Sunday, December 30, 2007

Phase One: Done... Farewell FuFu

Thursday was Christmas... at least for the Clot. The Clot has been counting down on our own peculiar advent calendar, and we thought this day would never arrive. Thursday was Dennis' last day of radiation! No more zapping, singeing, raying, roasting or toasting. We can finally dispense with the motto: "Another day, another ray!" And if that isn't enough to jingle your bells, it is also the day when he is disconnected from his Fu-Fu bag, and his PICC line is PICC'ed!

Farewell to fufu, goodbye to gemcytobene, sayonara to Saran Wrap, and au revoir to radiation.

We are all so excited that we planned a grand procession with juggling clowns, a parade of synchronized elephants, and a fireworks display. However, the security squad at the Huntsman Institute thought that perhaps the clowns might be a little disruptive to the other infusees, and the elephants might deposit debris which exceeds the housekeeping capabilities of the custodial staff. And because of stringent fire codes, perhaps the pyrotechnics should be postponed. Hey, there was a certain perverted logic to that. Not a problem.We modified our grand celebration scheme. We went home, juggled bottles of Ensure, marched in synchronized lock-step around our kitchen bar and lit a candle.

In honor of the occasion, we have made the ultimate salute: The Clot has called a 24-hour moratorium on harsh language (except in reference to the mass), any specific reference to Dennis' bodily functions, bodily noises or bodily parts. Oh my! I hope our intentions haven't exceeded our capabilities.

Our house was decorated with brightly-colored balloons and leis hung in the trees. It almost looks as if the fireworks were captured in a rapid-speed camera photograph... a still-life. This is a very good day!

We were also thinking of kissing off the 7 Mutated Nausea Dwarfs, but we have become rather fond of those little rascals - especially Pissy. He has an honorary place in the heart of the Clot.

Today we must also say farewell to new old friends and technicians, who know Dennis inside and out, and have seen the Clot in varying degrees of disarray. We greatly underestimated the difficulty of that little task. For so long now our lives have have been measured out by the daily treks to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and weekly infusions of gemcytobene and iron. And there is a solidarity the evolves among those who have shared adversity. We are not sure now how we'll sculpt the coming weeks, but we do know every hour will be mealtime. ("Auschwitz Chic" is so passe!) Soon Dennis will think of "week" as a measure of time, not a condition spelled with an "a."

Through it all, Dennis has been a "rock," literally and figuratively. In fact, we strongly suspect he has been taking spiritual steroids. But, he "will be back"...and that is written in stone. As Ramses always said, "So let it be written. So let it be done!" (A Yul Brynner moment probably best appreciated by those who grew up thinking Charlton Heston really was Moses.)

Perhaps in the coming weeks the Clot can finally discard the two mantras that have so dictated our daily life:



That would be good.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas to All; and to All a good Clot

Christmas Day came and went yesterday amid a great flurry of tissue, wrapping paper and ribbon. There was the usual chaos created by the usual suspects, and in the midst of mind-numbing confusion, we all agreed it was, hands down, the sweetest Christmas in memory. There was no effort or expectation of perfection. Some gifts didn't have a prayer of being wrapped, and the girls even had to help me stuff their stockings, which hung by the chimney without an ounce of care. Dennis was all nestled in his recliner under a beautiful hand-made throw that seemed to invite all the grandkids to crawl under with him. His diminished body mass meant there would be plenty of room for each kid.
We ate sugar plums (that is a total lie included merely to give an air of holiday ambiance) and we put on funny Santa hats and sang carols (that is the total truth included because it actually happened.) And then, when the day ended, and all the wee folk had nestled in front of their new WII games, Erin and Brodi came over for a quiet visit. It was just the four of us, and for some reason, Dennis could not stop grinning. We knew it was a grin and not a grimace because it did not have accompanying muffled harsh language. (He went to West High, too.)

