Dear family and friends,
Steve here. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I seem to recall a famous novel begins "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." It's not as great a novel as the one that begins "Call me Ishmael," or "He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff..." but that's beside the point. Well, that's what this week has been like for us in the Dudley house--not the Ishmael part, the other one about good times, bad times, that is. It's probably best to end on the positive stuff, so here's the "bad week" part. And, I need to say that it's not like the novel "the worst of times." We've definitely had worse (see entries from January, 2013, for example.)
Gabrielle went in for her blood test and Avastin infusion on February 17 (Tuesday) and things went fairly well, except the CA-125 blood tumor marker had risen to 23. Previously it was in the mid teens. It is a little concerning, but nurse Janelle said not to worry too much as lots of things can cause a bump in the number, including inflammation and other things like that. With how achy Gabrielle has been, perhaps that's it. Still, we didn't like the news and are eager for the next appointment with Dr. M in 3 weeks to hear her spin on things. Right after the infusion, Gabrielle went on a walk with Daniel and next thing you know, this horrible yip yip dog rushes up to her and takes a chunk out of her thigh. The nit wit owner was unapologetic and said that he was "just being friendly." Yeah right. In a way, I am glad that I wasn't there, as I would have been more than happy to show Ms. Nit Wit some "friendliness" in return to her little "poochie woochie." The Olympic event hammer throw comes to mind. I would be willing to bet that I could have gotten that dog all the way to the mid-channel buoy in Puget Sound with just the right spin and release from the leash. Of course, it would have put my good standing as veterinarian emeritus in jeopardy as we are supposed to be kind to animals (which is why I trap spiders and let them go outside rather than squashing them like everyone else in this house). Gabrielle finishes her walk and limps into Rite Aid where the kindly pharmacist gives her a tetanus booster (don't they have "distemper" shots for dogs??). I got home about the time she and Daniel did and I helped dress the wound (fortunately, no stitches). I finished the job by patching her up with a very special bandage that the kids bought which was adorned with a certain word that I ought not relate in this family oriented blog. It was a fitting word, though. Rhymes with...well never mind. So that's Tuesday.
Next day, it's her birthday. Happy ____th, Gabrielle. Being a gentleman, I cannot tell you how old she is other than to mention that three big things are open to her: the senior discount at IHOP, the senior discount at Fred Meyer, and eligibility in those "55 and over" communities. She's already got the brochures out for Sun City! But it didn't get off to a great start: sore leg from the dog bite, sore arm from the tetanus shot, and sore all over from just being achy (Avastin does that). Her energy was at a low point, but she still managed to walk around Green Lake with Aunt Julianne and go on a second walk with Anna from SPU...7 miles in all.
And since then, energy has remained at an ebb. Then, out of the blue yesterday, she gets a "stomach bug" and it wasn't due to my cooking. I could go into more details as to the exact nature of what that entails, but I will leave it to your imagination.
So that's the bad news, got it? Now the good news...
We had a delightful birthday week celebration for Gabrielle. Ever since the cancer diagnosis, birthdays are never things to be dreaded, but rather embraced, as they represent life and living and moving ahead. We've certainly embraced Gabrielle's umpteen years with us so far and are excited for many more birthday celebrations to come. We had a wonderful dinner at the Melting Pot, though were too full for cake afterwards. One of our traditions at birthdays is to go around the table and say three things we like about the birthday person. It wasn't hard to come up with a few nice things to say about her and it reminded all of us how special she is not only to us, but to many others as well.
A little side story here (if I knew how to make italics, that's what this would be)...
When I was a kid, we used to do this "fun" tradition of giving the birthday boy the "bumps." It's a lot of fun. You grab your victim by all fours and then bump him up and down on the floor...one bump for each year of age. Don't know how it started, but in a family of four boys, we all sustained a lot of bumps over the years. Gabrielle was able to take a pass this year, owing to her achiness. Next year, perhaps? Sadly, I missed brother Mark's birthday bumps yesterday (53), but Paul is coming up soon (I forget how many), then the big Kahuna John himself who hits 60 this summer (won't those bumps be fun?).
Interestingly, we got home too late for presents, so we vowed to do them the next night. That didn't work out either, nor the next, so she still has yet to open her birthday presents (today perhaps). Not to worry...I think she has already guessed what I got her...it is just too tough to disguise a mop and bucket no matter how creatively you wrap them. On her birthday, Gabrielle came home to wonderful flowers on the porch and a gift bag from someone else. She had an extra long massage and then was treated to some home baked bread from her massage therapist. Cards and letters keep coming in, wishing her birthday greetings, and she's been taken to numerous b-day movies and lunches. In short, many have reached out to her to tell her how much she means to them, and that is indeed a blessing as well.
So today is Saturday. We really need to get those presents opened, especially the mop...floors are getting a little dusty. So we better hop to it. Pardon me...there's a spider on the ceiling. I will have to excuse myself while I gently relocate him to the great outdoors. Oh, and there goes a yip yip dog out front...let the games begin! I will end with another first line from a book "I am a sick man..." (Notes from Underground). Cheers.