Hospital at 9:30 (30 min early!). John gets his blood drawn, then he goes to another room for his vitals and has a consult with his doctor.
Then we have to go across the street to another part of the hospital for his CT scan but it's not for another 3 hours. Fortunately, there's a bridge that connects the 2 parts of the hospital and we don't have to go outside at all.

So we head over to Potbelly's for lunch for me (he can't eat because he has to fast for his CT scan). Good sandwiches at Potbelly's!! Then it's back inside to wait for his turn.

He goes in (the CT scan takes about an hour) Now it's time to check in because they are admitting him for 3 days. Apparently they do this chemo in 3 parts over a 3 day period. I'll post a link at the bottom is anyone wants to read what kind of chemo he's getting and all the fun things it can do to him.

Before he checks in, he wants to eat, so it's back to Potbelly's for his lunch!
Before we get John checked in, we snag a wheelchair and go down to the parking garage and retrieve all his stuff he's bringing with him. We used the wheelchair like a hand cart! Folks thought that was very clever! (my idea!!)

So finally he does the check-in routine and it takes a little while but not long. We go up to his room and he changes and the nurses come in and chat and take vitals and start IVs. By this time it's dinner time.

His room is very nice! He has a roommate, but it's obvious from the decor that this was a single private room, once upon a time. This room looked more like a hotel room! An abundance of chairs, 2 TVs, an armoir for stuff and a TV, cherry cabinetry. There is even a loveseat/sofabed in case a loved one wants to stay over!

The nurse practioner comes in and they go over a bunch of stuff, then a little later, a doctor comes in and has a chat. Everyone is very very nice!!!!!! They explain in great detail what is going to happen, what may happen and how to deal with it.

This hospital is like no other I've ever dealt with! There is no "Oh, the lab is closed, so we're going to start your chemo tomorrow"... No, no no!!! "Mr. Russo, your chemo will be up in a few hours and we'll get you started." This place runs 24/7 like it's day shift! The entire floor is chemo patients. Each patient has his own nurse.

At 10 pm, his chemo wasn't upstairs yet and I was exhausted! So I had to leave him there and drive home. I had one hell of a time trying to figure out how to work the machine where you pay for your parking! Finally got it figured out!

OH! I talked to someone about getting passes and was told you can buy a book of tickets for parking (50 tickets for $80 and 25 tickets for $40) So I go upstairs to find out how to pay for it, and am told this program is stopping on July 1, but the hospital is starting a new program on their own (I guess there's a company that runs their parking garages). So she suggested I come back tomorrow, during the day and get the correct info, which I will do. My parking today was $10. I can't pay that every night, plus gas! So for this time around I'm paying as I go. But for the next 4 day stay and especially the month stay, I need help!

The folks at the hospital have already been in contact with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society about giving him a grant to help pay some bills. They're also seeing if he can get short term disability. If they can do that, it would help so much!!! He's using his vacation time for this month-long stay.

I sent John a text message when I got home to let him know I arrived home safe and sound but I had not heard back. Either he was alseep or they were finally giving him his Rituxan.

So that's what's happening now. I'm going to bed! My ass is dragging!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Crisis averted!!! All settled in.

YAY!!! Now worries about going through Internet withdrawal. They have an Internet lab set up for the parents, right in our dorm building! Woo hoo!!!! I am one happy gal!

The ride to IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) took a mere 4 hours. that was 30 minutes faster than mapquest told me. We checked in at registration and found that I never registered but that was no problem. For a mere $68, I have my own room and am registered for Parent Orientation on Monday and Tuesday.

Apparently, Dani and I are NOT sharing a dorm room, like I thought. We aren't even sharing the same HALL! She's in Putt Hall and I'm in Delaney Hall. She has a roommate, I do not. Parent's get continental breakfast tomorrow, kids do not. We do, however, get lunch and dinner tomorrow and breakfast and lunch on Tuesday.

This is a beautiful campus! They have built new dorms, refurbished the older ones. They look like modern apartment buildings. The campus is in the middle of a small town and everything is within easy walking distance. We wandered down the hill and stopped at Subway for dinner (6" chicken teriyake in honey wheat, a diet coke and apples. See? I know how to eat low-fat when I have to!)