Dennis' sister, Janie, had given us a jar of pre-mixed muffin batter, and when we had figured out just what the concoction was, we had to figure out just what to do with it. Brodi suggested spooning the mixture into a muffin tin, and Erin suggested we turn on the oven, if we could find it. We weren't sure what temperature to select, or how long to cook them. So after what seemed like an appropriate time, we removed the muffins from the oven. They still seemed a little batter-y, but that made little difference. We simply slurped them directly from the tin to our mouths. They were delicious, and we didn't even have to add butter or jam. OK, there is something to be said for adding all the ingredients to the mix. And, in addition, I think there might have even been something included that had nutritive value. This was a good night.

As we sat around the kitchen bar, we reminisced about some of the things that have taken place on this journey we are experiencing. As we tried to take it all in, we were overwhelmed by miracles that have occurred daily during the dark days that preceded the winter solstice. We cannot begin to comprehend the whole significance, but I'm not sure that is expected. It is greater than our minds can wrap themselves around. But there is no mistaking that something remarkable is present and we would be remiss not to recognize that.

I have a picture that profoundly expresses a little of what we are feeling right now. There is a river so full of crocodiles that they resemble a great swarm just prior to a feeding frenzy. And the caption beneath reads, "The only way out is through." We do not pretend that we alone can negotiate that river. We are going through, and we will come out, but it is with a great deal of assistance and a whole lot of life boats.

Last week when Dennis had been taken in for his surgical procedure, it was very dark and cold and lonely and early in the morning at the Huntsman Institute. When I went into the ladies' room, I was a little surprised to find another human being in the place. There was a young woman sobbing out loud in tremendous anguish and despair. She apologized between gasps, and said, "This is so hard. I don't think I can do this." I didn't ask any questions. What I said was, "I am so sorry you have to go through this." I hugged her and said, "I will pray for you." What I wanted to say was, "Come with me and I'll take you to people who will wipe your tears as they embrace you. They will feed you, warm you, sing to you, and make you laugh. They will bind your wounds, wash your feet and minister to you. They will hold you up as you carry your burden. They will give you hope. And you will be able to do what is being asked of you."

The wise men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The wisest men bring love. Thank you all for sharing your wisdom and love, and for showing us just what this holy event really signifies.


The Clot

Monday, December 24, 2007

How Pissy Stole Christmas

Sorry about the delay- the blog got clogged.

It’s Christmas Eve, and the Clot is up at the Huntsman Institute while Dennis gets infused with Gemcytobene. Four more days, and Phase one of “Operation Bugger Obliteration” is done. Come Thursday, the FuFu bag will be forgotten, the PICC line will be PICC’ed.

Dennis’ stats:

Weight 124. (121 without the bowling balls in his pockets. Talk about cajones).

Color: There.

Clothing: Orange shirt/green vest gone.

Nausea: present and accounted for.

Appetite: Gone.

Dwarf: Pissy.

Nostrils: Furry.

Strength: too weak to stop the clot from blogging, and using words like “cajones”.

Hair: Apparent

White Count: 7.1 and good to go.

Friday, Dennis got roasted and toasted, cooked and unhooked, drugged and unplugged. You can see what unremitting chemo and radiation have done to our brains. We’re able to condense our whole life to rhymed couplets.

Friday was also the winter solstice. It is the time of the longest night and the shortest day. Thank goodness it is not a perpetual state of being, but rather a corner to be turned. From now on the darkness will be dispelled by ever-lengthening light. This is a good thing and this is a good day.

The clot had a consultation, and we have decided that the wasted emaciated look is sooo ’07. So, we’re exchanging “svelte” for a bigger belt, and Dennis will soon be a “Chunka Chunka burning love.” Our goal: a pound a day, that’s all we ask. Stay tuned for pictures of Dennis with greater body mass!


The kids from the primary brought a wreath with their pictures on the front and what means the most to them written on the back. They have been taught well. And then they caroled to us. We now understand why the music of Angels was chosen to herald the birth of the Savior. It was absolutely beautiful.

