Click on picture to read Chaco's poems

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Walmart Gets Revenge!

Well tomorrow we both go to Walmart for our flu shots. Sheila's doctor said we both should get them because of her susceptibility for infections when her white counts are low. Sheila will also have to get a pneumonia shot. Walmart has flu shots for just $24.oo so we will be there between 11Am and 3PM tomorrow. I have not had a flu shot since they made us get the very first swine flu shots back in the 70's while in the Marine Corps! Today we had no treatments and just stayed home except for buying some fruit and snacks at Walmart. We also went out and brought back Boston Market for us and Mike and Greg tonight. They had a long rough day at the Cancer Center and since Mike usually cooks a dinner most nights for Greg we thought it might help them if we just brought dinner back to the house for everyone. Carol also stopped by the house this afternoon and wants me to do some wiring at a third WE CARE house she owns. She wants to add a mini kitchen to one of the apartments and needs an oven circuit and some lighting run. Since I also cleaned the backyard and trimmed all the trees she is also going to buy a bunch of Oleander plants for me to plant along the back fence. I am so glad it is starting to cool off abit here!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

That Will Be 1500 Dollars Please!!!

Today we went to the Cancer Center for Sheila's blood work and her counts are coming back up again but not as quick as in the past. Everything looks good though and she starts chemo again next Monday. This will be a new kind of chemo with different chemicals and a different schedule. It will run every other day through a backpack and have to be turned on and off at different intervals during the day and night. They will show us how to program it when we get that far. She also has to take a prescription eye drop that has to be administered every four hours. Supposedly the new chemo has a side effect of conjunctivitis and the drops help to alleviate that. It is a chemical conjunctivitis and not like bacteria caused pinkeye. Sound like fun huh? We also both have to go get seasonal flu shots in the next couple days and Sheila has to also get a pneumonia shot. After the lab work we went to the clinic's accounts payable department and Sheila straightened out a 1500 dollar mistake on her medical bills.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yardwork All Day

Today we had nothing to do so I got to work on Carol's backyard here at the WE CARE house where we are staying. I still have wiring to do at her other house but that will have to wait for another day. Carol has an old two cycle lawnmower that has been giving her problems but I managed to get it started and mowed half the backyard before I discovered that the damn thing was self propelled! I had over looked a small gear shift down by one back wheel! It had been in neutral and I pushed that overbuilt tank of a commercial mower over more than half the yard before I noticed it! I was thinking, "man am I getting tired, I must be outta shape big time!" The thing weighs a TON! But when I put in in third gear it flew over the remainder of the yard. The yard had once been very nice but since Carol is the only one doing the yard work she has let it get the best of her over time. I also trimmed all the overgrown shrubs and trees and cleaned up a lot of trash and broken branches in the yard. Then I cleaned some old lawn furniture that was stacked up in one corner of her yard and made a nice place for Sheila and Mike to sit out in the shade. I have not done that kind of work in quite awhile and in the heat it really kicked my butt. Afterwards Sheila and I went to Wendy's for a quick dinner and settled in to watch Ben-Hur on TV tonight. Tomorrow we also have no doctors or lab until Monday.

The pic today is of Sheila on top of a famous AT landmark - McAfee Knob

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Today we had no appointments and so we finally got over to Carol's house and finished up the kitchen wiring. It has been cool lately with temps only in the 70's so thats the best time to pull wire through an attic area! We got the kitchen done but I still have some hall lighting to add and a kitchen light to relocate. Will try to do that sometime next week if Sheila is feeling OK. We go to the Cancer Center tomorrow and again Monday to have her blood counts checked and hoepfully finds out when chemo starts again. Thats about all to report today!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cancel Last Posting!

Well we got 77 miles outside of Dallas and the Doctor's office called and said her earlier lab results were not what they expected. Her red counts are coming back up as planned but the white cell count is still lower than they like. The nurse said she needed to come back in on Friday to have the blood work done again. They also called in a new prescription for her to take. So....we turned around and headed back to Dallas! Well it was a nice 150 mile joy ride while it lasted! Back "home" now at the WE CARE house!

Pic today is of Sheila looking North on the AT. This is the last picture taken on our 2009 AT hike.

Alabama Bound

We just got back from the Cancer Center lab and had Sheila's blood work done, it should all be good though because she just had an infusion of blood and platelets yesterday. We are back at our room in the We Care house and we have 4 days off from any treatments and doctors. Sheila feels great and spent the last two days with the help of Mike working on organizing the sunroom here. It has been cluttered up with Carol's many project materials and now with their help it is usable again as a nice sitting room. The small cut on her hand has healed up thanks to the platelet infusion and the doctor didnt think she would even need a tetinus shot for it. Sheila thought it would be good to get away from here for awhile so we are loading up her Miata (that will take all of 2 minutes!) and heading to Alabama to see her sister Nancy. She lives in Jacksonville just east of Birmingham. It is about 700 miles and we probably will stay overnight in Vicksberg, Mississippi which is about halfway, since we are leaving later in the afternon today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Out for Blood!

