Multiple Myeloma Strikes Again

I’ve been trying to process the awful news that my dad has multiple myeloma.  We all want to be strong for each other, but this weekend I have been crying quite a bit as my dad gets ready to start chemotherapy.

One of my dearest, closest friends also has multiple myeloma and after seeing what it’s done to her, I just can’t stand this.  Well, she also has other factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and more, but we have had her over every Christmas for years, including since her diagnosis, and watched her as she suffers.  The cancer itself makes her puke her guts out. Add chemo and it’s even worse.  Right now her cancer is “slumbering”, but it doesn’t go into remission.  She and my dad will never hear the words, “You are cancer free.”  You can stop its progress for a while.

This wasn’t a total surprise because abnormal protein showed up in my dad’s blood just like my friend.  It makes your kidneys work extra hard, which makes one exhausted.  The doctor said it could develop into multiple myeloma, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon.  He has to be on a low sodium/low protein diet and this man loves bacon and eggs for breakfast.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever seen him cook besides BBQing some things and making microwaved vegetables.

The unknown is scary.  Maybe he’ll surprise us and the chemo won’t be as bad as we fear?

He’s going to lose his trademark mustache.  I think the last time he shaved it off was when I was 4.  I said, “Daddy!  You took your mustache off!  Put if back on.  Right now!”  His 70th birthday was mustache themed.

There are worse things than losing hair though.  It could cause tingling in his hands, which would affect his guitar playing.  That is his passion.  My dad has a lot of life left in him.  He has kept himself healthy and pretty active.  He has been taking care of his mother multiple times per week and she was recently put on a hospice program. I don’t know when he’ll be able to go over there again, but I’m planning on making weekly visits if possible.

My mom has health problems aggravated by stress. I worry about her just as much as I do my dad.

My parents have done so much for us and gave me and my siblings a pretty wonderful childhood even when they were worried at times about how to make ends meet.  I’m so grateful for them and I need to take care of my health too so I can help them as much as possible.  I have to somehow not become sick with worry myself, which I am prone to.

Humor is my coping mechanism.  I will continue to use it, but it doesn’t mean everything is OK. I just have to stay well and I’ve been trying to get well since around September.  I have mostly recovered from a flare-up, but not quite.

I know I am not alone.  So many families have gone through this.  Please share your thoughts with me.  Also, if you have any good ideas for low sodium/low protein recipes that taste good, I would be grateful to have them.

 

A Birthday Confession

kissing-soldier

Ok, it’s not my birthday yet, but I figure as I get closer to my birthday, I’ll be busy opening all the expensive presents everyone got me and attending one surprise party after another.

When my husband was about to graduate from Basic Training, he was very upset to have to tell me in a letter that he was informed there was no PDA allowed in uniform because it’s “a disgrace to the uniform”.  He wouldn’t be allowed to kiss me, hold my hand, hug me, etc.  This was beyond ridiculous as every happy military homecoming I’ve ever seen involves lots of all of the above and this was the moment I started to despise my experience as a military wife.  The way I felt was, “Excuse me.  I never signed anything saying I wouldn’t kiss my husband.”

We had been married for two months when he joined and because he had to wear his uniform all the time, we weren’t going to be allowed to kiss?  Graduation week was coming up and the Air Force laid out what was allowed throughout the week when family was visiting.  Graduation week started on a Monday and then the graduation itself was on Valentine’s Day.

It’s a free country, therefore I went there with a friend a day early and attended church with my husband.  It was hilarious because they are all issued the same glasses and have the same everything, so I stood on the church steps watching for my husband, smiling at every guy with glasses in the distance.  Finally one of them smiled back.

His friend suggested we quickly go around the corner to kiss, which we did.  I was then delighted to learn no one had any say over anything in the chapel, so we held hands all we wanted during the service.  That’s right.  We disgraced the uniform in church!

After the graduation ceremony, we were told we could either attend the Spurs game or the guys could go back to the dorms and do nothing.