In addition, every day there has been an anonymous gift on our doorstep. We do not have a clue who has taken the time to bring such joy to us. However, this morning we received a note whose poetic sincerity Keats and Shelley would envy.

Pissy’s heart grew three times its original size.


A Christmas wish to our dear friends and family:

We’ve come to the point when we realize it will be impossible to send out the many Christmas greeting cards and many delinquent thank-you notes that we owe so many who have given so much support and love to us at this time.

This obviously has been a most unique holiday season for us, mainly because of the vastly increased significance of family, friends, and the holiness of the season. Expressions of love and support have come from so many people, in so many ways, and in so many packages. We have been fed, gifted, sung to, snowblowed, entertained, reassured, fasted for, prayed over, and blessed in so many ways. Truly the spirit of Christmas has been manifested, and the importance of relationships, love and concern for others, and the healing process given freely by the Savior have come forth.

Certainly each of us has challenges and difficulties that we must face, and will need to call upon physical, mental and spiritual strength in order to cope. Love and support from family and friends is an important additional source of strength.

Thus, after being given so much this season, we can only express heartfelt thanks to all of you, and take this moment to wish you a most meaningful Christmas season. Your expressions of love and support mean more to us than you will even know.

Love to all,

Dennis, Joan and the Clot

May you all be blessed with the “comfort and joy” you have brought to our family,


The Clot

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Remaining Hunka's have Gone Down Wind

This week is crucial in the course of Dennis’ treatments because the toxicity level of the chemo and radiation is so high that there are a fair amount of side effects, which are really not pleasant. In fact, we have exhausted all the mutated Nausea Dwarfs, including Pissy, in an effort to accurately gauge the discomfort, and are rapidly approaching industrial-strength harsh language for graphic descriptive words. But fortunately I’m all over that. The Clot is very proud of the fact that I am bilingual…I can speak fluent expletive with ease. I can conjugate any irregular verb necessary to illustrate the degree of nausea, pain, cramping, and loopiness…a skill I learned and perfected during my years at West High, where harsh language was an art form! This past weekend, however, taxed even my extensive expertise.

But, due to Dennis’ will, determination, and flagrant stubbornness, we are back in the fufu bag today. Another day, another ray! All his “hunkas” are gone with the wind…literally, and he and I are within a few pounds of being able to wear each other’s clothes. So do not be surprised if you see me in the “Superman” jammies and Dennis in the old “Minnie Mouse.” The sad thing is, our body contours are exactly proportionate, and when this is all over, one of us is going to seriously consider donor cleavage! However, in the meantime, we plan to humiliate our children by publicly exposing ourselves as the neighborhood cross-dressers.

We are not enamored of the numbers on the scale, but we are pretty elated about his lab results. His bili has dropped from a high of 6.8 down to 1.4. His alkaline phosphatase is looking better, and the rest of the Latin-derived unpronounceable and incomprehensible flowsheet stats look terrific. (Trying to understand all these words is like learning a new language…I always thought “platelets” were small plates!) I may not comprehend it all, but I know when to cheer!

Dennis is tolerating the ordeal with patience and resolution. And he is nice. He isn’t irritable, snippy or short-tempered. We think he is secretly infusing his fufu line with “happy dust,” but we’re not sure. So the Clot goes out of our way to test his annoyance level with stupid limericks, bodily functions sound effects, and questions about the latest sale items at Costco. So far we have been unable to inspire anything but resigned complacency. He has a resilience born of prolonged exposure to living with blond women…a certain immunity to the insanity of concentrated estrogen.