We are at this moment at the Arlington Memorial Hospital's Infusion Center. We normally go to the Cancer Center's Infusion Center for chemo but when Sheila needs blood and/or platelets we have to go to the hospital. Right now there are four other patients in here with us and they are mostly asleep or watching TV in the recliners they have here. They fed us all a very good turkey and potato lunch which was a surprise! I am on the laptop trying to work on my book but not getting very far. Sheila is asleep. She is on unit 2 of whole blood and has also had a unit of platelets. By tomorrow this should help her feel much more active as she has been very tired lately due to lack of red cells in her blood. We were going to try and do some more work for Carol today but it looks like it will be a busy weak of running back and forth for blood work. When her counts come back she will have a new kind of chemo and the doctor said it may be another week or two before he starts it. By that time we will be in the home stretch of her treatments with only one more round after this one planned. Then it will be wait and see what happens. Hopefully the leukemia will be gone for good, if not another game plan will have to be implemented.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back for Blood Tomorrow

Tomorrow we go back to have blood work done. Sheila's counts should be very low by now as the chemo keeps working on it for a week or more afterwards. Today she was working on Carol's sunroom here at the house and cut her hand slightly on a broken vase. The little cut (scratch really) just kept bleeding long after it should have stopped, a sure sign her platelets are low. We will find out tomorrow for sure.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Volunteer Day Tomorrow

Today we went to the Cancer Center and had blood work done. Everything checked out OK so tomorrow we have no treatments. We plan to finish wiring the kitchen at Carol's other WE CARE house that we started a few days ago. We go back to have more blood work done on Monday to make sure her counts are still all good. If they are good the doctor plans to start round five of chemo soon.

The above pic is my sister Imp (Christine) with a Great Horned Owl at the Wildlife Rescue she volunteers at. It had an injured wing but was set to be releasd back into the wild soon.

P.S. Ulonda....curiously enough it only has TWO wings!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Back to the Lab Tommorow

Well we've had a few days off so it's back to the lab for blood work tomorrow. If its goes like all the other rounds of chemo Sheila will need some whole blood and/or platelets. Chemo wipes out all her blood counts big time! Then we will have a few more days off and some more blood work. Then another kind of chemo will start. We have done some volunteer work for Carol at her new WE CARE house and i still have to finish up some wiring there. May try to do that on Thursday is Sheila is feeling up to helping me. That's about it for now....nothing much going on.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chemo Pack Came off Today!

Well today finished up Sheila's 4th round of chemo and the doctor took her chemo pack off that has been running for 5 days. Now she has to go back on Wednesday to have lab work where they will check her blood to see what the levels of platelets, white and red cells are. After the last 3 rounds of chemo she has had to have transfusions of whole blood and/or platelets. Then the plan is to give her 2 more rounds of a different kinds of chemo to really zap the leukemia into total remission. After the next 2 rounds of chemo she will be done. After that she will have to be monitored periodically to make sure it does not come back.

The pic today is of me and Sheila in the Smokie Mountains on our AT thru-hike. We woke up in the shelter and it had snowed during the night.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Well not really outta here but we have booked flights to New Haven on November 24th for Thanksgiving in Newport!!!! Plan so to New Haven.....see Sue, Mike, Chase and Sydney....all head to Newport for Thanksgiving at 705! See all my sisters and friends and family there. Have fun staying in 100+ year old house we grew up in. It is still owned by the family who owned it back then and are our distant relatives. Reminisce about the old house and neighborhood, the Mighty Fifth Ward, The Irish Ghetto! It should be fantastic!

Thankgiving Planning

We just got back from the Infusion Center and Sheila had the last day (day 2) of one kind of chemo done. Now all we have is wait until her 5 day backpack chemo runs out sometime on Monday and get her disconnected from it. Then we should have only blood tests and such until the next round. Supposedly the next two and I hope last rounds of chemo will be very potent stuff (like the last were not?) and if all goes well will put this damn AML in remission for good!

We also are starting to look at airfares to get up to Newport Rhode Island for Thankgiving. My sister Imp rented the house we all grew up in for the Thanksgiving Holiday! Kinda weird thinking we may all be back in that house again. Too many thoughts about growing up there and most of them are not good, but like my sister Sue has said.....we get a "do over"! Anyways I for one am looking forward to it, espeically if all four of my sisters are there! The doctor thinks we may have a one week window and to go ahead and make plans, just don't count on it 100% yet. Hoping to fly into New Haven Connecticut to my sister Sue's where we had to leave our car when Sheila got sick, then drive to Newport for Thanksgiving and afterwards drive back to Texas. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Above pic is of the house we all grew up in at 705 Thames Street in Newport, RI that my sister Imp took. It sure looks alot better than when we lived there!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Round 4 - Toesocks vs. Chemo

