Wednesday, June 21, 2017

STARTING TO MOVE UPWARD

I am weathering storms. The mysterious rash that appeared last week is going away (the PA at the little country clinic up here had no idea its source, but told me to take Zantac and Benadryl. It is working well. The vertigo that descended on me mid-week is starting to abate on Meclizine and by doing Eppley maneuvers. My depression is slowly being lifted with God’s mighty hand. It has been 3 days since I have been assaulted with something new and I am so grateful for that. I haven’t walked much since the mosquitoes are so bad, but I feel a bit surer on my feet.

Weather here has been generally speaking, cold and rainy. June up north is not a great month. The furnace still goes on 3 times every night.  I have read 4 novels in 2 weeks and am out of books. I know this makes no sense to most of you, but I almost feel panicky without a stack of books to be read. As soon as my vertigo is completely gone, I need to drive myself into the library in town.

Richie works his tail off every day trying to keep up with all the tasks of being a good steward of acres of woods. Limbs need trimming, downed trees (of which there were many from a late heavy snow) need to be cut off and cut up, and dead trees need to be felled. He has hauled 4 or 5 trailer loads full of pine boughs, logs, and other tree parts to the “back forty.” We decided to thin out a little of the front woods so we could see the lake better so he has been on a tall ladder taking boughs down in the thickest pine. It is a never ending job.

We go next week back to Sioux Falls for an appointment. I will most likely be starting back on my chemo, so pray that I will tolerate the single dosage. I will let you know how it goes. Thank you from the deep recesses of my heart for all your prayers.

Monday, June 12, 2017

LADY SINGS THE BLUES

There have been many changes since the last time I posted. A couple of days before we left, I had a bike accident, delaying our departure by a day (I still have bruised and scabbed knees). When we got here, for some unknown reason, for the first time in years and years, I felt “blue.” Having experienced depression before, I started on an antidepressant. That lowers blood pressure. I was already taking several meds which did the same thing and I probably was not hydrating enough. My blood pressure did not need to be taken to know how low it was. I got up here and the next day, my body collapsed. Could not even stand up. Dick had to walk me to another room, put me in bed. It was the lowest point of many years. My Avera consult resulted in them telling me to get off ALL drugs, including my daily chemo.

My body was just not tolerating the double dose well. My quality of life with nausea, weight loss, headaches, body pain was marginal at best. When I added my hearing loss and vitreous detachments to the new list of side effects, I could not see myself spending a summer like that.  If they hadn’t taken me off the chemo, I would have requested it myself. They want me to get back to a “baseline” before they start me on the single dosage again. I will not try double dosage again. The drug may extend my life, but at what cost? My choice alone.

Each day is a step forward. Today I walked 70 feet to the lakeshore without Dick’s help! Did two loads of laundry. That’s it My sweet sister-in-law Margie tells me, ALL FORWARD MOTION COUNTS. She has battled depression too. Have not seen any friends up here. They may not know I’m here yet. Haven’t answered the phone from friends at home. I’m still sort of isolating…..if you’ve ever walked the “blues path,” you know what I mean. It has been a long time since I have faced depression---years before I was rendered cancerous. It is such an insidious disease, and one that I hope I can be victorious over---with God’s help and getting back on the meds when I have baselined. I need physical and emotional strength badly.

I feel like a butterfly who has lost a wing. But I know that it is God’s promise to prosper me and not harm me; to work all these ugly circumstances together in a way for my good. That is the only trust I have.


We don’t get into town much (library where they have wifi), but I will update you when I can. Thanks in advance for any and all intercessory prayers that go up on my behalf!!

Next day:

I have such a servant husband. He dropped me off at the library so I could post this, and he is doing the big grocery shop by himself. It's his least favorite thing to do. I couldn't do it. He just has such a good heart. 

A sudden rash appeared on half my belly last night. Have no idea what it could be, but 
I just sent a picture of it to my brother. He can tell me whether I should get it looked at. I said to God in the night, "Go ahead and let it pile on......   In all things, give thanks. So thank you, God for the rash.

That's it.......there are probably grammar and spelling errors all over this post, but I don not have the energy to edit. Sorry.