We have made a wonderful discovery…it’s “Doorstep Therapy.” It seems that whenever things appear somewhat bleak, there is something on our doorstep to bring a little light and laughter. The Stonebrakers brought some goodies that could single-handedly add multiple “hunkas” to Dennis’ scrawny derrier. Sadly, no matter how much the Clot consumes, we are unable to add pounds by proxy. Pity. And someone is doing the “12 Days of Christmas” for our family. Each time the doorbell rings, everyone, including the grandkids, nearly knock each other out trying to be the first to open the door. The gifts are so cute, and the poetry is so clever, and someone is very sneaky. So far, the identity has not been revealed, but we wish it was another two weeks before Christmas. Kristine Davies and her family have anticipated all our needs ( and a whole lot of our quirky cravings) and brought a bag that addressed them all. Instead of Saran Wrap, we have Reynold's stretch-and-seal that allows us to wrap Dennis up for his morning shower without all the double-sticky tape. This, of course, means his armpit hair is protected from the daily rip and tear.(Talk about tender mercy!) There is muffin mix (an absolute must) and a large container of frosting, with four spoons, so we can indulge in our frosting frenzy without disturbing any cake. Now, that’s efficient! And because there is a very real syndrome known as “tatt envy,” there are faux tatts for those not endowed with “radiation ink.” So the whole Clot is now covered with sticky-note chest graffiti. We love it!

Last week, Ashley and her family arrived on our doorstep to sing Christmas carols. The choir was comprised of big angels and little angels, and gave the Tab Choir serious competition. It was absolutely beautiful. The Clot made multiple attempts to join in the old familiar carols, but a mysterious atmospheric anomaly occurred. It began to rain…but only in the faces of the Clot! We could not explain this strange occurrence, except to say that this is certainly the season we celebrate rare astronomical cosmic phenomena.

This has been the most memorable Christmas Season ever. It is one we will never forget. We simply cannot express our gratitude for bringing us comfort and joy and light on this journey.

We love you and pray for you all,
The Clot

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Come closer, Pull my Finger

Well, this would certainly not be a candidate for the "most-favored-week" status. Dennis has been experiencing increasing pain for the past few weeks, with the return of the "designer jaundice" yellow we have all come to know and love. So the doctors up at Huntsman assumed that his stent had become blocked or had slipped out of place. It was agreed that the condition needed to be remedied with a procedure known in "DOC TALK" as an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) This procedure was performed Thursday morning.

And the results are:
"DOC TALK": A biliary stricture was found in the bile duct with occluded and distally migrated stent.
"DOC TALK" INTERPRETATION: The stent had become blocked AND had slipped out of place. So they put in a new stent. The good news is that it was assumed the stent slipped out of place because we're radiating the @#%&$ out of the little #%$&@* and it has been shrinking. Dr. Wills came in after the ERCP to explain what had just taken place. It was all a little confusing to the Clot, so Dr. Wills, in an effort to help us better understand, drew a picture of a banana. Erin immediately remarked, "So this is my Dad's brain...on bananas?" Thank goodness Dr. Wills is a friend of the Clot, and understands the concept of people unclear on the concept. However, in an attempt at clarification, he began to speak louder. He was operating under the assumption that by turning up the decibels, he could turn up the comprehension. We all nodded in synchronized unison, and after he left, we went to the cafeteria for bananas!

The bad news is it took some rather powerful narcotics before the pain subsided, during which time the doctors were considering admitting Dennis to the hospital over-night. But eventually the discomfort began to diminish. Apparently Dr. Wills had injected a fair amount of air to open up the ducts during the ERCP, and it was this air that was the cause of the pain and belly distention.

At one point, as the nurses and the Clot were surrounding his bed, Dennis motioned us closer indicating he had something to tell us. Of course, we all bent closer to hear what he had to say. We were not sure if he was going to give us the answer to the meaning of life or simply utter,"Rosebud!" When we were all bent down with our ears as close to his mouth as possible, he said, "Tylenol...Ibuprofen...on!" This was punctuated by a prolonged expulsion of the air that had inflated his midsection.

