Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mini-vacation One (After ABVD)

Day One

We always have been big believers in mini-vacations. Costs are minimal, but the opportunity for an adventure is always there. Some of our mini-vacations have been eating dessert on the back porch or playing canasta.

It seems that the ABVD treatments may make these short excursions more important in our lives. On Thursday of this past week, Judy had a medical appointment in Charleston. It was our plan to visit a state park near Charleston for a few days. Our friend Dan suggested Twin Falls State Park. Dan is a seasoned traveler, so we take his recommendations for an adventure seriously. He was once again "on the mark."

When Judy made reservations, the nice lady at Twin Falls said that they are undergoing a new lodge renovation project, so we would have to park about a football field's length from the lodge. The park purchased little yellow wagons for guests to use in transporting luggage from the car to the lodge. This is starting to get interesting.

We recently purchased a GPS garmin device. The nice computer lady - (We call her BEA in memory of our friend Bea Brown.) gives directions in an efficient manner. We traveled the WV Turnpike south toward our destination. When we got to Sophia, I made a wrong turn. The computerized BEA indicated that she was recalculating our position and finding the shortest route. PROBLEM! Huge rainstorm hit about that time. We followed "Bea's" voice urging us on only to face a sign: "Road Closed."

It was unbelievably dark with visibility down to 2 centimeters. We stopped the vehicle and waited for a break in the monsoon. Poor ole BEA was trying her best to make us take every left turn possible. For you guys that do not use the GPS systems, you need to know that those devices can sometimes create even more adventures. They calculate the quickest routes. Maybe you are sent on a 4-lane highway or a one- lane country road, whichever is the shortest travel distance! BEA finally settled down, and we arrived at the park safely. The sign above greeted us from the gravel parking lot. For some reason, it reminded me of entering Jurassic Park.

Now for the transport!

We packed our luggage in the little cart as the park registration clerk said. Judy was determined to pull the vehicle since she had not had that opportunity as a child! We were off! By the way, the cart had puddles of water. We were prepared for that travel snag. Our totes were safely sacked in garbage bags.

We passed an amazing array of construction equipment that made the area in front of the present lodge a mud bog.

Finally, we arrived at the lodge and registered for two nights.

Folks, please look carefully at the photo below. See the door to the left of the lodge entrance. That is not our room. We were in the room 313 which is the second door to the left from the lodge entrance. It can not be seen since it is directly behind a big pile of dirt!

We have all the makings of the start to a true adventure. We will love sleeping in a muddy construction lot with mammoth equipment of "mass construction."

What is lying on the walkway in front of our door? The beautiful luna moth was most likely traumatized by a cement mixer.

We took the beast to the back of the lodge so it could make it back to the forest. A few fun facts about this critter:

Luna Moths are nocturnal (active at night).
The larvae love to eat hickory and walnut leaves.
Male and female moths mate at night for about four hours. Talk about a "love in!"

Adult Luna Moths have no mouth. They eat nothing! Jenny Craig will be offering that amazing weight reduction plan soon - "as seen on TV."

Once an adult, the moth only lives one week.

The antennae are amazing structures which help the moths locate a mate. Look for the tan leaf-like appendages which appear to have teeth like a comb.
The purple "eyes" and "antennae" on her wings are not structures at all, but rather her decorative markings.

This beautiful beast proved that natural wonders can be discovered even when habitats are destroyed as during the lodge renovation.

We had a great meal in the restaurant and were ready to retire to our beds. We were eager to see what day two had to offer

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Grandma Great Meads is 85!

Well, Grandma Great will be 85 next month, but we decided to have an early surprise birthday party for this special lady. Sarah, Jeff, Nate, Bill, sister Judy, wife Judy and little ole me met on Sunday at Minard's Italian Restaurant in Clarksburg. This was the first time Grandma Great had met Nathaniel James.

We had for Grandma Great a raspberry filled bithday cake from Almost Heaven Bakery. It was wonderful and was a great end to a fine Italian meal.

Dad Jeff helped with Nate while Sarah ate her dinner. They are a great parenting team.

It was super to met with brother-in-law Bill and sister Judy. This was also their first meeting with Nate. It seemed that there was no problem finding someone to hold our newest grandson.

After Grandma Great's party, we went to Sarah and Jeff's to have a short visit with Sam. It was a great day!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sam Is Three!

This weekend was a weekend of birthday parties. On Saturday, Sam celebrated his third birthday by having a party with three friends. Mom and Dad Dodson had wonderful eats from Paneras. The kids had chicken strips.

It seems that everyone was interested in little Nate. He was 12 days old on Saturday and was determined to enjoy the party.

Sam's cake was decorated with Lightning McQueen. For you folks that do not know Lightning, the cartoon character is from the animated Pixar film - Cars. Sam loves the film and has McQueen everything!

The blowing out of candles went without a hitch. Wonder what the sugar content will do to these young celebrants?

Elizabeth and Caroline were really enjoying the ice cream.

Sam opened his presents and who would have thought that a guy would get a fire eating dragon that is robotic? We had a hard time trying to keep the flames out of the rug! (Chuckle)

Uncle Tim and Aunt Velva came up with a neato gift - his first bicycle. It was a Lightning McQueen model, of course!