Monday, May 22, 2017

CHEMO REPORT

I had a good first week on the chemo. Then they had me double it. Nausea kicked in right away which is the symptom I so hate. Nothing worse when you are trying to keep weight on. I lost 5 pounds that week, but then the nausea started lessening. On this past Wednesday, I had my first nausea-free day. And 2 more after that. And I have had pretty good days since, with just a couple of low-grade nausea hours. I am trusting that it will continue with more thumbs-up days than thumbs-down.

Richie has been on a fishing trip for 7 days and should be home tomorrow. My best friend Susan from Georgia flew in for 3 of those days and we had a great time together. It is hard to be so far apart, but it is what it is. We generate lots of telephone time!!

I am the worst selfie-taker EVER.

Susan arrived on her birthday and requested REAL chocolate mousse!

Finally, I have a shout out for my young friend Jocelyn who is doing such a fabulous job losing her baby weight. I hadn't seen her in about a month and her ongoing path to getting fit and trim again post-pregnancy is really paying off. Her face even looks different. I love encouraging these young women to do the work to get it all off.  She doesn't have far to go! Way to go, Jocelynn!! I see trim, fit and healthy just around the corner for you!!

Thank you blog readers, for your prayers for me in this long-enduring walk with cancer. You have been persistent and generous in talking to the Father about me and I am so grateful!!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

BOTTOM OF THE TEAR BARREL

I took a short walk at 9 last night. Beautiful, balmy, birds still singing. I wasn't thinking about my folks at all when I walked out the door. And then, so out of no where, grief descended like an angry storm cloud. And the first tears fell before I was past my house. And then came the aching, the longing, the deep deep yearning to hold them and talk to them/hear their voices and joke with them and love on them. I cried the whole walk. Grief, which lives so close to the surface of our souls, had wrapped itself around me and wasn't letting go. Dick held me for a awhile when I got home, but my heart seemed to need a grief explosion. I cried and cried, til there were no tears left. I was at the bottom. 

I don't think if you had a tight bond with your parents that it ever gets any easier. My brothers both have those moments too, they've told me. We all have an emotional hole---even some of the grandkids have expressed it. How hard it is living without them in our lives. How blessed we Hiebs all are to have had two people so loving, so generous, so full of wisdom, so fun, so giving to others, so full of goodness as Eddie and Pat.

All I really know is that the best parts of who I am were created from the best parts of who Mom and Dad were. They live within me. I feel them. And if in honoring that love we shared, I need to spend a few nights sobbing out my grief, then so be it. 

Happy Mother's Day and Happy Father's Day, Mom and Dad.

Friday, April 28, 2017

I GOT THE CHEMO

I got approved for the chemo and I was able to get my first dose Thursday. Surrounded by the prayers of so many trusted prayer warriors, I felt God's peace as I took the first pill. I kept it down without any nausea at all. PRAISES TO MY LORD for that. Susan, Risa, Julie, Mary Ruth, Margie, Jackie, Cole, Sarah, Penny, Ann, Peg, Lee, Jackie, and Earleen, you guys ROCK as prayer intercessors and doing spiritual warfare against the enemy. You well supplemented  Richie's and Sam's prayers. I felt angels surrounding me, battering down the fears and anxiety that day. How can I ever say thanks? I will just have to pay it forward to y'all when your needy times come.

I double the dosage in 1 week. I am hoping that doesn't change anything in terms of nausea.

The final 2 weeks of getting approved for the program to get the drug early was highly stressful. When I came home Friday after being in SF 3 times that week, probed and tested and picked and tapped and scanned and MRI'd, I walked in and promptly slept for 6 hours in 2 different afternoon naps. THAT's how wiped I was. I admit I am still not back up to snuff. But the wait is over and now my prayer is for the effectiveness of the drug to be evident.
I'll welcome any prayers for that. This drug is my last hope (medically speaking). My real hope lies in Jesus and His mighty healing power.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

ENGLISH

I am a grammar buff, and proud to be one. I had no choice in the matter. Spelling and grammar were areas where my parents were not lax. They wanted their kids to be articulate. We all had our grammar corrected immediately upon using the wrong word. They had a great deal of help from the Catholic nuns who educated us, who were nothing if not rigorous in teaching us the King’s English. Every grandchild, when visiting, got corrected as well. I thanked Mom and Dad many times for the gift of that early correction. Sam has thanked me many times for the same.