Well, there was a great eruption of laughter from the group, as you might expect. Even the nurses were laughing. Dennis apologized for committing such a social faux pas as flagrant flatulance, but Brodi reassured him, "That's music to our ears. We've been dying to hear that!" And Dennis, with his dry wit, replied, "And now you're just dying!" Well, once again the door to the Ashton room had to be closed to protect the other patients from the disruption of uncontrolled laughter. However, when we were able to get ourselves under control, we began toying with the idea of making a film based on his biography and calling it, "Citizen Dennis!"

Dennis only has 7 more treatments to go before completing this round of chemo and radiation. And then we can hang up the fufu bag for a while and work on getting some chubbies on him. We wouldn't call him scrawny (at least to his face). But his face is quite chiseled, and his bones are pretty well-defined. But his spirit is fat, bordering on obese, and he is determined to finish the treatments...and eat. This he will do.

The infusion process has afforded us some rare time for observation and reflection. Our fellow infusees are an interesting amalgam of ethnic, age, gender, economic, religious, political and emotional diversity. No one chose to be here. Not one wouldn't rather be somewhere else...anywhere else. No one hasn't had their life thrown into tumultuous upheaval by circumstances unbidden and random.

Each one endures daily bodily invasions and a spaghetti bowl of tangled lines, wires, tubes and needles. Each is tied, tethered, trussed, connected, lassoed, and bound. No one is doing it for the thrill factor, or to test the limits to which they can tempt the fates. Nor are they wearing flashy rhinestone-studded costumes entertaining the masses with risky and "death-defying" stunts against a back-drop of pyrotechnics. No, they simply sit with consummate calm and composure, and confront their own mortality. This is rather rarified company we are in. And perhaps this is why our family feels the spirit of Christmas so much this year.

Perhaps that was the destiny of the Bethlehem Baby so long be born, to die, to be resurrected, and to ultimately confront our mortality. So, while no one will ever receive the media notoriety of the dare-devils, every one is definitely worthy of Superman jammies!

Merry Christmas.

The Clot
P.S We had some surprise Carolers a few days ago, and it was the sweetest music we've ever heard!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Humiliating the Mass, and Electing a Mascot (Vote For Pissy)

On the Dwarf-O-Meter of Nausea:

The Winner is #4- "Yukky"

Dennis had a rather “Yukky”(#4) weekend, but we are on week 5 of the procedures, and the side effects are cumulative. He is somewhat weakened by his daily “singe” and the constant fufu infusion. But the Clot is gleeful as we picture the “attack of the killer fufu” on the little intruder.
We like to picture the little *#@^% experiencing “mass hysteria” as it is humiliated to cinders. But today we love the numbers! Yay! Except for the scale…Boo! Those numbers we will dismiss. He is getting svelter and svelter.His efforts at complete body re-contouring have been wildly successful!
Actually, in a feeble attempt at “the glass is ½ full,” we think he is getting taller. When we began this whole process five weeks ago, he was 5’9” (with the afro, 5’11”) Even as we speak, he is 5’9” (5’11 ½” with the comb-over and mousse) His ANC is up to 3.5, his white cell count is up to 5.1, and his hemoglobin is 13.1. Hooray! These numbers are beautiful, and so we are “counting” our blessings.
Dennis is stubborn and single-minded, so we continue to advance toward the Whipple procedure one nausea dwarf at a time. In fact, he has rated a #7 on the “Mutated Dwarf Scale” with such consistency, that “Pissy” has not only become endeared to the entire Clot, he is now the official mascot! We love “Pissy.” We are “Pissy.” However, Monday is Dennis’ last day to be infused with gemcytobene, so we have reached an important milestone.

It snowed this weekend. The heavens opened up and poured out a storm like a benediction. The earth was quenched, laundered, and scenic…magical, luminous. Nothing short of a Currier and Ives still-life. No footprint has disrupted the perfect powdered canvas. And our driveway is cleared.
Maybe it was the fact that it was done quietly, anonymously, that was so profoundly moving. Perhaps it was that in a wilderness of unbroken purity, there was a path carved…that suggested direction.
We have been made manifestly aware of our “leastness,” and this has transformed our lives. We have been fed, warmed, clothed, visited, comforted, ministered to, sung to and blessed. If this is how we serve our Savior, then His feet have been washed, and His wounds have been salved and anointed.
So as our family continues to wage this war, we look out our windows…and the earth is beautiful…and our driveway is cleared.
The Clot

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Twas the Month Before Christmas...