Now is Dani is in her dorm, maybe watching a movie on her computer. I hope she's in the student lounge meeting new people! The girl she's rooming with has 2 friends with her who are also going to be attending the school, so she's not hanging out with them (at least, not as far as I know)

OK, I think I might hit the hay soon. I'm glad to know I can come down here and check my blog and other stuff.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I'm outta here!

I'll be away for a few days, so I'm not sure when I'll have access to a computer. I'm sure I'm going to have MAJOR withdraw!

After work tonight, I'll be heading to John's over night to spend a bit of time with him before he goes to work. Then, in the morning, I pick up Dani and we head out to Indiana, PA (not to be confused with the state of Indiana.. this one is in between Altoona and Pittsburgh) for her orientation for college. I think it's about a 4.5 hour drive, around 260 miles. We'll be in Indiana, PA until Tuesday afternoon. I head home, drop the kid off and drive to John's (another hour... groan) and stay overnight and take him to U of P Hospital for his chemo. It's gonna be along-ass couple of days!

Friday, June 12, 2009

and so it begins

John got word yesterday that his appointment to see the doctors at University of Pennsylvania Hospital next Wednesday isn't just to discuss his treatment. He is to receive his first chemo treatment. And for this, he needs to be admitted to the hospital for 3 days.

This round of chemo scares the shit out of me. When John had his first round of chemo, back in 2007-08, he was able to work through it. He lost a couple of days every 3 weeks, for the treatment and the Nulasta shot and they scheduled it for Thursday, so he had the weekend to recover.

This time it's different. This time, John needs to be admitted for his treatment. This time he'll lose all the hair on his body (last time he still had some hair... eyebrows, eyelashes, some head and body hair) John allowed me to take before pictures, and I can also take during and after pictures too. The man's Italian... he's got hair everywhere! He's the man you see on the beach who looks like he's wearing a sweater... front hair, back hair, shoulder hair... yup, everywhere.
(just so you know.. me taking the pictures is me trying to keep it light and he understands this and is going along with it.) This time, he might actually get sick from the treatment. I KNOW when they do the big one, he'll be sick. The plan is to completely destroy his bone marrow and then infuse the stem cells they'll harvest back into his body. One bit of good news is his bone marrow is clean. No sign of any cancer there. If there was, then they'd have to ask his siblings for a donation and frankly, I'm not sure if any of them would agree to it.

I am not looking forward to driving into the city each night, after working all day, by myself. I'm more concerned with returning to my car, after visiting, by myself, each night.

Parking at the U of P is not cheap. I need to look into the terms for a weekly or monthly parking pass (for when he's admitted for that month when he gets his mega-dose of chemo). I think I also need to check on the valet parking.... might not be expensive, and it'll be a helluva lot safer.

So that's where everything stands now. At least after this treatment, we'll know what to expect and will be prepared for it.

If anyone is interested in finding out just what the treatment is, this is a link that explains it all in plain English. If you don't, then just ignore it. You won't hurt my feelings. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spin Cycle: Summer Time! : Ocean City, MD

For the past few years, I've been vacationing, the 3rd week of July, in Ocean City, MD. My good friend and former neighbor, Fran rents her summer place, aka Smith Housita to me for a very good, low low price.

This year, I just couldn't get the money together, so I had to cancel. I'm hoping John and I can go this September, before he goes back to work after undergoing his chemo treatments. I think when it's all said and done, we're going to NEED a few days away for rest and relaxation and picnics on the beach! Fran gives me real sweet deal when we rent in the autumn, after the season ends.

But the other 3 years we used the place, it was great! Fran and her hubby bought this place as their summer vacation home. They would go down all summer and on weekends before and after "the season". They liked it so much, they sold their home here in PA and bought a year-round house in MD, just about 2 miles from their summer place.

The housita, as she likes to call it, is in a gated community on the mainland just a few miles from Ocean City. There's a lake with paddle boats for your pleasure, 2 large pools (one at each end of the development), a fishing and crabbing dock, rec center for the kids. The house has 2 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, 1 bath and a laundry room.