Caroline decided that it was time to play in the sandbox. Wait!

What is this critter in the yard?

This was a Grandpa and Grandma gift. It is a wiggling sprinkler caterpillar. The party concluded with water fun. Sam also received EIGHT water guns. Grandpa retreated inside for some reason!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nate at 1 week and 1 day!

Sir Nate is being cuddled by Queen Grandma. Judy is so predicable when she sees a baby and especially her grandkids. She glows and immediately heads at super speed to the little human.

We had to document that Nathaniel has 10 toes. Yes, the number was correct and they are quality toes, indeed.

Oh joy! The finger number also adds up to 10. He is now ready to count to 20.

Jeff is so good with Nate and Sam. What a caring, loving, and helpful fellow! Sarah is blessed to have Jeff as her life mate.

Speaking of Sarah, below she is involved in the "ritual burp." I discovered that today she was burping Nate when the "volcano milk stream" projected all over Sarah's hair and the rest of those around her. Good job, Nathaniel James!

Once burped and on a full belly, it is time to go back to work (growing).

The family went outside to watch Sam play golf in the yard. Nate was enjoying his warm clothing. He is so sweet! (Yes, I am impartial.)

Have a great day!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

ABVD Update

Ok, folks I will update you on our new life adventure. (See yesterday's blog - Irises and ABVD) We arrived at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at WVU in Morgantown (Facility shown above). I can not say enough about the quality and organization of the cancer team that is in control of my Hodgkin's lymphoma. What a great team and facility!

Staging is over. Staging is how doctors judge the extent of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which will likely affect your treatment options.

Stage I. The cancer is limited to one lymph node region or a single organ.

Stage II. In this stage, the cancer is in two different lymph nodes, but is limited to a section of the body either above or below the diaphragm.

Stage III. When the cancer moves to lymph nodes both above and below the diaphragm, but hasn't spread from the lymph nodes to other organs, it's considered stage III.

Stage IV. This is the most advanced stage of Hodgkin's disease. Stage IV Hodgkin's disease affects not only the lymph nodes but also other parts of your body, such as the bone marrow or your liver.

After reviewing my bone marrow biopsies and PET scan, it was obvious to Dr. Michael Craig that I am in Stage III of my disease. Bone marrow was thankfully clear of the disease. My theory is that if you have a new adventure in life, why fool with Stages I and II.

I did so well today with my first chemotherapy infusions (ABVD). Will keep you updated as to hair loss (most likely) and other adventurous side effects - nausea, etc. I plan on having none of these, but we shall see.

Judy and I are soo blessed! Friends and family have been amazing. Life is good!

I have had to stop my biological drugs that controlled my arthritis - Enbril and Methotrexiate - since one theory is that they may have been the initial cause of my lymphoma. Ouch! The arthritis symptoms returned! One welcome side effect of the ABVD chemotherapy is that the symptoms of my rheumatoid arthritis will be most likely be resolved until my 6 months of the ABVD therapy has been concluded. The immunosuppressant chemicals may keep the RA in check. I will have infusions every two weeks. (Takes around 3 hours to complete.)

Judy and I are tired this evening, but it is so strange. We have met so many medical researchers and care givers today who were wonderful. Judy looked over at me after supper and asked how I feel. The only response is that I feel so much joy. Who would have thought that a diagnosis of Stage III Hodgkin lymphoma would produce no fear and such peace? I truly believe that I am not in denial, but I am expecting this adventure to be as blessed and exciting as our past lives have been together.

We realize there will be bumps on this path, but we always hold hands, hug, and continue onward. I will report to you all every now and then, but will not bore you with overdoses of medical facts. (BY THE WAY, did you know that the A in ABVD stands for Adriamycin and it is bright red? When it is infused, one can cry red tears and, of course, have a beautiful red hue to the urine. OK - enough - no more! As our friend Diana says , "THE END.")

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Irises and ABVD

Boy, what a great time in the garden! The Japanese Keria is starting to bloom with an amazing array of bright yellow hues. The irises are now producing flowers and the smell of these critters is intoxicating.

The iris takes its name from the Greek word for a rainbow, referring to the wide variety of flower colors found among the many species.

Rhizomes of the German Iris (I. germanica) and Sweet Iris (I. pallida) are traded as orris root and are used in perfume and medicine, though more common in ancient times than today. Today Iris essential oil from flowers are sometimes used in aromatherapy as sedative medicines. The dried rhizomes are also given whole to babies to help in teething. Gin brands such as Bombay Sapphire and Magellan Gin use orris root and sometimes iris flowers for flavor and color.

For orris root production, iris rhizomes are harvested, dried, and aged for up to 5 years. In this time, the fats and oils inside the roots undergo degradation and oxidation, which produces many fragrant compounds that are valuable in perfumery. The scent is said to be similar to violets. The aged rhizomes are steam-distilled which produces a thick oily compound, known in the perfume industry as "iris butter".

This morning I am getting an infusion of ABVD at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center in Morgantown. ABVD is a chemotherapy regimen used in the first-line treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma. It consists of concurrent treatment with the chemotherapy drugs adriamycin (doxorubicin), bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine. Yes, I have been diagnosed with lymphoma. Oh, another of life's adventure is on the way!