‘Twas the month before Christmas,
And all through the block,
No one was having
More fun than the Clot.

We stand all a-dazed,
And we hate to admit this,
But did some get the license number
Of the sleigh that just hit us?

Things seemed so normal.
Things seemed so routine,
Till our fellow turned yellow,
And began guzzling gemcytobene!

They put in a PICC line.
His chest they tattooed.
They radiated him rosey,
Then said, “Now eat lots of food!”

The Clot was all nestled

All snug in their beds,
While visions of muffin mix
Danced in their heads.

The fufu bag was hung
By the chimney with care,
In hopes that more fufu
Soon would be there.

Joan in her “Minnie Mouse,”
And Dennis in Saran Wrap
Had just settled down
For a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn
There arose such a clatter,
We sprang from the bed

And lost control of our bladder.

Dennis went to the window
Like an agile young pup,
Tore open the shutters,
And simply threw up!

When what to our wondering
Eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh,
And seven mutated dwarf reindeer.

With a little old driver,

So lively and quick,
We knew in a moment
We were all gonna be sick!

Chemo and radiation
Are going to cause ya,
A little discomfort,
And a whole lot of nausea!

“Now Pukey! Now Barfy,
Come Yukky. Don’t be a sissy!
On Crappy! On Queasy!
And hustle up, Pissy!”

Santa slid down the chimney
And landed on his ash…es.

And asked each one of the Clot
What would bring us the most happiness.

Brodi requested more “hunkas”
And for her Dad a tighter belt.
She explained, “He’s not scrawny…
We consider him ‘svelte!’.”

Erin was naughty,
And up to her usual tricks.
She asked for cleavage for Mom,
And lots of muffin mix!

Joan said, “All I want
(Besides a buttload of money)
Are chest tatts for Dennis
That say, “I love Joni!”

Dennis said his wish list
This year is quite simple.
“All I want, Dear Santa,
Is the procedure called ‘Whipple’.”

“It’s done!” laughed old Santa.

“That would give me a thrill!
And because you’ve been such a good boy,
How ‘bout I toss in Dr. Sean Mulvihill?”

Well, there was such joy in Clotville,
Just what you’d expect.
They shouted together,
“Resect! Resect!”

And everyone was singing.
Even the angels all caroled.
You know these angels by name…
There’s Tom, Dick and Herald.

And the family hugged St. Nick
Round his fat little pot.
And gave him the title
Jolly old Santa Clot.

Thank heaven, the poem’s done,
But before we give it a rest,
The best Christmas to you all…
‘Cuz you all are the best!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

FuFu-ing the Masstard, and Erin: Exonerated

On Today's Dwarf-O-Meter of Nausea, the Winner is...
#3 Pukey!

Today we hit a landmark…Dennis is halfway done with his radiation treatments! We are all jubilant…except Dennis, who is also jubilant, but nauseous. His weight is down, and his nausea is up. But his spirits are always high, and we are shoveling in the chocolate pudding as much as he'll let us. Nausea can really ruin a celebration. But on the “Seven Dwarfs of Nausea” scale, he’s about a Pukey (#3) and nowhere near Pissy (#7) so we still feel comfortable about taking him out in public.
We did, however, almost reconsider the public thing when we noticed what he was wearing. He had on his Halloween orange tee shirt with an “I -am- unabashedly-nauseous” green sweater over the top. Yes, he was definitely “over the top,” but when Dennis is a three on the Nausea Scale, no one is about to make an issue of it. Besides, he wore it with his Cyrano panache, and suddenly it seemed fashionable. (We were just happy he had changed out of his “Superman” jammies!)