The thing I like best is it's only about 5 miles from Ocean City beaches and boardwalk and 5 miles in the other direction from Assateague Island. We usually go swimming at Assateague. Parking is free and abundant (well, actually you pay $10 per car-load per week.. parking in Ocean City is $10 minimum each time you go, unless you luck out and find a spot on the street). It's not overly-crowded and you share the beach with the wild ponies!

Driving through the island is really cool! The ponies seem to be everywhere! The campers have to be careful to store their food well or the horses get in the tents and eat all the food!

So, I'll be socking a few dollars away each week for next summer. I'm not missing out on my week at the beach any more!

And I'm going to steal my good friend, Pseudo's idea and give you 10 things I plan to do this summer. Unfortunately, I can't take the summer off, like she can (she's a teacher) but I'm sure I can find 10 things to do.

1. Read as many good books as I can.

2. Take John to U of PA for his chemo treatments and be as upbeat as I possibly can.

3. Go to Longwood Gardens before the chemo starts and John still has his strength .

4. Have picnics at Peace Valley Park on Sundays (doesn't' the name of the park make you feel good?)

5. Go to Dorney Park for the Wildwater Kingdom and have lots of water slide fun!

6. Eat Rita's Water Ice (sugar free of course) as often as possible.

7. hang out at the pool at John's apartment.

8. Take naps at said pool.

9. Do as many little day trips as we can. Lots of museums and parks to see.

10. Sleep in on Sundays. oh, wait, I do that now!

For more spins on summer plans, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kids say the damnedest things!

Children writing about the ocean:

1) - This is a picture of an octopus. It has eight testicles.(Kelly, age 6)

2) - Oysters' balls are called pearls. (Jerry, age 6)

3) - If you are surrounded by ocean you are an island. If you don't have ocean all round you, you are incontinent. (Wayne, age 7)

4) - Sharks are ugly and mean, and have big teeth, just like Emily Richardson.She's not my friend any more. (Kylie, age 6)

5) - A dolphin breaths through an asshole on the top of its head. (Billy, age 8)

6) - My uncle goes out in his boat with 2 other men and a woman and pots and comes back with crabs.(Millie, age 6)

7) - When ships had sails, they used to use the trade winds to cross the ocean. Sometimes when the wind didn't blow the sailors would whistle to make the wind come. My brother said they would have been better off eating beans. (William, age 7)

8) - Mermaids live in the ocean. I like mermaids. They are beautiful and I like their shiny tails, but how on earth do mermaids get pregnant? Like, really? (Helen, age 6)

9) - I'm not going to write about the ocean. My baby brother is always crying, my Dad keeps yelling at my Mom, and my big sister has just got pregnant, so I can't think what to write. (Amy, age 6)

10) - Some fish are dangerous. Jellyfish can sting. Electric eels can give you a shock. They have to live in caves under the sea where I think they have to plug themselves into chargers. (Christopher, age 7)

11) - When you go swimming in the ocean, it is very cold, and it makes my willy small. (Kevin, age 6)

12) - Divers have to be safe when they go under the water. Divers can't go down alone, so they have to go down on each other. (Becky, age 8)

13) - On vacation my Mom went water skiing. She fell off when she was going very fast. She says she won't do it again because water fired right up her big fat ass. (Julie, age 7)

14) - The ocean is made up of water and fish. Why the fish don't drown I don't know. (Bobby, age 6)

15)-My dad was a sailor on the ocean. He knows all about the ocean. What he doesn't know is why he quit being a sailor and married my mom (James, age 7)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Beam Me Up, Scottie!

Yesterday (Sunday) John and I spent the day at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. there were 2 exhibits he wanted to see. the first one was the Galileo Exhibit. It was cool, but after looking at 50 astrolabes from the 15th century, it seemed like "If you've seen one astrolabe, you've been them all." Lots of cool portraits of 3 or 4 generations of Medicis.

John's been wanting to see this for some time. Since he's a complete math geek, this was right up his alley. He was excited to see Galileo's telescope and not a replica. There lots of documents and journals, astrolabes and barometers a
nd other measuring tools (some doubled as daggers. these were serious science geeks!) I know ho-hum.

