Sunday, October 19, 2014

Helpful Hints for Guys (Well, maybe Gals too!):

After being gone for two weeks to be with my daughter before, during and after her mastectomy and partial reconstructive surgery, I have gleaned some ideas for this post which I would like to pass on to all guys, not just those who are experiencing the role of Mr. Mom on behalf of their loved one fighting breast cancer.

Calendar. Use a calendar for everything. Dr. appointments, Reminders, Cleaning Day, notes to pick up dry cleaning, menu or meals provided by so and so. (This will come in handy for thank you notes.) I know your loved one usually keeps these things straight for you, but they may get confused. After all, they will be on some serious pain medications.

Charts. We used a drug chart produced on an Excel spreadsheet in order to keep the drugs straight. There were some that we gave her every 3 hours, some every 8 hours, some 3 times a day and one we gave 2 in the morning and 2 at night. The rest we gave her before bed. Good luck keeping them straight without some type of chart!

Remain calm. Take deep breaths. Blow away the instinct to become overwhelmed. Your stress will be felt by your loved one and it will be harder for them to deal with than any of the pain they feel. It will actually make them feel worse. They are used to doing these things for you and you may or may not realize what all they actually do to ensure your life is easier and your home is your castle.

Leftovers are great, if you will eat them. It helps to keep a mental (or physical) calendar and eat the oldest foods first. (I know, pizza trumps stir fry, but it will still be there. So, eat the stir fry for lunch and the pizza for dinner.) Rule of thumb, if it's older than you can remember, better throw it out. 

Mail contains mostly junk that can go right into the garbage without even opening. I sort it on my way back from the mailbox and walk immediately to the shredder. Yes, we shred. No one would want to be us, but again, I err on the safe side. It's just not worth the hassle if someone does steal your identity.

Before opening another jar of taco sauce or another bag of taco chips, please look to see if there isn't one already open. I know, it may mean bending down and searching through everything in the refrigerator, but take that as your cue to clean out any lost or forgotten, but hopefully not moldy yet, items.

Dishes, believe it or not, do not wash themselves. I have discovered that it is so much easier and a lot less overwhelming if I wash them right away. Those sponge scrubbers with the soap in the handle are a God-send. After I eat, I scrub the dishes and put them on the mat to dry. It certainly beats waiting until you can't find the bottom of the sink or the food has dried on the plates or silverware.

Flower water needs to be changed every few days otherwise the stems will start to rot and it will stink. It will also help those roses to perk up and last longer. We want them to give your loved one a lift for as long as we can. Someone paid good money for those beauties.

How do we remember to water our plants? Scheduling is the secret. It's usually a once a week affair. I personally like to water on my cleaning day. I have to move them to dust anyway. Use the calendar to remind you, if need be.

Dust? Clean? OK, so you are not worried about dust or a few hairs on the toilet. Maybe just a quick wipe with a wad of toilet paper will help your wife look past the fact that she hasn't been able to clean it. Another quick fix is to take the hand towel (which needs to be replaced regularly) and wipe out the sink and the counter.Then wipe off the top of the toilet. See? It gets dusty and hairy too! These two little hints take so little time, but will really be helpful.

Speaking of cleaning, I received a text from one of my readers (who read yesterday's post) informing me that there is help. Cleaning for a Reason is a nonprofit organization that provides house cleaning services to help women fighting any type of cancer. There's even one close to my daughter.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thoughts and Prayers

As if all creation accompanied me on my drive, the clouds disappeared and the sun glistened off the beautiful fall foliage all the way home. At one point I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the incredible beauty that speaks loud and clear of our Creator's power. It's as if He is saying, "See? See me? See my incredible power to make beauty?"

Yes. I've been guilty of not smelling enough roses. I've been in too much of a rush to stop and capture the beauty much less really see it and appreciate it.

But, ya know what? Sometimes, keeping busy is easier than feeling the pain. It's easier to stay in motion because it gives you the satisfaction of at least being able to do something.

But what if we don't know what to do? I've been there. If I don't live close enough or can't afford to travel, how do we help a loved one who has cancer?

A phone call. Even if we don't know what to say, just to say that it sucks and we will be praying is about all you can say anyway.

