Lincoln County News
March 2, 2000

"LifeLines" My journal about living with cancer

by Sandy Labaree

This journal submission describes Christy beating the incoming snowstorm to spend 2 days with us. We celebrate an early birthday for Ben and Christy. I battle with a wheezing and cough for which Dr. Tom prescribes 2 different inhalers. In place of my scheduled doctor appointment, I have another transfusion to raise my blood counts.

Friday, Feb. 18, 2000: Christy arrives mid-afternoon today in time to beat the impending snowstorm. We are having a joint birthday celebration. Ben’s birthday is Feb. 27 and Christy’s is March 9. Frequently we celebrate the birthdays together and we are doing it again this time because Christy will be traveling for the next few weeks with her work schedule.

Nils was unable to come up with Christy because of a family obligation: His parents, who are both Unitarian ministers, are leaving their present church for a new assignment, and the church is throwing a going away party for them. They will be in England for the next year or two in a temporary position before returning here for the next permanent post. Obviously there is much planning needed for their absence, such as care for their house in Milford, NH and looking after Nils’ grandmother in Arlington, MA, to mention a few.

The first thing Christy wants to do upon her arrival is make a birthday cake, and for Ben that means a yellow cake with white frosting, since he is allergic to chocolate. The cake comes out perfectly and Christy wants to make sure she has several pieces before she goes home.

As the snow begins to fall, Christy prepares an excellent chicken picatta with rice pilaf and a salad for dinner tonight.

Saturday, Feb. 19, 2000: Today is our big snowstorm. After not having much snow this winter, we have between 7 & 10 inches today. It was kind of nice to be snowbound and enjoy a large, fluffy type of snowfall that is very pretty, as long you don’t have to go out in it. It is very quiet, and the snowplows don’t come through much, which is a fairly good indication that we are having a good sized snowstorm.

Christy spends part of her day preparing work stuff for another trip this week. She will be traveling first to Atlanta on Thursday for one night. Then she will fly to Baton Rouge where Nils will be joining her for a weekend with friends. Louisiana will be getting cranked up for Mardi Gras, so it should be a lot of fun. The trip concludes with a 4-day conference in Ft. Lauderdale. Life in the fast lane! The thought of it takes me back to the last couple of years on the road with my Corvettes Conquer Cancer Tour.

Tonight we have our traditional favorite birthday dinner of clams linguini. There is still plenty of cake left, which we top off with vanilla ice cream. Then Christy opens her special birthday basket which Mabyn and I had put together for her. She really enjoys it because we had wrapped lots of individual goodies inside the basket. There are candles; individually wrapped special spaghetti-dinner ingredients with pasta, sauce and cheese; in addition to travel size body care lotions and items that Christy can use on her trips.

We are also celebrating Ben’s birthday today. I have decided to get him something for the Corvette: a California Waterblade. This is like a high-tech squeegee. Made of surgical grade silicone, it is used to wipe the paint dry after washing the car. One pass leaves the paint perfectly dry. The only caution is that the paint must really be clean, or it could scratch. He’ll still have to use the Absorber, a synthetic chamois, around lamps, door handles and other nooks and crannies.

Sunday, Feb. 20, 2000: Christy leaves mid-afternoon for home, to continue preparing for her trip. She will be working tomorrow, the Presidents’ Birthday holiday, since she took Friday off to come visit me.

This afternoon we have a special visit from Art & Bobbie, who are long-time friends from the Corvette club. I had asked Bobbie to help me to put together a quilt that I have been working on since 1981. This is what I call my "trip quilt", because I have only worked on it while I was in the car on trips. It features 2 different panel patterns which depict my favorite flowers: tiger lilies. One shows a bouquet of the flowers and the other, an individual lily. The predominant colors are pale orange and pale violet, with a green floral border on muslin. Bobbie is a master quilter, and the quilt group that she belongs to will be assembling by hand the 15 panels that I have finished. This will be a major undertaking!

Today I develop a cough and wheezing. Because Dr. Tom is not on call, I phone CHANS to alert them to the situation. They send a nurse, Pam, to check me out. She calls the doctor on call, who decides that there is no immediate urgency, and to wait and see if anything develops.

Monday Feb. 21, 2000: Since today is the Presidents’ Birthday holiday, Ben is home from work and I don’t need any helpers. The cough and wheezing continues, and CHANS sends another nurse. Again, the decision is to wait and see.

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2000: Debbie, my regular CHANS nurse checks my cough this morning, and after talking to Dr. Polkinghorn, gets me an Albuterol inhaler to help the cough and a nebulizer to vaporize a morphine solution to help my shortness of breath. She also draws blood for the usual tests.

A new helper, Vicki, brings me lunch from Subway, and we spend a pleasant afternoon getting acquainted.

Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2000: Cindy from Dr. Tom’s office calls to tell me that my blood counts have slipped and that there is a change in plans. In place of my scheduled visit to Dr. Tom on Thursday, he has scheduled a transfusion of one unit of blood for first thing in the morning.

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2000: We arrive at the hospital at 7:30 this morning for the transfusion, and because my count today is even lower than expected, Dr. Tom decides that we will do 2 units instead of one. This will make the transfusion longer acting and give me more of a boost. Tom feels that it will help with the breathing, but also prescribes a second inhaler, Azmacort.

As I arrive home around 5:00, exhausted from the long day, Elaine is just pulling away from the house. She is another new helper, and today was to have been her first day with me, but because of the day-long transfusion, I had to cancel. She had planned to bring dinner for us when she came, and she insisted on bringing it anyway so we wouldn’t have to worry about dinner when we got home. On the porch we find a delicious dinner of beef stew, soup, salad and bread. What a treat!

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