OK, so after that we strolled over to the Star Trek Exhibit. Now this was one I wanted to see! It was really cool to see the costumes the actors wore from some of the series and the movies. Khan's costume from The Wrath of Kahn and Picard's Robin Hood costume from the episode QPid, from the 4th season when Q makes them recreate Robin Hood and his Merry Men.

My favorite line from that episode is Michael Dorn, as Worf, dressed as Little John, growling, "I am NOT a merry man!" LOL (cracks me up every time!) .

Also Whoopi Goldberg's Guinan costumes were there too. We saw Picard's Bridge and a Romulan ship and lots of other stuff!

There were also the costumes of the crew of the newest Star Trek movie that just came out.

When we finished with the exhibit, John insisted on purchasing the pictures the took of us as we entered the exhibit. We were in front of a green screen and it shows us on the transporter pads. John got the holographic one where we look like we're transporting on and off the pads. There is also one of John sitting in the Captains' chair but he has that at his house.

We also saw a few other exhibits too. We've been there sevral times before so I didn't want to see all the other stuff again. After all, how any times can you walk through the human heart?

We ended our day watching the newest Star Trek movie in the IMAX theatre. The Franklin Institute's IMAX theater has a domed screen that is 4 stories high and frankly, I liked watching it on the flat screen better. We were reclined back and watching the movie. The battle scenes were so big you couldn't see anything! I'm glad I saw the movie in a regular theater before! I understand there's a flat screen IMAX theater not far from us and I'd like to check that one out too.

Friday, June 5, 2009

She's up to something, I tell you!

OK, my daughter, Dani, is up to something. I just know it! You may remember the post I did about why I can't sell my house. I took pictures of her bedroom and bathroom and posted them on this blog. If not you can read it here. Last week, she cleaned her room! I swear! The only thing on her floor now is carpet, her bed, her dresser and her nightstand! She put the doors back up on one of her closets. She cleaned her carpet! The drawers are back in the dresser, her clothes are in the dresser and they're folded! Her other clothes are hung up, in hangers in her closet!

Today, I came home from work and the dishwasher was empty and refilled with the dishes form last night's dinner. The kitchen table was cleaned off, the counter free of stuff and wiped. the floor was mopped! The living room, dining room and family room had all her stuff gone from it!

I haven't been upstairs yet. It's possible that her bathroom is free of crap and maybe even clean. The bedroom at the top of the stairs was turned into her sewing room and for the past year, all the stuff she didn't want was tossed in there. I think she was starting to go through that too. I told her whatever was left in there was going to get thrown out when she left for college in August.

I am almost in complete shock! I'm not sure who took the slob who lived her for the past 18 years and replaced her with the kid who wants to be neat, but I sure hope they keep the slob and leave me with this one! I think I might like this one!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Slow blogging day

OK, today is a slow day for blogging. I just can't think of anything thought-provoking, funny or bitchy to write about. I read Captain Dumbass's blog entry for He Blogs,She Blogs and he was talking about boxing up issues men don't want to talk about. Right away, I thought of the comedian Mark Gungor and his comedy routine about the difference between men's brains and women's brains. This is absolutely hysterical and dead on! So, without further ado, I bring you Mark Gungor and Men's Brain Women's Brain. Enjoy!

The pre-chemo testing is finished. Lungs are good, heart seems good (I think). He had the bone marrow biopsy on Monday (ouch!!! that is one painful test!) John has an appointment with the lymphoma specialist on June 16, hopefully to set up the dates for his chemo treatments. I sure hope that isn't the date for his first chemo treatment because I'll be in Indiana, PA at Indiana University of Pennsylvania with Danielle for her orientation for college and it's about a 4 to 5 hour drive (last time I did it, I drove in a snowstorm so I have no idea how long it really takes)

This sure isn't like TV! John had his 3 month CT scan at the end of April. Five weeks or so have past and his chemo hasn't begun yet. When he found out his doctor was on maternity leave, they set him up with another doctor. That doctor said he wasn't available until July 29. John's oncologist in Pottstown called the new guy and said this guy has cancer showing up every 3 months! He CAN'T wait until the end of July for an appointment! Suddenly, there was an appointment the next week. As soon as I know anything else, I'll pass the info on! Thanks everyone for your concern and thanks for letting me get this stuff my chest! I can leave my game face off when i come here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Keepsake Blog Award

My very favorite actor, Gina over at My Inner Monoblog bestowed the Keepsake Blog Award on me because she thinks I'm a keeper (which is good, since I gave birth to her and have been her biggest supporter and fan for the past 25 years.)