Well its 2:17 and we have been back from the Cancer Center for a couple hours now and Sheila is sleeping. She did one chemo infusion while there and has to go back for another dose tomorrow. She also has a 5 day chemo of a different kind in a pack on her and it will run until Monday of next week. Then hopefully a couple/three weeks off till the next round. Two more rounds after this is planned and that will take us into November. Hopefully that will be the end of her treatments and keep it in remission. After 5 years in remission she is considered cured! We are keeping our fingers crossed. Even if all goes as planned she will need to have follow up check ups/blood work and/or bone marrow biopsies done from time to time to make sure it is not coming back. So far I think she is doing as good as anyone can with AML. We see many many people at the Infusion Center everytime we go and none of them seem to be doing as good as Sheila. They have every imaginable type of cancer. Most look to be in terrible shape and it really is disturbing seeing people having to go through this. This has been a hell of an eye opener for me and its scary to think how many of us are headed to this same fate sometime down the road! Its all just a crap shoot, there are just so many things you can do to try and stay healthy and none are any kind of guarantee. While many of the people we see at the Center look like they have already died and just haven't been buried yet I cannot help but think that I do not pity any of them. In fact just the opposite is true, they seem to endure all of it bravely if not humorously and I have to admire that fact. I have to wonder if I would be that brave? Maybe once you have cancer and that fact sinks in you find a way to deal with it. I guess it would be like when we first found out Sheila had leukemia. I know she held it together better than I did but now I feel like I can handle it better than I used to. Maybe its because she is doing so good and it seems less scary or maybe I am just refusing to think about what could happen. Most likely its because she handles it so well that I have to stop and think.....who am I to feel sorry for myself when it is her that has this cancer and not me? Anyways....I try not to go there. If she can deal with this daily all I can do is try to help. there is is......I sometimes feel like I am powerless to help or fix this, just a bystander watching it all unfold, helpless and useless! And this is while she is doing so good! What kind of basket case would I become if she was doing poorly? That I flat out refuse to think about. One day at a day at a time.

Cover pic today is of Sheila and me at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia at the town square and jail where they used to put people in the stocks for humiliation and punishment a practice I think is sorely needed today!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Inglorious Basterds

Today we went to see Tarintino's new movie Inglorious Basterds. I expected it to be strange and weird and gory and was true to form. We both found it entertaining though the gore was more than Sheila could stand. Parts of it were comedy and parts of it were down right tense. i would not normally go see a movie by him but we go to the UA twilight special for $4.50 and $1.00 popcorn so if the movie is bad it is no great loss. W have even walked out on some in the past. Sheila is feeling good and she goes to the Cancer Center tomorrow to start another 2&5 chemo session with 2 days in the infusion center and 5 days with the chemo backpack. I think after this one the doctor is planning only 2 or 3 more treatments and maybe she will be done. We hope to someday get our lives back to where we left off. Just have to wait and see i guess.

Above picture is the Wrangle Straits of Alaska's Inside Passage going by our tent door. It was great to be able to lie in the tent after a week of kayaking and just watch Alaska go right by your tent!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tool Time

With no treatments today or any at all until Wednesday we went and helped Carol at her new WE CARE house. It is under remodeling before she can let cancer patients or their families stay there. She is adding 3 mini apartments and a common laundry area. Sheila and I ran new oven and dryer circuits and installed light switches in the first of the three apartments. It was good to get out and go to Home Depot for Romex wire and boxes and used tools again! And best of all Sheila was feeling good and up to getting out and doing this work for Carol. We then had lunch at Spring Creek Barbecue! Not a very exciting day by most standards but it was good to get out and do "normal' things again.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

More Good News from the Doctor

Today we went to see Dr. DiStefano and all Sheila's bloodwork all came back normal. Her counts all went way up and everything looks good! Her platelets and red cells went sky high and her white counts came right back up to normal. She is doing as good as can be with this leukemia, nothing could be any better! She will start another round of chemo called a 2-5 just like the last one and then later a couple of very high dose chemo rounds. I asked the doctor if she could fly up to Newport for Thankgiving and he thinks he can works her rounds of treatment around this and we "should" have a one week window at Thankgiving! Nothing is for sure yet, we have to see how she does but it all looks good so far! Tomorrow I volunteered to do some work for Carol at one of her other WE CARE houses since Sheila has no appointments until Wednesday.

Pic today is of me and Sheila camping on the Butterfield Trail in Arkansas.

Taking Woodstock

We have had a few good days with no treatments or doctors and Sheila has been feeling good. Mike and Greg left overnight to attend a funeral. Her twin sister's mother in law passed away, so they drove to Stephenville for the funeral. They now have radiation everyday for a new tumor they found in Greg's side so they have to go to the Cancer Center on the way back here later today. We may also have another couple here for awhile starting today. They are from west Texas and she has breast cancer. We have not met them yet and Carol told us last night that she has not heard back from them. We went to see Taking Woodstock yesterday with my daughter Jacki and her boyfriend Joe. The movie was not very good and I was disappointed it did not have much of the music or any of the performances in it. We only went to see if we could spot Low, our AT hiker friend who was in it as an extra along with Ten O'clock, Pathfinder and Quiet Riot. We couldn't spot any of the others but Low was clearly in one scene shown sitting on top of a car as the motorcycle cop gives the lead actor a ride down to the concert passing hoards of concert goers. It was neat to see him on the screen.
After the movie we all went to Pizziolo's for pizza!

Picture today is of Sheila up on the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska. We took a helicopter tour then landed on top to walk around and explore.