It was Valentine’s Day and we weren’t allowed to kiss or hold hands!  Because we wanted to be together, we went to the game, but we spent most of the time trying to find a place to make-out.  Darn elevator attendant!  It’s not PDA if you’re in private, right?

Saturday was their day pass and they were told with a wink that they weren’t allowed to go to hotels.  Of course, we went to a hotel where we held hands and read scriptures.  We said goodbye about 5pm and then it was time to head to the base for his tech school.  He would then go through “phases” and it would be weeks before he was allowed to dress in civilian clothes or leave the base.

My birthday came and he wasn’t allowed to leave base or take off his uniform.  I was also not allowed to take off his uniform.  Hahahahaha.  There was NOTHING to do.  Really.  There was a food court.  I remember one of his friends suggesting we climb in through a dorm window where I wasn’t allowed.

We just sat in the food court listening to one annoying song after another and all I could hear was the booming bass.  Every song sounded the same.  I finally decided I was going to put $10 in the jukebox and buy an entire U2 album as a birthday gift to myself.  It was the best part of my day and as I watched one person after another purchase a song, they looked around in confusion when their song never came on.  I stared straight ahead, opting not to claim responsibility for all of the U2 music.   I think I even managed not to smile mischievously.

I am a selfish person who let people waste their money and didn’t even have the courtesy to tell them, “Your song won’t come on for an hour.”

I’m pretty sure I ordered War.  I might be wrong.  All I know is that I was saved from an hour of musical Hell.

Also, I love this song.  And Red Rocks looks cool.

Inspiring People

I can’t stop thinking about what I witnessed a couple nights ago when I made the sudden decision to go to Trader Joe’s while my daughter was at an activity.  I debated whether I had enough time to go there, but I’m so glad I did.

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, a woman assisted who I assumed to be her mother out of the car and got her situated with her walker.  There’s a chance she was a caregiver.  Whatever their relationship was, there was so much love and patience shown, it made me think about the many ways I need to improve and feel grateful for every blessing I have.

I don’t think the purpose of their shopping trip was to shop, but to help this woman preserve what little strength she had left.  She couldn’t hold her head up at all.  In fact, I couldn’t even see her face. Her legs looked like they were wasting away and I feel pretty certain that she is suffering from ALS.  Some of her fingers gripped the walker from underneath because she couldn’t stand upright enough and I kept wondering if she was going to fall.  Her daughter stood close by, looking as if she wanted her to have as much independence as possible, but was also quite cautious.  I’m sure she must wonder every day, “Will tomorrow be the day she won’t be able to walk anymore?”  I was amazed as the woman managed to use a smart phone in what look like the most uncomfortable position imaginable.  Her daughter smiled.  I realized the woman didn’t seem to speak a word.

They returned to their car and her daughter continued to smile at her like she was her most treasured person on earth.  I’m sure she has no idea what a wonderful example she is to others.

I thought about all of the things I had been putting off that week simply because I didn’t feel like it.  I didn’t want to take my toddler out of the van x amount of times.  It was too cold.  I was tired. The work was too tedious.  Then I imagined what this woman must feel like.  I bet she would do anything to be able to carry a child around, fold laundry, make dinner, and vacuum up that cereal for the third time today.

Years ago my parents witnessed the rapid weight loss and decline of one of our neighbors.  She was diagnosed with ALS.  Her husband walked her down the sidewalk every day and back to their home.  Her legs looked like they were shriveling up.  Eventually the walks stopped.  Then one day my mom got what she thought was a prank call from one of us kids.  She started to joke around until she realized it was our neighbor trying to call for help because her dog ran away and she couldn’t get her back.  My mom hurried over there and they both cried together.  She had lost her ability to talk.

Today I’m doing the things I’ve been putting off with gratitude. We often don’t know all of the blessings we have until they are taken away.  I would love to be able to develop a lifelong habit of being grateful for all of my mundane tasks.

Who has inspired you?