So the rules are:

1. Post a funny or sweet keepsake that tells something about you

2. Pass the award on to 10 other bloggers that you think are keepers.

So, here goes!

I think my Keepsake will be about the best vacation I ever took with someone who turned out to be my best friend.

Tina worked at the Curves where I was a member. I always called her the Entertainment Director of the place because she always had everyone laughing at the funny stories she told. That Curves had a good membership because of Tina. It sure wasn't because of the boring owner!

Tina helped me TREMENDOUSLY when my marriage fell apart. She'd drag my sorry ass out of the house for lunch on my day off or dinner and a movie. She kept me from becoming a hermit and got me laughing when all I wanted to do was cry and feel sorry for myself.

One day, Tina asked me if I wanted to go on a cruise with her. So I said, "uh... sure! Why not!" About a week later, she has a cruise book from the travel agency and wants to know if I can get away for a 10 night cruise. OK, I'll figure out what to do with my then 13 year old. So we save and save and save for a year and a half. Every week, I'd give Tina $20, more when I had it.

We booked a cabin with a balcony on the Celebrity Cruise ship, The Constellation. Finally, it was January 19, 2007 and we flew to Ft. Lauderdale and boarded the ship. We were standing on our balcony, waiting for the ship to set sail and I just screamed with delight that I was really on that ship, going on an adventure with my good buddy. Our ports of call were St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts (my favorite stop) and St. Thomas (Tina's favorite stop).

We wore silly flashing jewelry to dinner and the shows. We decorated our cabin door, which was a big hit because everyone knew where their cabins were by the door! We sipped strawberry daquiris with Captain Morgan by the pool every day. We danced in the night clubs at night. We weren't looking for men, we were just having fun.

Tina wasn't big on going on the excursions (which were really expensive and my funds were limited) so we mostly hit the beach and did a bit of shopping. We got aloe massages on the beach by a man on Barbados for $10 each, got sloshed on the strongest strawberry daquiris at a beach bar called The Firehouse on St. Maartens, Tina shopped for jewelry on St. Thomas and we bought my boss the biggest bottle of Crown Royal I have ever seen! I met a former classmate of Gina's on the beach at St. Kitts who happened to be a dancer on our ship!

This vacation turned out to be the best, most fun vacation I have ever taken in all my 51 years!
We laughed and laughed all the time! I'm surprised we didn't get complaints from the folks above, below and beside us, because we'd sit on that balcony every morning (early, like 8 am) with our coffee and talk and laugh and sometimes cry. It was the best therapy we ever had! We didn't even do anything special. We just hung out around the pool, saw the shows at night, went on all the islands. But it was the best time I ever had!

I wish I could go on a cruise with Tina every year. When I win the lottery, I'm going to do just that and it will be my treat!

Ok, so now I'm supposed to share this award with 10 of my very good friends who I think are real keepers. This is going to be a hard decision to make!

1. VodkaMom at I Need A Martini Mom because, like Tina, she makes me laugh every. single. day.

2. Alix at Casa Hice because she tells the best stories.

3. Captain Dumbass at Us and Them because he's so great with his boys.

4. Mary Ellen at Adopting M. E. because she thinks like me so often.

5. Heather Kathleen at a mouthy irish woman? ridiculous! because she's an Irish Lass with a smart mouth! LOL

6. Pseudo at Pseudonymous High School Teacher because she's brave.

7. Amy at Bitchin' Wives Club because her blog is just so funny.

8. Lilly at Lilly's Life because she's a has a wicked sense of humor.

9. Ryan at Pacing The Panic Room because his blog is so incredibly honest.

10. Ali at Cheaper Than Therapy because she's becoming a Drama Mama like me.