A bouquet of flowers always says you care.

A card doesn't have to be a book, but just a note. Again, just express how sorry you are and that you will remember them in prayer.

A meal helps a lot because even if the patient doesn't have much of an appetite, the family does. A few gift certificates in a card works wonders too. Subway is usually safe or look up pizza pubs in their city and purchase a gift card for them or pay for them to deliver.

Merry Maids. After leaving Roxie's, I asked her if she had found a cleaning lady. I will call her church this week. There has to be one I can hire for her. Her hubby has enough on his plate without trying to clean.

Money. Cash money. Two weeks without a paycheck puts them behind real quick. Unfortunately, the utility companies and the mortgage bank doesn't care if you have to deal with cancer.

Play dates to give dad or mom a break. Offering to take their child even for a couple hours can be a huge relief. The kids need a break too.

Send something humorous or meaningful. Even just an emoticon to let them know they are in your thoughts is helpful.

Start a fund. Pass this hat. Bake cookies. Have a garage sale. Get your friends to help.

Pray. Yes. Tell them you are remembering them because cancer feels very lonely.

I'm home again, but they will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hope and Pray

We almost missed our appointment with the surgeon today. First, we mixed up the time. Thankfully, I asked Roxie what the exact time was again. She looked it up, only to discover it was right then. She called and was told to still come in. Oh thank you!

We jumped in the car and stopped to get some gas. When we tried to start the car, it wouldn't even turn over. After getting a ride back to pick up car number two, we stopped once again for gas and flew up the freeway. Oh thank you!

We had hung a lot of hope on today's conversation with the surgeon. We were under the impression that we would know the plan of attack today. Apparently, we will have to meet with oncology and radiology first. Then, the powers that be will confer again and decide the plan of attack. The surgeon will push the appointments so this process will be expedited so Roxie can start treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment may mean going back in to remove the lymph nodes surgically, but that was not the surgeon's first choice. Radiation and chemo may both be advised, but the surgeon will wait to hear from radiation and oncology before making a decision.

It sucks to have to wait once again, but on the positive side, she got two more drains removed this morning. (Yes. Thank you!) One left to go. Maybe we can take it out this weekend. We hope and pray.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Beg and Plead

Beg. Yes, I've resorted to begging and pleading. Please God. Help. Help my daughter. Help my niece. Help our family. Help my loved ones and friends.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.... (or in this case, back with my daughter)...hubby and I both helped give Roxie a shower. I washed her hair. We put a step stool in the tub and covered it with a towel. Roxie sat on that while we hung over the tub.

We are hoping and praying that she will get the nasty painful drains out tomorrow. One of the hardest things, right now for Roxie, is not really being able to hug her son. Maybe getting the drains out will make that a little more likely.

I just saw a television ad promoting annual mammograms as a chance to detect breast cancer early. Hmmm. I guess the makers of these ads haven't checked with their wives lately, but they don't allow annual mammograms anymore. Roxie was told, by her doctors, that she was too young. Yes. Even after having a tumor cut out at age 22.

Yes. We will all have to beg and plead.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Truly Harsh

Lest you think we might be having fun at our trade show, to set the record straight, I will tell you how it is.

Thankfully we got our requested room this year with a king bed and a desk with two chairs. The chairs are on rollers and swivel, but they aren't a cozy nestle in comfortable chair. They are much better than what I endured last year, however. Last year, I put a pillow on the dresser and leaned over the table since we could only get one chair. We pour over the books to pre order inventory for the following summer. This takes hours. Even after several years, this process isn't any easier.

We missed breakfast because our tickets for breakfast are only good from 7:00-8:30 a.m. Who is hungry that early? Who is up that early? Hubby went down with his ticket, but there was such a long line, it would have been impossible to get in anyway, so he asked for a pot of coffee and came back to the room.

There was no hot water for a shower this morning, so I leaned over the spout and washed my hair. Thankful for warm water at least, I wrapped my head in a towel, sat on the edge of the tub and shaved my legs. At least I feel somewhat better.

Last night, I found out that my niece has lung cancer. I'm just devastated. The stats don't look so good for our side either.

Wow. This is harsh. Yes, this is truly harsh.