We are still working on getting his full second “hunka” back. The first “hunka” is still there, but slightly diminished. We are seriously considering getting him a “fake fat butt” like the ones used to enhance derriers. (News Flash, Dennis: There are some of us who wear our fake fat butts all year long) He's had to get suspenders just to keep his Superman PJ's aloft! But he is still a whole lot of burnin’ love. And speaking of “burnin’,” the cumulative effects of the daily rays not only make Dennis glow, but may produce the “molotov” effect. A couple of extra foot pounds of pressure per second per second, and he could turn into “kamikaze Man!” a weapon of mass destruction that could be the envy of every terrorist.

But there have been some of the most wonderful gifts brought to our doorstep that take the barf out of the chemo, and the sting out of the radiation. We all agree that some of the greatest encouragement comes from the smallest voices. That was the case when Dennis received a white envelope filled with notes, messages and hand-drawn pictures from the Smith girls: Ali, Mia and Lily. There are pictures of a stethoscope and other medical instruments, hearts, butterflies, snowmen and designs that rival any impressionist painter. It actually made us forget all seven of the Nausea Dwarfs, something only a big dose of Zofran could do prior to that. It was better than any prescription. Children are the best medicine.

We also received a wonderful “house call” from Kathy O’Mara and Joe Jopling, the son of our “prayer warrior.” There was a basket full of goodies, but some of our favorites were the Lance Armstrong book ,”It’s Not About The Bike,” and a whole lot of “livestrong” wrist bands. The entire Clot is wearing them these days…it’s the latest fashion trend…unless, of course, you count orange tee shirts and green sweaters. The most unique inclusion, however, is the box of Zen meditation balls. They are designed to relieve stress and awaken inner peace. Dennis has become so proficient with the Zen balls, that he began juggling them. He has really impressed his fellow “infusees” with his new-found talent… and inner peace. Now the technicians are pretty relaxed about what goes on in the Infusion Room, but they did draw the line when Dennis offered to juggle everybody’s gemcytobene bags, fearing this would not be conducive anyone’s enlightenment and inner harmony.

In an effort to keep this blog unblemished and in the interest of truth in advertising, I have to confess to the deadly (not to mention fattening) sin of unrestrained frosting snarfing. In a moment of weakness, I opened the fridge and saw Anne Crockatt’s carrot cake with butter frosting, pleading for me to have just one lick. Well, it was like an out- of- body experience. I was watching myself spoon that ambrosia into my mouth with such velocity, it would have been easier to stop a speeding train. I was actually amazed at my own agility!

I would not be confessing this if Erin had not sneaked into the fridge for the same purpose and found the cake naked. I had been careful not to eat any of the carrots in the cake for fear of getting something of nutritive value, but I tried to explain that as a mother I owed it to my children to run interference whenever they were on the verge of over-indulging in comfort frosting. Erin completely rejected the feeble child protection defense and raised her fists in a radical show of vindication. OK…I was busted! (But I also got all of the frosting, so it was a “neener, neener” moment)

This Christmas and holiday season is the best we have ever had. We understand so much better the significance of the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem. And we are celebrating all the angels who embrace us and minister to us each day.


The Clot

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Up a Hunka' and the Seven Dwarfs of Nausea

We have just completed the first full week of simultaneous chemo/radiation treatments, and there have been relentless assaults of this most reviled mass. Dennis is holding up quite well, although he does have occasional bouts with nausea.

By the way, he is looking for an alternative for the word “nausea,” because it makes him sick just thinking about it. But the more creative we got, the more the alternatives were sounding like some kind of mutated names for the Seven Dwarfs! "Icky", "Barfy", "Pukey", "Yukky", "Crappy", "Crummy" and "Pissy"-The ugly seventh step-dwarf. (He's the one on the left). In order to guage the nausea, we ask Dad, "On a scale of one to seven, which dwarf are you?" We hope he doesn't choose the seventh dwarf because then we can't take him out in public. But Zofran does relieve the icky, barfy, pukey nausea to some degree, so we are grateful for that. This medication also makes him slightly loopy. (Now he knows how it is to live life blond!) But I just ease him into his recliner, give him his blanket and remote…and go shopping. Zofran-induced stupors can be a good thing.