If a wine snob is one who appreciates fine wine, I must be a grammar and spelling snob. I like “buff “or “aficionado” better. My brain lights up when I see misspellings and hear bad grammar! I want to rectify both! I have many friends who use poor grammar and I always notice it. It is all over TV; even my favorite reality TV host uses it. Sports analysts (and Sam would agree) and broadcasters are not known for good grammar. The morning talk shows are sprinkled every day with grammar missteps. Yes, I notice every one.

Mom and Dad raised an S & G buff. I raised an S & G buff, and I have no doubt that if Sam has kids someday, their speech will be readily corrected by their papa. Because Sam had college journalism classes, he is even more knowledgeable about high level grammar rules than I am.

I have been able to use my particular area of passion in my job. My subbing in the schools was a prime place to make a difference. I swear parents don’t correct poor speech anymore. When a student asked or told me something like, “Can him and me go to the library?” I would just calmly say every time, “Ask me again using proper English.” It may have taken 3 or 4 tries, but they eventually got it right. And then I told them how they could not make that mistake again. Of course I was there only one day at a time, and without daily reinforcement, I’m sure my efforts to teach a few grammar rules went by the wayside, but I put my due diligence in anyway. I never let poor grammar slip.

In 20 years, I’ve rarely heard a teacher correct grammar in a student. Many of our teachers themselves have poor skills. THEY never learned well. One day a classroom teacher said in a conversation with me, “Him and Gary played tennis with I and Ann.”(names changed) I honestly cringed to my core. I went home and told my husband that our schools are failing our kids through parents who don’t care about speech and through many of our teachers. Not all of them. But definitely some of them. How can they turn their students into well-spoken adults when they themselves are not articulate?

My biggest bug-a-boo is with pronoun use. Learning how and when to use nominative pronouns and objective pronouns correctly should be taught from 2nd grade on. If kids learn it early----and it’s so easy to learn---- they will know it forever.

The second thing that I hear way too much of is using an adjective where an adverb should be: “He drove real careful.” (carefully, not careful) “He did good in that game.” (well, not good).

Then there is the “like” word that has permeated our culture, used multiple times in a sentence before verbs, nouns, adverbs and adjectives. What a meaningless word. Nothing sounds so “backwoods” to me as someone who cannot form a sentence without using “like.” I just like hope it is like just a fad and that it like eases its way out of our English vernacular like very soon.

Once I was subbing and saw a notice I was to send home with kids for their parents to sign. I read it and found 4 spelling and grammar errors in the notice. I left a note for the teacher and did not send it out. Our college education classes need to stress good grammar and spelling so that these young educators can pass that on.

Okay, this has become a lecture and I never intended it to be that. What I want to say is: Parents and grandparents, if you notice poor grammar, correct it. Teach it to your little ones. Pass on the gift of becoming articulate. If you don’t know good grammar, there are hundreds of resources where you can learn it! Turn your kid into a grammar and spelling buff!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

POSSIBLE EARLY USE


There is a possibility---a good one--- that I will be eligible to get the drug I need (before it is available through the FDA on May 15) now through a program called Compassionate Use. God's fingerprints were all over how I heard about this. I won't go into all the drama and detail of how it came about, but let me just say that I have passed Steps 1 and 2 out of 4 for final approval. Next Friday I will have brain and chest MRIs, as well as 4 other tests/labs to get an idea of my condition for the research team. If I pass, I could have the drug as soon as 12 days from now.

You may ask what the benefit is of getting it so close to the day I could get it on the open market. I realize there will only be a 3-week differential and perhaps to some it isn't worth going through all this protocol to get the drug early.

Let me tell you, when you have been sitting idly waiting since Feb.1 for the only drug that can extend your life, you grab at ANY advantage. The saddest part is I would have been eligible for Compassionate Use back on Feb.1. Needless to say, I fired my doctor and have hired a new oncologist. 'Nuf said on that.

I trust in God's providence for me. If I am supposed to be approved, I will be. If not, I wait. God is the same either way. When you trust God to order your steps, you have a peace that passes all understanding.

I remain hopeful and I will let you know if I am approved!!