There was some good news on Friday that we want to pass along. Dennis has his “hunka” back. Yes, he weighed in three pounds heavier than last time. OK, he was wearing his Frankenstein combat boots, and the nurse made him take the keys, bowling ball and dumbbells out of his fufu bag, but three pounds are three pounds!

When he was radiated, we noticed that his mid-section was glowing so much it looked like he’d been spending time on the beach. I felt so bad for him, that in an effort to alleviate some of the burn, I volunteered to take some rays for him. Hey, I still have my tatts…why not? But once again the suggestion was duly noted by the singe techs…and duly dismissed. Those guys at Huntsman are nothing if not efficient.

Anyway, one of Dennis’ patients, Chris Chytraus, whipped up a batch of what they call “Chris’ Concoction,” and when applied to the affected area, it relieves much of the burn from the radiation procedure. This stuff is wonderful. It works on everything from dry skin to wrinkles. I actually tried some as a night cream, and there seemed to be a few less creases, according to Dennis. (However, he was loopy at the time.)I have now assumed custody of this miracle potion, and I like to do a spa treatment on myself while applying it on Dennis’ “ground zero.”

Dennis is trying to get plenty of rest during all the exhausting procedures. In fact, we have even had a chance to watch the finals of Dancing With the Stars. In an effort to bring out his inner “Helio,” I asked him if he would like to try some dance routines with me…like the “Queasy Quick Step,” or the “Toss Your Cookies Mambo,” or the “Housewife Hustle.” He declined the offer, however, and said he preferred the “Slow Polka” to the couch for a nap. I thought that was reasonable since my dance card was full already. Now you can see why living with me has taught that man patience!

FROM DENNIS: I thought I might interrupt my wife’s blog up-date for a brief comment. I continue to be overwhelmed by the many people who have expressed love and support during this difficult episode. Even comments from the smallest of my patients are big words of encouragement. Little voices bring such joy. I have always been impressed with the parents, especially the many moms I visit with, who do such a remarkable job raising wonderful children in these challenging times. Since I have the best patients, it must follow that dedicated parents are successfully raising this generation. I commend you all. It is a privilege to be a part of this amazing parenting experience.

As you might guess, the Clot is learning some very valuable lessons. Here are just a few:

  1. Fear and courage can reside in the heart simultaneously…and that’s OK.

  2. Kindness is a powerful energy source.

  3. Positive words can salve and bind wounds, uplift weary spirits, and heal aching hearts.

  4. If you laugh while eating muffin mix, you will snort “muff puffs” from your nostrils.

  5. A really good day is just that…a really good day.

  6. Armpit hairs caught in double-sticky tape can ruin a really good day.

  7. Sometimes we wish life’s lessons could be learned from reading text books. But I guess there are no Cliff’s Notes for wisdom.

We have been shown such kindness. We cannot find words to thank you. We have been fed, loved and ministered to. This is such a comfort to us all. And you are all such good cooks. In fact, LuAnn Spiers brought a cake with home-made German chocolate frosting so delicious, that it triggered a frosting frenzy rivaled only by predators at the top of the food chain. We are all “frosting freaks,” when we’re not mainlining muffin mix. One of Dennis’ partners, Joe Jopling, said he told his sweet Southern Baptist mama about the current situation, and she began to immediately pray for him. She says she is a “Prayer Warrior,” and it is very comforting to know that we are on the prayer list of this amazing lady. We are fighting a battle. But we want you to know that every kind word, every courtesy extended, every act of generosity and every prayer help us fight a portion of this battle. Thank you all for covering our backs.

The Clot